Saturday, January 23, 2016

Eleuthera Island

We are waiting out another storm in Rock Sound Harbor on the southern end of Eleuthera  Island.

We sat out the rain and winds near Spanish Wells and were rewarded with a near perfect day in the Islands.  Saturday was sunny and calm.  Cori got up and wanted to go ashore.  We were anchored on the east side of Meeks Patch, a narrow island that was protecting us from the winds the previous days.  The tide was low so we went in and joined several others walking the beach.  Plans were made to meet up later and spend the day ashore.  Once back at the boat we decided to make one last trip into town for supplies.  It was about a two mile dinghy ride but everything had calmed down so it was a good ride.  Once in town we dropped off our garbage and walked to the store.  I was about to run out of Diet Coke so that was high on my list.  I had previously stopped at a little bakery and wanted to go back and buy a pack of johnniecakes.  They are similar to English muffins.  On the walk back to the dinghy we also stopped and stocked up on more rum, we don’t want to run out.  We had a smooth ride back to the boat then joined everyone from Willimia, Sea Ya and Exit Stage Left on the beach for the rest of the afternoon.  It was a perfect day of sunshine and light winds keeping everyone happy and cool after being stuck on the boats while the rain and wind worked their way through.  Getting into the dinghy to go back to the boat I did something to my lower back, a very sharp pain.  It seems that I have a pinched nerve that is giving me a lot of trouble.

Sunday was forecast for gale force winds and they delivered.  The winds were out of the west and our little island did a great job of protecting us from the waves but did not do much at blocking the wind.  At one point I saw a reading of 38.8 knots (45 mph) and that may not have been the highest.  This continued into the night with the velocity dropping as the winds clocked around to the north.  Monday morning we had winds in the upper teens out of the north, time to get a move on.  We and our traveling partners pulled anchors and started off eventually joined by four others all going the same way.  We wanted to see more of Eleuthera and to get there we had to go down to a location called Current Cut and maneuver through a small break between islands.  It is called Current Cut because of the strong current.  We timed our passage for high tide when the current would be at its least.  We all formed up into a single file line and motored through.  Once clear we again hoisted the sails and had a near perfect day of sailing until we arrived at a spot called The Glass Window.

  This is where the ocean has carved an opening through a narrow part of the island and while standing on the bridge you can see the contrast between the dark blue of the ocean and the light colors of the sound.  Once we were anchored we took the dinghy to shore and walked up the road to the bridge first stopping at a Bahamian Heritage Site.  Not knowing what to expect we went to check it out.  It turned out we were at a site referred to as The Queens Bath.  It is on the ocean side and is an area where the shore has been eroded back and there is a series of hollowed out pools leading up to a cave with calm water filling the pools at low tide.  It is pretty impressive.  From there we went back to the road to walk to the bridge.  Just before the bridge we heard an odd sound and sight.  There was a blowhole next to the road.  This is a hole about six inches wide that is connected to a cave below.  As the waves force water into the cave air and water are shot out of the hole like a small geyser.  It was amazing to watch.  I tried to shoot some video of it; we will see how it turns out.

  We finally got to the bridge.  The view was just as described and the contrast of the colors is spectacular along with the waves crashing into the opening.

  Back on the boat Cori set to work on fixing dinner since she had invited the others over for dinner.  We all had a great day with the exception of Phil on Sea Ya.  While leaving Meeks Patch he reached up to wave at another boat going by and got his hand caught in the wind generator getting a serious cut on his hand.  The other boat, Cookie, has a nurse on board and she offered to check it out when we all got anchored.  Once at anchor Les and Kim on Willamia took them over to have it looked at.  Traveling with Cookie is the boat Good Morning Vietnam and it happens that she is a surgeon.  After 22 stitches and a helping of pain medication and antibiotics Phil was all patched up.  He is healing nicely but is having trouble trying to not use that hand.

We had thought of staying for another day before moving down-island but the weather forecasts were not looking good.  Another front was coming through in a few days so we had to move on if we were to be in a safe harbor for the storm.  Tuesday morning we pulled anchor and had another near perfect day of sailing.  Our destination this day was Governors Harbor.  This was the original capital of the Bahamas and the guide books had a lot of good to say about it.  Unfortunately they also have a lot of bad to say about the anchorage.  The harbor is exposed to all but east winds and has a hard bottom with poor holding.  We scouted out several options and finally decided on a spot just around Cupids Cay where there were some patches of sand that held the anchor solidly.

Wednesday morning we all took our dinghies to town.  High on the list was the bakery with fresh pastries for breakfast then checking out several other shops, especially the fishing supply shop.  From there it was a trip to the beach on the ocean side.  This is the former location of a Club Med and it is obvious to see why they located here.  It is one of the prettiest beaches I have seen with very fine grain sand with a light pink color.

  We walked the beach with intentions of going to Tippies restaurant.  We just didn’t realize how long of a walk that would be.  Once there it proved to be worth the walk, the fish tacos were excellent.  After lunch Cori found us rides back to town saving us from another long walk.  Once back in town some provisions were purchased and everyone went back to their boats to relax.

After a quiet night at anchor we were up and pulled the anchor by 7:30 am.  Our next stop was going to be Rock Sound Harbor to hunker down for the blow.   The winds were too light for sailing so we motored down there, about 25 miles.  Rock Sound Harbor is a large anchorage that is protected from all sides, a good spot to hole up.  We chose to anchor in the northwest part of the harbor leaving us with about a mile of open water to the east but close to the western shore.  The winds in the afternoon and evening were out of the northeast and it was a bit bumpy but the real winds were forecast to clock around to the west when the storm arrived.  By anchoring here we eliminated having to pull the anchor to relocate when the wind shifted.  In the evening we all got together on Exit Stage Left for pot luck dinner to celebrate Theresa on Sea Ya’s birthday.

Friday is windy and rainy again.  The wind has shifted around and has gone from east to southeast then south and now southwest, just as forecast.  We have about a dozen boats here waiting for the big show to arrive, west winds in the 30-40 knot range with higher gusts in the squalls.  Cori is staying busy with reorganizing the V-berth so that I can access the water-maker.  The generator is charging the batteries since the solar panels are not putting out in this weather and I have the water-maker running filling our tank.  In the evening the wind shifted to the west but the velocity dropped.  Later in the evening it started p as foretasted, overnight it blew in the 20’s but didn’t get as high as they had thought.  It seemed that north and south of up the wind was higher so we evidently got lucky.

Today, Saturday, it is partly cloudy but the winds are still blowing in the 20’s but we are protected from higher waves by the west shore.  So far everyone’s anchors have held so we just need to be patient and let it blow itself out.  Cori had gotten the sewing machine out and is making some bags from old sails and I have been lounging with a book and babying my hip hoping it gets better.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Spanish Wells

Our week on the mooring ball in Hopetown was up on Saturday but we chose to stay another night to let some weather pass before we moved on.  Saturday was laundry day and a trip to the fuel dock to fill up on diesel and gasoline.  We used a bit more than a half tank of diesel on the trip over and burned about 8 gallons of gas running the generator and running around with the dinghy.  We are not sure when or where we will be topping off again, so get it while you can.

Sunday we were ready to leave on the early high tide but then we watched as a cloud wall move in.

 It was interesting to watch, a straight line of clouds moving in with another line of dark clouds behind it.  Needless to say it rained, hard, but not for very long.  Once the rain passed we headed out followed by Willamia, Exit Stage Left and a few others that waited a little longer.  We took the short cut between Elbow Cay and Lubbers Quarter since we were at high tide but still saw some spots with about two feet under the keel.  From there we followed the waypoints around the shallows to Lynyard Cay, the jumping off point for the trip to Eleuthera.  On the way we got caught with another downpour but again it didn’t last long.  Since the forecast for the night was for west winds then shifting to northwest we chose to anchor off of and a little north of Bridges Cay for protection.  In all there were a dozen boats anchored here.

Monday morning we were up before sunrise to be ready to pull the anchor and motor down to Little Harbor Cut.  We joined the others and headed out the cut.  We had an incoming tide but not a lot of wind so the trip through the cut was uneventful.  Once clear of the opening we set course for Egg Island, about 50 miles away.  Cori had her fishing gear out as we went through the cut and as soon as we were clear she got a strike.  Whatever it was took everything, the lure and the leader.  She re-rigged and we were off.  The wind was out of the northwest with following seas about 4-6 feet.  Unfortunately when we tried to fly the headsail it kept collapsing and then filling with a sharp snap only to collapse as we rode over the next wave.  This is very bad for a sail and the rigging so we chose to motor.  As the day progressed the wind slowly shifted from NW to N to NE just as forecast.  We had about 10-15 knots of wind but going downwind about half to a third of that was canceled out so it wasn’t a good day to sail.  Along the way Cori started to get lucky, one of her handlines brought in a nice fish that we cannot identify but it was a keeper.

  Later in the afternoon the seas calmed a bit so we tried sailing again.  We were able keep the sail full but it dropped our speed to around 5 knots.  Just at that point a fish started stripping line off of her reel.  With the sail out I wasn’t able to slow the boat down while she fought her fish.  Once it was close to the boat we could see it was a nice Mahi Mahi.  It took a bit to get it alongside while I tried to get it into the net.  With the boat moving almost 5 knots there was too much drag on the net and I couldn’t get it under the fish.  Finally the handle bent and I grabbed the gaff hook.  Of all of the Mahi we have caught this is the first one we were able to get onboard using the advice from our friend Lee from last year.

  It measured 40” from tip to tip.  It was quickly dispatched and bagged and dropped into the refrigerator to be filleted later.  We thought that that would be the excitement for the day but the fishing gods were with her.  When we got close to Egg Island there are two choices, go through the narrow cut or go around the island.  We were going to go through the cut.  Once we were lined up on our waypoint the bell on the handline started ringing, another nice fish.  Cori got that one in but didn’t have here bottle of rum she used to kill them near her.  The technique is to squirt alcohol of some sort into their gills and they die quickly.  I was jumping from one side of the boat to the other looking for her squeeze bottle and knife.

  Once found the fish was quickly dispatched and gutted.  I moved back behind the wheel to discover that we were through the cut and ready to change course for Spanish Wells.  Autopilot is a wonderful thing, if there is nothing in front of you.  We continued on and finally dropped anchor with the others in the lee of Russell Island, close to the entrance to Spanish Wells about an hour before sunset, a trip of 62 miles.

Tuesday dawned with heavy overcast and it rained off and on all morning.  In the afternoon it lightened up and looked ok for a trip to town.  We launched the dinghy and headed in stopping to talk to Phil and Theresa on See Ya.  Once in town we headed straight to the telephone office to get some information on my phone and data plan.  I was worried about running out of data and couldn’t remember how to check it.  While there we made the decision to get a sim card and purchase some data for Cori’s phone so she could use it more than just when she could find a WiFi signal.  After a stop at a couple of shops it started to rain again.  We headed back to the dinghy but chose to stop at Budda’s for a couple of beers until the rain let up.  Soon we were back on the dinghy heading back to the boat for some delicious Mahi for dinner.

Wednesday started with some light rain but then got better.  It was still overcast but it didn’t rain anymore.  We all headed into town, one to get propane, another to check on more fishing gear and all to stop at the grocery store and other shops.  It turned out the fishing shop was closed but since it was next to the beach we wandered down there.  Cori was in shell heaven with the number of sea urchins washed on the beach.  We walked the beach working our way back into town only to get to the grocery store at 12:00 as it closed.  Oh well.  From there we all wondered around town until meeting up again at the Anchor Cafe for lunch.  After lunch the others went back to their boats and we wondered around until we stopped at the Shipwreck to watch the water and have a beer.  There we met a gentleman originally from Wisconsin that had been living there for the last 14 years.  Stories and jokes soon started.  From there we took the dinghy for a tour of the harbor.  Spanish Wells is the fishing capital of the Bahamas and the harbor is filled with a variety of fishing boats of all sizes.

Thursday and Friday the forecast is for the winds to pick up and start to clock around from the NE to the SW in the 30’s and higher.  We need to move from our convenient spot to somewhere more protected.  After looking at all of the options we chose to move about 2 miles to Meeks Patch, a small island that will give us protection from anything east and then it is a short trip around the top of the island to the east side for protection from the SW and W.  We are now sitting at anchor waiting for the weather to do its thing as a pot of fish stew bubbles on the stove.

Friday, January 8, 2016


We are in Hopetown while the weather front went through, but first:

On New Years Day Cori had a successful day of deep drop fishing with Donny and a few others.

After the fishing trip it was into town for the annual Junkanoo.  This year I did not shoot photos but am in the process of editing the video I shot.  Watch for that coming on our YouTube channel.

On Saturday we caught the high tide and left Black Sound and moved down to Hopetown.  We had fairly calm seas and therefore a smooth ride through the Whale Cay passage.  To get from the northern Abaco to the southern part we have to go out into the Atlantic by going around Whale Cay.  It can be a smooth ride or it can be kicking up so much that there is no way to safely make the trip.  Cori used the opportunity to try her luck at fishing again.  She caught one fish, a good sized barracuda.

Unfortunately barracuda are not safe to eat so it was thrown back.  Once in Hopetown we picked up a mooring ball and settled in the week.  The weather forecast had a cold front coming through mid week and we needed a safe harbor for the duration. Once settled in we joined friends on their boat for a social hour.  We heard that Papa Nasty's BBQ was scheduled to close at the end of the week so on Sunday we joined Bo and Allison from Sehla(sp) for a walk there for lunch.  The women walked and jogged faster then Bo and I but we were able to catch them at Da Beach Bar when a nice lady offered us a ride on her golf cart.  The food at Papa Nasty's was as good as ever and we had a nice visit with Papa talking about his plans to move to Florida.  On the walk back we got caught in one of the showers that were passing through.

Monday Cori was able to join the yoga class she went to last year and I joined a group of cruisers in helping to launch one of the traditional abaco dinghy's.  These are small wooden boats that are either propelled by a sculling oar or with sails.

There is a movement here to maintain a small fleet of the boats.  In the afternoon we made the trip into town to buy some bread and pie at Vern's grocery.  We bought his last key lime pie but the bread wouldn't be available until Wednesday.  In the evening we went to Captain Jack's for burgers and bingo.  It was a very successful night since the burgers were good and I won one of the bingo games with a pot of $354. It was a pretty good day overall.

Tuesday the front arrived and it rained all day.  Cori made a trip off the boat to meet with the manager of the marina gift shop to sell some of her jewelry made with shells and seaglass found here in the Abacos.  Wednesday it continued to rain with winds in the 20's and 30's.  This being a very protected harbor we had no problems other then cabin fever.  Cori did make one trip off the boat to pick up milk and fresh baked bread at Vern's.

Thursday dawned clear and calm, another beautiful day in paradise. We started our day with a trip to check out the new gift shop at the lighthouse where Cori donated some of her bags made from old sails.  From there we went exploring in the dinghy traveling down to Tahiti Beach and the Tilloo Cut area.  We stopped off at Lubbers Landing on Lubbers Quarter Cay for lunch.  We highly recommend the tuna burger, it was just as good as we remembered.  After lunch and a few drinks we started back to Hopetown.  The wind had kicked up a bit and it was a bit bumpy on the ride back.  Evidently something got stirred up in the fuel tank and the engine stalled.  It would restart but would die as soon as I gave it any gas.  We started motoring back at idle speed until I found that it would run about half speed if I pulled out the choke.  When we made it back to the harbor we stopped immediately Arteries to see if Will could check it out.  In no time the carburetor was pulled, dismantled, cleaned and adjusted.  Once it was reinstalled everything ran perfectly,  Thanks You Will!  Once back on the boat I had to run the generator to bring the batteries back up since we had several days without the solar panels doing any charging

It is Friday, Cori is at yoga and I am at the marina using their WiFi.  We need to get more weather information for next week to make a decision to stay or to move on.  We will see what happens..

Friday, January 1, 2016

Message in a bottle

First and foremost we want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

We spent Christmas Day with a group of other cruisers for the annual cruisers pot luck.  The location had to be moved but we had a great view of the water while meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old.  We had also been invited up to Donny's for dinner with his family and friends.  All in all it was an enjoyable Christmas.  We weren't able to spend it with our families but were with our new extended families.  We had plans to leave the dock and go out to one of the Cays to anchor on Saturday but held off and spent another day at the dock.

On Sunday at high tide we slipped the lines and had a great sail up to Munjack Cay.  This is the first anchorage we went to last year and we had enjoyed a great deal.  After the anchor was set we joined a couple of other boats that had been at the dock and dinghied around to the north end of the island to a beach we had not been to yet.  Cori did not find many shells and I had no luck finding any conch large enough to keep.  Maybe get them next year.  Monday we went to the southern point of the island and while Cori walked the beach I snorkeled out by the rocks looking for lobster.  No luck.  This is one of the beaches we videoed and uploaded to our YouTube channel, check it out.  Later Cori took her kayak to the ocean side of Crab Cay where she knew of a location to find seaglass, making a pretty good haul.  Seaglass is pieces of glass from broken bottles that get abraded by the sand and rocks to take the shine off of it and it makes nice jewelry which is what Cori is doing with it.

Tuesday we joined the others and went back to the south point again and once more I snorkeled for lobster and they walked the beach.  I went out further to a different group of rocks but again no lobsters.  There was a good variety of coral and small fish.  I tried to shoot some video but didn't get anything good.  After that we made a run to another beach on the Sea Of Abaco side.  There is a dock there and trails that will take us to a nice beach on the Atlantic side (see another video from last year).  To our surprise as soon as we got out of the dinghy we were greeted by a ray, possibly a stingray but all rays look alike to me.  It turned out to be friendly and had gotten used to people coming to feed it.  I didn't have anything for it to eat but I held the video camera under the water to shoot some video of it.  It even bumped the camera with its nose to see if it was something to eat.  I have posted the video on YouTube.  There is a link to them in the upper right hand side of this blog.  Check it out.

After walking that beach we headed across to the beach on the Atlantic side.  While walking and looking for shells and seabeans Cori spotted a wine bottle that looked like there was something in it.  Sure enough we had found a message in a bottle.  We brought it back to the boat to open it.

  The cork was almost gone and came out easily.  The message was rolled up in a ziplock bag but had gotten wet.  When we opened it up and read it we were in for a surprise.  It turned out to be a message thrown overboard by a group on a boat run by Sea Education Association on a trip from the Virgin Islands to Nova Scotia in May of 2005.

Sea Education Associations web site tells of their mission to offer college semesters at sea and this was part of one of their "drift bottle experiments".  This bottle had been thrown overboard at a spot about 350 miles East of Nantucket Island in the Gulf Stream.  Where it had traveled during the past ten and a half years is anyone's guess.  It is possible that it made a complete circle of the Atlantic ocean following the currents until it washed up on a beach in the Bahamas.  We have notified SEA that it has been found and will be following up with more information for them.  That evening we decided that this was "the best day ever" with visiting several beaches, finding seabeans, snorkeling, finding a message in a bottle and spending it with friends that we popped a bottle of champagne to toast the sundown.

Wednesday morning we pulled anchor and moved to No Name Cay just on the other side of Green Turtle Cay.  The attraction here is the good shelling for Cori and the wild pigs that live on the island, not to mention the seclusion.  There are a lot of boats that come over to see the pigs but very few stay for the night so we almost always have the anchorage to ourselves.

Cori took her kayak to shore to walk the beach and I stayed on the boat to read and relax.  Later I took the dinghy ashore to join her and stopped to check out the pigs before dinghing around for a while.  I dropped her off at her kayak and I headed back to the boat where she joined me later.

We had a quiet night at anchor and in the morning (New Years Eve) we motored back to Black Sound to tie up for Donny's dock again.  We made a quick run into town for a couple of last minute purchases and then hung out on the dock.  In the evening we joined the other couples we had spent time at Munjack Cay for snacks and stories until everyone called it a night.  Back on the boat we managed to stay up until midnight to wish each other a Happy New Year then off to bed to be ready for the next day.

It is New Years day and Cori was up early to go fishing with Donny and a couple of others and when they get back it will be time to head into town for their annual Junkanoo.  I posted a lot of pictures from last years Junkanoo and we enjoyed it so much that we made plans to be here for it this year.  Watch for upcoming photos and video of the event.

Here is a photo of some of the jewelry Cori has been making:

Our plans are to leave soon and move further down the Abaco, possibly with a stop in Hopetown and then continue moving south into the Exumas, the central part of the Bahamas.

Once again, we wish everyone a Happy New Year!