Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

First off we want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We have been taking it easy here in paradise, what else would you expect, but we have also been busy.  The weekend was windy so not much happened.  Sunday we made a trip into town and visited Vertram at his model ship shop.  We visited him last year and wanted to catch up on his latest work.  He builds wooden models of ships that were used, built or have a history here in the Bahamas. Here is some of his work:

Monday morning and again this morning we joined in with some of the locals and cruisers for a tradition here on Green Turtle Cay.  For two weeks leading up to Christmas they have a tradition of "welcoming the Christmas spirit'.  What they do, and we joined in, is they meet at 5:00 am and march through the town several times beating drums and singing Christmas carols.  There was one problem that I picked up on right away.  They hand out song booklets so everyone has the words but unless you are passing under a street light you cannot read them.  It is still dark.  It is a small town so several passes are made going up and down all of the streets.

After marching for about an hour they serve breakfast.  On Monday it was fish stew and grits and sausage and grits.  Christmas Eve there was a larger group and they served scrambled eggs, sausage and grits.

After that I took a nap and since it was low tide Cori headed out to Gilliam Beach to look for shells.

This is one of her favorite beaches since it is so easy to find the sand dollars if you know the technique.  Last year she didn't learn it until we came back on our way home.  So far she has spent several days collecting Here is an example of just a few she has collected:

It also would not be Christmas without a batch of caramels.  She brought the fixing with since there is no guarantee she could buy them here or if we could afford them.  So far she has only handed out a few, we still need to cut and wrap them.

All in all it doesn't feel like Christmas with everything so green and the temperatures in the high 70's but we are doing our best to get into the Christmas spirit.  We will be staying here at the dock through Christmas then we will go out to one of the islands to anchor and get away for a couple of days then come back for Junkanoo.

Again, we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

In the Bahamas

We made it.  We are at Green Turtle Cay for the Holidays.

Monday was a long day, very long.  We pulled anchor again at sunrise and started motoring down the ICW with several others.  Our goal was to make it to Ft. Pierce and make the crossing from there.  The day went well, we arrived at Vero Beach around 1:00 pm.  Normally Vero Beach is the waiting spot for a weather window.  We already had our window scheduled so we only stopped to refuel and to fill water tanks.  We took on only 65 gallons of diesel, our first refueling since we left Morehead City in NC and we burned half of that motoring from St Augustine.  We made it to Ft Pierce about 4:30 pm and dropped anchor.  About that time we got one of our weather update emails from Chris Parker, our weather adviser and it was still positive for a crossing on Tuesday.  The wind had blown hard all day but it was dropping as predicted.  At 5:00 pm Chris does a weather update on the single-sideband radio and we asked about proceeding now rather then wait until morning.  His advise was it shouldn't be a problem.  After a quick dinner we pulled the anchor again and started out the inlet just as the sun set.  We were greeted with 4-6 foot waves as we got out of the inlet.  As we proceeded to get further offshore the waves lessened as the water got deeper.  We set course and started to our first waypoint.  The wind was out of the southeast and was just close enough on our nose that we could not sail, we were going to have to motor.  Throughout the night the waves dropped until we were only dealing with 1-2 footers and the wind continued to die.  By the time we crossed into the Sea of Abaco were dealing with 1 footers and about 10 knots of wind, still too close on the nose for sailing.

We continued following our route from waypoint to waypoint through the day.  A lovely day with light winds and a light chop in the water.  Last year we crossed during the day and traveled this area in the dark, this time is was nice to see the wide open expanse of the Sea of Abaco with it's light turquoise color and the ability to see all of the way to the bottom.  Evening came as we got closer to Green Turtle Cay and we arrived about 10:00 pm and dropped anchor.  We would wait until daylight and high tide to continue into Black Sound and tie up at Donny's Dock.

In the morning we called Donny to let him know we were coming in but he was not available.  While they were looking for him he pulled up alongside to welcome us and tell us where he was putting us.  We followed him in and got tied up to the dock.  We had talked to him previously letting him know when we were coming and he had also been following us on our Spot location reports.

Once settled in at the dock we proceeded to the Customs office to check in.  Another couple arrived at the office at the same time.  We were behind them at the fuel dock in Vero Beach and had anchored next to them in Ft. Pierce.  They waited until morning to leave and had just arrived.  We on the other hand were clean and rested having arrived the night before and were showered and rested.  We did learn one thing from them.  We learned about checking in as "co-captains".  If we sign in with both of our names listed as the captains we can eliminate problems if something happens to me (on the Immigration documents as sole captain) and Cori tries to take the boat out of the country by herself and only listed as crew.  Something we hope to never have to deal with.

Once checked in we are now "free to wander aimlessly about the Abaco" as Will on Anteries announces on the local radio net.  We are planning to stay in Green Turtle Cay through New Years and then start moving further south.

So far we have dinghied around the area, going up to White Sound to see who was there, into town for a bit of walking around and picking up some milk at the grocery store and relaxing.  Cori was able to get over to Gilliam Beach to start shelling. Not a lot of relaxing has happened yet.  Donny is adding to the docks and we gave him a hand with some of that,  He had planned to go fishing on Friday and taking Cori along but things got a bit busy with all of the boats coming in so we were giving him a hand moving boats around.  Friday evening was a highlight, Donny was going to be in his churches Christmas play and we went to watch.  He had two lines but he did great (There is no room here.  Go somewhere else.) and even got applause for it.  It was a typical small town, small church production with songs from the kids and two short plays about the real meanings of Christmas.  It brought back a lot of memories of the productions we would put on at Christmas when we were in grade school.  After the church production we walked around town looking at the lights and came on a birthday party.  Everyone was welcome, Cori got hit on by the birthday boy, they had an open bar for drinks and were serving big plates of beans and rice, mac and cheese, coleslaw, fried snapper and roasted pig.  It was a great celebration and typical of the Islanders friendliness.

Over night the predicted front came through and the temperature has dropped a bit but the winds are blowing 20-30 knots.  This is why everyone was in a hurry to get here and hunker down instead of waiting several more weeks in Florida before crossing.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

On the move again

We have left Palm Coast.  Our visit there lasted longer than we expected.  We ordered some stuff from Amazon and part of the order was delayed.  Delayed to the point we have not gotten it yet, they keep moving the arrival date out from the original.  Our friend Jim is willing to pick it up for us.  Jim has done a lot for us while we were there: loaning us a vehicle, including us in runs for shopping and to visit other friends passing through St. Augustine and providing airport pickup and delivery and much more.  Thanks Jim!

We decided to leave because our weather advisor stated in his Friday report that “you need to get where you want to be for Christmas by Wednesday.”  There is some nasty weather coming in later in the week.  We did not want to be in Palm Coast but would rather be in the Bahamas, more specifically Green Turtle Cay.  We made the decision Friday evening and were moving on the water Saturday by 8:00 am.  We had wanted to go back up to St Augustine and go out the inlet and sail or motor offshore to either Ft Pierce or West Palm Beach and then make the crossing.  Two things changed that plan.  The weather offshore for Sunday was going to be nasty.  Also there is a report of a barge losing 25 shipping containers somewhere around Cape Canaveral.  Hitting one of them will really ruin your day.  We know they are out there because stuff has been washing up on shore: coffee cans, pet food, boxes of wine and other assorted flotsam.

We made it to New Smyrna on Saturday and anchored for the night across from the yacht club.  We were treated to dolphins swimming around the boat in the dark and then the Christmas boat parade passed by.  We had a very eventful evening then a quiet night at anchor.

We were up before dawn on Sunday and had the anchor up by 7:00 as the sun came up.  We are on the ICW so it is a motorboat ride but we made the best of it by raising the mainsail and motorsailing for part of it.  Having the sail up while you motor will give some extra speed if the winds are right.  We are anchor down at Dragon Point near Melbourne FL.  We had a good day traveling 58.8 nautical miles which converts to 67.6 statute miles.  A long day on the water running ten hours at around 6 knots.

We plan another early and long day tomorrow in hopes of making the crossing on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Our next report should be from the Bahamas.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Back in Palm Coast

We are back from our Thanksgiving break in South Dakota.  All of Cori's siblings were home and she did not want to be left out.  The trip out was good, the only delay was the final flight from Minneapolis to Rapid City.  The return flight was a bit more problematic.  We had an hour layover in Minneapolis scheduled but the flight out of Rapid City was delayed an hour.  This put us on later flights and would mean we would arrive in Daytona Beach around midnight.  We lucked out in Minneapolis and cleared the standby list and got an earlier flight.  We were boarding the plane as the people whose seats we had taken showed up to find their seats had been given away.  We were then able to get back on our original flight out of Atlanta and arrived on time.  Thanks to our friend Jim for picking us up and getting us back to the boat.

Oh ya, it snowed several times while we were there.

Back on the boat we have to wait for some things we ordered from Amazon to be shipped but are finishing off some small projects.  I needed to replace a block on deck for the mainsheet and had to take out a ceiling panel and trim.  Cori used this as an excuse to re-varnish the trim.  While in SD we made a run to Deadwood to transfer the registration for the dinghy to SD.  We now do not have to worry about the Florida Wildlife stopping us when out for a ride.  Cori has her sewing machine out and is working some sewing projects.

We are antsy to get moving but need to wait for Amazon.  Fortunately the marina has a monthly rate instead of weekly rates so instead of renting a slip for just the days we were going to be gone we have it for a month.