2005 – 2006 The Bahamas


Bahamas 2005-2006
Our trip in the winter of 2005-2006

Date : November 16, 2005 5:40:19 AM
Subject : Back at Velcro Beach

We left our boat in Fort Pierce FL for the summer. We were working on a shelter for our RV when Wilma was in Florida. We turned on the news when we were having lunch and the north part of the eye-wall was sitting on our boat. We were a bit worried but the first reports were of no damage. So we were only a little worried as to the state of the boat when we left NB for Florida.

We were dropped off in Bangor where we picked up a Convertible for the trip south (They were actually cheaper than the subcompacts to rent and seeing as we are cheap!) We stopped at my brother John’s for a few hours of sleep before heading out again (Thanks John and Millie) We didn’t get a chance to say thanks before we left, but we left at 4:30 and they were probably happy we didn’t.

We did get a chance to see our friend John Garrison on the way down to Charleston. He has just sold his boat and for the first time since he was 8 is now boat-less.

We made it to Charleston in enough time to make it under the wire for a two day rental Bangor to Charleston. It was a tough drive, but we were happy to have a chance to visit with friends.

We spent a few days with John, Shirley and Colin and it was great to see them again. We mostly visited with a little sightseeing and even kayaked out to an island in Charleston Harbor where we could see a troop of hearty souls doing the ICW. We almost wished we were one of them.

We left Charleston and drove to Vero Beach and were able to drive with our top down for a large section of Georgia and Florida. It was nice to do. We checked in to Howard Johnson’s on 90th Ave in Vero Beach (BAD IDEA) and were happy to move to the Vero Beach Inn and Resort a couple days later as we worked on the boat.

We had a few new scratches but nothing serious. The boat was in very good shape considering the ordeal. We did loose pieces of three turnbuckles that were spun off in the wind. It took us four days of work to get the boat into the water and up the ICW to Vero Beach. We were really happy to be settled in a familiar spot where we could make the boat livable and had access to almost everything we would need. We were happy to see a number of familiar faces from our previous trips south.

When we arrived we had no booms, sails, or safety gear on deck. The triadic stay that connects the two masts together was dangling from the main. It took a day to tune the rig to a state where I could climb the mast and reconnect them. This has to be done before the booms and sails can be put on. It was another day getting sails, safety equipment, and wires restrung. There are still a few wires to get reconnected, but most of the boat is up and functioning fine.

We were surprised to see Katie arrive a few days after us. Jerry Milburne owns Katie. Jerry’s wife Ena died this past summer and Jerry is trying to make it to Georgetown at least one more time. He is still heartbroken over Ena. Our biggest surprise was his helper bringing his boat down. It was Howie Fritz, a friend from UNB days. It was a blast from the past.

We are in the process of provisioning the boat for the trip to the Bahamas. It will still be a few days before we are provisioned as we can only make a couple trips a day and have to carry on all of the stuff in one trip onto a bus. An Alberta Clipper (also called a Saskatchewan Screamer) is blowing through at the moment and we have seen the temp drop from low 80s to the 50s. It makes it cool but is the unofficial end to the hurricane season. Bonnie is also much happier to have a cool night’s sleep. She doesn’t sleep well in the heat.


Date : November 17, 2005 8:53:30
Subject : Shopping, shopping, shopping.

We are still in Vero Beach. We have been threatened with Gamma a couple of times. One depression looked like it was going to be gamma suddenly dissipated and didn’t become gamma. The next one did become gamma and the coast guard started giving hurricane warnings for Miami and started closing up the port and we started looking for a mangrove swamp to hide in. The advisory has now been canceled and it looks like gamma will dissipate. PLEASE! So far the weather forecasts have not had winds higher than 15-20 so this isn’t bad at all.

More and more boats are arriving and more friends keep showing up. We talked to a couple on the radio the other day as they were passing by to get to Fort La-dee-da so they could do thanksgiving with his 91-year-old mother. (Say Hi for us)

There are a few boats here that have adopted Katie. He seems to be kept pretty busy with friends, which is good. Everyone seems to be staying put for Thanksgiving as there really hasn’t been much of a weather window and we don’t see one opening soon. There is still a strong NE swell that makes the Gulf Stream unpleasant.

After thanksgiving we will probably move to Lake Worth or south as time permits.

We have been doing two shopping trips a day one to Walmart and the other to Winn-Dixie. We carry as much as we can onto the bus and only have a couple more days of grocery shopping before we are done. We still have to take on another 4 jerry cans of diesel and get another fuel tank sensor. We go through sensors at a rate of a couple a season.

We had over an inch of rain last night and about two today. As soon as it stopped we bailed out the dinghy and started to hunt and fix the deck leaks that showed up. Some were obvious, like the holes in the deck the mast wires run it. We ran the wires and didn’t fill the holes, their filled now. The window drains were plugged which caused the water to backup and leak around the seals. (We drilled them out this time and hopefully this will end that problem. We have a leak around the furnace pipe and cannot see where it is coming in. I finally covered the whole thing in black tape and the next time it rains that should tell us if it is there or somewhere else. The leaks around the dorades are explainable if annoying. There always seems to be a leak we can’t find.

sigh


Date : December 1, 2005 5:04:14 PM
Subject : In the Bahamas again

We are very happy to say that we are in the Bahamas again. We moved down to Lake Worth from Vero Beach with the intention of traveling to Miami to cross to Nassau via Cat Cay/Gun Cay. However by the time we got to Lake Worth we looked at the situation and we could not get to Miami to cross on this window but we could if we left from Lake Worth and crossed to West End on Grand Bahama Island.

We ended up spending a couple of days there getting the boat ready, there seems to be thousands of little details that never get done until you have to go NOW! All can be ignored while you are in the waterway but are must haves when we go offshore. Some are silly (Unlock the padlock on the life-raft case) some are more serious like running the Jack-lines. Topping up fuel tanks, stowing stuff that migrates out while on a mooring ball, and trying to stop all the stuff on
the masts that goes ding-ding-ding in the middle of the night.

We were surprised that we were the only ones that left during the early morning from Lake Worth. We expected to see quite a few but with the weather broadcasts in the area still out of service due to hurricane damage we were wondering if people were getting accurate info. We downloaded ours via email and the window was still there and OK. Listening to the weather in Lake Worth the only forecast we could get was the one north of us and the window was NOT there. We did what
we always did and decided that the evidence we had was the window existed and if we stuck our nose out and mother nature bopped it we would return and wait for the next window. We went out and conditions were good. The winds were south to southwest at 5 to 10 seas 2 to 4 feet closer to 2 than 4. We were good to go. We left and were surprised to be the only boat traveling. A couple hours into our trip, Gerry Milburn called on the radio asking conditions. We gave as accurate a picture as we could and he was underway with friends on Owaso. They were going to run all night down to Great Stirrup Cay and then camp for the day before going on.

We are willing to do overnights when necessary but when they aren’t necessary why bother. We were tied up to the Old Bahama Bay west dock in front of the customs house at 3:30 (We made anchor down!) I didn’t get my paperwork done until almost 4:00 but we were safe and sound in the *bleep*pit having a lovely drink when the only other resident in the 200 slip marina came by on his way from the shower. The marina is still recovering from Wilma and not open yet but were happy to let us stay on the dock for the night at a reduced rate.

We officially landed on November 30 almost exactly 1 week ahead of last year. We moved this morning from Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End down to anchor in the canals east of the marinas in Lucaya. Tomorrow we will be off bright and early for our next long run down to the Great Stirrup Cay anchorage. With any luck we will meet up with Gerry in Nassau in a few days.


Date: December 6, 2005 8:16:41 PM
Subject: Looking for a window out of Nassau.

Bonnie and I finished our run down from Lucaya by hitting Panton Cove on Great Stirrup Cay. We anchored in the canals behind the marinas out of sight not to upset them too much. A lovely quiet night we moved maybe 6 inches after setting the anchor. We left before sunrise but when it was light enough to see. We ran all day in reasonable weather and landed just before dark in Panton Cove. It was a pretty good day all in all.

We had the fuel filter hiccup just before we landed so we put the second filter online and when into anchor. The next morning I changed the filter while Bonnie made coffee. We had a total of 15 gallons of fuel through the filter. Fortunately we brought a few(ok 10) extra with us before we left home and changed both of the old filters before we put the boat in the water. (With the five extra we had onboard we will probably have enough to get home, I know I can get more in Nassau, Vero Beach, and Charleston if we have too)

We looked at the weather and it looked like a strong front was coming down for the end of the week. We decided to make way for Nassau so we landed in Little Harbour Cay for the next night and then on to Nassau. Our first day here was all maintenance stuff, refueling, switching our primary anchor over from the claw to the danforth, fixing a water leak where the wires leave the mast and enter the cabin, painting new spots on the new chain to mark 20, 40, 60, and 80 feet of chain, flopping the roller furling line over to the other side to make it easier to use the danforth and at least a few other things that I can’t remember at the moment, like washing the salt off the boat, filling the water tanks and having a shower.

Today was a touristy day with only a little boat or personal work. We took a walk to downtown hoping to catch Chris at Basra to renew our membership. We got there a few minutes before the office opened so we walked the short hike down to the ScotiaBank that will dispense US dollars and picked up another couple hundred and will probably have enough cash to make the rest of the trip without stopping again. When we walked back by the Basra office there was a note on the door that he was off doing errands. We decided to swing by our favorite bakery
in Nassau and load up on a few treats as well as lunch. We stopped at the boat for lunch and loaded the stuff into the fridge to cool down. When we walked by Uncle Ben (one of the Basra boats) I noticed that the engines were down, so someone had been around.

We took the Route 19 bus to the headquarters of the BNT and walked around the 11 acres of lush grounds, called The Retreat. We were quite disappointed in the place. They have a marvelous gift there and it is not being utilized well at all. We were the only people other than staff that we saw while we were strolling around on the self guided tour.

We picked up the 19 bus and did the rest of the loop around and it loops by the mall and along a lot of the shopping areas of Nassau and then back to downtown and by the marinas. On the way by BASRA we noticed that there were a couple of vehicles in front of the office so we got off and walked back. Chris was there and we caught up on a few things like our dues, news on Ray, and some of the local politics that are driving people up the wall.

We walked back to the marina and Bonnie dug out the wash while I swung down to the Winn Dixie for fresh grapes, frozen NZ lamb chops, and something called pork short ribs. The pork short ribs seem to be about the worst cut of meat going (but what can you expect at $0.99 a pound) but they also pretty good when spiced up and cooked slowly. On an impulse I walked over to the DQ and bought a Peanut Buster Parfait. It had melted quite a bit by the time I walked back to the Marina (1/4 mile away) but Bonnie and I shared it and it was pretty good. It will probably be the last one we will have until we get home next summer.

Life is going on pretty good at the moment and we are thinking about going to the Exumas tomorrow if the weather matches the gribs and not the Nassau Met Office forecast.

Christmas in Elizabeth Harbour (Georgetown Bahamas 2005)

Christmas in Elizabeth Harbour (Georgetown Bahamas 2005)

Christmas in Elizabeth Harbour (Georgetown Bahamas) 2005

Date: December 24, 2005 10:31:22 AM
Subject : The Dreaded Christmas Letter.

It’s time to write the Dreaded Christmas Letter. I’ve put it off long enough and before we leave our hidey hole in Crab Cay and head over to Hamburger Beach to get a spot near the place where they are going to hold the Xmas get together, I am going to try to put this letter to bed.

We had another year of being homeless wanderers; well almost homeless we did actually have possession of our house for a little less than a month this year, while it was between tenants.

This year is a lot like last year in the sense that we are spending our Christmas in the Bahamas at one of the more popular cruising anchorages, last year it was Marsh Harbour this year it is Georgetown, the year before last it was Nassau. (A trend soon to be broken as we are planning to take the boat home to Canada this coming summer.)

We spent last winter in the Bahama, we were happy to hit a few new places including the Abacos and Eleuthera as well as a few new anchorages in the Exumas. There are plenty more to check out and hopefully this year we will get the chance to see a few more. We were back in the States by mid March and rather than take her to Virginia we left her in Florida. We were invited by Rick and Tsipy on Odelia to go cruising to Turkey. We flew to London and then on to Israel where we visited for a couple of days before making the jump to Cypress. We spent a week in Cypress before jumping over to Turkey. We did a lot of touring around including renting a couple of cars and doing a tiny bit of the interior. What we did see was amazing. If you want the full log with pictures check out our website under travel logs. We can’t thank Rick and Tsipy enough for the trip, thanks guys.

We were back home in time to do a little house sitting and as soon as our tenant departed we moved back in and started renovations. It turned into a lot bigger job than we originally thought. We took the dimensions of the house to a hardware chain and they gave us an estimate on the materials required. Not only was the estimate off by about 40% (on the low side) we quickly discovered that we had to replace three sections of roof, that we didn’t know anything about. We ended up taking about six weeks to get it all done and then after our tenants moved in we discovered that we had to do a major renovation in the upstairs bath. Check out “Ode to the opposing thumb” on the website to see a picture of the house and the story of the reno.

Gas prices were so high at home that we had a total of 400km (240miles?) on our RV for the summer. We spent most of it in the vacant lot across the street from our house. We spent a lot of time with our next-door neighbour and did a few things at his place. It was a summer of doing “useful” things rather than fun things. We barely got a trip to Halifax this summer.

We had a great fall and the weather was spectacular. We were working on a better shelter for the RV (Something we seem to try to do every year, maybe this year we will just bite the bullet and build a barn/boat-building shed.) We were doing that while Wilma was churning. We came home for lunch, turned on CNN and the northern eye-wall was sitting over the boat. We were lucky and other than a couple of minor scratches from flying debris and a few turnbuckles that spun off in the wind we suffered no damage to boat or rig. We launched early and even made it to the Bahamas early Nov 30.

We stopped at a few places but we want to do a little more visiting of the southern islands before we take our boat home. So after Christmas we have plans to hit Long Island, Conception, Little San Salvador and Cat Island before going back to the Exumas.

Hope this letter finds you healthy, happy and may this year be the best you can remember.

Bonnie at the back of the Hermitage on Cat Island in the Bahamas

Bonnie at the back of the Hermitage on Cat Island in the Bahamas

Bonnie in front of the Hermitage on Cat Island Bahamas

Date: January 7, 2006 10:30:39 AM
Subject: Cat Island etc

We are now anchored off Leaf Cay near Lee Stocking Island. A strong cold front was barreling down on us and we had a choice of sitting it out at Hawks Nest Marina on Cat Cay or running to the Exumas and tucking in. We tucked in. We did a very brief run around from Georgetown’s Redshanks anchorage to Salt Pond Long Island, up to Cape Santa Maria, then to Conception Island over Cat Cay’s New Bight anchorage, back to Hawks Nest Marina and then back to Leaf Cay in the Exumas.

We barely got to see anything in reality but it was a taste that made us want more, and one day we will return and do them properly. This year is not going to be it.

Conception Island is an uninhabited island with a lot of reefs, sand and scenery. The reefs are in very bad shape. The center section of most of the reef is bleached white, with only the outer ring having any colors or life visible. We looked around a bit but the weather wasn’t holding quite the way we wanted so we had a choice of going to Cat Island or the timing the front and moving to the east side of Conception and back again as the winds clocked. We wanted to do Cat
which has to be done in settled easterlies, and this time of year we don’t get a lot of settled easterlies.

We rounded Hawks Nest Point and had a great run up to New Bight and had a nice night in SE winds letting us put the dinghy down and run ashore to explore the Hermitage. Father Jerome built the Hermitage in the 40s. It is a small-scale replica of a European monastery. It is amazing to see. It is also on the highest peak in the entire Bahamas 206 feet. We had it to ourselves and explored the area amazed at the detailed work in the stages of the cross, the bell tower, cloisters, the outdoor kitchen etc. We started walking toward the east shore along the path until we came to a spider web with a resident spider about four inches across. We didn’t want to disturb him so we turned back in time to see that the winds had shifted south and Millennium Odyssey was now bouncing quite a bit. We got back on board, raised the dinghy and headed back toward Hawks Nest Marina where we could wait out the passing weak cold front.

Hawks Nest Marina is a real resort and a nice place to lay over. The docks are $1.50 a foot but the Marina has two mooring balls for $15 and that includes all the shore side privileges including free Wireless Internet (at the restaurant) and the fresh water pool. We got in early so we figured we might as well spend the day doing a bit of maintenance (filling the tank and refilling the Jerry Jugs). We jerry jug all of our fuel. The fuel gets to sit in the tanks for a while with biocide in them which helps kill the bugs as well as allows the water and sediment to settle out of the fuel before we put it in our regular tank. We still have fuel “issues” but hopefully less than if we didn’t jerry jug the fuel. We were waiting while a sport fisher took on fuel, just a little over 970 gallons at $3.90 a gallon (almost $3800.00). He said it sounds better when you realize it was almost three weeks of traveling, and he did go all the way to Rum Cay.

We played with the bicycles and did a little wireless Internet stuff and generally played the afternoon away.

The north winds made for a wonderful run to Lee Stocking the next day where we could settle in for a couple of days to await the STRONG cold front that went through last night. We tucked in beside Leaf Cay and for most of the day we seemed to be in a battle between wind and tide with the tide winning most of the time. When the wind and tide were going the same direction we sat quite comfortably and when they were in opposite directions we could check the anchor easily, it was laying beside us about 5 feet away. We knew it was not set that well but after three tries it was hooked well enough to hold against the engine. With the 100-foot mark in the water in 6-7 of water we figured it would have to do. We had good wind protection and one other boat in the anchorage (almost ½ mile away) so we had drag room and if we did drag we were heading toward more sand.

We had a day of light weather so we did maintenance, an oil change, cleaning up some excess 4200 we had from rebedding a window. We decided to do another window and that would complete the rebedding of all of the windows in the boat. We removed the window and taped up the hole in case we got any rain with the front. We don’t always get rain with a front but never seem to get a lot if we do get any at all. We removed the window, cleaned up the frame, cleaned the lexan window and rebedded the window in the frame and set it to dry. We got the new bolts ready for installation (making rubber gaskets so the stainless steel bolts don’t come in contact with the aluminum frame to cause corrosion).

We were just settling in after anchor down when the front started to arrive. It blew 25-30 with higher gusts until well into breakfast this morning. I slept fine until about 1 am and then couldn’t get back to sleep. We got a couple of beeps out of the anchor drag alarm as we flipped from one side of our chain to the other but I really don’t think the anchor itself moved. I looked at the GPS once while it was beeping about the anchor drag and it was doing 1.3 knots toward the anchor. The wind has died down to 10-15 from the north now so today will be a day to finish the window, have a nap, and then use the easterlies tomorrow to push us north back onto the Exuma Bank.

Compass Cay Beach

Voted as one of the 10 best beaches in the world.

One of the ten best beaches in the world is on Compass Cay

Date: January 23, 2006 10:44:46 AM
Subject: Exuma Park Again.

I have really been very tardy with my emails this year. The last one was from Lee Stocking and that was a while ago so I figured I better get my stuff together and write a note.

We left Lee Stocking and got up as far as Little Bay on Great Guana Cay, on the opposite side of the point from Black Point. The bay was very peaceful and flat with the high winds blowing over us as we tucked in close to the cliff. There is a house built to look like a castle nearby. It was as pretty as a picture. The name of the house on VHF is SandCastle.

We ordered bread from Loraine’s Cafe for pick up the next day and were eagerly awaiting her mom’s coconut bread. We made our way around the point and noticed a sailboat make the turn ahead of us and we thought we recognized it. When we caught up with them it was Rhapsody. We met Neil and Stephanie on our way down the ICW in 2000 and have been seeing them off and on almost every year since. We got a chance to meet up again at the laundry. They didn’t get across until almost a month after us. They spent three weeks in South Beach “watching beautiful people”. Not a bad way to spend some time.

We were disappointed to find out that Loraine’s mom was off island and we didn’t get any bread. The mailboat was not scheduled to arrive until Wednesday and there was no bread to be had on the island until then, a three day wait for bread is not that uncommon here. We made up tortillas and used them as bread. The winds were clocking toward south and we had bad memories of being in Black Point anchored beside Rhapsody with a southerly wind. We pulled up anchor and headed toward Big Major’s Spot a very nice anchorage with a little better southerly wave protection. We tucked in close to pig beach near the southern
shore and had a lovely night. The pigs are very used to being fed by visiting boaters a will actually swim out to your dinghy. We had a huge shark swim under our dinghy and a little while later was visited by a ray with about a 5 foot wingspan.

We tried to call Ray Darville a number of times on the VHF but did not have any luck. We hear he has a new baby girl. His first girl after something like 16 boys. Her name is Nicole. We left a message with mutual friends to pass on our best wishes and headed north toward the park. We weren’t able to get in and decided to head toward Compass Cay to stay at the Marina there while a front was blowing through. The front was the worst since the summer hurricanes; June clocked 48 knots at one point. Someone at Warderick Wells clocked 49. It was windy but flat in Compass. We were very happy to see Blue an old friend from the
park. With Ray gone he has made an arrangement with Tucker to stay at Compass Cay. He has been cutting trails, finding ruins, and helping do odd and ends. Compass Cay is a magical little spot just over the very southern boundary of the park. Blue showed us a great time taking us around Compass. Rachel’s Bubble Bath (a place were the surf pounds up and over the eastern side of the island to fall into a small lake just over the rocks, the lake is shallow and the foam from the surf fills the warm lake with sea foam), The Ruins (Where Tucker’s grandmother
house once stood back in the days just after the slaves were freed), The Beach (listed by Conde Naste Traveler as one of the best 10 beaches in the world), Spyglass hill (where you can see the sound, banks and all the boats in Pipe Creek hiding from the front). We ended up staying longer than we expected (We built the Vanity for the boaters shower and laundry room (building furniture seems to be something that is almost a saleable skill down here).

The park seemed to be having a bit of a problem and we felt guilty for hanging around and staying at compass. The problem was summed up rather well by one of the volunteers trying to run the office. “We don’t know the answer to that, all the people that know have been med evaced off the island” Judy’s mother passed out with what they thought was a stroke (turned out to not be a stroke but something much less serious but still required a few day’s care) and Judy was medevaced with her. Tom was off island picking up the new Glory Be. They found most of the transom of the old Glory Be under a pile of Katrina’s rubble. Vic one of the other long term volunteers had a knee infection and had to get airlifted out. Larry was still around but he wisely stays far away from the office. Bonnie and I picked up and moved up to the park. By then Tom had actually arrived back at the park and while he does the morning call in show, Bonnie handle the office for most of the rest of the day (Tom closes up at night, something bonnie is happy to be out of).

The park has been extremely quiet this year. We spoke to a couple old regulars who bypassed the park all together. After what happened to Ray last year a number of people don’t want anything to do with the park. We figure that what Ray said last year was right, the park is more important than him or any individuals. We enjoy the park and will support it no matter what happens.

We have been doing work around the park, but mostly I have been working on insulating and rewiring Larry’s Lizard Lounge. Almost all done except for sheathing and painting.

Norman and Sarah are coming for a visit. They came for a stretch of the RV trip in 2000, and they are coming for a couple weeks here. They arrive on the 28th and there seems to be a weather window opening from here to Nassau on the 24 and 25th. With any luck the cold front that is giving us the window will clock around by the 29th and give us a ride down to the Exumas.

Norman and Sarah on Booboo hill, Warderick Wells Bahamas

Norman and Sarah on Booboo hill, Warderick Wells Bahamas

Sarah-Jane and Norman on Boo-boo Hill at Warderick Wells

Date: February 3, 2006 4:24:04 PM
Subject: Norman and Sarah-Jane are visiting.

We made it into Nassau with a couple of days to spare. The first night was a little disconcerting as we were arriving we heard boat after boat calling marinas and the harbour control center. There was a window the first since just before Christmas had opened. There were 43 boats that came over from Miami together, one of the ladies organized an hourly check in for all of the boats and managed to keep all of her ducks in a row. We were talking to a Immigration Officer on the dock and they had cleared over 70 boats that day.

We anchored at Athol Island just on the way into Nassau and had a great night. For those interested just east of the Athol waypoint there is a small bay with no water and lots of coral just east of it is 8-12 feet of water over sand and grass. We had good protection NW to almost ENE. We couldn’t get in so we made a reservation for the next day. The next day we got a call on the radio and Nassau Yacht Haven crammed us in.

We choose NYH over Nassau Harbour Club and Marina because they have better boarding ladders and with Sarah-Jane having mobility problems we figured she might find it a bit easier. When we got to the dock they had put us on a dock normally used by one of the “Booze and Cruise” boats and it had NO ladder at all. Getting on and off was a challenge for Bonnie and I but with a front closing in and the marinas full, we said thank you very much and figured we would deal with it.

We went to the Cruiser’s Lunch at Nassau Harbour Club. (Formerly held at Crocodiles turned “Friday soon come”. Apparently Fridays never came as they have closed up. The boats anchored in the bay now have to pay $2 bucks a landing to the Starports (Texico service stations) to tie up their dinghys. ) There were two large tables of cruisers, 50-60 people, and we sat next to a lady who has a boat at Nick and Carolyn Wardle’s. Sounds like a real nice spot and we may take Norman and Sarah back there rather than into Nassau.

We did our usual workdays at marinas and dropped off bad oil, added new diesel, did laundry, showers, some provisioning before they arrived and did a little walking around picking up bread. We were successful in picking up bread of the flour variety but unsuccessful with the monetary variety (The International ATM that issues US$ was empty). We decided to wait until then next day and if it was still empty we would just get a smaller amount of Bahamian $ and be careful on exchanging. Bonnie likes the Scotiabank International ATM as it saves us about $5 in service fees that we get dinged for in the US.

The next day Norman and Sarah-Jane were scheduled to arrive about noon. I walked up to Shirley Street (one street above East Bay St) and caught a Jittney(bus) headed into downtown, walked over to the ATM and was on a Jittney back to the marina and never stopped moving other than the time at the ATM, I was back from downtown in less than an hour topped up with US$. The buses on East Bay Street are headed outbound and sometimes take a long time to get to downtown, walking up to Shirley St. puts you on the return leg and makes things faster if you are doing a quick turn around. We also like it because if we walk up to the first street west of the marina and walk up toward Shirley St, we can walk through the parking lot for the National Center for the Performing Arts and land at the Bread Shop. Our first stop on any trip to Nassau.

Norman and Sarah-Jane arrived and rather than try to get Sarah-Jane on board at dead low tide we took her to the Winn-Dixie and did a little grocery shopping. We were back to the boat and were able to get her onboard with only a little work. The next day we were at high tide first thing in the morning and we were off on the Jittneys to downtown via the long route. It was Sunday and most things were closed and finding lunch was a choice of Subway or the much more expensive Hard Rock Cafe. Norman is not the most adventurous eater so we did Subway. There were no cruise ships in and things were very quiet. We ate our lunch listening to the top 40 videos channel on the TV. The “Sandwich Artist” was so busy she actually played karaoke and danced to the latest hit as we ate our lunch. She wasn’t bad.

We walked around and hit the straw market and all the Columbian Emeralds, Diamond Warehouse, Soloman’s Mines, etc. After lunch they were walked out and we headed back to the boat.

We were up early and out of Nassau bound for Allan’s Cay. It was a long day for us and a we were almost the last boat in. We anchored not far from where we did on the northbound leg but got over enough to get caught in an eddy and spent most of the next 18 hours going in a circle. We checked our anchor and it was nearly out of sight. (By morning when we pulled we had tripped the anchor and wrapped about 15 feet of chain up in the anchor in a tight ball. It came up with a knot in the chain.)

We were happy to leave and head toward Norman’s Cay. We tied to the abandoned dock. The tide was such that we were able to stay quite happily there at low tide but we had to stay until morning as the way in only had a little over 4 feet at low tide. We made Sarah-Jane walk the plank. From the top of the cabin to the dock it was pretty flat and made it an easy off for her. We walked up to the Drug Lord’s house and showed them the bullet holes, the cistern, and the beautiful view. We didn’t explore all of the buildings, but we did hike out toward the beach at McDuffs. Not evidence that McDuffs is ever going to be alive again. Sigh. When we got back Sarah walked the plank again but it was much lower and more difficult for her. We were under the level of the dock for most of the bad westerly wind. We had to tuck into the Cut because of a passing front. The winds went from south to west and then north in about 15 minutes and was never more than 15 knots, dieing back to less than 10 by morning. We left Norman’s and sailed down to Hawksbill Cay’s north anchorage. We watched many boats go by and enjoyed the small beach pretty much to ourselves until a single guy and his dog showed up late in the afternoon. We swam and walked and generally had a pretty relaxing afternoon.

We left Hawksbill and headed toward Warderick Well’s Emerald Rock anchorage. We called Judy and got ourselves on the list for the South anchorage but the park was full and the forecast is for a STRONG Cold front (up to 25Knots). We had a wonderful sail of over 4 hours with the 30 miles over ground (15 in a straight line) and only use a little over 30 minutes in engine hours. The wind shifted much farther south than it was supposed to and the waves wrapped around and gave us a very rolly night. We were nearly inside of the point at Beryl’s Beach and thought we would get better protection but we still ROLLED. Tom offered the use of his dinghy while Norman and Sarah-Jane are here which will make life much easier. It takes two runs to get people ashore in our dinghy and if we were going any distance that would be trouble. We took Tom up on the offer and are now dragging their dinghy around after us.

The last time they said strong cold front it was 50 knots so we weren’t surprised that we didn’t get in. So we headed down toward another favorite anchorage at Cambridge Cay. We tucked in Norman and Sarah-Jane settled in for a nap.

We are going to stay here for the front and then head down to Compass on Sunday and then Big Major’s Spot on Monday for a couple of days and then down to Black Point on Wednesday. If the weather does as it is told or foretold depending how you look at it.

Date: February 16, 2006 5:45:20 PM
Subject: Back in the usa

Just a very brief note this time. We left Sarah-Jane and Norman on the dock and left for the USA. We got out of the harbour and had NE-E 15-20s and sailed the 45 miles to NW Channel. By that time the wind was dropping to the point we could not maintain 5 knots so we started the engine and ran through the night. Bonnie and I did 3 hours on 3 off most of the night and all went well except we should have had one of those Jolt colas around to give me a hit of caffeine this morning. It was sloppy enough that I didn’t want to do the stove.

We turned off the banks and put our back to Bimini at 0430 and had our anchor down in Lake Worth (palm beach) by 3:30 pm. Time for a light supper and then I’m off to bed, we do the customs thing tomorrow. The trip was pretty much uneventful except for the last 2-3 hours when the wind piped up to ENE20-25 knots. At one point I looked at the GPS and it said 18.0 miles and two hours for ETA. That would be nice I thought, just after anchor down. The next two hours thanks to the wind, Gulf Stream, and sea state we did over 19 miles in a little less than 2 hours, even counting rolling up the jib when things were a little too gusty.

Date: March 10, 2006 6:16:02 PM
Subject: Heading North

We are working our way north after leaving Vero Beach on Monday we had a delay due to a norther coming through on Tuesday. We tucked into Dragon Point and stayed a day there. On Wednesday we stayed at Haulover Canal and then on to the Cement plant and today we are settled at Pine Island.

Tomorrow we will head out to Fort Georges River and then we are planning on heading up to the Brickhill River. Another front is coming through so we may end up staying another day there.

On the road again

Date: March 24, 2006 1:35:02 PM
Subject: On the road again

We are under way again, sort of. We stopped for a few days in Charleston to visit with John and Shirley Sullivan and their son Colin. We went out together a couple of times and met up with Joe and Janet (Shirley’s sister and her husband). We went to a great Thai restaurant called Basil’s and heartly recommend it if you are in the area. The food was good and not over priced. John defended his PhD while we were in the Bahamas. And after a particularly tough defense it was accepted with revisions (like about 99% of all graduate degrees). It made me remember all of the politics of university life and made me happy to be a poor vagabond on the fringes of the work a day world.

We are traveling north WAY TOO EARLY. It is COLD! We have had nothing but North winds for over a week and that makes the trip cold. Temps are high 50s low 60s during the day and High 30s to low 40s at night. We have had a couple of frost warnings so far.

We were late leaving Ashley Marina. Ashley was a mom and pop shop until late last year when they sold out to a “dockuminum” outfit. The Harbourage at Ashley Marina it is now called. We were out late drinking and carousing at John and Shirleys and didn’t get home until nearly midnight. When we got up in the morning the weather forecast was a go! So we tried to check out, the dock office was supposed to be open at 7:30 we thought. Not a problem. At 7:45 I went to find someone at the dock office, to save a long story I was P.O., and had ripped into the owner of the Harbourage as well as the manager of the marina. It was going to be after 8:30 by the time the computers were up so the manager wrote the cost of the fuel on my slip and said he would give me the time on the docks for free. He was happy I was out of the office and I was still P.O.ed at being late off the docks. We were losing miles and tide every minute we were waiting. (When we got the bill we were actually charged for the dockage, even if he said it was free).

We didn’t make it to Minim Creek like we wanted but were just a few miles short. But the tide was against us the next day so we ended up with a short day of slogging against current. We made Prince Creek one of the prettiest little anchorages of our first trip south. We motored up the creek slowly looking for water shallow enough to drop a hook in. Most of the creek seems to be 17-30 feet but about 3/4 of the way up the creek at the mouth of a little grassy creek we found what looked like a nice spot with 10-12 feet. The only thing that was a little unnerving was the alligators that were looking at us as we motored up the creek. The guides warn you of the deadheads in the area and to always use a float so that you can lift the anchor up backwards if you snag it on something. If we can’t lift it when we leave tomorrow it will be a gift to the gods. There is no way I’m diving for a hook with gaters watching me. Sharks maybe, gaters no way!

The weather forecast was for a 70% chance of rain last night 70% today and 20% tonight. With the cold wind we decided to wait it out. Cold is barely tolerable, Cold and wet is miserable and any damn fool can do this and be miserable. The trick is to enjoy what you are doing, and if you can at all, do what you enjoy.

We have had a very quiet day. The north wind 15-20 does occasionally make the flag flutter a little but barely makes it to the surface of the water to cause a ripple. We are extremely well protected from wind with only the current pushing us around, we don’t mind living with a short scope.

Tomorrow we will head up toward Barefoot Landing (a shopping mall at Myrtle Beach) with it’s own ICW dock.

Date: March 27, 2006 5:40:45 PM
Subject: Old home week in Myrtle Beach

We left the cold but comfortable Prince Creek and headed up to Barefoot Landing. We arrived before lunch and walked over to Walmart (walk out of Barefoot landing hang a right and about 1-2 miles later it will appear on the left hand side. Those needing good landmarks, it is across the street from Hooters!

We bought a propane tent heater as our Force 10 seems to have died after being idle for several years. It isn’t designed for boat use but if we are careful we should be fine. Boating isn’t designed for 39F either!

We were happily testing out the heater when we got a knock on the hull. I stuck my head out expecting to see the other boat at the landing, but it was Henri and Monique Giasson. Henri and Monique gave us lots of info when we made our first trip south back in 2000. We have seen them a few times since then in Fredericton and very happy to see them in Myrtle Beach. They visited for a while and then headed out to T-Bonz for dinner. We were so hungry from our long walk to Walmart we just had to stop for lunch; we decided to stop at Hooters. (Bonnie likes the Hot wings Too!) We had Hot Wings, Chili and Gumbo. We went out to T-Bonz and had a Blooming Onion and a very good soup called She-Crab soup, very good, but Henri said T-Bonz version is a bit saltier than most.

We went to bed and planned on staying the next day at Barefoot. Bonnie likes the Gospel Brunch and the food is very good and plentiful, if a tad expensive. We were sleeping in when we heard this soft little “Mike and Bonnie”. I popped my head out the cabin and there was Philip Plume from Stanley, I guess actually Fredericton now. It was old home week! Philip had stopped by on his way to a golf game so he couldn’t stay. After a short visit we got up and made our way over to the House of Blues for brunch.

After eating way too much (we are definitely out of practice in the eating department.) We were back at the boat for the time Henri came back and pick us up. He had kindly offered to run us out to the West marine so we could pick up an external speaker for the VHF. Something we had forgotten in Vero Beach. Henri gave us an awesome tour of Myrtle Beach and surrounding area. We had a great tour and have a couple of places on our list for our next RV trip. We ended up going to Henri and Monique’s rental unit and had showers and supper. We can’t thank Henri and Monique enough for showing us around and helping us out around Myrtle Beach.

Thanks to Philip for taking the time to come say hi we appreciated it. It was good to see you.

We left Barefoot early this morning and made it to Pipeline Canal in time to install the speaker (IT WORKS!)

My laptop disk crashed yesterday morning and after a little tweaking I have it going again. If we seem to stop transmitting chances are good that my laptop has died. I will send updates when I get to a library along the way if it well and truly dies.

Date: April 4, 2006 4:39:31 PM
Subject: ECity and Great Dismal Swamp Canal

We have been doing very well at avoiding storms etc until yesterday and we got a douse. I put a few of the details for the boaty types on the website. All said and done we are safe, sound, and no-one was hurt and the boat survived without any damage too.

We are at the GDSC again. We stayed last night at Elizabeth City and went to the Dinner and a Movie place (16 Blocks is not a bad Bruce Willis movie).

We are probably going to stay here for day and use the bikes that are available here.

But we would like to move on to.

We heard from a Guy on the dock that Gerry Milburne is a day behind us at Alligator River Marina.

Mike


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