20 March 2009 | Allens Cay, Exuma Cays, Bahamas
18 March 2009 | Allens Cay, Exuma Cays, Bahamas
17 March 2009 | Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
11 March 2009 | Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
10 March 2009 | Great Stirrup Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
25 December 2008 | Holmes Rock, Bahamas
19 December 2008 | Freeport, Bahamas
17 December 2008 | Freeport, Bahamas
13 December 2008 | Williams Town Beach, Freeport, Bahamas
10 December 2008 | Freeport, Bahamas
06 December 2008 | Holmes Rock, Bahamas
01 December 2008 | Freeport, Bahamas
22 November 2008 | Freeport, Bahamas
15 November 2008 | Freeport, BahamasG
10 November 2008 | North Bimini, Bahamas
09 November 2008 | Islamorada, FL
15 October 2008 | Fort Myers, FL
05 September 2008 | SW Florida
02 September 2008 | Lehigh Acres, FL
22 August 2008 | Lehigh Acres, FL
Little Farmers Cay & Staniel Cay
05 October 2009 | Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas
Around 1130 this morning we dropped the mooring pendant we'd been moored to and left Little Farmers Cay to the north entrance to the harbour, out onto the very shallow, but clear banks leading north past Black Point.
It was good to drop back into Little Farmers Cay and see folks that we'd gotten to know during our previous stay. Jacquie and Ben quickly disappeared into the island, finding the friends they'd made on their last visit. We found them under a palm tree plaiting (braiding) palm fronds; showing each other different patterned weaves each had learned in different places. We love this little island and it's inhabitants.
As it was high-tide as we left, it wasn't too difficult to find our way through the shoals out onto the banks. A little north of 24 degrees 01 minutes north, I stood on the bow to watch for charted coral heads. We saw several and altered course to avoid two sets. I'm not sure how shallow these actually are. Maybe we could simply sail right over them, but hate to grind/bang into them.
For a while we were able to sail without help of the engine (ol' thumper), but after a bit had to fire her up again as the winds died. We might have sailed more, but were pushing to get to Staniel Cay as Lori's sunburned legs were very swollen and blistered.
We tied to the fuel-dock on Staniel Cay around 1430 (2:30pm). While the kids and I fuelled and tended to Seawing, Sue and Lori scooted off to the medical clinic to see about Lori's leg. I took on diesel and gasoline and quite enjoyed peeing in a shore-side toilet and washing my hands in warm endless water (life's simple pleasures).
Around 1600 (4pm) the girls returned from the medical clinic and we left the dock heading towards the small anchorage near Thunderball Cave (names after a James Bond movie of the same name). Almost immediately after leaving the dock, I noticed that as I increased RPM the boat would shutter. I checked the engine room but already knew what must be wrong. We limped up-stream in the strong current of the incoming tide and anchored. After anchoring, Sue and I dove on the bottom of the boat and found the predictable mass of line (rope) tangled in our propeller. With a sharp fishing knife, I was able to dive down and cut it all off. Funny enough I saved the ball of several different types of line and have been using it to secure a number of things on deck. The current is really strong here when the tide is in flood or ebb. It took some doing not to be carried away with the current.
Long Island & Exuma Sound
08 May 2009
0600: After two days on Long Island, we raised anchor this morning at 0600 and began to sail north along Long Island, towards Exuma Sound, where we will cross towards the Exuma Cays & Little Farmers Cay. The anchorage at Simms is pretty sketchy at best. It took quite a few tried to get our anchor to hook-up ... and even then, I would certainly not have had any faith in it holding in any more than a faint breath of a breeze.
The first day here, we rented a van and drove with Lori, south from Salt Pond to Gordons (the farthest settlement at the south end of Long Island). Along the way, we were able to snorkel at Dean's Blue Hole. Dean's is the deepest Blue Hole in the world, at 669 feet deep. At the bottom, it opens into a 4000 foot cavern. This blue hole is in a little cove, around the corner from the open ocean and surrounded on three sides by limestone cliffs. I must admit, it's a little freaky, snorkeling out over what is an underwater precipice and out over a blue/black abyss. Yep, freaky indeed.
The culture on Long Island seems different than many other Bahamian islands. A really friendly atmosphere here.
We found a very old catholic church in Clarence Town that we were able to climb the inside stairwells to the top of one of two turrets to a tiny look-out. It is VERY high. The view of the turquoise/blue waters and green island and spectacular.
To Jacquie's delight, we bumped over miles of gravel road to Little Harbour and a beach with lots and lots of rock in the surf. For some reason, this beach collects tons of garbage from the sea. Not sure where all the garbage comes from, but one of the pieces we found was a sign in French ... hmmm. The other thing we found was an inordinate number of shoes that has washed up on the shores. Now, before it sounds too weird, that Jacquie was excited about finding garbage, I'll explain. It seems that among the garbage, were glass bottles. The bottles are smashed on the rocks by the waves and the pieces ground into the sand by the constant waves, smoothing their sides and edges into beautiful pieces of 'sea-glass', prized by many for jewelery. We were able to pick up quite a quantity of sea glass on this beach; Jacquie didn't want to leave.
I don't remember all else we did, but we did drive to the beach near Gordon's; intending to walk to the southern tip of the island to see if the flamingos were there. Apparently flamingos tend to congregate there in huge numbers some times of the year; though this seems somewhat unpredictable. Sue and Lori were too sore to walk that far (no roads go that far south), so we settled for a swim in the fabulously clear, waist-deep water, over white sand. Not so bad to have to settle for. It was fun throwing hands full of goopy sand at each other.
On the way back north, we ate at Max's Conch Bar (wow; recommended) and took pictures if the ruins of a four-hundred year old Roman Catholic Church.
0650: Okay, so today is turning out a little difficult. We now have both heads plugged and have resorted to using a five-gallon bucket on the stern (i.e. where did you think the term 'poop deck' came from?). Can you say 'bucket and chuck-it'? The galley sinks are also plugged ... woke up to almost dead batteries and a navigation computer that wasn't 'seeing' the GPS ... all that with NO weather date for a deep-water passage (though we will get forecast from Bahamas radio at 1540AM after the 0800 newscast).
1800: Picked up mooring ball at Little Farmers Cay, belonging to Ocean's Cabin. Three men in a small boat saw us entering the harbour and met us to help get us on the mooring. Entering the cut at Farmers Cay in anything but dead slack tide, means dealing with wicked current as enormous volumes of water are either rushing onto or off of the vast shallow banks through a very few cuts.
Though long and very HOT, today was a good passage. The weather was very hot and humid, with a light breeze. As we were motor-sailing in the same direction as the breeze, it did little to cool us off.
We trolled three lines most of the day, even one with ballyhoo, but not even one bite ... bummer. Later a friend on the island told me that the Mahi Mahi were running and that we trolled through what should have been great fishing grounds ... and not one bite.
Playing with it, I found that or Raymarine autopilot and found that by adjusting the rudder gain to a level of four (down from the standard setting of 5) maintained a much straighter course.
Tonight, though it was wet and messy, I was able to unclog the galley sinks. I had much less progress with the aft head though. I am planning to disassemble the vanity to access the tank connections in the morning.
Georgetown to Long Island
05 May 2009 | Long Island, Bahamas
Today we raised anchor at 0645 and sailed out of Elizabeth Harbour towards Long Island. Long Island is a little under forty miles east of Elizabeth Harbour; an leisurely eight-hour motorsail.
We barely venture out into the deep water as we leave the south (east) entrance to Elizabeth Harbour, then duck back onto the shallow banks for the remainder of the trip to Long Island. I can't begin to explain the beauty of the water on these shallow (mostly sand) banks. It is absolutely captivating!
We chugged along under power and sail for most of the trip. We sailed without motor for a while, but the ladies wanted to get a move-on & get in to Salt Pond, Long Island early enough to arrange a car-rental for the next day to tour the island ... so I restarted the engine. It's been a long-time since I've flown our asymmetrical spinnaker so I thought I'd give it a try in the light-air. We weren't perfectly downwind & maybe a little too far off the wind for spinnaker flying (as it turned out). I rigged the spinnaker with the halyard, sheet, blocks and pole. As I was cranking in the sheet, I had to crank it over quite a ways & the pole hit one of the cable stays (cables that hold up the mast) & bent my spinnaker pole (kind of a big deal). I sure felt silly, bending my spinnaker pole.
I rigged several trolling lines for the trip over. The middle line we lost two lure-rigs, as they seem to have been hit by fish and broken off. After no-activity for a while, I finally looked back to see a fish flopping on the surface of the water; a small barracuda. Barracuda are good to eat, but are prone to ciguatera (a toxin that if enough is ingested, causes very nasty sickness). Supposedly, the smaller ones are okay to eat, but we are being cautious so threw him back anyway. Later I caught another much larger Barracuda. They are exciting to boat, as they've got large nasty teeth. Fun to grab the fish and get hook out of his mouth without killing it, nor losing a finger.
At Salt Pond, we anchored near the Long Island Breeze resort, where they have a dingy dock open to cruising boats ... a very friendly place really. The harbour is VERY shallow at low tide, so picking your way in and anchoring without hitting bottom requires one to pay attention.
Good-Bye to Friends, Guest Aboard & Leaving Georgetown
04 May 2009 | Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas
The kids made a number of friends with other sailing kids in Georgetown. Most afternoons found them on one beach or another playing with their friends. It's been a highlight to have other kids to play with, as most places we've been, there've been few. A few days ago, most of their friends sailed away (& we are about to as well). Their friends departed for various islands; some working their way north, back to the United States and Canada while others are working their way towards the Dominican Republic to hunker down for hurricane season. It was pretty hard for for Jacquie & Ben to say good-bye to friends they may not see again.
Sue's good friend Lori arrived to visit for a couple weeks. The kids have been so looking forward to having Auntie Lori come. She'll be with us for a couple weeks, sailing around to different places & seeing the Bahamas.
We are planning to leave Georgetown on Tuesday morning for Salt Pond, Long Island; a little under forty miles to the ESE of our current location in Elizabeth Harbour. We should be able to rent a car and explore the island a bit.
We've enjoyed our stay in Georgetown, but as we've been here a month, we are SO looking forward to moving on. Georgetown is a VERY social place for cruisers. There are so MANY boats that there is an over abundance of social activities, art classes, bridge, volleyball, potlucks and bon fires. It's the first place we really did a lot of socializing with other cruisers vs. the local Bahamians.
Tony, Beach Volley Ball & Swamped Dingies
20 April 2009 | Stocking Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas
Later this afternoon, after finishing hauling water and grocery shopping, I was sitting at a table on the beach, reading my Bible. Most of the usual crowd of boaters had left already. A small group of people decided they wanted to play volleyball & tried to press me into service as a player. Tony almost physically tried to drag me to the court. He saw I was reading my Bible and sat down to talk..we talked for a while. Tony now identifies himself as a Catholic, but has been involved with many things, including Harre Chrishna (sp?). We talked of sin and the day of judgment..had some trouble getting over his feelings of his own goodness. I think there is the beginning of some understanding of any sin, is sin before God and has to be answered for on the Day of Judgment.
They managed to get me to play volleyball..played some four games or so..was pretty fun really..haven't played in a long time. Just as the games were ending, my radio began crackling and I heard another boat calling Seawing and Sue answering. The kids had taken our dingy down to the next anchorage with some other kids in their dingy, pulled the dingies up on the beach, but when the tide came in, the waves washed over the sterns, totally swamping the dingies...swamping one motor and getting water in our fuel tank.
I was able to get one of the volleyball players to give me a ride in his dingy down to Sand Dollar beach to s/v Freespirit (a schooner where the dingies were towed). I arrived to find the captain of the schooner had just about finished filtering my fuel for the second time, through a special filter to remove water. I was able then to bleed the fuel hose, connect to engine and fire her up..ran good all the way home. The kids were afraid they'd be in big trouble & would never again be allowed to dingy off places by themselves..fears that were unfounded. Another day, another adventure.
I believe we will begin to see Regatta action tomorrow.
Church on Boat, Fixing Stuff, Beach & Boat Accident
19 April 2009 | Stocking Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas
Sunday the harbour was a little bumpy, for a ride across to church & as there was no beach church, we had church on the boat. We spend some time showing the kids messianic prophesies. It is so amazing to see that there are hundreds of prophesies written in the Old Testament, in the thousand years before Christ, predicting the coming messiah..the coming saviour from God...and that every one was fulfilled perfectly in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amazing!
I know it was Sunday, but we had some stuff that needed fixing, so I spent some of the afternoon fixing the water maker and such, while Sue and the kids went in to shore with the other sailors. At one point, I was repositioning an anchor and the generator; looking up to see some young Bahamian men hotdoging in a fast sporty powerboat..the hit the throttle, flew up on a wave and broadsided an anchored sailboat hard, riding up over the towrail, hitting the stanchions and ricocheting back into the water. They paused, looked around and began to slowly drive across the harbour towards Georgetown.
We started a flurry of activity on the radio, identifying witnesses, others tracking the offending boat's whereabouts, while I went to shore on this side (very close) to summon police. I was shocked to find a police boat at the dock hundreds of feet away & a cop watching the whole thing, without getting up from his table at the bar. I went and got him & then the sailboat's owner showed up too. He and the cop went out to the damaged boat, surveyed the damage & then the cop began to return to the bar. I went over and told him that we were hearing other cruisers watching the powerboat being winched onto a trailer in Georgetown with no cops in sight..and some of the guys even threatening to run over the cruisers watching them and radioing reports back here. The policeman finally got out his cellphone and made a call. How a cop can watch an accident like that, see the offending party drive away..a fast boat at his disposal, but do nothing. Makes one wonder about the effectiveness and dedication of the Bahamian police.