Friday, December 30, 2016

December 26-27, 2016 Marsh Harbour and Lynyard Cay

Monday Dec 26
The Bahamians observe Boxing Day as a holiday.  Not sure if there are any traditions attached to it. 

Dave tried to see what would clean the epoxy resin in our cock pit that had leaked and spread to several areas.  It left a brown stain on the fiberglass.  Acetone was better than mineral spirits, but they both sucked.  

He also took a battery tester over to Joe on Modaki and we invited them over for dinner.  Yvonne and I made plans over the VHF radio.  She asked if she could bring a salad to have with our spaghetti diner.  So I decided to whip out some fresh bread.  I’m starting to feel a little cocky about my bread making now.  I made one regular loaf.  Then I made braided bread sticks with the other loaf.  They turned out awesome, if I may say so!!

It was a fun evening, again, with Joe and Yvonne.  She brought over some fresh coconut and showed us how she cooks sliced pieces in coconut oil with curry.  Pretty tasty. 
Joe and Yvonne sporting the new pirate scarves that we gave them
Tuesday  Dec 27.
We wanted to move the boat to the southern part of the Abacos today.  Then we will leave for Eleuthera on Wednesday.  We originally planned to sail on the outside of the islands and fish along the way south.  But it was windier than we through it was going to be.   So we followed the Sea of Abaco south to Lynyard Cay. 

We anchored along it’s western shore with about a half dozen other boats spread out over about 5 miles.  We kept our distance because we ran our generator for a few hours to make water.  We also changed the filters.  The total dissolved solids are still reading on the high end of the limit.  Dave read that there is a cleaner we can use to flush the membranes which are finer than the filters.  The membranes remove the salt, so they is finer than a dissolved salt crystal and needs a high pressure pump to force the water though it.  That is how the islands make their water, too.  It’s called reverse osmosis.  We will probably do that next year when we get back to the states.  If the water is worse in the meantime, we may have a visitor bring what we need with them on the airplane. 

December 24-25, 2016 Christmas Eve and Day

Saturday Dec 24
First thing this morning, we put a beef roast in our Wonderbag.  It is a quilted bag that cooks like a crock pot with no power source.  Great on the boat.  I also stirred up some bread dough before leaving our anchorage.  Feeling pretty domestic today.

Dave spent the morning working on a pair of glasses.  He stopped at an optometrist office in Marsh Harbor and found the screw he needed, but no one was there that could actually do the repair.  He had to remove a screw that was broken off inside the frame and replace it with the new screw.  Sounds crazy to mention these details, but it just shows you what we take for granted in the states.  

By early afternoon, we moved the boat back to Marsh Harbour to make it easier to attend church in the morning.  We couldn’t get the Green Bay football game online, but we checked the score occasionally and cheered just as much when they beat the Vikings.

I spent the day baking pumpkin pie, cinnamon raisin bread, and caramel rolls.  With our small oven, only one pan can go in at a time.  My mother made caramel rolls almost every weekend of her life.  When she would pull them out of the oven on Saturday afternoon, every relative that was home visiting would show up to enjoy them.  I half expected family to show up today. 
Dave spent the afternoon cleaning up the aft lazarette where he had been working in the fuel line. Just before sunset, we took off in the dinghy to spread some Christmas cheer.  In the Bahamas, a lot of people blow a conch shell at sunset.  We decided to ride through out the harbor on our dinghy ringing jingle bells.  As we circled boats, we yelled Merry Christmas.  One boat asked if we were going to sing carols.  So we sang “I Saw 3 Ships Come Sailing In”. 

We ended up at Joe and Yvonne’s boat at Mangoes Marina.  They had another Canadian couple visiting them, Charlie and Chris on Wingspread.  They invited us aboard and we visited for about an hour. 

Back at our boat, we enjoyed our beef roast with potatoes and carrots AND pumpkin pie. 

Sunday Christmas
Dave and I took the dingy to shore this morning to go to mass at the Catholic Church.  I have taken a taxi in the past, but we were told someone from the church drives a bus around town picking up parishioners, and they stop at the Mangoes marina.  Dave had verified this with the dock master at Mangoes earlier this week.  

They were supposed to be there at 8:30 for the 9:00 mass.  At 8:40, we decided to find a taxi.  Maybe they weren’t running the bus today.  Just then our Taxi friend, Rinssor, walked around the corner.  He spread his arms and yelled “Mary and Dave!”  He was parked at the next marina, so he got his suburban and gave us a ride to church.  It was fun to visit with him about his daughter in college in North Carolina and what they were cooking for Christmas at their house, turkey and ham. 

The mass was great.  I just love how this congregation sings their hearts out.  There is one part of the mass where we generally sing an Alleluia response.  In this church they start and finish with Alleluia but add a couple lines of “Down by the Riverside” and “This Little Light of Mine”.  We heard they had a great candle light mass last night with a Christmas Pageant.  We’ll have to remember that for next year if we are in the area.

We found the bus after mass and decided to ride it back to the boat.  We waited outside of the bus for a little bit so we could talk to the driver.  But as people came, they said to just get on board.  It was a short school bus, and all the seats were full except one in the back.  OK, it seemed a little funny (hee hee funny) to me to be the only white people on board moving to the back of the bus.  Just saying.  Dave ended up standing in the back with a few other men and some young squirrelly boys.  Most of the people got off at the first stop.  Then he dropped us off and apologized for being late this morning.  But he’s there every Sunday.  Good to know.

We called Dave’s mom using the app Hangouts on google.  We can call a US phone using our data instead of paying about $1 a minute.  She was at Dave’s sister’s along with his brother.   So we were able to talk to all 3 of them.

Dave actually had a chance to do a little shopping while getting boat parts.  So I received gifts this year.  Actually everything he bought was appropriate for the two of us.   There is a local guy called Barefoot Man that everyone talks about.  So Dave bought a 3 CD collection of his.  And he bought a Christmas CD that had him and 2 other local artists.  The funniest song was called My Hurricane Christmas List.  It talked about all the supplies he needed to repair his home, and he wanted ice.
This is a fuel "diaper" used for wrapping my gift

He also bought some fishing lures.  The pink ones were mine.  How special.  I thought our new dive gear was supposed to be our Christmas present this year.  We really don’t shop now that we are on the boat.  I had to send a photo of Dave playing with his new toys to our great niece and nephew in Aberdeen that LOVE their uncle Dave. 
Dave playing with his toys

It was a relaxing Christmas.  We hope all of you had a Merry Christmas!

December 22-23, 2016 Matt Lowe Cay and fuel repair

We moved our boat to Matt Lowe Cay today.  It is only about 5 nm around the north side of  Marsh Harbour, but it is a lovely bay with clean water.  We wanted to make water and see if we could get a better reading on our insoluble particles.  It has to be under 500 and we are pretty close to the limit.  If it’s not better here we will pickle the water maker, change filters and flush the system.  The warmer water here makes it easier for all kinds of things to dissolve in the water. 
There goes the neighborhood.  Someone flying in to their private island.  No trespassing signs on the beach
Dave is still working on the fuel line business.  He added more fuel while we were in Marsh Harbor.  When he checked the lines today, he found wet fuel lines above the area of the tank whistle.  So now he gets to  work in a more confined area-tomorrow. 

We took the dingy for a ride in the area.  We got out our “looky loo” bucket to check the anchor and look for any wild life amongst the rocks.  There is a lot of ferry traffic in this area, so didn’t expect too much. 

We went back to the boat and mixed a container of gin and tonic, took some ice and cups and were going to watch the sun set and drift back to our boat.  We noticed someone outside on the only other boat in the bay.  So we went over to say hello and ended up aboard their boat and visiting for a couple hours.   Their boat is named Modaki and they are from Ontario.  The name stands for mom, dad and kids.  We had a great time visiting with Yvonne and Joe and found out we knew a few other boats in common.  Small world. 
Gin and Tonic to go
Joe and Yvonne from Canada
Dave went back to work on the fuel line today.  He discovered a broken piece at the tank.  There is a built in nipple that a vent hose attaches to.  The nipple appeared to have been bent at some time and finally cracked. 

Dave needed another part from the hardware store and thought he could wait until we went back into Marsh Harbor tomorrow.  But I reminded him that it will be Christmas Eve and stores may close early.  So he decided to take the dingy 5 miles to Marsh Harbour for the part.

Dave had go to a couple stores to find a brass threaded nipple.  He also needed to find a a sealant that would work with plastic and with diesel.  At the auto parts store, they had 30 kinds of sealants.  So he had to read each one until he found the one that worked for both materials, Permatex form-a-gasket sealant, #1 fast drying, hard setting.  Then he had to stand in line at both the hardware store and the automotive store.   

He said everyone was shopping and visiting  just like in the states.  He could tell some were home for the holidays and catching up on each other’s lives.  Others were picking up supplies to do projects around the house while they have family home to help.  All he had was a couple little parts, so it tested his patience.  But he was able to blow off some steam on his rodeo ride back to the boat.  He was motoring against the wind.  He radioed me before he left, so I was watching for him.  There were several times I thought the dingy was going to flip over.  But I had to remember he was only in about 15 feet of water and would survive. 

Back at the boat, he had figure out how to work in this confined area.  He had to cut two holes in the floor of the aft lazerette to access the area of the fuel tank that needed repair.  Once he could look down onto the top of the nipple, he could see the crack where the nipple was bent.  Since it was on the top, the fuel would run down the top of the hose and settled on the tank whistle.  That’s where he felt the wet fuel to begin with.  From his previous access, he could  only feel the bottom side of the hose, which felt dry.  (We both thought of my cousin Joe when the doctors couldn’t find the source of the bleeding in his intestines because it was hidden behind the scope.  There’s always something that could be worse.)

Dave was hoping to find the exact size diameter fitting, but we are in the Bahamas.  He found one bigger, but at least it fit the hose we have.   First he needed to cut off the existing nipple.  Then he had to drill the hole bigger in the plastic tank that was full of fuel.  He said it actually went pretty well.  It made 2 big pieces that came right out with the drill bit and didn’t fall into the tank.  Next Dave had to cut threads in the plastic of the tank.  He said the plastic was easy to cut through, but he wanted it straight, and he was working in a mouse hole.  Then he placed the sealant on the fitting and on the threads of the tank, inserted the fitting, which was a threaded hose barb.  The sealant hardened within seconds.  So he placed the hose onto the hose barb and clamped it in place. 
Handy dandy assortment of hose clamps
Dave used a hole saw to access the tank.  He kept the circles that he cut out of the floor, but has left them open at this time.  He may place a piece of plywood over the holes in the future.  He said he can see the future where he will drop screws though those holes.  We still need to clean the last of the fuel out of the bilge, but we’ll wait until after Christmas.  That will also give it a few days to see if any more fuel leaks. 

While Dave was doing all this, I did our first load of laundry on the boat.  I wanted to do a bucket of towels.  We had plenty of clean ones to use, but there is no place to keep a load of dirty towels on the boat.  

I also made English toffee.  It’s one of Dave’s favorite candies.  I remembered to make only 1/2 of the batch this year.  I also made tzatziki sauce while we had fresh yogurt and cucumbers. 

December 20-21, 2016 Marsh Harbour via Whale Cut

Yes, we heard the carolers again this morning at 5:00 am.  It seemed easier to go back to sleep because we knew what was going on and about how long it would last.  We headed to Marsh Harbour today.  It is only about 25nm, but the Sea of Abaco is too shallow to get there between the islands.  Boats have to go outside of Whale Cay and back in to move north or south through the Abacos.  It’s always a concern going through the Whale Cut.  If the seas are rough, you can get tossed around and into rocks.  Luckily it has always been a calm day when we have wanted to pass through it.  Or I guess we have waited for the right weather. 

Once we were back into the Sea of Abaco, we sailed the last 2 hours to Marsh Harbor.  It is always so peaceful to turn off the motor and strictly sail.  It was actually pretty early when we anchored.  Dave went to shore for fuel and boat parts for fixing the fuel leak.  And he took garbage to shore, yippee.  I am so easily pleased by simple things now that I live on a boat.  He also stopped at another boat that we met last year.  We remembered him because Undaunted knew someone from Rapid City, SD that we knew.  Such a small world.

When he returned, he went to work on the fuel hose.
Dave blowing a tank whistle at sunset instead of the traditional conch horn
When we get to a port with a “city” we have several errands to do.  But this time, we have our bikes!!  We made our list and packed our backpacks and bikes into the dingy.  The dinghy dock here always had a group of local boys wanting to help you for a tip.  We decided to bring hard candy for them instead of spending $1-$5 each time we come to shore. 

As we were unloading everything we realized we forgot the propane tank that needed refilling.  So Dave scooted back and forth quickly.  First-do we ride our bikes with or against traffic?  The traffic is much heavier here than on Green Turtle Cay.  And remember, they drive on the left side, or “proper side” as the locals say.  We decided we liked seeing the oncoming traffic. 

We dropped off the propane, then stopped at the BTC office to ask a few questions about or phone/data package.  Then off to the grocery store.  We only needed some perishable items, like milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables.  It was really strange to walk into the grocery store and hear “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” over the loud speakers. 

Getting back on the bikes with loaded back packs was interesting, but we made it.  Did I say how much I like having our bikes?!!  That walk back to the dock with loaded back packs and in the heat (yes close to 80) was always so long.  Maxwell’s grocery store is the nicest one we have seen in the Bahamas.  You can get just about anything you would in the states, if you want to pay their prices.  So we try to stay with the perishables and bring a lot of provisions from the states. 

Back at the dock, we ran into Phillip from the sailboat Sea Ya that we met last year.  He knew we were in the area and were trying to connect.  His wife, Teresa, was back in the states with her family for Christmas.  So we invited him to our boat for dinner.  We had a great evening hearing about their summer here in the Abacos.  Through a chance meeting of “someone who knew someone” in the Bahamas, they have come up with some great house sitting gigs (dog or cat also) in the summer and stayed here year round.  But they worked their butts off for about 4 days before hurricane Matthew taking care of a few  homes, moving furniture inside and boarding up windows.  They were rewarded financially by the people later.  That sounds like something we could do in the future instead of sailing back and forth to the states. 

Dave made an awesome clam chowder for dinner.  I made home made buns from my sister Bev’s recipe.  They were great just because they were fresh baked bread, but I haven’t perfected them like Bev makes them.  After Phillip left, I confessed to Dave about the bugs I found in the flour after the buns were in the oven.  I used almost all of a bag of flour that I bought last spring in the Bahamas.  I was going to move the remaining flour into a smaller container when I noticed the small dark spots moving.  Needless to say, the rest of it went in the garbage.  I figured the heat would get those that made it into the dough.  That was a first, and I wasn’t about to throw away those buns.  Boat life!

December 18-19, 2016 Green Turtle Cay

Today we moved the boat to Green Turtle Cay.  It’s 60nm miles, which is about 10 hours if we only go 6k.  Since the wind was on our nose we motored the whole way.  I spent at least an hour of the trip scrubbing our stove top.  Since it was the only thing I was working on, I took the time to remove more than usual from the grating over the burners.  I should have had a before picture so you could appreciate my efforts.

We looked at options of stopping along the way, but decided to continue and anchor in the dark.  We have anchored at Green Turtle Cay 3 or 4 times, so we were ok with that.  We arrived at 8:00pm.  We used the new deck light that Dave installed this summer.  He used a large marine flashlight to look for other boats, but the deck light helped me see him and his hand signals as we anchored. 

We woke up this morning at 5:00 am to the sound of a beating drum and Christmas carolers parading the streets of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay.  And it lasted for about 30 minutes.  We weren’t sure if this was the start of the day or the end of a long night for these people.  It didn’t take long for the roosters and dogs to chime in.  We found out later that this is a tradition (held by SOME of the locals).  They do this everyday at 5:00 am for the week before and the week after Christmas.  Now that is dedication.

We brought our folding Dahon bicycles this year.  The first year we were told there weren’t many places to ride bicycles in the Bahamas.  The second year we planned to have several guests and thought they would take up too much room on the boat.  This year, we reorganized and took several things off of the boat to make room for them. 

We decided to take the bicycles to shore by dinghy and bike to the southern end of the island.  We have friends there on a mooring ball.  And we want to find some free wifi.  The bikes weigh about 25 lbs each, and are stored in a heavy cloth bag, but they’re not water proof.  Dave got in the dinghy first.  Then I handed him the bikes one at a time, then our back packs with computers.  That was a boat load of expensive cargo.  Luckily it was a calm day. 

Once we were at the dock, I climbed the ladder onto the dock, then Dave lifted the bikes up to me one at a time.  We took the bags off, stored them on the boat in a black construction trash bag and hoped no one would take them.  Dave had serviced the bikes before leaving the boat.  So we assembled them and took off for the day.

We had never gone more than about 6 blocks to the other end of the town.  They had some fun Christmas decorations about town.  As you leave town, you reach the first of only a couple steep hills on the island, but not bad.  On the hill, some local kids pointed out a “helmet crab”.  It was what we would call a hermit crab inside a shell of a whelk.  And we saw a wild boar rutting in someones yard.  New sights for us.

The first half of the trip was on new pavement.  The middle section was under construction, and the last was old pavement prepped to be resurfaced.  So overall, it was pretty good.  We stopped once along the way to pump up a tire and to enjoy the view of the ocean side of the island. 

Once we reached White Sound, I mentioned to Dave that the way back should be mostly downhill since we had to climb a few hills to get here.  He reminded me that we started and finished at sea level, so go figure.  The ride took about 45 minutes with stopping.  It felt great.  And we loved seeing more than we had in the past by only walking. 
We started at the southern end in town (condensed roads) and went to the northern end of the inner northern bay
We had a friend whose boat was on a mooring ball in White Sound.  We ran across Suanne Dullard from MN last year in Elbow Cay.  After visiting, we realized we had graduated from UofM Dental School a year apart.  She had left for Christmas, but her daughter and a girlfriend were at the boat. 

We found her boat and saw that her dinghy was at the dock of the Green Turtle Cay Marina where we planned to have lunch.  We looked around and didn’t see Kate, so I sent Suanne a message on Facebook.  She answered back that Kate had left to join her for Christmas, and her dinghy was supposed to be in the boat house of the Marina that she was renting the mooring ball from, not sitting at the dock unattended. 

We told her we would talk to them and remind them to tuck it away.  After we had lunch, Dave went over to their office.  Brendyl had a dive shop, too.  Dave had an interesting conversation with Brendyl’s wife.  Brendyl wouldn’t be back until 4:00 and she wanted him to come back.  He explained that we wouldn’t be here and he just wanted to leave the message that Sue’s dinghy needed to be moved.  She jumped all over Dave asking him why he moved their dinghy.  Then she wondered why they left it there when the ferry would have picked them up at their boat.  Dave couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  She kept telling Dave that she didn’t know anything about it, which Dave didn’t doubt.  She finally said “why don’t you leave him a note”, which Dave had said earlier.  We let Sue know that we left the note, but if she had left instructions with the wife, we can see where things would have been confused. 

We then spent an hour or so in the bar using their wifi.  It has $1 bills tacked up everywhere and boat flags from different sailing clubs.  Real cozy place with wicker furniture.   

The ride back took about 30 minutes.  We were back to the boat before sunset without anything getting wet.  We are so excited to have the bikes with us this year.  We can see where we will get more exercise just exploring.  

our boat is the furthest to the left

December 16-17, 2016 Boat word day then Anniversary

We discovered diesel fuel in our bilge, AGAIN.  It happened this summer and Dave thought he had taken care of the leak.  For a moment we thought it was left over diesel from this summer that had just settled in the bilge after moving the boat.  But there was too much for that to be the case.  The last time we filled the tank was from the jerry cans before we left Ft Pierce, FL.  Dave spent the day checking for a leak in the system and came to the conclusion that it is from the tank whistle he installed a couple years ago since the hose was wet.  At least that’s what he will test first.  A tank whistle will whistles as the tank is being filled with a fast flowing fuel pump and stops when air stops flowing past it, and the tank is full.  That warns you to stop before you overfill and spill fuel. 

The fuel line had to be cut and the plastic fuel whistle was inserted into the two cut ends.  Then 2 hose clamps were placed to hold it in place.  Last summer, Dave thought maybe the hose clamps had damaged the hose, so he cut the ends for a better seal.  Now he thinks there isn’t a good seal with those clamps.  Dave is always hesitant to tighten a hose clamp over plastic for fear of cracking it.  Since we have been generally filling our tank from the jerry cans and not at a fuel dock, he decided to remove the tank whistle.   

After removing the whistle, he had to make a fitting that would connect the two hoses.  He used brass fittings for garden hose.  There is a rubber o ring between the fittings that may not be diesel tolerant.  So when we get to Marsh Harbour, he will go to the hardware store to get a brass union.  To clamp the hose, Dave was excited to use his line vice grip pliers.  Always good to justify having these tools on board.

He then opened the bilge by removing the floor boards in the salon.  He removed the bulk of the diesel with fuel “diapers”, cloth made to absorb fuel.  He also went under the engine compartment to remove and diesel in that area.  He also found a dead bug that shall not be named.  We are going to wait to really clean the bilge with soap until after we move the boat again.  We want to be sure the leak is fixed. 

I spent the day cleaning the v-berth and forward head.  We did basic cleaning of the heads and floors before leaving, but this needed a REAL cleaning.  We are constantly fighting the mildew battle.  We had the boat closed up with a window air conditioner in our v berth hatch this summer.  So you can imagine the state of things. 

In the past I have generally used vinegar and water.  Once, for a more thorough job, I used ZEP cleaner which has bleach, and I felt it was pretty toxic.  I had to wear goggles and a mask.  I had read that using tea tree oil in the vinegar and water kills the mildew.  So that’s what I used today. 

I removed everything from our side shelves and cabinetry to wipe them clean.  Where the ceiling and walls meet, there is a vinyl material that isn’t fastened, but tucked up loose.  I pulled that down and wiped it, too.  I even sprayed the mixture up into the area in hopes of killing mildew that I can’t see.  I believe there is a toxic way of fumigating your boat to really get into those areas.  We don’t feel we need that at this time.  But if you ever recovered your boat from sinking, I am sure you would need that.  I can see that I will have to attack some areas with the ZEP at a later date. 

For the first time, I used Old English on the woodwork.  I really liked the finish, especially in the areas we always grab with our hands.  Nothing new or different with cleaning the head.  Same old same old.  My sisters still don’t believe I am doing that myself.  If I ever start sewing, Janice said she will have to come check who Dave replaced me with. 

We called it quits right before sunset and enjoyed a “sundowner” in the cockpit.  Tomorrow is our 39th wedding anniversary and we couldn’t think of any place we would rather be. 

Happy 39th Anniversary to us.  When we look at the weather back in SD and MN, we are so happy to be here.  Actually, we are so thankful that we are enjoying sailing together after 39 years of marriage.  We’re in the minority in the sailing community.  We had a lazy day of cooking and watching movies.
make shift double boiler

pretzels with almond bark and peanut butter and crushed Heath bars on top

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 15, 2016 Customs and Immigration at Grand Cay, Bahamas

This morning, Dave showered and shaved to look presentable for the customs agent.  I thought it reminded me of the first day of school.  “The books” tell you that only the captain should go to shore to clear customs.  But we have had to return with the immigration forms before.  So we decided to both go to shore.  We tried calling customs on the VHF, but didn’t get an answer.  From everything we have read, you just go to Rosie’s Place and they will tell you anything you need to know. 
ready for Customs, looked like the first day of school
We saw another sailboat in the harbor flying a quarantine flag, so we stopped there first.  We met 2 guys that were crew.  The captain was on shore checking in.  They were from NC and had crossed from Ft Pierce, like we did.  They were going to be there a week and fly home from Marsh Harbor.  The captain was staying 3 months. 

We took our dinghy to Rosie’s Place.  He has a marina and restaurant.  When we walked up the sidewalk, the customs agent waved to us from the deck of Rosie’s restaurant.  She had been there having breakfast and was checking in people right there.  We met the captain of the other sailboat.  Then another couple came in before we finished.  The actual office was at the end of the island in the government building by the telephone tower.  But she was fine with checking us in at Rosie’s and had all the necessary paper work with her. 

She was very personable and one of the nicest agents we have met.  We don’t have to be back north of Florida for insurance purposes until July 15.  So we asked for 215 days and SHE GAVE IT TO US!!  No agent has ever given us more than 3 months.  And that has dictated where we had to be at times to request an extension. 

After that was completed, we walked to the Bahamian Telephone Company office, BTC, to get our SIM cards and “top up” our data.  It was a very small office and the person there was very helpful.  We went back to Rosie’s Place for lunch and use their wifi to get caught up on a few things.  We totally forgot to tell our credit cards about our travels this year.  Would hate to have them refused. 

After lunch, we took a walk around town.  We saw Danny again (he sold us the lobster).  He told us where to find everything including his grandmother’s grocery store.   We stopped in there and there really wasn’t much on the shelves.  It was about as big as a single garage.  They had onions and potatoes, rice, grits, some canned goods, soda pop but no diet coke, laundry detergent and chicken in the freezer.  It reminded me of the song “you can’t always get what you want, but you find sometimes, you get what you need”.

We also found the government building with customs, post office and police.  We found the fresh made bread and bought a $3.50 loaf.  After our walk about town, we returned to our dinghy and the boat. 
changing quarantine for courtesy flag
We’re going to have strong winds for a couple days.  So we are going to stay put and do some long overdue cleaning.  AND eat lobster :)

Decemember 14, 2106 Walkers Cay lobster

We woke up early today and were able to listen to Chris Parker’s weather on the Single Side Band radio.  Since we don’t have an internet connection, we don’t have the latest weather forecast.

About 8:30, we left our anchorage and headed to Walker’s Cay.  We were told by Gloria and Mike Peters to anchor outside of their harbor, dinghy in to check in, then return to Grand Cay to anchor for the night.  We met Gloria and Mike in Brunswick last summer.  They have been coming here for years before and after sailing extensively in the Caribbean.  She also gave us directions to make it through the shallow waters between the islands.  We followed her directions along with our chart plotter and had no trouble at all.
navigating through shallow waters to Walker's Cay
The whiter line is an underwater beach-a sand bore.  They are constantly changing, so you have to have someone on the bow to watch in these areas.

Once we anchored, we were getting the dinghy ready to lower into the water when a fishing boat stopped by our boat.  We had our yellow quarantine flag up, so they figured we were planning to check in with customs.  They informed us that the Customs office had been moved to Grand Cay permanently last summer.  They introduced themselves as Danny and Darrell.  If we wanted to see Walkers Cay, we should go to shore and ask for his brother Marvin.  He would give us a tour of the island.  We explained that we can’t go to shore until we check in with Customs.  He said “no worries, this is the Bahamas!”.

We noticed they had lobster and conch in their boat.  I asked if I could take a picture of them.  Then he asked if we wanted to buy some.  They were small with about 6 inch tails.  So he offered us 12 for $20.  We had been planning to snorkel and get them ourselves, but this sounded pretty good.  He made it a baker’s dozen at 13 and we were pretty happy.  Since they were small, he recommended removing the meat from the shell and then cooking it.  He separated the heads and gave us a bag of lobster in a plastic grocery bag.  Love it!!

We were approaching low tide, so we thought we better get back to Grand Cay and not tour Walkers Cay at this time.  We anchored on the south side of Grand Cay.  We heard that the channel between the islands was shallow and had poor holding. 

We tried to call the Customs office on the VHF radio, but didn’t get any response.   Even if we had a telephone number, our phones are now inactive in the Bahamas until we can get a Bahamian SIM card.  By the time Dave got the dingy in the water, the Mercury outboard mounted and running smoothly, it was late afternoon.   So we decided to wait and check into customs the next day. 

We took a dinghy tour of the area without going to shore.  Grand Cay actually consists of a group of about 5 cays or islands.  The town in on Little Grand Cay, but is just referred to as Grand Cay.  We took the dingy around Little Grand Cay.  There were lots of people on the docks or kids playing in the water or in yards.  It looked like a great little town. 
sign at the end of the island-Funny Cut
While Dave was working on the dingy, I cleaned the lobster.  Some were easier than others, and I felt like I was wasting some of the meat.  But the overall result was one big pile of lobster meat.  We decided to steam some with crab boil seasoning and sauté some in butter and garlic.  Dave was the chef.  Oh, I put the leftover green beans with almonds and blue cheese in the oven to reheat. 

We had a feast and decided we preferred the lobster in butter.  We ate maybe 1/2 of all the lobster.  We are looking forward to having the rest in several dishes over the next week.   We were both a little sorry later that night that we ate that much butter. 
new friends Danny and Darryl
about 6 inch tails, just the legal limit

chef David

before plates of steamed and sauteed

lots of leftovers

December 13, 2016, Great Sale Cay

We both went back to bed by 6:00 am.  For the passage, we make the salon settee into a bed.  Then we move our bedding with the extra cushion onto that bed.  There’s much less motion in the salon area than in the v-berth.  But we moved everything back into the v-berth once we were anchored.  Eye masked are a great help to go back to sleep after sunrise.
We slept until about 9 or 10:00.  We made coffee and had breakfast out in the cockpit.  The sea was like glass.  We watched another boat come in and anchor a ways down the coast from us.  They probably just did an overnight passage, too.   There aren’t any towns in this part of the Bahamas. 

my view with my morning coffee

only neighbor
We wanted to check in at Walkers Cay this year.  It is the furthest north Custom’s office in the Bahamas.  BUT, we decided to just be lazy today and enjoy being here with nothing to do. 

December 12, 2016 Ft Pierce, FL to Great Sale Cay, Bahamas

Since this was a new route for us, I will start with the technical details and add the human factor later.  Others may want to read this just to see the route we took. 

There had been a north wind for several days, but it was expected to be pretty calm for 2-3 days now.  It was recommended by Kenyon/Chris Parker to move south along the coast to let the seas settle down in the Gulf Stream, and to get a better angle towards the Little Bahama Banks.  He actually recommended going as far south as Lake Worth.  For the past 2 years, we have left from Lake Worth and crossed into the Little Bahamas Banks at Memory Rock.  We didn’t want to go that far south again.  So we decided to angle SE, move E or NE with the Gulf Stream, then correct our angle to the SE, if need be, once we were across the Gulf Stream.  We planned to motor the entire way, especially with the light winds that were predicted.   We did set the main sail and left it up for the entire passage. 

We left our anchorage at 10:00 am.  Once we were out of the Ft Pierce Inlet, we set a heading of 115 degrees towards Memory Rock.  About 2:30 pm, after about 20 nm, we were in the Gulf Stream.  We could tell because our heading was 115 degrees towards Memory Rock, but the COG, course over ground, showed us moving at 90 degrees.  That meant we were being pushed north by the Gulf Stream.  We changed our heading to 110 to pick up a little speed.  Since we were fighting the Gulf Stream we had slowed to 5.8k.  Changing our heading brought us up to 6.6k. 

About 6:00pm, we had to slow down to let two cargo ships pass ahead of  us.  They were traveling south.  We figured we traveled about 30 nm across the Gulf Stream.  Once we left the Gulf Stream, we had to correct our heading to the SE again, but not a significant amount.  At about 8:30pm, we entered the Little Bahamas Banks at White Sand Ridge near Matanilla Shoal.  It then took 9 hours to cross the banks to Great Sale Cay.  We anchored on the north side of the island at 5:40 am before sunrise. 
traffic jam in the Gulf Stream. hard to get a clear picture with everything moving
We liked this route and would take it again.  Next time, we would go directly to Grand Cay or Great Turtle Cay to check in and not stop at Great Sale Cay.  But that all depends on the conditions. 
the red track is this year's passage
Now for the personal side of the passage.  We didn’t set any alarms to leave early.  We wanted to be well rested.  And we didn’t care if we arrived in daylight or in the dark.  And a later start gave the seas time to settle down.  The Gulf Stream flows north.  So when there has been a north wind, they oppose each other and the seas can get rough. 

It was a sunny 77 degrees, the warmest we have been since we left GA.  And there was a 5k south wind.  As we left the inlet, it was approaching low tide.  That gave us an ebb tide flowing out of the inlet.  We were moving along at 9k until we met the incoming waves which created standing waves.  That slowed us to 5K and we “hobby horsed” our way out of the inlet.  People along the shore were watching and taking pictures of us.  We had our main sail up to help control our movement through the inlet. 
Good-bye USA

Once we cleared the inlet, we turned SE towards Memory Rock, which is north of West End, Grand Bahamas.  We also put up our jenny sail.  We now had a 10k SE wind and not a very good angle on the wind.  So we brought the jenny in, but left up the main sail for the duration of the passage.   We were in some rolling swells averaging 6 feet in  height. 

At about 2:30, when we hit the Gulf Stream, the seas were a little more rough at first.  Both Dave and I were feeling just a little queasy.  I guess it was from being land locked for almost 6 months this summer.   But neither of us were ever actually sick.  We were able to have our pasta salad with no problems.  We saw a small Man of War floating on the water near our boat.  We saw dolphins as we left Ft Pierce, but not during our passage. 
Great to have a full moon to guide our way

Neither of us felt like having a hot dinner.  So I put together a bag with crackers, cheese slices, ham slices, carrots, celery and peeled oranges.  We shared some crackers, then I laid down for a nap to be able to take the graveyard shift.  I laid down about 7:00pm but didn’t sleep until about 9:00pm.  I slept until midnight, then gave Dave a break.  He likes being at the helm and had been sitting there for about 14 hours now, and more than ready for a break. 

We were now in the Little Bahamas Banks.  The seas were pretty flat and only about 15 feet deep.  There was a great full moon that lit up the sea.  Lots of people wish you “fair winds and following seas”.  But Dave thinks he is going to start wishing for “fair winds and following moon”.   It was also a little foggy, which was unusual for what we have seen in the Bahama Banks. 

I had put about 6 Christmas CD’s in our CD player and set it to play only in the cockpit.  That really helped keep me awake.  By about 5:00 am we were close to Great Sale Cay.  So I woke up Dave to help anchor.  We had never anchored on the north side of Great Sale, but the wind was from the south, and this was an easy, straight in to the coast line type of anchorage.  Dave was out on the bow and I was at the helm.  We moved in close to shore to see how close we could get if the boat would swing towards shore.  When it started to get to less than 2 feet under us, we wanted to turn around.  I panicked because I couldn’t turn the helm and thought we were stuck.  Dave yelled back to me “take it off of auto pilot”!  Boy did I feel stupid.  We usually use hand signals for anchoring, but it was still dark.  The full moon helped, but we tried shouting to each other, too.  Afterwards, Dave realized that he still had an ear plug in that he was using while he was sleeping.  Sometimes we just have to laugh at our selves, and thank God we made it through another passage. 

December 11, 2016 Ft Pierce passage preparations

We had a leisure morning because we only had about 10 miles to go to Ft Pierce.  We tried to anchor in front of the Harbortown Marina right off of the ICW.  There were 5 other boats there.  The wind and the current were opposing each other.  After circling around for about 30 minutes, we decided to move to a different anchorage across the ICW.  We had anchored there before, and it would be closer to the inlet for leaving in the morning.

We took our fuel cans and back packs to shore.  We had a nice lunch at their marina restaurant, despite the new waiter that messed up both of our orders.  They made it right for us and all was well. 

After eating, Dave filled our diesel jerry cans.  I walked to the Publix grocery store about 5 blocks away.  We had been here 2 years ago and had things figured out. 

We returned to the boat by late afternoon.  We made water and took showers.  Dave worked on outside projects to prepare for the passage.  And I worked on the inside.  He removed the Lehr outboard motor and secured the dinghy.  He ran jack lines to the bow to be able to link our harness to if we should have to go forward while at sea.  He secured the diesel jerry cans and tidied up the cockpit.

I tucked away loose items.  I prepared food for the passage.  We like to have a pasta salad with blah ingredients that won’t upset our stomachs.  So ham, celery, and carrots have worked well.   I also had meatloaf prepared for sandwiches.  It’s usually too rough to cook under way, but pulling something out of the refrigerator works OK.  We also keep a “goody bag” in the cock pit with us.  That has snacks for our convenience.  We have dried fruit, beef jerky, Nature Valley and Nutrigrain bars, and some sweets. 

By the time we hit the sack, we were feeling pretty good about leaving in the morning. 

December 9-10, 2016 Daytona Beach to Titusville, to Vero Beach, FL

December 9
It was a chilly morning when leaving our anchorage.  Our phone said it was 61 degrees, but there was a strong N wind that made it cool on the water.  I stayed below most of the day on the computer or baking.  Dave loves being at the helm. 

We were waiting for a bridge opening on the ICW.  You can see that right off the channel, the water gets shallow.  These “ducks were in a row” on a finger of sand.  Mostly pelicans.

We anchored at Titusville near Cape Canaveral.  We’re missing the next launch by a week.  Someday, we’ll get to see one along the ICW. 

December 10
We had an early start this morning and had breakfast under way.  It was only 52 this morning. I know my family in friends in SD are wondering what I am complaining about.  It’s bitter cold there right now around zero. 

We motored 8.5 hours today and made it to Vero Beach.  We anchored just south of their municipal marina.  We’ve never stopped and  gone ashore here.  Other boaters call it Velcro Beach because they stop and never leave. 

We sent an e-mail to Chris Parker, our weather guru, to ask about leaving for the Bahamas on Monday from Ft Pierce and entering the Little Bahama Banks further north than we have in the past.  One of his employees, C. Kenyon Gladu, answered. 

He recommended that we head south along the coastline to let the seas settle from the last few days.  Then angle NE at latitude 26-42N and head towards the Banks at Memory Rock.  Well latitude 26 puts us at Lake Worth and the same path we have taken for the past 2 years.  So we are going to take this into consideration, but may still create our own route.

December 8, 2016 St Augustine to Daytona Beach, FL

We were on a mooring ball on the north side of the Bridge of Lyons.  They only open on the 1/2 hour.  So we called them at about 8:40 am to request their 9:00 opening.  Then Dave went to take us off of the mooring ball, and we would be reading and waiting.  The lines to mooring ball were wound around the pendant.  Dave had to get a boat hook and do some fancy maneuvering to get us off of the mooring ball on time.  We were sweating it a little.
The rest of the day was a boring long day in “the ditch” /ICW, but at least we’re moving south.  We anchored in Daytona Beach.  I noticed on the Google Map ap that we anchored near the Moore Youth Baseball Complex.  My sister husband, Jim Moore, and family have always been big supporters of youth baseball.  So we thought this was pretty cool.

The Grinch under our Christmas tree

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 4-7, 2016 Boat repair and car rental

Sunday:  Now I remember why we haven’t done a night out on the town for awhile.  We had a pretty laid back day and watched Elf, one of our favorite Christmas movies.

Monday:  I went to shore to use the marina’s laundry and wifi.  That’s why you were able to read the update of my blog from this summer. 

Dave spent his day trouble shooting the problem with our auto pilot.  Come to find out, it wasn’t the auto pilot, but the chart plotter.  The chart plotter has an SD card that you put in the computer and update the information.  Then you reinstall it into the chart plotter.  Dave did that in Georgia.  After checking different connections and talking to the Raymarine technician, he realized that the chart plotter wasn’t communicating with anything but the radar.  The problem was either the chart plotter or the data bus bar that makes a network of all the readings and brings it into the chart plotter.

We discussed our options of ordering the data bus bar and waiting for it to be shipped here or finding one we could drive to and buy.  There was a West Marine store in Jacksonville, FL that had one in stock.  We also have a spare new chart plotter in our storage unit in Brunswick, GA.  We bought it after we had electrical problems 2 years ago and our current one was “acting up”. 

We decided to rent a car, get the part we might need, and get our other chart plotter out of our storage unit.  We can always return the West Marine part if it’s not needed.  We figured that would be the fastest way of getting back on the water.

Tuesday:  Enterprise picked us up by 8:30am and we were on the road by 9:00.  We  took a detour through Green Cove Springs to pick up our mail as long as we were this close.  It’s NW of St Augustine and SW of Jacksonville. 

The Jacksonville West Marine had the part. Both bags on their shelf had been opened.  So Dave went online and checked to be sure all the parts were there before we left the store. He’s been through this before.  

Dave was also looking for an oil gauge for the Yanmar and the attachment necessary to adapt to metric fittings on the engine.  West Marine sent us to a Yanmar dealer within 5 miles for the parts we wanted.  But that location was closed.  Their other store was out in Jacksonville Beach. We happen to be near our favorite chicken wing restaurant, Wild Wings Cafe.  So we had their chicken wing buffet and regrouped.  We decided to make the trip as long as we were this close. 

First we stopped at a bike shop close to the restaurant.  We wanted to have spare inner tubes for our collapsable Dahon bicycles.  We took them out of storage and decided to bring them along this year.  We arrived at the marine parts store just as they closed for lunch from 12:00-2:00.  So we drove to a dive shop in Jacksonville Beach for new goggles.  We have been using the same ones we started with in 1994.  We also bought a shorty wet suit for me and a lobster “tickler” to help bring the lobster out from it’s hiding place.  We want to harvest lobster this year.  We returned to the Marine store and they didn’t have what Dave wanted anyway.  Argh!  Lesson: when you are driving several miles for an obscure part, call ahead.

So off to Brunswick.  We hit a few automotive stores, found the oil gauge, but not connections.  We’ll work on that another day.  The trip to the storage unit went pretty fast. We even took a few more things to be stored.  Back at St Augustine, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few perishable items.

The city marina is conveniently located to the tourist area of St Augustine.  But that means they don’t provide a parking lot.  All the parking in the area is metered from 8am -5pm.  We arrived about 8:30 and found a spot about a block away.  We walked to the marina to get a dock cart to haul the groceries and packages back to the docks.  That put us back at the boat by 9:00 pm,  That was a long but productive day.

Wednesday:  I got up early to move the car by 8:00 when the meter start again.  On the way back to the car rental, I found an optical shop that was open before 9:00 and replaced the nose pieces on Dave’s glasses.  Something we forgot to do yesterday.  And there wasn’t one within walking distance.  When you don’t own a car, you make a list and try to get everything done while you have wheels. 

By the time I returned to the boat,  Dave had corrected the problem with the new chart plotter.  YIPPEE!    Will be able to return the part to West Marine someday, somewhere.  The problem was solved, but the boat needed to be put back together.  So we decided to stay another night and not feel rushed to get off of the mooring ball. 

We ran the water maker and generator.  So I spent some more time on the computer cleaning up loose ends of paperwork that we store in the Evernote application.  We showered and went to shore for an early dinner at Meehan’s.  We stopped at the fuel dock to get 5 gallons of diesel with a jerry can.  We prefer that over bringing our boat to the fuel dock.  There was a beautiful sunset that cast a pink light over the water.   Then we were treated to the bridge lights, Christmas lights, and a tour sail boat with lights.  Beautiful last night in St Augustine.

Dave filling the jerry can

Historic Bridge of Lyons
Christmas lights on shore
passed by our boat just for our pleasure

Bridge of Lyons with tour boat