Back in Thompson's Bay
Dear Carol.et al.
There are a number of excuses for the recent neglect of our blog. First is that in George Town, with 300 boats at anchor, it is difficult to for our radio to "get out." I think that the sheer number of masts tends obstruct our connection.
The real problem though it that the USB ports on this computer are so sloppy that it is difficult to get a good connection between the SSB and the Lap top. When the connection is lost the machine crashes and we have to restart which takes about 5 minutes.
I'm thinking that we need a new computer but it would be so low on our priority list that it probably won't happen. I wish that Kathy would take an interest but that isn't going to happen either.
The other problem is that our internet antenna isn't working. So when we're in sight of wifi stations we can't pick them up with enough strength to get on line.
Anyway. I'll try a little harder to get things out quicker.
3/12/09 Hog Cay to Thompson's Bay, Long Island
At around 8am we said good bye Steve and Scott, who were staying here for a couple of days to do some diving and bone fishing, and headed south to Thompson's Bay. More than anything, we need to get a propane tank filled or soon all our meals will be cooked on the grill.
Leaving the anchorage we hoisted both the mizzen and the main for the drive east a couple of miles to the waypoint where we would turn south. Once there we rolled out the jib and took off.. From a mostly horizontal position, I made the command decision to switch to the staysail which made the difference.. We were up-right again and sailing at 7 knots.
We had a great sail south along the Island with over 20 knots of wind and no sea-state. I have found however that when sailing into the wind with the staysail instead of the jib, it's important to reef the main at least once. The full main and mizzen tend to over power the staysail and there is a tendency toward weather helm and some crabbing. We actually go faster with less sail..
Arriving about noon we put the boat back in order, dropped the dinghy, and then I ran the into Salt Pond to drop off the propane tank which we will pick up Monday or Tuesday.
During the afternoon we listened to the Big 10 Basketball tourney and finished the books that we've been reading.
Our anchorage here is huge and the six of eight boats present when we arrived were spaced so that each had a measure of privacy. Three of four boats arrived after us and positioned themselves similarly. Our new neighbors however, decided that they liked the area right next to us. They pulled in and dropped anchor about one boat-length away.. As their rode played out they were not dangerously close, but close enough that we could hear them talking in their cockpit.
So people just don't get it. everyone here has 100 yard spacing except for us.
3/11/09 Conception Island to Hog Cay, Long Island
We left Conception about 8am on a course to the south east to hit Long Island about 5 miles south of the cape. We've caught tuna in that area and will have lots of time to make our anchorage this afternoon. A ten mile diversion is no problem.
About half way across the 15 mile channel Steve radioed to say that Scott had boated one Mahi and lost another bigger one that they couldn't turn.
We were skunked until we got the Long island and turned north following the drop off to Cape Santa Maria. The reel started singing and I saw a fish jump twice off our stern. I was hoping for a tuna. Kathy took over the helm and in about 20 minutes we had what we could now see was another bull Mahi next to the boat. Kathy took the rod while I got the gaff into the fish and into the boat without any of the problems for a change.
About four miles north of the Cape we had another hit, on a hand line this time, but before I could grab it the bungee stretched to the max and the 100 lb test snapped.
Turning the corner and heading south on the east side of Long Island just off our anchorage we hooked another fish. The drag on the reel clicked for about one second and stopped. Then, while I was watching, it clicked again for another second before stopping. I picked up the reel to check and whatever was on the other end took off and never looked back. There was nothing I could do to stop turn it with the tackle aboard. I might be prudent to invest in a larger rig before we make this trip again.
I cleaned our catch on our way into our anchorage at Hog Cay. We were the only boat there and we spent the remainder of the afternoon reading. I needed to make some room in the freezer for today's catch so we got two huge chicken breasts out for dinner. I ended up browning them and then making a sauce with the drippings, flour, a little rum, the juice of one lemon and chicken stock. After dumping the sauce on the chicken I popped it into the over for about 30 minutes. Finally, I added a can of artichoke hearts and put it back into the over for about 20 minutes. WE let it cool in the oven for another 20 minutes while Kathy put together a Caesar salad. We ended up with a great . non-fish meal, the first in a long time.
March 10th Conception Island, Bahamas
We took off about 10 am to explore the island and check out some of the many coral heads. There is a creek that opens up the middle of the island but we were too close to low tide to enter. After lunch we hiked to the ocean side of the island for awhile and then just sat on the beach talking to Steve and Scott.
Steve baked some vegetables and Mahi in parchment and steamed a couple large lobsters for dinner. I put together some Bahamian Mac and Cheese. It was a feast..again.
Scott caught a nice fish as we were leaving..but after getting the hook out it flopped back in water. I think that it was a Mutton snapper and would have been perfect in the freezer.
It is beautiful here . and not too crowded. When we arrived we were the eighth boat and two more arrived today. There are tropic birds everywhere here as well lots of sea turtles. Conception is uninhabited is being preserved as a park so hopefully it will retain its character.
March 9th George Town to Conception Island
We were up at 6:30 listening to Chris Parker and then had some breakfast. Our anchor was up by 8:30 and we made our way south toward the south cut. It was a little rough in the cut as always bout once we got into deeper water it smoothed out. This was to be a fishing trip primarily so instead of heading a little north to make the most of the wind, I headed south east and followed the break between the Sound and the Banks trying to stay in about 200 feet of water. We motored sailed and fished all the way to Cape Santa Maria on the north end of Long Island with only one hit and no fish.
Off the Cape the water is about 150 feet surrounded by depths of up to 4000 feet and the fishing is usually excellent. Our plan was to fish there during the afternoon and then drop back down to Hog Cay for the evening.
However, while fishing a few miles north of the Cape, Steve called with the idea of sailing over to Conception Island instead. We spent a few minutes setting a new course and set out on the 15 mile trip.
The ride was uneventful until we were about 3 miles off Conception. One of our hand lines hooked up and the fight was on. It was immediately evident that whatever was on the other end was the largest fish that I had ever attempted to land on a hand line in the ocean. I was using new 100lb test mono tied to a stiff rubber bungee at the boat. Once I started to bring it in however, my arm soon became the bungee. I had Kathy drop the engine to neutral and point us off the wind to head back to fish a little. After a while I worked the line forward around the stays until I was amid ship and in a position to gaff the fish.
Kathy cleared the cockpit and removed the cushions while I worked the fish toward the boat hand over hand. At about 20 yards I saw the tail and knew that it was a nice Mahi. It made a couple of runs when it saw the boat taking line through my fingers. Eventually I decided that I had to wrap the mono around my hands and then pull, gathering about 3 feet at a crack. Finally with line wrapped around my left hand I was able to get the gaff into its head and started to lift it into the cockpit. Unfortunately it was too long. Its head was above the dodger and its tail was flopping on the deck. I had no choice but to lower it back into the water and try again. When it hit the water it took off with the line still around wrapped around my hand and almost pulled me over. Luckily, I grabbed that hand hold on the dodger and kept my balance. I got the fish back and gaffed it again and this time shortened my hold on the gaff. I lifted it out of the water for the second time above my head and was able to kick the lower half of its body into the cockpit.
After a liberal dose of rum to the gills, it stopped flopping and we could get under way with the clean up. There was blood everywhere. After a few buckets of sea water the decks were mostly clear and we could relax.
The Bull Mahi measured 55 inches and was 16 inches tall at the shoulder. As we motored into the anchorage we got our fishing lines put away and the sails down. There were six boats in the anchorage but there was lots of room for a few more. After getting the anchor firmly into the sand we grabbed the knives and hauled the mahi to the foredeck where we have a hose for cleaning up. It was easily the largest fish I've ever cleaned and the fillets were huge. In order to get them skinned I had to cut each fillet in two lengthways so that my knife would reach.
There was still quite a bit of meat on the carcass so I went to work and ended up with a meal of Mahi fingers and enough scraps for fishing.
Steve and Scott joined us for an excellent dinner of Mahi fingers, broccoli with pecans and some rice.
Before bed we watched the last installment of "Planet Earth."
After coffee I went over to "Fine Lion" to hang out with the boys and check out the new fishing equipment that Scott had brought along. Steve was overloaded with lures and insisted that I take a few back to "Sapphire".
At about 10:30 I headed across the harbor to George Town to pick up some groceries before the market closed at noon and returned for the MSU pre-game show. We had a great time listening to the game, which the Spartans won going away, and then listened to the post game celebration. Kathy and I were sitting in the cockpit with tears as the seniors were honored and the Big 10 Championship Banner was raised to the rafters.
I made some beef stew for dinner and we listened to Northwestern play Ohio State. Steve came over later and we made plans to leave in the morning.
March 7th George Town, Exumas
At 10 this morning the "Coconut Harvest" (another Regatta Week event) was to be held in the cove behind the Chat and Chill. Each team consists of four people and four swim fins in a dinghy. The object is paddle across the cove, collect as many floating coconuts as possible, and they paddle back. There were about 50 dinghies involved and the cove is packed with moored sailboats. It was interesting but we decided that it was obviously a spectator sport for us.
While ashore, I was asked to stop by "Nellie Bly" to play some music in the afternoon which I did and had a very nice time. We returned to the Chat and Chill later in the afternoon and met Scott (Steve's son from Annapolis) and Steve for dinner and a beer. The place was empty for a change and quite enjoyable
March 6th Georgetown, Exumas
After breakfast we headed to the trail on the south end of Stocking Island to gather palm fronds. It seems that the ones that she has been using are the wrong variety. We spent an hour or so searching but eventually found some looked to be the species.
There was a call for volunteers to help set up for the evening's festivities so I went in to the Chat and Chill at 10am to help out. I ended up stringing up Christmas Lights between the stage and some of the nearby Casuarina trees. The job took longer than it should have. but in the end everything worked out.
We missed the pet parade at 3pm but were back on shore about 4pm for the "NO Talent" Variety show. It consisted of about 20 acts of all kinds, most of which were hilarious. There was a beach dance later. Both were well attended. We ended up back on the boat about 8pm and watched a couple episodes of "Planet Earth."
March 5th George Town, Exumas
We spent most of the morning reading and weaving but after lunch went to shore with the idea of playing some music. As things turned it was registration day for the Regatta and there were speakers set up with music all afternoon so I didn't even get the guitar out. We sat around most of the afternoon talking to Tom and Susan and Kathy got some weaving lessons from Sharon from "About Time." Back on the Boat she spent the remainder of the afternoon weaving and I didn't do much of anything.
02/28/2009, George Town, Great Exuma
Feb 27... George Town, Exuma
Happy Birthday Abby. (and thanks for the cold you left me.) We both woke up today under the weather. The wind was still blowing between 25 and 30 knots but gradually moderated during the day. Kathy stayed in bed for a while and I read in the cockpit with coffee. After a couple of hours she was feeling well enough to join me and began working on a weaving project. We saw a big sea turtle swimming by the boat-where was he when the kids were here?
I cut up some vegetables for a soup and got them on the stove. By about noon it was time to head across the harbor for a load of water and a little grocery shopping. We are thinking about returning to Thompson's Bay tomorrow if the weather cooperates, but we need to have all tanks topped off before we depart.
The return trip was a soaker but I had changed into a wet swim suit so there was no permanent damage. After transferring the water I was off again for a second load. On my return, I read for an hour or so before jumping into the next trip.
I filtered 10 gallons of diesel into our tank, and filled the generator and outboard with gasoline before making the third trip of the day to haul a load of fuel.
We had leftover pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and green beans for dinner and spent the evening watching "Planet Earth."
Feb 26... George Town, Exuma
(I'm sorry for getting a little behind in our posting. With Abby and Jake here we were just too busy to be searching for signal to get our blogs out.)
We spent the morning listening to nets and reading. At 10am I went ashore to a seminar on making conch horns but didn't really learn anything that I didn't already know. I returned and finished our new horn with the dremel.
The wind is still blowing at 25 knots here which makes travel by dinghy difficult. Most of the afternoon was spent reading. I did make another conch horn after I finished my book and then transferred the water that we keep in jerry cans. I decided to make a run to George Town for a load of water. The trip over was fine but getting back was wet...by the time I returned the dinghy was half full of water and I was soaked.
We transferred the water, but still need at least two trips to top off our tank. The winds are supposed to diminished tomorrow afternoon so we'll be able to make another run then.
Feb 25... George Town, Exuma
We were up at 4:30 for coffee. Jake, Abby and I were in the dinghy at 5:20 for the trip across the harbor. We bagged up the luggage but the trip was with the wind and waves so we arrived at the dock completely dry. Clifford of taxi 16 was waiting for us so we quickly said our good-byes and they were off. They had been gone for about 2 hours when we saw dolphins swimming around the boat-where have they been? Why do they wait until the company is gone?
I waited about 40 minutes for daylight before I set out on my return trip. The dinghy was so lightly loaded that I could stay on top of most of the waves... hanging on for dear life as I blasted by way back.
We spoke with "Veranda" during the morning and ended up joining them ( along with Far Niente, Alibi Two, and My Destiny) for a hike on the southern end of Stocking Island. Di promised to teach the ladies how to weave palm fronds so we got a good lesson from her about the proper fronds to gather on our walk.
We returned for a late lunch and read for a couple of hours before returning to Sand Dollar Beach for weaving lessons. The snacks were great as usual and by the time we got back, decided to forego dinner.
Feb 24... George Town, Exuma
The wind blew all night and although we didn't know it at the time, there were quite a few boats dragging anchor in the harbor. Most of them were packed in close to shore and probably didn't have enough scope on their rodes.
We were fine, bouncing a little but nothing uncomfortable. Abby made blueberry muffins for breakfast but most of the morning was spent on crosswords and reading. Before lunch Jake and I took the dinghy across the harbor in some large waves but since we were going with the wind, stayed dry. The lighter that we use to start our oven, one of the long ones, died this morning and the oven is useless without it. We also have decided to purchase Bahamas chips for the phones that the kids used in London so that mom and Anne, and later Ellie and Matt will have phones when they arrive.
We stopped at the grocery and found some gook looking broccoli and fresh mushrooms. Our trip back was not dry. In fact we were both soaked by the time we made it back. After rinsing off we had some soup for lunch and relaxed for a couple of hours. About 3pm we took the dinghy to St. Francis which is a nearby resort and met Tom and Susan from "Brilliant" who were there working on the computer.
They are leaving tomorrow for a week back in Mass. Unfortunately, their flight is about an hour later than Jake and Abby's. We talked about trying to share taxi fares but decided that it was cutting things a little short.
Back at the boat we put together a meal of beef and noodles and broccoli that was simple but really hit the spot. We were going to play another game of euchre but by the time the kids got their stuff packed, it was time for bed.
Feb 23... George Town, Exuma
I spoke with Nancy of "Solitaire" briefly on Cruiseheimers... It was nice to catch up with their progress. We made pancakes and sausage for breakfast and then I took the dinghy down to Sand Dollar Beach to visit "Veranda" whom we haven't seen since North Carolina. They were heading out to do some hunting so I returned to have some lunch and pick up Jake and some snorkel gear.
It was fun for Jake to get in the water one last time but he didn't see anything to shoot. Bill got a small lobster so the trip wasn't a total wash out.
Later we went ashore to the Chat and Chill. Karen was cutting hair today so Kathy spent most of the afternoon in line. Jake played some volleyball and I got roped into a bridge game. We had a nice afternoon and then returned to the boat for dinner.
We marinated some pork tenderloins which we had with green beans and mashed potatoes. We played a few games of euchre until it got to be Abby's bed time.
Thompson's Bay, Long Island to Georgetown, Exuma February 22, 2009
After coffee Jake took the rental car back to Fox's and I picked him up at a dock in that area. We said good bye to Barry and Susan and stopped by "Fine Lion" to touch base with Steve before weighing anchor for the trip back to Georgetown. The weather during the next few days is questionable and we wanted to make sure we were close enough to the airport that we could deliver Jake and Abby when the time came.
Although we had the sails up there was only about 5 knots of wind directly behind us so the motor was running all day. It was an uneventful day motoring across the banks, the water never more than 12 feet. Jake and Abby stayed on the foredeck getting sun and we stayed in the shade as much as possible. With apparent wind at about 0... it was really hot. We looked forward to minor course changes that would give is a little breeze. Since the waters were almost calm, I went below and made lobster chowder for lunch which ended up being excellent.
We arrived at around 3pm, found a place to anchor off the south end of Volleyball beach and turned on the radio to listen to the Spartans. By the time the Badgers were defeated, it was time for something to eat so I went below and put together a some small pizzas.
We read for a while and then crashed.
Thompson's Bay, Long Island February 21, 2009
We were all up and in the dinghy headed for shore at 7:45. Fox's Auto, the car rental folks, were picking us up at 8:00 for the three mile ride to their junk yard. They were early by 3 minutes which has to be an all time Bahamian record.
There really aren't too many attractions in the north end of the island so we pointed the car south on the wrong side of the road and headed for the beach near the remains of the Diamond Crystal Salt Company. It took an hour and a half to get there but the beach was even better than the last time we visited. It is about 30 minutes off the road and the trails are nothing but rocks but the remoteness is what makes it so special.
After walking the beaches for an hour or so we retraced our steps back to Clarence Town and had a late breakfast at "Rowdy Boys". Rowdy Boys is a large construction company that is named for the owners three sons. As an after thought, they built a little resort with a very nice restaurant. We toured the town... which doesn't take long and then headed for the "Blue Hole." The Blue Hole was unfortunately covered with weed, due to the wind direction. It was a little disappointing.
We took some back roads to the ocean side that were a little risky but never really had any problems. Jake did find a sea bean on one of the beaches and I found a couple of different shells.
We stopped at Max's Conch Bar for a Conch salad and beer for lunch and continued north back to Salt Pond where we went in to "Island Breeze" where we found Steve, Barry , and Susan on the computer. Michael and Jackie were glad to see us and we spent a couple of hours there before heading for the grocery and then back to the beach.
There was a party on the beach at 5pm so Kathy mixed up some salsa and we took along a bag of chips. We met some folks there who kept their boat at "Whitehall Landing" which is the marina where we kept our first boat. Although we didn't really know them from Whitehall, her brother Joe was a good friend of ours.
Back at the boat we watched some video and Abby made a couple of batches of popcorn. Actually, we're still arguing about this one, Mike says Jake made the popcorn.