A big water spout!
04/18/2009, Lynyard Cay, Abacos
April 16th... Lynyard Cay
There was loads of lightening to our north at about 4:30 am so I got up and turned on the radar to see if there any trackable rain. There was a large squall to our northeast, moving east and dissipating. I closed the hatches and went back to bed. We did get a small shower about dawn but not enough to really rinse the boat.
We like it here and plan to stay for a day or two. I worked around the boat during the morning while Kathy finished a book. We got the dinghy down, the wind bugger up and dug out those items that had been stowed for yesterday's ocean crossing.
At about 11:00 we headed to shore for the short hike over the island to the beach on the ocean side. Steve was working on the computer but Kim joined us for a few hours of beach combing. There were no real treasures to be found but we did pick up lots of sea glass and I found three heart beans.
On our return we made plans to have a late lunch at Pete's Pub, leaving around 2pm.
The trip from Lynyard down to Little Harbor is about 3 miles and crosses the cut which makes for a rough ride with both chop and swell. It wasn't too bad a trip although I did run the dinghy into the back side of one wave getting both of us a little wet.
Pete's Pub consists of a small triangular bar covered with a roof supported by poles. The covered area is about ten times the size of the bar with a few picnic tables. The floor consists of beach sand. There are a few tables on a covered dock in front and one in a covered alcove to the rear. The place was hopping. The four of us sat down with Phil and Sarah from "Spartina" and ordered lunch. At the next table were folks from three boats who had made the crossing with us yesterday. We knew one couple from last year who introduced us to their sailing friends. Those of us who were on the southern side of the thunderstorms all wanted to talk about the water spouts, those in the middle of the stroms wanted to talk about the rain and 40 knots of wind.
We all made plans to get together on the beach at 5:30 for snacks and to burn some trash. There is a fire pit there for that purpose.
There were still two sleeves of Townhouse crackers on the shelf so we made some dip. It sounds gross but consists of equal parts of chopped onion, grated cheese, and Mayonnaise. I added some salt, pepper, paprika, and dry mustard to liven things just a little.
As is usually the case, supper wasn't necessary tonight so we closed things up watched an episode of "Cold Case" before calling it a day.
April 15th... Royal Island to Little Harbor, Abacos
The wind woke me up at about 4am and I moved up to the cockpit to spend the rest of the night. Holding isn't the best here with lots of weeds on the bottom however we ended up being fine.
The next leg of our trip north was a 55 mile sail out in the Atlantic. I wasn't at all sure that I wanted to be out there with as much wind as we were experiencing and was about to just stay in Royal Island for a few days waiting for the next weather window. We knew that Jim and Nancy would be along in a few days.
We listened to Chris Parker at 6:30 and were promised that the wind was going to gradually subside during the day. The swell in the Ocean was also going to be less and less as the day progressed. Steve had down loaded some grib files that also called for improving conditions. On the other side of the coin we learned that our next opportunity to make the jump would be Monday. Five days of being stuck on the boat in Royal Island was too much for us to consider so we delayed our departure until 8:30 to let the wind begin to settle.
Meanwhile, Bill who wanted to leave early couldn't get "Veranada" started. We were thinking about staying with them for moral support but Bill came on the radio to say that our staying made him feel pressured to hurry and he needed to take his time and fix the problem correctly.
After sneaking through the tiny exit between the rocks, we had two miles of beating into seas of about 4 to 5 feet. We were bobbing up and down and a few of the waves actually stopped us dead in our tracks. We turned through the Egg Island passage heading north and out into the Atlantic, set the sails and turned off the engine. In a few minutes it became evident that we weren't going to be able to sail the rhumbline north with a south wind, so we sailed enough to the east or west to keep our sails filled. Once we left the protection of the Island in into the Atlantic swell, we also learned that there wasn't enough wind to keep our momentum when running up the swell. So we turned on the engine at a little more than idle which solved the problem. The extra push up the waves made all the difference.
The trip was rolly but not altogether uncomfortable, especially compared to last year's trip out here when we lurched heavily with each swell. During the early afternoon a line of thunderstorms built to our north. We happened to be on a westward jibe at the time so we added another 12 degrees to our course in an attempt to cut behind the line of storms which was heading east.
It was an impressive looking storm and we could see squalls on our radar eight miles to our northeast but after an hour of traveling west, a much better point is sail as well, it looked like we were going to miss everything.
Just as we were slipping behind the last of the storm cells a water spout began to drop from the sky. We were about four miles away and hopefully out of harm's way to the west as we watched the thing build. Most water spouts last at most a couple of minutes. This one lasted about 30. It started as a long thin funnel snaking down from the grey line of clouds. We could easily see the spray at its base. It continued to grow in size as we watched from a thin line stretching down to a massive black column that appeared to be about one quarter as wide as it was tall. Very much like some of the photos of monster tornados.
Once we were sure that "Sapphire" and its crew were safe, it was fun to watch it build. A secondary funnel popped out of the clouds a little to the east of the first but it never amounted to as much as The Big One.
One of the boats that passed through the line of thunderstorms reported winds of 39 knots, so our turn to the west proved to be the best course of action.
The remainder of our trip was uneventful. During the last few miles the wind shifted in our favor and we were able to sail again. Entering the cut into Little Harbor was not an issue and after a few minutes we were safely anchored along side "Fine Lion" who always seems to arrive before we do.
During the afternoon I had made some pizza dough for a pesto pizza which made for a very pleasant meal in the cockpit as the sun settled into the west.
April 14th... Highborne Cay to Royal Island
The wind blew most of the night and when we got up it was around 23 knots from the south. We knew that the whole trip today was on the banks and that the waves, although steep and short, were usually manageable.
The first two miles of our trip were to the west so we had beam seas that built rapidly as we lost the protection of Highborne Cay. At one point we had to face into them to retie the dingy that was swinging wildly on the davits.
Once we turned to the north and rolled out the head sail we were traveling at about 6.5 knots with the wind and waves, the ride was much more comfortable. We still rolled quite a bit in the waves that were in the four to six range, but we were going so fast that it was fun. Much of the day I ended up hand steering because "Mark" the autopilot couldn't anticipate the roll. Hand steering reduced the roll about 6o percent.
Later in the morning we passed through the "Middle Grounds" which is an area of about 10 miles where there are dangerous coral heads everywhere and you have to weave your way through. Luckily we had good sun and they show up as large black spots on the water. With both of us watching, we had no problems. It would have been fun to stop and snorkel on some of them.
In the afternoon the wind and waves subsided to the point where I could turn the autopilot on and take a rest.
We passed through the Fleeming Channel at the north end of Eluthera and continued north another 12 miles to Royal Island. The Island itself is private and a resort has been in the process of being built for the last few years but there is a large harbor with 360 degrees of protection that is still used by cruisers.
When we arrived there were about 10 boats already anchored, one of which was "Veranda" and our friends Bill and Christi.
Neither of us were very hungry, but did have a late supper of smoked sausage and sauerkraut with a salad of cucumber and onions in sour cream.
With plans to leave at 7am, I was tired and went to bed early.
Fine Lion flying the spinnaker
04/18/2009, Highborne Cay
April 13th... Big Majors to Highborne Cay
We left the anchorage shortly after 8am and motored out to Sandy Cay a couple of miles to the west. Once there we hoisted sails and turned off the engine. We wouldn't hear it again for 9 hours. It was one of those days that reminded us of just why we like to sail.
Much of the morning was spent running under 5 knots with winds behind us. We ran wing on wing for a few hours as the wind veered more to the south. Finally we were able to bear more to the north which put the wind just behind the beam. We spent the last three hours between 6 and 7 knots flying along.
"Fine Lion" started the day in Black Point and were about 4 miles behind us when we started sailing. They had their spinnaker deployed and passed us about noon. They were making at least one more knot all day and arrived about an hour before we did. We got some nice photos of them as they passed us.
Once the boat was squared away, we dropped the dinghy and ran over to plan our next hop and to deliver their propane tank which we had picked up in Staniel Cay. We stayed for an hour or so and then returned to cook some chicken and fried potatoes.
Kathy talked to Nancy via cell. They are heading north on the eastern route up Cat and Eleuthera Islands. We'll catch up with them in the Abacos if not before.
April 12th... Big Majors Spot, Exumas
Today, Easter Sunday, was perfectly calm. It was the first calm day we've seen all winter. There have been a few times when the winds were down for a few hours, but today the water was flat for the full 24 .
After some coffee I made the 2 mile trip to the Yacht Club for another load of water and returned to begin topping off our tank. It only took about 10 gallons so we have a little extra water which I will add in a day or so.
By 10 am it was 85 degrees and with no breeze, really hot. We stayed in the shade most of the morning reading and weaving. After lunch I removed the carbeurator from the outboard. It hasn't been idling lately and usually that means that it needs a cleaning. There is one tiny port especially that is prone to clogging.
With the outboard running better than it has in weeks, we took off for a beach about 2 miles away for a swim. We returned to the boat for a moment and then left again on a slow cruise abound Big Majors. On our way to the cut to the north we passed a boat at anchor that was from North Muskegon. As it turns out the guy built Larry and Carol's radar mount back at Wesley's Marina in White Lake. We're often reminded of just how small our world is...
After our tour of the island, which used up most of the afternoon, I chopped up some conch and vegetables for a salad. Adding the juice last, it went into the refrigerator to cool and cook for an hour. We really can't explain how good a conch salad can be.
There are about 10 very large (150 + feet) motor yachts in the anchorage. Vava has been right next to us for the last few days and we've had fun watching the crew play with the owners away for a few days. They have lots of toys and lots of friends.
April 11th... Big Majors Spot, Exumas
We were up at 6:30 and had some coffee while Ellie and Matt completed their packing. At around 8 Steve came over on his way to town so we split the load and both of us were able to get up on plane for the trip to the Airport. Due to the Easter festivities at Black Point, Flamingo Air schedules were all messed up . Matt and Ellie's 8:45 flight left at 10:10 which didn't leave them much time in Nassau to complete customs and make their connecting flight.
We had a great time with Ellie and Matt and were sorry that their stay seemed so short.
I stopped at the grocery on the way back to the boat to pick up a few items. We had some left over Mac and Cheese for lunch and then spent a couple of hours reading. I transferred what water we had in jerry cans into the main tank and then we headed back to the Marina for a load of water.
We walked over to Isles General to pick up "Fine Lion's" propane which wasn't filled this morning and then had a beer in the Yacht Club before heading back to the boat with our load of water.
The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and transferring water into the main tank. I make some chicken fried rice for dinner... which was a little crunchy but edible.
We watched some video into the evening.
Tooling about the island
04/18/2009, Staniel Cay
April 10th Staniel Cay
After breakfast and a little cleaning we were off to shore to pick up our golf cart and a map of the island. With four in the dinghy and a considerable chop from the SE, we all were mostly soaked on our arrival. We had to hunt for Lydia to tell us which cart to take and found her cracking conch on the dock. In a couple of minutes we were on the road. The island is not all that big and in a couple of hours we had covered all the roads at our disposal... We did find a nice hiking trail on the north end of the island with some amazing views. There is quite a bit of construction on the east or ocean side that seems to be progressing a little faster than most building projects here in the Bahamas.
We returned to the Yacht Club for lunch then made a short tour of the village before returning the Cart to TC Mobile.
Back at the boat we read for a while and then cleaned a couple of lobsters to crack. After it was fried up, we dinghied over to "Fine Lion" for seafood feast. (poor Ellie) Steve made cracked conch and some Mahi to go along with our lobster. Don and Karen and boys from "Dragon Lady" joined us as well. We had a great time as always.
After breakfast we weighed anchor and headed north to Big Majors. It was almost calm so we were motoring once again. The trip is only about an hour so we arrived sometime during the mid morning hours. For lunch, we dinghied to Sampson Cay with Steve and Kim. Matt rode along with them to even out the load but we still couldn't get up on plane like we should.
We had a nice lunch and picked up a few things at their store before returning.
It looked like a good day to hit Thunderball Cave again for some snorkeling so we headed out about 2pm. We should have waited a little longer as the current was almost too much deal with. We did finished up the film in Dave's underwater camera. If they turn out, we'll be purchasing a couple in the future.
From Thunderball we motored over to the yacht club where Matt and Ellie worked on the computer while Kathy and I hiked to the three grocery stores in the village. We knew that things would be closed tomorrow for Good Friday and there were a few things we needed before heading North in a few days.
Back at the boat we read a little and then had some Mahi and Mac and Cheese for dinner.
We wasted away most of the morning but after lunch went snorkeling and spent most of the afternoon on the beach.
We knew the wind was going to clock to the west and then blow hard from the north west today. Before noon we weighed anchor and moved around the point for some protection at Little Bay. After lunch we dinghied ashore and hiked back to town where we picked up a loaf of bread that we had ordered yesterday, to get on the internet and to purchase a phone card. It was a long hot walk, but we had some water to keep us going.
The evening was calm and everyone got a much better night's sleep.