free as a bird

19 April 2014 | Warderick Wells Exumas
19 April 2014 | Warderick Wells Exumas
31 March 2014 | Nassau Harbour Club Marina
01 March 2014 | Boot Key, Marathon, FL
19 April 2011 | Warderick Wells Exumas
02 April 2011 | George Town Exuma
11 March 2011 | Warderick Wells
30 April 2010 | Nassau Bahamas
15 April 2010 | Rock Sound Harbor, Eleuthera
31 March 2010 | Thompson Bay, Long Island, Bahamas
20 March 2010 | Thompson Bay, Long Island, Bahamas
15 March 2010 | Georgetown Bahamas
27 February 2010 | Nassau Bahamas
19 February 2010 | Marathon, FL
25 January 2010 | Useppa Island
18 January 2010 | Shell Island, Panama City, FL
29 April 2009 | Georgetown
14 April 2009 | Georgetown Bahamas
03 April 2009 | Warderick Wells-Exuma Park
24 March 2009 | Nassau, Bahamas

Cruisin' 2011

11 March 2011 | Warderick Wells
Gail Bermel/Partly Cloudy/80/Winds N 15
Here we go again, sailing the Bahamas! This year we got a late start due to snow and broken pipes. We left Panama City on 2/13 and anchored in Boot Key on 2/17! That is something we wouldn't have believed if it hadn't happened. (Last year we left 1/18 and arrived the same place 1/27.) It typically takes longer because we have to stay put in protected areas when the weather changes in the gulf or go inside down the intercoastal waterway which is much slower. Then, we were only in Boot Key four (4) days when we set out to cross to the Bahamas. (Last year we were there from 1/27 to 2/23.) As extremely uncooperative as the weather was last year, it was just as cooperative this year.

Back to the beginning; we left Panama City and the weather was lovely. The waves were next to nothing. The wind was light, but we were able to motor sail with full sails and low motor rpms. The moon was almost full. There didn’t seem to be a cloud in the sky. It was our best crossing ever. (Four years ago, that same crossing was a nightmare.) We had been up for two days, so we got our diesel, marina slip at Clearwater, same dinner we always get at Crabby Jimmy’s (ahi tuna, raw oysters, grouper sandwich and clam chowder) and slept.

Next morning, we set out for Venice, FL, a lovely bedroom community, with the similar conditions (10-12 knots ). It was again a lovely sail. We docked, ate and slept again.

The next morning we left. Our destination was Ft. Myers, FL by evening. The wind was light, waves were flat and we were motor sailing with full sails at 7 knots. As we passed Sanibel, the point where we would turn in to Ft. Myers, we decided the conditions were so good, we should sail through the night to the Florida Keys.

If you’ve ever read our blogs, you know we plan a lot of our anchorages by University of Memphis basketball games. Since we decided to go straight through the night, we would miss a game. However, we do have satellite tracking TV. We NEVER use it underway because 1) it typically won’t track with waves and 2) we are more interested in the sail. We thought, why not see if we can get the game? We turned it on, tuned it in, acquired a strong signal and, surprise, the game was on. We put a TV in the cockpit, wired it to the DVR and watched the basketball game. During commercials we turned it off, let our eyes adjust to the dark and scanned the horizon for boats.

Shortly before sunrise, we slowed the boat intentionally. We were approaching the shallow waters of the Keys and it is more prudent to navigate those in daylight. We reached the diesel dock approximately 9:30 am, anchored by 10:00. (There were no moorings available.) We wanted to take it easy, organize the boat, get on a more common schedule of sleeping through the night. But, no. A large group of boats was already planning to leave during a weather window in 3 days. Wow! Keesi had to go to the vet to get her required certification. Frank needed to get the engine ready for crossing the gulf stream. We needed to get several things at stores; food, boat supplies, etc. I needed to wash clothes. That doesn’t sound like much of a rest, but that is the way it had been since we left. If the weather window is open, you do your best to take it and sleep and clean later.

On 2/21, we sailed approximately 8 hours north to Rodriguez Key and anchored for the night. It was a nice easy sail up the coast of the Keys. We left the next morning at 4:15 a.m. to cross to Bimini. This was our first time crossing at this point. We usually take a much longer course onto the Great Bahama banks and cross to Nassau all in one trip which usually takes approximately 36 hours. Crossing to Bimini from a more northern Key only took 10 hours. (We reached a boat speed of 11.6 one time in the gulfstream.) Bimini was beautiful. Because of the strong current and the narrow harbor, there were no good anchorages in Bimini, but there were a lot of marinas at very reasonable prices. We were there three days waiting for our weather window to head to Nassau. The first day, the others explored the island. I took a deep breath and cleaned and put our boat back together. We later explored the island, had Bahama breakfast one morning, visited a local bakery and picked up limes and avocado at the grocery. A local fisherman came by the pier selling fresh fish and lobster. We marinated and grilled fresh lobster tails that night. They were the best we had ever tasted. (We both had two large tails each for the price of breakfast at Waffle House.)

I went to a lemon shark lab sponsored by the University of Miami (go Canes!) We waded out off shore to view the sharks in their pen. Their work and how they get to their findings was really interesting.

Now it is 2/25. We are leaving Bimini at high tide around noon. Most boats sailed to Mackie Shoal (about half way across the Banks) and anchored for the night. The next day they were going to Frazier’s Hog Cay. Big Easy and a few others sailed on to Northwest Light (near the beginning of the Tongue of the Ocean) and anchored behind that shoal. We proceeded on to Nassau the next morning.

The sail to Nassau was primarily motor, but we were able to fly the main to keep the boat stabilized. The waves and wind were moderate, so it wasn’t a bad sail. Frank, of course, had his hook out and yes, you guessed it, a big strike! That wheee sound is so great! He had snagged a large, male mahi mahi. It was fighting, hurling himself totally out of the water behind the boat. Later, fish for all!!

When we docked and registered at the Harbor Club marina office, the lady commented “You are arriving on exactly the same day as last year 2/26.” Basically, we left home a month later than last year and reached our destination on the same day.

We had been constantly on the move with pretty good weather since we left. Well, it was time to “pay the piper.” We got delayed in Nassau for over a week. We had a fish “grill” on our boat one night, we visited the Aquarium at Atlantis. I think we were the only boat that had been there before. It is always exciting watching someone else see that aquarium for the first time. A huge yacht called At Last hosted a barbeque by the pool at the marina one night for everyone. It was a good way to get to know the other boaters. Nassau is not a bad place, there is plenty to do, but it isn’t the paradise we seek yet.

On 3/6, we left Nassau, a day earlier than the others. The weather was borderline. As it turned out, after about an hour, the sail was lovely. You could see the bottom of the banks as you move across them. You could clearly make out large starfish and small coral heads (we avoid the bigger ones). We anchored at Shroud Cay (totally uninhabited by man, not even a building), the northernmost end of the Exuma Park.

The next day, we moved into the mooring field at Warderick Wells. If you have read my blog in the past, you know, it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in all the Bahamas. I run out of superlatives to describe its beauty. The green, blue water, white sands, pristine surroundings are glorious. (If I am able to attach pictures to the email I send, they will be of this place.) It is quiet, peaceful. When the water was like glass, we were able to see the gorgeous coral reefs from the dinghy without any equipment.

There are many trails to hike, beaches to walk. We have done most of those in the past, so we also enjoy catching up on a good novel sitting in the cockpit with a light breeze. This year we seemed to have two manta rays that swam around the boat a few times each day. One is large, maybe 3-4 foot span, the other is small, maybe a baby. We also see our big blue fish with the yellow tails and other beautiful fish. Keesi spotted a dorsal fin. It was very small in the shallow water. Couldn’t determine if it was a dolphin (there are very few in the Exuma Bahamas) or a shark or other fish. Remember, last year we spotted two small marlin, sailfish-types that apparently got caught in here at low tide.

That’s where we are now. Expect a weather window to allow us to move south probably Saturday or Sunday. Travel with us when we get good internet connections. Until then, hope all is well with everyone. We are doing great!!