02/11/2011, Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahams
Bud didn't sleep well last night because he was worried about our plan to go to Allen Cay today and try to find a good anchorage to wait out the 20-knot north winds that are supposed to come tomorrow. He was worried for two reasons: first, the anchorage is described as having some good holding in sandy patches. We saw what that was like in White Cay. An anchorage that looks like it has a lot of room really doesn't have good holding for more than a few boats. If there were already several boats there, we would really have no place where we could easily get hunkered down before the front comes through.
The second thing worrying him is that our dinghy engine hasn't been running right. He tried to fix it at White Cay, couldn't find any obvious problem and decided it might be bad gas. So he dumped the gas from the tank for the outboard into our 5-gallon gasoline jerry can and bought new gas for the outboard tank. But we hadn't run the engine so we didn't know if that was the problem.
This morning Bud suggested that we stay in Nassau until the front passes. That way we could launch the dinghy and try the engine out. After the front we expect at least two days of more moderate weather. And the next wind should be from the east. There are plenty of anchorages in the northern Exumas that we could reach from Allen Cay that provide protection from an east wind.
Since we were going to run the dinghy, we decided to use it to try to find Scott and Brittany. As we neared the anchorage where they were we did not see their boat out there. Then we spied it at a dock. We dinghied up and there was Scott. He said they were going out to Rose Island to wait out the front and then go on to the Exumas. We made arrangements to use the SSB radio to contact each other once in the Exumas. Brittany and a friend were in another dinghy so Scott told us to watch for her.
The dinghy engine was still sputtering. We ran back towards our boat and were looking for the marine center that we hoped could work on it when it started to run more smoothly. We ran it some more and decided that it had been bad gas, and now the bad gas was out of the fuel line, too, so the engine was OK. I had been reading the outboard engine manual and told Bud I thought the trim on the engine was wrong. When we got back to the boat we consulted the manual and adjusted the trim. Then we went back out to check that. The engine ran fine, the trim was better and we spied Brittany and the man with a red hat in a dinghy so we flagged them down and had a quick chat with Brittany, too. A very successful outing!
Next we went to a marine store looking for "The Exuma Guide" by Stephen Pavlidis. This gives much more detailed information about the anchorages than the Explorer Chart Book that we already have. I've been looking for this since Florida and had not found it yet. The marine store didn't have it. Since we were staying on, Bud said I might want to go back to the marine store he had been in yesterday, as they said they might be able to get a copy in a day. I went in and the woman at the counter called her supplier for me. He told me the dive shop at our marina might have a copy, if they didn't a nearby bookstore would. The dive store didn't, the bookstore did! I got her last copy, so maybe the last copy available today in Nassau. Yeah!
While I was doing that, Bud found a place that would take the bad gas, so he walked the jerry can over there and dumped the bad gas into their tank and walked one more marina over to get fresh gas with no ethanol. (We think the ethanol in the gas we had brought from Wilson combined with water to form a layer that caused our problems.)
Meanwhile, I met Sarah and Miguel on the street again and invited them for supper.
Back at the boat Bud vacuumed the boat and trimmed Fuzzy. Since the dinghy was in the water I used it to go and scrub 2000 miles worth of grime off our transom. The engine exhaust had turned it grey! Once I had scrubbed and polished I finally applied the TYC logo I bought for the boat in 2009. Then Bud and I rinsed the dinghy out and pulled it back aboard (we'd already hoisted the engine up after the morning trip). We're getting pretty good at getting the dinghy and the engine on and off the boat.
We had a nice supper with Sarah and Miguel. They brought coleslaw with home made mayonnaise and we thawed and heated a big bowl of three sisters soup (squash, corn and beans) that Bud had made back in the cold days and we had in the freezer. We wanted to use it while we had shore power to run the microwave long enough to defrost and heat it. They've promised to have us over on their boat when we meet up again in the Exumas.
Altogether, it was a very satisfying day, and we're glad we stayed on in Nassau.
02/10/2011, Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahams
We are at Nassau Yacht Haven, and across the harbor you can see the casinos on Paradise Island. It's not beautiful like White Cay, but it is interesting.
Nassau has the lowest prices for food and drinks in the Bahamas. Bud took advantage of that and bought a lot of food (prices about 150% of US) and 7 cases of beer and 2 cases of tonic water. He bought Sands beer for $38 a case. Beer at Great Harbour Cay was $72 a case, so this seemed like a bargain.
We spent a couple of hours stashing things everywhere. We also took all the food that was packaged in cardboard (and all the beer in cardboard trays) out of the cardboard to avoid bringing cockroach eggs aboard. It will also cut down on garbage. If you're anchored out the marinas will charge you to bring a bag of trash in for disposal. And the Exuma Land and Marine Park, where we'd like to spend some time, doesn't allow any trash disposal at all.
I spent the rest of the day washing clothes.
It wasn't exactly a fun day, but we did meet Sarah and Miguel from LoCo (we met them anchored at White Cay) on the street in front of the marina and talked to them for a while. We ended up having them come back to the boat for a drink. They are really a nice couple. They are sailing down to St. Croix where they are going to work on a farm. We were describing Rasmus to them; because we're still trying to find Scott and Brittany, and it turns out they were anchored next to them the night before last. Bud had thought he'd seen Rasmus today, but didn't see anyone aboard and the dinghy wasn't there. We're getting close though. Hopefully we'll see them, Jon and Arline and Sarah and Miguel all again in the Exumas. That would be great.
02/09/2011, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
I probably shouldn't even bother to say what we planned to do. It wasn't to come to Nassau today. Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be bad weather days, so our intent was to spend them in Nassau and get all the things done that we needed a town and a marina for (groceries, wash, Internet access, etc.) We came from the Berry Islands today because there is not supposed to be much wind tomorrow and Friday might be the start of the front.
We tried to sail to Rose Island today, to anchor out for two days and then come in to Nassau. The wind was supposed to be NNE, moving around towards E and later in the day maybe southeast. The wind started just south of east. So instead of a nice fast close reach we were sailing as close to the wind as we could, and still not quite making the heading we needed.
About 12:30 we assessed the situation. The island of New Providence was coming in to view, unfortunately, we were approaching the west end, and we needed to be on the east end. The wind did seem to be going more to the east as we came closer to the island; we were actually able to run parallel to the original line. But we weren't getting any closer to the original line. Finally we doused the forward sails (jib & staysail) and turned into the wind with the engine and the main.
Our calculations put us at our waypoint at 4 PM. Then we'd have another 4 miles to go picking our way back to the anchorage (visual piloting rules apply, that is, you need to stand on the foredeck and look to see how deep it is). Once in the anchorage we'd have to find a good spot to drop the anchor. The later in the day, the more difficult it is to see into the water for both those tasks. Finally, if and when we got anchored, we'd still have to unload the dinghy to either row or motor Fuzzy to shore.
So instead we came to Nassau and were safely at a dock at 3:30. We still came 45 nautical miles today. The harbor isn't huge, but it is busy. You have to call Harbor Control for permission to enter. I had radioed ahead to try to line up a dock, and it was a good thing, because Harbor Control asked me if we were staying at a marina. (There are a couple of anchorages in the harbor, but they aren't supposed to be too good.) I don't know what Harbor Control would have said if we'd said we were going to try to anchor, but they readily granted access when we said we had reservations at a marina.
Just after you enter the harbor you have to pass to the left of the cruise ship docks. In between getting out dock lines, etc., I took this photo. Can you see the palm trees on the dock between the two left cruise ships?
Tomorrow we'll check the weather to see if the forecast has changed, try to figure out where we need to be for Saturday and Sunday and try again to make a plan.
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.