Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve - Nassau Bahamas continued

Friday, Dec 31

Nassau Bahamas

Phil and I want to wish everyone a Happy New Years!  We hope that it's blessed for you all.

This morning Phil and I decided to get some chores done.  We went first to get the propane tank filled.  Chris was there and we found today that typically what happens is that you drop if off at 8am the previous day and pick it up the next day.  Chris was kind enough to fill out tanks today as they have a 3 days holiday here this weekend and they won't be open until Tuesday.  He had some errands that he had to run as as It's 1m now, I expect that Phil has already gotten the filled tank.

Turns out that to replace the zincs, there is a part on the engine that is not coorperating in loosening the bolt.  last time this happen, Phil broke one of the parts (sorry that I can't be more specific) and he had to order a new one.  We don't want that to happen again, so we are going to walk to Aubrey's Hardward to get the 12point 1" wench part that Phil needs.  We walked past Bookworld again and I went inside and in the art department they had the Pigma Micron pens that I wanted!!!  I bought 4 of them so I'm sure not to run out for this project.  Then we continued up the road to get to Aubrey's store.  We stopped at a gas station to get water and I also bought $20 more minutes for the BTC cell phone.  As we continued walking, we saw an auto parts store across the street.  They didn't have the part that we wanted but recommended that we try Cartwright's Garage further down the street in the direction we came from.  Phil agreed to go back and they had the parts we wanted at a lesser price.  Yeah!  No 1-2 mi walk.  I wanted to go to internet so Phil went back to the boat with the agreement to meet at 1pm - Sorry that it's past.  So will be leaving to meet him soon, but wanted to get these posts done.

We are planning on going to Junkanoo tomorrow about 3-4am to watch the parade that starts at 2am.  The wind is to be from the East and we are more protected anchored where we are d/t Potters Cay blocking the winds.  Monday we are planning on leaving to Normans Cay unless something changes drastically with the weather. 

Hope everyone is doing well and staying warm.  The weather forecast for the next 5 days is lows in the mid 60's and high in the mid 70's.


New Years Eve - Nassau Bahamas

Thursday, Dec 30
Changes at Anchor with Atlantis behind here

 Yesterday morning we went walking to Potters Cay to check out the produce markets.  We bought some sweet potatoes and bananas, which I immediately ate two of.  Then we walked to see the fishing boats.  One had stacks of conch that they were selling, but we've had enough conch for now.  Further down there were a few boats selling fish so we decided to buy some.  Maurice had bags of red snapper so we bought a $10 bag and for $3 he cleaned them for us.
bags of fish availa
What a deal for us as neither of us are fishing people and would have to read the book I bought on how to clean fish.  We tucked it in the cooler backpack that I bought when we were in St. Marys, GA - I'm so glad that I've bought that as we have used it many times.

Maurice leaning our fish on the left

Afterwards we walked up Mackey Street to try and find the AID hardware store.  First we came to Bookworld which is a huge (for Bahama standards) book/office/art supply store.  We bought a couple items and then from the cashier found out that AID was very far up the street.  We decided to take a bus and was dropped fairly close.  AID stands for Automotive Industrial Distributors.  Phil did get what he was looking for and I also got a new hand mixer for cooking and this long brush which I'm hoping will help clean about the holding tank.  We took the bus back and was dropped off at the Green Parrot for the cruisers lunch they have every Thursday @ 1230pm.  we met Nick and Carolyn.  Nick is President of the Search Foundation.  He provides the Bahamas weather on VHF Channel 72 at 710am which is repeated immediately after wards (usually 720am) on SSB channel 4.003 (I think).  Carolyn provides the Bahamian weather on the Waterway Net. We had a great time chatting with them both and later we were joined by a local couple, Craig and Cecilia.
Cecilia, Craig, Nick and Carolyn at Green Parrot

We enjoyed the good food and after lunch Phil went back to the boat and Carolyn was kind enough to take me to Home Fabrics on her way to her next destination.  I was hoping to find another Pigma Micron pen for signing my quilt squares - it wasn't to be them having one but I did get 3 skeins of yarn for another project I've been thinking about.  This store has crafts and fabrics and some art supplies.  It's really crowded in there and even though they had 4 cash registers going, there was still a line as they were having Christmas items 50% off.  I almost bought some fabric for my future quilt, but didn't.  I also called Bookworld to see if they had the pens I was looking for and they said no.  So I started walking home.  No too far south of the norther shore, there is a fairly big hill that runs parallel to the short.  Mount Royal road is very narrow here - in fact on each side of the road is lined with the cut out rock - there is NO room alongside the road - wish I had taken a photo to show you.  As it's scared me to walk on the road in this spot, I went further east to the next road.  As I could see that there was at least a couple feet alongside the road at the top of the hill, I decided Montrose Rd was safe enough to walk.  The traffic is crazy here - lots of horns blowing and lots of traffic.  Remember that the cars drive on the left side of the road, so it's very hard to predict where cars are going to be when as we are crossing the streets.  Very nerve racking for me anyways.  Long story short - I did make it home.

red snapper
I fixed the fish for supper - It turned out really good.  I cooked the fish whole and in the photo above is a whole fish cooked and the other one has half the fish already eaten showing the bones.  We had rice from a sauce mix and carrot to round out the meal.

We read some more and I went to bed at 9pm.  I was tired from all the walking we did today.

When we were in Potters Cay harbor area, we found Island Gal II which had left it's anchor. This is how she looks now.  Too Bad.  We found out from Nick who we could have called about it when we saw the line starting to chafe through.
Island Gal II

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stay in Nassau, Bahamas

Tuesday, December 28

Yesterday morning after listening to Chris Parker, Phil and I took the bus to the City Market to get groceries.  We also took the bus back and think that is the way to go.  Then we woke Katie and had lunch and went back to the shopping center to get on internet.  We also bought another $20 phone card for the cell phone.  We visited the local liquor store and I'm trying a box of Chablis after my wine runs out (have about 6 left).  Phil also got 2 bottles of wine and a bottle of rum.  After that, we went to Starbucks and got on the internet using Lorraine's laptop.  You buy something and then you get and code to use the internet for 1 hour.  We were there for about 2.5 hours so Phil was able to pay his bills, Katie downloaded some pdf books for her Nook and I was able to check email and update the blog.  Afterward, we decided to walk to the dive shop by Nassan Yacht Have and Phil bought me a short wet suit for Christmas.  It's a ladies vs man style and fitw well.  Everyone assures me that have the short type for here will work just fine.  We also bought a cedar plug fishing lure to see if we can have better luck catching a fish.  Phil picked up a couple zincs for the prop shaft and then we started walking to Potter Cay.  Along the way, as gentleman had a table and conch that he was selling.  This is something I've wanted to eat since I've been here.  It was interesting as he encouraged us to have it raw and Katie and Phil were brave enough to try it.  Katie didn't like it at all and quickly swallowed it.  We bought 4 conch for $12 and  a Bahamian woman gave me directions on how to make cracked conch and conch fritter, which I dutifully wrote down in my little black book.  Then we continued walking to Potter's Cay which is a solid road/dock to the Potter's Cay Dock.  Along this there are many small shacks that are restaurants selling conch specialties and other food.  There were also some produce dealers that were packing up as it was close to 5pm.  Phil bought us a order of conch fritters for us to spit.  They were good, but spicy (burned the mouth a little).  Concy is very mild and I can't taste in it the fritter.  Then we walked home. 

After home, I started making "cracked conch" which is cutting it into bite-sized pieces, dipping into beaten eggs and coating with flour.  Then you cook it in hot oil.  I cooked 3 of the conch this way and it tasted good.  I had made sure to tenderize it even more than the gentleman did at his stand and good thing.  I fixed potatoes and butternut squash to go along with it.  I was going to fix plaintains for dessert, but we were too full.  Phil washed the dishes and we read.  Katie did some of her packing for leaving tomorrow morning.

Later in the evening, I tried to call the taxi driver that Jeff  from S/V Boundless had recommended, but go only a message that indicated this number wasn't working or something like that.   I was reading this book in the Nook that expired in 15 hours, so I stayed up the latest (till 1am) finishing the book as this was the 2nd time I had taken it out.

Wednesday, December 29

Katie left for the airport at 10am and I was feeling emotional after she left.  Communication is so much harder here outside of the US.  We got on a bus to the Marathon Mall outside of town to look for digital cameras.  It's a smaller mall than what we are use to at home, but the stores are accessed inside like the older malls in the states.  We stopped by a small electronic store and I found a semi-prof digital camera that I thought about buying, but wanted to check out the John Bull store that we had passed on the way in.  At the John Bull store, I found a Pentax digital waterproof camera which was way smaller and had everything I wanted except the viewfinder, so I bought it.  It had been reviewed in Cruising World so hope that it works out for me.  I want to have an extra rechargable battery, but won't be able to get it until we're in Georgetown as they are out of the and won't get replacements until Jan to February.   Please check out the web site - It's a Pentax OptioW90  if you want to see what I bought.  I was looking to replace my current camera with something that I didn't have to worry with about with water and which didn't eat batteries.  Hopefully I made a good choice.

Phil and I are going to be staying here in Nassau leaving Monday or Tuesday to start meandering down to Georgetown in the Exumas with our first stop to be Normans Cay.  Junkanoo will be on New Years Day so we plan to attend since we couldn't attend the one after Christmas.  While we had hamburgers at Bennetons, a local couple told us to go early before sunset but not when it starts at midnight.  Don't take any money and take any purses and don't wear jewlery.  We appreciate the tips and plan to try to arrive about 4am.  After we're done at this internet cafe, we will go back and fill out our water jugs and go back to the boat.  Tomorrow we want to visit the water tower and do other sight seeing activities.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

10 day updated from Frazers Hog Cay - Allens Cay to Nassau, Bahamas

Since we have been in the Bahamas, it’s been very difficult to get regular internet access. This is a long post as I continue my daily updates and make take a little time to load.  If it’s too long, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to make it better.  I forgot to download the latest photos, so will try to insert into this post later.

Sunday, December 19
Frazers Hog Cay

The winds died tonight at about 3am and the waves decreased so the motion of the boat was better in the morning when we woke and also made it easier to sleep.  The wind was NW 20 kts and the skies were sunny though 65F outside.  As it’s Sunday, there is no Chris Parker weather to listen to.  Berry Island Club has internet access for $10/hour so Phil and Katie dropped me off mid morning and then went to the beach closer to where we are anchored to relax and explore.  After my hour was up and getting some directions from a local, I walked down the road towards the beach.  I saw a turn off to the right and took that which turned out went to the rocky part west of the beach.  Wearing my Vibram 5 finger shoes, I decided to walk down the rocky area to the sandy beach.  I’ll remember next time to just continue walking down the sand road as it goes very close to the beach further down.  The shoes worked pretty good protecting my feet as long as I was careful not to step on the really sharp rocks.  When I got to the beach, turns out that Phil had taken the dinghy back to the Berry Island Club to get me: too bad that we didn’t think to work our arrangements before they went to the beach.  Since Katie is majoring in Biology, she just loves being on the beach, walking in the water and exploring what is in the shallows with the tide out in the ocean.  She found a tide pool and brought back some of her finds to show us.  I talked about how she should leave what she found alive there and Phil didn’t worry as the Bahamians do worse to their environment.  Phil and I followed her to see her discoveries with her and found a starfish and sea urchins amongst some coral.   She did take an empty conch shell so that she can make a conch horn to blow in the sunset and some other treasures she found.  There was a 4pm Happy Hour scheduled on the beach so about 3pm we went back to the boat to get ready. The wind then started to rise and it started to get cooler so long pants and long sleeve shirts were the order of the day when we went back to the beach.  Insert photo    We had photos taken of all of us by Chris from S/V Felix the Cat.  By 530pm and sunset, it was time to go back to the boat.  I decided to cook supper of pork with rice and tomatoes in the pressure cooker.  It turned out a little too much juice and not enough rice even though I had doubled what they called for, so after serving us, I added couscous to what was left and it absorbed the extra liquid so we could use it for another meal.  After Phil did dishes, we read for the rest of the evening.  The weather forecast is for winds to be NW to 20 knots with seas increasing from 4- 6ft late today.  Tomorrow the winds are supposed to be N 15 knots down to 13 knots in the afternoon with seas decreasing so we have decided to leave tomorrow to go to Nassau.

Katie’s  Notes:
While on the beach I found lots of animals and shells. I found 6-7 starfish, plenty of shells, and at the tidal pool there were tons of finger coral that were still alive (the living parts are green) with this black slimy stuff on it. There was also some small pieces of brain coral and sea urchins that were wedged in the crevices in the rocks. I wanted to get one of the sea urchins out to get a closer look but they were so wedged in there I couldn’t get one out. Later in the day at the happy hour I talked to this guy Skip about what I had found. He wasn’t able to get on the beach since he had to work on his engine. He told me how his anchor had dragged and the only thing that saved his boat was his kayak.

Monday, December 20
Passage from Frazers Hog Cay to Nassau, Bahamas
Distance Traveled:  40 nm
Total Distance:  2163.97

Today we listened to Chris Parker and raised anchor at 715am to go to Nassau, Bahamas. This time we got the mainsail ready in case that we will use it today.  The winds are predicted that we may be able to sail (vs motor sail) to Nassau.   S/V “It’s About Time” left 15 min before us just as we were finishing up listening to the weather.. We cleared Frazer Hog Cay about 740am and rolled out the head sail with winds NW 330degrees 11-15 knots.  Our boat speed was 5.3 – 5.6 knots and the waves were 1 feet.  By 745am we lost the depth on our depth meter (too deep now) and by 805am we put out the Cuban Reel to troll for fish.  It’s About Time has put out two lines and the one who catches the most fish will be sharing the spoils. I started steering as after we cleared all land, the wave quickly built to 5-6 footers off our port quarter.  So much for decreasing winds and seas!  I started hand steering as the autopilot doesn’t do well when we have quartering seas and Changes tends to yawl so hand steering is best to keep her going as straight as possible..   I had to be sure to keep Changes in the right angle to the waves so that we didn’t heel over too much when the waves hit us.  I continued at helm until 11am when Phil took over.  By that time the winds were 18-26 knots and we had 12.3 of the 40 nm left to go.  Katie stayed down below the whole time on the port settee with the lee cloth up.  At Nassau Harbor everyone has to call Nassau Harbor Control to have permission to enter.  She ( this time) also wanted to know where we came from, our document number, and if you’re anchoring or going to a marina.  We called when we were about 1 nm away and received permission to enter.  We entered Nassau Harbor at 1pm and were anchored before the twin bridges to Paradise Island and Atlantis Casino and resort by about 125pm.  Sally on S/V “It’s About Time” had caught a mahi mahi and at 305pm, we met up in the dinghies as they were kind enough to share some for our supper  even though the 30# fish they caught was tangled and mangled in the fishing line.  We didn’t catch anything as we were going too fast for the lure to be below the surface for fish to bite.  They had used a cedar plug to catch the fish they had so it looks like we need to add one to our arsenal.  Sally suggested that we use pink, red, orange or white lures with skirts to catch fish.   I had brought our cooler backpack, so put the dressed fish in a pocket with ice and we continued to go looking for a dinghy dock to tie up to that’s closer to the grocery store than we are.  The dinghy dock with the Texaco Station now charges $10 a day, so we stopped at Nassau Yacht Haven along with Jerry and Diane of S/V Babe.  He said that he had talked to them and that it would be ok to tie up there for fee.  We walked to the City Market and got groceries.  Boy, are things expensive here.  Next time I’ll have to remember to get crackers and aluminum foil in the states before we cross over.  A 200ft roll of regular length aluminum foil is $10!  We bought some local brand crackers for a more reasonable price than brand name.  That’s being in a foreign country for you.  After grocery shopping, we went next store to Radio Shack and bought a Bahamian Phone (the cheapest they had) plus the Sim card and a $20 of prepaid minutes for $110 out the door.  Daytime minutes to any Bahamian phone number is $.40/min and $.20/min at night after 7pm.  It’s $0.80 to the states.  Needless to say we won’t be using it that much, but is good to have when needed and for emergencies from our family and friends in the states.   The phone number is 242-467-4102.  It should work when we’re close to a cell phone tower but it’s still a pretty primitive system compared to the U.S.    We hear talk that there is another company that may be taking over BTC (Bahamas Telephone Company) and upgrading the system. Our groceries distributed in the backpacks and bags between the 3 of us, we walked back to the dinghy and went home.  After I put away provisions, I cooked the Mahi Mahi and it was delicious!! and cooks very quickly on the stove.  We had warmed up couscous and fresh broccoli to round out the meal.  By this time I was very tired and cranky and exhausted from the day’s sail –so went to sleep at 8pm.  I can’t wait and hope that we catch our own fresh fish sometime soon on our trip!

Katie’s Notes:

I didn’t do much today until 1pm when we got to Nassau. I could tell the boat was moving over pretty far with the waves and suspected that if I saw exactly how far the boat was heeling over I would freak out a little. After hear how mom and Phil had put out the fishing stuff and were unsuccessful, I read the book that they had bought about cruising while fishing. It turns out that they were using the wrong lure. They need to use a lure with skirts and feathers and they need to put a weight and bait on it. They don’t have weights and bait and probably won’t buy it so I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t catch anything. At least we got that little bit of Mahi Mahi to eat.

Tuesday, Dec 21
Nassau Harbor, Bahamas

We listened to Chris Parker weather on the SSB radio as usual.  Tomorrow the winds are going to be NE 5kts to light and variable winds so we will go to Allen Cay.  If the weather holds, we’d like to go to Norman Cay before we come back to Nassau which it looks like will be Saturday as they’re expecting a cold front on Sunday with increasing winds by mid morning.

Today is going to be a day of going to Doctor’s Hospital to try to get Katie medicine.  Phil was out in the cockpit as usual, and saw a gentleman from a Canadian boat with blue jerry jugs going to the Green Parrot dinghy dock and come back with them full.  That reminded him that we need to also get water and diesel, so that took up most of the morning.  Turns out that water is free water across the street from the Green Parrot bar in a spigot which use to be where they watered the horses years ago.  Phil put 15 gals of water in the water tank from jerry jugs and then we got 20 gals more – put 7 gals more in the water tank and filled up 4 of the 2.5 gal jugs so that we have all the fresh water that we can carry on board.  It’s not unusual to pay up to $0.40 per gallon here.

At 1130am we had a quick lunch and then left to walk to Doctors Hospital.  I had called earlier and if we go to the ER, they will be able to help us get Katie’s medication to tide us over the 3 days.  We actually got 5 day prescriptions at the Pharmacy in the hospital without having to see a doctor and they had everything except the 30mg strength of one of her meds, but as we had the 60mg strength, that should be enough for the 2 days before she gets home.  It cost a lot but better than her being in pain and off kilter.  I’m glad that this is set as it’s been weighing heavily on my mind. This is Something to try to do different next year.  So after the Doctors Hospital, we walked downtown to see the sights.  We found an ice cream store close to the Cruise Ship dock and Phil treated us.  It was very good and has been since St. Augustine since we last had any.  While we were downtown, we found a jewelry/watch shop and were able to get Phil the watch he wanted for Christmas, but he has to wait until Christmas to wear it.  It’s just better to have him help pick it out. We also found a duty-free liquor store and were able to find liter bottles of Pineapple Rum @ $11.75/bottle, Jamesons Irish Whiskey @$ 18.50 and Sambuco @ $21.  All very good deals compared to what we get at home.  We caught a bus close ($1/person) to the Cruise docks and were back at the Green Parrot very quickly late afternoon.  As we had a lot of laundry to do, we gathered it and all went in the dinghy to the laundry at Nassau Yacht Haven.  Phil had remembered to bring the white light that goes on top of the outboard engine, and good thing as it was dark when we were coming back to the boat.  At the laundry there, you go to the office to by tokens for $2/ea.  One token is needed for each load in the washer and dryer and we needed 2 tokens to get the jeans and towels dried completely.  We met a woman (didn’t get her name) from Miami, FL on a Tayana 48 S/V Seanna (?sp) that is docked at Nassau Yacht Haven Marina.  They have done a 5000mi circumnavigation of the Carribbean 3 years ago and now cruise from Miami, FL to the Bahamas each winter for a few weeks.  They are to be meeting friends from Detroit before leaving tomorrow to cruise to the Exumas for a couple weeks.

After we got back I fixed supper and then we read until ready for bed and an early start tomorrow morning.  It seems that even when we have a lay day somewhere, it’s not a day of rest with all the errands and things that need to be done just to live.

Wednesday, Dec 22
Passage Nassau to Allens Cay, Bahamas
Distance Traveled:  33.5 nm
Total Distance:  2226.94 nm

Time to go to Allens Cay while we have a chance before a small cold front comes and the wind direction changes making it hard to get there.  We raised anchor at 747am and cleared Nassau Harbor after obtaining permission from Nassau Harbor control on ch 09.  Winds are SE 5-6 kts. We decided to trying trolling for fish even though we weren’t going through really deep waters.  We put out the fishing line with the red skirted lure about 840am.  Before 10am we let out the head sail when the wind was from 165 degrees 7-8 knots and motor sailed until we got to Allens Cay and dropped anchor at 135pm after motoring around to find the best spot.  S/V Babe whom we saw at Frazers Hog Cay.  Jerry had been out diving and caught a huge lobster with a 2# tail and several conch for their supper.  I’m envious as haven’t had my first fresh conch yet.  Mike from S/V Sea Sharp came to visit us in his dinghy.  They were anchored at Rose Island last night and got here just before us.  Judy and their cat, Chopin, didn’t like the crossing and are recovering. S/V R Sea Cat (a catamaran) anchored and went and saw Jerry on S/V Babe.  They had on wet suits to go diving for their supper.  We heard later that they found a couple lobsters and conch for their supper. I made chicken and rice/grain mixture in the pressure cooker and had fresh broccoli for supper.  I left the chicken skin on so tasted very good and have enough for leftovers for one person or so though I was wishing for my own lobster and conch to cook.

Katie’s Notes:

            Today was an easy sailing day. Right when we arrived at the Cay we went to the beach to look at the iguanas there. They all lay out in the sand or on the rocks to keep warm. You have to be careful to not get to close because they are not afraid to let you know when you have gotten too close. I got plenty of pictures. I was walking through the water in the beach and found tons of live baby conch. You can’t harvest these because they are too small but I found one shell that had been harvested (it had a hole cut into the shell). On one of the beaches I thought I saw a bright orange/pink lizard but I wasn’t sure if it was a lizard or not. I tried to get closer to find out but one of the iguanas didn’t like how close I was and started chasing me until I ran away. There were plenty of young people my age but since they were French I just took the chance to people watch. The guys from R Sea Cat were cute and good swimmers.

Thursday, Dec 23
Allens Cay, Bahamas

We woke today to high winds that started in the night. Changes is being rocked side to side and it looks like a day to endure.  Katie, like usual, slept in to mid morning. We listened to Chris Parker weather and it’s to start being less windy and shift to the N and have decreasing winds Friday.   After much discussion and agonizing, we have decided to stay here today and tomorrow.  The anchorages at Norman’s Cay won’t be better than what we have here, bad as it is, and Saturday still looks like the day to go back to Nassau before the next cold front arrives on Sunday.  Phil hopes the weather improves enough to go snorkeling. Today is another day to endure.  I took a nap as was getting slightly sea sick in the morning and it’s hard to sleep at night when we’re bouncing around. Early in the afternoon, Phil and I took the dinghy to the small beach on Leaf Cay, which is a smaller island next to Allens Cay.  Katie was reading on the starboard settee and decided to stay where she was.  There was some shade there for us to be in while we sat in the beach chair just to be on solid non-moving ground.  It turns out that it was cooler than we expected it to be.  I was prepared bringing the bottom of my convertible pants and my hoodie and fleece top, but Phil was wearing only a T-shirt and shorts.  We spent a couple hours there reading, eating almond butter sandwiches and enjoying not moving around.  There are also 45foot + power boats from Island Adventures  that come to show the tourist the iguanas.  There are many iguanas out sunning themselves but they quickly move out of the way where there are 40 people piling out of the boats to see them.  Phil and I were glad to be on the small beach where they don’t come to.  All too soon it got cold and we went back to the boat.  We had leftovers warmed up by the Ziploc bag/hot water method.  The cook (me) didn’t feel like cooking with the boat motion.  We spent time reading and about this time I was longing to be invited aboard a cataraman to have calmer motion in these seas.

About 430 – 5pm there was a Canadian Beneteau 43 that was trying to anchor.  They were in a good spot initially, but decided to pick up their anchor and anchor too close to us.  Phil yelled to them that they were too close and they were arguing with us that there was enough room.  It wasn’t until Phil angrily there wasn’t enough room because of the currents that they finally moved.  Why couldn’t they have moved in the first place??  The currents here which are similar to what we saw in St. Marys Basin with the current dictating how the boat is situated instead of the wind and it can be different for each boat.  Good thing they did move as about 9pm just as I was getting ready to go to bed I saw an anchor light that seemed to be too close to us out the companion way hatch.  No we weren’t dragging,  Zero to Cruising was close to us!  Phil had been asleep for about an hour now, but I woke him as 2 catamarans – S/V Zero to Cruising and a Motor Cat where moving around towards each other and it seemed to another sail boat.  I tried hailing Zero to Cruising on the radio, as they were sleeping, to no avail.  We did see someone on the motor cat walking around and eventually the couple on Zero to Cruising woke up and were on deck.  S/V Babe was really sailing around on their anchor also, but no one hit anyone else and finally about 1130 -1145pm, we went to bed too.  We have always been glad that we have the 35# Delta anchor as it’s held us in place except one time we dragged.  At the moment, we can’t remember where we were when it didn’t hold.

Friday, December 24
Christmas Eve
Allens Cay, Bahamas

We woke at 615am and the motion of the boat is better.  What a relief!  The 15 boats in the harbor quickly cleared out to just us and the Canadian Beneteau.  By mid morning a sailboat from Florida arrived and then later in the afternoon a 40’ Island Packet arrived.  Phil and Katie went snorkeling along a small beach at Allens Cay.  Katie really enjoyed herself but got tired out more quickly than she would have liked.  There are small coral reefs close to the island’s rocky shore and she was able to see coral and fish and looked them up in a book I have just for that purpose.  After Phil brought Katie back, he went off again exploring the other smaller islands in the area.  While Phil and Katie were off snorkeling, I stayed on the boat to make pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner.  The wooden top to the stove that Phil made is just the right size for putting on top of half of the table for rolling out.  I have found that if I open the oven too much (even 1 time makes a big difference), the temp in the oven goes down quickly, so for the pie which required 425F heat, I put it in a cold oven and didn’t open the door until I thought it was done.  It worked well.  

Late in the afternoon a man with his Australian sheep dog came over to our boat.  Sid and Mr. Bojangles were from the Island Packet anchored behind us.  He had seen us in Nassau.  I have a soft spot for single males and supper, so invited him over for dinner.  He said that he had some crab and a salad that he’d bring about 6pm.  We cleaned up inside the boat and moved what we could to the V-berth so that we all four could sit down.  Katie was hoping that Sid would bring his dog with him and about 6pm, they both came.  Katie has been feeling pet deprived being away from the dogs and cats at her Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Jeff’s house.  Bo as he’s often called is a very friendly dog and like to have the humans shake his paw, but he doesn’t jump on people (that much).  When Sid said that he had some crab – did he have crab.  He brought half a plastic bag full of crab claws that he had gotten from some fisherman that he had helped a couple days ago on his transit.  They had run out of gasoline, and in 20 knot winds, he transferred a can of gasoline and some oil for them to be on their way.  In return, they gave him a huge bag of crab.  On Changes, we had an assembly line to crack the crab claws.  Sid used the meat tenderizer and cracked the claw, then Katie, Phil and I share the hand nut cracker and Phil used large channel locks to further crack the smaller pieces and pull the crab meat out which was put on a platter.  (insert photo) We had a large mound when we were finished.  I had fixed rutabaga and potatoes ( and also cooked the sweet potatoes for tomorrow’s dinner) to go along with the green salad and crab that Sid brought.  Mr. Bo was mostly out in the cockpit, but then came down below for attention and then slept at the base of the companionway steps.  We had a great time chatting.   It was wonderful to have some fresh seafood and there is enough crab left over for me to make a quiche to use up the extra pie crust which I didn’t need for the pumpkin pie.

Sid and Mr. Bojangles left to go back to their boat in a VERY dark sky.  We had been having a fairly large moon lighting the night and what a difference it makes when that moon is not out and there are no extraneous lights around.  After our visitors left we read a little and then went to bed.  It sure isn’t like the Christmas Eves we’re use to, but wouldn’t want to trade the warm weather for the snow and cold.

Katie’s Notes:

Today I was able to go snorkeling for the first time. I had a hard time getting used to using the snorkel and I kept on getting water in my mask. I was able to see tons of coral and the lacy fan kind were beautiful. I was starting to get tired be kept on going further and was glad because Phil found this spot with tons of fish. It was this mini coral reef. Sometime you will find coral but this was a mini ecosystem with the reef and the fish and seaweed. After that I decided it was time to go back. My ankles and legs were getting tired and I was out of breath and with the water in my mask I kept on breathing in water in my lungs. I had to stop a few time to cough up water and Phil swam backwards to make sure I was okay. It felt like I was kicking my legs but not going anywhere. Anyways I got back fine and was glad I went as far as I did even though I had a hard time making it back.

Saturday, Dec 25 Merry Christmas
Distance Traveled:  35 nm
Total Distance:  2261.47 nm
Allens Cay to Nassau Harbor, Bahamas

This morning we woke to blue skies and calmer winds.  We raised anchor at 705am and put 2.5 gal of water in the Sun Shower in hope of having a shower later in the day.  There is a strong cold front that is to come through about dawn Sunday, so we are going to Nassau while we can have favorable winds to get back as Katie will be flying home on Wed, Dec 29.  The winds were from the E – to ENE at 10 knots, so we raised the Main sail and turned off the engine shortly after 9am having us on a starboard tack.  We were able to sail at 5.6 to 6.7 knots after Phil put the barberhaul line on the head sail.  It was quite a nice sail and we continued as the winds gradually dropped until at 1128am we started the engine.  Phil said that his goal was to start the engine when the GPS said that we’d get to our destination at 1pm.  It wasn’t too long afterwords that we rolled up the head sail and were motoring at 6 – 6.5 knots.  We entered Nassau Harbor about 1245m and dropped anchor for the first time at 105pm about the same place as last time.  Phil didn’t like it though.  He thought we were too close to S/V Two of a Kind (a catamaran) so we raised anchor.  The next two attempts we dragged the anchor, so we decided to go further west in the anchorage and this time we had a good set at 131pm at N 25 04.708’ W 77 19.812’.  I had been trying to call my mother since a couple days ago and it wouldn’t go through.  First I had tried with 01 in front of her number.  Then I heard that we didn’t need to use it.  It’s hard for me to tell if I was dialing wrong or if it was the Bahamas Phone system.  Anyway, I tried using “1” in front of the US phone number and that was the key.  It’s $.80 a minute to call but it was good to talk to her and give her our phone number.  It’s 242-467-4102 and we can be called for emergencies but I hadn’t been able to give that number to any family members since didn’t have internet access at Allens Cay.  Phil also called Victoria and left a message and then called his sister Virginia. Turns out everyone was at her house for Christmas so he was able to talk briefly with Kathleen.  I was also able to reach my daughter Rachel so that was good too.  Christmas just doesn’t feel like Christmas so it was very good to talk to family and learn that everyone is doing ok.  It turns out that we didn’t get that shower though.  The water in the sun shower never did get warm enough from feeling it on the outside. 

We didn’t have a formal exchanging of gifts today.  I did give Katie a pair of glove mittens and Phil a watch that we bought together when we were last in Nassau.  Phil says that he owes me a new digital camera.  It’s hard as there isn’t a place for wrapping paper and we are together all the time, so not able to have surprises.  But we do have this opportunity to be in the Bahamas so that makes up for the difference.

After the calls, I started fixing Christmas dinner.  As I had cooked sweet potatoes yesterday, I put acorn squash in the over while I put together the sweet potato casserole.  Since my oven is so small, I was able to have both in the oven by putting the acorn squash pan on the middle lip for the shelf on the left and rest it on the top of the sweet potato casserole pan on the right.  Worked well!  We had canned ham, which worked.  It’s only slightly like spam, and rounded out the meal with mashed potatoes.  There was so much to eat, that we didn’t have the pumpkin pie for dessert.

Just before I put supper on the table, Rich from S/V Island Maid a small Island Packet came over in his dinghy to introduce himself. We had been watching him anchor and get his boat settled after traveling.  He’s from Florida and very friendly.  I hope that we have a chance to get together in the future.

Phil got tired early and went to bed at 630pm while Katie and I while knitting socks watched the “It’s a Wonderful Life” DVD on the computer listening with the headphones – one in her ear and the other in mine. Katie has gotten to the point in her socks of turning the heel for the first time so she wanted us to do it together.  By 9pm it was over and I went to bed myself.  It’s nice to be in a calm anchorage after having spent a couple very bouncy days.

Sunday, Dec 26  Boxer Day
Nassau Harbor

The cold front that they are predicting is starting to arrive.  We listened on the VHF radio ch 72 to the local weather and to the Waterway Net for more extensive weather.  We heard that it’s 39F in Jacksonville, FL and we guess it’s in the upper 60’s here.  The winds were pretty calm through the night and started at 530am.  By 630am they were S 9-12 knot with Gusts to 6 knots.  At 810am the winds are most SW from 7 to 22 knots.  The clouds are moving fast in the sky.  Phil made pancakes this morning for breakfast and I’m going to get the blog caught up and then we’ll going into town to see if the Starbucks is open either today or tomorrow.  They have good internet service.  Phil is out in the cockpit enjoying his coffee and Katie is sleeping (or trying to through the noise from the Ham Radio Waterway Net).  So far the boat movement isn’t too bad.

About 10am we had a couple with their daughter stop by in their dinghy to drop off Christmas Cookies and a card.  Jeff, Liz and Jenny Armor are from S/V Boundless a Morgan 462 that is anchored closer to the channel and further west than we are.  He teaches children how to sail here and also charters their boat.  They use to have a 28’ boat that they use to cruise in before they started chartering. Their daughter Jenny is in third grade here on winter break and they will be leaving to go back to Virginia, their home.  Jeff will come back in a couple weeks for charter bookings and Liz and Jenny will return in February for a month.  They are a great family and he was very helpful in giving us suggestions about where to get things, ie hardware store, shopping and internet services.  Looks like we’ll take a bus trip to Marathon Mall or go downtown for camera shopping.

About 1045am Phil noticed that it was going to rain soon so he started a quick washdown of the boat using salt water and soap in the hope that it would rain hard enough to rinse off the salt water.  It did rain hard for about 6 minutes and then rain continued for another 6 minutes.  The wind is now clocking to the west at 22-30 knots with waves 1 foot at 1120am and at 12 noon the waves are 1-2 feet.  One sailboat has left and another smaller one has anchored since we last looked.  Good thing that the waves are coming down the bow instead of hitting us abeam.  This type of rocking is much easier to tolerate.

I have been typing the blog in Microsoft Word in preparation for when we get to an internet café most of the morning and Katie wants to charge her Nook, so Phil has started the engine to recharge the batteries.  Our viewing the movie last night did in the one battery last night and I’m sure the computer and Nook will do in the 2nd without action on Phil’s part.  Katie is reading so much that her Nook lasts about 2 days before it’s almost dead and has to be recharged.  Katie is also talking about wanting to come out next year we do this in Jan 2012 to spend a longer time with us so I guess that she is having a good time.  I know that it’s been a good vacation being in the sun and warmer weather.  The gray days take a toll on her emotionally back in Ohio.

Phil and I are experiencing some challenges adjusting to being together all the time.  We are both tired of how much stuff we have on the boat but I don’t know what we can live without yet.  I, as always lately, dream of having a bigger boat and Phil loves this boat so doesn’t want to sell it yet if ever.  I know one thing that needs to be fixed as soon as we’re in one place long enough and without waves long enough is the smell from the holding tank in the V-berth.  This continues back from when the holding tank was overfilled and we haven’t had the chance to empty out the V-berth which includes the mattress and everything below it to get to the problem.  The smell drives me nuts much more than Phil so you can guess that it’s a real issue for me.

I’m planning on using up the last of the crab meat and make a crab quiche for supper, warm up the rest of the sweet potato casserole and fix peas.

Monday, Dec 27
Anchored in Nassau Harbor, Bahamas

It’s been a rough time this past day and a half.  The front has come through and boy is it a cold front!  The winds have been steady in the mid to upper 20’s with gust up to 34 knots throughout yesterday afternoon, through the night and today.  Still hasn’t slowed down much thought there is more blue sky.  They have nickname this area “drag alley”.  There were 2-3 catamarans that started dragging mid to late afternoon that raised their anchor and anchored in other areas close by.  S/V Boundless who was delivering the cookies also started dragging while they were gone and they have moved and reset their anchor.  M/V First Nanny decided to get a dock at the Marina, which doesn’t offer protection from the wind and waves but does make sure they don’t drag.  About 930pm all of a sudden there was a shudder and we dragged the anchor for about 20 feet and then it caught again.  Phil thinks it’s was from the anchor turning around as we were faced in the opposite direction when the anchor first set.  After that, Phil let out all the anchor chain and a little bit of line anchor rode.  Phil decided we needed to do anchor watches throughout the night just to be safe.  Katie took the first one from 1030pm to 1am then Phil until 4am and then me until 7am.  There is a boat S/V Island Gal II and old hunter that had chafed through one of the 3 lines that was connected to the anchor cable before dark.  Phil told me that at 155am it let loose and was gone going under the bridge.  The mast hit the bridge and it’s down there against some of the working boats.  It’s a Bahamian boat that is stored here in the anchorage.  All the marinas are full and if we knew that the weather forecast was going to be soooo off, we would have gotten a spot in a marina too so that we wouldn’t have to worry and so that we could have gone on land and gone to the Junkanoo – a special holiday here in the Bahamas.  It’s cooled off quite a bit – was 64F in the boat this morning as had to have the forehatch open a little due to the smell.

Mid morning I baked butter biscuits which helped to warm up the boat, but I’ve been wearing long underwear bottoms under my jeans and 3 layers on top.  I thought that I would have left that behind.  Then I warmed up the rest of the quiche for lunch for Phil and I and then took a nap. 

230pm I got Phil to start the project to check out the holding tank.  We removed everything and found the missing dark chocolate.  Yeah!  We need some chocolate about now.  About 20 years ago, there was a crack in the holding tank on top along with a connection that Phil patched with 5200.  That has worn away, so he kneaded some of the Water Weld and placed it over the crack.  He also cleaned as he could the dried residue – which was mostly on my side with Greased Lightening.  I got buckets of sea water and he rinsed it.  Then we put some bleach in more buckets of sea water and let that sit a few minutes and rinsed with more buckets of sea water.  It still smells, but I hope it will be better.  What really needs to happen is to take the water tank out, clean everything really well, wash with the bleach water and put back in the water tank.  I’m not sure if that can happen realistically or not but I’m hoping.  By 430pm the V-berth was put back together again including the bedding.  I also wrote down everything that we had re-stored and put the milk powder and the dark chocolate in a more convenient place now that we’ll be accessing it more.

Both Phil and I think that we have had to endure a lot of bad weather since we have come to the Bahamas.  The winds are supposed to be decreasing tomorrow to 15-20 knots and clock to the N then East.  We hope that we’ll be able to take advantage of either a window to get to Norman Cay Wednesday after Katie leaves or stay here through New Year’s Eve though it would be good to be in Staniel Cay for their regattas scheduled for this weekend. 

I started making beef vegetable barley soup using some of the dried green beans, carrots and cauliflower.  I’ve been cooking it really low temp to try to give the green beans a chance to rehydrate without being hard.  Hasn’t worked yet, but I’m still hoping.  There are some people with bigger dinghies that have gone into shore, but we’re not one of them.  I’m hoping for tomorrow.  We also haven’t had showers since the last sun shower, which is way too long for both Katie and I.  Maybe I warm up water for us both.  Small things go a long way when you’re feeling miserable. 

The batteries have been running down for some unknown reason, so I’m writing this post while the engine is running.  We’re also charging both the Nooks, though Katie doesn’t have any books to read since we haven’t had internet since the Berry Island Club.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frazier Hog Cay - Bahamas - Berry Islands

Friday, December 17
Distance Traveled:  9.1 nm
Total Distance:  2115.87 nm
Chub Cay Marina to Berry Islands
Frazer Hog Cay, Bahamas

This morning we woke to warm winds and blue skies.  We listened to Chris Parker and they are predicting a cold front to come through Saturday and Sunday with squalls.  We have decided since it’s so expensive here, to go to Frazer Hog Cay about 5 mi as the crow flies after we have checked in with Customs.  About 9am Phil called Tito, the harbormaster, and was instructed to come to the office for custom forms.  Phil brought them back and they were filled out.  Phil went back to the office and was taken by golf cart to the airport.  It took a while for him to come back so I worked on the update since I had internet connection.  It took a while as he had to wait until the passengers from 2 airplane had gone through customs, then it took 10 minutes.  We were given 120 days as we had asked for.  The big hubbub here is that the Nassau Government officials had said that cruisers can be given only 30 days and then have to request additional days before the 30 days expires, but this in not being applied evenly across the board (good thing for us).  On the Waterway Net, they are asking people to report how many days they received when they check in.

Changes anchored in Frazers Hog Cay, Bahamas
So as soon as Phil returned and checked out with the marina, we cast off the line @ 1141am.  The wind was SE 11-12 know with 1-2’ waves and white caps, so after I had made sure items were stowed down below, we put the head sail out at 1204pm.  We turned off the engine!!!  First time since sailing on the Pungo River in North Carolina.  It was 76F outside.  At 1225pm we tacked to port and were sailing at 5.5 – 6.5 knots upwind.  We weren’t able to make out rhumb line to enter the channel, so when we were close enough, we rolled in the head sail and motored in rather than tacking out again.  We anchored at 135pm at N25 25.719’ and W077 49.913’.  I did a mark this time on the GPS so we could tell if the anchor was dragging with the coming winds, but it seemed that the anchor was well set.  S/V It’s About Time hailed us when they heard us hailing the Berry Island Marina about the mooring balls and let us know they cost $25ea and didn’t include any services on land.

We anchored close S/V Whisper and Red C&C 30’ from Newfoundland.  This is the boat that we had heard on the radio earlier in the day talking about need to fix their forestay which had come loose earlier.  They had a temporary fix using a halyard and we learned that he made a permanent fix by the time we had arrived.  So here we are, 2 red C&C’s close to each other.  I learned later that they have been cruising 30 years on their C&C.  I don’t know how they do it with 4 less feet than us.  They are also hull 50 something.  We are also anchored close to S/V Nirvana Now, which is a couple Randy and Dawn that we had met at the sailors happy hour at the wine bar.  Dawn is a nurse and they came over to visit us in their dinghy.  Their daughter Jamie and her husband, Mike, as staying with them.

Skip and Katie
We put the dinghy in the water and then took a little ride.  We stopped by S/V Felix the Cat, at Prout 45’ cataraman, anchored not too far away to see what they may have to say about having Katie’s meds mailed to us.  Dave and Christine O’Neill invited us to a happy hour at 5pm along with other boaters, which we accepted.  There we met other cruisers:  Sally and Conrad of S/V It’s about Time, Jerry and Diane of S/V Babe, a cataraman, Marilyn and Vic Greeley of S/V Whisper, and Skip Edwards and Carol Lee of S/V Rhapsody.  Katie and Skip had a nice conversation about what she was going to do with her career and then talked about animals and animal behavior.
Conrad and Christine
  Skip told her about a Canadian Goose that he raised from an egg or just hatched and imprinted on him.  It was partially wild and got it’s own food but then would come back.  They finished their conversation with discussion the importance of trees to saving animals.
Dave O'Neill S/V Felix the Cat
There was some discussion about what would be best getting the last couple days of Katie’s medication and it was decided  to try seeing a doctor in Nassau and see if he/she would be willing to prescribe enough medication for the couple days to tide her over until she went home, explaining it’s in emergency situation.  The doctors and medications here in the Bahamas are much cheaper than in the states and there could be problems with getting the medications in here.  One couple had to include copies of the written prescriptions for each medication that was mailed in and it’s hard to tell if the Bahamian customs would open the envelope and delay the delivery of the medications.

Saturday, Dec 18
Frazers Hog Cay Bahamas

The cold front that was predicted came with winds from the S to SE 14-20+ knots with gusts to 30 knots.  We were bouncing around all day and into the night until all we wished was to be somewhere that we still.  Katie has balance problems, so it was especially challenging for her.  I made a big lunch of pork chops cooked with rice, tomatoes and sliced zucchini in the pressure cooker.  It tasted good, but it turned out with too much liquid.  After we had eaten, I added some couscous to soak up the extra liquid, which we’ll have another meal.  Katie made chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon and then later I fixed cream of ham and potato soup using the Peak Instant Milk powder.  It turned out a little bland so maybe will have more flavor when we have it next time.

It’s harder for me with communication as we haven’t been able to buy a Bahamian phone until we get to Nassau and we have to go into land to use the internet which is $10/60 min, but can’t there as the wind and waves are too bad.  There is about a mile between us and the next island from the direction the wind is coming.  I’m worried about not getting a response to my email to Nassau Yacht Haven.  I guess I need to get use to this.  Besides the cooking, we spent the rest of the time reading or knitting.  I was able to work more on Henry’s hat and got it knitted together in a tube.  Now to join the top and then knit the band.  Katie worked a little on her pair of socks she’s knitting.

Three boat arrived in the afternoon and anchored.  Wondered where they came from in weather like this.

Sunday, December 19
Frazers Hog Cay, Bahamas

The front passed sometime in the middle of the night as the winds calmed at 3am and the motion of the boat became almost still.  What a relief.  The rain had stopped so I was able to open the fore hatch.  Phil woke at 6am and I woke at 645am to sunny skies and 64F outside.  The winds had now clocked to the NW at 20 knots but as we’re fairly close to land, the motion of the boat is much better.  I made scrambled eggs in the Ziploc bags with toast for breakfast for Phil and I while we listened to the Waterway Net.  He tried to listen to the BASRA Bahamian Weather but couldn’t hear anything.  Maybe because it’s Sunday and Chris Parker doesn’t broadcast on Sundays.  We did get the weather on the Waterway Net and it looks like tomorrow the winds will be from the N 14-17 knots, so sounds like a good day to go to Nassau.

Phil did find a flying fish that landed in the cockpit last night.   Above is the photo of him pretending to eat it.  It was tossed overboard as it was already starting to smell.

While we were puttering around, 4 boats motored in to take mooring balls or anchor.  They were anchored across the way and were now not in protected waters.  One of them knows Vic from S/V Whisper and they are now settled.

Phil found a flying fish in the cockpit floor next to the gas tank for the dinghy.  We took photos and then tossed it in the ocean.  Phil and I also washed up as I had reached my limit.  Then Phil took the dinghy to the beach and found a beautiful conch shell.  Katie wants to see if we can drill a hole in the end so she can use it to blow in the sunset.  Chris from Felix the Cat has one that she also uses to blow the horn for the bridge openings. 

Today’s agenda is to go into land to check out the beach and get internet services and a impromptu Happy Hour is on the beach at 4pm.  We’ll have to bring out two beach chairs and something to eat.  Katie says that she can sit on a towel in the sand.  

View from internet table
Phil has dropped me off at Berry Island Club and I'm outside at a picnic table using the internet.
I heard that there are sand fleas here so have my feet off the ground.  Phil and Katie are at the beach.  The gentleman who came out to feed the dogs commented how were to get another couple days of bad weather and it's better to go to Nassau before this afternoon.  I'll tell Phil and see what he says.

Here is the weather forecast that I found for the Berry Islands:
Partly Sunny with Showers  High 84F/ 29C  Low:  66F/19C  Wind:  WSW 6m/24kph

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chub Cay to Fraiser Cay to Nassau Bahamas

Friday, Dec 17

This morning started with calm winds that have built by 9am to about 10 knots.  Phil has gone to check in at Customs and after listening to Dave Parker weather, we will sail to Fraiser Cay to get a mooring ball, about 5 nm to wait out cold front coming this weekend and sail (we hope vs motoring) to Nassau on Monday.  It's in the Mid 70's at the moment and sunny skies with fluffy clouds.

This morning I hemmed one of Phil's Columbia spf pants and hope to do the other two, but will see. We have also been listening to the VHF radio and it's interesting to hear what's going on with everyone.  We do hear some boats that we've seen on our way down here.

Our main concern now is seeing if it's possible for my sister to mail/fed express/UPS a few days of Katie's medications to Nassau Yacht Yaven.  I have sent them an email to find out information.  Hopefully, they will hit "reply all" so that Cheryl will get the information if I don't have internet access.  I know that they do have internet at Frasier Cay so hope all goes well and that this process is simple.

Take care and will post more when have the opportunity.


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.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crossing Over Gulf Stream to Bahamas

Wednesday, Dec 15

It's 530pm and we recently pass the Miami Inlet Channel.  The winds are N 3-6 knots and once we get to the Key Biscayne waypoint, we will be turning left (East) and crossing the Gulf Stream tonight.  Once we are crossed into the Bahamas, we plan to go directly without anchoring to Nassau to try to get there before the winds clock to SE and get too strong (lower to mid teens) as that would be on the nose.  We listened to Chris Parker weather this morning, and it sounds like we'll be able to get there in time.  If not, then we will anchor or tuck in somewhere to wait out the increased winds.

I have scheduled Lorraine's, Phils, and the MiFi (broadband) phones to be put on suspend starting tomorrow.  We can be reached today as long as there is cell phone signal available.  Katie's phone plan has been changed to an individual plan so that she can still use her cell phone and be able to have unlimited mobile to mobile minutes with Verizon Cell Phone users.  We do plan to be a Bahamian cell phone, but still will be more expensive than Verizion.  In the meantime, I have OoVoo - which can be downloaded from the internet for free.  My username is Changesgoingsouth - easy to remember.  When I'm online, I will sign in to OoVoo and will talk to anyone that is online at the time.  Also email is a good way to contact us, but may take time for us to answer because we'll have to use someone else's wifi instead of our own.  I will post to the blog as I'm able. Probably do what our friend Ken does and type the posts in Word and then cut and paste, so keep checking and you may be surprised in a few days with how much I have to say.

This is exciting for me that we are really crossing!  Our dream is true!  We plan to stay at some point at Nassau Yacht Haven Marina,  On their web page I was able to find this address: 
The Nassau Yacht Haven Marina, PO Box SS-5693,  Nassau, Bahamas.  Maybe that's all that is needed as it's a small place.  If you want to send us something that can get there before Christmas, make sure you have Phil Dolsen, S/V Changes in the address so that it gets to us.  Please email me first at so we know that something is coming.  At this time, I don't know when we'll get there and how long we'll be staying.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fort Lauderdale - waiting for weather window

Friday, Dec 10
Distance Traveled: 36.09 nm
Total Distance:  1936.29 nm
Day of Bridges - Passage to Fort Lauderdale

Last night I had reviewed all the bridges that we were going through today in the Skipper Bob ICW book and in the Florida Cruising Guide book we had picked up along the way.  We will be going through 20 bridges, so last night I wrote down all the bridges every other line in my notebook.  On the left I wrote the distance from the previous bridge to the current one and had a blank space to write down the time we went through the bridge to be filled out later.  On the same line I wrote the name of the bridge and on the time it opened (ie 60/30 if it opened on the hour and half hour, 15/45 if it opened on the quarter hour after and before).  Continuing across, I wrote down the time that I thought we would actually go through it (our target time) and the Mile marker it was on the ICW.  Turns out that this was very helpful.  It told us when we had to get going to make the first bridge so that we could make the other bridges in as timely as fashion as possible.  After working this up over 2 pages in my red notebook, we determined that we would need to get motoring down the ICW at the latest 645am to make the 730am opening for the Ocean Ave Bridge.  Using this method and because the 2 & 3rd bridges were on demand (OD in my book) we actually ended up going through the last bridge (Las Olas Blvd Bridge) 1 to 1.5 hours earlier than I had predicted even though we just missed the opening of one of the bridges and had to wait 30 minutes for the next opening.  Then we were able to go through the 5 bridges on the New River through downtown Fort Lauderdale, which are all on demand, in 30 minutes from start to finish.  We docked at Lauderdale Marine Center which is just before I95 at 2pm.  This center is very nice with laundry, showers and a captain's lounge despite the noise from the freeway, which is constant no matter the time the time of day, but when we have the hatches closed, it's not bad and when they are open at night, ear plugs ensure a good sleep. There are many super large yachts here.   The price is right @ $25/day for boat 35' or less and electricity costs $.12 per kw.  Phil says that we use between 1-2 kilowatts per day without the heater, so you can see that this is very inexpensive (read cheap).  It's not unusual for marinas to charge $3 - 10/day for electric and $1.50 - $3.00 per foot.  The "bad" part of being here is that we aren't close to stores or the downtown activities, but we are within biking distance to many including the Winn-Dixie grocery store, West Marine, Walgreens, McDonalds Hardware Store and Sailorman used marine equipment store similar to The Sailor's Exchange in St. Augustine. We are docked next to a huge 70' cataraman that is covered with plastic while the crew and workers renovate the inside of the boat.  On our port side, we met Damon Hale from Australia.  He bought a Catalina 30' sight unseen from a charity, and has been working on it for 5-6 weeks which is 1 week longer than he's been in the States.  He was born in California, so has dual citizenship.  He's planning on leaving Wednesday to go to Key Largo.  I fixed baked pasta and cottage cheese, italian sausage and broccoli for supper.  It turned out well, and we had some left over so I asked Damon and the young couple that were visiting them if they wanted it and got an immediate YES.  Damon dished it out and handed me back the empty pan.  We then visited with them.  The young couple, Renata and Patrick are from South Africa and are crewing on this 100' motor yacht (M/Y) around the corner.  We have been invited to call them and they will be glad to give us a tour of the yacht.  We plan to do that when the weather turns bad.  They are very nice and we had an good evening chatting with them.

Saturday, Dec11
Day in Fort Lauderdale

First thing we did today was turn on the Ham radio and try to listen to Chris Parker's weather.  He starts at 630am but we weren't able to hear him through the static until about 715am.  We were able to hear someone in Florida who is waiting to cross over, so got the dibs on that weather information.  He is suppose to be on
freq 12350 at 830am, but then we got busy with other things, so didn't listen. We are to have weather in the upper 70's for the next couple days until late Sunday when a severe cold front comes through and brings cooler temps and Mon and Tues am freeze watches and low to mid 30F temps.  Boy am I glad that we have electricity to run the heater!!!!

Today Phil spent most of the day working on fixing the dinghy.  Damon helped him get it out of the water so that he could dry it out and glue the cracked areas together with 5-min expoxy.  I noticed that he had some screws and big washers to squeeze the wood back together while the epoxy hardened.  Then he painted the areas white.  Now he is waiting for everything to dry.

While Phil was working on the dinghy, I rode the bike to Walgreens to get Katie's medication.  Then I went to West Marine to exchange to florescent light Phil had recently put in.  Last night the bulb was flickering and this morning when Phil changed the light bulbs, it stopped working completely.  Lucky for us, we bought it less than a month ago, so West Marine did an even exchange.  I also bought a half pint of white paint for Phil to use on the dinghy fix-it job.  On the way home I saw Sailormen, a used marine consignment store.  I have been on the lookout for vinyl and wanted to check what they might have.  They did have clear and smoky vinyl to use for windows on bimini's and dodges, but too heavy for my purposes.  I also stopped at a hardware store and bought a gallon of refined kerosene for the oil lamp.  The last of my errands was stopping at Winn Dixie to shop for groceries.  Phil met me there to help transport the purchases home on the bikes. 

We met a couple, Bill Lee and Fredda Hollander, today on S/V Galley Ho2 an Solaris 36, that we are fixing up.  They got a deal on it and are working on all the systems to get it to the point that they can take it back to Boston, their home port.  They saw this cataraman 20 years ago at the Newport Boat show and loved it, so were glad to get it even though it was a fixer upper here.  We have been invited to go with them tomorrow to watch the Patriots football game.

Tonight is the Winterfest Boat Parade where 100 boats of various sizes are decorated in holiday lights according to the theme and parade down the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  We had wanted to be closer to downtown, but would have had to be totally off the river for this parade, which is another reason why we're where we are.  I wanted to see this in person, but there were too many challenges getting there, so we watched it in the Captain's Lounge here and were able to see it live on TV.  Not the same as in person, but when it was finished, we were able to get home quickly.

Katie and I finished the day watching the "Fred Claus" moving on TV and knitting.  Phil, of course, went back to the boat and read.  It was warm enough that we went to bed with the screen in the companionway hatch and the forehatch open.

Sunday, Dec 12
Fort Lauderdale

This morning we woke at 615am to mild temperatures, 57F outside and 69F inside the boat.  It didn't take long for the temps to warm up.  We started out turning on the ham radio to listen to Chris Parker.  Didn't hear anything but static until 730am when we changed it to the Waterway net.  Heard mostly static too until went to change the freqency to listen to Chris Parker later.  Then at 915am Phil remembers that Chris doesn't do the weather on Sundays!!  I have learned how to shut out static and do something else.  Phil made french toast this morning and was it good.  He adds vanilla and rum to the mix and really makes it special.  Also good for using up the sourdough bread that's slightly dry.

We decided to wash clothes early, and started laundry about 810am.  The washers work great, but the dryers don't.  Only 2 really dry the clothes.  I guess the live aboards have complained to the powers that be, but they haven't done anything about it.  Phil and I think that they just need to clean the lint out of the dryer vent tubes and they would work a lot better.  I dried the towels on the lifelines, and with the warm temps, they dried quickly even though they are a little stiff.  We had the laundry done by late morning (took extra time because of the dryers).   About 130pm Bill for S/V Galley Ho2 was willing to take me to Joann Fabric to buy some vinyl for the cubes that I want to make.  He also needed to go to K-Mart and Kohls so worked for both of us.  Katie came along also.    We can tell that that the cold front is on it's way and the winds are picking up.

We have met a few people here.  One is Mike on a 37' motorsailer boat, a dutch built heavy duty ocean going vessel docked 2 down from us and another Mike who owns a blue Lanser 30' and live here and works for Sunseeker motor vessel builders who is docked a couple more boats down.  This afternoon, Laura, Mike on the blue boat's girlfriend, dropped the work keys into the water next to the dock.  Phil had his trusty heavy duty magnet available and he search with the magnet for it to no avail.  Then we spoke to Mike and found out the keychain is stainless steel which is not magnetic.  He'll go diving to get the keys and we found out later that he was able to find them.

Soon after this excitement, we left to go to Lauderdale Grill with Bill and Fredda to watch the New England Patriots vs the Chicago Bears football game.  The Patriots killed them at 36 to 7.  We had a nice dinner, but we all were cold as the A/C was way too cold for us.  The cold front has come along with some rain while we were still in the restaurant.  Good thing that we had closed all the hatches or Katie's bedding would have been wet (she keeps it in the V-berth during the day)

Now that we are back on the boat, the heater was turned on until everyone was warm.  Katie is listening to a book on her Ipod touch and knitting a pair of socks, I'm on the computer and Phil is reading.

Tomorrow it's to be  in the upper 50's to low 60's as highs and in the 30's for lows, which we also expect for Tuesday.  It looks like the winds will be right on Wednesday for us to go out on the Atlantic Ocean to Key Biscayne to anchor and then leave Thursday morning to cross the Gulf Stream.  Of course, this plan is dependent on the weather.  Once we leave Key Biscayne, Phil and I will be putting our phones on suspend until we are back in the states.  Katie will be able to continue using her's once she gets back in the states.

Katie and I have been looking at airplane flights, and it looks like we'll be getting a flight back to Dayton on Sunday, Dec 26 from Nassau, Bahamas.  That way she'll be home for her medications and also so Jeff or Cheryl won't have to pick her up late on a work day.  It's hard to get a flight that comes in at a decent time so will do the best that we can to have it as early as we can.  There are many lights where you leave the Bahamas in the evening and have an overnight layover and then leave for the US portion of the trip.  We haven't bought it quite yet, but probably will in the next couple days.  Just waiting to be sure about the weather for us going to the Bahamas.