04/24/2009, Marsh Harbour, Abaco
April 18th... Lynyard Cay, Abacos
We listened to the weather and then got "Sapphire" ready for our planned 8:30 departure... and then changed our minds. Although Marsh Harbor is only about 20 miles to the north, we were looking at a 20 knot + north wind all day and would be bucking 2 foot seas all the way. I called "Fine Lion" with the proposal and they concurred. We also invited them to dinner that evening.
The boat hadn't been thoroughly cleaned since Matt and Ellie were here so that was one of our projects for the day. We also had a yellow cake mix with a can of chocolate frosting that was supposed to have been baked when Ellie was here. That became another goal.
We also continued to work on our wifi antenna with the hope of getting on line sometime during the day. It would be nice to get the blog updated.
I made beef stew for dinner which also took awhile so between cooking, cleaning and working on the computer, 5:30 rolled around quickly.
We had a nice meal with Steve and Kim and later watched an episode of "The Soprano's."
An ocean view
04/18/2009, Lynyard Cay
April 17th Lynyard Cay, Abacos
We didn't do much of anything in the morning. I worked on updating our Blog and then on attempting to get online. Kathy was able to make a connection with her Mac in the cockpit with the internal antenna but the external antenna for my computer was having trouble.
After reloading the software and altering the com port to the only usable usb on this machine there was still nothing.
There is a splice in our antenna so I took off the tape and checked it out. What I found was that the shielding on the antenna side of the splice was powder. It was completely oxidized for about 3 inches. Cut out a section of both ends and made a new connection. For a while at least I had a great connection.
We went ashore with Kim and Steve in the afternoon to check out another couple of beaches. I picked up sea glass and Kathy found a heart bean so it wasn't a total waste of time.
With a dinner invitation from Steve for 5:30, we returned to the boat and put together an anti-pasta plate. I turned on the computer and couldn't make any type of connection.
Anyway we had are great dinner and lots of fun with Steve and Kim and returned in the wind and waves in time to watch a little video before bed.
We decided to leave for Marsh Harbor tomorrow morning which is Saturday. We need some supplies that we wouldn't be able to get on Sunday and Steve needs to have some refrigeration work done.
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.