Archive for: ‘April 2015’

Ray Caught Up

April 30, 2015 Posted by Deb

We thought we were moving too fast for company this year but Ray Buse flew into Georgetown the day before our weather window and he’s been on the boat ever since … he may even make it to Florida. Ray is a member of the Cast Iron Canoe Club, the son of Jeff and JoAnn Buse and now lives in Montana and works at a private ski resort.

Memorial Grounds for the Straw Market that Burned Down in

Memorial Grounds for the Straw Market that Burned Down Just Before the Georgetown Regatta 

More Dinghies Following the Race Boats Than There Were Boats in the Race

More Dinghies Following the Race Boats Than There Were Boats in the Race

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We left Georgetown with a large fleet of boats and were alone by the time we hit the infamous Dotham Cut again. Most peeled off before then for places like Little Farmers Cay and Adderly Cay. We were concerned about the post-regatta crowd and went as far as daylight would allow. We timed the cut correctly and the tide was still roaring out but it didn’t matter because we had a strong west wind all day. We are giving up on trying to figure the tides at Dotham. Exuma Sound was calm but when we went through the cut to protected waters, the west wind had the calm side all churned up. West winds cut down on available anchorages significantly. We bit the bullet and anchored at Big Major on an open roadstead with 15 to 20 from the west. We had a catamaran, so we did better than most that night.

A Really, Really Big One Got Away

A Really, Really Big One Got Away

As we worked our way back to Florida, we did a repeat performance on Thunderball Cave, the swimming pigs, and the Warderick Wells hiking with Ray. We did each of these better than the first time. We are now waiting in the protected north mooring field at Warderick Wells for the 50-60 knot storms headed our way.

Back at Thunderball with Ray

Back at Thunderball Cave with Ray

Diving Into Thunderball Cave Entrance

Diving Into Thunderball Cave Entrance

Gotta Feed My Favorite Pigs Again

Gotta Feed My Favorite Pigs Again

This Arch Will Be Gone by Next Year

This Arch Will Be Gone by Next Year

Calm Windward Shore at Warderick Wells

Calm Windward Shore at Warderick Wells

Breakfast ~ Protein Banana Muffins and Pineapple Protein Chia Smoothies ~ No One is Starving on This Boat

Breakfast ~ Protein Banana Muffins and Pineapple Protein Chia Smoothies ~ No One is Starving on This Boat

Staniel Cay to Georgetown

April 24, 2015 Posted by Deb

Thunderball and Big Majors Spot

Entrance to Thunderball Cave ~ Looking for Sean Connery

Entrance to Thunderball Cave ~ Looking for Sean Connery

Looked All Over the Cave for Weight Belt ~ Found Under the Dinghy

Looked All Over the Cave for Weight Belt ~ Found Under the Dinghy

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Goggle Man

Goggle Man

Looking for the Famous Swimming Pigs

Looking for the Famous Swimming Pigs

Carrots are Good for Lots of Things

Carrots are Good for Lots of Things

Staniel2Pigs

To Georgetown

At some point we had to stop island hopping and take a cut out into Exuma Sound. We chose Dothan Cut near Black Point because we could get out of there very early in the a.m. without worrying about depth. To be sure, we motored up to the cut the evening before and laid down a track on one of the Samsung notepads. The cut was calm and harmless looking that evening. The next morning was a different story. The wind and swells had kicked up and our calculations for slack tide were off. By the time we realized that the boiling up ahead was serious, we were caught in a three- to five-knot current headed like a freight train into ten-foot standing waves. We were getting knocked around a bit but doing OK  until we decided to turn out of the mess. At that point, Deb got bombed by beer cans that were stowed in the galley and stuff that had never fallen before started flying around the inside of the boat. Fun. The rest of the day was choppy but not a bad motor sail but the swell continued to haunt us. We declined stopping at Adderly Cut for the night because it looked closed out so we cranked up the diesels and rolled the dice on Conch Cay Cut, the entrance to Georgetown. Conch Cay Cut was flat calm and we dropped hook in the Mecca of Bahama sailing after about 8 hours and 53 miles (not counting tacks).

The Georgetown Regatta

Unintentionally, we arrived in Georgetown just days before the big regatta week. It is a race by and for Bahamians in unique boats. At the start, the boats are anchored and sails are down. The town decked itself out like a state fair, street food everywhere, and the music was loud and late.  We slid into the cruiser social scene with dink drift and drink, hikes, and BBQ’s. In our anchorage there were four cats, four monohulls, and five trawlers. We’re at Sand Dollar and the other anchorages are very packed. Georgetown is definitely trawler heaven here. Great folks but they do have a different mind set.

A couple and their dog are living on the beach in hammocks and the occasional bed on one of the boats in the anchorage. They’re cruising the Bahamas by pontoon plane.

A couple and their dog are living on the beach in hammocks and the occasional bed on one of the boats in the anchorage. They’re cruising the Bahamas by pontoon plane.

The perennial winner of the event, Tidal Wav.e, coming home after a challenge match

The Perennial Winner of the Event, Tidal Wave ~Coming Home after a Challenge Match

 Jacque and Annet on Panache Hiked With Us on the  Island Trails

Jacque and Annet on Panache Hiked With Us on the Island Trails

 Yet Another Multi-Mile Beach All to Ourselves

Yet Another Multi-Mile Beach All to Ourselves

Not Happy

Not Happy

Little Problem with the Wind on Day 2

Little Problem with the Wind on Day 2

Exumas: Highbourne to Warderick Wells

April 10, 2015 Posted by Deb

We are in the land of big toys. It’s party time for the U.S. East Coast crowd with easy access, crystal clear water, and mini-mega yachts. We’re a bit condescending to the mini-megas here after being in St Martin. Anything under 100 feet isn’t even in the running. We are surprised at the monohull to cat ratio because we’ve come from places where the cat count often exceeded the monohull count; but here, in the really thin water, there are monohulls everywhere.

Guess We Need More Toys

Guess We Need More Toys

We staged at Egg Island off Spanish Wells and left for the banks at O Dark Thirty. We were on the banks by eight and paralleled the nasty coral of the Middle Ground for three hours until the sun got high enough to cross. Funny thing … we ended up on the Yellow Banks where the coral is tame and deep and cruised into Highbourne at 1:00 p.m. with only a couple of coral dodging moves behind us. Highbourne has the Xuma restaurant but their bar and big TV were closed for Easter Holiday right when the NCAA finals were playing. We (I) gave them some grief about that.

Norman’s Cay

A name most know and famous for the drug smuggling era and Carlos Lehder. We even watched the movie Blow with Johnny Depp. The legendary bar MacDuffs in the post drug era that was known to so many cruisers is a ruin now and the island is undergoing yet another failed development attempt. It looked to us like the workers quarters and equipment were just rotting away after having terra-formed the whole island with big dreams in mind.

Carlos's Drug Plane in the Background

Carlos’s Drug Plane in the Background

Norman's Cay: So, Now What?

MacDuffs at Norman’s Cay: So, Now What?

Shroud Cay

Our goal was to pay tribute at the famous Camp Driftwood created by Ernest Scholtes by hand carrying debris from the beach and hacking the steps out of the hill. Historically, it was a rite of passage for cruisers to leave a token at Camp Driftwood and a note in a jar. In the 2015 Guide it says “A description of Camp Driftwood would not do it justice.” We did our pilgrimage by dink through the mangroves to the far side of the island and found 20 or 30 beach goers, none of whom had ever heard of Camp Driftwood and it was just up the hill from the beach. We finally found one guy who told us where it was and all that is left of Camp Driftwood is a sign … and that was the end of our pilgrimage.

Leaving Camp Driftwood

Leaving Camp Driftwood

Warderick Wells

There’s a waiting list to get into the north mooring field near the park office where you can get internet … that’s if you call $15 for 100 megs in 24 hours actually having internet. Neytiri made the list and we’re liking it here. The only down side is the stern of the boat is over thigh deep water at slack tide, our dink got shoved onto the coral at the park dock, and there is no place to eat, leave garbage, or do laundry and we’ve been out awhile. Kind of reminds us of real cruising again.

Boo Boo Hill is another rite of passage. For the gods to grant you fair weather you are to leave your boat name on a piece of driftwood at the top of the hill. The Park Service has additional rules but the tradition is alive. Mother Nature is hard on names and, though the pile is large, we found few dates older than 2007. We did find that Panache, friends from the last couple years sailing, had been there before us.

Driftwood Offerings At Boo Boo Hill

Driftwood Offerings At Boo Boo Hill

Rites of Passage on Boo Boo Hill

Panache and Neytiri: Rites of Passage on Boo Boo Hill

We have covered all the hiking trails except a few at the very south end and the sharp rocks took the soles off one set of shoes already. Today we hiked six beaches and snorkeled one wreck and two patches of coral and had each one of them to ourselves.

Exuma Park: Neytiri at Anchor

Exuma Park: Neytiri Moored

Ladder Into a Hole (Teenage Horror Movie?)

Ladder Into a Hole (Teenage Horror Movie?)

ExumasHikeChuckExumaParkCauseway

Whale Killed By Plastic

Whale Killed By Plastic

Eleuthera: Spanish Wells

April 4, 2015 Posted by Deb

We grabbed a slip at Yacht Haven marina because we needed to do laundry, get the bikes ashore, get rid of garbage, get some bandwidth, and shower. Yacht Haven has been reduced to docks and a mobile home trailer now that they have nuked the place and are building a mini-resort here. It is a bit rough around here, laundry went well into the evening, and the shower kept to the old traditions of not just no hot water but very cold water. Oh … and they still charged full price for the boat.

Reminded Us of Bocas Blended in Bocas del Toro ~ An Old Favorite

Reminded Us of Bocas Blended in Bocas del Toro ~ An Old Favorite

DebBikeSpanishWells

WildPinkBeach_EleutheraShipyardSpanishWellsWe biked the island and every side street in about two hours, ate at the Shipyard, tried the Shipwreck and the Devil’s Backbone drinks, and were weaving our way back to the “not really there” marina when Deb stopped and talked to the local supermarket owner, taxi driver, and tour guide, Gurney Pinder. Gurney was born on the island, farmed until disease wiped out all the fruit crops, and just celebrated his 50th anniversary.

The Famous Gurney Pinder Outside His Grocery Store

The Famous Gurney Pinder Outside His Grocery Store

We’ve been telling Pinder and Albury stories for years and thought about three of them washed up on Man o War Cay along with a couple of Albury’s and proceeded to populate that island and others. The shipwreck happened here at Devils Backbone off Eleuthera in 1682 and the survivors lived in Preachers Cave until they moved on. They named the island Eleuthera which is Greek for “freedom” since they were fleeing religious prosecution.

PreachersCaveEntrancePreachersCaveLookingOut

Deb & Gurney in the Pulpit in Preacher's Cave

Deb & Gurney in the Pulpit in Preacher’s Cave

Needless to say we got a kick out of Gurney Pinder. The reason for the trip, though, was to see the famous Glass Window which is a hole in the island where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet. The contrasting water color and the violent Atlantic compared to the flat calm Caribbean generate a lot of tourist traffic. A natural bridge was formed by the ocean but it collapsed years ago and the man-made alternative has been taken out three times by seas that have to be in the 30 to 50 foot range to reach the bridge. The current bridge has been moved almost 3 feet by the ocean but they still use it. Coming from MN and I-35, that’s kind of scary.

The-Glass-Window-Bridge-on-Eleuthera-Bahamas

GlassWindowBridge2

DebGlassBridge

Little Harbour and Lynyard Cay

April 2, 2015 Posted by Deb

These two spots are the tail end of the Abacos interior sailing range. You have to kick out through the reef and into the Atlantic to get anywhere south. They are also a turn around point for charter boats and the Abaco-only sailing crowd. Our quiet little anchorage went from three to eighteen boats in one afternoon. Other than a couple of dogs, it was a quiet evening despite the party barges.

Hammock, ball, firepit, boiling kettles, lobster husks compliments of cruisers gone by and beach debris

Hammock, ball, firepit, boiling kettles, lobster husks compliments of cruisers gone by and beach debris

LynyardSunset

We dinghed the two miles to Little Harbour and saw all the sites in about two hours. That included the hike to the dead lighthouse, every road, the famous Pete’s Pub, and the famous art gallery. It’s funny that people rent cars to drive all the way down there and they ask where Pete’s Pub is and not the famous art gallery. The metal artwork in the gallery started at around $4,000 a piece … island art has come a long way.

LittleHarbourOldLighthouseLittleHarbourChuckDoorwayLittleHarbourRehabTshiftLittleHarbourTurtleArtDebHammock

In Praise of a Hardware Store

April 1, 2015 Posted by Deb

Not just any hardware store, McDonald Hardware in Ft. Lauderdale. As a frequent visitor this year for two months and twenty two years ago for 3 months, I miss the place.McDonaldsHardware

We’re in Marsh Harbour, Abacos, now; and we’re down a sugar scoop shower hose and handle and a primary shower drain pump. Things could get a bit smelly on board so blowing these projects off is not a good plan. A quick dinghy lap of the marinas yielded no pump but our hikes to hardware and the one chandlery got us the last suitable pump in the area at Island Boy Bait and Tackle.IslandBoy

The pump outlets were reversed but … no problem … surely someone stocks the 90-degree elbows for the pump. Nope. Okay, some ¾-inch hose and barbed elbows should work temporarily but, nope, neither in stock at any of three hardware and one marine store. We sailed over to Man of War Cay and Edwins Boatyard and scored the hose and barbed elbows and the project now has all the parts needed. This was the Bahamas three-day version of a 30-minute trip to McDonald Hardware.

The sugar scoop shower saga is also over. Deb had been putting water in a gallon jug and dumping it on herself like the old days (two quarts then). I emptied a shower on starboard that we use for laundry and cases of beer. I found a shower head and scavenged a valve from the boat. I needed half inch hose and barbs. On my last try, I found the last 13 feet of half inch hose on the island but only a 90 degree barb. Rather than cludge this all together, I found a home showerhead with a trigger, hose, and fittings. Of course, by day three there were no fittings that would connect the new hose with flaired fittings to the boat with metric old fashioned fittings. On the fourth day, a hardware store guy found a piece that worked. This was the four day version of a 30 minute trip to McDonald Hardware.

So … who gets to install all this stuff?ShowerPump_Chuck