February 20, 2012. Another "arduous" trek, mostly motoring though, to Sampson Cay about 10 miles away. Ingo promised me a dinner out, and he delivered...a ridiculously expensive shrimp dinner but no dishes to clean up! (I can't say that I'm enjoying making 3 meals a day.) This is a new place for us, and a good place to anchor while a mild front passed through. Although the anchorage is open to the west, by the time we got the hook down, the wind clocked to the north west and on to the north. Then, this huge motor yacht, probably 90 ft long, blows his horn and yells at the anchored boats that they aren't allowed to anchor here, even though the charts show 2 designated anchorages in this vicinity and there was a clear fairway behind us for him to enter the marina. So, instead, he proceeded to wind his way through the anchorage. Just because he's big, doesn't give him rights! This is the second negative experience with big, bossy motor yachts.
February 21, 2012. We woke to a lovely cool, dry breeze that the front delivered. Life is good...still! What a great day for chores and laundry...or whatever... Ingo had a productive morning doing necessary maintenance on the dinghy engine and fixing a leak on the watermaker while I did some paying work to help our cruising kitty. Then it was my turn for chores...laundry. However, Ingo said he will help me with laundry any day, especially since he could sit at the bar and chat with Wellington, a very charming (and cute) Bahamian bartender, through the afternoon. Hopefully the boat will arrive tomorrow to replenish supplies though. No Kalik, no beer other than Guinness. No onions, no tomatoes, no limes (I grabbed the last few yesterday). Gotta wait for da boat, maybe tomorrow. Now I really feel like I'm in the Exumas!
February 22, 2012. Still no supply boat...however, Jane and Irv on Karaya came into Sampson, so they joined us for lunch and came out to Ladyhawke for happy hour. What a nice surprise to see them again. One of the wonderful things about cruising...you never know when you'll cross paths again and it's such fun when it happens.
February 23, 2012. Moved the boat a short distance to Big Majors Spot, just across from Fowl Cay Resort where we were lucky enough to get dinner reservations for that evening. Had to call several days in advance, but it sure was worth it! A very special resort...only $17,000/week for a 3-bedroom villa! Of course, that includes your own Boston Whaler to cruise around. Glad we were staying on Ladyhawke.
February 24-27, 2012. Ugh, Ingo lost his wallet! Fortunately, he didn't have much cash, but did lose credit cards, health cards, and driver's license...and the leather wallet from Mallorca! Glad that Sarah will be joining us soon to bring replacement credit cards and that Jeri has a back-up credit card. What a bother.
VERY poor internet connectivity from Big Majors so we took the dinghy into Staniel to do some admin stuff. Ingo even tried to raise the range extender up the mast, but to no avail. The fun part of the day was taking the dinghy to the beach at Big Majors Spot to feed the pigs. Yes, pigs do...swim!
Since we couldn't get to shore without getting wet for several days as the front passed through, we stayed onboard to do some chores. Jeri did some repair work, restitching some of the dodger panels that are tearing at the seams and mending the dinghy spray curtain. (We're not happy with the canvas work from Canvas Creations this time, although the bimini is holding up fine.) It's nice having the sewing machine along. Ingo replaced a screw on the hard dodger. Not bad for two days of work! (Just kidding...got lots of other things done too.)
Lovely sunsets, relaxing days. Very surprised at all the mega yachts in the anchorage. Many more than we remember from 12 years ago. So there's a problem with the economy??? The most disturbing thing, thought, are the darn underwater lights that radiate out several boat lengths from each boat at night. Last night we even saw two large sailboats with the underwater lights...power boats, yes, but sailboats??
February 28, 2012 Happy Birthday, Ingo! Still at Staniel. We're looking forward to a nice meal at Little Farmers Cay tomorrow to celebrate the big 7 OH! At his request, Jeri is baking bread for him instead of a cake. Ingo definitely loves his bread! Took the dinghy into Staniel for lunch and more computer access to send Jeri's work and check up on bank accounts. Shrimp scampi for dinner at Ingo's request.
Feb. 29 - March 7, 2012. Time flies when you're having fun! On the 29th we motor-sailed to Little Farmers Cay on the Exuma Bank side of the island chain, arriving in time for high tide to safely pass south of the cay and then enter the beautiful sheltered area between LittleFarmers, Big Farmers and Great Guana Cay. We picked up an Ocean Cabin mooring along Great Guana in a narrow passage with enough depth. After getting settled, Jeri immediately snorkeled over to the beach, having spotted several conch shells on the beach. Great success! She found a whole bucketful of small, gorgeous conch shells, but, unfortunately, none large enough to make a horn. Also found a huge West Indian Top Snail shell and delighted in walking the beaches.
Dinner was at Ocean Cabin, an absolute delight, hosted/owned by Terry Bain and his wife Earnestine. He is a very proud Bahamian, articulate, well-read and travelled, and strong political/environmental activist trying to preserve the islands from unplanned development. Sadly, the corruption in the government and greasing palms by wealthy developers is prevalent. For example, uncontrolled development of Bell Island by Agakahn, an island that is within the boundaries of the Exuma Land and Sea Park, held by the Bahamian Trust.
As for dinner, they were out of the normal size lobster tails so we were forced to get the 14oz tails. Unbelievably scrumptious! We dined with new friends, John and Jane from Explorer II, a Booth Bay Explorer 58 from Easton, MD. (shared a secret...deep water all the way up the Tred Avon to Easton!) So good that Jeri had to go back the next night for a repeat performance! The next night, we met Ross and Rosemary from Sundance V, Dan and Kathy from Sea Star, and Jessie and Robin on Robinsong. We spent the next day walking around the island, a very short walk, but discovered J R wood Carving shop where Jeri bought a horse conch shell, already made into a horn. And, J R gave lessons on blowing it. Charming man well known in the islands for his carvings using wild tamarind wood.
Experiencing a new place was wonderful. Next stop was a very protected pond in I the middle of Rudder Cay where we spent two windy days with Sea Star in great protection. Robinsong joined us the next day. Although the island is private and several feral? dogs guarded the shore (barked a lot with wagging tails), it looked abandoned, so we went ashore several times to walk the beaches. Jeri found several shells and hamburger beans, which are from a specific tree that only grows in Brazil. The quintessential cruiser's beach combing treasure!
Next stop was Emerald Bay Marina, part of Sandals Resort, to ride out a big blow, reported by Chris Parker as the major weather event of the season. Ugh! The boat is surrounded by a spiderweb of lines, holding the boat to the dock, as we sit through steady 30-35 kt winds. The good part is being able to get off the boat,free laundry, liquor store nearby,and really wonderful cruisers stuck in the same situation. Last evening, Sandals provided a cash bar and everyone brought something to share...great party! We met friends of Joe Rocchio's, Arnon and Nancy from Vision Quest and Chuck and Jeanie from Fräulein. Happy hour tonight on Vision Quest. Sad to learn that they are heading north while we are heading to GeorgeTown. Friendships are so fleetingbut we hope to reconnect with them since their homeport is Annapolis.
February 13, 2012. We made it to the Exumas! Long day sailing from West Bay to Norman Cay. Successfully started up the watermaker after a bit of panic and operator error. So far so good...300 ppm TDS...not bad for a RO membrane that was pickled for 7 years! Wind was supposed to be NE,changing to easterly tomorrow, so today was the better day for sailing. Mother Nature got a jump on the prediction so we had upwind sailing to start, moderating to a more pleasant close reach. Water is turquoise, quiet anchorage with protection from the east, looks like a pleasant evening. Life is good!
February 14, 2012. Valentine's Day dinner at Norman's Cay Beach Club! Cheeseburger from Paradise, of course. Sadly though, we learned that, although Jimmy Buffett did enjoy a cheeseburger there, their burger didn't necessarily inspire the song. He has enjoyed many cheeseburgers in paradise in many locations. And, they are under new management, hence, the new name. McDuffs is still on the entrance sign though.
February 15, 2012. Beautiful sail to Warderick Wells. Bit of excitement as we followed a large French catamaran into the mooring field who proceeded to pick up our assigned mooring right in front of us. With a bit of dancing and and explaining that they needed to get a mooring assigned through the Exuma Land and Sea Park, we picked up the mooring (next time, remember to set up the bridle in advance!) and settled down to a nice lunch, desalting the boat and a glass of wine. Sunshades are awesome! We're not moving for several days!
February 16, 2012. We woke to another lovely day, sunny but a bit less wind. Time to set up the dinghy and head into shore to register. Darcy, the mooring coordinator, told us that the French cat left without paying for their mooring, so she sent the park warden out after them to collect. No messing with Darcy!
We're slowly getting the hang of living on the boat and the daily routine of running the generator, rinsing sandy, salty feet and showering on deck (love it!), going to bed earlier than usual (must be the fresh air and sun) and getting up whenever! Well, Jeri, at least. Ingo gets up every morning to listen to Chris Parker's weather at 6:30am. I'd rather just read his email!
After catching up on email and sending an assessment, we took the mandatory walk to Boo Boo Hill to check out the driftwood offerings to the souls lost in a local shipwreck many years ago. It's the highest hill around...and the only place to get cellphone reception. It sure was nice hearing Sarah's voice and comforting to know she's busy with work and school, but ok.
Had a lovely turkey tenderloin and brussel sprouts for dinner. Then went to bed with a bad feeling that the charger wasn't working properly. Time for mister-fixit again!
February 17, 2012. Ingo, up early, jumped right into checking out the charger and found that both the engine and generator are charging the batteries, which is wonderful news. However, he's not happy that the batteries not charging deeply enough. Oh, dear!
Spent the day exploring and snorkeling around Emerald Rock (not great). The drift dive at the pass between the north anchorage and the Emerald Rock area was wonderful. Nice light current to drift, great abundance of fish, hard coral and soft coral. Sadly, some of the hard coral is showing evidence of bleaching. Global warming? Finally saw my favorite...a parrot fish...and a small ray gliding across the bottom. Lovely to watch the soft coral fans and fingers waving in the current, especially in the glimmering sunlight.
Happy hour was enjoyed on Fiscal Stray (Tod and Anne), along with Elusive (Tomand Kate) and Karaya (Jane and Irv). Hope we cross paths again...great fun!
February 18, 2012. Can't stay in one place too long, so we dropped the mooring and headed on the long trek to Cambridge Cay, the southern part of the park. Just beautiful. Nice 10-mi sail down Exuma Sound. Again, we picked up a park mooring, which did not exist on our previous visit, and proceeded to do some exploring. We took a walk from Honeymoon Beach, across the island to the beach at Conch Cut. Thanks to cruiser volunteers, the park paths are well maintained. Although it was Sat. night, we passed on the long dinghy ride to the beach for happy hour. I think we both felt like party poopers when we saw every dinghy in the anchorage head out, but we rally we're pooped! (And had just returned from that area.). Also getting a bit more cautious as we age...don't like long dinghy rides at night after drinking and in unfamiliar waters.
February 19, 2012. Another wonderful day in paradise! Snorkeled the Sea Aquarium which is aptly named. It really is just like snorkeling in a tank filled with tropical fish, but without the tank. Close by is another snorkeling area with a dinghy tie-up...downed airplane is actually the mooring block. The plane is inverted with numerous corals growing on the fuselage and fish milling about. Beautiful coral heads close by too. Thank goodness for Ingo's patience waiting in the dinghy. He hasn't been able to find a mask that fits, especially with a beard, so his snorkeling experiences haven't been very enjoyable.
Also walked over to Bell Rock and 'hiked' up the hillside to the highest peak on Cambridge Cay...all of 75ft! Fantastic view, but still very poor cellphone connectivity. (Should be much better in Staniel since they have the closest Batelco tower.)
Back on the boat, we planned to enjoy a quiet dinner, when a mega yacht (must have been about 65 ft) picked up the mooring right in front of us. Between the music, two jet skis buzzing around, and awful, garrish purple and white deck lights and blue underwater lights that practically lit up the entire anchorage, the mood was definitely destroyed. Time to move on!
February 5, 2012 The last message ended with our return from a wonderful weekend in Key West, with the goal of heading to the Bahamas in a day or two. It's now the next weekend, six days later, and we finally dropped the dock lines from John and Barbara's dock in Ft. Lauderdale! The weather gods have been teasing us with rapidly changing condition, making it difficult to plan more than a day or two out. Today was the day to bite the bullet with winds 10-13k out of the ESE and 2-4 foot waves, and move south to Biscayne Bay. And what a lovely sail it was...close reach and light cloud-cover...just perfect. So we're now anchored on the west shore of Key Biscayne, weather a bit chilly, but keeping our fingers crossed that the weather window will hold to cross the Gulf Stream tomorrow and enter the Bahamas at Bimini.
During the week in Ft. Lauderdale, or Ft. La-di-da, as one cruiser referred to it, we spent several days on boat chores, fixing this and that. In other words, typical stuff when living on board. Ingo re-bedded a leaking prism, fixed a hinge on a hatch, tightened the stuffing box, and once again, worked on the head. Jeri cleaned and waxed the transom, repaired the dodger and other miscellaneous canvas, and polished stainless. Don't we know how to have fun!!! Ok, we did take several walks to the beach for lunch, dined in several lovely restaurants (Casablanca Cafe, Coconuts for the best heirloom tomato salad and stone crab claws (twice!), the Chart House for mud pie). Also found a fabulous bakery called Gran Forno for awesome ciabatta bread and quiche. Of course, there were also many trips to West Marine, their brand new flagship store, and a great hardware store, Macdonalds (no golden arches!) We really appreciated being able to borrow a car from John and Barbara.
February 6, 2012 Still in Key Biscayne due to squally weather. Made Mahi-Mahi with peppers and feta for dinner last night. Tonight, seafood Alfredo pasta. Love the seafood we bought in West Palm at Cod and Capers. Checked out Key Biscayne Yacht Club. Restaurant closed on Monday and need letter faxed from yacht club to prove we are members in good standing...oh well...At least we had the lovely Miami skyline to view.
February 7, 2012 Left Biscayne Bay with heavy cloud cover and a squall in the distance, but the promise of better things to come during the passage across the Gulf Stream and even a rainbow.
February 7, 2012 Crossed Gulf Stream to South Bimini.
February 8, 2012 Arrived in South Bimini yesterday after a reasonable crossing from Key Biscayne. Waves and wind were slightly off in the beginning so we pounded directly into the easterly seas, motor-sailing for an hour or so. And then, just as predicted by the weather guru, Chris Parker, wind moved more southerly along with the waves, so we could actually sail for a bit. We arrived in South Bimini a little early and had to wait outside the entrance of the marina for the rising tide to have enough water to enter. We are now snugly tied up at the very comfortable resort marina, Bimini Sands Marina, had a wonderful lobster dinner at Makey's Sand Bar (indoors but a sand floor!), and then retired into air-conditioned splendor (no-see-ums are voracious in the evening here). Discovered Kaliks for $3 normally and $1.50 during happy hour on Wed. and Fri. afternoons. (Eat your heart out, John!).
This afternoon we took the ferry across to North Bimini to explore Alicetown with the hope of buying a cheap cellphone and SIM card for cheaper Bahama rates. After a leisurely lunch at the Big Game Club (lovely resort specializing in deep sea fishing, Hemingway stayed and fished here, recently renovated), we headed to Batelco only to find that their cellphones were cost prohibitive. With the help of the technician at Batelco, we jumped on a tram. The driver was actually finished for the day but agreed to take us to Trev Inn in Porgey Town at the north end of the island. The tram got about a half a block away and ran out of gas. So, instead of achieving our goal for the day, we helped the grumbling driver push the sizable tram off the narrow street and headed back to the marina empty-handed. So it goes in the islands! Luckily, we were back in time to have happy hour with new friends Tom and Barbara from Watts Up?, a Gemini 105 from Toronto area. (Very cool composting head!)
If the weather holds, we will most likely head to Russell Beacon tomorrow, anchor overnight and then on to West Bay on Providence Isl. We plan to anchor there and then head to either Highbourne Cay or somewhere else down the Exumas chain. Maybe stay in Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park for a few days...good Internet spot!
All is well. Ingo is setting up transponder now, so we can let friends and family know where we are. Although you can't use very much text, it does have a great link to Google Earth to show our position.
Life is good!
February 9, 2012 Famous last words! We decided to stay and explore Bimini a bit and try again to get the phone sorted out. Why rush since we've never been here before, right mon!?
Next thing we heard was groaning coming from Tom...a small plastic fitting broke on his water heater and Barbara was threatening to abandon ship instead of spending her vacation without hot water. Not an easy part to find in a spartan island like Bimini. What luck! Ingo came to the rescue by finding the exact piece in his plumbing stash...their hero! In return, they kindly lent us their collapsible bikes to do our cellphone errand. I'm sold...boat bikes are now on my Christmas list. We had a nice ride, got the phone and got connected ($0.80/min from 7am to 7pm;$0.64/min from 7pm to 7am vs. AT&T at $1.99/min on their Int'l plan). And, 'da boat done come' so we got fresh limes for happy hour, this time on Ladyhawke. We said good-bye and wished them well on their trip to the Berry's and then the Abacos. They left in the middle of the night; Ladyhawke left about 9am for points south.
February 10, 2012. Passage across Great Bahama Bank. Raining cats and dogs at onset. Seas 1-2 ft, wind10-15 but on the nose out of SE. However, a huge pod of dolphins greeted us, and on stayed to play for quite a while, swimming back and forth in front of the bow. Just thrilling! After several hours of motoring, up went the sails as the wind continued to clock around for a beautiful close to beam reach across the banks. And, after a lovely afternoon, lobsters for dinner. It took a few tries in the broiler to make sure they were done, but definitely worth it. Awesome garlic butter with the Penzey's Mural seasoning. Thanks Tricia!
February 11, 2012. Ugly night on the Bank! Lots of hobby-horsing, snubber line broke, stern swim ladder hitting the transom, bow roller creaking, Ingo coughing...not much sleep for either of us. Torrential downpour during the night too (that Jeri somehow slept through.) Woke to light winds out of NW, as predicted, so we're off to NW Channel light and crossing the Tongue of the Ocean to West Bay at the west end of New Providence Island. Maybe even lobster bisque for lunch. Bottom line...no more nights spent on the bank, better to sail through the night and keep on going.
February 12, 2012. Yep, the lobster bisque for yesterday's lunch was a hit. Cooked off the flavor from the lobster shells, added remains of garlic butter, milk, white cooking wine, bit of Alfredo sauce and left-over lobster. Voila! The lobster bisque connoisseur said, "Fabulous!"
Again, as predicted, the winds built to 18-23 out of the NW so we had a boisterous ride downwind to West Bay yesterday afternoon, hoping the wind would continue to clock since West Bay is open to the west. Imagine that! Although not the best destination choice for those conditions, we found some protection behind Lyford Cay. During the night, the wind kept blowing but the rolling was much less than the night prior. Ingo was able to eliminate many of the boat noises...strapped down boom so the gooseneck didn't screech and fixed the banging on the transom. (He also replaced the clam cleat on the main sheet that had broken during an accidental gybe that afternoon.) Most people would probably say it was horrible, but considering our perspective from the previous night on the Bank, we slept well!
This morning, the decision to stay put was an easy one. Winds out of the N at 20-25 but quite chilly. Ingo even snuggled under the afghan in the afternoon! Even better protection as the winds continue to clock. Good day to relax. Ingo is downloading grib files for weather and signed us up for data plans for our phones through AT&T. We just couldn't disconnect ourselves from email when not in wifi range. Very sad!
Indeed, life is good! Greetings to all from Florida!
After a fun few days fun-filled days with Sarah and her boyfriend Brian in Orlando in early Jan. (obligatory visit to Universal Studios and the Harry Potter theme park, we returned to Riviera Beach to drop Ladyhawke in the water and get her ready to leave for points south. What a massive effort to
clean inside and out, provision, polish fuel tanks, change oil and filters, etc, etc, etc. Ingo had his head in the head several times trying to rebuild
it...not a fun job in a very tight place! The last time we made this trip, about 11 years ago, we took several weeks, if not months, getting ready. This
time, we did it in a few days! Being a little older, the focus is a bit
different too. No home schooling preparations, no chicken nuggets, no mac &
cheese, more like how much wine can we stow and make sure we have supplies to make Caesar salad (although romaine might be an issue in the Bahamas...with cabbage?) Creature comforts seem to be more important this time too!
Having said that, we had fun running around West Palm Beach, stayed one night at the Marriott Singer Island Resort to pamper ourselves...it's gorgeous! Love those Marriott reward points! We also took a few days to visit Aunt Lucy on the Gulf Coast to reassure ourselves that her move back home from assisted living is good. Fortunately, she has wonderful home care and good friends involved.
So, we finally dropped the dock lines on Jan 23 for the first leg of our
journey, a day's motor/sail to Ft. Lauderdale. Friends, John and Barbara, offered us the use of their dock behind their fabulous home...what gracious hosts and what a wonderful place to leave the boat to explore Ft. Lauderdale and also to spend a few days in Key West for Jeri's birthday! Definitely a very fun place with lots of things to do and see. The weather has been great...sunny, high 70s/low 80s, checked out the touristy activities (Conch train, sunset at Mallory Square, margarita at Margaritaville, photos at southernmost point in continental US) and walked from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf. And, of course, did the Duval Crawl (bar hopping down Duval St, watching the interesting "local color"!). Jeri's birthday dinner was at Pisces...excellent!.
Now it's back to Ft. Lauderdale for last minute prep to cross over to the Bahamas and some serious weather watching.
Hope all is well and please keep in touch. We miss you all and would love to
keep up with news in your lives.