After spending a few days in Exuma Land and Sea Park and Highborne Cay recovering from William's passing we headed to Nassau. We intended to spend a few days there, catch up on boat chores and be tourists but the weather was dreadful. Walking on the muddy streets in the rain was a dreary affair. The marina we stayed in was surrounded by razor wire (as were all the area businesses) and guarded at night so we didn't go out at night. And we didn't get any siteseeing in either. The photo is of the famous Atlantis Hotel Complex...this is the closest we got to it!
I had boycotted Nassau for the last 38 years and upon arriving I immediately remembered why. The harbor was filled with fast moving vessels of all descriptions throwing monstrous wakes at all hours. We rolled in our slip at all hours of the day and night. It was great to walk a mile to the big grocery store and resupply all the foods we had been missing. Don was even able to score some NA Beer....something he had been searching for since we got to the Bahamas.
After about 4 days we were ready to go but TS Alberto was heading up the East Coast. One morning at 6:30 AM I spoke with Chris Parker (marine weather forecaster) on SSB radio about the next suitable weather window to South Florida. He said "if you don't go now you may be stuck in Nassau for 1-2 more weeks." Even though it was not our ideal weather window in both type of conditions and duration, we made the boat sea ready and left an hour and a half later! The photo is of the famous Atlantis hotel...this is the closest we got to it as we passed. by exiting Nassau harbor
The first 2/3 of the trip were benign, although a motor sail. About 3 AM we exited the Great Bahama Bank and entered the Gulfstream. For the next 3 hours it was a little rolly from the 3 ft northerly swells that the Tropical Storm, hundreds of miles away, sent our way. Not enough wind to sail but enough seas to roll. Ugh! Then the winds built to about 25 kts from the southwest and a cross sea started up.
Soon we had about 3 ft seas from behind us and the northerly rollers had built to 5 ft. THEN the squalls started. It was raining quite hard for the last few hours. So much so that even though we could identify an 883 ft north bound freighter on AIS he could not see us on radar due to the rain clutter. Good thing we talked to each other on the VHF radio and missed each other.
We arrived at Lake Worth Inlet around 10AM. Total trip was 187 nm, our average speed was 6.9 kts, total time underway was 26 hours. It was a wild ride but at least the uncomfortable part was over quickly.
Welcome back to the US. :(
William grew up aboard Don's boat Copacetic and circumnavigated the U.K. with Don and his wife Margery. He had more adventures than most people do in their entire lives! Nearly 7 years ago I met William and so did my cat Velcro. William immediately and forevermore established himself as Alpha cat. He deserved it--he was clever, smart and charming. My mom even called him "the great seducer."
William and I had our certain routines living aboard Straight from the Heart. Each evening, for example, when he thought I was getting ready for bed he would jump up on the bed and ask to play. Even though he was a proper British cat with a stiff upper lip who possessed high intelligence, each day he briefly turned into a kitten and chased the laser light around and around in circles on the bed then up and down the hallway till he was tired out. We would also "box" paws until one of us would get ticked off or wounded, usually me.
Most importantly, his loving bond with Don was so amazing to see. To see them nuzzling each other and watching William rubbing against Don's beard was so very touching. Don loves him very, very much. So do I.
We buried William this afternoon on an uninhabited island on a sand beach looking out at a small island called London Gin Rock. Don said it seemed appropriate because he was a sea-cat and he was born in London. We will miss William greatly.
Say a prayer for Don---he is having a tough time with this loss. And we all have a large hole in our hearts
William was born in London, where Don bought him from a Rastafarian in the projects who was on the dole and sold kittens, puppies and ganja. Certainly an auspicious beginning. He did exhibit a British stiff upper lip and Cat-itude.
Over the years whenever Don met people who showed an interest in cats, he would proudly show them William's baby picture. He was a beautiful baby (kitten)! And turned into a handsome Tuxedo cat.
Hi, this is Maryann writing because Don is just not ready to write right now.
During a passage this morning, both William and Velcro came up into the cockpit to sleep/keep watch as they typically do. After breakfast, William sat between us on the settee. At 8:40 AM he lifted his head up, let out a small squawk and dropped over dead.
We are devastated to say the least. Anyone who met William will agree he was a coooool cat. He was very smart----sometimes I thought he was smarter than me for sure. He turned just 12 years old and had an adventurous and well-traveled life.
He was a sea cat and was quite comfortable living a life aboard a sailing vessel. He had more sea miles than many humans we know! he circumnavigated the United Kingdom, sailed from the Chesapeake to Florida, to the Bahamas, to Maine and back to Florida. Then he sailed from Clear Lake, Texas to the Bahamas again.
Truly a remarkable pet and companion who will be sorely missed by the remaining 3 crew members.
We wanted to get to Eleuthera and thought we would jump up the outer island chain through Cat Island but the winds were better for sailing if we went to the Exumas. So we went 76 nautical miles from Simms, Long Island to Black Point, Exumas. It was a long day but a gorgeous one. We got to use the Code Zero sail and after we had to strike that we sailed with the main and jib. We arrived before dark and the best part--Velcro did NOT get sick!
After a few days, we meandered north to the settlement of Simms. Simms is the government center for the northern half of the 80 mile long Long Island. The settlement is tiny and quite poor. There is no dinghy dock/landing and you have to climb up a concrete dock to get to land (more on that later).
There is one restaurant in town that was written up in a guide book we have. So the crews of DreamCatcher and Heart thought why not? After dinghying ashore and walking up the single lane road we came upon the Blue Chip Bar and Restaurant. It appeared to be an older home with a beautiful banyon tree out front. Several men were sitting under the tree playing dominos, drinking and smoking pot. They welcomed us and directed us around to the side of the building to the restaurant part of the building. The other part was sort of a bar.
Mario, we think is the owner, was as surprised to see us as we were him! After he recovered from his surprise at meeting people from "away" he welcomed us inside and seated us at the only table in the restaurant side of the building. There was also a kitchen counter to sit at but a gentleman was sleeping across two stools so we chose the table.
Mario cooked us what he had in his coolers which was fried chicken, fried conch, rice and corn. It was a plentiful meal served family style in old pie plates and chipped serving bowls but it was gooood home cooking. Price for dinner for four with several drinks: $40. Priceless.
The people watching was definitely worth more than the price of admission: the numerous men sort of came alive after we got there, were talking/shouting to us and still smoking their dubes out in the open. We never felt in jeopardy and the crowd was friendly and was full of advice for us.
At the end of the afternoon the tide had gone out and it was difficult to get into the dinghy, especially for short-legged Maryann. So she walked to a nearby sand beach and Don came around the point and retrieved her there. You have to be flexible in this lifestyle.