Retirement to Bahamas

Mike and Judy have been sailing for some 25 years. We have dreamed for years about retiring and sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean. We are living our dream!

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Reflections on Cruise 2010/11

11 April 2011
I'm now in New Jersey, reunited with Judy and Chopin, enjoying the hospitality of Judy's parents as well as her siblings and their children. We expect to head to Fredericton tomorrow (Tuesday).

This completes our third year cruising and it's been a great season. Here are a few observations about our third year aboard......

We got an early start this year to the Bahamas. We crossed on December 16, whereas two years ago, we crossed on January 2; last year, recall that we stayed in the US. The weather this year was very good; far better than the past two years. While dealing with cold fronts is a reality of Bahamas winter sailing, they were far fewer and much more widely spaced than the past two years. And, we had plenty of time to find a good place of shelter to wait out the fronts. I think we had one very short rain shower in the entire time we were in the Bahamas and we had long stretches of time with warm, gentle winds and calm seas; ideal for exploring the wonderful Exumas.

Our crossings back and forth to the Bahamas were fine. We did have a few challenging days like the December crossing from Frazier's Hog Cay to Nassau but there were few times when conditions were uncomfortable.

Despite my complaining earlier in my blog about the challenges and travails of boat maintenance, Sea Sharp served us very well. I did have my plumbing challenges and the breakdown of the wind generator (which I eventually repaired) but everything else worked fine and Sea Sharp continues to be a comfortable Bahamas cruiser. We did, however, succumb to that terrible affliction, "two footitis" as the season progressed, lusting for a larger, centre cockpit boat with more space and more amenities but decommissioning and storing the boat is usually a good cure for this as, all of a sudden the boat seems to grow again.

Tropical cruising is hard on a boat and while Sea Sharp is standing up well, I need to put in place a more rigorous maintenance plan. For example, I need to have a replacement regime for my standing and running rigging; need to examine and routinely replace hoses and pumps and not wait for things to break before turning my attention to them. Remember my earlier definition of cruising, "boat maintenance in exotic places!".

We were pleased to not have to have spent any appreciable amount of time in Nassau. Now, I've got nothing against Nassau, but it's a big bustling city and does not depict the Bahamas from a cruising perspective. Two years ago we got stuck in Nassau for a week or more on the way down and again ont eh way back. This year, we spent one night in Nassau on the way down and did not even enter the harbour (we stayed in Rose Island ) on the way back.

We did spend much more time in the Exumas, exploring wonderful, remote and beautiful islands an Cays. And there's so much more to explore.

We did a lot of snorkelling this year., thanks in part to Georgina, whose energy an encouragement inspired us to explore many fantastic sites. We swam many, many colourful and strangely shaped reef fish, seemingly oblivious to our presence in their beautiful aquatic environment. We saw lots of sharks, huge rays, turtles, barracudas and other fishes.

We had some fantastic sails; in particular I recall our trip to and from Conception, our sail back from Long Island and our return from Highbourne Cay to Rose Island. While we still do a lot of motoring and motor sailing, there were great days when we sliced through the pristine waters without the aid of our fossil fuelled iron sail.

We still struggle with energy management on board. Despite having solar panels, wind generator, two battery banks, a gasoline generator, a high capacity alternator on the diesel and miserly power utilization we have a hard time keeping up without needs. I have some ideas what to do next fall to remedy this.

While we spend an extended period in Georgetown, and thoroughly enjoyed the socialization and numerous events and happenings, we did not get "stuck" here like two years ago. In fact, we made two mini-cruises from Georgetown which were highlights of our overall cruise. The first was our trip to Conception which is probably my overall favourite place. The second was our visit to Long Island and our day adventures with Roger and Jacquie and Jim and Irene.

We met lots of new cruisers but renewed acquaintance with numerous folks we had met over the past three years. It's a huge expanse of cruising territory but surprisingly small in terms of the likelihood of crossing paths again with folks we have met before. Particularly enjoyable was the time we spend with Jim and Irene on Escapaid, who we met in the Bahamas twelve years ago when we spent a memorable week with Ann and Harold on Rumpot.

Poor old Chopin continues to be a great crew member. He is slower and more careful as he goes up and down the companionway, and seems more and more dependant on being in very close proximity to Judy but he seems to endure the discomfort of being on a small vessel on the water and when he does his usual late afternoon sojourn around the deck or his beach walks with Judy, he seems to be downright content.

We very much enjoyed our visit in December with Bob and Carolyn as we always have. We did regret that for various reasons our other intended visits from Colleen and James, Jim and Jackie and a return visit from Bob and Carolyn did not turn out. Perhaps next year!

Having said that, we did spend virtually the entire time in the company of Roger and Jacquie on Audacious. We have sailed with them and their family for at least twenty five years and they have been wonderful companions on this trip. It certainly eased the loneliness and made for a more comfortable and contented season. Rarely was Judy homesick knowing the Roger and Jacquie were anchored a few hundred meters from us. Thanks Rog and Jacquie!!

Finally, we continue to heal from the terrible tragedy and loss which we endured two years ago. Judy, in particular, was happy and content and her several times a day, long swims in the azure waters of the wonderful Bahamas was a true balm in helping heal a broken heart!

So, while I'll proclaim as I did the past two years, that I will try to make at least sporadic posts to our blog during the summer I can't commit to this and you may only hear from me again in this forum next fall. Nevertheless, thank you for your readership and interest. Fair winds from Sea Sharp!
Comments
Vessel Name: Sea Sharp
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter Legend 37.5
Hailing Port: Douglas Harbour, NB, Canada
Crew: Mike, Judy and Chopin (the boat cat)
About:
Mike will be retiring in September 2008 after a long and rewarding career with the civil service in New Brunswick, Canada. I will end my career as President of Service New Brunswick, the "single window" service delivery agency for multi-jurisdictional government services to citizens and businesses. [...]
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Sea Sharp's Photos -

Preparing for Retirement Trip

Who: Mike, Judy and Chopin (the boat cat)
Port: Douglas Harbour, NB, Canada