03/14/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town
This morning, while we were running the generator, getting the pump-out boat to come and otherwise getting ready for the day we got a call on the radio from Top of the World. That is Paul and Melanie's house, and Paul and Melanie are the original owners of Earendil, whom we met the other day. Paul said they'd taken their boat to town and looked for us but we weren't there. I explained about our move to Monument and asked if they were still out and about if they'd like to come and find us here. They were home, but asked if we'd like to come by later. We would, we did.
We were going to stop in on the way to the St. Francis Resort to buy Internet time, but they were having a luncheon and the warning came over the radio for those participating to be courteous at the dinghy dock and be sure to tie off with a long painter (rope for you land lubbers). We figured that meant things would be pretty crowded there so we decided to go to Paul and Melanie's place first.
It was a nice dinghy ride today. It would have been to the lee of the islands and so not bad if the wind had been blowing as was predicted, but there was almost no wind at all. If you zoom out on the Google Earth map from where we are, the next island south is Elizabeth Island and our destination. We called back on the radio as we approached. There's was the house we had thought, and as we got closer we could see the two markers at the entrance to their channel. They have a nice dredged channel into a fairly large lagoon. The picture here is of their dock, their big boat (a power catamaran) and their runabout in front of their house. That's Paul and Melanie next to their runabout, and Bud in our dinghy, as we got ready to leave.
The house is in two parts. What was a partially completed and partially falling down boat house they restored and finished into the common spaces of their home, living room and kitchen, etc. Behind and to the side of that was a partially built cistern. They finished the cistern and built a foundation right around it and built the tall part of the house that has a studio downstairs and bedrooms on the floors above. But what we toured was their part of the island. They have a small citrus grove and many trails that they cut and maintain. We walked south to a little beach near the end of the island but on the harbor side. Then we cut across the southern tip of the island to a beautiful little beach on the ocean side and a shaded little deck with chairs to enjoy that view. From there we walked up to the highest point on Elizabeth Island where their new gazebo sits. It's a new gazebo because Hurricane Irene took the last one partway down the hill. They just finished the roof on this one Saturday (which has reinforced concrete around the footings to thwart the next hurricane). I took a picture from the gazebo looking down toward the ocean and the beach where we'd just been. I'll put it in the gallery. We had a very nice visit. We learned that they had sent their kids a link to the blog and their kids were also happy that someone was caring for and enjoying their old boat.
We did stop and get Internet access at the resort and then stopped for a bit at Volleyball Beach, where Fuzzy made friends with another dog and we got to chat with another cruiser. Fuzzy is a great way to meet people. The other dog's name was Roxy, and Ann, her owner, said people remembered Roxy, but not her. That happens to us, too. People don't recognize me if I don't have Fuzzy with me.
Fuzzy is pretty worn out from all this visiting and is now sleeping like a log. Let's hope that lasts through the night.
03/13/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town
I'm writing this Wednesday morning, because we ended up without Internet yesterday. The wind was down and it was supposed to be the calmest day of the week, so we decided it was time to get our chores in George Town done. It was still pretty bumpy at the boat, but we managed to get Fuzzy ashore and settled and then we loaded the dinghy. First trip was laundry, garbage, books to exchange, and bags for shopping. When we got to the dinghy dock it was hard to find a space, as many folks had decided today was a good day to come ashore. Happily a man and his dog were just leaving, and we took their spot.
Bud helped me carry the laundry down to the Laundromat, which is about a quarter mile from the dinghy dock. When I got there, I had to go on a waiting list, as the washers that were working were all taken. I asked the women if I'd have time to go to the library for the book exchange and she said I'd have plenty of time. So I left and caught up to Bud. I was also going to go and pick up the mail so I offered to take the garbage, it goes to a dumpster on the government dock, which is past the post office and library. I could save Bud some walking as his heel is still bothering him.
So Bud started the shopping and I ran the other errands. I had signed up at the library late last season and the huge $3.00 fee is good for a year, so I thought I'd still be OK. I was in the records and I'm good until April 5th. I exchanged 8 books and walked back to the Laundromat, now without the garbage and with the mail. I got back a few minutes before some washers came free. I ended up needing four washers. Once the wash was done I had to wait a bit until the driers came free. Again, the people who run the Laundromat tell you where and when to do your clothes. They keep everything moving smoothly and everyone in order. They didn't take any money from me until all the wash was done and folded. The four loads cost $23, which isn't too bad.
Bud made it back as I was starting to fold the second drier full of clothes. He'd made a trip back to the boat with beer and groceries, a second trip with water, and now was back for the third time. He said it was pretty rough out there. We'd brought garbage bags for the wash. All the folded wash fit in our one large laundry bag. When we got it back to the dinghy we put it in one garbage bag with another to cover the top of it. The photo is the laundry in our dinghy. The canvas bag in front of it has my books and the mail and you can just see a little plastic bag with some local produce Bud bought. We still had to get Bud and I in the dinghy. You can see why Bud would like a bigger dinghy. He'd particularly like one with bigger tubes so we and our stuff would stay drier! We didn't get soaked on the way back, but we got damp.
Once we had everything aboard and put away we decided to pull up anchor. We'd had enough of the bouncy spot. A number of boats had left and we were hoping to get a spot off Monument Beach. We found a spot just south of the beach. There was plenty of room but the water got deeper as you approached shore, so up where we might have wanted to drop it was over 25 feet. We decided to circle back and drop out a little farther where it was less than 20 feet. We ended up in 17 feet of water at the anchor, and by the time we put out enough chain we were close to the mail boat channel. We were thinking of moving in a bit, but another boat came in and anchored in front of us! He had to move in a bit, as the first time, by the time he got his chain out he was too close to us. On his second try he was fine. He's good for the prevailing winds, but he would be very close to the iron shore if the wind came up from the west (which it is not supposed to do). He came by and asked if we felt he was too close. We said no, and explained that we'd had our dinghy out checking our anchor, as we'd just set it (I think he thought we were making sure he wasn't over our anchor). I told him we were concerned about the mailboat channel and he said he'd been anchored here last week and he thought we were fine. A while later the ferry from Nassau came by and the course he took was well behind us. I took photos of the shore from our new spot. We're much better protected here. I also took a photo of the ferry. I'll post them all once we go in and buy Internet this afternoon (3/14).
Just a short entry today. Another front is passing over and we had strong winds and a cloudy day with on and off rain showers. We didn't even try to go to town. This morning it was a challenge just to get Fuzzy ashore.
But, our daughter called us just after noon to let us know that she has a placement for her Family Practice Residency starting in July. Getting a medical residency is a very complicated process, and she has been working towards this for so long. We are almost certain her placement will be in Texarkana, but she won't find that out until Friday. All she knows is that she is going to be at one of the programs where she interviewed and that she submitted last January in a ranked list.
And she and our grandson are coming to George Town on March 26 to spend a week with us. Then we can really celebrate!
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."