Sunday, December 16, 2012

the mighty fisherman

dinner at Footprints

Kevork on Boo Boo Hill

really high tide in the cave by Big Majors, Exumas

Nov. 25-28 We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale and took our dinghy around the area and up the New River to have lunch and see a movie. One day, our friend Robin picked us up and took us to Boca Raton to have lunch at her house and she was a great help with getting some errands done as well. Our final day, Virginia and Richard, friends from Barrington, took us out to lunch too.

Nov. 29 Time to move down the few miles to Miami Beach and to the anchorage we enjoyed so much last year. After anchoring, we went into the Sunset Harbor marina and reconnected with our friends Mile and Laureen on Ariel. They rent a slip there for several months before going over to the Bahamas for the rest of the winter. 

Nov. 30-Dec. 5 We went to the movies twice, enjoyed several of the wonderful restaurants in the area with Ariel, and made almost daily trips to the supermarket trying to get all of the last minute provisions. Ariel also showed us where all of the useful stores were located. At night, we loved looking at the Miami skyline across Biscayne Bay. 

Dec. 6 Our friend and neighbor from Mystic, Kevork, arrived in the afternoon driven by Robin. We had cocktails on the top deck enjoying the views. Dinner was stirfry and decadent gingerbread. 

Dec. 7 Robin came back down to play and we had a rousing game of biriba before going out to lunch with our friends from Ariel. Back to the Mexican place we loved so much and it didn’t disappoint us! Afterwards, more errands. They are habit forming when you are about to leave civilization. Back on the boat for more cards and a pasta dinner. Robin drove home after the rush hour traffic.

Dec. 8-9 Today is finally the day! The weather gods were cooperating for a passage across the gulf stream and on to Nassau.There were 4 cruise ships in the Government Cut Channel so we had to use the secondary one. Kevork put a line off the stern to try to catch a mahi mahi and landed two bonitos! I made him throw them back because I really wanted a mahi. He had fun catching them anyway. The wind was basically on the nose but light and the seas were 2-3 ft. No problem for us. Around 5 am we converged with a small armada of sail and power boats all trying to go through a narrow pass in the reef on the eastern end of the Bahama bank called North West Channel light. Of course the tall pole that is supposed to mark the way wasn’t lit! By noon we were just about at Albany marina on the south western side of New Providence island. We came in and tied up and cleared customs. Kevork and I went for a late afternoon swim. For dinner, we went to the informal restaurant in the Albany complex. It is called Footprints and the floor of the central dining area is covered with a thin layer of sand! there is a wonderful pool with fake rock formations that form some grottos and a slide for the kids. Our dinners were delicious and it was fun to celebrate our arrival in the Bahamas.

Dec. 10 We were eager to get going to the Exumas so we took off efficiently. The wind and waves were not a problem so Kevork and I spent the morning cooking up our Moroccan dinner. We had quesadillas for lunch and Kevork even whipped up a blueberry pie for dessert! Once we were anchored at Shroud Cay, we went for a quick swim in the lusciously clear water. 

Dec. 11 Down the chain to Warderick Wells we went and anchored in the bay by Emerald Rock. After launching the dinghy, we motored in to the ranger station and climbed up to BooBoo Hill. On our way back to the boat, we stopped to snorkel on one of the little reefs near Emerald Rock. The wind was medium but not from a good direction for our next planned destination so we decided to go all the way to Staniel Cay. The anchorage was almost empty so we were able to get our favorite “parking place.”
The men took the picnic table into pirate beach and put it together while the “no-see-ums” bit their legs. Dinner was leftovers and cards were very competitive.

Dec. 12 A beautiful day and time to get into the water and clean the bottom of Windermere a bit before swimming to shore. I took Kevork to see the famous swimming pigs and there were 5 big ones this time.  John had invited some French Canadian friends for lunch al fresco. I made a rice salad with tuna and the wife made a great apple pie. Exodus arrived later with a captain on board helping them for the crossing. 

Dec.13 There was no wind so we decided to go around Staniel Cay on the ocean side to show Kevork the reefs out there and all the new houses. Afterwards, we all had lunch at the SCYC and i took him into thunderball grotto for a swim. He really liked that. 

Dec. 14 It was windy but we took Kevork north in the dinghy to show him some of the islands beyond where we were sitting. We finished the card tournament and John won this one. There will be a rematch!

Dec. 15 Kevork left early in the morning on the Flamingo flight and we used the rest of the day to clean up and do laundry. We did manage to stop for lunch at SCYC with Exodus and i had a quick kayak paddle with Susan from Exodus.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nov. 25-28 We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale and took our dinghy around the area and up the New River to have lunch and see a movie. One day, our friend Robin picked us up and took us to Boca Raton to have lunch at her house and she was a great help with getting some errands done as well. Our final day, Virginia and Richard, friends from Barrington, took us out to lunch too.

Nov. 29 Time to move down the few miles to Miami Beach and to the anchorage we enjoyed so much last year. After anchoring, we went into the Sunset Harbor marina and reconnected with our friends Mile and Laureen on Ariel. They rent a slip there for several months before going over to the Bahamas for the rest of the winter. 

Nov. 30-Dec. 5 We went to the movies twice, enjoyed several of the wonderful restaurants in the area with Ariel, and made almost daily trips to the supermarket trying to get all of the last minute provisions. Ariel also showed us where all of the useful stores were located. At night, we loved looking at the Miami skyline across Biscayne Bay. 

Dec. 6 our friend and neighbor from Mystic, Kevork, arrived in the afternoon driven by Robin. We had cocktails on the top deck enjoying the views. Dinner was stirfry and decadent gingerbread. Tomorrow, we will leave after lunch and cross over to the Bahamas, Yeah!! finally off to paradise!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Coast Guard cutter that towed us in last spring in NYC

sunset along the way

John at Bray's Plantation with the Raes and Fosters

leaping spotted dolphin

dolphins off Florida

very big cruise ship in Ft. Lauderdale

Nov. 16 Around mid morning, we came into the marina and settled in for the night. They have a “loaner” car so we were able to go get some groceries. Afterwards, we had lunch at the nice restaurant overlooking the marina. Our friends Gail and Scott Ledbetter, whom we see each time we come to St. Simon’s island, joined us aboard for dinner and lively conversation. We both know them from Greenwich when we were children.

Nov. 17 Another gray day and we decided to go on the outside down to the St. Mary’s river. It was sloppy and windy and we rocked and rolled the whole way down. One really big waves and the toaster oven went flying. Our destination was the town of St. Mary’s and our mission was to visit some cruising friends who live there. The interesting part of the trip is the fact that our electronic charts don’t have many if any depths,etc. that far up the river! and neither do our paper charts! We found there were actually some red and green buoys along the way and we decided to anchor just short of town where our charts stopped. Dinner and early to bed to sleep perchance to dream of sun and calm seas in the Bahamas.

Nov. 18 Our friends were delayed with family so we took the tender into town and walked around. Lunch was at an outdoor cafe and delicious. The sun was actually out and the temperature cool but nice. After lunch, we took the tender the 7 miles over to Fernandina Beach to check out where we were going to fuel up the next day. Back at the boat, we got a call from our friends telling us they were back in town and there was a cruisers’ cocktail party in a hotel there. We took the tender in and walked to the hotel and walked into the bar area and right into a neighbor from Mystic who lives in our condo complex no less! She had just retired and was going to spend the winter cruising with her boyfriend. Small world. After cocktails, we had a nice quiet dinner with our friends at a restaurant nearby. 

Nov. 19 Took the boat over to the fuel dock and filled up in record time and at a record low price too. Afterwards, we went down the ICW about 10 miles and anchored in a wide creek with some other boats. Later in the evening, I noticed a masthead light right by the boat and realized there was a small sailboat right next to us. Where did he come from? I think we came together when we both turned 180 with the change in tidal current. We waited a while to see if we would separate a bit but it wasn’t happening. Everything got turned on and we brought up the anchor and moved to a better spot. During all of this noise and movement, not a sound was heard from the small sailboat. What sound sleepers they are!

Nov. 20 First thing in the morning we saw that some friends on another trawler called Valkerie were coming down the ICW right by us. We radioed them and asked them to lead us down the next stretch to the St. John’s river where we planned to go out. The agreed and did a great job of letting us know where the shallow spots were. There were several and I think we dug a new channel in a few places. They dropped us off at the river and we headed down it to the sea. The waves were not horrible and I had battened down all the hatches and the toaster oven. As we were passing St. Augustine, John told me we had to go in so he could fix a fuel airlock issue. We were only about an hour off shore so it didn’t take long to get there. The channel in is always thrilling and doing it into the sun is even more. It takes one person looking for the buoys and one person to steer/ surf in through the waves. The channel is not straight but has several turns to it. We anchored in our usual place and John was able to fix the problem pretty quickly. We decided to spend the night and leave for Ft. Pierce the next morning.

Nov. 21 The sun was out again which made going out through 8-10ft incoming waves in the channel a bit more bearable. The seas outside were still big but spaced out so we could rock and roll with them and we did for the next 22 hours all the way to Ft. Pierce. We finally arrived at 5 am and anchored in our usual spot by the Pelican Yacht Club. 

Nov. 22 Turkeyday! After a nice nap and a long shower, we dressed and took the dinghy in to the yacht club. Marcy Porter, a friend from Mystic, picked us up and took us to her condo at the Moorings in Vero Beach. Her son and his family were visiting and we all had a delicious thanksgiving dinner. They dropped us back at the dinghy, we went to the boat, raised the dinghy,  and went to bed. I think it was about 7pm. 

Nov. 23 Sunny again! I could get used to this. After sleeping 12 hours, we took off for Lake Worth by Palm Beach. This was a quick run as the current was with us the whole time even if the seas were still big. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and anchored in a spot just off the channel where we had anchored last year. 

Nov.24 Sunny yet again. I am seeing a trend. This time we were on our way to Ft. Lauderdale. The current was against us but the waves were much better. A big pod of spotted and white sided dolphins joined us and played off the bow for a long time. Coming into Ft. Lauderdale on a Saturday afternoon is not for the faint of heart! There are so many crazy “knats” of all sizes that get in your way. We had to wait by one bridge for a few minutes with everyone going hither and thither. We were very glad to be finally anchored in our secret spot. This is truly a place with the most yacht eye candy in the world. We saw Cakewalk(281ft), Seven Seas (Steven Spielberg’s 281ft), Tenacious (large beautiful blue sailboat), Tuscan Sun, and Copacetic (expedition boat) along our route. These are all boats we know from the Exumas. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nov. 2 Got the tender launched and Monaise picked us up at the yacht club. She had a tree branch across her driveway and John was the lumberjack for that project. Afterwards, we all met my mom for a farewell lunch at IHYC. Monaise then took us to see her possible new apartment and dropped us off. We later had a friends of hers on board to see the boat and have cocktails.

Nov. 3 John’s birthday! and time to finally head south. We left around 11 am to catch the good tide through NYC. We expected a lot of debris in the water but luckily saw little. The tide spit us out the Sand Hook channel and down the coast of NJ. The weather was windy but the seas were on our stern and pretty low. We slowly got into passage mode sleeping, eating, and playing card games or reading. These are the times my “activity bag” gets a workout! By the next morning, we were off of Cape May and the Delaware river entrance.

Nov.4-5 We proceeded southward at a good clip with relatively benign conditions. The wind and seas stayed off our stern. Watching movies on my computer passed the time during night watches. Not much traffic out here. Off of Hatteras, we were able to get cell phone reception and even the internet so we made a few quick calls and sent a few emails to friends and family to let them know we were fine. This was not something we were used to being able to do on the “high seas”. Finally, we turned NW to go to Beaufort, NC and had the bumpiest ride of the passage. Luckily it was a short ride of only a few hours. Coming into Beaufort at night is a bit of a challenge because of all of the lights. It is hard to pick out which ones were next in the channel but we finally made it inside and anchored off of the Coast Guard station. We had come 469 nautical miles in 61.3 hours with an average speed of 7.63 knots which was a record for us!

Nov. 6 This was a catch up on sleep and tell everyone we were safe day. 

Nov. 7 It was still gray and windy but still from the north so we headed out to do an overnight to St. Helenas sound just south of Charleston. We left around 5 am to be able to get a favorable outgoing tide and we did but soon realized the seas were still too uncomfortable to go the distance. A few hours out, we changed course and headed for Wrightsville Beach instead which would be a day trip.A group of spotted dolphins joined us for about 20 mins which I always love. The spotted ones are more playful and jumpy than the regular gray bottlenose species. Around 3pm, we arrived and anchored inside in the protected anchorage behind the houses that line the beach there.

Nov. 8-9 The sun was out! This time we waited a bit for the wind and seas to go down before leaving around 11 am. The wind was still on our back but the seas were a bit lumpy. We carried on knowing the conditions would get better by morning. A dawn, I crossed the channel leading to Charleston while dodging a rather large tanker coming out the channel. It was nice having a bit of light to see what was going on around me!
By the middle of the afternoon, we were up the Coosaw river almost to Brickyard Creek where we were going to spend the next few days. We had done this last year, visiting Alan and Cathy Rae, but this time we anchored off in the channel near their house. There were several boats already settled in which meant it was time for a party! Their neighbors had everyone over for cocktail so we got to meet some new cruisers and see some we already knew from the Bahamas over the years.

Nov. 10 This was our 22nd wedding anniversary! Cathy leant us her car and we went to the grocery store and did some other errands. Lunch was at a good Mexican place with margaritas. For dinner, we went out to a restaurant in Port Royal with the Raes and one other couple. As an appetizer, we all had fried dill pickle chips which is a local delicacy and quite tasty. It was a fun evening for our anniversary celebration.

Nov. 11 Quiet day on the boat. We went ashore and exercised- John walked and I rode in circles around him on Cathy’s bike. 

Nov. 12 The Raes and ourselves drove to Bray’s Plantation to see my distant cousins the Fosters. We had seen them last year on our way south and wanted to show the Raes their house and the plantation. We all got the 25 cent tour and had a good lunch to boot. Back home, we just watched a movie as we were full from lunch.

Nov. 13 Time to move on and the weather was calm enough to go outside down past Beaufort, SC and all the way to St. Catherine’s island where we anchored in last year’s spot. 

Nov.14 Spent the day anchored off St. Catherine’s island entertaining ourselves and staying warm and dry.

Nov. 15th We went on the inside down the ICW to the bottom of St. Catherine island and then outside down to St. Simons. Coming into the channel for Golden Isles Marina at low tide, we saw 6.2ft below us which meant we were pushing mud! Finally, closer to the marina, we got enough depth to anchor for the night. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oct. 19 Well, we are finally on the road. The Welch’s kindly drove us up to BCHM and cast off our lines. We weren’t sure we would be making the trip south this year because we had put the boat on the market last spring- but she didn’t sell. So,we are going to use her till she does. Our seal problem is finally fixed and we had a good time taking a road trip to Maine for a month. It was fun being on other people’s boats and in some of their homes too. We felt like such slugs being guests aboard with nothing to do but eat, drink, and be merry! Down the bay we motored, around the corner by Point Judith and on to our usual anchorage in East Bay on Fisher’s Island for the night.

Oct. 20 It was a nice day for a motor down Long Island Sound and into Oyster Bay. We anchored at the southern end of the bay for the night

Oct. 21 We launched the tender and went to the docks to meet my family lawyer, Al, and his wife. He had wanted to see the boat for a long time and was thrilled to finally do so. That evening, we went to the MacDougall’s house for dinner. They are old friends of John’s from his SCYC sailing days.

Oct. 22 The short hop over to Greenwich, CT and the IHYC dock went smoothly but the docking didn’t. We had forgotten to check the tide and found ourselves aground about 10 feet off the dock! Luckily, we could just throw our lines to the dock attendant and he cleated us to the dock. As the tide rose, John was able to pull us closer and closer till we finally were really in tight. I went with mom’s caretaker, Louis, to get the extra family car for us to use for the week.

Oct. 23-26 We did errands, worked at mom’s house, went to John’s mom’s house and ate at the yacht club. My newly married son, chris, and his new bride, Corey, and her mom came over too for lunch. We were able to hear all about their honeymoon in northern Italy.

Oct. 27-29 There was a nasty hurricane/tropical storm headed up the coast so it was time to hide from it somewhere. We decided to go back across Long Island Sound to hide in Cold Spring harbor. This harbor is long and narrow and has steep hills on both sides. We tucked right near shore and most of the easterly winds went right over us. The seas never got much more than 1-2 ft. Only one quick gust actually heeled us over a bit. As we heard about all of the damage in the areas around us, we felt lucky to be self contained on our boat. Unlike our land friends and family, we had heat, electricity, a stove that worked, flushing toilets, movies and even TV! Thank God for cell phones.

Oct. 30 By the afternoon, I was getting antsy to move somewhere, anywhere so we went back across the Sound to Greenwich and checked out the damage at the IHYC. They had quite extensive waterfront damage and the club had no power but it was fine.
We then anchored out near a small island that would give us some protection from the SE winds for the night. Gradually, we started hearing from our land and sailing friends inquiring as to our state and telling us about their states.

Oct. 31 Halloween and cold. We launched the tender early in the morning and went into a marina across from the IHYC where we could leave the tender for the day. What a day! First, a taxi to the doctors office for John’s checkup, then we walked to a nearby bank to get some papers notorized, then, Louis picked us up and took us to mom’s house (her road looked like a war zone but was passable by car) to get the family car, then off to try to find Monaise, John’s mom, who was missing in action for 2 days. We drove almost to her house and had to walk the rest of the way stepping over wires and trees. She was luckily there in the dark with no power. Her cell wouldn’t work by the house. We got her generator working, etc. and went back to the tender and back to the boat for the night.

Nov. 1 It was sunny for a while and we lazed around till after lunch when we moved the boat in closer to the yacht club. Another quiet evening aboard.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 1-7 The tow boat came just after lunch and towed us up the river with the incoming tide to the Wilminton Marine Center. They used two boats to maneuver us down the channel and into our spot on the face dock. Luckily, the best mechanic to repair our transmission was across the street! Our good luck. The trouble turned out to be a fitting that connected a hose to a pump in the transmission. This fitting was supposed to have metric threads but the original mechanic who assembled this transmission, when the boat was being built, used SAE (american) threads and just pushed harder to get it to work. We are lucky that it held as long as it did. During our wait for parts, we met several nice couples on other boats and watched the six foot alligator swim around the marina and sun himself on the mud bank nearby. There were also egrets and other song birds and boats coming and going to watch. One day, we launched the tender and went up river to Wilmington for lunch and to walk around. There was a farmer’s market going on and we bought some interesting vegetables. Finally, all of the parts arrived and were installed and we were off with the outgoing tide. We decided to go up the ICW a short way to save about 35 miles on our trip. After we got outside into the ocean, the wind was a bit on our nose so we hobby horsed for the first 6 hours. Then the wind went around and died and we had a nice trip to Hatteras in the Gulf Stream.
being towed up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington

alligator in the marina

mr. alligator

May 8-9 Around Hatteras and up the coast with no incident. We were still putting oil in the Z drive reserve tank every 6 hours. Going this slow is like watching grass grow but we did have a good current with us much of the time which helped.
May10 By 9 am we were inside Sandy Hook and headed for New York Harbor through the Verrazano Bridge. It was strange seeing the new World Trade Center buildings under construction! The tide was with us (planned) and we zoomed up the East River and were spit out the other side. We docked at Indian Harbor Yacht Club by 2pm and after a nap, had dinner with John’s mom and stepdad that night at the club. 

Statue of Liberty out my sink window

NYC skyline

lots of boats moving in New York Harbor

the Brooklyn Bridge

Almost to Hellgate and zooming along

May 11-13 Saw my mom and went to several dinners with friends and relatives and celebrated Mother’s day.
May 14-15 The time was right so we headed off down Long Island Sound in calm seas all the way to Jamestown RI, where we anchored at around 2am.  After some sleep, we took the boat to Barrington to BCHM where she would get her repairs done and get ready for the summer.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 13 It was a beautiful day and time for a final lunch at Taste and Sea with Semezana and Exodus. Afterwards, I picked up Susan and Suzie and took them to Twin Cays for a snorkel/shelling expedition. Snorkel/ shelling means looking for shells in the shallows using a snorkel and mask. We did have too much luck so we decided to go back to North Gaulin Cay and look for sand dollars. Here we had much better luck and Suzie found a good collection of them. All in all it was a good final girlies expedition!

April. 14 It was windy but we took the dinghy into Staniel with all of my herb plants and gave them to Suzanna at SCYC to use for their restaurant. Taking them back into the States was a tricky proposition. A last lunch at the SCYC was in order. Later, we were invited for cocktails aboard Exodus along with Semezana and John and Arnie had a good cigar on the aft deck before Semezana arrived. We all watched the sunset and had some good conversation. 

April. 15 The wind piped up quite a bit but luckily from the east which is no problem for our anchorage. I had John drop me off at the beach so I could have a final swim back to the boat- downwind. For dinner, we had Semezana, with their guest Linda, over and did a joint spread with the best for last- a special chocolate cake I had been saving in the freezer! Linda didn’t want any so there was more for the rest of us- yum.

April. 16 It was still windy but we needed to take in the last garbage in to Staniel. On our way over to see Migration, a Nordhavn 68, we said good bye to No Agenda. Migration is a brand new boat and has quite alot of interesting features so it took a while to see all of it and her owner was happy to show it off.

April. 17 Today was departure day. The wind was down a little and our run up to Norman's Cay was quick and easy. Along the way, we realized the oil was leaking again! John had gotten some more buckets of it and used it as we went along. We anchored off the western beach and waited for Joyant to arrive the next day.

Joyant sailing into the anchorage

April 18 Joyant arrived in the early afternoon and we moved closer to the beach to keep them company. After launching our tender, everyone got in and went for an expedition to the eastern side of the cay and the pond where we looked for hammerhead sharks. They breed in the pond but there weren’t any that we could see. Bad timing I guess. Joyant’s two grandsons enjoyed the ride and did see two turtles so the whole trip was worth it. Later, we all had dinner aboard joyant and enjoyed the boys drawings. They even made one of Windermere!

April 19 We left right after Joyant, who was going south, and motored up to the new marina on the south shore of New Providence called Albany. After we got settled, Wolfie and a friend met us and took us to his house so John could see it and then we all went out to dinner.

April. 20 Julie and Rick Palm arrived and we immediately left on our passage to Florida and up the coast. Everything was wonderful and calm till we got in the middle of the gulf stream. Then we were rocking and rolling and the wind, even from the south, was getting stronger. We knew worse weather was a head of us and we needed to get some more oil somewhere so we decided to go into Ft. Pierce. We had anchored near the coast guard station last fall but this time they made us move four times till we were “far enough away” from them. We were not happy with the CG to say the least. 

Peter Ross greets us in Ft. Pierce

April. 22 We got the tender down and Joan and Peter Ross came and picked the four of us up and took us to clear customs which was easy. Then we did some errands and went for a fun lunch at the Tiki bar at the Ft. Pierce marina. They dropped us off and we enjoyed the rest of the day on board.

April 23-25 We ordered the oil and waited for it to arrive. One day we rented a car and did errands and another, we walked around and found a nice lunch place, and yet another we walked to the little aquarium, we also took the tender of a ride around the harbor to see what was there and even some ibis in the mangroves. Over the days, the men found various parts that they could put together to help make the oil filling easier. The last night, another OCC sailboat from Australia arrived and anchored right behind us so we had them for cocktails. 

April 26-27 The oil finally arrived and we left on the outgoing tide around noon. Our passage went well and we were going over eleven knots at times in the gulf stream. Everyone was sharing the watches and it was wonderful having other easy people on board.

April 28 Around 8 am, when I was just waking up to come on deck for my watch, I heard the engine noise change and then a horrible high pitched noise that didn’t sound good. The engine stopped, I went up to the pilot house and John told me the transmission had lost its fluid all over the engine room floor. For the next several hours, we radioed to a nearby freighter that relayed our distress message to the Coast Guard. They arrived to tow us in to the Cape Fear river area. This took till around 9:30pm even though we were only about 50 miles off shore. Luckily, the weather was benign and the towing smooth. Outside the channel, they dropped us off and a towboat US boat came and towed us the rest of the way to a nice marina just a short ways up the river. We needed two tow boats to get us into the face dock but all went smoothly. We tied up and went to bed.

Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay to the rescue

Windermere in tow

Captain and first mate lunching in life preservers

April 29 We walked around the cute town of Southport and had a nice lunch downtown. It was wonderful to see all the spring flowering bushes even if they did drive Rick’s allergies crazy.

April 30 John made lots of calls to get the boat fixed and we borrowed a car to get some groceries.
Tomorrow we will get towed to Wilmington, NC which is about 3 hours up the Cape Fear river from here, and to the Wilmington Marine Center.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mar. 30 Judy came by to play cards and tell us she had found a helper for the island.

Mar. 31 No Agenda had a big “Jimmy Buffet” party with about 20 people from the anchorage and lots of good food.

April 1-2 My leg got gradually better and I was able to kayak with Suzie and swim a little. John took Judy to the airport for her flight back to the States.

April 3 We had met a fun couple at the Buffet party and we invited them to go with us south to Black Point for pizza and to explore a new beach on Bitter Guana cay. He is Swiss and she is American and this is their first time cruising in the Bahamas. Our first stop was the north end of Bitter guana cay to see the iguanas nd feed them grapes. Gail was scared of them so Hans did all the feeding.  We then all walked around Black Point a bit and the went for a good pizza at Deshamon’s restaurant. After our leisurely lunch, we went back north to the new beach(to us) on the southern end of Bitter Guana cay. We walked and shelled a bit and had the place all to ourselves. The wind was calm enough so we could go out through a small cut and into the ocean side. As we went, we passed an osprey sitting up high on a big rock eating a fish. We could get quite close before he flew off. The water color on the ocean side was many shades of turquoise depending on the depth. Our new friends really liked the excursion and invited us back to their power catamaran for fudgey brownies and some red wine made with a hint of chocolate! This was a new taste sensation for us.

Nice rock on Bitter Guana cay with osprey nest at left

April 4 The weather was so nice and calm again that John and I decided togo exploring north this time. We took the dinghy to the west side of several cays and took photos of some big orange starfish. Then we anchored off of a big sandbar and had great luck collecting sand dollars and some other shells. Then we circumnavigated the cay nearby and worked our way home. It was nice being just out with John on our own exploring and enjoying the “neighborhood”.

nice big starfish

April 5 Now the wind had decided to come from the dreaded SW so the anchorage was very choppy. The mail boat came in and we had to go in and get some groceries. Luckily, we could go between the Majors (islands) over to Staniel without getting soaked. Mission accomplished and back to the mother ship safely.

April. 6 Our last official guests arrived on the morning flight. Wray and Sherry, the builders of our boat, were thrilled to be back in paradise. The wind was still from the W so we took them to Judy’s main beach that faces N and we were protected mostly from the wind and definitely from the chop. They enjoyed splashing in the turquoise water and siting on the beach and reading. John got to talk more to Judy’s new young caretaker and I read and swam.  It was a nice afternoon in the Bahamas!

April. 7 Overnight the wind switched to the NE which made the anchorage much calmer. We all went into Staniel for a community fund raising picnic. They were trying to raise money for a school field trip to the Abacos. There are only 13 students in the small school and they don’t get to go very far so it is educational to show them the different parts of their own country.  After lunch, Wray and I swam to the beach and John brought Sherry there. We all read and chatted and then rushed back to Windermere to get ready for the arrival of Joyant for cocktails and dinner. Joyant is owned by Tom and Dorothy Wadlow who we know from Mystic! they had just come back from Europe via the Caribbean and are on their way back home like us. We all had a delicious seafood pasta and good carrots made by Sherry before we headed to the beach for a bond fire with the gang. Susan from No Agenda brought smor’s makings. Many of us indulged and they brought back many childhood memories!

Dinner with Joyant and Wray and Sherry

April 8 Happy Easter! The wind was still howling from the NE so the men decided to work on our stereo system that wasn’t working right and do some other trouble shooting. Sherry and I read and stayed out of the way. We had our Easter ham dinner and played more cards. 
our techie, Wray, at work

April 9 Around lunchtime, our friend, Wolfie flew down with his Brazilian wife, Monica and his daughter and her boyfriend. We all had lunch at SCYC and then loaded into the dinghy to go snorkeling at Thunderball. When we got there, the boyfriend said he didn’t know how to swim very well! They current was running so we helped him go into the grotto and explore and come back out. Then we all piled into the dinghy again and went to the Fowl Cay cut for everyone to “fly” over the deep cut and look at all the fish. Back on the mother ship. Wray, Sherry, and the daughter jumped off the swim platform on the flying bridge which they loved. John took the gang back to the airport while Sherry and I got dinner ready.

feathery thingys in Thunderball

April 10 The wind was down so John took us to snorkel the Fowl Cay cut once more in better conditions. Wray and Sherry were happy to see a lion fish and I found a big King Helmet shell. It was alive so I put it back after showing it to them. Then John took the three of us out to Sandy Cay for a picnic and some beach combing. We had the place all to ourselves and Wray brought some Jimmy Buffet music to complete the atmosphere.

King Helmet

sunset over the Big Majors anchorage

April.11 John took  the guys to Staniel to look for conchs in the conch pile on the south side of the town.  I took Wray and Sherry snorkeling in the anchorage and we saw a Flying Gunard! This fish is very strange looking and not common. I didn’t have my camera but I am going back to see if I can find it again to get a photo. After that, Wray and I sat in the water and cleaned his new conchs while Sherry stared out at the beautiful scene in the anchorage. Back on the boat, they cleaned up and we had lunch before John took them to the airport. Now, we just enjoyed getting our boat back, played Biriba (John got an all time high score!!!) and having dinner and a movie.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mar. 17 Larry and Leslie departed on the mornig flight, which of course was late. We did chores and enjoyed getting the boat back.

Mar. 18-20 It was back to normal on the anchorage. We watched the comings and goings of different boats, went swimming,watched movies that Faring had lent us, and palyed cards with Judy on Little Majors. Our friend, Joann, on Walkabout had broken her outboard engine mount so we lent her our little electric engine while hers was being fixed.

Mar. 21 Finally, it was mailboat day and fresh food would be available at the stores. Joann came with us to Staniel and we had lunch at the yacht club together while we waited for the food to be unloaded. Then we took the dinghy over to the cove by the general store and sat in the shade with some other cruisers waiting for quite a while. I had talked to the owner of the store, Vivian, and suggested we use deli numbers to keep the crowd from rushing the store and she liked the idea. As cruisers arrived, I handed them a number. When the food was all unloaded and put out, we let only a few people in at a time. Everyone liked the system so that made me happy.

Mar. 22 Judy wanted us to see her guest house and play cards again so we made some sandwiches and went over there in the dinghy. The guest house was very nicely laid out and decorated with great views around three sides. We ate our sandiwches and had fun playing biriba for several hours.

Mar. 23 John and I took Joann in to Staniel to pick up her repaired outboard motor and pick up a few groceries. On our way back to the anchorage, we saw Semezana coming “home” to their anchoring place right behind us. They invited us over for tunafish sandwiches and asked us if we wanted to take them to Conception island since they had never seen it. It took us a few moments to check the weather and and other logistice like food storage and we said yes! Faring decided to come along too so we had a jolly group for this expedition.

Mar. 24 After getting the food transfered and our guests aboard (including Fred the dog), we headed south on the inside of the chain down to Cave Cay. Just nearby to the Cay, we ran aground and had to back up using the Z drive but it worked. We inched our way down to the Cave Cay marina entrance. Faring was inside getting fuel. We wanted to show the totally protected marina to Semezana and were able to just get in after touching once. Now it was time to leave again and we tried twice but it was no use. It was low tide and too shallow. Plan B take a slip and spend the night. Faring took one too and we had the place to ourselves. The owner was very friendly and happy to have us. He told us about a wonderful shelling beach at the end of his runway so we all walked with the dogs down the whole length and went for a swim and found some good shells. The owner had also told us to pick some of his tomatoes on the way back and we did so. Dinner was on the aft deck of Windermere. Plan B worked out well.

Our first breakfast of the trip

Mar. 25 Faring left early and we followed just about an hour later. When they got out into the sea, they realized going to conception was not going to work so they called us on the radio and Plan C was devised. We both went to the Lee Stocking island area and anchored for the night. It wasn’t far so we were there by mid  morning. After lunch, John took Suzie, Faring, Fred,  and me to several beaches to look for shells and swim. On two of them, we found iguanas. That night, We had Faring on board again for dinner and a rousing game of dominos.

Mar. 26 The wind had shifted to the west and we were able to head over to Cat Island in calm seas. This became plan D. Faring sailed near us along the way. We both anchored in the big main anchorage in town but the wind was still quite blustery and the seas choppy. Faring came over for dinner and we all played dominos.

Mar. 27 The wind had gone down overnight and we all loaded up in Ken’s dinghy and went ashore to hike up to the famous Hermitage. This group of stone buildings were built by one monk as his retreat spot. He built a small chapel with bell tower, kitchen and dining area, and sleeping quarters. Everything is to scale and looks much larger from the town at sea level. These buildings are situated on the highest point to the Bahamas, about 206ft. After hiking down, we got a taxi to take us to a nearby resort called Fernandez Bay. We all fell in love with the resort and its setting on a pretty beach lined bay. The bar was on the“honor system” and lunch it the high ceiling thatched roof dining area was tasty. After lunch, we took the same taxi back and picked up some homemade bread on the way. We decided to move the boats up to the anchorage off of the resort which only took about an hour. As soon as we anchored, Suzie and I swam ashore and walked along the beautiful beach picking up shells. John snorkeled in and found some treasures along the way too. Dinner was simple as we were still full from lunch and we watched a movie.

Wendy in the Hermitag

Faring, Semezana, and Windermere at the Hermitage

Wendy and Heather resting after a big lunch at Fernandez Bay

Mar. 28 The big descision was whether to go to Conception or home and the consensis was to go home, Plan E. The wind was going to be strong for the day and it would have been uncomfortable to go there. We made french toast with the homemade cinnamon swirl bread and had Faring over for a farewell breakfast. Then we upanchored and headed out to deeper water and to the Exumas. Sam put his fishing rod in the water and , sure enough, caught a tuna just as we got into deeper water. There was much excitement and picture taking. The first fish to be caught on Windermere by a human! Sam cut the fish up into steaks and we had some for dinner and it was delicious. We decided to anchor off the iguana beach where it was still peaceful before reentering “civilization”.

the happy fisherman with his catch

cutting tuna steaks on the swim platform

Suzie and Sam "cutting a rug"
Mar. 29 It was a beautiful calm day and Suzie and I went on deck to watch the tropic birds flying and squaking overhead. After breakfast, we reved up the engine and headed back to Big Majors. someone was in “our parking space” but there was space just behind them. Suzie and I went to the beach to give Fred, the dog, a run. I made the mistake of calling him to me from the other end of the beach. He ran full steam right into me knocking me down! As I went down, my knee bent more than it likes and twisted. For the rest of the day, I was not a happy camper. Drugs and ice are good.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mar.9 We had a quiet day and went for a nice dinner on Ariel.

Mar. 11-13 Larry and Leslie who we have known since our Mason 44 days (they had one too) arrived on the afternoon flight and the party began. Over the next two days, we explored, shelled,, snorkeled, and partied. One night, we played Hearts and I got the Queen of hearts every time! For those of you that don’t know about Hearts, this is not good. I vowed to never play Hearts again. Life is too short.

Mar. 14 L and L and Wendy went with the dive master, Jake, and other friends on a full day snorkeling trip up into the Exuma Land and Sea park. We snorkeled in 6 different areas and each was different. We saw very large lobsters, a good size turtle, spotted eagle rays, an old army jeep, a plane wreck, two caves, and of course lots of fish and coral formations. We got back just in time to shower and change for a dinner out on Staniel at Taste and Sea restaurant with Judy and her house guests. All 7 of us piled into her boat named “Gutsy Lady”. Dinner was delicious and the company lively.

Queen Angel fish on the Current Cut reef

The gang is hungry for dinner here

Mar. 15 The wind was down and the tide right for an expedition to nearby North Gaulin Cay to collect sand dollars. Susan from Exodus joined us and we had lots of success. Lunch was at SCYC because Leslie needed more conch before she left. We thought of going to Thunderball but it was too cool. Instead, John dropped us off at Judy’s island and we walked on her beach and met her new guests. John picked us up in time to go back to our boat and get ready for our dinner party for eight. Faring and Ariel joined us for a curry dinner and Mexican Train dominos late into the evening.

Dinner with Faring and Ariel

Mar. 16 This was a busy day. Leslie wanted to cram in as much water time as possible. We started with a quick tour of Thunderball Grotto, then went sand dollar snorkeling off of a small beach nearby, had lunch aboard, dinghied to south Staniel for a tour of the lagoon area with its new houses, snorkeled on our two rocks, swam to the boat from pirate beach, had cocktails on the aft deck, ate dinner, talked, and collapsed! I have met my match!

Sand dollar beach

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mar. 3 I had flown back the day before from Nassau with some much needed groceries. In the afternoon, Doug and Dale Bruce arrived and so did the wind. We quickly got them into their bathing suits and took them over to Judy’s beach to swim as the wind was still coming from the SW and her beach was protected. They met Judy and we had a nice swim except for Doug who hung didn’t want to go all the way into the water quite yet. Duck was the welcome dinner and lots of conversation was the program for the evening.

happy couple swimming off Judy's beach

Mar. 4 The wind was still howling from the NW. After lunch, we took the Bruces to snorkel at the reef on the back side of Big Majors and then on to the beach on Little Majors for some beach combing. That night, we had Ariel and Jasmine on board for a big pasta dinner party. 

conch fossil in the rocks on the beach

dinner with Ariel and Jasmine
Mar. 5 The wind had circled around to the NE but was still blowing and it was overcast so Dale and I worked all day on a big jigsaw puzzle while the men enjoyed being “on line”. For lunch, we had homemade soup, bread, cheese and wine so a nap was also in order. Sam on Semezana was alone so we asked him over for dinner.

Mar. 6 Guess what- it was still blowing hard but we managed to get to Staniel for lunch and finished the big puzzle in the afternoon. Some card playing was added to the mix and dinner and a movie. (Doug likes to nap for the first part of movies but then wakes up refreshed for the last half.)

Mar. 7 The wind was not letting up but at least it was sunny. Dale and I did a smaller puzzle and we went to Thunderball for a quick snorkel. A picnic was packed so we could have lunch on Pirate beach before taking them to see Sampson Cay where several of our friends were hiding from the wind. Dinner and a movie (Mutiny on the Bounty which is verry long)

Doug kayaking

Dale kayaking

happy puzzlers

our Windermere

Mar. 8 Dale and I got into the genealogy and the men almost didn’t get their breakfast! Poor hungry helpless husbands (did I say lazy?) Then Dale and I had one last swim and snorkel in the anchorage before they packed to leave. Off in the dinghy to Staniel for lunch. Judy joined us and we then walked to the airport. After they flew out, we got groceries and had a very nice dinner on Ariel. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feb. 3-7  The weather was beautiful so we just enjoyed the neighborhood both on and in the water.

The girlies and John went for a walk above Staniel Cay

Feb. 7 Our friends, from last year on Semazana, were on their way in stages. Suzie arrived by plane in the afternoon to stay with us till Sam arrived with crew on their boat.

Feb. 8 When we entered the Bahamas this year, we were only given 90 days so we knew we had to renew our visas soon. Ray and Susan on No Agenda had chartered a plane to go to Nassau for their flight back to Texas so they graciously let us fly with them. We had a wild taxi ride to the immigration office in downtown Nassau, got our extension (after much consternation), and had another wild ride back and flew back to Staniel. That evening there was a big party on our beach so, of course, we went.

flying back home over Norman's Cay and Shroud Cay

The new marina on Bell Island owned by the Aga Kahn

All the new windmills, houses, marina and landscaping on Over Yonder Cay

our anchorage at Big Majors

Feb. 9 Pizza day again so we all went over to Sampson and filled our faces. Afterwards, John took Suzie, Susan and me to our favorite shelling beach and he hit the motherland of little sea biscuits! Suzie and I found a good many sandollars and  sunrise tellins too.

Some of our finds- all different urchins

Feb. 10 Sam came by the boat and woke up Suzie and took her back to their boat. John and I went to Judy’s on Little Majors island and played a rousing game of Biriba. Semezana came for dinner and Sam and Suzie spent the night on Windermere while their crew dog watched Fred their Portuguese water dog.

Suzie, Fred, and Sam on their new kayak

Feb. 11 The wind was up and coming from the west which made for a rough day. everyone just stayed on their boats and read. In my usual crazy fashion, I went for a swim over to Semezana to say hi to Fred as I had not seen him yet this year. John took the dinghy to Sampson and picked up the food for my birthday party the next day.

Feb.12  It was blowing harder but from a much better direction so the chop was lower. We had Faring, Exodus, Semezana, and Samantha on board for the tapas that the chef at  Sampson had made. Everyone was cozy and warm and enjoyed the food. Suzie had make a chocolate cake which was inhaled rapidly! All in all it was a wonderful birthday celebration.

The birthday party group with the feast!

Feb.13  The weather was better. Samantha asked us to join them at Staniel for lunch and then I found a few groceries at the Blue store. The excitement for the day was involved our friends on Steadfast. We had been waiting for them to arrive and we got a call that their, 7 months pregnant, daughter was sick  and needed medical attention. We were able to get them in touch with the clinic and nurse on Staniel. They found a fast tender to take them from Compass Cay to Staniel. After she was treated, we were able to pick them up, ( 9:30pm) and she and her mom, Rosemary, stayed on board for the night. Just as we were going to bed, we heard a noise and saw a bright light! The big supply boat (about 200 ft) that goes to Fowl Cay resort was aground right off our stern! The light we saw, out the porthole, was their headlights. They managed to get off the sandbar and turned and went behind Semezana and barely cleared the next sand bar. We didn’t stay up to see how they got out again.

Feb.14  Valentines day! We celebrated on board Samantha with old friends and Sam and Suzie. There was a pretty sunset and a delicious dinner .

Feb.15-16 The wind was right for sailing the laser so sailing we did. One of the other trawlers had a laser too so we were able to sail/race together which was a fun treat. I got a little carried away with a tack and flipped my craft and had to be rescued by John and Ken (Faring) but I am determined to get back on my “horse” and sail again. Suzie and I try to swim everyday to keep our “svelte” figures. She is already svelte and I am trying.  The social scene is in full swing cocktails, dinners, pizza lunches, etc.

John and Phillip racing the lasers
Feb. 17 This was a special treat day. June, who does our weather every morning, invited us up to her new house on the hill behind the airport. Judy from Little Majors island was invited too. We all had a tour of the house and played cards overlooking the turquoise and dark blue sea. and wild rocky ocean facing coastline. As we were playing, the crew of their boat suddenly arrived with lunch already prepared and procecco to drink. This day was turning into quite a civilized one! After lunch, we all went for a swim on their beach. This was the first time we had swum in small waves down here as we are usually swimming on the bank side where it is calm. These conditions reminded us of California except the water was 75 degrees and crystal clear. June then returned us all to our dinghies and we returned home. Suzie and I had our swim and the Semezana and Windermere went to Faring for a fun dinner and lots of laughs.

The great view from June's new house on Staniel Cay