01/09/2012, Hawksbill Cay, Exuma Land and Sea Park
We wanted to get out of Nassau and get some distance towards Georgetown. Rick and Tracy were amenable, so we made a pretty long sail today. We left the dock at about a quarter to nine. We couldn't leave earlier because our route took us across the yellow banks and we have to keep a look out for coral heads in that area. It's not recommended to go through there before 11 in the morning, so the sun is high enough not to glare on the water. We arrived at the banks at just about 11 and made it through without incident. There seemed to be fewer coral heads on this route and we only altered course a couple of times. Rick had been at the helm, but when we got to the area with coral heads he let Bud take over. He said if someone was going to run the boat aground he didn't want it to be him.
There was between 11 and 15 knots of apparent wind for most of the day and Earendil really showed her stuff. She romped along at over 7 knots for much of the day. We saw three boats ahead of us as we headed to the banks. We passed all three of them. The wind got a bit lighter later in the day, but we sailed without any engine for 90 per cent of the time. We got to the mooring balls at just about 4:30 in the afternoon after going 49 nautical miles.
We had a fun time snagging the mooring ball with three of us on the bow and at least two of us giving Bud directions on where to turn the boat. But we got the ball on the first try and managed to get two lines secured without incident. We launched the dinghy and took Fuzzy ashore and spent some time playing on our own private beach. Then we hurried back to the boat because it was almost sunset. I grabbed both the conch horns and Rick and I blew the evening tribute to King Sol. Rick and Tracy like the other conch horn I made and are taking it home with them. Rick learned to blow it almost immediately.
We were sitting up in the cockpit enjoying the early evening when I noticed a glow in the sky to the east, just behind the island. Since there are no towns or lights in this area I was wondering what it could be when I realized it was the light from the rising moon. We enjoyed a most spectacular full moonrise. Rick and I both tried to get pictures, but I don't think they came out.
Bud fixed lobster tails we'd bought from a local fisherman on Great Harbour Cay. We all ate a hearty dinner after our full day of sailing. It was a fine day.
Rick says, "Hi, having a great time and wish you were here." to Pat and Pam, Frank and Cindy, and Lois.
01/08/2012, Nassau Harbour Club, Nassau, New Providence
Rick & Trace arrived tonight. They will be with us for 10 days. Bud and I spent the day cleaning and moving things. Bud not only managed to get the forward cabin bed cleared off, he emptied a drawer and a cupboard. I'm amazed.
We waited outside the marina for them to come in a cab from the airport. We were afraid they wouldn't be sure where to come because from the street you'd never know this was a marina. There is an octagonal building, and running east from that is a long, turquoise, blank wall with a double door on the end towards the building. You go through those doors and you are in a short passageway. Straight ahead and down a flight of steps is the swimming pool and past that is the marina.
We are so happy to have them here! We sat around and talked all evening. Bud just went to bed and it's 11:30! This is a new record for him. I'm writing a short blog and posting the picture. I don't think I'll have Internet for several days, so the blog entries will all be posted via SSB and will have no photos.
01/07/2012, Nassau Harbour Club, Nassau, New Providence
Well, we were beginning to wonder back at Vero Beach when one thing after the other seemed to be going wrong, but today at about 2 PM we got to the marina in Nassau. We motored almost the entire 38 nm with little wind and flat seas. Towards the end we flew the jib, but it did more for our attitude than for the speed. It did help a bit.
We fueled up and got a slip. We tried to get to the marine stores, but all were closed before we got there. We did get to the liquor store and the grocery store, so the boat is all stocked up.
Tomorrow evening our friends Rick and Tracy from Tuscarora Yacht Club fly in. We'll spend the day cleaning up and doing laundry and trying to put things away so there's room for them in the forward cabin.
This marina is a bit funky like much of Nassau. I took this picture of the pool with the seagull in it, because that visually sums up this place. It's paradise on the seedy side. We're at the Nassau Harbour Club Marina and Hotel. I haven't seen a hotel guest, but I guess they do still rent the rooms. It's a decent marina, though it gets a lot of waves from the boat wakes in the harbor channel. There's no breakwater here for protection. The harbor is narrow enough that you don't need much protection from the wind, but it's also busy enough that some protection from other boats' wakes would be nice.
I posted a picture for yesterday, I was glad to see that my entry posted OK. I also added a couple of shots from the anchorage to the gallery, including one of the second fish Bud caught.
01/06/2012, Devils/Hoffman, Berry Islands
Short post and no photo until we get to Nassau tomorrow. Tonight we are at the beautiful anchorage ringed by several cays, including Devils, Hoffman and White. We anchored here last year.
We had an easy motor with almost no wind and no seas. It's just over 28 nm and we got here in about four and a half hours. We had a bit of trouble with the anchor. It wouldn't drop and I had to go down and free the chain in the chain locker. When I got back up the boat had drifted a bit back up on the chain that was down. When we tried to set the anchor the first time, Bud thought we were still moving back. I'm not sure we were straight on the chain yet, but we pulled it up and tried again. It had obviously been buried because it was covered with sand and weeds. We rinsed it off by letting it drag in the water as we repositioned. The second time all went well.
We've been to shore twice, and Bud caught two fish off the boat. We identified them as Margates, good eating quality (not very good or excellent). He threw both of them back. Bud said about a four foot barracuda was after the second one he caught. He didn't even take the time to net it, just yanked it on board so the barracuda didn't get it.
I signaled sunset with the conch horn. I took it with us to take Fuzzy ashore after he ate, as we would be ashore at sunset. I managed to fall getting out of the dinghy as we landed on the beach. I redeemed myself because I was the only one who could blow the horn. A nice man from Germany was there with two of his sons. The family had been at Great Harbour Marina and we'd met them there. They have a beautiful 62 foot Deerfoot, a boat Bud and I have admired since we started looking at bluewater boats.
Bud is cooking supper and I am going to try to post this via the SSB radio. I'll add the pictures tomorrow, hopefully I'll have good internet.
01/05/2012, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
I haven't mentioned it, but we've had one more system issue aboard. Our hand pump to pump our forward holding tank overboard wasn't working. We thought it wasn't very effective at the end of the season last year, but without a tank monitor, we couldn't really see if we were getting the tank emptied. Once back in the U.S., we never use that. In U.S. waters you have to have your holding tanks pumped out at a proper facility, and just about every marina has a pump-out facility.
As we headed out to the Bahamas, we tried to pump out our tanks in the deep water of the Gulf Stream. The new tank monitor showed that nothing was getting pumped out of the forward tank. Because we were concerned about that pump, we'd bought a rebuild kit before we left. Monday Bud started to take the pump apart to rebuild it. The kit contains a diaphragm and two valves. What Bud found when he took the pump apart was that the metal frame of the pump was actually eroded. Undaunted, he cleaned the pump body up and repaired the erosion with Marine Tex. He was able to get the screws out of the old valves, but when he went to replace them found that the screw holes were also eroded. We managed to find slightly larger ones and Bud drilled and tapped the holes. Today he put the pump back together and tried it in a bucket of water. It works!
The damage was bad enough that we are going to try to find a replacement pump in Nassau. If we can't find one, we hope this holds together for the season. At least it looks like it will work for now.
While he was doing that I was working on making conch horns. The shells from the three conchs Jon and Arline caught had been soaking in bleach since Monday. Arline and I had cleaned them yesterday and let them soak again overnight. Today we finished cleaning them. Once they were rinsed and dried, I took our hacksaw and cut the tip off of each of them. I then used our Dremel tool to cut out the whorl of shell inside the openings I'd made. I used a grinding stone bit to polish the hacksaw cut to make a smooth mouthpiece. Finally, I used Marine Tex to fill in the holes that Bud and Arline had knocked in them to get the meat out. After a bit of practice I was able to get a good solid hoot out of all of them. The biggest one, which is not as pretty as the others, sounds the best. The prettiest one is the hardest to blow, as the outer lip of the shell gets in the way of the mouthpiece. I'm keeping at least two of them for now, but I think the big one will be the official boat conch horn. Now we can join in the Bahamian cruisers tradition of blowing a conch horn to signal sunset. There are conch horns for sale everywhere, but a purchased conch horn just wouldn't be right on a cruising boat.
01/04/2012, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
Arline is a great organizer and it's wonderful to be here with her. Today she arranged a bus for the twelve of us who've been hanging out together so we could explore the island. We ended up in two vans. Here we are at the first stop, Shell Beach at the mouth of Shark Creek. At low tide (it was just starting to come back in as we got there) there is a huge area of sand and shallow water to walk. Shark Creek isn't really a creek, it's a narrow band of salt water linking the east and west sides of the island. There isn't enough land area, and there isn't enough impervious land for there to be any fresh water creeks in the Bahamas, except on Andros Island (where we've never been).
After Shark Creek we went to the other end of the island to Cave Beach. Our guide, Circle, (that's really his name) took pictures of the group in the cave. I took a picture of him taking pictures. I also got pictures of his driver (who drove the second van) Rasmus (I think I've got that name right). He's a very colorful character. He said he visited Great Harbour from Nassau twice. The second time was ten years ago and he never went home. He has cousins here, and his grandmother, at 103, is the oldest person on the island.
Circle gave us the history of the island during the drive. He said the population was 712, counting us. He told us all about the golf course. He also told us they used to have a swing bridge across the cut to get from the marina to town. One of the cruiser's father used to come to the Berry Islands to fish in the '60's. She said he and his friends almost always went to Chubb Cay because they didn't want to hassle with the swing bridge. It didn't have an attendant, so you had to make a reservation to have it opened to get into the marina. I don't think that bridge was taken down until the '80's or '90's. Then the present causeway was built as an alternate route to town.
Circle drove us into town and pointed out the church where his wife is the minister, the two grocery stores (where we stopped to shop), the school, the cemetery, the restaurant and the post office and government clinic, which are in the same building.
The whole tour, which took about three hours total, was $5 each. Definitely worth the money and a lot of fun. Along with the other pictures I took of the tour, I took a picture of Circle's van, because on the door is painted "Island Bus Service, Call VHF 16". That's so typically Bahamian, to call the local tour bus on marine radio.