02/15/2012, Alders Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
The day started out well, beautiful sun, favorable winds. We left Great Harbour Cay and motor sailed up around Little and Great Stirrup gawking at the monster cruise boats as we went by. The wind shifted then and the rest of our journey was upwind again, motoring into pounding waves. Not a long trip however and we arrived early afternoon at Fowl Cay, a lovely spot, shallow and protected on all sides by uninhabited islands. Horrible news on arrival, no anchor! Our favorite magic Rocna which just digs itself deeper and deeper the longer it is down, and the rougher the wind and water, is gone! Looks like the screw in the hasp worked itself out. Guess I should have been checking it after all the rough nights at anchor. I know it was there in the morning when we left, so no hope of finding it. We quickly attached another anchor and dropped it for the night. Up at 4AM with the anchor alarm, it dragged and we had to raise and reposition it.
My first snorkelling venture. Clear clear water and a little shark hiding under our boat. Only 2 ft, not a threat but the hundreds of tiny clear almost invisible jellyfish are another thing entirely. I had a memorable encounter with a jellyfish last year. Not wanting a repeat of that painful experience, I got out. No reefs around here anyway. Still neat to see what's there. Several lovely little beaches, completely deserted. Sammy has a great time chasing crabs of which there are an abundance. Hope he doesn't catch one, he'll get a surprise.
Spent the morning rocking on the hook at Fowl Cay, watching the turtles surface and dive for hours. Our little shark arrived to investigate some rotten apples we threw into the water. Pics at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc Tried out Tom's Christmas present, a Fisheye video fishing rod. Worked great for 5 minutes, then the camera flooded and stopped working. Frustrating, our luck has been poor this trip.
Motor sailed down to Alders Cay and anchored. Off I went snorkelling to check out the anchor, no good at all. We had the Danforth on and it was lying on its side with one tip dug in about 3 inches. Not too reassuring to hold an 8500 lb boat. We tried resetting, no luck, and moving to a new spot, no luck. Finally we took it off and put on the CQR. Dug in first time. That took most of the afternoon and then we had a visit from the local island manager. It seems Frozen Cay and Alders Cay are privately owned. The main house is on Frozen Cay and the staff live on Alders Cay. Steve, a friendly guy from Tennessee with a down south accent and American ways, manages the establishment. We had a great visit, enjoyed his local Bahamian stories and knowledge. He has been down here for 17 years, married a local girl and raised a family of three boys. Offered to take Tom out fishing tomorrow, but we are anxious to take advantage of the weather window and get to Nassau tomorrow. Lots of grouper and snapper fishing tips however.
02/13/2012, Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
Yesterday and today have been spent enjoying this lovely island. 500 people make their home here, many of them working on nearby cays servicing the cruise ships that come in to Little Stirrup Cay. The marina at Bullocks Harbour is very well protected, a big improvement over our Friday night anchorage. Yesterday was very windy and we hardly noticed it until we cycled to the beach. The main beach on the east side of the island stretches more than 2 miles of fine white sand. That beautiful turquoise water again, and lots of interesting things for Sammy to investigate. Not another human being on the beach. Much of Bahamas is like this, gorgeous and deserted. Hard to get to, you really only see these places when you come by boat.
Several boats in the marina have been here for weeks and they shared stories with us of where to go and what to do. One couple (all crusiers are couples) lent us a book excerpt with a little bit about the history of this island. Used to be completely run by drug runners, and was once a hot spot for celebrities. Jack Nicklaus still owns property here. His 130 ft yacht Sea Bear came in a couple of days ago. ( see pics at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc ) Apparently he will arrive tomorrow. Too bad we are planning to leave tomorrow morning, I am sure he would have enjoyed a golf game with the world famous golfer Tom Watts.
Speaking of which, Tom did manage a golf game on his second favorite Bahamian golf course, the free 9 hole course here. It was once 18 holes with a spectacular clubhouse, but a hurricane destroyed the clubhouse and 9 of the holes have been allowed to revert to jungle. Tom says it is in bad shape but was once a world class course.
Today we explored in the dinghy and found a lovely little beach accesible only from the water. Shopping in the afternoon on the bikes, Bahamian style which means buy whatever they have, not what you were looking for. The supply boat comes in Wednesday. Not a lot left today.
02/11/2012, Great Harbour Cay, Bahamas
We spent two days in Bimini, the first one cycling around North Bimini and shopping. Walks on the beach on South Bimini, dinner on the boat. Our next door neighbours, American sailors from Philadelphia joined us for evening cocktails. Weather off and on light sprinkling rain. The second day in Bimini was a work day. The water pump kept running, meaning a leak. Turns out to be the same problem as last year, a plastic nipple fitting had broken off. With much sweating and swearing Tom got it off and our sailboat neighbours, had the replacement! What luck, without it we would have had to do without hot water for weeks until a replacement could be found. No Lowe's in the Bahamas. Thank you Ingo and Jerri! Next job was to change the oil, horrible dirty job. Anyway it's done and at 4AM Friday we set off for the Berrys.
The weatherman promised light winds from the south. No such luck. After rounding North Rock (very anxiously, we almost hit it last year), still no light on it, we headed straight east for the Berrys, directly into the over 20 knot east wind. A horrible ride, sails no use, very jumpy seas, engine valiantly chugging away, me fight seasickness. What should have been a 12 hour sail took 16 hours and we arrived at Great Harbour Cay after dark. No lights to guide us into Bullocks harbour so we anchored out. God awful night, storm after storm, with winds gusting over 30 knots, lightning hit a nearby hill. I don't know how we got through it without dragging or getting hit by lightning, but we did. Tom was up almost all night watching over the anchor. We were quite close to a rocky shore and dragging would have put the boat at risk. All in all a 28 hour nightmare. As a sailing neighbour said a few days ago, on a sailing trip the highs are really high but the lows are really low. I think we are due for some highs. Poor Sammy went 28 hours without a pee break, but it did not seem to bother him. He sure didn't like the storms though, he took Tom's place in bed with me and shivered and panted all night.
This morning first light we entered Bullocks harbour and now we are tied up at the marina for a few days to recover.
02/07/2012, Bimini Sands Marina, South Bimini, Bahamas
We're here! Another year, another crossing. Not too bad this time. We had to wait an extra day, swinging on the anchor at Elliott Key, enduring storm after storm. 24 hours of intermittent rain and wind and some lightning, scary when you are sitting on the water with a 46ft lightning rod bolted beside you. This morning was still stormy, but looked like it would clear and the prediction was good. We made good time, motor sailing with the genoa up, the mainsail is a little harder to get up and down quickly if a storm were to catch us.
Arriving in the Bahamas feels like coming home. The water is still that glorious turquoise that I dream about in the grey winters at home. The beaches are white with lots of interesting shells. I feel like I am finally on vacation.
02/05/2012, Anchorage Marina, Key Largo, Florida
We have spent the last 3 days here in Key Largo. Enjoying the sun, into the pool for the first time. The first day we had some boat work done by our favorite boat mechanic, Rod Dimich. He installed the sonar transducer to our new chartplotter and rerouted the water tank overflow for the port water tank out of the port aft cabin. This was prompted by a flood that soaked everything in that cabin. Why would the tank overflow be inside the cabin?, especially when there is no gauge to tell you when the tank is full. It now drains into the cockpit. No more floods for us.
We rented a car the first day (from Budget, excellent pick up and drop off service, $30 per day taxes included) and got lots of shopping etc done. I got my hair shorn very short, easy care, love it. Out for dinner at Steamers restaurant, right next to our dock. Neat menu lots of different and interesting and delicious entrees. Cheap too, I highly recommend it.
Met lots of boaters here, shared stories and tips. Manatees at the dock, pics at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc
02/02/2012, on our way through the Everglades
We spent our last day in Naples strolling the beach, bike riding, and browsing through the shops on Fifth Avenue. Coffee at a sidewalk cafe. New boat shoes for Tom, new purse for me. Dinner on the boat and another early night. We can barely stay awake after 9PM. Lack of TV and light I imagine.
Tuesday we left for Key Largo, spending the first night at anchor in Russell pass and the second off East Cape. Deserted areas, quiet quiet nights. Short trips to the beach to give Sammy a run. We were able to sail the first day for a while, wind at 18 on a beam reach, up to 8.3 knots with no noisy motor. Lovely. Picked up another crab pot today on the rudder this time, relatively easy to untangle. Heading for a marina in Key Largo, to get a few more boat things looked after. Then on to Bahamas!