Dagny's Winter Cruise

25 March 2019
23 March 2019
20 March 2019
17 March 2019
16 March 2019
13 March 2019
12 March 2019
10 March 2019
08 March 2019
05 March 2019
27 February 2019
25 February 2019
23 February 2019
20 February 2019
18 February 2019
16 February 2019
14 February 2019

Special Moments

25 March 2019
Allan Gray
Jimmy messaged us Saturday morning to let us know that the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Rendezvous was moved to the Tiloo Bank anchorage which was only 7 miles south of our position. While Jimmy and Debbie headed off shore to try their luck at fishing again Bev and I lingered over morning coffee before finally shoving off at 11:30 to ride the tide through the narrow Lubbers Cay channel. We ghosted along in a light easterly breeze in beautiful sunshine and arrived at the Rendezvous just as the RMHYC gang started to show up. Unfortunately Jimmy and Debbie struck out at fishing, however, the good news was that we would be treated to Jimmy's excellent lamb stew for dinner and Debbie's cherry pie for desert. We spent part of the afternoon swimming and walking the beach while the YC group prepared a beach bonfire for the evening. Following dinner we joined the beach crowd for a beautiful evening around the campfire while once again marvelling at the stars.

Jimmy is still having a few issues with his dinghy so I volunteered to take him and Abby to the beach Sunday morning before we headed out. As soon as the dinghy touched the beach Abby was gone over the front and running like a fool on the beach while Jimmy and I found a place to sit and enjoy our coffees. It was one of those special moments that just happen, two long time friends with feet in the sand, looking at the blue Sea of Abaco and reminiscing about days gone by. Moments like this are a reminder of how lucky we are.

Following breakfast Bev and I headed back to Hopetown for the night. There are a lot of people who spend their entire winter season here and they are heavily involved in the community. There was a free concert on Sunday afternoon to say thank you to all the volunteers for their efforts over the winter. It was a fun afternoon singing along with the band as they played a great mix of
everyone's favorite hits. Another special day was topped off with dinner aboard "Sandbox" as we celebrated the official renaming of their boat.

Today's picture is of Tahiti Beach, it's not the bestshot, but it gives you an idea of the playground it becomes when the tide goes out.

Another Day At The Beach

23 March 2019
Allan Gray
Once the winds finally abated on Wednesday we decided to hoist anchor for a change of scenery. Although Tavern Cay is a good spot to hide from winds the down side in good weather is that there isn't any where to get ashore. There is a reef just outside Marsh Harbour that we have passed numerous times but have never stopped. It's a part natural and a part manmade reef in a "no take" zone so it's teaming with fish of all sizes and shapes. It is less than a mile outside of Marsh Harbour making it a popular stop for the tour boats, but luckily for us there were only a few people there when we arrived. The water was still a little murky from two days of heavy winds, nevertheless we were treated to a great show.

Since we were in the neighbourhood we decided to pop into Marsh Harbour for the evening to catch up with a few friends plus grab a couple of supplies. More and more the harbour talk is turning to crossing dates and long term travel plans. We all gathered on Duchess Wednesday evening and it was bittersweet as we all realized our days together are coming to an end for this winter. After having ridden out a couple of days heavy winds it was decided that we needed a beach day so plans we made to head to Tahiti beach on Thursday morning.

Light winds greeted us Thursday morning as we headed out of Marsh Harbour, we poked along at 4 knots in bright sunshine enroute to the beach. This winter Lana and Robert introduced us to a game called Marbles that has been the highlight of our evening get togethers. The basic idea is to get your 4 marbles around the board and safely home while trying to kill your competition without getting knocked out yourself. It's always guys against the girls resulting in many hilarious moments as the English language takes quite a beating. Since this may be the last time The Abaco Express is together for awhile we savoured our 2 days at the beach and 2 rowdy evening around the game board.

We have been invited to join Jimmy and Debbie for an overnight cruise with the Marsh Harbour Yacht Club gang. The plan is to sail 15 miles south where we'll rendezvous at Lynyard Cay and spend the night anchored off the beach. The weather has been a little unsettled but we've looking forward to a great weekend with new friends.

Today's picture is a solo sailor enjoying an evening harbour cruise.

Gale Force Winds

20 March 2019
Allan Gray
Bev and I decided to head to Hopetown for the day on Sunday, however, prior to shoving off, I had another date to take Abby ashore for her morning walk. Once everyone was ready, Driftaway headed back offshore to try their luck at fishing and Bev and I headed north to Hope Town for the day. This is probably the most popular stop in the Abacos, so we didn't even try to get in the harbour but anchored just outside the entrance for the night. Once we were all secure we dinghied in for a tour of the town and a much needed walk along the beach. As expected the mooring field was packed and with the approaching storm I didn't have any interest in trying to find a mooring there. Frequently there is only 20 feet between some larger boats when they swing on their moorings, not much room for error. During our dinghy tour of the harbour we met our friends on Sea Jules who invited on board for a visit. They have been living aboard their Beneteau 45 for the last few years and it was interesting listening to their future plans. We enjoyed a beautiful calm night at anchor which, really was the calm before the storm.

The weather forecasters couldn't agree on when the winds would pick up so we decided to get a jump on the crowd and find a good anchorage by noon on Monday. Marsh Harbour was one of the options but we knew it would be over crowed with lots and lots of boats. As we have gained experience and confidence in our anchoring we would rather anchor away from the crowd in a secluded area, even if the protection isn't quite as good. We chose to return to a small bay south of Tavern Cay that offers decent N-NE protection. There were only 3 other boats there when we arrived so we picked a good spot and made sure the anchor was well set. However, as the day wore on everyone else left, leaving us doubting our decision. We checked and rechecked the various weather apps, which all called for NE winds 25-40 knots or more with 2-4 inches of rain. As a few more boats arrived later in the day we felt reassured that we were in a good spot and by the time the weather deteriorated on Tuesday morning there were 9 boats to keep us company.

The wind had shifted around on Monday evening but the system really rolled in during the day on Tuesday. I double checked to make sure everything on deck was secure and before hoisting the dinghy out we rechecked the anchor set and ran out more chain. With 125' of chain out in 12 feet of water we were confident that Rocky the Rocna would keep us in place. Normally when the s..t hits the fan it's in the middle of the night, however, this time around we got hammered during daylight, which eased the stress level. I did a couple of light chores and spent the rest of the day reading and working on a plotting program. Bev baked some more delicious bread while Dagny got a much needed bath in the heavy rains. As advertised the winds started to moderate before dark although we still had a few hard gusts and showers overnight. The sustained winds for the day were well over 20 knots with peak gusts reported just over 40; fortunately, our little group rode out the storm without any issues.

Today's picture is of a satisfied customer at the “Thirsty Cuda” at Tahiti Beach

The Mother Ship

17 March 2019
Allan Gray
After a busy couple of days in Marsh Harbour it was time to get out of town. Although it's a very convenient one stop town we don't like to spend any more time here than necessary. The water is dirty and swimming is not recommended plus there is a constant stream of fishing boats through the anchorage. So Saturday morning we arranged to meet the Abaco Express in Tahiti Beach, which is a popular sand bar beach a few miles south of Hopetown. The attraction here is that at low tide there's a huge sand bar beach that appears and everyone dinghies ashore for a few hours of fun and games. The Thirsty Cuda is a floating bar restaurant that anchors in shallow water near the beach serving everyone's favorite treats. It really is the ultimate swim up bar. When the tide rises and the beach disappears everyone packs up and leaves, no worries about anyone over staying their welcome.

We had made plans to meet Jimmy and Debbie for dinner aboard Drift Away on Saturday evening. However, before joining us at Tahiti Beach they decided to take advantage of the calm conditions and headed off shore for an afternoon of fishing. Bev's successes this winter prompted them to try their luck and they landed a nice Mahi Mahi, but unfortunately it escaped from the swim platform. Luckily Jimmy had planned on Lamb Stew as a back up! The drinking water in Marsh Harbour isn't very good and Jimmy had graciously offered to fill our tanks for us. He ran his water maker while he was off fishing and arrived with full tanks. To everyone's amusement he rafted on to us and proceeded to pump about 80 gallons into our tanks.

The holding wasn't very good in the anchorage at Tahiti Beach so once our tanks were full we headed a couple of miles south and tucked in off a small beach. We played water taxi and took Abby ashore for her afternoon walk prior to sitting down for a delicious meal. After a good night's sleep in the beautiful calm conditions we awoke rested and ready for another day of adventure.

Today's picture is of Dagny and the Mother Ship.

Marsh Harbour

16 March 2019
Allan Gray
As advertised the strong north east winds arrived late Tuesday evening and stayed with us right through until Thursday afternoon. After all our excitement snorkeling on Tuesday, Wednesday's activities were at the other end of the scale. I hauled the generator out of the sail locker, fired up my sander and spent most of the day sanding and varnishing the the teak toe rails. Also, with the generator running, it was a good time to clean and defrost the fridge and freezer. We were tucked under a bluff close to shore so despite gusts into the high 20s the water was calm allowing us to get all our chores done.

By lunch time Thursday the winds had abated a little so it was time to move 12 miles to Marsh Harbour, which is the sailor's hub in the Abacos. Although this is not our favorite stop, all the services we need are located here and it was time for us to do a big reprovisioning. When we left Florida the freezer was full and combined with Bev's fishing prowess we have had enough food for the winter. However, the cupboards are getting bare and this is by far the best spot to shop outside of Nassau.

Our friends Jimmy and Debbie have been here all winter at Boat Harbour Marina aboard Driftaway. We last visited with them back in Charleston on our way south in October and we're looking forward to a reunion. We bumped into Jimmy while we were ashore Thursday and made plans for dinner on Friday evening. After a successful shopping trip we headed back to Dagny for a quiet evening in the crowded anchorage. This is the base for numerous charter companies so there's always a lot of action in the harbour to kept us amused.

Boat Harbour Marina is part of the Abaco Beach Resort which is complete with condos, rental cottages, pool, beach and all the amenities. Jimmy invited us over for a little afternoon R&R around the pool before the boater's 5 o'clock meet and greet. After numerous suggestions and a little debate we headed off to The Blue Hole restaurant for dinner. No better way to end a day then a great meal with good friends while overlooking the water.

Today's picture was taken in Hackett Bay, even the herons come to the Bahamas for the winter.

Eagle Rays

13 March 2019
Allan Gray
Bev and I had sailed a lot over the last three days so we decided to relax and linger over our Mondy morning coffee. Once everyone had finished breakfast we headed to shore for a nice walk along the beach and crossed over to the ocean side in search of treasure. As always there was the usual junk washed up on shore, from plastic bottles, to fishing nets and shoes. There must be a lot of people going around barefoot because we certainly find a lot of footwear on the beaches. However, the big find of the day was what appeared to be part of an aircraft nose cone, we searched for a name or registration number but couldn't find anything. It would be interesting to know where it came from.

We've been troubled with poor VHF radio reception for a while so I had ordered a new antenna and coax cable for the mast. I had it delivered to a marina in Florida and friends on Sea Jules kindly brought it over to us. Since the winds were calm we decided it was a good time to change the antenna. Menno volunteered to help Bev hoist me up the mast, that is right, me up the 60' mast in the bosun's chair to do the work. As always a 15 minute job turned into almost an hour as they sent me up an array of tools and lubricants so I could get the job done. I have to admit, as long as I didn't look straight down it wasn't that bad, and what a view! Bev and I hadn't been out for a good dinner for awhile so we decided to treat ourselves to a night out a Pete's Pub. We enjoyed a fantastic meal while I regaled the gang with stories of my first visit there with Steve Martin all those many years ago.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny with light winds as the Abacos Express decided to move north towards Marsh Harbour. Once again strong north to northeast winds were forecasted for late Tuesday night through until Thursday so we needed to find some shelter. There is a great reef with Elkhorn Coral at Sandy Cay, which just happened to be on our route. The tidal current can very strong so we timed our arrival for slack tide to give us the best snorkeling conditions. We tied the dinghies to one of the many small moorings and set off to explore the reef. After an hour or so it was time to head back to the boats before the current got too strong. Menno had told us that if we were lucky we might see a spotted Eagle Ray or two because they like the strong currents around the reef.

Well let me tell you, good things come in threes and Mother Nature did it again. First was the whale in New Jersey, second was the ray that almost landed in our dinghy last week but Tuesday was the topper. Lana and I were in the front of our group as we approached the dinghies in 20' of water when we looked off to our left and saw not one but NINE spotted eagle rays swimming towards us. They had at least 4 foot wing spans and the whole squadron gracefully glided underneath our group and continued on their way. Robert had a GoPro camera and shot some video but unfortunately it's not very clear. We finished our day off with leisurely sail to Tavern Cay where we tucked in close to shore for some shelter for the night. Yet another great day was topped off with a delicious dinner aboard Dagny while we reminisced about our adventures.

Today's pictures is of the rays swimming away as Robert tried to get a close up.
Vessel Name: Dagny
Vessel Make/Model: Sabre 402
Hailing Port: South Lancaster On
Crew: Allan Gray and Bev Bethune
About: Allan is a retired Montreal Air Traffic Controller and Bev is a retired Elementary School Principal.
Extra: After many years of local cruising and Etchells racing we are living our dream of sailing to the Bahamas. Allan enjoys golfing, cycling and skiing. Bev is an active cyclist, runner, aerobics participant and cross country skier.
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Dagny's Photos -

Who: Allan Gray and Bev Bethune
Port: South Lancaster On