Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday, February 27 2014 - Treasure Cay

We are a little behind on the blog - partly due to difficult (or expensive) internet access and partly as we have guests and are busy "out and about" as the Canadians say.  We have met many Canadians - they seem to have figured it out - most are here for months - typically November/December to May.  Some come all the way down on their boats every year, others leave them in a boat yard through the summer months either here or on Florida coast.

The crew went to Junkanoo on Sunday and its sounds like it was quite a party!

For this week, we have a villa at Treasure Cay.  The villa is owned by one of Patrick's friends and is right on a canal with 3 docks - So the villa is providing 2 bedrooms and we are using the boat at the dock.  We sailed over here on Sunday after I got back into Marsh Harbour.  Next to us we have a Canadian crew - Capt. Bob, on Ma Cheri (trawler).

So the update for the week goes something like this:
Monday - we rented a golf cart, did a little island exploring and some provisioning.  We were in desperate need of a critical boat ingredient - Capt. Salty's Anti-grounding Rum.  We found the beach here to be amazing - yes, these are real photos!

 On Tuesday, the crew headed to Great Guana Cay - this is the spot to see the world's third largest barrier reef and a well-known bar, Nippers.  Salty had a blast on the beach, as once again, the place is near deserted.  We can't believe how quiet things are and folks that have been coming here for years say its unusually quiet.

On Wednesday, we had a relaxing "beach day".  What did we do?  nothing, but relax and swim.

And here's a shot of Bob's boat, Ma Cheri

Today - storms are/were predicted, so we are catching up on the more mundane! - email, laundry, some provisioning.  It should clear this afternoon and if so, it will be back to the beach.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday, Feb 23, 2014

Flying back today - currently making use of free wifi in the airport.....Hmmm....had a surprise with WiFi when i racked up some big charges on the MiFi, so we will now be looking for free Wifi a little more diligently!

We have had a bit of a crew change out again - Patrick can't get enough, and is back for another week.  Raquel traveled with him.  Brian is hanging in there with the Admiral!!  i should arrive by noon and we will head to Treasure Cay

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Few Tips on Flying to the Abacos

But its worth  it!  Its beautiful here!

February 20, Atlanta

Well unfortunately I had to return to Atlanta for a few days of meetings.  The Boat is in the capable hands of Capt. Brian and Janet.  Yesterday was a crew-change day and travel.  We have additional crew joining on Saturday and I will return on Sunday.  Watching the Delorme, see the boat has just come into Hope Town.  For the non-boaters, our Delorme is a 2-way satellite communicator that can be used for text messaging even where there is no cell coverage, and also provides real-time tracking through the web.  While primarily a safety device, its fun to see where the boat is at any time!

 Sailing on the Sea of Abaco - photos received from our crew

February 17-19 Green Turtle to Great Guana and Marsh Harbour

We left the wonderful location of Green Turtle Cay and the Bluff House Marina, vowing to return.  It was such a tranquil and friendly spot.  While there, we met two Australian crews that had come to the states and bought late model Island Packet's and were slowly making their way back to Australia with them.  Although they plan on keeping them, both sail they could double their money if they sold them in Australia...........hmmmm  there's an idea for a trip!

On our way to Great Guana, we had to pass through a narrow channel into the Atlantic, known as "Whale Cay Channel", or locally referred to as "The Whale".  We passed by the luxury resort of Baker's Bay, contemplating staying there.......the lower slip fees at Orchid Bay Marina appealed to our frugal sides!  We docked with a handful of other boats.

I changed the engine oil.......but the frugal marina charged us $40 for a gallon of diesel oil.  They also wanted 35 cents a gallon for we just drank rum instead. Noticing some dirt and a little water in our oil/water separator, I also changed the fuel filter as a precaution.  So the quick oil change became a little more of a chore.

Brian headed over to Nippers for a walk on the beach, snorkel, and refreshments.  Salty and I followed on after the engine chores were done.  Nippers is a well-known local bar/grill.  It too was close to deserted.  With the breeze from the Atlantic, it was cool enough for sweaters.

Bluff House Marina

Bluff House Marina
 Even Salty loves a sunset

Sun setting over the Sea of Abaco
Salty's morning swim! at the Bluff House

A sandy lane leading to Nippers

For our current position, visit

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Green Turtle Cay - Bluff House and New Plymouth

Arriving at Green Turtle Cay on February 15, 2014 the crew was surprised to find the luxurious Bluff House Marina with all the bells and whistles in White Sound.

After a fine late afternoon lunch of specialty rum drinks we reconvened at the Tranquil Turtle Beach bar to watch the sunset and enjoy the view.
Here's a link:

Bianca was serving up great drinks and we met boat Captains Phil, and Jim of the Carol Ann.  Owner Martin was also there, who happens to be from a village not too far from where Neil grew up.  (Small World)  Sea Stories abounded into the night.

So much so, that Patrick almost missed his 5:40 am ferry over to Treasure Cay where he took an $85 taxi to Marsh Harbor for his flight to Nassau and eventually back to Atlanta.  All went well, even getting on an earlier connection home, so we look forward to seeing him next week.

Neil and Brian spent a semi-relaxing day cleaning up, showering, and then took Salty on a one mile dinghy ride over to New Plymouth town and Black Sound.  It was a lazy Sunday and all the shops were closed, but this picturesque town and it's beautiful harbor with colored houses made us realize why people love the Abacos.  The towns folk were leaving church in their Sunday best clothes and we settled in at the inner harbor beach at Harvey's for a light lunch of Cheeseburgers in Paradise at low tide.  With our toes in the sand under the picnic tables and umbrellas, Salty bolted for a stick in the water as soon as we let him go after lunch.  

We dinghied around Black harbor on this beautiful sunny day but had a slight malfunction as we ran out of gas just at the entrance to White Sound.   Luckily we had paddles and it was a short paddle ashore where we walked through dense undergrowth across 10 property lines (all saying private keep out) back to the marina.  Captain Jim gave Neil a ride back with a gas can and we learned the lesson to keep extra gas in the dinghy especially on long rides. (2+ miles)

That night we enjoyed the sunset again at the Tranquil Turtle beach bar and another Dinner at the Bluff House.  There was a special where your food/drink takes off the dock fee bill so we kept drinking and eating our dock fees.

Met fellow cruisers - Sea-Rah - Stefan & Chloe

Just a quick update - When we were in West End waiting out the storm we met some fellow cruisers Stefan and Chloe.  He's from Germany and she is from England, but they've been sailing together for years.  They had bought their boat (Tanzer 35) in Florida recently and followed Neil & Janet down the ICW noticing each other's boats, but finally met in the marina in the Bahamas.  They have a lovely blog about their cruising at this link:

On Thursday night, Feb 13th before leaving West End, we invited them aboard and both crews split two bottles of wine telling stories about boats and cruising with lots of laughs and fun had by all.  Hopefully we'll see them again.  Stefan plans to do some free diving while in the Bahamas so we may see them in the Elutheras.

February 15, Carter Cay to Green Turtle Cay

As the song goes “what a difference a day makes”…….on the ocean, that is more true than anywhere.  In fact, what a difference a few hours can make!

I was awakened at 2am by the sound of howling wind.  Not being someone who springs to life when unexpectedly awakened I lay in my bed for a while to process the noises.  Then, realizing we were held in place by only an anchor, I decided to go up top and see what was going on.  The wind was howling at 30+ mph.  While we thought we were in a relatively sheltered anchorage, the wind direction had shifted and we were not sheltered.  So I watched the anchor alarm on my iPhone, not really knowing if it worked or not…..surely an App called “Drag Queen” could be relied upon?.........I reverted to GPS to see if we were moving or dragging our anchor.  It seemed we had indeed dragged a little.  Unfortunately the direction was towards a steep shelf behind us …….and the exposed wreck of a boat, about 50 ft behind us now.  Not much I could do but watch.  Letting out more scope on the anchor was not an option in this situation.
Morning came not too quickly.  The wind was still howling.  Raising the anchor became a team effort, with me at the helm, Brian on anchor windlass controls and Patrick having to re-set the Windlass breaker several times.  We were glad to be off.  Now we had to navigate the tight channel and shallow depth.  This took us within a boat length or two of land – a rock outcrop.  We were of course on the windward side being blown towards it.  The alternative was water less than 6 ft in depth.  We made it through.
We then motored with the strong wind and short-period waves on our beam.  This was not too comfortable, but we had it for a couple of hours.  When we made our turn, we had the wind almost behind us, resulting in a much smoother and faster ride.  We pulled out the jib to about 75% and we were surfing waves.  We hit over 9 knots several times, which is fast for our boat.

We made Green Turtle Cay by afternoon.  Salty was a real trooper…….due to weather, he was not able to go for his  morning walk before we left.  Despite having a piece of astroturf for doggie emergencies, he held out from about 7pm the night before.  Needless to say, he was well relived to set foot on terra firma!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014 West End to Carter Cay

Today we had a wonderful day. After hunkering down to ride out a 35-40 knot blow in the marina, we were ready to be out at sea again. We made an early start and were away at sun up. Our plan was to make it to Great Sale Cay, which is the half-way point across the Bahama Banks. There was no wind, and the ocean was like glass– ok, not ideal for sailing, but it made for a super-smooth ride. We motored at about 6 to 6.5 knots, and made it to Great Sale by 2:15. Knowing that tomorrow would be a long day, we elected to continue on to shorten our day.

We made it to Carter Cay. The scenery approaching was somewhat surreal. We saw several Cays that were no more than sand bars as is typical in the Bahamas, but then came across massive block-like limestone outcrops which rose 3 to 3 stories out of the ocean.  Because of the weather conditions and the mirage effect of the flat calm water, these sometimes presented themselves as if they were sitting above the ocean surface on stilts. This was very weird and almost “surreal”.

We saw little wildlife - several flying fish and an occasional fish, but Patrick did catch dinner– we think it may have been an Amberjack, but decided it was simply “dinner fish”. We had this with 3 lobsters we bought from a local diver at our last stop. He brought them to the boat (alive) and cleaned them for us.

So we are presently anchored in Carter Cay. We had a great dinner. Salty had a swim when he went on-shore. We are the only people here - it is uninhabited. We feel like we have our own planet tonight! The moon rose as the sun set - absolutely awesome to see!

Tomorrow we will head for Green Turtle Cay

The Sea of Abaco
I am having difficulties uploading photos due to a slow connection, but will try to upload more later.
Below are some pictures from the West End before we left for Carter Cay.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Longest passage yet, 65 nm from Bimini to West End, Grand Bahama Island

Wednesday - February 12th

Up again at 5:30am, once Salty had done his business onshore, we left Bimini by 6:30am, just in time to watch our 2nd sunrise in a row at 7am.

The breeze was strong (12-19 knots) and from a near perfect direction.(southeast). So on a heading of  18-25 degrees north-northeast  on a starboard broad reach we made great time by taking advantage of the Gulf Stream current averaging 6.7 nmph sailing nearly all the way (for you non-sailors that's freakin amazing!)!!

We hit a Midnight Sun II record top speed of 8.7 nmph (Speed over Ground or SOG) surfing down waves under full sail!  The wind was coming over our starboard aft quarter.

Around noon we each took sunshots using the sextant and calculated our latitude and longitude to within a couple miles using pencil & paper to go along with our 4 GPS devices, AIS radar, chart plotter and iPads.   We are very happy with these offshore passages so far...
Saw lots of freighters in the shipping channel and more flying fish.  

Arriving at West End,  Grand Bahama Island at 4:15pm for a 9 hr 45 min crossing, just in time to tie up and go for a swim at the beach then button up the boat before the rains came.

We just cooked/ate a delicious chili on board with the winds howling around us at near gale force.  The weather forecast says we should stay here all day Thursday to wait out the passing of this storm before we head across the Little Bahama Bank to the Abacos.

Made it into the Bahamas!

Tuesday, February 11th

Hello friends,

Getting up at 4:30 am isn't exactly most people's idea of a vacation, but when you're crossing the Gulf Sream it isn't so bad and worth the early effort.  We decided to go even though the forecast showed winds to be from the Northeast bc the waves were predicted to be only 2 - 6 ft and sunny skies.  We watched the sunrise after leaving Cape Florida. Fortuitously the winds shifted and came early from the East Southeast.  Awesome!  With the current expected to be running due North at about 2.5 nmph we didn't want the wind to create waves against the current (for every knot of wind opposite the current add 2 ft to the wave forecast).  So luckily with the wind more out of the south, the waves stayed around 4 - 6 ft and no one was seasick, although the dog Salty looked green around the gills.

The crossing took 9 hours, as we motored in the beginning buwt then sailed the last few miles so Brian could jump in and swim/drag behind the boat. We saw lots of flying fish and tons of Portuguese Man-of-war jellyfish along the way.

Patrick caught a fish, a bonito but decided to throw it back.

On the entrance to Bimini harbor/cut we saw giant sea rays in the clear water beneath the bow.

While tied up to Bimini Blue Water Marina, Neil visited Customs and Immigration, Brian was about to jump into the water due to the 85 degree temps and stuffy humid dock until Patrick pointed out the huge Bull sharks swimming under the boat. We later found out that the Big Game Sport Fishing marina (where we had an excellent dinner on an outdoor patio under the stars) next door feeds the sharks with fish guts.

We walked the whole town, saw the sunset and hit the "Sand Bar at the End of the World" for a goombah drink before dinner.  Very Tired everyone was asleep by 9:30 pm.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sail to Dinner Key, Coconut Grove Miami then over to No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne - Sunday & Monday, Feb. 9 & 10

Sunday & Monday, Feb. 9 & 10

We took a leisurely motor sail out of Ft Lauderdale outside and then down past South Beach where we reentered the ICW cruising just past downtown Miami.

 While underway we fixed the reefing line and saw lots of flying fish plus "the Elephants" which are big waves on the Gulf Stream.  Once under the Biscayne Bay Bridge we followed a cut into Dinner Key's mooring field.

Arriving prior to sunset we got ready to go ashore but the dinghy engine wouldn't start...
Uh oh.  After turning the boat upside down, we still couldn't find the engine starter fluid.
Alas Brian wasn't able to meet some friends that were onshore but it was Salty we were most worried about...we celebrated a quiet dinner of soup, salad and cheese & crackers after Salty had christened the square piece of AstroTurf on the deck for the first time.

The breeze was strong and kept the boat cool overnight w no A/C.  Monday morning we topped off diesel and Brian rode one of the folding bikes to West Marine.  Lunch & beers were delicious at Scotty's Landing.

On a short sail over to Key Biscayne we anchored in No Name Harbor inside Billy Bragg State Park.
Neil & Patrick worked on the computers and plotted our course for the crossing tomorrow. Brian took Salty ashore and hiked to the Lighthouse. Then Brian & Patrick took a swim and we grilled out steaks, potatoes, & Brussel sprouts to go along with a salad.

The plan is to get up at dawn and head into the stream, aiming for Bimini, we'll see how it goes...