Bahamas trip 2011

Day 1: Initially, we planned to navigate the open waters (ocean) to reach Lake Worth, Florida, where we intended to bide our time for a favorable weather window to cross the Gulfstream. However, our plans took a different turn when we encountered strong 20-knot winds blowing from the east, coupled with an outgoing tide that created hazardous breakers all across the St. Lucie Inlet. Discretion being the better part of valor, we opted to turn back and head south on the ICW instead. Unfortunately, our timing was not ideal, and we found ourselves narrowly missing bridge openings time and time again, leading to a frustrating delay of up to half an hour each time we had to wait for the next opening.

Our journey southward was marred by an unexpected mishap: a loose line dangling from the end of the boom entangled with our wind generator, causing the entire tower to collapse. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet been able to fix this problem.

By the time we finally arrived at Lake Worth, we were utterly exhausted and decided to drop anchor despite the relentless 20-knot winds battering our vessel. We promptly retired to bed, feeling anything but satisfied with the way our voyage had started.

Not a good start.

Day 2

Posted on May 2, 2011 by Alan

We decided we were too tired and the weather report wasn’t good so we spent Day 2 anchored in Lake Worth. We had great TV reception so it wasn’t much of a hardship. The weather forecast that night called for winds out of the SE at 15 kts, seas 2-3 ft. We decided to get up at 3:30 AM and leave for Memory Rock (about 16 mi north of West End, Grand Bahama).

Day 3

Posted on May 2, 2011 by Alan

We awoke as planned, had a quick cup of coffee, and Janice tried to weigh anchor. Unfortunately the chain jammed in the windlass and Janice couldn’t free it in the dark. I went forward with a crow bar and finally freed it after about half an hour.

We’re finally on our way. We couldn’t see the seas (minimal moonlight) before we left the inlet but suddenly we were bouncing (who said the motion of a catamaran is better than a monohull) in our seats. Before we had time to adjust to this Janice screamed “There’s a buoy in front of us”. Sure enough there was this giant grey floating object with no lights working. We swerved just in time to avoid hitting it.

At this point we’re feeling that maybe this trip wasn’t meant to be. But no way we were going to turn back.

About 5 miles out we found ourselves on a collision course with a Tanker. I could see his lights, and I had the right of way, but no way of knowing if he could see me or even cared. AIS is wonderful. It gives you all the information you need to know about the target ship including it’s name. I just called him by name and asked if he could see me (we were about a mile apart at this time). He assured me he did and told me to hold my course and he would pass in front of me. The passing went smoothly. Finally something is working out right.

Crossing the Gulfstream was uneventful. Watching the sunrise was wonderful. I much prefer sailing in daylight even with sophisticated equipment like GPS, AIS and Radar.

Schooner (our Labrador Retriever) spent the crossing lying flat in the salon by the door so he could see us. He didn’t seem thrilled.

We motorsailed with a reefed Main the first 2/3 of the crossing, but when the wind shifted further to the South we shut the motors and had a beautiful sail to Mangrove Cay, our first stop in the Bahamas. I was quite impressed with Latitude Adjustment (We’ve only owned her for several months and this was the first open ocean cruise with her). With reefed Main at 50 to 60 degrees off the 15­-20 kt wind, we were averaging 7 to 8 kts. It was the perfect sail. A lot more pleasant than having to tack every few minutes during a sailboat race. While racing is fun, I’m a cruiser at heart.

Mangrove Cay is a small uninhabited piece of land thats claim to fame is that one can anchor there on the way to more interesting places. So we did and the night was uneventful.

Day 4

Posted on May 2, 2011 by Alan

Before the storm

Before the storm

As we’re in no hurry, we decided this will be a short sailing day. We headed to Great Sale Cay (another uninhabited place where people anchor). No reason to go to an inhabited place yet as we haven’t checked into the Bahamas yet and can’t legally leave the boat. (We’ll be checking in at Spanish Cay, or Green Turtle, haven’t decided yet).

When we arrived (about noon) at Great Sale the wind was blowing about 15 from the South. That is the one direction Great Sale Cay doesn’t have protection from. We chose the East side (never been there before), thinking that the wind would hopefully clock around to the West during the night. We don’t have access to weather reports yet (didn’t bring my SSB radio).

About 15 minutes after anchoring we encountered our first thunderstorm of the trip. The anchor held well but seeing lightening all around is always scary, especially when you are the only boat there and higher than anything on the island.While it seemed like hours, the storm passed in about 30 minutes and everything became beautiful again. (Hope I didn’t speak to soon, as I hear thunder in the distance again).

Day 5

Posted on May 2, 2011 by Alan

We awoke this AM with the wind at 20 kts from the East. Our prediction of West winds didn’t work out and we found ourselves on a lee shore. Luckily our anchor held and there was no problem.

We put one reef in the Main and set off. We soon noticed that the sail track adjacent to the reefed head of the sail was separating from the mask. This is not good. We lowered the main further and put in the second reef. unfortunately as our friend Outrageous knows our hardware is not really set up for a second reef. We made due. I have my doubts about getting this repaired in the Bahamas, but we’ll try at Green Turtle. Hopefully it just needs to be hit with a hammer. As I’m afraid of heights, there’s no way I’m going to do that.

We arrived at Crab Cay (between Little Abaco Island and Great Abaco Island). It’s beautiful here. We’re dying to dinghy to the Beach with Schooner, but Janice is too proper, so we’re going to wait until we’re checked in at Green Turtle before going to shore.

We should be at Green Turtle tomorrow (Sunday, May 1). The guide books say you can check in on weekends, without additional fees (normal fee is $150 for our size boat) if special arrangements are made. Unfortunately the books don’t tell you how to make these arrangement. As we don’t have a cellphone, I guess we can’t make special arrangements. I’ll dinghy to shore and check out the Customs office, but I suspect we might have to wait until Monday to check in. I don’t mind being anchored for so many days, but I suspect Janice and Schooner are anxious to get off the boat for a while.

So when does the fun start?

Posted on May 2, 2011 by Alan

Day 6: Spent a beautiful night at anchor at Crab Cay, totally isolated except for one other catamaran.

The plan was to sail the 25 miles or so to Green Turtle where we’d check in and finally put our feet on land. This was not to be. The weather has just been miserable. It was 25 kts on the nose with gusts to 30 kts. and 3ft choppy seas. With both reefed main and jib our progress was so slow and uncomfortable we cut the trip short and ducked into another gorgeous anchorage behind Powell Cay. The low lying Cays don’t protect us much from the wind, but at least the water is flat. We’re here for the night, hopefully we’ll make Green Turtle in the AM.

Looking at the white sand beach, it is real tempting to get in our dinghy and start playing. But between it being illegal and the wind being 20-30, the prudent thing to do is stay put. So we are.

Day 7 and 8

Posted on May 3, 2011 by Alan

Yesterday we arrived at Black Sound in Green Turtle Cay. We are staying at the Other Shore Club Marina. Checked into the country, took down our yellow quarantine flag, put up our Bahamas courtesy flag, and we’re finally legal. We all got to get off the boat and walk around. After being on a boat for 7 days, walking on land feels like the earth is rocking up and down.

Schooner got to play at a beach and spent 2 hours in the water digging and swimming while we had dinner at a beachfront restaurant.

Spent today doing mundane chores like fixing the wind generator, finding the source of a fresh water leak, tightening the engine fan belts etc.

We leave here tomorrow heading south towards Hopetown and Marsh Harbor. To get there we have to go out Whale Cay pass into the Atlantic. This pass is notorious for a weather condition the natives call the “Rage”. It occurs under certain wind/sea conditions and makes passage through the pass impossible except for the suicidal. Unfortunately these conditions can’t be predicted. One generally gets on the radio and asks if there are any boats in the area who can report on the pass conditions. One hopes they get an accurate report.

For those interested diesel at this marina (the cheapest) is $5.39/gal, and water is $0.30/gal.

That’s it for Green Turtle, hope to be writing next from Great Guyana Cay (home of Nippers), on the way to Marsh Harbor.

Marsh Harbor

Posted on May 6, 2011 by Alan

Spent a beautiful day at Great Guana Cay. Weather was perfect.

Wind was only about 6 kts so motored the 7 miles to Marsh Harbor. We’re currently anchored here, but will move into Mangoes Marina in the AM. Water there is only $5/day (unlimited) while everywhere else it’s $0.30 or more/gal. Since we have a water leak which I’ll hopefully fix tomorrow, filling our 100 gallon tank, could get expensive.

As 2 fronts are coming through over the next several days we’ll probably stay at Marsh Harbor for at least a few days. The shopping is great here. Real hardware stores, supermarkets etc. (though everything is real expensive).


Still at Marsh Harbor

Posted on May 6, 2011 by Alan

We’re sitting in a marina in Marsh Harbor today with free wifi. I’m in heaven. Fixed most of the problems on the boat, but not the fresh water leak. I need new fittings that are not available in the Bahamas. We’ll keep the water pump off except when we need water, that should keep the pressure in the hoses down and hopefully the leak will be minimal.

Off to Little Harbor and the famous Pete’s Pub tomorrow. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos.

Little Harbor

Posted on May 7, 2011 by Alan

Pete's Pub Little Harbor

Pete’s Pub

Tried to leave for Little Harbor this AM. Port engine wouldn’t start. No electricity to panel. Now I found out that we left our Volt-Ohm meter home (but I never leave home without it).

I shorted a screwdriver across the ignition switch and pushed the start button and amazingly it worked. Haven’t tried it since so don’t know what’s in store for me tomorrow.

Nice trip to Little Harbor with wind about 10 kts on nose (of course). Didn’t do any sailing.

Read all about the famous Boar roasts at Pete’s Pub on Saturdays. Well no roast tonight, so we just have to eat from their normal menu. The place is not at all what I expected (more run down), and Little Harbor is little (much smaller than I imagined).

Took some photos that you can see at my photo site.

Tomorrow winds expected at 6 kts from the North. We’ll be making the 45 mile ocean passage to Eleuthra.

Amazingly I’ve got free wifi at Little Harbor, so can’t complain.

Tough night

Posted on May 8, 2011 by Alan

The anchorage in Little Harbor last night was as peaceful as can be: Except for the fact there was no wind and I’ve never seen so many mosquitoes in one place. We didn’t have the screens over the windows and we spent the night getting bitten, trying to control Schooner who was trying to catch them in his mouth, and us swatting them with a fly swatter. There’s blood all over the walls now. It’s an ugly sight. Luckily we did have bug repellent so we weren’t totally eaten alive. We learned a lesson, no wind-put up screens.

It’s about 8:00 AM here, we’re ready to leave for Eleuthra but the depth of the channel to leave this place is 3 ft at low tide. We draw about 4 ft, so we have to wait a few hours for the tide to rise before we can leave. We’re anxious to move on.


Posted on May 11, 2011 by Alan

I don’t and won’t have internet access for the next several days (or longer). I writing this now so I don’t forget.

We left Little Harbor in the Abacos yesterday AM. The 48 nm trip was uneventful. The seas were calm with minimal wind.

We motored the entire way. Spent the night in Royal Island harbor Eleuthera.

The plan was to go down the West coast of Eleuthera, wait for good conditions than take the ocean route to the North Exumas.

In planning all the stops we were to make, we decided for various reasons that we really didn’t want to go to those places. Instead we sailed (yes, sailed, not motored) from Northern Eleuthera to Ships Channel Cay in the north Exumas.

On the way I decided to try out my fishing gear. I put the rod in the holder and trailed a 4 in. plastic lure. Within 30 minutes I got a strike. Reeled it in and when it got close enough to the boat to identify realized it was a 2 ft. barracuda. This was probably small enough to eat (no ciguatera), but we didn’t want to take a chance. Neither Janice nor I are really fisherman and we were both afraid to grab it (sharp teeth) and de-hook it to throw it back. After much debate we cut the line (losing the lure and leader) and the fish swam away with the hook still in its mouth. We’ve been told by fisherman that the hook eventually works its way free (hope that’s not a rationalization). In any event I think this has cured my desire to catch fresh fish.

We found an isolated anchorage completely landlocked entered by a narrow shallow (3 ft at MLW) channel. We’re the only boat here. For the first time we got to use our snorkel gear. I dove on the anchor, which was well buried in sand. Then swam back to the boat to examine the bottom, finding that my zincs are almost gone (another job to do).

As I was swimming back to the swim ladder I noticed a 4ft barracuda hovering under the boat. While I know barracudas don’t typically attack people I was worried he might want revenge for the barracuda we caught earlier. I got back on the boat real quick.

As I didn’t want to snorkel near the boat, we took the dinghy to a nearby reef and I tried again. I swear this isn’t a fish story but I found myself 10 ft from the largest stingray (maybe 5 ft across) I’ve ever seen. His stinger looked about 6 inches. Again I know that stingrays don’t bother people unless one steps on them (which happens quite often), but that ended my snorkeling for the day.

Tomorrow we’re going to Allen Cay which is only 3 miles south of here. That’s the place that’s covered with tame large Rock Iguanas.


Posted on May 11, 2011 by Alan


Allens Cay. Iguanas. Need I say more?

Norman’s Cay

Posted on May 11, 2011 by Alan

Little atoll off Norman Cay, Exumas

Little bit of excitement this AM when we found we couldn’t start either engine, but eventually we worked things out.

Dropped by the Norman Cay Beach Club because we thought they had wifi. They didn’t but did have the most expensive hamburger I’ve ever ordered, $18 (included fries). The atmosphere was nice though. Unfortunately instead of finding nice cruiser types (like us), we found lots of loud sports fisherman.

We weighed anchor and moved to the south side of Norman’s Cay which is totally deserted, but to my amazement I’m finding wifi here (hence this live update). We’re anchored about 100 yards from an infamous airplane wreck which is submerged in 4 ft of water. Will be exploring it later.

Will probably head for the Exumas Land & Sea Park in the AM. We haven’t been there before and have been told it’s beautiful.

Warderick Wells

Posted on May 13, 2011 by Alan

We’re moored by the office of the Exumas Land and Sea Park in Warderick Wells. We arrived yesterday afternoon. Checked in to the office and paid for wifi. They gave me a paper with username and password. We put it into Janice’s backpack, got into the dinghy with Schooner and found a snorkeling spot. I snorkeled while Janice and Schooner played in the water. When we all got back in the dinghy there was much water in it along with a wet back pack. When we got back to the boat and opened it the folded paper with username and password was soaked and stuck together. In the process of trying to unfold it everything became illegible and we couldn’t read it. No internet yesterday (the office was already closed).


Moored at Warderick Wells

Got a new password this AM so here we are. Did hiking on the trails today. Went up to the highest point on the island where there is a collection of driftwood signed by previous cruisers with their boat names. We didn’t have anything to write or carve with so nobody will ever know we were there (except for you guys).

Momentos left by previous cruisers at Exuma Park

Black Point

Posted on May 15, 2011 by Alan

Spent last night at Samsons Cay. Mainly stopped there to pick up some diesel. It was rumored to be “cheap”. Cost $5.72/gal which is better than the average of $6/gal. Glad we have a sailboat.

As Janice goes crazy after being anchored out too long the plan was to spend a night at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. When we got there we saw the entire marina was filled with megayachts and large sportfishers. We were embarrassed to go in there. The dock master couldn’t promise us a slip. We would have to wait around until 1:00PM before he could tell us if we’d be admitted.

We left and ended up further south at Black Point on Great Guana Cay (yes there are two cays with the same name. One notes this throughout the Bahamas).

Black Point

This is a lovely town with friendly people. Water and trash disposal is free (which is unheard of around here, usually 30-50 cents/gal and $5 a bag). Free wifi in the harbor, and a nice dinghy dock. Even though we’re not in a marina Janice wants to stay here a few days.

I usually dive over my anchor to look at it to be sure it’s buried (love my Delta anchor, always seems to bury well, unlike the CQR I used to use). I noted that both my zincs (these are zinc rings that surround the propeller shafts to protect them and the props from electrolytic corrosion) were almost gone. I have spares and attempted to replace one.

Between having to hold my breath, keep myself underwater (no weight belt) and manipulate the screws without dropping the zinc, I realized that I couldn’t do this (maybe when I was younger) without SCUBA gear and I didn’t bring any. Guess I’ll have to find a diver somewhere or keep watching them and hope they last the rest of the trip.

While cruising is fun (for some), most people don’t realize the work involved. Something as simple as water. If one is too cheap to buy it at a fuel dock at 30-50 cent/gal, and one finds a source of free water it’s usually not at a place accessible to the boat.

We have two 5 gallon water containers (actually one because one leaks and we threw it away). 5 gallons of water weighs over 40 lbs. Our boat holds 100 gallons. Right now it’s about half full. That means we have to make 10 trips lugging the containers onto the dinghy back to the boat and on and on. Good exercise but no fun. But we can take showers, and after all the exertion we need them.

Rocking and Rolling

Posted on May 16, 2011 by Alan

We liked Blacks Point so much yesterday that we intended to stay a couple of days. Unfortunately, we awoke this AM with the boat rocking and rolling. The wind had shifted to the West, the one direction that this harbor doesn’t protect from. Hundreds of miles of fetch of the Exuma bank caused there to be 2-3 ft waves in the harbor. We couldn’t stand it so we left.

As Janice has been bugging me to go to a marina for some time now, we ended up at the Farmers Cay Yacht Club.

Farmers Cay Yacht Club

The “Club” actually consists of room for about 4 boats, a restaurant, bar, free wifi (yeah), and most important, showers.

We’ll be heading for Georgetown (about 37 n.m.) in the AM. That is our final destination. For those of you who are not familiar with Georgetown, it is the winter home of 300-500 cruising boats. The main activity here is partying. Another name for this place is “Chicken Harbor” as most of these boats never venture south of this area because they are “chicken”.

Last time we were there we found the cruisers rather cliquish and we didn’t fit in. How long we stay there depends on how well we fit in.

In any event there are plenty of new places to see on the way home.


Posted on May 17, 2011 by Alan

Well we made it to Georgetown. Just arrived. I’m amazed how relatively few boats are here (maybe 100 would be my guess). Finding a roomy spot to anchor was easy (not the case during the prime season). We’re actually anchored near the entrance to the inner harbor where the dinghies land. That’s where the center of town is. We can almost swim there.

This is the halfway point of our trip. We have no idea how long we’ll stay here (maybe a week), but then we turn around and start home. We’ll be taking a different route home (via Nassau and the Berry Islands) so we’ll have more photos to take.

We’re tired now after our “grueling” 7 hour sail (not motor) on a close reach in 12 kts wind and flat seas (Exuma Sound which is actually the ocean) so we’re not going to dinghy to shore (or swim) today. Will start exploring the town and taking photos tomorrow AM.


Georgetown ashore

Posted on May 18, 2011 by Alan

Me in my dorky hat

What a disappointment. It’s like a ghost town. We were last here about 10 years ago during the peak of the season and the main dinghy dock was so crowded that the dinghies were stacked 3 deep. You had to step over other peoples dinghies to get off yours and onto the dock. Today when we arrived there was only one other dinghy there.

There were hardly any cruisers on the streets. We only met and spoke to 2 couples. It seems that half the boats left in the past week and most are expected to leave this week. We missed the “net” in the AM because they switched it from channel 68 to 72 and didn’t announce it on 16.

I did find a young man who’s going to come to the boat tomorrow AM and change my zincs. He told me he’d do it for $60. I told him it only cost me $55 in the states to have the entire bottom cleaned and zincs changed. He agreed to $20. I still think I’m being ripped off. It’s a 5 minute job. I just can’t hold my breath underwater long enough to do it so I’m at his mercy.

I suspect we’re going to leave here tomorrow or the day after

Posted on May 19, 2011 by Alan

We left Georgetown this AM. The kid who was supposed to change my zincs never showed up (I wasn’t surprised). We sailed 10 mi. north to Emerald Bay Marina. This is part of the Sandals Resort.

It’s real upscale. Half the boats here (only about 20 boats total) are mega yachts. The bathrooms are complete with soap, mouthwash, suntan lotion, shampoo, conditioner and bath gel dispensers. Free wifi, free laundry, free doggie poop bags etc. It’s decadent.

For those of you who think I’ve turned crazy or that Janice took complete control over me: Business is so slow, that they offer a “special”.

$1/ft (40ft minimum-we’re the smallest boat here), if you’re willing to be on a dock with no electricity. That’s no problem for us as we never have electricity when we’re anchored out. We use our wind generator together with the high output alternators on our motors.

The bar is closed so you can B.Y.O.B. We’ll get to meet all the wealthy yachties tonight (and drug smugglers). There’s a big screen TV here, so we might get to watch American Idol (if Janice can convince the other people to turn off the sports channel (I’m certainly not going to ask).

We’ll be here at least 2 nights, maybe 3.

Only boat at my dock Emerald Bay Marina

End of the world? (Rapture predicted for today)

Posted on May 21, 2011 by Alan

Just in case it’s true Janice and I are going to be left behind on the ocean somewhere. I suspect none of our friends (except maybe one) aren’t going to be raptured, but if so, put in a good word for us .

A new system problem developed. I have a sophisticated battery monitoring system that measures amperage both in and out of the batteries. Typically one lets the batteries drain down to 50% of capacity, then runs then engine to charge them back up to about 85%. That is the most efficient way to manage batteries and provides for the longest battery life.

Well we’re at 65% capacity (according to the monitoring system) and it became apparent that the batteries were almost dead. Voltage was too low to run the refrigerator. This means either our batteries are at the end of their life, or the monitoring system is defective. Probably the former. I’m sure not going to buy expensive batteries in the Bahamas. Will have to wait to get home to investigate this further.

We’re leaving the comfort of this marina this morning. It will be a 7-9 hour sail back to Black Point. As the weather is now settled we will be able to explore the town more fully (and pick up some more free water).

One advantage of anchoring vs. being in a marina (besides the seclusion) is that at anchor the bow of the boat is always (almost) pointed into the wind, allowing the wind to blow through all the open hatches, cooling off the boat. At the marina the wind has been perpendicular to the boat. There are no open hatches facing the wind. There are devices which can redirect the wind down a hatch, but we don’t have one. Actually the temperature has not been more than 84 degrees and the nights are 75 deg. Not bad.

An exciting day

Posted on May 21, 2011 by Alan

We left the marina at Emerald Bay about 9:30 AM. Winds were forecasted to be about 10 kts from the East and seas 3-4 ft. We expected a pleasant sail.

Well it turned out the winds were more like 15-20 but more importantly as we were traveling in the Exuma Sound (ocean) we needed to get back to the “Banks” (West-protected side) to reach our destination. The way to get from the ocean side to the Banks side is through what are called “cuts” separating the various cays. There are about 4 of them along our route. These cuts are relatively narrow and shallow. When the tides are dropping there is a strong current out (towards the ocean) and if there is a strong wind in the opposite direction confused seas are formed which can make steering through a narrow cut difficult and sometimes impossible.

We had planned on taking the second cut on our route but when we approached it a half mile out one could see the breakers and the seas were confused even 1/2 mile away.

At this point I started to worry. Our second choice cut was the last (fourth one). I was afraid that if that one was impassable (or I thought it was too dangerous to pass we’d be in trouble). It would be going from cut to cut (some of them 20 miles apart) and eventually we would end up in Eleuthera in the dark.

So we took the third cut, thinking that would still leave the 4th if need be.

It didn’t look great but not knowing what the last cut would look like we decided to go for it.

With our engines at maximum cruising RPM we plowed ahead against the current. We were going only 3.4 kts via GPS while our knotmeter was reading about 7kts. That’s a lot of current. We of course got through OK or I wouldn’t be writing this.

We’re now comfortably anchored at Black Point again, with free wifi. This time there are many other boats anchored here. We’re recovering from our long stressful sail so we’ll stay on the boat tonight and go to the village tomorrow.

Staniel Cay

Posted on May 23, 2011 by Alan

We had tried to get into the Staniel Cay Yacht Club going south about a week ago. They didn’t have room for such a small boat and we moved on to Black Point.

This time on the way back north we decided we had to stop here to see what all the fuss was about. Glad we did.

We anchored about 1000 ft from the Yacht Club. We accomplished all there is to do here in half a day, now back on the boat writing about it.

First we of course landed our dinghy at the Yacht Club (marina). Again lots of large stinkpots and one mega yacht. Not a single sailboat. We checked out the restaurant, $38 /entrée for lunch. (We had tuna fish sandwiches on the boat).

We walked around town and Janice bought coconut bread at a local bakery. Schooner got to play on the beach.

When we left the dinghy dock to go back to our boat we noticed about 10 large (6-8 ft) nurse sharks swimming under the pier. They’re obviously fed by the people there, we slowly followed some of them with our dinghy while Schooner barked with excitement.

Next dinghy stop (after lunch) was the famous Thunderball Grotto. This is where the cave scenes in the James Bond movie of that name were filmed. It was close to high tide and the largest entrance was almost completely covered by water. I didn’t want to wait for low tide so I swam underwater to gain entry. Unfortunately I surfaced a little too soon and hit my head on a rock. Nothing bad happened except a little scalp cut. There are a ton a tame fish inside that expect to be fed. It was nice, but maybe not as nice as I expected. Glad I did it though.

After this we rode our dinghy about 2 miles to Big Major, an island known for its swimming pigs. Again, people feed these creatures and they are no longer afraid of humans. They swim out to boats demanding food. There are stories of some cruisers being bitten (accidentally?) by these creatures.

When pigs fly! (I mean swim)

We were not disappointed. As we approached we were greeted by a large hairy specimen. I got a few photos but the quality isn’t great because Janice was steering the dinghy all over the place while I was trying to take pictures. She was afraid of getting too close.

That’s it for today. We’ll be moving on in the AM to Obrien’s Cay, which has an area called the “Sea Aquarium”. It’s supposed to be a fantastic snorkeling spot.

Coming home

Posted on May 26, 2011 by Alan

We’re anchored at a small island just outside Nassau. As Janice is getting antsy about so many days at anchor we’re going to dock at a marina tomorrow AM for one day. Marinas here are pretty expensive (like everything else in the Bahamas), but I guess one day here won’t kill us.

We originally intended to be back by June 22 but I think we’re vacationed out (for now). From here we’ll stop at the Berry Islands, then spend a night anchored out on the Great Bahama Bank (if you look around all you see is water, like in the middle of the ocean but it’s only about 12 ft deep so one can anchor). From there on to Gun Cay which is the last stop before crossing the Florida Straits and being home. So assuming the weather holds up (especially for the Gulf Stream crossing) we should be home in 6 or 7 days.

I’ll do the final chapter from home. (until our next trip)

Cruising and plans don’t mix

Posted on May 28, 2011 by Alan

We spent an interesting day/night at Nassau. We had an end tie at the marina (dock facing the harbor). It seems jet skies, party boats, fishing boats, go fast boats etc, race through the harbor day and night. We were tied up well with all our fenders but had a real rocky night. Not to mention at every noise Janice thought it was robbers breaking in.

We left Nassau this AM and we’re now anchored at Bird Cay in the Berry Islands. It’s beautiful here and isolated. Totally different world than Nassau.

So much for plans. We hoped we do the Gulf Stream crossing tomorrow or the next day but it looks like the weather isn’t going to cooperate. I can only get weather info up until Wed and conditions do not seem promising.

Not over yet

Posted on May 30, 2011 by Alan

We left Bird Cay Sunday AM heading for Bimini. As it is a long trip we decided to anchor out on the “Banks” (Great Bahama Bank), sleep and continue the trip today. This is a common thing to do. The experience is surreal. One is surrounded by what looks like ocean in every direction, but it is only about 15 ft deep. In good weather the only danger is being run over by a freighter that’s not paying attention to your anchor light (we put up two, the normal one at that top of the mast and one at deck level, just in case. It’s also a good idea to go several miles off the usual paths. We chose the Mackie Shoal area. It was 8 feet there and I was hoping no big ships would dare go that shallow.

Well that’s the way it’s supposed to be done. Unfortunately the winds were 15-20 kts from the East kicking up 3 ft seas. It was impossible to carry on normal anchored life. No cooking, no TV, no reading. Schooner was so scared of the motion that he refused to walk along the side of the deck to do his business. We ended up pushing him through one of the forward windows onto the trampoline and he finally relieved himself.

So we went to sleep early. Of course I couldn’t sleep worrying about the keel of the boat hitting the bottom off a big wave, and all other catastrophes that could befall us.

Of course nothing happened but it was a miserable night. The kind of night that you ask yourself what the F… am I doing this for.

We arrived in Bimini about an hour ago (free wifi). Our intention was to anchor in their harbor. The guides warn that the holding in the anchorage is poor, but we found there to be no anchorage at all. The area marked as an anchorage was too shallow. The main portion of the harbor is dedicated to the seaplane landing strip. So we ended up in a marina.

Sea plane in tiny Bimini harbor

The weather at least until next Friday is not conducive to crossing back to Florida, so we’ll be here for a while (unless we get so sick of being here that we go under less than ideal conditions.)

That’s it for now.

Home (sort of)

Posted on June 1, 2011 by Alan

Thought we’d be stuck in Bimini for weeks. A weather window opened up this AM (winds about 15 kts, ENE, seas 2-4 ft (turned out to be more like 3-5).

We had a great sail. Averaged 8-10 kts close reaching at about 60-90 degrees. Latitude Adjustment behaved well.

We just got to Lake Worth where we are anchored. For some reason there are hardly any boats here. (Maybe everyone took off to the Bahamas because of the window).

The US customs and immigration system is crazy. We put up our yellow Q flag (quarantine) and called Customs. They told us as long as we don’t get off the boat tonight we can go on to our home dock in Palm City. Then we’re supposed to get in our car, drive to Customs at the Fort Pierce airport and check in. Obviously if we were importing contraband we’d could unload it at our house before reporting to Customs. So what’s the point of the whole exercise.

It’s great to be home (sort of).

Home for real

Posted on June 3, 2011 by Alan

Reached our dock in Palm City yesterday (6/2/11) afternoon. Cleared in by telephone but they still required us to check in with immigration in person at the airport in Ft. Pierce.

We’re probably going to cruise the Chesapeake in August. At that time I’ll add to this blog.


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