There and Back Again - Day 20
31 May 2018 | Eau Gallie Yacht Basin
Day 19, merging into 20
Once we got offshore enough we realized the wind was enough at our backs, so we hoisted the main. After determining that turning off the engine would only lose us a knot, we did that (and that may have saved our butts…see later) and sailed for hours. We had phone signal for a surprisingly long amount of time and relished it.
I again say “6 hour crossing…pssshhhh”. We left around 1pm and got to the Fort Pierce inlet at 6am the next day.
Night sailing wasn’t that/as dangerous tonight as the moon was almost full, but that led to my disappointment. The moon was so damn bright it was barely better than any random anchorage in the Bahamas. But it did illuminate the waters nicely, so there’s that. The moon evoked a bit of Majora’s Mask creepiness in that it began the night on the horizon behind us, then slowly creeped its way up the sky. Like it was stalking us.
The winds were good enough we let the Autohlem do its thing for the entire time. In the evening I took a nap, then later Shawn, and then much later were so much at the “fuck it” point we both slept for an hour around 1am (this is dangerous and stupid and you shouldn’t do it). To be fair, the worst that could happen is we’d get blown far more north than we expected – we were certainly far enough away that we’d have to both sleep for quite some time before hitting land. But it’s still not a good idea to leave Auto alone, we were just too tired to continue. The rest did wonders for us.
At a certain point the winds calmed too much to sail, so we took the main down and fired up the engine. From there the Atlantic was nice and wonderful, like gentle rolling hills of water.
Around 5am we began to pick up signal. Normally we know about when we’ll get signal based on line-of-sight with the coastline, but a fog rolled in so we didn’t know we were close enough for signal until we had it. After more time we got GLORIOUS HIGH SPEED LTE DATA and I used it to download the CBP app to check in. Had to pay for some stupid tag (fees, fees everywhere) but overall went smooth. It allowed us to check in quickly.
Went through the inlet with no problem and got past the only bascule bridge we’d have to encounter going north. After this we found a nice anchoring point and settled down for a nap. Around noon I awoke, then bugged Shawn awake (don’t want to totally ruin our sleep cycle after all). Switched fuel tanks (our current one would be mostly empty), raised anchor with no fuss and began motoring forward.
Until Bekey started surging again.
Shawn said, “Last time it did this, we didn’t have much time until she shut-“ and then, as if knowing what it was supposed to do, shut off. Restarting didn’t work. We were slowly drifting toward our destination in the middle of the ICW channel. We replaced the fuel filter but no dice.
But as I said, we were slowly drifting TOWARD where we wanted to go! Our hull acts like a sail, in a way, and was catching the wind. We hoisted the jib to at least get out of everyone’s way (there was a powerboat plowing right at us – I worried he wouldn’t move and our day would get a LOT worse), then Shawn hoisted the main. Doing that with the wind directly at your back is a pain, but we couldn’t motor into the wind to make it easy, so Shawn spouted many sailory curses until the sail rose high and proud.
At first, we got 4.5kts which was astounding – faster that the motor alone, actually. Then a while later dropped to 4. Then 3. Then 2. And at that point we realized it was just the current carrying us, and when the tide shifted it’d be going against us. We’d be dead in the water.
TIME FOR THAT BOATUS MEMBERSHIP TO COME IN HANDY! (again)
Called them up, but the closest tow was 45 minutes away (headed south). We did pick up some wind after the call and I think that helped with getting to the tow faster, as we were headed north. We went at an actually incredible 7.5kts for most of the way, then were handed off to another boater who got us into our slip just after sunset. We tied off, hooked up, showered, got some fast food (wonderful cheap food) and then wrote this entry and went to bed.
And so ends our little adventure.
“Good night, Night Vale. Good night.”
Making the Crossing Back - Days 18 & 19
30 May 2018
Day 18 was a swift sail from Crab Cay to Great Sale, then ending the day at Mangrove. We traveled with the wind for once so managed to make great time with the engine off for much of the time, breaking 6kts for a significant portion of the trip.
Later on in the day, a storm passed and we took down the main (we have left the jib down due to worries about it currently fraying and potentially ripping), which was good because the wind totally died in the wake of the storm. It was supernaturally calm and almost creepy, the water like a lake for miles around. You could see the bottom clearly, as there were no waves interrupting the view. With the way the sunlight scattered through the overcast clouds the whole sight just seemed unreal. Almost as if we had entered into a pocket dimension.
Day 19 we woke up right with the sun and didn't even make breakfast before going on our way. We did take out the main again, but it wasn't providing as much speed as yesterday so we're supplementing with Bekey.
We went to West End for refueling and took a shower at their facilities, then headed for the stream.
We're pointing straight 270 at the coastline and letting the stream take us north however far it does. Based on last time, we'll probably make it to Fort Pierce without even aiming for it. Hah.
There is no internet in the middle of the gulf stream, surprise surprise, so I'm doing this entry early. I'll make another one tomorrow since at this rate we'll arrive at FL late and want to sleep the first chance we get.
We'll text those concerned once we get back in the states.
Thus Begins the Return Voyage - Days 16 & 17
28 May 2018 | Crab Cay
Today wasn't a very interesting day. We woke up, had pancakes, checked the forecast and then decided in lieu of snorkeling or feeding the pigs again we'd nope our way back to Green Turtle to anchor our in more shelter. It rained and poured all day, so we stayed inside and read and cuddled and whatnot.
Later on when the rain stopped we went to Sundowners and had some drinks and food and chatted with more locals. Used their wifi. Generally had a great time of things. The fuel line broke again, so we patched it up with flex tape and zip ties again. The lesson to be learned here is that tape and gas don't like each other very much and we need a more permanent solution.
Went into town in the morning to get breakfast only to find nothing was open yet. Island Time is admittedly starting to get on our nerves a bit. 8am means 8:15 or later, and when you're hungry it's an unpleasant surprise to find that at 8:15 they're still not open and you need to wait who-knows-how-long just for them to open, and service tends to be slow here in the islands so that exacerbates the problem.
Looking forward to going back to the States in that regard.
Had a pretty lame and pricy breakfast at MacIntosh's that took forever. Tried to go to the other liquor store that's just trying to get its start but it wasn't open yet (actually before hours), so went to the Lowe museum.
It was a weird experience, to say the least. Our guide plainly stated how the owner of the house and other Cay residents became rich by misguiding ships at night into coral and then robbing the ships blind ("it wasn't invented here, just in England" is one of the sorry excuses for an... excuse she gave. The other was "it wasn't like piracy, they didn't want to kill anyone"), called "wrecking" which is where the Wrecking Tree bar gets its name. She also mentioned how they destroyed the sponge population and thus the industry but it's returning now.
Most interestingly to me as an American, she also flatly talked about how British colonists came over with their slaves. Normally we Americans have an apologetic tone, or would caveat that though sad it was typical for the time. But this lady just didn't seem to care much about the fact that this town was founded by people that thought it was okay to own another human being. I guess the Civil War and Rights movements have left their mark on the American psyche. That or this lady just didn't care.
We left the museum feeling as though the subject of the museum, as beautiful as his boat models were, was not exactly a protagonist of the story of our world. But it was now past 11, and the other liquor store should be open right about now...
Nope. Island Time.
We threw our hands in the air and picked up our groceries, then went to the other liquor store to pick up MORE RUM, loaded it all in the dink, and went on our merry way back to the boat. Raised the dinghy, then the anchor, fueled up, and began the journey home.
We noticed the Abaco reefs on the chart with one area marked as having mooring balls for diving, so we set that as our destination. Went through some scary water on the route, and when we got to our marked destination found even scarier water - coral heads sticking out that looked almost like mooring balls. When we realized we were hurtling toward coral Shawn quickly threw the engine in reverse and we gave up on the reef.
We're traveling with the wind now and making much better speed, so despite our late start and detour managed to make it to Crab Cay at 6pm. Tomorrow we'll head to Great Sale and see if we can make it to Mangrove, and then based on time if we could possibly make it to West End to do a crossing in the morning. If we just make it to mangrove, we'll travel to West End the next day and then wait until the day after to do the crossing. Florida is a big target but being able to see the waves and steer into them will make the ride much more comfortable.
Since we're heading towards Great Sale I'm expecting to not be able to make a blog post tomorrow or possibly even the day after as we didn't have cell service at either of those cays. When we reach West End I'll definitely be able to update y'all.
Treasure Cay - Day 15
26 May 2018
Woke up pretty late - 8am. I know, that's pretty impressive.
Made breakfast and Shawn checked on the dinghy engine to get it started only to have the fuel line break.
Thankfully due to a funny YouTube video (https://youtu.be/8ci2hj7CSHI) we were informed of magical Flex Tape and bought a few rolls before we left, so we patched up the broken line and let it set for a bit
YouTube saves us again!
Surprisingly it did actually work and we went to Treasure Cay. Walked around a bit, went to the gift shop and chatted with the owner a bit, explored the other shops and successfully located the liquor store - which did indeed have Strong Back!
They have a surprisingly large grocery store on the island, so we thought we'd come back later to stock up some more.
Went to the beach and walked around a bit. Very nice powdery sand, I can see why this area is so popular - but man, has it just been ruined by the rich. The restaurants within walking distance of the dinghy dock are just too fancy and expensive for our tastes. The Cafe didn't even have prices on the menu. There's a good rule about that - if you have to ask, it's too much.
We asked the gift shop owner if he knew of a good place to eat, where the locals ate kind of deal. He thought for a bit and asked us if we had a golf cart or a car. We told him we didn't, and he asked Shawn for his driver's license. Confused, Shawn handed it over and the owner gave us the key to a car saying, "There's a great place just up the road. Creative Hands. I rent out cars and need this back by 12:30 for someone else to rent. Remember to drive on the left."
We thanked him profusely and went in the little Honda Airwave, which was indeed a right hand drive as we forgot. We turned it on and it greeted us with a Japanese phrase. (I later read the Airwave was a Japan-only car that must've been exported to the Bahamas. Weird!)
The restaurant/bakery was just 2 miles up the road, quite the walk but a short jaunt in a car. Ordered our food, took it out, drove back without fuss and returned the car. We found a little picnic table nearby to sit down and enjoy our lunch. And damn, it was good. We finally got a loaf of Bahamian bread and enjoyed cheap, delicious food. Omnomnom
We need to figure our a bike mount for the dinghy for next time.
Took showers for the day and then went to the liquor store to pick up Strong Back. I'll leave the amount we got a mystery, but we definitely needed Strong Arms to walk it all the way back to the dinghy.
Dinghied back and decided that we didn't really need groceries here, we could pick them up later on Green Turtle or Coopers Town. The cardboard on one of the boxes practically melted due to the water so... Uh... Hope we don't have beer everywhere. Hmm.
Made the journey to No Name Cay for the night, which went by without anything exciting happening (good).
No Name Cay is uninhabited by humans, but is host to Piggyville where semi-wild pigs roam about. It's pretty cute. There's a water tank filled for them and tourists feed them whatever. The fancy Yacht club we stayed at apparently saves their restaurant's kitchen scraps and sends them to Piggyville.
So we went ashore to feed the pigs! They didn't like our fries much, but seemed to enjoy the bag of doritos someone else left on the island. They also don't seem to like being pet, and one of them while feeding bit Shawn hard enough that he started bleeding. But we got to feed the cutest little piglets!!
There's something strange and amusing about the sight of pigs alongside a mound of coconuts and the gentle lapping waves of the beach.
We'll visit them again in the morning and see what we want to do with the rest of the day after we wake up.
Boat Repair In Exotic Places - Day 14
25 May 2018 | Treasure Cay Anchorage
Today has been quite the day!
We awoke late (7:30) after having the best night of sleep we'd had in quite some time. We turned the AC down to 70 and chilled out - literally.
We poked our heads around the marina and used bathrooms onshore to find nobody was around yet to settle our tab and pump us out. So we went back onboard to try to play HotS.
We should've just played the stupid match last night, because this morning Shawn's VPN wouldn't connect - which means Battle.net wouldn't work since they hate the Bahamas for some reason.
Tried to no avail to get that working but eventually gave up, mostly because the internet kept going out. Honestly the worst marina Wi-Fi I have dealt with, and that's saying something considering this was a fancy place and Waterline, which is a floating trailer park (I say enderalingly), had better.
Shawn assisted the pump out operator while I was below re-transforming our house into boat mode. And good thing too - we thought we dumped offshore during the crossing, but apparently we didn't because when they uncapped the holding tank a poopnado erupted on deck. The deck was cleaned up well since I didn't see any signs of it after...
We took a shower, mostly for Shawn but also just because we could, and when I asked him if he felt clean after he said "Physically, yes. Mentally I'll never feel totally clean again." then shuddered.
We checked out and paid the large bill (and found out they metered electricity the hard way), then took the dinghy to New Plymouth for breakfast and groceries before totally leaving Green Turtle Cay.
We had breakfast at the liquor store, and could've even bought shirts that said that. You may remember my subpar review of their burgers yesterday, we came back mostly because it was the only restaurant open and we wanted to eat before buying food. Their breakfast was much better than their burgers.
Went to Sids and bought bread, eggs, and cheese. Simple shopping. Dry goods are too expensive here to justify purchase. A large bag of doritos is $7, for instance. So just the necessities.
Dinghied back and then untied lines and shoved off. Shawn was nervous since he had to back the boat out through the whole dock and it was low tide, but we ended up getting out quite smoothly.
We motored along to Treasure Cay for the day. I read in our Bahamian cruising guide that there are ferries from green turtle to treasure that we could've paid for. The guide is from 1999 (and most of it is still accurate!!), so a round trip is probably more than $11 now. I think we still made the right decision in taking our boat over since our ~*Primary Quest*~ in Treasure Cay is to acquire a case of Strong Back Stout, and that'd be kinda annoying to put on the ferry!
At one point during the journey Shawn noticed something harrowing -
The dinghy engine was in the water.
Not in the drink and gone forever, just the dinghy had turned over and the engine was filled with salt water. Salt water is anathema to all complicated systems it seems, and quickly corroded the inside of engines.
In our panic, the first thing we did is take the engine out of the water. We learned later that is actually when corrosion begins and that was the worst thing we could've done, but oh well. The engine was put in the dinghy itself and Googling was done to figure out what we could do. It appeared we needed to disassemble the engine, which is very hard in rocky waves, so we waited for Treasure Cay.
The lesson to be learned is: don't be lazy, take off your dinghy engine and secure it onboard when you aren't using it. We have learned this the hard way.
On the bright side, yesterday while motoring the engine made a weird squeaking sound when in higher throttle. After turning off the engine, Shawn left the throttle in full overnight to stretch the cable and that appears to have fixed the squeaking! So we have that going for us, which is nice.
We got into treasure cay and I read a sign that read that if we were anchoring or mooring that we needed to check in at the marina. Without our dink engine we decided it'd be best to just go up to a slip and tie off, check in, then quickly leave.
We did just that, got the wifi access codes for 2 devices (figured without electricity we wouldn't be using the laptops), and discovered we were taking up the slip the Mash Harbor ferry uses. Ooops.
Found a good anchoring spot only to be yelled at by an old lady that we were too close to her. So we took a less ideal spot to stop her complaining.
We managed to connect to the wifi even from the anchorage which was nice. It's spotty, but actually less spotty than Leeward. We had dinner onboard and decided to try rowing to shore - which ended poorly, as the default oars are terrible. So we sat onboard sad until we watched a few YouTube guides on how to possibly fix the engine and then Shawn went about doing just that.
I'll note the entire time we were doing so, the engine cover was off and we were working on it (the universal sign of boater distress) and several boats passed us. Not a single one stopped to even ask if we needed help. In fact, no stranger has ever helped us - unless you count BoatUS, which I don't. We've helped 3 boats in distress (one while our electrical array was dead), and while I know that's not a direct give and take, I'd like some of that karma to come in for once.
We rinsed it with fresh water, pulled out the sparkplugs, and oiled it everywhere the guide said to. So much oil. After about a half hour of this we put the engine back on the dink and... Managed to start it up! Omg! Yay!
She doesn't plane quite the way she used to, but we got a nice hot shower on shore. The first shower I tried was angry at me and sputtered everywhere and wouldn't stop for a while, but other than that, WONDERFUL HOT SHOWERSSS!
They were in surprisingly terrible condition for such a fancy place that charges 2.50/ft/night (for reference yesterday was 1.50 and the sketchy dock was 0.88). Hmm.
We got back and Shawn assembled the anchor. The bar in the middle can come out at any time, so we need to figure out how to secure that before we can use it.
Tomorrow we go to Treasure Cay proper and do some shopping (the best kind of shopping - BOOZE SHOPPING!) . Later on we hope to anchor at No Name Cay, where there are wild pigs you can feed!
Green Turtle Cay Part 2 - Day 13
24 May 2018 | Leeward Yacht Club
After falling asleep early from all the booze, we woke up in the middle of the night and had a fitful night of sleep afterward. We formally woke up with the sun and made our plans for the day.
Dinghied to the same dock as yesterday with the same route, and discovered we took the routes yesterday at high tide. And it was low tide. Kicked up a lot of sand and mud and took another route.
Got on land and it immediately started pouring, hard. So we went to the bakery and got some large dumpling like things filled with meat. Spicy, delicious meat!
Once the rain stopped we decided to take the dinghy to black sound and check out the marinas to see if any pumped put. After ascertaining that one fancy lookin marina did pump out for an insane price ($35 - at Melbourne harbor marina its $10).
We went to another marina and determined that they had better prices for fuel and water, but did not pump out (and recommended we just dump - ew). They also had better prices for slippage, but some very sketchy docks and wiring. Also the fancy marina had showers and Wi-Fi. We like those things.
Why are we going to a marina for the night? Really, just because we feel like it. Anchoring out all the time is kinda like camping and there's that paranoia the anchor is going to drag in the night. We bought screws and nuts in town today and will assemble the anchor to alleviate those fears.
Also... Showers and Wi-Fi. And trash disposal. And laundry (probably won't do laundry but still).
Shawn has also wanted for a long time to show me what the air conditioning output is supposed to feel like, which requires a marina in clean water so we can dive down and feel it.
Anyway we weren't ready for that marina quite yet, since it's further away from New Plymouth than our boat, so we went back to town for some shopping. Just fun frilly tourist shopping, buying shirts and keychains and postcards to use as thank you letters. Once we stocked up, we went back to the boat to prepare for the booze run.
We came back with the few nuts and screws left to get more at the aforementioned trip to the hardware store, then bought a gallon of Goombay Smash to share with friends for my birthday upon our return, and followed this with a boatload of booze. One case of Kalik, another of Sands, and several bottles of different varieties of rum. The liquor store delivered right to the dinghy dock, which was convenient!
Right after we checked out with card the power went out, which was just in time since we didn't have enough cash for the purchase. Didn't think much of this power outage until after we went back home and took the boat to the fuel dock where we discovered the power was still off - which meant we couldn't fuel. Shared mead with the dock operator and chatted until power came back. I should note at this point the fuel dock scared even brave Shawn - it rose and fell in places and looked as if Shawn jumped enough times it'd all come down. Rusty nail heads (not points) were free where the rest of the wood had worn away. I stepped on one - no cuts since it's just the head, but putting pressure on such a small area isn't comfortable.
We fueled and watered and hailed Leeward Yacht Club for slippage. Chatted on another channel and went back to 16. At this time, Mer Soleil happened to be on the radio and hailed us. We found out they didn't like how wavey anchoring just off new Plymouth was and decided to anchor in White Sound.
Went into Leeward and after checking in took a well-deserved shower, then went into town for food. Harvey's was good but not exceptional in my opinion. Took a lovely stroll on the beach and enjoyed the soft sand that has been such a pain to anchor in. It's barely sand, perhaps "powder" is a better word.
Dinghied back and set up our laptops to play HotS, then watched a beautiful sunset. Faced some issues with Battle.net loading and after some trial and error found out I needed to spoof location with a VPN to connect. Does Blizzard just not support the Bahamas? I don't know.
The Wi-Fi isn't terribly quick here. Waiting for downloads is excruciating, but at a certain point we decided we wanted to do it JUST TO DO IT. Just to say "we played video games in the Bahamas on our boat".
By the time my Blizzard client and game finally downloaded our friends had to go to bed for work the next day. I wonder if it's just because this was free internet shared with others, or Bahamian internet is generally slow.
We will try actually playing games tomorrow morning, since we always wake up early around here and all businesses run on Island Time (pump out doesn't start until 8...so maybe 8:30-45). Also try uploading photos to Facebook, since for some reason uploading on my phone has been failing. There's a lovely video of the dolphins off the bow I've been wanting to upload but just can't!
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