10 September 2017
"Amulet" arrived largely safely at the MarineService Center yard in Anacortes for unloading on May 14th. There was some shipping damage to the port forward cleat, which was bent, and the teak rail below it cracked, which the yard fixed. On our way home from Claire's graduation from the University of Idaho, we crossed paths with the boat on I-90, which was a fantastic coincidence. Took a wonderful video of it during transportation.
After many unsatisfactory logistical delays by MarineService Center, and during these delays a forklift running into our unmounted mast, resulting in minor damage, "Amulet" was finally re-launched on June 7th.
Earlier in the year we had made a very agonizing decision whether or not to bring the boat home, or leave it in Puerto Del Ray, Puerto Rico, or Jacksonville, Florida for another year of cruising up the eastern United States. The downside of doing this would be, leaving the boat during hurricane season. We would have very much enjoyed this trip but in retrospect, with Hurricane Irma bounding through both areas, we made the right decision to bring her home.
Going Windward at 60 MPH
05 May 2017
Gary and I spent the 1st of May through the 3rd of May taking down sails, the bimini, solar panels, and dodgers, and removing much of the running rigging. Late the 3rd of May, our rigger, Brad Storm (great job-alike last name) arrived to look over things. He will help us take down the mast, standing rigging, and package the boat for shipping. Early (2:30 AM, because of the tides) the morning of May 4th, we pulled into the Crackerboys (yes, I have the yard name right) Boat Yard, and were lifted out at 10 AM, a little later than scheduled as the travel- lift had a hydraulic leak. Once on the jack stands, Brad proceeded to loosen the turnbuckles, then remove the standing rigging, then lift the mast out. All three of us took apart the spreaders, and all hardware, removing the stays and shrouds, and coiling them up neatly. Deck hardware got packaged. Late in the day the boat was moved again onto Jim Wise's truck, and then nudged gently into transport position. When all was said and done, the boat was slightly over-length, right at over-height, and over-weight. Jim decided to take short detour on departure, and unload some spare steel uprights at a friend's house, which would bring our weight down.
The Crackerboys Boat Yard was great, despite the name. Really well-run. It is owned by two brothers, and Phil, one of them is an 85 and ran around the yard in a golf cart, telling jokes, and making sure everything is running smoothly.
We finished all loading late Friday, the 6th of May, and Jim elected to wait until Monday to depart for Anacortes.
So all this brings us to the end of this great trip. What great memories, and how lucky we are (especially me, with a very understanding wife who has supported this endeavor) to have been able to put this thing together and pull it off. As a result, we have a much greater understanding of the world, it's people, and what makes life worth living.....
Crossing the Stream/Back in the USA
30 April 2017 | West Palm Beach, Florida
We departed Great Sale Cay at 0500, about an hour before dawn, and made our way to Mango Cay, arriving there at 0930. Our next waypoint was Memory Rock. After 50 miles, again in 10-14 feet of water, and we passed it at 1230-excellent timing, better than expected, and with 50 miles to go, we might make Palm Beach before dark. We were now finally in deep water, thousands of feet deep in fact. About 20 miles past Memory Rock, we entered the Gulf Stream. We had a satellite facsimile of the Stream that we had obtained the day before departure. It showed three main "fingers" of current, and a flow of only 1.5 knots, which is at the low end of the normal velocity of the Stream. We had been coached to make an "S" pattern, making our way 20 degrees south before entering the Stream, then slowly bringing the course up to the rumb line, and letting the Stream take us north, then in the final 15 miles, heading south again, so that the plotted course looks a little like an "S".
This we did, and arrived through the pass at Palm Beach at 2000, about 15 minutes before dark. We had a berth available at Riveria Beach Marina, but the lady at the marina told us there was a lot of current there, and if we felt a lot inside the pass, to anchor on the east side of Peanut Island for the night. After our entry, which was hastened by the flood tide, we had a lot, really a lot of current, and we immediately know that the anchorage was our only choice, so we did a 180 immediately after entry to make for the anchorage. Unfortunately, the current was too strong for the boat and in our effort to get back into the channel, we ran aground on a sandbank, only about 80 feet from the anchorage. The increasing wind and current had us pinned pretty well against the sand bar, but fortunately the tide was rising. We lowered the bow thruster, and did everything we could to extricate ourselves. Finally, after about 40 minutes, which darkness complete, we wiggled off and picked up a buoy in the anchorage.
The following morning, we waited until the 0920 slack tide to go into the marina, but immediately ran aground on another bank near the one we were aground the night before, 5 minutes later we floated off, then with the directions from a local, found the channel, and headed into the marina, whereupon we ran aground in the middle of the fairway leading into our assigned slip. The marina lady even asked our draft before assigning us our slip. We managed to back out of this latest grounding, and found a slip at the entrance of the marina. Welcome to America......
We called customs to report in, and the guy was very nice, took our information, and cleared us over the phone.
Picture is of Mar a Lago, just like we pictured it.....
The Last of the Abacos
28 April 2017 | Great Sale Cay
We had a leisurely mid morning departure from Man O' Jack Cay bound for Spanish Cay, some 14 miles to the north. We listened to the morning weather and again, some wind was expected to ruffle the Gulf Stream this coming Sunday (it is now Thursday), so we figured we should plan on crossing the Stream on Saturday, ahead of the expected cold front. Spanish Cay is an entry point for customs, and we had to check out. There is no viable anchorage at Spanish Cay, so you are forced to stay in the marina there, and also pay $2.75 a foot for the privilege, which doesn't include water (.36 cents/gallon) or power ($25/day). Worse yet, when we got there, the customs guy explained that we didn't really need to check out, because of their cruising permit rules, which allow unlimited entries and exits for a period of 3 months. Our last check out, and we didn't need to do it.....how ironic.....
Spanish Cay, despite it's expense, was a resort in apparent decay. There was a lot to maintain, and not much in the way of personnel to do it. The marina is surrounded by a breakwater, but the rocks had somehow sunk just below the surface of the water, rendering some swell inside the marina-not very comfortable. There was a
very nice deserted sandy beach on the east side of the island, a sparsely stocked store, and a marina restaurant, however, only about 8 boats in the marina, so not many customers.
We had a nice meal on the boat, and at 0900 on Friday, April 28th, departed for Great Sale Cay, which is a convenient overnight anchorage prior to the passage to West Palm Beach, Florida. After traveling 50 miles, in 10 feet of water, we arrived at Great Sale Cay at 1900, passing a Han Christian 48 along the way, that had originally been 7 miles ahead of us. There were around 9 boats in the anchorage, in transit, either coming or going from the Bahamas.
It's 50 miles from Great Sale Cay to the edge of the Bahama Bank, and another 50 miles from there to the entrance at West Palm Beach. Our thought was to depart shortly before noon and sail over the shallow bank in the daylight, crossing the Gulf Stream at night, arriving at dawn. We got such a good weather forecast (16 knots out of the east), that we thought we could make better time than anticipated, which offered the opportunity to leave an hour or so before dawn, and possibly make it to West Palm Beach an hour after dark, which would mean crossing both the Bank and the Stream in daylight.
Getting Further North in the Abacos
26 April 2017 | Man O Jack Cay
After the somewhat disappointing couple of nights at Great Guana Cay, we pressed on a couple of islands north to Green Turtle Cay.
Another wind warning, so we were looking for a bulletproof anchorage, and we found it in White Sound on Green Turtle Cay. The only problem was the shallow entry channel-5 feet at low tide, and again, we draw 6.5 feet. I settled on a time of 14:30, which on a 10 AM low tide, should have filled in the necessary 18 inches, with still an hour an a half of rising tide to go. We arrived at the entrance after a lazy downwind sail at 13:30 on Saturday, April 22nd, and gave it a try.
About 150 feet in from the entrance, we ran into a sandbar. We were stuck for 40 minutes until the tide lifted us off, and we proceeded into the harbor, really backing down on the anchor to set it or the anticipated wind.
We sent ashore and made arrangements to rent bikes for the following day, and hiked to the ocean beach, then hiked to Coco Beach, on the northern side of the island. We chatted up a very nice couple from Nova Scotia who were on the beach, and there on vacation. We returned to the boat. The following morning, it started raining, then started blowing hard.
The rain continued throughout the day, negating our bicycle riding plans, so we hunkered down, did change the large outboard's carburetor in the rain, and wind, took naps, read and watched movies.
At the crescendo of the storm, we had one of our solar panels blow off the bimini, so had to contain that at 2300. Unimaginable quantities of rain all night, even for two Seattle boys. In the morning, we saw that 5 boats had dragged, including the boat directly behind us. Our solar panel was damaged beyond repair, but we had a spare one aboard, so installed that. A neighboring boat came over and said he saw a consistent low 40's on his anemometer at the peak of the storm at 2300. He also said he heard boats in Eleuthera reporting gusts in the 80's and 90's.
On Monday, April 24th, we were able to take our bicycle ride, and found a delightful town, untouristed, and genuine.
There was approximately a 30% white population, and 70% African descent. South of town was a very large crescent beach, that allowed us to hike to the end, at the very southern tip of Green Turtle Cay. We went for a swim and enjoyed the shallow, clear, aquarium like water. Had a nice lunch in town and returned to the boat.
The following day, we went for another bike ride to the same beach, and returned to the boat for lunch, then in the afternoon, hiked to the north end of the island and went beach exploring.
We very much enjoyed Greet Turtle Cay, found it to be the real Bahamas, with just the right blend of authenticity, beaches, restaurants, and protection from the weather.
On Wednesday, April 26th we pushed on to Man O' Jack Cay, leaving just before the 0900 high water, this time no problem in the channel. We arrived at Man O' Jack and anchored in 9 feet of water at the main anchorage, which features a "cruiser's beach", that is, one set up with dinghy anchors, chaise lounges that people have donated, bbq areas, etc. The few residents (we think around 12-18), are very tolerant of cruiser's and have opened the islands trails to them, which we took full advantage of.
Our first venture out was a snorkel, which I didn't think would be a good one, but was absolutely exceptional, one of my top 10. I saw two turtles, a shark, lots of very colorful coral, and underwater arch, and many fish, including two puffer fish that must have been 2 feet long. It was very gratifying, unfortunately, I had left the camera on the beach thinking that the snorkel would be mediocre.
In the afternoon, we started walking the island's trails, cam across a white sandy beach approximately a mile and a half long with no one on it, we walked down that to the north end of the island, then proceeded west, in all we covered around 5 miles, and were exhausted when we returned to the boat.
Another beautiful island-the last two, Green Turtle Cay and Man O'Jack were absolutely exceptional.
Picture is of the southeast beach on Green Turtle Cay.....
North to the Abacos
20 April 2017 | Abacos
The wind was still howling, with waves breaking over the reef, so there was no leaving. Gary wanted to see Harbor Island, and I had already been there, so he took off on the early ferry on Easter Sunday. I defrosted the freezer and refrigerator, and halfway filled the water tanks (52 cents/gallon, it was reverse osmosis water) because we didn't want to make water in the harbor. The night featured dinner at Budda's, where we had some tasty ribs.
On Monday morning, just before the high slack tide, we departed for the Abacos, making our way around Gun Point and Ridley Head through the reef opening, which had no breaking waves as the wind had subsided. We softly ran against a sandbank on the way, the wind blew us off, then we tried it from another angle and made it through. The 50 mile sail to Lynyrd Island went without a hitch, nice wind, averaged about 7 knots on a beam reach, and arrived at 1900, just before dark.
A eventless night, then we proceeded the following morning to Elbow Cay and Harbor Town, zig-zagging in a most circuitous way, through the shallow lagoon to Elbow Cay. We had already established we couldn't enter the harbor as it was too shallow, so anchored on the outside in 7 feet of water. We knew we would bump on the low tide, and we did.
On Wednesday morning, we toured Harbor Town, which was reminiscent of present day Martha's Vineyard, which is not necessarily a good thing as it was over run with tourists, and people "wanting to be there". Picturesque light house however, the world's only manned, kerosene burning, light house. We rented bicycles and explored the island, then returned to the boat for dinner.
Thursday had us visiting the lighthouse, where we bought lemonade and cupcakes from some extremely outgoing and poised 10 year olds. Then we departed our shallow anchorage for Great Guana Cay.
We arrived at Great Guana and anchored at the north end at Baker's Bay, where the cruising guide showed a deserted sandy beach. Unfortunately, it was chock a block full of multimillion dollar houses, but it was late, so we spent the night there anyway. The following morning, Friday the 21st, we moved down to Fisher's Bay, and found a nice spot with good holding. Wind was supposed to arrive on Saturday night, so we had our eye on a hurricane hole in Green Turtle Cay for the following night, but spent Friday night and Saturday, exploring the settlement at Great Guana, which was more down to earth than the real estate development at the north end of the island. We had a beach drink (a bad one at that) and sat on the beach at Nipper's on the eastern (windward) side of the island, then had pizza dinner at Grabber's Resort, which was just ashore of the boat anchorage. Beautiful sunset. Gary and I concluded that Great Guana Cay settlement was a town fueled by alcohol, as everywhere people were sitting on bar stools slowly nursing drinks.