Monday, December 31, 2007

Phoning Home




We are now in Green Turtle Cay where we will be for a few days. There is a "blow" expected tomorrow night, and it is expected to howl over 30 knots. So, we have picked up a mooring and hope it is well founded. It was the last one, and a bear to get a hold of. With the help of Ed on Midwatch, we picked up the mooring chain, then walked with Ed and Beep to see this beautiful island. We checked out the two restaurants and their menus for tonight, New Year's Eve. At $100 a head, it is a tad beyond our budget (although Peter
doesofficially retire effective today).

Today we will explore Black Sound (we are in White Sound here). At 4:00 there is a hors d' pot luck on the beach for all the boats here in the harbor. There is a Junkanoo here tomorrow midday, and hopefully the cold front will hold up.

Pictured is Peter, as his blackberry has no signal he will try anything for a final call to the office.

OH! Ed from Midwatch turned us on to Skype, an internet service that will allow us to make phone calls for 2 cents a minute (as compared to nearly $3/ currently). We downloaded the software and borrowed Midwatch's headset to place a few calls, it works great! But, we will need an internet connection and our own headset, which I have ordered to be shipped to our first visitors in a few weeks. Way cool.
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Manjack Cay

 
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We had heard a lot about Leslie and Bill who own a home on Manjack and are very welcoming to cruisers, and today got to meet them. We walked through their "woods" where bananas, grapefruit and assorted other fruits and vegetables are growing, through to the beach. There, we picked up flotsom and jetsom that had washed ashore and had a good walk with Ann from catamaran Peace, Ed and Lisbeth from Aquaelle, and Beep from Midwatch (in the picture with Peter). Afterwards Bill gave us all a ride on his power boat through their mangrove creek, where Aquaelle and Peace intend to ride out the front coming through next week(too shallow for us).

So today we are just hanging out. Tomorrow we plan to pass over to Green Turtle Cay where there is a snug harbor and a Junkanoo on New Year's Day. The holding is OK (read, not great) so if we can pick up a mooring we may do that. We will miss a pot luck being put together here, but want to beat the rush to the harbor.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Allan Pensacola Cay

 

This Cay is actually two cays that were joined together following a recent hurricane. On the island there is a spot where cruisers hang mementos with their boat names on them. When our friends Vickie and Len visit we want to return to apply a proper sign Many have survived for years. Anchorage here was good, although it was pretty calm.

We joined Lisbeth and Ed for dinner on Aquaelle. Tomorrow we will clear customs (shh, we should not have landed here until we cleared), anchor in Manjack Bay, and say goodbye to our new friends as we move on and they visit with friends with a home on the Cay. It has been so good for us to have these experienced Bahamas cruisers to show us the way. And it turns out they are great people too. We will look them up at their gallery in Seal Cove, Maine when we cruise there next year.
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas in the Bahamas!

Thanks to the encouragement of our new sailing friends, Ed and Lisbeth, we took off with them Christmas morning about 9 am following heavy rains. At first, the seas were very lumpy, with a large swell coming from the northeast. Our friend Len would not have liked it. After a few hours, the swell flattened out a bit and we mostly motored over the stream, which took probably about five hours. We eventually were able to sail for a few hours. The depths go from thousands of feet to 10 when you cross onto the Bahamas banks, and the seas become like pancakes. I am sure the water changed color too, but it was too dark to see. Around 10 pm after clearing Memory Rock and approaching Mangrove Cay both boats dropped their anchors randomly along the banks, which is a common practice. We slept, but a bit fitfully.

Waking up the next morning was amazing, the water is the color of a mermaid's eyes and the 1950's turquoise kitchen color. We motored again to Great Sale Cay, where we met up again with Wind Kist 4 and Butterfluge, two boats we met in Lake Worth. We had a swim, brrr! and talked sailing over cocktails with Aquaelle's crew. Now, we are motoring again to Allan Pensacola Cay, where Ed is taking us ashore to introduce us to Poisonwood, which apparently is as nasty as it sounds. Tomorrow, onto Spanish Cay where we will clear customs.

Weather is great, 80's and sunny, little wind that we can use. But all is very good.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve at Lake Worth, Florida

 

If you notice this handsome man is posing in front of the only derelict boat anchored in this part of Lake Worth, in front of a boat named "Restless". What you may not be able to notice is that this derelict (the boat, not my husband) is from the homeport of Wicomico Church, Virginia. This is where our property is, and where we will eventually become landlubbers. Quite a coincidence, and some how as meaningful as to this voyage as Pecan Sandies.

Having discovered this boat, and met some wonderful folks here in the anchorage, we are tired of being restless and think we may be able to move on. Soon, very soon.

While returning from doing laundry with a new friend, Lisbeth, we cracked up when we realized it is Christmas Eve. Peter is now dragging out our one foot fake Christmas tree, which I will decorate this evening. Now we are off to dink around the anchorage and discuss weather with other Bahama bound sailors.

I hope Santa finds us in this anchorage.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Hell No, We Didn't Go

 


All the necessary ingredients were there for a crossing, but starting around midnight things began to change. The winds were building beyond forecasted levels, and the concern that they would continue to build crept into our thinking. Several boats, driven by old salts with loads of experience, had left but remained in radio range and were complaining about the conditions being "snotty", etc. Think about it. Winds were on the nose, waves were knocking down forward progress. After several hours at it, many boats helmed by those with much more experience that we have threw in the towel, and sailed many hours back into the inlet. Sartre's delight.

We kept discussing whether or not to go with our buddy boats, and it seemed that no matter what time we decided to caucus, as soon as we did, the heavens opened up a splendid rainfall. Bad seas, bad winds, and now rain. No thanks!
At 3:00 am we decided winds might gust to over 30 knots based upon our research, and we decided to bag it, and hit the hay. Although we set the alarm for 4:00 for the next board meeting, we merely turned it off when it blared.

So, we did not go. Instead, we moved from one anchorage to another, touched ground and then ran hard aground, took on fuel and water, and are following a possible opportunity to cross Saturday night. However, that window looks short. The next chance, per forecast, is Christmas evening.

So I leave you with this picture, one of my favorites, that we took in the NY Harbor, a fireboat running a drill. We know how it feels. Christmas in the Bahamas? Not the first goal I did not make. Eventually...
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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Planning for the Bahamas

 

When Peter and I planned our first sailing trip all those many moons ago, we sat down in January with all of our books and charts and figured out where we would be every minute of our two week vacation in late July. We plotted buoy to buoy, calculated estimated time of arrival. Our Power Squadron instructors would have been very proud.

Now that we are getting ready to cross over the Gulf Stream and for the first time leave our wonderful country we have finally dug out the charts and guides. This is about a 60 mile trip; after about 5 miles we will lose sight of land and won't regain it until about 4 miles out of West End, when hopefully we will see a tall red and white water tower. There are few buoys or other aids to navigation in the Bahamas, you figure out where you are by reading the guides that say things like "anchor by the white house with the pink shutters". Hopefully no one paints in the Bahamas.

We have been monitoring the VHF waiting for someone to announce their departure for West End. Only one boat, a trawler planning on 8 knots, came through; too fast for us. A bunch of boats left this morning, planning on an overnight trip to the Abacos. Some aborted. As we plan to leave tonight, no worries yet about finding a crossing buddy.

Monitoring the main frequency, I heard Bay Wolf speaking with another boater, and hailed him after their conversation. We started our ICW adventure with Bay Wolf, and here we are, 2 months later, in the same anchorage. Alex and Lorrie are leaving for West End around 4am tomorrow. So if the Captain is willing to delay a bit, we will have company. Hopefully we will hook up with several boats doing the crossing this evening.
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More Planning!

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Meet Rick on Sojourner, which is headed for Memory Rock and had helped us with some anchorages.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Light at the End of the Tunnel

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Today the forecast indicates that we may be able to leave Thursday night for the Bahamas, with the seas settling down and the winds favorable. We called and made a reservation at Old Bahama Bay at West End on Grand Bahama Island. It cannot come too soon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

And so is Christmas

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We continue to wait here in Palm Beach for good weather, which sooner or later will come, along with Christmas. I am trying not to make myself crazy over this weather delay. Thank you all for your phone calls and emails telling us how awful the weather is up North. It makes the rain bearable.

As Olga passes we are being belted with rain. Today through Sunday, thunderstorms are forecast, and Monday and Tuesday, north winds predicted. All not good for our crossing. Chance of tstorms for tonight are less than 20%, but having been hit with lightning once, we don't want to think about a Gulfstream crossing with the potential hanging over our heads.

So, we wait. Tonight or tomorrow we move from the marina to the anchorage.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mystery Friend

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We had a fantastic overnight sail from Cape Canaveral to Lake Worth (Palm Beach), with winds of 14-18 knots and OK seas. Sailed the whole way. Arrived at Lake Worth at daybreak, about 2 hours before our most aggressive projection. Tomorrow we will take a slip after lollygagging all day today. From there, we will do our final provisioning for the Bahamas and begin to follow weather closely for our crossing.

One of us took a picture of this creature although neither of us can recall it! Any guesses? We are in the right whale habitat area, so I wonder if we have captured a shot of this endangered species.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy Hanukkah, We are Back in the Sunshine State



We are blessed to have friends like the Rosenzweigs who have shared their home, their children, their doggies, their refrigerator, their cars, their advice, and their holiday celebrations with us over the years. They sheltered us during Peter's mourning, and while we dealt with our doctors and Peter's last visit to his office. Thank you guys.

We are back in Florida with plans to leave Cape Canaveral (where a shuttle launch is planned coincident with our own take off) tomorrow. We have figured out why we have had setbacks during this voyage: Pecan Sandies. We ALWAYS start a trip with these luscious, fatty cookies, but in out attempt to be healthy, did not this time. Well, today the Pecan Sandies (OK, reduced fat version) were loaded aboard. We believe we have broken the hex. Good winds and seas are forecast for a trip to Lake Worth (near Palm Beach). We plan to leave around noon for a 21 hour-ish trip.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Remembering Poppa Al

 

Dad decided. Live long, die fast. Although we all wanted him to make it to 100 years, he decided he had had enough and fortunately, retired from this place before pain had the opportunity to take over. Dad was always in charge.
It is so hard to believe that a year ago we sat in his assisted living facility singing Christmas caroles together. No kidding. He knew every word.

He was an incredible man. We had a rough start together, but finished beautifully. In the hospital before he passed on, he whispered to me, "I am happy". Can you think of a better frame of mind to leave this earth with?

Thank you for your prayers.
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