Thursday, April 28, 2011
As a delayed birthday present I went out today on a fishing trip which included fishing for our lunch, cooked on the beach, and snorkeling. Marcus and Daniel were our guides. Marcus has been working with his father since he was 12, helping with the fishing trips and now takes some groups on his own. A family of five joined us, as we motored to the neighboring Munjack Cay, and fishing for about 90 minutes, caught snappers and porgies, and pulled up to a beach in a sheltered cove. Towards the end of our fishing, we spotted a shark roaming around our boat. Just then I caught a fish, but as I was reeling him in the shark grabbed the fish and before I knew it, the fishing line was running out with the shark on the end. Finally, the line broke and fish and shark were gone.
The weather was fickle, with numerous squalls across the Abacos(not forecast). We had a great time dodging the raindrops, and, then getting soaked twice. However, the rain broke while we cooked the fish and until we were returning back to our marina. Fried fish, potatoes, and salad over a wood fire pit tasted wonderful. As we were returning, we had to pull off the sound and return to shore to wait out a rather significant squall. We tried to shelter ourselves from the rain and wind with the help of an old tarp and some picnic tables. We soon decided who would be voted off this deserted island as Daniel and Marcus put up a makeshift shelter, were the cooks for the day, the experts with the fishing poles. and the navigators.
Well it has been a couple of days since our last post and a lot has happened. First of all two of our friends, Michael and David(picture of Joe and David of Journey), helped us put together a temporary fix for the heat exchanger problem. We use two large hose clamps under the broken bracket to hold down the heat exchanger. Also replaced the one O ring that was leaking.
Did a couple of engine tests and so far no leakage and no overheating. Also ordered a new heat exchanger to be installed in Ft Pierce next week.
Speaking of next week, we are looking forward to a weather window on Mon-Wed that allows us to leave Green Turtle Cay on Monday, sail to Great Sail Cay for Monday night, and then leave for Ft. Pierce on Tuesday afternoon, overnight and arrive in Ft. Pierce on Wed morning. We have a group of about 7-8 boats that will be travelling together.
That gives us one day to talk to the boat yard before our plane trips on Thursday. Joe is going to Exeter reunion, Joy is going to Hyattsville.
When we return, it is time to head north.
Had a good night last night, as our place hosted the local Bahamian band and we danced until we closed the place down at midnight.
Joy is out fishing today with a small group of people. Hopefully they are not caught in the squall we are having right now.
ps right now we are having a large down pour, good for the plants, bad for fishing.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
We today is Easter Sunday and we had a great day in Green Turtle Cay. This morning we drove our golf cart with another couple, Paul and Susie, to St Peter's Anglican Church. No Catholic church in Green Turtle, so all us Catholics went to St. Peters. I think there was about a dozen of us.
The first part of the service was a procession through the center of town, lead by the Altar servers. About 40 people in all. We got to the church and the entire service was very similar to a Catholic Mass, but this one had more singing and last a little over two hours.
In the afternoon, we had 19 people for lunch at Green Turtle Cay. We are the only people staying here but the food is great and we have our daily $68 food credit to eat with. This means we can eat either 1) breakfast and lunch or 2)dinner with dessert.
Our friends on Lee-Ann, Gary and Janet the Mexican train folks are in the marina across from us. The rest of the people are on moorings. Everybody is getting ready to leave as soon as there is a 2 to 3 day weather window.
We have to wait until the broken bracket is fixed so our cooling system will function properly without overheating. Friends are going to help take if off tomorrow, then we have to find a welding shop in Green Turtle Cay or take the ferry back to Marsh Harbor to get it repaired.
It was a good thing it broke here rather than out on the open ocean.
We are very confident that we will get it fixed properly. Have a couple of back up ideas that may have to be put into action, but we shall wait and see what happens tomorrow.
Joy went shelling later this afternoon and found some interesting shells. She has about 30 pieces by now. Not sure what is going to happen to them.
We found a fishing guide that she might go out fishing on Tuesday, weather permitting.
Weather permitting is a big thing when you are out on a boat. We have learned to listen to weather reports every morning at 6:30 AM plus all the weather sites on the Internet.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Well, I guess the biggest news is that we finally had a mechanical engine problem while in the Bahamas. After 2 fun days in Great Guana Cay (I have included a few pics), we left to sail through "the whale" an ocean passage of 15 miles, and no sooner did we leave the harbour and the engine overheated, so we dropped our anchor to check the reason and found no anti-freeze in the coolant system. As you may remember we have had this problem before in FL and all the o-rings were replaced in the system. After refilling the coolant, finding some additional coolant which a boater in the harbour gave us in case we needed more, left to sail to Green Turtle Cay. Luckily, the wind was great for a sail and having to run the engine for only 15 minutes to get us into the marina, helped us get to this new cay where there are more marine services available. Our friends are also here and a fellow boater came over this morning to help us diagnose the problem. We pretty much had identified the source of trouble, but Michael was able to validate our findings. We will need some welding done this next week to repair a cracked bracket. Easter weekend is a four day holiday here, so Tuesday is probably the first day that we can get help from the local mechanic. We have asked the locals for a recommendation and everyone has said George. Enough discussion of mechanical problems!
In the meantime, the weather is not conducive for crossing back to the States with high wind, waves, and squalls for the next several days. Last night we went to a local bar with Bahamian band and dancing and today we rented a golf cart to tour the settlement. Easter we will go to a local Anglican Church and then 11 fellow boaters are having dinner at our marina. This marina charges us about $70 a day to stay here, but if you eat and drink that much a day in the restaurant, than dockage is free. The food is very good, so it is very easy to eat and drink our way through the day. We are actually doing fine and are confident that our repairs will happen and we will be ready to return soon.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Hello to Everybody,
We are at Great Guana Cay and went to Nippers, which is a famous place here in the Bahamas.
It is a small Cay and we stopped there as we are heading west to get into a position to cross the Gulf Stream into Florida.
So yesterday we ate lunch at Nippers. It is a colorful place, see picture of all the umbrellas in various shades of pastels. Christine, the bar tender, liked my Ocean Sailing shirt that Sally gave me and wanted me to put it in my will to leave it to her.
We took a long walk on the beach and found this rather large object which looks like some kind of float able marker for a ship channel. It is rather large and heavy but feels like it is made out of a cork like product.
We are trying to decide if we should stay here another day and go to Green Turtle on Friday or go today. I think we will stay another day which was the original plan.
Last night we had decided to go today, but Joy is changing her mind. In any case, the weather is supposed to get nasty so we may be in the Bahamas for another week before the weather is well enough to travel to Florida.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Well, we are nearing the end of our stay in Marsh Harbor. Seven of us took a boat taxi over to Lubbers Cay to go to Cracker P's Full Moon Party. Every full moon they have a special party from 7 to midnight. We left at 7 pm and came back around 11 pm Took a picture of Tom Root of Tomkat standing in the ferry boat. Tom was the leader on this trip as he really wanted to go. They are selling their boat to move to travelling in an RV for the next couple of years. They have been boating for 12 years. They are from the Dayton, Ohio area. In fact we have been playing Mexican train dominoes with two other couples from Ohio here at the Jib Room. One couple is from Madison, and the other couple used to live near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In fact they owned land in the park before the park was created and their land was taken for the park. The other pictures were the Saturday steak night with rake and scrape music and limbo demonstration by Desmond. Here is a picture of Desmond getting down and I mean really down. Joy was watching Tom raking a saw in time to the music. Today is April 18, the party was last night. Today we spent the morning doing last minute chores like getting a case of wine, some more drinking water, last minute food, and mailing in our amended US federal tax return. After lunch we played Mexican train for the last time here at the Jib Room. Leaving tomorrow for Treasure Cay, then on to Guana Cay, and then Green Turtle. At Green Turtle, we hope to be there by Friday, we will really start thinking about sailing back to Florida after Easter. Joe PS Happy Birthday, Adam Joseph; one years old on April 22. Looks like Joy will be visiting DC/Baltimore Mother's Day weekend while I am up at Exeter for 45th reunion. PPS Happy Birthday to Melody. Hope to see you before your trip.
Friday, April 15, 2011
We decided to take the ferry to Man-O-War Cay for the day rather than our boat which would have been a two hour sail from Marsh Harbour. Man-O-War is known for its boat building business and we saw several buildings in the small harbor area with craftsmen working on both new boat construction and repair. There is also a well known sail shop which sells durable and colorful canvas bags of all sizes and shapes. Several ladies who have been sewing for decades work at sewing machines at the back of the store, surrounded by all sorts of bags. The town itself has modest and some upscale homes, a restaurant, a few gift shops, and ice cream parlor. it is also known for the cinnamon bun lady who has been baking bread and cinnamon buns for 27 years and goes around in her golf cart everyday and sells her products. Of course, we had to try the buns which were quite good.
We said goodbye to Carol and Paul this evening who are leaving tomorrow to head west and eventually across the gulf stream to the States. They will leave their boat in the Charleston area and fly back to Colorado by the middle of May. We are talking with our friends Tom and Cathy from Tomkat and another boat or two about buddying back by the end of April across to the States. We all will leave here early this next week to explore a few more Cays and then position ourselves for the crossing.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
We arrived in Marsh Harbour on Tuesday, late afternoon because of the tide situation. We had to wait for high tide to get us safely out of Hopetown.
We arrived at Marsh Harbour Marina, also known as the Jib Room(that is the name of the restaurant). This is the right spot for us to be at. Everybody is very friendly, we learned how to play Mexican Train ( a dominoes game) in the afternoon.
In the morning we went snorkeling down at Mermaid Reef, best place so far. Hundreds of fish, helped by some oatmeal that we scattered in the water. The fish were everywhere and every color. Only a 5 minute walk from the marina.
Ron and Beverly had the dock across from us in Loggerhead Marina in Stuart, FL. They are here and we learned all about their trip. Our friends on Tomkat, Tom and Kathy are also here.
Last night was Ribs night here at the Jib Room. The place was packed. Carol and Paul Cook and some of their friends from last year came over so we had a table for 13 people out in the courtyard where the music and limbo exhibition took place.
The ribs were great. We split a full slab and had an extra side plate so it worked out perfectly for $40.
Only wish I had the camera as we have no pictures of the first day at Marsh Harbor.
Today features a dinghy ride across the harbor to the supermarket. A lady's afternoon featuring lunch out and shopping. Joy, Carol, Kathy, and Carol's friends are taking the afternoon off. I will be finding out where the ferry dock to Man O War is and filling up the diesel tanks. Plus reading a new fiction book.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Today we said goodbye to Hope Town, but first dinghied into town for breakfast at Capt Jack's, did a little shopping, and toured the picturesque candy-striped lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1863 by the British and still uses the same technology with kerosene-fueled mantle, shining light for 20 miles. The history story is that the townspeople made their living on salvaging shipwrecks and fought the building of the lighthouse at that time. Hope Town has lovely little cottages and gardens on narrow lanes only wide enough for a small car. In fact only cars, trucks, and golf carts that have permits are even able to get beyond the locked gate into town so it is primarily a walking village, adding to its quaintness.
We left at 2pm, two hours before high tide, so that we would have sufficient water under us leaving the harbor and had a short 90 minute sail to Marsh Harbor, the hub of the northern Abacos. The cays of the Abacos are fairly close together, but due to shallow water in areas, we will have to weave back and forth to get to the next cay. Today's route was pretty straight-forward.
We will be staying in Marsh Harbour for the next week at the Marsh Harbour Marina, often called the Jib Room. It is a laid-back marina with very friendly cruisers, some who have been here all season. They use it as a base and sail to nearby cays for several days weather permitting. We had pizza with several couples for dinner on the porch and were entertained by boat stories. I have included a picture of the pool and marina and our pizza supper.
Monday, April 11, 2011
We are having a great time here in Hope Town. Everybody is very friendly and the two places we had lunch, Sunday and today, let us stay at their resort for the entire afternoon which meant using their beach, beach chairs, pools, and getting drinks from their bars. Had two great afternoons. Today we went shelling on Tahiti Beach which is on the southern end of Elbow Cay, and then over to the Abacos Inn for lunch and an afternoon pool session. Joy collected about 12 shells today to add to her collection. The Lubbers Landing sign is on Tahiti Beach, so apparently you can call on VHF 16 and they will motor over some drinks.
Sunday we had church in the park. Father Roger came over on the ferry from Marsh Harbor. He does three Masses on Sundays, Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour, and Hope Town, all three short ferry rides.
Here is a picture of Joy cutting up a coconut that she found on the beach.
Tomorrow we are going to climb the 101 stairs of the Hope Town Lighthouse after breakfast. You can only get there by dinghy. We have time as high tide to let us safely get out of Hopetown Harbor is around 1 pm.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
We arrived on Saturday, April 9 in Hopetown. The way into the harbor is a little tricky as you have to come in on a rising tide for a boat that draws over 5 feet.
The lowest water we saw was 7 feet, which is good and we got in without getting grounded. Paul and Carol had gotten stuck for a few moments last year so we listed to their strategy and followed the deeper entrance channel.
On the way over the water was super clear. Joy shot this picture of the water, a starfish, and the shadow of the boat in about 15 feet. It is so clear that you think the water is only 3 feet not 15.
Hopetown reminds me of a little Key West, about 1/50 the size of Key West
Just had to stop and take a picture of Joy opening a coconut which will be featured in the blog later today for today's activities. I am writing about yesterday, an odd day.
After picking up a mooring, $20 a day, we went to shore for a very nice lunch. Then walked around town to the various shops, went on a tour of the Hopetown museum, had some sorbet, first for me in about 2 months. Came back to the boat and had dinner.
I must confess that I went to sleep at 8 pm because I did not sleep well on Friday night. Of course, woke up at 3 am this morning but fell back to sleep around 4 am.
The picture of the signpost in an old cemetery, actual no grave markings, just a post that says over 100 people died in a cholera epidemic in the 1850s. The flowers are very beautiful here.
I do know that today we are going to a Catholic Mass at the park at 12:30 pm. The priest comes over on the 12:15 ferry, most likely from Marsh Harbor which is the biggest town in the Abacos and third largest in all of the Bahamas. We are going there for a week on Tuesday.
We have decided that we are living a very fortunate life and are very thankful.
Also got to Skype all three of our children, they are all doing fine. Will be seeing them in about 8 weeks as we are heading back to Florida in 3 weeks of so.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
We left from Spanish Wells on Thursday, April 7th with 4 other boats and a pilot boat to pilot us through the reefs off the north shore of Eleuthera. Our pilot, Little Woody, showed up with a small carrot cake for each boat that his wife had made, so for $15 per boat we had a safe trip through the reefs and dessert for the next 2 days. Quite a deal! The crossing went well with lots of sailing and manageable five foot waves, which sounds scary, but waves in the ocean are rollers and much easier to sail in than Lake Erie waves.
We arrived in the Abacos just outside the small village of Little Harbor, which is fairly shallow, so we anchored for two nights outside the harbor and took our dinghy about a mile to the harbor to enjoy the village. The village was home to artist sculptor Randolph Johnston,who settled there in the 1950's from New England as he wanted to get away from the rat race. His studio and bronze casting foundry is still there and run by his son. We had a tour of the foundry to see how the bronze pieces are cast. It was fascinating and some of the work that he had done is present in the museum and for sale- the Nine Lives of Men, one of the best pieces is for sale for $120,000. We lunched at Pete''s Pub, an open air beach restaurant, decorated with t-shirts and shorts from years past in the rafters.
We have enjoyed traveling with Carol and Paul on Odysseus the past 2 weeks, sharing meals and sightseeing together. They have been to the Abacos before and will be traveling faster than we will the next few weeks as they have plane tickets from Charleston, SC to Colorado the middle of May. As we are parting ways after traveling with them through Eleuthera and over to the Abacos, we are thankful for their friendship and safety and sailing tips that they have shared with us.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
I am writing this on April 6 about the activities yesterday, April 5, 2011 the day that Joy turned 62. It was a very nice day in Spanish Wells, Bahamas. Joy has already written about the character of this town, it is a fishing town.
They catch lobsters very differently that in Maine. First of all they are called crayfish. The traps are long thin boxes that sit on the ocean flow the whole season, August 1 to March 31. they do not pull up the traps like in Maine
The boats take 10-12 divers who dive down breathing through air hoses hooked to a air pump on the boat. The divers pull the crayfish out of the traps one at a time and put them in buckets or netting that is hauled to the surface. The traps can hold 50-100 crayfish at a time. I met someone whose father is a cook on a boat.
The boats stay out for weeks at a time until they are full.
We had a very nice party for Joy yesterday including dinner at Gap restaurant, then back to High Spirits for cake that Carol Cook baked on her boat, chocolate with white frosting.
Today is Joy's haircut and her birthday present from me, a massage. When she got back from the massage place, she told me she ordered a massage for me this afternoon. I can use it as my left shoulder is still giving me troubles.
We are leaving for the Abacos tomorrow with about 6 other boats and a pilot boat to get us through a rocky area leaving Spanish Wells. Leaving at 7:15am, should be a 10 hour trip, 50+ miles
That is it for me.
Monday, April 4, 2011
We are presently in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, in a marina for the past 2 nights and probably staying here another few days as our next passage will be crossing over the Northwest Passage to the Abacos.. I have chosen some of my favorite Eleuthera beach pictures, as the beaches here are magnificant. Most have pink sand from the coral that lies off shore. Most of the beaches have very few people on them. The water is getting warmer by the day, so that it is starting to feel like a bathtub. Most of the beaches are great for swimming with gradually sloping shoreline and of course brilliant clear blue water.
Just a note about our present town of Spanish Wells. This town has been mainly white Bahamian descendents from the Loyalists to England during the Revolutionary War. Most people we have met in shops or on the street have been here their whole life as have their parents and grandparents. This is the first Bahamian town, where the houses are very neat, freshly painted with bright colors, and beautiful flowers and bushes. Many people have an accent, some a thick Irish brogue. It is a totally dry town with no alchohol served anywhere (except on our boats). Lobstering has been the mainstay of the economy here for generations and picturesque fishing boats line the shore. Much of the lobster served in Red Lobster restaurants comes from here.
Tomorrow is my birthday and plans are for a haircut, rent a golfcart to further explore the island, and dinner with friends.