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Windrush Adventures
Another day in Paradise
Val
02/06/2013, Salt Pond, Long Is.

Bruce and I on Windrush and John & Barbara on Sam the Skull left Hog Island together on January 29th and sailed to Buenavista Cay and then the next day to Water Cay. On the Thursday we parted ways for a short time - Sam the Skull for Georgetown and Windrush to Long Island. Bruce and I really wanted to get on Skype and contact family, we were almost desperate to hear and see them and we knew that at the Long Island Breeze Resort at Salt Pond, Long Island we would be able to! We also needed to take care of some other business on the internet, which we hadn't been able to do even on the 3G Kindle. So we arrived there safe and sound on Thursday 31st January. We did have to motor sail part of the way, but not too much which was great. First thing we did after dropping the anchor was to go ashore to 'The Breeze' and have a couple of lovely cold beers (Kalik of course) and get online! We managed to have a great chat with my Mum and Dad while we were ashore - oh it was lovely to see them looking so well!! Hugs and Kisses Mum and Dad!! No one else was online at that time so we walked over to the grocery store to get some fresh fruit and veg. and then returned to the boat. We found that we could still get the internet on the boat just offshore from 'The Breeze' and had a good chat with George too, although the connection wasn't good enough just then to be able to see him. George had just returned a couple of days prior to this from a trip to see Bill in Phoenix and then travelled with him to meet up with Adam, Ryan and Liz, Cindy and Mel in Las Vegas to celebrate Mel's 21st birthday. Happy Birthday Mel!! We have seen some pictures and you look fantastic! The following day we managed to contact Gill and Malcolm and heard all about Helen's visit home and her "Vegan Extrvaganza" meal! Any Skyping then had to be put on hold for a couple of days as another 'front' was moving in and we had to move Windrush to a different anchorage and unfortunately couldn't get internet there.
Sunday 3rd Feb was the "Superbowl" in the USA. Last year we went to a 'Superbowl' party held at the Fishermans Lodge in Duncantown. This year there was a big party at 'The Breeze'. There was 75-100 people there and 3 big screen TV's set up so that people could see the action. We had a good time and met some new people on other cruising boats. Even though I don't know the first thing about football, it was still a good time! Bruce and I had steak and chips for dinner and I drank more Kaliks than I think I ever have at one time. We even won a free drink and almost(!) won $50 in the pool.
Yesterday we did more Skyping and talked again to Mum and Dad, George, Gill, Shawn, Kirsty when she was on her break and then later Geoff! Kirsty is still enjoying her new job and is now off orientation, and Geoff & Emily had just gotten home from their first pre-natal class. Fantastic!! So life goes on......
Today we finished picking up fresh supplies (and rum!) and supplies for our cruising friends in the Jumentos, did the laundry, updated the bog (as you see) and Bruce is at present filling the spare gas jugs as tomorrow we are leaving Long Island. The plan is to get the 2nd propane tank filled when the truck comes around tomorrow lunchtime and then head out to a place called 'Dollar Harbour' which we enjoyed last season. Then on Thursday (Happy Birthday our Kirsty, we'll be thinking of you!!)) we will sail on the ocean side back to the Jumentos (Water Cay or Flamingo Cay) fishing for Mahi Mahi on the way. So this is it for the blog for a while until we get internet access again somewhere around the end of this month.
Bye for now!..................

Back to the Jumentoes & Raggeds
Val
01/28/2013, Hog Cay, Ragged Islands

We started the New Year off well by making bread on New Years Day - always a popular occasion on Windrush once the sweaty work of it is over! It smells sooooo good and we tend to overdo it a bit eating the fresh bread rolls. Early the next morning saw us heading out of Georgetown along with 'Sam the Skull' and 'Countess Cosel' (Bernie, a German friend who as a young man escaped over the Berlin Wall to start a new life in the West) heading for the Jumentos. We had a great sail and arrived in time for the guys to go fishing - of course - afterwards congregating on Windrush for drinks and eventually all staying for a supper of freshly caught hogfish. Buenavista Cay the next day where we met up with our friends Bill and Mara from the big sailing cat 'Puddlejumper' who came over for drinks - nice to see them again, and the first time this season. We ended up staying in BVC for 3 days - what's the hurry?! Barbara and I amusing ourselves with swimming, beach walks and burning garbage and making bread - a very satisfying way to pass the time of day! The guys of course went fishing when they could and when they couldn't we did boat chores and always gathered in the evening for drinks. The next week we headed for Hog Cay ( now into the Ragged Islands south of the Jumentos). Hog Cay is the last island before the Ragged Island where Duncantown is the only town in the Jumentos/Raggeds chain. Bruce taught a class there at the school last season. Unfortunately Ragged Island and the school, were hit quite hard by Hurricane Sandy - but as always, they are survivors.
Our first day at Hog Cay, our friends Barry and Susan on 'Nighthawk' arrived. They had made the decision not to come cruising this season and stay at home in BC. But the weather there hadn't been very good so after some particularly bad weather they said "the hell with this" and were soon on their way south! Before Christmas there had been very few boats in the Jumentos besides Sam the Skull and ourselves, but now the crowds were starting to arrive and we met up with friends and acquaintances from last season. And so the time goes by....... drinks on this boat or that boat, gatherings on the beach for garbage burns (AKA cocktails and snacks) etc. Bruce and I left the group for a few days to go up the islands to Raccoon Cay to spend a little time by ourselves. It was a fantastic sail up to our new anchorage, which we had all to ourselves for a couple of hours! Our rum supply was replenished while we were there. The sailboats 'Discovery and 'Synergy' arrived from Long Island where they have a liquor store, so as we were getting low on rum we had asked Karl and Marilyn on Discovery to pick some up for us, which they very kindly did. Bruce and I went spearfishing together one day, which was lovely. I shot a nice crawfish - unfortunately we didn't take a picture of it before we ate it! Later that day, we had 2 visitors to the anchorage who arrived while Bruce was going after a lovely big grouper on a small coral head right by the boat - 2 big bull sharks! Luckily Bruce did hear me yelling to him in warning from the boat and he got safely out of the water. They did circle our boat and around the other boats in the anchorage for quite a while, so we warned the others boaters in the anchorage of their presence. We decided to give up on the grouper and let it live a little longer. A few days later off Double Breasted Cay, Bruce shot a very big crawfish - said he just couldn't pass it up! It was big enough to cook the legs and body as well as the tail to make a very tasty crawfish salad for sandwiches.
The following day we arrived back at Hog Cay just in time for me to attend a get together on the beach for anyone who wanted to learn how to make baskets etc by weaving palm fronds. I had learned how to do this last season but never really got into it, so I decided to try again this year. Bruce and I left the group again after a couple of days and dropped the anchor at the south end of Ragged Island in South Side Bay. It was lovely there. Very peaceful and only 2 other boats! We got together on Windrush with Mary and Dick, a couple from one of the other boats - 'Blue Bay'.
I made us all conch fritters as a snack - tasty, but I still don't have the recipe quite right. I guess I'll just have to keep on trying! Bruce and I went fishing together quite a bit, but this time I rowed the dinghy and Bruce did the fishing. Good exercise for me and I can keep an eye out for Bruce. No bull sharks this time, just an inquisitive small reef shark. It was really great fishing around this anchorage. Loads of crawfish, though Bruce didn't shoot many as we really didn't have room to keep them. He did get a lovely big Margate though which we shared with Nighthawk and Sam the Skull one evening after returning to Hog. We dinghied into shore after a couple of days in Southside and walked through the bush to the road and then walked to Duncantown to try and use the internet - we weren't too successful though. While we were there, who should appear but our friends John and Barbara from Sam the Skull. They had received some bad news from home in Scotland. Barbara's Dad had died and they had tried to get to Georgetown for her to catch a flight home, but because of the bad weather they'd had to turn back, and so they were in Duncantown trying to contact family. They didn't manage it on the internet but did get through on the phone at the new Batelco station. After another couple of rainy, windy days in Southside we returned to Hog Cay in time for a cook out on shore which was fun. Two days ago, as the wind had settled down we were able to have a haircutting session on deck - now we both feel and look much smarter and cooler! Bruce and I then went ashore together and had a long walk over to the ocean side to see the waves which were still in 'rage' from the stormy weather. Yesterday, Barbara and I went ashore to look for the right kind of palm fronds to do our basketry with, so that was another long walk. Last evening John & Barbara (Sam the Skull) and Barry & Susan (Nighthawk) came over to Windrush for supper and we ate the big Margate Bruce caught in Southside. It was a lovely evening together.
Tomorrow, quite early, Windrush and Sam the Skull are pulling up the anchors and moving on.

Christmas with family
Val
01/01/2013, Georgetown

We were picked up early on the morning of December 13th by Elvis in the water taxi and delivered over to Georgetown where Junior was waiting with his taxi to take us to the airport. We were very excited to be starting our journey home to Nova Scotia for Chrismas with the 'kids' and George. Unlike our trip home for Christmas last year, everything went according to schedule and we arrived in Halifax quite late that night and were met at the airport by a smiling Kirsty and Shawn. So good to see them!
It was very strange this year in that we weren't going home to our own house! We alternated between Kirsty and Shawn's house in Chester and Geoff and Emily's house in Middle LaHave. We spent the first night with Kirsty and Shawn - a very late night going to bed as we were so excited to be home and spent quite a bit if time just chatting and catching up on news and plans for the holidays etc. It wasn't long before we saw Geoff and Emily too as the following day we went Christmas tree hunting! We piled into Kirsty's car and picked up Emily from her house, then met Geoff after school at our home in New Germany. We had arranged with Tanya (our house sitter) that we would drop[ in to the house to pick up a few things before going for the tree. It was fantastic to all be together again. We stayed another night with Kirsty and Shawn. We spent the evening putting up and decorating their Christmas tree - as per usual Lilo promptly took up residence underneath it. Bella was very good and left both the tree with it's decorations and Lilo alone! Kirsty and Shawn both had to work the next day so we moved on to Geoff and Emily's house. It was a relief on our arrival home to see how well Emily had recovered from her surgery and looking so good with her 'baby bump'. Geoff had been working hard on their house and was now trying to get he and Emily's bedroom completed so that they could move into it in time for Christmas. Bruce was happy to be able t help him with it.
It was a very busy time before Christmas as usual, trying to get shopping completed. It was lovely though to be spending time with all the kids in their homes and really getting to know Shawn and Emily better. It was wonderful! I spent part of one day shopping with Emily and all of one day shopping with Kirsty. I also spent a day in the city shopping with Bruce. Shopping, shopping, shopping!! Finally it was pretty much all done! Geoff hadn't done any of his shopping - said he wasn't even thinking about it until the bedroom was finished! He finally did it all on Christmas Eve Day - how did he do that?!! I think Emily must have done a lot of it! George arrived on Dec. 23rd. (Happy Birthday my Dad, wish we were with you too!) and spent his first night with us at Kirsty and Shawn's house. The next day, Christmas Eve day the 3 of us moved over to Geoff and Emily's. Kirsty and Shawn came over that evening as well and we continued our tradition of having a lovely lobster feast! Bruce and Shawn got the lobster from one of Shawn's contacts - lovely big lobster with great big claws! After supper Kirsty and Shawn went to visit Shawns mum and Dad and then returned again the next day, Christmas morning (!!) at 07:30am to open presents - I really don't think they got much sleep! It was a lovely Christmas morning and Santa was very good to us all. Amongst other things, the kids got us a much needed new BBQ between them, for the boat - it will be lovely to have a BBQ on board again! We also received many lovely presents from England. When left the boat to go home for Christmas we had just one bag (just carry on) between us. On our return journey we had 2 carry on bags and one check-in bag! We are spoiled for sure!! After opening gifts, Kirsty and Shawn headed for Shawn's parents home to open presents and then to his Nanny's for Christmas lunch. Geoff and Emily went to Em's Mum and Dads to have Christmas dinner there. Bruce, George and I dropped into Michael and Linda's a little later for a quick bit of Christmas cheer before going back to Kirsty and Shawn's where we were once again spending a couple of days. After having Christmas lunch with Shawn's family K & S returned and later that evening Jeff and Nancy (Shawn's Mum and Dad arrived and we all had a lovely steak BBQ for Christmas Day supper. We had a lovely evening and of course ate too much. Boxing day was another big day! Kirsty and I got going in the kitchen as Geoff and Emily and Nancy and Jeff were all coming over for Christmas dinner with us. Between us Kirsty and I made a turkey with all the trimmings - Kirsty's first year for hosting Christmas dinner and it all went very well. We even managed to seat all 9 of us without too much of a squeeze!
All too soon our Christmas was over and it was time to go back to the boat. Their was a storm of course just before we left, but it meant that George got to stay with us all for an extra day which was lovely. We managed to contact my Mum and Dad, Gill and Malcolm, Tim and Honey, Katie, Beetle and little Seb and even Bill and Aneda by Skype several times over the holiday which made everything fantastic! George left us on Friday the 28th and we drove with him as far as New Germany where we had to do one last check of the mail before heading back to the Bahamas. We spent our last night in Nova Scotia with Geoff and Emily and then early the next morning (about 03:30am) the two of them took us to the airport to catch our 07:30 flight! It had been a very tearful goodbye at Kirsty's the previous day and it was tearful again at the airport with Geoff and Em. I hate goodbyes!! It won't be too long though before we see them all again and we did have a wonderful Christmas with everyone. It really was great staying with the children - we are very lucky.
Our journey back to the Bahamas was problem free!! No delays!! Junior was at the airport to meet us in his taxi and John, Barbara and Bernie were all waiting for us at the Exuma market to give us and all our luggage a ride back to Windrush. We settled up with Bob at Cavalli house (who didn't charge us as much as expected for leaving Windrush on one of his moorings) and moved back to anchor off Monument Beach again. Yesterday was New Years Eve. It was a bit cold and windy as a front was passing through, but Barbara and I went swimming anyway. We decided it was our version of Canada's New Years Day polar bear swim! Later on John and Barbara came over and we all had supper together and brought in the New Year. We actually all managed to stay up until after midnight - it was fun! It is hard to believe that today is the first day of the year 2013! Hopefully it will be as great a year and as good to us all as 2012 was. We have much to look forward to!

01/03/2013 | Mum & Dad
Lovely to 'read all about it'. It was great talking over Skype during the Christmas holiday but wish it could have been in person.
Hope you have a good trip from Georgetown and we'll be thinking of you.
Lots of love.
Mum & Dad
01/05/2013 | Doreen Peters
Great to have you back in the Bahamas. We were wondering how long you will be in the Exumas...Might be able to get down to see you this time...if it it suits you.love from all of us. Doreen and John
Exumas & Jumentoes
Val
12/12/2012, Georgetown

We stayed at Normans Cay for 1 more day and then on Friday we started making our way down the Exuma islands. We had two great days sailing with the spinnaker up - really great runs - making it to Big Majors Spot (with the swimming pigs) the first day and then on to our favourite anchorage in 'Ray Bay' at Lee Stocking Island. Although it was a really great sail to Lee Stocking, the weather was really rainy and miserable! No complaints though - we're in the Bahamas!! We arrived in Georgetown on Sunday Nov. 25th - trolling all the way but unfortunately no fish were to be found! Not even a barracuda. The next 3 days were spent getting ourselves organized ready to carry on to the Jumento Cays. We did washing, bought fresh vegetables, got gas for the engines and also made arrangements with the St. Francis Resort to leave Windrush there on a mooring while we go home for Christmas. Bob at Cavelli House (where we left Windrush last year) wasn't available, so in order to have definite arrangements made we decided on St. Francis who charged the same price.
Finally on the afternoon of Tuesday the 27th we set off from Georgetown to head for the Jumentos. The plan was to get through the Hog Cay cut and anchor on a nice spot on the other side and then get an early start the next morning. The wind and weather was so good though and it was a lovely full moon, so we decided just to keep on sailing through the night. It really was a beautiful night for sailing. The moon was so bright and the Christmas lights in the cockpit kept us company too. When they suddenly turned themselves off at 11pm I wasn't quite sure what had happened. We did 2 hour shifts through the night, taking it in turns to go below into the salon to sleep. I found myself singing songs from Oliver Twist, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music to myself to try and stay awake! I had them in my head for days afterwards!! We arrived at Double Breasted Cay at about 06:30 the following morning and tried to sneak up on John and Barbara of Sam the Skull who were anchored there, but John was already awake and spotted us. They came over and joined us for morning coffee (bringing a jug of coffee with them) and caught up on news since were last in touch off the coast of Bimini. Incredibly, despite us sailing all night Bruce and John were so eager to go fishing that they got themselves ready after coffee and off they went returning a couple of hours or so later, supper in hand. We then upped the anchors and headed for Hog Cay to settle into a more comfortable anchorage as the winds had changed. It was lovely to be back in the Jumentos. Not many boats there at this time, only two others that we were aware of. Every couple of days we changed anchorages - Hog Cay to Raccoon to Buenavista. Bruce and John went fishing most days and we soon had a good supply of fish, crawfish and conch. Obviously not going to starve! Barbara and I went walking on the beaches and did a bit if swimming. The mosquitoes this year are absolutely terrible!! It must be from the very rainy weather the Bahamas has had. We would start off into the bush and get chased back into the water from all the nasty little biting bugs!! One day we walked for miles on Buenavista Cay. No mosquitoes for a change, the weather was beautiful and sunny and we had a lovely walk. We could hear goats bleating all over the place and even saw a wild chicken or two! We were on Buenavista Cay visiting with a man called Edwin who was the only resident on the island. An interesting man (in his 70's but looking younger) with a very checkered past whose father and grandfather before him had been granted a lease to live on the island. Now Edwin is trying to develop some of the land on the island in the hopes of also being granted a lease. Apart from having chickens, pheasants and goats etc.,he was planting coconut palms, growing sweet potatoes, breadfruit and many other items. What a lot of hard labour! He was also very excited because he believed he had discovered the hiding place of pirate treasure! Apparently in days gone by when pirates buried their treasure they marked the spot with a broken bottle on top of the treasure and then covered it all with earth and then a pile of stones. Well Edwin had come across a pile of stones while developing the land, dug down and found the broken bottle and also a rusty cutlass! He had quite a hole dug there and was very excited to show us his findings so far. When we return after Christmas it will be interesting to find out if he has discovered anything else!
A couple of days before we left the Jumentos to start making our way back to Georgetown I actually went spearfishing with Bruce, and although initially I was a bit nervous swimming from the dinghy to the coral head, after that I really wasn't scared much at all. In fact I really enjoyed myself. I did try to spear a hogfish but my spear just bounced off it so I showed Bruce where it was and he got it instead! We fished on 3 heads, but no luck after the hogfish. It was great though and I am looking forward to more spearfishing after the holidays.
We left the Jumentos on November 9th accompanied by Sam the Skull and arrived back in Georgetown the same day anchoring off monument beach. We spent the next couple of days doing boat chores in preparation for leaving her for the holidays. Barbara and I also found time though to go swimming and have a girls day in Georgetown to do some Christmas shopping and go for lunch. On the 11th we moved the boat to our allotted mooring at St. Francis. What should have been a routine job actually was a bit more exciting than planned. We pulled up to the mooring and Bruce grabbed the buoy and attached the mooring line......the boat just kept on drifting towards the rocks! The mooring had come free of the seafloor! Thank goodness we didn't just tie it up and then leave the boat! We soon moved over to a mooring at Cavelli House and Bruce sorted it out with Bob who was now back from the States and very happy to have our business! John and Barbara took Basil, Tom and Cherry to look after them while we are home for Christmas, which is very kind of them. Well, tomorrow we leave for Nova Scotia and our family!!

An Unfortunate Incident! (AKA : A Change of Plans)
Val
11/22/2012, Norman's Cay

True to our plans, we were up at 3:30am and on our way out of Hurricane Harbour, Key Biscayne along with Sam the Skull. There was a brisk wind so we motor sailed until we reached the Gulf Stream when we put up both sails and made great time. It was quite rough (Nooo!) so part way through making breakfast I took some Gravol and Bruce took over the galley while I took the helm. Because of the seas I didn't go below for quite a while. The sea came over the deck, it started to rain and then Bruce went below to get something and was gone a little while. When he came back up into the cockpit he calmly told me that I hadn't fully closed the hatch over the bunk in our cabin! I said "I did!" "No you didn't!" "Yes, I did Bruce!!" "Well, not all the way then!" And I hadn't!! Being the last one out of bed and the last one in the cabin (as per usual) the first thing I always do before I get off the bunk is to make sure I closed the hatch over the bed. I guess I had closed it to it's first latching point that still lets air (or whatever) in and closed the latches down tight!! The seawater and the rainwater had come in, hit the wall at the head of the bunk gone from there onto the pillows and run all under the mattress soaking everything!!! OMG (as the kids say)!! What a mess! All in all Bruce was very good about it - he said very little. I felt so very bad about it. I couldn't believe I had done such a stupid thing!! So...........a change of plans. Apart from the 'unfortunate incident' the crossing went very well. Instead of a brief stop in Bimini to register and do customs we pulled into the Seacrest Marina and paid for a nights stay. We contacted Sam the Skull to let them know what had happened and to ask Barbara's advice on how to deal with the wet mattress. It was just too sodden with seawater to just dry it out, so after stripping it off, we dragged it up onto the dock. Then while I wiped out the cabin a couple of times with fresh water, Bruce got the hose out and hosed off the seawater as best he could with loads of fresh water. We were lucky in that although the wind was blowing and it seemed to cloud over the weather actually stayed dry. Then we gathered up all the wet bed linen and took it to the laundrette which we thought was on the marina property but ended up being way out on the edge of town! Poor Bruce carried that big old wet load all the way there! A really nice Bahamian lady there told us that when the washer had finished she'd put it in the dryer for us so that we didn't have to wait around for it. Just return in about an hour & fifteen minutes. When we pulled into the marina there was another Canadian sailboat there and on our return from taking the laundry we got to talking with the couple on it. I think they must have been in their late 60's or even their 70's. She also had been a nurse and he was originally from Newfoundland. Anyway I digress. As we got there the Newfoundlander dumped a dirty old water bladder onto the dock and said "I don't suppose you have a spare water tank do you?" To his amazement Bruce was able to say "Actually I do!" So for $40 (the price of our dockage for the night) we got rid of that damned spare water tank that whose sole purpose was to take up extra room! Fantastic! Everyone gained. By then it was time to make the trek to pick up the clean laundry. Bruce did the deed while I stayed at the boat and kept an eye on the mattress and the weather. Eventually I decided it was soon going to rain and my Bruce wasn't back yet, so I asked a couple of young guys on another boat if they'd mind lifting the mattress into the cockpit of our boat which they did - no problem. Boat people for the most part are usually very helpful to other boaters. Who knows when you will need help yourself? A tired Bruce arrived back at the boat with the clean linen and we then set about moving everything stored on the bunk in the guest cabin out so that we could move the mattress from the guest cabin into our cabin which I then made up with lovely, freshly laundered linen(!) while Bruce put everything back into the guest cabin! Then, thoroughly exhausted from all that had happened since we got out of bed at 4am, we had Kraft dinner for supper, talked briefly to Kirsty on Skype (very poor internet) and went to bed!
We left Bimini about 7:45 the next morning (Sunday. Nov. 18th) with the mattress standing in the back of the cockpit and roped into place. Have bed, will travel!! We sailed all day and through the night, arriving at Normans Cay in the Exumas at about 10:30am the next day. I actually made green chili with cheese corn muffins on the way. It was a really good sail. We did 2 hour watches and were able to take turns sleeping. We found John and Barbara (Sam the Skull) at Normans Cay and were able to have a quick visit with them before they headed on towards Georgetown. Barbara said she'd been able to talk to Susan (& Barry) Wilson of 'Nighthawk' who are still in Titusville. Can't wait to meet up with them also, hopefully they will soon be on their way. John and Barbara's crossing wasn't without it's problems either. They blew out their jib, but luckily Barbara will be able to fix it with her sewing machine. We had a little nap, and then we went out conching and got 4 conch which Bruce cracked and I cooked up with peas 'n rice for supper! We are definitely back in the Bahamas. Yesterday Bruce took one of the winches apart, cleaned it all up then put it back together while I made bread. We then went out in the dinghy to do some fishing. I can still row and Bruce hasn't lost his spearing skills. Three lovely big crawfish were speared and we ate one of them last night for supper, another will be consumed tonight! Today Bruce overhauled the other winch while I caught up with this web page. Finally the mattress is dry and we can put it into the spare cabin and have our cockpit back. Out of sight, out of mind - no further mention of 'the incident' is necessary. We are expecting a front to pass through tonight and maybe even into tomorrow, so we'll probably be here at Normans Cay for one more day before we move on down the Exumas towards Little Farmers Cay. It's good to be back, but can't wait for Christmas!

Surviving the ICW…..again.
Val
11/16/2012, Hurricane Harbour, Key Biscayne

Here we are in Hurricane Harbour on the west side of Key Biscayne hoping to leave at 4 am tomorrow morning to make the crossing over the Gulf Stream to Bimini in the Bahamas. We left Titusville on Sunday Nov. 4th bright and early and set off down the ICW. The so recently overhauled engines purred away nicely - right up to the moment the starboard one suddenly quit almost 46 miles later. Just before we reached our destination of mile marker 925 by Melbourne/Palm Beach (which as it turned out was a lovely spot to anchor and spend the night). We weren't impressed with the engine letting us down, especially after we had waited such a long time in Titusville for them and the bill had been pretty high! Bruce was a lot more understanding and forgiving than I was. The starboard engine still didn't start the next morning when we headed off for Vero Beach, but we got along fine without it deciding to try and fix it once we reached there. From our experience of Vero Beach at the end of last season, we knew it was a really nice place to stay. Very boater friendly with a convenient free bus system to take us wherever we needed to go, if anything was needed to fix the engine. Also we knew it had internet access.
At Vero Beach we managed to make contact with our friends Jim and Kathy Long of 'Ocean Dreamer'. They were in the area for Jim to go to a car auction. In fact they had their camper at Fort Pierce and were living in it while Jim was at work at the auctions and also working on the boat at Riverside Marina. Kathy was down from their home in New Mexico but was due to fly home in a couple of days. So we arranged to meet that evening. Jim and Kathy picked us up from the marina in their van and took us for supper at a nearby restaurant where we caught up on each other's news. The following morning they returned and came out to Windrush where Jim helped Bruce try to fix the troublesome engine and Kathy and I talked. They were also kind enough to take us shopping - amongst the few items we bought I got myself a new swimsuit and a basil plant! We enjoyed another evening together on Windrush before saying our goodbyes - hopefully to meet up again in the New Year somewhere in the Bahamas. Unfortunately for all the work Bruce and Jim did on that damn engine - cleaning out the carb, which supposedly had already been done at the Yamaha place - it still wouldn't work!! So, the next day we set off again along the ICW - a one engine cat. Good job we started out with two! Bruce had managed to get in contact (through the Cruiseheimers net.) with John from Sam the Skull. He was in Manatee Pocket, near Stuart, and had been waiting there for Barbara to fly in from Scotland. She was due that evening, so we decided to meet up with them at Manatee Pocket and after another uneventful day we arrived there safe and sound. No-one was aboard Sam the Skull so we decided John must be at the airport meeting Barbara. We tried to stay up to see them, but as we were now getting into the cruising mode were just unable to stay awake long enough and were asleep by 8pm! Next morning John and Barbara came over to have coffee with us - it was fantastic to see them! We had a long chat - we'd been looking forward to finding out how their son's wedding in Georgetown had gone and it sounded wonderful! They told us Bernie of the m/v Countess Cosell was coming to Manatee Pocket in his truck and would take us all shopping or wherever we wanted to go. So we duly met up with him (looking just the same) and off we went. On our shopping trip Barbara and I each got a planter with 2 tomato plants in and so the competition to grow the best tomatoes began! Of course I had to name my plants, so my basil plant is called "Basil" and the cherry tomato plants are called "Tom & Cherry"! The day ended with us all going to a restaurant for yet another lovely supper in excellent company! How could I forget to say that just before we left Vero Beach Bruce also realized what was wrong with the engine - a faulty electrical breaker! While we were out with Bernie he got the part he needed to fix it and lo and behold the following day he put it in and we were back to 2 purring engines. Wonderful!! I am married to a very clever man! We stayed 2 days in all at Manatee Pocket and found it to be a lovely place to anchor. The city also provides free internet which made the anchorage even more appealing. The only thing against it we found when Bruce pulled up the anchor and found the anchor & chain, himself and the deck covered in thick, black, stinking mud! I should of taken a picture - I'll be ready next time. We were on our way early the next morning - Sam the Skull it turned out followed a little later. We were a bit reluctant to leave Manatee Pocket as the internet there was so good and we knew that when we reached our next destination at Lake Worth, the internet would be non-existent even if we paid for it! We were only in Lake Worth one night, leaving early on the morning of Sunday Nov. 11th - Remembrance Day.
Up until this day our trip along the ICW had gone pretty smoothly with little aggravation. Even though travelling on the ICW on a holiday week-end is really asking for trouble from all the inconsiderate motor boaters ignoring the 'no-wake' signs and passing you at high speed, so that your boat rocks like it is in a big storm! Today though was different. We managed to get delayed at one bridge opening and from that point on we were delayed at almost all the others and had to fart around trying to obey each particular bridge tenders rules about how close to wait, how far away to wait, when to approach the bridge, when to contact the bridge, etc.etc. until we were nearly pulling our hair out! Finally though the last bridge of the day was in sight - Las Olas bridge in Fort Lauderdale. The mooring we had planned on was just the other side of the bridge and we made it onto the mooring ball just before sunset. Our sundowners were really appreciated that evening!! We stayed there last season and found it to be a good little anchorage where we knew we could get internet and contact everyone at home. It is so good to be able to talk with family. It really makes our day when we can do that. We stayed 2 nights at Las Olas before moving on down the line to Miami, and after an uneventful 'bridge' day we arrived at our anchorage by the Venetian Causeway. Sam the Skull arrived later that evening after travelling along the ICW as far as Lake Worth and getting so fed up with the bridges with their tenders, that they came on the 'outside' from there to Miami, pulling in just before sunset.
We met up with John and Barbara the next day and travelled the Miami transport system to Little Havana. It was a very tiring but enjoyable day. We did lots of walking and also found out a lot about the bus system(!) for the future. We had lunch at a Cuban restaurant in Little Havana - I think it would be useful to learn Spanish. We had a great lunch and I am going to learn how to cook black beans in the Cuban style! I was hoping to find some Christmas presents but saw little there except cigars and food. The following day Bruce and I ventured out on the 'local' bus route by ourselves but were no more successful with our Christmas shopping. Time to move on. The weather forecast showed a small weather window to make our Gulf Stream crossing for Saturday Nov.17th - tomorrow. So along with Sam the Skull we moved here to Hurricane Harbour with plans to leave at 4am tomorrow and make the crossing. We will call in briefly to Bimini to register in and then continue on until the following day when we should be in West Bay, New Providence. Or maybe stopping one night at Green Cay, on the Tongue of the Ocean to fish. Sam the Skull planned to bypass Bimini and continue on to the Exumas and check-in when they reached Georgetown.

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