Next Stop Charleston
27 May 2008 | Brunswick, Georgia
It's been longer than usual for an update because we've been spending this last month saying good-bye to the Exumas and working our way back to Charleston, SC.
After our last update we ended up at Hawksbill Cay. Our friends Brian, Julie, and Kylie had told us it was their favorite cay, so we needed to check it out. There's a picture of Bailey being a ham in the water and you can see, it looks crystal clear, with a pure white sand bottom. We did some amazing kayaking and couldn't bring ourselves to leave, so we stayed for about 4 days.
On our last day at Hawksbill we had a sea plane land on our beach. Our beach, because we were the only boat there. We were all very curious as to who it might be since it was obvious they just flew in for a nice picnic lunch on the beautiful beach. Of course we imagined it being all kinds of celebrities...Jeff decided to go on a kayak. I told him to take the radio and hail me if it was someone good. I was watching through the binocs and saw that he was visiting with this couple for quite awhile. He radioed me a few minutes later to tell me it was John Cougar and his wife, and that they had invited us to their plantation in Savannah. (Jeff swore he met John Cougar last year in Savannah at our marina and I never believed him.) I immediately gathered up Bailey and Z for a dinghy ride to the beach....for a potty walk, right? We casually strolled down the beach until Z made a break for the picnic basket on the beach. The couple came out of the water and started talking to us-not John Cougar and his wife. Jeff laughed for hours about how I actually believed him and didn't get the joke...They were a very friendly couple though.
After Hawksbill we wanted to head to Shroud Cay for a quick kayak through the mangroves, and then head for Norman's Cay for a day or two. Jeff went for his kayak first on Shroud and was able to make it through to the sound side and see the beautiful beach. It's very shallow through the mangroves, no way to anchor Amelie in there without making it our permanent location. Bailey and I left for our kayak after Jeff got back, at low tide. Needless to say, we did not make it to the other side. I did get quite the work out paddleing off sand bars. Take it from me, pass on Shroud cay. We continued on to Norman's Cay where we had our last dinner at MacDuff's and one last paddle along the cay.
The day we left for Nassau, there was not a breath of wind. It wasn't much for sailing obviously, but it was a beautiful trip. The water was so still, it was like looking through a glass bottom bucket. Since we were going over the bank, where the depth is often around 10 feet, the sea life and coral heads we saw were amazing. It was like little cities every couple of hundred feet bustling with schools of fish, sharks, and brilliant colors.
When we got to Nassau, one of the first things we did was stock up on all the DVD's that had been released in the last 5 months at our favorite video store that copies New Releases and sells them for $6. I still don't understand how that's okay...We also met up with some friends on a boat called Milano Myst. We had orginally met them with our friends on Ohana, in Cambridge Cay. We were more or less on the same path all winter and ran into each other every couple of weeks. They were a family with 2 young children that had been on their adventure for 3 years. Their kids are a perfect example of how well rounded cruising kids are. Every where we went, people would say that we had to meet this family with two young kids. They were always talking about Milano Myst, Dayla, Daniel, Carol, and Rob. We spent an evening with them in Nassau at the marina, where they were coming to terms with heading back to Houston and selling the boat. The kids gave Bailey some kid sailing gloves and sunglasses since they wouldn't be needing them anymore. You could tell how hard going back to Houston was going to be after such and adventure. We both headed out to Chub Cay, where they continued on straight to FL and we stopped. We said our good-byes as they were passing the Northwest Channel marker. It made us realize how hard it's going to be for us to say good-bye to Amelie someday.
We stayed that night in Chub Cay, not the marina of course. Remember, that was the high dollar place we stayed at on the way down. It was a miserable anchorage as the wind was blowing from the wrong direction. We rolled all night long and left for Frazers Hog Cay early the next day. We had stayed there on the way South as well. I remember not liking it much, so I wasn't to excited that we would be staying there. It ended up being a great way to spend the last few days in the Bahamas. All season I had wanted to find a sea biscuit and never came across one, just as Jeff wanted to find lobster and never did. This was sea biscuit central. We all jumped in the kayak one morning,after spying some the day before, for a sea biscuit hunt. Jeff would hold the kayak against the current and I would jump off with the glass bottom bucket and snorkel when one of us saw what looked like a sea biscuit. This was a huge step for me because there were sting rays and sharks swimming very near the entire time. Yes, they were small sharks, but still sharks! We harvested more than our fair share of biscuits and then started looking for conch. The conch were huge here too! We found 4 good sized conch and were going to paddle back when Jeff spotted a lobster under a rock. Lobster was out of season now, naturally, and we also didn't have a spear or we may have been tempted...more than we already were. We both jumped out of the kayak to take a look because we hadn't seen any all season. The poor little guy retreated under the rock so I had Jeff lift it up so I could get a better look. When he lifted the rock, 6 lobsters started freaking out! It was so cool! Our last day in the Bahamas and I got my sea biscuits and Jeff saw his lobster.
After Frazers Hog we headed back to Chub for a night so that we could shorten our sail to Bimini the next day. All of us took turns kayaking around Crab Cay which was a very shallow area but, full of sea life. Bailey and I of course, got ourselves grounded on a sand bar again. This time she was a little more disturbed about it. I had to get out and pull us back to deeper water and we had just seen sharks less than a minute before. It's amazing how shallow those suckers will swim.
We left that night for a night crossing to Bimini. This was scary mainly because all the guide books say don't cross the bank at night! Most of the cruisers we had met said they crossed at night anyway. We had obviously gained confidence in our abilities over the last few months and decided to go for it. Nothing horrible happened...it was just really nerve racking and of course I was yacking as usual. I think my body is trying to tell me sailing may not be for me...It's a good thing I'm stubborn and don't listen to advice much, right.
We stayed one night at anchor in Bimini to get some rest and then headed across the gulf stream to FL the next night. It was a little rough at first, but we were going 9 knots with the help from the stream so we were making great time. When Jeff got up for his 2 am watch I handed over to him what I thought would be a pretty non eventful shift since mine had been. I was trying to sleep in our cabin and awoke being literally flung around the bed. I would've heaved if I got up to see what the hell was going on, so I just laid there...scared. Soon Jeff called me to say he needed my help. Great! After being tossed about like a ping pong ball for several minutes I made it up to the cockpit. Jeff said he was trying to get us out of the gulf stream so we could continue on our course to Cape Canaveral but every time he tried we were getting totally beaten up by the waves. Going 9 knots in what had grown to be 9 foot swell from the wrong direction is not fun! We obviously didn't end up in Nova Scotia so we did get out, but that was not a pleasant night. The next morning we thought it would calm down as we got closer to shore but we felt like we were in a washing machine. The waves weren't 9 feet anymore, probably 4 to 6, but they were coming from every direction. The seas were very confused. I was very thankful to reach Cape Canaveral. It was a very exhausting over night sail.
We stayed in Canaveral long enough to rest and then headed up to Jacksonville for another night sail. As were sailing along the coast we passed the area where they launch the space shuttles. We actually saw a shuttle with all the lights on, in the "launchers", getting ready for it's take off in a few days. I thought that was pretty cool, that's the closest I'll ever be to a rocket.
We had an amazing night sail up to Jacksonville. It was calm enough to not be sick and we made 6 to 8 knots the entire night without engines. We made it to Jacksonville just in time. Other sail boats weren't as lucky and you could hear them all on the VHF saying they were really getting knocked around by a bad storm.
We left for Cumberland Island the next morning and had a pretty basic sail. We stayed at anchor there one night, and then headed out the next morning for Brunswick, GA. As we were exiting the St. Mary's channel we found ourselves in the middle of a huge naval escort. There was a submarine that had to have been caring something pretty dangerous or important in bound in St. Mary's channel. The coast guard hailed every boat, getting all information down to their first born child, and were told to leave the channel and hold their position. Down the middle of the channel was the huge submarine with 2 huge naval ships on each side stacked high with cargo boxes to shield the sub. There was a gigantic tug that was moving a crane across to the top of the sub, where people were standing. I couldn't tell who got on and who got off, but it was quite the sight. There were at least 6 smaller coast guard dinghy's armed with machine guns that would place themselves about 10 feet off your side between you and the sub. Of coarse Bailey is out waving her Tinkerbell phone at them asking them if they want to see it. Eventually one of them cracked and waved back, definitely not the guy holding the maching gun though. It was really intense, I've never seen anything like it. We slowly made it to Brunswick and here we sit.
We spent my birthday here. Jeff baked me a three layer german chocolate cake, that was almost as good as the one I baked him. They took me out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We'd been craving chimi's for months! Now today we are getting ready to sail to Charleston.
Jeff's mom and dad are going to come visit us 5/31 to 6/7. They've had a sad couple of weeks. Their dog, Tucker, had to be put to sleep a few days ago. He's been sick for about the last year, but had been doing okay on his medicine until recently. Zack and Tucker grew up together, they're brothers. Tucker was one year younger than Zack, so it really hit home with us what they were going through. I met Tucker only once when I made a trip to Jackson to help Jeff get ready to move down to the boat. I loved him, he was so funny, like a puppy, and LOUD! You could hear him breathing in the other room. He was like the kid brother to Zack. Jeff said that whenever Z would be on a full on run, Tuck would run from the side and knock him out of the way, wanting to play. We posted the pics we had of Tucker so everyone could see what a beautiful dog he was.
Well, in a couple of hours we'll be on our overnight sail to Charleston. Bailey is so excited to get back! We can't wait to see our friend Alan and his family. His puppy is probably bigger than Bailey now! We can't wait to see Tom and Julie. Jeff is going to get his Captains license starting classes the 7th. Bailey and I will head to Montana for a few weeks to visit family and take care of some business. Bailey will stay for most of the summer so Jeff and I can work, and so she can catch up with family.
We had an amazing winter. Thank you for reading our blog. We'll still post over the summer a few times and let you know where we plan to go next fall.
End of April update
30 April 2008 | Lee Stocking Island
Jeff is going to try to get pictures uploaded this afternoon. We actually have some pictures of us this time, instead of just Zack.
We spent all of our time since Emerald Bay around Lee Stocking Island. It was gorgeous and remote and we couldn't leave. That is until our 8 bags of garbage started taking over the boat.
We both did a lot of kayaking. A couple of hours each almost every day. This is the first time I've ever gone off by myself for that long. I loved it!! The water was so calm some days you could just float along the edge of the island and it was like looking through a glass bottom bucket at all the marine life. Jeff found a small cut in the island where huge surge rushed in from the sound side and was able to surf the swell. I wasn't that brave yet. It was also the first time that I kayaked alone and went chasing sharks and stingrays.
We met a couple on a cat named Dragon Fly, Jill and Al, who took Jeff spearfishing and taught us a lot about cleaning fish. Jeff and Al speared about 5 fish one day, so we all got together for a barbecue on their boat.
We met a cat named Oracle 3 with two young boys on board. Bailey snorkeled like a pro with them. We invited them to our boat for drinks that night, and learned we had a lot in common about our adventure. They had never sailed, owned a boat, spearfished, homeschooled, etc....they just said to hell with the rat race and took on this adventure.
The next night we met another family on a Gemini from Tampa. Julie, Brian, and their little girl Kylie. We had so much fun with them. I basically accosted them on the beach. I saw through the binocs that they had a young girl and basically threw Bailey and Zack in the dinghy and zoomed to the beach. As we were approaching the beach I could see Kylie start jumping up and down when she saw Bailey and Zack. They were a couple very close to our age and very fun. I invited them over for drinks and appetizers that night, Julie said she'd bring an "apple pie". They called us on the radio a little embarrassed because the apple pie turned out to be a meat pie given to them from some friends. We gladly ate their meat pie and had a great night. The girls played well together. They have a much shallower draft than us so they left the next day on the bank side to head North. We waited 3 more days to head out to the sound because it was very windy. We hope to catch up to them soon, but right now they are quite a bit further north than we are.
One of the afternoons I was out for a kayak and Jeff helped a local bahamian fishermen who was broken down. I had to shorten my kayak trip so Jeff could dinghy him to a nearby island. The man felt so bad that he brought us a ton of fresh fish the next day.
Bailey found a huge sand dollar on the beach our last day on the island. It was bigger than any I've seen. We did a lot of great cliff hiking and trail bush whacking during our stay too.
It was Jeff's birthday the other day so I baked him a triple-layer german chocolate cake from scratch with home-made frosting. Let me tell you, our oven is the size of an easy bake with basically two temps, hot and too hot. It took forever to bake the cake and I was so worried it wouldn't turn out after all that time, but it was worth it.
We put lines in the water and fished on our way from Lee Stocking to Black Point. This was only the 3rd time we had put lines out. We got two large Mahi's on at the same time!! I have no idea what to do, you should've seen me try to reel my line in...it didn't happen. But the Mahi waited patiently for Jeff to attend to his first and then get to him. Sadly, the second one got off the hook just as Jeff was pulling him up on the back step. Oh well, one was enough to start with.
We had a lobster dinner a shore lastnight for Jeff's birthday which was fabulous and $20 for 2 tails each, rice and peas, and coleslaw. Tonight we'll barbecue some of the fresh Mahi.
Well, laundry is waiting for me in the washer so goodbye for now.
Hope everything is great back home. Love you!
13 April 2008 | Emerald Bay Marina
Hello from Emerald Bay Marina. We have been enjoying the 4 Seasons pool, free laundry, and amazing showers. We've also met a lot of great cruisers here.
Before Emerald Bay, we spent some time in Georgetown. We were really disappointed in Georgetown after all the hype from other cruisers. It was very dirty, so dirty that I didn't want the water to touch me. There were hundreds of boats all crammed into this harbor where no one I'm sure, used their holding tanks. The cruisers were very territorial and it just felt like a Senior Citzens center with all the planning and unspoken rules. We were in Georgetown about 5 days because of a weather front moving through.
There were some good things about Georgetown too. They had amazing hiking trails all over Stocking Island. Bailey was hiking around like she'd been doing it for years, and Zack was totally is his element. I uploaded some pictures of the great views we had from the top. I also had an opportunity to have a huge stingray try to nibble my feet. I was so scared, I'm such a weiner. The stingray was huge, but apparently they are used to being fed by beach goers and very friendly. I just stood in the water and it would swim right up to my ankles and hover on my feet trying to gumm up some food, and then it would swim away. It was really cool, I'm amazed I did that.
Zack got attacked by a poodle on Volleyball Beach. It was heart breaking because Zack wouldn't fight back. He'll run after a raccoon and eat it, but he would never hurt someone's pet. So, he just took it until Jeff was able to push the poodle off of him. He's feelings were so hurt, he just crawled under a picnic table and laid down. He had little tufts of fur on his back pulled loose from that nasty little creature.
Bailey learned to play frisbee on the beach. As soon as we beached the dingy she ran up and started trying to play with 3 women in their twenties. They were very good sports and taught Bailey how to throw and catch the frisbee. Eventually she did mingle with the other 6 year olds.
Zack had to go to the vet in Georgetown because he's had a terrible ear infection. The vet put him on an antibiotic, gave us a topical antibiotic, and ear cleaning solution. He seems to be cured, but his hearing loss is really substantial now. It's really hard to walk him anywhere besides a beach because he runs ahead and can't hear voice commands. We're afraid he may get hurt because he can't hear us warn him of danger. The afternoon he got out of the vet office I took him to shore to potty, and let Bailey play on the beach. He was so out of it from his first dose of medicine it was pretty comical. We were walking back to the dinghy and an older couple was getting out of theirs, the lady was already on the dock. Zack walked in front of the lady and looked in the dinghy where the man was still sitting like he was going to jump in. I told him that wasn't his dinghy, but before I could finish he had his front paws up on the boat. I tried to get his attention again, but he just crawled in and sat down just staring into space. I practically had to drag him off their dinghy. It was like he had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to be doing. The next day though, he was back to himself.
We also have a funny picture of Zack in the kayak. We were sitting inside one afternoon and heard him barking outside. We walked out and he was in the kayak. The wind had blown it close enough for him to jump on to it, but then it blew back way too far for him to get back. He must've thought the kayak was magic and it would just take hime to shore if he could only just jump in it. Silly dog!
That's all for now. We're headed to Lee's Stocking Island in about an hour. We won't have internet again for awhile. Love everyone, miss everyone.