In Memory of Captain John M Redler
25 October 2012
It Is Now Officially....The End
02 February 2012 | Cape Cod, MA
Juli CT - Well, its warm for February
Well fellow sailbloggers....it is now the end for us so we will officially hang up our sailing blog. We sold our beloved boat to a lovely couple who plan to cruise in her for at least 10 years - check out "Abundance" who is also on this site ! It was tough watching good old Lucky Escape sail off last year - its funny how attached you can get to a boat....I was all teary when she left. But we are happy she is in such great hands and will be used as she should be.
With our 6-month old son we are now land lubbers and settling into Cape Cod life. We couldnt stand to be without boat projects for long so we just purchased a small Rampage, which John will also use for his new marine career. Sad to now longer have a sailboat but it just wasnt practical......
I will continue to follow the wonderful blogs we read on here - and hope to see you again in the Carribean in 8 to 10 years when we will sail away again....
Welcoming Our Newest Crew Member !
16 August 2011 | Buzzards Bay, MA
A quick update from the recession sailors of Lucky Escape.
Ok. Here is the real reason we had to cancel our second sailing winter in the Carribean and decided to hang up our sailing hats for a period - the arrival of our son (and newest crew member), John Dereck Aubrey !! He was born 2 weeks ago and is keeping us busy ! Already he is showing a real love for the water via his baths.
And, a quick update from Lucky Escape. For various reasons, we decided to take our boat off the sale market and John (with the grateful help of a few friends) sailed it up from Jacksonville, FL to our current location in Buzzard's Bay, MA. (We decided to forego city life to live on the water, after having been sailors for 2 years). Unfortunately, being 9 months pregnant does not bode well for sailing so I couldnt join him. Getting on and off the boat as well as in and out of the dinghy is no mean feat in that condition !
John decided to hang up his real estate hat and is now a licensed Captain ! Our sailing voyage really brought out his love of boating and the water and he is now working in the boating industry (rather than stuck in an office).
Once we became land lubbers, a few readers of our blog asked us about lessons learned from our experience as novice sailors. (For those not following our blog, we bought and moved aboard a sailboat for 2 years, after having been laid off in the 2008 recession). Here are a few of them:
- Everything costs more than you think and you need to budget for that. We poured more money into our lovely boat than we like to think about, including repair bills as well as general cruising costs. Major repairs can run you into the thousands of $$$.
- You can learn to be more self sufficient if you have the patience to learn. We later realised how much you can repair yourself on a boat, rather than pay someone $75-100 an hour to do it. There is also a real sense of accomplishment when you finish the job (properly) yourself. Just believe in your ability, read alot on the subject and don't be afraid to seek out assistance from experienced sailors.
- You can live with less. Living on a sailboat made me realise how much I did not need (while on land) and how to live more frugally.
- Watch out for who you can trust. While we met the most wonderful and helpful individuals during our sailing trip, we also got ripped off on numerous occasions. Having been novice boat owners, we tended to believe what any boating professional told us (namely brokers, boat yards) and then often found out later that they were simply seeking a greater pay check.
- Simplicity is beauty. Some of our favorite moments on the water included sailing offshore or cooking freshly caught seafood on our back grill while at anchor. No need to spend alot of money all the time on fancy restaurants or resort marinas.
- Boating life can be harder than you expect. Having jumped into the liveaboard life without any prior experience, John and I adapted surprisingly well to the change in lifestyle (from our fancy NYC lifestyle). It wasn't the general day to day living we found hard on a boat but the horror of unexpected boat repairs + unexpected bad weather while offshore.
Casting Off ! Wait, no we're not....
19 February 2011 | Jacksonville, FL
Juli CT; 75 degrees
A quick update from Lucky Escape ! We have been back and forth a few times, trying to figure out our next steps - we certainly knew that after cruising for 1.5 years that we would likely need to return to work as we are a little young for retirement quite yet. The recession was our original "excuse" to do our sailing voyage....
After a discouraging few months looking for work in the NorthEast, we had set our sights on returning to the Bahamas this year for the winter and were busily and happily prepping our boat in December/January. We even splurged for the installation of Racor fuel filters - see pic - after struggling with our Dahl filters for the duration of our trip.
So we drove to Florida, where our boat had been undergoing upgrades (ie a new reinforced centerboard), we got her back in the water - and then I was called back to Boston for a few job interviews in late January. And, the end result is that it looks as though I will be returning to work full-time as of the beginning of March ! This is good news, in a way, but we are sad to hang up our sailing hats for a while. We have a few life altering changes coming our way so this is really the best course of action for us right now.....and we were very lucky to have had the opportunity and means to go cruising in the first place.
We are currently in Florida to spend some more time with Lucky Escape, continue working on her as well as enjoy the sun while it remains very cold in Boston. After much discussion, we will put our beloved boat up for sale in the next few weeks, with plans to downsize to a smaller boat. The boat market seems to have picked up since we bought Lucky Escape over 2 years ago, and a number of Wellington sailboats have sold in the area. We have Lucky Escape running like a dream now (mechanically), she is fully equipped for blue water cruising and her recent cosmetic upgrades means she looks brand-spanking new. However, it doesnt make sense for us to keep such a spacious boat if we are not cruising full time...Sometimes its not fun to be practical....
We will post updated pics of Lucky Escape once she is on the market.
PS - To fellow sailbloggers, keep posting tales and pictures of your adventures as I love to live vicariously through you. We look forward sailing back to the Caribbean in the future......
Back In The Water (Finally) !
14 January 2011 | Sadler Point Marina, Jacksonville
Juli CT; A balmy 43 degrees
Yes, we finally made it through the Southern blizzard and ice storm to arrive at Sadler Point Marina this week and....Lucky Escape is finally back in the water ! We had the hull repainted + bottom + our improved centerboard is installed and painted (see pics in the Photo Gallery) and she is looking lovely as ever. Alas, it will be a while before we go anywhere because we LOVE boat projects and our TO DO list has been renewed.
Our first priority - replace the corroded heat exchanger on our Ford Lehman engine + replace our faulty Dahl fuel filter with a Racor.
We are, though, looking forward to potentially heading to Southern Florida/Bahamas as it is still rather chilly in the Jacksonville area. One of our heating systems appears blocked from dried mud so we are currently depending our space heater, which is keeping us nice and snug.
All I can say is that it is fabulous to be back on the water - and back with the Sadler Point gang ! Not sure why we stayed on land for so long....
Heading Back to LE!
10 January 2011 | Fayetteville, NC
Juli CT, Snow
We are very excited to be heading South from Boston to get Lucky Escape back in the water and finish our "TO DO" list. We have been working part-time and looking for full-time jobs on land but are sooooo happy to get back on the water again. I am enviously reading all the Sailblogs of those in the Caribbean right now and fondly remembering our virgin sailing voyage last year ! Unfortunately, it will be a few years before we can retire and become full-time liveaboards.....
We are currently on the road to Jacksonville, back to Sadler Point Marina, and this picture shows the lovely snow accumulation we are getting in Fayetteville, NC (just off I-95). We decided to wait it out rather than drive through it as there do not appear to be many plows on the road so far.....
It Is Time To Graduate
06 October 2010 | Boston, MA
Juli CT; Torrential downpour
Yes, we are still on (dry) land in Boston, MA while our beloved sailboat is sitting lonely and on the hard in Jacksonville, FL. We have just received word that our new hull paint job is done (after some re-fiberglassing we had done)and we have asked for the next phase of repairs to start up, including a replacement of our port grounding plate (virtually gone) + fixing our outboard (our mistake, we didnt fully clean out all the salt water in the engine when it took a little dip in the water after our dinghy accident).
I miss being on the water terribly and am finding the adjustment to land life a little difficult - but in reviewing our prior sailblog posts I did reach a conclusion:
It is about time we graduated from our "First Time Boat Owners and Novice Sailors" status, given our almost 2-year sailing adventure. I am just waiting for the right title for our sailing blog to hit me like a lightning bolt....so any ideas would be welcome.....
Gybing back to our sailing plans, unfortunately, the plans for "Lucky Excape" and her crew are still up in the air. At the moment, we are juggling a few balls, including going back to work for a while. But we are hoping to make it to the Bahamas this winter and cruise all the islands that we were not able to enjoy when we sped through there back in June (namely the Abacos).
Centerboard Is Finished ! Time To Go Back In The Water....
20 August 2010
We have just had word from Sadler Point Marina that our new improved centerboard replacement is complete and reattached to the keel - see pic - and our associated fiberglass repairs are also done. Next step is to refinish any chipped paint on the hull, which Martech is starting next week (to return Lucky Escape to her former glory).
Lucky Escape should therefore be ready to go back in the water in a few weeks !
In the meantime, we are still holed up in Boston looking for employment - and are really missing our boat and sailing. Think we need to get back real soon.....
From The Beginning - Highlights From Our Virgin Sailing Voyage
27 July 2010
Please check out the latest post to our Photo Gallery for: "Top 50 Photos Of Our Virgin Sailing Voyage"
What's Next For The Novice Sailors ? Is There Life After Sailing ?
23 July 2010 | Boston, MA
Juli CT; 80 degrees, rainy
It has now been one month since we ended our 1.5 year sailing journey in Jacksonville, Florida and became temporary land lubbers....As you can see from the latest pics in our photo gallery, over the past four weeks, we did a few repairs, went up the mast, threw a "welcome back" happy hour and then hauled Lucky Escape out of the water at our favourite Sadler Point Marina for her centerboard repair + a servicing of our engine (new heat exchanger needed).
The mystery of what happened to our centerboard has been solved by Kenny, the marina fiberglass expert who is making us a new centerboard (and used to make centerboards for Wellington Boats, Inc.). Although the centerboard was strengthened by a large steel column (which also fell off when our centerboard was torn off by waves about 300-400 miles out to sea on our way to PR), the steel column did not go through the entire top portion (attachment point) of the centerboard. So....the fiberglass - even though it was very thick - just snapped from age and the continual pounding of the waves. Kenny will fix this in the new and improved "Lucky Escape" centerboard such that it is completely reinfornced with steel. He is currently working on the mould right now - a Wellington original !
To provide an update, John and I sadly left our boat in Florida (secured in the marina yard) approximately one week ago and drove North with our U-Haul. It took us 3 days to get to Massachusetts, between the traffic and general road fatigue. I then really appreciated that even though our boat took us places at 7 knots per hour, at least we were always moving, never crowded in bumper to bumper traffic with everyone yelling and honking at each other.
Now, we are currently contemplating "life after sailing". As boat owners
know, the beloved boat can be a relatively large financial drain - particularly if you take on the arduous job of a project boat (which we sort of did). Although we absolutely loved sailing life, and are now kind of wishing that we kept on going to the Pacific, we felt it was time to be responsible for a while and go back to work. However, the issue now, for anyone out there job hunting, is that this weak recovery is not kind to anyone trying to change careers - given that employers have their "choice" of employees in the current high state of unemployment, field experience is key.
We are looking at 3 potential choices: a) full-time employment on the water - although John needs to land his Captain's License first. As a prior finance geek, I am also not quite sure how I yet would fit into a marine role. b) Work part-time and then return as full-time sailors this winter....c) Both get white collar jobs somewhere and then bring the boat to our new abode on land - and thus become "weekend sailors".
We will continue to post progress on our repairs and how things are shaping up for us (as well as enviously reading sailing blogs of those still out there) - at this point, anything could happen for us and "Lucky Escape"! Stay tuned.....
And We Arrive in Jacksonville, FL in 46 Hours & 30 Minutes
19 June 2010 | Sadler Point Marina
Juli CT; 100 degrees, hot!
We departed from the Grand Bahamas Yacht Club on Wednesday at noon, topped up our diesel at Port Lucaya and then set on our merry way towards home. The plan had been to stop for the night at West End and drop anchor, such that we could then leave at dawn the next day for Florida. As we rounded the island of Grand Bahamas, however, there was a rather large thunderstorm brewing over the north end so John and I decided to keep going. We also read that anchoring in the West End didnt have great holding, depending upon where you drop your anchor.
The weather window looked very good although we knew we would have to motor the entire way, with little to no wind, and potentially run up against a squall or two. We had a little wind (10 knots) from the NW to set our main sail when we left Grand Bahamas but this quickly died so we had to take in our main when it was really rattling. Although we hit a counter current upon leaving the Grand Bahamas, this quickly turned in our favour as we heading NW towards Jacksonville, Florida. Despite no sails, and motoring at 16.5 RPMs, our speed only continued to increase over the first 24 hours of the trip, particularly when we finally hit the Gulf Stream. On my watch, we hit a speed (COG) of 10.6 knots and maintained this for several hours ! Unfortunately, John's night watch (until 3AM) was not so pleasant as we hit the outer edge of a squall with the wind from the north, which kicked up the waves in the Gulf Stream. This quickly died down, nevertheless, when the wind died on my following shift - and the Gulf Stream by morning was as smooth as glass......
The boat traffic was rather heavy in the Gulf Stream, but petered out somewhat as we continued to head towards the St John's inlet. Alas, our 10+ knots of speed didnt last into Friday morning, and we gradually dropped down to our average 6.5 knots......Last night proved a little more eventful, after hours of no wind, John again got the brunt of the weather on his watch (9PM-12AM). In the early evening, we could see the darker clouds begin to form and the winds started to pick up (from 2 knots to 15 knots). By 10PM-11PM, the wind was gusting up to 28 knots from the West and there was a massive thunder/lightning storm over the Mantanzas Inlet. (Quote from John, "It was the worst lightning storm I have ever seen in my life. I thought that we may need to get the ditch bag ready, just in case..."). He thoughtfully steered our course further offshore to avoid the lightning. Meanwhile, I attempted to (not very succesfully) sleep in the forward V-berth cabin (the aft cabin is rather noisy with the engine running) although was somewhat oblivious to how much the weather had deteriorated. I was lucky by the time my watch came up at 12AM - the winds finally died to 12 knots (and then dropped to 6 knots or less so we took in the sail later) and the lightning had stopped. We reset our waypoint for the St Johns Inlet and I set up camp in the cockpit for my 5 hour shift. There was a fair amount of boat traffic so I didnt get alot of reading done on the shift - but did have a pleasant conversation with a US war ship at about 4AM, who kindly called me on the VHF to let me know he was changing course and would be cutting across our stern.
I was holding up well until about 4.30-5AM when the lack of sleep really hit me (I had slept about 4 hours the day before) and, before I knew it, I nodded off and fell asleep at the wheel. Luckily, I was dreaming of a ship and woke myself up - but almost 1/2 hour had gone by !! I quickly checked our position and radar but luckily there was nothing really around us and we were largely on course. We finally reached the well marked, lit channel for the St Johns just before 5AM on Friday morning - where John then took over and I fell into one of the deepest sleeps I have ever had. The winds had died down so it was a calm motor through downtown Jacksonville - except we entered the inlet at the opposing tide, which dropped our speed to 4-4.5 knots. (We had checked the tide tables before as the Ortega River gets very shallow and knew we were coming in a low tide but this would change in our favour around 10AM - yet it didnt but started to change closer to 11AM). The tide meant John had to take us off auto pilot several times to manouvre us through the various bridges via downtown - and it also meant we helped dredge the channel a bit on our approach to the Ortega River Bridge (depth meter at less than 3 feet).
But we are happy to be back at Sadler Point Marina/Boatyard on the Ortega River - the place where all our sailing adventures started (January 2009) and it is particularly great to see all the familiar faces. The next 2 weeks are dedicated to John's captain license and boat projects and then we haul the boat for several weeks for our centerboard repair and to get rid of all the little critters that joined a party on the bottom of our boat.
A side note: Grand Bahamas Yacht Club is one of the better marinas we visited in the Caribbean (great service and facilities) and I was particularly happy when they gave us our third night of docking free (and only charged us one night of electricity).
Setting Sail for Jacksonville, FL from the Grand Bahamas
15 June 2010 | Grand Bahamas Yacht Club
Juli CT; 90 degrees; scattered thundershowers
After spending 3 days at the lovely Grand Bahamas Yacht Club (finally somewhere with free wifi !), we will be heading North again to Jacksonville as of tomorrow - with a potential quick pit stop near West End to anchor for the night. This has been one of my preferred marinas so far - with beautiful grounds, great service, a lovely pool and a free shuttle to the Lucaya Marina Village. The price for diesel here is also much more decent than we have seen up the chain. The only thing that confuses me is why their price per foot increases in what I consider the "off season" - there are only about 10 boats here at the moment.....
The weather in the Bahamas continues to be unbelieavably hot, with scattered thunderstorms. Expect that we will need to go through a few squalls on our way home given the current forecasts- but other than that, with limited wind expected, we will be motoring most of the way. We are hoping to spend part of our trip making use of the Gulf Stream to carry us North and speed our progress. We will then spend 1-2 weeks at Sadler Point Marina (where it all started) to work through some repairs and do some deep cleaning of the boat. The boat will then be hauled for its centerboard repair and to clean all the barnacles off that have joined our party.
It is with a twinge of sadness that John and I will become landlubbers for an indefinate time period as of the end of this month. We had been very tempted to continue our sailing journey onwards from the Caribbean and I am extremely envious of the sailblogs I read of those in the Med or in the Pacific. But, alas, these places will need to wait and we hope to reach their shores by sailboat one day in the future. In the meantime, after having been at sea for a total of 15 months, we will be going back to work for a while and rebuilding our sailing budget, with dreams of setting sail again in the future. The initial plan was to sell our boat after this trip but after all the blood, sweat and tears (and $$) we have put into her, we will continue as her owners for the time being. Lucky Escape is truly a one of a kind vessel and we are enjoying the time spent as continue to upgrade/improve her. She is almost completely transformed from the day we bought her (January 25, 2009) !
We will continue to post blogs and pics as we round out this year's sailing adventures - and then hope to be back again soon !!
Melting in the Heat - In NW Bahamas
13 June 2010 | Grand Bahamas Yacht Club, Freeport
Juli CT; 100 degrees (NO WIND)
Although I enjoyed sightseeing, 2 days was quite enough in Nassau and at Hurricane Hole Marina so, after calling in our departure on the VHF to the Nassau Harbour Patrol, we made our way under the bridges and out the west end channel for the Berry Islands. We reviewed our maps for a good place to anchor and decided that we would pull in at Fish Market Cays (about 2/3rd the way up the Berry Islands chain). We were well rewarded with this decision - aside from a few coral heads (in 15+ft of water) the entry here is easy (we motored around the north end), the water is 10-12 feet deep and clear turquoise (aside from the grassy patches closer to the beach), the anchorage was deserted, we were well protected from the modest waves and the island itself is beautiful and teeming with wildlife.
Our CQR lay on its side for the the first drop so we re-set the anchor and then snorkled it to ensure we were well entrenched in the sandy bottom. Since there was no one else there, we let our more than enough rode and held well all night, depsite a moderate pick up in winds as a squall passed to the west. Our first mission was to swim to the white, sandy beach and take a look around - the only occupants of the island were birds and sea creatures (and we saw what looked like snake tracks). We attempted to cross over to the rocky (windward) side of the island but the occupying birds must have had nests closeby as a few of them raised a huge fuss as we watched in that direction - squawking and then flying around us, then towards our heards (and swooping just over them) ! We decided it wasnt worth upsetting them so walked to the other end of the beach before snorkelling the area. There are a few modest coral patches near the beach, with very large colourful angel fish swimming about. Other than that, the waters were relatively empty.
Now its onto Freeport, where we will pull into a local marina to provision, weather watch and do a bit of maintenance (filters, tighten the backstay). The weather in the Bahamas now is SO unbelievably hot and humid. We are seeing little to no wind every day so have had to resort to motoring or motorsailing to all our locations - if we do get a bit of wind (as we did this morning), it dies quickly or we are on the "wrong tack". Thunderstorms seems to be almost a daily occurence but I am happy to report that they have tended to be far enough away recently so as not to be alarming (except in Nassau - but at least we werent the only tall structure there).
Everyday, I build a small tent like structure in the cockput for our journey to the next set of islands to ensure we are in the shade, constructed from a set of beachtowels that I clip onto the back/sides of our bimini with clothespegs (leaving a bit of space for the little breeze we have). We have stocked our freezer with lots of cold drinks that we are guzzling down. It is so hot to even eat such that our meals consist largely of fruit, cheese and salad. And the heat drives us to either stopping the boat here or there for a quick dip or, if time is pressing, taking 3-4 quick, cold showers each per day. Thank goodness for our large diesel tanks (~400 gallons) and water tanks (~400 gallons) !!
In Nassau, Bahamas...and Still Heading North
11 June 2010 | Hurricane Hole Marina, Nassau
Juli CT; 95 degrees; scattered showers
We didnt get to play in the Exumas as long as we wanted but the weather and repairs are calling us North. Our first stop upon leaving Stella Maris Marina on Long Island was an anchorage on the SW side of Bat Cay. Lovely place to anchor (and completely isolated) but the strongish current/changing tide means you need to keep an eye on the anchor. We had intended on passing through Cave Cay (as per Van Sant) but we ended up going through Fordham Cut - and luckily catching it on the "right" tide so we were, at one point, rushing along at 9.4 knots !
Big Majors was our next main anchorage in the Exumas - although with our lack of dinghy and our pressing need to have as many daylight hours as possible for sailing, we anchored away out from the island itself (in 9-10 feet of clear turquoise water). This, aside from Conception Island, was the busiest place we had yet seen sailing North through the Bahamas - with a total of 9 boats tight in the anchorage, albeit with only 1 other sailboat. Despite getting hit with a mini squall during the night and the changing tide turning us around, our anchor held us nicely in the soft sand. No breaking loose a la Martinique.......
We arrived at Nassau (east end) yesterday around 4PM, to a very busy harbour and a current whipping right on our bow. I feel sorry for the poor soul in the Harbour Patrol that has to take all the VHF calls of incoming boats required to check in.
As the Nassau Yacht Haven was rather disorganized and rather full (and closes at 5PM) we had to find elsewhere to park ourselves for a night or two so we could sightsee and provision. We couldnt face paying $4/ft per night at the Atlantis marina so we settled on Hurricane Hole Marina, right before the twin bridges. Coming in at 4.30PM meant a pretty mean current when entering the marina but we managed to swing into our slip with little problem, helped by the fact that the marina is half empty. Although I am impressed with their operating hours (8-8) and location, this marina has little else to impress me. This marina charges US style prices, at $2.50 per foot but everything is extra - electricity, water, wifi......
I wasnt particularly impressed with the service here nor the odd vermin seen running around the docks at our end (cockroaches, a rat) nor the fact that the bathrooms were temporarily closed as a local homeless man was parked outside them. I also didnt think the "discounted" tickets for the Atlantis waterpark, at $53 per person, were a bargain (especially as we found out later a number of the Atlantis exhibits are not operating/closed down).
Van Sant says in his book re: Nassau - "you either love it or hate it...." I am somewhat intrigued by the place. On Paradise Island, the Atlantis Resort is over the top (Las Vegas style) but I definately enjoyed our walk around the marina and resort grounds. I particularly liked the large aquarium next to the restaurant in the main complex, complete with multiple fish, sharks and rays. We then hoofed it over the bridge to Nassau proper where I enjoyed watching all the local fishing boats coming in, unloading their catch and then putting it up for sale on tables lining the waterfront. Conch stands seem to be particularly popular. The "Poop Deck" was worth a stop for a few drinks during happy hour and a nibble and I was pleasantly surprised by The Seafood Sushi restaurant just down the street.
Onto the Berry Islands tomorrow !
A Minor Grounding......At Long Island, Bahamas
07 June 2010 | Stella Maris Marina, Long Island
Juli CT; HOT! wind 5kts
Time to move on again as we are still making our way back to Florida. We left Conception Island sooner than we would have liked to take advantage of the ultra calm weather to motor our way to the NW side of Long Island - to Stella Maris Marina. We knew the entry into the marina would be a little tight, even with our 5 foot draft, but please note that the entrance to this marina is not for the faint hearted sailor (with a 5+ foot draft).
All was going swimmingly well until we made our way along the north coast of Long Island, where our chart noted that we should have between 7-10 feet of water as we were rounding the tip to head to the west side approximately 1.5+ miles off shore. The sun was overhead (albeit amid cloudy periods) so I stood on the bow as lookout as we continued to watch our depth reader. It was largely sandy but with the odd patches of coral, rocks or sea grass. We could see that the water was getting shallower ahead - it changed colour - although our chart noted we should have 7 feet of water...but then our depth reader kept moving lower: 5ft, 4.5ft, 4ft, less than 4ft (we ground when our depth reader reads 3.2ft). I could see ahead that we may be about to ground on a very large sand bar but John couldnt hear me over the engine and, before I could run back to the cockpit, our bow took a rather large dip as we grounded ! Luckily, John had us in neutral by this point so it wasnt a terribly hard grounding - its just that we were in the middle of nowehere at this point and it was pretty clear that the sand bar was significantly large such that we would need to head north to get into deeper water and change course again to head straight for the marina's channel. After some rather hard reversing, John managed to get us off the sand bar...thank goodness.....
The issue with crusing the Bahamas now is that it is the quiet season. That is very good in some ways but it also means a number of businesses are running with few staff. We had made a reservation with Stella Maris Marina 2 days prior but we were awaiting a call back with advice from the dockmaster on the tide and entry in through the channel - we would certainly ground at low tide (5ft depth). We called the marina several times as we got back into cell range and then we also tried them on Channel 16 - but no one was answering. Finally, we got through to the Stella Maris Resort (on the opposite side of the island but part of the same company that runs the marina) and the lady answering the phone gave us up to date information on the tide in the area but couldnt give us any information to enter the channel or where we should dock - she also informed us (incorrectly) that the marina channel was well marked with red and green markers to lead us in. Apparently, the VHF at the marina was currently not working. She finally tracked down the one person who is working at the marina right now (Zhivago) and I then managed to reach him on the phone just as we reached the marina's channel at 3PM (to our luck, the tide was coming in with high tide at 5PM).
The channel into the marina is basically a long line of white sticks (literally) every 50 yards or so sticking out of the sand - some with white markers on top, others were broken - to be taken on the port side upon entering the marina. John slowed us way down and we crawled our way in to the end of the markers, with our depth meter getting to as low a reading as 3.2ft (so basically 5ft of water). I think we may have helped dredge the channel slightly but luckily didnt ground. After clearing the channel you then need to motor slowly in between 2 rocky shelves (which is a little hard to see until you reach them) and then Zhivago met us at the fuel dock to help us tie up. Once in the marina, we had "plenty" of depth under our boat (1.5-2.5 feet). Although relatively easy to dock, there are only 16 slips here and a rather small area to manouvre your boat.....
The best part about Stella Maris Marina is that they do call customs for you - and the customs officer showed up right away (at which point we forked over our $300 exhorbitant cruising fee). Zhivago then called the shuttle to take us over to resort facilities. As a guest of the marina, you have full run of all of the facilities at the Resort, which has free wifi (the marina's wifi isnt working), 3 lovely pools (including one beautiful pool right by the beach and one "natural" pool right on the beach), several bars (pool and games included) and a good restaurant. For those wishing to get away from it all, you can throw yourself in the hammocks on the beach - all in all a very pretty resort and made our arduous and painful entry into the marina finally worth it.
Tomorrow, we will move onto the Exumas (making our exit from the marina at high tide - 6AM) and make our way north through the Exuma Bank.