May 31, 2011

What a good decision it was to stop yesterday!  The winds picked up and blew hard most of the night.  Late in the night we had a rainy squall come through.  Here on anchor it was great, the rain rinsed off the salt water from yesterday but it wouldn't have been as much fun on the way to West End in the dark after 20 hours of straight sailing. 

I just finished my pancakes and sausage breakfast sitting still and quiet.  Today will be a day of rest, tomorrow the wind is due to moderate.  This morning on the SSB Chris said tomorrow would be our best opportunity to make for Brunswick.  Winds should only be 15 tomorrow, right now I'm seeing 15 behind the short hills of Bond's Cay... it is at least 5 more on the other side.  Chris added "the further North you go the lighter the expected winds" so as we leave the Bahamas behind heading NW, the Gulfstream run off the Florida coast toward Georgia should be great for sailing.. and hopefully not to lumpy for Linda.  Big waves don't scare her as much as they used to, but she struggles to not feel bad when it's rough.

Lately I sail on and off anchor without engines more often than not.  In fact I have only put my motors down for about 15 minutes since leaving GT.  Yesterday entering Bonds Cut I put them down and became a motorboat because I had never entered this anchorage before... I wanted to be nimble and able to stop easily if I needed to reconnoiter.  As it was there were no surprises, but it's always smart to go in easy if you don't have personal experience entering a cut.  The wind and currents were both in my favor carrying me in, so I wanted to have good quick brakes available.

Well, it's time to go rest.... take the day off.  more later....

2:17PM  We just met LA. the owner of the beautiful 38' Shannon named "Genisis" we parked next to.  He came by and talked with us a while, a fun guy to talk to, we have found that to be true of most central gulf coast residents we have come across on this trip.  We didn't meet Susan and I imagine we won't this time because we plan on leaving early in the morning.  I found out there is an inside passage that would carry us 5 miles or so North with protection, but today is my day off.. I'm not moving.  I thought about staging as far North as possible for tomorrow's long run but in the morning we will just go back out the same cut we came in on... a little farther in distance travelled, but far less technical because of the deep water cut.

May 30, 2011

Monday.... we did another super-cruise today... We left Hawksbill in the Central Exumas about 6AM and arrived here 81 miles later (again) at Bond's Cay at 6PM.  Yesterday we made 81 miles and today we made exactly.. 81 miles...  what's up with that?  Our record daylight to dark is 99 nautical miles.. it looks like that record may stand for a while.  From Mayaguana to Long Island (the 99 mile run) we had lots of big surf for a sleigh ride... and a following current... so.......

The trip from the Exumas to Nassau wasn't too lumpy but brother when we stuck our nose around the green buoy outside Nassau Harbor it was rodeo time......  Had the seas been comfortable we intended to do an all-nighter, but the trip from Nassau to the Berrys convinced us otherwise.  Had we continued we would have arrived mid morning at West End Grand Bahamas.  I had several bail out anchorages spotted along the way and chose to stop at Bond's Cay (the closest one to Nassau).... it was a good choice.

This was parked in Nassau.  It is without a doubt the largest cruiser ship we have ever seen. It size may be hard to appreciate in this photo but it was enormous.  It was 2 or 3 times the size of a normal cruise ship.  It was a Royal Caribbean International.

As we rounded the last beach head into the Bond's anchorage I saw a sailboat on the far shore and called them up to check out how the wind was across the bay where they were.... a sweet southern sounding woman came on the radio and said they were riding "just fine"... and they knew our name!  They had sailed with Kaleo, Storyville and Pipe ma'Bligh earlier... all Texas Navy Charter members....  so we meandered over beside them and dropped the hook.  I haven't gone to talk to them yet... I'm hungry and need a shower.... once that's done we may exchange pleasantries.  I can't see their boat name but I can see Biloxi Miss on the stern.  The boat is a neat looking monohull with radar and light green canvas.  I'll fill in the name when I catch it.

Wow it's so nice to know I'm not facing an all-nighter.... I was geared up for it but the 6'ers on the beam changed my mind.  We both have big smiles on our faces.. we are resting in the quiet... calm water behind Bond's with several beaches to explore (if we have to wait out weather) and new friends we don't even know yet, how good is that?

Making 160 miles in two days with a full nights sleep in between will have to do for now.....Linda just looked at me over the gumbo and potato salad and said "It's amazing how much different it is here, knowing what's going on out there" meaning just across the hill on the windward side of the island.  What a difference a small geographical change makes in our lives sometimes huh?

In Nassau I got good phone service so I called Brunswick Landing Marina in Georgia, the very same marina I found SYL in when I bought her.  We really like Brunswick.  They have nice floating docks and a active community.  If something went awry with SYL's lines or she needed some attention, I'd get a call if it required my attention but chances are it would just be taken care of.  Each dock has it's own community that takes care of each other in true southern fashion.

SYL!!  Rusty

May 28-29, 2011

Well, the crew is gone.... they left this morning at 6:45.  Erin and Michael, Sara and Brian left in taxi #4 for the GT airport.  There were tears all around... but knowing we would see them soon made it bearable.  Then the bigger news is we left Elisabeth Harbor at 7:30AM headed for Texas.....  We are on our way home for a while.  We won't bring the boat home, if we can arrange dockage as we hope to.. SYL will languish in St. Mary's or Brunswick Georgia until we return.  I tried calling the marina's yesterday but Saturday must have been a bad day.. I couldn't raise either of the marinas I hoped to talk to.  Tomorrow (Monday) I'll do some checking around to see what my options are.

Today we travelled 81.6 nautical miles in 11.5 hours.  We sailed from Georgetown to Hawksbill in one day with change to spare... that, meaning we left well after light and arrived well before dark.   We saw lots of 8 knot hours and some well into the 9's from about noon on.  Our chosen path brought us through Rudder Cut into the protected side of the Exumas, where we caught another gear in the smooth water where 15 to 19 knot winds on the beam slipped us by most of the Exuma islands in ONE day.  Tomorrow we will listen to the weather, if all is favorable we may target the Berry Islands, another 80+ mile day.  From the Berry's it's only 50 miles to the Abacos where we will relax a few days before making the final 350 mile push.

From the Abacos we will probably jump out in the Gulfstream and head North sailing full time until we get there.... The "stream" will add another 3 to 4 knots to our groundspeed, so if conditions are right we could see some 10 knot averages.  Our transit from Abacos to the Georgia border will take 36 to 40 hours. 

The biggest decision we have to make is "how much time do we want to spend in the Abacos".  We have never been there and this will the the best opportunity to do so with the perfect water and air temps.  We will certainly gauge our stay by what day Linda decides she wants to be home.  I understand there may not many anchoring opportunities.. the Abacos is highly developed, so I expect to have to do the marina to marina thing while visiting the Abacos.

Linda here:  It was hard watching E leave.  We thoroughly enjoyed the kids.  I don't think we could have packed in one more activity and yet it never seemed like we were rushing.  It was one of those special times when things "just worked".  Seeing E leave left me with a deep homesickness.  I am ready to see my children, my family and friends.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes for "blue water fever to set in for me again.  Last summer was very difficult with selling the house and getting rid of most of our "stuff".  Rusty really hasn't been off the boat since we got her to Texas the first time.  When he worked at Baytown, he lived on the boat.  I have been on the boat since October.  We still have lots of decisions to make but for now it is enough to know I will be home by the middle of June.  Rusty really isn't as ready to go home as I am but he really needs some time at home too.  When he is on SYL he is ALWAYS on.  He is the one who has the major responsibility and that can be daunting.  I think he will enjoy home more than he realizes. 

May 27, 2011

This morning we are anchored just off the Chat-N-Chill, slowly waking up for the day.  The night was spent on flat quiet water so everyone slept well.  We saw a pair of Dolphins as they swam by the boat this morning.  I sat alone on the stern this morning before everyone got up listening to the sounds of the harbor.  One boat motored in just after daylight.. he apparently did an overnight passage from some distant place timing his arrival here in GT for first light.  I know his bleary eyes and confident but glad-to-be-here state of mind.  Another boat took his time raising his anchor on the windlass.... pulling 10 feet in then letting the boat move forward closer and closer to the anchors weight, then pulling in 5 feet more then stopping.  He lazily took up the slack until he was over his load.  Several short chain rattles later the boats bow tugged the anchor out of the sand in the short waves... suspending it for the final 10' rise.

Our decision to come to GT yesterday was a good one, the morning breeze is well South of East.  Today we would be directly into the weather instead of the nice 30 to 50 apparent we had yesterday :)

more later....

Today in Georgetown:

Michael and Erin found a UT and an Aggie Starfish                 Michael, Erin, Brian and Sara               Brian and Sara "high 5" their starfish.
                    One of the startfish just floated off.               The beach where we swam and found the starfish!


This is the view from Monument Hill.  SYL is anchored in the harbor.  It is quite a little climb but as you can see the view is breathtaking.

Brian, Sara and Erin looking out at the harbor.

Below:  Michael at Monument.  Erin and Michael on top of Monument.

May 25-26, 2011

We have sat on a lot of beaches, gone into caves and done a lot of sailing these past few days but it was a comfortable pace......

We fed the pigs at Big Major... no matter how hokey are dumb you think watching pigs swim might be..... I'll just say, "don't knock it until you have tried it".

It's like riding a jet ski.... you just can't do it without smiling....

There is something about swimming pigs that is so oxymoronic it's flat something you shouldn't miss if you come to the Exumas...

Not to mention that the anchorage at Big Major is great and Thunderball is right around the corner.....  that really makes the pigs a must do.

Last year this little white one was too small to come out swimming but this year he was the first one out... so he got well fed.

Thunderball Grotto was our first event of the day, 9AM was low tide.  Next was the pigs, then we loaded up and had lunch at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  After lunch we pointed our bows South stopping at Rudder Cut Cay where the kids found Conch.

Rudder Cut Beach is a picturesque little place.  It's remote, has big palms on it, and as you can see plenty conch along the shoreline.

There's even a small cave.

We spent the end of an action packed day that started with Thunderball Grotto and ended with more sunshine than we had seen so far on this lovely beach.

The next morning we went outside there at Rudder Cut and did 8 miles in the sound to enter the banks again at Adderly Cut.  Our first stop was at Leaf Cay where Linda put out some freshly baked bread.... we ate it under the boat and waited for the Iguanas to find out we were there.  It didn't take long and Iggy the Iguana showed up for breakfast.


After exploring Leaf Cay Island (reportedly owned by Nicolas Cage) and feeding the local inhabitants we loaded back up and sailed all the way to Georgetown.  We arrived in GT before 6PM.  The sea state was supposed to be 4 to 5's in our face, but as we discovered the first 8 miles of the morning, waves were only 2 to 3 and 40 degrees off the nose so we tromped on down to GT in the less than perfect but better than expected weather.  Winds were supposed to be SE, but luckily they were mostly East so the sails helped quite a bit... and got better all day.  By the time we entered GT harbor we had a full load of wind in the sails at 50 degrees apparent.

May 23-24, 2011

Yesterday Sara and Brian arrived.  We had docked at the marina so the boarding would be easier.  We were faced with decisions.  Do we stay in Georgetown and let Sara and Brian get accustomed to the boat or head out to make the Atlantic portion of our trip to Staniel.  The vote was to leave.  It was a lively sail and a couple of people had some issues with the early stages of sea sickness but everyone was a trooper, we made the 20 miles in less than 3 hours at a good clip.  We spent the night at Children's Bay. 

We played Mexican Train and just hung out in the late evening.  Early this morning Rusty got us underway.  We were not sure what our end destination would be.  We went through shallows we have been through dozens of times without incident, however this time we went aground more than once.  We are heavily loaded with people and gear so what we could do in the past, we had trouble with this time.  Never at anytime were we in jeopardy (all is ok for the mom's that are reading this).

The kids rode the front quite a bit of the trip.  I think everybody had fun.

Middle:  Erin, Sara and Michael taking the dinghy on shore in Children's Bay, Brian was already ashore on the Kayak.  It was really nice to have a calm harbor after playing rodeo in the Atlantic for 3 hours.  We took Rat Cay Cut into the Bahama Banks.  Everyone handled the ride very well other than E had a case of motion sickness that dissipated after 30 minutes of calm seas.

Michael trying out the conch horn at sunset.
Left:  Brian, Erin, Sara and Michael inside Oven Rock Cave.

Right:  Michael and Brian pushing us off the rocks


May 22, 2011

WooHoo!!!  Erin and Michael are here.  We had a great day yesterday.  They arrived a little after 12:00PM. 

While Michael and Rusty made a run to SYL with luggage, Erin and I went to the Exuma Market to pick up a few things.  We did not need much because E brought most everything with her. 

By 1:30pm we lifted SYL's anchor and sailed to the Chat N Chill beach.  Rusty got us plates of ribs and chicken to snack on under the boat.

Cindy you were right!  A+


  E and Michael fed the stingray.  This stingray was really large.

During "the season", Chat N Chill has a conch bar that is open right in front of where we beached SYL.  Stingrays have learned that if they patrol this area they will be fed the scraps from the conch salad. 

This guy is really a large one.  He will swim right up to you.  In fact as soon as you put your hand in the water he jet propels himself at you and it can be a little intimidating at first until you learn he means you no harm he is just "eager" to be fed. 

Initially there was a lot of backing up and hi pitched noises.  At the end however, Erin and Michael were on their knees in the water petting him. 


 We bobbed around until it was low tide and then had a leisurely sail to Sand Dollar beach where we again got in the water under the boat.  About dusk we all got out, took showers, munched on left over ribs and tuna and played Mexican Train.  It was a wonderful day.

It is a cruiser tradition to blow a conch horn at sunset.  Rusty made this one from a conch he found at White Cay in the Berry Islands.  The Berry's is where we had our honeymoon on a chartered Seawind 1000. 

Erin has not lost her touch blowing the conch horn.  When there are a lot of cruisers around you will here a medley of horns being blown at sunset.

There are not many cruisers still hanging around so our horn was the only one heard during "our time of day"  sunset.

Today, started off slow by design.  We had breakfast,  our standard fare, eggs and toast.  Rusty put our new internet booster together and we are getting Gaviota Bay from Sand Dollar beach.  I understand most are not familiar with the geography but this is over 2 miles away from the internet source.  Previously we would have difficulty picking up a signal over 200 yards.  This is HUGE!

My internet frustration will be much, much lower now.  Rusty got the "Rouge Wave" which is the one Don uses on Cat's Meow.  We are very pleased.  It is the kind that the whole unit goes a loft and only a data cable comes down to the computer.  There is no signal loss between the computer and 50 feet AWL.  Sawweeeet.....

Sand Dollar Beach.  Rusty and the kids have gone in the dinghy to the part of Sand Dollar Beach where you can usually find Sand Dollars.  It is not low tide right now so finding treasure may prove to be harder than usual.  They just returned and did find 3 nice sand dollars and several pieces of sea glass which is a surprise.  We just upped anchor and are sailing around to Monument Beach, another of our favorite beaches.  We were there a couple of days ago and noticed that they had a lot of star fish so that was the focus for the evening.

Rusty showing Michael the Explorer Charts that we use.  He is showing him where we are and where we will be going. 

I can't believe we have a Texas Longhorn hat on this boat.  In spite of the hat we really like Michael!


May 21, 2011

It's Erin and Michael day!!! 

9:50AM The boat is ready, we are ready...  I arranged for our favorite taxi to pick them up so I have no doubt they will be well taken care of.  Their plane arrives about noon so we expect them at 1:30 or 2 at the market.

We are anchored in Kidd Cove very close to the entrance to Lake Victoria and the Exuma Market docks.  I have already done some shopping, dumped our trash, went to the ATM and the library to drop of books.

The past few days I have been sailing around the harbor on the jib alone.... it's not fast, but it's free...  at $6.20 a gallon I like to sail even more than I used to.  I always crank up the engines and roll in the jib when we get in traffic or approaching the anchorage, but my gas use has been at a minimum...  The main is zipped in it's bag and the boom is hauled to port for the solar panels... so we have been sailing around in half "camp mode" using just the roller furler.  I really enjoyed it.

10:01AM  E just called and is boarding the plane in Miami... the morning flight from Houston has gone well.  I have to tell you Erin sounds so grown up these days.... I can't wait to see her and meet Michael for the first time.  I wish my Karen was free to move about the globe like Erin... Karen has young children and is deep into mother mode.... maybe we can get her on the boat this year.


May 20, 2011

To say I am excited about tomorrow is to say I am fond of sushi and any one who knows me knows I LOVE sushi. (In fact the longer I am a way from a reliable source the more I crave it).  Erin and Michael (Erin's boyfriend whom we have not met) come in tomorrow at noon.  Rusty and I have discussed what we will do in GT until Monday when Sara (one of my adopted Rod girls) and Brian (Sara's boyfriend) arrive.  We finally decided that Erin is very familiar with GT and we will just let her decide what she wants to do.  She and Michael can take off in the dinghy and explore on their own or we can take SYL to where ever they would like to be in the harbor.  Monday when Sara and Brian arrive we will take off immediately for Black Point and Staniel so we will have as long a weather window as possible for the return. 

Rusty has never read very much in our decade together, he has been more of an "action" guy.  My experience has been that people who don't like to read usually have some difficulty in reading or has trouble sitting still.  Rusty has blown my theory out of the water.  He is a speed reader. I am a fairly good reader and I enjoy reading. It is nothing for him to finish a book in a few hours.  A book it might take me all day (10 hours) to read he will finish in 6 or 7.  Amazing!!  I plan on visiting the library here in GT and hope to find some authors he likes.  At this point I don't think he has found anyone he really likes.  So far his response to all of the books has been "its ok".  It is so nice for both of us to be kicked back reading together.

We have been beaching SYL every evening to spending time under the boat.  This is my favorite thing to do.  The water temperature is perfect.  Tomorrow when E and Michael come I would like to take them immediately to a beach and spend the first day in the water under SYL.  Rusty wants to take them to Chat N Chill for ribs.  What a nice day...  so much for them deciding what they want to do... lol.  It is going to be hard for me not to blast Michael with a bunch of questions.  I will try my very best to refrain.  It is hard when your adult child is developing an important relationship and you are completely out of the loop.  My decision I know, but it is still hard.  I have always been so "plugged" in to my kids lives (some would probably say "too plugged in"

Rusty here:  We just got through bobbing under the boat.... it's 6:30.... We are making ice and water with the generator on... the sun is bright this time of the evening bouncing strongly off the water into our eyes.... soon we will witness a beautiful sunset.... and the glare will no longer be harsh.  "Our time of day"   just after sunset, I'll turn the Honda off so we can fully enjoy the end of the day.... the piercing reflection of the sun will be replaced with a heavenly painted sky of fluorescent orange and reds accented by glowing orange clouds.... 

Erin just called, she's already staged near Houston for the flight out early tomorrow.  After customs and the taxi ride to the boat we will see them some time after 2PM at the Exuma Market.  I'm about to get on the radio and arrange for their taxi.  I did contact the taxi we want, but the reception was sketchy, we will talk again in the morning.  There are 10 or more taxis that work the GT airport, we have found two brothers that drive nice Suburbans to be our favorites. I'll call him in the morning to assure that "E" has a nice car waiting for her and Michael when they arrive.

The middle of our day was spent scrubbing the boat...... I cleaned the whole exterior and Linda did the inside. We docked so we could have fresh water to clean the boat, it's .12 cents a gallon and we used 40 gallons... not bad.. $14 bucks for a full wash job.  The wind was blowing across the docks so I could either let the wind pin me to the dock making an easy entry and hard exit or vise versa......  I chose to have the wind stretch my ropes rather than beat me against the docks the whole time.  The approach was fine, but the landing didn't go so well.  Mr. Rastafarian that "helped" us dock told Linda not to give him the bow line like I had set up... but to go to the stern and give him that one........ well, that didn't work.  I had the bow close to the dock but the stern was swung out into the wind... my plan was to cleat the bow and reverse the engines to bring the stern in quickly.. but Mr. Rasta over-rode my plan and forcefully told Linda to give him the stern line....  that resulted in us banging off every piling in a 50' radius.  The docks we entered were 45' or so apart.. that gave us just enough distance to swing completely around after hitting both ends of the boat on creosote pilings.  Thanks Mr. professional Bahamian dockmaster..... I asked him why in the world he wouldn't take the line I had offered him closest to the dock and he said "with the wind on your stern.. I find it best to tie the stern line first".... well, that's probably true.... but I revealed to him that the wind was blowing us almost directly off the docks.. not into our stern.  I had the bow close.. all they had to do was tie the bow off because I already had both engines in reverse to bring the stern in after cinching the bow line... the bow was 2' from the DOCK!!!! but noooo.. he wouldn't tie us up that way... Amazingly we escaped the experience with very little scuffing and no permanent damage...  I apologized to everyone for my abundant use of expletives....

The sun is setting over the motor yacht "Huntress" just off sand dollar beach to our West.  This boat is enormous, 4 stories high.  The crew had 4 or 5 tents set up on the beach for the owners.... jet skis running all around us.... I wonder what celebrity or oil trader owns on that boat.  I have seen her here before.

Well, the sunset this evening over the big yacht was not memorable.. too many clouds.

But here's a couple shots of the sunset from yesterday..

Not too shabby..

May 19, 2011

I got the windlass working correctly again, if I will refrain from feeding it stuff it doesn't like to eat it will be just fine.... lol. Tomorrow will be our big cleaning day.  I plan on docking long enough to buy water to fill the tank and scrub the boat down. 

Linda has me reading books, I guess I have read 3 or 4 this past week.  I have never been an avid reader, but lately it's been fun.  It gives you the same feeling as going to a movie except with a book, you revisit the characters and situations for a day or two until the book is over.  I haven't settled on a favorite author yet, my experience is limited to the books we have on board.  I read Sidney Shelton, Amy Tan, Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants", Jeffery Archer, and Steven Ambrose's "Wild Blue".  My least favorite so far is Tan and I like Water for Elephants best.  Linda has a Robert Ludlum book she wants me to read next.

We moved from Kidd Cove yesterday to Sand Dollar after I picked up the laundry so we could get under the boat yesterday evening.  I found a nice beach and parked her downwind on the sand at low tide with only a stern anchor out.  We hung out for three hours then came up for fresh showers and dinner.  We had beans and Mexican cornbread.... how southern is that?  I loved it....  The water temp really is nice these days, I imagine in the mid 80's.

Erin is calling from different stores today as she shops for things to bring with her to the Bahamas.... some for her but mostly for us I think. The change from total silence as Linda and I have been reading incessantly to 6 people on the boat will be obvious.  Don't get me wrong we LOVE having people visit, it's just a different thing to enjoy.  I think the key to happiness might be just that... having and enjoying different options, a diversity of lifestyle.  Of course that's just me..... I like change (as long as it's my idea).. lol.  Some people fear and dread change, I have no doubt that people think differently and are not under the delusion that my way of thinking is always right... it's just how it works for me.

Everybody is wired differently just like a circuit in a house.... when you flip a switch, a certain thing happens every time.  However I do know and am of the strong conviction that unlike a house that can't change it's wiring, humans (to some extent) learn every day to not only modify their responses, but can develop completely different ways of thinking.

Consider how the brain works (the way I understand it).... much like house wiring but more fluid.  When you have a thought the brain sends a message through a new pathway in the brain.. that electronic pathway hangs around for varying times based on brain chemistry.  That pathway IS... a memory that may be easily recalled the next day because the dim pathway is still there.. the more you think about the same thing, the larger the conduit or wiring becomes... constant thoughts about the same thing become standards about "how you think"  In that way we constantly but unconsciously design our own wiring system.  We can of course modify any thought to change a bit of the pathway... but understanding that memory and thoughts are actually electronic lines burned into your brain helped me understand that people are indeed "wired" differently.  Why should I expect that the next person is coming from the same place as me...... the numeric possibility of exact thought progression is astronomically small.  Not to say that people don't have similar experiences or complimentary experiences.. they certainly do... just play fair and understand that NOBODY thinks exactly like you.

I think base emotions like Anger, Love, Regret and all the other tendencies are burned into our brain based on how often we use them.  Think about it this way.. if you have two dogs in the back yard that have totally different personalities, which one will win in a fight.. the mean dog or the tail wagger?  The answer is easy and totally predictable... the one you feed the most....

Yeah I know.. it sucks to not have anybody to blame but yourself for your thoughts doesn't it.....  but no matter what the video recorder (our eyes and ears) put in our mind, we have the choice of letting that pathway rest until one day the thought fades...  or constantly dwell on it and build an unwelcome emotion into a personal life changer.  I hope that made some sense... if not, it unfortunately did to me.... everybody thinks differently huh?  Go ahead and write what I said off and don't consider it again... don't mind me... lol.  But you can't argue with physics.

May 18, 2011

The weekend weather for our day trip North with Erin's group looks very good.  In fact there may not be enough wind to purely sail, we may have to run one engine to maintain descent passage speed, but low winds will give us the best possible offshore sea state.  NNE winds 6 to 12 will provide a beam reach.  Fifteen miles of the 50 mile (8 hour) trip to Staniel is open ocean, after those 15 miles we can choose to duck back in behind the islands on the Exuma Banks.

Today I'll pick up laundry and get some boat chores done.  The Spinnaker is repaired so I can stow it below.  I will take the motor off the Maxwell today, replace that pin then repack the hold.  I have everything out of the Stbd. forward hold to accomplish the required maintenance on the windlass. 

I need to check my stock of spare fuel filters, I changed them yesterday and didn't see any spares.  That might mean another trip to Nappa.  That $6.20 gas I bought at Sampson Cay must have been the bottom of the barrel...... even better huh?  To be fair.. I haven't changed filters since we left in December, so it was time.

New information.... Gas is now $6.20 a gallon EVERYWHERE... not just at Sampson.  I just paid $42 dollars for a 5 gallon can and enough to top off my 3 gallon dink tank, plus the Yamaha dealer in town doesn't have any fuel filters for Yamahas... only ones that fit other brands.  AND the laundry I deposited two days ago might be ready this evening and it might not... lol.  The Bahamas really could use an efficiency expert... lol.  If you like instant gratification.. stay home... this place is not for you!  I'm pretty even tempered, so poor to possibly NO service doesn't really bother me.. much.... well not too much anyway.... but I'm beginning to more than notice it.

I don't know if I said anything about it already, but I've solved a big dilemma.  The 9.8 Tohatsu I got for the dink wouldn't get Linda and I both on plane so I have been hammering on the prop trying to get it just right and now.... we can both be in the boat and get on plane!  That's a big deal because it can double your speed from place to place.  Now I'm working on the prop so we can get us AND our laundry on plane.... lol.  I think it's possible too, I'm not that far off.  My boat drag race experience is paying off.. lol. 

A winning drag boat guy told me that if you can't get your engine to 6,000 rpm's in .6 seconds after matting the gas pedal... you lose the race.... That knowledge is important.. but more relevant in this situation is the fact that any motor needs it's full rpm's to make the rated horsepower..... If you have a 25hp engine that doesn't ever get above 4,000 rpm's all your really have is an expensive and heavy 15 horse.  Look at the performance curves on your engine.  Unless you get near the top of the rated rpm range.... your not making the power you could be making.  The key is the prop, large diameter is for power, small diameter is for speed.... the larger your boat is, the larger your prop should be in diameter....  after that it's finding the right pitch.  I have done extensive testing on props.  I find the best props have about 2 1/2" to 3" of pitch progression from the leading to trailing edges.... conversely a big flat blade is good for one speed...... whatever that particular pitch works out to be, but it's inefficient most of the time.  A progressively pitched prop covers a wider range of power needs.  Let me back up a sec... for those that don't know... a 19 pitch prop has a sufficient blade angle to move the prop 19" forward in one revolution without ANY slippage.  Of course there is slippage and many other factors that relate to relative pitch, but understanding the standard measure of pitch is important.

I have some constants that I have developed in my racing career regarding props.  Blend that with the love of working with metal (my given trade) and messing about with propellers seems to be a natural family trait.  My dad used to make his own boat race props because nobody was making fast props in the 50's.  Dad had them poured from good brass and shaped them to his liking back when boat racing was still done primarily with production boats.  Now race boats are highly specialized high tech designs that are built specifically for the race situations they intend to participate in.  For instance.. think about this..... a million dollar exotic sports car struggles to maintain 1G of sideways force in a turn without sliding sideways and can manage acceleration runs going from zero to 100 mph in 12 seconds...... that's FAST for a car.  Now.. consider the formula one race boat.... he can make 4.5 G's in a turn and typically goes from zero to 100 in 10 seconds....  that's more than a car right?.... lol.  Specialized design and materials make that possible.  In the 50's it was all about set up and buying the right boat, now it's more the vehicle your travelling in....

8 to 10 years ago the go fast F-1 boats had to change the race format due to innovations in boat speed and the stresses it puts on the human body.  Races used to be 100 laps long, but they found out the drivers insides were getting damaged or displaced by so many 4.5 G turns, so they reduced the lap count.  Before the lap limits they allowed designers to place their driver seats skewed 30 degrees into the turn so there would not be so much unnatural force to contend with...... but then in the straight-a-ways the drivers had trouble coping with facing 30 degrees off the keel line.

Boat design, engines and prop design have come a long way in the past 10 years.  When you think about it, a hot Mustang with 500hp weighs 2,800#, that's 5.6 pounds per HP... an F-1 race boat may have 400hp and weigh 1200#... that equates to 3# per HP.... big difference.  Unless you experience even what a production grade high performance tunnel boat can do, it's hard to understand how fast they are.  The drag boat I had was about 1100# with 280hp... it would go from zero to 100 in 11.7 seconds.  During a run.. when you reach about 50 miles per hour and the boat is at it's max G speed...... the boat is pulling so hard your awareness of what's happening lags about 3 seconds behind you.... it's amazing how hard these boats pull.  I enjoyed it when my dad ran my boat for the first time and felt the speed and acceleration they make these days.  It looks fast.. but until you experience it, you just can't understand how brutally powerful it is.  I set the trim and told dad to matt the throttles anytime and stay under 90 mph... the boat was capable of zero steering effort given those parameters.  I could put my hands behind my head and run 90 mph without touching the wheel in my boat (and mine was SLOW) compared to other boats on the racing circuit.

OK, enough about boring technical stuff.... plus, anybody reading this is probably a sail boater..... not interested in props or power boat racing.


May 17, 2011

We closed the boat and ran the AC until 5AM, mainly because of the bugs.  When we opened the hatches we found enough wind to fill the boat nicely... everything was already cool and dry so we slept great the rest of the morning in the comfortable breeze.  Sleeping under a blanket is a rarity here on SYL.

Linda has been sewing quite a bit, she made covers for our bedroom shelves that attach with Velcro.  They are basically like cloth doors that cover the shelf opening to hide the contents.  It really makes the room look organized and nice.  Today she will attempt a sail repair on the spinnaker.  Last time I put it up it got caught on a cotter pin in the rigging and ripped.  She's had lots of practice lately so I'm sure the repair will go well.  I will likely replace that panel when we get home anyway because the only material we have to patch it with is dark blue.

I don't know if the wind clocked all the way through the North last night while we slept, but we are settling back into the prevailing South to SE wind pattern after the light frontal passage.  I have expectations of good weather next week for Erin's visit.  We want to bring them to the grotto at Staniel, to the pigs, and spend time on Castle Beach so the weather needs to cooperate to make the 15 miles of open ocean comfortable.  If we don't get a good weather window, we will certainly enjoy all GT has to offer without regret.

7:35PM The sail repair is done and looks good, it was quite a chore so that's all we did today.  After all the hard work Linda and I recuperated for 4 hours on the beach under the boat....  Now we are in front of the Chat-N-Chill on the hook... not much happening around here this evening.  We are listening to the XM radio and playing on the net.


May 16, 2011

Georgetown is back to it's normal contingent of cruisers.  During Cruiser and Family Island Regattas the boat population is easily over 300.  I enjoy those events immensely, but as far as a cruising grounds Elisabeth Harbor is more comfortable at it's present pace.  I count 15 boats around the Chat-N-Chill, there are probably the same count at Monument, then that again in Kidd Cove so in all GT is probably holding 50 boats including the Sand Dollar Beach and Red Shanks anchorages.

It's strange to me but after Family Island... boats head back to Canada and the States en masse.  It's a shame because the water and weather are just now getting perfect.  I suspect the water temp is in the low to mid 80's and so is the air.  Hurricane season is still months away.... I don't get it.  Speaking of hurricanes here's another cruising tendency that I feel might be ill thought:  Boats head back to the US for hurricane season... OK, I understand if you live where hurricanes don't hit, but I live on the Texas Gulf coast.  Why should I bring my boat to Texas where hurricanes become category 4 and 5 monsters, when here the worst they ever get are 2's and rarely get this far West.  Most of the time they don't come this side of Cuba and many don't even form up until they are past the Bahamas.  I'm not at all sure that Texas is better than GT when it comes to hurricane exposure.

Chores today include dropping off laundry, cleaning the boat windows, cleaning under the sink in the bathroom and putting a new roll pin in the windlass.  There is a small 3/16" roll pin that acts as a weak link between the motor and the gear drive on my Maxwell windlass.  The other day when I was hauling the anchor up... the jib sheet somehow got caught by the chain and sucked up into the windlass.  When I was trying to get it out the small roll pin bent so that now when I'm powering the chain out I have to help it by pulling on the chain by hand.  It powers up great, but down is an issue.  The reason I already know what the problem is.. is that it happened in Provo the first time.  The solution to the problem is to never unfurl the jib at anchor.  Lately I have been sailing off anchor, so I was rolling the jib out before raising anchor allowing the sheets to flop around.... I stopped doing that so it shouldn't happen again.  Quite a lot to accomplish on the dance card today, but it shouldn't be too bad.

1:35PM  New and improved plan for the day....... less work more relaxing.  We took SYL over to town, I made the trash run, the laundry run, the hardware store, the liquor store, and the market.  I couldn't get the roll pin I needed in town so we upped anchor and took SYL a few miles NW to Goat Cay beach where it's only about a 1/4 mile walk to a Nappa store.  I just got back from there, they had the pin I needed so I got two of them, I had to shorten them a tad... but that's done.  I replaced the hinges on the 90 quart ice chest but that's about all I intend to do today besides bob in the water on the pretty beach here at Goat Cay.  We are of course still inside the harbor, but on the town side NW of the market.  The Windlass pin replacement will have to wait until another day.

Nobody is at this beach an it's very pretty..... Plus the winds will be switching to the West then the to the NW this evening, which means we will have excellent wave protection and NO boat traffic.... nice.  This is where we will stay tonight.  Quite the lovely anchorage.

7:15PM  Another catamaran came in the bay, but stopped well away from us so we are still without a close neighbor.... nice.  Linda and I just got out of the water and had our showers.  The Honda is on, I'm making water and ice.  We listened to the XM radio bobbing under the boat and the music is still on.  Winds are 8 to 10 from due West, this anchorage is a great choice.  Dinner is served so I'm off.

8:45PM  The moon is so bright I took a picture.  It didn't come out great, but you can tell how calm it is, see the brightness of the moon and the beach in the background

I have the wind scoop up over our bedroom hatch (just out of the picture) but it's hanging completely limp.  Maybe we will get some breeze once the wind direction finishes clocking to the North.

We are near a large land mass and it's completely still so at dusk the mosquitoes showed up.  Shortly after this picture was taken I closed the boat and turned on the AC.  I don't know if I'll run it all night, but it sure feels good right now.

I'm keeping the boom drawn off center these days because the solar panels do so much better in full sun.  A shadow 1/2 the size of notebook paper completely kills the output of the panel......

Sea Yawl Later !!  Rusty

May 15, 2011

11:27AM  We are eating fish!!  The flavor and texture of the Cero Mackerel are very good, not far from white perch.  Now I wish I hadn't thrown that last one back.....  the flavor is very light.  Everything I read and heard about Mackerel is that it's darker strong tasting meat and oily but this one is far from either of those descriptions.   Our fish book says the Cero is normally 5 to 10 pounds with the record being around 20#  The first one I caught was the biggest and I'd guess it was well over 15 pounds.  I didn't weigh it, but the first one was apparently big for the species.  The second was only 4 or 5" shorter.  I just went and measured the boat where the fish was laying in the picture to determine how long the fish was, I'd say he was 32" long.  Regardless of size, he sure is tasty.  The fish book said the Cero is better than the Spanish or King Mackerel.

This morning we dinghied across to the Market and back.  I have a couple projects planned today..... oil changes and some caulking but nothing major.

The moon is full so the tides have been extreme the past few days.  The beach at the Chat-N-Chill almost disappeared at high yesterday, and the mail boat is sitting in the harbor waiting for more water before he can get to the docks on a low today.  I'm about to go be lazy after eating then attend to my duties of the day.

4:12PM  Duties accomplished.... I laid in the bed and read for 30 minutes then got up and changed oil in everything, the dink motor, both main engines and the generator....  Then I re-caulked all the kitchen countertops and sink joints.  The little drill mounted Jabsco pump I bought has paid for itself time and time again going down the dipstick tube of everything I own to easily extract oil for periodic changes.  It's so easy in fact I probably change too often... but that may be an oxymoron.... kind of like having too much money or too much free time.  I'm not sure any of those those things ever occur too often.

Lately Linda and I find ourselves missing all our globally dispersed cruiser friends, especially Kaleo and Morning Glory.  We were talking the other day.... The people you meet cruising would be the hardest thing to give up if we hadn't done it.  Case in point;  LaVonne and Don on "Cat's Meow" have a special place in our heart even though we only spent a few days together....  sometimes you just click with the people you meet.  I'm sure "socially accomplished" people like Don and his wife are like a great ballroom dance partner... they make it hard to misstep and comfortably whisk you along you when you get off the beat.  That being said... there is a bit of a "pre-qualification" already in place when you meet somebody out here. 

A good friend of mine that is now deceased said  "Do what you like to do and the people you need to meet will be there"....  No truer words have ever been spoken.  Consider the opposite redneck mentality of going to the bar after a divorce.  Is that where you find the people you want to spend your life with?  I can talk about rednecks because I am one... but the answer is NO (in case you too are a redneck).  Out here on the water you find people that love boats and the water, they are generally highly accomplished using their hands and their minds, so it's fertile soil to plant yourself in.  Don and LaVonne are unassuming but they are both carry certifications to operate up to 100 ton ocean going vessels, they love the water and enjoy moving their 3,500 sq. ft. residence (a 78' catamaran) from one beautiful place to another.  Those kind of people just light my fire...  The fun thing is getting to know their story, how they got to be here talking to me right now.....  what road has led them to do the same thing I like to do.....

I think if you have a sport / hobby or avocation that gets you up off the couch and you are lucky enough to get to spend time there.... that's where you will find your future co-hearts.  If your looking for a buddy or mate.... "Do what you like to do... and they will be there"  If you don't do anything but work without a goal in mind...... conjure up a dream and work toward it.  Life is too short for a life of "quiet desperation" or some mental value thereof...  You certainly have to pay you're dues to have the time to pursue an avocation long term... but working "toward" something makes us happy.  I have noticed that accomplishing ones goal usually has generally one major fatal flaw that defeat most folks..... never having one..... take a look at yourself, privately of course... If you find yourself just working and not for "something"...... that can happen for periods of your life... but it's more fun if you work toward something like Linda and I have... there you will find good friends that have likely done the same.


May 14, 2011

We sailed out of Black Point before seven o'clock, listening to Chris as we silently made our way out of the harbor.  We have been sailing at a nice clip for about 2 hours.  It is overcast and cool and we are finding more wind than what we were expecting.  It is about 50 to Georgetown and we have gone 11 miles.  We will live the Banks at Rudder Cut.  It is likely to be a lively second half to trip, uggggh!

3:06PM  Rusty here, it was a bit lively until noon when the wind slowed to under 10 knots.  I expected to have trailing seas, but they were just off the forward port beam.  The controlling wave was wind blown chop instead of the large rollers from the NE like I expected.  Not a bad sea state but certainly not as good as I hoped.  Exiting Rudder Cut was "lively"  We got there about 3 hours before low tide so we were spit out easily with 2 knots of help, however the standing waves against opposing winds were short and choppy.  By the time I got a mile away from the cut the sea state got better, and now it's truly nice as the wind blown chop is 2' or less with no negligible swell.  I'm less than a mile from the GT entrance... I guess I better go drive the boat.....

Linda here:  Conditions on this trip were totally unexpected.  It was a lot more "active" than predicted.  Going through the cut was a rodeo... more extreme than I have been in for a while. We are currently having a nice sail into GT harbor.  I am hoping to get into Kid Cove in time to make a quick run to Exuma Market.  We have not had milk or fresh produce for a while.  We have eaten well the last few days but all the fresh produce was generously supplied by Cat's Meow. 

Rusty had his "new" rod and reel out trolling and wow he started catching these fish.  After the second one we decided not to keep any more. They have pretty light colored meat and don't smell fishy.  Problem is, we couldn't figure out what they were.  So, after two large ones we stopped keeping them.  I emailed Frenchie from Landrail (the friend that gave Rusty the rod and reel) and he told us that they were Cero Mackerel and were good to eat.  Yeah!!! Fish tomorrow and plenty for the freezer.

The fillets off this fish weighed more than any fish I ever caught back home.... lol.  That new rod sure makes it fun to bring in the fish.  No doubt if I caught a 100#er I'd have to play it....  With this one, I just cranked it in..... for a size reference, that aluminum beam in the picture is 8" in diameter.

Erin and Michael will be in here 6 days...but who is counting.  Sara and Brian will come a day later.  It will be fun to see who is still in GT or who has returned.  We know all of the "Texas Navy" is gone.  Hopefully, we can post this today while we are at the market.

Changed  We decided not to go to the market but just anchored in Gaviota Bay so we could get internet from the boat. Initially the internet was down but it has been working like a champ all evening.  Rusty was exhausted so his little nap turned into "good nite".  I think I will post some pictures and head off to bed.

May 13, 2011

We decided to stay another day in Black Point with our friends Don and LaVonne.  Today is a great day to go south, but tomorrow will be a good one too, winds will be a bit on the light side, but still from the North so that will work just fine.  The day is beginning nicely this morning.. the stand down from the intended departure has been accomplished.  we will probably get in the water today and hang out with our neighbors... more later.

SYL !!

Linda here: I sat down to blog and I find I want to start off with "what a lovely day today was".  I feel I am starting to sound trite but the fact was a lovely day.  How bless we have been to have meet such wonderful people.  The very best part of cruising for me has become meeting these special people that we seem to connect with and over a short period of time, truly come to care about them.  The very hardest part of cruising is having to part from these friends knowing in some cases it will be a very long time before our paths cross again.  So many are going further south and they will not be this way again for a very long time.  They like us don't know exactly where their adventure will take them so it is optimistic at best to plan a specific time to "hook up" again.

Today Rusty, LaVonne and Don hiked over to the sound side of the island.  They apparently found a bonanza of flotsam and jetsam. Rusty brought home a few shells and some sea glass.  I got our berth curtains hung and worked on the boat. I have found a spot for most things.  It is mainly going to be detailing SYL before our crew arrives.  In the early afternoon we took SYL over to Castle Beach ( we call it that because there is a home there in the shape of a castle) and we all played under the boat.  When we came around the point we were surprised to find a couple of boats there with people who had dinghied to show and had umbrellas on the beach.  This was a first.  In fact, on the way over I had commented to Don and LaVonne how we like this beach because you rarely had anyone in the anchorage.  Well, I guess the secret is out!  After a relaxing swim we sailed back to BP, showered and had dinner onboard Cats Meow.  The dinner was awesome but the company was even better.  We played a game called Apple to Apple and had a blast.  Then it was time to say goodbye....always hard.  We have so enjoyed the last few days. I am so glad that Don and LaVonne took the time to dinghy over that first day. 

I must comment here on Don and LaVonne's boat.  It was unbelievable.  I have never been on a boat as beautiful, roomy and as functional as this "one of a kind".  This vessel is a "home" and it is as inviting as it is beautiful....  I am so glad I was able to experience this type boat. 

                      PLAYING UNDER SYL AT CASTLE BEACH                                             DON AND LAVONNE

May 12, 2011

3:03PM What a great evening yesterday and today.  As we headed into Black Point in the dinghy yesterday we met a couple that was going in as well in their dink, they came over and introduced themselves as Don and LaVonne on "Cat's Meow"  Their cat is a bit larger than ours.... I think..... I'm not real sure.  I guess from Mars or Jupiter you'd never notice the difference huh?

We ate with them at Lorraine's and got to know them, so I invited them to go swim with us on Castle Beach for the evening.  They loaded up on SYL and we scooted around for the evening then back before dark.  We pot lucked the evening meal together, it was good.  Recently I ripped my Bimini and Lavonne said bring that over... I can fix it easily.  This morning I took it off and brought it to her on "Cat's Meow" where she took out her sail right sewing machine and made a very nice repair.  I'd put her work up against any of the canvas guys in Kemah.  We combined forces again today for Lunch..... Linda made a shrimp and rice dish and Lavonne brought her awesome cold slaw.

"Cats Meow" is a "one off" made in Ireland.  She's 35' wide (2' wider than I am long) and 78' long.............  Needless to say the five bedrooms, two kitchens and the dance hall sized salon is quite nice.  The ship was built for an ocean race that she won.... then outfitted with a cruising interior.  The design is awesome..... both the retractable keel and rudder are on the centerline, both hulls are smooth and clean on the bottom.  She has two 6 cylinder 320 hp engines that swing 30" props.  The top speed is over 20 knots on power.  Just for a size differential reference, her jib sheet lines are over 1" in diameter......(mine are 3/8")

Don and Lavonne are wonderful people.  Unfortunately they are heading in the opposite direction.  Tomorrow we will head to GT and they will go North toward Northern Florida.  Their hometown is Virginia.  Don was born and raised in Austria.  The couple immediately sets you at ease and are very engaging.   Don and I have led very different lives but also share many common interests.  I enjoyed talking to someone who knew and understood what I was talking about when we discussed boat building and mechanical interests.  Don is a retired Physicist so he could take what I knew... then take me on from there......  I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversations and can't get enough of his company.  LaVonne is a trained chef so Linda was all over her for recipes... we got a digital copy of one of her personal cook books.  LaVonne is a hoot.. I love her personality.  She is an accomplished woman of many talents.  This is basically the beginning of the "Cats Meow's" shakedown cruise but don't fret too bad.... they have the next 10 years to figure out how they like sailing.

A quick squall prompted us to break loose from the 55' wide raft up.  The weather didn't last long or even give our boats the fresh water rinse we were looking for, the main event swept by to our South East.  But on the up side... it brought us clocking winds.  We had NW winds this morning that entered the bay here at Black Point bringing us a slight chop in the harbor... but now and for the day tomorrow we expect NE winds that will make the Banks comfortable and user friendly again.  The trip to GT will be with trailing winds and seas.  I felt pretty comfortable on the Rockna Don had buried in the sand for our raft up.  His anchor is 100# heavier than mine... lol.

A bit more technical info about "Cats Meow":  She sports two gen sets, one is small (12KW I think) but the main generator is 30KW.  I may not remember correctly but they have 4 or 5 refrigerators, one being on the aft deck along side the outside sink and cleaning station.  As I mentioned they have two kitchen areas, the lower kitchen sports a Fox 6 burner stove & oven.  The other is on the main level, primarily for morning coffee and extra resources for large meal preparation.  She has in mast furling and dual backstays, the rigging is unique with separate aft run dual stays that connect to the mast 1/3 and 2/3 up.  Those unique retractable standing stays are strung tight only to the windward side during a brisk sail to better support the mast when heavily loaded.  The normal backstays are lead to the sterns and of course they are hydraulic.  I'm totally impressed with her design.  They have two dinks, one normal sized, then a fiberglass tender sitting on the 3rd level (above the main deck) with a 50 Honda.

SYL... Rusty

May 11, 2011

We did fill up with gas in Sampson on the way to Black Point, I didn't check the price before I pumped... they charged me $6.20 a gallon!  What a ripoff...... As we passed Staniel I called to ask their gas price, it was $5.40, still obscene, but vastly different none the less.  I don't know what's going on with gas prices but something got to change.

SYL !!

May 10, 2011

NOTE:  We may lose this computer at any moment.  We just got it back up after an hour of drying it with a hair dryer.  This 5 year old Gateway has been a tough computer.  Besides being on a boat for over a year, I have manage to spill a coke and water onto the key board (more than once).  Our back up HP bought new last year, died after only a few uses.  We are going to get Stuart to get us a computer for Erin to bring when she comes on the 21st.  We will try to post today at Lorraine's at Blackpoint but... 

We spent the day yesterday at Hawksbill.  It has turned into one of my favorite anchorages.  The water is beautiful and the anchorage is quiet.  Yesterday was so calm that we took the dinghy into the Sound and you would have thought we were still on the Banks the water was so smooth. 

We got a lot accomplished yesterday.  All the compartments have been repacked. The "garage" has been returned to a berth. We now have plenty of room for everyone in Erin's group.  Our future plans seem to change everyday.  One thing is for sure and that is I will be home the month of July and for Thanksgiving through Christmas.  We have discussed everything from leaving the boat in GT to going up the east coast.  We had always planned on flying home but Rusty has been collecting old boat wood that has washed up on the beach to make some furniture and the problem is how to get it home.  I think we have decided to rent a small U Haul and drive home from wherever we leave the boat for our July trip home (possibly Georgia) and fly back.  We definitely want to attend the Annapolis Boat Show in October. 

News Flash....we just got the HP working.  I am not sure how I got it working but I just got mad and started punching keys rather vigorously thinking I have nothing to lose.  It did a system repair and looks like it needs to go online to get updates so we will do that as soon as we get to Blackpoint.  So far I am still blogging on the Gateway.  Maybe we will be able to post.

If there is a week with no posts... you'll know what happened.  Our plan.. as of this morning... is to fuel up at Sampson Cay on the way to Black Point.  We will try to post at Lorraine's, then work our way slowly back toward GT spending some time at "Castle Beach" before heading out, then our target is to be in GT early next week.  Wind is supposed to be very light a week or more...  so the last 15 miles to GT in the Sound can be made any day.... no constraints at this time.  If tomorrow is a good sailing day we may take advantage of the temporary wind power, but maybe not... lol.

YEAH!!!!  I was able to make the old gateway hook to the internet and load the site.... I had to change some internet settings... somehow it lost it's ability to automatically assign an IP address, so I clicked that box and it worked!  the HP looks good too, so maybe we are OK... sure as I say that....... I'm be proven wrong... we will see.  There are still some keys on this machine that don't work.

5:37PM  We just got back to the boat after eating a fish basket at Lorraine's...  Our computer issues were temporarily overcome.... so far that is....  we got everything we needed to do accomplished for the evening.  I was going to move around to castle beach for the night, but the NW swell that was rocking us earlier seems to have subsided and Linda wants to make it another internet day at Lorraine's tomorrow, so we will stay here in the Black Point anchorage overnight.

SYL!!   Rusty

May 9, 2011

We had lunch at Norman's Beach Resort and as advertised in the guide they did have the best hamburgers in the Bahamas even if they were $18.00 (that include salad or ff).  We had lunch and then Rusty went exploring.  My BP got real low so I couldn't go.  Norman's did not have internet so that was a bummer.  We came back to Hawksbill since the shelling was not as good as we thought it would be and we prefer Hawksbill as an anchorage.  We had a scare this morning with our main computer (this one).  The keyboard would not work.  I got the hairdryer out and dried it and it is working marginally.  Not all the keys work but enough that we can make do.  We did back up the hard drive to one of our external hard drives.  Until today we have not had a back up for this computer.  Not real smart.  This computer as well as my Mac have been on board for over a year.  The PC has had more than one drink spilled in it and the Mac got rained on (allot) in Thompson Bay.  They have two tough computers but their life span might be coming to a close. 

Oh, I want to say that the new home page photo did not have that seagull superimposed.  That photo was shot just like it appears.   Pretty cool huh, it was at Warderick Wells. 

We currently have SYL gutted.  Junk everywhere on deck and all the holds open and cleaned!  spring cleaning I guess.  Our intent is to have the "garage" cleaned out so someone can sleep in there when Erin and her group come.  It is a mess now but it will be nice once it is finished.  It really takes living on board for a while to fine tune your vessel.  It is fine to get ideas from fellow cruisers especially those with your type boat but ultimately you have to organize your boat to suit your wants and needs.  One man's trash is another man's treasure kind of thing.  Well. I have taken a long enough break.  Time to get after it again.

May 8, 2011

We made the decision to move north to Norman's Pond.  We understand they have internet.  Norman's was as far north as we were going to go before we headed back to GT.  We decided to go the 10 miles even though we will have to motor so we can contact family.  There is NO WIND.  The Banks looks like a flat pond.  As I look back behind the boat the water almost looks like liquid mercury. 

We will be out of the Exuma Park at Normans so we can get rid of some garbage.  We are running low on fresh provisions, 2 more eggs, no milk, no veggies except one onion and we are on our last frozen meat.  Hopefully, Erin's crew will bring meat.  I have never bought beef here but the chicken I have tried is very, very tough.  I just quit buying meat here except the unhealthy stuff like sausage, lunch meat etc.  I am down to about 4 sacks of flour and only 2 cans of tuna. I did much better job not overbuying provisions this year.  We should be running out of things at this phase of the trip.  Don't get me wrong we still have plenty of can and dry goods.  We will not starve, the meals might just be an unusual combination of things.  I am sure we will eat at the Normans Beach Club restaurant today for mothers day!

Well, the trip to Norman for mothers day internet was a bust..... Lightning hit (probably a year ago) and messed up their equipment so even though it SAYS internet in the guide book and another cruiser confirmed it...  we did 30 miles of motoring for a hamburger.

May 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Erin!!  I wish I could call or get this message to you today but we don't have phone service or internet.  I love you bunches!!!!

Plans changed a bit (as they always do)  Today is Saturday and Kaleo is still with us, but they leave today for Robert's Cay to the North and we will not.  We had a meal together last night and said our goodbyes here at Hawksbill.   They left about 9:30......

Kaleo will put in a couple hours today, then cross to the Elutheras tomorrow.  We miss them already......  What a fine couple with the world in the palm of their hands....

We WILL see them again.

The wind went to zero this evening, I'm sure Matt had to motor the 25 miles to Roberts... The Exuma Banks are dead flat tonight.... it's really spectacular.

That means his open ocean crossing tomorrow to the Elutheras will be all motoring... but flat like a mill pond so it should be really beautiful....

I have been in deep water when it's flat and the water color and reflections below the surface are amazing.  They will be in 1,600 meters of water, about a mile, over 5,000' deep for some of the 30nm mile passage.

Ted and Mili left from Big Major on Thursday.  Weather dictated that they pass up their stop in Andros and sail straight home if they wanted enough wind to sail on.  Winds are very light today and supposed to be lower tomorrow.  "Morning Glory" will do a 48 hour passage, they should be crossing the gulfstream about now.......

11:31PM  We just got a radio call from Kaleo, they got a text from Ted and Mili that they made it to Key Largo....  That means they went from Big Majors in the center of the Exumas to Key Largo in about 20 hours... nice.

Yesterday we left Warderick wells and made the 15 miles to Hawksbill with the greatest of ease.  Matt, Christie and I walked over to the ocean side to check out the beach and I'm glad we did.  It is the most picturesque beach we have seen so far.  Wouldn't you know it... I didn't bring my camera.  I found some nice pieces of driftwood though.  I'm collecting drift wood to bring to the lake house in Texas to make a chair, footstool  and possibly a small table.  The ocean side beaches are the place to look for driftwood.  I almost have enough, then I'll be able to cull for quality.  I'm looking for the most "rounded end beat up in the surf" wood.....

Linda's blood pressure is spot on perfect...... we are grateful for that.  It's been consistently good for a few days now... no peaks like before.  That situation is not a situation any more....

Linda has been in the water here at Hawksbill on a swing I made her off the stern working on the dinghy protector.... .

We have been collecting discarded rope on the beach for a while now, it's exciting when you find a new color that you don't have yet to add to the collage.

We want about 3 times as much as this before we begin to cull for nicer colors... The fun is adding pieces as you find them so it's pretty much like any other boat project.... it's never really "finished" 

Today was great.. we bobbed in the water, ate lunch, bobbed some more and worked on the dingy.... I did a little light snorkeling around the boat..... mostly we enjoyed the quiet weather.... the Banks are like a mill pond tonight....  you don't see that much..  Conditions made a spectacular sunset...  We watched for the "green flash" but 20 miles or so away there were clouds right on the horizon so it didn't happen.....

8:30PM  All day boats pulled up anchor and left this place one by one.... finally the last one left about 2PM... now........ we are the only ones here... a 1/2 mile beach to ourselves on mirror flat water.  A fresh shower... Baked potatoes, green beans and steamed baby carrots on my plate.... listening to XM radio down low... it just doesn't get much better.

Linda here:  Today was fabulous.  We had the anchorage to ourselves and I spent the majority of the day in the water.  I was "working" on the dinghy art but I really enjoyed the swing that Rusty has rigged up for me.  We don't have to be beached for me to just "bob" in the water anymore. 

We made major progress on the dinghy art yesterday.  I have been struggling with how to do it since Ft George and have a couple of failed attempts.   I think now we have a system in place, and we like the results. 

<-- This is the progress we made today.  I would really love to stay here at Hawksbill for a few days.  We have lots of housekeeping jobs to do and I would like to take our time in this lovely spot. 

Another beautiful sunset.  This was taken at Hawksbill in the Exuma Park.  We thought we might see a "green flash" but there were clouds in the distance.  I have never seen the "green flash" but it is suppose to be impressive.  I am not disappointed in our sunsets though.  They are truly very beautiful.  Pictures just do not do them justice. (or maybe it was the photographer)

The green flash is supposedly sun rays that penetrate then exit the water again due to the curve of the earth (and sea) surface.  If there are clouds between the sun and the water anywhere you don't get the effect.  In this picture you can barely see a cloud in the lower right section f the sun, you could see more as it dropped further.  Sunsets and sunrises are special on the water.  Some houses have access to the water where you can see one or the other, but generally not both.

Sea Yawl Later !!   Rusty


May 4, 2011

We travelled the 5 miles from Black Point to Big Major and Staniel today.  Easy sail, just right winds.. blue skies... We went into the grotto at low tide, then went to Big Major and fed the pigs...... so we did every cruiser thing the area has to offer today other than hang out at the Staniel Club Bar.....  An away team even raided the Pink and the Blue grocery stores... they came away with lots less money and a few things we needed.  For example:  Pringles are over $4 a pack, 1/2 gallon of milk is $6.... but hey, what else are you going to spend your money on in the Bahamas..... 

Ted and Mili are breaking away from the Navy soon.... heading a different direction, they are going West to Andros, then back home to Ft. Lauderdale for a while.  The next day Kaleo is heading North and East for Eluthera...  I imagine that's the last we will see of our good friends for a while.  We won't have time to do Eluthera with Matt & Christie then get back to GT before E arrives.  Our plan is to continue slowly North... up the Exuma chain and visit some of the islands we skipped over waiting for the water to warm up, then coast back down the Exuma Banks to GT.

The Thunderball Grotto is impressive... The group with Erin has never seen it so we really want to be able to get the troop back here to see this whole area.  E wants some GT time too (her old stomping grounds). We can make that happen since that's where they fly in and out of.

Linda made nachos for dinner, everybody is eating on their own boat then gathering here afterwards.  Linda and I really enjoyed the grotto today.... we caught it at absolute low tide so it was easy to swim in and out.. very little current.  In fact we parked our boat so close to the entrance that we swam over to the grotto entrance instead of having to get in and out of the dinghy.  Us, Ted and Mili as well as Matt and Christie were all in the cave at the same time, it was fun. 

I'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow.... I could use some fuel..... I haven't used much gas, but instead of pouring cans into the main tanks for a fill up, it would be great to just pump it in with the hose.  All my cans are full, but the main tanks are getting light.  We haven't added any fuel to the main tanks since Provo :)


May 3, 2011

6:30PM  The day has been a busy one, we walked over from our "Castle Beach" anchorage to the small ocean side beach this morning.... then everyone loaded onto SYL for a run around to Black Point and the regatta pier.  We dumped our garbage, got internet and a had a nice meal that none of us had to cook.  Now the day is winding down to a crawl......  It's still a bit windy, but this calm bay is the perfect place for that.  Forecasts provide for slacking winds the next few days so that will be nice.  Our skies were bright and shiny all day.

Linda hasn't been taking her blood pressure meds like she should so it's been irregular.. high then good then high again.  The past two days she's been doing it right so she's calming down.  We have everything we need here on board to regulate it, all we need is calm minds and a few days of taking the right meds.  I'm going to make her take it easy and take her meds instead of glancing off the walls and deciding that the sky is falling, then its not, then it is....  She's going to be just fine, if she doesn't take her meds I WILL..... lol.  Life is life no matter where you are I guess.... in the day to day work environment or sitting on a boat in paradise.  No matter where you are stuff happens, you just need to deal with it and move on with a calm heart. 

Linda here:  Let me elaborate on my not taking meds so it does not sound like I am a noncompliant patient.  Last trip I HAD to cut way back on my BP meds because my BP was getting too low.  When we went home I had to increase it again (a little thing called selling our home etc caused a little stress).  I apparently cut back too far and my BP went haywire this week.  I have to say it did scare me when it reached levels I had never seen before but now I am taking the prescribed dose and all is good.  I will get a check up when I get home in July.


May 2, 2011

The trip from Little Farmers to Castle Beach (behind Black Point) was a killer.... Beam reaching 6 miles in 6" waves on 18 knots of wind..... whew!  Of course I'm being facetious..... the trip today was 8 knots in no seas for I don't know.... less than an hour..... like falling off a log only easier...........

We love this beach, the protection is awesome.... I'm seeing almost 20 knots right now on the hook (6PM) and the water is rippled.... that's it.  The bottom sand is powdery and luscious.... it holds your anchor like Fort Knox.  Everybody came over to SYL to swim (bob) in the water for a few hours when we arrived, now Linda and the gang are cooking the evening meal.  Everybody's coming here. I love that because we don't have to go home at the end of the night!

Tomorrow we will probably spend the day here bobbing, then wander around to Lorraine's for dinner and internet about 4PM.  The days are getting lazier as we go lately.... kinda nice.

The water here was nice... my thermometer adjusted quickly as I stepped down the front ladder.... nice.  Man it's sweet to be back sailing the Exuma Sound.... shallow pretty water, never rough and plenty wind.  How can you beat that?  The answer is you can't.  Friends of mine that have sailed around the world.. were so glad to be back in the clear sandy bottomed shallows of the Baha-mas....  Columbus's name for the region.... meaning "shallow seas".

Linda just brought out the chips and salsa....  the rest of the Navy better hurry or they won't get any... lol.  Wow, Linda's dinner last night was scrumptious.... chicken and rice with mushrooms and onions.