So we had a hectic summer! Graduations, great-nephew being born, son moving to Saskatoon with Megan (which Wendy now refers to them as our M&M) and of course our daughter Tara marries Chris. Throughout this Wendy was wedding planner extraordinaire while Burry helped out at a local marine store and also developed and presented a series of lectures on cruising. Somewhere we squeezed in some time to visit friends.
After all this Wendy and Burry (and Maggie) drove to Annapolis during Canadian Thanksgiving/US Columbus Day, visited notre ami Phillipe pour quelque jours, after which we pushed south to Florida. A long drive for us, with a side trip/break to visit SV Moon and then direct to Fort Myers to visit with Bob and Rusty. Wendy and Maggie hung out there while Burry went back to Jacksonville to get Seahawk launched. After a week of work he too went back to Fort Myers for a visit, and on return we realized our launch had been delayed, a result of an injury at the marina plus winds from being brushed by Hurricane Sandy. Oh well, sent Maggie to the kennel and we lived on the hard for a few days more.
Seahawk faired well while gone but everything was covered with a coat of dust and mildew so it took at least 3 days just to make her semi livable down below. Found a wonderful product from Australia, it's a Tea Tree Spay which works wonders in getting the storage dust and mildew out and helps keep mildew at bay. Works great on all surfaces and most fabrics too.
Well finally in the water, new bottom paint, dingy fixed and foresail repaired. Had a head problem and replaced a lot of that stiff, stubborn sanitation hose as well replaced a badly seized seacock. Want to get rich? Invent a cheap, good sanitation hose that you don't need hairdryer, dish soap and hot water to get around corners and onto barbs! Replaced our vented loop, getting rid of the Forespar marlon one which gave us problems about every 3 weeks, and went with a bronze Groco. Bit pricey but well worth the no headaches (pun intended!) and smells from when the little valve gets fouled. Up forward moved the Y Valve and redid the holding tank pump out system. The other project was to replace the old hot water heater. Hated to part with it, it's an old Atlantic with SS tank, but can't get elements for it and the adapter plate corrodes quickly and causes constant leaking.
Nov 8 took a break from boat work, rented a car and we went to St Augustine to celebrate Wendy's Birthday. Met up with John/Sheryl from SV Moon and a couple off of SV Destiny for happy hour and then supper at a nice Brazilian restaurant. Back at Green Cove finally launched and then spent a few days doing some deck cleaning and provisioning before heading off. Nice short run to Jacksonville, but held up at the railway bridge so was after sunset before we were tied up at the Landings. Great place (free!) and they were getting all set up for Christmas Tree lighting. Next day off to St Augustine, a very long run but we lucked in and with the exception of an hour we were +7 kts all the way. Grabbed a mooring in St Augustine for a week, they assigned us one of the southerly ones so it felt like we were closer to Daytona than St Augustine, but weather was great and water taxi running so all was well. Hit all our regular haunts (winery, chocolate factory and Polish restaurant) plus a few new ones. Only excitement was dingy outboard stopped working, but removing carb and stripping it down found a spec of paint in the inlet jet, reassemble and were back in business. Can't do that with the new 4 strokes with EFI folks! After a great week, including an evening at the martini bar sipping and people watching, we slipped the mooring and pushed south!
05/22/2012, Florida (jacksonvillle)
Well we had a fun crossing. Good departure, but very light winds so motoring was the order of the day. About 2 hours out there was a nasty noise coming from the engine room which Wendy's good hearing picked up. Low and behold the bolt holding the bracket for our house bank alternator had sheared off leaving it bouncing around, not a good thing. So we shut down and I pushed the alternator out of the way, secured the bracket and removed the belt, restarted and off we went. Just after midnight we experianced and ungodly vibration. A quick trouble shooting exercise and visual inspection indicated a prop issue. So being zero dark thirty was not going overboard to check and we started wieghing our options. Fortunately the winds had picked up a bit so we raised sail and managed to get a few kts underway. We limped in to West Palm just after first light and got our anchor down south of Peanut Island. After clearing in with Customs we started making arrangements to haul out. Since it was Sat we decided to wait in the anchorage until Monday, so this gave us Sunday to explore peanut island.
Monday we had Tow Boat US haul us to Cracker Boys and we hauled out. Once on the hard our prop problem was very apparent, one of the blades was gone! So it was anticipated 3-4 days to get new prop and repair cutless bearing. With that we got a rental and headed to Fort Myers for a few nice days with our friends Bob and Rusty. Once the running gear was done, as well as a fix to our anchor roller, we went back in the water and headed north to Hobe Sound. Next day had a great run and made it to Daytonna Beach, and then again up to St Augustine.
Of course we stayed a few days as St Augustine is one of our favorite places, but had to get underway as we had a 1 June deadline to get hauled out.
One long day and we got to Jacksonville, and tied up along the city dock. Free dockage and a nice area. Interestingly a couple of skaterboys tried to board late at night but Maggie scared them off! Next day we had a nice sail south along the St John river, arriving at Green Cove Springs a little after noon. Two days later we were once again on the hard, above decks stripped and survey done. Rental car packed to the hilt we set off to Kingston, leaving Seahawk till post wedding.
Green Cove Springs marina is a great place. Very friendly folks and great service. Feel good about leaving our home there for the summer.
So Moon and Seahawk made their way to the Abacos, clearing the reef and pushing north on a nice beam reach in light winds. We made a good 6 kts for the first few hours, but as we cleared Hole in the Wall, we set too by a current and we dropped to ~ 4 kts.
Weather was great and we trolled for most of the day, but no bites. As we drew in the line we did come across a small pod of pilot whales which really added to the passage. Shortly after we entered Little Harbour Cut and anchored behind Leonard Cay.
Initially we were planning on spending a few days here, but the weather forecast was not great so we pulled the hook and headed up into Marsh Harbour. It was pretty crowded but we found a spot about 10 m from last year's mark and settled in for a couple of nasty days.
Marsh Harbour had gotten busier over the past year, or at least that what it felt like to us. More cars, construction and a faster pace of life. We spent a few days here, meeting other cruisers, laundry and topping up our provisions.
Once the weather broke we headed north to Treasure Cay while Moon headed over to experiance Guana Cay (and nippers!). Treasure Cay was nice for a few days, a much more relaxed pace than Marsh. After a couple of days we pushed off and headed around the Whale up to Green Turtle.
Intially wanted to grab a mooring there, but the only intact ones these days are private, and anchoring is tight so we decided to stay put outside the harbour. Had a great day in New Plymouth walking around. Very quaint town with friendly folks. Streets are very quiet and some great shops and nice watering holes.
Moon joined us here and we bumped into our sister ship, Moorsan, as well. This resulted in a nice evening of drinks and conversation.
After a couple of days we felt is was time to take advantage of good weather and start the run back to Florida. We left Moon at this point as they were waiting for a good window to push offshore to the Carolinas, vice heading west into Florida.
First day a slow start so we only went as far as Cooperstown, a place well entrenched in election fever. Next day early start and we headed to Great Sale, but found we were making much better time and decided to push further into Mangrove Cay. Anchorage is normally on the south side, but a nasty breeze from the south made us anchor north of the Cay, which worked out well. Early next morning we pushed off to West End, arriving mid afternoon.
West End was a great treat last year, but this year we were a bit disappointed as maintenance seemed a bit lacking and the fine dining restaurant was closed. We met up with another Canadian couple who were also looking for a buddy boat for the crossing to West Palm. Weather window looked good, but morning squalls meant delaying our departure so we decided to wait until late afternoon and do a slow night crossing. So around 1800 we threw off the lines and headed west.
So the moorings at Spanish are right on the channal and the ferrys and supply ship runs right past. Even so, great view and wonderful place to hold up for a few days. Interestingly Sherry/Jason thought we had set them up again as it turned out that Spanish Wells is a dry Cay and had a flashback to last year at Man o War Cay!
We lucked in when we arrived as John on Moon guarded one of the moorings for us, as three trawlers tried to grab it. As well, Bandit (guide and mooring owner) pushed them away as we had reserved it.
Spanish is a great place to resupply, good to walk, bike, kyack, and many other things. Some good places to eat, and though a bit of a dingy ride, Eleuthera has a booze store.
Wifi was a bit of a stretch, but we discovered that most of the churches had wifi for cruisers!
We were there during the hieght of their election and marvelled at the energy involved. Masses of people wearing their party's T shirt were apparent with highly decorated golf carts every where. Each party had a big ralley on Eleuthera, and so the local ferry boat had a busy week ferrying cars and eager party members to and from.
After a couple of days Sherry and Jason had to leave. This time they travelled in style, taking the high speed ferry which runs daily between Nassau and Harbour Town on Eleuthera. Having their fill of conch and seafood they got their sunburned bodies back to the land of winter.
We stuck around for a few days, enjoying the quiet atmosphere and casual pace of Spanish Wells.
Picking a good weather window and contracting Bandit as a guide we threaded our way through the reefs to push North to the Abacos.
So after Black Point we headed to Stanial Cay to provision and await the arrival of Sherry (Wendy's sister) and her BF Jason. We are known for having them travel the road less traveled and to hold that tradition we had them take a small plane from Nassau into Stanial. They arrived safe and sound with most of their baggage (lost their duty free somewhere along the line).
We spent a few days at Stanial to do some hiking and snorkling (including the groto) and a visit to the swimming pigs. After a bit of climatization the now lobster guests and us went north into the Land and Sea Park, with Jason suitably stocked with a 24 of $60 kalik.
We spent close to a week in Waderick Wells, with lots of great hiking and snorkling. We did the ruins hike, which Sherry begged off, and trecked the 8 mile loop over a rugged trail with incredible beauty. We delayed our departure to participate in the Easter Dinner, hosted by the park warden, and consisted of an incredible spread of wonderful culinary delights.
Monday we pushed off and headed up to Shroud Cay for a few days of exploration, including a dingy ride up to castaway beach. We also did a lonnnnnnggggg dingy ride to Normans, hoping for a burger, but discovered they were cleaned out of food over easter and were awaiting resupply, so a quick beer and we headed back, visiting the DC3 wreck enroute.
The rest of our trip in the Exhumas consisted of visits to Highborne and Shipborne Cays, and then reluctantly headed north to Spanish Wells. This long day was a great reach north with the tide gods smiling upon us with a favourable tide through Current Cut and a couple of hours later we were moored off Spanish Wells, the subject of our next blog.
05/19/2012, Little Farmers/Black Point
So we finally pulled ourselves from Emerald Bay, with Moon as our buddy boat we headed north. Winds were finally from a favorable direction and we got some sail up, chugging along at a nice 6 kts. As the day progressed the wind clocked to dead behind and decreased so eventually it was back to motorsailing. We pushed on to Little Farmers while Moon cut in to Cave Cay.
Once tied up at Little Farmers we heard a Mayday call. As the afternoon progressed it turned out a Whitby 42 sank off Cave Cay in 1600' of water. The couple from London, Ontario got into their dingy with ditch bag and were picked up by a passing cruiser and brought into Little Farmers. Apparently they hit something hard which holed their vessel.
Next day John and Cheryl on Moon joined us and we spent a few days enjoying little farmers. We spent an afternoon at the airfield where there is a great little bar/restaurant which served up some outstanding ribs and burgers with cold kaliks. It was a great few days, beach combing, eating, playing eucre and exploring. Finally got a great lobster tail and with a steak we were saving had a wonderful surf and turf with baked potatoe night.
Reluctantly we decided to push on as we had to be in Stanial in time to meet Wendy's sister Sherry. We stopped at Black Point for a couple of days. Nice little grocery store allowed us to stock up a bit. Did some house keeping including laundry, real showers and Burry got a hair cut. Went to the pizza palour there and as usual our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we ordered way to much. Moon and Seahawk split the leftovers and we eneded up eating pizza for lunch the next two days.
We discovered their was a volunteer tutor program for the school set up but a SSCA couple who had swallowed the hook at Black Point. This has put into thought we would spend a month there next winter and participate in this very worthwhile program.
Day before the frieght boat we pulled up the hook and made our way to Stanial Cay to be in position for the next great provisioning opportunity in preperation for our boat guests arrival.