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Crash, African Queen, 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Voyager, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Valley of Decision, 3 Kings, Oh Brother Wherefore Art Thou, The Thin Man movies, Forrest Gump, Being John Malkovich, Voyager, Dr. Zhivago, Amelie, Blind Side, Battle of Algiers, Outsourced, Separate Lies. Petulia, Darling, Billy Liar, You Can't Take It With You, All This and Heaven Too, East of Eden, Searcher, What Every Woman Knows, Casablanca, The Help, Holiday
What are your favs?
Bahama Sailing Trips
First trip, Feb 2009, almost 4 weeks, 3 weeks traveling to the Bahamas, 1 week in the Abacos, traveled with Roni Kadesh from Clearwater, to Fort Myers, across Florida's big lake Ochachobee to Stuart and then down to West Palm. Got motor ready and waited for "weather window" to cross the Gulf Stream. Crossed in 11 hours, went to West End, Great Sale, Spanish Key, Green Turtle Key, Great Guana, and Marsh Harbour.
Second trip, April 2009, 2 weeks, cruising the Abacos with Ellen Berry to Hope Town, LIttle Harbour, Lynyard Cay and back to Marsh Harbour. Largely uneventful thanks to our combined skills and carefulness. One grounding turning around in narrow channel - on ground for an hour until we raised all the sails and leaned the boat over so its 5'5" keel only drew 3'5" of water. Amazing we got off.
Third trip, July 2009, 2 weeks, cruising the Abacos by myself - crew changed his mind at last minute. He felt the boat was not up to his standards and left suddenly on the morning of the first full day. I think me was concerned mostly with some insect infestation and other things like a window leak. He left suddenly and went back to Texas and a few hours later the windows were fixed by Manius Riviere and I got a 'bomb' and did in the insects. I think I hated the insects more than my erstwhile crew. It was great getting rid of them. I also put out some poison for the mouse (mice). I heard little nosies and wonder if they helped give me a short on my house battery side of the boat. at one point I had a dead battery but luckily I had a jumping battery on board and it started us right up.
For cruising I started in Marsh Harbour - stayed with the boat, White Cloud, while last bit of work was completed replacing rusted fuel tank, new shaft and strut. Left Marsh Harbour and sailed to Hope Town - stayed there several days, then sailed to Man o War Cay and returned to Hope Town - found it to be noisy. Next sailed to Great Guana Cay and stayed in Fishers Bay first night and then in Great Guana Harbour the next two days. Rented a golf cart and toured down to Bakers Bay and went snorkling at Nippers and had best hamburger ever. Next day snorkled again at Nippers (Atlantic) and then was told my sailboat had dragged. Rushed to the harbor and found it in shallow waters bobbing up and down like a puppy that knew it had been bad. Found an American family with 800 hp worth of engines and they towed me out of the soft shallows and I anchored a little further out this time - no big winds, but no dragging either.
Sailed down to Fowl Cay (just past Scotland Cay) and anchored and took my dinghy over to some bright red mooring balls on the Atlantic side - dove in with my mask and wow, was not prepared for 20' drop and coral heads covered with a wide variety of colors and types of coral including antler, brain and fan - plus many varieties I had never seen before. There was one type that was a mustard yellow and several that looked like little treems.
Stayed that night in Hope Town on an anchor and next day went to Marsh Harbour to enjoy the famous Jib Room steak night Friday night. At first stayed in lovely Fanny Bay and then moved close to Jib Room to catch their wifi signal. Their OII signal was very weak even with my location right off - supposedly they had lots of power outs over the weekend according to owners of OII. Next day I sailed and motored back to Fowl Cay and wanted to snorkle but there was not enough time and no one else was around which made me concerned. Also could not find the mooring balls promised in my charts. That night I cruised along Man o War Cay looking for a private signal and found one. Stayed there that night and left in the morning (Monday) to meet up with folks at Rainbow Rentals where the boat is anchored for $120/month. I had no signal until I hoisted an antenna up 30 feet on a halyard - and suddenly there were 8 signals frm all directions. Had great connection and also I sealed the seams of the dinghy with 5200 adhesive... and took the outboard to the only certified Mercury dealer, National Marine. I also did a wash - what a good boy. The net morning I awoke at 7AM and slowly woke up. At 7:20 I got into gear, and carried dinghy to the boat and deflated it and pulled it on the top of the bimini, then pack 2 carry on bags, separated out food to give Manius, food to throw away, and cleaned out the refrigerator. I also packed two of the electronics, but forgot to pack the EPIRB. Manius came by as per our plan and drove me to the airport in 8 minutes so I made my check in time for SkyBahamas. I ordered a breakfast sandwich but forgot it when they callled my name in 5 minutes. I boarded and had a smooth ride to Nassau - got in about 9AM and half way on the 30 minute flight had a hunger pang and realized that I never paid for nor picked up my 'breakfast sandwich." Aftet I got to Nassau I bought a local paper that had an international edition of the Miami Herald inside and had a lovely breakfast of eggs, bacon and Johnny Cake. They also had grits which locals eat along wth the Southerner visitors. The best way to have breakfast is over a newspaper.
I got to Nassau with plenty of time to visit the downtown. I asked a man driving a church mission van if he wanted to make some money driving me into town. He said yes and we chated about his church and where I used to work in Boston at the Old West Church and when he dropped me off he refused any payment. I did visit the National Museum of the Bahamas, Pompey Museum for $3 - a bargain for its air conditioning and well-throught out reading exhibits on slavery. I learned that there were 20,000 slaves buried in a large cemetary near Wall Street - and that there were many slave auctions at the foot of Wall Street. There was a picture of a burning at the cross of an escaped slave on 1741 which horrified and suprised me.
I bought 23.50 worth of presents and the clerk punched in $235 to Visa. I didn't notice it but the supervisor did and got that amount voided and put in the right amount while I visited the totally trite musem of the pirates which had one actor and a lot of cheesy exhibits. Did you think pirates had black hulled boats with two masts (false) or that the buried their treasure (false) or that they had rules against smoking on the boat (true). I went to an Internet cafe and was doing grat wiht a very fast connection until I load upsome pictures and realized that there were suddenly 10 people at the bar with laptops and no wonder my picture uploading was going so slowly.
I left to get a taxi to the airport and went with John Gator who gave me his card. He has a boat that takes people out deep sea fishing (only a mile from the Nassau Harbor but he had it in the water at his inlaws house and his wife had a fight with her family and he had to move the boat to his yard. He is looking for a new dock or a beat up truck with a good transmission. We commiserated about the costs of boating.
This was a trip of problem solving. What to do when the crew fellow took off - he forced me to learn to sail by myself, anchor, and navigate myself. The batteries were a bit weak so I had to watch their charging status and start up the engine before they were too weak to start things up - but it was nice to have two back up batteries on board. I had a slow leak in the dinghy - actually two - one that let out air and the second which let in sea water. I patched both on my last full day with a well-respected marine adhesive 5200. I had to pull the dinghy up 9 feet to the dock and then lower it to White Cloud when it was fixed. I had an outboard that would not start. I took offf the engine hood and experimented with different positions of all the components and found that I could start it up but only in forward gear but at least it ran. On the seocnd ot last day I dropped it off at National Marine for fixing - no estimate yet.
I paid Manius $500 for one weeks work and $200 for materials to pain al the deck surfaces (3 coats of which one is a primer) and to varnish or paint all interior surfaces. He does amazingly good work so I'm looking forward to a beautiful old boat whenI retujrn. There was one problem not solved yet. I had some fuel in the bilge (lowest point in the boat under the flooring. I cleaned it all out and then the last morning (today) I found it had come back - meaning there is a leak in the new fuel tank or the filler tube. I doubt that the boat yard will be happy and will do their best to get out of standing by their work... but I'll call them tomorrow from Clearwater and see what they say. The shaft and skeg work came out nicely - no extra rattling or vibration but the fuel leak is not trivial.
First day 2/16/09
We sailed south from Clearwater, FL. It took an hour to get to the Gulf from my dock off of Mandalay - and then it got interesting - wild rolling waves from the strong North winds - pushing us and the water southwards. That's the direction and wave direction we wanted but not quite so gushing much - first day on the water and there I am in the bathroom - going and upchucking - now that is multi-tasking. We decided to tuck into John's Pass for a bit of fuel and peace - and stayed the night there - enjoying the respite. We were visited by my lovely wife who brought sleeping bags and medicine that I'd forgoten to take. How lovely to have one's love within a cab ride distance. We all left at 7AM the next morning - she back to Clearwater from Madeira Beach and us to another dock, where we made ready for another day on the water - our second.
We sailed south and found waters a mile or two from the shore (off of Fort Desoto) which has 4-5 feet of water (our keel draws five and a half feet) so we had to navigate using our 440s Garmin GPS, charts and past experience. We made it past the entrance to Tampa Bay and got as far as pass where we expected to have a leisurely dinner at a local seafood joint highly recommended - only thing is that the channel to the fish was eaten by the waters and only shoal draft boats were heading that way. We went to a marina about 1/2 hour north on the Intracoastal and they said they had 6 feet of water but we touch so we bagged them! We went towards a flock of sailboats but unbeknownst to us there was a rock wall between us and the boats. We got hung up there, and when we got a tow off we were even more stuck - even with a huge tow effort that broke their line - they just reattached it and bumped us over of several rocks near the Cortez bridge in Bradenton - until we got free - took 1/2 hour with us revving our diesel engine and them pulling and the boat bumping - and expected major damage but everything was fine - just fine - so now we know we have a tough old bird - strong keel, rudder and hull! Yeah baby! We found an ok place to drop our first anchor on the other side of the intracoastal near a dive boat/trailor park - and we even got a little wifi Internet action.
Next morning we had weather reports of more bad blowing and decided to motor down the Intracoastal - and it was beautiful - our GPS told us where to go, with pretty good accuracy - only obstacle was low bridge after low bridge - our mast goes up about 40 feet plus an antenna. We had to call ahead to each bridge tender by name - so we had to keep track of which bridge we were asking to be opened by a troll - who could be nice or quietly resentful at being asked to open his/her treasure trove. Some bridges swing sideways and some arch upwards to heaven. The latter are labeled as 'bascule' on our charts.
We passed a beautiful but expensive islands such as Sandy Key. As we Slowly made it past beautiful little keys (small islands) and were accompanied by dolphins and herons and pelicans divebombing for fresh sushi - and often disaster was only scant feet away - where there were 1-3' deep stretches of sandbar as we steamed southward - but no more getting stuck and only felt the bottom twice. After running for about 5 hours we went into a fuel dock and I was embarrassed by only taking 3.8 gallons of diesel - our Yanmark 2QM-15 diesel really just sips fuel - we figured that it only burns about 3 liters (lightly over 1/2 gallon) an hour. At our typical cruising speed we are making 5-6 knots an hour. A knot is 1.2 statue (road) miles. The cool thing is that world was divided into nautical miles - 60 miles for every 60 minutes.
We made it to fancy pants Marina Jack's in downtown Sarasota after crossing the huge and mostly unmarked Sarasota Bay - filled with white caps - we could only imagine the ferocious winds outside the barrier islands that keep the Intracoastal quietly smooth and pleasant.
I had a beer and a salad at the Marina Jack's bar and watched yachties in their pressed whites suck down one martini after another - clearly they saw themselves as at least 1/2 Zeus-like in the pantheon of gods. Their boats cost from 10 million down to the paltry $500,000.
We left the rarefied atmospher and motored 5 minutes away to a safe anchorage (place where boats can anchor safely) shared with about 30 other sailboats and at least one motor trawler (slow displacement boat). Dropping the anchor at dusk, it was lovely to be settled near a park and had a snug evening meal, shower, but nevertheless we kept looking every hour for the first 4 hours to see if we had drifted and decided we have moved not an inch. And the good news was that our 'tough old bird' with her deep keel hardly moved while other sailboats were dancing up a storm in the windy night.
We started out from downtown Sarasota near Marina Jack's. The next morning we were undecided about 'going out' into the Gulf of Mexico or continuing along the Intracoastal. Well, one quick look with the binoculars was enough. Looking out of Sarasota Pass we could see nothing but a line of breakers with huge whitecaps spanning the opening to the Gulf and with winds predicted to be in the high teens and waves 4-7 feet we were quite pleased with the option of the Intracoastal. We passed Sand Key on the right (starboard to you Popeye's). It is filled with tasteful new and old style mansions and lots of 'mature plantings.' We ended up traveling a ways through Lemon Bay and into Charlotte Harbor. Shortly before arriving in Charlotte Harbor we stopped for fuel and the fellow with a white beard and his helper were not very friendly. We only bought 4 gallons of fuel - maybe this tiny purchase had some impact on their attitudes.
Thanks to our charts, we found one little deep section of Charlotte's Harbor known as Peekin Cove which we navigated into thanks to our depthsounders and our GPS showing where it was 7-8 feet deep instead of 5 feet deep. We 'peeked in' and dropped our anchor, made sure it didn't give way and have us slip outside of our little pocket of deep water safety. After a nice meal of potatoes, onions, tomatoes and chicken - a wonderful one-dish gourmet experience thanks to Roni's gourmet cooking abilities.
That night I heard some sounds but after checking it appeared they were nothing important so I went back to sleep. The next day was a beautiful morning and we were alone in the world - the few houses we could see were silent sentries admidst the mangroves and distant lawns.
Friday morning We started the engine at 09:45 and sailed with jib and main across Charlotte Harbor with another decision to make - go out into the Gulf at Boca Grande pass or stay traveling with motor/jib on the Intracoastal Waterway. We expected to stay at Sanibal Marina but they said they did not have 5'5 depth of water to get into the Marina (despite their advertisement proclaiming 6' of water) and "anyway they didnt have any space for you. We saw that the deep water ran right up to a bridge across the harbor and lead to the Entero Passage where they told us, and we confirmed, that there was the Moss Marina with over 6' of water to get in - however the bridge in question was only 14 feet high at that location and no way to get to the deeper part of the bridge - so we had to turn around in wild winds of 15 knots, whitecaps, waves and 'beat' back up the San Carlos Bay between Sanibal and Punta Rassa. So instead we re-entered the Intracoastal which took us to Fort Myers and the Ochachobee waterway which for the first time in 2 years had enough water for us to cross the state of Florida and the Lake itself, which is the US's second largest lake within its boundaries. We called to all marinas on channel 16 and the only one that answered was the Fort Myers Yacht Basin - a very nice location with a ship's store, weak wifi, a laundermat, showers and generally friendly. If that Sanibel Marina had room and enough water for us to 'sneak in' we'd have gone south to Marathon and the upper Keys but instead we turned to port and mostly motored across Florida.
Saturday morning we decided to stay for an extra day to rest and to do laundry, shop at the local Publix supermarket, celebrate shabat, and DB wanted to see the largest evening parade in America celebrating Thomas Alva Edison and his discovery of electricity for lighting purposes. We went out to view the parade and found many families and four hours of floats in the parade and then we began to meet many drunk men and women - we returned to the boat around 10:30 after having 2 beers. We also bought a number of important things like a long screw driver, shims (washers), a special key to open up our water/waste/fuel tanks instead of having to use a pliars.
Sunday morning we left our friendly marina and motored towards Lake Ochachobee after checking that there was enough water for our boat - and found there was at least 6.95 feet of water in the waterway and Lake. We pulled into Moore Haven near Lake Ochachobee at 17:15 and found they had good water, electricity. DB went to the store about a mile away and RK organized the boat. There was Internet on a paying basis - $7 for 24 hours.
Monday morning we started the engine at 10:15 and left Moore haven at 10:45 with 1/2 a tank of fuel (6 gallons) plus 7 gallons in jerry cans. We crossed Lake Ochachobee after getting briefly stuck as we left in the mooring and losing our boathook. We averaged about 6 knots and were able to use the jib for the first 1/3rd of the trip and then we were motoring directly into the North Easterlies for the rest of the trip arriving at Port Majaca Locks - only to find them open and thus we could go directly into the Port Lucie Canal and motored for about 2 hours to Indiantown Marina - which we found only by passing it - no lit sign, no visible activity. They had promised someone would be there to meet us and we should turn right and go past all the boats. Well the place was packed to the gills with visiting and yearly liveaboard yachts - and we did get some help and pulled into the slip we had reserved only to find looming out of the dark - two steel hulled vessels to our left and right which make tieing up a bit tricky but we managed to get in with the help of several marina residents... one looked out of the African Queen and the other looked like the Titanic after it had sunk. I think 1/2 of those who turned out to help were attracted by the aromas from the dinner Roni was making - and as we came by slip after slip you could hear comments from hungry natives like: I'll be over in a few minutes, save some for me, and that spaghetti is going to be good.
In fact the dinner was to be vegetables reduced to a stew with lots of garlic and onions with our only steak on the voyage - and it was soooo good.
Tuesday morning we woke up and wanted to fix the wires that run the GPS and the depth sounder so we decided to stay an extra full day. The marina had an excellent repair department and they fixed some of our electrical fittings and closed an opening in the bulkhead by routing out a round piece of teak to make a water-tight compartment in which to put our extra wires. We also met a number of sailors who had been to the Bahamas recently and they gave us advice on how to manage the crossing (of the Gulf Stream). We bought more stainless steel fittings, some polish. We also took one of our spare wonderful blue lines and made two nice long 'spring lines' that hold the boat from moving forward or back at a dock.
We arose at 0800 (8AM) and started the engine at 0900 and left at 0945 due to DB getting more local knowledge/info about the Bahamas crossing from some kindly Canadian sailors. We started out back into the waterway and arrived in Hobe Sound after passing near Port St. Lucie and Stuart, Florida and getting into the east coast's Intracoastal and getting quite a ways south towards our goal of getting to Lake Worth/Palm Beach area as jumping off points for entering the Gulf Stream and sail/motoring to the West End in the Bahamas once the winds stop being from the North or the East. It appears we have an opening in the weather on Friday evening. We had topped the motor at 1833 after cruising by some very beautiful barrier islands south of the St. Lucie Pass on the way down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Hobe Sound is worth a special mention - it is place where the ICW widens and has uninhabited stretch towards the mainland and a few very large homes on the other side with large lawns that walk down to the ICW. So there were only a few discrete lights twinkling a long ways away and we were anchored near the mangroves on the west side of Hobe Sound. Well, much to our surprise there was a strong wifi signal coming from one of the mansions without any encryption/password required. What a treat! In an almost pristine place with Internet connection that let us call our friends or family on Skype and check the weather.
Of the 6 or so boats anchored we were the last to leave at 1045. We continued south on the ICW hitting a slew of bridges that had to open as we approached West Palm Beach. All of a sudden we were in major civilization and the ICW opened up wider to be part of the major port at West Palm. We went to the Riviera town marina where we purchased diesel (4.5 gallons) and hung on their fuel dock until we went to anchor nearby. Unfortunately I ignored Roni's misgivings and we anchored 100 feet from a large disabled wooden fishing vessel and in the middle of the night we swung into them requiring the assistance of Tow US. A nice younger fellow by the name of Craig came in a bright orange tow boat at about 5:30 and he pull and pulled but we seemed to be wrapped in one of the two anchor lines of this ancient liveaboard. A relatively friendly Walter came out and helped to push us off but we were embracing one of his anchor lines. I reluctantly jumped into the cool waters once it was light and pushed the line down and past our deep rudder and we were free, free at last. Thereafter I made it a point to listen to all of Roni's suggestions when it came to anchoring and other boat maneuvers. Our bow cracked Walter's starboard window which we agreed was a $400 bill to be paid. I actually game him $460 out of appreciation for Walter's bemused toleration of the situation. Roni heard Walter say this happens once every 3 months and concluded this was how he made a living in his retirement on his hulking, motorless beheamouth.
We moved to the Riviera Marina (near West Palm) to prepare for the Gulf Stream crossing. And then hour headaches multipled. We started to have a leak in the secondary fuel assembly - something that takes very fine particles out of the fuel with a paper filter about 4 inches long. It turned out to have the wrong O right that made it impossible to close correctly and the first two threads had finally given way. I called around and none of the marine stores in a 60 mile radius had the part. I wandered up the the boat storage area and way down the end of a massive barn-like building was a mechanic taking apart an engine. I held up the offending aluminum 4 inch assembly and he said - hmmmm, Yanmar 2QM? I knew I was in the presence of someone who knew a lot about engines. Turned out he had taken such a part off of a Yanmar a year earlier and he found the part and sold it to me for 1/2 of the catalogue price after telling me some sea tales. I rushed back to the boat to give it to Roni who installed it - which stopped 98% of the leak and we could again prepare for the Gulf Stream crossing. This massive river of water in the Ocean runs along the US East coast, up to Iceland and down along the Western edge of Scotland and England keeps things temperate and it moves more water than all the other rivers of the world combined. Don't mess with the Gulf - it is moving North and if the winds are from anywhere in the North it causes a huge chop, dangerous waves and a massively bumpy ride across to the Bahamas. We check 4 different weather forecasts including www.gribus.com which has a 5 day animated forecast of the winds strength, direction and wave heights. It turned out to be 75% correct - more about this later. In the meantime we worked frantically to stow things, tied the dinghy securely to the bimini and fill up water tanks, etc. There was a fun- sounding party hearty at the nearby bar/restaurant but we were too busy. One task was to buy and stow the big load of groceries we got - made more difficult by our top-loading refrigerator freezer unit going bad and leaking out all the coolant. We decided to cross the Gulf Stream anyway using ice donated to us by friendly kitchen staff at the loud restaurant/bar. We slept about 3 hours.
started the engine at 0555 hours and had strong Easterly wind trying to keep us from getting out of the slip. Finally, with a lot of skill from Roni the White Cloud backed out with me pushing from an adjoining Pilot boat. I ran along the dock to the end of the slips and Roni brought White Cloud near the high dock and I jumped down about 3 feet onto the deck as she passed by. I was proud of the jump but it seemed trivial compared to starting out in the dark to depart the West Palm port and move out into the deep deep Atlantic. After we passed the entrance to the port we were in deep rolling seas which only added to my nervousness. The wind was still from the East although the forecasts had promised it would turn to the SSE and allow us to sail/motor. It never did but the forecasts got 3 of 4 things right. The wind was not strong, the waters were warm and the waves were only about 2 foot high most of the journey. We have a 30' boat and it is on the small side for crossing a stretch of the Atlantic, nevermind the Gulf Stream. We traveled for 12 hours, making about 5 knots an hour over ground to arrive at the West End marina on Grand Bahama Island. We had to navigate to Memory Rock and enter the Banks there. The Bahama Banaks are an area that push out of the 2500 foot deep Atlantic and are only 12-15 feet deep with an amazing aqua color. We checked with customs and immigration right at the marina, as promised by the guide books and charts. They found us a slip (actually sea wall) with power, water and no ocean waves. Meanwhile the windes grew steadily more powerful and the next few days I was glad to be in a protected marina while the winds blasted from the North and North East... very bad for crossings. The few boats that came in the next two days were pounded on the way over - including one sailboat with some very green sailors.
Stayed in the marina hoping the winds would abate - no such luck. It was Sunday. I borrowed a bike and went into the village at West End and found 1/3 of the buildings were empty - no doors, windows or roofs - all thanks to the last big hurricane (Edna about 4 years ago). The visual impact was one of poverty and under-development. I found out subsequently the Bahamian government is bent on helping people rebuild their homes and many do so but then don't take down the old home -
it just sits there as a silent witness to the fury of a hurricane.
Stayed a second day in the marina and had visits from a heating mechanic who fixed our refrigerator and refilled it with coolant. He charged us $40 for the two days work (about 4 hours total). We also met Garvin who helped us get the engine checked out. He explained the various valves and what had high pressure and what did not. Greatfully, he found no problems with our diesel and was happy with with $25 as he was on his lunch hour at work in the resort/marina we were staying at. By the way when we cleared customs and took down our yellow Q for quarantine flag and put up the Bahamian maritine flag on our starboard standtion they asked for their paperwork how much our vessel was valued at - I said $25,000 which is a bit on the high side and they all looked at me like I was having a brain lapse since all the other vessels in the marina were in the $100,000 to $10 million dollar range. I talked to the skipper of one such 70 foot vessel and he told me his work history and how he runs a the $8 million yacht for the owner. It has remote controls that allow the skipper to handle the boat for dockings by himself. I was very impressed.
Finally left Old Bahama Bay marina and headed out to sea before turning to starboard and entering the Indian Rocks Pass into the banks (shallow area). I was lookout and had my heart in my mouth - although we had about 3 feet between our deep keel and the coral bottom it looked like we were in waters 3 feet deep instead of 11 foot deep. The water was so clear it looked like there was a magnifying glass and we were headed for a disaster but eventually the channel widened and deepened. We had a long day but finally got to an open water anchorage in the lee of Great Sale Cay (cay is a small island and pronouced key).
There was one other vessel in this un-inhabited island and it had all of its lights out and did not respond to a friendly radio call on channel 16. Later that night we saw it put on its spotlight for a moment. We were eating a wonderful mean when flares begand to light up the Western sky - usually meaning someone was sinking and their boat was a goner. We called on the radio to anyone and the captain of the Stella Four or Fourth answer and he called the search and rescue people. We decided it was probably a military exercise since the flare would go much higher than a civilian flare, and there was some sort of vehicle racing up and down the beach or near the outside of the beach. We slept well but I worried about the unlit vessel - were they pirates, part of the military exercise, or just protective of their batteries unlke us who had some little used night lights... called anchoring lights. This keeps other boats from hitting you on overcast nights.
The next morning I called the captain of the Stella Four again and told him our theory on the flares. I asked if he would do me a favor and call my wife Claudia to tell her we were safe and headed towards Green Turtle Cay. He gracefully agreed to my request, asked me if I wanted to say I love you to her, and then called me back with her words of love - how nice can you get! A Valentines day even in March! I was very greatful and Claudia much relived. We try to called each other using Skype each night when we are near a marina/internet router. We stayed just the night at Great Sale and then arrived at the Spanish Cay marina at about 0500 and refilled our diesel tanks with 6.5 gallons for our last 10 hours of motoring. The winds were still hellish so we stayed there two days until March 6th when we left and arrived at Green Turtle Cay. Luckily it was a rising tide and we had no problem with the 4.9 foot entrance channel with our 5.5' keel. We found a good anchorage and bought a weeks worth of internet time from the fancy marina for $10/day on top of a water charge and an electricity charge.
At first we were the only boat there in the 200 slips but eventually there were some French Canadians to our left and some English to our right. I enjoyed the hot tub and showers immensely. This little Cay distills its own water and generates its own power. In the morning one of the French Canadians button holed me about the need of the French to preserve their own language for the last 400 years - her lecture went on for 1/2 hour and she missed the time for her run but I learned something about the need for a group to fight oppression and keep their identity - the subject of many talks with Roni - a fiece defender of Israel. On the 6th of March we arrived at Green Turtle Harbor and very carefully anchored.
DB got up early to explore the local town, New Plymouth, which was out the channel and in the next sound. It was lovely with every house a different pastel color, a sculpture garden, and a building that proclaimed it as the oldest historical museum in the Bahamas. It was closed so I didnt to see the inside. I bought some provisions and headed back to our boat in the dinghy. I was glad to have seen New Plymouth and meet some of the residents - seemingly split 1/2 whites and 1/2 blacks.
Apparently those who were on the losing side of the Revolution moved their in great numbers from the south and other colonies once the English gave up after the Battle of Yorktown. Eveyone had the same strange accept and apparently all are proud of their loyalist family origins. We left at 1345 after a long wait for the tide to come back up. We stayed on the fuel dock of the Bluff House marina and had a nice lunch. There was a bit of confusion around filling our water tanks - we put in about 15 gallons but their meter showed us putting in 150 gallons. They accepted our explanation of the small size of our water tank but checked their meter as they desalinate all of their water also. I suspect that there is a leak and the water went to the bilge and was pumped overboard. We also taked with Lester, the dock worker who was also a disel repairman and lobsterman in his off hours. He usually works in 30' of water finding lobsters and has a hose that connects him to the compressor on the boat above him. He only stops when Nurse and Hammerhead sharks are around. If he sees them he stops moving his arms and slowly ascends keeping a stare on the sharks. We left at 1345 and were able to sail for the first time using all of our sails on the way to Marsh Harbor arriving at 1715.
We went to the marina and enjoyed walking on the shore... having arrived at our temporary final destination. Roni decided not to stay on the boat and look for work as there are very few tourists and limited diving jobs all needing a $4000 work
permit. We hung out with our friends from the West End marina - Kaila and her parents from Toronto. DB made arrangements to fly out on Thursday 3/12 to Nassau and then to Tampa. Roni made arrangements to fly to New York. DB made arrangements for the boat to stay at the dock for $600. In the middle of the night our pressurized water pump stopped working for unknown reasons. Both DB and Roni did a wash.
DB arranged ticket to Clearwater and short flight to Nassau, then Spirit Air to Tampa. I also got my computer fixed - somehow the button for the wireless card was pushed and it was off. Well live and learn. I also got a sim card for $15 and $10 worth of airtime I'll probably use when I return on the 10th of April. Had a small potluck dinner with Kaila and her parents
Got water pump analyzed by a local skilled craftsman, Boide, who determined it has power going to it and it is fried - and charged $75 for that 10 minutes of expertise. He gave me the model number and I'll buy a replacement in Clearwater. Roni checked out a cute bartender and made reservations to go to New York on SkyBahamas flying to Miami and then on JetBlue to NYC. Typically here airplane tickets on the 'budget' airlines are around $100 and the fees almost double that amount. What are the fees, I wonder??? This time some 20 boaters join in a potluck - we tried to offload our baked potatoes, chicken snitzel that Roni made, salad and bananas but people were pretty busy with their steak and wine. Some did share their beer,
wine and vodka - we brought the bloody mary mix. I enjoyed meeting Mike, a former Illinois policeman who is single handleing
a 38' Hunter. He is a funny mixture of hippy with long hair, former guitarist who knows the words to 3000 songs and yet is a well-informed Republican/conservative. He does admit to being angry that he cannot buy individual insurance because he had a hospitalization for diverticulitis and he cannot even get a policy that excludes all such matters and is catatrophic -
meaning he pays the first $15,000 of costs and the policy then starts paying. He doesn't like Michael Moore and would not watch Sicko unless handcuffed to a movie seat, but he is a prime victim of our current health system, such as it is, and he even admits that this is true.
Things I've learned on this cruise (in no particular order):
- safety on a boat means being prepared ahead of time for bad things to happen
- everything you get for a cruise such as large washers, will have an effect and everything you don't get, like large
fenders, will have an effect if you are banging against a seawall a week later.
- you can't control a lot of things, like weather, but if you study it carefully and try to act according to the weather and
not your immediate wishes you can minimize the negative effect it will have
- its mandatory that you call ahead to make plans for marina stays and to find out local knowledge re anchorages, weather and
even seasons - yes the Bahamas have seasons with a colder winter and strong prevailing winds with very few tourists/boaters
- sailing is different than cruising. sailing means taking the best winds and following that direction vs. having to get to
a certain destination as soon as possible for other reasons than the enjoyment of sailing.
- using a motor on sailboat means being aware of and anticipating the effect of current, wind, prop direction and tide