Monday, December 31, 2012

Little Bay

The morning after the front came through we had had enough of  rolling around and a sleepless night, so we hauled anchor for a 45 minute jaunt to peace and comfort around the bend at Little Bay. Herb and Linda on Utopia, whom we had chatted with at Black Point, also saw the wisdom in the move, and hailed us with an invitation for Christmas dinner aboard their vessel.

Photo compliments of Blue Heaven.

Herb and Linda have been together for a little over a year and are what we would describe as a "colorful couple". Herb is not shy about sharing their exploits, some times at Linda's embarrassment, and has quite a background. An Austrian, Herb shared tales of the Nazis and WWII, serving aboard the Bounty, the sailing vessel recently demised during Hurricane Sandy, and starting a Ministry for Wayward Boys. Herb has fought with sharks and Colombian drug runners, and has an arsenal onboard even our friend Jay would envy. He has a lovely singing voice and is entertaining without it.

On our first night at Little Bay we hosted the gang for cocktails and laughs. The following morning we took a good long walk to the beach on the Sound and had a good sea glass harvest. Christmas Eve Blue Heaven hosted us all for dinner, and afterwards Peter and I exchanged gifts in front of the Yule Log.
Our Christmas Dinner aboard Utopia was nothing less than a feast. Herb prepared enough Christmas Schnitzel, as Arlene termed it, for the Bahamian Army, along with the best and unusual potato salad ever. Herb and Linda regaled us with songs Herb had composed and some extemporaneous jamming. Quite a delightful evening shared with new friends, and more Christmas memories in the Bahamas.

Black Point

We left Pipe with Blue Heaven and hoped for fresh fish after the couple hour ride to Black Point. Not a bite. We rushed in to Rockside Laundry and were greeted by Ida as if we were family, "First Edition, how did the house come out?". Ida is one hard working lady, and as I have said before, you could eat off of her floors. We handed over our $21 for 3 loads of laundry, and chatted about her kids, her weight loss, and building a house in Virginia. If everyone ran a business like Ida did, there would be no worries here in the Bahamas. Or anywhere for that matter.

We stopped in to say hello to Lorraine at her Café and she tells us business has been very slow. We dropped in at her Mom's house for bread, and Mom is now weaving as well as baking.

We made the mistake of sitting out a front here at Black Point with the NW winds sneaking around the corner and rolling us all over the place. But we had to have our walk at the Black Point beach, where I scored bigtime with this shell, which I think is a mini triton, about 4 inches long. And you have to see this Halloween bean in person as the picture does not do it justice. Blue Heaven found a good unoccupied helmet, which is a type of conch shell.

Most of the town was closed down as during any holiday the folks head to Nassau to be with family and the Rosenzweigs, who are headed to Atlantis and Junkanoo. Donna and Alan and eventually their two boys would spend every Christmas Eve with us at our traditional party until one year when we both had made travel plans.  Peter and I were in Nassau pushing my aunt around in her wheelchair and happened upon their Junkanoo parade when we heard "Aunt Doris!", and turned around to find Donna behind us. Donna, hope you are enjoying your vacation as much as we are.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thomas Cut at Pipe Creek

Peter and I left solo for a night or two at Pipe Creek, with Blue Heaven following the next day. At low tide there is an abundance of shells, sea glass, and sand dollars, some out in the open and some on beaches requiring a little local knowledge and fortitude to find them. We were not disappointed.
It just didn't feel warm enough to snorkel, although this is a great spot. We like to get to Pipe through Thomas Cut, which is deep and wide, and anchor off of the  "yacht club" pictured above. The water is around ten feet or more and there is room for about four boats. If you are brave and have good eyesight, you can cross over the reef to the south behind which most of the boats anchor, coming in from the banks on a long and often shallow route which we would only take at high tide.
The water is so clear you can spot loads of sea life just  by looking overboard.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Delayed Christmas Greetings from First Edition

Sorry we have been out of touch. Before we took off for the Bahamas we overinvested in tools to increase our internet capability, and of course, nothing worked like it should have. I declined to purchase any internet connections since I should have had the ability to use my Bahamian Data Plan and did not want to waste another nickel. I am in business, having visited with Julius in Georgetown who in five minutes and $25 did what needed to be done. It will take a while to catch up on our travels, but suffice it to say, we have been safe, weather has been good, my collections are on the increase, and I miss you all.

My amaryllis which I potted in September at home bloomed in time for Christmas festivities. More to follow on that subject.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Exuma Park at Warderick Wells

Strathspey, Blue Heaven and First Edition pushed through big seas to get here to avoid the predicted NW winds that have since been removed from the forecast. But we did manage to have some good social events while here.

On the first night Blair demonstrated his musical talent aboard First Edition by serenading the anchorage and mosquito infestation with a sunset bagpipe medley, to every one's delight. The next day we took a long hike with Arlene and Al and found incredibly high tides and a changed layout, perhaps the effect of Sandy. We dinghied over to Summersalt and introduced ourselves, and welcomed John and Suzie to cruising in the Bahamas. We passed along our tip to insert all of the waypoints from the Explorer Charts while in the Exumas, and ignore the Navionics chart data. All new cruisers here saddled with this software discover this sooner or later. Bear this is mind if buying new equipment! Blue Heaven hosted us all for dessert and espresso made by Strathspey and the girls whooped the boys at games.

This morning First Edition meanders down to Pipe Creek for some sea glass and shelling, and perhaps some fishing on the Sound. Report to follow when internet is available again!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nassau to Shroud

While in Nassau, we returned from our traditional Chinese dinner to find a "love note" from a boat a few slips down by the name of Strathspey, requesting that we quiet our halyards. Apparently, the noise of our clanking lines had kept them awake all night. Not knowing what kind of greeting I would receive, the next morning I dropped by and apologized and made the acquaintance of Canadians Blair and Mary. Strathspey, a Tartan 35, was returning for their second visit, the first having been in 2007. 

Upon departing Nassau we were greeted with winds 17-24 knots from the southeast, sufficient for a rollicking sail over to Shroud Cay. Blue Heaven had left a little while before us, and as we slowly caught up to them it was quite clear a race was underway between us. Except it wasn't Blue Heaven; it was Strathspey, one fast boat. In big winds our halyards really make a racket. I hope they enjoyed our music as they were most often behind us!

We anchored at Shroud and the next morning finding it to be high tide suggested a mangrove exploration. In the past we have found abundant sea life but this time, nothing. Peter was able though to give the island native a good idea by deftly planting a light bulb in his cranium.

Friday, December 14, 2012

High Water at Nassau

Come hell or high water everyone seemed intent on leaving Dinner Key to make a crossing on December 12th. Our weather guy had been promising benign weather, but at 6:30 in the morning when we talked to him, he cautioned us to wait until the winds had died down to 10 knots for two hours at the Fowey Rock buoy before taking off. Synergy, Blue Heaven, and Discovery decided to throw caution to the wind and take off at sunrise since the grib files, Chris Parker, Windfinder, and Passagemaker all forecast a decrease in the velocity, which I would describe as slightly less than howling. First Edition, with fresh recollections of Barcelona (my granddaughter's word for upchucking, it's a long story) decided to hang back and wait for Fowey Rock to signal kind seas.

So, four hours later the wind in the anchorage had died down a bit and we took off. We hail Cookie Monster who we had been talking to about crossing, and Corbett reports that Fowey Rock is 23 knots! Oh, what the hell, we are already on our way, and good changes are in the making. Exiting the Biscayne Channel became increasingly "interesting" and we proceeded nevertheless. Cookie Monster stayed behind. We hailed Blue Bay and Night Hawk and found that they were transiting the inlet and would be out there with us. It's always good to have some one to talk to.

And so began a 26 hour journey. Winds did die, seas did decrease, and unanticipated lightning flashes stayed North. At night the nearby skies were illuminated with mast lights and falling stars. We missed the chatter we enjoyed during our last eastbound crossing with "The Entourage", but were favored with 15 knots or so of wind on a beam reach.

We arrived at Nassau Harbor Club around 1:30 in the afternoon to find our friends all settled in, no bouts of Barcelona, but little movement undertaken below decks.

The answer to the burning question many of our cruising friends are aching to ask: ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DAYS. Big smile.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dinner Key

We arrived in Dinner Key, which is not in the Bahamas, and neither are we. Stronger weather than forecast kept us from leaving, but every one wanted a change in scenery. So we moved south for about an hour and a half and picked up a mooring at the Dinner Key Marina.

To enter the mooring field you have to head west into the marina via the Dinner Key Channel, pass the marina, then head east into the mooring field to avoid the shallows. We saw plenty of water for our 5 1/2 feet. Synergy, a Baba 40 drawing 6'6" was told to choose a spot near the #10 marker; during their last visit here they sat on the ground at low tide. The mooring field is intended for boats up to 40 feet, although we don't seem to be the only boat exceeding that limit. It seems to be a "don't ask, don't tell policy".

We went in for lunch with our travelling group and Arlene and I found a great casual clothing store where we made a few buys. Dinner Key has a load of little boutiques and something called the Coconut Walk, where there are more stores that we missed. There is a park with a walking/running track and various pieces of exercise equipment (bikes, weights, stuff I know little about.) Within walking distance there is a Home Depot, a supermarket, and closeby is a Fresh Market. A free water taxi runs on the hour. Near the dock are private showers.

We will try again tomorrow to cross the gulfstream and get to Nassau after a two night stay here.
Longing for aqua water.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Chanukah

Peter says that being in "the Land of My People" (Miami) for Chanukah is very fitting. We found chopped liver and potato pancakes which we served as hors d'oeuvres to friends on Discovery, Synergy, and Blue Heaven, for their first Chanukah party ever. They arrived bearing gifts and we were rewarded with more than their friendship! Marilyn googled the holiday and thought it appropriate to bestow a bottle of olive oil to recall the history.

We enjoyed a good dinner and our traditional bon voyage dessert, apple pie with ice cream. Tomorrow if the weather holds we depart for the Bahamas. Toodle-loo!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Venetian Causeway by South Beach

The opportunity to cross to the Bahamas evaporated, so we remain here in Miami. We are actually anchored between the islands near the Venetian Causeway, Rivo Alto and Di Lido in particular. A short distance away is Belle Isle, where most of the cruisers congregate but this spot is more protected and less rocky. We are here with Synergy and Discovery, and we remet Al and Arleen on Blue Heaven, whom we first exchanged boat cards with in Nassau a few years back.

With the help of a wonderful tech at SeaLevel I have solved my driver problem for Sailmail, and Carl from Discovery has helped us figure out our Bad Boy wifi booster. The genoa is now repaired thanks to UK Sails on S.W. 31st Avenue and an incredible turnaround time, albeit at a price. After paying the $50 cab ride there, we figured out it would be cheaper to rent a car, and Enterprise Car Rental delivered one to the sail loft.

This location is very special. For years I had read about the horrors of anchoring in Miami, with the authorities chasing you away after a short stay. We have never had a problem, and enjoy the proximity of shopping, movies, a laundry, and Publix and the beauty of the night skyline.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We were growing weary of sitting around at Lake Worth, so we became optimistic about the weather forecast and heard the lower part of the ranges predicted. 15-20 knots can mean 20 knots gusting higher and increasing in squalls, and 4-5 foot seas can mean, well this time, 8 feet coming from different directions. It is not like me to expect the best. But I did, and was really looking forward to a night sail and a trip to Miami. Our friends on Synergy and Discovery are already there, and planning a possible departure for the Bahamas the next day. No hanging around waiting for a window!

We arose at 2:30 am and Peter commented that it seemed like it was really howling. I reminded him that was expected but it would settle. Around 3 am we were exiting the inlet with a tide opposing the wind, so First Edition became a bucking bronco, but I was sure it would stop once we cleared the inlet. At 4 am I took a Stugeron tablet (anti seasickness) without even being encouraged by the captain. At 5 am I puked. My first serious mal de mer ever. And only eight hours to go.

This was a miserable trip. But it was not until we reached the anchorage that we realized we had ripped out the UV protection from the genoa. Well, actually Chris on Synergy pointed it out to us. We were so oblivious at sea we had not noticed, even when taking the sail in.

The good news is our friends aren't leaving yet and it seems we may have found someone to do the repair pronto.

Sailing: 5% exhilaration, 5% terror, 90% boredom.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Old Friends

Yesterday while at Lake Worth we visited with Susan and Ben Berzin, friends from NJ who have their winter home here. Ben was a client of Peter's, as was Susan, and Susan and I worked together for a spell until she wisely left the world of high finance. Ben is still working because Susan makes him. Someday the 4 of us may become RVers together. If Ben ever stops working. 

We spent a lot of the day trying to solve my computer issues which I have now concluded boil down to the fact that Windows 8 is so new there are no drivers for it yet. We also ate and drank a fair amount. 

This is Peter's new hobby. If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you.