Monday, April 30, 2012

Rain, rain go away, come again another day...

Our sister ship "Sea Hawk"  in the rain
Actually, they really need the rain here, there have been fires every week, and they seem to burn forever; you can actually see the flames sometimes at night. Aside from that, we could do without quite so much of it. At least it's been a light rain! We are sitting in Marsh Harbour waiting for the really nasty stuff we keep hearing is coming Sunday and Monday... now, today or Tuesday. The storms have kinda' stalled pushing back the forecast here. Getting a few gusts around 30 knots, but it's out of the East which makes it much easier to lessen the effect at most anchorages.

What we have been enjoying during this misty, mushy weather is the other cruisers. We ran across "Sea Hawk" (1981 41' Island Trader... gold dragons and all... and a Maggie aboard, but she's a shepherd/husky mix), and they are currently anchored off our starboard bow. We enjoyed dinner out at the Jib Room with Wendy and Burry the other night and they came over for cocktails last night. We also invited new friends Lynn and  Bill on "Outpost" (Catalina 47), so the six of us had a great time. Lynn and Bill have a place in Weems VA (near Topping/Deltaville where we spend the summer) and a place in Marathon FL (where we hope to winter next year before crossing). We went for cocktails on Outpost earlier this week, and think we may touch base often with Lynn and Bill during the year.

Red sky at dawn, squalls coming on...
In case  you were wondering what a red sky in the morning looks like, this was last week at Hope Town before the squalls there.  The yellow in the photo was actually blood red, but I just couldn't get a setting on the camera to reflect that, it kept coming out yellow. It was a beautiful sunrise.

Between Hope Town and Marsh Harbour we anchored north of Sandy Cay and took the dinghy around to snorkel the reef. We snorkeled for a short while, but were amazed at the vibrant colors of the fish and the reef. Probably the prettiest we've seen. That night and the next we anchored at Lynyard Cay. We took a damp dinghy ride across to Little Harbour to have lunch at Pete's Pub and walk the island, wandering up to the lighthouse ruins. We visited the museum/gallery which features mostly cast bronze sculpture. Nice day. Our plan was to head out and snorkel Sandy Cay reef again, but the weather pushed us on to Marsh Harbour, which brings us back to where we started this post! In a few days, we hope to cross the Whale and check out some of the areas we missed running from the weather when we first arrived. We'll let you know what we experience in that area.

Firefly Resort at south end of the island
near White Sound
Hope Town Harbour from the window
on the way up the lighthouse (100 steep

Here are couple of pictures from Hope Town and vicinity that we couldn't get posted previously...picturesque island.

This may be a bit more day to day detail than you might find interesting, but, hey, it's our blog and is a bit of a log for us to look back on and remember what makes this paradise! Thanks for following along with us.
Happy Sails!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Well, we're up to our old tricks! We refueled and filled the water tanks on our way out of Treasure Cay. Everything was good until we tried to leave the fuel dock which is located in the channel.  There was not much wind, but it picked up enough to push us against the dock, and with a boat behind us, we had a devil of a time getting off the dock. But, we finally made it. That was a bit distracting, so we unintentionally managed to edge our way out of the channel and aground. We weren't sure what to do since there is no TowBoatUS here, but we knew we would have to wait for the tide to come in before we could do much of anything. So we put out a couple of anchors to keep us from being pushed further out. Of course, things got worse before they got better. As the water continued to ebb, we continued to go further and further on our side so everything below promptly slid to starboard, as did we! Maggie was a bit unsettled as well trying to get about at such an angle.
Aground at Treasure Cay
As the other cruisers passed, most hailed us to make sure we were okay, but they couldn't really do anything to help at that point. Later as the tide started to turn, the folks we met on "Sally Rose" came by in their dinghy, and then Jim came back awhile later. He and Tom managed to push and pull (Tom reeling in an anchor as Jim pushed the bow with the dinghy) with Barb at the helm helping with the engine and steering, to free us. By this time (6 hours later) it was getting a little late and we thought about going back into Treasure Cay, but decided to go on out to Water Cay and anchor there. It turned out to be a beautiful night.

Mörsan in Hope Town
Spent 2 nights anchored at Man-O-War Cay and then made our way into Hope Town. The channel into Hope Town is shallow, and we wanted to go in on a rising tide so we waited until about 5:00pm. Not a big deal, but there was a nasty squall with some hefty wind predicted in a couple of days so boats were pouring into the harbors for protection, and there is no anchoring there, only mooring balls. We were able to pick one up, then Truman decided to move us further in because of our size. That night a boat near us broke loose in the storm and got tangled in the mooring lines of the boat behind us.

Tom maneuvering the door at the top of the Lighthouse

Somehow, even sleeping in the cockpit, we missed the excitement. Truman was the hero of the hour and got out there to free the boats. We were happy we didn't get tangled up in that! Hope Town is a great place to spend a few days, so we enjoyed our visit. We walked all over, climbed the lighthouse and hitched a ride with Eric who's dad rents golf carts. He took us to the other end of the island to a great little resort area. Nice place, they even provided transportation back to town...Tonas drove us in the saddest old golf cart we've ever seen. At one point we offered to get out and push so we could get up a hill. Breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled into town!

We've been out and about since then, but we should have wifi for a few days, so I'll continue this update later. Thanks for following along with us!
Happy Sails!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wind, wind, and more wind! I know, you're thinking..."sailboat, wind is good", right. Well, wind is good for sailing, but not necessarily for wave conditions in the Sea of Abaco, or for anchoring. It's been a breezy week, but we are looking for things to start settling down in the next couple of days, and hopefully have some good island hopping weather for a little stretch. I type these updates when time permits, then post them when we get Internet access, so sometimes things may seem a bit out of sequence. However, since we have almost no concept of time, we really don't care.

Walked down a long stretch of beach on Treasure Cay today. The sand is like powdered sugar and the water is sparkling. This was not a shell-finding beach, but we found a few small shells and many broken sand dollars. Found some tiny, tiny sand dollars whole...never knew they came that small!

I know, how much of this can you take?  Bookoos!
 Folks from our marina in Deltaville on "Moon Splash", Jim and Gretchen, are anchored nearby in Treasure Cay, so we asked them over for cocktails. While we were enjoying the evening, a boat they knew came in and anchored nearby, so we asked them to stop by as well. Jim and Bobbie on "Sally Rose" joined us for awhile. Evenings are peaceful as the sun sets, even when it's windy. When the sun goes down in an anchorage, someone on one of the boats will blow a conch horn, then whoever else out there who has one will answer. There are usually several horns ushering in the sundown.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ah, life in the amazing. Everything really does run on island time here. On some islands the bank is only open a couple of days a week so that they can be open a couple of days a week on another island. Many places shut down 2 or 3 hours midday and if you're waiting for a delivery, you are at the mercy of the ever changing flight schedules and ferry delivery. We are currently holding out for a wifi booster which should come in on Thursday, at least that is Jermaine's hope. It should make a big difference in our access from the boat. There was a rumor that Customs was going to go on strike, but it didn't happen. We hear that comes up around election time...just like home! We are trying to take care of a few housekeeping items like laundry and filling the water tanks. We are feeling pretty good about our provisioning at present, but Marsh Harbour has a couple of excellent grocery stores, tho' a little pricey.

Barb sat up on the bow for a bit to take in the view while we were underway a day or two ago. We were in about 15 feet of crystal clear water. There is not a lot of fish activity, but you can see starfish on the bottom, and every rock and clump of sea growth like it's inches away. Of course, everyone talks about the stars or diamonds on the surface with the sun shimmering, but there are sapphires skimming across the tops of the ripples in pulsating shades of blue as well. The colors of the water are so vibrant, the sails and white hulls of boats across the way take on a baby blue hue. When we are finally able to add pictures (the booster should make that doable) they can't possibly do it justice.

Great Guana Cay

This is a shot from our anchorage to Grabbers on the beach. Great Gauana Cay is the home of Nippers. It's very shallow out front, but you can watch the skates swimming right under the dinghy on the way over.

Marsh Harbour evening

Marsh Harbour has beautiful sunsets and it can be such a comfortable spot, we can see why some folks spend weeks in the harbour.

Weather concerns are constant companions because different anchorages are protected only from wind coming from certain directions. A few of the main islands have good protection overall, but the wind blows pretty steadily here, sometimes a bit strongly, and so you make your plans with the help of Barometer Bob and the Cruiser's Net. Every morning we get a weather report, information on anything going on in the Marsh Harbour or Hopetown areas, and there is an open forum for questions or requests, like how to locate a doctor, if anyone has a spare bilge pump out there, or that someone found a kayak and is looking for the owner. They also announce or relay any emergency messages to cruisers from back home. Most of the cruisers check in and there is a wealth of information traded and shared. It's pretty cool. For more extensive weather, we try to get Chris Parker on the single sideband. He comes on at 6:30 every morning and some days we get better reception than others. He is definitely the guy to listen to before crossing!

Everyone is very friendly!

We are so grateful to our cruising friends who were persistent in urging us to "Just do it!" some days you almost have to pinch yourself to make sure it's all real! Thanks for traveling with us!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Well, it's not been as easy to update as we had hoped. Wifi does not have a strong signal and we don't have an antenna. But there are bars on every major island and most have wifi available, so we will make hay while the sun shines! We launched into the Gulf Stream last Sunday night, April 1, around 10pm. We arrived in Bahamian waters to a beautiful sunrise Monday morning. It was a little sketchy when we started out and the prospect of ten or more hours of that was less than thrilling. But, as the night wore on, the seas calmed (as predicted) so that we weren't hanging on with each swell, and we settled into a decent crossing. We're learning quickly what we need and don't need, and continuing to learn as we go. We do need an antenna for the single sideband so that we can get good weather reports. We do need a wifi antenna if we want to do any Internet from the boat. Mostly, we needed the anchor windlass (which we had installed shortly before leaving Jax) as Tom's back would not have held up! Took us 5 tries to find a spot with good holding at Green Turtle Cay! Thank goodness friends Rob and Lauren ("Arita"/"Southern Comfort") encouraged that purchase.
The new deck is fantastic! We don't miss the teak in the least. With the sun beating down on the deck all day, the teak would burn your feet, and our new deck is nice and cool.  Not to mention the rain does not drip on Tom's head while he is sleeping anymore...yay!
We have marveled at the color and clarity of the water, wandered through a couple of towns, gone for an evening swim, caught up with friends here, checked in with Customs (Terri was a wealth of information and made checking in a pleasure) and made our first visit to the bank. We didn't take as leisurely a time this first week as we had hoped, but we wanted to get past the Whale (cut out to the ocean and back into the more southern part of Abaco) before the weather turned. We are anchored in Marsh Harbour now probably for a few more days as the front passes. Then we plan to start island hopping in earnest! 
This truly is a paradise and we know how fortunate we are to be living our dream. You may not be aware, but this is something we've hoped to do for many years, and it is exhilarating! There are compromises with everything, like getting up to listen to the weather at 6:30 every morning, and nudging into a crowded anchorage to lay low for a weather day or two, and learning what works and what doesn't, but overall, it's pretty cool!
After nudging into our anchorage here, we determined we were really a little close to the Tianna next to us. Jim confirmed that for us as he graciously (he truly was very gracious) came by in his dinghy to see if we were comfortable with the closeness. So, after Tom fixed the hose leaking into the bilge, we nudged into another spot and we are all more satisfied with the outcome.
We are going to have a few issues posting pictures because we still haven't figured out how to do that on the iPad and we don't really want to carry the laptop to shore. So, we'll keep plugging along and figure it out as we go.
Thanks for traveling with us!