Pathfinder to the Sea

... Go east older couple!

23 March 2023 | Egg Island and Sandy Cay
22 March 2023 | Glass Window, Eleuthera
14 March 2023 | Rock Sound, Eleuthera
15 February 2023
13 February 2023 | Elizabeth Harbour
13 February 2023 | Elizabeth Harbour
11 February 2023 | North end of Big Farmers Cay
09 February 2023 | Little Bay, Great Guana Cay
05 February 2023 | Chicken Cay / Rocky Dundas
05 February 2023 | Rocky Duindas, Exumas
04 February 2023 | Little Farmers Cay and Blackpoint
28 January 2023 | Shroud Cay
27 January 2023 | Shroud Cay
26 January 2023 | South Allen Cay
26 January 2023 | South Allen Cay
24 January 2023 | Allen Cays
23 January 2023
22 January 2023 | Old Fort Harbor
21 January 2023 | Morgans Bluff, Andros

Of turtles and rays

23 March 2023 | Egg Island and Sandy Cay
Susan DeSimone | Sunny and warm...again!
We spent Wed and Thursday nights anchored at Egg Island at the northwest edge of Eleuthera which was our jumping off place for a longer sail to the Abacos on Friday. Wednesday night we were anchored with 3 other boats, one of the least crowded anchorages we have experienced on the trip, by Thursday night there were 14 boats there, including several boats that we have gotten to know along the trip.

We arrived near low tide on Wednesday, launched the dinghy and headed to shore to explore. There was a nice little beach where I found a sand dollar, but no real trails to speak of to explore the uninhabited island. However, the beach was next to the creek entrance to a salt pond, and this was very walkable and wadable. It was great fun to poke up the creek and explore the pools, I even found a living sea biscuit sand dollar as we walked up the creek! I had no idea that they were sea urchins and that the star pattern is barely visible on the living animal (picture in the Egg Island gallery).

The next morning, we took our dinghy up the creek at high tide, through a combination of outboard engine, rowing and a not so nice run in with a piece of pipe stuck on the creek. Once into the pond, we motored to the far end and then drifted back down as the current was ebbing. We saw so many turtles we stopped counting (or a few very active ones?!) Some had their head poking up and we saw others below the water since the water in the pond was very clear as is most of the water throughout the Bahamas. What most amazed us is just how fast they can accelerate and swim, they go from perfectly still to out of site in no time. Along the drift I also saw an 8-10 in bright red star fish that was quite beautiful (picture in the gallery).

After lunchtime we went for a snorkel around Pathfinder. We had dropped anchor in a large patch of sand and then the boat drifted back over coral (no worries, no chain was in the coral). There were lots of fish and some coral, but the best part was an ~ 2.5 foot long turtle feeding on the coral under the boat. We got to watch it feed for quite a while and see the details of it’s shell, flippers and head. I only wish I had an underwater camera (next time I leave the lake on a boat I will!).

Our next turtle encounter was truly up close and personal. We were diving on the reef at Sandy Cay in the Abacos which is part of the Pelican Land and Sea park. No sooner had we attached the dinghy to the mooring ball as there was a turtle looking for attention or more likely food. This one was about 2 feet long and stuck with us for most of the time that we snorkeled the reef. At one point, Roger was nose to nose with it, stroking its flippers. At another point it startled the heck out of me when I turned around and it was in my face!

This reef had lots of coral in mixed health, a huge patch of staghorn coral, lots of coral that looked like bright green wood mushrooms, and lots of purple fans. We saw parrot fish, queen trigger fish and puffer fishes among others. But the absolute best part of this snorkel was the spotted eagle rays. At the entry to the snorkel we saw a single ray and followed it for a bit. Then about midway through, we were swimming along above 5 rays that ranged from about 2.5 to 5 feet in wing span. The way they move through the water is both graceful and stunningly beautiful. They were very different from the rays we saw in Georgetown in that these rays had heads that look almost like a bottle nosed dolphin stuck onto the front of a ray and their tails were longer than their bodies!

I had been missing exciting snorkeling since we left the Exumas and these two days were just such a treat! We’re looking forward to the rest of the Abacos as there is lots of coral and it is relatively protected for snorkeling, who knows maybe we will get to snorkel with a shark before we are done (hopefully just a nurse shark though!).

Short Update from the Glass Window

22 March 2023 | Glass Window, Eleuthera
Roger Wallace | Sunny, Windy and Nice
Susan and I are currently anchored at the Glass Window near the top of Eleuthera Island. We have been anchored here since midday yesterday. The window is an extremely narrow rock Isthmus connecting the top of Eleuthera to the rest of the Island. Describing it as an Isthmus might be generous as there is a low section through which the turbulent Atlantic Ocean can pour through at different times and different weather conditions. It is pouring through intermittently now.

The weather pattern is finally settling back into a more seasonal pattern which is facilitating us sailing Pathfinder more. We will soon depart for our third day of nice sailing in a row. Today's destination is The Current and possibly Egg Island as we prepare to jump across to the Abacos on Friday. The current is a narrow channel that is properly named as there can be 10 knots of current through it depending on the tide cycle.

Immediately prior to arriving here, we were anchored in Hatchet Harbor for a night. Hatchet could be considered a hurricane hole as it is sheltered on all sides by relatively high land (30'). Our understanding is that Hatchet was a shallow, unnavigatible blue hole until a channel was blasted through a 50-100' rim of rock on the west side to create a 50' wide channel into the hole. The narrow entrance can get squirrelly at times.

The weather pattern changed just before we sailed to Hatchet from Governor's Harbour where we were anchored for several days.

We are definitely working our way north now and the Abacos will be the last of the Bahamian Islands we will visit before we jump back to the United States. If the weather forecast is accurate, we will have good reaching conditions to sail across the deep (14,000ft) Northeast Providence Channel to Little Harbor Cut on the east side of Great Abaco. Once through the cut, we will then be able to sail the east side of the Abacos behind a chain of barrier islands/reefs.

More details soon.

A Quick Update

14 March 2023 | Rock Sound, Eleuthera
Roger Wallace | Windy from the wrong direction
The rumors of our deaths are greatly exaggerated. Yes, we have not been in good communications. No, it isn’t because something bad has happened to us. In response to a couple of inquiries we have received recently (and Susan’s subsequent prodding) we will get several (many) back-dated blog posts up in the coming days with lots of details of our adventures. For now, here is a quick summary which can serve as proof-of-life in the short term.

We have not been updating the blog for several reasons which include- being at remote uninhabited islands without cell service; racing sailboats; socializing and being lazy. In other words- having a good time.

We were in Elizabeth Harbour (Georgetown) at the bottom of the Exumas for a couple of weeks. We participated in the ex-pat social scene while we were there; visited with old friends and made new friends; raced (and won) a couple of sailboat races; helped other boaters with various boat issues; and explored a few places on land. Many boaters park in Elizabeth Harbour for many months, but that wasn’t the life for us. We left on the first good wind that would allow us to sail east to Conception Island.

Conception Island is an uninhabited island that is a park and is protected by the Bahamas National Trust. It is described as “paradise within paradise” by one of the guidebooks. That is a very accurate description. The place was incredibly beautiful; remote and peaceful. We enjoyed several days there just walking the beaches; wading into the crystal clear water whenever we felt warm; and hiking to a point with very old ruins. Also, many months ago, I had met four young Canadians on two small boats way back in Castleton-on-the-Hudson. We finally re-met at Conception Island.

We had planned on sailing to Long Island upon leaving Conception. However, there has been a big change in the weather pattern and the typical easterly trade winds have been significantly disrupted. So, we change our plans and sailed to Cat Island instead. We had a wonderful time at Old Bight and New Bight on Cat Island. We had dinner out at Rollezz Resort with our young Canadian friends and hiked up to the Hermitage by moonlight. The residents of Cat Island have been the most welcoming of all the islands we have visited thus far.

The change in the weather pattern has us constantly thinking about sheltered or exposed anchorages along with thinking about wind direction and where we can sail to next. A weather window to sail NW came along while we were at New Bight on Cat Island. Little San Salvador was to the NW, so we sailed there. We had a wonderful day and two nights in Half Moon Bay at Little San Salvador before the next sailing window came along. That window opened up in the middle of the night.

We raised anchor at 2:30am and sailed out of Half Moon Bay under a beautiful quarter moon. The wind had just filled in from the SW and was forecasted to veer to the west quickly. We had just enough time to lay the southwest end of Eleuthera and bear away before the wind veered and picked up. We had a fun 43nm sail to Rock Sound Harbor in just under 7 hours. The smaller Canadian boats had started an 1-1/2+ hours ahead of us and we all arrived at the same time. We found ourselves eating pancakes and bacon on one of those boats shortly after setting anchor. We have played pool; explored caves; fixed a bent propeller blade (ours); walked around town; and played more board games since arriving in Rock Sound. We are still continuously watching the weather for our next sailing window or dangerous winds. It looks like we’ll be sailing again on Thursday.

So, in the past couple of weeks we have had four wonderful sails (Elizabeth Harbour to Conception Is. … Conception to Cat Island … Cat to Little San Salvador … and … Little San Salvador to Eleuthera) and some wonderful social times on shore & on Pathfinder or other boats. The adventure continues. More in-depth details soon. Photos of Elizabeth Harbour (Georgetown) and Conception Island have been added to the (new) photo gallery.

Three New Blog posts

15 February 2023
Roger Wallace
Hi All- we just put up three new posts. displays them in reverse chronological order, but we suggest reading them sequentially as they have a unifying thread. Here's the best order-

1) Two More Wonderful Sails
2) Emergency Resolved- in a really, really nice way
3) Neighbors Once Again & Addison County Reunion

Neighbors Once Again & Addison County Reunion

14 February 2023
Susan DeSimone | Very Nice
One of the things we were looking forward to in Georgetown is making new friends. At the very beginning of this trip, I did not expect that we would have the added bonus of visiting with old ones!

As Roger wrote, we arrived in Georgetown on Monday to be greeted by a tan and smiling Charlie Langworthy bearing brownies! We had a wonderful time catching up and visiting. Tuesday morning as I sat with my coffee in hand, it felt so familiar: the anchorage was very calm like Kingsland Bay morning (which has been unusual in our time here), the light was beautiful on the water and shoreline (typical of both spots) and best of all, there was White Seal, our Kingsland Bay neighbor, off our stern! It was like being home for a moment and it was delightful 😊!

Charlie gave us and our dinghy a lift to the town proper for shopping and a bit of exploring. After a long dinghy ride back to Pathfinder, we were greeted by yet another Addison County friend, Dorothy Mammon and her husband Fred Dunning on Aviva anchored next to us! Dorothy is a friend from the lead section of Maiden Vermont. They are working through the Bahamas clockwise and we counterclockwise- we crossed paths here! We had a wonderful day together of talking, snorkeling, dinner, and dominos! Both Roger and I feel restored by our Addison County friends and are looking forward to spending more time with Charlie and making new sailing friends too.

Emergency Resolved- in a really, really nice way

13 February 2023 | Elizabeth Harbour
Roger Wallace | Windy and warm (what else)
There are several different levels of special marine radio broadcasts. A "Mayday" call is the most severe and is a request for immediate assistance because of a life threatening situation (sinking, fire, severe injury ...). Even non-boaters have heard of a mayday call. Next on the list of special marine broadcasts is a "pan pan" call which is intended to alert near by vessels and marine rescue agencies of a severe situation (taking on water, adrift, illness ) that may eventually evolve into a mayday call or for which some aid or vigilence would be appreciated. Finally, there is a "securite" call which is intended to alert mariners to something that deserves extra attention. An example of a securite call would be a tug boat announcing it had a barge in tow with a long cable or limited manauverability in a tight channel.

I didn't realize that my blog post about being out of cookies (sugar) would have a local Bahamian readership or that it would be interpreted on the level of a pan pan call by the boating community. It was only meant to be funny. Wow, were we in for a surprise. No sooner did we drop anchor in Elizabeth Harbour than a dinghy comes along side delivering freshly baked brownies. Now, that's community!

Thank you Charlie!!!

The brownies didn't last long, but they definitely resolved our immediate cravings. They also had an emotional value that no store purchased sweet would ever have. That said, we're headed out to find more cookies.
Vessel Name: Pathfinder
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol 38.8
Hailing Port: Kingsland Bay, VT, USA
Crew: Roger & Susan
We met paddling whitewater kayaks. Now, after raising two wonderful adults, we are excited for the next water based phase of our lives together. [...]
Pathfinder is a Bristol 38.8, which is an excellent bluewater sailboat. Our search for an trans-oceanic boat started with a spreadsheet containing data on dozens of boats. The Bristol 38.8, and her sister vessels, were at the top of the list "by the numbers." Pathfinder has proven to be a joy to [...]
Pathfinder's Photos - Main
9 Photos
Created 26 March 2023
5 Photos
Created 18 March 2023
These are photos taken on our walk out to the preserve (2 miles from the harbor) and as we explored the preserve. It is part of the Bahamanian National Trust holdings that opened 10 years ago. The paths are beautiful and it was wonderful to get into the local forest and understand a bit about the various plants that have been important in the culture and landscape here.
16 Photos
Created 18 March 2023
This is a beautiful national park, uninhabited and so beautiful! Pictures of the beaches, ruins and sky views.
17 Photos
Created 12 March 2023
Photos of our time in Georgetown. Hike to the monument on Stocking Iland, exploring an old Canal, ruins and a defunct resort on Crab Island and race awards.
22 Photos
Created 12 March 2023
Pictures from Bill Bagg's and environs
2 Photos
Created 12 January 2023