Big Surprise

Vessel Name: Surprise
Vessel Make/Model: Niagara 42
Hailing Port: Rochester, NY
17 April 2015
12 April 2015 | Abacos
31 March 2015 | Warderick Wells
16 March 2015 | Great Exuma
16 March 2015 | Thompson Bay, LI
28 February 2015 | Long Island, Bahamas
22 February 2015 | Between Staniel and Georgetown
09 February 2015 | Warderick Wells, Exumas
07 February 2015 | Warderick Wells, Exumas, Bahamas
03 February 2015 | Highborne Cay, Exumas
01 February 2015 | Nassau
01 February 2015 | Nassau
01 February 2015 | Bahamas
16 January 2015 | Rivera Beach, Florida
15 January 2015 | Riviera Beach FL
18 November 2014
12 November 2014 | Green Cove Springs
04 November 2014 | Bewfort
28 October 2014 | Whiteside Creek
Recent Blog Posts
17 April 2015

Man O War Cay

12 April 2015 | Abacos

Hello Abacos!

In one week, Doug and Donna Faust will join us to bring Big Surprise back to Florida. We look forward to having them with us as they are incredible sailors and mechanics. Something is sure to break and I know they always have duct tape in their pockets.

31 March 2015 | Warderick Wells

Lazy Exumas

16 March 2015 | Great Exuma

Swimming with the pigs

It has been uncommonly windy in the Bahamas over the last couple of weeks. Strong easterlies at 20-25 knots with swells over 10 feet have limited everyone’s travels. Emerald Bay Marina, just north of Georgetown, is a beautiful place, but I find myself getting used to hot showers, a fitness facility, [...]

16 March 2015 | Thompson Bay, LI

The Green Flash

Does the Green Flash really exist or is it an illusion created by happy hour cocktails? All I know is that we saw several during our stay at Long Island.

28 February 2015 | Long Island, Bahamas

The Other Long Island

The days are getting a little slower, and that's just fine.

Man O War Cay

17 April 2015

It’s April 15, I think.

So we are sitting on a mooring in Man O War harbor, Abacos. Normally we’d prefer to be at anchor, but there’s no room to anchor here, so a mooring it is. And it’s worth it, because this is rapidly becoming another of Linda’s and my favorite places. A pristine old Bahamian community, and it’s not much about tourism, in the sense that there are no bars or nightspots or alcohol served here, and the lights go off early. There are, though, a fair number of charter boats that come through here from Marsh Harbor.

But the boat building history here is very cool, dating back to the late 1700’s. These people were both hard working and talented. Impressive. And speaking of boat building, I think I have another boat to lust for. I’m not really a power boat buy, but the Albury skiffs that are built here really strike my eye. And maybe Santa will bring me an Albury 23 next Xmas. That would make me a pretty happy camper, though we are hoping to be back down in the Bahamas about next Christmas time. We can figure out the details.

There’s another reason Man O War Cay is on my favorites list, and it relates to the perpetual Boat Repair experience. After we crossed from Eleuthera to Great Abaco Island, we dropped anchor at Lynyard Cay. Nice anchorage in prevailing winds. I was on the bow dropping the anchor with the windlass, and asked Linda for a little reverse as I paid out the chain. She basically held up the disconnected gear shift lever and shrugged her shoulders! OK, not quite that dramatic, but the gear shift
stopped shifting, leaving us shiftless. Anchor was down, so no problem, and the next morning I discovered the little ball joint thingie at the end of the cable had failed. I used some wire for a temporary and successful repair. Please note, that NO duct tape was involved, and that I’m getting to the point of the story. The temporary wire repair held, and we pulled into Man O War with out issue. Not only did Edwins Boatyard at Man O War have the correct replacement ball joint thingie, but I actually accomplished a proper boat repair for the total cost of $17.55. That, my friends, is a new record for a properly done boat repair!

We love Man O War.

Hello Abacos!

12 April 2015 | Abacos
Linda
In one week, Doug and Donna Faust will join us to bring Big Surprise back to Florida. We look forward to having them with us as they are incredible sailors and mechanics. Something is sure to break and I know they always have duct tape in their pockets.

We have left the Exumas and spent most of last week in Eleuthera. Stopped at Powell Point to do laundry; moved on to Hatchett Bay; and then onto Spanish Wells. For the most part, the island is quiet, although we spent an afternoon in Harbour Island, and Spanish Wells. Harbour Island is quite touristy, but if I wasn’t sailing I might enjoy renting a house there for an extended time. Stopped for lunch and felt quite pampered – the photo above is from the restaurant. Spanish Wells, on the other hand, is a fishing town. It boasts that it provides a substantial percentage of Red Lobster’s lobster.

We spent more time that anticipated in Spanish Wells in order to fix our leaky raw water pump. Fortunately, Ed (and Ray Peters) made sure we had a spare. We are handling these repairs with more grace than earlier in the trip. By the time we get back to Rochester, we may have a brand new boat!

Made the crossing yesterday to the Abacos – about 50 miles. Took a break today on Lynard Cay. Attempted to go for a swim, but a big ugly fish met me at the ladder sending me back to the cock pit. Not sure what it was, but it seemed too interested in my toes for me to jump in.

We will be spending the week exploring the southern Abacos – Man of War Cay and Marsh Harbor – enjoying our last week in this beautiful place.

A couple months ago, I was not sure that we would come back cruising next year. It is a big change from life on land. Everything is more complicated when you live on a boat – simple tasks like cooking and washing require planning. But in a very short time, we have gotten into a rhythm – less anxious about the next crossing, less worried about finding internet.

I am looking forward to getting back to Rochester. By now, the grass must be turning green and hopefully the daffodils are out. It is going to be a big summer for our family – Chrissy and Joel are getting married.

Well, it’s 5:00 and as always, we must drink to another day without boat repairs!

Lazy Exumas

31 March 2015 | Warderick Wells

March 31, 2015
Where DOES the time go? Let me count the ways: sailing, reading, fixing, kayaking, snorkeling, eating, socializing, fixing, hiking, napping, fixing….. Note that I haven’t included writing blog entries on that list. We’ve been lax.

Actually, Linda and I have been absolutely enjoying the last two lazy weeks. After heading north from the Georgetown area, we stopped again at Lee Stocking Island, which almost felt like wilderness after the crowded (relatively..) Georgetown area. On the next day to the Banks side of the Exumas with very calm water, and then a couple nights at Black Point, which is a pretty laid back Bahamian townlet. The interesting thing there was that the Bahamian authorities were in the process of searching and securing a US cruiser’s boat. Turns out the guy had a virtual armory on board and was acting a little wacko. Bad idea in a foreign country. I’ve always felt very safe here except for that.

From that point we headed on north to Cambridge Cay, which is part of the Exuma Park. Beautiful place, and close by was the “Sea Aquarium” part of the park. It was a nice little wall snorkel, with decent variety of fish. Nice as it was, we still think the best snorkeling we encountered has been in the Caribbean.

Then back to our favorite spot so far, Warderick Wells, where we have been sitting on a mooring for better than a week. It just seems to be a great combination of beauty, hiking, and calm and protected mooring field (no anchoring permitted here – space is limited). Saturday night cocktail parties on the beach, and opportunities to meet other cruisers and trade stories. The only downside, if you can call it that, is there is zero cell phone coverage, and the internet access is sporadic and slow at best. That means all the more time to enjoy.

Now the part that everyone is waiting for: what broke? Why, nothing has broken! Well, a little fixing…. The refrigeration unit started doing a stop-start thing for a whole day. That could be really bad news, because how else does the beer stay cold? The repair sequence goes as follows: a) stare at the refrig compressor; b) turn it on and off; c) stare again; d) read the outdated manual and admit that the thing is 20 years old and probably is out of warranty; e) carefully select a 12 oz ball peen hammer (NOT A 16oz!) and lovingly tap the compressor housing 3 times. It works, and Linda thinks I’m a hero!

The other fixing story involves the watermaker. It’s the magical box that turns saltwater and some electrical power into fresh water. It’s important because good fresh water is sometimes hard to come by in the Bahamas, and you can’t carry enough beer to make up for fresh water. Our watermaker came with the boat, and it needed to be re-installed after being in storage for 6 years. I successfully got it put back together, and it made noise, but didn’t produce water. That’s when we discovered we needed a “booster pump” (I’ll explain it at the bar when we get back to RYC). It’s a very special little pump and there are no stores in Warderick Wells. But through the magic of the friendly and helpful cruiser community, it turned out the guy on the next mooring (Thank you John!) had a spare of exactly the pump we needed, and was happy to sell it to us. Long story short, we now produce the best tasting water I’ve ever encountered.

Tomorrow we’re leaving Warderick Wells and the Exumas, headed for Eleuthera. We have loved our sojourn in the Exumas, and we’ll be back next year.

Swimming with the pigs

16 March 2015 | Great Exuma
Linda
It has been uncommonly windy in the Bahamas over the last couple of weeks. Strong easterlies at 20-25 knots with swells over 10 feet have limited everyone’s travels. Emerald Bay Marina, just north of Georgetown, is a beautiful place, but I find myself getting used to hot showers, a fitness facility, and free happy hours. That will not do for the rest of our trip!

We were delighted to have our neighbors, Suzanne and Billy Bumpus, with us for the week. The windy conditions allowed us to take advantage of the sights of Great Exuma. The marina is connected to Sandals (the couples only resort) and offers a day pass for boaters. Don’t believe the ads – not everyone there looks great in a bikini. We took advantage of the beach and the 6 all-inclusive restaurants and bars. Generally a 2 ‘drink-drunk’, I remained quite sober – don’t know what they put (or don’t) in those drinks. It is a pretty romantic place, with lots of couples smooching and canoodling in the hot-tub.

Took a motor boat tour (it was fun to be fast!) of the islands. Swam with the pigs on Staniel Cay, snorkeled in Thunderball Grotto (site of James Bond movie), and had conch salad on the beach. A great day until the boat we were in ran out of gas – a distinct disadvantage for power boats.

We will be making our way north in the Exumas over the next couple weeks – destination Eleuthera.

The Green Flash

16 March 2015 | Thompson Bay, LI
Linda
Does the Green Flash really exist or is it an illusion created by happy hour cocktails? All I know is that we saw several during our stay at Long Island.

Thompson Bay, Long Island is about 45 miles east from Georgetown.
It is another breath-taking anchorage with one of the best grocery stores we have found in the Bahamas. A lovely lady from Ohio, who lives most of the year on the island, reads the weather to boaters every morning on the cruising net. A little off the beaten path, it is her hope that projecting a friendly atmosphere will keep visitors coming. Works for us!

On Friday nights, the local bar hosts a happy hour for boaters featuring conch fritters and Bahama Mamas. On Sunday nights, the boaters in the anchorage gather on the beach with drinks and dishes to pass.

I am continually surprised at how many couples we have met have sold everything and live on their boats full-time. Imagine conducting your life in about 350 square feet where everything is just a little harder to do – like making a phone call, having running water, keeping the heads smelling fresh, refrigeration, cooking, and trying to limit your bruises. We have met tons of retirees, but also young people, with/without kids, looking for a new experience.

We recently met a couple from Switzerland that has been on their boat for 7 years. – cruising Northwest coast of Africa, Brazil, French Guiana, Cuba and now the Bahamas. They talked about their ocean crossings in such a casual way – like they were taking the NYS Thruway to Buffalo. I certainly admire them, but I for one like having roots.

The Other Long Island

28 February 2015 | Long Island, Bahamas
The days are getting a little slower, and that's just fine.

We crossed to Long Island after leaving Great Exuma (about 25 miles) and anchored for a pleasant afternoon & night at Hog Cay. Actually, it was not completely pleasant, because there was a constant surge and roll at anchor due to constant swell wrapping around the cape at the north end of Long Island. One instance where a catamaran would be more comfortable.

After moving around somewhat constantly, we were ready to sit quietly at anchor for a few days, and swim, read, and loll. And Thompson Bay/Salt Pond on Long Island fit the need, with a fairly protected anchorage. It’s a pretty quiet place, with one surprisingly good grocery store, and a small beach bar. And it is south of the Tropic of Cancer, about 40 miles southeast of Georgetow on Great Exuma, so works for us, and maybe we’ll go in to the cruisers happy hour this afternoon.

You have, I’m sure, noticed the single most common thread amongst anyone’s account of cruising. That would be the constant need for boat repair and maintenance. Kind of reminds me of British sports cars I used to own: fix this, and that breaks…. Actually, maybe more like the Fiats I used to have, because the current issue on big Surprise is electrical. The solar panels are pumping out the amp/hours, and most things are working, but there is an intermittent and elusive issue with all things electrical in the forward cabin. Lights on, lights off, flickering lights, maybe now maybe later – you get the picture? I’ve spent two days trying to isolate the issue unsuccessfully. Sometimes full voltage, sometimes 5 or 6 volts, sometimes no volts with no pattern emerging. Clearly a corroded or bad connection somewhere between the circuit breaker and the v-berth. Somewhere, I suspect, in an entirely inaccessible spot.

But I won’t complain, because the alternative to chasing electrical gremlins in sunny 80 degree weather is shoveling snow back home. And a cold Kalik beats hot chocolate any day.
Surprise's Photos - Main
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