Back to March 2002
Monday, April 1st Shroud Cay, Exumas
Today we motored all of five miles, between several islands, to get to Shroud Cay. This anchorage is very pretty and has plenty of depth. We took the dinghy through a mangrove creek, several of which comprise the center of the island. The creek we chose took us out to the Ocean and a place called Camp Driftwood. Camp Driftwood is a bit like Boo Boo Hill, in that cruisers leave signs of their visit. Here, instead of painted signs, people doodle on beach garbage and haul it to the top of the hill to join the rest of the debris. A curious spot.
As we suspected the dinghy has lost a fair amount of air since its trip ashore at Hawksbill. Maybe over time seaweed will grow over the injuries and stop the leaks. Hope springs eternal.
Since I'm sure you are curious, the following are the final numbers for the Bahamas in the Carifta Games; 33 medals, 5 of them golds. Their best showing since 1992. The Jamaicans walked away with the bulk of the medals, with around sixty-something.
Tuesday, April 2nd Highborne Cay, Exumas
We made our way north to Highborne Cay today. This will be our last stop in the Exumas. From here we will cross over to Eleuthera.
The anchorage is pretty comfortable and the holding is good. We took the sagging dinghy in to check out the cut we would have to pass through to head to Rock Sound. It looks like it could be more interesting than the guide books say. "Easiest cut in the northern Exumas." All I can say is that the other cuts must be really nasty. We checked with the woman at the Marina to see if there was any slack tide to speak of. She said "about 5 minutes or so." So much for that.
Wednesday, April 3rd Rock Sound, Eleuthera
We made our way out Highborne Cut this morning. The light wasn't great but at least the current was pretty quiet when we went through. My palms still got pretty sweaty though.
The wind was out of the SE so we had a beam reach to Point Eleuthera. There was plenty of wind in the morning but it began to drop steadily during the afternoon. After 25 miles we rounded the Point and headed towards Rock Sound in occasional windless downpours.
We dropped the anchor late in the afternoon and relaxed as we took in our new surroundings. Even from a distance Eleuthera has a different feel.
Thursday, April 4th Rock Sound, Eleuthera
Today we made our way into town. We had a list of things we wanted to do, including a trip to the grocery store. We were surprised by what we found. The supermarket was almost like what you'd find at home. This was our first sensation that we were getting further from the out islands of the Bahamas. The woman from the supermarket who offered to drive us back to the government dock was dressed in a silk pantsuit and heels. We rode with our groceries in her immaculately clean SUV. Yes, we were headed home.
We met several other cruisers while we were in Rock Sound. They seem to like it here because the locals are very friendly, the protection from the weather is good and it's blissfully uncrowded. I can see the allure.
Friday, April 5th Pineapple Cays, Eleuthera
This morning we relaunched our newly cleaned and patched dinghy. She looks lovely. There is strong High Pressure predicted to arrive tomorrow afternoon. Although this would be a safe place to hang out, it would be difficult to leave when you were ready because of the NE wind angle. We decided that we'd head up the coast to the Pineapple Cays and see how we felt about the protection there.
We had the same idea as a few other boats. Promise, of Norfolk, VA, and Cloud Messenger, of Washington, D.C. arrived at the Pineapples just ahead of us. They didn't stay because they couldn't find holding. We fared better. After getting ourselves happily anchored we set off for a walk around South Palmetto Point. The only pay phone we found was broken and the cool looking pizza place that had conch pizza on its menu was not going to be open for hours. It's a neat little settlement, but a little tough for cruisers.
The weak cold front came through during the late afternoon without incident, and we began waiting for the strong winds associated with the high pressure that was to follow.
Saturday, April 6th East of Levi, Eleuthera
The wind had yet to arrive by this morning. We decided if we were going to get trapped somewhere for several days, this was not the spot for it. Governor's Harbour is five miles north, and there are several spots near there to hide out. We made the trip from the Pineapples to Governors Harbour in about an hour and anchored temporarily off of the government dock. We figured we could fill our watertanks, make a few phonecalls, and take a quick look around (especially at the notable Haynes Library) before the boat dragged. Governors Harbour is not known for it's holding. We were successful at all these things and headed out to look for shelter.
We initially thought that we'd head to Alabaster Bay, six miles to the north. After one mile of banging into the now rising wind we gave up and headed in to the East Side of Levi Cay. Who should we encounter but Promise and Cloud Messenger. They were helpful to us during our anchoring. The holding next to Levi isn't all that great unless you can drop your anchor in the sand near the beach and drop back into the deeper water. They had sounded the whole area and pointed out a couple of likely spots.
By four we were comfortably anchored behind Levi, ready for the wind which was headed our way.
Sunday, April 7th, & Monday April 8th East of Levi, Eleuthera
And the wind blew. Though not as badly as we were anticipating. It was strong enough that it didn't make any sense to go anywhere. So we sit, doing chore-like things that nobody wants to hear about.
Tuesday, April 9th Alabaster Bay/Receiver Beach, Eleuthera
The wind has dropped a bit and shifted out of the E/NE to the E/SE. This is a problem in our current anchorage. Instead of being anchored in the sand and dropping back into the deeper water we are now paralleling the beach. The further the wind shifts the shallower the water gets. It's time to leave.
While we were getting ready to go we had the Cruisers Net on and heard Yaquina check in from Black Point in the Exumas. Ouch, they're very far away!
With the wind shift the trip to Alabaster Bay was much more pleasant than it would have been on Saturday when we last tried it. We arrived in just over an hour and were thrilled with what we found. The protection from the SE was terrific and the holding was in plenty of water in SAND! We promptly called Promise and Cloud Messenger and told them of this wonderful discovery. They started to pack their bags in seconds to escape the growing rolliness of Levi.
We took a little walk on the dead-end road that fronts the beach. At the seaward end was an abandoned fuel depot, once owned by the U.S. Navy. At the inland end of the road was a neat little resort. Cocodimama has three guesthouses, with a variety of rooms and suites, and a main building where guests go for dinner or drinks, lounging, etc. The beach itself was beautiful. It was covered in little milk conchs. I managed to limit myself to just one. It's conceivable I could sink the mother ship with all the shells I have collected.
We ended our afternoon with rum drinks on the deck of Cocodimama. It's really not so bad to be stuck in the wind.
Wednesday, April 10th Alabaster Bay, Eleuthera
We went for a walk to the abandoned U.S. Navy base on the Oceanside today. We went with the folks on Promise and Cloud Messenger. The base was very abandoned. It will undoubtedly remain untouched for years at the rate things happen in the Bahamas.
During our walk I saw some birds in a little mangrove swamp which I later identified as Stilts. They are very interesting to watch. If all birds were so strikingly patterned I would be better at identifying them.
In the afternoon I baked like a crazed person. Muffins, bread and brownies for the guy with the sweet tooth. Made an appallingly bad version of stir-fry Chinese noodles for dinner. Roger claims to have liked them.
Thursday, April 11th Glass Window, Eleuthera
Today we moved twenty miles north to the Glass Window. The Glass Window is VERY thin part of Northern Eleuthera where the water from the Ocean breaks over the thin spit of land onto the Sound side of the Island. There is a bridge, very high in the air, which goes over this "window". It seems this bridge was moved sideways 14 feet in a recent hurricane. After a period of consideration the Bahamians decided it would be simpler to reroute the road than it would be to move the bridge back...so they did. It's quite a sight in all its cockeyed glory.
The holding at the Glass Window was not very good so we decided we would continue our journey north in the morning. We have yet another cut in store!
Friday, April 12th Spanish Wells, Eleuthera
Last night we made arrangements to pick up a mooring in Spanish Wells today, and at the same time checked with the pilot about the time of the tide at "The Current". The Current is a cut through a peninsula at the north end of Eleuthera. You pass through the cut to get to the Islands on the north side of Eleuthera, including Spanish Wells. This particular cut is known, as you might guess, for its current. The Spanish Wells pilot seemed to be saying that the tide was about a half-hour after Nassau's. I think there was some confusion because Cloud Messenger and we had 2 1/2 knots of current against us as we went through. It could have been far worse so we weren't complaining.
We had a great sail from the cut to Spanish Wells until the last mile or so when the wind was in our face and we had to motor. Entering a new harbor is always interesting and Spanish Wells was no exception. The entrance and the Harbor itself are very thin. We kept getting surprised by very large vessels coming around the bend at us. The mooring field itself was quite something. There were twelve sailboats in an area that seemed no bigger than two tennis courts. There was some sort of mix-up and we ended up having to tie alongside a 45' Gulfstar. It wasn't such a bad thing since it was a large and stable platform. Maneuvering ourselves up to it in the narrow channel was a tiny bit unnerving though. According to the pilot who rents the moorings, the fellow who owns the Gulfstar hasn't used it in two years. He said we should make ourselves at home and take a look around the deck if we wanted to. 45' of boat seems really big. The boat itself was nothing to write home about though.
We relaxed all afternoon and had sundowners with George and Mary of Promise and Bob and Janet of Cloud Messenger aboard Cloud Messenger, a Pacific Seacraft 37'. Our next move is a relatively big one. We will be crossing from Eleuthera to the Abacos in the next few days. It will be our longest sail since our crossing from Cat to George Town in late February.
Saturday, April 13th Spanish Wells, Eleuthera
The weather is looking good for our departure for the Abacos. The seas from all that high pressure are finally starting to subside. Roger talked to the people on the sailboat Alize who are hiring a pilot to take them out past Ridley Head, north of Spanish Wells. It's sorely tempting. The alternative is to sail five miles southwest to Royal Island, spend an overnight, and leave its less treacherous point a day later. We think we're going to take the pilot route since it's only $20. It might be interesting.
We took a walk around town today. The population of Spanish Wells is descended from the Loyalists, who were mostly Scots in this area. The accents are definitely Scottish. It's very odd to hear. The residents are well known for their fishing prowess. The fleet of boats in the harbor was reminiscent of some of the fleets in New England. There is obviously a good deal of money here (relatively speaking.) We stopped and watched a baseball game. Roger really enjoyed the game, which was played by a bunch of teens (all male) with adults as coaches. The field overlooked the Northeast Providence Channel, which separates Eleuthera from the Abacos. That's where we'll be tomorrow.
Sunday April 14th Lynyard Cay, Abaco
The pilot, a tiny old man named Bradley, arrived at 7:45 this morning to escort Alize and Great Notions out of Spanish Wells, north through the Ridley Head exit to the Northeast Providence Channel. It was not something we would have done without a pilot, even if the light had been better. Bradley led us on a circuitous path around a bunch of coral reefs and delivered us, with a flourish of his arm, to the open channel and we were off.
The sail was pretty good. The seas were still a little lumpy, but not horrific. The wind speed and direction did a bit of shifting but we still made pretty good time doing the fifty miles. We arrived at the Little Harbor Cut at about 3:30. I don't think I'll count this cut as one of my favorites. Because the seas were still up a bit, it was hard to tell what was breaking on the reefs on either side of you, and what was simply breaking in front of you. Roger stood on the bow and pointed out the path and we made it in unscathed. It helped that we knew several boats had made it in in front of us so we knew it was do-able.
We anchored behind Lynyard Cay and promptly collapsed in a heap, glad to be done with that leg of our journey.Monday, April 15th Lynyard Cay, Abaco Amy
Today was a chore day mostly. After working all morning we went for a walk on the beach. Strangely enough not a soul entered the cut today. We wondered whether it was due to lack of wind. We'll never know. Tomorrow we're thinking of heading to Tilloo Cay for a night before heading into Marsh Harbor to wait for David's arrival.
Tuesday, April 16th Lynyard Cay, Abaco
As we got ready to depart this morning we heard the dulcet tones of Lorraine Bushek checking in on the cruisers net. She came up during "Vessels Underway". They were headed from Royal Island to Little Harbor, Abaco! The Yaquinas have been trucking. Black Point in the Exumas to Little Harbor, Abacos in one week. We decided we would stay and await their arrival instead of moving on to Tilloo. They made great time crossing and arrived by 2:30. They were tickled when we hailed them and we spent the evening catching up.
Wednesday, April 17th Marsh Harbor, Abaco
We made the trip from Lynyard Cay to the "big city" of Marsh Harbor today. It's a fairly short distance but you spend some time weaving around a few shallow spots. The Abacos are the only islands in the Bahamas where you can charter a boat. Great Abaco Island is protected from the Ocean by a string of Cays. Between the Island and the Cays is the "Sea of Abaco". The sailing in this area is pretty nice and generally fairly safe. The water is more greenish than the blue of the Exumas, but it is still very pretty.
We managed to find a spot to drop the hook in Marsh Harbor, but the whole place struck us as a bit thin on water. We're told the holding is good so that's half the battle.
After securing the debris of the day we headed ashore for a walk. Marsh Harbor was smaller than I expected but did have a very American feel about it. There were several fancy restaurants and boutiques, an internet cafˇ, vacation-type homes and big grocery stores. We located the phone company office to make phone calls. One out of three phones in front of the building was working. That's the Bahamas I know! We checked with the Immigration Office to make sure that David didn't need to be met at the airport Saturday. He's fine if he has a copy of our cruising permit, which he does.
Got together with the Yaquinas and discussed strategy for our upcoming crossing of the Gulf Stream.
Thursday, April 18th Marsh Harbor, Abaco
Today was another day of chores and errands. In the evening we waved to a pretty steel-hulled sailboat which passed behind us on their way into the Harbor. When they went by I noticed that the "Patricia" was from Charlotte, VT, where Dad and Trudi live. I was going to hail them on the VHF after they were settled in but they went aground on the way in and were still aground as darkness fell. I saw them tied up at one of the local marinas the next day but when I hailed them, the marina explained that they had left town and wouldn't return for a month or so. Too bad.
Friday, April 19th Marsh Harbor, Abaco
The highlight of today was lunch at Wally's Restaurant. We both ordered the Cobb Salad, which Lorraine had recommended. It was undoubtedly the best salad I have ever eaten...of course this could be because I have had very few salads in recent months. We were in a state of bliss all afternoon.
Yaquina left for Baker's Bay today. We'll catch up with them in a few days on our way to Green Turtle Cay. We had dinner on the 35ft "techtron 35"catamaran "Socia"from Belfast, ME. We had met Jeff and his family during our stay at Devil's -Hoffman in the Berry Islands back in December. Since we last saw them they had some major engine trouble and had to head back to Florida for repairs. Wife Liza and the two junior elements, Roger and Elliot made their way home to Maine, leaving Jeff and nephew/deck-hand Forrest to meander their way back to the Bahamas. It's quite a boat, weighing in at only 7500 lbs.
Saturday, April 20th Marsh Harbor, Abaco
This morning we thumped across the shallows to the Conch Inn Marina where we'll spend the night. We wanted to clean the boat with some fresh water (for the first time since Charleston in Nov.) and take real showers (for the first time since Charleston in Nov.) before David arrived at 1:00p.m. We don't want to scare him off immediately after all. By noon we were fresh smelling and waiting for our "crossing crew" at the outdoor bar.
David arrived on time and in one piece, giddy to be here. The weather was warm, as usual, and our guest looked a bit wilted in short order. After a bit more shopping we settled ourselves on the boat and had a dinner of linguine and clam sauce.
Sunday, April 21st Green Turtle Cay, Abacos
We headed out of Marsh Harbor at about 8:30a.m.and headed out towards Baker's Bay and "the Whale". In order to head further west in the Abacos a vessel of our draft has to go outside the Sea of Abaco and around a small Cay called Whale, then back in again. There isn't enough water to simply sail behind the Cay. This of course throws two more cuts into out travels. Happily there was absolutely no wind today, nor had there been for several days so there were no seas to deal with. Two stress-free cuts in one day. I think that's a record for us. Yaquina hooked up with us as we headed out and we both made our way toward Green Turtle Cay.
We anchored off the Government Dock in the early afternoon and went for a walk. New Plymouth is the only settlement on Green Turtle, and a lovely one it is. It has some beautiful old homes and gardens and has a very quiet atmosphere.
The weather info sources we have are suggesting a possible front in the next few days. Yaquina decided to head into White Sound for better protection. After hemming and hawing about the pros and cons we decided to head in as well. We managed to go hard aground in the entry channel. A young guy in a whaler pulled us while two cruisers in a dinghy yanked to the side with our spinnaker halyard. After about fifteen minutes we were free and on our way in...and we thought Marsh Harbor was shallow. Our rescuers said it could have been worse. A boat went aground in the same spot yesterday night and was stuck there till 3:00a.m.
Once we were anchored Jim and Lorraine came by and we continued our weather analysis/crossing plans.
Monday, April 22nd Green Turtle Cay, Abacos
We went back to town this morning. David loaded us up with scented cleaning supplies. What's he trying to tell us? We had our last (and David's first/last) conch burgers for lunch at a local pub. In the afternoon we headed across the Cay to an Ocean beach. David tried out his new swim fins and snorkel. Quite a show. Lorraine found a horse eye bean on the beach and gave it to David. Forget the survival suit you brought, she said. By carrying a big bean in your pocket you will be protected from harm (or so the story goes).
The Marina near us had a very bad band tonight. Thankfully they packed up by 9:30.
Tuesday, April 23rd Green Turtle Cay, Abacos
Roger was feeling claustrophobic and insisted that we leave Green Turtle today, front or no front. Unfortunately we left a bit too late. Hard aground in the channel once again. Jim & Lorraine, with David along, managed to pull us off with their dinghy. It's one more night in Green Turtle. To settle our frazzled nerves we went to lunch across the Harbor at Bluff House Marina. Yummy salads had by all.
All hands are preparing for a Wednesday a.m. departure. Payback for the Yaquinas. Loud music tonight at the Marina near them.
Wednesday, April 24th Great Sale Cay, Abacos
We headed out of Green Turtle at 7:00 a.m. (high tide). We were headed to either Allan's Pensacola or Great Sale, depending on the wind conditions. Allan's would be a 20 mile day, Great Sale, a sixty mile day. The wind was great, pretty much downwind. The drifter got some action till the wind really picked up. After that the whisker pole came out. It was obvious early on that we would make it all the way to Great Sale Cay, our departure point for our Gulf Stream crossing. This was David's first exposure to 10 knot surfing in a following sea and he had a ball.
Thursday, April 25th Great Sale Cay, Abacos
Great Sale Cay is one of the western-most islands in the Abaco chain. It is a very popular departure point for boats headed back to the states from this area. The anchorage is several miles long and is protected from NW through SE. We'll wait here till we get a weather window to head North.
Today was cooking day. Between Roger and me, we made meatloaf, tuna casserole, lasagna, two pasta salads and a dozen muffins. This way we don't have to cook while we're underway.
The long list of pre-passage maintenance projects was whittled down impressively with all hands participating. Lots of weather-talk with Yaquina. Tentative lift-off is Saturday.
Leaving George Town last month seemed like our real departure from the Bahamas because we had come to know the area. Leaving Great Sale is a departure as well, but from a region we are basically unfamiliar with. This seems to make leaving a bit easier.
The Bahamas are truly beautiful islands and we have enjoyed our time here.
Friday, April 26th Great Sale Cay, Abacos
A decision is reached. A Friday night departure is a go. The dinghy is struck and the anchor is aweigh. U.S.A. here we come!
Saturday, April 27th Gulf Stream
A quiet first night. The moon was full, no wind to speak of and Mr. Engine was working like a trooper. The cat kept threatening to go forward so I finally broke down and put the harness on him. I don't think I'll need to clip him to his leash because he now claims he's unable to walk.
Sunday, April 28th Cumberland Island, GA
The weather forecast degenerated a bit late yesterday afternoon so we decided to head out of the Gulf Stream towards the St. Mary's River, which separates Florida from Georgia. Saturday night the wind picked up a bit and that, in combination with the Gulf Stream swells, made for a bit of a bumpy night. We were all pretty exhausted by early morning. Roger and I were swapping shifts every _ hour. David was suffering from meatloaf poisoning so we let him rest. When the sky brightened I got a second wind and was able to take the helm for several hours. The wind was 15-20, with following seas. It was a cheap thrill. The wind died by noon but we were still able to make Cumberland Island by 6:00 p.m. Great Notions and Yaquina were both able to check back into the U.S. via Yaq's newly reactivated cell phone. Somehow that seemed appropriate back in the land of technology.
During cocktail hour the crews of Yaquina and Great Notions undertook the Bahamian Flag removal ceremony. This involved David and his camera taking many cockeyed photos of us and our dilapidated courtesy flags.
We get to sleep tonight!
Monday, April 29th Cumberland Island, Georgia
Another day of listening to weather and planning our next move. It's not looking so good for a straight shot to Charleston. It seems we will spend at least a day or two heading north on the ICW. David, Lorraine and I went ashore for a walk. David was the mad photographer and Lorraine added birds to her life list.
Tuesday, April 30th Wally's Leg Creek, Georgia
This morning we left Cumberland Island and headed north on the ICW...powering...against the current. Not our strong suit. We were passed early on by a trimaran called Mirage, from Plymouth MA. They are headed up to spend their summer working on the whale watch boats. We will probably see them again.
The Georgia portion of the waterway is known for its winding path and its marshes. It's quite beautiful and a bird lover's delight. The biting flies and greenheads also like it so you have to keep sort of covered up if you want to come out unscathed. We ate "passage" lasagna for dinner. Watched the sunset above the rim of our quiet creek.
To May 2002