Sunday, April 17, 2022

We Closed the Circle

We closed the circle.  We are back in Clubfoot Creek where we started the season.

With a forecast of fair weather and winds that would last four to five days and our check-out papers stamped we left the dock on Sunday afternoon at high tide and started our way back to the states.  We had a nice sail to Powell Cay where we started the motor and went out the cut into the ocean.  We were greeted by a pod of dolphins.  We had a number of waypoints to follow provided by our weather forecaster and we started off to our first waypoint just as the sun was setting.  With light winds almost on the nose we adjusted our course but soon found we would be traveling too slow and far off of our planned line.  We again started the motor and adjusted course to the waypoint.  We continued through the night and the next day.  The winds shifted to be off our stern and was not strong enough to keep the sails full so we continued motoring.  We continued on our course experiencing some eddies off the gulf stream slowing us down into the 4 knot range instead of the 5-6 we were traveling. Wednesday we got into the gulf stream and our speed jumped up to 6-7 knots and we were able to sail giving the motor a rest.  We also took advantage of the conditions to transfer the diesel we were carrying in jerry jugs to the main tank.  We were not sure if we would have enough fuel to motor all the way.  Around 11:00 pm the winds died off, we were out of the gulf stream and we had to motor again.  Thursday morning at 10:00 am we arrived in Beaufort NC and dropped anchor in the harbor.  We went for lunch with Donna and Jerry from Bluejacket who had arrived from the Bahamas the day before.  Friday we spent on the boat recovering from the trip and checking on some problems.  Saturday morning we pulled anchor and motored up the ICW catching a rising tide.  Once into the Neuse River we continued on to Clubfoot Creek and anchored off the marina.  The circle was closed.

We left November 8th and  traveled a total of 2244 nautical miles or 2582 statute or land miles which is about the distance from New York to London.  We visited several islands that we had not been to before and plan to go back.  We met up with many of our friends from previous years, made a lot of new friends and met many of the locals.  Once again the Bahamians demonstrated that they are the most friendly and welcoming people on earth and we are looking forward to returning next winter.

So what is the plan?  We are going to spend a little time in North Carolina sorting out what we need to keep on the boat and what goes to storage.  From here we will move up to the Chesapeake and get hauled out for the summer.  We plan on spending the summer in South Dakota working on the property and cabin we bought.  

I have never mentioned it but if you click on the pictures they will enlarge to full size.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Back at Green Turtle Cay

We are back in the Abaco's at Green Turtle Cay where we were for Christmas.

We left Hog Cay in the Jumentos Islands, stopping at Nurse Cay.  We went ashore and hiked to the ocean side and when we got back to the anchorage we started looking for conch.  We added five more to our freezer after Cori cleaned them.  In the morning we pulled anchor and sailed to Water Cay but only stayed the night since it was rolling more than we like.  In the morning we pulled anchor and sailed through  the shallow banks to Calabash Bay on Long Island.  Once again we were someplace we had not been.  The bay at Calabash has a reputation for the swell to cause rolling but it wasn't too bad that day.  As pretty as the bay was we decided to move on to find a protected anchorage from a weather front that was forecast to be moving in.  We left in the morning to sail to Cat Island.  Again the winds started light and by the time we arrived at Old Bight it was blowing 20 knots.  In the morning we went ashore and walked up to the community, stopping at the bakery for treats and a loaf of coconut bread, at the small grocery store Cori checked if they had any lettuce which they didn't, and checked out the straw market next door.  After learning how to make simple baskets we now appreciate how much work these ladies put into their crafts.  On the way back it started to rain so we stopped at a take-away shop for lunch and to get out of the rain.  While we were waiting a van pulled up and asked if we needed any produce, and he had the lettuce Cori was looking for.  In the evening we went ashore to join the other cruisers in an impromptu beach party.  The resort we were in front of, Rollezzz Beach Resort, hosted us with a bonfire, several snacks and a local musician.  In the morning we moved up the bay to New Bight.  There is a new laundromat and Cori took advantage of it getting a months worth of laundry done.  I was running low on gasoline for the outboards and generator so I took several jerry jugs to shore to fill at the gas station.  I got thirteen gallons, after adding the Value Added Tax (sales tax) the total was $138.00, the most I have ever paid for fuel.  Everything is expensive since it has to be shipped in.  The major attraction at New Bight is the Hermitage.  This a small chapel and living quarters that Father Jerome built on the highest point in the Bahamas.  It is all hand-built with local stone and includes a path with the Stations of the Cross built from rock and cement.

After the climb we stopped for lunch and beers at the beach.  In the late afternoon our friends on Wabi Sabi arrived.  The next morning we joined with them for another hike to the Hermitage this time stopping to check out the cave Father Jerome lived in while building the facility.  Again we stopped for lunch and beers at the small beach bar/restaurants.  

The next morning we planed an early start to continue on our way.  After starting the engine I noticed the alternator was not working.  I found that the cable leading to the batteries was corroded.  After cutting it back and replacing the connector we were off.  It is often said that cruising is "repairing boats in exotic places."  We started off to Little San Salvador in light winds that continued to rise until it was blowing around 20 knots. Little San Salvador is a stop for Carnival Cruise ships to let people off to play on the beach.  There was a cruise ship there when we arrived and anchored.  The location we were at was unprotected from the swell and we were being bounced around a lot.  After the ship left we moved closer to the shore and got a bit more protection for the night.  The next morning we pulled anchor early and got underway to Rock Sound on Eleuthera Island as another cruise ship moved in.  We had another day of sailing with winds 15-20 from behind with the seas building to four foot.  We have been able to sail for several days.  The weather forecast was for a front to come through with strong north winds and this is the ideal place to ride it out.  About twenty other boats had the same idea but there is room for many more.  Again, Wabi Sabi joined the crowd and we spent several days ashore with them and Steve from Jade whom we met at Cat Island.  We spent five days here and then moved up the island to the Glass Window to stage for the next leg.  It was dead calm as we motored all day running the water-maker to fill the tanks.  

The next morning we pulled the anchor at sunrise to be at Current Cut timing it for slack tide and going through the cut with minimum current.  From there we raised the mizzen, a reefed main and the headsail and started of to Little Harbor in the Abaco's, a trip of 73 miles.  The winds started at 10 knots and topped off at 20 knots when we arrived at Lynyard Cay for the night, arriving just as the sun set.  The next day we hung out on the boat resting, cooking and doing some light maintenance.  After our day off we motored a winding path through the shoals to Elbow Cay and taking a mooring in Hopetown.  We were soon visited by friends that had seen us coming in.  Saturday was Farmers Market day and while there we ran into our friends from Sammy Don't, another Pearson 424, that we had met three years ago in Granada.  Sunday we dropped the mooring and started out sailing to Green Turtle Cay.  About half-way there the skies darkened and we got hit with a squall with rain and winds in the high 30's.  Once we got the sails down and everything under control we continued on motoring to Green Turtle.  We planned to go into Black Sound but it was at low tide so we anchored.  The next morning we moved into the sound and tied up at Donny's Marina where we had started in December.

We have been here on the dock for several days checking out the changes in town, helping at the marina, enjoying going out for a few meals and visiting with the other cruisers.

Today is Friday April 8th and we have just come back from meeting with the Customs official to check out o the country.  The forecast is for several days of good weather and we are hoping to take advantage of it and make a run to North Carolina.  If it works out it will be a four day run.

Our sign in the Tiki Hut on Hog Island

The Tiki Hut on Hog Island in the Raggeds

Monday, March 14, 2022

Now in the Ragged Islands/Jumentos

 We are now in the Ragged Islands, the southern part of the Jumentos. These islands are small and uninhabited except for the one settlement of Duncan Town on Ragged Island.  We were here two years ago when we were returning from the Caribbean and the Covid Pandemic was causing borders to shut down.  It is good to be back.  But how did we get here?

We were in Royal Sound on Eleuthera and planned to go to George Town on Great Exuma Island.  We pulled anchor in the afternoon and motored out to Exuma Sound by sunset.  We hoisted the headsail and the mizzen expecting winds up to 20 knots.  It was a rough trip through the night but by sunrise we had reached the cut that would lead us into Elizabeth Harbor and the anchorages at George Town.  We arrived at the cut just as a supply boat was approaching so we followed them through the convoluted channel.  Once in the harbor we dropped anchor at the first available spot and crashed for the rest of the day. It had been another tiring overnight trip.   In the afternoon our friends Mike and Mary, friends from Mathews Point Marina, stopped over to say Hello. The next day was very windy so we stayed on the boat relaxing.  Thursday we launched the dinghy and made a run into George Town getting very wet on the way.  In town we dropped off our garbage, hit the grocery store and checked out the straw market.  On the way back to the boat we stopped at Chat and Chill which is a bar and meeting area across the harbor.  We met a number of other cruisers, had a beer and checked out the activities.  We stopped at Mike and Mary's boat for a visit then back to Hi Flite for the night.  The next day the winds dropped and we went ashore and followed a path to the ocean side feeling good about getting off the boat.  On Saturday we went to Chat and Chill for a "Treasures of the Bilge"  sale where boaters bring in things they want to get rid of.  I got another rope to make a rug and Cori picked up some fabric.  From there we crossed back to George Town to buy more gasoline for the outboards and generator.  They also have a water hose at the dock and we filled jerry jugs with water.  Back at the boat we pulled anchor and moved two miles down the harbor and re-anchored.  We were closer to town and were preparing to move on.  First we made two more trips to town for more water then dinghied around checking out this part of the harbor.  Sunday the winds kicked up so we took care of some boat projects and later made a last trip into Chat and Chill for a beer and conch salad.  Elizabeth Harbor is large, the official count that day was 304 boats.

Monday morning, 2/7/22, we pulled anchor and headed off to Thompson Bay on Long Island, a new island for us.  The winds were contrary and we ended up motoring almost all of the way.   Our friends on Tilt came by to fill us in with information about the island.  Later we went ashore and followed their directions to a path to the ocean side.  We spent a bit of time beach-combing and then back tot he boat.  The next day was windy, rainy and rough so we spent the day on the boat.  The next day we transferred the diesel we were carrying in jerry jugs into the main tank and made several trips to town for more fuel topping off before we would leave the next day.  We also made a trip to the grocery store to pick up last minute provisions.

There was a break in the weather and we took advantage of it to move on into the Jumentos.  The Jumentos are a chain of uninhabited islands, except for one, that are near the bottom of the Bahamas Islands.  We were able to sail the entire day arriving at Flamingo Cay before sunset.  After several attempts to set the anchor we were finally down for the night.  In the morning, after getting the weather repot at 6:30, we pulled anchor and continued on to Buena Vista Cay.  The next morning we went ashore and hiked across tot he ocean side.  In the afternoon we motored down to Hog Cay where the others cruisers were gathering for the annual Valentine Party put on by the locals from Duncan Town.  In the late afternoon we joined some of the others for evening sundowners, a tradition here.  On Monday Cori attended a basket weaving class and I worked on making a mat from some rope I salvaged from a beach.  Again we joined the others for sundowners.  The next day was windy and rainy so we spent the day on the boat.  The next day Cori was off to the beach on the ocean side and I worked on the rope mat then sat in on a basket weaving class, finishing the day off with sundowners on the beach.  The rest of the week was more of the same and helping prepare for the party.  Saturday was the party and there were a lot of boats in attendance along with locals.  The locals along with the cruisers have built a thatched roof hut for our use and that is where everything happens.  There was a lot of food provided and prepared by the locals and then an auction of things donated by the cruisers to benefit the local school.  At present there is one little girl living in town but the feeling is if they can get the school running and a teacher hired more people will move back to the island.  The next day we debated moving the boat or dinghying down to Southside Bay which is between Ragged and Little Ragged Islands.  We opted to go in the dinghy which was about a fifteen mile round trip.  We had good luck with conch last time we were here but this time we were nearly skunked only bringing back three.  We spent the week hiking trails, walking beaches and learning basket weaving.  One of the cruisers had put in a request to the locals for a goat and on Thursday it was delivered.  Being too large for one couple it was divided up with cooking instructions and brought to shore for an impromptu party.  The goat was finished cooking at the firepit and sides and deserts were supplied by the other boats.  A good time was had by all.

Many of the boats were leaving the anchorage and we decided to move down to Southside Bay for a couple of days.  The next day, Sunday, we launched the dinghy and went down to Little Ragged Cay.  We had been given the location of a trail across the island and walked the beaches to the bottom of the island.  At this point the next island was Cuba sixty miles away.  The anchorage turned out to be a little more rolling then we like so we pulled anchor the next day and moved past Hog Cay to Double Breasted Cay.  We were anchored by noon and then took the dinghy out looking for conch.  We found a lot of young one but only a couple of keepers.  The next day we went looking for conch and checked out the beaches on the next island. Later we hiked a trail on Double Breasted Cay to the ocean side to check out those beaches.

The weather forecast was calling for strong winds over the weekend so we pulled anchor and moved back to Hog Cay to ride it out.  We spent the next couple of days hiking the trails, walking the beaches, learning how to basket weave and drinking at sundown.  A number of boats showed up to ride out the blow including our friends Mike and Mary.  The winds have been blowing over 20 knots for several days but we have been able to get off the boat most days.  Once on shore we are protected from the wind.  The other day I stayed on the boat after taking Cori ashore to take care of some maintenance and Ali from Wabi Sabi gave Cori a ride back.  Later she stopped by to drop off two lobster tails for us.  We haven't had local lobster in many years.  We have also been joining them and several others on beach clean-up.  The beaches on the ocean side are littered with trash that washes up, most of it plastic, and we have been gathering it to be burned.  It's not the best solution but something has to be done with it.

The forecast is calling for high winds again this weekend so we decided to stay for another week.  We hiked more of the trails, combed more beaches and when the winds died  down we joined another cruiser snorkeling in the cut between islands looking for conch.  He was better at finding them than I was but he was kind enough to share.  We now have some conch meat in the freezer and several more conch shells.  The winds kicked up over the weekend as forecast but we are in a well protected spot so we only experienced a little uncomfortable rolling as we listened to the wind in the rigging.

We plan on starting back in the next couple of days hoping to visit several islands that we have not been to yet.  That's what has been happening here.

Valentines party food table

Valentines party

Sea beans, what we are searching the beaches for

Ali with a gift of lobsters

Some of the beans called "hamburgers" with a quarter for size reference

It's not all sunshine and fruity drinks with umbrellas. A squall that missed us

One of the disappointing realities, ocean side beaches are covered in trash, mostly plastic

The hazards of beaching the dinghy at high tide and coming back at low. We dragged it a long way until it floated and we could get in and start the motor

Monday, January 31, 2022

Abaco's to Eleuthera

 We have moved from Elbow Cay in the Abaco's to Eleuthera in the Exuma's.  The Bahamas are divided into various zones with the Abaco's in the north, Exuma's in the center and then the southern island group.  We have moved to the Exuma's, more particularly the Outer Islands.

After waiting out windy weather in Hopetown we dropped the mooring and headed out.  It was a bumpy ride motoring into 25 knot winds but soon we were able to turn and sail downwind to the Little Harbor area to prepare for the jump to Eleuthera.  That evening we were joined by the crew of Selah who are fellow Minnesotans for stories and drinks.  The next morning we were up at sunrise to make the sixty mile move to Eleuthera.  We needed to get an early start since we calculate our speed at six knots and therefore estimated a ten hour trip.  The weather apps were telling us we would have ten and three quarters hours of daylight and an early start was necessary to avoid arriving after dark.  We were able to sail half the distance using all the sails and even resorting to our spinnaker when the winds dropped to very light.  About two thirds of the way it was time to pull in the sails and start motoring.  We chose this day to move because the forecast was for even lighter winds the next day.  We arrived at the anchorage at Spanish Wells with plenty of time to spare before watching the sunset.  The next day we dinghied into town to check it out.  We had been here about five years ago so much of it was familiar.  One highlight was a visit to the Wood "N" Stuff Gallery.  It is a gallery showing off and selling the woodworking and art projects of the students at the school.  They do some interesting stuff and we had a nice visit with Austin, their teacher and the gallery manager.  Unfortunately we do not have room on board or we would have made a purchase.  I highly recommend a visit if you are in Spanish Wells.  We walked to the grocery store to buy a couple of things and were offered a ride back on a golf cart.  It turned out to be Bubba's wife and Bubba's was going to be our next stop for a beer and snack.  I also recommend a stop at Bubba's when visiting.

The next morning we pulled anchor and started off to Current Cut.  This cut between islands is narrow and has a strong current that switches direction as the tide changes.  It is advised to time your trip to coincide with what is called "slack time" which is the time between tidal changes when the current is changing.  We made the move through the cut with four other boats and continued on to The Glass Window.  Once anchored at the window we dinghied ashore to check it out.  Again, we had been here before but it was worth a revisit.  The Glass Window is an opening at a narrow point of the island but not completely open.  You can stand on the bridge and watch the surge from the ocean funnel into the cut and roll back out.  When the surf is high or during a storm it crashes through into the sound.  The amazing part is looking east to the deep blue of the ocean and then turning and looking at the calm turquoise waters of the sound.  There is also what is called a "blow hole" where the water is pushed into a cave and shoots up through a hole in the ceiling of the cave.  I have a video of it in our videos that you can visit.  Look for the link on the right side of this page.  Just be aware that because of the name "blow hole" YouTube has marked it as "Adult Content" which I find amusing.

The next morning we pulled anchor and moved down to Alabaster Bay.  The cruising guides point out that there is excellent shelling here, especially sand dollars but we were not able to find much except some sea urchins.  Since the water near shore is so shallow I tend to anchor the dinghy out from shore and wade in.  As I got out and stated to shore I spotted a four foot shark swimming between me and the shore.  I don't know what type it was but it didn't seem interested in me as it swam away.  We spent the next day on the boat hoping for winds to sail down to Rock Sound Harbor.  While waiting we dropped the headsail, started the generator, set up the sewing machine on deck and took care of some sail repair.  Next day we had an enjoyable spinnaker run to Rock Sound.  We anchored off of the Frigate Restaurant and were able to use their dock when going ashore.  Cori was able to get some laundry done at the laundromat while I ran the generator to charge the batteries and run the water-maker.  We did some sightseeing around the town, running into the family on Unplugged at the Ocean Hole.  This is a deep pond that has an underground connection to the sound and is a popular spot to snorkel, view and feed fish.  The weather forecast was calling for high winds over the weekend so we, along with all of the other boats in the harbor moved across to the west side to be protected when the winds kicked up.  Friday evening it started and blew into Sunday but with winds only reaching 25 knots with gusts to 30.

We are now busy getting ready for the next move.  We plan to leave in the afternoon and make an overnight trip to Georgetown on Great Exuma Island.  Georgetown is a very popular location where many (hundreds) of cruisers spend the season.  We have not been there yet and it has always been on out list of stops to check out.

Sound side

Ocean side

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Green Turtle Cay and Hopetown

 We are spending a little time in Hopetown.

We spent several days at Powell Cay doing some beach walking and hiking.  I must have gotten into something poisonous because I had what felt like small bites on my leg and it progressed to a series of itchy bumps that turned red and took several weeks to get back to normal.  Otherwise it was a good time.  While walking the beach I recovered a piece of rope that had washed up and I had plans for it.  We left Powell and moved back to Manjack Cay.  While walking these beaches I recovered several more ropes with plans for them also.  It seems that fishing boats lose nets and lines fairly often judging by the debris on the beaches.  We planed on spending Christmas at Green Turtle and after several days we moved back and tied up on Donny's dock again.  Our new neighbor at the dock was from New Bern and we found we had many friends and acquaintances in common.  

New Plymouth, the settlement on Green Turtle, was decorated for Christmas and were about to start their traditional morning caroling.  They have a tradition of welcoming the Spirit of Christmas by gathering before sunrise and go about the town singing Christmas carols accompanied by several drums.  We, along with several other cruisers joined them in the festivities.  I went the first and last day, Cori went every morning, I'm not much of a morning person.  While sitting on the boat at Manjack I started weaving a rope into a rope rug and finished it at the dock.  It now greets you at the door of the showers at Donny's docks.  We helped Donny with several projects around the yard and docks, they are still recovering from hurricane Dorian two years ago.  There are a lot of changes to the town and island from the hurricane and recovery will take a long time.  It was interesting hearing their stories.  Christmas Eve we did a few projects on the boat.  I made a rug from an old line Donny was going to throw away.  Christmas Day we took it easy.  The next day Cori was able to go deep water fishing and I had a lazy day on the boat.  We went to several of the beaches while here and are somewhat disappointed that we are not finding as many shells as we had previous years.  We did find the ice cream shop which is very reasonable priced for the largest single scoop cup we have found.  Several trips were made.  We also attended several fundraisers put on by people trying to raise money to rebuild after the hurricane.  We also attended the Christmas Festival where Santa Claus makes his appearance.  New Providence is a sister city to Key West, Florida.  Their is a foundation formed that helps support the community.  The citizens for Key West send presents for the children and this year there was supposed to be a group of children from Key West that were coming over to present the presents.  Due to the Pandemic that was canceled but the presents were sent.  At the end of the festival Santa arrived on the back of a firetruck donated by Key West, their firetruck was destroyed in the hurricane.  Santa handed out presents to every child there and the looks on their faces as they showed off the packages was priceless.  We also noticed that the presents were not unwrapped but taken home to be unwrapped at Christmas.

On Monday, the 27th, we left catching the high tide to move down to Hopetown on Elbows Cay.  To get there we had to go out around Whale Cay into the ocean then through a pass back into the Sea of Abaco.  If conditions are not good it can be a very uncomfortable ride.  We stopped at Spoil Cay for the night and went beachcombing in the morning.  Later we moved down to Man O War Cay and anchored off the north end of the island.  We dinghied into town to check it out and compare it to our memories from pre-Dorian.  They are making headway on recovery but have a long way to go.  The next day we moved down to Hopetown and anchored outside the harbor near the lighthouse.  We hung out here for several days taking the dinghy into town to act like tourists and visit with friends there.

New Years Eve we pulled anchor and on the high tide we moved into the harbor and took a mooring back in out favorite corner.  We have been hanging out here visiting with friends and other cruisers.  Our friends Lee and Cheryl from Martha's Vineyard are here and we have been spending a bit of time with them.  We have been wandering about the island, spending some time on the beaches and checking out the changes.  We have had several days of high winds and are due for several more this week.

Once the cold fronts let up we are planning to continue further south.

Line and nets washed up on shore, There is a lot of this.

Asking the eternal question: WHY?

Monday, December 13, 2021

Back in the Bahamas

 We are back in the Bahamas.

We spent Thanksgiving with new friends in North Palm Beach.  The next day we took care of getting our Covid tests and completed the online paperwork for the Bahamas Health Visa and Customs.  Saturday we left the dock and moved to an anchorage near Peanut Island, just inside the harbor entrance.  The forecast was for the wind and waves to drop during the day and be calm overnight, then starting up again the next day.  We chose to leave at 10:00 pm and along with our friends on Unplugged we pulled anchor and headed off to the Islands.  It started out a bit rolling but as the night progressed it flattened out and was a comfortable ride.  Unfortunately we were motoring, not sailing.  We reached the Bahamas Banks after sunrise and it was obvious we were leaving the deep water for the shallow banks by the change in color of the water. We continued on to Great Sail Cay and anchored in time to watch the sunset.  We were up the next morning to catch the weather forecast on the SSB radio and started off again.  The winds had picked up overnight as they had forecasted and we had up to 20 knot winds on the nose until we cleared the island and turned back on coarse to Green Turtle Cay.  The winds continued to drop during the day and we spent the last hour motoring to Manjack Cay.  We stopped for the night because we were not going to arrive at Green Turtle in the daylight.  The next morning we were advised that the Immigration Officer would be arriving on the morning ferry and would be at the Green Turtle Club for boats to check-in.  We pulled anchor and headed off for Green Turtle Cay, about five miles.  We have a friend on the island that was expecting us but rather then pull into Black Sound where he is located I chose to go into White Sound where the Immigration Lady was.  Big mistake, it was low tide and the channel is not well marked (in my opinion) and we ended up hard aground.  This is not dangerous, it is a sand bottom but embarrassing and frustrating.  They say there are three types of sailors: those that have gone aground, those who haven't YET, and those that lie about it.  I am in the first group many times over.  Our only option was to wait several hours for the tide to come in and free us.  It turned out that Donny came out to see what was taking us so long to let him know we had arrived and found us aground.  After admonishing us for not "coming home" to his dock or anchoring out and having him give us a ride to Immigration he hooked onto us, pulled us free and we nervously bumped our way into the anchorage.  Once anchored it was time to take our documents and check in.  We thought we had our ducks in a row but we had not printed out the proper flu test results.  Our phones do not work in the Bahamas but we were able to get online and pull up the proper reports.  Viewing the report on our phones was enough for her and we were finally checked in.  It was time for a Kalik Gold, the local beer, to celebrate being back in the Bahamas.

The first thing we did after checking in was to take the crew of Unplugged (three children and dog) to the nearest beach.  The next day we showed them the way to another beach with a bar and restaurant.  Unfortunately, the place is closed on Wednesdays.  We hung out on the beach letting the kids play and cut down some coconuts to get some fresh coconut water.  In the afternoon, just after high tide we pulled anchor and moved down to Black Sound and tied up on Donny's dock.  As far as Donny is concerned we were back home.  We now needed to take care of phone and Internet access.  There was a Bahama Telephone office in the small town but after hurricane Dorian they never rebuilt.  Donny was making a run the next day to Marsh Harbor where there is an office and Cori and several others went with him.  While she was gone I took a walk around town to see the changes.  Many of the businesses are still closed, some of the houses are in good shape, many show damage and there are many empty lots where the buildings have been torn down.  Fortunately there is an air of optimism that everything will eventually return to normal.  It's still sad to see the damage even after two years. When Cori got back we set up the Internet hot spot and we are online.  We cannot make phone calls because we suspend our AT&T account while we are out of the country but we are able to send emails, some messages and some calls over the Internet.  That is good enough.

We spent some time helping Donny with projects and some exploring the beaches and town.  More cruisers are arriving and there was a pot luck at the dock and a trip to the ice cream shop.  After the weekend we headed out to revisit the islands around us.  We moved up to Powell Cay and spent time on the beach and exploring then moving back to Manjack Cay to do the same.

We plan on staying at Green Turtle Cay for Christmas and then move on.

White sand beaches

First sunset in the islands

First sunrise in the islands

First conch of the season

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Start of the 2021-2022 Cruise

We have started our winter cruise but I have been lax in posting.

We arrived back in Clubfoot Creek the end of September.  The next weekend we moved across the river to Oriental to take in the Ol' Front Porch Music Festival with friends from the area.  Unfortunately part of the festival was rained out but otherwise it was a great time with good music and friends.  When in Oriental in the spring we had ordered a new mainsail telling them we would pick it up when we got back in the fall.  We called the sail loft to let them know we were back.  That afternoon they met us at the dock and bent on our new sail.  It is a vast improvement.  After the weekend we moved up to Broad Creek and tied up at Jerry and Donna's (from Blue Jacket) dock to work on some projects.  The new mainsail was too stiff to fit into the sailcover.  When Cori made the sailcover she allowed for a new sail being larger and it was a relatively easy modification.  While the sewing machine was out she went into production on the bags she makes and got many completed.  We were at the dock for over two weeks working on projects and provisioning for the season in the Bahamas.  Next we moved back to Clubfoot Creek and continued with preparations.  We spent another week getting ready and trying to stay warm.  A cold front had moved in and the winds were blowing hard from the north for several days with the temperatures staying in the 50's and the low 40's at night.  Doesn't sound like much but you must remember that we do not have a heater onboard.  It was cold and uncomfortable.

We had been monitoring the weather forecasts hoping for a straight shot offshore to the Bahamas but the opportunity never came.  It would take 4-5 days and there was never a long enough stretch of good weather coming to make the trip.  Finally the winds died and on Monday November 8th, Cori's birthday, we pulled anchor and headed down the waterway to Morehead City where we planned to spend the night and head out in the morning.  We arrived around 3:00 and as we looked for an anchorage there was another boat getting underway to Florida.  We called them and asked for a report of the conditions when they got out.  We anchored and they reported back that conditions were very comfortable.  We spent an hour finishing getting the boat ready for an offshore trip and pulled the anchor.  We planned on going to Fernandina Beach which is on the Florida/Georgia border since the weather forecast was saying that it would get uncomfortable after that.  We started out with light winds and when they came up later we were able to sail until they dropped again.  We did a combination of sailing, motoring and motor-sailing the rest of the trip.  On Wednesday we worked out that at our current speed we would arrive during the night.  We prefer not making a nighttime landfall so we decided to continue on to St Augustine, an additional fifty miles fighting a light headwind.  We arrived mid-day and dropped anchor by the old fort.  We traveled four hundred miles in seventy-two hours and were looking foreword to a long nap.  We spent two days in St Augustine and on Sunday morning we pulled anchor and headed out again.

We had decided to work our way down the coast to Lake Worth at Palm Beach to be ready for a jump off to the Bahamas when the opportunity arose.  Again, we did a combination of sailing and motoring overnight and into Monday.  We  then made a decision to stop at Ft Pierce since we were fighting a strong headwind.  We spent the next day on the boat while the wind blew and went ashore the next day to check out downtown Ft Pierce.  We also caught up with Unplugged who we had met in Fort Myers last winter.  Thursday morning we pulled anchor and moved to the marina to top off our fuel and water.  We elected to take the ICW down to Lake Worth and once topped off we headed out.  We stopped for the night and anchored just before the rain moved in.  It rained most of the night and the next morning.  We pulled anchor around noon and continued on.  The rain held off until we got to Jupiter and then it let loose.  We were moving south, the rain was blowing from the north and was blowing into the cockpit getting everything wet and uncomfortable.  The stretch between Ft Pierce and Lake Worth has seven bridges that you have to go through, some on a schedule and others on-demand, never any fun.  We continued to make our way south until we reached North Palm Beach.  Instead of continuing the last couple of miles to Lake Worth we turned off into one of the canals and tied up at a friends dock to wait for the chance to jump off for the Bahamas.

We will be staying here through Thanksgiving and are hoping that the forecast is favorable to make the move over the weekend.  First there are some things that need to be taken care of.  The Bahamas have changed requirements and procedures for admittance to their country and we can now take care of that over the Internet.  We also have to have a negative Covid test within five days of arrival.  Assuming a Sunday departure we have scheduled the tests for Saturday.

That's what we have been up to.  Hopefully the next report will be from somewhere in the Bahamas.