Whisper Sailing

Bill and Judy's adventures continue..........

25 February 2018 | Exumas, Bahamas
21 November 2017 | George Town, Exuma
24 April 2017 | Bahamas
03 April 2017 | Thompson Bay
31 March 2017 | Great Exuma
28 February 2017 | Palm Cay Marina
17 February 2017 | Palm Cay Marina, Nassau, Bahamas
27 January 2017 | Little Farmers Cay, Exemas
14 January 2017 | Exuma Bahamas
26 December 2016 | Spanish Wells, Bahamas
19 December 2016 | Devils Cay, Berry Islands
19 December 2016 | Addison NASA Bridge
19 December 2016 | Cave Cay to Spence Rock
04 December 2016 | Abacos Bahamas
12 November 2016 | Jacksonville Beach FL
05 May 2016 | Darien, GA
23 April 2016 | Gulf Stream
22 April 2016 | Northern Abaco
10 April 2016 | Abaco
31 March 2016 | Exuma, Eleuthra, Abaco

It Feels Like Home

25 February 2018 | Exumas, Bahamas

This year's cruise is different than previous ones. We are no longer the newbies, naive of winds, tides, currents and anchorages. We have more time to spend, we started in November, instead of January. We don't move unless we want to so weather is rarely an issue. For the first time we've been able to entertain guests aboard for a week's stay. And, just like the dirt dwellers home, stuff breaks and needs to be fixed. Bill, being Bill, has no problem striking up a conversation with anyone anywhere and we are reaping the benefits of renewing some of these acquaintances as we make new ones.

We seem to divide our time between revisiting favorite places and discovering new ones. Since we decided we are not going further south until the effects of the hurricanes are abated, we are concentrating on Eleuthera and the southern Bahamas. We again spent Christmas and New Years in Spanish Wells. We had Thanksgiving dinner at Lorraines in Black Point. We joined the crowds of boaters at the First Friday in February regatta at Little Farmers Cay. We are in Black Point today for the fourth time, and love that Ida and Lorraine greet us with hugs, Mr Adderly discusses his daughter and his grandchild with us, and the guys at Scorpios remember we are Packer fans. This is one place that truly does feel like we've come home.

Over time we have gained confidence in.our skills and in our boat. We don't need to anchor only at the prescribed spots on the charts or guidebooks, but we seek out the spots near what appear to offer swimming and snorkeling. We can read the water and watch the tides to get us into spots that other boats ignore.

We just spent a week in a Pipe Creek anchorage that we bypassed several times in the past. It was unbelievably lovely. Instead of crowding into Big Major Spot by Pig Beach with fifty boats, we were ten miles north in an anchorage with three. We used the anchorage as base camp for exploring by dinghy. We tend to hit the supply towns, Staniel and George Town for a day to provision, then get back on our watery highway to find more pristine spots for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing.

A friend gave us some cocktail napkins that say "home is where the anchor drops" and that sums it up precisely.

Heading South

21 November 2017 | George Town, Exuma
Whisper looks like a sailboat again. After five days on the hard, and two days at anchor she looks more like home... Sails up, dinghy launched, tanks filled. We still have a project list to complete while we are at anchor here in George Town, Exuma, but we are back in the island rhythm at last!

So how did we get from Milwaukee to the Bahamas this year? We left Milwaukee in the Chevy Trailblazer on October 25th heading towards the east coast. Our first stopover in Ohio we got the news that Bill's daughter, Beth, was going into labor with her first child. With only a few hours drive we were in Cumberland MD by 430pm, Charlotte Ruby was born at 3:45pm. We got to celebrate her birth with mom and dad, Toby, as well as deliver the crib from Aunt Jane.

Progressing down the coast, we visited our 2016 boat buddies, Polly and Dave in New Bern, my long time IT pal Deb and her husband, Paul in Savannah, our cruising friends, Gene and Carol, in Richmond Hills. We stopped in Green Cove Springs, FL, to set up our mailbox, then continued on to revisit St Augustine. The next day we had a grand reunion with last year's boat buddies, Kim and Brett, Barbara and Doug at Merritt Island. After all this traveling, we took a break with Bill's sister Mary in Naples for a long weekend.

But that was not an end of the reunions. Karl and Bri offered to store our car for the season so we picked them up at the Miami airport and took them to Ft Lauderdale for a dinner with Brian and Maria. That completed the circle started in Milwaukee last summer where Karl and Bri met Shelly, Brian's daughter. We love love love our small sailing community.

We finally caught the plane to Nassau, and subsequently George Town. We rented a charming beachfront house in George Town while we prepped Whisper for the season. She showed no effects from the hurricanes and only minor effects from the humid environment, we think thanks to lots of preventative maintenance last spring. After visiting a remarkable meat market and several hardware stores, we launched and moved out on anchor.

We were amazed at the small number of boats in George Town, only two dozen, compared to the 500 normally here in January-February. We enjoyed shopping in town with sufficient supplies as well as visiting Chat N Chill with no competition for dock space. We capped our visit with a lovely dink to a gorgeous beach for a hike and a swim.

We are back.

Colors of the Bahamas

24 April 2017 | Bahamas
Once more we were awed by the rainbow of colors that greeted us as we approached Cat Island Bight from Exuma Sound. Still out in the ocean, the water was indigo... or a deep navy purple down to its thousands of feet depth. Off the shore of the island we could see a bright band of turquoise, signaling shallower water. Above the clouds we had pure blue sky. Here at anchor, the far away turquoise has changed up close to green, not just leaf green but emerald, lime jello green. Then we we dink in close to shore, the water is so clear, almost white and transparent, reflecting the white sand beneath.

We have had these OMG moments throughout our travels and the places we see each have distinct color memories. Unfortunately my camera and camera skills don't do them justice, but I'll try to show these remarkable colors in a photo blog I'm posting in the gallery.

Southward Bound

03 April 2017 | Thompson Bay
Free at last.... That was how we felt when we finished our sea trial after the engine rebuild and we prepared to leave Nassau. "Not so fast"said the Fates. We were four hours out of Palm Cay when the engine alarm went on. Not only that but we had water over the floorboards! The bilge pump quickly clogged with gunk so Bill started bailing. When he couldn't keep up with the incoming water, he called for assistance on the radio. We were only about five miles from shore and about eight miles from two popular anchorages. We heard responses from three boats. Within 40 minutes two young men from Tenacious motored up in their rib with a gasoline pump. By this time Bill had discovered the source of the water... A water intake hose had come loose, so our only issue was getting rid of the water already in the boat. Within a half an hour we were dry and sent the crew back to their boat. Bill's Irish ancestors' eyes must have been smiling down on us this St Patrick's Day!

The rest of the trip southward was thankfully uneventful. We had following seas and wind off the nose for a change. We discovered several new anchorages to explore along the way and did a revisit to Black Point so Bill could get a haircut from Ida at the laundromat. That's they way they do it in the Bahamas!

Our plans had to change, getting to Puerto Rico on an enjoyable sail was no longer within our time constraints. Based on wind and weather predictions we headed south quickly to get to Georgetown, the last big settlement in the Exuma chain. We did it in six days of sunny skies and glorious seas. We anchored in Red Shanks, a very well protected anchorage south of the main channel and town of Georgetown. Kim and Brett on Kitty Hawk were anchored just outside the entrance to Lake Victoria as were Betty and Darrel on Majicka. It was a half hour dinghy ride to town, sometimes a very wet one, but worth it for the lovely bay we had found. At most, there were ten boats with us there.

We visited a boat yard near the anchorage and have made the decision to leave Whisper there for the summer season. The yard features tie downs for high winds security. The price was right and it puts us in a great spot to resume travels in the fall.

Having that issue out of the way, we teamed up with Kitty Hawk to explore the islands to the south and east. We sailed into Thompson Bay Long Island on March 31st and promptly wondered why we spent so much time in Georgetown. (Oh I forgot to mention the circulating water pump died while we were at Red Shanks so we had to wait for parts to be flown in....again). It is less crowded, more protected and much more Bahamian than GTown. We hope to rent a van to tour the island on Thursday (worlds second largest Blue Hole is on our list).

We intend to go to Conception Island and Cat Cay before we return to GTown for the Family Regatta featuring the Bahamian sloops. We hope to haul out the first of May.

That is the plan...... And we know better than to cast our plans in concrete!

Changing Tropics

31 March 2017 | Great Exuma
Every mile Whisper has traveled this past week has taken her further south than she has ever been. But today was a major milestone.... She crossed the Tropic of Cancer. This imaginary line marks the most northerly circle of latitude on the Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. The sun will be directly over at the summer soltice in June. This year that latitude is 23 26 13.4, which is close to Williams Town, Exuma, which we passed today traveling from Georgetown to Long Island. We haven't found any special ceremonies or traditions associated with this passage, as there are when one crosses the equator. So we lifted our Kaliks in toast to the sea gods who finally let us get on our way again.

Still waiting.......

28 February 2017 | Palm Cay Marina
So what do we do while waiting? For the first time this lifestyle feels like retirement instead of vacation. We are in the same place for weeks, same scenery, same weather, some of the same people. To pass the time we are working on the boat list...that never ending project, to-do list in the back of the journal. It contains from the simple clean, wax and polish the boat items, to nit picky repair items like leaky faucets and missing screws in the swim ladder, to larger and therefore more costly items like replacing the bow navigation lights (mostly costly because of the taxes and fees to get it here from West Marine), and replacing a dodger zipper at the sailmakers.

Luckily the marina has a courtesy car that we can use for two hours at a time for getting those items needed for the projects. Our marina is about 20 minutes from downtown Nassau and ten minutes from the nearest grocery. The hardware store and the propane fill station are on the other side of the island. So yesterday was another heart stopping drive on the wrong side of the road, but now compounded with roundabouts! Apparently they were invented here as there is one every 800 meters on the main roads east to west. The US "crop circles" are bad enough, imagine having to drive through them clockwise here! And did I mention speed limits? The infrequent signs list the speed in MPH, but all the car gages are in kilometers, so you have to do math while dodging other cars. There are traffic lights at some intersections, the green light apparently signals "blow your horn" as that is what happens immediately upon a light change. On the plus side, drivers are very courteous to cars attempting to turn off or enter a roadway, you just have to anticipate the car in front of you stopping for no apparent reason. Driving the boat is so much easier!

We don't do much touristy stuff here. Much of the attractions are geared to the cruise ship crowd. We don't need a snorkel adventure or a day cruise to see the swimming pigs. Because of the reported high crime rate in the downtown area we don't stay there after dusk. With our limited transportation we barely have enough time to shop let alone sightsee. We did take a cab to watch the local regatta. It was right next to the Nassau Yacht Club, where we stopped for a drink at their beautiful clubhouse bar. The staff was very cordial, we met the club manager and office manager and were made to feel very welcome based on our YC membership in Milwaukee.

The regatta was fun, with mostly locals in attendance. The boats race off the beach where men sat at tables playing dominoes while waiting for things to get going. The atmosphere is relaxed. When we asked when the races started we were told "when enough people get here to watch". There were local food and drink stands which offered Bahamian specials, like my Sky Juice cocktail (coconut milk and rum), and my favorite baked mac n cheese.

As usual, we meet other cruisers at the cafe, the showers or the laundry room. And as usual, once we get playing the who do you know game, we find a connection. This time we found that Bill Walker (not related to Sarah) worked as an engineer at the shipyard in Menominee and knew Nuke Thompson.

We are getting restless to get underway again. We will go to the customs office on Thursday to request an extension to our 90 day cruising permit. Hopefully we will get good news this week on our engine repair and can figure out where we will sail the next couple of months.
Vessel Name: Whisper
Vessel Make/Model: Tartan 34-2
Hailing Port: Milwaukee WI
Crew: Bill and Judy
Whisper's Photos - Main
Every shade of blue-green-purple greets our eyes on a continuing basis
15 Photos
Created 24 April 2017
Our first island anchorages were in the Berries. Sugar sand beaches, clear blue water, conch and starfish, everyday a new wonderful experience.
10 Photos
Created 16 April 2016
We are spending over a week in Bimini waiting for weather to cross to the Berry Islands (a 75 mile crossing that will require two good days). So we walk, drive, and dinghy our way around North Bimini to learn about the land and the people.
20 Photos
Created 6 February 2016
There were many projects we did to upgrade Whisper to a more efficient, comfortable, safe and enjoyable boat.
7 Photos
Created 10 January 2016
The many contrasting scenes on the Intercoastal Waterway
36 Photos
Created 25 December 2015
Our favorite anchorage on the eastern shore. The cove featured St Martin Point house and grounds, a 19th century home with accommodations for eighteen people, currently available as vacation rental. Dan, the caretaker invited us to explore the house and grounds.
14 Photos
Created 28 October 2015
6 Photos
Created 27 October 2015
Workboat Festival
8 Photos
Created 26 October 2015
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
7 Photos
Created 25 October 2015
Boat show
6 Photos
Created 11 October 2015
Highlights of our stay in the Big Apple
14 Photos
Created 2 October 2015
Fixed bridges, lift bridges, railroad bridges, road bridges, bridges to nowhere.
8 Photos
Created 13 September 2015
"I stayed too long at the fair"
12 Photos
Created 11 September 2015
5 Photos
Created 1 September 2015
I walked from the yacht club to the downtown area to purchase a nautical chart at the general store. Charming homes from the mid-1800s with fenced in yards and patios. Main square at City Hall has umbrella tables and chairs to enjoy the fresh air. Lots of interesting shops and restaurants, wished we could stay longer.
7 Photos
Created 27 August 2015
Transiting the 243 miles of the Trent Severn Waterway system
5 Photos
Created 25 August 2015
Into the Georgian Bay
7 Photos
Created 6 August 2015
We took Whisper on a loop through the French River Small Craft Route with Russ and Lisa onboard. Uproar can't do the route because of depth...and maybe width!
8 Photos
Created 3 August 2015
We spent the past week attempting to show Sue all of our favorite places... we got in quite a few!!!
7 Photos
Created 23 July 2015
First anchorage in Canada
4 Photos
Created 14 July 2015
Scenes from one of our favorite places on Lake Michigan
5 Photos
Created 10 July 2015
Preparation for our extended cruise from Milwaukee, WI to the Bahamas and ????
3 Photos
Created 17 June 2015