Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chub Cay Marina - Bahamas

Monday, Dec 13
Lauderdale Marine Center

This morning we listened to Chris Parker Weather in the morning.  On Wednesday, the winds are to be from the N 10 knots and Thursday from the W 5-8 knots.  From this forecast, it looks like we'll be leaving Wednesday to go to Key Biscayne and then Thursday leave very early to cross the Gulf Stream.

Today I plan to work on quilting Calvin's quilt in the Captain's Lounge area.  They have 3 individual offices, so will take over one for today and maybe tomorrow to try to get it finished.  Phil got a rolling dock cart and we loaded it with both sewing machine and the different tubs that I would need.

Quilting Calvin's Quilt - free hand quilting
I set up my Sailrite sewing machine to quilt, and it took me a while as I had to oil it, which entails me taking the top and side off and checking frequently with the manual.  Never knew there were so many places to oil.  Then I had to set up the Sailrite to sew with lighter weight thread.  Had to tighten the bobbin tension and loosen the upper tension to get it to work, but after a time, I did get it to work and used it to quilt the straight lines along the sashes and borders.  Then I set up the Viking Sewing machine so that I could quilt the designs in each square.  I havn't done free motion before with this machine, but after a call to my Mom who has the same machine, I was able to get up and running.  By the end of the afternoon, I had the quilt completely quilted.

On a side note,  our first evening here, we had cocktails with Damon Hale from Australia.  He was docked next to us and 6 weeks ago, bought this older Catalina 30 sight unseen and is fixing it up at the Lauderdale Marine Center to get it ready to make a passage with his friend Charlotte to Columbia.  After that, he plans to sell the boat and go back to Australia.

Damon Hale, Australian/US Citizen
While I was sewing, Phil was working on finishing the repairs on the dinghy.
Repairing the Dinghy
Katie was reading and joined me for a little while in the Captain's lounge.  The temps were to be in the 30's in the morning, so very glad can run the heater in the evening.

December 14,
Lauderdale Marine Center

We woke to another cold day.  We had kept the heater on low throughout the night, but even so it was 66F inside the boat and 38F outside.

I was on a mission - to get Calvin's quilt finished.  I had left my sewing machines in the office, so was able to get started after listening to Chris Parker weather.  Today I finished the free hand quilting and cut out and sewed the binding.  It's too late to ship it, but hopefully will be able to borrow Damon's rental car to take it to Fed Ex Office in the morning.  I also had bought vinyl at JoAnn Fabrics, so cut out the vinyl in the width strips that I would need to make the cubes.  I haven't cut out the individual rectangles yet - will do on Changes when it's time.

Phil went with Damon and got the propane tanks filled and got some more groceries at the Winn-Dixie store in preparation for leaving tomorrow.  Phil also filled the water tanks and we put the dinghy on the foredeck in preparation for the transit.  We are waiting for mail to arrive from Virginia and as soon as we get it, we're off for Key Biscayne and crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.

Katie O'Callaghan and Phil next to travel lift wheel
By the end of the day, Katie was tired of reading and knitting, so we took a walking tour around the Marine Center to see the boats that are being painted and worked on.  It was already starting to cool off as you can see from the coats in the photo above.  Boy is it a large facility, and they are capable to working on boat well over 100' long.  Here are Katie and Phil next to a 100 ton travel lift capable of picking up the big boats. The boats that are painted are in these enclosure and are shrink wrapped with exhaust systems for venting the fumes.

Renata and Patrick, a young couple from South Africa, had invited us over to visit with them and tour the 106' motor yacht they are crew on in the marina/RV park next door.  By pre-arrangement, Damon took us and others over to meet them in the car.  Boy is it a beautiful vessel and we were able to see all of it from the Engine room to the pilothouse on top.  It's for sale if anyone's interested for slightly under $3 million.  Here is Renata and Patrick when we first met them on Damon's boat a couple nights before.  We had a great time chatting with them.  They sailed in a cataraman on it's maiden voyage from South Africa to Lauderdale Marine Center and are crew on this Motor Yacht for a while. I understand that the owners are planning to come to Nassau for Christmas, so maybe we'll see them again sometime.  They would like to save their money and buy their own sailboat in the future.  They are great people and we were lucky to be able to meet them both.  I wish them the best.
Patrick, Lorraine and Phil
Mike, Renata, and Katie
Wednesday, Dec 15
Passage to the Bahamas - Chub Cay
Distance Traveled:  170.48 nm
Total Distance:  2106.77 nm

Unfortunately, we didn't get the mail from Virginia yesterday due to a winter storm in Cleveland.  Phil check the tracking web site and it should arrive today.  Damon was kind enough to let me borrow his car, so I drove to Fed Ex Office and shipped home some fabric and also shipped Calvin's quilt.  I hope that he likes it.  Afterward, I stopped at Winn Dixie for some last few food items before we left.  Phil and I took showers early this morning as we expect they will be the last for a little while.

After I got back, Phil checked the office and Phil arrived with our mail by 1115am and we cast off from the dock at 1146am. We went down the New river through the 5 bridges without mishap and were quickly on the ICW.

Outbound on New River
17th St. Causeway Bridge 54' tall
 and stopped at the Lauderdale marine just before the 17th St. Causeway Bridge to load up on 28 gallons of diesel.  Then we went out the Port Everglades inlet and were on the Atlantic Ocean motoring towards Miami, FL.  This part of the coast there aren't any extensive sand shoals, so we were able to be only about 1 mile off the coast as we motored towards Miami and Key Biscayne.  The winds were NW 6 knots and we were in 18-24 feet of water most of the time.  The weather window that originally was 3 days has shortened to a day and an half, so we are going to turn left when we get to Key Biscayne and cross the Gulf Stream at night to arrive before the winds pick up again for a coming cold front.  As we were traveling, I made some of the last calls to family to let them know what our plans were in the near future.  I called Verizon and suspended our phones effective Dec 16 and put Katie's number on an individual plan until we start service again next spring.  By 448pm we had entered the boundaries on the Miami Channel, but continued southward.  Katie started her watch at 5pm - winds were N2-3 knots, Temp 60F with 1-2foot swells from the NE. We had decided that we would not have Katie take any night watches for multiple reasons so Phil and I were going to take 3 hour watches through the night. Phil started his watch at 7pm and shortly after we entered the gulf stream.  I was down below sleeping, but could tell the difference in the motion of the boat at 9pm when we were in the heaviest current from the Gulf Stream.  I took over watch at 10pm and by 1130pm the water had calmed so we were through the worst - which wasn't bad at all as crossing go.  Phil had the head sail up to help with the rocking motion of the boat and I rolled it up at 1156am because the winds had clocked to NE, but let it out again by 1215am as they became more N 6-10knots.

Most of the larger boats were come from the south.  Phil had to change course once on his watch because of a freighter.  At midnight, I had to pass to the stern of another freighter that came from the North.  I have to tell you that even though we had the light of a 3/4 moon, it's still challenging to determine which direction a large boat is going and to determine if you need to take evasive action and which direction to turn to make sure we're not on a collision course with the larger boat.  They can move pretty fast, and I was glad when the freighter from the North had passed in front of us and I didn't have to worry any more.  I'm thinking in my mind - red is port and that means they're going where???  towards us or away?  Hard to determine when you're a little tired. 
Phil came on at 1am and we were to get to Gun Cay Cut sometimes after 230am.  He would let me know so that I could be above to help when the time came.  So about 245am Phil woke me and at 255am we went through Guy Cay Cut.  The moon had set so was hard to see.  The rocks were blacker than the open water in the cut.  It seemed like we passed within 20 feet of the rocks.  I stood by the stanchion so I could see better and hear better being away from the engine.  Phil has done this a few times before but for me it's the first time.  This isn't straight forward either as your going towards the rocks and then making a turn to the right - go through the cut and then turn towards the left.  I was very relieved when we were through and then went down below to get a little more sleep.  Boy was I tired when it was my watch again at 4am.  I wished that we could just pull over and anchor for a few hours of sleep, but we carried on and I was able to see the first sunrise in the Bahamas.
Sunrise over the Bahama Bank 12-16-10

Phil took over the next watch at 730am and will wake Katie at 9am for her first watch of the day.  I went down below to sleep in the V-berth.  When I woke next at 1110am, Katie was on watch, the ocean was glassy - winds were ESE 1 knot, and the temperature was 74F.  The breeze was cool enough that I needed a long sleeve shirt - not bad for December.  There were many motor boats and motor yachts (80'+) that passed us on the way across the Bahama Bank to the NW Passage and deep water.  The water had the blue green color that is typical in this area.

As we continued motoring, the wind started clocking to S then SW to W and then by 220pm around again to E and SE 4-6 knots so that by 245pm we were having the winds on the nose and going up 1-2.5 foot choppy waves and taking some spray overboard.  We had a 100'+ motor yacht come towards us and left a huge wake for us to pass through that we took some water over the bow.  I had opened the fore hatch and yes, we took water inside.  We cleared out Katie's memory foam mattress and a few pillows and mopped up the rest with a towel and closed the hatch!  Katie's mattress was dry by the end of the trip and we had extra sheets and pillow cases for the rest.  We decided  not to go to Nassau and instead go to Chub Cay and hope we could get there before dark.  I had gone down for a nap  but could feel and hear the boat going through the waves.  It's interesting the pattern they make - pound through  2-3 waves and cut through 3-4 more and then repeat again. Katie woke me at 445pm to help dock the boat.   Phil had decided we would follow some other boats into Chub Cay Marina as the next anchorage is 5 miles away - too far at this time to make before sunset.  We docked at D325 by about 5pm next to a 60'+ Little Harbor sail yacht.  The dock charges are $2.75/night, water is .40/gal and electricity is .65/Kw.  We are all a little tire and glad to be at a stopping point.

Phil is to call the Harbormastor at 9am and Tito will take him in a golf cart for us to clear customs.  Until then, it's ok for us to take a shower and have supper in the restaurant.  After 30 hours at sea, Phil is treating us to dinner out and I appreciate it very much. It's a mess below and meals have been sketchy today.  We all had the grouper, peas and rice and broccoli for supper and it was delicious.  Not long after we returned to the boat, Phil went to bed and having electricity and an internet connection, I got the Blog up to date.

Future plans are to see about getting to Nassau as early as we can but that is only if the SE winds let up for us to get there.  The only way to get weather forecasts here is through Chris Parker on the ham radio.  We made plane reservations for Katie to return home on Wed, December 29.  I'm going to find out about if it would be ok for Cheryl to ship a few days of Katie's medication to Bahamas Yacht Haven Marina and then if all works well, we'll pick them up and go to a few other islands and get Katie back to Nassau for her to fly home.  Staniel Cay has a New Years Eve Party that Phil and I would like to go to and then we'll start making our way south in a more leisurely fashion than we have in the past few months.  Until then, keep the emails and comments on the blogs coming.

It's hard to believe that we've been on this adventure for 103 days and more to come.


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