09 April 2018
Buena Visa The Ragged Islands
We had been traveling with Dawn Rae and Kia Anne from Long Island up to Lee Stocking Island. We did lots of beach combing, collecting more sea beans and seaglass. We had a fish fry on MiJoy after one of the local fisherman from Long Island, Roger, returned from The Raggeds with lots of fresh hogfish and grouper. Neither Dawn Rae nor Kia Anne had eaten hogfish and enjoyed the feast. Dawn Rae is heading for the US soon so they were needing to head north. We went north with them to Lee Stocking Island where we did some hiking and snorkeling and Mike managed to spear three more lobster on the last day of lobster season. We celebrated Easter on MiJoy with pork tenderloin cooked by Mike, Stacie brought a lovely salad and Tanja provided vegetable medley. I baked a white cake with with icing and had sprinkles the color of pastel. Closest thing to Easter eggs that I could come up with.
We said goodbye to our friends as they headed north and we went south. We stocked up on fresh vegetables and bread and headed for the Jumentos and Raggeds, our favorite chain of islands in the Bahamas. This chain of islands is very remote, with most of the islands being uninhabited. A small percentage of cruisers go this far, which the furtherest cay in the Raggeds is approximately 65 miles from Cuba. It has pristine waters and beautiful coral reefs and great fishings/snorkeling.
The weather was picture perfect as we headed to the Jumentos. It was almost like glass on the water, which I enjoy but without wind, you don’t sail so you motor. (Captain is always disappointed when the sails are not out) As we were traveling, you could literally look down 20 to 30 feet and see the bottom. I have a picture in Photo Gallery showing the view as we traveled south.
We arrived in Water Cay and spent the night. There were 2 other boats in the anchorage. We headed for Buena Vista the next morning. We were having some furling issues with our main sail so we stopped in Flamingo Cay and Mike worked on it for about 30 minutes. There was 1 boat in Flamingo Cay. The main sail roller furling was stuck and it was very difficult to move the sail in and out of the mast. Mike was able to fix the issue and we headed for Buena Vista. It was another very calm day but we did motor sail with the main and gybe sail out.
We were hailed on the radio by Freedom, Brian & Kim, friends we had met a couple of years ago. They picked us up on their AIS (automatic identification system) and they were heading south to Buena Vista also.
Buena Vista is the Cay where one man lives on the entire Cay. We met Edward 3 years ago when we cruised there and are always fascinated by his stories. Edward lives alone on the island that has been in his family for many generations. He has chickens, dogs, peacocks and goats along with salt ponds. Edward has a family that lives in Nassau but he choses to live most of the time on Buena Vista. The last year we visited him, he was in the process of building his house. Unfortunately the hurricane last year destroyed his home. Edward was on the island when the hurricane hit and tied himself to a tree for 2 days waiting for the storm to pass. He said his dog stayed right with him and never left his side. Several days later, he was rescued and taken to Nassau. There was a Nassau newspaper article written up about him and his experience. Edward told us that his father had survived many hurricanes over his years and always said “No woman is going to run me off my island”. (That obvisously was before they started naming hurricanes after men and women)
When we arrived ashore to see Edward, he came out to help beach our dinghy. He remembered us and immediately started telling stories about us visiting him 2 years ago, which included the bird sitting on Mike’s shoulder and me taking their photos. (photos in our previous blogs). Edward also mimincked the harmonica and Mike pulled his out of his pocket. (Mike had given Edward a harmonica several years ago to learn to play) Edward went inside his little house and retrieved his harmonica and they played “You are my sunshine”.
There were 2 other boats in the anchorage that came ashore, Freedom and Paul on Sobrist. Paul Trammell is in the process of writing a book about sailing solo. He heard many stories about Edward and had came to interview Edward. Paul has published 2 other books which currently are on Amazon. Edward also mentioned that his son in Nassau is working with someone who wants to write a book about Edward’s life history. Edward has many interesting stories, which includes how his family acquired the island, his past drug running days and rescuing his brother in the jungle from the Columbia drug lords. (sounds like a James Patterson novel)_
Edward had 2 peacocks, male and female. The male was absolutely beautiful and put on quite a show while we were there, strutting around showing off his feathers. Edward said he will loose his feathers in a couple of months. (see photos in gallery)
We had a peaceful evening in the anchorage and the next morning moved our boat north about 2 miles Northto Nurse Cay to do some snorkeling, spearfishing and beach combing. Within 30 minutes, Mike had speared 3 fish and we had a great fresh fish dinner for supper.
Around 1pm, we pulled up anchor and headed south for The Raggeds. We have never been to The Ragged Island, which is about 65 miles from Cuba. It took us about 2 1/2 hours and we arrived in Hog Cay, which is North of The Ragged Island (Duncan town) There is 1 other boat in the anchorage. Duncan town was devastated by the hurricane last year and the town of about 80 people has been diminished to 10. (so we’ve heard) We will dinghy over in the next few days and explore the town and the many beautiful Cays nearby. We’ve seen some incredible coral and look forward to snorkeling and taking pictures.
Cape Santa Maria. Calabash Bay
27 February 2018
We said farewell to Reflections, who is heading north, as they will need to return to Canada soon. We have enjoyed Jane and Steve and we will miss their laughter. Dawn Rae took a quick trip up north to meet with relatives and will be joining us again in a week or two. We are alone and feel like we’ve sent our kids off to college, what do we do now....lol
We pulled up anchor and headed up to Calabash Bay, to Cape Santa Maria resort. A very pretty and quiet resort. We arrived Monday afternoon after sailing, not motoring (!) 3 hours. Was a very nice day for sailing. There was only 1 boat in the anchorage when we arrived. We took the dinghy out to some coral reefs and Mike dove. Unfortunately didn’t find anything to spear.
We went to shore around 5 pm and had a drink at their bar. It was happy hour and the drink of the day was “Yellow Bird”, which was Mike’s mother’s favorite drink. I had one in honor of her.
They served free conch fritters, which is similar to a hush puppy with ground conch inside. We talked with 2 gentleman from Chicago who were there to do some bone fishing. I asked how they chose this resort, as it is isolated, and he replied they were fishing in New York and someone recommended Long Island in The Bahamas. It is a very pretty resort if you want peace and quiet.
The next day we checked when low tide was so we could go to a beach on the Atlantic side to do some beachcombing. After taking our dinghy through a shallow creek channel, walking a mile on the main road, with 3 steep hills, across a dilapidated bridge, through a brush trail, we found Newton’s beach. Not to be disappointed, we found seabeans, seaglass and a nice snorkel mask that had drifted in from the ocean. We were the only people on the beaches until we stopped to eat our PBJ sandwich. We met a couple from SC who come yearly to the island by their plane and stay several months at a time.
As we returned to our dinghy, we met another couple from Montreal who had a dinghy next to ours. They had walked the opposite direction looking for fuel and water and asked us where they could obtain some. We advised there was nothing within walking distance and perhaps they could grab a cab at the resort. They were a young couple ( looked to be in their 20’s) who were headed to Rum Cay and Turks and Caicos. Mike offered water from our boat and advised we had extra diesel if he was unable to obtain any. They were going to the resort to see what their options were and thanked us.
We came back to the boat to relax and Mike jumped in the water to clean the bottom of the boat, which can collect algae. The Montreal couple came by later and advised the resort “gave them water” and had diesel available very cheaply. Said the manager was very nice and accommodating and said he enjoyed having cruisers stop in. The couple said they traveled all over the world and it was interesting talking with them about their adventures. How brave at such a young age.
We continue to enjoy the sunset and we’re still waiting on that “green flash”
11 February 2018
Here, There, Everywhere
Where have we been? Here, There, Everywhere trying to hide from the winds. While sailboats like wind, high winds and waves are no fun for anchoring. This time of year is known for watching out for northern cold fronts bringing stronger winds but we've been fairly lucky that it has not been too bad. There has been a lot more rain but that has seem to have died down and we are now getting eastern winds, at times gusting to 25-30 knots. We look for Cays (islands) to hide behind the winds. Average temperatures are in the high 70's and the further south we go, the warmer it gets. YAY!
We spent approximately 8 days at a marina in Emerald Bay during a northern front with rains and high winds and then headed to Georgetown and Long Island. While a Emerald Bay, we ran into friends, John & Stacey who have since joined us and Reflections. We've enjoyed getting to know them better.
During the Emerald Bay stay, we rented a car with Reflections and toured the south end of the island, making a stop at the Tropic of Cancer. This latitude is where the sun is directly overhead during our summer. Prior years, we have stopped there and taken photos, which are in our photo gallery. I didn't take any this trip.
We have been in Long Island for approximately a week and there are about 20 boats anchored out, which is on the lighter side. Georgetown will be having a regatta soon and I'm sure boats will move on down to this island after the races. We've enjoyed the more quite activity here.
John, Stacey, Steve, Jane, Mike and I rented a car and toured Long Island. This is the first year of sailing for the 4 new friends, so Mike and I were able to play tour director, sort of. We did drive all the way south to the very tip to Gordons Beach. We had not been there and it was magnificent. Reminded us alot of the Jumentos. We ran into 1 other couple on the beach. Was very nice to enjoy the beauty.
We stopped in Clarence Town and had lunch at the Flying Fish, where we enjoyed fish tacos. We stopped a Deans Blue Hole for our friends to see but no one wanted to jump. Mike did jump into the Blue Hole a couple of years ago and have a video and photos in prior photos. It was sad to see the beach had lots of trash from the hurricanes, as a lot of the beaches have trash. Lots of plastic!
We then headed north to Stella Maris and viewed the resort and the sound side of the Atlantic ocean. While we were walking the resort, we ran into a lady walking 2 lab puppies on leash and a baby goat following. She said she rescued the goat from the ocean. She saw it out there drowning and she jumped in and saved it. Since then (approximately 4 months) this has became her pet, wearing a pink collar. (see photo gallery) We watched her take the dogs to the beach and the dogs happily got in the water and the goat stood back and watched. It was like the goat was saying, no thank you, been there, down that. And talk about a small world, in talking with her, she lived in Kemah, TX which was the town next to us when we lived in Houston area.
We walked down Erna's Natural Pool, which is on the Atlantic. (see photo gallery) The ocean comes into the natural break wall to make a pool, perfect for dipping our toes into.
We drove over to Cape Santa Maria (named by Christopher Columbus) and viewed the beautiful beaches and then headed for our homes (boats). We had been out since 8:30 am and it was getting dark and Steve was kind enough to drive us all over the 80 mile island.
On Saturday, we volunteered with other cruisers to clean up Dean's Blue Hole beach. The local school kids were also doing community work and total there were about 50 volunteers. Lots of trash to pick up but the beach looked beautiful when we were finished. Dean's Blue Hole is the world's deepest known salt water blue hole with entrance below sea level. It is 663 feet. They hold competitions there, where divers come from all around. In May there is a vertical blue free diving competition where 56 athletes representing 21 countries will compete over 9 days.
On our way back from volunteering, we made a stop at Kenny's Seaside Conch Shack. (we were given a ride to and from the volunteer site by a local expat who also volunteered and she had a car, Beth) Beth said this was the best conch salad on the island. While none of us ate any, Mike would have if he could have gotten someone other than me to share. I can't get past raw fish or conch but it does look good. There was someone that did order it and it smelled good. Similar to ceviche.
Today (Sunday) the winds are stronger and we've elected to stay on the boat and not go to shore. Getting our car (dingy) out in these waves, I usually get splashed a lot. It is a day spent cleaning, baked banana bread, listen to podcast of our church, reading, Mike made water and I washed a few items by hand. It also gives me time to update our blog.
Our intention is to head for the Jumentos as soon as winds are lower. This is our favorite chain of islands, where we spearfish and snorkel every day. While Mike has speared a few lobster and fish, Jumentos typically bring us better opportunities. We continue to feel amazingly lucky to experience this beautiful ocean and islands.
07 January 2018 | Exuma Park
Anchored at Shroud Cay tonight, Friday, No internet so this will get posted in a few days. Thursday afternoon we anchored in the channel at Allen Cay. It has two deep channels on each side with a sand bar down the middle. Charts show some of the sand to be shallow so set anchor at the windward edge of the bar to keep from swinging into shallow water. There are huge current reversals every day in these narrow channels between the shallow bank and Exuma Sound/Atlantic ocean. By 16:00 hours the tide/current was going out toward the ocean and the wind was pushing us the opposite. We think the anchor was dragging but not sure. If it slipped down in to the deep channel, there was no sand for the anchor to dig into which was the way we were moving. Lots of rocky shores if the anchor lost it’s bite. We made a decision to move out onto the bank with several other boats. A bit more waves but no big current to deal with. We anchored behind a mega yacht named Usher. ( not sure if it was the “Usher”). It seemed to have two additional 50 ft yachts to carry water tows and sleep extra crew.
Drove around the North end of Shroud today in the dinghy to a nice beach that we walked. On the way back, stopped at a couple of shallow coral heads and tried out Joyce’s new underwater camera. (See photo gallery Snorkeling )
Back to MiJoy and replaced the propellor shaft end zinc and scrubbed the propellor with bronze wool to get it smoother, may give more speed or less fuel consumption. First relaxing evening we have had since we left. Watched the sunset from the cockpit as we ate dinner.
On Dec 29, we sailed south to Warderick Wells. They have a very good mooring field that has great protection from the blow that was coming our way. To be safe, I decided to go early and not miss a chance to be on the better protected mooring balls. Turned out it was a couple of days before they filled up but we had probably the calmest area of the field. We dinghyed around the south end of Wanderick to the south mooring field and was amazed at how calm and beautiful it was. Walked a few beaches. Warderick is inside the Exuma land and sea park and is a no take zone. No fish, shells, sea beans etc. On the way back north, we found some friends, Reflections, in the Emerald Rock mooring field. They had arranged to move to where we were the next day.
We dinghyed about 2 miles north of the mooring field to the end of Long Cay. It was a bit cool so Joyce elected to stay in the dinghy. I slipped in and saw one of the nicest group of coral and fish we had found this year. Joyce suited up and we did a drift dive off the dinghy. If she has put sun tan lotion on her face, she can have trouble with it sealing. After about 10 minutes, she got back in the dinghy because of her mask. Only a few minutes later, I found the sleeping nurse shark. I gave it plenty of space.
The park station at Exuma runs on a shoe string budget. There internet link was down and our phone was not picking up a cell signal on the boat. Some had luck either in the second floor of the office or on top of Boo Boo Hill. I rigged up a canvas case and hoisted the phone up about 40feet up the mast. Joyce’s iPad dinged with new messages before I was back into the boat.
Weather reports said we had a couple of days of good weather so MiJoy and Reflections moved south to Cambridge Cay, still in Exuma Park. As the wind will blow 20-25 knots over the next few days, we are back on a mooring ball. With these wind speeds, the under size wind generator is actually helping a lot. Been a little cold to get out and do much. Joyce made a great pizza last night with dough made from scratch.
A fellow cruiser makes and sells a fridge optimizer control unit. He was at Warderick and I purchased one. In running the new thermostat cable, I found a one inch hole in the insulation on the back of our new fridge. May be the source of the moisture getting into and creating way to much frost on the cold plate. Cable in place, the other parts are simpler to connect up. We then have a digital readout of the temp and graphs of the run time of the compressor. Just what an engineer would expect in the first place. It also has a defrost cycle, that if I can get it to work, will save a lot of time pulling all the food out to defrost. It does lower the temp a little when solar has the battery’s charged and raises the temp at night a little when battery voltage drops.
Joyce tells me I’m writing a book so signing off....for now...lol
Nassau to Allan Cay
28 December 2017
After leaving Harbour Cay, we continued south in The Berry’s to Cabbage Cay. We were the only boat anchored and while we did not see a sunset, we were treated with a nice rainbow. We managed to avoid the rain due to catching a fish (barracuda not good to eat) we had slowed the boat down and was dragging the fish to tire him out and lucky us, as we entered the cut to the Cay, he fell off and we did not loose our lure.
We staged at Cabbage Cay to head across the Northwest Channel to Nassau then southeast to the Exumas. We awoke early to a beautiful sunrise ( just for you Sally) We put the fishing lines out and never got a bite until approximately 5nm to Nassau Harbour. I slowed the boat down and Mike reeled the fish in. A perfect size Maui Maui for our dinner! Mike gave the fish a shot of vodka in the gills, which kills it, then filet it. We then proceeded into Nassau Harbour, calling Nassau Control for permission to enter, the Harbour, stating our vessel, our business & continue through. We anchored near a marina that is across the street from the “last nice grocery store” we will see for weeks. Last chance for selection of veg’s and fruits. Mike dropped the dinghy in the water and took me over to the dinghy dock & I walked to the store. Mike went back to the boat & put diesel in the boat from the jerry cans we carry on board as extras. He then took the cans to the fuel dock & filled them back up. He then returned to pick me up at the dock & we returned to the boat. It was around 3pm & our next anchorage was about an hour or so away. We decided to stay where we were & leave for The Exuma’s early the next morning. Mike grilled the Maui Maui & we were asleep by 7:30pm. (We are on boaters time now- go to bed when it is dark & wake up when it is light). I woke up around midnight restless, which is unusual for me. Mike is a lite sleeper & of course I woke him up tossing & turning. We went out in the cockpit to check on the anchor & discovered wind & current had shifted us in an undesired position. We were in 5’6 water & we draft 5’5. We checked the chart plotter & tides (we were on a falling tide) & knew we needed to pull up the anchor & re-position the boat. We reset the anchor & it appeared we did not wake up the 2 boats near us. We went back to bed & I thanked God for waking me up to alert us. God is good!
At sunrise, we were up & had our coffee & toast & left the Harbour. As we were passing the next Cay, (approximately 5nm) we heard a distress call, Mayday Mayday on the radio. A boat was on fire & was abandoning ship. We checked our charts to see if we could get over there quickly to help, but thankfully, several power boats were responding & we could see them heading in that direction. They could get there a lot quicker than our “snail boat”. It was sad to hear the captain of the boat advising they were abandoning their boat & in the water. I took a photo of the smoke in the air ( see photo gallery). We don’t know how the fire occurred but from the conversation with the vessel captain & BASR (Bahama search & rescue) there appeared to be no injuries.
We motored sailed Southeast ( had our jib sheet out) to Allan’s Cay, our first stop on the chain of cays of Exuma, maintaining about 7 knots.
We anchored, put the dinghy in the water and Mike got a lobster for dinner. This anchorage is popular during the day for larger boats and tourist going over to see the iguanas at the beach. Lots of jet skis too. It has now calmed down as they have left to go back to either Nassau or Highborne Cay. Depending on weather, we will stay in this area for a few days and explore before moving on south.
3 nights at anchor Merry Christmas
24 December 2017 | Great Harbour Cay Berry Islands Bahamas
While we are again at Great Harbour, It is about a week later than my last post. We had 3 great nights on the hook at Soldier Cay. Only about 10 miles away as the crow flies but about 25 nm in a vessel with 5-1/2 ft of draft. Motor sailed both over and back. We might have tacked into the wind but it would take twice as long or more to get there.
Winter is the shortest sunlight days of the year. Not only do you have the least amount of daylight, you also have the least amount of sun intensity. Great that we have the generator as the solar panels had difficult keeping up with the demand when we were at anchor. And Paul, no hair dryer was used. We used about 70 amp hours on each of the 3 nights for refrigeration, fan at berth and anchor light. A bit more in the morning to make coffee. Last time cruising, we would use over 120. Pleased with the reduction. Water maker is making 16 to 18 gph. Big improvement over b4.
While we are not marina people, to get fast shipment of parts into the Bahamas, you need an airport. Since our dinghy is our car, the parts we need for a permanent outboard motor fix are being flown into to Great Harbour. Email from the cargo shipper said they are coming on todays plane. Will walk the 1.5 miles to the airport tomorrow to see. The other advantage of Great Harbour marina is once you are here 10 days, the rest of the month is free. Update: Motor parts a day late and the marina gave us a lift to the airport and helped get the parts thru immagrations. Parts installed and outboard motor seems to be running well.
At anchor, we are in and out of our dinghy several times during the day. At night, I lift the dinghy up with the stern arch and block and tackle leaving the motor on the transom. The triple block at the transom takes about 30 pounds of pull to lift the dinghy with the motor on. It is a bit of effort but I think very worth it for the security at night. During offshore passages, the motor is stored on the motor mount on the arch. During our stay at Soldier, I was working off the swim platform of the sailboat. I had connected TWO lines to the bow of the dinghy. One line is attached from the stern rail and on the other end a very high strength Wichard snap shackle to connect to the dinghy. The other line is the painter (line/rope) attached to the (front) bow ring on the dinghy and tied to the sailboat rail. I had been in the cockpit and returned to the swim platform to find the line with the snap shackle hanging in the water and the dinghy about 5 feet further away from the boat than it should have been. This description gets a little complicated. The bow ring on the outside of the dinghy has a complimentary ring on the inside of the fiberglass hull. Attached to this ring is a "D" shackle which connects to a stainless steel carabiner. The arch lifting tackle attaches to the inside bow ring as this is the strongest connection. The rope with snap shackle attaches to the D shackle. This is usually the first line attached when returning to the sailboat and stays in place when the dinghy is lifted out of the water. That way it is place when the dinghy is lowered. The pin in the D shackle had unscrewed and was laying in the bilge of the dinghy. This allowed the snap shackle to come free without it opening. Friends of our, Paul and Laurie "found" a drifting dinghy several years ago about 20 miles or so from where the owner had lost it. That's why I always have two or three lines attached to the dinghy. The D shackle has been tightened with a wrench this time and I will probably add seizing wire to make sure it does not come loose again.
Pretty much always projects to do on the boat. Drilled the 1-3/16" hole for a USB charger at the navigation table. A couple of 3 foot wires from the house fuse block will need to run. In the past, the 120 VAC from the inverter had to be on to charge phones, iPad, InReach satellite tracker at the nav table. This new charger lets two devices be charged without having the inverter on. The same chargers are at both berths. The iPad has an anchor alarm program called ANCHOR. When we anchor out, the GPS function of the iPad places the position of MiJoy on the screen of the app. the anchor is positioned on the screen with the tip of your finger and an alarm radius is created around the anchor position. The anchor can be moved around to get the alarm circle to line up with the track the boat has swung thru. This alarm going off in the middle of the night means something may need to be done immediately. When the ANCHOR alarm is on, the iPad pretty much has to be on a charger thus the need for this additional charging station.
The picture of me fishing off the side deck is not the method we typically fish. There was a school feeding at the outer edge of casting range so I quickly snapped at Rat-L-Trap to the small rod. Several strikes but no hook sets as I retrieved thru the feeding. On the last cast, it appeared to be a 2 foot barracuda hit the lure. The 15 pound test line was not up to the very sharp teeth barracuda have and I lost the lure.
The plan is to listen to Chris Parker (weather guru for boaters) on Monday and if the weather looks OK, head around to the SW corner of the Berry Islands. The next day 35 nm to Nassau where I will drop Joyce off at a marina across the street from a very good grocery store. I will get diesel and wait for her to return. Anchor a night east of Nassau and then head south towards the Exumas.
The 75 pound fish on the cleaning station at the marina (photo in gallery) is a wahoo caught by SeaMoore, a sport fishing boat from the US in our marina. They caught two, the other one about 20 lbs. They were kind enough to give away more than half of the fish. We got enough for two meals. Grilled it on the boat, excellent.
This is Christmas Eve. We wish all joy and peace for the next year. Our Christmas miracle was the internet was fast enough for us to see and hear most of First Baptist Tulsa's service this Sunday morning. We were hoping to see the Christmas eve service music but that did not happen. We got to talk to the kids thru the internet which was nice.