2000 August The blog from the first trip to the Bahamas
The trip ended for us in Norfolk (actually Hampton, just across the harbour from Norfolk) where our engine died. At that time we had travelled just under 4000 miles with 780 engine hours and burned 420 gallons of fuel. The total spent for marinas in the spreadsheet is just over $2000 (Cdn). The listed price includes one night at every marina except for a month at KPYC.
Subject: St. Andrew’s to Portland
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 18:50:00
We wanted to leave St. Andrews at 0600 but at 0530 it was blowing a gale and I heartily concurred when Bob called on the radio to suggest waiting for a later departure. We found out later that two boats were hammered by squalls of up to 45 knots during the same front passing through. When we left St. Andrew’s the fog was present but not serious we cleared customs and started making our way around Campobello to Cutler our first stop on our route south.
We were thinking of jumping from West Head to Cutler rather than going to St. Andrew’s but it turned out to be a very good thing. There isn’t much in Cutler besides a few fishing boats a convenience store and an amazing set of radio towers that are used by the US Navy to communicate with the North Atlantic fleet. (And the cell phone service is lousy.) The day was a hard slog into strong winds and 1‑2 meter seas. We made it to port before Bob and had settled on a mooring suggested by a fisherman when he arrived. We rafted up and enjoyed our first of many fine evenings aboard Imagination.
The next day we were up with the tide and headed out toward North East Harbour on Mount Dessert Island. Others may be more familiar with another harbour on the island, Bar Harbour. This put us below Petit Manan and out of the severe tidal effects of the Bay. Tides are still an issue and we tried to use them to our advantage but we didn’t have to set our life by them. We did run into more and more of the most popular item in Maine, a lobster pot. Not a single lobster pot anywhere, all married and BIG FAMILIES. We started out the day with light winds which gradually built during the day to be a 25 knot sea breeze by 2‑3pm when we were coming into port. Our days seem to start before six with us motoring by 6:30 and landing in port by 3 pm. This has been our schedule since Lunenburg and it is starting to take its toll. We are very happy to be in bed by 9pm.
North East Harbour is a gorgeous place with a great yacht club and a wonderful view in any direction. It also has a new to us docking system. A mooring that has a section of dock which will allow two boats to tie along side. We were beginning to eagerly away more and more of Bob and Carolyn’s choices of places to stay. We are looking forward to a slower trip north when we will have a chance to explore Maine again. While we were waiting to get on the fuel dock we saw a familiar boat “Blue Goose” was just on her way out.
We left North East and headed toward Rockland. By the time we got to Rockland there were no moorings left but there was space at the docks. It was just as well, Carolyn’s seasickness turned into a full fledged case of flu, complete with chills, sweats and other not so nice symptoms. She had spent the day below and was not up for eating so she stayed below while the rest of us headed to a restaurant next door to the docks. It was a great feed in fact we would have been better splitting one meal rather than going for two.
The next day Carolyn was up and back to 90% of her old self. We made our way out of Rockland and headed toward Boothbay Harbour and another great little spot.
We walked into Boothbay and walked around a very touristy town. We visited shops and bookstores and PASTRY shops as well as eating at a great little place called the Ebb Tide a restaurant that caters to the local population and has a great Dutch Blueberry pie.
We had a great walk for the first time in quite a while. We have used most of our spare time as boat maintenance and trip planning, never seeming to get too far ahead. We still aren’t keeping up with our journal as we should and as you can probably tell this is being made up well after the fact.
We would like to get back to our four hours a day travelling with the rest of the time spent exploring and relaxing. One thing we knew before but are REAL SURE OF NOW boating is harder than RVing. The level of self sufficiency is just raised an order of magnitude. Everything is just more work, provisioning, travel time. Mind you it has been a long time since we did 3 long travel days in a row and it only cost us $23US in fuel. There are advantages. Moorings are more expensive than camp sites but fuel is cheaper. We burn about 1/2 US gallons per hour of motoring. Millie burned about 9 miles per gallon say our boat gets about 9 miles per gallon too. It takes 2 hours for the boat to use it up and about 10 minutes for the RV.
We went from Boothbay Harbour to the Portland Yacht Club in Falmouth. The race starts on Thursday and immediately upon arrival Bob has switched to “Race Mode”. It is interesting to watch all of the preparations. This is a serious ocean race and the rules are quite strict w.r.t. safety equipment etc. The Canadian Navy is here with the Sail Training Vessel Tuna, a sistership to Bob’s. We were constantly teasing back and forth about tying buckets to the rudder or keel and getting spare parts in the middle of the night . Great fun. The lone Air Force person was a Nurse that graduated from UNB and recognized Bonnie from the university.
We had a quick visit with some of Bob’s crew all friends from Fredericton and Halifax but it was all too short. The race started at noon today. The mark was aptly situated between the committee boat (a gray boat that looked a lot like a lobster boat) the green mark at the entrance of the channel and about 5000 lobster pots.
Subject: Falmouth to Biddeford Pool
Date: Sun, 03 Sep 2000 18:04:12
Distance: 22 nautical miles
Destination: Biddeford Pool Yacht Club
Mooring $25.00 US
We tried to get reservations for Saturday night but they were sold out so we stayed around the Portland Yacht Club for another day. Sunday we were up early so we could get the rush of tide out of Falmouth and down the coast. It gave us about a knot most of the way. We were a little worried about getting into the BPYC because the cruising guide told us about a 4 knot current through the cut into Biddeford Pool. The guide was right the BPYC is actually in the cut (on the port side coming in) but the moorings are outside to Pool in the outer harbour.
We took a walk around Biddeford Pool just to see the sights. It is quite a small place and the day we were in was obviously a very special club do, clam chowder, deserts, and salads and everyone wearing a name tag. The kids were having an around the pool race in mirror dingys. Looked like fun. We walked around town and checked out the Fine Art Gallery, the grocery store, post office, real estate office, and walked over to the country club. It is a neat little community that has some money somewhere. The cheapest house was around $150K with the rest being in the $350‑$500K range. The fine art gallery had a couple of paintings for a mere $58,000 and a quick count in my head would say the retail price on the art in the small gallery would rank somewhere around 0.5 million.
We ended up going back to the boat and leaving the art behind, just no place to hang that painting. We installed the new sending unit in the diesel fuel tank instead. We have been going on an empty tank for about a week or so. The sending unit died and we have been using math to figure out when to fill the tank, I like a guage much
We spent our extra days in Portland doing a little route planning and trying to figure out the places to go so we don’t end up with a lot of 40‑60 mile days. We will end up with a couple but hopefully no more than a couple.
We were talking to some friends the other night and they are going to be at the Newport Boat Show and it would be great to meet up for the day. I have a friend who has a mooring nearby and he has offered it to us.
Subject: Biddeford Pool to York Harbour to Gloucester.
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 21:20:44
Distance: 26 nautical miles
Mooring: $20.00 US
On our list of place to go back into York Harbour. What a neat place, great hurricane hole but the currents are strong (4 knots at full run) We arrived at 2 hours into the flood tide and it was a trick to pick up the mooring, even the harbormaster was impressed we hit it first try. We watch our mooring for a while as the miniature reversing falls flooded in and by us. The two moorings ahead of us were actually sucked under by the current. At slack high they were back up again. We sawed back and forth pretty hard on the mooring ball in the strong current but once the tided turned we had a nice steady evening, no wind and the tide pulling us straight toward the cut. If you are coming in be careful of the red mark (8 I think) that seems to be almost on shore it isn’t and the shoal comes pretty far toward the port side. The Harbormaster suggests you stay at least 30‑40 feet off of the day marker (green 9). We called the Harbormaster on 16 but didn’t have any luck until he was behind us, he keeps it off in the afternoon when the static is up.
We walked around town and over to the IGA at the shopping center. The bakery has great bread and lemon poppy seed coffee cake. In the summer they have a trolley that runs around all of the Yorks (York Harbour, York Beach, York Village, York River, …) It is definitely worth a return trip.
We should have spent another day but the forecast was iffy, a small craft warning was issued but it was rapidly fading. The north wind was clocking around to east and fading, by 0900 we bit the bullet and jumped out of the harbour, we rounded the cut at 7.4 knots even though the knot meter said 3.8 We picked up at least 1.6 knots all the way out until the fairway buoy when we turned to take the wind on the stern for the first few hours of the trip. We had a good wind on the stern for several hours and it did clock around to east and drop off to 5‑10 knots by afternoon.
Distance: 44 nautical miles.
Destination: Gloucester Mass.
Mooring: $20 per night.
We have had some of the mystery taken out of the customs check in procedure. We have already cleared customs but we have to “check‑in” at every customs zone. There seems to be one zone around Eastport. Portland Me is in another, Portsmouth NH is another, and Gloucester Mass is another. It stretches to Marblehead. But since our next port is Plymouth it is in the New Bedford zone we don’t have to report to the Boston zone. The New Bedford zone stretches as far as Newport RI. The 1‑800 number we have works great from a pay phone but doesn’t from a Canadian cell phone, and you can only use the 1‑800 number after hours. It is comforting to know that the customs guys don’t know the rules either (they’re changing) but if we break them it is a $5000 fine. (Confused yet?)
No there is no brochure that tells us what we have to do. (Gee Bermuda is six days away and then Antigua is about 10, crew anybody?) The Caribbean 1500 is coming up (a 1500 mile race to the Caribbean nonstop).
Well maybe not. We are going to spend a couple of days in Gloucester. Tomorrow we visit with my nephew and his wife and their brand new baby. We haven’t decided how long we are going to stick around but probably not until Friday. Friday is a big day I turn the big four‑zero.
It’s all down hill from here.
Subject: Playing Tourist in Glouchester MA.
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2000 18:19:08
What a neat place. Glouchester is definitely riding on its fame from “The Perfect Storm” book and movie. It is an incredible natural harbour with an additional breakwater added to make it even better.
I seem to remember seeing a shot at the beginning of the movie where the Andrea Gail was leaving the harbour and there was a snap of a sunken boat against a dock that I thought was an interesting omen. If there was an orange ball in front of it we are actually staying on that mooring. The boat has been there a while but we swing well clear of it.
The town is very old and has small streets everywhere. We met a big bounder coming down one of the streets and was very happy it was him and not me. Salem was not much fun either, I think Glouchester would be equally bad.
We walked around and visited some of the many galleries in the area. There is a long history of artists in the area. The galleries range from abstract to fine art. Including one we just had to go into because of the name “The Acacia Gallery” not quite as big as the one in Gagetown but the art was a lot more expensive.
We had a great visit and while we were here we rented a car and headed over toward my brothers place in Chelmsford. We got a chance to visit with them and go over and see my nephew’s new (first) baby. She was premature and spent some extra time in the hospital just getting out a day or two before our arrival. She is absolutely perfect and mom and dad are just thrilled. The only people more excited than them are the grandparents. This kid will never run shy of lovin.
Bonnie held Shannon Rose for a while and escaped with hormones intact (Whew)
Off to Plymouth tomorrow.
Subject: Plymouth, the Cape Cod Canal, and New Bedford.
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 17:44:24
We were up and off the mooring at Gloucester by 6:30 and it gave us a great heads up for the day. “By 10 pound island, around the breakwater and out to sea” Gloucester is a very pretty place to walk around and enjoy. If you ever visit a stop at the city hall is a must. We stopped to see the fisherman’s memorial (written on cotton (probably sailcloth)). It is on the third floor and in order to get to it you have to walk by some incredible works of art, both relief work and murals. The building itself is pretty neat too.
We arrived early in the day at Plymouth and picked up a mooring from the Plymouth Yacht Club (channel 8) and launched into walk around Plymouth.
We always thought Plymouth rock was a substantial rock outcropping. Come to find out it is a glacial deposit of one rock, about 4 feet wide, 8 feet long and 3 feet high. It used to be bigger, it got broken in half and chunks have been removed for souveneers. It is now protected by a huge marble monument that encloses the rock. They also have a replica of the Mayflower. It is quite a strange shape from the launch it looked very bizarre, very tall very narrow almost like a teardrop from the stern. From close up it was pretty neat too. We didn’t go into it but we gave it good once over from the docks. Bonnie was talking about the lines and stuff and in mid sentence she stopped and said “RATS” . Sure enough around the rocks were several rats. Most of them were small but a few were big enough, for some of us even SMALL are too big. I don’t mind rats as long as they are far away.
We walked around down town and had a coffee and dessert then walked back to the marina for a “Friday” night supper, cheese, crackers, and munchies.
We got our our Reeds and figured out the time for high tide at the east entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. This would mean that we could hit an ebb tide with the current with us all the way through the canal. We had to leave at 0630 from Plymouth then we got a lift and had to slow our way down to hit the entrance at high tide at 0954. We landed at the entrance at 0947 and headed in. The traffic lights were green so we were clear to enter the canal, and we did, fast, real fast. We were doing 5.5 knots through the water, 7.5, then 8.5, 9.7, and peaked out at 10.6 knots under the railway bridge which was, thankfully, up. We did the whole length of the canal in 50 minutes.
There were 6‑7 boats on the east side and probably 70‑80 on the west. The water temperature went from from 19C to 23C too. We are actually almost in shorts and t‑shirt weather on the boat now. NICE.
We entered New Bedford and stopped to get fuel and enquire about mooring. The dock hand wasn’t sure what a mooring was, “those white balls out there. No they don’t belong to us” What about those ones over there? “Those are Pope’s Island Marina” when we got there they didn’t know anything about them, call the New Bedford Harbourmaster. No answer, Fairhaven Harbourmaster, no answer, Newhaven Harbourmaster no answer. We now sit on a dock that costs about the same as a Hilton hotel room in Halifax.
We will be gone tomorrow morning early heading to John Sullivan’s mooring in the Sakonnett River.
Subject: Sakonnet River and the Newport Boat Show
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 19:18:13
We are now waiting for our weather window to leave the Sakonnet River. We were lucky enough to be able to visit with friends from NB who were down for the boat show. It was really great to see them. One of them was crew for our friend who did the Portland to Yarmouth race. The race went well and they came in 4th in class, great for rookies.
We had about a week of boat maintenance, dingy maintenance, rest and relaxation, as well as our visit with friends and the boat show. The main thing was two days of full scale navigation and planning. We now have our route picked out from here to the head of the Chesapeake. Mostly thirtyish mile days with a couple of smaller ones.
We wanted to do twenty mile days but thirty mile days are pretty easy too. For those not used to traveling at a brisk walk, (5 knots is a brisk walk and what we use for our average speed when we are planning ) a twenty mile day means we have an early start are settled by lunch and can play tourist in the afternoon, a thirty mile day means we have an early start, are settled by early afternoon and can still enjoy most of the afternoon, forty mile days means a late afternoon finish and we are not really interested in much besides getting the boat ready for the next day and relaxing. Sixty mile days are up very early and in late with little but eating and sleeping on the agenda.
We picked up our charts at the boat show. We should have all of the charts we need all the way to Grenada with guide books to the Bahamas.
Newport is a neat tourist town, lots of neat places to see and nautically oriented. We didn’t see as much as we should have but we did enjoy our time relaxing on the mooring (thanks John).
We were hoping to leave here on Sunday but there was a Small Craft Advisory because of sea state not wind. So here we sit for another day but Monday and Tuesday sound good to go.
The final night we stayed on the Sakonnet River we were dazzled by the show, the northern lights!!! Great dancing streaks of red, green, and white. Almost as good as the ones in Alaska, almost a year ago now, how time flies.
Subject: Stonington CN and Clinton CN
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 19:18:55
We got our weather window and left early in the morning for Stonington. It was a 44 mile trip and the inner harbour was listed as a well protected anchorage. Expensive ($40US) for a mooring. We were still unsure what TS Gordon was going to do so we wanted a safe spot where we could hunker down. The Dodson Boatyard and Marina was a place to do a bunch of stuff, laundry, a walk for groceries, and a pick up of email.
TS Gordon seems to have fizzled and left little wind but a lot of rain. The forecast was for a nice morning with the rain in the afternoon so we did our up early and gone routine and was tied along side at the Cedar Island Marina in Clinton CN before the rain started. A short 33 mile day.
Stonington is just on the inside of Watch Hill RI, and when we were coming around the point we did pick up a strong current. Today was a bit different. We started out getting flushed out of Stonington picking up a knot or more then when we turned toward Clinton we were set back by a knot to a knot and a half. By the time we were by Fisher Island and into Long Island Sound proper we were starting to pick up up to three knots of lift. (It’s always nice to see 8.5 knots in the direction you want to travel.) The currents took off almost a half hour from our arrival time. I knew we had to be careful of currents at Hells Gate but didn’t realize the currents here were so strong.
Cedar Island Marina costs are mixed, fuel is more expensive than New Bedford but dockage is cheaper ($39+tax, rather than $51)
Subject: Port Washington (really Manorhaven) NY.
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 19:15:32
One thing we always have had fun with when visiting the states is figuring out where we are. One side of the street can be Manorhaven, the other side can be Port Washington and down the block without crossing the street can be something else and there is never a marker that says were the line is. We walked from the North Shore Yacht Club to a grocery store and I think actually walked through a town and didn’t know it to get to Port Washington, all in about a mile.
We have definitely put NSYC on our list of “friendliest clubs around”. Capt. Vic, the club steward, kind of looks like Jack Nicholson and is a great wealth of information and very friendly. He showed us around the club, they don’t have a restaurant but they have a complete kitchen which you are welcome to use. Nice place and pretty cheap too. ($25 for a night on the mooring including launch service). It is 36 miles from Port Jefferson and a great staging area for Hell’s Gate.
We calculate that if we leave here at high tide in NY then we should hit Hell’s Gate at slack. One of the strange things about Hell’s Gate is that we can get a lift from here on the east side going into the gate hit it on slack and the ride the falling tide out the other side. With 5 knots of current around the gate you either time it right or spend a long time looking at the same spot.
There some really nice contraptions around here, the yachts are neat, some carrying things like the usual powerboats as tenders, others include a few extra toys like jet skis, a SUV, and motorcycles. First boat we’ve seen with it’s own car. Helicopters, planes, big powerboats that’s normal but a car?
We saw another contraption that looked pretty neat. While I was making supper we saw an inflatable dinghy fly by, no not “go very fast” but FLY. It was a inflatable dinghy that had an ultralight mated to it and it was flying by. Neat toy. Gee, millie as aircraft carrier.
Tomorrow looks like a tourist day. But then tropical depression Helene is scheduled to pass through on Saturday night (lots of rain but not a lot of wind). (THANK YOU) We may spend another day in Port Washington, or was it Manorhaven, or West Port or …
Subject: Hell Gate, NYC, and Great Kills Harbour
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 10:06:56
Monday seemed to be going to be a nice day with bad weather again for Tuesday. We had planned on leaving North Shore Yacht Club about two hours before slack at Hell Gate, Monday gave us a good time and we were off at 0650.
Hell Gate is the junction between the Harlem River, Long Island Sound, and the East River. The East and Harlem Rivers are the only rivers in the world with no source and two mouths. Sounds more like a pass but in NY they’re rivers. It can have very strong currents about 5 knots and standing waves. We didn’t hit slack, about 10 minutes late but were very happy to have flat water and two knots of tide helping us along.
New York and it’s many boroughs are pretty neat things to see from the water. Neither one of us ever had a handle on how things were laid out in NY but after looking at the charts it makes more sense than it did before. We saw a number of landmarks for the first time, the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, World Trade Center, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Other neat things were barges, tugs, ferries, sea planes, helicopters, and freighters. Only the fast ferries were of any real concern, but the East River can be best described as “a malestrom of intersecting reflecting wakes of significant magnitude”.
We zipped our way out of the East River and headed over to the port side of the Hudson River channel and got a nice view of Ellis Island (FANCY) and the Statue of Liberty.
We had a quiet ride out the narrows and into the lower bay. The first Northeaster of the season was blowing through so we wanted a good spot to hide. Great Kills Harbour fit the bill it is a great cove on the west side of the bay. Which is where we are sitting until we get a good string of weather for the run down the New Jersey shore.
Subject: Down the New Jersey Coast, up the Delaware Bay and into the C&D Canal
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 2000 17:58:50
We slept a couple of restless nights in Great Kills Harbour as a storm blew threw. It was windy but with no fetch it was really not too bad. After the storm blew through we headed toward Manasquan Inlet on the start of the New Jersey coast. The coast is a long stretch of beach with very few inlets for boats and even fewer for boats with significant draft (5 ft is significant).
We figured that we would break the trip into three pieces Great Kills to Manasquan Inlet, then to Atlantic City, then to Cape May. We were up early to try to ride the front down the coast, with the dominant winds on the nose, we got a chance to sail with wind on our back, 10 ‑15 knots and dropping through the day. We arrived after the 35 mile day early in the afternoon and tied up to the Shrimp Box Restaurant dock. It costs $20 to tie up for the night but the $20 is deductible from a restaurant bill. By the time dinner rolled around we had eleven boats rafted up (we were three deep) and most were Canadians. Eight of us got together and went to supper.
The rest of them came from either Ontario or Quebec. They had all spent the stormy nights in a harbour near Sandy Hook and got hammered by seas and high winds, lots of horror stories of anchors dragging and such. If you make the trip Great Kills Harbour sounds like a much better place to be if the wind is from the north (anything north).
We were all up and breaking away by 0730 to get the long run to Atlantic City (55 miles). We called ahead and made a reservation at Kammerman’s Marina just across Clam Creek from the big state marina. We ended up tying to the old fuel pier for $1.75/foot (less a BOATUS
discount). The tide range of 5 feet wasn’t a big problem, it was actually kind of nice when the winds started to howl because of the next weak cold front passing through we were at low tide and the only thing above the dock was our masts and they were sheltered by buildings and a big tree. Couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Atlantic City is a wannabe Las Vegas. We passed on the casino tours but REALLY REALLY REALLY enjoyed the HOT showers. We sat in the cockpit and watched the lights of Atlantic City light up the clouds just as bright as daylight. It was neat because of the breaks in the clouds, imagine the clouds as bright as day with breaks absolutely black with stars twinkling. There were also two funny white things circling over the heliport standing out stark white between the clouds and the buildings. Seagulls. They were not very entertaining but shortly after large Vs of Canada Geese started flying over. They were neat.
The passing front gave us another opportunity to sail south so early morning we were up and out, this time with Beaufort Force 5 from the stern. It was a quick run for the 35 miles to Cape May and we were in just shortly after noon. We asked about a mooring at one of the places that list moorings but they no longer have them, rather than dock we figured we would anchor.
We did, sigh, four times. The first time I used one of the boats as a reference and gave the signal for Bonnie to drop the hook. Oh shoot too close to other boats, “What the heck”, our reference boat was dragging and almost landed on another boat while we were setting anchor. They pulled up and sailed through the fleet with their anchor swinging, when they passed us they hollered “Saw you in Glouchester”. I looked at the name and yes, they were the ones that dragged through the fleet in Glouchester too.
Ok I took a reference on a boat that was good and stable and measured our distance from another boat that was swinging a little funny but we should be clear. It wasn’t until we were settled with our rode out that we discovered that they were not swinging funny they were circling their anchor and on some of the passes we were a little too close for my comfort, UP again and this time out beside another couple of boats in the tier next too the channel.
Time for lunch it was about 1:30. The Coast Guard guys show up while I’m eating my sandwich. “In just a boat length”. UP again and this time we are inside everybody and have a good distance between the circling boat (they circled constantly from when we arrived until the tide shifted at 5pm) and the boat that had stayed rock solid. We had our hook set solid three times at least. But we were real happy we moved. Just after dark the Coast Guard came and cleared the channel back extra wide and even Shelsea (from Saint John NB) who had been in the same spot the night before had to move. A short time later the pipe and drum band started playing and marching to the dock. One of the large cutters arrived and were proudly welcomed home.
We were thinking about doing the Delaware Bay in two days, it has a bad reputation and two medium days of slugging is sometimes better than one real long hard day. We checked the weather forecast and had winds from the east at 10‑15. The Gods are watching and we were able to sail down the Jersey coast and up the Delaware Bay with winds to sail almost the entire way. (They had clocked around to be on the nose between the nuclear power plant and the entrance of the C&D canal. If you time it right you can get a 12 hour run of tide up the Delaware from Cape May, we didn’t need it we were settled in the Summit North Marina about 6 miles in the C&D and here we will pause to celebrate the end of the first major leg of our journey. The Chesapeake is only six miles away.
Subject: The Chesapeake (northern end)
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2000 21:52:57
We left the Summit North Marina just before noon. (Check out time is noon) But it was kind of their fault, we wanted to go to the grocery store the night before but they were short staffed and the FREE shuttle was unavailable. We were up early and at the grocery store in Newark DE by 9:30. We were in luck the Home Depot was just across the parking lot (in another town) where we picked up the stuff we needed for insulating the icebox. After trucking all of the stuff to the boat and taking the cart back to the office we were off. Our “near Jersey boardwalk” experience completed.
Apparently the thing to do is walk the boardwalks on the Jersey coast, we sailed by but the one way trip from “G” dock to the office is a 3/8 mile boardwalk. It will have to do as a near Jersey experience.
We didn’t feel much like a long journey so we snuck into a little out of the way place on the Bohemia River called Veasey Cove, and anchored for the night next to the couple that rafted up to us at the restaurant in Jersey.
It was a quiet night and we were off the next morning to another little cove Turner Creek off of the Sassafras River. The cove itself is just incredibly pretty and in the early morning fog it was something to see. We almost stayed just because of the scenery, it also could have been the lack of water at the entrance at low tide, but scenery sounds better. We now know that Millie comes to a slow stop in mud when the depth sounder shows 1.1 meters. We ran aground twice getting in (at high tide) DON’T crowd the GREEN marks. On our way out we plowed a trench (with the depth sounder flickering at 1.1‑1.2) to the deep water channel (5.5 meters) and then ran aground (well more like crawled aground) another half dozen times trying to get out. We had decided to back off and wait for high tide when the fishing boats started to come back into the harbour giving us a guide as to where the unmarked channel was (aim at the point of land you can see on the same side as Turner Creek, and proceed at a crawl.)
We decided to put a few more miles on and landed at Bodkin Creek. It is a big time pleasure boat place. Every foot of the creek is covered with finger slips or boats many are raised up off the water by electric lifts. They need to be or the wakes would beat them to death. The 6 mph speed limit is only observed by sailboats (who can’t go much faster) and big trawlers (whose wakes are at peak levels at that speed). We ended up anchoring in what we thought was a good spot, it was kind of out of the channels (3 of them) and it seemed to have good holding. Next time I would pick one of the other suggested anchorages probably Back Creek.
We were away early the next morning (remember I said it SEEMED like good holding) to go to the MAGothy Marina(not MaGOTHy, they won’t answer to it) deep into the Magothy River. Here is where we will met up with John and Shirley Sullivan and head on to the Annapolis Boat Show. We figured trying to get into Annapolis for the show would be impossible so we will try to see Annapolis later in the week after the worst of the crowd has cleared.
Prices are much better in the Chesapeake for marinas than they are elsewhere, they have to compete with lots of great anchorages! $0.75/foot rather than $1.75/foot in Atlantic City.
Today was a big time maintenance day. The Ice box is almost insulated (need another sheet of high density foam), the oil in the engine changed, the bilge cleaned, the water leak (we think(again)) fixed, and both of us have had the pleasure of a nice, long, hot, shower.
Subject: The Annapolis Boat Show
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 2000 19:33:12
We were amazed at the size of the Annapolis Boat Show. It could easily take several days to see it all. We did see quite a bit of the tents and a few of the boats courtesy of John and Shirley Sullivan. We used their mooring on the Sakonnet River. John and I worked at StFX together and John is now working as a prof in Delaware and living in Penn. They picked us up at the Magothy Marina and went to the boat show together. It is quite impressive. We really enjoyed looking at the boats and stuff.
We picked up a piece of the puzzle we need for getting weather faxes and weather info via SSB Radio. The piece plugs into the back of the computer and into the audio jack of a radio and out pops weather faxes and NOAA broadcasts of offshore weather. I would like to get a real SSB radio but that is a pricey item a fair way down the list of other pricey items. So I will have to make do with a receiver, besides we miss the CBC.
One of the few things that Bonnie really wanted to see at the boat show was Lin and Larry Pardey’s boat Serephin and their previous boat Talisin (sp?). They were both here and we did get to see both Lin and Larry. For the none boaters in the crowd they are people who have been cruising for over 26 years and have written many books and magazine articles on the lifestyle. They built both of their boats and have sailed them around the world several times. Sailed means sailed they have no engines on board.
From the magazine articles I expected the boats to be in a little rougher shape than they are in. They are very pretty and immaculate. The pictures in the magazine articles do not do the boats justice. Bonnie was happy.
We are quite happy with the Magothy Marina. The cleanest place yet as far as washrooms or laundry. We are camped out on the end of “B” dock and spent most of our three days here doing maintenance (today was a small craft advisory day so we stayed put). Our ice box is almost insulated we just need one more piece of high density foam about 2 feet by 3 feet and we will be done. The oil is changed, the water, fuel, and batteries are topped up. The bilge and bathrooms are cleaned and the porta‑potti emptied.
Subject: Middleish Chesapeake
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 22:46:54
After leaving the Magothy we crossed the bay intending to end up in Chestertown on the Chester River. We decided to do it in two days. It would have been a real long days with unfavorable winds so we decided to cut it in half. The Corsica River looked like it had a couple of nice places to anchor so we snuck in, sounded out our area and set the hook. By dark we had one other sailboat in our bend of the river and three powerboats on the next bend. Very quiet and sheltered.
Chestertown was a hard slug up river the next day with an exposed anchorage and a tough marina to try to fit into. We gave a couple of half hearted attempts to get into a slip but with the 20 knot cross winds, we decide to chicken out and head back to the Corsica.
After another quiet night we lifted and headed toward Annapolis. Annapolis is sailboat heaven. There are something like 4000 sailboats in Spa Creek and Back Creek. It is amazing to see the number of masts. It is also rather mind boggling to see the number of people anchored in the middle of the creek.
We arrived on Wednesday two days after the largest sailboat show in the world. On Thursday was the start of one of the largest powerboat shows in the world. We didn’t think we had a hope at a mooring in Annapolis but figured it was worth a look. We were there at 2:05 and the next opening of the bascule bridge was at 2:30. Rather than wait and check to see about the moorings on other side of the bridge we headed over toward Back Creek. WOW boats slapped in everywhere barely room to move and people were crowded everywhere at anchor. We tried to anchor one spot but there just wasn’t room a little further on we got a spot and laided claim to it for three days. We should have waited for the bridge, there were two moorings and a much better anchorage in Spa Creek.
Our first day we spent scouting out Annapolis, picking up mail and checking out Bacon’s and Associates. Bacon’s is a sail broker that buys and sells used sails and other stuff. LOTS of other stuff. We particularly liked the 5/16 HT chain. We talked to one of the salesman who is heading south the first of November. He has to be at Foxy’s for the 18th. Latitudes and Attitudes editor Bob Bitchin is having a party and he is buying the first beer. He also was nice enough to drive us from Bacon’s to the Sixth Street dinghy dock, even if we did know the guy who bought a sail out from under him. “It had a real neat dragon on it!” Bob don’t fly that dragon anywhere near Puerto Rico. We now have two mixed anchor rodes of about 100ft of chain and 120 feet of nylon each. A buck a foot for chain sounds so much better than $3 a foot(US).
Our last day we played tourist in Annapolis a truely wonderful place for tourists to walk about, leave the cars elsewhere. RVs FAR AWAY. We did walk by the Powerboat show and saw Rosborough Boats from Halifax. A friend was trying to wrangle his way down to the show with them when we were in Halifax. I hollared through the fence to see if Norman was around but the girl didn’t know him so I figured he couldn’t have made it. Norman would have loved it, the trophies were out in splender. They would have been worth the trip all by themselves.
From Annapolis we headed toward St. Michaels. It was forecast for West winds five knots or less, waves less than one foot. Temperature in the low 70s. To unsuspecting folk like us this sounded like a good weather forecast. The amendment I would have added was sailboats by the score with hundreds of powerboats appearing early in the afternoon with wakes of 4 to 6 feet.
St. Michaels was an absolute zoo. There were 80 to 100 boats anchored out in the bay as well as every marina slip and bulkhead full up. Slips go for $2.50 a foot on Saturdays. ($100 US for us to stay in a slip 1 night). We tried for the creek across the Miles River but the guide said it was shoaling and after three tries and crawling aground every time we decided to try Hunting Creek a couple of miles away. It was a wonderful spot really pretty and we had a total of four boats in the cove we were in, none closer than 100 yards. Our coffee was interrupted by thousands of Canada Geese taking off from a field nearby. Man, they are loud.
We put St.Michaels on our place to come back to list and continued on to Knapps Narrows. Knapps Narrows is a cut on Tighlman Island and home to a few marinas. After 10 days of anchoring we needed a laundry/grocery/garbage drop/water fill/fuel fill/waste dump stop at a marina. The first one wouldn’t answer Bonnie’s call on the radio but Knapp’s Narrows Marina did so they got our business. We did spread the money around a bit though. The restaurant on the other side of the bridge had Crab Cakes AND a delightful sounding thai dish (there is only one dish from Thailand on it). Ya have to have crab cakes if you come to the Chesapeake but the good meal was the Thai dish. The same quality as the Stanley Inn. GOOD Stuff.
So here I sit with Bonnie waiting for the Buzzer on the dryer to go. We have one more stop on this side of the bay, Cambridge. We will have to do a good provision there as we will probably be doing another 7 to 10 days of anchoring from here to our next major milestone, mile 0 of the intracoastal waterway at Norfolk VA.
Subject: What makes a “Good” radio?
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 16:23:48
People always harp about a VHF radio being the most important piece of safety equipment on a boat. It is, I have no argument about that at all. In fact Millenium Odyssey has a reputation of having one of the better radios in our club. We can usually pick up traffic from a long way away. Which brings us to the question about what makes a “good” radio.
After a couple of weekends on the Chesapeake, my opinions are changing a bit. Last weekend we were picking up traffic from Summit North Marina in the C & D Canal. (about 75 miles away by skipper bob distance.) We were also getting US Coast Guard Baltimore, we heard about vessels in distress many miles away, way beyond what we could reach. There were also many thousands of boats between us and them which could help, if they could hear the call.
At home in NB there is a pretty small community of boaters and a weekend listening to the radio is like listening in on a big party line of friends. In Douglas Harbour where we normally sit, when you make a call to another boat if you can’t hear the person on your radio you have a good chance of picking it up from the radios on the boats around you as they all dial in to listen to what’s up. It’s kind of like having a 50 speaker stereo system.
All in all life is pretty, well, if not private, at least orderly. Last year we picked up a “good” handheld radio. I wasn’t overly impressed with either it’s reception or transmission ranges. Often if we want to talk to someone more than a few miles away we use the “big” radio.
Being in the Chesapeake I’m not so sure about what makes a “good” radio. In NB, I know what makes a good radio, one that makes a clear transmission as far as the mast height and antenna will allow and one that sounds clear when people are talking even from a long way away, free of hisses and snaps, crackles, and pops. I have a “good” radio for NB, I’m not so sure I have a “good” radio for the Chesapeake. I still get have lots of reception and it’s clear, but with 4000 boats in Annapolis alone not counting at least a few hundred if not thousands of Canadian boats heading south, I have LOTS of reception. LOTS and LOTS of reception. I can hear more than I have any desire to hear. Most of the time there are at least a couple of vessels calling other vessels at the same time, both stomping on each other and neither one having much luck Coast Guard distress calls are stomped on. Mayday calls are stomped on.
All the while the “big” radio was talking constantly I noticed that the handheld was almost quiet. With only a few calles being stomped on, it sounded much better. It wasn’t hearing much of anything but it did hear the call from a friend we met along the way. I’m beginning to like the handheld more and more. It is a “good” radio in the Chesapeake.
But if I ever need to issue a distress call, it will be on the “Make My Day” big radio.
Subject: Strange weather forecasts
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 12:51:55
The Chesapeake is a funny place for weather. The adage from home seems to apply “If you don’t like the weather in the back yard look in the front yard it will have changed by the time you get there”. Yesterday we were tucked into Mill Creek off the Great Wicomico River next to a nice little bank of trees that protected us from the expected NE 10‑15 knots. We visited with a nice couple who were from the local area, “about five miles that way in a straight line, about 18 by sail” The trees did their job and by the time we were up and around the NE15 were about E 5 or so they seemed. The weather forecast was for NE 10‑15 where we were with NE 15‑20 south of us. On the stern we don’t really mind 15‑20 but that wasn’t expected until later on and we had a big 16 mile day ahead of us. With any luck we would be in before the weather piped up.
I’m beginning to think that if there is a 15 in the forecast you don’t want to be on the bay. Our 10‑15 was NE 20 with gusts to 25 and the shallow water developed a nice sharp four foot chop for our ride. The couple we visited suggested Antipoison Creek rather than Pitman’s Cove listed in Skipper Bobs. With the NE blowing a strong chop right at the entrance we did Pitman’s Cove instead, saving Antipoision for our return trip. Pitman’s Cove faces right into the NE but has a couple of little coves off to the side. We figured we would try to sneak into one of the coves if there was space. When we arrived a little tug style trawler was at the entrance of one but there was no one further in. The few boats that were in the Cove proper were laying straight back as the wind blew straight down the cut but with little fetch it wasn’t a bad spot. We tried for further in and our first set of the anchor seemed to place us a little too close for comfort on the trawler. We set again even farther in and lay very well protected on all sides. The NE wind would swirl around the trees and often just brush the trees on the other side of the cove, the wind line visible 10 feet away, we sat in water absolutely becalmed. We set a stern anchor to pull us a little closer to the trees and limit our swing as almost any swing would put us into the trees on either side. Doing it again I probably would have tied our bow to a tree and set out a stern line. (Next time)
The weather forecast this morning was Tidal Potomac to Drum Point NE 10 Seas 2 feet, Drum Point to Smith Point Variable 5‑10 seas 1 foot, Smith Point to New Point Comfort Small Craft Advisory NE 15‑25 seas 4 feet. There is about 60 miles from Drum point to New Point Comfort. Sorry to all the weather people out there but 30 miles between a place having Variable 10 with 1 foot seas and a NE 25 with four footers? We have decide the most likely stuff on the bay is the NE25 and we will sit for the day.
The fall colors are changing here and the greens, reds, and yellows are very pretty against the green water. We even got a chance to break out the printer and make ourselves “business” cards for the boat. I took a few photos of Millennium Odyssey with the digital camera and in short order we had three pages of business cards. It kind of suited the weather too! The first page was in black and white with a had a gray sky for those with a darker view on life, the third page to print has a nice blue sky for those with a sunny disposition, but I kind of liked the second page, the blue gun on the printer wasn’t working very well so the sky came out well, pinkish, just for those of us wearing rose colored glasses.
Subject: It’s a small world after all!
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 17:54:18
You never know quite when the world is going to shrink to a very small world. It happened to us yesterday. It was blowing like stink outside so we spend the day sitting in a small little place called Pitman’s Cove. I was doing a run around the anchorage and met a couple on a trawler “Gray Ghost” they are heading south and were having a problem with their computer. I spent a little while figuring out that Windows ME doesn’t do USB very well. I had left our boat business cards on the boat and he said he would stop by later and pick one up when he took their dog for a walk.
When he did Bonnie saw Reg and said “looks like Charlie” and Bob looked like he went through a time warp. “A friend of ours had a Boston Terrier called Charlie.” Bob looked at us and said “Henri and Monique on Tardis?” Tardis has the mooring directly behind us in Douglas Harbour. Well not really, Tardis has been sold but Henri and Monique still own the mooring. Henri and Monique helped us prepare for this trip.
It was great to hear stories about their travels together in the Bahamas. Bob Lowell and his wife were in a Westerly 26 when they were in the Bahamas. We spent another half of an hour talking about Henri and Monique (and Charlie!) and their travels in the Bahamas.
Subject: Norfolk Virginia
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 18:00:27
Well, we found another place that we could certainly enjoy living in for a while. Norfolk is a town with lots of history and culture, not counting a lot of boaty stuff.
I was talking to a few locals who had pulled into the marina in order to have a Halloween party. Since they were all around us and they wanted the party in a central local, in front of our bowsprit seemed like a good spot. They had snow around about 86 and they have to pull the boats every couple of years to paint the bottom. Yep, sounds like a nice place.
We have had a great time playing tourist, walking the Cannonball trail, the McArthur Mall, and visiting the highlights, the Chrysler Museum of Art with their Monet, an incredible glass collection, marble statues, photography, and Rodin sculptured, The Douglas McArthur Memorial where you can find out all about the wars (but reading about it the only people in the world wars were the US, Britain, Russia, Germany, and Japan, no other country seemed to rate a mention), the Confederate Memorial (we are in the south), Hooters, a restaurant that serves up great hot wings, thighs, and breasts (both on and off the menu) and the star of the Children’s Festival of Virginia: Theodore Tugboat!
We were surprised to see Theodore again but watching a friend of ours leave and head down the ICW (we watched to see where to go) and there was Theodore coming up the Elizabeth River. He seemed to be a hit with the big tugs too. Every time he gave a little toot on his whistle the big tugs gave a big toot on their large horns.
Our trip into Norfolk was a chance to see REALLY BIG warships, aircraft carriers, nuclear subs, hovercraft, tugs, barges, and a VERY VERY VERY CLOSE look at warship 196 actually an oiler. It is the ship that carries fuel to refuel all of the ships at sea, a truly large beast. We got a call on the radio “Millennium Osprey this is Warship 169 on your port stern quarter” (This we knew, we were watching him for the past half hour. We were almost matching speeds with him coming up closer and closer as we slowly made our way up the Elizabeth River. We were just outside the channel on the red side of the marks. “We are heading to the fuel dock just on your Starboard forward quarter and would appreciate it if you could circle around and pass to our stern.” We had no desire to be between a ship weighing a many thousand tons and his desired resting spot so we slowed down and made a quick starboard turn and got out of his way. He thanked us for our cooperation and it was interesting to note that one of the three tugs escorting the warship maintained a position that put himself between us and the warship until we were well clear. That and the fact that AWACS aircraft were constantly circling the harbour made us wonder just how high the alert level really is since the attack on the Cole.
Norfolk has a mermaid as an emblem. You see it on public works vehicles and brochures. You also see lots of them as public art. They have dozens of them around the city. They are fiberglass mermaids about six or seven feet long with their tail stretched horizontal and an arm outstretched. They are all decorated as public art sponsored by companies or groups. Bonnie liked the “Candy Bar”, a mermaid wrapped in aluminum foil with the foil off of the tail revealing it’s Chocolate color (it had a bite out of the tail too). I thought the best name of a statue was “Sue Nami”.
We could easily spend several more days here, and might. The weather doesn’t sound very good but we are inside and shouldn’t be bothered by the wind, the only problem is getting out of the slip.
Where we are is actually just south of Marker 36 (Mile 0 of the Intracoastal Waterway) and from here to Florida we are working in statute miles. When we flipped our depthsounder over to US measurements (speed in mph, depth in feet, and temp in F) from Canadian (Speed in Knots, depth in meters, and temp in Celsius) it reset our knotlog as well. For those interested we have traveled just over 1700 nautical miles since leaving Grand Lake this summer. Mile 0 is just over a thousand nautical miles from Eastport ME.
Subject: The Great Dismal Swamp Canal
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 19:29:38
The Great Dismal Swamp Canal was partially surveyed by George Washington as part of it passed through some of his land. It is Great, covering a large area that is most definitely a swamp, actually a cypress swamp. The water is the color of a dark tea or coffee. It has a little more visibility than the cup of coffee that I had this morning. The chain disappears about 3 inches down. The color comes from the trees and the water is supposed to be relatively unpolluted. It is also most definitely a canal. You can still see most of the original cedar walls that line the canal on both sides. The tops of the cedar posts are mostly rotted away or have become host to wild flowers, grasses and even little trees. There are long stretches that you can see hundreds of these colorful pole top gardens stretching up both sides of the canal beside you. The submerged sections of the cedar poles are still in very good condition. The canal is straight as an arrow for miles before taking a slight turn and another straight run for miles. The canal is hardly dismal, with the fall colors and “flower pots” it is incredibly pretty. As much as you would love to go over and look closer at the “pots” it is a really bad idea. The overhanging trees that look so pretty are a nightmare for all the nice EXPENSIVE stuff on the top of the masts. One of the couples told us of a transit where they had to go around barge working in the canal and if you went too far the over head trees showered the decks with leaves, branches, clipped windexs, wind instruments, antennas, and navigation lights. We were very careful when we met a powerboat (the one person heading NORTH), what do you expect from a powerboater!
We left Norfolk with the intention of arriving after the bridge restrictions were lifted and in time for the 11 am lock lift in the GDSC. While it is possible to run the canal in a day we didn’t want to. There is a North Carolina Visitor Center that services both the boats in the canal and the cars on the highway. The dock is FREE! After a $1.20 a foot in Norfolk, FREE is good. We were actually pretty good in October, we only paid for nine nights at marinas and we anchored out the rest of the time. We are averaging about $1 per foot per night in a marina.
The lock was an easy lift of eight feet. The locks and canal are feed by Lake Drummond part of the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife preserve. When there isn’t enough water for the preserve the canal is closed to boaters and you have to go via the Virginia Cut. They try to conserve as much water as possible so the lock the inbound boats first. The southbound vessels(us) arriving at the Deep Creek lock enter first and once inside the doors at the north end close and the lock fills with water after you go up 8 feet the south gate opens and you leave entering the canal system after that they lock the north bound boats (you guessed right there weren’t any). Just after the lock there is a bascule bridge (a bridge that lifts from one side and provides unlimited overhead clearance at one end when up and almost none when down), the lock tender waits until the last boat clears the lock, then jumps into his truck, zips down to the bridge and then opens the bridge. The bridge tender at the north end is really talkative and nice. Just after the bridge you can tie up and walk to a hardware and grocery store. If we were doing it again we probably would have. But two other boats stopped and we really didn’t need anything so we kept going. It takes about a half hour to get through the lock entering the canal and an hour to clear going out of the canal.
We arrived at the NC Visitor Center and rafted to a boat from Ontario. They have been doing the Bahamas in Winter and East Coast US in the summer for seven years. Another had been live aboards for four years and another couple for one or two years. They were continuing on the next day but we wanted to stick around. The weather that has been dumping snow in Maine (and I would assume NB as well) has been causing high winds and cold air here. We have had frost the last couple of nights. This has caused a bit of a bottleneck as people have not been able to leave Elizabeth City and cross the Albermarle Sound, since we wanted to stay at Elizabeth City for a couple of days we decided to wait and let the crowd clear a bit. We stayed an extra day and did a bit of (you guessed it) boat maintenance. We ran into a person who was returning from two years in the Caribbean and becoming a “dirt dweller” again, she described her trip as “boat maintenance done in really nice places”.
We left the NC Visitor Center (at mile 28) in time for the 11am locking at South Mills(at mile 32). We tied up to the walls just before the bridge (no fittings we just hooked a line around the boards) and I climbed up on the wall and walked over to the convenience store. They had 2 gallons of milk, 1 gallon of whole and 1 gallon of 2% and at least 50 kinds of beer. I got the gallon of 2% and a loaf of bread and just made it in time for the bridge to open and let us through.
We discovered that whoever said you can’t get long life milk in the US is right. We have been trying to replenish our stock for a couple of weeks with no luck. I can just see us leaving Canada in January with our luggage packed with cases of long life milk. The time change has made us more careful of our times. We figured we could get from the Visitor Center to Elizabeth City if we left at 9:30 for the 11 locking, but with the hour lock through at South Mills we wouldn’t be making it to Elizabeth City until 5ish which is almost dark, too close for comfort, so we picked an alternate anchorage (behind Goat Island).
It is so quiet behind Goat Island that the stars are just as clear in the water as they are in the sky. A very quiet spot for Halloween.
Subject: The Rose Buddies and the second best cinnamon buns in North America
Date: Sun, 05 Nov 2000 19:20:37
After a quiet night at Goat Island we were up late (no sense in rushing off) the bridge at Elizabeth City is restricted to openings on the half hour until 9 am. The weather was fairly good and the city was emptying after filling for several days. It worked out better to leave from Goat Island. The (FREE) town docks were packed the night before but when leaving Elizabeth City for the ICW people leave EARLY it is a long way to anywhere either marina or anchorage. So when we arrive the docks were just emptied and we had a choice of slips.
A couple of hints for people planning a visit to Elizabeth city. The numbers on the front of the dock are widths. The water tap is under a metal plate behind the water fountain which is 4 or 5 slips down from the bascule bridge. If you are too far down the docks you may have to team up with several boats to string their water hoses together to get water.
Just down main street is a bakery. It is a busy place for lunch and as well as a bakery it is a wine store and has a well stocked humidore. Our particular fetish is cinnamon buns and I am very happy to report that after a couple of samples we are quite happy to say that they are the second best buns we have had in North America. The buns in Braemore Yukon are still better but these are a good second best.
We had a full day in Elizabeth City and did lots and lots of shopping. We were having a problem with the electric switch feeding power to our pump cooling the engine. There are a couple of marinas on the other side of the bascule bridge. The Pelican Marina has a fairly good selection of boat bits and we were able to pick up new electrical switches and new bow rollers. The old bow rollers were ok for the rope rode but the chain was flipping out of the roller and chafing. The new wider rollers without the spacers work much better. The new switches work much better too. The boat has been working extremely well considering we have been motoring almost every day since the middle of August.
We spent a couple of days at Elizabeth City and had the great fortune of meeting Fred Fearing, one of the original “Rose Buddies”. Fred Fearing and Joe Cramer started a tradition of presenting the “first mates” of visiting cruisers with roses and hosting a wine and cheese party in 1983. Joe died in 1987 and his roses were transplanted to the town wharf. Fred continues the tradition and it is really a great thing. Cruisers are pretty concentrated on their boat and their travels and other than an occasional visit around an anchorage we seldom get a chance to really visit. The wine and cheese parties are not to be missed opportunities to get a chance to visit and meet fellow cruisers traveling down the coast. We have crossed paths with several boats several times but this is the first time we have had a chance to actually visit.
We left early in the morning and headed toward the Alligator River. We arrived at the Alligator River Marina and settled in for a early day, A HOT SHOWER (AHHHH), and a top up of the fuel tank. The marina has good prices on dockage and fuel. The next day we were up early and headed out to try to get into protection before the N15‑20s kicked up. We were thinking of staying in the Alligator River just before the Alligator‑Pongo Canal but the three or four spots were exposed and the guides warned of snags and the requirement to use trip lines on the anchor. We had an alternate anchorage picked out in Fairfield Canal just before the Fairfield bridge in the Canal. It turned out to be full of barges used in the construction of the high rise bridge that will replace the Fairfield Bridge. This left us two choices: the Pongo River west of the exit of the Canal or beyond the marina in Upper Dowry Creek.
The marina in Upper Dowry Creek saw us coming and called us on the radio. They were really nice and even gave us instructions for where we could anchor with our draft. We will stop there on the way back (and stay at the marina). We were tired after our almost 50 mile day and just wanted to get the hook down.
The next day the weather was warning of N15 to N20. We got up a little late and since the wind was still light we figured we would go for adding a few miles. (We were 8 miles shy of our 140 miles a week average we wanted for the ICW). We had picked out a couple of anchorages where we could go if we did get the full N20. We were making great time averaging 7.0 Knots and arrived at Eastham Creek on Goose Creek by 11:00. Eastham Creek is on the east side and would have offered good protection with the trees on its banks. Campbell Creek on the opposite side of Goose Creek looked better on paper but has no trees offering protection from the wind. Since the going was good we kept going. By early afternoon we were out and into the Nuese River with a full N20 blowing. It was a little rough but compared to the Chesapeake or the Coast of NS it was nothing serious. We had a third anchorage picked out as the “last” option. Broad Creek just 7 miles up the river from Oriental NC was our stopping point for the day. We worked our way in and just in from the Red “4” we turned off the channel and tried to see if we could get room to anchor close to the shore. We never did find shallow water, we anchored just off the channel in the lee of a grove of tall pine trees, with north 20 knots just outside, our little anchorage is quiet and calm with just a little breath now and then.
We have decided to head to Beaufort NC tomorrow and spend a couple of days at the Beaufort Docks.
Subject: Beaufort (BOW‑Fort) NC
Date: Tue, 07 Nov 2000 20:57:02
We made it all the way to Beaufort NC pronounced (BOW‑fort) not Bu‑fort that’s in SC. As soon as we arrived there were familiar faces, people we had met along the way. Within another day a couple more showed up. One of the best things about the trip is visiting with people along the way. One was a friend that stayed at the Upper Dowery Creek Marina, he said it was the best and cleanest you will find on the ICW.
Beaufort was a rest stop for us. The town docks have three courtesy cars that you can take out for an hour to do shopping. This let us do a little more running around than is normal for us. We picked up a pressure cooker yesterday and our first attempt at using it was one of our cakes. The lemon poppy seed cake turned out pretty good, enough of a success that the conversion over to propane has gone from about a 90% chance to less than 50%. We will see what happens with other stuff. The bread will make the difference between conversion or not. If you have pressure cooker recipes please send them along.
Driving courtesy cars are, well, interesting. Our first was a huge boat, a large station wagon with fake wood panelling on the side except that the wood had pretty well rusted off. It stopped very well, touch the breaks and the brakes locked up solid. The doors were interesting they closed but getting them open was a little more difficult. We got our groceries and checked out a building supply place for high density foam to finish off the fridge. No luck on the foam. The next day we got another large station wagon this one mostly dark blue and rust red. It was more “interesting”. It had a sign on the dash about the gas guage 1/2 full was really empty. The radio had a sign on it but it was faded out to the point you couldn’t read it. It had an adjustable tilt steering wheel except now it was more like a dynamically tilting steering. It would tilt a bit when you hit the brakes, stepped on the gas, right turns were ok, lefts were wild. Shut the door on the driver’s side and the hood fluttered. There was a large sign saying don’t lock the doors. The cigarette lighter had melted it’s way almost all the way through the dash. But we did get the foam! The courtesy cars are just too fun to pass up.
We walked around town and did a couple of the historic walks and it has a really interesting “old burial ground”. We didn’t get to the museum, a mistake according to a friend. Well it will be here on the way back.
We are surrounded by pretty fancy boats. The one that just arrived takes the cake. It is about 100 ft of high tech plastic and steel boat. Complete with satelitte TV and telephone, a large open array radar and one toy I though was particularly cute, a remote control. The captain came down and stood about the middle of the boat and with a hand held remote controlled the bow thruster, the two engines, and the helm in order to bring the boat to the dock straight sideways. Very impressive toy.
We are also being eaten by shrimp. Actually the shrimp are just cleaning the hull for us. You can hear them snap snap snapping against the hull. Kind of different.
We are listening to the election coverage and it seems tight. It is pretty quiet with everyone glued to the TVs and radios. Time to drop this message and get ready to leave first thing tomorrow.
Subject: Anchoring, currents, and Charleston SC
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 20:52:29
After leaving Beaufort NC, we stopped at a free dock just south of “The Rockpile” a section of the waterway cut out of rock. It is provided by the Barefoot Landing shopping mall. They have a display of several LARGE live tigers and quite a few small tiger kits that you can have your picture taken with. They also have a House of Blues restaurant. We got together with a number of cruisers and went to supper.
The next day we did a short day in order to position ourselves so that we could arrive in at a marina in Georgetown early in the day. We usually have a full day of stuff to do when we arrive at a marina. If we arrive late that means we usually spent two nights at the marina with one working day. If we arrive early in the day we get a full days work and only have to get one night at the marina.
We stayed in Prince Creek just north of Wacca Wachee Marina. It was gorgeous place well protected by wind but the currents were intense. We were in 15 feet of water with about 90 feet of chain out, and since we were in the middle of a cypress swamp a trip line was in order. (For the non‑boaters a trip line is a rope tied to the base of the anchor buoyed to the surface by a float so that if the anchor gets hooked on a stump you can pull the anchor up backwards) We arrived just before the switch of tide. We watched the tide switch and run out fast enough that the float was almost sucked under by the current. It was interesting that even with this amount of tide there wasn’t enough current to pull the chain out straight to put a strain on the anchor. The float stayed even with the cockpit for the full run of the tide.
(The next day we listened to a sport fisher being called back to Wacca Wachee in order to bring his insurance card, he had waked the marina hard enough to damage at least one hull and by the sound of it a couple of others as well.)
The ICW between Georgetown and Charleston runs close to the Atlantic. There are many inlets providing strong currents and very little wind protection in the form of trees, so anchorages are not the best. We stayed in Price Creek with a half dozen other boats, it was pretty if you like sawgrass. There were a couple of other anchorages further down the line but we had fought currents all day and it was getting close to our anchor down deadline 3:30. (Next time we might try to get to Whiteside Creek it has a little better wind protection, you can at least see bushes nearby.) It wasn’t until after dark that we realized how flat the area was. We could see forever, at the peak of the tide we were the highest point for miles.
We were following a boat down the ICW. We were about 1/4 a mile away, close enough to see them well and not close enough to cause them any problems if they ran into problems. They were scooting along and then they stopped. They were stopped for a couple of minutes before taking off again. They had run aground and in doing so gave us a heads up to the currents flowing across the ICW. The ICW crosses a few inlets at right angles to rivers running to the sea, or in this particular case the sea running up the river. We were steering directly to shore and were pushed sideways hard enough that our progress was mostly in the direction we wanted to go. Two more boats behind us went aground.
We settled into the Ashley Marina about noon and were walking around in downtown Charleston by about 1:30. Charleston is an absolutely great city to walk around, the houses and gardens are still ablaze with colorful blossoms, lush green grass and vividly colored houses. Tomorrow we should do a bit more touring and maybe a little shopping.
Subject: Beaufort (Pronounced bew‑fort) SC
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 11:06:03
After leaving Charleston we figured we would anchor at Tom Point Creek and then Brickyard Creek which would position us 6 miles from Beaufort for the next day. It is cold here (relatively) and I have been wearing more than we have ever worn in the Bay of Fundy and are still a lot colder.
Tom Point Creek is a great spot we cruised up the creek a couple of miles until it started getting shallow. Wind protection was best at the first corner right up next to a house so we settled in and relaxed and huddled in the main cabin with the furnace going. We have a Force 10 heater that provides heat but also humidity.
The last few nights has been cold and wet and while the headliner in the main cabin isn’t too bad as far as condensation, the windows and hatchs are always dripping water. After several days of wet and cold the boat was starting to get a wet dishrag feel to it.
Leaving Tom Point it was another cold wet miserable day with the added feature of wind, lots of it in the afternoon. We decided that if we could make Beaufort we would and go for our mail. But listening to the weather most people were sitting still and everything was full. Brickyard Creek was about the best anchorage around according to Skipper Bob so we settled in early. The marina was still full and we waiting for the bridge to open and were just about to call a marina further away when we overheard people leaving Downtown Marina. We called and got a spot.
We spent most of the morning walking around town and had a great lunch at the Firestation cafe and bookstore. One of the things we have been able to borrow at a number of marinas was a 30amp to 15 amp adapter so we could run and extension cord aboard and plug in the laptop. Tonight we wanted something more important HEAT! The marina didn’t have any adapters but were willing to sell us one ($53US). The last one we saw was $35. They also had a male 30 amp plug for $26, ($17 at last place). I hate to be ripped off and those prices got my back up. We went to a hardware store and they didn’t have any but they were really nice and called around to a couple of electrical supply places. One had a male 30 amp plug in stock so after walking the 3 miles to the store we picked up the plug ($9) as well as a GFCI outlet and a plastic box. We spent the night in the forward cabin in very comfortable dry heat.
If I were going to do the trip again I think I would install one of those engine driven cabin heaters. (Maybe I should stop at an Autozone and see what a small radiator would cost? Gee it and a couple of Y valves and this boat would have more plumbing than a nuclear sub!
Subject: Georgia and into Florida
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 21:49:55
We purposely avoided Savannah on our way north during our RV trip.We wanted to stop by boat. Well it turns out that Savannah is not a great place to get into with a small boat we stopped at Thunderbolt actually the Palmer Johnson Marina. They refit megayachts here. There were three lined up behind us, the cheap one was $8 million but the impressive one was not much bigger although the price tag was almost double at $15 Million. Nice toys. There was one sailboat that was having her masts worked on. It was up on a blocking and hidden behind a building so it was hard to see how tall it was. The 80 or 90 feet of the mast we could see was about 3 feet thick.
We hopped a taxi to Savannah and spent the day walking and doing a Gray Line tour. It is pretty interesting and a city with an interesting history. There was a book published about a real life murder and magic in the area called “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” locally called “THE BOOK”. It is an amazing, there are tons of stores selling “the book”, there are “Midnight” everything including walking tours and a two and a half hour bus tour that takes you to the sites talked about in “The Book”. We sailed by the Cemetery on the way down the ICW and there is a lot of really nice statues in it.
The rest of Georgia slipped by pretty quickly with a lay over day in Cattle Pen Creek. There was a small craft advisory for the area where we had to cross a couple of sounds. So we sat still for a day and watched the world (mostly power boats) go by. I will always remember Georgia as the “low country”. Hundreds of square miles of grass with a narrow creek up the middle and trees on the distant horizon. A well protected anchorage has trees that you can see well to give moral support if no cover from wind. The eight foot tide range means that you are fairly well protected by a 5 foot mud bank at low tide, at high tide you are the highest point for many miles.
We have been seeing lots of dolphins every day since North Carolina and the last few days we have been seeing more groups, sometimes up very close! We are seeing a lot of Manatee warning signs now but we have not seen any Manatees yet. They don’t like cold water and the water is in the low 60s here.
We crossed into Florida and stayed at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Marina just a couple of miles from the last campground that we stayed at in Florida about 10 months ago.
Florida thus far has been a little bit different than Georgia, the trees are a bit closer to the grass.
We have decided to stop in Saint Augustine for a couple of days. Here we break up our merry little band of two boats. We have been traveling with another boat (Wings) an S2 36 footer. Bill is single handing and we have kind of adopted each other as a kindred spirit. He was head of engineering for Stirling Motors. An interesting guy to talk to and has had met a lot of neat people and done a lot of neat things in his life. He joined us for Thanksgiving dinner, and according to him “Made his mother and daughter very happy”.
He is heading off to Ann Arbor Michigan for christmas soon and wants to make miles tomorrow. We want to visit and play tourist.
We have finally found a place for the boat to sit while we are away for christmas. It is not as far south as we would have liked but what the heck we aren’t in a rush. As a result we are probably going to come home a little early and come back to Florida earlier in January. With any luck we will get to see a shuttle launch, I understand the launch pad is in view from the marina.
So you might see us sooner than you expect, unless we can hitch a ride on the shuttle.
(now that would be a neat odyssey)
Subject: Florida, a BIG roman candle, and a rest stop.
Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2000 20:18:32
We stopped in St. Augustine for a couple of days for tourist activities. St. Augustine is a very pretty, VERY touristy spot. St. George St. is blocked off as a tourist mall including an old spanish village, the oldest school house and a really nice Spanish Bakery!
In St. Augustine, We took a Trolley tour and stopped at Fort Castillo de San Marcos, a fort built in the 1500s by the Spanish. It was never taken in battle, but given away a few times, the spanish gave it to the british, the british gave it to the spanish, and the spanish gave it to the americans. It is built of “Coquina” a stone that is pliable when wet but when it dries it is essentially brick, much like “Bermuda Stone”. The fort is undergoing extensive renovations and will someday be back to original condition. In one of the underground rooms Bonnie and I saw a cave formation that we had seen in all of our caving trips last year, a “soda straw” if I remember the time it takes to grow a soda straw this room has had a leaky roof for about 250 years. (The soda straw came complete with it’s opposing feature, the beginnings of a stalagmite.)
Our next stop was the San Sebastian Winery. It uses all Florida grapes. The tasting they give is really pretty good. The wines were on a scale from a good sherry and port to a terrible red and a not bad white.
At night Christmas lights abound and it is a really pretty. The biggest light in the sky on our last night in town certainly wasn’t a star or a light. It was a night shuttle launch, about 100 miles away and it was still a pretty impressive sight. I stuck out my thumb but they didn’t stop to pick me up so it looks like I have to pass on that trip.
We found a spot where we want to leave the boat for a christmas and it was two hard days or three easier days. We picked out a couple of anchorages and made the three day trip. Good anchorages are hard to come by in Florida. We got a couple, one by an inactive cement plan, and one by a power plant. They were really nice and quiet nights, and if you chose which way you looked it was a palm lined stretch of a nice quiet river.
We kept moving and have arrived in Titusville. The next building to the east is one of the biggest around, the Vehicle Assembly Building where they assembled the Saturn V rockets to the moon and the Space Shuttle. I think we can see where the shuttles are launched from. We will have to check the schedule to see when the next launch is, we will want to be back by then.
Subject: Manatees, Dolphins, and the Shuttle.
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 18:24:45
The work list is shrinking and the cupboards are filling. The Solar Panel is installed on top of the dodger, the battery monitor is up and the batteries are full. The water maker is installed plumbed, and wired but not tested. We can’t do that until we get into clean water (the bahamas). The hot water tank reinstalled to allow a couple of more jerry cans of diesel. This will bring our total to about 50 gallons. All of the wires we ran over the past few months were installed with heat shrink tube but without power (and time) they were never sealed, they are now. We removed and resealed the two big windows in the forward cabin, and fixed another couple of toe rail leaks.
We are getting more and more impressed with the kennedy point yacht club. There is a marginal hardware store, a Big K, a Winn Dixie(grocery store), a liquor store, and a pharmacy within walking distance. A walmart supercenter is about 3 miles away. Titusville a $10 cab ride away has bus service, grocery and box stores. Enterprise car rental has a special rate for people at KPYC.
Bill from Wings (who we have chummed around with and at times travelled together off and on since the Dismal Swamp Canal) rented a car and we split the cost for visiting 7 West Marines, a Boating World,the Stuart Boat Show(boo hiss) and many grocery stores. We almost have everything now just one more trip to West (they promised it would be in Wed.)
Kent and Michelle arrive tomorrow. Unfortunately the shuttle will not be going up until Feb 6 so we won’t be sticking around for it. We will be heading out as soon as we can probably the 19th. The first inlet to line up with a weather window will be our exit to the bahamas.
Today we saw our first wild manatee on the other side of the dock. It was neat to see, it also ment the water is getting warmer when we arrived in Dec it was 67, when we came back it was 53, it is now 63. We also had dolphins in the marina fishing the schools of millet that populate the area.
Tomorrow we install a couple of new ports and get some 5200 to secure a deck box for the liferaft. I would also like to remark the chain the original marks are wearing off.
If I keep at this list we may see that shuttle launch.
Subject: On the move again
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 18:14:30
We actually did see the shuttle move, unfortunately, it was on land moving back to the VAB.
After going to Texas night at KPYC(where the food was free and if you used “reckon” in a sentence you got a texas beer for 50 cents (I reckon I’ll have a beer!)we prepped to go.
We spent a couple of days getting the boat ready to leave. Then a day of high winds from the south 20 knots, the next day was supposed to be south 25 so we stayed put but it turned out to be north 15 so we wasted a day sitting when we could have been moving. It has been north winds ever since, and it is supposed to stay that way until Friday at least. This means Kent and Michelle won’t get to the Bahamas.
We ended up going from KPYC to an anchorage in the lee of a causeway across from Melburne. It was blowing hard but we were well protected by trees and the holding was good. It was a little rolly but we got a great sleep.
We were up and under way by 8:00 and with 20 knot northerlies we made it to Vero Beach Municipal Marina. With the winds came rain and we were soaked. We got a slip for the night so we could get heat to dry out. We are going to stay here tomorrow. (Gale force northers). Vero Beach has moorings at $8/day. Moorings are rare and we haven’t seen many since NY. Vero Beach has been given high ratings by a number of cruisers. Free public transit, good shopping and not bad rates at $1/foot.
With any luck we should be in Miami by the weekend.
Subject: Anchorages and bridges
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 16:01:50 ‑0800
After leaving Manatee Pocket we headed south for Lake Worth, better known as Palm Beach. We settled into the anchorage and made a security cable for the dinghy. I’m happy to report the new design of the swaging tool works very well, for those interested, Roger and/or Jackie has the pattern.
Kent and Michelle had the “Pretty Woman” shopping experience at a boutique mall in Palm Beach. Guess the cruiser clothes and the sneakers didn’t fit in.
Leaving Lake Worth we headed into bridge country. After 11 bridges we were quite ready for a marina, but the first place we called was full and the second was unfriendly to sailboats. Bonnie can tell when she isn”t wanted. Despite a desperate need for a shower, we opted for another anchorage. we tried for Pelican Harbor but it looked pretty crowded, not by boats but by houses and docks. We pressed on to Lake Boca Raton a little bigger and surrounded by hotels rather than private homes. A total of 13 bridges and I would suggest the limit of how far we could go and maintain our 3:30 anchor down rule. An ok day by miles at 34.
We did see a bunch of fantastic boats today including PlayStation an amazing racing cat.
We did see a good anchorage just above Peanut Island which would be a staging area for a jump to the Bahamas via the Lake Worth Inlet, another time. We will be leaving from Miami.
The water changed color and clarity. we are anchored in about seven feet and we can see the bottom very well.
We have a reservation at a marina in hollywood tomorrow, only 13 bridges and 25 miles. sigh.
The day after we should be in The Clayton Park Marina where we should be until our next set of guests arrive on Feb 6.
Subject: Manatee pocket
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 16:01:53
Finally a warm day! Gale force winds kept us tucked into Vero Beach. Vero Beach Municipal Marina is one of the few places with moorings, cheap too at $8 a night. We spent the day going on the free transit system to the Walmart Supercenter for yet more provisions, fresh groceries, more warm clothes for Michelle and an extra blanket! The transit guys are used to boaters, he stopped at the dinghy dock to let us out.
We were a little late to rise but we still managed to have our anchor set in Manatee Pocket by 3:30. Just barely. We made one restricted bridge by about 5 minutes and then pushed hard (6kts) to make the next restricted bridge which we barely made.
We were a little worried about Manatee Pocket. The charts show 2 feet at the entrance but Skipper Bob and the Waterway Guide talk about 5‑6. We settled in while Kent and Michelle went to the West Marine by dinghy. I didn’t dare go. One more thing on the boat and it might sink.(Well maybe just a 1kw inverter!)
But it was warm today and Kent might have gotten his meridian transit. I’ll check it later on the computer. For the non‑boaters in the crowd a meridian transit is a celestial navigation sight taken when the sun crosses your meridian of longitude. You can tell when it happens by when the sun stops rising, it hangs for a few seconds before it starts to fall.
Subject: Welcome to Hollywood!
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 17:19:51
We made it to the City of Hollywood Marina. A great spot walking distance to the beach. An extremely popular spot for Quebecers. Even the local convience store has all the major Quebec papers.
We left early and made the 745 opening of the bridge off Lake Boca Raton. The next held his opening for us and our good luck continued all the way to Hollywood. We arrived early settled in and had nice hot wonderful showers!
We did see a lot of plastic bags in the water and didn’t see one but it saw our cooling water intake, blocking it off, blowing the fuse for our cooling pump and setting the engine on the road to overheating. Bonnie notice the change in sound and saw the temp rising, Kent took the wheel and I jumped into the locker to diagnose the problem. Replacing the fuse caused it to blow again, I climbed into the other locker and cleared the water intake and replaced the fuse and started up the pump and the temp dropped. All was well except for Kent’s nerves after being beseiged by sport fishers going by at close range while trying to manouver at idle speed.
A day at the beach should put him back on the road to recovery.
Subject: Another leg bites the dust.
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 10:40:55
While we made it to No Name Harbour with Kent and Michelle. This kind of marks the end of another leg. We set the anchor and listened to the forecast SE 15 the day after S 5‑10. A near perfect weather window. We expected to see a bunch of boats leave the first night but few left. We couldn’t leave Because we needed to drop Kent and Michelle at the airport as well as a few other reasons, like clearing out of customs.
Kent and I dived on the boat and discovered that both the shaft and the Maxprop zinc were gone. The zinc on the cutter was fine. That SCUBA course worked out fine we had new zincs installed quickly. A quick run down the hull showed everything else was in pretty good shape except for a fitting on the bobstay. (Off to West Marine again).
The bottom paint seems to be working surprisingly well. (Except it seems to stop about 3 inches short of where it should.) I was going to raise the waterline this spring but ran out of time, next time I would have just painted the red boot stripe with red bottom paint (I may yet).
There were several boats ready to go and of the 15 boats in No Name Harbour by 11 when we departed none of the boats were left. Most were off to the Bahamas. We were going to Crandon Park Marina to bid our guests farewell.
We will wait at Crandon Park until Roger and Jackie arrive and then hopefully jump the next window to the Bahamas with them.
Subject: A Family place.
Date: Sun, 4 Feb 2001 09:53:55
One thing that is easy to see in Florida is all of the family oriented stuff. When you are on the water you see a constant parade of families heading out in boats, fishing is the most popular activity. While boat maintenance seems to be a solitary male activity in most marinas, Bonnie continues to be a real trouper and works hard with me keeping the boat up to snuff.
I am beginning to dislike marinas. They are associated with lots of work. We decided to stay in a slip while waiting for Roger and Jackie. Work is easier at a slip. Sometimes it gives us extra work space by taking space on the finger pier, or just a place to put garbage which seems to accumulate fast with certain jobs, a place to drop used oil, a good supply of fresh water, loading and unloading laundry. The list is endless.
At our last full day at No Name Harbour with Kent and Michelle, Kent and I replaced the zincs and discovered the padeye on the bow, just slightly below water since we added 200 ft of chain rode, was badly corroded and needed to be replaced before leaving. Our first project after dropping Kent and Michelle at the airport was to deal with the padeye. Putting the anchors and all of the rode(25lb danforth, 35lb CQR, 200 ft of chain, 120 5/8 line and 120 ft of 3/4 line) on the dock lifted the padeye about 3 inches above water. Within a couple of hours the new padeye was installed and we were off to explore Key Biscayne in the rental car. It is really very developed with real expensive houses, boutiques, parks, resorts, marinas, and even a golf course, sounds like a good one too. If you are watching the Royal Caribbean Classic the weekend, you have a good idea where we are, the golf course is a nice hike from here, but walkable.
We loaded up with groceries and headed back to drop the car(Enterprise has a free pickup and drop‑off). After putting the groceries away we relaxed and I started thinking about our todo list. That empty anchor chain locker and the secondary locker for the line was too tempting for Bonnie she wanted to clean and paint them. Ok by me, but this meant leaving the rode on the dock. This gave me an opportunity to mark the line on the CQR. The chain is marked with paint, and the danforth’s line has been marked since we bought the boat. The CQR’s line has never been marked. I have had the plastic markers for a while, so I stretched the line down the dock and in short order had the CQR labeled up to spec. I was curious as to what would happen if I piled the anchors and rode on one side of the boat, after lots of grunting and groaning the anchoring equipment was on the starboard rail and the port boot stripe was now clear of the water all the way past the exhaust pipe. An hour after that the boot stripe was a well matched red bottom paint.
We picked up a plastic bag near Hillsbrough Inlet and before we were back to full function we had blown 3 fuses and only had one spare at this point. This convined me of the need for an infinite supply of fuses, otherwise called a circuit breaker. We had picked that up at West and it was installed in short order.
In the process of cleaning the bilge in prep for changing the oil we discovered the automatic
bilge switch was not working properly, (parts on order). After the engine the next thing due for an oil change was the transmission. It is always amazing to me that if you drop anything on any side of the engine it will automatically move to a place deep in the bilge where it is only accessible from a different (and full of stuff) locker than the one you are in. That is unless you want to get something into the bilge, like a bottle and funnel to catch the oil from the transmission. Even the “accidental” drops while looking the other way proved unsuccessful. After a short period of verbal heating and moderately excessive force both a slightly too small bottle and funnel were in position.
What amazed me was that both the bottle and funnel came out with hardly a touch.
Crandon Park has large floating concrete docks which are very effective at killing waves and wakes, which makes it great for painting bootstripes. After much groaning the anchor was unloaded from the starboard side, loaded into the dinghy and loaded onto the port side. We now have two coats of bottom paint on the bootstripes.
The zincs reminded me I didn’t have a zinc for the outboard, and it looked like it was ready for a new one. I couldn’t get one at West so I got the largest pencil zinc I could and was planning on making outboard zincs out of it. I took the zinc off the outboard to get the size of hole to drill for the screw and the max depth from the old one, turns out it is much bigger than it looked and the original will last a while longer. Since I was at it I figured I might as well finish making up a few anyway.
This was on saturday afternoon and people were starting to show up at the marina. A man showed up to scrub the bottom of his boat. His grand kids played while he was busy. A man and his wife decided on a dinghy ride, it was too quiet to sail. Another couple just left for a night sail. As I sat in the shade of a piling drilling and slicing pieces off of the pencil zinc, I noticed another common sight. A big speed boat with a gray haired gentleman and his “daughter”.
Florida is such a family place.
Subject: The Keys.
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 12:30:09
Well Roger and Jackie made it down and back. We had a great time visiting and even got in a couple days of touring around miami. We were waiting on a 3 day delivery package that took 6 days. We rented a car and picked up yet more stuff at west marine. They were out of Maptech charts for the Florida East Coast and Keys(we needed the keys part) They sent us to The Navigation Center. The Navigation Center is an incredible place to pick up any charts needed for terrestrial navigation, as well as an amazing selection of materials for, a, well, non‑terrestrial navigation. Just to prove that navigators work on a wing and a prayer, they carried a full selection of religious books. Titles included An extreme bible for teens, a bible carrying case, and my favorite, The really bad girls of the bible. We just finished introducing Roger and Jackie to my favorite wing place, Hooters. It was hard to tell which place Roger liked better.
The next day we walked over to the Miami Seaquarium, just over the bridge from Crandon Park. We got a great show and saw lots of dolphins, a killer whale and even the set from the original Flipper TV show. The killer whale show is interesting at one point the trainer stands on the whale’s nose as the whale jumps vertically almost clear of the water. One slip and Johana could have company.
The package finally arrived and we were off on a short run to No Name Harbour. We landed and did a walk to the other side of the lighthouse and found quite a nice beach.
We left No Name and headed down the keys on an inside passage. We talked to a number of people and one said he was going to the Bahamas via Angelfish Creek. It is about 17 miles south and gives a better angle for a passage. It is also a little trickier as the guides give warnings on depth. At high we would be ok at low we might be tight. We did anchor in a side channel of Angelfish Creek in a mangrove swamp and watched the strong tidal currents sweep by. We bouyed the anchor but shouldn’t have the bottom was pretty clear and the bouy cause more concern than anything. We got off without a hitch and we on our way further south when we heard a vessel asking if there was anyone else heading to the bahamas that afternoon:‑( from Angelfish.
We arrived at the Jewfish Creek Bascule Bridge just in time to catch the opening and give Roger and Jackie bridge experience.
We continued down to Tarpon Basin and anchored in the lee of a mangrove swamp. They went scouting while I installed the bilge pump switch. The next day we walked over to John Pennencamp State Park and Roger went out on a snorkle trip. The rest of us sunned, snorkled, and relaxed for the day.
We were late getting back to the boat after having dinner at a bar. On the way back we went through patches of PFC (phorescent floating crap). It was interesting to see all of the PFC flicker on and off as you floated by.
We tried to get into Biscayne National Park’s Elliot Key facility but it was too thin. We continued up toward Sands Cay and anchored beside a pretty blue trawler owned by a grey haired man with his affectionate grand‑daughter on board.
We were back at Crandon Park in time to fuel, gas up the dinghy, and rent a car to drop Jackie and Roger at the airport, clear out of customs and do some (yet more) provisioning. We have to leave the country if we put on any more provisions we will qualify as a floating warehouse.
There is a good weather window Friday night so we went to check out on the way to the airport. We got the address from the Coast Guard. When we arrived they told us we didn’t need to check out and to keep the cruising permit. We were confused, this was exactly opposite the opposite advice given by the guy on the phone.
Well tonight is THE night, winds south 10 waves 2 feet going southwest 10‑15.
Subject: Cat Cay
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 11:08:43
We have made it safely to the Bahamas. We left Noname Harbour about midnight and motorsailed through the night. We arrived at the anchorage around 10:30am and fast asleep by 11. We were thinking about continuing on but decided sleep was a better idea.
A couple of notes on the passage. First we had followed the advice of the guides and calculated the gulf stream would set us north 2.5 knots for the 8 hours of the crossing (assuming 5.0 knots) this was too much in this case, next time I am going to a 1.5 knot correction. We ended up taking about 15 degrees off of our coure to put us closer to our arrival pount. Second our arrival point on the maptech chart didn’t match the landscape it should have. And since the shoals are based on landscape and not gps coordinates we altered course to the landscape.
We slept quite soundly and discovered that the forecast was dead on and the window had slammed shut. Unfortunately with us on the gun cay side of the bank. Forecast winds seem to be 5 to 10 knots shy of observed winds but the direction is pretty accurate. The forecasted winds for Sunday were Ne 15‑20 Sunday night NE 20, Monday ‑tue E10‑15 We dislike 20 knots just off the nose and anchoring on the banks in 20 knots has less appeal. We opted for a Cat Cay marina to clear customs and stay for a couple of nights until the worst of the weather passes. Customs cost is $100us and the marina charge $50 to tie up for the customs inspection, deductable from your dockage if you stay overnight. At $2.25 per foot we won’t stay long here. But concidering we are heeled about 10 degrees ties to the slip in ne‑e 25 with gusts 35 it is worth every penny.
Subject: Great Bahama Bank, Chub Cay, and Nassau
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 09:52:43
The weather finally cleared enough that it was worth it to leave the safety of a $2.25/ft slip and head out to the bank. There were four of us traveling together to make it little safer, all Canadians, us, 2 quebecers, and a BCer. We made it to 5 miles west of Russell light. We wanted to be about 5 miles east and 1 south, but given the conditions we were lucky to be 5 west.
We started to drag anchor at 0530 but since we were well clear of everyone and there was nothing to hit for 40 miles we made breakfast and got ready to do our planned 0630 departure.
Weather was a little better and we made it into deep water by 1300. It was interesting to watch the depthsounder go from 15 to 50 to 250 to 400 to off scale (several thousand feet) in about the same distance as leaving our mooring in Douglas Harbour to the entrance of Grand Lake(100
yards or less?)
We then sailed for several hours at 5‑6 knots and made 7 to wind and motored to stop at chub cay. We had a hard time getting the danforth to set and finally gave up and with the help of a snorkler had the CQR set nicely. By morning the wind went SW making Chub a not great place. It was probably a land breeze that developed over the banks and displaced the light SE winds. Either way we were off to Nassau in the last day of a weather window.
We stopped at the Nassau Yacht Haven. Which has 3 nice features $1/ft and more than a 6 ft draft, also water is $6 per day.
I spent the afternoon trying to figure out why the Danforth wasn’t working in a sand bottom. It is supposed to be excellent for sand. I first thought the shaft was worn and too loose making the anchor pull sideways. I walked over to one of the marine supply places and looked at a couple of the anchors they were just as loose and about double the cost of the same anchor in the Defender catalog. We pulled the anchor up on the dock and discovered that the shaft was bent to the side and flukes were bent so that only one fluke would touch bottom. Any project on a dock quickly gathers other boaters and lots of opinions. Some are actually helpful. One guy came by and was very good providing 2x4s for blocking and rope for tying the anchor to a plying so we could apply strain without too much fighting. He is a “local” that owns a small construction company and has been in the islands since 1959. Bahama Jack is the name of his boat and he had fun jumping up and down on a fluke while I held blocking and pry bars. We now have a much straighter anchor and will give it test in a few days after we play tourist in Nassau.
While I was in the office a gentleman we had met was there trying to find an electrician to service his bilge pump that was ‘fried’. I offered to come by and have a look if he didn’t find anyone. I was amazed 1) to see the wires were well and truely fried with no insulation left and the wires were burnt off, and 2) that the boat had not caught fire and burned. They admitted to having smoke fill the cockpit in the gulf stream but it had cleared. I showed him how to remove the pump and how to wire it up. His boat is a 40′ Tanaya and a beauty. He is on the way south so we will probably see him a few more times. His other project was rigging new dinghy clips to lift his dinghy to his divits. The ones from West Marine failed, and the crimping tool is still in working great after 6 more crimps.
Subject: Basra and back to Nassau.
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 09:00:28
We left Nassau and headed out to Bottom Harbour on Rose Island. It was a short day and we were settled in time for a snorkel and a dive on the hull to check zincs and thru hulls (all ok by the way). It was a beauty of a night, I slept well for a change. We were up early and headed for Allan Cay. It is southeast and we were supposed to have north to northeast 10‑15. Great a sail!
After motoring for 3 hours the wind was still dead SE. We heard and extremely paniced voice on the radio. MAYDAY! The first position she gave was 34 … 600 miles from us but she came through on the handheld so that didn’t make sense.
The next time she said they were just outside Nassau Harbour. So were we, I called them back and asked her to repeat her position which she did, followed by “There’s a ketch to our port”.
I stuck my head out of the hatch “do you have a green hull?”
Off goes the autohelm, Bonnie spins it over and we are on the way.
We called BASRA(Bahamas Air Sea Rescie Assoc) and gave them details. Vessel Minstral, called mayday, approximate position, 2 people on board, vessel is taking on water, we are enroute 10 minutes away.
We tried to give suggestions to the captain on the obvious things, thruhulls, hoses, do you still have a drive shaft. She was working on the abandon ship, papers, money, clothes, things of sentemental value, all going into the dinghy.
Another sailboat came along. We started to anchor and get our dinghy ready. While we were getting set they rowed over to the other boat and the woman went onboard and the husband and the man from the second boat came over. I went over to help out, water was well over the floor and rising. The engine was under and oil was everywhere. bonnie was handling communications between us and basra and RBDF(Royal Bahamas Defence Force)
Are we ok She asked?
We can’t keep ahead Manual and electric pumps going and we now have more water in than before, 2.5 ft above the floor. Tell BASRA we need pumps. The RBDF has the pump and their vessel is fueling up. Basra takes them in tow and starts hauling them to Nassau. I jump back in the dinghy and take the other guy back to his boat. We decide that we will take the woman and head to Nassau.
The RBDF arrive and use the fire pumps to make headway on water. As long as they can keep the pumps going the boat is safe. Once the water is low enough they are able to locate the leak. The stuffing box for the centerboard has come loose, a quick tighten and the boat is watertight again.
Eric and Jen, newly wed on his father’s boat. “Man what am I going to tell my dad.”
The only thing that is important, everyone is safe and no one is hurt.
And I think I’m having a tough trip.
Subject: We’re coming home.
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 13:06:17
We are sitting (thankfully quietly) about 7 miles from Nassau. inside a small pond inside Rose Island. There is a cold front blowing through. We left Nassau a couple of days after our experience with Minstral. They had family coming in to help recommission the boat and There wasn’t much we could do. We knew the weather was going to hell and had a choice between Rose Island, Allan’s Cay, or Highborne Cay. Rose was 7 miles away and a hurricane hole for Nassau. Allan and Highborne are the start of the Exumas and 30 miles away. We ended up being late leaving and went to Rose. We are very glad we did.
Since the weather was going bad we decided to sit until the bad weather passed. It has been 5 days and the second day of near gale force winds in Nassau. We are getting the odd gust but the bulk of the wind is 5‑10 by the time it gets through the trees. Looks like we might be here for another 5‑7 days.
We are also out of communications so you probably not going to get this for a while. We looked over the times given in A Gentlemans Guide to Passages South, and have decided that rather than push through the caribbean without being able to visit any islands on the way. We would turn around and try again another time.
We are going to go as far as Georgetown and then start our way back. We hope to be back in the US by the time our Bahamian visa expires the 15th of April. Weather permitting.
Subject: Finally a brochure day.
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 10:30:24
We left Rose island on another day of forecasted NE winds and ended up crossing to Highborne Cay in S 10s motorsailing.
We stayed at the marina and tried to send email and deal with bills. Successful on email not quite on the bills and another $20 burned on Batelco cards.
I am Seriously going to consider getting a batelco cell phone next time. It was interesting to listen to the manager of Highborne talk about the cruisers. He is less than pleased with them and with good reason. We are definitely getting a bad reputation.
We left Highborne on a SW 15 and as it clocked W and died we sailed(!) for several hours to Norman’s Cay. If anyone has heard of Norman’s Cay it was pobably because of the drug running that was based here years and years ago. The only remnant is a plane that ditched onto the shallow bay that forms the interior of the island. The plane is pretty well corroded up to the waterline on the tail section. We anchored 100 feet from it in 10‑15 feet beside one of the boats we crossed the banks with. He had stayed in nassau Harbour during the blow and had horror stories to tell about boats dragging, freighters trying to move around the harbour as well 40 knot gusts. The no‑seeums weren’t that bad in the salt pond.
We called Exuma park to get ourselves on the waiting list for a mooring. We were listening to a boat called “Chi” give the daily weather and number of boats to Basra and the place was packed so we expected to wait a day or two to get a mooring. This would have suited us fine but when they read off the mooring assignments at 9 the next day we were up. Another day of sailing! We sailed for several hours and the wind died just a couple of miles from Wardrick Wells (the
anchorage and HQ of Exuma Park). We couldn’t have hit the tide much better either arriving at almost low slack. We picked up the mooring first try. We dinghyed in and one of the volunteers that handles the desk was Mary‑Alice from L’Authre Femme who we had met at the NC visitor Center and again at Vero Beach.
There are 3 ways to do moorings, $15 per night, Become a support fleet member $50 (2 nights included), or you can do volunteer work. We opted for two of the three, Support fleet and volunteer work.
Our first night on the mooring was peaceful and quiet. I always sleep better on a mooring, than on anchor or a slip. The next day was a full color glossy brochure day, spent hiking, snorkling and lazing about.
The view from boo‑boo hill is spectacular. It is a high spot where you are supposed to leave something with your boat name on it(not glass or plastic) we passed on that but did get a kick out of some of the stuff left behind. (We will have to make something for next time).
The view from the cliffs and trails are stunningly beautiful. Bring good shoes with heavy soles, the paths are over very sharp rock and a couple of places very sharp rock under several inches of water at high tide.
Exuma Park is a section of the Exuma islands 22miles by 8 that includes several islands. It is a land and sea park and you are not allowed to remove anything (except litter) from the park. No fishing, shelling etc. It really is a special place. If you come this way plan on spending a few days and say hi to Ray and Evelyn. Say hi from the guy who sanded their bed.
Subject: Workshop with a view.
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 10:30:19
After our second night, we were in to do our volunteer work. If you do 6 hours labour per boat (2 people 3 hours each), they wave the $15 mooring fee. We were more interested in doing something off the boat than the $2.50 an hour labour.
I spent the morning doing work with a jackhammer and bonnie was sanding supports for a bed. In the afternoon, we were both sanding. We were happy to work, but it had to be out of the sun. We set up shop under the new staff residence. It is designed so that they can open the place wide in the event of a storm surge and have it sweep through without damage to the residence. It also provides a great place with lots of ventilation and a wonderful view.
We have put our past furnature making skills to work and have brought 5 beds from wood covered with epoxy messes to some fairly nice beds ready to assemble.
It was funny but the people we had been listening to on Chi actually knew people we worked with at UNB, Colin Ware and Larry Meyer. Small world.
We are going to take the morning off and go snorkling and on the afternoon go in an finish making the slats for the beds.
Subject: Neat fish
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 10:30:16
Well we got to put together 1 full bed and all the pieces were almost done for 4 more.
We worked in the morning and then went snorkling in the afternoon. We figured it was time to move on. We enjoyed our time at the park, hiking, swiming, snorkling and working off the boat on something unrelated to the boat.
We waited for the office to open to say good‑bye to Mary‑Alice and Evelyn. We had time for one more snorkle and the current didn’t look too bad so we swam around the base of the hill under the HQ building. Lots of neat stuff. Conch, some absolutely huge, a few angel fish, and some jewel fish. There was suppose to be a spotted moree eel near the dock but I didn’t see anything. I got a couple of pokes from Bonnie and I thought she was pointing out the Conchs, another poke and I figured she was warning me about the Park Wardens boat we were beside. Another rather urgent poke, ouch, and I saw her pointing off toward the cut. About 30 feet away was a Very VERY large fish. It looked a little bigger than Bonnie from my perspective. We decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we had best move back toward the office. It was about time for it to open anyway. The shark didn’t follow.
They have never had a problem with any of the sharks or barracuda that frequent the park. They have a 4 ft barracuda named Bubba that visits the boats on the moorings at the change of the tide. They even have conch with names. The five and a half foot lemon shark is called “The Harbourmaster”.
We didn’t stick around to introduce ourselves.
We left Wardrick Wells at 0800 and headed dead to wind for another day. This time to Staniel Cay, home to Thunderball Cave (of 007 fame) We’ll have to rent the movie when we get home. We were in search of a phone to pay a bill but there was none at Club Thunderball so we dinghyed over to the Stanley Cay Yacht Club and tried with no luck on either pocketmail or Scotiabank. We may have to push a little faster south. We are headed south to Georgetown to pick up Tony We are less than 50 miles away with a week to go. Should not be a problem.
Subject: The Coconut Telegraph
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 10:30:21
If you want to get away from it all, to go where you can’t be found, don’t come here. We have seen the coconut telegraph in action and are quite amazed at the efficiency.
Not for us thankfully, but we have heard the calls for other vessels. One guy we met had someone knock on his boat “Canadian Coast Guard is looking for you. Your supposed to phone home.” He was in Nassau at the time, in a slip a few down from us. He doesn’t listen to Herb but lots of others did and it’s almost a game to hunt you down at that point. The Canadian Coast Guard contacted Herb, and Herb put it on the telegraph. A target has little chance of escape from the telegraph.
The other method is to call Basra. They will make announcements during the weather broadcast on SSB, which we listen to every morning. Every once and a while a call will go out “X are you listening or has anyone seen X.” If X doesn’t respond the Coconut Telegraph starts to warm up. “X is a PDQ 36” one will offer. “X is traveling with Y” another will bid. “we have Y’s email address” to up the ante. “We saw them near Black Point a few days ago, heading south” at this
point the location is narrowed to a mere hundred miles or so consisting of a few dozen islands Childs play for the hundreds of people hunting not for the boat but for the ultimate prize.
The next day, the ultimate prize is awarded. “Basra This is Alpha, we relayed message to X.” “Basra here, confirm message relayed to X. Thanks Alpha.”
There really is no place to hide.
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 10:30:12
Well Yet another fine Front.
So far we have been on the Bahamas a little less than six weeks and we have seen a fair number of fronts ride through. The old timers are shaking their head at this year. We have been holed up in good spots in time to be safe and sound for the clocking winds of 20‑25 with gusts to 35‑40 knots. The odd gust even higher.
Cat cay was good but expensive(3 days), Rose Island was protected and free(6 days), Wardrick Wells was great and we planned on staying so who cared about the 3 day front.
We got our warning on Friday about another front. We were at Staniel Cay near Pipe Creek another good hiding spot, but Tony was coming to Georgetown and we decided to run a little farther south before taking cover. We arrived at Lee Stocking Island and the Caribbean Marine Research Center the day before the front. The Center has installed moorings that are free for the asking(10,000 lb rating) but are exposed to the SE. Winds were from the SE when we arrived but with the shallow sand bar nearby, the waves were choppy but nothing serious. We just hoped the winds clocked to W and NW quickly to where we had better protection. We settled in on Monday and the boat behind us turned out to be Rhapsody. We had met them several times on the ICW.
We were tied up nice and tight and waiting for front. The lightening was amazing and thankfully many miles away and passing north. I hadn’t seen anything like it since the bermuda trip. The winds went from WSW to NW in about 15 minutes, lots of rain, wind was 18‑20 with gusts but we were well sheltered. Herb called it as prefrontal activity with two upcoming fronts. No one
could see another front on the weather faxes or forecasts, but no‑one disagrees with Herb. By Friday, after the two fronts passed and winds were NE 10‑15 and dropping, we were on to Georgetown. The Cruising Regatta ended the previous week with an unofficial count of 450 boats. By Thursday it was 350 and people were estimating another 100 would leave today. We counted at least 40 heading north, another 40 or 50 at Monument Beach looking like they were staging there ready to go as soon as the wind clocks a little more.
We will stage out of Monument on our way out. Rhapsody had suggested we stay at Sand Dollar Beach. So we passed the more famous Hamburger beach and Volleyball beach and dropped the hooks on Sand Dollar beach.
Tomorrow morning we will go across the harbour to Exuma Docking Services and wait for Tony to arrive in a couple of days.
Boat work is waiting. Damn marinas every time I go to a marina I seem to have a ton of boat work to do.
PS another front is on the way Tuesday.
Subject: Back in Nassau
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 04:19:47
Tony arrived safe and sound and rebooked his tickets to do a 2 week into Georgetown and out of Nassau. So after a couple of days in Georgetown, we were on the way north. We stopped in Lee Stocking, Blackpoint, Staniel Cay, Warderick Wells (more volunteer work and another front), Shroud, a pass at Norman and on to Allan. The next day we we laid tracks for the Nassau Harbour Club.
Another day of walking around Nassau in NE 20 with gusts 30. We didn’t want to treat tony to a day of Rose Island. It should be ok for a run up the Berries on Monday.
Tony is supposed to do a guest log entry when he gets home.
Subject: What I did on my winter vacation (a visit with Bonnie and Mike)
Date: Fri, 4 May 2001 13:23:46
From: Tony Fitzgerald
I told Bonnie and Mike that I would supply a “journal” of my visit with them while sailing the Bahamas. It follows forthwith and may be a bit long for some people’s taste. It’s a reasonably detailed account of the two weeks.
Saturday morning dawned with wet heavy snow and the early morning drive to the airport was with care in slippery conditions, maybe I would be glad to get away. Margaret saw me off, her doctor had advised her to stay within quick reach of a hospital for the next year, so she couldn’t come. Somehow, my tickets had been upgraded to executive class for both the Toronto and Nassau legs of the trip, a very auspicious beginning.
The taxi ride into Nassau from the airport was notable only for how disconcerting I found it to be on the left hand side of the road. One of the large cruise ships was leaving the harbour as we drove in and the sun was just setting as I made my way to the hotel room. It was dark by the time I had settled in and went out to see if I could find a place to eat. Another large cruise ship, lights blazing and neon decorated elevators was just moving through the harbour and another visible at some distance out of the harbour. I counted another four at the docks.
A caution about Nassau crosswalks and walk lights, don’t trust them. A car went hurtling through the red light just as I was about to step off the curb and from then on I knew to cross streets only when no traffic was visible in any direction, forget the fact that one has to reverse the look first left then right rule about crossing. I found that the public beach ended at a fence with no sidewalk on my side of the street and only a narrow sidewalk on the other that appeared to end after a few hundred feet. I decided that perhaps I would eat at the hotel after all. The blackened grouper was very good and, apparently, the rice and peas that accompanied it made the meal authentically Bahamian in ethnicity.
Sunday morning, I walked over to the cruise ship docks and was impressed at how clear the water was in the harbour. The bottom was plainly visible through what the taxi driver had told me had been dredged to fifty feet. A school of blue tang were feeding where the current eddied around the corner of the dock. One cruise ship was still tied up and departed at eight A.M. I watched another of the large ships come in then walked up to the “straw” market where the vendors were just getting set up. I walked around taking in the sights (statues of Victoria and the first Bahamian prime minister, the original parliament buildings, etc.) Most stores were open but some were closed for the Sunday. I took a taxi back to the airport in the early afternoon and found that half of the Bahamas’ Air flights (including mine) were delayed. I was about an hour late into the Georgetown airport (actually, the airport serves all the communities on the greater Exuma island and at about 1,500, Georgetown is the major community.) The terminal made Fredericton look big, no baggage carousel, just grab your bag off the wagon when the tractor hauled it over to the door. The taxi called Millennium Odyssey as we approached Georgetown and Bonnie answered the hail. Mike met me at the fuel pumps of the Exuma Docking Service and I was soon stowing my “kit” in the forecastle. Georgetown had mosquitos. Fortunately, we would leave the mosquitos behind when we left the Georgetown area.
Monday morning, Bonnie and Mike ran and attempted to run errands in Georgetown. The local Scotia bank could not deposit the cheque that had been in the mail I had brought to the Scotia bank in Oromocto (so much for international banking.) Around mid‑day, we left the marina
and motored across the bay to anchor off Volleyball Beach. While we were setting anchor, a dolphin swam around the boat and checked us over. We took the tender in and explored a hurricane hole, a very sheltered natural harbour with room for perhaps a dozen boats. The entrance to the anchorage is very narrow and protected by another point of land so that from no direction does the wind blow straight into the anchorage and boats can be safe in almost any storm. We saw both a large sting ray and a good size shark swimming in the hole. We beached just outside the hurricane hole then walked the hundred meters or so over the island to the Sound side. The wreck of a small sloop from the previous year was on the beach and a good swell was coming in with an onshore wind from the Sound. The sand above the surf line was very fine and white while in the backwash of the surf it was much coarser and it was obvious that the main constituent of the sand was broken coral and other shells. Mike made the comment that another major component of the sand was parrot fish shit.
We returned to the tender and motored over to where there was supposed to be good snorkeling. For me, it was good. I hadn’t yet seen what was to come. The coral, however, had obviously been damaged and there was a lot of junk on the bottom. Even so, the colour and variety of fish was impressive. After we returned to the Millennium Odyssey, I did some swimming off the boat and while taking a circle around her was confronted by the sight of thousands of tiny fish leaping in concert just a few meters away. The line of fish extended for perhaps ten meters by half a meter and I would guess the typical fish to be between one and two centimeters in length and as each fish leapt out of the water, it would catch the sun in a bright glint and travel in an arc that traveled for perhaps four or five centimeters and reached a height of perhaps two centimeters. It’s possible that my approach inadvertently triggered this behaviour.
Tuesday we weighed anchor and set out under motor following several other boats and followed by several more taking a route to keep in relatively deep water until we passed through a “cut” in the island chain and into Exuma Sound. As we headed out into the Sound, the depth of water went from about 25 feet to off scale (over a kilometer deep) in just a few minutes. We motored with the mainsail drawing listlessly until we reached Lea Socking Island where we picked up a mooring off the research facility there. We radioed in to receive permission to come ashore. Of note on the trip was the sighting of several “blow” holes in action. In places, the surf has undercut the soft stone of the islands to some distance inshore then broken through to the surface. When the surf is from the right direction, it is channeled into the undercut and forced through the hole. To be seen from our distance offshore, the spray out of the hole would have had to have been at least fifty feet.
Shortly after picking up the mooring, we saw three reef squids keeping position beside the boat in the strong current. At first we thought we were looking at two different types of animal since the lead squid was swimming backwards. It was fascinating to watch their behaviour. We took the tender and made a brief stop at Leaf Cay where two resident iguana chased us off the beach. There were lots of conch shells in the water, but all had the ends broken off and apparently had been harvested. Next we tied up to a buoy. We had observed windrows of small jellyfish and found that the surface water was thick with these around the tender. Each medusa was cylindrical in shape, about a centimeter or so in diameter and length. We wondered whether they would sting but decided to take our chance. Since the creatures were no more than six or seven centimeters apart on average, it would be impossible to swim without making constant contact with them. I went into the water first and they didn’t seem to be bothering me.
The snorkeling was fantastic. Lots of healthy coral and sponges. Each coral head would have a concentration of diverse fish around it but even between the corals, there was a wealth of wildlife over the sandy stretches. I saw a small sea turtle, a small barracuda and several clear jellyfish with an interesting compound bell shape. Of particular note was a parrot fish which I observed to be holding position in an unusual stance, tail down, head up at a 45 degree angle. I dove down to have a closer look and saw a couple of the little “cleaner” wrasses (small pencil shaped fish with a purple head and yellow tail) swimming over the side of the larger fish, apparently looking for parasites (I’d read of this behaviour and it was fascinating to see it in the wild) as I approached, the parrot fish was startled and took off leaving behind a cloud of excrement. The feces dropped to the bottom like fine sand and I was reminded of Mike’s comment the day before and the feeding behaviour of the parrot fish which grazes on coral.
Wednesday we depart Lee Stocking at 7:30 and once we’re out in the Sound Mike is able to cut the diesel and we are under sail only for the first time and make good speed with the breeze. Today, I see flying fish. Bonnie and Mike had seen them the previous day, but I hadn’t known what to look for. They appear to be startled out of the water by the boat and skim just a few feet above the waves traveling several hundred feet, sometimes making a zig or zag in their flight. There was a very strong current out of the cut from the banks and the incoming swell made the water very choppy. Mike did not appear to be having fun. We anchored off Black Point Beach around 3PM. We had noticed the radio antennae on the main mast had come loose and was slapping around the sail so Mike used the bosun chair (actually a piece of rock climbing equipment) to go up the mast and reattach the antennae. The galvanized fittings had corroded. I did some swimming off the boat and at Mike’s request checked the anchor. The danforth was not set properly and had dragged a little so I dove down and after a couple of attempts got the anchor flukes correctly angled into the sand. Saw another small barracuda, but not much else. There was a small craft advisory for the next day so we were planning to stay in this anchorage. There were about twenty‑five other boats at anchor. We had hoped to see the “green flash” just after sunset, however, were disappointed. There was some joking among the native community about cutting off the power for non‑payment and, indeed, the power in the town failed several times through the evening.
Black Point Beach is a typical small Bahamian community. Some fishing and farming and commuting by boat to jobs elsewhere. We didn’t go ashore.
Thursday, the small craft advisory was continued and we stayed put, just reading and entertaining ourselves. Got a chance to observe the locals leaving for work between 6 and 7 AM in high powered Boston “whalers” and returning in late afternoon. That night, the wind swings a little more from the South than I think people expected. The wind held the boat pointing at shore and we were far enough off shore that the wind had a chance to build up a chop of several inches that was constantly slapping the hull. Over the banks, however, the swell was reaching three to four feet and some of this swell was being deflected around the point so we were in a swell between one and two feet coming at approximately a 45 degree angle to the boat. As each
swell caught the bow, it would move up and to the left, then as the swell moved to the middle of the boat, the bow would roll down and to the right to be caught by the next swell, moving in a figure of eight pattern. Typically at some point, the boat would take up slack on the anchor line and the top or bottom of the eight would be abruptly flattened. It wasn’t a night for much sleep. The people in the boat anchored next to us commented that they’d been at sea for eight months and that night, things fell off shelves that had never fallen before.
Friday, despite a continuation of the small craft advisory, we decided we’d had enough and weighed anchor (as did most of the boats there that night). The ride was quite rough, but again Mike was able to cut the diesel once we were off shore and we continued up the banks making good time (over 4 knots) under just the jib. We reached Staniel Cay in early afternoon and took up a mooring off Club Thunderball. We watched a very abrupt cold front pass through. A very sharp line of clouds with the wind dropping and turning 180 degrees in a matter of minutes then a few minutes later, we see a gray pall on the opposite side of the bay. We make it quickly below decks and batten down the hatch as the sky opens up. The rain continues hard for about ten minutes, eases up then half an hour later the sun is shining and the winds are light.
We take the tender across the harbour and go snorkeling in the thunderball grotto. The James Bond movie of the same name was filmed on location here. As we prepared to go in the water, Bonnie noticed an unusual looking bird on the rock just above us. Just a few feet away, it seemed as curious about us as we were of it. The colouration was like a bittern, however, the size and shape were more like the green heron in Peterson’s guide. There was a strong current into the grotto entrance and the top of the entrance just cleared the surface of the water while it arched slightly up to either side giving a few inches clearance. We approached cautiously to make sure we could swim back against the current if need be, then went inside. Once more, a wealth of varieties of fish in all sorts of colours greeted us. Little sergeant majors were holding position just at the entrance where they were illuminated by the sun shining in through the opening. These fish came right up to us and we later found out that they are used to being fed. People bring peas that they relish and which don’t fall apart in the water. Inside the grotto opened up into a large circular cavern, I would guess about forty feet in diameter rising about ten feet above the surface with several holes in the roof. At one point, presumably, the grotto had been a blow hole. The late afternoon sun was shining at a significant angle, but one shaft of light passed into the water and provided secondary illumination throughout the cavern. A second, smaller cavern lead off back towards the same side of the island as the entrance we had used and there was a second smaller and completely submerged entrance here. The cavern opened up also on the side of the island opposite that through which we had entered with a much larger entrance through which the current was slowly exiting. The roof of this entrance was again, just inches above the water surface but opened up in a semi‑circle about ten feet in diameter at the bottom. We swam out through this side as a tour boat was passing so we may have wound up in someone’s pictures. Mike and I swam along a narrow fissure just outside the entrance we had originally entered and found a huge brain coral in perfect condition and once more were amazed by the wealth of life and colour.
Friday evening, for a change of pace, we have dinner at the Club Thunderball. Friday evening was barbecue in the Bahamian style. Good, but not especially spicy, served with the ubiquitous peas and rice, and a somewhat less usual pasta casserole and cole slaw. Rum drinks were reasonable, beer was expensive. The club plays the weather channel continuously and Mike attempted to extrapolate from Florida out into the Bahamas since people had been having difficulty picking up the forecast over the past few days. The big news, however, was yet another winter storm charging up the eastern seaboard. So much for getting home after
the snow was gone and things had dried up.
Saturday: Had a good night’s sleep and leave our mooring about 7:30AM. Our first course out got too shallow and we had to back track. Once out on the banks, Mike was able to again cut the motor and continue under sail. We arrive at Exuma Land and Sea Park (Wardrick Wells) just after noon and take up a mooring. The park is a “no take” zone. Nothing, except man made litter, not even sand, may be removed from the park. The snorkeling was again excellent, lots of conch (this time alive), a close up view of one of the long schools of tiny fish swimming close in to the rock shore and towards the back of the school a school of about a dozen yellow jack were jumping up through the smaller fish and out of the water. We see a small shark with two pilot fish swim down through the channel. We take the tender and use the “lookie” bucket (a plastic pail with a plexiglas bottom glued in) and look at a wreck further down the anchorage. Apparently someone had left a generator running while exploring the island and came back to a boat burned to the water line. The anchorage is located in a natural channel which encircles a huge sand shoal in the middle of the harbour formed by two islands and a more conventional shoal. At low tide, the shoal is above water in many places. The current was very strong most of the time flowing through the anchorage from the banks towards the cut through to the sound when the tide ebbed and reversing when the tide rose.
That night was “happy hour” at the park office. Boaters bring snack items to share and their own beverages. Two of the boats have golden retrievers on board. One bit of excitement comes when we form a work crew to get a tender off the back of a charter cruiser where the davit had broken while trying to launch it. This tender is much heavier than the Millennium Odyssey’s and the park ranger who had worked in salvage at one time makes sure that the operation is carried out carefully and safely. The tender’s outboard motor rudder had sliced through a seat in the rear cockpit and smashed the fibreglass moulding on the back of the cabin. They were lucky no one had been under it when it let go.
Sunday: a minor rash that I had noticed on the bottom of my legs a few days before has spread up to my knees and my legs are swelling up. They don’t look very good and we decide no more in the water activity for me until we can get them cleaned up. The park staff suggest that the little jelly fish (which they call nettles) could be responsible and suggest that anti‑histamine usually helps. I use a combination of Coricidin anti‑histamine that Bonnie has and Polysporin antibiotic cream on the rash. The next day, Mike will be informed that the “nettles” only sting if caught inside clothing, so they shouldn’t have been a problem. The anti‑histamine seems to be helping, however, so I’ll stick with it.
To protect my legs, I decide to wear sweat pants and find that they aren’t that hot. In fact, by shading my legs from the direct rays of the sun, they are a little cooler than shorts. Mike takes a turn at volunteer work in the park office. The mooring is free to volunteer workers. Bonnie and I go walking on some of the island trails. We walk up to “Boo Boo” hill where boaters leave small mementos of their visit. Some are very elaborately carved or decorated plaques while others are just pieces of wood with ship’s name and complement listed. On our walk we see a hermit crab scuttling out of our way. The shell is only about a centimeter in diameter, so the crab must be tiny. There are at least four different species of lizard scuttling in and out of the underbrush. We look at some blowholes, however, the wind is offshore and there is no swell to do anything.
Monday: There is a morning “star” visible just above where the sun will shortly rise. It doesn’t seem bright enough for Venus and I wonder whether I’m looking at Mercury. I’ve never been able to see Mercury from our latitude but a check of a Mercury web site indicates good viewing as the evening star towards the end of May. With an 88 day orbit, Mercury could well be the morning star on this day. Mike is going to work in the office all day while the regular staff take advantage of an opportunity to fly to Nassau on the plane that brings in a charter for the boat that had the accident with the tender on Saturday. My legs are a little better after taking the anti‑histamine but I continue to wear long pants. Bonnie and I walk a different trail today and are accompanied by Scuttlebut, the golden retriever from the charter boat. We reach BooBoo hill from a different direction and Scuttlebut leaves with a couple from another boat who are accompanied by Spot, one of the dogs from the park office. We hope the wind and sea are better today to see the blowholes in action, however, only a small hole right at the edge of the rocks is generating any spray and the other holes are only issuing gurgling noises. We see some white birds with long tails engaged in complex flight patterns just off shore. The birds are apparently Bermuda longtails later both Bonnie and I are separately startled when nesting birds shriek/hiss at us from holes in the rock over which we were stepping. We stop by a picnic table under a pine tree facing the anchorage and are able to see the seaplane take off after bringing in the “Naughty Mine”‘s charter. Bonnie decides to head back to the park office while I enjoy the breeze off the anchorage and the shade of the pine and wait for the tide to rise a bit more. The wind through the pine needles makes a very distinctive sound. The tree looks like a pine, but I suspect is not closely related to our coniferous trees. After a bit, I walk back to see whether the blow holes are blowing… they aren’t and I head back to the office.
Tuesday: We leave Exuma land and sea park and once more are making very good time under sail. We anchor off Shroud Cay. There are two boats that have come in and anchored in the ten minutes before us and within half an hour there are more than a dozen boats at anchor. The centre of Shroud cay is a mangrove swamp with a few passable channels that criss cross the sand plains which have largely filled the island. While some of these plains are mostly empty with just a few mangrove sprouts, other areas are thick with a variety of mangrove that appears to rarely exceed ten feet in height. We are the last in a line of eight tenders that set out to explore the island at the recommended time of tide. In a few places, the water is shallow enough to cause problems but most of the channel is remarkably deep. We see a few fish darting away and eventually reach the far side of the island and make our way up to “Camp Driftwood”, the project of Ernest Scholten, a hermit who lived on his boat anchored just inside the island on the sound side and, during the 60’s, collected driftwood and began to place it on the high point of the island. Other boaters continue the tradition. Once more, we fail to see the green flash as the sun sets over the banks. We are, however, once more serenaded by conch shell horns from a number of boats, it being a tradition to mark the sunset this way. The 3/4 moon is very bright.
Wednesday: We take a “quick” turn into Norman cay to see the wreck of an aeroplane that had been used by drug smugglers who operated out of the island at one time. In fact the island has one of the best air strips in the Exumas because of the smugglers. From the anchorage at Shroud, we basically sail three miles out, one mile across and three miles back in to get to the Norman cay harbour. Once under way again, mike cuts the diesel and we have a leisurely sail under light winds. We make Allen cay in the early afternoon. We see a few iguanas wandering around on the beach but when the people on one of the other boats at anchor land their tender on the beach, there is a sudden rush and iguanas emerge from the brush surrounding the beach. We head in too to take some pictures and count more than thirty of the creatures, several over a meter in length. Later we see a large tour boat out of Nassau that has brought people over to see the iguanas. Later again, a large catamaran used for scuba diving charters, beaches and its complement also draw the iguanas out. The current is strong and there is an odd resonance to the swell, but the night is quiet. Mike had decided to put out both anchors in opposite directions to hold Millie more or less in place.
Thursday: The wind has freshened. There is a small craft advisory for tomorrow, so we’ll cross the banks today. The power boat next to us is using only one anchor and has swung towards us. After we raise the first anchor, we appear to be getting dangerously close to the other boat so quickly hoist the second anchor and Mike kicks in the throttle to get under way fast. There were startled faces in the cabin of the other boat. Once off shore, the breeze is very good. Mike cuts the diesel and with mizzen, main and jib all drawing on a good reach, we are making consistently over 6.2 knots. Mike has been trailing a fishing line once We were clear of the park’s no take zone and shortly after seeing a couple of gulls and fish jumping, Mike has a bite. The fish is probably a Spanish mackerel and is just over a foot long. After some debate about what to do with it, Mike throws it back and a little while later catches another which is also released. Having decided that he’s proved it’s possible to catch fish in this manner, Mike decides to stow the tackle.
Today is the first day we are out of sight of land. Allen cay is the last major island in the Exuma chain and it gradually shrinks behind us and for a while it’s uncertain whether we are still seeing the tip occasionally or just waves but soon we know it’s just waves. Even so, the depth sounder never registers more than 25 feet. Half way across the banks, the water shallows to 12 feet and features on the bottom are visible, including the shadow of the boat. This is the Yellow banks and the chart cautions about coral heads. We have partly cloudy skies and where the sun shines on the water, the coral heads are clearly visible as brownish objects in the turquoise water, however, in the shadow of a cloud, the heads are just slightly darker gray objects within the gray water. Fortunately, the heads are not too close together and we have good visibility during the worst of it. After a while, the water deepens again and shortly after, we see a small conical shape rising out of the ocean ahead. This is the tower of the Atlantis theme/resort hotel/casino on Paradise island across the harbour from Nassau proper. We see this slowly rise until it is joined by a couple of other resort hotels and then, finally, the older landmark, the Nassau water tower and New Providence itself. We tie up at a marina run by one of the hotels along the harbour. The showers are reasonably clean and there’s lots of hot water but there’s a problem with the flushes… oh well, at least we’re clean. I get more anti‑histamine at a drugstore in a mall across the street. After I had used up Bonnie’s Coricidin, I had tried her Dimetapp, however, the latter did not seem to be having much effect on the swelling in the leg.
Friday: We have a bit of rain in the morning and the breeze is fairly strong, so the small craft advisory yesterday was accurate. It’s only the second time that the weather has not been generally sunny and warm.
We walk through Nassau. Mike and Bonnie get some business out of the way and we tour the “straw” market. Originally, natives sold mostly items woven from straw here, now just about anything a tourist might buy is available. There are several cruise ships at dock including a Disney theme ship and we see a marching band and majorette show touring from one of the ships. Lots of tourists. We do the tourist thing, browsing in various duty free stores. Liquor, jewelry and European clothes. Bonnie and Mike buy a nice piece of crystal then we split up and I wander back looking for something I thought Margaret would like. I also get some “overproof” rum to bring back.
Saturday: We walk over to Paradise island and see how the rich and famous live. The Atlantis hotel is massive. Even this early in the morning, there are people playing the machines and some of the card tables are in action. We make our way to where an artificial lagoon has been constructed around the base of the hotel and floor to ceiling glass panels give us a view out into masses of fish. I believe the literature said something like 56,000 individual fish in several hundred different species. The show piece is a manta ray which swims slowly back and forth the length of the reef and seems to fill the width. We see tiny cleanerwrasses hiding in crevices between the glass and the window frames. I pay my money and take a tour of the “dig”. I have to agree with Bonnie that the dig is very well done if completely phony. It is a hypothetical archaeological site in the remains of the legendary Atlantis. The hotel has written a history of this Atlantis and tour guides will lead you through and explain the “artifacts” that are on display. Occasional interesting and useful bits of information about the fish are also given. The walk through the dig also provides some more interesting views of the artificial reef than were available from the free view. One has to sympathize with the tour guides, some of whom are obviously embarrassed by having to spout the nonsense about Atlantis, but others seem to have been at it long enough that the embarrassment is passed and they do an enthusiastic job of it. At the end of the dig tour, one is inside the hotel’s pool/beach/more reefs display area and I enjoy a leisurely walk above and below the “predator” reef where they keep the sharks and sting rays. The fish are remarkably healthy and well kept. The only tank which was sub‑parr was a fresh water tank with pirannah and there was a technician working in that when I went by.
After Paradise island, we tour downtown Nassau again and Bonnie and Mike pick up some duty free liquor. We take our time heading back and decide to have an early dinner at Lady D’s a restaurant featuring Indian cuisine and we enjoy a selection of curries of various heats.
Sunday: is clean up, pack away, shower again (the lights are out in the shower now and the illumination is from the propped open door and I have to shoo out a lizard before I wash). I leave with lots of time for the aeroport and make sure I don’t have any problem. The taxi driver drops me at the wrong terminal (for US flights) but it’s just a short walk to the international departures (a somewhat more run down building than that for US flights, but under renovation. Two weeks before, I had opportunity to use the domestic departure terminal, so I know things could be even more run down. The flight is overbooked, but I’m ready to go home.
Monday: I check my baggage first thing then head for downtown Toronto. I’ve booked on the last flight out so I can have a full day for the town. It starts raining mid‑morning, but I have my umbrella and it’s sort of pleasant to have cool rain after two weeks of blistering sun. The flight into Fredericton is on time and my seat is again in the Executive class. Only the Nassau to Toronto leg of the flight was tourist. The Nassau to Georgetown was “rustic”. Margaret meets me at the Aeroport and we catch up a bit on two weeks of absence.
‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ General Observations ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑
I enjoyed the trip. If you have a chance, take Bonnie and Mike up on their offer to join them. They are excellent and gracious hosts and I want to thank them once again for their hospitality. It was a pleasure to be with them on the start of their return voyage north.
The Millennium Odyssey is not a cruise liner and the facilities on a 34 foot ketch are going to be simple. If you need a long hot shower every day, then you’re simply not going to get it. The head (toilet for landlubbers) was designed by a sadist. The small seat was jammed up close to the wall and the pump handle for the flush mechanism projected up just enough above the seat and was strategically positioned such that it was sticking into my thigh… let’s just say that one is not inclined to linger reading the newspaper. The facilities were better than those I’ve experienced while camping and one does get used to it. I never did get used to the constant motion when I was trying to sleep. Under the various influences of wind, wave and current, the boat is almost alive. Always new sounds as strains come on stays from slightly different directions or at different forces when the wind shifts cross to the current or the current turns the boat at a different angle to the chop.
The advantage is the pace. We’re taking our time and can see the things that people don’t see in the cruise ships. The last couple of days in Nassau gave me a taste of that, and I’m much happier with the snorkeling, sun‑bathing and reading that Millie offered.
Bonnie and Mike are a good team. They have to be since they’re mostly on their own. I wanted to help but found that except for a few things I mostly got in the way so learned to recognize situations when they had things completely under control and to offer a hand when it might make things more convenient for them.
Subject: Mayday AGAIN!
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 07:32:44
Just about 10 miles out of nassau’s west entrance. We heard another Mayday. This one was over 6.5 miles away(toward chub cay we were heading to cabbage cay in the berrys) We heard one vessel respond, a freighter. But since the guy was’t going to abandon ship he couldn’t do much
but call BASRA. But Basra couldn’t hear them. Since we could hear and speak to both we played relay station for the next half hour.
Treiz avien(a quebec boat) we had seen several times was diverted toward Liford Cay Marina and they were going to come out with their crash boat and meet them. Last time we heard they were still afloat with the crash boat and the RBDF P41 along side. They were in good hands.
One thing we have learned after all of the maydays we have heard, Good radios are a necessity.
We were off to Cabbage Cay, in the Berry Islands. Thanking our lucky stars, millie has been perfectly behaved.
Subject: The Berries.
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 17:09:43
We left Cabbage Cay in light winds and motorsailed north to the anchorage between Great Stirrup and Great Harbour Cays. We wanted a quick exit so we anchored in the bay rather than Panton Cove. The guide listed it as having a surge but we were in early enough to see how bad it would be before we went to bed. It was ok in the afternoon then the winds built in the channel which caused large surge waves cornering around the point. The wind was hitting us and holding us to wind in the light current, the surge waves (2‑3 feet) were hitting us side on, making us rock almost as bad as Black Point(but Tony is going to write about that.)
We were out early, before sunrise, in a Se 15‑20 and flying to Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island. The 60 mile run after sleepless night was tough especially as the wind died at noon leaving the slop to flop around in.
We settled into Lucaya Marina Village and after a little planning and dinner we went to bed early and slept 10 hours just enough to miss the BASRA weather on ssb.
We picked up the odd bit of the NOAA weather out of the US and it was consistant with the last few. The window was holding. We had talked to a few peope just heading south. They were still ripping mad about the Marina at West End increasing their rates from $0.75 to $1.65 / ft. We decided to go from Lucaya directly to the Lake Worth Inlet. The time difference in stopping verses not stopping was about 9 hours.
So we left Lucaya at noon and headed out to the Lucaya waypoint a mile south of the entrance bouy, set the autohelm for 270 (true west) and turned it off when we popped out of the gulf stream a little over a mile from Lake Worth. Our biggest problem was that we had travelled too fast, it was still dark. I even dropped the mizzen and rolled the jib to try to get us our desired 4.5 knots but we still set the anchor in the dark.
At 8:00 we called Norman and Sarah to close the Sail Plan and called mother to let her know we are in the US, and the phone is working again. We then called customs to see how we are supposed to check in. After 5 minutes on the phone we were clear to go!
We lifted the anchor in one end of lake worth and dropped in the other, where it is quieter, fewer wakes and even a bit sheltered.
Bonnies asleep and that sounds like a great idea.
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 17:09:38
We left lake worth early so we could get through two bridges before they went on restricted hours. We made good time north to Vero Beach.
The moorings are great and we ended up rafting to Whipperwill who we had seen a few times in the waterway. We spent most of the day talking to them. They were in the Bahamas in the Abacos. We quizzed them on the Abacos and they quizzed us about the Exumas. They warned us about the dock, apparently there has been someone with light fingers stealing stuff from dinghys so things were getting locked down. We had to dig deep into a locker, we haven’t locked the boat or dinghy in months.
We spent a couple of days in Vero Beach and made the run to the Walmart supercenter. We both had a great time shopping in a store that had lots of stuff that was cheap. The stores in the Bahamas are small and expensive. We did have the restriction that we had to carry all the stuff we wanted back on the bus, multiple loads are not allowed. We were surprisingly well behaved.
We left Vero with winds on the nose and forecasted NW 20 overnight. We had spent the nignt on the south side of Melborne’s bridge and were looking for a better place if we could find it for the night blow. We did, we inched into a very small basin in less than 6 feet of water and barely had a gust above 10 knots all night, when we woke it aws a flat calm although to was N 15‑20 as soon as we made it to the river. That N 15‑29 put us back into sweats, sweaters, foul weather gear, toque and mits. We realized the ICW isn’t intracoastal waterway it’s icy cold waterway.
We landed back at Kennedy Point Yacht Club were we were happy to see Wings. We sailed a long stretch of the ICW with bill and were happy to see wings. Well wings is here but no bill yet.
We lucked out and arrived the day before the shuttle launch. We slept like little logs although tonight we may flip the bed so the down douvet is on top instead of under us.
Today was a day for laundry and taxes. Bonnie got her job done and I wish I could say the same. We should have one more receipt in the mail due to arrive in a couple of days. But I will end up spending at least a couple more days working on it.
Today was the Launch and even in daylight it is pretty amazing. We seemed to have a better view of the trajectory from St. Augustine, but I was real happy to see it up close.
It was a great rest from taxes, taxes and more taxes.
Subject: situation normal
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 07:42:46
We had a great time at kpyc and visiting with Bill from Wings. We got most of our projects done and was ready to head north today. We listened to the weather and todays weather is great but the next four days a cold front is passing and we are expecting Norths 20 as it passes.
The festival is on this weekend so maybe after the front we’ll go.
Subject: On the move again
Date: Sat, 5 May 2001 16:55:01
After two weeks of relaxing, doing taxes, relaxing again, and doing a little touring, we are underway again. Northward bound, sigh.
We looked at the weather and the NE 20s looked more like E15s we (bill on wings and us) decided to go. The first day was the only one that was really exposed and once we were out of Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon we would be sheltered. We took off and had a good motorsail up Indian River, slogged into Ne20s across haulover canal into the lagoon and had a beam reach the length of it.
We saw two very pink flamingos fly in front of us. First time we have seen them in the wild.
We spent one day touring around with Bill at the Merrit Island Wildlife Preserve and Canaveral National Seashore. A great place to see birds, gaters and turtles. The visitor center and their boardwalk is great. After spending a few minutes with one of the women at the center, with her showing us a bunch of turtle shells, we have identified the turtle we saw in Bahamas as being a Hawksbill. This is a nesting site for turtles and they are starting to come ashore.
We also found out where the nude beach is. Bill has the inside scoop on all kinds of interesting info (I am sometimes careful not to ask how he knows things).
We are retracing our steps for the first couple of days, staying at the power plant and cement plant. We actually mapped out the whole trip to Norfolk(25 stops, including 3 marinas). It’s a tentative plan but it was nice to do on a rainy day. Bill wanted more experience with anchoring. We wanted a cheaper trip north. After a few days we may decide to do a few more marinas but we are ok for now.
Norman and Sarah are planning on meeting up with us for the run from Norfolk to New York. That would be great fun. We spent a month in the Chesapeake on the way down so the trip north can be a lot faster.
They are interested in meeting us around the 11 June, so we may have to relax our schedule a bit as we get closer. Our arrival date as is would be 25 May.
Subject: spoke too soon
Date: Sat, 5 May 2001 16:54:44
Well we might be a little later arriving in Norfolk. We are mostly in St Augustine FL at Camanchee Cove Yacht Club. Millie’s transmission is now in Jacksonville awaiting a overhaul. Going forward seemed to be a definite problem and backing up to Norfolk was not really something I wanted to do. I hate leading with the rudder into a sand bar.
With lots of long distance help from Rosali Boatworks Fredericton office (Norman and Sarah are visiting Fton for a friends anniversary party, (Happy anniversary mike and judy!!! )), we got the transmission out. And thanks to CCYC’s courtesy car we delivered it this morning. After seeing this place I wouldn’t bother with the municipal marina again.
The rest of the day was spent recovering from the extraction. One bit of advice I would give to anyone doing a similar job DRAIN the oil out of the engine BEFORE you start. There was 91 hours on the oil and I was going to change it while we were here, but, the bonk of the rubber mallet, followed by a thonk as the transmission fell onto the ropes holding from hitting the hull, followed by my gleeful Yippee, had been followed by a splat of four liters of oil landing in the bilge.
Which we didn’t discover until late this morning when we pulled the bilge cover off to clean the bilge in prep for the oil change. What is the first thing you do when discover 4 liters of oil in the bilge? Turn off the bilge pump and change into disposable clothes. After several hours of cleaning we now have a spotless bilge.
In the afternoon I dove on the boat to clean the hull and see if we could make the job a little easier for the engine for the rest of its 800 mile trip up the intracoastal. Visibility was about 4 inches so most of it was done by touch. It wasn’t bad leaving the Bahamas but a couple of weeks at kpyc fouled it badly. Next time I will get Josh to clean the hull before I leave. I wouldn’t dive in that water, WAY too many full time manatees.
I cleaned the prop with some stainless steel wool and when I asked Bonnie to get me a long
wooden plug for brushing off the barnacles she discovered we were sinking. Being a smart girl she first turned the bilge pump back on and jumped into the locker by the engine room diagnosed the problem (my cleaning of the prop moved the shaft forward and the seal that pushes against the bellows to hold the water wasn’t in contact any more), she gave a quick push on the shaft and it was resealed and safe again).
She came off the boat looking a bit worse for wear. After her telling me what happened I (still
in the water in dive gear) asked about the wooden plug. She had forgotten (wonder why) and return a moment later and handed it to me. At that moment that wooden plug was looking much more like something quite readily used by Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I took the plug and hid under the boat.
In fresh air again
Subject: Underway again.
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 17:35:37
Well 2 weeks to the day, and $1900(US) later we were ready to leave we started the engine and it ran for two minutes before it popped the circuit breaker. After checking the filter and fluid flow at several points we seemed to have good water flow but the electric pump couldn’t maintain the flow without loosing the breaker. We backflushed the heat exchanger etc but still no luck. After yet another round of consultations with Rosali Boatworks (Halifax Office), the engine was replumbed removing the heat exchanger. After 3 hours of diagnosing and plumbing we were off. We seemed to be moving forward without a hitch.
I checked a couple of times and everything seemed fine except for a couple of leaks. (I had found one earlier and tightened a set of bolts as tight as I dared). The earlier leak was now back with a vengence.
We were now closer to Jacksonville Beach than we were to St. Augustine so we stopped at Beach Marine, not a bad day considering we were missed our 8am departure by a few hours.
The oil leak took us down to the add mark so I guess it isn’t worth returning and hauling the transmission again. I cleaned the transmission the best I could and gooped the seam with 5200 figuring if you can seal a leak in a dinghy with it, it might work on the leak. I tried it on another leak a while ago and it seemed to work.
We left Beach Marine and headed north hitting tides great and made 48 miles to Shellbine Cr. The leak was still there but much less (another gob or 3 and see if it is better tomorrow).
We escaped Florida’s grasp and are now in Georgia.
With luck we should be in SC by Monday.
Subject: What’s the difference between 50 and 30?
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 17:35:25
No not 20.
We are just zipping through Georgia, in fact the only thing that belonged to us that touched
Georgia was our anchor.
We left Florida and made it to a little creek just north of the US submarine base at Kings Bay, just barely inside GA. Our presence gave the poor security guy something to do. The guy just patrols back and forth in front of a chained off channel in a little boat, not even allowed to fish I bet. He waved at us as we rounded the corner and bid a hasty retreat at almost jogging speed.
Our next night, we were close to our anchor down time and our selected anchorage was a washout, bad tides and the rollers were washing over the place we would be setting the hook. We pushed on to the Duplin River were we had shelter to west and so so shelter from the east. (Winds were S 10‑15 going SW) That made it a 50 mile day, long by our standards.
We really blew our stopping time the next night. We were actually checking out Moon River well before our anchor down but we couldn’t find the advertised 9 ft(without tide) since we had less than 3(without tide) we pressed on to the next anchorage at Isle of Hope, where moorings seemed to have eaten the anchorage, and finally to the Herb River. We looked at the back door of Palmer Johnson (near Savannah). Very happy with our 65(!) mile day and very happy to go to bed as soon as the tide switched and we were sure our anchorage was ok(8:57). Tides run 8‑9 feet and currents in excess of 2 knots are not uncommon.
Today was another 54 miles and most of it in South Carolina. We are settled in Brickyard Creek just north of Beaufort SC and the Ladies Island Bridge. We even had our anchor down in time!
Florida to South Carolina was four days, three new anchorages, and great weather (90+ degree days are a bit warm)
We are running about the same amount of time going north as we did going south, but are making 50 mile days not 30 mile days. Just the difference in tides. We pull anchor about 7:30 and drop at 3:30. This time we are hitting the beginning of a favorable tide at 7:30.
This will run out all too soon, but we should be good for a couple more days.
North Carolina Here We Come!
Gotta go the USMC are giving us an air show. Looks like they are practicing formation take offs and landings.
Subject: Wake crazy…
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 11:59:00
Memorial Day weekend in NC will be chisled in my brain as one to avoid.
We had a wonderfully quiet night in the Pipeline Canal, but we were awakened by small fishing boats zipping by at 0530. The tide was supposed to be switching to flood about 6:30. We were hoping to ride it up the Cape Fear River and get to Snow’s Cut before the tide kicked up.
That was the plan. Leaving at dead low meant that we had to start plowing a trench about 40 feet long and up to 0.8 of a foot deep (our new record low on the depth sounder). At one point we figured we would be waiting for a little higher tide but one of the little fishing boats waked us enough to bounce us free and into deeper water. The rest of the way out was uneventful. The soupy mud of the pipeline canal released another victim.
The tide didn’t change all of the way up the Cape Fear and we seemed to buck a .5 knot current the whole way to Snows Cut, where we roared through at 4.1 knots fighting a 1.5 knot flood.
By the time we were done Snows Cut we turned off the big VHF (too much traffic) and were on the handheld. Traffic was now just a dull roar. We trudged along from Snows Cut to Wrightsville Beach. We switched from loosing speed to gaining speed several times because of the many little inlets, most of the time loosing. The small boat traffic was intense.
Our plan was to stop at Wrightsville Beach, but if we arrived early we would go the 66 miles to Mile Hammock Bay. But with us getting a less than 5 knot average we packed it in at noon and anchored at Wrightsville. We were thinking about stopping at a fuel dock but with the docks full and four or five circling for their chance, we just went and anchored.
The last time we were here the anchorage was full, the winds were 30+ knots, boats were dragging all around us and it was COLD.
Today there are a quite a few boats anchored but tons of small boats generating lots of wakes. The winds are S to SW 10‑15 and gusty. The only redeeming feature is the warm weather. Heavy wool sweaters and foul weather gear have been replaced by bikinis.
This day is starting to look up.
Subject: Not a walk, a trot!
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 11:58:56
People who haven’t done any amount of sailing have a problem with the speed we travel. At 5 to 6 knots, about 5.5 to 7 mph, we travel, in a 7 hour day, a little less than most people will drive in a half hour.
“Still in NC, just taking it easy eh?”
Yep, easy. We’re driving 6‑8 hours every day, haven’t stopped except for an afternoon in Charleston SC for groceries. We left St Augustine Fl, were in Georgia two days later, South Carolina 4 days later, North Carolina 6 days later. We have been in NC for 4 days, in another 4 we have to decide if we go by the Dismal Swamp route or the Virginia Cut. At that point, we cross Albemarle Sound the last bit that requires a weather window.
We will be there around the 5th and will have 6 days to travel from mile 83 to mile 0, Waterside Marina in Norfolk Va to pick up Norman and Sarah.
We have had really good luck traveling, good weather, good anchorages, pretty countryside that is hard to appreciate at highway speed. We also get to see animals, birds, and sea life that is easier to miss at a higher speed.
One of our big mistakes was not bringing a good bird book. We saw many really interesting birds and had no way to identify them.
Today we were motoring along Bogue Sound and there trotting along at an easy pace was a large black wild boar. I called the trawler that had just passed us and they came out to look. In a minute or so they were far enough ahead that it would be silly to slow down and watch. We didn’t have to slow down, we got to watch him for quite a while. He trotted along beside us for about a mile.
We have slowed from our 60 mile days, tides are going against us now and we are in a stretch where we have a choice of 30 or 70 mile days or marinas. Marinas are also expensive with less competition from anchorages.
But slower days give us time to relax, reflect, and redefine things. We no longer travel at the speed of a brisk walk. We travel slightly faster than a wild boar at full trot!
Subject: Great Dismal Swamp
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 18:26:32
We left Alligator River and headed to Elizabeth City, home of the Rose Buddies. Fred was still around and we had enough visitors to warrent a Wine and cheese party both nights we stayed.
We even got to see some of the original roses in blossom.
We also hit Stalks, a local burger joint and tradition for decades. Good burgers and milk shakes that are wonderful. The Wine Seller Deli and Bakery was our stop for breakfast. The bread is not to be missed.
We left and made the horrendous run of 7 miles to Goat Island. Where we rested for two days after the stress of such a long run. We got the bad news that Sarah’s doctor has vetoed the trip. So we will be travelling the Chesapeake alone. We have friends in Penn that might be joining us for part of the trip.
We are still planning to to go to Waterside Marina for a couple of days. The mail from Florida and the Charts from NB should converge at that point.
We tried to get in for the weekend but it was booked solid. Harbourfest is on this weekend. The cheaper marina has jacked the price to $2.50/foot with a 4 day minimum. Same price as a month
in KPYC. We are at the Visitor Center for another day. We seem to be part of the tour and get to visit people from all over. We have a mooring in New Zealand if we decide to go.
There is a lot of interest from sailors who want to visit Nova Scotia. A couple from Germany was interested in NB and NS.
We had 8 boats here last night, only four tonight. I put the dinghy in the water and motored around taking pictures of the canal and some of rose bushes that are shedding pink pettles into the coffee colored water.
We are going to head up to the bridge on Sunday and spend the night on the wall near the strip mall containing the Food Lion. It is just before the lock and we can’t remember a grocery store near Waterside.
We are still trying to figure out what we should do on our run home. We would like to meet up with our home club touring Maine this summer. But we’ll have to see what the schedule is like.
We have a stop in Annapolis, we would like to do Washington by Commuter train. Other than that and the liberty island anchorage we don’t have a lot of things on the must do list.
The Southport Lock has a board with distances on it. Eastport Maine is just less than 100 miles closer to us than Miami. Fredericton (home) is just a bit closer than Key West.
Subject: Options, options and more options
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 15:45:04
We have been neglecting our journal for a while. Sorry about that. We stayed in Norfolk for a few days and then with the “remnants of Allison” threatening we stayed another couple days. We finally got a marginal window and started out. The closer we got to the bay the more marginal it got so we ducked into Hampton. We heard Rhapsody and Perce Neige were in Hampton so it would also give us a chance to visit.
The anchorage is small with room for 6‑7 boats on a short scope and we started checking on a place to set the hook. Millie suddenly started misbehaving, she didn’t have enough power to increase rpm under load and it finally got bad enough that I would rev it to about 2000 rpm and engage the engine until the rpm died to 800 and popped it out again. I thought we had picked up a crab pot in the prop but that didn’t seem to explain the problem. We drifted up to the Hampton Yacht Club and latched on.
I put the boat in neutral and was able to spin the prop by hand with little resistance, so the prop was not fowled. The fuel filters were changed 50 miles ago, but I checked and they were fine. After checking a few more things I called Norman and we tried a few more. He suggested checking the valves and calling him back. We had one valve that was out of tolerance, so I got Bonnie to watch the valves as I turned the engine over and over and over. Two things kind of
cropped up as terminally bad. The first was I was able to turn the engine over several times by hand and then water poured out the air intake of the rear cylinder. Time for a new engine!
Now do we buy it here or at home, truck the boat home or store it here. The price for a new Yanmar 3gm30f in Canada is $8767(cdn), in the US it is $8351(us). The last visa bill gave us $1.57‑$1.59 as the exchange rate. This makes the engine in the US $13278.09 or $4511 cheaper in Canada. For the US folks on the list, the engine would list at about $5500us. The cost for a Canadian hauler was 3500 to 4400(cdn) depending on if it was a special trip or a return half of another load. US hauler estimates were $4000 to $4300. Storing on the hard at Hampton Roads Marina was $204 a month. Why do we want it home anyway?
We have reached the point where every day seems to be in the 90s with humidity in the 90s and thunderstorms are common in the afternoon. Summer at home sounds better all the time. Bonnie doesn’t like this kind of heat and I’m not much better.
Today we hauled and put the boat to bed. It is interesting that the haul, wash, block, and relaunching worked out to be about the same price as home in Cdn dollars and I got to watch not bust a gut all day long. That was a deal!
By tomorrow midnight we should be in Oromocto NB, home. In a few days after that our land RV also called “millie” should be back on the road.
On the road again
Subject: Home in NB.
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 12:17:38
We are still trying to make up our mind about lots of options. At the same time we are making progress on the home front. We arrived midnightish Saturday and stayed with our too good to be true neighbours, Paul and Debbie.
Sunday was a mixture of sleep, visiting and working on getting our truck started after it was sitting for the best part of 10 months. Monday had our vehicles licensed, Tuesday was getting the RV “millie” operational, Wednesday was safety inspections, and as much paperwork as as we could do on foot while the MVIs were being worked on. Thursday was spent getting our RV livable. This meant finding stuff like bedding, pots and pans, pillows, … from our storage room at our house.
We have made it into the RV as far as it being our clothes closet. The bed was made this am so when we come back from Sussex we will be sleeping in our own bed. We are heading down to Sussex to spend time with my mother and step‑father. We also would like to make a trip to Halifax to visit family and friends there. We won’t have any trouble putting in the summer.
We also need to plot a strategy for getting the new engine for our boat. The most likely engine option at this moment is to take a new 3GM30F from here and install it in Virginia. The existing volvo (2 cylinder) has a 1 5/8 inch exhaust. The 3GM30F has a 2 inch exhaust. So this conversion has to up the size of the exhaust.
The current exhaust splits at the muffler and has a vent that is close to the waterline on either side. I say close because with a full larder, water, and fuel tanks, one could say they are underwater. If we have to change size we should probably change location as well. This brings up the options of 1 outlet or two and where to place them.