Sitton On The Beach
BioOrb 4 gallon aquarium
Catching sea life for the Orb in the tidal pools at Leaf Cay
I have been slacking on my blogging. With all the company we have been really busy or really tired...:) I will catch up now. Sally and Hugh made it to the Exuma Market on Monday the 29th of March. That morning Rusty snorkeled on a reef near SYL and captured "Nemo" and a couple of friends. We put them in the BioOrb and they seemed to be doing great. Sally and Hugh came bearing gifts...FOOD! Wow, they brought a feast or actually several feast. You can not believe how expensive food is here at the grocery and when you eat out the food is not that great for the price. Libby left me some of the food her crew did not use and with Sally and Hugh's contribution we are in excellent shape. I knew Sally and Hugh would be hungry when they got in so I fixed crab cakes and shrimp scampi. I didn't have many shrimp left but it turned out fine.
Our biggest concerned with Hugh and Sally were sleeping arrangements. Hugh is 6' 5" and Sally is tall as well. The salon table and booth makes into a King size bed but the padding is skimpy and it is fairly hard to sleep on. ( One of my projects when I get home is to replace the cushions with more comfortable ones). Rusty had an epiphany a couple of days ago. We took all the cushions off of all the berths and arranged them on top of the other cushions. He put the ice chest at the end of the salon bed and wa la, it worked. Sally and Hugh had a very comfortable bed. They slept great, we slept great and all was good.
On the morning of the 30th the plan was to stay in Georgetown because of weather. After a breakfast of a skillet omelet and fruit we went to the Chat and Chill ( Sally has renamed it the "Sip and Sleep"). We saw the stingray Sam was feeding, had a drink and just "chilled". In the afternoon we went to Elizabeth Island and hunted for treasures. When the tide is out this huge white sandy beach is exposed. Everyone came away with sand dollars and other wonderful things. Hugh and Sally live at Crystal Beach so they are sea shell hunters "extraordinaire". In the afternoon we snorkeled on a couple of reefs. A good time was had by all. Rusty speared a couple of fish as contribution for the nights dinner. Sally cooked dinner which was Pork Loin, stuffed mushrooms and asparagus. Sally is quite the cook.
On March 31st we got up early and headed north. The water on the Exuma Sound was a little rough but as soon as we went through Square Rock Cut the water was smooth. Sally brought some fabulous gumbo so I added rice and potato salad and we had lunch underway. We stayed at Lee Cay for the night. When we first pulled in the welcoming committee came to greet us. A huge iguana and his cousin came out to the beach rather quickly. I don't like reptiles so initially I stayed on the boat. The rest of the crew went exploring. Hugh and Rusty found more sea life for the Orb. Several star fish, another "nemo" and a mollusk. We really enjoy watching them in "their habitat". We had the Cay all to ourselves. After treasure hunting and securing our bounty we just soaked in the beautiful water. The sand on this Cay is almost pink. I brought a baggie of this sand to use for something when I get home it is so unusually beautiful. We took our showers and had a dinner of brisket, baked beans, potato salad and Sally's homemade bread. The bread is easy and good. I'll put the recipe on the web. I tried making the dipping sauce they use at Carrabas but it was not very good but butter worked just fine. Every night we play a game Libby taught us called Hand and Foot. Sally and Hugh are beating us rather badly. We won one night but the other nights we have been annihilated.
We have been able to sail quite a bit without motors. In fact at this moment we are sailing at 5 knots and it is wonderful. All you hear is the boat cutting through the water. We had our breakfast casserole and fruit and we are soaking in the beautiful landscape. Good sailing conditions, good friends and full bellies. Nervana!!!
March 29, 2010
|I took Linda out to eat at the "Peace and Plenty" last night. The food was OK, but not worth the price. Linda's Ceasar salad and shrimp were nice but my Mahi was not worth the $20 a plate. She enjoyed the outing and we got another 5 gallons of water so my trip was a success. We may have found a wifi hot spot as we walked back to the dinghy. A couple I met earlier had a signal and were skyping when we walked by so we will try it out today.|
Our second set of guest arrive today about 3. We have made arrangements for a taxi to bring them to the dock so everything is set. This will be an all adult trip, Hugh and Sally are a hoot. We got a light sprinkle just now and it's cloudy, hopefully the day will unfold like the last two and clear by 10:00. I heard Chris Parker this morning on the marine SSB, we may have the remnants of a front come thru this evening but no adverse weather is expected. The wind is already clocking to the West, so it may come earlier than expected. Tomorrow winds are likely to be fairly brisk from the NW. That would make our first 15 miles headed up the chain pretty uncomfortable so we will wait until Wednesday to leave the harbor, there's plenty to see here in Georgetown.
I got my aquarium set up yesterday.... I will try to catch a couple little fish to put in it today. Netting small zippy little fish around the reef is challenging. I tried my luck yesterday without success but I have an improved strategy for today. #1. I won't go to a big reef, the same fish congregate around large rocks with less places to dart in and out of. #2. I will try to herd them into the net instead of swiping at them with it...lol. My plan is to watch them a few days in the aquarium while I'm in harbor then dump it... not try to keep them very long. I don't expect that the aquarium would ride very well on a rough passage.......
March 28, 2010
Yesterday was more of a work day than fun day for me which was ok. The rudder seals, as we have talked about before, is a known problem with Seawinds, one of the very few problems with this boat, but they leak and if not addressed then the water spills over into the next compartment and the next and so on until you get the water out. Rusty installed pumps and I said I would take on the responsibility of seeing it got done. OOPHS! I forgot. When I went to find a pump for the Biorb (globe aquarium) I went into the large compartment in the aft starboard berth and it had quite a bit of water. That would not be a big deal because I have most in open bins and plastic except I had a metal fan that came with the boat stored in there. When I picked it up it showered me, and everything in the compartment with rusty water. Now, all of the water in the compartment was rusty. What a mess. Bet I won't forget again. Everything had to be taken out, washed, the compartment scrubbed and I am still putting things back. I also decided to "organize" again. Libby is taking some of the things I have found I don't need home. I know this is stating the obvious, but living on a boat is much different than living on land. I am still learning what we need and where it needs to be. Mainly, I am learning that it is better to do without then have to have such a struggle to get to anything you DO need. As I have mentioned before, the cruisers I have talked to have assured me that organizing a boat is a process not an event. Libby has been an angel and washed all my laundry for me. We can't keep the boat at their cottage as much as we would like because it has to be a rising or high tide to get in and out. Today will be putting the laundry away, deciding what I can send home and giving SYL a good scrubbing.
Our biggest problem has been getting internet access. Internet is here, but most is secured and you can't tap into it. We paid for a service but it has been spotty and we can't even pick it up when we are anchored near the cottage. The cottage is just around the corner but that apparently is far enough to effect reception. Rusty has taken the dinghy to Georgetown and he is going to see it there is internet available in town that we can use. I bet there is. If so we will post today.
|Rusty here.... This is our guests last day, we will see them off around noon. It was nice having them here, the extra dimension the cabin added was nice for everyone.|
Fair East winds arrived yesterday evening and are still with us. I haven't listened to weather for several days since I had no passages to make. Georgetown will be our base for a few more days. My biggest chore for the day will be to shave...lol That means two things... I really don't have much on my agenda, and shaving this multi-week scruff will take more than one pass...... Nobody has complained but I'm tired of it.
I checked out the fuel dock today to see if they have any.... that sounds weird, but around here everything is pricey and limited... you never know if they will have what you want. The Exuma Market seems to be very well stocked every time we went, that may be the exception to the laid back rule here. I have two days of motoring on these tanks so they need a drink of petrol.
As I consider what the day may hold; it's Sunday so the docks may be closed all together but I'll make a dinghy ride to check. I made the run and brought my 5 gallon water jug to ferry some water back to the boat from the free spigot at the Market to ensure a useful trip. I understand they won't have gas until next week, of course tomorrow starts the week so maybe that's a stock answer. I had a bit of trouble communicating with him. I assumed he would give me the rundown when I asked about fuel, but it's like you had to pry information bit by bit word by word.... we ain't in Kansas anymore.. that's for sure. If I pulled up to a gas station in Texas and they didn't have any.. the attendant would have told me why not, when they would, then a detailed description of why the delivery was late... the name of her grandkids... and that they have cokes 2 for a dollar and free coffee before next words came out of my mouth. Here you have to beg for one word answers....lol. That's not true everywhere, but it's a pretty laid back place..... Maybe America sells too many energy drinks...lol.
ICE: We haven't missed using ice in our drinks. The cool weather has kept our drinks cool enough at room temperature. Last week was the first time I felt too hot during the day. This morning we broke out the ice maker and tried it out. It makes the cutest little cubes that look like hollow backed 44 caliber bullets. I'll have to use it when the generator is on or the batts are full because it draws 7 or 8 amps. When it gets warmer ice will be more appreciated, but we are ready for the water to warm up.... Linda just handed me a glass of coke with ice in it. It's fun to know we can make our own. The unit produces 7 cubes in 10 minutes... not bad.... It will take care of the needs of two people easily. We can also store some in the boat freezer if we need to hold a volume for guests.
March 27, 2010
We slept well, the generator runs about 5 hours pulling the AC so I woke up at 2:00 and turned the AC off, the generator ran about 30 more min. just right to charge batteries before it ran out of gas. That was a good solution because we didn't need the AC all night and I didn't have to get out of bed to do anything, the thermostat is in easy reach of the bed.
It rained a bit this morning, that was nice. It rinsed the boat and did it before we got up. I just walked on the decks and they are much nicer being salt free. Cloud cover was heavy this morning, nothing ominous but by 10:00 it's bright and sunny. We are supposed to have a large high pressure area over us that will keep the winds down and sun up for a few days. You need bright and sunny for the best view underwater. I think today will be a rest day, no trips or duties other than making our way over to the cottage at some point, I'll check the tide tables. It's funny how things change. When I got to Georgetown I would slow way down when I got in water under 6 feet deep, now I don't slow down until it reaches 4'...... so much of the harbor is shallow but it's consistently so. You can count on a gradual slope so if your over sand keep on truckin' until you see 3's on the depth gauge.
Internet service has been really poor here in Georgetown. We even subscribed to a provider and didn't get much service. I think we may have only gotten on 3 times in a week. I'll post as soon as we get service.
It's dark...... we are settled in for the night on the other side of Ferguson Point from Kidds Cove. We had a great day snorkeling around Elisabeth Island. After we got back on the boat, we all went to Libby's and had a meal and showers at their cottage. Everybody had a great time wandering around on the waist deep sandbars looking for shells and whatever looked interesting.... They will go home with more sand dollars than they need... for sure.
Here are some pictures to catch you up on the highlights of what we have taken:
Thunderball Grotto / Staniel Cay
Rudder Cut Cay
|Sam in his roost||James Kayaking at Rudder Cut||James / beach||Survivor man Tom with fresh coconuts|
Sand Dollar Beach in Georgetown Harbor
March 26, 2010
The wind was out of the East when we went to bed in a comfortable lee of Galliot, but in the early morning it switched to the West so we woke up to rollers about 5AM. I got up at 6:30 to listen to Chris Parker's weather on the SSB, he said we may see some squalls in the middle Exumas associated with a front that would stall and probably not make it to Georgetown so I got my ducks in a row and left Galliot as quickly as possible (7AM) hot footing it South. We arrived in Georgetown about 2:00PM and Chris was right on the button, we missed all the upset weather and had a light headwind the whole way. Winds clocked to the south a bit just before we got here, but that was also in the forecast and was of no consequence. We headed straight for a snorkel spot inside the harbor that proved to be a bust. I think we didn't find the area that had the good stuff, we may try again tomorrow. It was bright and sunny all day so we had a good visit and good sail home to Georgetown. After snorkeling we went to Tom and Libby's cottage where she made jambalaya and we all took long hot showers, it was a cosmic experience...... all the hot water I wanted.....lol. We left about 6 to settle the boat for the night in Kidd's Cove where we sit at this moment. Sorry for the quick and short updates but we have just been having too much fun to stop and write.....
We probably took 200 pictures the past few days.... soon we will do a collage to catch you up. I have the AC running and it's just Linda and I on the boat tonight. After the good meal and showers we will sleep like a baby. It's after 9, so I'll sign off... g'night.... Rusty.
March 25, 2010
From Pipes Creek we pulled anchor and started home to Georgetown. Our lunch stop was at Black Point... Lorraine's again. After lunch we struck out and stopped for the night at a nice beach behind Galliot Cay.
March 24, 2010
Rusty here... we left Rudder cut lazily about 8:00 for Staniel Cay and Thunderball Cave. Like Linda said below on the 2 day summary, we met back up with Gary and Celeste on Sol Surfin. It was good to see them again. Thunderball was awesome, any other snorkeling activity seems pale in comparison. We may try some reef snorkeling tomorrow but I'm not expecting the grandeur of Thunderball. After the cave we moved over to the West side of Big Majors Spot to feed the pigs, it was a hoot. After the pigs we sailed around just to be sailing, then decided to go see Pipes Creek. We stopped on the way as Linda said at Sampson Cay to fueled back up, then anchored in Pipes for the night.
That's what I call a reliable anchor set..........
First time I set the anchor on dry sand..... I love it.
Sittons "on the Beach"
Rusty and Linda in Thunderball Cave
We have been so busy and on the move we have not had a chance to make an entry. I am writing this at 5:30 AM while everyone onboard is asleep. The expected blow in Georgetown Harbor the night of the 22nd wasn't much. The crew dinghied over on the next morning (the 23rd) and we were off to Thunderball Cave. The wind was straight in front of us and the waves were a bit confused so it was very rough. We saw dolphins on our way out of Georgetown. Normans Pond was not the stop we expected to find so we moved on as daylight allowed. We went inside the sound at Square Rock Cut and the anchored at this beautiful private beach behind Rudder Cut Cay. Rusty put the anchor on land on a nice beach with palm trees and a cave. We played in the water all evening. We used our ladder and new tray attachment that Rusty designed for the first time and it worked great. It was nice having somewhere to put a drink when you are in the water. I used my saddle and just bobbed around. "Bobbing" is one of the things in the water I love to do. All of my "lake" family are well aware that this is a favorite past time of mine. Tom found some coconuts and the fresh coconut meat was awesome. Everyone had their fill and then three very skinny dogs appeared. Sam and James started feeding them and I got some of our "pig bread" to give to the dogs. They looked like they were starving. Tom walked all over the peak to the ocean and said it appeared abandoned. The dogs ate everything we gave them including salad. You couldn't dwell on their plight or you would really get upset. At least their little bellies will be full for a while.
We left early the next morning and went to Thunderball Cave. This is a cave that was used in the James Bond movie, you guessed it, Thunderball. As it turned out our friends on S/V Sol Surfin were headed to Thunderball from the north and we arrived at the same time. Everyone really seem to enjoy the cave. The fish were very friendly expecting to be feed. (Sally - if you read this you might bring some fish food if you can buy it in bulk) Libby thought it would be great to bring fish food from home and I think that is a great idea. Rusty used our underwater case for our camera for the first time and as you can see it worked really well. We have tons of pictures, this is only a few of what we took.. more later. I was going to swim with my fins back to SYL but found the current was way to strong and got pulled away. It was like I was in one of those pools advertised on TV where you swim but you don't make any forward progress. Rusty had gone to pick up the dinghy on the other side of the cave. I didn't think I would have a problem getting back to the boat. As it turns out I was WRONG. Not only was I Not moving forward I was losing ground. Celeste was near by and saw my dilemma and came to help. First she just tried to help me keep going towards the boat but instead I kept heading towards Cuba. Finally, Rusty shows up with the dinghy. SAVED AGAIN!!! That current was impressive and lets face it, I am not exactly an Olympic swimmer. We left Gary and Celeste and headed towards "pig island" otherwise known a Big Majors Spot. I loved the pigs. It had been something I knew I had wanted to do before we left the states. The pigs were very friendly but not overly aggressive. The main problem is you had to stay out of the way of their hooves while they were swimming. One sow had piglets and they were really fun to watch. I had been saving bread since we left Kemah so the pigs had a great snack.
When we reached "Big Majors Spot", we pulled up close to the beach, let down the ladder and before you knew it pigs started swimming out to greet you. They were so much fun. We made pictures and a video of me feeding them. We fed them pretty much all the bread I had been saving ever since we have been on the boat. The little piglets were the cutest by far. They just squealed and ran as fast as their little legs would take them. You just had to laugh. From the Majors we sailed Pipe Creek where we spent the night. It has the most beautiful water because of the strong color variation. That variation is caused by the radical depth variation and can be treacherous if you are not good at reading charts AND the water. Fortunately for us, Rusty is excellent at both so we were able to enjoy the magnificent scenery. Last night we anchored out in the middle of all this beautiful water away from anyone and enjoyed spaghetti. I have been baking our bread and the boys and Tom and Libby love the bread. They are eating it as fast as I am baking it. I made 4 loaves yesterday. I have also learned to make homemade tortillas. We sliced up the leftover steak, added some grilled onions, cheese and sour cream and had some really good faire. We had a tuna salad made just as the hot bread was coming out of the oven and used the last of my fresh oranges with canned fruit - yummy . Yes, we eat well. Today we will be going to two caves that Gary and Celeste told us about and then start heading back. Hopefully, we will get to Black Point and have dinner at Lorrianes.
I can't believe it is Thursday already
March 22, 2010
We are supposed to get a front with some wind this evening or tonight.. but we are so far South it may not make it this far and they are not predicted to be above 30 kts but we will stay in the harbor today. I'm going to suggest a snorkel run to Elisabeth Island be the days fare. It's overcast, so it won't be a perfect day to snorkel, the sun lights up the reefs and really makes them prettier but it won't be bad.
It was a little muggy last night so I turned the AC on this morning to dry us out, it's feeling nicer below as Linda makes breakfast. The land crew has the dinghy so we will wait for them to show up. Today may be a shopping day in Georgetown for the ladies. I'm just the driver.. so I'll let them figure that stuff out. Tom and I had a great time yesterday. For Tom it was good to get away for a while and I enjoyed the company. The boys loved to romp and run.... the use of the dinghy was fun for them. If you asked Sam what the best part of the day was he would say feeding the stingray and playing in the big surf on the ocean side. I imagine James would agree. Linda and Libby sat on the beach and got caught up with the goings on back home. Great company great weather...
Weather for our trip to Staniel won't be perfect, but doable. I think I have a plan to use the wind direction to our best advantage. The initial 6 hours we will have to slog directly into 10 to 12, but that's not too bad the seas might be unsettled from the front so there may be some cowboying involved..... Then we go inside to the banks were it's more protected at Normans Cay. Normans Pond should be a great place to stop and explore the first evening. The next morning winds will be at 060 all day, that will give us good protection on the banks with a beam reach with no fetch for 7 hours of ghosting thru the shallows up to Staniel. Unfortunately on the way home winds will switch and be back in our face again...lol but they will be light. The trip home won't be as active as the first 6 hours outside into the wind heading North. If we weren't set on seeing Staniel and Thunderball Grotto, we might discover other options heading South first to take advantage of the winds and North back home... but our itinerary has been long dreamed for the whole crew. We can do it and the only part that will be unfriendly will be the transit days there and back.
Tom, Libby and the boys came aboard about 10:00 AM. Went to free dockage in Georgetown. The guys got gas, Libby and the boys went to the straw market and I went to Customs and Immigration trying to find out some information about Erin flying into the country with a one way ticket. Apparently that can be a problem. You have to show proof you have a way out of the country. Immigration said if she got here she would just have to have our papers of entry and let them know she is sailing home with us. The immigration man said that it might be the airlines that would not let here leave. My thought is why would an airline sell a one way ticket you can't use but who knows. I made copies of our entry papers and gave them to Libby and Libby is going to help Erin on that end. I am going to see if we can get her ticket changed from Nassau to Georgetown. Anyway, I have something's to work out.
This afternoon we play "hand and foot" at Tom and Libby's cottage. We didn't have time to sail to the snorkeling area and get the boat settled before the blow tonight. Then Libby fixed an awesome dinner of steak and potatoes. She brought all this food with her. She told me how to do it so I may ask those who come to do the same. I bought a half gallon of milk here and it was $9.00. A tiny bag of chips is .75. Meat I don't even want to think how much it is. Libby brought meat, sour cream, vegetables, snacks, butter, milk everything she needed except eggs. It is 8"30 PM and it looks like the blow may not be too bad. We will see. The plan tomorrow is to leave for Normans Cay and Staniel Cay. Well, the A/C is on and we are going to sleep cool tonight. I took a shower at Libby's and it was great. I ran the water the entire time I was washing my hair and taking my shower. I love sailing but having unlimited water is something you really learn to appreciate.
Sea Yawl Later!!
March 21, 2010
|I loved Chat & Chill which is a cruiser hangout.
There is something for everyone there. You can join a game of dominos,
weave straw hats, play volleyball. play cards or just visit with other
cruisers. Everyone is so friendly and interested in your boat,
where you are from, how long your going to be here. It is a blast
and the roasted pig is not too bad either. Everything is pricey.
Food is very expensive because everything is shipped in. Below is
a neat cut from Kidd Cove to Lake Victoria which is the way get to
Georgetown. The locals go through there very fast so you have to
be on the lookout for them. We sat up above for a long time when
we were waiting for Tom and Libby and just watched them. This
entry is being done in a hurry and will probably be edited tomorrow but
we just wanted to get them up tonight. We are tired, I guess it is
from being out in the sun all day.
Sea Yawl Later!!
|Upper Left: Cut from Kidd Cove to Victoria Lake
Upper Middle: SYL at Sandollar Beach
Upper Right: Sam feeding a Stingray
Lower Right: Chat and Chill
Lower Left: Chat and Chill
Georgetown Harbor Discovery Day: We motored over to the Sladeritz cabin and pulled up waist deep in front of the place early in the morning. Libby was making breakfast so we were going to be there... After breakfast we all loaded up and headed across the harbor to Sand Dollar Beach. It was fun getting in the water for the first time. From Sand Dollar we went to the Chat and Chill for something to eat, they had a pig roast so we knew there would be food, then we motored back into the harbor behind the CNC so the boys and Libby could walk over to the ocean side. Tom and the boys walked over from Sand Dollar and the boys wanted to go again. There were big swells coming in on the East wind and they liked playing in them. Then it was back home, the Sladeritz bunch dinghied home across the cove while we waited on the tide to come in so we could get back to Kidds Cove where we anchored for the night.
We didn't go snorkeling at Elisabeth Island today, we ran out of time. We will dedicate a full day to that endeavor. It's cool that so may options are available right here in the harbor. One highlight of the day is that the boys got dinghy driving lessons and ended up taking it out alone several times. They did great. They are now our official taxi drivers... carrying us to and from the beach. I hope nobody got too much sun, we all did the sunscreen but Sam did look a little pink and the top of my legs got slightly more than they should.
March 20, 2010
Linda and I both woke up at 4AM too excited about being in Georgetown to sleep. She is down below pulling everything out of storage in the port side to find the water maker manual and to rearrange stuff. I came up and posted pictures from yesterdays run. We sat very calm in Kidds Cove Harbor last night on the Georgetown side of the harbor. We are deep in the back so the North winds can't see us. The dinghy run to the store is fun from here. It's very close and you have to go thru a tunnel cut in the wall of the harbor to enter a small lake that the Exuma Market is on. A live band played from the time we got here until the wee hours onshore. I don't think it was Cajun music...lol. The harbor here at Georgetown is more of a sound set between Stocking Island and Georgetown itself. Most of the activities (cruiser wise) are on the Stocking Island side so we will spend lots of time over there. For now, the mainland gives us access to the store and guests arriving today. Some of our church friends that we have cruised with before (Tom and Libby, Sam and a buddy) are flying in to hang out with us for a week. I'll give dinghy driving lessons to the boys when they get here. We have some two way radios to pin on them so they don't get lost. We will see how much reign Libby gives them...lol.
The sun is peeking out above Stocking Island... cool. As predicted winds are from the NE. There are a lot of boats here, but as I understand it, the snow birds are leaving because it's unfreezing back home...lol. The spring and summer are the slow season here... weird.....when the spring arrives everybody leaves.... I'm good with that. We will be gone by the time hurricane season arrives.
Tom and Libby got here around 4, we moved the boat closer to their cottage and dinghied over for a nice visit. They left at 2:30 AM this morning so they are pretty wiped out. We got back to the boat before dark, put the bug screens up and ate dinner. We intend to have breakfast with them in the morning, then bring them back to the boat and spend Sunday on Stocking Island, various beaches and snorkel spots. Monday evening we may get some weather so depending on when it clears.. we will head back up to Staniel and Pipes Creek with the whole crew. I'll listen to Chris at 6:30 in the morning to find out the latest. He has been pretty accurate so far.
We went to the market again today.. and hung out around town. There was a carnival today..... I bought some roasted corn and watched part of the Conch Cracking competition. Really.. they had coconut shucking and conch cracking races. Not quite the same carnival events we have back home like pie eating and horse shoe pitching..... you know the real grown up games we have in the USA. It's almost like a foreign country.... oh wait... it is.
I have been making water all day. The 40 gallon a day water maker seems like a lot.... but that's running 24 hours. It's been running 12 hours and definitely made more than we will use today, but if I were to buy one (this one came with the boat) I'd consider a larger one that we could run 3 or 4 hours and be done with it. I also brought a 5 gallon can of water from the market docks today and put it in the tank. You can fill your can for free at the market right from the dinghy. That's pretty nice.
Well, it's almost 8 so I'll turn this over to Linda and get my shower. With the early start this morning I imagine we will sleep pretty good.
March 19, 2010
What a day! The weather is beautiful, we are currently sailing 8 knots with the creature up, wind on our beam with trailing waves and listening to 60's music....this is what sailing is all about!! Sha Laa Laa Laa Laa!! We will be in Georgetown this evening! "Shake it up, baby" Whoooooooo!
We are here.... Georgetown Exumas... the end of the road..................... we got here around 4:00. 1,600 miles or so starting Jan 30th to March 19th. Most people I have talked to said we made excellent time..... lol. I'd hate to see slow.... I can't imagine this being a quick trip. I got on the radio to ask about a couple we were going to look up here in GT on a Seawind 1160 and found that they left for the states a few days ago. The guy that told me (Jim on Imagine) is also on an 1160, so we will meet him very soon. An 1160 is a 38' Seawind (11.6 meters) that is a fabulously pretty boat. I look forward to meeting them and seeing my first 1160.
Blacks Point Sunset
Entering the Exuma Sound @ Dotham
Morning on the Sound headed to Georgetown
The 60 miles sail from Black Point was nice. West winds and a small swell from the North gave us following seas and a beam reach for most of the trip.... how good is that Southing in the Exumas... For those of you that don't know... going against the ever blowing trade winds in the Exumas is an art in itself. We were very lucky to get a West wind heading South in the islands. On the starboard tack I had the Creatcher cross sheeted from the starboard bow to the port winch. The wind eventually filled in from the North for a dead down wind run. I already had the Creatcher up, so I dropped the main and ran the creature only until winds clocked from true North. When the wind came from the North, it was backwinding the Creatcher so I tacked and let it fly to Starboard. That thing actually sheeted well on the same side it was tacked and I ran it and the jib wing and wing for the rest of the trip. I guess I'm just weird and like to try new things, but it worked really well. I'm amazed that the big headsail would sheet directly behind it's tack and stay open, but it did. I guess the fact that its head was inboard and the negative luff curve at the top of the sail made it blow open as it drew air from the top and sent it down into the tricut pocket. It was fun to play with different ways to fly my toy. With practice I have found a way to douse it easily and fold it up along the safety lines from the bow to the front hatch (see "morning on the sound" picture above).
The two pictures to the left are the sail cross sheeted for reaching. It forms a very long arc which is a good shape for low wind reaching. This may be the most efficient use I have found for it yet.
1.Wing and wing with our dirty looking jib. 2. luff curve at the top set to reach like the two pictures above (I'm sitting on the stbd bow). 3. Sheeted to the same side as the tack directly downwind like the wing and wing picture.
Too much techno talk.. I know...... OK, I went in to the Exuma Market in the dinghy when we got here for Linda some MILK..... I got 2 gallons and ice to keep it on so we are set for a while. Georgetown is a Zoo!... Street vendors and lots going on, it will be a great place for our visitors. The hustle and bustle was astounding compared to where we have been the past few weeks. Apparently the Esso station just got gas so there was a long line of Bahamian slow rides honking and hollering, squealing tires and hanging out of windows while they waited in line to buy some gas.
Apparently if you use a credit card anywhere in the Bahamas it will cost you 5% more. I will try my luck at the ATM tomorrow, I saw a bank across from the market. Linda made us some good munchies this evening and it's 8:00. I asked about getting fresh water to clean the boat from my new buddy on the 1160, he said water was pretty pricey here... he has never used fresh water to wash his boat.. he just wait until it rains then gets out to do his scrubbing while God rinses........lol. Simple but effective.
We are finally here.. end of the trail...... the next few months will be day trips and discovering new anchorages as the water warms up for snorkeling and laying around under the boat. I imagine our travel buddies Gary and Celeste will show up in a day or two. They are in the Northern Exumas plunking this way from Nassau. We got an email from them that they were at Normans a few days ago. We did a pretty big leg today, I'm not sure they made as big a track as we did. Monday night we are due a front that will bring isolated squalls, we listen to the same weather so I know they are aware. The next few days (Saturday and Sunday) we are slated for East winds, so Sol Surfin' may hole up a few days some where above us until Tuesday when the North winds return. The problem is that you have to go off the banks into the sound to reach GT (on the Western shores) an East wind bring bigger seas with nothing to moderate them so Sol Surfin' might be here mid week.
Well, it's bedtime around here... goodnight.
Rusty and Linda on SYL....
March 18, 2010
What a great day... we travelled about 30 miles in and out of the most beautiful sandbars and coves I can imagine. We left Warderick Wells this morning about 7:30 and plunked along the inside passages of Pipe Creek. We got gas at Sampson Cay ($4.85/gallon + 5% for using a credit card), looked at the grocery store.. it was a nice building.... no milk... With West winds the banks were not as protected as they usually are. The prevailing SE tradewinds are not dominant so the Exuma Banks are seeing some waves, but only 1 to 2's. We had enough to sail on today.. but just barely which was fine because we were in no hurry. We sailed right by the Thunderball Grotto and Staniel Cay Yacht Club, scoping the lay of the land for future perusal.
We are now anchored for the night at the cove inside Black Point, we got here before 3:00PM. This place looks like a 50 acre swimming pool, clear white sand on the bottom with 9 feet of water almost everywhere. A friend of ours recommended Lorraine's Restaurant here, we will go in to eat shortly. We called Lorraine on the VHF and she remembered the Brown's well, she said we would talk more about them when we come in.
We just got back from Lorraine's Diner where we had fresh fish burgers and fries, they were good. These were no Sonic fish burgers... they had a slab of fresh fish on them. Lorraine has another child, his name is Joshua, he is 7 months old. Had we known she had internet we could have uploaded the web site from there. The food and company was very pleasant. While I was eating I saw a guy across the road building a boat. I could tell it was a Georgetown National Family Regatta "C" class boat. His name is Van but in the sailing community they call him "smashee" he will be racing again this year. He uses a wolmanized 2 x 12 for the keel, mahogany for the ribs and fir for the stringers. The stringers are stacked on top of each other and nailed with stainless ring shanks to the one below it, they are joined with 3M 5200. When it's done he sands it inside and out. I had a great time talking with him as he worked on the boat. He has another one almost planked, but it will be next year before it's ready to race. Apparently it's a year or two process. What a great surprise to get to witness a "C" class racer being built and get pictures.
Lorraine's Diner Black Point
Lorraine and Linda
Lorraine's mom (bread maker)
Black Point Harbor
Van and his C Class Racer
C Class Lines
1 Started and 1 Completing
Inside Joinery and Construction
Van "Smashie" the boat builder
|What can you say about a drink that has twice the sugar and carbs than Mountain Dew.... I had to try it... it's yellow.....||Sampson Cay Marina; It's a pretty place but with the West winds it was bumpy everywhere except the inner harbor.||Kayaker/Sailors at Staniel Cay. I wish we had a picture of their Hankerspinnakerchief that fit on the pole||Pipe Creek looking out into the Atlantic (Exuma Sound) we took 60 pictures today... what do you post????|
I have just been flabbergasted with the color of the water and the landscape here. It's more than I expected. I LOVE our boat... we took the Pipe Creek inside run and boats sitting on either end of the run were asking how much we draw because they knew there were some 3' bars in there and couldn't believe we went thru. To explain how shallow and nice a place we went... there were a group of Kayakers we travelled with.. lol. It was cool, they were nice double kayaks and had a 6' mast with a sail they could put up for downwind....
We took so many pictures it will be hard to decide what to post. It's like... I can't NOT take this picture or that one... The only wifi I could find here at Black Point is a church with security enabled.... I tried the standard passwords... John 3:16, Jesus Saves, etc. etc. but I couldn't break into their system.... lol. What does that say about me... trying to break into the church internet......
Most of the day I had my sails up ghosting thru the shallows with no engines. I had my engines down and ready just in case but really didn't use them much. The only time I used them was to go upwind when the wind was tight or power thru a pinch point flowing a heavy current. I only see 4 other boats here in the cove so it should be a quiet night. I got in the dinghy and drove forward to where my anchor was set by following the chain. I could see it clear as a bell, she was set deep in the pure white sand. How cool.
We have two more days to make the 60 miles to Georgetown... now that's what I call great mileage goals... We are accustomed to pushing hard for 80+ miles from dawn to early evening. I haven't even looked at tomorrows plan yet and at NO time today was I concerned about holding my speed to make the days leg..... It's nice to finally be here.
The motors must be breaking in because they cold crank much easier. I don't even have to put the high idle on, just choke them and hit the key. Or.. it might just be that we are not in 30 degree weather....lol. It's been nice shirtsleeve and short days. The water is 73 / 74 degrees.. It's probably swimmable on a warm day... We motored all the way from Fresh Creek and I squeezed 20 gallons in the tanks, 4 of it was to fill the generator and the small 3 gallon can I use to fill it from. Every time I look up and see the water I am sitting in I am amazed all over again. It truly looks like a baby blue swimming pool here in Black Point cove. Thanks for the tip Sherry.
March 17, 2010
We left Fresh Creek at 6:00 AM, it was still dark. We followed our GPS trail out of the harbor and we were home free. The entrance is almost a perfectly straight line so going in the dark was a cinch, especially with my headlights. I have very bright lights on the bows. There was no wind today so we motor/sailed, probably more motor than sail. We did find a new home for the "Creatcher". That sail is so big it is hard to handle. We bungeed it to the starboard stern rail. It is out of the way and looks ok. I decided to borrow a phrase from a friend of mine regarding the culinary delights onboard and call them the Kitchen Kapers. When we are making a long sail and/or it is rough I can't stay down in the galley long. I cooked something on the crossing I really liked. It was Eckeridge Smoked Sausage and Saffron rice, how easy is that and it was really good. I had some left so today I fixed "skillet leftovers". Check the recipe section if you are interested. It was a calm day. We got to Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park at 5:00 PM. As you can see the water is gorgeous.
Andros ~ Exumas morning sun
Stern Wakes at 7 knots
Motor trails in 4,000' deep water
Wake...... close up
Plumb Bow spray (at 7 kts)
Land Ho.. EXUMAS
8' deep Exuma water
SYL at Warderick Wells
Going to hdqtrs to pay for mooring
Land and Sea Park Headquarters
|My chincy little neighbor...lol 58' Catana||
shoreline coming back to the boat
flora and fauna ashore
shore and undercut rocks
I toasted some Amish bread about 4:00 PM so we are probably through eating for the day. We will do some housekeeping and maybe a movie and then nite, nite. I am sure Rusty will want and early start tomorrow. We are not doing any exploring because we want to be in Georgetown by Saturday when Tom, Libby and Sam arrive. We were looking at the places they might like to go in the guide book. I don't know how they will ever decide. We aren't going to do everything in the 2 1/2 months we will be here, so the week they have won't start to see it all. I know Thunderball Cave is a must!! It is at Staniel Cay which is 62 miles from Georgetown. We will pass it on our way to Georgetown. We don't have WiFi here so we will have to post in Georgetown. Love to everyone back home.
The trip over was very pleasant... We are parked next to a 58 foot Catana catamaran... it makes my boat look like a dinghy...lol The man and his wife pulled up in his dinghy... well.. small motorboat and put it on this rack at the stern and punched a button...... the whole thing lifted up out of the water.... It's truly impressive. The boom is a wide fiberglass piece that is open at the top for the mainsail to fall into instead of a stack pack. Everything is automatic as far as I can see... This thing is impressive....
Linda is below whipping up one of her wondrous meals.... I took the dinghy into Park Headquarters to pay $15 dollars for our mooring ball for the night. It was amazingly pretty... so pretty I brought Linda back just to look at the area before dark. We are just South of the main mooring area in headquarters cove. All the inside moorings were taken.
This water is amazing... I'll stop writing to upload some pictures. The Exumas are prettier than I even imagined....
ooops.. I have to add this.... an Australian sounding dude and his arm charm just came by on a jet ski and invited us to a St. Patricks day party on their yacht a few boats over.... pictures tomorrow. Linda's bringing crab cakes... Man.. I guess I gotta shave....lol This yacht is probably 100 feet long.... You just can't say no to that invitation..... Life is tough here in the Bahamas.......
9:30... the St. Patrick's day party was "rained out" so they said.. we got all cleaned up.. I even shaved my captain hook beard off and took a bath and everything..... I even let Linda pick out my clothes. The crab cakes were prepared just right and Linda had our monogrammed napkins in the plate. When we dinghied up to the Yacht they told us it was cancelled and we gave them the crab cakes anyway.. There was some light drizzle, but I imagine they didn't get enough participation so they didn't do it.
Sea Yawl Later!!
March 16, 2010
|The roosters are crowing.. the sun is rising and we are in Fresh Creek BAHAMAS!!! Linda just handed me a cup of coffee and life is good...... You cannot describe the water here in the Bahamas, it is unbelievably pretty. Here on Andros the shore drops off to hundreds of feet deep very quickly so the clarity of the water is amazing. The beaches coming into the harbor are spectacular, not for their size or length, but for their color. The sandy bottom makes the water shades of blue you can't describe. Linda just brought up some toast made with bread she made before we crossed.||The starfish above is in a tidal
pool 18" below the surface of the water.....
The crossing was long, but we are both glad we did it. Chris Parker (the SSB weatherman) said it was possible to go to the Bahamas when we did, it was the best window we have had for months, but he said the window was for "Die Hard Sailors". Linda has officially earned her Die Hard Sailor badge.
The crossing started out very smooth as the waves in Hawks channel were on the lee side of the land. When we got into the Gulfstream they were 3 to 5 from the South. We expected waves to be from the West like the winds.. but they were not. We made very good time the whole trip. About half way across the stream waves did change and come from the West. Waves built more as we got closer to the banks and peaked pretty high as we sailed up onto the banks to shallow water. Once we got on the banks they laid down and we had a great sail across. With following seas the autopilot did a descent job, but as a wave catches the back of the boat as the peak passes it tends to pull the stern to the side quicker than the autopilot can respond, and if you hand steer you can make almost a full knot more by kicking the rudders hard as the top of a wave approaches your stern. Basically you create underwater resistance for the wave to push on while putting the boat in the right position to drive perfectly straight down the wave. If your stern is washing out as the wave passes you lose a possible push from the waves energy, and boat speed down the wave as the hull is scrubbing sideways in the water. I guess I said all that to say this; I hand steered the boat 90 percent of the time.
The sun is just coming over the marina office building. I went to bed yesterday while Linda paid the dockmaster for our slip (not bad, $66) at 1:30 so I slept 17 hours..... I think I was tired, but I would make the same choice again... It's hard to do such a long leg, but the results of passage are worth it. Today I am fine.... and we are here!
I found out my boat is FAST...... I'm not sure why but the other Seawind we travelled with had more sail but I had more speed. I suspect it was the fresh bottom job, but I saw some speeds that I never thought possible. In the following 3 to 5's I was seeing 10 Mph a lot. Most monohulls would have to be on a big trailer behind a bigger truck to see double digits....... Driving down the waves I could see 14 at the bottom of the wave pretty consistently for a while, then the wind filled a bit 14 and 16 surfing speeds were not uncommon. I found around 16 mph both bows started shooting water straight up in the air. The bows on this boat are "plumb" meaning they don't curve back like most boats... they are straight down into the water so they part the water rather than glide over it. That design has a lot to do with creating the longest waterline possible for the boat in order to reduce the depth of keel required to keep it from sliding sideways in the wind. Anyway, the reason water shoots straight up off the bows above 16 mph is because that speed was attained at the very bottom of the wave as I was catching up to the wave that just passed, so the boat is pitched forward quite a bit then you start to run into the back of the wave in front of you. My bows are not real tall like a Lagoon or Catana, but the waves never came over the top of the bow while I was surfing. If the waves came over the top that could be a bad thing. Seawind did a great job with this design. Inside both hulls at the bow they made "skis" that keep the bows from going underwater. Basically the hulls get wider and wider on a line much like the normal shape of a monohulls bow to create a planeing surface that keeps the plumb bows from going too deep in the water. The "skis" get very wide as they go back and actually create the width of hull that enables designers to put a wide bed in the stern of a catamaran.
One time I got a good push off the top of a wave and ran down the wave right to left a bit so my sails would see all the wind they could find (on a port tack) and saw a record 17.2 mph. Water was spraying 3 feet in the air off the bows. It was cool, but that was about all the speed I felt I would be comfortable with. I could reduce power and slow down by steering right down the face of a wave to stall the sails. That way I wouldn't run into the wave in front of me very fast. Without a pretty full sail you couldn't surf the waves at all. So I had control the whole time... it's not like it was happening and I couldn't stop it. The time that woke Linda up (she was in the bunk below) I surfed the wave so long (right to left) that the hulls were planeing and making a very different sound. I don't know the top speed on that one because I was watching my position and angle to the wind so much, but I glanced down and saw 18 something on the gps. After that one I quit. To tell you how long I surfed that one.. Linda had time to wake up, come upstairs and ask me what was happening.....lol. I felt like kid in a candy store getting caught....lol playing on the waves while she was sleeping.... Like mama caught me getting my white pants dirty just before church or something...... That's why we took the main down.
Well, I have the 5milewifi hooked up so we can check email and post to the web. Linda has clothes pulled out to wash so I need to help and get this up on the web. Right now we can get email on "LLSitton" and facebook, but tomorrow we may not be able to.. who knows so email us today if you need something. We plan to leave very early in the morning for the Exumas, probably Warderick Wells. Unless weather comes that we don't expect we will be in Georgetown by the weekend.
Today I washed the boat very well, filled the tank with water, helped Linda haul laundry, made a run in the dinghy to the gas station... the guide book said they had new fuel docks here but they don't. I had to go across the harbor to a regular gas station. Gas is $5.50 a gallon here. I stopped him when he told me how much it was at 4 gallons.... I'm glad I only needed to fill one can. We didn't motor much between here and Islamorada so I was just topping off. If gas is that much around here we might restrict our motor travel a bit. I also took a ride around to the beach. It was nice.
|We found a friend here at the
harbor, George the taxi driver (the one that took us to the Customs
office)... He told us we could go to the Batelco office, buy a Bahamas
phone and get service on a pay as you go basis. We got the phone,
Linda made a call to the credit card company because the fraud
department denied the use of our credit card when we tried to use it.
Linda had already called them to make sure we wouldn't have that problem
on our trip before we left.... but they forgot I guess...The call
was about 9 bucks. George said after 7pm it's cheaper. So we have emergency phone
service directly to home or anywhere in the world.
This is Linda: I have to add this. When Rusty went to the phone office and purchased $100.00 worth of minutes, he asked how many minutes that was. The girl did not have a clue, all she could say was $100.00 worth. Rusty asked for a chart of fees and plans. "No Mon, don't have". Even when you check minutes on the phone it tells you how much money you have left. We still have no clue how much a minute cost or how many minutes we have left. Only in the Bahamas!!!
We are refreshed of all stores (except milk, they didn't have any in the 3 stores I went to) and ready to head out in the morning for the Exumas. Today was awesome... it's warm.. we are in the Bahamas, we are on shore power so the batteries are smiling... I had the AC on 55 degrees last night.... I woke up cold and the windows were fogged up...lol I turned it to 68 and we slept well... Even Linda was covered up to her nose before we turned it down.... I like my little boat. We are making water with the water maker right now. We keep 2 one gallon bottles for coffee and drinking water.
The only thing I have to add is about a little bird that flew into our window. I was sitting at the computer talking to Erin on facebook, when something went flying by me and crashed into the window right next to me. I looked over and this little brightly colored bird was upside down with one wing out like it was broken, his beak wide open and his eyes rolled back into his head. I didn't know birds eyes could do that. I thought he was dying. I watched him and he finally rolled over. He sat there still with a glazed look on his face for a good ten minutes. Finally he recovered and flew off. Sturdy little bird. lol.
Oh my gosh, a twin engine Beachcraft just flew by about 3 boat lengths away at top speed about 8 feet off the water. Some guy at the dock seem to know him and calmly said "Yeah, he likes to fly low". Only in the Bahamas.
March 15, 2010
|Entering Fresh Creek, Bahamas||Lighthouse Marina, Fresh Creek (taken from our dockage)|
Great Bahama Banks Sunset
|We Made It! This Is One Happy Boy!!!|
We are here!!! I think we sailed into Fresh Creek at about 11:00 AM. That was about 28 hours straight sailing. We are exhausted. The wind really increased and kicked up the waves. The 4-7 ft waves for most of the Gulfstream crossing turned into consistent 8ft waves just as we entered the banks. Everything was blowing West, so as the depths went from 4000 feet to 12 feet the waves were big for a couple miles. I handled it better than I thought I would. Rusty had me take some Benadryl around 10:00 AM so I was a zombie for a few hours. I was down in our berth when "something" woke me up. I looked out our window and it didn't look right and we were pitching forward something awful. I had a hard time standing up but I finally was able to get to the passage way and yell to Rusty "whats happening". He said "come up here we need to change something". We were riding on top of a 8 + wave and he said we were going over 18 mph. We had to get some sail down and he couldn't do that and steer at the same time. We didn't want to go into the wind to drop the main because of the sea state. I got the motors down and Rusty timed it to run full throttle down a wave when the winds were lightest to drop the main. It came down 3/4 of the way and Rusty had to pull the rest down by hand (while I steered). We were still sailing over 10 knots just on our jib. I will let Rusty give you the "blow by blow". I would never choose to enter that kind of sea state but I handled it better than I thought I would. The fact that it was trailing seas and Rusty's expert helmsman ship is why I did as well as I did.
|This is a baby wave. When the big ones started I couldn't get up to take a picture. If I got up it was because Rusty needed me to do something important. The really big waves didn't start until we were on the Bahamian side of the Gulf Stream.|
The night was hard. The weather was to bad for me to take over and relieve Rusty. Most of the time he couldn't let "Auto" do the sailing. The seas calmed down about 30 miles from Fresh Creek. We sailed 220 miles without stopping. I am glad it is over but I'm glad we did it. We are finally in the Bahamas.
When you enter the Bahamas you have to fly a quarantine flag (yellow). In the past only the captain could get off the boat. He would take everyone's passport and ships papers and get us through customs. Then we can fly the courtesy Bahamian flag. This time they said that everyone had to go to customs and it was not within walking distance. George (unofficial cab driver) took us to custom. Rusty had asked the fella at the marina, Jerry, if they take credit cards and he said yes. Rusty was talking about customs and Jerry was talking about the marina. There are all kinds of ambiguous forms to complete in duplicate. It is really weird. You have to stand behind this yellow line and wait for the customs officer to come to you. She checks papers, asks more questions. We are now into the process for about 1 1/2 hours. Tanya, who is the lady filling in for the customs officer, can't give us the 6 months visa we requested. She would only give us 3 months. I finally persuaded her to give us 4 months which should be more than enough. Then she wants the manufacturer of the declared guns and their serial number. They have never asked for that information before. Just an aside, one time when we came to the Bahamas with 2 other couples we were going through customs at Bimini. There was six of us and we had to declare 7 guns. Yep 7 guns on one 38 ft Lagoon. Hey we are Texans!! Anyway, back to today, finally we worked out a solution that we would call her the information and she would drop our permission to stay documentation off to us on her way home from work. Then she wants $300.00 for fees. Rusty felt this was to high (I really didn't) but he is tired so he gives her his credit card. You guessed it, they don't take credit cards or personal checks. We don'ts have $300.00 on us and we don't want this room full of people knowing we have money on the boat. So we ask George to take us to the bank. Rusty is tired and not in good humor. We get to the bank and neither Rusty or I can remember pin for our ATM card. We never use it at home. Ok after many failed attempts to "guess" our number we went back into the bank (the ATM machine is outside) who could do a cash advance on one of our credit cards. Rusty gave her the card and she took down all the information and then wanted two picture ID's. Rusty's drivers license and passport say Russell Cole Sitton and his credit card said Rusty. Nope could not use that.. So I pull out my copy of the same card and give her my picture ID and it matched. Great, we shredded all the paper work and started over. When she runs the card through it was denied. We were trying to withdraw $500.00 and I remember the ATM limits it to $300.00. She tried $300.00, denied. I have no idea why. We have a huge limit and we pay it off every month so who knows. I pull out another card of mine and we fill out all the paper work again. By this time Rusty has gone over an sat down on some chairs with a "just shoot me" look on his face. Finally, I get the $300.00 dollars and back to the Customs office we go. By this time we have toured most of the island of Andros. I suggest that Rusty stay in the car. Again, Rusty mentioned that he thinks we were charge too much for the entry fee. He said one of the guide books said that boats over 35ft was $300.00 and anything less was $150.00. Rusty is usually right so when I went back in I told her that information we were given shows that the $300.00 fee was for a boat 35ft or more. She said but it is 4 tons and started to argue. I politely said it was my understanding it was based on feet not tonnage and besides 4 tons is nothing for a boat. I asked if I could see their fee schedule. She ended up calling someone and sure enough, Rusty was right. We just saved $150.00 Of course, this requires NEW paperwork. Finally, I get back to George and Rusty and we return to the boat. Rusty asked George what we owed him and he said whatever we were comfortable with. Well, I was comfortable with $20.00 but I am not so sure George was very happy. When we get back to the boat we find that they have a 3 1/2 ft daily tide and yep it is low tide. I crawl onboard get the gun information, and our marina form and I go to the marina office. While the marina is completing the paper work and trying to run the credit card through (it took 4 times and three paper work redos), I called Tanya at customs. I call the number and she says hello and I say "Tanya" but she can't hear me. I say Tanya louder and louder but eventually Tanya hangs up. Then I am told that you have to push the * button if you want the person you are calling to hear you. Finally, I am back on the boat and Rusty is sleeping. I will soon be joining him but I wanted to get this written first. Later today I was told that they have wifi in the lobby so I will send emails and get this loaded up. I can't call anyone so check your emails.
I slept on and off for about 4 hours. The rub rail is squeaking really loud in two places and one of them is right by my ear. I know, whine, whine. I do feel better. Rusty is still out, poor baby, he really had a hard 28 hours. But we are here and the weather is beautiful. I got some of the mess from the crossing cleaned up and redid the bumpers and hung then horizontally instead of vertically and the noise is gone. About 7:00 o'clock I asked Rusty if he wanted to get up or sleep through and he groggily mumbled "sleep". I had just about given up on the customs lady when another lady brings me the paperwork from customs so everything is good there. I have been reading some of the guide books about what to do here and in some nearby cays. I'll talk with Rusty tomorrow to see what the intended route is and do some more research.
March 14, 2010
|Sol Surfin Leading The Way Out Of Islamorada, Florida||Rusty at the Helm at the Start Of Our Gulf Stream Crossing|
It is 5:11 AM in the morning and we have been awake since a little after 3:00 AM, one of us from excitement and one of us from fear and trepidation. You figure out who is who :). I have bread rising (hopefully) rising and should be able to have it baked right before we leave. Once we are underway the kitchen will be closed for over 30 hours. I have tuna salad made, peanut butter, cheese and snacks. I tried another bread recipe yesterday and it is the best so far. It taste good, cuts well, toast even better and it is easy. It is called Amish White Bread. I'll put the recipe in recipes. Rusty is so excited he is beside himself. I love to sail but I don't like crossing the Gulf Stream. We are in "crossing mode" as opposed to "camp mode". Crossing mode means everything loose is stowed away. The plan is to stick our head out and see how the wave action is. If we turn back then will just take some time and sail the Keys. Waiting around for a weather window is frustrating and we have decided we are not going to do that anymore. The Keys are wonderful and we are wasting our time just sitting in one spot "waiting". The wind is from the West which means it will be trailing seas which is very good. I can handle fairly large seas if they are trailing because you just don't feel the waves like you do when your beating into them. Plus you can ride them and so you go faster. Usually it is the "getting there" I enjoy more than where we are going. This is the exception. I would like to thank everyone for responding to my homesick plea on facebook. It meant a lot. Well, our SPOT should be on about 6:00 AM. Hopefully my next communication will be from the Bahamas.
March 14,2010 4:15 PM
This will be very brief because we are underway with 6 & 7 ft trailing seas. I thought I would be freaking out but Rusty has been hand sailing SYL and he is able to time the waves and ride them so it is not too bad. We are 14 miles from the Bahama Banks. The concern is that they are going to be rough as well. I will let Rusty tell you about SYL performance. Lets just say we sailed with our hair on fire. Well, I think we still have 14 plus hours of sailing left to reach a safe haven. I can't write much or I will get sea sick. Love you all at home. We are in the Bahamas!!!! Finally!!!!
March 13, 2010
Well, we moved this morning but not very far.... The winds changed to a direction that blew right into the cove we were in and increased to around 30 knots. Being on the bay side we didn't have big waves.. but it was a bit uncomfortable. I ran back up toward Islamorada into a channel that gave us plenty protection. We set our anchor in very clear sand and it hung in like we were tied to a post. I do like this Manson anchor. The sun is out and wind is still whipping.. it should die down tonight. Celeste told me about a great site for sailing weather (passageweather.com) it has some very helpful visuals. With all the excitement this morning... leaving for the Bahamas was the last thing on our minds. I wouldn't have gone today anyway... Tomorrow or very late tonight is my vote...
The sun is out very bright, so the sandy bottom 8 feet below us makes the water very light green, it's pretty. I can see some kite boarders on the other side of a nearby island playing and having fun. LOTS of wind for them today... I guess the more adventurous like the bigger days. I can't say enough about this Manson anchor, I only set it one time when it didn't hold but that was on me... I set it in grass so the anchor filled up completely with grass and there was no way for it to sink into the sand. I made a grass ball out of it. Other than that I have been very satisfied.
Gary told me about his blog... (solsurfin.com) They have some nice stories and pictures, I haven't looked at all of it, but I read quite a bit of the letters, and perused some of the pics. It's a great medium that gives an adventure a whole other dimension. There is a lot of fishing boat traffic where I sit. I'm tucked out of the way.. but I see all kinds of boats going by.. flats fishermen, deep sea boats, etc.. etc...I like my location.
March 12, 2010 7:09 PM
I have discovered that cooking onboard is very much like sailing. In sailing, weather determines where you go and when you go. Cooking onboard, what you have available and onboard determines what you cook. At home when I found myself short on an ingredient I just jumped in the car and went to Market Basket or HEB. I can not do that onboard. I provision fresh fruits and vegetables and perishables when there is a store close enough to dinghy and walk. Also, remember everything has to be loaded into the dinghy and transported to SYL. What I cook is largely determined by what needs to be used before it goes bad. It makes for some interesting combinations of food. Yesterday I had my last two avocado's that had to be used or they would go bad, so we had guacamole for an appetizer (fortunately I still had some corn chips) with some red potatoes with Grannies white cream sauce and we split a small filet . I have had to get creative with recipes and some have been great and some have not been so great. I decided that most of you are probably not so interested in our menu's plus some of these "made up" recipes I would like to keep. So... we have a new section called recipes. I will put some of my favorite recipes there.
I use soy milk for most cooking. Fresh milk is not always available and soy milk comes in a box and does not have to be refrigerated until you open the box. I tried many different kinds of soy milk before we left and most I ended up throwing away. I did find one that I like and can even use it for a smoothie that is quite tasty. I know it sounds like we eat all the time and we do eat two or three times a day but I find our portions are so much smaller. I would guess our portions are about 1/2 the size they use to be and we rarely snack. We have been staying too busy until the last couple of days. I can honestly say that we have not had a moment of boredom until today. We are both ready to move on. There is a possibility that we will leave tomorrow morning early, so if you don't see a posting in a few days you might check SPOT because we will probably be on the move. We thought we had Sail mail going but have not been successful in sending an email yet. So maybe not. Anyway, don't worry if you don't hear from us for a few days.
I really miss hearing from home so please don't forget to email us with what is going on in your world. That home connection is real important to Rusty and I. Don't forget us!!
Rusty here...... Looking at the latest weather.. trying to leave in the morning is pushing it by one day. Yeaaa.. we want to go as soon as possible.. and we could definitely go in the morning, but Saturday is probably one day too soon for the best option. Leaving early Sunday morning looks better via the forecast. We will be ready to leave in the morning if the forecast leans that way... but I expect the best thing would be to wait one more day. Waves might lay better waiting a day, but if the wind decides to go back to the North Sunday we are toast... we couldn't go, so we will look very hard at tomorrow mornings forecast.
March 12, 2010
Last night I ran the AC for a few hours just before bedtime. The day was overcast and hazy so everything on the boat was damp. The AC made the pillows and sheets dry and crisp so it was very nice to go below for a movie. Today looks like a repeat of yesterday's weather, but the winds are clocking... now out of the South. South winds are great for crossing, but the fact that they are around 20 and tonight will bring a front with squalls will keep us be happily tucked in here at Windley Key. We could brave the strong south winds.... except that the big waves would be on our beam (a poor sea state) As the days go by... the wind will decrease, turn from the West and the seas will be less confused. After a long and strong north wind like we have had, well formed swells are out there marching out of the North. Put heavy winds clocking around on top of those swells and you get a real washboard. Even if we did go today and beat our way over.... we couldn't make it further than Bimini before the squalls.
Bimini is 35 miles further North than we need to be for a direct line across the banks. If the winds lay and go West... we will have a 3 day window to run down wind and travel less miles in better seas. It's hard to wait.. but should be worth the it. We might get a spinnaker run, for sure a cross sheeted Creatcher run out of the wait. I am very impressed with my sail in everything from a light wind point to a deep reach. You have to be careful and not sheet too tight or you get a lot of lee travel. The big sail can pull you sideways just as easy as forward so keeping it trimmed right is important.
We talked about going on the bus to Key West today, but just haven't made an effort to get ready and go. I understand it's cheap and an easy trip from here... it's one of those things.. you know would enjoy if you just did it... but I don't see it happening ...lol.
Between the generator and the dinghy I have burned some of my crossing gas, not much.. but I think I could take on on 4 or 5 gallons this evening to top us off. Gas is a dollar a gallon higher in the Bahamas so I may make the dinghy run (burn some more) to go fill up.
The rain bands are showing on radar to be about Miami, they should be here before dark. I'm crossing my fingers about a weather window behind the front... if it goes like it has been.. we will get to stay in Florida forever.........................................
I sat fishing a bit this morning.. you can catch all the little 4" fish you want... I put one of them on the big pole as bait and sure enough... I looked around a few minutes ago and I had something BIG...... I fought it for a few minutes and couldn't move it much, he would run and strip line and I'd get a few rounds back. The line cut on something sharp above the leader and it was over.... I'm baited back up again...
I imagine it was a stingray by the way it fought. He would be unmovable but still, then make a short run and stop again. That added a little excitement to the day.... I'll be watching that pole closer for a while to see if I get another one. The line got cut about half way to the hook, it must have been looped around something sharp on the bottom. The big pole has an audible alarm on it that beeps when it gets a bite. I should have had it on the first time..... but it's on now... no bites yet.
I think we may have figured out Sail Mail this morning.... (the program to transmit emails from the boat via SSB) I tried to send my first one, but the lines were apparently busy... I'll try again later. I'm pretty sure we have the jillion little settings right. I need to listen to the CD we have again to make sure I'm doing it right.
March 11, 2010
Laying low today....not much happening. I listened to Chris Parker's weather at 6:30AM on the SSB channel 4.045 USB, no changes other than a bit more wind today than expected. It's cloudy this morning. He still expects a 3 day window starting early Sunday. I made waypoints and a route on the Garmin from here to Fresh Creek on Andros, it's 216 statute miles. That's 36 hours of sailing at 6 mph. I hope we will see first light Sunday as we approach the Eastern banks of the gulfstream. The first half of our next leg will be the gulfstream crossing, the second is the Great Bahama Banks and down to central Andros at Fresh Creek.
The "banks" are shallow so you can anchor anywhere. When we get tired Sunday evening we'll likely drop anchor for the night. I'd like to pare the trip down to an easy 50 miles or so remaining to make Fresh Creek easily Monday, that means completely crossing the banks during the day to anchor near the NW Channel light. If we have to motor much on the crossings and feel the need for fuel before Fresh Creek, we will go to Chub's Cay in the southern Berry Islands or Morgan's Bluff for fuel. If we go to Chubs our route may change and take us thru Nassau. Plans change daily... so you never know... but if we get to Andros Monday evening (the 15th)... after a night or two of rest we could head over to the Exumas by weeks end. Passage south in the Exumas to Georgetown is against the trade winds so weather (as always) will be a big factor but the marching frontal patterns we have been so blessed with from the North will likely give us a good road...... If our luck changes we could be in the Exumas by the Ides, but that's pretty ambitious.
Linda decided to make a strawberry cake with cream cheese icing.... so much for taking today off...lol. I'm going to lay down a minute and read up on my inverter... these 6:30 AM wake ups to catch the forecast are just wrong... I have found my natural wake up time to be 7:30.
I have been losing more power overnight than I think I should.. the corroded buss I found earlier helped, but after reading the Xantrex manual there is a setting that will save up to 2 amps at night. The inverter searches for AC power all the time so it can switch seamlessly from the inverter to the charger when it sees an AC input. It costs about 2 amps to do that... so while we are sleeping, I'll either set it on power save mode.. or just turn the inverter off all together. There are other things you can do to optimize charging.. so I'll mess with that today to make better use of my resources.
The wind is brisk today... I am glad we are in a cove that knocks the wind down in front of us. The sun finally filled in for the day about 11:00 so my solar panels are smiling again.... Linda made some pasta shrimp salad for lunch.. lets see what else.... I guess that's about it... when I finish my lunch I'll go tune on the inverter....
Ohh yeeeaa.. The default charge setting was for one 200 amp hour battery, I have 500 amp hours, so now the charger hits much harder.... Previously no matter how low the batts were it would only charge 50 amps... now with 12 volts already in them, it started at 78 amps and filtered down from there. I also turned the power save mode on. I changed the bulk charge time from 4 minutes to 8 minutes so it would give it full charge longer until the intelligent absorption/soak and float mode kick in. It also defaults to AGM batteries, mine are flooded lead acid, so there were a lot of tweaks that should help my system.
All that work and a pasta salad lunch.. I need another nap... It's tough I tell you.
It is very breezy today and I am loving it. The wind is cool not cold and the sky is finally bright blue. This is a day off organizing or should I say reorganizing. I have the kitchen in better shape. I am actually able to use one of the storage areas that are under the berths. I have a FoodSaver I use everyday at home so I bought one for the boat. It is a newer model and takes up less room. I have never been able to get it to seal or vacuum bags. It does canisters fine but not bags. I had e-mailed the company over a month ago and never got a response. Today I called them and they help trouble shoot the problem. Turns out one of the seals was glued down and should not have been. I need to return the machine and they will send me another one. Problem...there is not a mail room handy. I am not sure what I will do. I may have to wait until someone comes and they can take it back home for me. I have all these bags and can't use any of them. Bummer. Oh well, if that is the biggest problem we face...no big deal.
It is warm enough for shorts. Rusty went down below to change into some shorts and out he appears in his "river shorts". I bought this man all new beautiful shorts of different styles and what is the first pair of shorts he puts on ... his 20 year old cut off blue jeans we call "the river shorts". When we first married I hid them. I considered disposing of them but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. Rusty loves those old shorts. They are completely worn out but he loves them and I love him so "river shorts" it is.
Sea Yawl Later!
March 10, 2010
I will not start today talking about weather.... Maybe it will change my luck. I got up thinking about my dinghy motor setup and couldn't stand not tinkering with it. The 9.9 Nissan 2 stroke that I borrowed from my brother-in-law is a little bear. On the 10.5' Achilles boat she really sings. My Achilles is a high pressure keel soft bottom boat, not a hard bottom, but it planes out and runs better than I expected, especially now that I raised the engine up on the transom. Before I raised it this morning the whale tail was very deep in the water (probably 3" below the bottom) so it did weird stuff on plane. Normally water flows below the whale tail, but it would build up and flow over the top and dive..... pulling the back of the boat down until it built up a 10 second cycle of planeing and diving. I put two shims 1/2" thick under the engine clamps raising it a total of 1". The engine is still a little too deep, but the clamp washers contact the aluminum transom plate just right at under a lip that really locks the motor in position, so that's where it will stay. At that height the diving problem seems totally solved... so I'm good with that. I did an upwind and downwind test run... it never cavitated or did anything weird so I like the setup.
The boat/motor combination is a good one, both of them show a little age so if somebody was going to choose a dinghy to take from the long line of choices at the dinghy dock, it wouldn't be mine.....
I will probably check out the shore line here at Windley Key today.. see what's within walking distance. The earliest we might leave for the Bahamas is Sunday (this is Wednesday) so we have a few days. My Garmin shows several marinas and points of interest in Smugglers Cove just inside the mouth of Snake Creek. I understand for a very small fee you can ride a bus to Key West. We may do that excursion in the next two days.
Linda is reorganizing the kitchen and starboard hull this morning..... which is code for "looking for a place for stuff things we don't have room for". Truthfully she is still nesting..... moving things around to suit her. That will probably never end. People that have been on a boat for years still do it, so it's not an event.. its a process.
Gary and I talked about taking the girls for a ride in the dinghy around to smugglers cove and check out the area. We will probably do that noonish. Linda and I were talking earlier about what we have spent for dockage in the past few weeks... We haven't paid for a slip since Marco Island on February 25th, 13 days ago.... We did take slips often when it was cold so we could use shore power to run the heater. Dockage is now the single most expensive budget item for a cruiser. Prices are getting over 2.00 a foot. We paid almost $3.00 a foot on Marco. Unless we are forced by weather I refuse to pay more than 2:00 a foot (around $70 a night with taxes) for a slip. I can't imagine paying $150 a day for a place to tie your boat. To me... slips should be free.... to entice you to come to their marina and buy gas or spend your shore money with them. In Marathon (where water is easy to produce from wells) they charge you per gallon... just because they can. I can see paying for water in the Bahamas where it's all transported by boat, or produced form desalinization equipment. OK, I'm through complaining.. we have done really good on money and hope to continue. We almost blew it in Marathon on the BBQ, but luckily it didn't fit just right and we didn't have all the parts to hook it up, so I took the time to fix the old one. I think I may prefer the Aussie grill. I have used it a couple times since then and it works well. That thing is huge.. and thick stainless.. it's bullet proof. The only complaint I have is that I can't do my stand up chickens on it.. it's not tall enough to cook a chicken in teh vertical position.
Well, it's 11:30, I have typed since early morning, left the site editor up on the computer while I was doing stuff on the dinghy and helping Linda... I guess I better stop and go post this. We might take the slow boat to town here and see what's up after while.
3:30 I got in the dinghy and toured the whole area. There are two marinas in Smugglers cove and a restaurant and bar. Snake creek has some very nice houses along the shore, nothing like Naples.. but great locations and some nice size to them. In an hour or so we plan on going to the restaurant / bar I found here in the cove we are anchored in. It's called OV's, it has an outside dining area, a covered area and an inside area. There is a motel next door with a pool. We will take the dinghy in to the small pier here in the cove. We talked about getting together with Gary and Celeste to make a dinner, but the decision was made to give the cooks a night off and eat out. I enjoyed my excursion today .... Linda worked on projects.. but tomorrow I'll give her the tour because she said she's taking the day off tomorrow.... She likes a boat ride as much as I do. OV's is a local family place.... it's not one of the high profile destinations the Keys are famous for. The best thing about OV's is that it's only a half a mile away.... the closest restaurant to us.
Linda did a great job clearing counter tops and seating areas so it's much easier to access everything.... It's pretty frustrating trying to clean the sea water strainer when there are appliances and groceries on top of the access hatch. It looks very nice in there now... Gold star for today's efforts....
Not much else to report...... we will probably stay put here for a late Saturday night early Sunday morning attempt to cross. I traversed the path to the ocean in the dinghy today and it's a breeze. The bridge tender verified that they open on demand 24 hours a day.
We are waiting for our friends Gary and Celeste to dinghy over so we can go to a beach bar/restaurant for libation and dinner. Rusty put a 1959 Rock n' Roll CD on (he was all of 5 years old - must have been a good year) and we are singing along, he is doing a good job, fortunately it is on real LOUD (like I like) it so you can't really hear me, there is a cool breeze, the water is calm and the sky is blue, blue. Life is good!!
We went to Ocean View Restaurant and Bar and they have pruned the mangroves like we do red tips back home. You walk up this long walkway over the water than is lined with shoulder high pruned mangroves up to a sandy beach. We ate a great dinner under the canopy then went back to our respective boats and watched a movie.
Sea Yawl Later !!
March 9, 2010
Well... the weather forecast is not being friendly.... a few days ago the forecast was for lighter winds than what they are calling for now. Wind direction is still forecast to be good, but high wind that cause high waves are back in it. Right now the end of the week is not even looking good, it may be the weekend.
Last night we ran the air conditioning for the first time on anchor. The outside temps were nice, but with the cabin closed up tight to avoid bugs we were hot. I ran A/C for one tank of generator gas (5 hours) and the rest of the night was fine. It's amazing that the Honda 2000 generator will carry 16K BTUs of air for 5 hours on just under one gallon of gas. Last week I was having trouble running the heater on the Honda.... I think I mentioned earlier that the sea strainer was full, but after cleaning it we do fine, and the heater pulls a bit more juice than the AC. You can't run anything else while the AC is on.. but that's OK. I believe there are some settings on the inverter I can change that will maximize my arrangement of batteries and load that I haven't messed with yet. One of these days I'll get the book out and tweak it.
Shrimp and rice with onions, celery and bell pepper with a side of steamed broccoli for lunch (for those that need to know). This morning we have been working on our bug screen for the main salon. We got the stuff to do it in Marathon at Home Depot. Only in Florida can you find bug netting marked "guaranteed for no-seeums" I have never seen it anywhere else...
Gary came by working on his dinghy motor setup. I gave him some hints that will help. I need to raise my motor up to maximize my own setup, I just haven't made it a priority yet.
Since we aren't leaving late tonight.. today has become an off day too. We will get the bug screens made, so that's a good thing. Tonight we will sleep cooler with hatches and doors open. I looked at water temps in the Bahamas online, Bimini has the warmest water right now being right on the gulf stream, it shows 74 to 77, not bad for the time of year. The Exumas are not quite as warm for some reason... only a degree or so though. That's certainly not bath water, but it's not too bad. I like 80 degree water myself.... My reason for looking at Bahamas temps is to see if where we are trying to get so bad, is better than where we are temperature wise. I know the beaches and scenery are better, but I was curious about the water.
OH, I need to warn you readers about something... I go back and edit the current day or even the previous days post to remove some of the clerical errors or add to the text.... so if you read part of the current days post and come back the next day the text you read could be different.... or might even make sense where it didn't before...lol
Good afternoon..... It's 5:30 Florida time. We got the main bug screen for the salon opening made and installed, we still have to figure a way to seal it at the bottom.. right now it's got lots of slack and laying flat on the floor, but a breeze from the aft of the boat could raise it. I am thinking about using a section of my 8 plait 3/4" rope inserted into a sleeve sewn in the bottom of the netting to weight it down. To get out of the salon we have to lift it at the bottom center and go under, it's very light and easy to do. The pliable but heavy rope might be a good choice. I like not having a center seam with a zipper or something like the main salon vinyl divider. You see right thru the netting and it looks nice without a zipper or seam in the center.
We got the hatch in the bedroom screened in today, as well as one of the top salon hatches. We will sleep cool and comfortable tonight being able to open the hatch AND leave the door open to our bedroom now that the salon is hermetically sealed.....
Beef stroganoff and mashed potatoes for dinner... for those keeping track. Fruit salad for desert.
I learned a new trick today.... Gary and Celeste listen to Chris Parker (a professional sailor and weather forecaster) on the Single Side Band radio. I learned a little of how to use the Single Side Band Radio and what channel to tune in to catch the 6:30 the morning broadcast. You can subscribe to his service (like they have) and become a participating member to talk to Chris directly about forming your plans for a specific leg. It's less than $200 a year to subscribe and we feel it's worth the money so Linda called earlier to set us up, but got his recorder. His many subscribers let him know actual conditions so if one of his participants are where we want to go..... he can get live updates to augment to his professional weather data. The final decision is always the captain (or.... his wife) but good data is always important.
An hour until sunset..... it's different living outdoors... the smells, the tactual quality of life is something people that live what I call a "Concrete and Clorox" existence miss out on. Yeah, Taco Bell and the mall are close, the easy chair and surround sound is nice... been there done that..... I'm sorry I just don't miss Oprah enough to want to go home yet... lol.
March 8, 2010
I sure wanted to be in the Bahamas by March 1st, but it just didn't happen. New Orleans to Destin, Clearwater, the Florida West coast ICW run, Marathon and now Islamorada have been great fun though. Our dinner party in Marathon where we got to entertain and last night have been highlights of the trip so far I won't forget. We have invited friends to fly over and spend time with us on the boat in the Bahamas, but weather just hasn't allowed us to get there yet. All in good time I guess. If we wanted to keep a schedule we should have bought a jet.....
I tell you what.... The Seawinds I have seen so far give us a lot to live up to. Our boat is OK, but we have a ways to go to not be "sucking hind tit" as they say.... There is a lot of pride of ownership in this unique Aussie brand. Here in Florida I see a lot of Gemini Catamarans. They fill a very nice slot in the sailing community in that they are 14' wide so they fit in a normal slip. The Gemini is very comfortable and has a price point that makes it very attractive. The only "rub" if there was one is that it has a fairly low bridge deck so waves bump the bottom of the salon easier than taller boats. That fact makes her not quite as good of a passage maker, but better in my mind than the Prout. I think the Prout catamaran really invented the market, they were the first ones to make a very comfortable catamaran for the cruising market. The Catalac is another boat in the same range as the Prout, but I think the Prout was more successful.
Linda is making breakfast, I topped off the main tanks with my cans of gas this morning so I could take my 2 cans to the store and fill them later. We burned some yesterday getting here.... but you can pack more gas in the tank pouring from a can than with a high pressure pump. To get the last 2 gallons in you have to dribble it in slower so when it fills you won't spill over. With the pump nozzle running in "squirt mode" it makes lots of bubbles.... so the bubbles run over the top before you get it completely full. With a gas can you don't have the bubbles, so you can get more in it.
The wind was almost dead calm most of the night. Just before dawn we got a breeze that made a very light chop in the anchorage that still continues (8:30AM) We are anchored on good sand in about 6 feet of water, so our anchor set is awesome. I let out lots of scope and tugged at the anchor a few times lightly to set it.. then I gave it a few minutes to settle.... pulled forward a couple boat lengths and just put both engines in reverse at dead slow to see how the anchor holds under a load. I was at almost a full knot of speed in reverse, when it stretched the chain tight........ it snapped my neck it stopped so quickly..... that's what you want. I didn't even set the anchor drag alarm I was so confident in the set... plus the winds were at zero and predicted to stay low for days. We have been watching weather very intently.
The water has continually gotten clearer on our journey. It's not Bahamas clear yet.. but you can see 8 to 10 feet down if the surface is not broken. Yesterday when I set my anchor I could see the cloud of sand the chain made as it moved along the bottom. Crossing the Great Bahamas Bank you can easily see 20 feet deep. I say 20 feet because the bottom is never further away than that. It's not uncommon to have 90 feet visibility underwater in the Bahamas. Crossing the "Banks" is awesome... you can count the starfish on the 80 mile wide underwater desert that Columbus named the region for BAHA-MAS meaning shallow seas. At night you can cast your light across the water and it's an amazing color. I love the Banks.
I have a bit of electrical work to finish this morning after breakfast. As I mentioned earlier I found a buss that has gotten very corroded, even to the point of failure. There is no doubt that my solar panels are slacking due to the problem. It also may be a good reason why I'm losing amps at night. My batteries lose a lot of power during the night that we aren't using. Hopefully I found the "leak" in the electrical system.
I don't know what's cooking for breakfast but I can smell something sweet and lots of butter.... that's always a good thing. I eat like a king I tell you. Linda is an awesome cook and loves to do it. Even with that....... I may have to buy me a new belt in the Bahamas, mine is getting pretty long... lol I can reach out and snatch up a 5 gallon can of gas like nobody's business now.... when we left it was body center and use your legs.. I'll close for breakfast... This trip has given me my core strength back.
|After lunch (hamburger steak with a blue cheese sauce and baked potato) we took SYL out for a sail. We didn't have a destination, the water was calm and winds were variable from 4 to 8 knots, we sailed just for the sheer joy of sailing. I didn't even turn the music on so all we heard was the gentle lap of the water as SYL slowly sliced through the aqua water with bright blue skies above us. What joy! It is for moments like these that I love to sail. There is nothing else like it. And we are not even in the Bahamas yet! We were in a small 1.5 mile bay inside Islamorada so there wasn't much room to run. We hung the new "Creature" to learn it's set in the light winds (the very thing it was made for). I could point to 29 degrees apparent at 4 knots in 7 to 8, but that's not the real winner.... Reaching with this thing cross sheeted to the opposite side gave us almost wind speed! I was making 7.6 in about the same winds at 60 degrees apparent. Sheeted all the way in upwind we crabbed quite a bit, but I found the tighter I stayed to the wind, the less it crabbed so that was nice. We have to figure out how to tack and jibe that huge sail a little easier, it'll take using it more to get our system down. It certainly adds the pointing and power I wanted in 4 to 8 range.|
We are anchored out and witnessed another beautiful sunset. The water's are so calm tonight and the winds are expect to stay 10 knots or less. Celeste and Gary came over briefly and we exchanged some movies. We watched Beyond The Sea a movie about Bobby Darin in our new bed. Rusty made yet another modification. I think we are getting it "just right". Now we have a combination of what Gary and Celeste are doing and how AJ and Lisa set theirs up. We changed direction again sleeping, we put our heads toward the front of the boat, then cut about 2' off the bathroom end of the new board we made. So now we pull the board all the way into the shelves like before so it's all the way to the windows... but now we have easy access to the floor, either one of us can get out without going under "the tunnel". Gary's bed is wider so all he needed was a bit more width. He did that without interrupting the walk space beside the bed. Mine and AJ's boat has a narrower bed (but more storage) so we use the whole aisle for new bed. We will live with this a while and see how we like it...
March 7, 2010
7:30AM: We are scurrying about getting ready to leave for Islamorada this morning.... making packages ready for Lisa and AJ to mail for us, they are also going to return the Magma grill we bought at West Marine. With the old one working.. we don't need the new one. Cereal for breakfast this morning instead of Linda's full blown breakfast. After sitting in one place for a week we need to secure bottles and anything that might turn over in a seaway.... you go into camp mode if you stay in one place a while so we need to put her back in sea shape. I will pick up ice and top off the gas tanks, I used about 6 gallons in the dinghy and generator while we were here so a trip to Burdine's at the other end of the harbor is in order. We will sail Hawks Channel to Long Key then go inside at channel 5 (the same place we came out) and run the bays up to Islamorada. There are lots of good anchorages there... it's a short run.. less than 40 miles. Cereal is here.. so check you later.. Rusty
|We had a great sail from Marathon to Islamorada. Amazingly we sailed just as we planed to Islamorada. I think that's the first time we did what we planned.. lol. Celeste and Gary, the Seawind 1000 owners we met in Marathon left for Islamorada a day ahead of us. We called them on the phone to find out where they were anchored so we could anchor nearby. We saw their boat for the first time and like Lisa and AJ they have done so many inventive things to make it more like home. I have so many ideas my head is swimming. I have decided I must learn to sew. I think when Rusty returns to work I am going to take sewing lessons, seriously. Celeste and Gary's boat is "Sol Surfin". We will probably run with them to the Bahamas. with combined weather information we can both make the best decisions about crossing the stream.|
Celeste and Gary invited us to join them and another couple, Peter and Donna, whose boat is "Justoo", to a cool outside restaurant just a short dinghy ride away. We grabbed our jackets, a Q-beam and away we went. We had a splendid time. Good food, live band, Florida keys..... good people... what more could you want? They had a limo you could ride in. does it look like I am having too much fun.. yep, your right I am....
|Great Music at Islamorada||Cool Boat||Islamorada|
|Pete, Donna, Linda, Rusty,
Celeste and Gary.
Pete and Donna S/V "Justoo" Donna said she and Pete had 40,000 blue water miles...
Celeste and Gary S/V "Sol Surfin" Probably about the same miles...
It was like listening to stories in a movie except you know they really happened.
When Gary and Celeste asked us to go we almost didn't..... that would have been a big mistake. We came here just for this kind of thing.... I'm so glad we joined in.
Tomorrow is an off day.. I will probably go to town and fill up my gas cans to get ready for the crossing. I imagine I burned 8 gallons or so today but I want to be choker block full when we leave for the Bahamas.
Pete and Donna have sailed all over the world as Gary and Celeste have. I love just listening to the stories all the long-time cruisers have to tell. Rusty and I get so excited. I think Rusty and I are going to cross the Gulf Stream with Celeste and Gary. It looks like a weather window may be opening on Tuesday. I feel quite confident that it will be this week. We need to be settled in a protective harbor by Thursday evening in the Bahamas because they are expecting a blow on Thursday. It looks like it is finally going to happen...... Everyday just seems to be better than the previous day. We are having such a great time!!
March 6, 2010
Another great day in Marathon. Every morning at 9:00 AM they have something called the "Net". People get on the VHF and they welcome the new boats, say goodbye to those leaving, announcements, if you need help time, a sell, buy or give away time, and a trivia time. We needed some charts and asked if anyone had them and they did and we were able to get the charts we needed! Cruisers are an incredible group of people. We went to the boat, "Lorian" that had the charts but someone else had borrowed them so we left a zip drive with plans to go back later. AJ and Lisa took us on a round of errands and then we had lunch at the one of the best restaurants I have been to in a long time. The ambiance is lacking but the food more than makes up for it. Rusty had liver and onions which is one of our favorites and I had a breast of chicken covered in crab meat and a mystery stuffing. It was fantastic. Neither Rusty or I can remember the name of the restaurant but we will get the name from AJ and Lisa. One of our errands was to West Marine to replace our grill which was the original Aussie "barbeque" which is really a griddle. Rusty had tried to get it working but had not been successful. We bought a Magna grill but when we got home we didn't have everything we needed for an install. AJ and Lisa called and said they would take it back for us (how nice is that?). Rusty then started working on the Aussie griddle and got it working so we may opt not to have a real grill. We cooked baked potatoes on the "barbi" and they were great.
Where we are anchored is in the middle of a Kayak trail. We are use to people coming by. A couple of hours ago a dinghy came by which we were use to. We said hello and were expecting them to go around SYL. They said they came to see us. It was the couple from the boat "Lorian" that was going to give us the charts we needed. I dropped off a memory stick to have him load up the charts I needed for Sea Clear but they found us and brought it to us. My goodness, they took the time to figure out where we were and brought us the disc. It just boggles my mind how much trouble cruisers go to to be of help.
The plan is for us to leave tomorrow to move further north so our crossing will take less time. I have so enjoyed Marathon. I could stay here much longer but we have been here a week and Rusty has been extremely patient in letting us stay here this long. To show my gratitude, I bought him one of his favorite movies today, "O Brother, Where Art Thou". It was truly a love gift since I know I will have to see it many, many times. Actually, it is starting to grow on me. Now that IS scary!
Sea Yawl Later!!
I am excited that we got the original BBQ pit working.... as I remember from the charter boat we rented, the grill worked much better than we expected. I was amazed when it fired up the first time after literally hammering the regulator apart to clean it. I figured after I got the regulator valve working something else would be messed up... but it fired up like a champ. I will take away great memories of Boot Key Harbor. There were some stories about docking that are funny now... not so much when they happened, but that's how it works I guess.
Things I will remember about Whiskey Creek: The generator running every evening to charge us up for the night. Our boat nestled in the mangroves tight and cozy.... The mangroves themselves... such a unique symbiotic plant..... the leaves are lush... they put down a drop that first looks like a sucker you would want to prune... but the "sucker" grows long until it contacts the water... then it grows longer and makes it to the bottom and becomes the roots for the next tree. Interconnected like one big system....
We cleaned up the boat for our first dinner party.. part of that was coiling ropes up pretty around the winch.... the diner party was really fun.. one of the things we have done that we enjoyed most so far... and finally it's the place we fixed the grill. I love to cook out in the summer time. I haven't missed it much because it's so cool, but this summer it will be invaluable to me. Baked potatoes.. our first grilled meal...
There are many snapshots I have in my minds eye I will never forget.... when you travel or go on vacation.... don't forget to remember the special times..... mark them down in your memory to save for a time when you need them. I have some new snapshots.... and lots more to come. Gary and Celeste who own a Seawind and left to go North today (pictures to follow when we make them) will be fun to travel with. We plan on meeting up with them tomorrow in Islamorada. Tonight the weather forecast looks the best it has since we left for a full 3 days of Bahama crossing weather starting Wednesday.. actually Tuesday night. In the morning we will go to the marina, fill up with water.... dump our trash and make for points north. It's not a long day.. we will only travel 4 or 5 hours... It's 8:20 here... 7:20 Texas time.... See you in the morning.... Rusty
March 5, 2010
Another Seawind 1000 (Sol Surfer) came into the harbor yesterday, we met the owners Gary and Celeste. Linda made a nice dinner and the 6 of us, AJ and Lisa, Gary and Celeste, Linda and I ate on our boat. We MUST do that again, not only was the company special, but it gave us a great incentive to put the boat in show shape.... Linda threw out a great meal including crab cakes and wine for an appetizer, then shrimp scampi and fruit salad with brownies for desert. Linda said it first and I agree; there must be something about Seawind owners... we really enjoyed each person individually as well as a couple last night. It's not often you can truly say that you enjoyed everyone's company equally in a group of 6. Gary and Celeste are from California, they are going to the Exumas as well, so we will probably have boat buddies to cross with. They have been waiting a while to cross like everyone else, instead of sitting in the harbor they made a round up the keys then across Florida Bay and back to Marathon. I suspect we will leave Marathon tomorrow for a more Northern jumping off point in the Gulfstream.
It's great to pick up tips from people that have done little things to their boat that is just like yours that make things a touch better. Linda and Celeste have cooked up something about bug screens that keep No-seeums out, so we need to go shopping today. For those that don't know about no-seeums they are microscopic flying teeth...lol Actually they are a very small gnat that is too small to see, you don't feel it when they bite, but they leave a small amount of acid in your skin that can be really itchy and lasts for days.
We enjoyed the evening so much we forgot to take pictures.... so sorry.. the dinner party was just for us.. lol It's blowing and cool again this morning. The sun is out though so the day will get it's warmth. I have been having a problem running the heater / AC on the generator and found out why!!! yeahhh.. It could have been a combination of things.. but mainly the sea strainer was full of weeds. A water flow restriction causes the sea water pump to load up and pull more amps to the point that it would overload the generator. A secondary problem I found was in the wiring. I followed the solar panel wiring down into the stbd aft compartment where I found a buss bar that had been under salt water many times and basically disintegrated. The connections were minimal at best. I cut the buss bars out and double crimped butt splices on each wire. I felt like we had a voltage leak that pulled our batteries down more than they should have at night.. and the buss bars could certainly have done that, along with choking off our solar chargers.
It's windier today than it has been, I bet the harbor is rocking this morning. Linda made us bacon and biscuits this morning, the 9:00AM Boot Key Harbor Net is about to start, so I will sign off for now.
I would like to make a comment about no-seems. It seems that they have preferences about their victims and they LOVE me. They don't effect everyone this way but they make me miserable for several weeks. It seems the bites get worse and worse on me. Not scratching is not an option. When Celeste offered a solution I nearly broke out in tears. My friends out there that are prayer warriors - PRAY- this is effective.
Sea Yawl Later!!
March 4, 2010
This blog is really a recreation because we lost the entry when we were learning how to load up in a more efficient manner. Rusty got our bed built and it is wonderful and it is also a workout for me. The only drawback for me to the Seawind 1000 was the lack of an adequate size bed for Rusty and I. The salon sitting area turns into a bed by lowering the table but it is not private and it is a hassle. AJ and Lisa have made this extension for the master berth bed and it turns the bed into a California King. Getting on an off is interesting and a workout. Rusty is in great shape but all those who know and love me know that I came on this boat with poor balance, not much endurance or strength. I have greatly improved in all those areas. To get off the bed I have to crawl on top of a desk, swing both legs over and crawling through a space about 2 1/2 ft by 3 ft. My side is also on the far side and to enter I have to negotiate through a passage way that is about 4 ft tall and about 7ft long. The fact that I can even accomplish this feat speaks of my improve physical capabilities. I wouldn't want it video taped but I get there.
|Our New Bed||Rusty working on the motors. This picture is for those still at Waterford Harbor. This is the view of Rusty that everyone there is accustom to seeing. They may not recognize him by the other photos. Oh, all the plastic bags are laundry that it took 4 hours to do.|
March 3, 2010
It 8:30 AM we have had our breakfast. The wind is really blowing and it is cool so I made some oatmeal with brown-sugar and pecans. It is not as good as the Early Bird in Beaumont but the warm oats felt good this morning. Ok- this is for you Dave-last night we had Taco Salad. Today we are having Shrimp Scampi and fruit salad. Looks like Rusty is catching some fish this morning so we may have fresh fish and avocado salad instead if he catches enough. We are waiting for 9:00 AM. Everybody gets on the VHF at 9:00 AM every morning and apparently discuss weather, buy, sell and trade and I really don't know what all. We have forgotten every morning being busy with something. We are NOT going to miss this morning. I am sitting here with the VHF on and entering this blog. Well, I am making fresh drinking water so I better go make sure it is not running out of the jug. We will go to the marina today to upload the site.
Sea Yawl Later!!
Rusty Here... I caught 10 fish or so and have 5 pan size keepers. It was tough... I fished off the bow of the sailboat and caught all I needed in about an hour. They are pan sized snappers so they should be excellent, Linda is about to cook them now. I also caught a gar, and another puffer fish. I kept the 5 biggest snappers, filleted them and left the scales on one side. Linda put oil in a skillet, butter and lemon juice on top with a little garlic salt, when the fillet rolls up on the ends.. it's done. . You cook the fish scales down and don't turn it, the scales allow the fish to cook without scorching the meat. It smells wonderful. I'll comment more in about 30 minutes.. lol
The flavor was excellent! Next time I won't leave the ribs in... lots of little bones.. I'll just catch more.
I got AJ's bed board and tried it in my boat... the size is perfect, but the slots that go into the shelving against the outside of the boat are different, I marked what I needed so I can cut it before I get to the boat. They have a workshop in the marina with big tables and AJ has an electric saw. I have a good handsaw, but ripping plywood by hand isn't my favorite thing to do.
I'm off to upload the web and bring AJ's board back..
March 2, 2010
The wind clocked 180 on us during the night so the secondary anchor hung from the stern became our main anchor. We sat on it for a while this morning but I didn't trust it so mid morning we pulled everything up to reset. I didn't like the tight spot we were in so we moved back to sisters creek. March has been a very frugal month so far... I know.. I know... it's only March 2nd... but I need to brag quickly because tomorrow we are going to home depot..... lol. AJ and Lisa made a master bed extension in their boat that is awesome. It turns a narrow double master into a California king! It's simple to do so AJ is helping me do it tomorrow. The new arrangement puts your head at the windows (you sleep 90 degrees from the way you do now). Coincidentally that leaves a big blank wall at your feet for a flat screen TV. If we can find one we can screw on the wall we might blow our budget in one place. It would be for movies only.. you really can't get TV unless you go to an expensive satellite receiver.. We didn't miss TV until Shane got us hooked watching movies on the the "Guiding Light" when we were in New Orleans. It's the name of his boat... not the soap opera.. lol.
We repositioned our boat again this morning...
|This time we went all the way back to the end of Whiskey Creek and tied all 4 corners to the mangrove trees. We have ropes to both sides of the canal, so we are suspended in the middle.. it's great... you can't see a single soul... it's like we are all by ourselves, which is good sometimes. No worries about bumping other boats or open water. Best thing is it's free!|
|end of the creek||small cove behind the boat Out of the creek||Is there a "perfect anchorage" Linda asked me how long we would stay here.. "until we don't like it"|
I am fishing... well, I have a bait on a pole tied to the back of the boat... I guess you can call that fishing. Not much else to report... we are expecting a blow to come thru in the next couple hours and maybe rain for a bit but pass on thru quickly, right now it's sunny and nice. It was warm this morning.. in fact we threw the covers off during the night because we got too hot. We even flirted with firing up the A/C but there is plenty breeze so far today. I just checked.. the front is parting so as it passes, there is a big piece of it above us and a smaller cell below us.. but it looks like we won't see a main cell. A few minutes ago we got a puff of cool wind.. that might be all we get of it.
|Sushi anyone?... I caught a
Puffer fish today. He was an odd looking fellow.... Yeah.. I know
you can't eat them unless they are prepared by a professional because
there is a part of the fish that is highly poisonous. He went back
in the creek shortly after posing for this photo.
Later I caught a decent pan sized Pacific Grunt or "pig fish". They are very good to eat.. but we just had dinner and I didn't have enough fish to cook (with just the one). I lost interest in fishing for the day because a dinghy full of cruisers came touring the creek so I stopped to chat with them. I put the grunt back too. Several people paddled by fishing the creek in kayaks, they said it was an excellent place to fish. I may try my luck again tomorrow if something happens that we don't do the bed extension project.
It was fun catching fish today though. There is no bait better than shrimp for salt water fishing. Today at Kmart I bought two small packages of frozen bait shrimp.
(Who would eat such an ugly fish?-Linda)
Linda here. After our visit with AJ and Lisa yesterday, I came back pumped up to organize SYL better and perhaps minimize. I was in the process of taking everything out of every orifice on the boat when it became apparent that we needed to move SYL this morning so I had to stop the overhaul. Now things were far worse than when I got up this morning because I pulled everything out to reorganize. I was not to be deterred. After we were settled at Whiskey Creek, I started once again on my project and made good headway. Later in the day Lisa and AJ were going to the grocery store and called to see if we wanted to go so we stopped our projects for the day and went. We replaced a few staples like canned corn and beans, got milk and some other stuff. Tomorrow AJ is going to let Rusty use his bed addition as a pattern and take him to Home Depot so we can buy the material to make our own California King. YEAH!!!
|AJ & LISA||Their boat "SUSAN M JACKSON" Seawind 1000 with stern extensions|
March 1, 2010
We had the most delightful afternoon. There is this couple from Galveston, Lisa and AJ, who own a Seawind 1000 which is our model boat. We had e-mailed a few times and then we both ended up here at Marathon. When we arrived they befriended us and made us feel connected. This afternoon we went to their boat and met another couple who own a F boat Trimaran. We spent the afternoon just visiting. Lisa and AJ have been cruising for 18 years. Their wealth of knowledge is mindboggling. I just listened and had trouble keeping my jaw from dropping from all the information they were (probably unknowingly) showering upon me. Rusty, of course, is very knowledgeable about boats but I am a neophyte. I told Rusty I would just like to follow Lisa around for a month. Lisa is so creative, inventive and capable. I can't tell you how amazing this lady is. AJ I know is a smart fella but Lisa is my counterpart and I am in awe of her knowledge and capabilities. I need to close for now so Rusty and upload this info.
OK, I got to the marina to upload and they were closed. I'll see if their wifi will work outside the building. I know it's pretty weak because I cant find them on my wifi booster. I get 15 or 20 hot spots... but not the free one at city marina. One problem may be the US government installation in sisters creek. Purportedly the water in sisters creek is electrified. There are 4 very tall antennas lined up with Cuba that even mess up my XM radio reception. I suppose they use the water in sisters creek as a ground plane to find out what kind of cigar Castor's relatives are smoking at the moment..... I was told by several people that if you anchor in sisters creek your sacrificial anodes that protect the metal parts from electrolysis will go away in a week if you stay in sisters creek. I also read about it in the cruiser guide.. so there must be something to it. I'm glad I have had all the babies I want.....
Linda was truly amazed by Lisa... she has it all together... her and AJ are a wonderful couple. Living together on different boats for 18 years of their life.. you either kill each other or knock off the rough edges. They are a smooth couple....... Linda wants to go back tomorrow and just listen to Lisa talk. It's Linda and my time of day..... the sun is setting... boats in the harbor are blowing their horns... (they do it every evening at sunset) the guy two boats over is playing guitar and singing.. rather well I might add. Cruisers are settling in all over the harbor with a nice evening drink to watch the masts turn from white to orange... as the sun sets on Boot Key Harbor.
Sea Yawl Later....... Rusty