Enjoying Life aboard Fine Lion

Come along with us as we cruise the US East Coast and the Bahamas

Fine Lion

Who: Steve and Kim Snyder
Port: Oriental, NC
04 May 2014 | 35 01.463'N:76 41.964'W, Oriental, NC
20 April 2014 | 29 53.099'N:81 18.329'W, St. Augustine, FL
10 April 2014 | 25 33.946'N:77 43.439'W, Cabbage Cay, Berry Islands
07 April 2014 | 25 29.752'N:77 43.952'W, Bonds Cay, Berry Iswlands
30 March 2014 | 24 06.145'N:76 24.307'W, Black Point, Exumas
27 March 2014 | 23 45.664'N:76 05.409'W, Williams Cay, Exumas
25 March 2014 | 23 43.951'N:75 02.859'W, Rat Cay, Exumas
13 March 2014 | 23 21.322'N:75 08.896'W, Thompson Bay, Long Island
11 March 2014 | 23 01.250'N:75 43.328'W, Water Cay
01 March 2014 | 22 15.048'N:75 45.111'W, Hog Cay
25 February 2014 | 22 20.217'N:75 46.825'W, Johnson Cay
23 February 2014 | 22 15.101'N:75 45.184'W, Hog Cay
17 February 2014 | 22 15.101'N:75 45.184'W, Hog Cay
12 February 2014 | 22 13.390'N:75 45.140'W, Hog Cay Cut
11 February 2014 | 22 14.994'N:75 45.220'W, Hog Cay
08 February 2014 | 22 14.994'N:75 45.220'W, Hog Cay
03 February 2014 | 22 15.004'N:75 45.183'W, Hog Cay
02 February 2014 | 22 15.004'N:75 45.183'W, Hog Cay
23 January 2014 | 22 10.261'N:75 43.687'W, Southside, Ragged Island
17 January 2014 | 22 10.261'N:75 43.687'W, Southside, Ragged Island

Up the Coast and Home...

04 May 2014 | 35 01.463'N:76 41.964'W, Oriental, NC
Sunset at sea. Red sky and night...sailors delight!

Well...we're home in Oriental. I suppose this is good, but we do love cruising the Bahamas. On the sad side, we had a great year (season). The weather and hunting was terrific. The boat behaved itself properly and over all, we had a fun time.

We had a pretty good trip up the coast. We left from the Bahamas and sailed to St. Augustine. We had to wait there for over a week to get a weather window. We like St. Augustine so it was a good time...just long on the mooring ball. We left there and had a good overnight outside to Charleston. We stayed there for three nights and went outside to Cape Lookout at the bottom of the outer banks of North Carolina. That was a motor sail just about the whole way. On the good side, it was a calm ocean. We stayed there and left the next morning for Oriental. That was the only ICW we had to travel the entire trip home...about 18 miles up Adam's Creek.

The lighthouse at Cape Lookout

The Bight is a great anchorage

When we arrived Mike and Kathy (Sapphire) met us at the dock along with Corbin, Carol, Bob, and Betty...all close friends here in Oriental. It was cloudy and not very warm...but we were home. Thanks to Mike and Kathy, the condo was all cleaned and ready for us.

So now we unpack, sort out, and store lots of "stuff" from Fine Lion. We're even doing some spring cleaning in the condo. That means throwing things out that we just don't use. Of course, we are now in the land of retail opportunities. Life will keep marching on for us.

As I look back, I have to say that we enjoyed just about every mile of the 2,850 that we traveled on Fine Lion over the last seven months. The people, cruisers, and islands that we encountered were fantastic...great memories.

So now let's see what the future holds.

More later...

The Crossing...

20 April 2014 | 29 53.099'N:81 18.329'W, St. Augustine, FL
They have a lot of "Pirate Ships" for the tourists in the Port of St. Augustine

Well, we left Bonds Cay on a Friday. We had to wait until noon so the cut to get out would be more "manageable". We'd had strong winds for a few days so the cuts were a little rough with the wind opposing the tide. So...noon was slack low. It was certainly a little sporty for a few hours, but things got better later in the afternoon and much better when we made a bit of a turn towards the west at the top of the Berries.

Around dawn the next day we left the Bahamas and got into the Gulf Stream. The wind was predicted to clock from ENE to E to ESE by that afternoon and drop from 17-18 to 15. All of that would have been fantastic. Not fast...it just didn't go like that. We were on a course for Charleston which was about 005 degrees and the wind gradually went to the NE and began to build. Around dusk it was 18-22 from the NE...not pleasant. We had steady 5 footers with an occasional 6-7 thrown in just for fun.

So enter the new plan - St. Augustine. That gave us 25 more degrees to the left a little smoother point of sail. Late in the day we were in the middle off the Gulf Stream and it was just plain rough. For a short while we thought of Cape Canaveral and went even more west. Once we got to the edge of the Gulf Stream, it got better and we stayed the course to St. Augustine. Once past Cape Canaveral at midnight, things got a lot smoother...all the way in.

The trip was 330 NM in 50 hours for an average speed of 6.6 kts. Our top speed in the Stream was 12.2. We only had to motor sail the last 25 miles. Over all, a good sail even if it was a bit "spirited" at times.

We got into St. Augustine on Sunday around 3:00 PM, grabbed a mooring, and called Customs/Immigration to report in. Then, we had to go out for some food and drink. That's where we ran into a big Palm Sunday party at a local bar. Timing is everything!

The was the line up of bands for the day...big day!

The whole next week has been waiting on weather. It has been cold, raining, and blowing...from the north...not fun, but a nice place to be stuck. It looks like we can get out Tuesday.

We aren't sure where we will go, but we'll go as far as we can with this weather window.

Stay tuned...


10 April 2014 | 25 33.946'N:77 43.439'W, Cabbage Cay, Berry Islands
The anchorage the day after the front passed through

When you are in the Bahamas, weather is critical. Plus, you need to have your own weather source. There are no VHF weather stations like the US. Some of the cruiser's nets have weather sections, BUT it is someone else's opinion usually. It's best if you find a weather source and get familiar with it...and understand its accuracy.

For the last 10 years I've been using OCENS' WeatherNet product. I know it well and have great confidence in it. The weather Guru for the Bahamas is Chris Parker on SSB. Chris, in fact, helped me design my system 10 years ago. I don't use SSB, but can still get Chris' weather summary via OCENS in text form.

So...we were sitting in Nassau and left before the front to go to Bonds Cay in the Berry Islands. The problem with fronts is the west wind component. Most anchorages in the Bahamas are open to the west...not good. Bonds Cay is open, but the depth of that water to the west is about 2 ft. at low tide. That keeps the waves down a little. Even though we saw 25-33 kts of wind for over 18 hours, we only had 2-3 ft. waves...not too bad. The best part is that we had great holding and no other boats.

So now we appear to have a good window for heading to the US mainland. It looks like we'll take off Friday (tomorrow). We're not sure where we'll stop. We'd like to make it to Charleston, SC, but may end up in N. FL somewhere. We'll get a great push from the Gulfstream and the winds look like they'll be on our beam. That would be nice...if it happens.

So this may be our last post from the Bahamas for 2014...sorta sad. But then...all good things do come to an end.

We will post again...maybe at sea...

Leaving the Exumas...

07 April 2014 | 25 29.752'N:77 43.952'W, Bonds Cay, Berry Iswlands
The Capt. C negotiating the crowd at Black Point...successfully

We spent a couple of days at Black Point doing laundry and renewing old friendships. Lorraine put on a great buffet that drew a big crowd. While there, the mailboat Capt. C came in. The anchorage was very crowded, but the Capt. C saw Fine Lion and gave us a big blast on the horn, then a bunch of the crew came out and began waiving. After they docked, I went up and said hello to Etienne (the Captain) and his brother Cephas. Remember we became friends while in the Ragged Islands. That was pretty cool actually.

That's Etienne waving from the bridge

Then on to Staniel Cay and the Big Majors anchorage (home of the swimming pigs...and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club). We had even more friendships to renew along with getting some fuel. We always have fun at Staniel Cay. We love the bar at the YC...good food, drinks, and people.

The weather forecast said we'd have a good sail for the next couple of days...15-18 kts from the ESE. That meant a great beam reach...and it was delivered as promised. We stopped overnight at Highbourne Cay. Highbourne is a "playground" for the mega yachts. They set up their toys on the beach and make it a very busy place. We anchored between a couple of 150 footers and just watched the crews working their butts off making the guests happy. Think $$$$$$$$.

Beach "Toys"

The 150 ft. "mother ship"

Remember my talking about the "needy" newbies? Well, I have to say I ran into a guy who is "needing" to have the newbies follow his directions on a daily basis. He has a newbie close beside him and he guides him on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. It was unreal. The newbie will call and ask the most basic question and the "tour guide" gives the answer...over and over. So...this is obviously a mutually beneficial relationship. One needs help, and the other needs to provide help. That's a "boat marriage".

We left Highbourne and went to Nassau. We stopped at our first marina since November 20, 2013...at the same marina we were in at that time, Nassau Harbor Club. We like it because it has great staff, pool and laundry. It also is across the street from Fresh Market, a liquor store, a CVS, Starbucks, and some other stores. Nassau is a crazy place, so we don't stay long. The marina was filling up because of a front coming through Tuesday. We left on Sunday to go to the Berry Islands...Bonds Cay. We are planning on riding out the front behind Bonds. I'll let you know how it goes.

The cruise ships in Nassau. The one on the right is the Oasis of the Seas...the largest cruise ship in the world

And there are party boats...

After the front, we will have to hang around the Berries for a few days for the weather to settle down so we can make a crossing to the US.

Stay tuned for more...

The Middle Exumas...and Crowds...

30 March 2014 | 24 06.145'N:76 24.307'W, Black Point, Exumas
That's Ida's laundromat...tomorrow!

So now we're at Black Point in the "middle" Exumas. We're near Staniel Cay and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and of course, the swimming pigs. The area is sort of the "interstate highway" area for boats moving north and south. We were here in November and there were four boats in Black Point...nice. We turned the corner yesterday and there were 37 boats. Yeah, the place can hold a lot more, but we don't like crowds.

You see, crowds make the VHF crowded, they make the anchorage crowded, they make the Laundromat crowded, they make the restaurants crowded, they make the bars crowded, and they even make the channels crowded. We now have to deal with it...not easy. We like a laid back sort of place. Here now, the VHF is constantly chattering away, and it seems the same boats like to hear themselves talk. They even have a Cruiser's Net in the morning. That's the beginning of the end. Next they'll be setting up rules for all sorts of things, and then there'll be organized activities.

I agree that some new cruisers need help and information, but what about Cruising Guides? Why would you come down here and not have done any research about the various islands, tides, customs, etc.?

Black Point has the finest Laundromat we've ever been in. Ida, the owner, takes pride in her operation and it shows. That's a big draw as is Lorraine's Café. Lorraine's has been a landmark for many years. These people are fantastic and I hope the multitude of boats is good for business.

I guess it's the "adjustment to the numbers" that has us going a little crazy. I'm sure we'll get over it, but it does make us really appreciate where we spend most of our time. I'd rather be surrounded by boats that know what they're doing rather than the various boat "clusters" that don't seem to know anything...as evidenced by what they say on the VHF. Sometimes it's scary when they ask a question that is answered in bold type on page 44 of the Cruising Guide.

I'm sure I'll have more to report soon, but tomorrow is laundry day as today is Sunday and everything is closed.


27 March 2014 | 23 45.664'N:76 05.409'W, Williams Cay, Exumas
I think it's time to discuss goo. Sometimes it's called gravy, sauce, or maybe even au jus, but my friend Bill on Veranda calls it all "goo". Ok, Bill isn't a fan of goo. He will sometimes taste it, but make no mistake, he doesn't want it on his food. He doesn't like to physically mix his foods, but that is another discussion.

Cruisers really don't like to toss out leftovers. We go to great pains to provision and wasting food is not in the plan. So, we try to be creative with our leftovers; thus the evolution of goo. I'll give you a very real and recent series of events. Let's use that large lobster taken a few days ago. Its first performance was as pure unadulterated lobster meat. Its next life was that of lobster sauce over pasta where it was joined by: basil, garlic, yellow peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions, Italian spices, and crushed tomatoes...wow that was good goo! This morning, that goo was thinned a little and spooned over the top of poached eggs for"Eggs Benedict Italiano Langoustino"...yummie goo. Its next incarnation will be as an appetizer with garlic bread slices as it is thickened with more onions and olives...can't wait for that goo.

So I think Bill is clearly missing out with his mistrust of goo. In fact, I'd have pictures of all those goo products if they weren't so good that we dove in before a picture could be taken. I guess I need to do better advance planning for my future goo offerings.

Maybe I'll remember in the future...

On the Move

25 March 2014 | 23 43.951'N:75 02.859'W, Rat Cay, Exumas
I think this little guy was lost at sea

Well, we spent more time in Thompson Bay Long Island. That's because we were having fun. We like Long Island. There are lots of things to do- rent a car and go down the island to a Laundromat, go to Max's Conch Bar for great conch salad, visit Clarence Town, stop at a liquor store, great grocery stores, get Kim a haircut, and have tons of fun at the Long Island Breeze.

Having lunch with the Lost Marbles at Max's Conch Bar

Kim and Gina

Gary making our conch salads

We had a great time with Michael and Jackie who own/operate the Long Island Breeze. It's a resort, bar, restaurant, swimming pool, and sort of the "center of activity" for cruisers. They are fun people that go out of their way to make it comfortable for us. Plus, they have a great Philly Cheesesteak with REAL French fries, made from fresh potatoes...wow!!! It was hard to leave, but we had to get on our way. We had been travelling with the Lost Marbles (Gate and Gina), but they stayed back to wait on some friends. Another sad departure.

The plan was to go to Cat Island, but the weather caused us to change plans..go figure. We went to the top of Long Island and spent the night. So late in the afternoon when we were anchoring the VHF was full of great conversations. When I pick on newbies, it's because some of them are plain dumb. An experienced cruiser was leading a newbie up the coast to anchor for the evening. They pulled into Calabash Bay. It's very large and VERY defined on the charts...impossible to miss. So the newbie was asking "where are we...is this Calabash Bay?" It would be impossible to look at your boat on a chart plotter and not realize you were in Calabash Bay. After they anchored and felt the surge (which is also noted on the charts) they asked "is there somewhere we can go to get out of this rolling?" The experienced guy came on and said not really, but you could go back south a little and check. The newbie stayed there for the night, but got out early to go to Cat Island. Since the forecast was for 18 out of the SW, the anchorage at Cat would be VERY rolley and unprotected. That's why we changed our destination to Rat Cay on the other side of the sound. I suspect they might be committing suicide right now...or listing the boat for sale...or just plain hating life. Oh well...live and learn.

So we're in Rat Cay waiting on the front to move through. We should be able to get out Saturday. So yesterday I figured that I needed to get in the water and see if there are any lobsters in this well-traveled area. Jumped in and got a big guy...5.5 lbs.! There's only one week left of the season...and it's been a good one. We fished the entire 44 miles to get here and only caught a Barracuda...in 4,000 ft. of water...he had to have been lost.

5.5 lbs. of lobster!!!!!

That's all for now...more later...

Ragged Islands Re-Cap...

13 March 2014 | 23 21.322'N:75 08.896'W, Thompson Bay, Long Island
The results of the last hunt at Coco Bay

Well...we've left the Jumentos/Ragged Islands...sadly I must say. We've had a great season down there. The weather, hunting, social life, and "local conditions" were fantastic.

Love the big guys

Poached eggs on lobster cakes...yummie

We scored big time with the Fresh Market deliveries and with the fuel purchase from the mailboat. Maxine and the other locals also went out of their way to help us.

The Valentine's Day party was a rousing success. So too, was the Super Bowl Party and many beach cocktail hours, burns, and wallows. Kim and Christy had fun in their many miles of beach walks.

We like that part of the Bahamas because it is way less crowded, and for the most part, populated with "experienced" cruisers. We do get the occasional group that is getting their "Jumentos Merit Badge". The good news is they usually don't stay long. We were in that area a little over three months. We rarely stayed in one spot longer than 5-6 days, but came back to some of the same places several times. We usually only move when we can sail. We traveled over 300 miles while there and only used around 18 gallons of diesel fuel for the three months.

The hunting this year was fantastic...due in large part to my buddy, Bill of Veranda. So let's talk about Bill. He is a very capable sailor, navigator, and seaman. His mechanical skills are top notch. He is a great writer...check out his blog (link at left), but his hunting prowess is legendary. His single greatest hunting skill is his uncanny ability to see lobsters that are invisible to mere mortals.

I consider myself an "above average" hunter, but Bill finds stuff that is way hidden. I think he nailed about 200 this year. I believe my count is in the 125 range, and at least 20 of them were pointed out to me by Bill. I may have gotten more Hogfish, but that's because he is so focused on lobster. In fact, I've taken Hogfish right in front of him because he didn't notice them. So this year's hunting success was helped along by our friendship. I know I enjoyed hunting with him and we did have some great days in the water.

We had a great sail up the chain to Long Island, and we even caught a nice Mahi on the way. So here we are in civilization. We are now hearing ridiculous chatter on the VHF, and anchorages that are full of boats that are too close. The VHF carries the conversations indicating that there are a lot of cruisers out there that need help...in just about everything they do. Too many cruisers are not self-reliant. There are some real idiots out there. Oh my, am I showing my disdain for that type of cruiser? Yes, I've lost patience with them. People who are going to try cruising should find a mentor, not just take off and expect cruisers they don't know to look after them.

Lots of meat on the Mahi

OK, I'm now off my soapbox. We will get a few items here in Thompson Bay, enjoy some meals at Long Island Breeze, do a thousand loads of laundry, and refuel before leaving for...maybe Cat Island, but I'll let you know because we're not done yet...it's only March 13.

More later...

First Mahi

11 March 2014 | 23 01.250'N:75 43.328'W, Water Cay
The first Mahi of the year...44 inches long

Well, we had a window, of sorts, to head north, and we have taken it. The weather let us go on the outside to fish on the way north. We landed our first Mahi...a big bull at that.

Since we're not near any sort of communications, I'm using the SatPhone for this update. I'll have more later, including pics of our last hunt in the Ragged Islands.

Lots to post...separation anxiety...sad to leave the Raggeds...approaching civilization...freezer full of lobsters, conch, and fish.

We are on our way to Long Island. We should be there late on Thursday.

Check back later to find out more stuff...
Vessel Name: Fine Lion
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 42
Hailing Port: Oriental, NC
Crew: Steve and Kim Snyder
Steve lived in Annapolis, but has now moved to Oriental, NC. He's been sailing since 1975. He's a member of the Annapolis YC, SSCA, Royal Marsh Harbor YC, and a past Commodore of the Severn River YC. It's difficult to live in Annapolis, or Oriental, and not be involved in sailing. [...]
Fine Lion's Photos - Main
14 Photos
Created 25 March 2014
93 Photos
Created 11 December 2013
34 Photos
Created 22 October 2013
14 Photos
Created 29 September 2013
Pics of the Fine Lion and crew
26 Photos
Created 7 August 2013
23 Photos
Created 10 July 2012
Cruising Fine Lion to and from the Bahamas
92 Photos
Created 9 March 2012

Fine Lion

Who: Steve and Kim Snyder
Port: Oriental, NC