Sunday, July 19, 2020

North Carolina to Annapolis

We are hanging out in Annapolis for  bit.

On our last day in New Bern we got the new water pump and installed it.  Everything was working again.  We were ready to move on.  In the morning we slipped the lines and were able to go through the draw bridge with another boat.  With almost no wind we motored down the river to Oriental where we planned to spend a couple of days.  We tied up at the free dock and started our next projects.  We had replaced our main and mizzen sails and I still needed two more battens, the fiberglass pieces that help the sail hold it's shape.  We had contacted a sailmaker here and they said they had what we needed.  With a borrowed bike I made the run to pick them up and was able to fit them into the sails.  Now we were ready to do some serious sailing.  While there our friends Wayne and Louise made the run across the river for a final visit.  After two days we were ready to move on.  One of the boats we were with in the Bahamas, Jerry and Donna on Bluejacket, live near Oriental and we were planning to visit them.  We motored down the river, again with no wind, and moved up Broad Creek to their dock.  Also at their dock was Jerry and Karen on Persephone and Andy and Charlie on Avalon.  They were among the boats we spent time with in the Raggeds.  We spent the weekend of the Fourth with them enjoying pot lucks in their big screened-in porch and Andy treated us to his first ever fireworks display.  
They don't allow personal fireworks in Australia.  Monday we had to move on.  We decided that we wanted to  spend a little time on Ocracoke Island which was one of our favorite destinations while we lived in the area.  The island is still trying to recover from hurricane Dorien and is still in rough shape with many businesses still closed.  Of course, the pandemic didn't do much to help them along.  We enjoyed our stay, eating several of our meals at Edwardo's, our favorite food truck.  Wednesday we left early to try to beat the rain.  There was a tropical low pressure system offshore and was causing rain squalls to move in from the ocean.  As usual we found the bottom in the channel leading out to the sound.  It is all sand and we were able to back off of it without incident.  There is a lot of shoaling and it is a problem for them to keep the channel deep enough.

In the past we have moved up the Pamlico River and followed the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) which is a series of creeks, rivers and canals.  This time we decided to by way of Roanoke Island.  We had a great day of sailing, even though we got some rain and then motored up the channel to the town of Manteo.  Manteo is another of those towns that offer a free dock for visitors.  We tied up to the dock and relaxed.  Motoring through shallow water is nerve wracking.  I had noticed that the volt gauge and the tachometer were acting up.  I came to the conclusion that the alternator was failing.  I spent the next day swapping alternators.  We have a lot of spare parts onboard and a spare alternator is one of them.  I suspected that there was a water leak by the new pump and some had gotten into the alternator.  So once again I uninstalled and reinstalled the water pump.  It looked like we were ready to move on.  We spent two days checking out the town, drinking craft beers and eating ice cream.  Roanoke Island is famous for what is called "The Lost Colony".  It was one of the first attempts to establish a colony in the New World and was organizes by Sir Walter Raleigh.  They are called "The Lost Colony" because something happened after the ship left to go back to England for supplies and when it returned two years later there was no sign of the colonists, they had just disappeared.  There are a number of theory's of what happened to them but it is still a mystery.

On Saturday we left Manteo and continued on to the ICW.  We were able to sail for a little while in the Albermarl River but it was mostly a motorboat ride.  Our destination for the night was the Coinjock Marina.  We don't normally stay in marinas, but this one has a special attraction.  Their restaurant serves one of the best prime rib dinners I have had.  Once tied up and cleaned up we sat down to dinner, I had ordered the 32 ounce cut, Cori had a caesar salad with ahi tuna and a crab cake.  32 ounces of meat is a lot but I am able to make three more meals from the leftovers.  We left the marina in the morning and motored along the ICW to Chesapeake City and a free dock at The Great Bridge.  I needed to stop here because there is an alternator and starter repair shop and I needed to have the alternator checked out.  I was starting to think the problem was the voltage regulator.  On inspection he suggested replacing it with a new alternator with a built in regulator.  The new one, with more power, was going to cost about as much as repairing the old one.  We spent two night there and with everything working we moved on Tuesday morning.  We motored up the Elizabeth River to Norfolk VA.

I have always liked going through Norfolk looking at the variety of boats and ships working and moving through the harbor.  Once through the harbor we passed the Naval Base with their variety of ships and moved out into Chesapeake Bay.  Once we moved into the bay the winds came up but were directly on the nose so we motored up to Mobjack Bay and anchored for the night.  In the morning we continued up the bay, again motoring without wind.  We were hearing a lot of chatter on the radio about a rocket launch and checked into that, not wanting to be in the exclusion zone.  It turned out the zone was on the Atlantic side and there was a boat that caused a delay.  Finally they were able to launch their rocket and we were able to see the vapor trail.  Those things move out of sight very fast, it was gone by the time we saw the trail.  We hoped to make it to the area called "The Solomons" but didn't get that far.  It was flat calm and we picked a spot to anchor for the night with the assumption that it would stay calm.  After dinner and just before sunset the winds came up. All of a sudden e have 15-20 knot winds and waves bouncing us around and putting us on a lee shore.  A lee shore is where you have land behind you and is dangerous because if anything goes wrong you are driven up into the shallows or up on shore.  We pulled the anchor and decided to make for Annapolis overnight.  With the winds we were able to sail all night and at sunrise we were approaching Annapolis.  We dropped the sails and motored into the harbor and picked up a mooring.  After a nap we launched the dinghy and checked in, deciding to stay through the weekend.  We were on a mooring next to Andy and Charlie on Avalon.  They had sailed up from Okracoke on the outside and arrived before us.

The main reason we chose to come to Annapolis is that there is a company here that sells parts for our water-maker and was holding a repair kit I had ordered.  We picked that up and I spent an afternoon rebuilding our water-maker pump.  There is a reason they refer to cruising as "repairing boats in exotic places".  In the afternoon we heard someone hail us and here were Anina and Charles from Prism.  We had met them in Trinidad and had last seen them in Martinique.  It turns out they live here in the summers and invited us over for Sunday Brunch.  Friday evening we had Andy and Charlie over for drinks and snacks since they were leaving in the morning.  Cori took the opportunity on Saturday for a shopping trip to reprovision and I spent most of the day on an historic tour.  I was the only one on the tour so it was enjoyable and informative without having to deal with people.  Sunday the mooring field emptied out when all of the weekenders left.

Tomorrow we will move over to the fuel dock to top off the fuel and water, we burned a half a tank with all the motoring and will continue up the Chesapeake, through the C&D Canal and down the Delaware river to Cape May.  From there we will continue North.


32 ounces of prime rib


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Spending time in North Carolina

We are back in North Carolina.

We left St Augustine June 3rd with intentions of sailing to Charleston.  The wind gods once again were not with us as we motored the 206 miles.  We never saw any winds above 9 knots until we were entering Charleston Harbor when it jumped up to 15 knots.  Once again it was a long boring motoring trip.  Once in the harbor we debated where to anchor and decided to go through the Wappoo Creek to the Stono River.  This put us further away from downtown Charleston but we had no plans to go there.  The next day we took the dinghy a short way up the creek for lunch, WiFi, and a quick trip to the grocery store.  There was a strong current in the river and a fair amount of weekend traffic but we spent a couple of days just chilling on the boat.  On Monday we dinghied to the nearest marina for WiFi and our friends Bo and Allison picked us up for lunch and then gave us their car to use for the day.  We made a run to Trader Joe's and a couple of other stops and then back to drop off the car and another visit.  Bo and Allison are friends we met in the Bahamas and met up with them again in the Virgin Islands.  Since then they have moved to Charleston, sold the boat and set down some pretty deep roots (swallowed the anchor as we say).  It was great to get caught up again and really appreciate their hospitality.

On Tuesday we pulled the anchor to try and catch the tide and current in Wappoo Creek and moved out to the main harbor and anchored not too far from Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.  Wednesday morning just as the sun came up we pulled anchor and headed to Beaufort NC.  The winds were light so again we were motoring until about noon when the winds showed up.  We had a nice comfortable sail until about 5:00 when the winds picked up to 20 knots and the waves started building.  During the night they stayed between 20-25 with waves breaking over the bow.  We couldn't change our angle to the wind and waves until about 2:00 am next morning when we cleared Frying Pan Shoals and tuned more downwind on our final leg to Beaufort.  The boat settled down on the new heading and smoothed out considerably.  At this point we were sailing along at 7-9 knots.  We arrived at Beaufort Inlet earlier then we had expected and instead of anchoring we continued on planning to anchor further along in Adams Creek.  The trip up the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) to the Neuse River didn't take as long as we expected, we had a favorable current, and since there was still plenty of daylight we continued  up river to Clubfoot Creek and anchored.  It had been 36 hours traveling 243 nautical miles averaging 6.75 knots.

We closed the circle.  It was from this creek in November of 2016 we left for our trip to the Caribbean.  This year we traveled 2619 nautical miles or 3013 statute miles equal to traveling from Portland ME to Los Angeles CA.  The circle of NC to the Caribbean and back was a total of 6658 nautical miles or 7662 situate miles or about a quarter of the way around the earth.

Once in the Creek we hunkered down for several days of rain going in from time to time to visit friends.  This is where we lived aboard prior to going cruising, we were home.  After a week we pulled anchor and motored up the river to New Bern where we anchored for a couple of days getting ready for housecleaning and projects.  On Friday we moved into the marina and picked up a rental car.  We started offloading stuff, some of it we took with us and would not need again, some we picked up along the way and it all went into the storage unit we rent here.  We had previously bought some used sails from other Pearson 424 owners and we swapped out our old sails for new to us sails.  We have not replaced the sails that came with the boat when we bought it in 2004.  We have been enjoying going out to have lunch or dinner at some of our favorite spots and visiting friends we left behind.

Several projects are getting done while we are tied up to a dock with electricity and transportation.  I found when changing the oil and servicing the engine that the water intake pump was failing.  This is the pump I had rebuilt in Trinidad before starting the season.  We planned to just stay a week at the marina but can't go anywhere until the new pump arrives and is installed.  Cori is making a new set of chaps for the dinghy, they protect the tubes from the sun and had ripped out during the last two years.

When the pump is installed we will be leaving the marina and starting downriver.  Once there we plan on turning north and following the ICW up to Norfolk VA.  Once there we will proceed to Annapolis with a variety of stops along the way.  Annapolis is a destination to pick up some parts for our water-maker that I have ordered.  After that we intend to continue north with a final destination of Maine or possibly beyond, depending on timing.  In the fall we will turn back and head for the Bahamas again.  As always "plans are written in sand at low tide", meaning they can and will change several times.




A few photos:



Conch, Ragged Ialands


Beach, Ragged Islands


Hiflite in the turquoise waters of the Bahamas


Hog Island anchorage, Bahamas


Beach trash on the ocean side Bahamas.


Hi Flite sign in the Hog Island beach shelter.


Our dinghy, the chaps are being remade.


Sunrise, St Augustine FL.


Motoring through calm seas.


Sunrise off of North Carolina.



Monday, June 1, 2020

Back In the USA

We have arrived back in the US on 5/29/2020 from the Bahamas.

It was time for us to leave the Jumentos/Ragged Islands as we were beginning to run low on some supplies.  There was a favorable weather window that would allow us to move up into the central Bahamas and we chose to take it.  We pulled anchor on the 19th and after hoisting all sails we sailed up to Flamingo Cay in 10-15 knot winds.  We planned to spend a couple of days here since it was a new area for us but by the next morning we were starting to roll.  We do not like staying in a rolling anchorage so we decided to move on.  Flamingo Cay is sort of a jumping off point for what is called the outside route or the inside route.  We chose the inside route which kept us in the shallow waters of the Bahama Banks.  We headed off with plans of stopping off at one of the smaller Cays if it got too late and continuing on to Blackpoint the next day.  We had winds 15-20 knots and arrived at our halfway point early and continued on.  We dropped anchor at Little Bay just outside of Blackpoint at 6:00 pm, a run of 80 miles in 12 hours.  I made a small error by anchoring too close into shore and during the night a rain squall came through and the winds shifted.  We were no in too shallow of water and had to move.  Nothing is as much fun as pulling anchor and re-anchoring at night in the rain.  Once situated it was time to go back to sleep.  In the morning we moved to Blackpoint proper.  Blackpoint is a small community with a protected harbor and amenities for cruisers.  The Bahamas were still enforcing a total lock-down on weekends so we spent the two days on the boat with light rain showers moving through.  On Monday we were able to go into town with our masks on and do a load of laundry, use the WiFi and stock up on bread.  There is a lady who bakes bread and we purchased three loaves for the upcoming trip.  This is some of the best bread you will ever eat and it was still warm from the oven.  In the afternoon we pulled anchor and moved up a few miles to Big Majors Spot, home of the swimming pigs (google it), and spent the night.

Tuesday morning, the 26th, we pulled anchor and moved over to Staniel Yacht Club, about a mile, to top off our fuel.  Once full we started the trip back home.  There are a number of options and we chose to take advantage of the fair weather and make it non-stop.  We took what is called the Decca Channel across the Banks to the Tongue of the Ocean which is a deep water area in the middle of the islands.  Once there we shifted to a northwest heading and our next waypoint was the Northwest Channel Light.  The winds were light and from behind, not a good combination.  When going downwind you subtract your boat speed from the wind-speed and get what is called the "apparent" wind.  With 10 knot of wind we were only showing 4-6 knots apparent.  We were only sailing at about 3.5 knots.  We finally got an opportunity to fly our spinnaker, we had been carrying it with us for years without use.  A spinnaker is a an oversize sail made with lightweight material for sailing in light-winds usually going downwind.  With this sail we were able to maintain 4-4.5 knots of speed.  With evening coming  we expected the winds to drop and we started the motor to continue on.  With the motor we were able to maintain 5-6 knots of speed.  In the morning we tried sailing with the headsail again and were able to maintain about 4 knots.  By evening the winds were dropping again so we started motoring.  This time I started the watermaker to fill one of the tanks.  We continued across the Banks (shallow water area) until about 3:00 am when we moved into the deep water between the Bahamas and Florida.  Once in the deep water we were able to catch the Gulf Stream and ride it as we motored across.  This gave us a boost and we were now maintaining 8-9 knots.  We angled northwest as we crossed and headed to St Augustine.  We were planning on going further but with the light winds still behind up we had to motor rather then sail.  There was a weather front moving down the coast and we would have to tuck in somewhere to let it pass, St Augustine was a logical choice.  Once it passes we could continue and hopefully sail the next leg.  We arrived at St Augustine on the 29th and dropped anchor about 3:00 pm.  the marina reported all of the mooring balls were reserved so we anchored just outside the mooring field.  It is a short dinghy ride to shore.  We had traveled 461 miles in 77 hours, motoring 50 of those.  It was an uneventful trip except for the last evening.  Just after sunset, off of Cape Canaveral, a storm moved in and suddenly instead of 10 knots of wind and calm seas we had 30+ knots on the nose.  We had heard the forecast and knew it was coming so we were not caught by surprise.  What caught us was that after seeing almost no traffic we were approached by three boats of various sizes one after the other, either them maneuvering to avoid us or us maneuvering to avoid them.  After about an hour it calmed down but the seas had built by the winds and took longer to calm down.

We are now in a major urban area, with lots of people and varying reports of the Covid Virus.  Saturday we launched the dinghy and made a trip to Winn/Dixie.  Time to re-provision.  We tied the dinghy to a dock at one of the boatyards, with their permission, and walked to the store, put on our masks and went in.  OMG, there is air conditioning!  We are limited in how much we can buy at one time since we have to carry it back to the dinghy.  We now had fresh fruits, vegetables, other necessities and Diet Coke (my drink of choice in the morning).  Later we went back to shore to have dinner at one of our favorite barbecue spots, Mojo's.  The food was as good as we remembered.  On the walk back to the dock we checked out some of the shops but most were too busy since it was a Saturday evening.  We are still not used to being around crowds after social distancing in remote areas.

Sunday we spent the day on the boat since there was nothing in town that we needed to do.  In the evening, as we were enjoying our first grilled cheese sandwiches (on Bahamian bread) we were hailed by a passing dinghy.  Their motor had quit and they were attempting to drift back home.  We jumped into the dinghy and towed them to their marina.  The tide had just changed and they never would have made it and were in the process of calling for a tow.  We got back to our boat just after sunset and settled down for the night.  In the morning on of the boaters we had towed stopped by to pick up our propane tanks.  We had mentioned that we needed propane but didn't know where to get it.  They returned them filled, refusing to let us pay for it.  A much appreciated but totally unnecessary gesture.

We are checking the weather forecasts for the next leg to Beaufort NC and it is not looking good.  Once this front passes there is another one coming that will hit before we arrive in Beaufort.  Our current plan is to make our way to Charleston and sit it out before continuing.  It is June 1st and our insurance states that we need to be north of Cape Hatteras by now.  It is time to get moving.  

We are still struggling with low bandwidth so no photos again.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Still in the Jumentos/Raggeds

We have not fallen off the edge of the earth, although we may be close to it.


We are still in the far southern islands of the Bahamas (the Jumentos) and have been here for about five weeks. As I stated earlier this is a remote area with many small islands (Cays) and few residents. There is one settlement on the far south island, Ragged Island, that has about sixty permanent residents and the only cell tower. Unless we make a special trip down there we are without cell service and Internet. There is a small store that has a few supplies but that is all. We had planned to stay here for a couple of weeks before working our way up the island chain to Central Bahamas and then make our way back to the US. That changed when we found that we are able, using another boats (Bluejacket) Internet, to place a food order from a store in Nassau and have it delivered on the weekly supply boat. That has been a major game changer for the boat that are here. We have about fifteen boats that move around to the various anchorages but base themselves at Hog Cay. This is the social center with a shelter built on the beach with fire pits for evening gatherings.


The Bahamas have put together various protocols to deal with the pandemic including curfews, shutdowns and lock-downs. Every weekend the islands are in complete lock-down starting Friday evening until Monday morning. After conversations with the local Royal Defense Force Officials we are exempt from some of the rules. We are required to have no association with the locals. This is not a problem since there are none on any of the islands except Ragged Island. They do monitor our comings and goings as we move about but are mostly on the watch for boats arriving. Everyone has been here for a month or more so we are able to get together for evening cocktails, watching the sun go down, for a birthday party, anniversaries and for morning water aerobics.


We have moved around a few times, going down to the south end of Ragged to get cell service and to hunt for conch. We have found a small bay that we have been able to collect conch and have been enjoying that fixed a variety of ways. Some of the boat go out fishing but we have not tried that yet, we want to conserve our fuel. We have been doing some exploring with the dinghy to check out the beaches for sea-beans which we have collected quite a lot of and search for conch. We have visited several of the other Cays to add some variety and to get off by ourselves.


We have been keeping busy with some small projects, reading (I am rereading most of what I have on my kindles), and Cori has taken up beach cleaning. For several weeks she has been going across to the ocean side and has been gathering up the junk that has washed up and has been burning it. There is an unbelievable amount of garbage that washes up on these beaches.


The weather has been steady with sunny skies and light winds usually from the NE to SE. We just had another weather front move down to us with winds clocking around giving us a wind from the west which is a problem because there is very little protection from a west wind. The forecast was for light winds but it kicked up a bit and as it continued around we had a night with the boat rolling with anything out of place going flying. By morning it continued around and we again had the island blocking the wind and waves. It was a very uncomfortable night. This week we have had another weather front approach us and we had several days of rain, the first in a long time. The boat is finally clean of salt residue and Cori has started polishing the stainless hardware again.


Our plans are always changing but with hurricane season ready to begin and the first named storm off the east coast we feel that it is time to move on. We plan to make our way north through the Bahamas then make the crossing to Florida or wherever on the east coast depending on the weather.


I want to thank our neighbors on Persephone for the use of their WiFi to send this post.




Can anyone say "SHARK!"




Conch, it's whats for dinner.





The amount of trash that washes up on the ocean side
of the islands is very depressing.
Mostly plastic.



Our "car".



Sunday, April 5, 2020

In the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands of the Bahamas


I’ll try to get you caught up with our travels.

While we were in Puerto Rico for almost a week we got caught up on some projects and did some provisioning.  Due to the virus alerts we did not venture too far from the marina.  We were monitoring the weather and planning our next passage when we got the forecast we were looking for.  We would have about four days between systems to make our move.  The winds were still high but were to drop each day until we would have to start motoring.  We chose to leave on Saturday, the 14th.  The seas had not settled down yet as we motored directly into them in order to get around the East end of the island.  We motored for about six hours until we were clear of the island and we could change course and hoist sails.  We were beating into the wind and as the wind increased we dropped the mainsail and continued on with just the mizzen and headsail.  We were getting pushed around a lot by about 6-8 foot seas that were hitting us on the beam (side of the boat) with a number breaking onto the deck.  Twice that night we were hit with a wave big enough to get into the cockpit through the side curtains and even splash onto our bed.  Eventually we were able to turn down a little to get a better angle to the wind and waves but it was still a rough ride.  The winds were in the 20’s and we were doing 7-8 knots.

Each day the winds dropped and the ride was getting better.  By Monday the wind had dropped into the teens and the seas had dropped and we again hoisted the mainsail.  We continued on and Tuesday the winds were 10-15 with 2-5 foot seas.  We were approaching our destination and altered course and then by evening had to drop sails and motor the remainder.  We arrived at Great Inagua Cay in the Bahamas and dropped anchor about 8:45 pm.  We had traveled 510 miles in 84 hours.

You may wonder what we do during this time?  Mostly tried to sleep.  We keep a constant watch of conditions and for other vessels so someone is always in the cockpit.  We vary between 6 hour shifts during the day and four hours during the night.  Therefore someone is always trying to sleep which isn’t easy when the boat is heeled over and being pitched about by the waves.

In the morning, Wednesday the 18th, we dinghied into the marina and walked up to Customs and Immigration to check in.  We were lucky that the Customs officials were on their way to the office and stopped to give us a ride after questioning about our health.  We were able to check in and were all set.  While we were checking in the Prime Minister was announcing the changes being instituted for closing down the islands.  We were just in time.  The anchorage is subject to a swell that causes a nasty roll so we pulled anchor and moved around to the west side of the island into Man O’ War Bay where it wasn’t rolling as bad.  There were only three other boats with lots of room between them, perfect for social distancing.  We stayed here for a week, relaxing on the boat, exploring with the dinghy and doing some snorkeling.  At one time we got too close to breaking waves and all of a sudden we were surfing down a six foot wave until it broke over us and we had to climb up the next one to get out of the mess.  Another day we were in a bay snorkeling and looking for conch when a four foot shark came over to check me out, twice.  No conch but also no shark bites but I was able to swim with a stingray for a bit.  At the end of the week we moved back to the anchorage by town and made a trip in to pick up some gasoline and hit the grocery store.  I filled two 5 gallon jerry jugs with gas for the outboards and generator at a cost of $72.00 US.  They don’t sell fuel at the marina so they have a truck deliver it.  After a tip for the driver it cost $75.00 for 10 gallons.  I plan on using it sparingly.  We used the marinas WiFi to check messages and to send the quick update to the blog.

On Saturday, the 28th, after a rolley night we pulled anchor and moved on.  We were heading to a section of the Bahamas called the Ragged Islands.  It was going to be a 24 trip.  With winds blowing 15-20 knots and seas of 4 feet just off the beam (slightly behind us) we sailed at 6-7 knots until arriving in the morning.  We turned off at Johnson Cut and followed the waypoints on the chart until we arrived at Hog Key in the Raggeds, there are many Hog Cays in the Bahamas.  We had traveled 159 miles in 25 hours.  After taking a nap to get caught up on sleep we went to shore to check out the island.  We walked the beach for a bit and then took a trail over to the ocean side of the island to check that out.

The Ragged Islands are remote with just one settlement on the southern most island.  That is the only cell tower and we were too far away to get a signal.  In the morning we pulled anchor and motored down to Southside Bay on Ragged Island and anchored.  There were five other boats here.  We walked into town to see if the store had any fresh fruit or vegetable but we were out of luck.  The town still has a lot of damaged buildings from the last couple of hurricanes but it now has a new solar farm along with the generator to supply power.  They also have a cell tower.  Walking back to the boat we missed our turn and ended up at the end of the runway at the airport.  The terminal consisted of a group of chairs under a tree and a platform with a couple of fire extinguishers.  Not what we are used to seeing for an airport but a nice paved runway with solar powered lights.  In the morning we went to check out one of the beaches and to look for a trail to the ocean side.  Not finding anything on the beach or a trail we went back to the boat and pulled anchor.

The weather forecast was for winds out of the West on Wednesday and we needed to find a location that was protected from the West.  We motored up to Double Breasted Cay where we knew several others were going.  We dropped anchor with five other boats and settled in for the night.  During the night the winds shifted and were kicking up some rough chop but nothing too bad.  Several boats bailed out for better locations but we chose to stay and ride it out.  By evening the winds had shifted to the northwest and things calmed down.

Thursday morning, the 2nd, we dropped the dinghy and went to one of the small close by islands to look for shells and sea-beans.  Sea-beans are seeds, about 1-2 inches across, that wash up on the shore, usually the ocean side, after being washed down the rivers on the islands in the Caribbean or from South America.  They are considered to be lucky and can be carved and polished for ornamentation.  We found a few but hit the jackpot when we moved to the ocean side of Double Breasted Cay.  There were two beaches between the rocks and along with all of the litter, mostly plastic, were sea-beans.  I beat Cori by finding 63 to her 61.  There are a variety of different types, what we found are called sea-hearts and a couple of hamburgers (which look like little hamburgers).  They are used by cruisers for decoration and crafts.  By the time we got back to the boat the winds had shifted, now from the northeast and the anchorage got rough again.  We pulled anchor and moved over to Raccoon Cay and dropped the hook.  We had the place to ourselves.  Most of the other boats had gone back to Hog Cay.  In the morning we dinghied to shore to explore.  The charts showed some ruins and after bushwhacking through the brush we found the ruins of a small cottage, the walls three feet thick built from the local rock.  We also found several rock wall fences winding through the brush along with a herd of goats.  One other boat joined us in the bay.

Today is Saturday, the 4th, and we pulled anchor again and sailed back down to Southside Bay with the intent of getting connected to the cell tower.  It was just 15 miles but a great sail with all three sails flying.  We plan on staying here for a couple more days.

What is happening with the Covid-19 virus in the Bahamas?  There are several cases on the most populated islands but not on the more remote islands.  They are trying to contain it by not allowing any travel between islands, an early curfew, and closing down all but essential business.  We as cruisers are still allowed to move from island to island but the latest order is that we cannot get off our boats except for essentials such at fuel, water and provisions.  Many have cut their stay early and are on their way home.  Being a we live on our boat we do not have a “home” to go back to.  We have decided to extend our stay in the islands as long as they will allow us staying in the more remote islands or isolating ourselves from groups of locals or other cruisers.

Sorry there are no pictures but we have a very slow connection.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bahamas

This is just a quick update while I have a connection. We made it to the Bahamas without incident. We checked in at Great Inagua Island before they started the serious lockdown. We have changed our plans and instead of being back in the States mid-April we are going to stay in the Islands as long as they let us. Maybe by then things will have calmed down. Stay safe and practice social distancing. Don’t forget to keep washing your hands.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Puerto Rico

We have moved to Puerto Rico.

While still in St John, USVI we spent a couple of days on a mooring in Lameshur Bay.  This is one of our favorites.  The view from the boat is forested hills on three sides and the open Caribbean Sea on the other.  There are two buildings that can be seen: the roof of the rangers cottage and a research facility at the dock.  There are no lights at night other then from your fellow boats, pure peaceful paradise.  I did some snorkeling and we hiked one of the trails to the petroglyphs.  The hike was a lot harder then I remember from last time we were here, about three and a half years ago.



Squid aka: calamari


We are in the furthest bay



Termite nest, the dark lines are their covered trails





Sandbox tree, Stories are they would tie you to the tree for punishment



The next day we motored around the island and again picked up a mooring in Caneel Bay.  From there we dinghied into town to do laundry and another burger at Tap and Still.

Saturday, Leap Day. we moved to Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas.  After lunch we went ashore and immediately ran into our friends on Peace.  We had not seen them since last year when we went on a tour in Dominica with them.  We spent a bit of time with them and then hit the grocery store.  We stocked up once more with fresh vegetables and added more rum to our collection.  Cruzan Rum is made in St. Croix and is inexpensive here.  The next day Cori went out exploring one of the islands in the bay in her kayak while stayed and ran the generator to bring the batteries up.  There was a small cruise ship in so a number of stores were open so we went ashore again.  One of our stops was at a small bar.  When we arrived there was one other couple and the bartender.  It turned out three of us were from Minnesota, all being happy to not be there this winter.  From there we wandered back to the Tap and Still for another burger.  They have a really good burger.  The next day we went ashore and walked to the Frenchtown district.  The streets have French names and the French Bistro had authentic Cajun food and a feel of New Orleans.  From there we walked to Crown Bay Marina.  Cori wanted to check on her NOAA mark.  Back in 2007 Cori's dad was in the islands surveying for NOAA.  One of the marks he was able to rename and marked it as Cori.  For her birthday that year he sent here the Lat and Long of her birthday present.  When we were here before we found it and she wanted to check on it again.  It needed a little polishing and she was able to borrow some polish from the mega-yacht that was docked next to it.



From there we caught a bus back to downtown to spend some quality time with Sydney, our favorite bartender at the Tipsy Turtle.

The next morning we pulled anchor and moved over to Brewers Bay.  The downtown anchorage was getting rolly.  We traded a rolly anchorage to one where the airport runway blocked the swell.  The noise wasn't bad, there is a nice beach and it is quiet in the evening and overnight when the airport shuts down.  We went ashore and collected more shells.

The next day, Wednesday the 4th, we pulled anchor and motor-sailed to Culebra.  Culebra is part of the Spanish Virgin Islands and is a part of Puerto Rico.  We were here around Christmas 2016.  We just hung out doing a couple of little projects.  On Friday we went back in for an early dinner at Zaco's Taco's.  It seems to be the thing to do.  After that we wandered to another bar for a beer and the view.  Checking Facebook I saw that our friends from Dos Libras were at at another establishment.  We quickly paid up and walked over. for a visit.  We had met them the last time we were here and had not seen them since Grenada last year.  They have now sold their boat and are living in Puerto Rico.

The next morning we motored around to the east side of the island and picked up a mooring to snorkel the reef.  This is one of the better spots that I have snorkeled and I wanted to check it out again.  We spent the night there and in the morning headed off for Puerto Rico.

Our plan is to move from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas and we wanted a chance to get caught up on some projects before then.  We also have to wait out some inclement weather.  First thing was to fill up on fuel.  We were down 3/4 of a tank.  My record show that we last filled in Guadeloupe last February before heading back to Trinidad for the summer.  We took on 60 gallons, by my records we have traveled 975 miles since then.  We do sail as much as we can.  Once we were in our slip and all settled in our friends on Blue Moon arrived.  We had not seen them since Trinidad last year.  They are on their way back to the US also.

Today is rainy and we are taking care of some projects.  I have redone the spicing on our anchoring bridle, it had gotten chafed, and I am running the equalizing cycle on our batteries.  This is the main reason for going into a marina.  I need 110 AC power to get the batteries to full charge and then run the cycle which can be an all day event.  Once this is done they should hold a charge better.  My records also show that this is the third time in almost four years since we left North Carolina that we have been to a marina.

We will be waiting out the weather for a good window for the jump to the Bahamas, possibly checking out the south side of the island while we wait.  Time and weather will tell.