Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 20, 2017 Schooner Islands off SW Eleuthera

First of all, I want to recognize Dave's brother, Dean.  He is a police officer in Minneapolis.  Today he is in Washington, DC as extra police force during the inauguration.  We are proud of the work he does in Minneapolis and now serving our country. 

I woke up early today, so I decided to listen to Chris Parker’s weather forecast for the Bahamas at 6:30am.   We are expecting really strong winds and need to decide where to anchor for the best protection.  

I could see some crazy colors on the water out the window.  I just had to go out and take pictures.  The water was unusually calm this morning, which made great reflections on the water.  And you could see the ocean floor around our boat.  It is only about about 8 feet deep.  It looked like a swimming pool.


We took off around noon to go exploring in the dinghy.  We hoped to find a nice coral reef to swim and spearfish.  But we only saw rocks, grass, and sandy bottoms.  But we had a great day exploring tiny islands.  We have sailed around the south west tip of Eleuthera and noticed these little spits of sand called Schooner Islands.  They ended up being about 10 miles from where we anchored, but we had plenty of fuel and a nice calm day to skip across the water. 

We stopped at a sand bar with a monument on it, the sign was missing.  The water was unbelievable.  What was strange was that one side was a “conch graveyard”.  There were hundreds of conch shells discarded there.  Must have been someone commercially harvesting them.  Strange. 


We beached at a little island for lunch.  We walked around the beach as far as we could without shoes.  Then Dave did a little exploring in the trees, barefoot.  He found the foundation of a house and an old cistern that was holding water. 


I thought the tracks on the beach were unusual.  And I found a bush with some kind of fruit. 
It was about 2:30 when we headed back across the open water to our boat, about 45 minute ride. 


We did find the blue hole near our boat.  It had a rock and coral wall that dropped down about 10 feet deeper than the surrounding floor.  We skipped swimming in it. 

We really had a fun day enjoying the beautiful water and islands. 
This is a 360 degree video while I was standing in water about 8 inches deep.  Just Beautiful!!

January 19, 2017 Exploring Rock Sound by dinghy

We spent the morning doing some internet business.  Dave has a Ham license for the US.  So he periodically checks in with the Waterway Net at 8:00am.  This morning someone mentioned that he should have the c6a license.  So he asked about it and found out he should have a reciprocal Bahamian license to be able to transmit on the radio.   So like all government sites, it was confusing to find out how how he could do this online.  He needed copies of his US license and his passport and had to pay online.  In the middle of all this, he would lose the wifi signal and everything would come to a stop.  Now we’re not sure if he’ll get a copy of the license online or if they’ll mail it to our US address.  All we can do is try.  

I was making arrangements for a friend to visit us in a couple weeks.  The daughter of good friends of ours will be in the Bahamas for work and wants to spend a couple days with us.  Gene and Colleen Schneider’s daughter, Kaitlyn, is going to meet us in the Exumas for 3 days.  We are all so excited. 

By early afternoon, we moved the boat to the southern part of this bay/sound.  We hung out a load of towels today. 

We weren’t too excited about swimming, so we did some exploring in the dingy.  There were two power boats anchored not far from us.  There were several people on board and a few in the water.  Then a smaller boat would take about 4 people at a time to a distance away from them.  We’d see people in the water and come back.  We decided it was either some kind of tour or class.  They weren’t diving, only snorkeling or swimming. 

We checked out a rocky area nearby to see if we would want to fish there tomorrow.  We were disappointed.  Not much there.  We wanted to check out a creek, but it was too shallow.  Not much luck there, either. 

By now, the other boats were leaving.  We heard there were some blue holes in the area, so we wanted to check out the area where they were.  We mixed a container of gin and tonic and just drifted in the dinghy.  It was such a calm afternoon.  In the dinghy, we get away from all the things we think we should be doing on the boat. 
traveling gin and tonics


using the clear bottom bucket to check under water and not spilling my drink!

our shadow looked cool on the boat
We never did find a blue hole.  Later I saw on a map that there was one there.  The general depth of the water in that area is 3-6 ft deep.  But this hole is 20 feet deep.  There’s antoher one a little further away that’s 45 feet deep.  Would be cool to snorkel and dive down into the hole.  Maybe we’ll go back with GPS coordinates and no gin.

January 18 2017 Dinghy repair and laundry

We finally have a nice day to do some laundry.  We have jeans and heavy shirts and fleece jackets that need to be stored.  We keep our clothes pins in a well that is in the center of our cockpit table.  I don’t think it had been opened since last summer.  Needless to say, it needed cleaning.  So I got on that right away.  The clothes weren’t totally dry by sunset, so we brought them inside and ran a couple lines.  I felt like I was in my mother’s basement before we had a dryer. 
one bucket to wash and one to rinse
we are storing our jeans and hopefully won't wear them until we're back in the states
Dave was able to finish the dinghy patch.  He had clamps holding the patch overnight.  Today he trimmed the patch, pumped up the bow section, and lowered the boat back into the water.  Then he went rip roaring around the bay to test it out.  After getting that out of his system, he came back for fuel jugs.  He went to shore for diesel and gasoline.
you don't want your dinghy to be the prettiest one at the dock, too tempting to steal
pumping up the dingy after the patch was placed

I stayed on the boat and cleaned.  We want to get our chores done so we can play in the water for the next couple days.  It’s supposed to be real calm Thursday and Friday.  Then we’re expecting some high winds Sunday and Monday, even gale force. 

January 17, 2017 Rock Sound dinghy leak repair

Today, Dave worked on the inflatable dinghy to find our leak.  He had renamed it our “deflatbale” dinghy.  As a safety precaution, there are 3 tubes that hold air, port, starboard and bow.  Dave thought he had noticed it the day we were leaving St Mary’s Boatyard.  He had filled it the day before and it was a little soft when we loaded it onto the davits.  We have had to pump it up almost everyday we have used it.  He checked it earlier with no luck.  So today, he lifted it out of the water and onto our deck with a halyard off of the mast.  He had a liquid he could put inside the tubes and roll the dinghy around to coat the inside.  But first he spent some time with a spray bottle of soapy water looking for the leak.  He found it on the side in an area that looked like it had been rubbed until it caused the leak. 

The patch kit said the work was supposed to be done indoors and with low humidity.  Well, that wasn’t going to happen.  Dave ran an extension cord outside to be able to use the heat gun.  He used it to keep the glue soft before adding the patch.  He struggled with getting it in the correct place without it touching anything and removing the glue.  He clamped the patch in place.  We will let it dry overnight, even though it says 20 minutes.

I made bread again today.  One of our last loaves started to mold on the top.  We usually refrigerate the bread, but hadn’t this time.  We cut off the offensive top and made French toast this morning.  Yummy. 

Tonight, with our fresh bread, we made “Big Ten” sandwiches.  There is a sandwich shop/bar on the University of Minnesota campus right next to the dental school called the Big Ten.    They had the best toasted hoagie sandwiches.  You toast the bread with garlic butter under the broiler.  Then you layer the mayo, meat and cheese and put it back under the broiler (whatever you have on hand or usual hoagie meats).  Tonight we used salami, bacon, pepperoni, cheddar cheese and feta cheese.  Then you add whatever veggies you like, or have on hand.  We had tomato, romaine, arugula, and kalamata olives.  Then you sprinkle oil and vinegar on the veggies.  Mmmm Mmmm. 

January 16, 2017 Hatchet Bay to Rock Sound, Eleuthera and Mantus swivel

We want to keep moving south, so we headed out today knowing it was going to be a “festive” sail, as another sailor puts it.  The winds were in the 15-20k range with gusts over 20, the highest being 26k.  We sailed all but the last 5 nm when we had to turn into the wind to enter the sound.  And we ran at 7k most of the way.  Fun sail. 

I have been meaning to mention that Dave placed a Mantus S3 swivel on our anchor.  He got their biggest one and loves how it is “overbuilt”.  He had been looking at them for awhile, but most of the others seemed like they would be a “weak link”.  With this, the chain doesn’t twist.  In the past, if the chain would twist, it would jump out of the gypsy and run out and overboard.  The anchor comes over the bow roller better, too.  He bought two and will use the other one on a storm parachute that helps you “heave to”, or come to a stop in the water. 
close up of shackle only on the left and shackle with swivel on right

shows the two chains connected to the two anchors on our bow

Rock Sound is a large harbor with protection from all direction, if you move your boat for the best wind block.  We plan to spend a couple days out at the south west tip of the island snorkeling when the winds calm down.  Then we are expecting strong winds again for a few days and will tuck up for that. 

We were sitting in the cockpit for about 30 minutes after anchoring enjoying the peacefulness.   We heard a halyard clanking on a mast and turned to see a catamaran coming closer to our boat.  The western shore of this sound has to be about 5 miles long and there were 2 other boats here.  This cat comes and anchors right next to us.  Besides not liking how close they were, they didn’t point into the wind to anchor (best for setting your anchor), they didn’t put out very much chain (as Dave says “tink, tink, tink, done), they backed up the boat right away to pull the anchor and set it, rather than let the boat drift back, pull horizontally, then check the set with the motor.  And to top it off, the guy at the helm comes out and looks at the anchor wearing some fancy pants with reinforced seat and knees, a little too “yachty” for us. 

Rather than even talk to them, we decided to move our boat.  There was plenty of room to move, not like where we were in Royal Harbour.  That’s the first time we have moved after someone anchored near us.  Pretty soon, we saw them make two trips to shore with the dinghy to get 8 people shore.  Dave was hoping they would come over to ask why we moved.  He was ready to tell them we just wanted the practice of getting away from people who don’t know how to anchor. 

We had a Mexican dinner to use the fresh cilantro and try out the peppers.  All was good.

January 15, 2017 Church in Alice Town

Dave took me to shore by dingy for church.  It was only about 3 blocks from the dinghy dock.  It was a larger church than you usually see in these small towns.  The choir was backed up by a drum set, 2 people playing the tambourine, and an off tune guitar.  But they sing their hearts out. 

The priest had a booming voice.  And lots of people would comment “yes sir” and “amen” and “alleluia”.  It felt more like a southern Baptist church.   During the “sign of peace”, everyone walked though out the church with hand shakes or hugs.  You see that often in the Bahamas. 
this is the street from the dock to the church


I thought all the different flags were cool in the back of the church
After bringing me back to the boat, Dave Roth gave Dave and Heather a lift to shore.  They are leaving their boat for about 3 weeks to go back to the states.  They had taken the motor off of their dinghy.  Dave towed their dinghy to shore.  Then they deflated it, rolled it up, and stored it in the bushes.  Pretty trustworthy.  Not sure we could do that.  They don’t have anyone looking after their boat, either. 

And just to show you what can happen in the sailing world when you have deadlines or reservations, here’s where they are going.  They had their flights booked out of Georgetown, Exumas.  Because of weather, they weren’t able to get their boat back there for their Monday flight.  They checked into changing the flights, which would have added the fee change and the difference in the cost of the flight today, for two people.  So they decided to take a $35 taxi ride to the airport in northern Eleuthera (the rental car guy was only charging them for the gas), fly to Nassau and overnight there Sunday night.  Then on Monday, they had to fly from Nassau to Georgetown to catch their original flight out of Georgetown.  They are both still working, but can work from the boat for weeks at a time.  I like the way we do things better. 

January 14, 2017 Eleuthera tour by rental car

Today, I joined Rich, Dave and Heather on a tour of the island.  We had decided to leave about 9:00, and I picked up the others again in our dingy.  My Dave did not join us.  So any reference to Dave today would be from the other couple.  Before leaving town, they showed me the grocery store and Catholic church, and checked the time of mass on Sunday.  We decided to head south.  Rich has spent some time on land, so we let him direct us to a few places.  We drove to the east coast facing the Atlantic where there was an abandoned US Navy station.  The barracks were now occupied by a herd of goats.  The ocean view was great.  Then we stopped at a small resort, that was closed, where he had spent an afternoon around Christmas. 


Next was Governor’s Harbor.  There is a nice beach in this harbor.  On the beach were some young boys and several small sailing boats, Sunfish and Optimist.  They were free to use, so Dave and Rich took two of the Optimists out for a little sail.  We were ready with the cameras, but neither one capsized.  We had coffee and a pastry before leaving town.
Rich, local guy, Dave, Heather

Heather and Dave-typical building in the Bahamas
We continued south to Rock Sound.  We would detour through the little coastal towns along the way.  In Rock Sound, I showed them the Ocean Hole that is right in town.  It is about 600 feet deep and connected to the ocean.  Just after we arrived, a van of about 12 teenaged boys stopped.  They dared each other to jump in, and all it took was one to get it started. 

We went to a local diner, Sammy’s, for lunch.  The menu seemed more American than Bahamian.  3 of us enjoyed cheeseburgers and fries.  Dave had conch chowder that came with Johnny cake.  I was surprised that none of them had ever had it before. 

We headed back after lunch.  About 4:00, we came by a vegetable/fruit stand along the road.  We stopped to check it out.  Besides what was displayed in the stands, the man said he had greens and listed off what he had.  I decided to get arugula and cilantro and some peppers.   He took off with a couple bags and headed towards the garden, so I followed him.   He actually picked what I wanted and bagged it right then.  Now that’s the freshest you will ever get it, besides growing it yourself.