Friday, March 27, 2015

It's been a busy two weeks

Well, we have been all over this section of the Abacos.  The last I wrote we were getting ready to head up to Nippers for the Barefoot Man concert.  Friday’s free afternoon show was great.  There were a lot of people, young and old, and a lot of partying.  The music was great.  If you have never listened to The Barefoot Man I am sure you can find some of his songs on YouTube.  Saturday evening there was a cover charge and that cut down the crowd but he still put on a good performance.

Sunday we said good bye to our friends on Bubbles and Skat as they were starting their way back to the states.  We decided to go to Treasure Island since we had not been there yet and we have heard a lot about it.  On the way we stopped at Spoils Cay and anchored for a couple of hours while Cori took the kayak to shore to look for shells.  It was low tide and we needed high tide to get into Treasure Cay harbor so it was a nice break.  From there we motored on to Treasure.  The channel in is very shallow even at mid to high tide so it was a cautious trip in.  Once in we anchored and settled in for the night.  The next morning we took the dinghy to shore and checked it out.  Treasure Cay is mostly a large resort catering to people that like beaches.  The beach is spectacular, listed as one of the top ten in the world.  Some of the finest grains of sand I have ever seen.  At low tide everyone seemed to be at one end of the beach looking for sand dollars.  After lunch at the beach restaurant we headed back to the boat.  The best reason for us non-beach types to go there is to buy water.  They charge by the size of your boat, not how many gallons you take on.  We filled our tanks in the morning, about 150 gallons and gave the boat a good rinse with fresh water and then we were out of there.

Next stop was Archer Cay.  The main appeal of Archer is that it is quiet, only three boats anchored there.  Usually the winds are from the east and this anchorage is not protected but the winds were from the Southwest.  We took the dinghy to shore for shells but there were not very many.  Cori did score a couple of sand dollars.  In the morning she took the dinghy to a different beach but it too was disappointing.  The highlight for me was that we heard from other cruisers that had just been there that there is an unmarked wreck where we were planning to anchor.  After Cori got back from the beach we went over to it, threw out the anchor and I went snorkeling.  I tried getting some video of the fish but I didn’t care for what I got so I went back the next morning to try again.  It will take some editing.  It turned out to not be a wreck but a pile of debris dumped there from some fish farming operation that had been there.  Either way the fish must have liked it because there were a lot of them.

It now being Thursday we planned to move on.  After snorkeling the second time we pulled the anchor and headed out again.  We were having a nice stretch of winds from the southwest so that gave us some different anchorages to try before the east wind came back.  Our friends on Victoria Gay were planning to head to Snake Cay and check out a dinghy/kayak trail behind some islands and we headed down there to join them.  We decided to bypass that and move down to Spencer’s Point where we could take advantage of the anchorage protected from the southwest winds and be a short dinghy ride to Sandy Cay and the National Water Park.  There is a reef there that is popular with divers and snorkelers.  After checking out the beach for shells, disappointing again, we called it a night.  In the morning we waited until mid-tide and rode the dinghy to the reef.  It was a rough and bumpy ride with the swells coming in the pass from the ocean and the waves built up by the wind.  Once we got there and tied up to one of the moorings, they don’t allow you to anchor close to protect the coral, I got ready to jump in.  There was only one problem; I forgot the bag with the fins, snorkel and mask.  It was another bumpy ride back to the boat but once there we decided to pull anchor and move closer to the dive area.  When we got back to the reef everyone was gone.  It had gotten too rough and they all left.  We turned around and went down to Lynyard Cay.  We anchored in the area where we had stayed the last time we were there, away from the crowd.  There are a lot of boats starting their trips back and this is the first stop going north from the Exumas and there were about twenty boats here.  Our friends on Victoria Gay and Temptaion met us down there also.  Saturday we got together and rode the dinghies to Little Harbor for lunch at Pete’s Pub.  The food is great.  It is an old artist colony with a gallery displaying the work of several local artists, there are several small beaches, and it can actually be reached by road.  Back to Lynyard Cay and everyone went looking for shells and seaglass.  I sat and read the book I brought along.

Sunday we all pulled anchor and headed back towards Hope Town and Marsh Harbour to be protected from some weather that was forecast.  We got to Hope Town after the others because we chose to sail one of the legs when the wind was favorable.  This caused up to not be able to get a mooring ball.  They were all taken.  After motoring around the harbor we gave up and sailed to Marsh Harbour.  First thing on our list for Monday was to pick up some provisions, I was out of milk and sandwich meat and I was on my last six pack of Diet Coke.  As we motored to the dinghy dock we ran into our friends Fred and Patricia on Rivenkind II.  We had shared a mooring ball with them in Vero Beach back in December.  We went back in the evening for a nice visit.  Tuesday morning we took the dinghy around to Mermaid Reef and did some snorkeling and shot some video.  Later Cori went to visit with Fred and Patricia again and I stayed on the boat to charge batteries.  Cori came back excited; the conch guys were back and would agree to a trade for conch.  She brought a lot of stuff on this trip for trading.  She got a dozen cleaned conchs for her trade.  Cleaning conch is a slimy messy job so getting them cleaned was a plus.

Wednesday morning Cori got a message that some of our friends were leaving Hope Town to start home and would mark their mooring ball “reserved” for us to come and pick up.  Cori had made arrangements to get a bread making lesson from Fred since her attempts at bread have been disappointing.  The lessons lasted longer than we had expected and we did not pull anchor until 2:00.  Just as we were leaving the harbor we got a call from Busk on Victoria Gay to see what our plans were.  We told him we were on our way.  He went to check the status of the mooring and reported back that it had been taken.  We turned around to go back to Marsh Harbour when it decided to rain, a lot of rain.  When we got back to the spot we had left someone was already anchored there.  Our first attempt at anchoring was a bust since the anchor would not grab.  We moved to another spot and successfully anchored there, in the driving rain.  We were both soaked and I was in a very foul mood.

On our way out of the harbor, Morgan, who we met at Guana Cay, caught up with us in his dinghy and asked if we could deliver some food and fuel jugs to friends in Hope Town.  Not expecting a problem we said OK.  After we had re-anchored we let everyone know that the delivery would not happen.  The next morning we got a message the folks on Destiny asking if we would like them to hold a mooring for us if one came available and we could bring their stuff.  After thinking it over we decided to go for it.  They knew of a couple of boats that were planning to leave and would mark the mooring for us.  When we got outside of Hope Town we called them and they said it would be about an hour.  We dropped anchor and had lunch.  Shortly we got a call saying to come on in, they would be sitting on the mooring in their dinghy to make sure no one tried to take it.  We ended up between Victoria Gay and Temptation.  Our plan now is to sit out some weather so we paid to stay for a week.

That’s it; this is how we have been spending our time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Out Exploring

The weather has changed and we are having a spell of great days.

Our last week on the mooring ball ran out and we headed out to explore.  Our first stop was a short sail and motor to an area called Talloo Bank.  It is a shallow sand bank that is almost exposed at low tide and a long sand beach.  We spent a day there looking for shells and searching for the elusive conch.  In the morning we tried looking in a little deeper water using the dinghy but the breeze was causing too many ripples on the water to see the bottom clearly.  We gave up and pulled anchor with plans to go to Snake Cay.  The guide books show a shallow area inside the small islands that is great for kayaking or dinghying around.  Unfortunately the anchorage was too rough being exposed to the wind which had picked up.  We continued South to Lynyard Cay.  On this leg we watched as our chartplotter recorded that we had gone 1000 nautical miles since this trip started.

Lynyard Cay is almost the furthest South of the Abaco Cays and is across form Little Harbor.  There are several nice beaches and we took the dinghy to one of them for shells and conch.  Cori found some shells and I found several conch but all too small to keep.  I’ll come back for them next year.  The next day was windy and a little rough so we just hung out and enjoyed the solitude and listened to Nascar on the XM radio.  On Monday the wind shifted more to the East and the sea calmed down and it was time to go look for shells and conch.  I turned the dinghy over at the beach to scrub the bottom.  I should have done that a lot earlier, there was a lot of growth.  After that I snorkeled around looking for conch.  I found a lot of empty shells but no live ones.  On Monday Cori went to another beach and I did a bit of boat maintenance and reading.  Late afternoon nine boats came into the anchorage having crossed over from Eluthera.  Our friends Ken and Fran on Release were with them.

Tuesday it was time to start back to Marsh Harbour since we needed to meet with Immigration and extend our cruising permit.  We raised all three sails and started the best sail of the trip.  We had winds of 15 knots on the beam and were doing an easy 7 knots.  When turning downwind we only dropped to 5 knots.  I don’t get better than this.  As we got closer to Marsh Harbour and our course took up more into the wind we had to trim in the sails to point as close to the wind as we could.  As Cori was cranking on the winch something inside it malfunctioned and released, allowing the handle to spin under load.  It hit her in the chest and then slammed her left wrist.  It swelled up immediately.  It was time to drop the sails and motor in.  Luckily we have some space in the freezer for ice and we used most of it to keep her wrist iced down.    Once at anchor we went to shore and ran a couple of errands, stopping to check in with Kevin at Island Boy to let him know that some mail was coming for us (he agreed  to be a mail drop for us) and get some advice it we needed to have the wrist checked out.  A skype call to Helen for advice on the wrist was all it took, no trip to the clinic.  Dinner was at Conchy Joes with Ken and Fran.

Wednesday we made our trip to Immigration and got our extension and picked up more groceries and had a propane tank refilled.  Errands done we spent the evening relaxing.

Thursday we pulled anchor and had a relaxing sail to Great Guana Cay where we had a reservation at the marina to tie up and plug in.  We haven’t been plugged in for over a month and the batteries need the attention.

Our weekend will be taken up with partying at Nippers.  This is the weekend for The Barefoot Man concert and it is reported to be a big party.  One of the others called it Spring Break for Old People.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ready to start exploring again

The weather has definitely improved.  We have had three days of perfect weather, if not a little windy.  The winds are forecast to be from the east or southeast for the rest of the week.  Our rent on the mooring ball runs out tomorrow and it is time to move on.  We plan to spend some time checking out some of the anchorages nearby.

I was somewhat successful in getting the bottom clean.  The dive hookah I borrowed helped a lot.  Without a weight belt it is hard for me to stay underwater, I seem to have too much buoyancy.

Cori has been busy making some shell ankle bracelets and got an order for five.  After working late several days to get them done the lady backed out of the sale.  The marina next to our mooring ball has a small gift shop and they bought them instead.  Now I need to keep Cori working to pay for this trip.