03/11/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town
This quiet Sunday turned into a really fascinating day. We had been just hanging around and were getting ready to go ashore to Volleyball Beach to see if anyone we know was there. I had started to come into the cockpit when a couple in an open, center cockpit powerboat came by. They seemed to be circling our boat. I waved and called hello and they asked me if this was a Norseman (I'm sure they knew it was) and then they asked me if this was by chance Hull Number 40. I said it was, and they said they used to own this boat! So I immediately invited them on board. We tied their boat off the stern and chatted with them for an hour or so.
Their names are Paul and Melanie Wagner, from Falmouth, Massachusetts. They bought the boat (which was manufactured in 1984) from a dealer in Texas in 1986. He'd bought it on speculation and then the bottom dropped out of the Texas oil economy and he'd had the boat for over a year. Paul flew down to see it and they bought it. They named her Flight of Fancy and took her home to Massachusetts. For fourteen years they and their two children sailed her every weekend all summer long and for two week long cruises whenever they could. They had their family and three other people on board for one long cruise back from Bermuda. Finally they decided to move to a trawler and sold her to the man we bought her from. When they found out he was going to rename the boat Fox Sea they were tempted to call off the sale, but they already had their next boat, so Flight of Fancy had to go.
We invited them below and showed them around. We felt bad that we have done nothing for the cosmetics but they seemed to appreciate all we'd done for the systems. They said they were glad to see she was owned by folks who loved her and were using her, and they were definitely glad we'd changed the name again! We talked about the things we'd upgraded and about the things that were still original and still working fine. They now own a house down here, just down the harbor on Elizabeth Island. Like a lot of people in houses, their house has a name, "Top of the World" and they monitor VHF 16 when they're home. We gave them a boat card and they offered to have us come by and they'd give us their card. They still have a boat, it's a power cat and so I'm not sure if the card is for the boat or the house or both, but we'll try to take them up on the invitation and we'll find out.
It was now late enough we decided to try to feed Fuzzy and then go ashore for an hour or so, combining our trip to Volleyball Beach with his last shore visit for the day. While there, Fuzzy made the acquaintance of a Jack Russell Terrier named Bones. Bones was with two young women, Karen and Tori. We got to talking and it turns out that Tori is an administrator at the Perry Marine Research Center on Lee Stocking Island, and Karen is the step-daughter of the man who owned the island and started the research center. Her mother now owns the island and is trying to keep the research center going. They invited us to come up there and stay, they've installed mooring balls and are happy to have cruisers come and visit. We told them we'd been reluctant to come there because we had the dog and didn't know if dogs would be welcome. Karen laughed and said they loved dogs, and with Bones there, of course dogs were allowed.
So now we have two places on the islands to visit ashore! What an interesting day and what nice people we continue to meet. I forgot to take the camera ashore, so while I did remember to ask Paul and Melanie for their picture back aboard their old boat, I didn't get a picture of Karen and Tori and Bones. I do think we'll try to get to Lee Stocking Island, and if so, I'll get a picture of them then.
03/10/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town
This will be a short entry. I woke this morning with a headache as bad as those I used to get. I haven't had a headache of this intensity for a long time. I'm not sure the cause. It may have been a bad nights sleep two nights ago, followed by the unexpected work of a days sailing. In any case, I didn't do much at all today except rest. Since the wind was down, and is supposed to be back up to 20 knots until Tuesday, and above 16 knots for the rest of the week, Bud made two trips to town for water. From where we are here it's closer than the run from Thompson Bay to Long Island Petroleum, and here the water is free, courtesy of Exuma Markets, the local grocery that probably owes its existence to the hundreds of cruisers here at any one time during the winter season.
I was going to go and do the laundry, but I couldn't stay upright long enough to do much of anything. So the laundry will wait until Monday, and if the waves in the harbor are too high for a ride in the dinghy we'll just have to take a water taxi.
I stuck my head out of the cabin long enough to take a couple of shots of our new anchorage. The one posted with this entry shows the dinghies lined up along shore at Volleyball Beach. You can just make out the signature signpost with many homeports and distances designated. That's been repaired and re-erected since Hurricane Irene knocked it down. I also took a photo of a very large cruiser dwarfed by a huge yacht that are anchored just south of us. We're in quite the classy neighborhood, now. That I'll put in the gallery.
I'm also adding a photo I took yesterday and forgot. It's of Ocean Energy, the tanker that delivers gasoline and diesel all over the Bahamas. They'd made a delivery at Salt Pond, Long Island and left Thompson Bay just after we did. The picture is as they passed us. Ocean Energy subscribes to the same weather service that we do, and we often hear them asking for conditions on the morning SSB broadcast.
One other thing, I mentioned before that we would be taking Fuzzy to the vet here. I don't think we're going to. His problem doesn't seem to be so much incontinence as a weakened bladder and now that we've gotten him to go up and pee on deck we seem to be managing his problem with several trips to the deck in addition to the two or three trips ashore each day. I don't think a vet would tell us there was any problem other than old age. Poor old Fuzzy, he's getting to be such a doddering old man of a dog these days.
The last thing I wanted to mention was the logistics of this blog. When I don't have Internet and post the blog via the SSB radio, I can't see what I've posted and I can't see anyone's comments. But once I get Internet, I always go back and review and I read and appreciate any comments that have been added. Thanks to all of you who read this, and all of you who've added your comments to my narrative.
03/09/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town
Last night we checked the chartbooks for the timing of the tide in George Town. The only tide tables published for the Bahamas are for Nassau. All other places are referenced as so far ahead of or behind Nassau. I looked through both our chartbooks that cover this area but couldn't find the timing of the tide in George Town. We decided it must be the same as Nassau. The reason we wanted to know is that we were planning when to sail to George Town. We wanted to be sure not to get to the cut to the south end of the harbor on an ebb tide. That would mean the tide was opposing the wind, and with all the wind we've had we figured there would be pretty big rollers. Based on the Nassau tide we'd decided to go Saturday, giving one more day of lighter winds (although the wind is supposed to build Saturday later in the day) for the waves to settle down.
Then this morning while we were walking Fuzzy another cruiser came ashore with his small dog, Goliath. We started talking to him and he said they were leaving for George Town. He said the George Town tide was supposed to be about 40 minutes later than Nassau, which would make low tide about 3 PM today and close to 4 PM tomorrow. Since they wanted to wait until after low tide to enter the cut, they wanted to go today, as waiting until 4 PM would make it pretty late by the time you sailed the three miles or so up into the harbor and then found a place to anchor.
On the way back to the boat in the dinghy Bud and I decided that we should probably leave today, too. We'd planned to take showers, and so had just put on our dirty clothes from yesterday to take the dog ashore. Now we rushed around and got everything ready to sail and set out at about 9:40 AM, still in yesterday's clothes. The wind was still fairly strong in the morning, but we were sailing downwind, so had the full main and jib out. We couldn't carry the jib for long, as the wind was too far astern. We did manage to keep sailing with just the main for several hours. Finally, the wind dropped to below 10 knots (it wasn't supposed to) and our speed was below 5 knots and we put the engine back on. It was a pretty pleasant sail, the swells as we came to the cut were only about three feet and we had an easy time of it.
George Town is still packed with boats from the Cruisers Regatta, which started, I think, the last day of February. A lot of boats are still here because of the winds over the last week. We couldn't even find a place to anchor off Monument Beach, where we've gone in the past. Instead we're down between Volleyball Beach and Sand Dollar Beach. Volleyball Beach is where all the action is, and there's something going on tonight. It may be the awards ceremony from the regatta. This anchorage is working out. It's closer to town and I have free Internet, yeah! But you can see from the photo how many boats there are here. Compare that to yesterday's photo of Thompson Bay. George Town is always a bit of culture shock after you've been out in the "out islands."
03/08/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Finally, by Thursday afternoon the wind had died down. That's also when the mystery boat left. Tuesday, during the height of the blow, a small boat named Good Day Cooter pulled up between us and the boat to our south and set anchor. Within an hour of their arrival, the two young men on board got in their dinghy and went ashore. They were gone all night, and all day and night Wednesday. Thursday they came back, and not long after they came back to the boat they pulled up anchor and were gone. We weren't too pleased that they'd left the boat so soon after anchoring, especially in such high winds. We were really surprised when they left it for two days, but in the end, all the anchors held and there were no problems.
We ventured out to find Internet this afternoon. The Internet I've been able to get on the boat has been so intermittent it's been hard to get anything done on-line. We left Fuzzy on-board and took the computer over to Long Island Breeze. We didn't stay long but I was able to call our daughter on Skype, so that was fine. While we were there a rainstorm blew through. It poured for about 20 minutes, and then it was over. Happily we'd put the windows in the dodger and closed the hatch over the TV, so the boat was okay.
Back on the boat I couldn't get Internet again, so I didn't post this last night.
03/06/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
The wind blew all day at between 25 and 30 knots, with gusts above 30, and that was here in the lee of the island. The boat is moving around a lot on the anchor, but it's very secure and quite cozy. What's not so cozy is taking Fuzzy ashore, but we've got that technique down and with him in the pack we've been getting a bit wet but not soaked.
A lot of the folks in the anchorage went to one of Tryphena's buffets at Club Thompson Bay, but since we'd been before, and since the trip back to the boat in the dark would be a hassle in this wind, Bud and I decided not to go. Neither of us had much of an appetite, anyway. We think we might have a touch of seasickness from the constant motion. I'm feeling better now, but Bud decided to take a Dramamine and I gave half of one to Fuzzy. They should both sleep well tonight.
We didn't do much of anything today. A small boat came up and anchored near us. I'm not sure if they were moving in closer or came from another place. I can't imagine they would have moved far in this wind. Anyway, as a precaution, in case the wind moves further east, Bud asked me to let out another 10 feet of anchor chain. That way as we swing we'll stay behind them.
There's not much else to report, I just wanted people to know that all was well. The wind howls but the boat is fine. And a good thing is that the wind generator is making lots of power!
03/05/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Well, the first day of the strongest weather event of the season so far is behind us, and it was not a bad day. I did take this photo because we had grey skies all day and I don't think I've ever seen that here before. Bud commented that we didn't wear sunglasses all day, that's certainly a first for this season. It's also pretty cool, temperatures are going to run the mid to upper 70's for several days. We may have to get blankets out tonight.
This could be pretty uncomfortable if we were in the wrong anchorage. The wind was up over 20 knots this morning, it came up at about 4 AM. The gusts have been in the upper 20's. But since it's coming right out from shore, we're well protected. I learned you have to be careful getting in the dinghy. We had the dinghy up on the davits overnight. It's my job to climb down in it, release it from the pulleys, and pull it around from the back to the side of the boat. Bud keeps the bow line. I usually stand right in the bow to do that. The little waves didn't look that bad, but it's steep little chop and it was bad enough with me in the bow to take a couple of wave over the bow and splash me pretty thoroughly. If I stand in the middle of the dinghy I avoid that. I also put Fuzzy in the front pack today to make getting on and off the boat easier. The beach is no problem. There are no waves there, it's as calm as can be.
Other than taking Fuzzy ashore we stayed aboard. I gave Fuzzy a bath and made brownies (taking advantage of the wind to use the oven without heating up the boat). Bud groomed Fuzzy again, I had to help for parts of it. We struggled mightily and finally got most of his face clipped.
Tomorrow is supposed to be the day with the strongest wind and Wednesday the day with the greatest chance of squalls, but nothing too much worse than today, so hopefully all of the boats here will be fine.