Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pipe Creek to Black Point

Monday, January 17
Martin Luther King Day
Big Majors to Pipe Creek
Distance Traveled:  8.22nm
Total Distance:  2460.32nm

This morning we woke and listened to Chris Parker, as usual.  The weather is looking good for use to sail to Pipe Creek.   This is a location that many people are scared of going into because of the depth and coral reefs, but we feel that’s we’ll be find if we go in on the rising tide.  High tide in Nassau is 540pm so we think that if we arrive late afternoon, that we’ll be ok.  Patty and Gary of S/V Last Tango said to contact S/V Maribelle – Becky and Kevin to guide us the last way in and we’ll do that when we get a little closer.

We tried to get into Staniel Cay this morning, but with winds from the South, once we turned the corner of Big Majors, we encountered 2ft waves and taking on too much water, Phil turned around to go back.  I had some urgent business to do, so on the way back we stopped at S/V White Diamond, whom we had met yesterday on the beach.  From our discussions, we knew that he had a WiFi antenna to get the signal from further away.  Lucky for me, when we stopped, they were willing for me to use it, so I got the urgent need taken care of.  Of course, then we visited some and met Ron’s wife Evelyn.  Their boat is a Beneteau 51’ with 2 forward cabins ea with their own head.  On the starboard side there were two small desks that came perpendicular to the hull for 2 laptop computers. On the Port side is a large U-shape settee with a settee in the center along mid-line.  There is also an aft cabin with it’s own head too.  The boat was a charter boat in a previous life.  By 11am we were on Changes and we decided to go fishing.  Lorraine has really been trying to catch a fish to eat for supper but hasn’t had a luck and today followed the same.  We went back to the boat at 1230pm, had cheese and kidney bean quesadillas and read until 130pm when Phil started the engine.  By 132pm the anchor was raised with the winds SE 10-12 knots.  After we cleared land, the wind increased to 15-17 kts with a boat speed of 6.15 knots and we changed course to Sandy Cay way point.  By 2pm we were alongside Pipe Creek and Becky and Kevin on their dink guided us in once we rounded the corner close to Overyonder Cay that has 8 wind generators. (These are the only wind generators we’ve seen in the Bahamas.  I heard later that this island is privately owned and the owner is trying to be Green).  We dropped anchor at 312pm and were told that everyone had out 2 anchors.  Becky and Kevin were going to the beach to clean conch and then they would come back to help us drop the 2nd anchor.  Next job was to get out the 2nd anchor in the anchor locker and the rode from the sail locker and put them together.  When we dropped anchor the first time, we dragged some before it caught and as time went on, we were getting closer to S/V Tides Inn, a 38’ Island Packet.  After trying to pull in the anchor rode and we were still too close, we then decided to raise anchor and anchor a little further away.  By about 4pm, we re-anchored at N 24 14.01’ W 76 29.338’.  Then Kevin took Phil on board and carried our other anchor to put it down 180 degrees to the first one.  Heather and Murray Rand on S/V Windswept IV (from Port Stanley Sailing Squadron) picked up Becky from our boat and set the 2nd anchor for us while Kevin and Phil went to help S/V Bantana set their 2nd anchor.  We really didn’t know how to get the other anchor in since this is the first we’ve anchored with 2 anchors.  Next time we think that we’ll be able manage it without others helping us.  

Pipe Creek is an area that is anchored to the north and south by Compass Cay and Sampson Cay. Moving southward on the West side is Pipe Cay, Little Pipe Cay, Rat Cay and the Mices which are very small islands just East of Rat Cay.  Moving southward on the east side is Joe Cay, Thomas Cay and Overyonder Cay (private island).  It’s great because once in here there is really 360 degree protection and at low tide there are a lot of areas that are dry in the areas with a lot of fetch.  If you take a look at the Spot GPS Messenger page, I’m sure that you’ll be able to see what I’m talking about. 

We were invited to play games on S/V Maribelle so after washing up, we brought the tortilla chips and homemade salsa.  Sue and Mark from S/V Tides Inn joined us and we talked until 9pm – not playing any games after all but having a good time getting to know each other.  We read after getting home and then went to bed.

Tuesday, January 18
Pipe Creek

We woke to sunny skies with winds but everything is damp and humid and 76F inside the boat. Yuk!  We had cereal and then went to the beach on the Exuma side of Thomas Cay.  On the west side, the beaches are narrow and clean – on the Exuma side, there is all this man made debris scattered along the beach washed up by the waves.  It’s such a shame!  The cruisers call it “East Marine” instead of West Marine.  It looks ugly to me.  We had a nice time watching the waves and looking for shells and sea glass.  Lorraine got quite a collection of shells and of course many photos were taken of the waves and beaches.
Beach on Exuma Sound Thomas Cay

Debris washed up
In the afternoon, we stopped by to visit Heather and Murray Rand from S/V Windswept IV a 40’ C&C with an aft cabin.
Murray & Heather Rand and Phil on Windswept IV
Phil knew them from sailing on Lake Erie and went to their going away party in 1997 when they first went cruising.  For 8 years, they worked at a marina in the North Channel which stopped after the management started hiring high school guys (they didn’t get along with each other – making it WORK) instead of the college girls they had the previous years.  Heather and Murray decided to have a change and bought a house 20 min from where Murray grew up.  They have been cruising in the Bahamas all these years and it’s been great to meet them.  Heather gave me the grand tour and also gave me bread, rolls, and English Muffin recipes.  Here, there are not many stores close by except at Sampson Cay Marina – so Lorraine is going to start making bread. We left late in the afternoon and Lorraine made the English Muffin Loaf (made 2 loaves of bread).  It turned out OK, - needed to let it rise more and think needed to add a little more flour to get a rounded top.    We relaxed in the evening.

Wednesday, January 19
Pipe Creek Area

At 630am we had fog that quickly cleared after the sun rose.  Kevin stopped by and asked if Phil wanted to go dive fishing with them – YES and I went along too to fish from the dinghy.  Lorraine is determined to catch a fish for supper!!  But before we went, Phil went to S/V Maribelle to try out their Evinrude 8Hp 2 cycle short shaft outboard engine on our dinghy

They had bought this first to use with their dinghy, but found out that they needed a long shaft engine.  By 930am we were off with both of us wearing wet suits.  We went to the cut to Exuma Sound between Thomas Cay and Overyonder Cay and put out the dinghy anchor just north of the cut.  While the guys were in the water, Lorraine was swinging her hand line in a circle above her head and then throwing the line out.  After about 3 tosses, she caught a 2” trigger fish (she found out later).  What to do as the fish had swallowed the hook.   
New 8hp Evinrude 2 cycle engine
Queen Trigger fish caught with hand line
I was able to reach Murray’s attention who was kind enough to get in his dinghy and come over to remove the hook.  Not too much later, Phil got back to the boat.  Success!!!  They said that it’s a good tasting fish too.  Joe of S/V Just Ducky caught a large (3-4” lobster).  Kevin’s dinghy starting going out to see, so someone else fishing went out to capture and retrieve it.  Turns out that he we so excited to fish that he forgot to put out the anchor when they changed locations.  We have learned that the best time to fish is early morning and at dusk.  Lessons learned.

About 1130am we were back at Changes and Phil cleaned the trigger fish.  Their skin is really tough, so we left the scales and skin on.  We’ll cook it whole and that will come off easily.  Kevin came by to see how we were doing and invited us to go conch hunting at 130pm at low tide.  We read and had a baloney sandwich for lunch and took off at 145pm.  Mark and Sue from S/V Tides Inn also joined us.  I didn’t have any luck finding a big enough conch but Phil found one and Kevin and Becky found 4.  I did find 3 sand dollars and a trumpet shell found in a pile of many empty small conch shells.  
empty conch shells

Conch moving on the beach
It looks to me like some animal had eaten them.  We went to the beach and cleaned the conch together, this time being shown the best way.  Phil had more success taking off the skin.  Kevin had a drill so drilled a hole in our conch so that we can make a horn out of it.  We learned the trick of inserting a ice pick in the hole and our conch fell out this time.  Everyone saved the through away parts of the conch for me to freeze to use as bait for future fishing.   I was given hint to soak the shells in water with fabric softener and then wipe with Liquid Gold to shine them up.

Pipe Creek Yacht Club
430pm we went to the beach to visit the “Yacht Club” and had appetizers.   

Yacht Club "Meeting"

On our way over we heard S/V Messenger calling for help from S/V Windswept IV as they were on a coral reef when coming in to Pipe Creek close to Rat Cay.   It was a long day and Lorraine was tired and ready to be home as the sun was setting.  While at the beach, we met Judy Long and Stephen Sellinger of S/V Bentana and John and Anita of M/V Anjo.

Once home, we read and heard on the radio that S/V Messenger is ok – they hit 2 separate reefs and a sand bar when coming in with guidance.  They came in at 4pm so didn’t have the sun at their back to be able to read the water well.  Just glad that they’re ok.

Thursday, January 20
Pipe Creek Area

Once again it is very wet inside the boat.  The past 2 nights it’s been difficult to sleep.  The night before water was dripping on me through the forehatch and I moved to the port settee.  The bedding was damp again last night and I again moved to the port settee to sleep. I really hope that this changes soon!  It’s been worse as the winds have been very light.  We woke to the anchorage being very glassy.  The winds are supposed to increase from light and variable to SE 5-10 knot later in the day.  There is talk of a cold front coming through Saturday to Sunday, so we will be staying here until after the cold front passes.  Chris Parker uses the GFS and Euro models and they don’t match up today, so we’ll see how back it gets.  As the winds are quiet this morning, we went to Sampson Cay marina to get water, wash 3 loads of clothes ($4/load each washer and dryer) and get some provisions.  Boy was it nice being able to plane with the new outboard and  it’s great to have idle and reverse.  Can you tell that I want Phil to buy this????  Samson Cay Marina store is pretty well stocked and we were able to get a case of Diet Coke for $1/can – better than the $1.25/can at Black Point and Staniel Cay.  We found out later though that the 4oz Coppertone sunscreen cost $18.00!!   Sampson Cay Marina has a 2 for 1 pizza special on Thursdays, so after Kevin/Becky and Sue/Mark went to Staniel Cay in their dinghy, we met up at 12 noon just after we finished laundry and had pizza together along with John and Anita.  We decided to pay for both pizzas so that we could have some for lunch another day.  We can’t remember since we’ve had the last pizza – we think sometime last summer.  While sitting outside, a Bahamian skiff (a 18’ center console) pulled up with a pile of conch.   I went over and they would sell me some – so I got 2 at $4/each – and they cleaned it (and saved the throw aways for more bait).  I think that I’m set for bait now for the rest of my trip here if I had to guess.

We got back to the boat at 225pm and went to Tides Inn to play Up and Down the River with Kevin, Becky, Sue and Mark.  It’s been a LONG time since we played this game and as the first game progressed, we kept remembering the rules.  I have written them down so will be easier to play next time, but was challenging for everyone as you can imagine.  It was great to play it and brought back memories of playing it with our friends back home.  We miss everyone! But don’t miss the bad weather.  Though when everything is damp inside and out, it’s not very comfortable.

Lorraine made the V-berth just before going to bed so that everything didn’t get damp after being dried in the dryer.  This night she stayed in the V-berth all night.

Friday, January 21
Pipe Creek Area

We woke up to S 10-14kt winds and light dew and less dampness. Yah!!  The weather has been clarified more for this weekend and it looks like the winds are going to be as strong if not stronger than forecasted yesterday.  Good decision to stay here.  As we’re listening on the VHF radio, we hear people discussing the weather and where they are going to go to get protection from the west winds.  Warderwick Wells is full except for Emerald Rock which is on the west side of the island with no protection.  In this part of the exumas, there aren’t many places for protection.  There were some boats that were thinking of coming into Pipe Creek area until they heard of S/V Messenger hitting bottom so they went elsewhere.  We have been hearing that boat are going into Compass Cay and Sampson Cay Marinas at $2.50/ft and $50 for electric a night – not metered.  Chris Parker talked about a gale in New England States – glad we don’t have that, but it has been pretty hot lately.  Wind are forecasted to be SE 10-15 kts this morning with maybe a stray 30kt squall tonight.  We won’t be going anywhere until this evening when we’re having a joint conch appetizers on Tides Inn so Lorraine made the Bob’s Red Mill 10 grain bread mix.  It takes 3 risings, so good to start in the morning with it 80F inside the boat.  1130am just as the bread is about ready to come out of the oven, Becky picked Lorraine up to go to Tides Inn to plan this evenings food.  We decided instead of having appetizers to have a meal with cracked conch appetizers, seafood chowder that Becky will make and bread that I will make.  We’ll meet at 430pm.  When I got back to the boat, the loaf of bread was baked a little longer than it needed to be, but not burnt.  We tried it, and  it’s was good.  With 2/3rd of loaf left, I decided to try Heather’s Bagette bread recipe with the rapid rise yeast.  I use 2 c whole wheat flour for some of the white flour and added 2T sugar.  During the 2nd half of rising, I took a nap, put it in the oven and continued my nap.  Hey – not working so nap time it was. 

We got to Tides Inn at 435pm and enjoyed the cracked conch that Sue made.  Her’s was much more tender than mine so that tells me that I need to pound it more than I have.  Good to know for the conch in the refrigerator.  All the food was great including my bread and we were back home at 7pm.  At 715pm the wind was W 12-14 knots.  We read the rest of the evening and went to bed – Phil at 930pm and Lorraine at 11pm.

Saturday, February 22
Pipe Creek Area

We woke this morning to sunshine to the south and clouds to the north – warning us of the front to come.  The wind has picked up about 4am and is now WSW 13-15 knots with a light dew.  There are ½ - 1ft waves in the anchorage and we are bouncing a little bit.  They are predicting SW 15 knot increasing to 25 knots by sunset and clocking to the NW after the front has passed being 25-30 knots all night, but the squalls should be over.  Tomorrow is to be better starting at N 20 kts at dawn clocking to NE 12-10 knots by evening.  Monday it will be at 70degrees 10kts or less, so we have decided to go to Black Point tomorrow leaving at high tides which  should be between 1030 – 11am.  We have to wait until the tide turns so that we are pointing to the main anchor.  Then we can let out the anchor rode and reverse over the 2nd anchor, raise that anchor and then raise the main anchor.  We hope to go out the cut between Thomas and Overyonder Cay (is a wide cut) and then go down 3 cuts to Dothan Cut and into Black Point.  If the weather is too bad, we’ll either go along the Bahamas Banks or stay another day.  At Blackpoint we’ll have internet, water and maybe do the laundry as we didn’t do it all last time.  I could kick myself for forgetting my laptop when we went to Sampson Cay, so really want to check email and post on the Blog before we go to Farmers’ Cay. 

Both Phil and I were on the computers while the engine was charging the batteries working on creating playlists to put on our Ipods for listening to using the radio.  Then I started working on typing up the blog so it won’t take long tomorrow.

Kevin stopped by mid day and talked to Phil about the 8hp Evinrude.  Phil wasn’t going to buy it but Kevin gave him the deal to buy for $300 and we took it.  Now we have to figure out how to lift it and where to store the 4hp engine.  Actually, we’ll see if we can use the Main halyard and a block off the end of the boom and put it where the 4hp engine went.  I’m really glad that we’re able to have this new engine; makes me feel more comfortable when going thru the cuts with large current. 

About 4pm we went over to Maribelle and picked up the 4hp engine and then visit Just Ducky to get their boat card. For now Phil has put the 4hp engine in the cockpit

Cold front coming
The clouds for the front are coming.  It looks beautiful.  Time to start pounding the conch for supper.

Sunday, January 23
Passage from Pipe Creek to Black Point
Distance Traveled:  13.06 nm
Total Distance:  2473.38 nm

This morning we woke to clear skies and cold (for us).  It was 74F inside the boat and 68F outside with winds NNE 16 knots.  It was much calmer in the anchorage. The weather has been very humid with most fabric items on the boat damp.  You just can get things dry here unless you keep them in a bag.   S/V Maribelle and Tides Inn took in their 2 anchors each and left to go through the cut between Thomas and Overyonder Cay at 945am.  S/V Just Ducky gave them a nice send off blowing both their conch horns.  We then started raising our 2nd anchor first on the line rode @ 1020am, put that away and then raised our primary anchor at 1038am.  After talking to Kevin on S/V Maribelle and hearing that the Exuma Sound had 4-6' waves and NE winds 10-15 knots, we decided to go to Black Point on the Bahamas Banks.  Even then we had NE winds 10-18 knots.  We came into the anchorage at 1245pm and had dropped our anchor at 1255pm close to where we were anchored before.  Not too long after we were here - 10 sailboats also came into the anchorage making about 20 boats at anchor.

By 230pm we had the dinghy put together using the 4hp outboard engine and came into Lorraine's Cafe to use the internet.  I had sent text messages to a few people to let them know that I would have internet and be able to chat on FB and was able to talk to my Mom, Katie, Cheryl and my friend Nancy.  It was good to talk to them and have some of my concerns put to rest for now.  Lorraine's Cafe is now packed with many cruisers here eating, using internet, watching the Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears playoff game.  

Phil wants to stay here tomorrow, so we'll do laundry in the morning, fill with water, listen to the weather and decide where we will go on Tuesday.  There is to be a cold front coming but we don't have the particulars yet to decide what where to go when.

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