02/08/2011, White Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
We listened to the weather on the SSB radio again this morning. The front that had been predicted came through. The winds weren't that strong, but they did clock around from SE to SW and then through the night to the west. Between 4 and 5 AM they swung another 50 degrees to just east of north. We swung around at anchor, but the anchor never moved.
There is another front coming through Friday, so we are taking advantage of some light NE to east winds to move over near Nassau tomorrow. Thursday we'll hang out at the anchorage there as there is virtually no wind predicted. Then Friday we'll go to a marina to get things we need and wait out the squalls. This time the winds might get to 30 knots or so.
Today we finally got to take the dinghy around the west side of Hoffman Cay and we found the blue hole. Bud is looking about 20 feet down into it in the photo. You can see that there is nothing else around, just this crater of seawater in the middle of the low jungle-like scrub. I put other pictures that give a sense of the depth in the gallery.
LoCo and Bodacious left for Nassau today; and the boat that was over near the other cay moved closer to us for a better spot. They had gone aground as the wind swung around during the night.
We said good-bye via radio to Jim and Judy on Dream Weaver. We never got over next to them, having decided to stay here and then leave for Nassau. Still haven't seen or heard from Scott and Brittany on Rasmus, but hoping our paths will cross.
02/07/2011, White Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
We decided to stay at the anchorage we were at rather than move near Jim and Judy today. We are more protected here and the anchor does seem to have a good bite, so we figured we be good to sit out the front and the wind clocking around.
Sarah and Mickel on LoCo weighed anchor and set out for Nassau. At about 10:30 a trawler came in. We talked to them a bit on the radio and they circled us looking for some sand to anchor in. They ended up fairly close to us. They apologized on the radio and said they would have anchored farther away, but there was nowhere else that had protection from the west and sand for the anchor. They said they'd watch for a couple of hours and make sure it would be OK.
We took off in the dinghy to find the blue hole that's supposed to be on the cay just to our north. (Cay is pronounced key and is an island.) We landed at the beach directly north of us hoping to find a trail through from there. There was none, so we got back in the dinghy to try to get around to the west side of the cay. But when we went though the cut and out into the water on the south side it was pretty wavy for our little dinghy. Since we didn't know the depths and what the beach approach would be like, we gave up for today.
After lunch Bud went snorkeling. While he was in the water, LoCo came back along with another sailboat. I called out to LoCo and they said they'd just been beating back and forth; the wind hadn't switched to the south much at all, so they decided to come back. LoCo anchored on the other side of the trawler, close to where they'd been the night before. The other boat anchored a ways over from the three of us, close behind another little cay. I went snorkeling after Bud got back and snorkeled over to the trawler. The trawler is Bodacious, from Bannock, MT and the couple on board is Jack and Jo.
We fed Fuzzy his supper and walked him. Then we went over and picked up Sarah and Mickel and went for cocktails on Bodacious. It's a beautiful 39-foot Kady Krogan. We had a really nice time getting to know both couples. When we left to come back it was dark, we had no light with us and neither LoCo nor Earendil had an anchor light. After our eyes got used to the dark we could see OK. And Jack helped by using his spotlight to illuminate our way.
The wind has finally shifted to the west, but it has died down as it shifted, not gotten stronger as expected. It was blowing up around 20 knots today, but is probably between 10 and 15 knots now. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
02/06/2011, White Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
We left Great Harbour Cay Marina at a little after 8 AM. Before I even put the dock lines away I went below and checked the stuffing box. The stuffing box is at the point where the propeller shaft comes through the hull. We have a standard stuffing box so it is designed to use water as a lubricant for the shaft. The shaft should drip very slowly when the prop is turning. Since we'd had the work done in Charleston, we noticed that it was dripping quite a bit. That's not surprising, because they changed both the bearing outside the hull that the prop rides in and the engine mounts, so the shaft through the stuffing box was bound to have changed. Anyway, the drip seemed to be getting excessive and our bilge pump was coming on more than once a day, so Bud decided to tighten the stuffing box a little. What I was checking was to make sure it wasn't over tightened, so that no water was dripping and the shaft not getting lubricated. But it was fine. I checked it a little later in the day and it was still fine.
The wind was light and variable, as predicted, so we motored the whole way. We came up on a smaller sailboat sailing along, towards the end of the trip. We then altered our course a bit and Bud suggested we might try to fly the jib, because the wind was not quite so on the nose. I really think it was just because the other boat was managing to sail. Anyway, I suggested just putting the staysail out, that's so much easier to handle. Bud agreed, and I'm glad we didn't try the jib because the wind was really too close.
We were almost to the cut into this anchorage, so we rolled up the staysail, donned our communicators and I took my place on the bow. We had no trouble coming in, the cut was fairly narrow, but deep. We motored around looking for a likely place to anchor. The only trouble we had was that the wind and tide were opposed, so it was hard to figure out which way to point the boat. Anyway, we dropped the new anchor, let out about 35 feet of chain and let the boat drift back. Then we let out another 15 feet and Bud backed the engine hard against it. When we thought we had it set, we let out another 30 feet or so. We have somewhere around 80 feet of chain out. As we were finishing up, the boat that had been sailing outside came in and anchored closer to White Cay.
The first thing we did was get our new viewing bucket, put the oars and Fuzzy in the dinghy and row out to check the anchor and take Fuzzy ashore. Our new anchor was pretty nicely buried in the sand.
We called Dream Weaver on the radio and made plans to get in touch with them in the morning. Jim called back with an offer of fish, so we quickly put the engine on the dinghy and motored over to meet him in his dinghy. On the way we checked out the channel we'd have to take to move over by him. It looked just over 6 feet at low tide. We'll see what the forecast is before we decide to move. There's thick sand there, this is supposed to be not as good holding here, but better wind protection.
We took Fuzzy back to shore one more time. I was concerned about the dinghy getting loose as the tide rose; we just pulled it up on the beach. Bud made fun of me for my worries as we were only going to be ashore a few minutes. When we got back so we could see the dinghy it was afloat, but the tide was pushing it in.
On the way back to our boat we stopped to meet the folks in the other boat. They are a nice young couple from Ithaca! Their boat says Washington, DC, but that is where they bought it. They had come down from Baltimore starting December 1 and had been in the marina next to us in Charleston on New Year's Day.
This is starting to be fun. Oh, yes, Bud snorkeled around a bit and found a small reef. I was just about to go in and check it out when Jim called with the offer of the fish. Maybe tomorrow. There's also supposed to be a blue hole a little ways up Hoffman's Cay, which forms one shore of the little cove we're in. I'd like to hike up and check that out, too.
02/05/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
This morning I was on the Internet again and saw that the tracking information showed our new anchor was delivered to Ft. Lauderdale yesterday. So the marina manager, Joe, called Tropic Air and found out it was sitting at customs. Joe sent Tyrone, one of the dock guys, to take us to the airport to retrieve our anchor. Joe assured us again that since it was a replacement part it would be duty free. I asked Tyrone if we'd need our cruising permit and passports, he said just passports for ID. I took the cruising permit also, thinking that might be needed to avoid paying duty, besides, it was in a bundle with the passports. When we got to the little airport (about a 5 minute drive) we had to go into a security office where a young woman sitting at a laptop pointed us to a gate and said, go through there. We did, and walked up to the only building, which had the customs office in it. No dogs allowed, so I sat outside with Fuzzy while Bud went in. After a couple of minutes he came out to say that he thought they were going to charge us duty. A few minutes after that, Bud came out with our mail and said they were going to charge us 10% duty and we needed cash. So Tyrone took us back to the marina. I went in and talked to Joe while Bud went down in the boat for cash. Joe called customs. As it turns out, since it's a replacement part we only had to pay 10%, instead of 45%!
So back to the airport, where Bud went back in to the little security office and was told to go back through the gate. A few minutes later Bud and the customs guy came out carrying our anchor. Tyrone helped them hoist it into the back of the jeep and off we went again.
Now Bud was worried that it wouldn't fit on the boat. I told him it was the size recommended for the boat and they're supposed to fit most bow rollers. The tide was still pretty high when we got back, so the bow of the boat was up as high as the dock, so we decided to try it right away. We took the old anchor off and put the new anchor and its new swivel on. I took up on the windlass while Bud guided the new anchor on board. It fit! Well almost. The curved bar at the top of the anchor was hitting our navigation light. And the hole in the anchor that looked like it was for the pin to secure it was nowhere near the pin on the bow roller.
So we took the light off and looked at how to remount that and I went to contact Rocna to find out about the pin. I never had to call Rocna, because on their website they had information on securing the anchor at the bow. Turns out the hole was NOT for a pin. They don't recommend using a pin because the flukes are so large that waves can push hard enough to bend a pin. Then you have to cut the pin to release the anchor. So they recommend lashing the anchor and securing the chain. They specifically say not to drill a new hole for a pin. Glad I checked!
We fiddled around a bit with the light and Bud came up with the idea to just add a couple of pieces of marine plastic wood (StarBoard) and remount the light a couple of inches above where it was using zip ties. The StarBoard is bolted to the old light bracket and serves as a backing for the light. One zip tie goes around the bottom of the lens and through the StarBoard; another goes around the top of the lens and around the front vertical piece of the bow pulpit. It works - thanks again for the good zip ties Bob & Donna! We figure this will get us through until we're ready to have some work done on the boat, and then we'll have the mount for the light redone.
So tomorrow we leave the marina again. We're only going a short ways to where our new friends Jim and Judy aboard Dream Weaver are. We'll anchor near them, then at high tide on Monday move the boat back to where we think it will be quite secure for some mild squalls due Monday night (top winds 30 to 35 knots). We certainly hope we can sleep well with this anchor deployed.
We're also on the lookout for Scott and Brittany aboard Rasmus. Their website said they were headed for the Berry Islands today. We were half expecting them to show up here. We hailed them several times on the VHF, but didn't get an answer, so they may have gone to the southern end of the chain. I'll check their website again tonight, and we'll keep hailing them on the radio as we go. I would love to see them again. We left them on October 29 in Catskill, on the Hudson!
Our next planned stop where we think we'll have Internet is Nassau. Don't know when that will be. We are hoping to spend a while at anchor now, so I really do think we'll be out of touch for a bit.
02/04/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
We didn't do much today. Bud worked on one of the hatch frames, sanding it down to re-varnish it. I repaired our US Flag. Once we get back to the US to a place we can have things easily shipped I'm going to order a new one, as the end of ours is frayed. I'm not sure this is proper flag etiquette, but I folded it over a couple of times and re-stitched it. It looks OK.
We didn't go anywhere this afternoon because we were waiting for food we ordered. One of the churches here was having a "cook-out" and the woman dockmaster asked us if we wanted to order any food. We ordered conch stew, which came with Johnnycake and sweet potato bread for dessert. She wasn't real sure when it was coming. Sometime between 2 and 4 seemed likely. We finally got it just before 6. Sam, the dockmaster, gave us an order of souse to try with it. It was made with chicken wings cut up, chicken gizzards, potatoes, celery and spices. All the food was great. I can't believe how tender the conch was. It had very subtle spicing, but was pretty hot. The souse had almost a pickled flavor, not hot but tangy, and very good. The Johnnycake wasn't like any I've ever had. It was very sweet and melted in your mouth. Altogether, it was worth waiting for.
I didn't take any more pictures today, so I'll just post this. I've been having trouble with the Internet, so if you don't see a post, I couldn't get on. Word is, the anchor is on its way!
02/03/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
While we were here waiting for our anchor we decided to pull our dinghy out on shore and paint the registration numbers on it. We'd put the stick on numbers on it in St. Augustine and they immediately started coming off. By the time we got here, we had about one letter and two numbers left. I'd bought spray paint for plastic (including PVC) and stencils in Stuart, but we hadn't had the time and place to do the work. Yesterday the numbers were stenciled on. It isn't terribly pretty, but it's legal. So today, we put the dinghy back in the water and put the engine on it. And it was warm enough that we took it out.
We only went a short ways. We went back out the cut and headed southeast. Tyrone, one of the dock guys, said we could snorkel near the beaches there along the rocks at the edge of the island. You can see how the limestone island is eroded on the edge in the photo. That's Bud snorkeling along. I stayed in the dinghy with Fuzzy while he snorkeled, then we switched places. We didn't see too much, there were some starfish in the shallows and some other little fishes in the grassy areas. It was just nice to be in the water. We also learned that it's a lot easier to get back in the dinghy if you leave your fins on. Then you can kick with enough force to lift yourself over the side. We also tried out the little Danforth-type anchor Gary had given us. That dug right into the sand and worked great.
After we snorkeled we drifted around for a bit while Bud dangled a lure in the water. We sort of trolled and then we just motored around. All in all it was nice. Fuzzy is doing quite well in the dinghy, he was lying on a towel on the bottom and stayed there even when Bud opened up the outboard and had the dinghy up on plane. He also liked sitting on my lap in the front of the dinghy getting the wind in his face. I put a couple of more photos from today in the gallery.
It's so nice to be just taking it easy and enjoying the warmth and the sun and the water. This is much more what we had in mind when we started out. Our condolences to all of our family and friends back in the ice and snow. Hope you made it through the storm all right, and remember, we can empty out that forward cabin; it's intended for guests.