Thursday, December 31, 2009
Dec. 20-28 John put me on the small plane to Nassau and when I got to the airport there, I learned my flight had been canceled! They booked me on the same flight the next day and arranged for my reservation at a nearby hotel for the night. Eventually, I arrived at my mom’s house and all went well from there. John had various adventures with wind and boats anchored too close for comfort. But finally we were reunited on Dec. 28th in the afternoon.
Dec. 29 It was overcast so we just did chores, read and played cards. John was able to read his mail that I had brought with me. I decided to finally paint a picture. I can’t draw but I can do dot painting with magic markers.
Dec. 30 Wednesday is mailboat day which means the mailboat brings food to all of the surrounding towns. Sampson Cay Marina store has the best selection so that was where we took the dinghy. It was windy and the return trip was a bit wet but that is part of the “cruising life”. After lunch, I painted another painting. I am slowly getting the hang of it. We also took a late swim by Thunderball Grotto and
Dec. 31 There was to be a regatta off Staniel Cay of small Bahamian sailboats, so we got in the dinghy and went out and watched them getting ready and then racing. There were three small ones and one special larger one. They start with their sails down and anchored by the starting line. At the sound of a whistle, they all pull up their anchors and sails and race down the course. Our favorite blue boat won! When we went in to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for lunch, it was a happening place with music and many people in T shirts supporting the race. When we got back to the boat, we realized we were just about aground! Because of the full moon, the tides were bigger than usual. We had to raise the anchor and move to another place which took several tries because we are in a tricky area with many places with no sand to get the anchor into and shallows here and there. We need to be in this area because another storm is coming tomorrow and we will be more protected back here behind Thunderball Grotto island. We plane to break out the champagne later for the New Year!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Dec. 15 Over the last few years when we have been down here, we have worked with an American couple who have an afterschool program at Black point just south of here. They live in Florida when they are not “on island”. When we were in Ft. Lauderdale, they came over and gave us 10 big boxes of school supplies to take to Black Point for them. It was a our pleasure to be a cargo ship for them. Today was drop off day so we motored down to Black Point, anchored, and transfered everything into the dinghy. The wife of the minister, who helps the children too, was there to greet us and receive the boxes. we spent the rest of the day at Lorraine’s Cafe doing emails, having lunch and admiring her happy new 4 month old baby, Joshua. She is 43 and has grand children so this one was a complete surprise! As we headed back north to the Staniel Cay area, we decided to go and anchor behind Thunderball Grotto island because it would give us protection from an upcoming storm. We found a nice deep sandy spot to drop the anchor out of the wild currents that swirl in that area behind the islands.
Dec.16-18 Luckily, we were the first to get into position because, over the next several days, other boats got the same idea. It was still calm and sunny so we could swim as long as it was slack tide. One day, we took the dinghy to nearby Sampson Cay to see what they had in their little grocery store. The big excitement was learning we could get WIFI set up on the boat so we could do emails and go on the internet without having to go ashore and pay $10 a pop. What a big difference a few years makes. Being able to get weather information anytime was a big plus too. More chores were done like cleaning up John’s deck and filing his papers, adding new movies to our movie list, writing Xmas cards, working on menus for the various guests coming later in the season. Late in the evening on the 18th, the storm started to pick up so we decided to take turns staying up during the night to make sure the anchor was holding, no one was going to hit us or vice versa. The wind was good and strong but not what had been forcast. We did get a few rain squalls but they were short. The sailboat next to us bounced all night and we were so glad to be on our heavy trawler.
Dec. 19 The storm continued most of the day but gradually got better because the wind went around more to the NW where we were more protected. I packed for my trip to Greenwich where i will be with my mom for xmas. John will stay put and guard Windermere. I return on Dec. 28...
Friday, December 11, 2009
Dec. 5-6 After several weeks at the marina and a Thanksgiving trip north, we were ready to brave the New River again and head for the Bahamas. Our helper, captain Mike Richards, came with us as we worked our way out of our tight slip and down the river. John was a bundle of nerves but managed to get us through the gauntlet of 7 bridges and one tourist paddlewheel coming up river. We dropped the captain off and headed out of Ft. Lauderdale harbor passing by the new gigantic cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas! The passage over to the Bahamas is about 55nm and crosses the Gulf Stream. Usually, one has to proceed SE at quite an angle to make up for he northward flow of the stream. We did not feel much sideways current and were able to just about stay on our rhumbline to a spot called Great Isaac Light. Reaching the Light and the Bahama Banks in the dark is a little surreal because the depth goes from thousands of feet to about 25 ft in a very short time. The Bank is big and it took us about 7 hours to cross. The average depth was 15ft! We arrived at Chub Cay alittle early, as we needed light to see our way into the anchorage area, so I circled for awhile. At sunrise, we went in and anchored just off the channel in clear turquoise water. We had arrived! During the day, we went into the marina and cleared in though customs and then went out and anchored again for the night. By 8pm, we were sound asleep.
Dec. 7 It was a gloriously sunny day with very little wind and calm seas. We got up at 6am and left for the Exuma Cays. The first leg of our trip took us past the western end of New Providence Island (30nm away) where Nassau is located. Once again, we were in thousands of feet of water. As we rounded the island, we were again on another shallow bank called Exuma Bank. The north/south border of the Bank is the Exuma island chain. This is the area we will cruise in during the winter. Our first destination was Norman’s Cay (48nm away) which is about the third island down the chain where cruisers stop. It is possible to anchor off the western side of the island but there are sandbars in may spots. We worked our way in as close as we could and ran into very shallow water and had to turn around and go back to deeper water and anchor (deeper being 11 ft). In the Bahamas, you have to “read the water” by its color to tell the depth, and makeup (sand, reef, grass on sand). After dinner and a few hands of cards, we collapsed into bed.
Dec. 8 We only went a short distance today because I wanted to check out Hawksbill Cay which we always rush past in our travels up and down the chain. It is in the Exumas Land & Sea Park which means it is a protected area so it stays nice. After anchoring off the beach, we took a much awaited swim in the wonderful water. After dinner, it was movie time and then bedtime.
Dec. 9 This was reconnaissance day for us. The main route down the Exuma chain, that everyone follows, we call highway 101. We needed to check out two anchorages along the chain that would give us protection from strong west winds. Checking out the first involved going out a cut between islands and then motoring along the ocean side of an island and coming back in another small cut into our protected area. Thank heaven we have electronic charts and we can put a course on them to follow through the maze of rocks and shallows! High tide was important and so was constantly watching the water color for changes. Our second spot involved skirting around the end of an island and then following channel to a deep spot that went behind another island protecting us from the right direction (west). We anchored but decided not to stay because we didn’t want to wait for high tide the next day to leave. Now, the tide was lower but the route was still possible and we followed our inbound trail to the safety of deeper water. Down highway 101 to our winter anchorage at Big Majors Spot near Staniel Cay. Dinner and a good movie and to bed.
Dec. 10 Sunny and calm and time to take the dinghy down off the top deck for the winter. We only have a small crane so the process is not easy and we don’t have a “system” in place yet. Finally she was in the water and the larger 15 hp engine in place. The engine acted up but John was finally able to get it running but only at high revs. He took it out for a spin to try to clean out the carburetor but it died in the middle of the harbor. I saw him anchor there and called our neighbor sailboat on the VHF radio and asked for assistance which they agreed to readily. John was towed back to the boat and the other skipper offered to help with the engine later in the day. He and his wife came over and the two men worked on the engine while I got to know his nice wife. Finally, after they had done all they could, John said he wanted to try once again to just run the thing around to see if this time it would clean everything out and low and behold it worked! We invited our helpers to cocktails and had a pleasant evening on the aft deck sitting around our table in the evening breeze.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The weather was not great and the wind was blowing so we talked to the marina dock master and he said we could go down the ICW to the bottom of Cumberland Island on a high tide in the afternoon without any trouble. The trip went without a hitch and “the ditch” was quiet of traffic. We passed a big submarine facility along the way. As we anchored, a group of dolphins came over to say hi and welcome us. I don’t know how they see in such muddy water.
Nov. 11-12 The weather was still gray but the wind and waves were not bad so we headed down to St. Augustine. Coming in the inlet there is a white knuckle affair. There was surf breaking on both sides of us and in the channel, there were 6-8ft slow swells the we surfed in to the protected harbor. The sandbars shift so much there that the buoys are moved constantly. What we did right was to come in on an ingoing tide and have a wind that was almost following. Once in the harbor, we turned north and followed the ICW buoys north up the river and under the bridge. The ICW buoys are different from the channel buoys which are right red returning to the harbor. This makes for an interesting go of it. We have to be very attentive! Above the bridge, we anchored along side the ICW in deep water.
This was a lay day because of tropical storm Ida that was just north of us. She was causing wind and seas down where we were. In the river there is a strong current and when there is wind against the current, you get chop. At times, we had about a 2ft chop but with our added weight, the boat hardly moved. We watched Homeland Security fast boats practice going up and down the river all day.
Nov. 13-14 The sun was out and the tide was going out at a nice clip so we decided to brave the inlet and see what was out there. It was exciting but not bad and the tide had us going 9kts which made it get over with sooner. Outside, there were confused seas and they were big. We knew it would get better the further south we went so we just battered down the hatches and rolled our way down the coast. The autopilot couldn’t steer the boat so we used the Z drive control manually which became tiring. We have a remote control on an umbilical cord but we had never used it. John tried and the engine went off. I freaked. It was not one of my better moments. Without forward motion, we were like a bobbing cork and the waves were, did I say, Big. He started the engine again and called the former owner to find out how to work the remote and we used it the rest of the day. By sundown, the seas had calmed enough that the auto pilot was able to be used again. Thank heaven.We made it by Cape Canaveral just before they closed the waters off of it to traffic as there was to be a shuttle launch. We lead a charmed life! The rest of the night and next day went well. The sun came out again and the water turned blue. By the late afternoon, we came in the Ft. Lauderdale channel along with a million “gnats” of all sizes. Is is Saturday and everyone is on the water. Through a few bridges and then we anchored off the channel in a spot we were told was ok by our captain. We leave early tomorrow morning and pick him up nearby. He will help us go up the New River to our marina.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
About 3pm, we left for Charleston, SC. The weather was glorious and the seas low. Overnight, we had a good moon and balmy temperatures which made for a delightful passage. It took all day to get to Charleston but the weather worked for us for once. Coming into Charleston in the main shipping channel any time is entertaining but at night it is more of a white knuckle ordeal. All the lights of the city combined with the aids to navigation take a while to sort out. Our AIS once again proved to be invaluable as many tankers and freighters were coming and going along with us. We felt like a mouse next to all of these lumbering elephants. John was trying to steer while I was trying to pick out the large slow moving objects in the distance from all of the lights. This gauntlet takes more than an hour but we finally pulled off the main channel into our smaller one and anchored across the harbor from the Battery part of Charleston.
Nov. 6-8 We have some friends who live in Charleston and with whom we haven’t connected with the last few visits. Our dinghy is always up on deck for passages so, unless we want to take it down or go into a marina, we don’t go ashore. Our friends came to the rescue and offered us a spot on their yacht club dock. We had the whole place to ourselves and a great view of the harbor to boot. They came for dinner and we all had a jolly evening.
The next morning, we slipped away bright and early because we wanted to get as far down the coast as possible, while we had calm weather. before stopping. It was a great day with even a few dolphins that came over to check us out. Not the large pods we have seen in the past but I’m not fussy! St. Catherine’s Sound, GA was as far as we got and we came in the Sound turned north and anchored off the southern end of Ossabaw Island right next to the ICW (Inter coastal Waterway). The moon was out and the stars in profusion. We made 102NM which was a good long way for us.
Today was sunny but with more wind and confused seas so we were glad we had gone all that way yesterday. As we were leaving the Sound, laughing gulls followed us off our stern thinking we were a fishing boat! They finally figured it out or got tired and left us alone. The channel in to St. Simon’s Island area was very choppy and we were surrounded by shrimp boats dragging their nets. Luckily they stayed out of the channel. It was like coming home pulling into Golden Isles Marina. We had left Windermere 54 here several times while we went home for the holidays. Coming in to the dock with 2 knots of current against us was a new adventure but we landed safely. We will stay here for 2 days because we want to see some old friends from Greenwich here and have them for dinner on board.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Oct. 25-28 Up early and off the dock with no problem. It is sure nice having a boat that maneuvers well in tight places. Down Long Island sound in nice conditions, we motored for the whole day. At about sundown, we anchored in Indian Harbor for the night. This boat has a new tool to us- an AIS system. As the system picks up any boat registered in the system (most large commercial boats and some pleasure boats like us) that are nearby, they show up on our electronic chart labeled by name, speed traveling, and direction traveling. This information is wonderful to have at our fingertips. To be able to call them by name on the radio, as they barrel down on you, and get a response is very reassuring especially in the dark on passage.
The next morning, we pulled into the dock at IHYC and settled in for a few day of showing the boat to friends and family. I am finally calm about coming into a dock! My mother and her nurse even came for dinner, a movie, and spent the night. My son, Chris, and his girlfriend drove over from Long Island and had lunch. John’s mother came too. He has been diagnosed with early prostate cancer and he spent all day Tues. in NYC having tests. We hope he can have treatment in the spring so we can be on the boat all winter in the Bahamas.
Oct. 29-31 After looking at the weather report for the mid atlantic area, we decided to try to go all the way from Greenwich to Beaufort, NC in one fell swoop. We left IHYC at about 9 am and motored down Long Island Sound, down the East River and our into NY Harbor with all of its hustle and bustle. Out the main shipping channel with a good tide and down the Jersey coast we went. By the next morning, we were off of the Delaware Bay area. The first day on any passage is spent constantly listening to things shifting and making noises and “battening the hatches”. We are still learning what objects need to be moved to safer locations. The seas were not bad but coming from several direction (confused). I learned warming even a simple pot of chili on a powerboat with no gimbaled stove or fiddles to keep the pots in place, is quite a challenge. Note to self: design some thing to help with this problem! It was nice to be warm and cozy and have a bed that we could sleep on sideways (boat was slightly rolling) that didn’t slip on its platform. The AIS worked like a dream the whole way. For the next 28 hours, the seas and wind were better. We had franks and beans (John’s favorite) for dinner. Around Hatteras, the seas got confused and choppy because it is shallower there. Also the northern edge of the Gulf Stream seemed to be closer in due to the south wind. For the last stretch to Beaufort, it was sunny but the going was slow due to the current against us from the Gulf Stream. We could tell we were in part of the stream because the water temperature went up to 78 degrees!. Finally around 2 am, we pulled into our anchorage by the coast guard station for Beaufort, NC. We had traveled 462.5 NM in 75 hours. To bed!
Monday, October 5, 2009
The next two days, we explored the Castine area and dropped off our guests because it was time to head slowly home. The weather continued to be sunny and pleasant. We stopped overnight in Portland and some friends rowed out in their dinghy and brought dinner. We have connected with this younger couple in the Carribean, Bahamas, and Maine and always enjoy their company.
The weather now got rainy and windy and the seas were confused which made our trip down to Gloucester a bit rolly and uncomfortable. It was nice to be inside and have windshield wipers! Things kept rattling in their drawers, etc. and we had to “batten the hatches”. The toaster oven fell off the counter and was broken but was the only casualty. Gloucester was a welcome site with its big protected harbor where we anchored for the night. The next day, the ses were better and we made our way down to the Cape Cod Canal without incident. The tide was just right as we transited and John saw 10.3 knots for our speed at one point! The next day, we headed down Buzzards Bay and turned in the Sackonnet River heading for Barrington and our boatyard. There is a narrow spot up the river a ways and as we came to it, we noticed kayakers riding the waves caused by the outgoing tide. John safely navigated Windermere through this gauntlet and then under a bridge while dodging all of the little boats around us out for their Sunday cruises. His final moment of glory was docking the boat, for the first time, going sideways using our Z drive while the head of the yard was watching and waiting to take our lines. We got cheers from the other line takers.
Now Windermere will be at the boatyard for almost a month getting everything up to snuff for our trip to the Bahamas for the winter.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
On Sunday, it was time to leave and going out the seaway between two land masses, that has large surf breaking on the rocks, was exciting. Luckily it was a glorious sunny day. The swells from the hurricane were at least 8 to12 feet high but were far apart. Dodging lobster pots was tricky because they would go way under water as the swell came over them. The next few hours, we just bobbed along in the swells with out a problem. As the evening approached and we were about an hour out of Rockland, the heavens opened up and the downpour followed us right to our anchorage.It took all 4 of us to watch for the pot in the failing light. Putting the anchor down, I got soaked through my slicker but we landed safely.
Our guests left with me in tow as I had to go down to Greenwich to take care of my mother for a week. John stayed on the boat, did projects and went out with friends. It was good for him to have some “down time”.
The next set of guests brought me back and the adventure continued. The weather was sunny but getting cooler. We headed to one of our favorite anchorages on Vinalhaven called Seal Bay. Our friends, Mike and De joined us and the party began. They brought lobster which we ate on the stern deck at our wonderful big table. The next day, Mike treated us to a dinghy ride through the interior of Vinalhaven. That afternoon, a whole bunch of boats came into our spot so we decided to move to a quieter location. After anchoring, John and our friend, George went looking for mussels for dinner and Mike and I went to look for clams. Finally, he found some and dug them up for our supper the next night. They must hang in the water and purge themselves of sand before they are edible. That night, we feasted on mussels in white wine and several vegetable salads, garlic bread and, John's favorite, stuffed mushrooms!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
In between guests, we were able to go further East to Roque Island. This island is part of an archipelago of islands and is about 70 miles east of Rockland. The main harbor of Roque has a crescent one mile long and very deep white sand beach that reminded us of Cape Cod. We spent the morning walking the length of it and beachcombing for small speckled granite rocks for my "living" Maine trough garden that I have on the boat. The weather was calm and glorious for the whole trip. I was nice to be just the two of us and to enjoy this beautiful spot. For our return trip back to Rockland, we decided to go outside of all the islands along the coast as to avoid most of the lobster pots. This worked well and we were able to briefly spot two whales along the way! The tides are serious up here and we were able to use the current to our advantage to save ontime and fuel both ways. This saving fuel stuff is new to us.
Now we are waiting for some more guests and are planning our next few weeks of time still left in our Northern Paradise.
The month of July was a bit foggy, wet, and gray but with a few much appreciated sunny days here and there. Being on a trawler was wonderful because it is so warm and cozy on matter what the weather. Luckily, when we had guests aboard, the weather mostly cooperated. On several occasions, we were able to reconnect with our cruising friends who were still willing to talk to us even though we had gone to "the dark side".
The highlight of our month was the visit by John's daughter, Alison, and her husband, Tom, and most importantly the first grandson, Ethan. The boat was perfect for the 16 month old to run up and down the wrap around decks. Her loved climbing up into the pilotberth, going exploring in the dinghy, splashing in the inflatable kiddie pool, being in his dad's backpack for hikes in the woods, and keeping us on our toes chasing after him. By nightfall, we all fell into bed and passed out.
Everyday we are learning more about handling this new boat and getting our teamwork fine tuned. There are a whole new set of good and bad noises to learn. So far, she is working fine and John is enjoying working in an engine room in which he fits! I love having a real refridgerator and a window to look out of while washing the dishes!