02/12/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Bud and I are still happy we made the 60 nm trip back here. It blew all night from just west of north, sometimes at 15 knots or less, but sometimes over 20 knots. This morning it was about 355 degrees and 20 to 25 knots. Gradually during the day the wind moved a bit towards the east and overall has tapered off, but it is still gusting to near 20 knots and is still much closer to the north than the east.
Bud and I were both exhausted and spent the day resting. Bud did add water and diesel from our jugs to the tanks. We're not too happy with the fuel consumption on the new Yanmar. We ran the engine mostly at 2000 RPM or less for between 6 and 7 hours and used at least 12 gallons of fuel. We're going to have to measure the tanks before and after a days run to get a better handle on this, but we seem to be using almost twice the fuel we should. Also, the stern is all covered with grey again. Now that we aren't breaking in the engine and aren't running it hard, we shouldn't be seeing this.
The front that came through is a real cold front. We haven't seen the internet for days, so we don't know what it's done in the US, but here we think the temperature is down to around 70, probably below that with wind chill. Bud and I both wore our foul weather jackets to take Fuzzy ashore this evening. Fuzzy has been shaking, but we don't know if it's from the cold or some other discomfort. I thought perhaps he was feeling seasick, because even here in this protected harbor the boat has been moving around a lot. This afternoon I gave him Dramamine along with his Prozac. I expect him to fall asleep shortly! Poor Fuzzy, I think it's tough being an old sailing dog.
This is the first real front we've seen this year, and probably the strongest front we've seen in the Bahamas. A lot of people come to the Bahamas and stay up in the Abaco chain at the north west of the Bahamas. Bud and I don't understand that, as front after front mosves off the US coast and makes it to the Abacos and stalls. They seem to get all the bad weather. Besides, they are crowded and developed compared to places like this. Even with boats coming in for protection from the front, there are only 42 boats here, and there's probably only another 50 or so on the whole island. Marsh Harbor, in the Abacos no doubt has at least 200 boats, and there are probably 500 or more in harbors and marinas within 30 miles of Marsh Harbor. We'd much rather be in the central and southern Bahamas.
I took a couple of pictures to try to show the harbor with all the boats pointed north. It's hard to get a good shot as the harbor is quite large, about a mile across. I'll have to see what they look like and post the best one, whenever I get access to the Internet again.
02/11/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
By the time we woke up in the morning the wind was blowing out of the south and small waves were building in the anchorage. Since the forecast said the wind would clock through the west to the north all day and not get to the north east (where there is good protection there) until late tomorrow morning, our decision to leave was confirmed. We hoisted the main at anchor and were out of the anchorage before 7 AM.
We ended up motor-sailing almost the whole way back. Our route took us northeast and then directly east. The wind was south-southwest when we left and kept moving more westerly all day, so it was always off the stern. It was also stronger than we expected and blew from 15 to 20 knots all day. It was fine sailing, but we don't think it would be any fun in that anchorage. Between Long Island and the Jumentoes is a huge area of shallow sand flats. Some of it even dries at low tide. Leading through this is a wide, shallow channel that runs close to east-west. That's called the Comer Channel. We noticed that the waves on the Great Bahama Bank were building all day. As we approached the Comer Channel they were probably in the three to four foot range. Then as we got into the shallows they decreased and never built back up east of the Comer Channel. We think that anchorage at Flamingo Cay is pretty uncomfortable now, and will be all night long. We're very happy to be back at Thompson Bay and just hope our friends are all right back in the anchorage.
We came 58 miles by the log today. The mile difference in the measured distance is due to current. We had no trouble and were anchored and buttoned down by 3:30 this afternoon. We're in just about the same place we were two days ago, but now we're facing the west. The wind is blowing and it's wavy here, but the wind is already behind the point of land that forms the west side of this bay, and the waves are not much more than a foot. There is excellent holding here (anchors tend to stay where put) so we feel very secure. It was rough taking Fuzzy ashore, we both got soaked. If the wind is closer to the north in the morning it will be better.
It was a lot of work sailing 60 miles two days in a row, so tomorrow we will rest. Monday, if it's not too rough (and the wind is supposed to move to the east, so this bay should be fairly calm) we will replenish the water and fuel we've used and if the forecast looks OK we will head back to the Jumentoes on Tuesday. Since the Long Island Breeze isn't open on Sunday or Monday I may not get to post any pictures before we take off again. I didn't take many. You really can't capture the vast expanse of water and sky with a camera, and the distant shores which are interesting as you sail by are just lines and dots in a picture. Hopefully we'll get back to the Jumentoes and stay long enough to see a bit of it and get some pictures to post.
02/10/2012, Flamingo Cay, Jumentoes
Yeah, we're someplace new. Passages, Maja and we set out from Thompson Bay for the Jumentoes. Both Passages and Maja left before us because we had to take Fuzzy ashore and then secure the dinghy. We all figured that was OK because Earendil is the fastest of the three boats. Early in the day it was a motor-sail. We had some sind, but it was behind us and not enough to move us along. Once we got through the shallow, but very wide Comer Channel our course took us south, and soon we were sailing.
We sailed from between 6 to almost 8 knots. And yes, we did pass both Passages and Maja. It was really a nice sail, we did almost 60 nautical miles by our log. We were all nicely at anchor before Passages and Maja arrived. The only problem was it got shallow really quickly to the side and we were afraid if we got blown that way we'd go aground. We didn't figure that out until after Passages and Maja both came in and anchored. So we hauled up the anchor and moved, twice, and ran aground trying to find out how deep it was and an hour and a half later we were finally anchored again. lBud was pretty upset with me because he'd wanted to pull up and move over 50 feet or so from the beginning. I thought he was worried about the rocks, which were plenty far enough away, but he was worried about the depth, which wasn't good about 30 feet off our beam. Anyway, we finally did get anchored and all is well, almost.
The Jumentoes is a very remote chain of islands. We are anchored off a pretty little beach and were joined by the folks on another boat named Passages, so there are four boats here, and it's at least 10 miles to the next nearest boat and at least 30 miles to the nearest place where anybody lives on land. It's dark now and the lights from the 4 boats are the only lights you can see. I took a picture of the four boats at anchor just before it got too dark to see. the next time I have internet I'll post it, along with a pictures of Passages and Maja under sail.
The one drawback to the Jumentoes is that there are few places to hide out from a weather front that brings winds that clock around and have a western component. The prevailing winds here are from the east. We came here today knowing there was a front coming through, but the westerly component of the winds was supposed to be 15 knots or less and the bad winds were from the north and during the day on Sunday. Well, the weather forecast has changed. The winds are supposed to pick up during the night tomorrow night, and blow at 20 to 25 knots from the northwest and the north-northwest. We don't have protection from those directions and now Bud and I are thinking that we have to head back towards a safer harbor tomorrow.
All the boaters that are here met on the beach at sunset and discussed the situation but didn't have the latest forecast. I just got that off my sailmail now. The boats in the harbor shared it via the radio. Passages (the first) and Maja are both planning to stay here through this front, but Bud and I are thinking we're going back to Long Island or to another anchorage. I'll let you know tomorrow where we are.
02/09/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
On Tuesday our friends on Passages came into Thompson Bay, and yes, we were still here. This photo is them on their boat when we stopped over to catch up with them Tuesday evening. Yesterday we all pretty much stayed aboard, but we had them for dinner in the evening. So far our plans are to take off for the Jumentoes Friday. We may have to find some place to tuck in away from the north winds for Sunday. There are supposed to be winds from the north at about 20 knots.
Anyway, today they rented a van and five of us and Fuzzy went touring. There were Ed and Karin from Passages, Nancy and Dan from Mia and Fuzzy and I. Bud elected to stay and do the things we needed to do to leave tomorrow. We tried to do wash yesterday and couldn't, so he did it this morning. I thought he was going to join us for the afternoon, but be decided to run the generator and get the boat ready for the morning. I think all I'll have to do is add the waypoints into our chartplotter. I took some pictures this morning, we went back to Cape Santa Maria and the Columbus Monument (easier in the van with a higher ground clearance) and the light was better for some shots, so I took a few more pictures. I'll add them to the gallery. This afternoon I went south and I was able to get beer for Bud, so he'll be happy. I didn't get any more pictures because the battery on the camera gave out. I asked Bud to charge it while the generator was going, but I'm not sure he'll have been able to find the charger.
Anyway, it looks like we're leaving in the morning, so all my posts will be via SSB for the next while and they'll be no new pictures until we get back. I'll take them and update all the entries in a couple of weeks.
02/06/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
This morning we got a call from Carol and Rick on Rhapsody. They were planning to leave for a short hop around noon, but before they went they were going to walk back to the beach on the Atlantic side they had told me about and wondered if I wanted to come. Of course I did! We took Fuzzy ashore and I got ready and ended up being late. We tried to raise them on the radio, no answer, so I told Bud I'd like him to take me to the dock near Fox Auto where we were going to meet. Happily, they were still there.
I took Fuzzy in the front pack. I thought he'd enjoy the walk on the beach, but was pretty sure he wouldn't enjoy the walk to the beach. So Rick and Carol and I walked and Fuzzy rode. It was only about a mile, I think it was a shorter walk than the one Bud and I took. It's another beautiful beach. I'll post a picture I took of Rick and Carol on the beach tomorrow and add another one I took of just the beach to the gallery. Fuzzy did enjoy the walk on the beach, in fact he was willing to keep walking and was only persuaded to get in the pack when I climbed up the little ridge from the beach to the road in. He didn't want to be left behind. Once we were back at the dock I called Bud on the radio to come and get me and we were back on the boat by 10:30.
Then this afternoon Bud said he wanted to take the dinghy down to the south end of the bay again to try to find the blue holes and either snorkel or fish. I decided I'd come along and take Fuzzy and have him drop me off at one of the little islands in the bay there. Since I was going to get off the boat, Bud decided to just anchor and fish. He dropped Fuzzy and I in the shallows near Eva's Cay, which is the biggest of the islands in the bay and is roughly triangular in shape. I thought from the chart there were beaches on two sides, but they weren't really beaches, there was iron shore just under the sand. That's why Fuzzy and I waded ashore. I took a picture of Bud going back out in the dinghy.
After foraging one direction and the other and picking about in the sand and iron shore, Fuzzy and I finally started walking along an edge of sand behind the iron shore and just in front of the thick vegetation. I broke off a dead palmetto frond which I used as a spider web broom for the places where I had to walk between the bushes. It actually ended up being pretty easy walking and we walked all the way around the perimeter of the island. I took a few more pictures that I'll add to the gallery. There is a smaller island just to the east of Eva's Cay that has a house on it. I got a picture of the island, you can almost see the house. On the west side is a wrecked mail boat with a hawk's nest on the top of the old crane. I got pictures of the boat and nest and of the hawk, which kept circling us and calling out. I'm not sure if it was protesting us being around it's nest or sizing up Fuzzy as a possible meal.
Not too long after we finished our walk, Bud finished fishing and I waded back out with Fuzzy in the pack to get picked up. Bud hadn't had any luck. We stopped for a couple of minutes on the way back near the Long Island Petroleum dock and Bud put a few casts out. He had a mullet head on the hook and something was chewing on it but he got no strikes. It was probably crabs going after his bait.
Bud's out fishing again, just off the boat. Fuzzy is sleeping on the settee. I think Fuzzy will sleep well tonight!
02/05/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
This entry is for February 5, Super Bowl Sunday. I'll have to correct the date when I add the pictures. I don't know if I can change the date on these remote posts and I didn't write this until the sixth, so that's the date that will post.
Anyway, since we didn't leave Long Island we decided to go to the Super Bowl Party being held at the Long Island Breeze restaurant. Fuzzy had seemed really anxious to get off the boat again during the day yesterday, so we decided to take him and his bed and set him up in the breeze-way area on the ground floor while we went up into the restaurant on the second floor for the festivities. While we were getting ready a call came over the radio for any boat in the Thompson Bay area. Gideon answered, the boat furthest to the north and west. The caller said the couple on Margareta had just called them on their cell phone from their dinghy and they'd lost their engine. Fairhaven, the caller, asked if Gideon could see them, if they were getting back to their boat OK. Gideon couldn't, but we are anchored right behind Margareta, so I stuck my head out and saw them, just about 50 yards from their boat. I got on the radio and let Fairhaven know that they were OK. It was too late for us to go assist them. They made it back to their boat before we could have gotten in our dinghy. At Bud's suggestion, I called them to see if they wanted to ride with us over to the Super Bowl Party. They were very grateful for the offer, and if we didn't mind, they would love to come with us. We finished getting our stuff together and went and picked them up. With four of us and Fuzzy in the dinghy (Fuzzy was in his front pack) we couldn't get the boat up on plane, so it was a slow ride and we all got a little splashed, but we didn't mind at all. It was nice to get to talk to them, we've been anchored right near them for a couple of weeks, and hadn't really met them. It turns out that Fairhaven isn't a boat, it's a house! It's a couple from Cleveland that has a house here on Long Island for the winters and an RV back home in Cleveland for the summers. They've gotten to know a lot of the cruisers over the years, so they ended up getting a VHF radio to talk to them. They were very happy that we'd given Bill and Margaret, from Margareta, a ride, since they'd made plans to meet them at the Long Island Breeze, but they have no boat and no way to help them get there.
The couple on Camelot that had organized the Monday night get together also added some extras for the cruisers get together last evening. They set up a conch horn blowing contest and a football pool. I took my trusty conch horn in and came in dead last on the horn blowing contest. I'm not sure if mine is difficult to blow, if I don't have the technique down, or if I just don't have any lung capacity, but the best I could do was a 9 second blow. I'll have to practice. I think by was of a consolation prize they gave me a certificate for best looking conch horn. Mine tied with another really gorgeous horn that was made from a different king of shell, the man thought it was a Trident. He'd bought the shell locally and made it into a horn. My shell isn't that pretty, but being made from a conch just harvested and since it's never been in the sun, it's not bleached so the colors are very nice, especially the pearly pink inside the shell.
The football game was fun to watch. Most of the folks seemed to be Giants fans, so they were happy. Bud bought two squares for the football pool and we would have won $10 if the Patriots had made a field goal in the last seconds of the second quarter instead of the touchdown they got. Oh well, we don't often win anything like that. I met the couple from Fairhaven and talked to Penny, the wife, for a while. We talked to some of the other friends we've made here at Long Island and actually stayed for the whole game. I think the folks from Fairhaven left after the third quarter and Bill and Margaret said they would leave anytime we wanted to, but we ended up staying for the whole thing. Bob and Francie from Barefootin' gave Bill a ride home, so there were only 3 in each dinghy.
After the conch horn blowing contest Fuzzy finally gave up and laid down in his bed and slept through the whole game. I walked him a bit just before we left and he rode back to the boat in the front pack. It was amazing how well you could see. There were thin clouds over about a three-quarter moon and you could see the bottom in the six or seven foot deep water we ran through. One of the things that amazes me here is that the water still looks blue, even at night. Deep water looks black unless there's a lot of moonlight, but the shallow water looks blue, even by starlight.
I missed another beautiful picture. We had rain come through in the morning. We took Fuzzy ashore fairly early, it was just misting here and was raining to the southwest. There was probably the brightest rainbow I've ever seen. One end of it was right at the edge of the bay, it had a faint double rainbow and there was a third rainbow outside those two. The brightest rainbow was reflected in the water. I mentioned to some of the folks at the party how nice it is to be somewhere where rain is a treat!