2004 Sept Going South

Going South 2004

Date: September 28, 2004
Subject: Getting the boat ready to go.

We always figured the boat would be ready to go by the time we got back. The list is definitely getting smaller. This trip we added a new galley range. Up until now we have been using alcohol for cooking. (Cooking alcohol not Rum! Although there are a number of people on this list that would swear you could cook with our standard issue 151 proof rum.) It was taking 20 minutes to boil water for coffee in the morning. (A true waste of good rum!) It was frustrating enough that a new galley stove finally made it to the top of the list of stuff that has to get fixed list. We installed the propane sniffer (a device that sounds an alarm if there is a leak) and after it was up and running we installed the propane side of the stove itself. Our new galley is a Force 10 stainless steel convection oven. I am looking forward to having a real stove and oven that works.

As usual things didn’t go perfectly seamlessly. The sniffer draws almost no current and we want it to run all the time (the safest option) so we wanted to wire it into a circuit that is always on. In our case that is the power to the cabin lighting system. The propane locker has an electronic solenoid that turns the fuel on and off and it makes sense that it should be on the same circuit as the sniffer. But there really wasn’t room in the existing bus bar for two more circuits so we had to upgrade the busbar for the cabin lights circuit. We also had to upgrade the grounding busbar as well. Since we really couldn’t add any more wires to the shunt for the Link 10 we had to add a power post and reroute (thankfully shortening) a number of grounding circuits. Four bike trips out to Hurds True Value hardware store (a great marine supply place and an awesome collection of stainless fiddily bits) and the BoatUS Store, and a day spent in a cramped locker we actually had an electrical system ready to take the extra two circuits. (Actually about a dozen but there was no way I was going to do that misery for two circuits.)

The stove itself went in with only 5 or 6 tries. The first try was according to the instructions! But then the instructions expect the front edge of the counter top to be square (ours isn’t) and is assuming you want to line up with the stove flush with the counter top. Our navigation station is actually a cover that sits on top of the stove so our stove actually has to sit below the level of the counter by a couple of inches. (I did that correction, just not enough, the first time). And the second try was more to get the stove lined up so that it would swing in the gimbals properly. Measuring from the back (square) rather than the front (not) made that work better. Removing part of the shelf support gave a much larger range of motion. There are two locks on the stove that stop it from swinging. The first try something didn’t quite work because one lock caught and one didn’t. The next try Bonnie washed off the mark before the holes got drilled (never leave an empty locker and expect it not to get cleaned!) On the last try we cheated and just swung the stove out of place rather than remove it.

We finally lit the stove after about three days of work. It has one of those nice piezoelectric igniter gadgets that runs off of a AA battery which means it should be more reliable than the thumb snapping switch and hopefully will mean no more frustrating butane lighters. This just keeps getting better.

We are now working on the old checklist of things to do, things we normally do, like drain the diesel tank and paint the bottom check for dings and scratches in the gel coat, wax the topsides and lay a few touches to the bottom paint. We seem to have all the old ones and very few new ones. We have a few improvement items that will just make things work a little better, but as far as major items there just aren’t that many.

We have finally worked through our list and went south to Richmond Virginia for the Virginia State Fair. We did it last year, had a good time, with the exhibition booths, food fair, and exhibitions. We went to the concert and saw Mongomery Gentry and Phil Vasar. This year’s concert was Rascal Flats with Chris Cagle and Julie Roberts. Julie Roberts is new and has to work on her stage presence. Chris Cagle was very good with a strong stage presence and show. Rascal Flatts put on a good show and had a real fancy stage setup that was obviously still new to them. Good show none the less. From there we left heading north and our three day trip to NB to winterize the RV and start the return trip. Scheduled launch date is the morning of October 18.

A week behind schedule but what I would like too have had but not bad.

We are currently in Oromocto about to head to my mother’s for a Thanksgiving dinner. This is Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend for the international crowd on the list. The majority of the members on the list are from Canada and US but we do have members from Australia, Britain, Bermuda, Germany, and Israel.

Launch

Date: October 26, 2004
Subject: Launch!

Well we made it back to Virginia thanks to Tony Fitzgerald. We picked up our rental in Bangor then drove to Chelmsford and on to Deltaville the next day.

We arrived on a Friday and our launch is scheduled for Monday. We got the yard to move the jackstands so that we can do the areas of the hull where the pads were, but there was only one small area that the paint needed a little touch up.

We started the process of making the interior of the boat more livable. Moving all of the life rings, The Life Sling, the man overboard pole and the boat hook into their positions around the boat. We had our US Coast Guard safety inspection done before we left, we passed without a hitch as usual. The wind is up so we have to wait to put on the sails, so the V-berth is plugged until the sails go on. There is water on the dock so we will wait until we get there to charge the tanks too. The engine started with only a minor hickup for bleeding. I changed one fuel of the primary filters (it was truly disgusting) and seemed to have fermented while it was sitting over the summer so I checked the secondary just as a precaution and it seemed fine, but I must not have bled it completely because I got a burp of air out of the system after turning the engine over a few times. Bonnie is always amazed that it starts and runs without a problem.

The stove is working GREAT! Coffee is quick, Pancakes actually cook a golden brown, our little camping toaster does toast but we need more practice to get good toast out of it.

With any luck we should be able to get out of here Tuesday afternoon. We need a rising tide to get out of the marina. So the first day will just get us to Jackson Creek from there it will be a one or two day trip to Norfolk depending on the weather. From there it is down the Great Dismal Swamp Canal to Elizabeth City and down.

We have already met a couple we first met in Warderick Wells. They left already and we will be a few days behind them. Another Canadian here in the boatyard will be a few days behind us. The snowbirds have begun their migration.

We launched without a problem well sort of. We got in the water and floated, no leaks, everything seemed to be fine. But when the boatyard crew tried to pull me out of the slip we actually ran aground. They pulled us out and closer to the dock, I do say closer because we couldn’t really get there, but we were out of the slip and only about a foot beyond jumping distance to the dock. Within an hour or two I actually were able to pull the boat close enough that Bonnie was able to board without too much of a jump. She took care of the weekend rental car while I stayed to launch the boat. We spent the day dressing the boat and early the next morning while we were on a falling tide but still floating we left and made our way out of Broad Creek without running aground (Better than on our way in!). We were out early enough that Jackson Creek seemed a waste so we continued to Chisholm Creek. It is a little over half way to Norfolk and since the weather the next day was North 10 it would be an early day with a easy next day.

The next day we checked the weather and it was rainy and N 15-20 with gusts to 25 and a small craft advisory. We have a relatively firm rule about not going on the Chesapeake with a “two” in the forecast. So we waited until the next day, it was scheduled for N 10. The next day we checked the weather and it was rainy and N 15-20 and a small craft advisory. We have a relatively firm rule about not going on the Chesapeake with a “two” in the forecast. So we waited until the next day, it was scheduled for N 10. The next day we checked the weather and it was rainy and N 15-20 and a small craft advisory. We have a relatively firm rule about not going on the Chesapeake with a “two” in the forecast. So we waited until the next day, it was scheduled for N 10.The next day we checked the weather and N 15-20 and a small craft advisory. We have a relatively firm rule about not going on the Chesapeake with a “two” in the forecast. So we waited until the next day it was scheduled for N 10.

Four books later (Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons is much better than Frederick Fortsyth’s Phantom of Manhattan, Grissom’s Street Lawyer, or William Diehl’s Eureka ) Saturday was actually fairly nice and sunny if cool. Tomorrow actually looks like it might be North 10.

We did a few maintenance jobs and discovered a seized winch on the foredeck. It wasn’t actually seized just all of the grease congealed and needed to be cleaned out, thinned out, and regreased. I modified the jackline arrangement to make them work a little better. Bonnie did some cleaning and polishing I did a few more small tasks and checked over the engine, everything was great. We are ready to go tomorrow (Sunday) in those North 10s we have been waiting for since Tuesday.

And as luck would have it they were the most southerly northerly’s we have had in a long time but they were light so we ran all the way to the wall at Deep Creek inside the Great Dismal Swamp Canal. The next day was a light run to the North Carolina Visitor Center where we relaxed for most of the day and as luck would have it by the end of the day 16 boats were rafted up and two were Canaterra and Angel. Both we had met for the first time at exactly the same place exactly one year to the day ago. We left early this morning to go to the South Mills Lock and arrived at Elizabeth City. It was very nice to see Fred Feering in his golf cart greeting cruisers and preparing for his wine and cheese party.

It will be a day here while we wait out the North 15-20s scheduled tomorrow, but the next day should be great, North 10s, Bonnie and I don’t do the Albemarle Sound with a “two” in the forecast

Three states later!

Hi all.

Sorry for the long run between emails. Bonnie and I have been gettin’ while the gettin’ was good and other than getting caught in the Duplin River for a day while a bad north-easter blew through we have had a pretty good run. By-the-way in a north-easter go anywhere but the Duplin! Wally’s Leg (Mile marker 666) is a much better choice and not that far away.

This year has been a weird one weather wise. We have had north winds consistently since leaving Deltaville Virginia. We have been pinned down only once and if we were smart we would have moved to Wally’s Leg that day. But with the anchor hooked really well it was safer to stay than to try to wrestle the anchor on deck with the nasty wind verses current waves.

We would have been stuck due to weather on other day but a friend on Canaterra, whom we have sort of been traveling with, suggested the alternate route around St. Andrew Sound which was really blowing up badly. It is known as the “inside-inside” route by some. The Sound was nasty, the “inside-inside” route was a mill pond but strangely surreal. The north east winds were pushing a lot of water into the sounds and tides were feet higher than normal. The “inside-inside” route was like driving through maze of little channels 50-75 feet wide with tufts of grass sticking out of the flooded marsh. Every now and then there were channel markers that indicated a major turn. But the day marks that are normally the height of traffic signs were no more than three feet tall. We normally are too deep to do the alternate route without at least half tide and rising. We were an hour off high and falling so we were very anxious to get out of there before we got stuck. We slipped out of the alternate route into the nasty end of the Cumberland River then zipped quickly into the north end of the Brickhill River into deep and protected waters. The official ICW is shoalled badly through the Cumberland Dividings but the Brickhill has many good anchorages, which is why we were there. It is also at least 8 feet deep and allows you to bypass the shoal area. Bonnie also has a passionate hate for the Cumberland Dividings so we will probably never do them again.

Our first night that we slept without joggers, sweatshirts, and several blankets was at our anchorage near Flagler Beach in Florida. (About 20 miles north of Daytona Beach). The north winds have been cold, dry, and we have also been able to sail (ok motor sail). We have made very good time. Not stopping much has helped too. Since leaving E-city we stopped one day at Upper Dowery Creek, two days in Charleston to visit with John and Shirley Sullivan, one storm day in the Duplin. (Did I mention that was a bad idea?) We didn’t stop until Vero Beach.

Vero Beach had two unwelcome visitors Francis and Jeanne. Frances delivered 13 hours of hurricane force winds and Jeanne gave them 40 minutes of winds between 126 and 130 miles an hour, besides many hours of hurricane force winds. Bonnie and I both commented on how quiet these waters were as we passed on a Sunday. But the while length of the Indian River is littered with sunken boats, boats driven ashore, destroyed docks, marinas, houses and sections of roads washed out.

We did get to see a space launch on our way by Merritt Island. We were traveling from Haulover Canal to Melborne, listening to the Coast Guard give a Launch Hazard Notice to Mariners. When the appointed time came round we were well south of the Canaveral and really didn’t expect to see much of it. It launched from the south end of Merritt Island and we got to watch it pretty clearly.

The third trip down the ditch is pretty easy. We remember how hard it was every time we talk to a first timer. We help when we can and try to make gentle suggestions when we can.

We arrived in Vero Beach about noon and about three hours later “Katie” showed up. Jerry and Ena Milburn live about 7 miles from our house in Oromocto. They have been doing this trip for many many years. It was nice to see them. We will probably be seeing more of them over the next few days.

We are intending to stay here until Thanksgiving and then head south. From then on we are looking for the first weather window that lines up with an inlet for our jump to the Bahamas.

One of my jobs while I am in Vero Beach is to get email via satellite working so the log should be more regular after that.

Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 9:43:40 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Satellite email is up and a quick update

Email via satellite is up and cooking. I should be able to do the log via satellite email. This message should be the first to go out from the sat phone. We do not have Internet access via the sat phone (that option is another yet another $20/month) so the web site will be updated as we
have access via Internet cafes and libraries. If you would like to send us email you are welcome to send it to mike@MillenniumOdyssey.ca and it will reach us via satellite.

We are still in Velcro (Vero) Beach awaiting mail and a new water pump for our fridge after much whining and moaning it finally has given up the ghost. It was supposed to arrive Friday but it didn’t. Monday looks fine with us there really isn’t a window. Besides, Bonnie and I both like Vero a lot and have a number of spots we normally visit each trip. Today was the day for the Chinese Buffet place. GROAN. I know I shouldn’t do that but it is a really good buffet. Groan. We might be hungry by morning but I doubt it.

We took John from Canatara to our favorite burger joint “Casey’s” and he seemed to like them too. After that we walked up to the gallery where they have a Taos Group exhibition. The Taos Group were a group of artists that painted the “Wild West” including landscapes, as well as cowboys and indians. (Using the politically incorrect vernacular of the time) (Yes I will get
hollared at, yes I know …) They included two pieces by Remington. They also had a couple of other exhibits in other galleries. The art gallery is always worth a stop. Bonnie checked out the theater but nothing seemed to be playing.

We have did all of our provisioning except for more wine and some fresh stuff. We have kind of held off on the fresh stuff until our fridge is properly cooling again. We should have provisioned our wine better in North Carolina but we didn’t. We knew better but didn’t do the job. Box wine in Florida is the same price as in North Carolina except in NC you get five liter boxes and in Florida you get three liter boxes.

The longer we stay the more provisions we buy and the more the waterline sinks. We will have to leave soon or we will be sticking to the bottom and we will have to eat an inch or two.

There is a window open now and it would be really nice to go but hopefully it will stay open until we get our stuff and get out of here.

Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2004 14:15:42 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] The Bahamian Flag Flies over Millennium Odyssey again.

We were asked several times by people in the last while “What constitutes a window?” Well the answer is “It depends”. Where are you going, what angle on the Gulf Stream are you trying to make, etc. We were trying to go Lake Worth to about half way up the Little Bahama Bank (About 66 True) and since the Gulf Stream pushed us about 13 miles north last time, we aimed for a mark about 13 mile south and our 66 turned into 81, almost due east. Our forecast was

Weather forecast Jupiter to Deerfield out 60 NM
Dec 5 (Sunday)
Today NE going E 5 – 10 Seas less than 2feet
Tonight E to SE 5-10 Seas less than 2 feet
Monday E to SE 5-10 Seas Less than 2
Monday Night SE 10-15 Seas less than 2 building to 2-4
Tuesday SE 10-15 2-4
Wednesday E-SE 5-10
Thursday SE 10-15 2-4

We figured that Sunday night with E to SE winds was IDEAL especially if the east turned out to be more SE than E. Anytime we can get less than two feet in the Gulf Stream for a crossing is good in our book. So we moved from the North Lake Worth Anchorage to the anchorage at the Inlet and tried to have a nap in the afternoon. We were planning on leaving about 10 (turned out to be 9pm) and run across the GS to the Little Bahama Bank.

Well the plans of mice and men work out about equal. The E-SE were EAST! The seas were two-ish but we ate our 13 miles north in about half way across and had to start turning south east (134) to make our course line of 081. We didn’t want to hit the bank until daylight in case there was a standing wave like there is at Cat Cay Gun Cay on the falling tide. There wasn’t and we came across onto the bank cleanly.

The fifty miles across the Gulf Stream went well. We turned onto the bank at daylight and had another fifty miles to go to Great Sale Cay. It’s course was exactly east. So we could slog straight into the wind or tack back and forth and go faster but farther. We did the tacking bit and after three hours of tacking we were ten miles down or fifty mile run. An alternate plan was needed. Mangrove Cay is about thirty miles along and more south of east so we could make much better time toward it than Great Sale. We anchored at Mangrove Cay just after our normal 3:30pm anchor down and called Norman Raine to cancel our float plan. We were safely across the stream.

If I had a chance to do it again I would seriously consider doing a run to Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) and run northeast to the Little Bahama Bank with the current and it would be much shorter time wise and less arguments with the stream, even if it was a longer distance.

The following day we did the twenty miles to Great Sale, another put us thirty miles further along into Allans-Pensicola Cay and finally today, another twenty mile day into Green Turtle Cay where were cleared customs and were able to put up our Bahamian courtesy Flag.

This is our first time in the Abacos and are looking forward to spending a few days relaxing and recovering from the trip across. We cleared customs and waited until the tide was almost high so that we could get into Black Sound where we have all round protection and a mooring where we can sleep easy and wait for the front to pass. A cold front is scheduled for passage late tomorrow night.

Three days to explore Green Turtle Cay will give us lots of visiting time, a day for the front to clear out and we should be able to leave at high tide early in the morning.

For those with charts we are approximately 26 46N 77 20W

Mike

Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 5:23:04 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Fronts, fronts and more fronts.

Well life is continuing as normal. We are tucked in and hiding from a couple of fronts (one passed on Saturday-Sunday) and other is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. The one scheduled for Saturday night and Sunday was supposed to give us NW 20-25 and the cruiser’s net from Marsh Harbour (CH68 at 0815) said it was 30s most of the night. Sure felt like it from here. We are tied to a mooring in Black Sound. It is shallow enough at the entrance that we have to wait for at least half tide before we can go in or out. We will stay here until probably Thursday. (A week in Green Turtle is not a bad way of waiting out fronts.)

We are working away at a few projects. Cruising is sometimes described by many (even us) as boat maintenance done in nice places. We are trying to get our water-maker back on-line after layup for the summer. We had to depickle it, then give it alkaline and acid baths before starting production again. The alkaline and acid baths take about 12 hours minimum. The alkaline bath is done and the acid bath is almost done. The overnight soak is done and all I have to do now is about 20 minute run recycling the acid, then a flush to purge the acid. After that I always change the prefilter and lubricate the plunger before another hour for a purge. After that we can start making water again. We also have been redoing the seals on all of the windows, doing one at a time as time and weather permit. We may do one today.

We have been doing a little sight seeing too. New Plymouth has a strong Loyalist heritage, with a really nice statue dedicated to the landing of the Loyalists. They also have a number of busts for local people who were descendants of the Loyalists. It is nice to see local recognition for local people who have done well and are still alive to be able to see it.

We stopped at the Wrecking Tree and Bonnie and I split a Cracked Conch and Fries. Very good. We then walked over to Blue Bees Home of the World Famous Gombay Smash. A very good rum punch and the recipe has been a secret for decades. (I bet I could make a passable one out of pineapple juice, grapefruit juice and amber rum.) We met the same two couples who were having lunch at the Wrecking Tree and Bill started buying rounds for everybody. We had a few (too many, not a few) and had a great time with him and the locals as they drifted in and out. By the time we left I think he bought for the eight of us (heather the fill in bartender was doing fine) at least six or eight of the locals.

We had a very late morning and didn’t mind a late afternoon walk around New Plymouth getting fresh groceries. The Museum was closed and we will try again sometime today. There are several very good grocery stores here, well stocked with fresh bread, milk cheese, vegetables, as well as canned goods from the US and the EU. The British jams and jellies are about half price. Snacks are about double if not triple. I like the “Hint of lime” corn chips and stocked up at an average $2.50 a bag. I wouldn’t buy any here at over $7/bag. Maybe that’s why I loose weight on these trips!

The hurricanes were bad here this year although there seemed to be less lingering effects here than in the US. Jeanne had stripped the trees brown according to Heather who was over a week after Jeanne to check on the house plans she and her husband are planning on building. Blue Bees had water up to the top of the bar from the sea surge and she lost all of the business cards on the lower 3 feet of her walls. They are gradually filling back up again. We put our boat card on the support for the roof so it shouldn’t get too wet. Floyd’s water mark was just a little higher than Jeanne’s. The trees are now lush and green. There are signs of damage but for the most part life seems back to semi-normal. Some of the marinas are without fuel. Some are without docks but have fuel. We are running low on fuel and our marina doesn’t have any, but the marinas in White Sound do, so we will have to run up there after leaving here.

We gave enough fuel to get to Marsh Harbour anyway so that shouldn’t be a problem even if we can’t get any in White Sound.

Time to go finish off the water maker.

Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 18:33:57 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Green Turtle Cay to Man of War Cay

What a year! Our life was touched by wonderful places, events, and most of all people. This will definitely rank as a great year among a string of pretty amazing years.

Last Christmas we were in the middle of the Grand Bahama Banks anchored 30 miles from the nearest piece of dry ground with our friends Roger and Jacquie Cox. We made Junkanoo in Nassau that started at 00:01 Dec 26. If you have never had the chance to attend a Junkanoo Parade in the Bahamas (either Dec 26 or Jan 1) then you have missed one of the world’s great street parades. This year we are going to 90 miles a little north of east of the place we anchored for Christmas last year. (Ok a short break while all of the sailors dig out their atlas and charts and scramble to try to figure out where that might be.) For all of the rest (the sane ones) take a look at a reasonably good map of the Bahamas. Look at the island at the top right hand corner of the map and if it says there is a place called Hopetown on the island of Elbow Cay consider yourself the owner of a good map!

Hopetown on the Sea of Abaco is supposed to be one of the very pretty places in the Bahamas. This is our first time in the Abacos. We are working our way to the Exumas. We would like to be in Nassau for New Years Junkanoo, hopefully we will make it if the weather behaves.

We ended up spending an extra day waiting/hoping for the weather to improve. A front was supposed to stall over us giving us a day of so-so weather followed by a calm while the front was stalled and then another day of so-so weather as the next front came to push the front along. We listened to the cruiser’s net on channel 68 at 0815 in the morning and heard a boat that had just did the Whale Cay Channel and said it was “doable” and we consider maybe we should try it.

Joe, one of they guys on the dock, has been there for a little over a month. He tried the Whale during a Rage and he figures it has cost him a little over $10,000 in repairs, and he still hadn’t fixed the hole in the port hull (a Gemini Cat 34) and he hasn’t found where the leak into the bilge is either. We decided we would wait and see if the front did stall and give us a 24 hour calm before venturing forth. (A guy did come back on the radio and did say that the guy who said it was doable was driving a 50 foot sportfish and had white water over his fly bridge. He was in a sailboat and considered it not doable in his 80 foot steel schooner)

The weather guys are actually fairly accurate in their predictions within 18 hours. Barometer Bob was bang on.

If you wonder what our weather is check out http://www.barometerbob.com Bob gives us our weather every morning. We were listing to a message being delivered to one of the cruisers from Virginia. His friends weren’t going to make for the new year. The flights were too expensive, but by the way it is 10F in Virginia and they are expecting a white christmas. His reply that mayby the cold high 60s we have been experiencing should be reevaluated “I’m going swimming, the water’s still warmer than the air!”

We fueled up (33 gallons at 2.90 a gallon) and spent the night in White Sound. It was a very quiet night and we were happy to report to the net that we were clear the Whale by the end of the net and it was a reasonably easy 2-3 foot slop.

We made it into Marsh Harbour and anchored off for the night. Less than 20 miles had taken about a 4-5 hours to travel with a 4-5 day wait for weather. The next day we went into the Marsh Harbour Marina and tied up as secure as we could. Bob’s gale warning’s could be (and were) just as accurate as the predictions of calms. We had a quiet day at the marina, the sideswalks really don’t all roll up on Sunday, they do leave the ones near the churches.
We did spend a little time doing boat and personal maintenance. They charge $3/day for water or $12 minimum. (I got my $12 back in a single shower and it was worth every penny, love that plentyful hot water!)

Monday was a day for strolling around Marsh Harbour. All in all Marsh Harbour was a good provisioning place, a good place for boat parts, lots of restaurants and other than that we weren’t really impressed. It is a great hub for touring the other islands and has good transportation in and out. It didn’t seem to have a lot of character. Bonnie was happy to stick around Green Turtle Cay for a week. She was just as happy when we left the dock this morning to head out to the other islands. We tried to get into the anchorage at Guana Cay but we passed and decided to go to Man of War Cay instead. We are here until the day after tomorrow when we go to Hopetown where we should stay until after the christmas storm blows through.

Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 20:10:33 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] The Christmas Letter from Mike and Bonnie

Every year about this time I sit down to write THE LETTER. Some years it seems a chore to find anything to say. This is the time when you really review the year in your mind before the letter is done. Some years the hard (always played down) seem to overwhelm the good (always over played) (Like you really wanted to hear about the cold rain in the Whale Passage (Sniffle sniffle), the passage itself was great!(Sniffle Sniffle). It was raining but it wasn’t white, another GOOD thing!)

The worst years are when there really isn’t anything to say, but this year is the opposite, there is too much to say. We couldn’t put it all in one letter and have anyone read it. I hear there are several who haven’t made it through the 19 page Odelia file yet. If you haven’t heard of “The Odelia File” check out our web site’s travel logs, print it off, start a fire in the fireplace, grab a hot mulled cider (with extra honey and cinnamon, if it is really really cold a little rum is allowed too), a warm blanket, pull up that rocking chair, and join us on a trip through London, Greece, Turkey, Cypress, and Israel. Let the warm sun and water from the Med warm your bones. When your done go have a long soak in the tub and think of drifting in the warm waters of the Dead Sea.

Last Christmas Eve we were anchored 90 miles away (a little south but mostly east) of where we are now. We were there in an impatient attempt to get to Nassau for Christmas. We were traveling with another boat from our Yacht Club called Latitude. We made it in time to meet up with Roger’s mother and Roger and Jacquie’s daughter Georgina. We made it in time for Junkanoo. If you ever need to see life being celebrated and enjoyed come to Junkanoo. (Check out Tourism Bahama’s Junkanoo page). We did spend most of the winter in the Exumas. We actually traveled much less our second trip to the Bahamas than we did the first trip. It was a year of funny weather that had many people working in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park for long stretches. It was there we met Rick and Tsipy from Odelia.

We were home for the summer and had a short period between tenants where we actually lived in our own house, (Bizarre as that sounds!) before getting our RV (called Millie) back on the road. We spent a wonderful week in Nova Scotia visiting with family at a cottage my brother Mark had rented. Mark, Heather, Nicole, Molly, and Maggie had invited Mother and John and we wormed our way in too. It was nice walking on the beach, playing cards and darts, and touring around River John.

From there we snuck away to do the trip with Rick and Tsipy on Odelia. We didn’t want mother worrying about us every time there was a bump in the Middle East. So we avoided the problem and figured we would either tell her when we were back safe and sound. She frets a lot about us and our travels so a trip to the Middle East was more than we figured she could endure with aprior knowledge. When we got home we sat down and talked about all the stuff we saw and where we were and was expecting to catch it in the neck. We were just done when a friend arrived at their door and all she could say “This is my son Mike and his wife Bonnie they just got back >from the Holy Land” and that was it.

We spent the rest of our summer visiting with friends and family, working on the house, RV, or with friends, it was early fall before the time came for us to organize ourselves for another trip to the Bahamas. At one point we were doing a “we should do this and than and …” when the world came knocking on our door, our proposed launch date was 10 days away and we were not ready and wouldn’t be. We ended up delaying it a week and to make that we had people showing up at the door the night before we had to leave to do business. It was nuts!

We launched and make it down the ICW with out a serious problem, we even had the chance to travel sections of it with John from Canatara. We did get a chance to visit with John and Shirley Sullivan in Charleston SC always a great stop and even better where there are friends in town.

We caught an early window across the stream into the northern end of the Bahamas into an area called the Abacos. New to us and we are having a great time.

We miss our friends and family most this time of the year. So if you have a chance to see one of our mutual friends give them an extra warm handshake or kiss on the cheek and tell them it’s from us and they should pass it along.

May the hardest times be behind you and the healthiest and happiest days of your life start today.


Michael MacDonald and Bonita Mockler

Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 15:28:44 -0500
The Abacos

30 Dec 2004

Hi All

We have been doing a little touring around trying to get a feel for the Abacos. We left Marsh Harbour and headed up toward Man-of-War Cay.

Man-of-War Cay is home to the Auburys. Most of the permanent resident’s are Auburys. They have been building boats and running the island since their loyalist forefathers arrived to settle the island. They still seem to have a fairly firm hand. It is a dry island and all of the black people leave by sundown. It’s not the black people in the Bahamas that make us nervous it’s the white ones. And honest ossiffer it was coffee in our coffee cups we had for sundowner. The boatbuilding history is back at least three generations and the Smithsonian invited the Auburys to showcase their boatbuilding talents a few years ago. They have half molds and sailing dinghys for sale but they now are buliding fiberglass boats mainly and it was interesting to look at the shops and see the female molds with boats in various stages of completion. We walked the island and had lunch at the Hibiscus Cafe where the cheeseburgers rival Clancys in Vero Beach.

The harbour at Man of War is completely full of moorings ($10/day) and several have a number of boats that didn’t do well in the hurricane. A Hunter 45 had seen many better days and at one time had a mast that was probably much taller than knee height. I had never seen a danforth and a CQR with the stock bent at 90 degrees. We put a bad kink in our danforth but if any of the boaters on the list want to think about what it would take to put a 90 degree kink in stock of a 35lb CQR and explain that, please send me a note. Needless to say it didn’t have much of a bowsprit left.

We left Man of War and went over to Hopetown on Elbow Cay from the 23 to the 26th of Dec. Hopetown has one of the best preserved lighthouses in the Bahamas. It still contains a working windup mechanism for handling the rotating Fresnel lens. The setup for the kerosene lamp is still there but if you actually stand on the little step and lean against the mechanism you can actually see that there is an electric lightbulb that provides the light source now. One of the most interesting things that you may notice while you are leaning on the mechanism is that it moves extremely easily. As a matter of fact you can actually move the whole 8 – 10 foot high glass and steel fresnel lens with the tip of your index finger very easily. Very impressive.
The tower was strung with 12 strands of electric lights to look like a christmas tree and it was very festive looking. The harbour is again full of mooring balls ($15/day) and we spent three nights there touring around and walking the beach on christmas day. On Christmas day in 1999 we walked on the beach of the Pacific ocean, in 2004 we did the same on the Atlantic. It is much better than snow.

On the 26th we left Hopetown early in the morning and made it about half of the seven miles between Hopetown and Marsh Harbour before we were overtaken by the front we hoped to beat to Marsh Harbour. It went from SSE 18 to SW 30-40 in seconds and went from a nice reach to a nasty slog very quickly. We made it into Marsh Harbour and set the hook as best we could in a temporary lull and spent the day on the boat listening to people who had wind instruments say “That’s 40.2 folks”. By early the next morning the winds had shifted to the NNE and were down to 20s we had swung around and were a little too close to another boat so we pulled and reset near the Marsh Harbour Marina in a cove giving us nice protection from W through N to almost ESE. We settled in and decided that the weather was not going to let us make Nassau for New Year’s Junkanoo so we went to the Junkanoo in Marsh Harbour. It is a very small cousin to the Nassau event. A couple of the groups had several very good dancers and interesting costumes but nothing like Nassau.

We have been strolling around Marsh Harbour and doing pretty good at finding stuff. There are two good bakeries and the Family Market has a good baker that brings in stuff to them. There are two VERY serious grocery stores Price Right and Soloman’s both are extremely well stocked and with prices that are very very good. There are also banks, hardware stores, a library and book exchanges. The Family Market also has computers with Internet access for $2/10 minutes rather than the usual $0.50/min. RO water is available at the marinas for $0.65-0.75/gallon but we are trying to run ours during falling tides and seem to be making out fine. The local ScotiaBank was able to top up our dwindling cash supply so we should be good for another month or more.

The weather that has been with us since the 27th (NE – E 15-20s) has most of the cuts into the ocean at full RAGE so we are staying in the Abacos until that calms down. The winds are forecast to stay exactly the same until at least Sunday.

So everybody have a great new years eve and stay safe.

Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 3:57:53 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Marsh Harbour and Great Guana Cay

Not much has happened here since the last email.

We went to the New Year’s Eve party at the Jib Room and celebrated the arrival with party hats, noise makers, and champagne along with at least a hundred or so other cruisers. It was interesting to meet many of the people we hear on the radios every morning on the cruiser’s net. The prime rib was awesome, the Lobster tails were good. One of the fellows we met from Xanadu (Home port Lunenburg NS) says that the biggest problem is not the lobster but how they cook it. He had a couple of lobster tails that he bought fresh from a local. He boiled them up as we would at home and they were much tastier and not nearly as dry as the broiled lobster tails. He likes them much better that way. He still likes the cold water lobster better.

The North East Winds seemed to quiet down a bit after more than a week of NE 25s. It finally seemed to be going to give us a bit of a lull and be NE 15-20 for a couple of days. Marsh Harbour thinned out in this “lull” and we took a chance to break us of our cabin fever. While the weather wasn’t suitable to leave the Abacos, it did let us slog our way out of Marsh Harbour and up into the lee of Great Guana Cay. We tried to get a good hook into Fisher’s Bay but after three attempts decided to contribute another $15 to the economy of Guana Cay in the from of a mooring rental. From there we walked around to Nippers in time for their Sunday Pig Roast. We thought it was pretty good and reasonably priced at $20/head. It is buffet style and we both pigged out to the point where we were happy with a very light supper of cheese, crackers, and Jerk Flavoured Brunswick Sardines. (They are made not far from where we live, but they weren’t to our taste)

The following morning after the cruiser’s net we pulled anchor and sailed along the lee of the island until we could run south to Marsh Harbour. It was not a bad sail but the NE winds were more 20-25 rather than the 15-20s as advertised. We dropped our hook in the same small cove almost exactly where we were before. Tomorrow the winds are supposed to be E 15 and then three days of E 10. We are thinking that we would spend tomorrow in Marsh Harbour and restock some of our supplies of bread, bacon, and cash. If it really did do the E15 than we would probably try to get down to Eluthera before the end of the weather window.

The Christmas Letter from Mike and Bonnie

Every year about this time I sit down to write THE LETTER. Some years it seems a chore to find anything to say. This is the time when you really review the year in your mind before the letter is done. Some years the hard (always played down) seem to overwhelm the good (always over played) (Like you really wanted to hear about the cold rain in the Whale Passage (Sniffle sniffle), the passage itself was great!(Sniffle Sniffle). It was raining but it wasn’t white, another GOOD thing!)

The worst years are when there really isn’t anything to say, but this year is the opposite, there is too much to say. We couldn’t put it all in one letter and have anyone read it. I hear there are several who haven’t made it through the 19 page Odelia file yet. If you haven’t heard of “The Odelia File” check out our web site’s travel logs, print it off, start a fire in the fireplace, grab a hot mulled cider (with extra honey and cinnamon, if it is really really cold a little rum is allowed too), a warm blanket, pull up that rocking chair, and join us on a trip through London, Greece, Turkey, Cypress, and Israel. Let the warm sun and water from the Med warm your bones. When your done go have a long soak in the tub and think of drifting in the warm waters of the Dead Sea.

Last Christmas Eve we were anchored 90 miles away (a little south but mostly east) of where we are now. We were there in an impatient attempt to get to Nassau for Christmas. We were traveling with another boat from our Yacht Club called Latitude. We made it in time to meet up with Roger’s mother and Roger and Jacquie’s daughter Georgina. We made it in time for Junkanoo. If you ever need to see life being celebrated and enjoyed come to Junkanoo. (Check out Tourism Bahama’s Junkanoo page). We did spend most of the winter in the Exumas. We actually traveled much less our second trip to the Bahamas than we did the first trip. It was a year of funny weather that had many people working in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park for long stretches. It was there we met Rick and Tsipy from Odelia.

We were home for the summer and had a short period between tenants where we actually lived in our own house, (Bizarre as that sounds!) before getting our RV (called Millie) back on the road. We spent a wonderful week in Nova Scotia visiting with family at a cottage my brother Mark had rented. Mark, Heather, Nicole, Molly, and Maggie had invited Mother and John and we wormed our way in too. It was nice walking on the beach, playing cards and darts, and touring around River John.

From there we snuck away to do the trip with Rick and Tsipy on Odelia. We didn’t want mother worrying about us every time there was a bump in the Middle East. So we avoided the problem and figured we would either tell her when we were back safe and sound. She frets a lot about us and our travels so a trip to the Middle East was more than we figured she could endure with aprior knowledge. When we got home we sat down and talked about all the stuff we saw and where we were and was expecting to catch it in the neck. We were just done when a friend arrived at their door and all she could say “This is my son Mike and his wife Bonnie they just got back from the Holy Land” and that was it.

We spent the rest of our summer visiting with friends and family, working on the house, RV, or with friends, it was early fall before the time came for us to organize ourselves for another trip to the Bahamas. At one point we were doing a “we should do this and than and …” when the world came knocking on our door, our proposed launch date was 10 days away and we were not ready and wouldn’t be. We ended up delaying it a week and to make that we had people showing up at the door the night before we had to leave to do business. It was nuts!

We launched and make it down the ICW with out a serious problem, we even had the chance to travel sections of it with John from Canatara. We did get a chance to visit with John and Shirley Sullivan in Charleston SC always a great stop and even better where there are friends in town.

We caught an early window across the stream into the northern end of the Bahamas into an area called the Abacos. New to us and we are having a great time.

We miss our friends and family most this time of the year. So if you have a chance to see one of our mutual friends give them an extra warm handshake or kiss on the cheek and tell them it’s from us and they should pass it along.

May the hardest times be behind you and the healthiest and happiest days of your life start today.


Michael MacDonald and Bonita Mockler

Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 5:54:24 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] To Eleuthera (Well almost!)

The passes between the ocean and the Sea of Abaco are a lot like the mountain passes on the pacific coast. You travel up a long way go through the top and instead of an immediate drop into a valley you drop slightly onto a high plateau. When this happens in the water you can have nasty effects like large breaking waves coming sideways across your path pushing you out of a narrow channel. NOT a good idea and we were going to avoid that at all cost.

We left Marsh Harbour and went down to Lynyard Cay and anchored off for the night it was a nice trip down and we had anchored in the lee in the east winds 10-15. On the way to Lynyard Cay you have to pass the North Bar Channel another pass into the ocean. It was very rolly and had breaking seas but it would have been easier to go out rather than sail across the mouth as we did. We probably would have if it had been 7am not 1pm. The night gave us lighter winds and the roll around from the Little Harbour Passage seemed to drop slightly over the night.

We were approaching the pass at 7:20 and were considering turning around. It was marginal at best but there were no breaking waves and the 5-6 foot seas were on the nose rather than side on so we pushed through and within 10-15 minutes we were sailing south to Eleuthera with four other boats in tow. The seas were 4-5 feet in long ocean swells and winds were ESE at 10 with an occasional gust to 15-18. We were ticking over at low RPM and making great time.

With our laptop and GPSs(4amps), autopilot(1-3 amps), fridge(6amps), and water maker(4-5amps) all running, we were motor-sailing when we heard the all too familiar sound of the diesel doing a little surge in RPM followed by it dying back. That is the sound of a clogged diesel filter just before it says uncle and cuts off all fuel to the engine. I flipped the levers on our dual fuel filter setup and had the engine running on both filters. A couple of burps of air going through the system (we seem to have an air leak in the backup fuel filter somewhere) and it was time to change fuel filters underway. It worked just as it was supposed to. We had the old filter off the new filter installed, purged of air, and back on line without ever stopping the engine. We were impressed with how well it worked but not happy with the fact that probably less than 30 gallons passed through the filter before it clogged. We did take on 33 gallons of fuel (13 into the tank) from the Green Turtle Club and there was ugliness in the bottom of our jerry cans. We added a little more biocide than usual to kill our extra passengers and went to count the number of fuel filters we have on board as spare (6).

We arrived in Royal Island just off the deep water and were anchored in 8 feet of water in good protection, just a little later than our normal anchor down time. Royal Island is just 6 miles from Spanish Wells (the big city of Eleuthera) Royal Island has amazing ruins from the development of a resort during the 1930s. It never actually opened as a resort but the cement paved walkways and the remains of wonderful old buildings with the colorful ceramic floors are still visible and great fun to stroll around. There are roads and ruins of jetties that cross the island and wrap around the harbour. We were originally planning on leaving Royal the next morning and going up into Spanish Wells but decided to spend an extra day (now two or three days) exploring, snorkeling and playing on the island. We visited with Lisa and Dwayne on Following Tides, a 50 foot catamaran (http://www.followingtides.com). We have been seeing each other since Green Turtle Cay. We went snorkeling on the other side of the island and saw (but couldn’t capture) lobsters, jacks, and a lot of other fish. Today the winds have switched a bit NE which will kill the visibility on the north side so no lobsters unless it clears.

I have a little diving work to do on the boat to add some zinc to the shaft and max-prop so we may not go anywhere today other than walk on the island. Monday may be our day for Spanish Wells. If you do get down to Royal Island you really miss something if you don’t spend some time and explore it.

Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 5:54:24 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] To Eleuthera (Well almost!)

The passes between the ocean and the Sea of Abaco are a lot like the mountain passes on the pacific coast. You travel up a long way go through the top and instead of an immediate drop into a valley you drop slightly onto a high plateau. When this happens in the water you can have nasty effects like large breaking waves coming sideways across your path pushing you out of a narrow channel. NOT a good idea and we were going to avoid that at all cost.

We left Marsh Harbour and went down to Lynyard Cay and anchored off for the night it was a nice trip down and we had anchored in the lee in the east winds 10-15. On the way to Lynyard Cay you have to pass the North Bar Channel another pass into the ocean. It was very rolly and had breaking seas but it would have been easier to go out rather than sail across the mouth as we did. We probably would have if it had been 7am not 1pm. The night gave us lighter winds and the roll around from the Little Harbour Passage seemed to drop slightly over the night.

We were approaching the pass at 7:20 and were considering turning around. It was marginal at best but there were no breaking waves and the 5-6 foot seas were on the nose rather than side on so we pushed through and within 10-15 minutes we were sailing south to Eleuthera with four other boats in tow. The seas were 4-5 feet in long ocean swells and winds were ESE at 10 with an occasional gust to 15-18. We were ticking over at low RPM and making great time.

With our laptop and GPSs(4amps), autopilot(1-3 amps), fridge(6amps), and water maker(4-5amps) all running, we were motor-sailing when we heard the all too familiar sound of the diesel doing a little surge in RPM followed by it dying back. That is the sound of a clogged diesel filter just before it says uncle and cuts off all fuel to the engine. I flipped the levers on our dual fuel filter setup and had the engine running on both filters. A couple of burps of air going through the system (we seem to have an air leak in the backup fuel filter somewhere) and it was time to change fuel filters underway. It worked just as it was supposed to. We had the old filter off the new filter installed, purged of air, and back on line without ever stopping the engine. We were impressed with how well it worked but not happy with the fact that probably less than 30 gallons passed through the filter before it clogged. We did take on 33 gallons of fuel (13 into the tank) from the Green Turtle Club and there was ugliness in the bottom of our jerry cans. We added a little more biocide than usual to kill our extra passengers and went to count the number of fuel filters we have on board as spare (6).

We arrived in Royal Island just off the deep water and were anchored in 8 feet of water in good protection, just a little later than our normal anchor down time. Royal Island is just 6 miles from Spanish Wells (the big city of Eleuthera) Royal Island has amazing ruins from the development of a resort during the 1930s. It never actually opened as a resort but the cement paved walkways and the remains of wonderful old buildings with the colorful ceramic floors are still visible and great fun to stroll around. There are roads and ruins of jetties that cross the island and wrap around the harbour. We were originally planning on leaving Royal the next morning and going up into Spanish Wells but decided to spend an extra day (now two or three days) exploring, snorkeling and playing on the island. We visited with Lisa and Dwayne on Following Tides, a 50 foot catamaran
(http://www.followingtides.com). We have been seeing each other since Green Turtle Cay. We went snorkeling on the other side of the island and saw (but couldn’t capture) lobsters, jacks, and a lot of other fish. Today the winds have switched a bit NE which will kill the visibility on the north side so no lobsters unless it clears.

I have a little diving work to do on the boat to add some zinc to the shaft and max-prop so we may not go anywhere today other than walk on the island.
Monday may be our day for Spanish Wells. If you do get down to Royal Island you really miss something if you don’t spend some time and explore it.


Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 8:30:00 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Impressions of the Abacos vs the Exumas.

Another note so soon.

Well the engine is running to charge the batteries so what the heck, might has well do this while I’m babysitting. (The cloudy days don’t give us many amps from the solar panel).

We have spent a couple of winters in the Exumas and just finished our first month visit to the Abacos, it will not be our last. For what it is worth here is our impressions of how they compare.

The Abacos are much more expensive than the Exumas, however, they are also much cheaper.

There is SO much to do in the Abacos lots of restaurants, bars, marinas, grocery stores, cafe’s, bakerys, pubs, dive shops, snorkling trips, and beach bars. We ended up spending a lot more in the month we spent in the Abacos than we have ever spent in a month in the Exumas. Many of the harbours are full of moorings so there is no space for anchoring and moorings are starting to get expensive ($15/ night). There is just so much to spend money on that it ends up being more expensive.

It is also a lot cheaper. All of the markets in the Exumas from Exuma Market in Georgetown and Staniel Cay’s Blue Store, Pink store, and Isle’s General combined wouldn’t add up to the Family Market in Marsh Harbour. The Family Market is quite comparible to a good quality, small, family owned, corner store in any small village in Canada or the U.S. The two major grocery stores in either Price Right or Soloman’s of Abaco would fit right in with quality, selection, and on some items price, of an Atlantic Superstore, Market Basket, Winn Dixie, or Loblaw’s. Both stores are much cheaper and have a vast selection compared anywhere to the Exumas. If I were planning on spending the winter in Marsh Harbour I would seriously consider the need for doing a serious provisioning run in the US. (Shoulder steak is less than $3/lb a Porterhouse is less than $12/lb) The two bakeries (both very good) were selling a fresh loaf of raisin bread for about $3.50 and if you could get raisin bread in the Exumas it was at least $5.

The Abacos have much better services and a support structure for catering to tourists and cruisers than the Exumas. The Abacos are great. Nice sailing, good places to stay and enjoy, lots of beach bars and fun things to do.
The people in the Abacos are friendly, helpful, and on the whole, wonderful. The Cruiser’s net is better organized, gives more info and in our books scores better than anything we have heard in the Exumas. (Mind you, June on Overyonder Cay still gives the best weather in the Bahamas). If I had to choose a place to be land based it would either be Marsh Harbour for the services or Green Turtle Cay for the culture and friendly people. If they had a connecting ferry from the Green Turtle Cay ferry to Marsh Harbour it would be Green Turtle Cay no if ands or buts. Green Turtle Cay is one of the most skin color blind places we have been to, Man of War Cay, shall we say, isn’t.

The Exumas are probably what the Abacos were like 40 years ago (with a little modern technology thrown in). The water is much clearer and easier to read, the settlements are small and friendly. There are services in the Exumas that you can get to. Of the dozens and dozens of islands in the Exumas there are 6 that have at least a beach bar, 2-3 that have a small grocery store, 4-5 that have marinas and fuel, but you have to go to them. Most of the islands are uninhabited or private. If you are in one of the anchorages near the uninhabited islands that fills up with cruisers then the culture is what the cruisers make it. Exumas are very cruiser oriented because most of the population in the Exumas are cruisers. Your are much more on your own to entertain yourselves in the Exumas. If you like to be by yourselves (with the 20 or so other boats anchored near you), entertain with a small group of friends, read, swim, snorkle, putter on the boat, explore uninhabitied islands and just soak up the peace, quiet, and not a small amount of sun, you will love the Exumas. The shopping will leave a lot to be desired. You will not be able to drop hundreds of dollars on the gold trinkets that you could at Abaco Gold, or the thousands of dollars on the bronze scupltures at Wrackers or Pete’s Pub, or view the fabulous art on display at a number of galleries around the Abacos.

The Exumas have so few services, and the opportunities to spend money are few and far between so we tend not to spend much money, in our case, a lot less than in the Abacos. But what we do buy, bread, milk, some fresh vegetables will be more expensive than in the Abacos.

The Exumas are really two places, Georgetown and the rest. Georgetown is a large (nine miles long by about one to two miles wide) anchorage that will be home to between 100(now) and 450 boats(at peak). Georgetown is cottage country for cruisers. People either love Georgetown, hate it, or can put up with it for a week or so. We are the last catagory bordering on the middle. We have friends who are in the first and must think we are crazy to not love it. Any impression I will give of Georgetown will be tainted by our attitude and rather than put you off I will simply say: Try it you might like it, hundreds of boats don’t agree with us. We will probably show up in Georgetown this year but it isn’t Mecca.

The Exumas (the rest) we love, they are spectacularly beautiful, both by land and sea. The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a very special place in the world and you should not miss it. The headquarters is a neat place by itself but not the only part of the park you should see. We spent an couple of hours talking with Dwayne and Lisa about stuff to see in the Exumas another couple with a couple from Principacea.

There really are very few places in the world where you can walk a mile on a tropical white sand beach and not see another soul. You can still do that in the Exumas. The reason you can do that by yourself is you have to get there by yourself, you have to be able to stay there by yourself, you have to be able to get out by yourself, and you have to be able to be by yourself. That is an accomplishment and a milestone that you can only reach by yourself.

And maybe that’s why I love the Exumas.

Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 09:42:15 -0400
Subject: [Odyssey] It’s not like we HAVE to go anywhere.

We enjoyed our stay at Royal Island and could easily have stayed a few more days but it was time for us to start moving on. The day we decide to leave we normally spend some time getting the boat ready to go and have everything set so the next day all we have to do is pull anchor and go. We really weren’t ready to go. The dinghy was still down, the motor sit on, and the forward cabin was still in “anchored mode”. It took us over an hour just to get the boat ready to move the short distance to Spanish Wells, it certainly wasn’t ready to move further. We gained some of our time back by going into the marina ($0.85/foot). We wouldn’t have to worry about anchoring and launching the dinghy etc.

The channel into Spanish Wells is cut out of rock. The sides look quite sharp and are visible in good light. The channel to port toward the marina is easy and at low tide the sides are dry or very shallow. We tied up and spent most of the day walking around the island.

Spanish Wells is a fishing community and is not really oriented toward tourism. They have a strange slow british sounding accent that is quite distinctive. The people are friendly and houses are neat, colorful, well kept with beautiful gardens and garages. The fishing is still profitable and after houses the locals seem to enjoy cars and gold jewelry. The normal golf carts you see on other islands seem to be Fords, Chryslers, GM, or Lexus. The waitress in the café seemed to have traded wrist weights for gold bracelets as her exercise regime. Spanish Wells is definitely an affluent island.

There is a good grocery store, hardware store, and marine supply. There is also a good service yard here and we saw a large cruising catamaran up on the hard having her bottom painted. We stocked up on fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat at the grocery store at prices and selection comparable to the Price Right in Marsh Harbour. We picked up another fuel tank sensor as we seem to loose at least once a trip (one gone so far already), now we have a spare.

We were a little late leaving Spanish Wells aimed for Current Cut, a passage into the bay formed by Eleuthera known for it’s strong (5 knots+) current during high hours of flood or ebb. We heard through the grape vine (ok so we evesdrop) that the slack at Current Cut is one and a half to one and three quarters after the slack at Nassau. We still managed to hit it at our calculated time and the current was not bad at all. The cut has a dogleg turn on the south side with a grassy shoal (1 foot) and the guide said we should stay 50 to 150 yards off the island to stay in deep water.. There is a slight typo in the guide, cross out the YARDS and write in FEET. We were down to less than 6 feet (and we were near peak of a 3.3 foot tide) before we corrected and got ourselves back in deeper water. After we were safely clear of the passage we tacked north east to get into the lee of the island near the Bogues and eventually close inshore at the Glass Window (more on the Glass Window later). We stayed close to shore in deep water and were able to motorsail down to Hatchet Bay on Eleuthera.

Hatchet Bay is the only all weather anchorage on Eleuthera. The guides call the holding feeble, but they also talk about a large marina complex with moorings and haulout facilities and docks. Well, there are moorings. The docks are there, the marina isn’t. Well there is a small lump of concrete block that once was a building and there was another building that had probably been a storeroom. We arrived in the afternoon and settled onto a mooring and figured someone would call us if they wanted to talk to us. They haven’t yet. There were 6-8 unoccupied moorings in the harbour. A couple occupied by local fisherman, a few by boats in storage I think..

Hatchet Bay’s town is called Alice Town although the locals and cruisers seem to use Hatchet Bay more than Alice Town. Alice Town has definitely seen better days. This is probably one of the poorest places we have seen in the Bahamas. The locals are friendly and polite, but they aren’t used to seeing white people. We were standing outside of a local take away when a kid (3-4) came running out of his house down onto the street, turned up toward us, stopped dead in his tracks and his jaw dropped. He stared at us for a good 15 seconds before walking carefully toward us. After lunch we walked down toward the bay and there was Millennium Odyssey sitting on her mooring comfortably, but a few moorings over from us was another mast, so we had to investigate. It turned out to be Following Tides, who had ran south to Rock Sound when we went to Spanish Wells. We ran into Dwayne and Lisa in town, it was nice to meet up with them again. They were working their way north to pick up friends coming into Harbour Island later next week. We are working our way south and over to the Exumas so we will probably see them again there.

The wind was SE 20-25 so we decided to stay put for a few days as we are basically going southeast. We decided to share a car with Lisa and Dwayne and spent a day touring north as far as the Bluffs (within viewing distance of Spanish Wells) and as far south as Governors Harbour. We also went over to the ferry dock so we could see Harbour Island, where they will be next week. It was a pretty rough day and didn’t look a bit friendly.. The Harbour Island side was probably calm as could be but this was another place where you would have to move as the front moved.

We stopped at the Glass Window on the trip south. The Glass Window is a place where the ocean has almost made it’s way through Eleuthera. On a high tide with a big sea from the Atlantic you could convince me that Eleuthera was actually two islands. There is a two lane cement bridge 60-80 feet long over the hole in the island. Several years ago on a nice sunny day with light winds a rather large rogue wave moved the two lane 60-80 foot long cement bridge that runs approximately north south, 7 feet west. The bridge is now a one lane bridge with a rather nasty off ramp, off the bridge and down 20-30 to the water.

We worked our way down to Governors Harbour and back to the boat. The van cost us half of the $90/day rental and $20 in gas. It was well worth it. (Ask at the gas station in town.) Thanks to Dwayne and Lisa for organizing it.

We are ready to go but there is a front coming. So should we run to Rock Sound where we would have to move around in shallow (7ft) water during the passage of the front (20-30k winds) or stay here for a couple of days waiting for the front and another couple while the front passes. We think we’ll stay.

It isn’t like we have to go somewhere.

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 19:10:55 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Abacos

Hi All, but first and foremost Peter, Debbie, and Jake

Peter asked about the Abacos and I thought I would cc the list in case others were interested.

The Abacos are very well setup for the visiting cruiser and if you were planning on having a lot of company then Marsh Harbour and the Abacos are the place to go. There is lots of stuff to do, and even on bad weather days it is possible to move from Marsh Harbour to Great Guana Cay. If it is too rough for your boat, Albury’s ferry runs all over the place so if you wanted to go to Nippers for the Sunday pig roast and it was not nice enough to take your boat then call it an “Albury’s ferry day” and zip over for the day. (Arrive early, it goes fast and YES we did go back for seconds and even thirds)

A number of people actually base themselves at the Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room Restaurant for the winter. They do the month rate (I think it is $0.40/ft/day) and then do day trips as the weather allows. If I were planning on spending the winter in the Abacos I would very seriously consider this option. It works out cheaper than a mooring for us. If you are in Marsh Harbour for Rib Night(Wed I think) it is well worth going, the ribs are VERY GOOD. They also have a steak night but we never had that. We did have their prime rib at New Years and it was awesome.

The cruiser’s net is at 0815 on channel 68, it is a wealth of knowledge and gives a good run down of the stuff going on, including stock market reports, exchange rates, weather, Sea of Abaco reports including the passages between the ocean and the Sea of Abaco, advertisements for local businesses, and an open mic session where you can ask questions about where to find stuff etc.

The passages around the Sea of Abaco are places where you can exit or enter the Sea of Abaco (typically 6 to 18 feet) and the Ocean. Take a look at your Explorer Charts (Near Bahamas) and you can see them quite quickly. The Explorer Charts are still the best charts going and (although we didn’t have it) the best guide is considered to be “The Cruising to the Abacos” By Dodge.

The Passages can develop what is called a “RAGE”. Very nasty, very dangerous conditions and not to be trifled with. If you have a question about if it is good enough to go or not, the answer is NO. If you delay your decision until you are in it, it may nearly impossible time to turn around. (The first one you encounter is between Green Turtle Cay and Great Guana Cay is called Whale Cay Cut and not only you do have to go out to the ocean you have to come back in.) If you have a long period of N to NE winds and a NE Swell then you may have a rage starting in the Whale.

Crossing over the Gulf Stream seemed easy for us. We aimed at the Little Bahama Bank Waypoint and then crossed down to Mangrove Cay. If we were smart we would have let the Stream carry us farther north and rather than use the south route that took us to Green Turtle Cay we should have gone to Walker’s Cay and cleared in there and did the north route to Green Turtle Cay. Walker’s Cay Marina suffered badly from the Hurricanes and is out of business. It was unclear if they were going to return to business. You could still clear in but you had to do it via dinghy. Next time we are aiming at Walker’s.

One of our favorite places is Green Turtle Cay. We used the tide and went into Black Sound and stayed on a mooring at the Other Shore Club. It has the advantage of being close to New Plymouth (the main/only town on Green Turtle). We had to use the tide because at low tide in carries only three feet in the channel but with three feet of tide we got in with no problem. The channel into Black Sound is marked by stakes with arrows pointing to the channel, when the stakes run out stay closer to the Abaco Yacht Services side (Port side going in) rather than the center until you get clear of the Abaco Yacht services dock. The Other Shore Club did not have Diesel when we were there and we had to go to the Green Turtle Club in White Sound to get fuel. We went into White Sound near high and left near a low and I think we could have carried six feet all the way in. The shallowest spot going in is just at the entrance before the dog leg port turn (well marked bouys although from more than 50 feet it is hard to tell what color they are) just stay in the middle of the bouys. We hear very very good things about the Green Turtle Club and restaurant is extremely good. It is unfortunately far more than a good walk to New Plymouth. With a good dinghy, or even ours in settled weather, you could dinghy from White Sound to New Plymouth. Your dinghy ride is going to be much shorter than your walking distance.

There are three good groceries stores in New Plymouth. Internet service and as well as a book exchange at the library. Stop at Blue Bee’s and have a Gombay Smash. PLEASE NOTE I said A Gombay Smash, they are deadly.
The Wrecking Tree has a good conch snack.

I wonder if the Wrecking Tree name has anything to do with the fact that it is located very close to Blue Bee’s. I should have thought of that before all those Gombay Smashes.

The transit from Green Turtle to Marsh Harbour has to be timed with the Whale Cay Passage. If it is on a Rage DON’T GO. You can pick up Marsh Harbour’s Cruiser’s net from Green Turtle, it is only about 20 miles, less as the crow flies.

Once you are in Marsh Harbour it is less than a day from there to anywhere in the Sea of Abaco, and there are lots of great little places to go. Great Guana Cay has several spots to go, Bakers Bay is a great beach day, Nipper’s is party central with an AWESOME beach, Dive Guana can take you to good snorkling and diving spots if you are so inclined.

Marsh Harbour has good air service, food stores, internet cafe’s (The Family Market was the cheapest and fastest we have found in the islands) and has a great coffee shop, Java of Abaco. Have a coffee of the day while digging through the best book exchange that we found in Marsh Harbour. There are a few neat Art Galleries to be found but you have to look. I understand we missed something by not going to Pete’s Place in Little Harbour. You should go just by the name alone.

There are very good grocery stores, two good bakeries, three or four banks including Scotiabank and the Royal Bank of Canada (both with ATMs), too many bars and restaurants.

Go to Hopetown and see the view from the top of the lighthouse. See the half moulds, and boats being built at Man-of-War. Go walk on the beach at Nippers and have a Guana Grabber at the Sunset Beach Bar. It is a great way to spend some time.

Hope this answers some questions.

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 20:31:52 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] More on Eleuthera

Hi All

The front mentioned in our last note came and went and we are still in Hatchet Bay/Alicetown. We were looking at leaving a few days ago but then we heard that the strongest cold front since 2003 was aimed at us we figured that this was probably one of the best places to be for the front. So we settled in for a few more days to wait for the front to pass and then it will be a couple more before its effects die away. The front is scheduled to arrive late tomorrow afternoon if it stays on schedule. The weather forecasting has been pretty solid. The 18hour forecast is dead on, the next 18 are usually pretty good. If they say a front is arriving 4 or 5 days out, they may have the timing and strength off a bit but all in all the NOAA Offshore weather forecast has been pretty accurate this year.

The last front was 20-30 knot winds and this one is supposed to be 25-35 with 30-40s north of 26 (we are 25.5) so they only have to be off by 30 miles for us to get dinged. We are going to say put tomorrow, with the key in the ignition.

But the last few days have been pretty good weather and we have been out moving around and doing stuff. Lisa and Dwayne on Following Tides left and Lizzie and Steve on Restless Spirit and Sue and Roger on Dancing Downwind arrived. We introduced ourselves by helping them get onto a mooring. Without a painter the moorings are sometimes difficult to pick up. After a couple of days (and laundry) they were keen on renting a car and heading toward Rock Sound for a little exploring. We rented the van again and the three couples headed down to Rock Sound and noted places we wanted to check out on our return trip.

Rock Sound is almost the final stop before heading off Eleutera for us. Most of the boats can go from Rock Sound to the Exumas. We are a little slower and will probably go to Powell Point the day before we jump to the Exumas. Rock Sound is also a good provisioning and supply spot. Roger was able to get propane, we got some fresh fruit and a few odds and ends, Lizzie and Steve picked up fresh stuff too. One the way back we stopped at the Pizza and Internet shop. Had a GREAT Pizza and checked our hotmail account.

From there we stopped at a fresh fruit stand and found a fresh vegetable stand and when I say fresh I mean fresh. The guy walked us around the garden and if you wanted green peppers, brocolli, tomatoes, cilantro, cyanne peppers, habanero peppers (called goat peppers here “even the goats won’t eatum”), lettice, dill or lots of other stuff, you just asked and he harvested it right in front of you. He was interesting to talk to. He was saying he doesn’t know another farmer under 70. “The young people won’t farm, it’s beneath them. They’re ancestors were brought here as slaves to be farm hands and they aren’t slaves or farm hands anymore.” Eleuthera at one time was a large farming community. The fields are mostly fallow now. There are small gardens here and there but nothing commercial.

But the fresh food was amazingly good.

The other couples had not seen the Glass Window so we took them up and the waves were smashing from the Atlantic and boiling white water poured two feet deep into the bay side. The pulsing white walls of water thundering through the small gap made the bridge seem much more shakey.

When we got back to the harbour the moorings were full, six more boats made the trip into Hatchet bay.

We rented a car again a couple of days later and drove up to Harbour Island (OK we really didn’t drive to Harbour Island, we drove to the taxi stand and took a water taxi across). Harbour Island is a tourist island. There are large resorts, restaurants, art galleries, small hotels and all of the standard tourist stuff you see at any high end tourist establishment.

The pink sand beach really is beautiful. The pink sand is broad and three or four miles long and has a large reef offshore to give it protected waters and lots of really nice small reefs close to shore for snorklers. The waters were spectacular in the sun. Conde Nast voted this beach one of the ten best beaches in the world, our second this trip. The beach on Great Guana Cay is also on the list. One of the neat things happening on the beach was a photoshoot for Shape magazine. The brunette definitely had a nice shape.

We drove back and stopped at the Glass Window. The seas were calm on both sides of the window and it was hard to believe the difference between the two days.

Today was definitely the calm before the storm, hardly a ripple tarnished the water of the bay. Bonnie and I took our glass bottom dinghy and circumnavigated the harbour checking out the mostly grass bottom. We found a small cave but didn’t investigate further. There were schools of thousands of small fish no more than a couple of inches long being herded by a few baracuda a couple of feet long. It was interesting to watch. We stopped and visited a number of the new arrivals. A couple of them were going to go to the cave mentioned in one of the guides.

I love caves so I tagged along. It was about a mile and a half or more one way to the cave from the harbour. The cave is really a good cave for non-spelunkers. It is standing height most of the way. It is probably over a quarter mile long and has some fairly nice decorations (stelatites and stelagmites, cave bacon, draperies, even eggs, a rod and a small underground saltwater lake) Pretty cool. Bonnie wasn’t interested in going but maybe I can convince her to go next time.

I was quite impressed with the little cave. Eleuthera has a lot of potential, but the guides give it such a bad rating that very few of the cruisers make it this way.

It really is their loss.

Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005 19:02:12 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Exuma Park

We moved into the park and was happy to see a number of old friends. Larry, Blue, Ray and Elanie are still in the park. Nanny and the Professor (volunteers last year) are not here this year. They live in Punta Gorda and we were happy to hear survived the hurricanes with little to no damage.

The park is in turmoil at the moment. There is a new head honcho at the Bahamas National Trust. He is from Maine a former US Parks service guy and appears to be applying a New England’s legal paranoid view on the Park. So the only volunteer work that can be done at the moment has to be safe.
If a US lawyer saw the trails in this park he would have a stroke and close the whole thing.

So Larry who is a certified dive master and commercial diver with thousands of hours in the water can’t dive and check to see if the moorings are safe. (OK we free-dived one of them and it failed, we just can’t fix it free-diving)

I can’t use power tools, so there isn’t a lot of building going on. They are quite keen on Bonnie and I sticking around so they are finding some “safe” stuff to do. Bonnie is mostly doing office work and I’m doing a little computer work, building (no power tools) marine life data collectors, and helping Larry do some snorkeling and free-diving. He really isn’t sure about our dinghy.

Ranger Ray is in a mess trying to figure out what to do with people and the bureaucratic mess that is really screwing up the park. They are locking horns pretty hard.

The two boats that we traveled from Eleuthera with have moved on (Dancing Downwind and Restless Spirits). We were planning on going to the 5 F festival (First Friday in February Farmer’s Cay Festival) but the weather is sounding very bad at the moment so we will probably be hanging tight here at the park. Third time is no charm.

We were happy to see Dwayne and Lisa from Following Tides today. They are in the south mooring field and they walked up to the HQ. It was great to catch up.

Not much to say other than we have had lots of visitors from the sea under our boat, 10 or 15 Horse eyed Jacks at once, a lot of little fish, a couple of lemon sharks with pilots attached, but no Bubba the Barracuda. We hear Bubba is still around but we haven’t seen him yet.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 19:52:09
Subject: [Odyssey] As the stomach turns Exuma Park Style

Sigh

The soap opera at Exuma Park continues. We are sticking around just to make sure the office and the mooring field stays functional. The temporary warden is appreciative of our efforts and we still love the park and want to help larry, blue, henry as well as our other new friends (Darcy and Kevin from Intermezzo, Mike and Balli from Valetta)

Ray Darville the warden for the last 12 years has been fired. In my humble opinion he was royally screwed. Ray was at times rather rough and independent minded and could try anyone’s patience, at other times he was as good a diplomat as any. But on a remote island where the warden’s life is under constant death threat, (serious enough that there are now two Defense Force Officers posted here whenever the Warden is not on vacation). Poachers had attempted to gang rape his wife while he and the two Defense Force Officers were out on patrol. I have a lot of respect for Ray and his efforts at the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. In the last couple of weeks I think we got a glimpse of Ray at some of his best and some of the very worst. Ray was not perfect but he is and has every reason to be proud of all he has accomplished at the ECLSP. Ray and the park will always be intertwined in our minds.

Part of my job last week was to build shipping containers for whale bones and other long stuff leaving the island. They were a little over 8 feet long 2 feet wide and a foot tall. They looked a lot like coffins andI received a number of suggestions as to who should be installed before the lids were screwed on.

The politics continue and the place is in an uproar. Mike and Bali are off to get their immigration stuff done and should be back in a week. We are due next (the end of the first week of March) and then Darcy and Kevin have to do theirs. We have committed to stay until Mike and Bali get back but we will probably be leaving and not coming back. Darcy and Kevin probably will unless the politics get even stranger. If they get that strange we may both pull out early.

Most of the visitors to the park are not really aware of stuff except there is a new warden and the volunteer program is in the bucket. When asked I tell them that the only real volunteer program is the girls in the office and Larry tries to keep the guys busy so the wives can stay.

Larry took Bonnie to Staniel a couple of times and now she understands why I would like to have a 15 inch draft vessel. That is a real nice trip on the patrol boat.

I got to do a little running around on some of the private islands in the park with Larry and Ray and got to see some pretty neat places. Soldier Cay is a private island that is a pretty neat place with an awesome view. I got to visit the island that Johnny Depp just bought. There is another island that is under large scale development and has a full size bronze black rhino near the helicopter pad, it is protected by nasty little things called sand burrs and I am still trying to dig them out of my fingers and feet over a week later. The Exumas are a wonderful part of the world and no doubt we will be back again and I would be shocked if it wasn’t next winter.

The ECLSP will never be quite the same without Ray but Ray isn’t the only reason we came. Bonnie’s eyes were smiling when we first rounded Narrow Water Cay and the mooring field came into view. It is the first place where you can really see the mooring field and the first boat we could see was BucWet. (Pronounced Buck Wheat) Blue was here and that made it special. Larry was here, we like Larry and he seems to enjoy our strange sense of humor. We also enjoyed meeting new faces and quite a few old friends as they passed through the park while we lingered. Darcy and Kevin are talking about visiting NB this summer. We have met a lot of neat people in the park over the years.

One of the couples we met at the park was Rick and Tsipy. We joined them on a repositioning cruise for their yacht Odelia. The trip from Greece to Israel is on our web site under trip logs. Be warned it is rather LONG. They have invited us on another trip this summer and after a long and careful consideration (OK a few seconds isn’t that long) we have decided to join them again. They are heading to Turkey for the summer but we can only go for a month or a little less. We still have lots of details to work out but it does mean that we will probably be heading back to the US a little earlier than we expected.

We still aren’t sure of our timing but we expect to be home in early April and do Turkey in May and be home in time for my nephew’s wedding in June.

Looks like a busy summer.

Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2005 18:50:05 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] The end of “Ranger Tales” for us anyway

We have finally left Exuma Park after a month. The last half of the month was much more enjoyable than the first half. The first half was spent in a losing bureaucratic battle that was a lost cause from the beginning. The soap opera was so bad it was actually given a name, “Ranger Tales”. In the end Ray was fired, in my humble opinion, unjustly. I have little doubt that Ray is better off away from Exuma Park. His back was such that he suffered for days after a bad day’s run in the patrol boat. He also has accepted one of the standing offers of employment that has double the salary, in Freeport where you can have a real life, and food costs almost half what it does in the exumas. The park, I am afraid, will not recover as quickly. I hope it does but the soap opera continues, Sigh.

The park as land and sea will continue on and survive. The place that was so special, that encouraged people to volunteer for months, even years, and become part of a extended family, may not. I fear for the little family that has grown together around the park, Ray, Larry, Blue, and many, many others that have come and gone over the years, including selfishly, Bonnie and I. This soap opera is like many, in that the worst and ugliest of the feuds is when the family splits and starts fighting. Everyone is hurt before long. It is too easy to assume that someone is on this side or that based on an assumption which may not be true. An old friend used to harp that assume means to make an ASS out of U and ME.

When we came into the Bahamas the Immigration Official gave us 90 days which had been adequate in the past but this year we were close to running out so we to leave Exuma Park in order to get an extension. We started looking for a window last weekend and depending on the weather we could have gone north to Nassau, east to Rock Sound, or south to Georgetown, to get our paperwork renewed. The first weather window to open was south to Georgetown. The wind was supposed to be WNW going NW and what really showed up was more NW going NNW, which turned out good for us. We have a little more bottom growth than we like and it is slowing us down a bit. We wanted to get as far as Lee Stocking to get better westerly protection but a 48 mile day was just not within our anchor down limit. Since the weather was more north than west we cut the day short and slipped in behind Rudder Cut Cay into a small cove that gave us nice protection from NW around to SSE. We had a very peaceful night with our anchor light being the only evidence of human habitation for as far as the eye could see. It was a spectacular sunset.

We were up early and off assuming that if it turned bad we would go into Lee Stocking or if it stayed good weather we would go to Georgetown. We made Georgetown easily and were anchored off the town by early afternoon.

The next day was a busy day for us. We were farther from Georgetown than we liked and had to dinghy about a mile to get into Lake Victoria and the dinghy dock. It was neat to see a Chesapeake Deadrise Fishing boat actually inside Lake Victoria. (It is a lot like the type of boat I want to build.)

We did our run to Immigration and the lady gave us a 60 day extension that should mean we won’t have to worry about it at all as we are planning to leave the bahamas by very early April. We then hit the bank. The ScotiaBank here in Georgetown now has an ATM which means that we can get money without using a Visa cash advance. The day to day things are getting easier and that makes life better. After the bank came groceries, and we hit Exuma Market the big grocery store in town. After dropping Bonnie at the boat and filling the tank I took our 3 empty jerry cans in the dinghy to be filled. The prices in the Exumas are approaching silly. They have always been high but after the Abacos and Eluthera being very reasonable the prices in the Exumas seem even more extreme this year. The diesel fuel prices in Staniel are $3.97/Gallon, Georgetown is $2.88, Cape Eleuthera was $2.90, Nassau was $2.20 The invoice for fuel delivered to Exuma Park (stored at Bell Island) read $2.25 a gallon, mind you that was for 1000 gallons.

With the approach of bad weather we went looking for a better place than off the front of Georgetown and tucked in at Cave Cay. There was already a lot of boats so we couldn’t get in as far as we liked but we still have better protection than we did. The weather guys were all calling for a dawn wake up call of S 30 with clocking winds and possibly 40 in a squall but so far we aren’t seeing much over 15-20s, but the day is early. The nice thing is that this is a daytime passing. By nightfall the worst of this weather system should be behind us.

We have been looking at our calendars and have finally arrived at the conclusion that we are going to have to give Long Island a pass this year. We are going to have to start heading north if we want to make the trip to Turkey. We are probably going to stay for the “Chat and Chil” Pig Roast on Sunday and go over to say hi to Gerry and Ena on Katie. We ran into Gerry in Georgetown and he gave us bad news. He had to take Ena back to Fredericton to have her lung drained. The lung cancer is back and she is pretty much confined to quarters. They did a emergency trip back to NB where Ena spent 6 days in hospital before returning to Georgetown. Georgetown is a much nicer place in March than Oromocto.

After the pig roast we are going to be heading north at the first weather window.

Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 20:59:16 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] And away we go again

We did the quick Georgetown turnaround for us. We had the pig roast, I understand that the ribs are better. The roast wasn’t bad but ribs are for next time. We hit the road early Monday morning and stopped at Lee Stocking to make it a short day with good protection for a passing front. We were anchored by Leaf Cay where they have LARGE iguanas. The front came and went and we sat an extra day to wait for good weather. We did some maintenance on the boat something we didn’t do enough of in the past month or so. We now removed, diassembled, cleaned, resealed, and reinstalled all but two of the windows in the boat. We are now out of materials to do the last two. So they will probably have to wait until we get to Vero Beach.

We motored in light and variable winds up to Little Farmers Cay. We have passed it several times coming and going and we finally decided to bite the bullet and go. We even splurged and took a mooring from Ocean Cabins. At $10 a night we figured it was not a bad deal and we had fairily good protection from the front passing through. We went in and walked all the way around town (10 maybe 15 minutes on THE road around town). We stopped and picked up a Bahama Mama bust wood carving done in Tarmarind.

The next day was rather messy so we sayed on the boat and puttered, read and what not. The wind against current was causing a bad chop and the dingy was bouncing hard against the boat (we normally have it tied on the Port side beside the center cockpit). To let it ride a little easier, we put it on a longer tether and it would occasionally tuck in behind the boat out of the wind and then come at ramming speed into the stern. So we let it have a longer tether and the wind kept the dinghy at bay and the big boat provided it a lee against the bad waves. All in all not a bad mix. UNTIL, the dinghy started bouncing on the starboard side. It had wrapped itself all the way around the stern and was doing a ramming speed drill into the starboard side of the boat. This is unusual because we were still at a high current time and Bonnie went out to investigate. We were adrift. The mooring ball had let go. We were now drifting sideways toward a reef, the mooring line and ball are now laying rather uselessly beside us and the dinghy painter is wrapped all the way around the stern. I sent bonnie to the bow to bring the mooring ball and the downline on board and I started to haul the dinghy around the stern of the boat and put in on a short tether. Both things had to occur before we could put the boat in gear in fear of wraping either into the prop and making the situation even worse. We finally got our selves going in the right direction and grabbed onto the Harbour Master’s mooring for the night. Bonnie even managed to keep hold of the boat hook while picking up the mooring in a 2-3 foot chop in a current doing about 3 knots and a wind on the nose about 20-25.

This morning the winds were light and variable less than 10 and I took their mooring ball back to Ocean Cabins. I thought I heard someone in the bar but when I called out no-one answered. So I left the ball with it’s tether and left. We came up to Staniel Cay and anchored just off the Fowl Cay Resort. (Another front is coming throught tonight.) We ran into John from Jenne Marie and Neil and Stephanie from Rapsody(from our 2001 trip) and John mentioned that this is the third time he has heard a similar story. Apparently Ocean Cabins only does maintence on the moorings when they break.

Consider yourselfs warned.

Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2005 5:07:26 -0500
Subject: [Odyssey] Back in the USA

We left the Fowl Cay anchorage and headed up toward Emerald Rock. We were happy to see Intermezzo and went over to say hi and to actually set foot on the famous Intermezzo. It is an very nice yacht. We had a great time visiting with Kevin and Darcy before heading into the park to see how things were going. Tom and Judy are back at the park and thing are seeming to settle down a bit. The volunteer program seems to be getting back into swing. Darcy was heading back into do the office stuff and we were happy to hear her on the radio the next day.

We were off from Emerald Rock and planning to stay at the north anchorage on Hawksbill Cay. Unfortunately the hurricanes seemed to have filled in the anchorage a little and although we went exploring at high tide we didn’t seem to find enough water for us to ride out a low tide. So we sent back up to Shroud Cay. It was a great night and in the morning there were 12 tropic birds circling around the boat. Tropic birds are sleek white birds with black trim and two long tail feathers (longer than their body by far). They nest in little hollows in the rock and are very pretty to see flying.

The next day was a very very long run to Norman’s Cay, all of 6 miles from anchor up to anchor down. We had to go to McDuffs for the last burger before they close up shop. It was great to see Cat and have a chat. They have sold and are closing the end of May. We are sorry to see them go. McDuffs was the place that was the “we’re in the bahamas now” milepost for us.

We anchored off the upper end of the beach where it looked as if we could head straight out with good water, BEWARE IT ISN’T. We headed straight out and almost clanked a black patch of coral on a 6 foot shoal and shoaling. We did finally work our way through the shallows and out into safe water but it wasn’t fun. We sailed the whole way into Nassau and when we turned on the engine there was no cooling water. We sailed down through the harbour and got a quick slip assignment and landed with only a little bit of panic. Apparently I didn’t get the belt installed properly when I put the new impeller a couple day’s before. We didn’t have a bad day all in all. We spent 3 days in Nassau running around and visiting places. We did an accidental tour (we jumped on the wrong bus) by taking bus 19 to down town and found a number of places that bear investigation later. There is a mall and a Solomons and a number of laundries to be had on that route. (Pond Wash and SuperWash)

We were supposed to take bus 23 to downtown to get to the west end of downtown so we could go to the Fish Fry. The Fish Fry is down near Arawak Cay and has GREAT local food at good prices. The food we had at the Twin Brother’s is at least as good as at the Poop Deck for half the cost. We did notice that number 10 bus did seem to drive by the road at the entrance to the Fish Fry but we were walking toward downtown and it is not a bad walk.

The number 16A bus from down town goes out to the Bacardi Plant for a tour. The Plant offer’s tours and a FREE bar afterward, We enjoyed the tour even if it was brief. The plant uses oak barrels to age the rum and they are stored in huge warehouses. It is said that non-drinkers have been known to get drunk walking to the end of the warehouse and back. The fumes were intense. It was interesting to note that they reuse the Jack Daniel’s kegs. The Free bar was well stocked with Barcardi items. They even send Bacardi post cards for free too.

A weather window opened that seemed almost too good to be true (and it was). We ran out of Nassau and out onto the Great Bahama Bank making in within about 12 miles before dark. We turned off about a mile from the rhumb line to stay out of shipping traffing (on the shoal side) and tossed out an anchor. We really didn’t bother trying to set it as we were unlikely to drag the 10 or 12 miles required to actually come close to anything. The night was reasonably comfy so we did get some sleep. The next day was a trip to Nixon’s Harbour off South Bimini. We were planning on anchoring on the west side of Bimini but the NE swell which we would have been protected from was actually a NW swell which was rolling on the beach with a vengence. Tucking well up inside Nixon’s harbour gave us a nice night’s sleep. At dawn we were off and running toward Lake Worth in Florida. The SE 5-10 seas less than 2 feet were actually SE 10-15 building to 20 with 2-4 foot seas, but they were actually behind us and we were downwind motorsailing with speeds over 8.5 for a long way. The best one hour average speed was over 9.4 knots. We did see the GPS blink 12 knots on a long surf. What was nice was we anchored down in DAYLIGHT in Lake Worth at about 5 30 pm.

US Customs and Immigration seems to delight in changing rules every year and this was no different. The problem is that even the customs and immigration people seem to have differing views as to what the rules are. We called one number and the sat phone dropped the connection before we actually talked to a human. The rules posted in the Marina office got me a different set of rules and the Customs and Immigration guy hollared at me that I should just go to the Immigration dock and go to the second floor. I did and they hollared at me for not doing the phone thing. I’m just trying to follow the rules, one set at one time would be nice.

The current set of rules seems to be call the 1-800 number and they will ask you a bunch of questions and give you a 15 digit number. Take this number to the customs and they won’t use this number but they will give you another number then take these two numbers to the immigration office where they look at the two numbers and look at your passports and send you on your merry way. Bonnie was upset she didn’t even get a stamp. I just wanted out of there before someone else hollared at me for following the wrong set of rules. Beware these rules will change before the next person gets in the queue.

Date: Sat, 02 Apr 2005 16:31:22 -0400
Subject: [Odyssey] Back in NB

We made it successfully back to NB. A special thanks to all of those
that helped along the way. In particular, John, Shirley and Colin
Sullivan (where we stayed in South Carolina), John Garrison for a great
lunch in Gastonia NC, John and Millie MacDonald (where we stayed in
Mass) and especiallly to Tony Fitzgerald who picked us up in Bangor.

We drove almost 1900 miles from Fort Pierce to Bangor and then were
picked up by Tony for the remaining trip from Bangor to Oromocto.
(About another 200-250 miles). It was a long drive but all in all
successful.

We are soon gearing up for more adventures stay tuned.

Mike


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