Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hopetown



We arrived at Hopetown about one half hour after high tide with about a foot of water to spare. Celebrian had arrived earlier and had snagged us a mooring, in high demand as a result of today's Abacos Rage fundraiser and tomorrow nights New Years Eve festivities. We are very close to the boat moored next to us, fortunately no one is aboard to witness any undesired rafting.

We first toured the lighthouse, and walked up to the top for some amazing views. First Edition is the blue hull in the forefront of this picture.





After the lighthouse tour we walked to the fundraiser for the Rage, which will be the Hopetown entry in the Bahamas Regatta in the spring. This is a huge event in which the Islanders race against one another with native built boats and lots of fried conch and serious food platters served in between the races. Here, Peter buys his Rage tee shirt.


After lunch, we experienced Hopetown at its best: shopping. I wish this Lizard Lounge had been for sale, it would have made a great dollhouse for Willow or garden ornament for her mother. Instead, I picked up a very cool gift for Willow that made her grandfather roll his eyes at me.

 
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It was a great day, topped off by happy hour on Celebrian. Christine and Rob will be leaving tomorrow while we enjoy another day at Hopetown, likely to include a New Years Eve dinner out, with a desire to see the fireworks and Junkano. The latter two events are after midnight, so we may have to skip the rest of the day to prepare.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Christmas Contraption

 


On Christmas Day we left Marsh Harbor and anchored out off of Man of War, where I had hoped to visit the shops. We could not get Buster, the anchor, to hold, so we decided to reset it. When pulling him up, we found that Santa had left us a heavy metal device, the purpose of which we could not begin to fathom. Alas, the Christmas Contraption. It took quite a bit of time and help from Rob to untangle this critter from Buster. We reanchored, and had a great Christmas dinner and several days of walking and beachcombing.

When stores reopened, we attempted to dink in but Mister Mack, the Mercury outboard gave up the ghost. The next day my onboard mechanic, using Calder's book Repairs at Sea, diagnosed and fixed the problem. Of course by now it was Sunday and the good folk of Man O War attend church but not their business affairs. So, no conch horns or pretty dresses for us.
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Celebrating on First Edition

 


Merry Christmas and Happy Channuka to all. This is the first time we have had an internet connection since Boat Harbor, but we have been somewhat successful in receiving high frequency emails. These are the ones that have to be short, no attachments or pictures. OK, enough of that lecture.

Here is our HF email address, if you would like to contact us (feel free): KC2JBD@winlink.org.
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Happy Holidays


We moved to Marsh Harbor from Boat Harbor in order to get wind protection from the East, and we anchored next to Blue Bay, friends of Rob and Christine. So, on the first night of Channuka, we had a full house, and repeated the festivities on Christmas Eve. It is now Christmas Day, and we are sitting at Mangoes Marina, in the gazebo, using their signal. We will head to Man O War anchorage today, and share Christmas dinner with Celebrian.


 
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bahamas, the Center of the Universe

 


In less than 24 hours we managed to cross the Gulf Stream (flat as a board) and hear our friends on Celebrian hailing us as we were passing them at anchorage. We took a hard left and rested for the night at Powell Cay, with dinner compliments of Rob and Christine. It is great to be here. It is as beautiful as I remember.

Along the route to the anchorage we passed this rock, and I looked it up on the chart. It is called the Center of the Universe Rock. Like all of the Bahamas, it is grand, and understated. So wish you could all be here.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Bahamas Here We Come

 


It is Friday December 19th, and around 3:00 this afternoon we will haul anchor and head out the Lake Worth inlet on our way to the Bahamas. We have had several boats contact us after hearing we are leaving, so we will have company after all.

We wish you all a Happy Channuka and a Merry Christmas, and will think of you often.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting Ready to Cross


A bunch of us got together for lunch at Duffy's, the local sports bar that serves lunch at 40% off between 2 and 4 pm. Cruisers, ever the bargain hunters, have made this a "must stop" in the Lake Worth itinerary. Here we sit discussing when we are all going to cross. As it turns out, Peter and I will exit Lake Worth tomorrow around 4 pm, with one other boat that will head in a different direction. The rest intend to wait until the next day, for reasons we understand but do not agree with. So, we will be alone out there in the pitch dark, in the nasty Gulf Stream. But conditions are predicted to be so benign we do not want to pass them up.

We finished provisioning at Publix, spending a couple hundred on fresh fruits and veggies and a variety of hors d'. I cannot wait to see our friends on Celebrian, with whom we hope to celebrate Christmas.
 


So, tomorrow we cross! It may be several days until I get to post again, so stay tuned.
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Bennie's Homemade Margueritas

You will never drink the jug junk again:

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice, or, bottled Nellie and Joes Famous Key Lime Juice
1 cup Cointreau or Orange Patron, Triple Sec also works but is not as good
1 cup Tequila
1 cup Rose's lime juice
1 cup water.

Mix. Serve over ice.

Recipe may be quadrupled which is highly recommended and often necessary. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Christmas Visit to Auntie

 

The waiting at Lake Worth continues, and permitted a two day visit with my Aunt Dar. The four hour ride was longer than expected, but she was so excited to see us it was worth it. Peter might not quite see it that way, as he was the chauffeur. We got to host a dessert party (so what if I forgot to put sugar in the pumpkin cheesecake?) for other Aunts and Uncles and neighbor friends, Debbie and Jamie. As the night was winding down we got a surprise visit from friend Nancy, who had just rolled into town from Canada. It is Nancy's friend Ben who provided the world's best recipe for Margueritas, so there is a big warm spot in my heart for Nancy.

We are now back on First Edition, and it is looking like there is a crossing opportunity! Now the debate among the Captains begins, when to leave, which direction to motor, or sail, where to spend the first night. I think I might just shut up for a change. OK, I will try at least.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ashore with the Berzins




We visited with good friends Ben and Susan whom we know from our previous landlubber life. Lucky for us, their winter home is in Jupiter, minutes away from Lake Worth, and this year they were in town while we were waiting to cross. We toured several restaurants and retail establishments (the latter in search of a lighted flamingo lawn ornament, this to complement their holiday-decked out palm trees)and also managed to click a few pix in front of the Jupiter Lighthouse. A few cocktails later we are back aboard First Edition, who was babysat quite nicely by our Mayor Rick from Sojourner.
Weather window continues to be evasive.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trim A Tree Party at Lake Worth

 


Today we will have been at Lake Worth for a week, waiting for weather to cross to the Bahamas. Well, actually the first few days we were provisioning and running around. But we are ready to go! In order to get to the Bahamas you must cross the Gulfstream, a strong, warm current of water many miles wide. The current runs North, so you actually point your boat more South than where you want to go when you head East. When winds are blowing from the North, big, big, big seas set up in the Gulfstream, and the temperature of the water sets up some nasty weather if certain conditions exist. So, one is very careful before entering. The Bermuda Triangle may be a Gulfstream phenomena.
So we wait for light winds from the East, or decent winds from South to West. This time of the year, cold fronts bring North winds, and cold fronts are pretty prevalent. So, we wait.

While waiting, you can party every night. On First Edition, we had Froya and Sojourner over for cocktails and to trim our little tree. Hope not to be here for Christmas!
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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Boat Parade at Palm Beach


We spent today shopping around, getting ready for the offshore trip, and thanks to a friend we did not need to rent a car. The highlight of the day was the Christmas Boat Parade, where about 25 boats, mostly power, were decked out with Christmas lights and a variety of Santas, palm trees, and even a nativity scene. We made the short trip to the ICW inlet with Linda and Rick on Sojourner, and our new Norwegian friends, Emma and John on Froya. Guess who is who:





 
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It turns out that Emma shares my passion for fireworks, and how delighted were we when the sky lit up, with the display being set off on a raft that was actually part of the parade. Splendid!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Arrived Lake Worth


And this is what lumpy seas look like. Fortunately, First Edition is a workhorse, and we have Stugeron aboard. This is an anti-seasickness remedy that you can buy over the counter in the Bahamas, but no where in the US. Our trip from Fort Pierce to Lake Worth took longer than we had hoped, but we arrived before sunset and anchored in the South anchorage. We had a wonderful dolphin display as we neared the inlet.

 


Curiously, we hit the inlet at maximum ebb current, which should have run about 3 knots. Yet, we were only slowed down about a knot. Good thing.

The South anchorage is where most boats stage for the offshore run to the Bahamas. It does not have the protection provided by the North anchorage (actually in Lake Worth). Also, at the North anchorage there is a dinghy landing (you need water shoes since it is flooded at high tide). You also need to lock your dink since theft is not unknown here. From here, you can walk to a fantastic Publix with dumpsters, and Duffys, a popular watering hole.
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Friday, December 5, 2008

Ships Passing...

 

During the Fall we had hoped to meet up with Far Niente, whom we had last seen in Annapolis. Their crew voyaged by air and land to Michigan, where Jay was inducted into the Funny Car Hall of Fame, or something like that, being a former successful race car driver. I am assuming the successful part, but he is alive and well so that says something.

Once they started South we kept in touch and the number of days separating us diminished, until we reached what is their new homeport at Fort Pierce while they were still headed South. The morning of our departure they heard us on the radio and called to say hi and goodbye, being nearby but offshore, and to let us know that we were in for a lumpy ride.

We snapped this shot as we passed each other in the Ft. Pierce channel. Look closely and you can see Santa.
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pine Island near St. Augustine

 

We left at dawn for a long stretch of ICW travel from Fernandina to Pine Island, not quite at St. Augustine. The day warmed up nicely. This was a pretty run, with low lying marshlands alongside the waterway, and plenty of water. All but one of the bridges is 65 feet, Floridian tax dollars hard at work replacing those bascule types. Supposedly it was howling on the outside on the Ocean, so we took this safe route.

We arrived at the Pine Island anchorage around 2:30, to see a sailboat that we had followed earlier in the day pulling out. We hailed them and they said there was plenty of water, but also plenty of crab pots and current. Undeterred, we set the anchor. Upon checking our tide tables I calculated there was a good chance we would be aground at low tide; the deep water shown on the charts is not there. We had a few words between us (I the conservative one, Peter, well, you know) and finally left. A short stretch down the ICW I saw a bump out of the waterway with 15 feet of water (by Red "30"), and we lay down the hook. It worked out fine. We later saw several sailboats enter Pine Island, Lord knows where they put the anchor but based on the conversation among them, they were not happy.

Tomorrow, an overnight to Fort Pierce. Freeze warning posted!
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fernandina Beach

 


We wound up spending four nights here, waiting for nasty weather to pass. Fortunately, tornado warnings did not materialize into "Oh my we're in Kansas" events. We did a lot of window shopping, as the town seems established to cater to the wealthy guests of nearby Amelia Island Plantation. We had great pizza at Arte Pizza, and bought incredibly fresh shrimp at the Atlantic Seafood Market right by the marina. We sat with Maj-Lis and Don on Blue Blazer and walked them through the crossing to the Bahamas and the Abacos. We also went to the Museum (not free) which was interesting but the docent tour was disappointing to me. Apparently Fernandina was once a beach destination for the African Americans, before integration, and the blacks were instrumental in inventing shrimping methods that have survived. Nothing was mentioned about any of this during the tour.

We plan to continue down the ICW to St. Augustine as fierce winds and big seas prevent us from the overnight to get there that we had anticipated. Ugh. More ICW.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving at Fernandina Beach

 

Well, at least someone got to be home for the holidays: these shrimpers. As I have mentioned before, being a cruiser during holidays is hard for me, I miss my family and my friends, even though I am blessed to have many new ones travelling along with me.

There were a number of sailboats that made the long trip (25 hours in our case) from Charleston to Fernandina, and we exchanged banter during the voyage with Greta, Blue Blazer, Osprey, and Kokopelli. I had two conversations with a cargo ship, Courage, concerning his expected course (AIS identified her by name). The captain was a very friendly guy who kept saying to all of us hailing him "Yeah, I see all you sailboats out there and I am going to pass behind you". I was never comfortable that "all you sailboats" included First Edition, and sure enough, on my watch he decided to pull in between the boat ahead of us and First Edition. Although he knew exactly what he was doing, I didn't know that, and when I called him to say I thought he was mighty close he (still with respect) informed me he was 1.8 miles away (which I confirmed on my radar) and that would be our closest point of approach. A great big mother cargo ship, at night, turning towards you looks like, oh, five feet from you when she actually is 1.8 miles away. Happy to see her pass.

We motored until 4:00 am when I turned the watch over to Peter who had a great time sailing us up to the inlet.
If you turn right, you go to Cumberland Sound, Georgia. St. Marys is straight ahead. This is the location of the big Thanksgiving pot luck, but since we were arriving late I was concerned about anchorage space, and we turned left to pick up a $15 mooring at Fernandina Harbor Marina. Hours later, Blue Blazer moored right next to us, and joined us for our Thanksgiving meal.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Charleston Restaurants

 

On our first day here we revisited Magnolias, where I surely wish my friend Betty could join us. Southern charm, shrimp and grits, fairly priced for upscale, and as I mentioned earlier, great cosmos. I have now been informed though that my drink cost $11. That's 3 bottles of rum in the Bahamas, or 3 bottles of wine at Walmart.

On our next day we had dinner with Barb and Lee on Wind Dancer, with whom we had made the journey from Southport. We ate at Mercato's, a well priced Italian with excellent calamari and lasagna, but with white tableclothes. Very good.

This is Wind Dancer's first trip to the Bahamas, and they are good company. We parted with them early in the morn for our overnight to Fernandina Beach, as they headed up the ICW. Until we meet again...
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Charleston!!!

 


Love Charleston. We left around 9 am and arrived Charleston Harbor around 3 am the following day. Entering a harbor like Charleston in the dark is both easy, and hard. Easy because it is wide open and deep, hard because there are soooo many lights and if you do not have a chartplotter and radar or AIS (automatic identification system) you are really flying blind. Our Raymarine unit, freshly returned from the factory, blacked on and off several times during the inlet transit. Do not buy Raymarine anything.

Our trip here was as it should be, no drama. Throughout the whole passage though I sat waiting for the engine to start coughing but it never did, our replacement of both filters seems to have done it. We had company in Wind Dancer, and it is sure reassuring to look back and seem a masthead light when you can see nothing else. It was cold, but we rigged up our Honda generator and space heater. The seas were basically flat so this was not a safety hazard, would not want to be rolling around with it though.

We napped when we got here then went into town shopping. We had a late lunch/early dinner at Magnolias, which makes a cosmo that rivals my favorite cosmo bartender Donna. I think I detected a hint of mint. Great food and upscale prices.
Tomorrow we plan to do boat chores (clean out the fuel tank, among others), then head back into town for more sploring.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Southport, NC




We left Wrightsville for a harrowing adventure to Southport. We had previously run out of fuel three times since we put in our new engine. For some reason after we switch fuel tanks we seem to run out of fuel in the full tank; we have not figured it out yet, but sooner or later we will. Each time we run out of fuel, we wind up sucking out all the crap in the bottom of the fuel tank, and it had apparently not been caught by our "disposal" filter, and made its way to the main filter (where you cannot see it). We knew what the problem was as soon as we starting losing RPM's on the engine. Twice we had to anchor along the narrow ICW for master mechanic Peter to change filters. It is incredible how perfect strangers volunteer to help, willing to stop by or spend time on the radio to walk us through solutions. The captain has learned so much from our mishaps.

This scene is along one of the narrow passages of the waterway. It cracked me up. Note the palm trees.

We ended up at the Southport Marina, a nice place. We took a long walk into town, which was mostly closed up, being late in the day and the season. Definitely worth a return visit. Here we hooked up again with Wind Dancer whom we had met in Beaufort and will travel with down to Charleston, one of my favorite stops.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bogue Sound to Wrightsville on the ICW

 

We left Beaufort on November 19 in order to run hard aground near high tide in the Bogue Sound. The Bogue Sound sucks. You are constantly seeing your depthsounder show remarkably little water. And since it was blowing around 20 knots from the northwest, we were being set onto the Bogue banks where it is most shallow. We put out the jib and fortunately got a gust, allowing us to point the boat in the desired direction, and pull off. Boat US got a rest.
We anchored at Swansboro which has a fair amount of current, but with our oversized anchor, we found that we held nicely.

The following morning we followed Mishka and Three Penny Opera out of the anchorage at 0650. Fortunately these boats became our leaders through the shallow waters and we learned to follow them but not listen to them, as we bumped very hard while taking their advice to hug G61 at 34 35.8 77 14.6. First Edition took a nosedive, but we put the pedal to the metal and forged our way through the pile of mud or sand that had stopped us.

We were fortunate to have left early as live fire drills at Fort Lejeune began around nine and most boats were held up until noon. We heard new acquaintances on Ooh La La taking the news from the navy in stride.

The rest of the day we were sitting on eggshells waiting to run aground. One of the other boats found bottom twice but not for long. There were four bridges that we needed to open and because all the others had gotten held up by fire practice there was not a big congregation playing bumper cars in the rapid current.

With a gale forecast we decided to tuck in at Wrightsville and took a slip at Seapath Yacht Club, two bucks a foot (ouch!). We were lucky to have arrived near slack and tied to the face dock. A trawler spent over an hour today trying to turn in 30 knots of wind and probably 4 knots of current to dock; it finally whacked the sailboat intended to be behind it during one attempt. We have all been there.

The laundry stinks here. One machine and the dryer won't dry. There is a loaner car though. The marina has turned off the water due to expected temps in the low 20's tonight. Happily, we have our $14.00 space heater.
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