Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 28, 2015 Stocking Island, Exumas

This morning, we both woke up about 5:00am and hadn’t slept too well last night because of the heat (thank goodness for fans).  We considered getting up and leaving with sunrise.  But both thought we’d get just a little more sleep.  Well that turned into 9:00!!

We planned to go 40 miles today, which at an average of 5 mph, would take about  8 hours.  so we hoped to leave at 9:00.  But since we refuse to set alarms, we decided to just get going and stop before sunset. 

There was a strong current right off of the bay we were anchored in.  That formed a small channel that lead into the channel we needed to go through this morning.  The small channel had a rock wall on one side and a sand bar on the other.  So we weaseled our way through that, joined the main channel and went through Little Farmers Cut.  There was some “confused water” where the waters of the Exuma Bank meet the Exuma Sound because of the tide and the wind.  But we made it through with no problem. 
photo in a guide book of the cut.  we were anchored in the bay on the bottom of the photo.  We followed the thin dark ribbon out of the bay and to the right, joined the bigger dark ribbon and went through the cut, avoiding the island in the middle of the cut.  $10 ride

Now we were in the Exuma Sound for the first time.  We went off shore enough to miss the rocks off the coast.  Then we set a course south and east to follow the chain of islands to Georgetown.  We had a nice wind from the west and were able to sail with no engine 6 out of 8 hours today.  It was beautiful.  We were always in sight of land, but it drops to 1000-2000 feet deep not far off of shore.  Crazy!!  And it is a beautiful deep blue color. 
enjoying the day of sailing
haven't had good winds to actually heel like this very often.  heard a few things crashing below

Since Dave now had the fishing bug, he drug a line off the stern, but didn’t catch anything today.  It would kind of mess up your plans if he had.  It would probably be a big fish.  And we’re not sure how we would get it in the boat, let alone clean it in the space we have.  Dave showed me where the gaff hook was in case we needed to gaff it to kill it and bring it in.  Sounded messy to me.  But we really thought we’d be eating fish everyday. 

With the nice wind that we had, we made it all the way to Elizabeth Harbor, which is where Georgetown is.  I think Georgetown for sailors is like Arizona for RVers.  A lot of people come here for the whole winter.  I think a lot of people have left to head north already, but there looked like there were still a lot of boats in the harbor.  We stopped at the first anchorage, which was actually on the west side of Stocking Island.  At some point, we’ll move closer to the actual town of Georgetown to check it out.  Or we will just go by dingy.  There is a “cruiser’s net” on the radio at 8:00am.  I guess I’ll set my alarm for that to check out what is going on.  We also plan to just sit and do some boat projects until we have to meet our son, Pete, May 11. 
Elizabeth Harbor.  Stocking Island on the left and Great Exuma Island on the right

If we go just a bit south of here, we will reach the Tropic of Cancer at latitude 23 degrees 26.16030.  That is the northern limit of the sun’s summer migration in the Northern Hemisphere.  So no wonder it is getting so hot here.  And we’ll be sure to use sun screen.  At first I thought it would be cool to stay here until the summer solstice, just to witness that.  But there would be nothing “cool” about that.  When we were in North Palm Beach, I was talking to a couple who had been to the Bahamas several times.  When I told them we were going to stay there until June, she commented “but won’t it be hot there in June?”  My reply was “it will be hot here in Florida, too.  And I’d much rather swim in the water in the Bahamas than in Florida.”  So we’ll see just how much heat this South Dakota couple can take.  It’s 9:30pm and it’s still about 90 inside the boat.  And we noticed mosquitos at sunset for the first time last night and tonight.  So inside we will stay.  They can carry some nasty diseases down here. 

Before going to bed, we noticed lightning and thunder off in the distance.  We put our hand held electronics in the microwave for safe keeping.  Not too long after we were in bed, a strong wind came up and heavy rain.  I was busy closing hatches from inside and didn’t plan to go outside for the 2 towels and my swim suit.  Dave did end up going outside.  He found one towel and my swimsuit off the lines, but inside the boat.  The second towel was gone, along with some of the clips.  It was a squall that blew through with about 40 knots of wind.  During the night, I woke and opened all the hatches again after it had stopped raining. 

April 27, 2015 Little Farmers Cay, Exumas

We decided to head south and clean the bilge when we can leave it open to dry.  But before we left, we ran the generator to check how it was running today.  Dave noticed that there was still water dripping inside the generator.  So that is going to take further checking to stop the leak.  He checked the filter, too.  It seemed damp, but no water running in.  So it may still be damp from last night.  So everything will be double checked after we get to Georgetown. 

We left about noon after checking the generator.   We were only going part way to Georgetown today.   We went out west, on the Exuma Banks side of the islands.  Then we set course for Little Farmer’s Cay.  We had a nice sail, most of the day.  I even took a nap in the cockpit.  Last night was kind of rough with a west wind in our anchorage.

After we anchored at Little Farmers Cay, in a nice little cove, I went for a swim to cool off.  There wasn’t much of a breeze today and it was about 90 degrees.  I snorkeled and checked our anchor.  Then I swam to the shore line where there some small reef growth.  I was enjoying the variety of small reef fish when I saw my first lion fish in the Bahamas.  They are nasty fish with venomous spines that are eating the other reef fish.  They actually taste good if you can catch and clean them without getting stuck by the spines.  I first saw them in the Cayman Islands.  The dive masters were catching them in special bags to remove them from the reef.   And they gave us the fillets of one to try.  It is a nice white flaky fish. 

They think they were likely released from aquariums because they were eating all the other fish.  They were first reported in the Bahamas in 2004 (Florida in 1985).  The female spawns year round every 4 days with 25,000 eggs per batch.  They eat over 40 species and can reduce native fish by over 95% at some sites.  The natural predators don’t recognize the lion fish as prey.  So They are really becoming a problem.   

After I got back in the boat, Dave decided to try his hand at fishing.  He saw a large fish while he was anchoring that he thought was a barracuda.  Sure enough, he saw him again and played with him until hit hit on his lure.  It was about 4 feet long and Dave had quite the run with him about the bay.  The neighboring boat even commented on his nice catch.  Well it wasn’t in the boat yet.  Just after that, it leaped in the air about 5 feet up and about 10 feet across the water before diving back in.  And I missed it with the camera.  He fought about 15-20  minutes, trying to keep it out of the anchor chain or from going under the boat around the keel.  It tried to run out all of his line.  Then it broke loose.  Dave was going to release it if he had caught it.  So he really enjoyed the fight.  Losing his lure was worth the $5 ride. 

Back in the boat, it was too hot to eat.  So we had cereal, showered and went to bed.  This was the first night I felt sweat running down my face while I was in bed.  Dave said the sweat on his back made it itch.  And he thought his pillow was getting soggy.  BUT, we are in paradise, so we have to make some sacrifices. 

Apirl 26, 2015 Staniel Cay giant step backwards

The wind came up this morning and started rocking the boat right before sunrise.  It hadn’t started raining, but since I was awake, I went outside to gather our suits, towels, snorkel gear, and tuck up a few things in case it did rain.  Another lazy morning.  Dave slept in since he didn’t sleep well after having a couple beers-sinus problems.  So we decided to stay here another day.

After brunch, we sat outside to cool off.  It gets warm inside with cooking.  We did some charting and planning for the next few weeks.  We bought a new chart book of the Exumas at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, so I was going over that. 

About 2:00, I decided to defrost the freezer.  With the wind, it wasn’t as hot inside the boat as other days.  This has been on my to do list for some time.  I like to use hot water to remove the ice build up.  So instead of heating water and making it more hot inside, we decided to run the generator for a while to be able to turn on the hot water heater.  It was a little sluggish starting, so Dave checked the raw water intake filter.  And sure enough, there was a big sea weed tangled inside of it.  So he replaced the filter and it was running much better.  It took me a little over an hour, about 3:20, to finish my job. 

So back outside to cool off and relax.  I was able to pick up wifi, which has been sporadic here, did some cooking for our dinner, just putzed away the afternoon.  Same with Dave, just some reading & relaxing. 

About 6:00, we were discussing dinner plans when we heard a beeping and a pump running.  We realized it was our bilge alarm with the bilge pumping water!!  Not something you ever want to hear on your boat!   Dave had me hold the pump switch on while he went outside to watch if water went overboard.  It seemed like he let is run a long time.  Finally, he told me to stop, came below and said it continued to run and didn’t let up.

While I was holding the bilge switch, I thought about defrosting the freezer.  There is a drain that goes from the freezer into the refrigerator, and that drains with a sump pump.   I thought the sump pump sounded a little different today.  I only do this once every 3 months, so thought it may be normal.  So Dave checked under the sink right away.  There is a filter for the sump that looked like it was leaking.  He removed it, and it did need cleaning.  So we figured the water I used for defrosting must have been forced out and maybe there was a leak in a hose somewhere. 

The next step was to open the bilge and see how much water there was.  There actually was a lot of water.  The main section drains most of the boat and that is where the pump is.  The aft section, closest to the engine, had water in it, too.  So Dave thought there had been enough water to overflow into that compartment.  There isn’t a bilge pump for that section, so I started cleaning the water out of there by hand by soaking it up with a towel.  Dave thought the bilge pump sounded sluggish, so he checked those screens and they needed cleaning, too.  One more thing that should be done on a routine basis.  Now the bilge pump ran great and Dave cleaned up that area. 

I, in the mean time, didn’t feel like I was getting ahead.  I had emptied about 6 coffee cans of water and still had about the same level.  I explained to Dave that there was no way I could have used that much water defrosting the freezer.  He asked if I wanted to use the shop vac.  I said, well if we cleaned it all up faster, we may be able to see if it was continuing to come in.  At this point, Dave tasted the water and realized it was salt water, not fresh that i would have used defrosting the freezer.  He decided to open the engine compartment.  There was water in there, too.  With a flashlight, he looked back behind the engine and saw water running into the boat from the generator filter.  So he quickly went back to the filter (which involves shifting things around and out of our aft cabin).  He checked the filter and realized it wasn’t in place correctly.  It wasn’t completely closed and sea water was running into the boat.

So after apologizing for thinking I had caused this by not cleaning the filter for the sump pump, we continued to clean up the water.  About 7:30, we had everything under control.  So we decided to have dinner.  We ate outside, since our boat was torn apart, and watched a beautiful sunset. 

Dave cleaned more water out of the engine compartment, while I cleaned up the dishes.  Then I inventoried everything we had stored in the bilge in plastic containers.  I did some rearranging, too. 

We decided tomorrow we’ll run the generator and be sure nothing is leaking.   then we will rinse the bilge with fresh water and clean it out.  We’ll also clean under the sink for the little bit of water that leaked there.  Then, if everything stayed dry, we would still head south, about half way to Georgetown.

We both had showers and went to bed.  What a night!

April 25, 2015 Exporing Staniel Cay, Exumas

Today, we decided to explore Staniel Cay before Dave started working on the generator.  If he decided he needed a part, we wanted to know what was available.   When we left the boat in our dinghy, we motored near a beach on Big Majors Spot that has ferrel pigs. They were lying on the beach and stepped into the water, but didn’t swim  up to our boat, like you see in all the pictures.
so much for swimming pigs

The dinghy dock for the Staniel Cay Yacht Club was in a little bay.  There was a fish cleaning station on the shore on a concrete retaining wall.  Well, that fish cleaning station brings in a lot of sharks and stingrays.  There had to be a dozen nurse sharks in clear water only about 4-6 feet deep.   It was strange having them so near to you in the dinghy.  But they were fun to watch. 
a little too close for comfort
feeding frenzy

We had a great breakfast at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  Then we walked into the town a ways and found a grocery store, some rental cottages, some homes, and a couple closed restaurants.  We decided not to go further, but head back to the boat.  Back at the yacht club, we visited with a couple from St Petersburg, FL.  They were here for the second year renting cottages with 2 other couples.  They said the cottages included a meal plan for the 2 of them for 3 meals a day and a skiff motor boat all for about $300 a night.  And they could drive to Ft Lauderdale to fly here. 
beautiful streets

the major islands have a clinic, but I have only seen dentists in the bigger communities, Nassau and Marsh Harbor
We headed back to the boat so Dave could get started on the generator.  It is in the starboard lazarette in the cock pit.  We store a lot of things in there, so the first task is getting all those things out of the way, again.  Then Dave crawled down in the lazarette.  There was a pile of salt from where the sea water evaporated.  So after cleaning that up with a shop vac, he could see the leak.  He sealed that and the generator ran beautifully.  Way to go Dave!  So we ran the water maker.  Now one of the pumps on the water maker didn’t want to run.  Dave just had to prime it with some water so it could draw the water through the hose as usual.  So while the water maker was running, we put on the snorkel gear and cooled off in the water.  The water was actually warm, but it helped that the generator and the water maker were dumping warm water overboard.  Dave took a tool with him to check all the through hulls.  He found some barnacles growing in them and was able to clear them.  We stayed close to the boat for 2 reasons.  One is that there is a lot of boat traffic in this anchorage.  And the other is because of the sharks.  Even though nurse sharks probably won’t bother you, it’s still makes me a little nervous.  It was pretty hot and little breeze, so it was worth it to get cooled off. 
inside the lazarette working on the generator
crystal clear water like a swimming pool

After showers and dinner, we decided to go to the yacht club for a Saturday night out.  We saw the couple from St Petersburg again and visited with them.  They were about 15-20 years younger than us, but he had all kinds of questions about living aboard a boat, leaving your home, etc.  We met another cruising couple that were older than us.  All 3 guys were named Dave.  The other two Dave’s had been in the Navy.  And Dave Roth had been in the Navy Reserve while I was in Dental School.  So we had lots of stories to share.  It was a fun evening.  Getting back into the dinghy surrounded by sharks with a few beers in me was a little scary, but went fine.  This was actually the first time we had gone back to the boat in our dinghy after dark in about a year, except for picking up Joe and Erin in Nassau harbor. 

April 24, 2015 Staniel Cay, Exumas

We left for Staniel Cay about noon.  The wind was really light, so we used the spinnaker.  It is so different to set up from our other sails, so Dave likes the practice.  Our main and jenny sails are on furlers and we set them from the cock pit.  The spinnaker is stored in a bag on the bow.  Dave has to go forward, remove it from the bag, attach the head of the sail to a halyard (line running up the mast).  Then he has to run the sheets back to the cockpit (the lines that control the sail for fullness or from side to side of the boat).  There is a “sock” that covers the sail, so that is raised from the cockpit as the sail fills with wind.  Then you set it where you want it with the jib sheets.  It is a big colorful sail, but best in light winds or if the wind is from the behind the boat. 

We passed Little Halls Pond Cay, which is owned by Johnny Depp.  I guess he fell in love with the islands after all those pirate movies.   He must not have been home because I didn’t see him wave. 

We decided to anchor at the cay just north of Staniel Cay, Big Majors Spot.  As we were anchoring, a large shark circled our boat in crystal clear water.  I guess if we swim, we’ll be able to see them coming :(

Since we can’t use our generator, we can’t make water.  And we weren’t sure if and when it would be repaired, so Dave decided to “pickle” the water maker.  If you don’t use if for a while, it keeps the lines cleaner.

Today was my dad’s birthday.  He would have been 99.  He was always adventurous and I think he is enjoying our adventure with us from a pretty good spot. 

April 23, 2015 Warderick Wells, Exumas

This morning we left our anchorage and “work shop” to move further south.  Our plan over the next couple of weeks is to go to Staniel Cay and Georgetown.  There is a regatta in Georgetown this week through Sunday, so we aren’t in any hurry to get there.  We figured it would be overly crowded.

As we were lifting the anchor, we had the boat in reverse.  Out on the bow, Dave could see the remora swimming about.  He said they looked confused because fish they are attached to don’t normally swim backwards :)

When we put the engine in gear, forward or backwards, I could hear a whining/squealing sound.  I guess I am getting used to what sounds normal, too.  Dave said he adjusted the shaft brush for the grounding strap yesterday and that was probably the sound.  It should get better over time.  I made him explain this so I could put it here in the blog.  The engine is grounded.  then there is a coupler that attaches the shaft to the engine that isn’t grounded, so the brush grounds the coupler.  The brush is a solid piece of carbon on a metal spring strap.  The grounding reduces corrosion and is “supposed to” reduce the effects of lightning.  I am always amazed at the things he knows.  This sailing makes us use our brains all the time, so we shouldn’t get Alzheimer’s, right?  I guess with Dave, people will just say “oh, he’s always been like that.”

There was just a light wind today, so we only sailed part of the way while we were at a direction with the wind in our favor.  One thing we learned today was the difference between a sand bar and a sand bore.  We were seeing sand bore on lots of the charts, but weren’t sure what they were, besides shallow.  We couldn’t find the term in any of our sailing books.  Finally, I saw a description on my garmin app.  They described a sand bore as shifting, fluid, living areas of sand.  So we figured a sand bar was stable and a sand bore was always changing. 
you can see the different color of the water where it is more shallow
We anchored on the west side of Warderick Wells Cay tonight.  This is the headquarters for the Exumas Cays Land and Sea park that stretches 22 miles long and extends 4 miles on either side of 15 cays, and several small islands.  We didn’t do any exploring, because we plan to come back through here on our way north when our son is visiting.  Since it is a park, the snorkeling is supposed to be fantastic.  And there are several hiking trails on the islands. 

As we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying the sunset, we heard a splash of water off the side of our boat.  Dave said “I wish fish would scream as they were being eaten.  That would keep a few more people off of the water.”  Don’t know how those thoughts end up in his head. 

April 22, 2015 Exumas, raw water leak in generator

We planned to move further south today, but we woke up to rain this morning, so we weren’t in any hurry to go anywhere.  The boat was getting a nice bath, rinsing the salt water off of it.  We did notice water leaking from the two other port lights with the same hinge as our v-berth.  So those will have to be fixed. 

We put the dinette table back together after using it as a bed for guests for two weeks.  So we had a relaxing morning eating breakfast at our table and sipping coffee.  Just sitting there with no plan, Dave had a voila’ moment.  Our aft head faucet has always had a slower flow than the other faucets on the boat.  So much that it doesn’t create enough pressure to use it as a shower head when you bring it up to a wall mount.  It would only dribble and not create enough pressure to switch it to a spray.  Sitting there listening to me run the water, he noticed that the pump was pulsing, which meant it was getting all the pressure it could handle.  We previously thought there was a bend in the line somewhere and we would have to tear the boat apart to follow the line from the starboard pump to the port head.  So Dave’s voila’ was to check the faucet for a restrictive washer.  And sure enough, he found one and augured a bigger hole with a drill (hoping not to put the bit through his finger again).  Now we have a better flow of water and can use the shower.  If we don’t have to use the forward head shower, it will help keep the humidity out of our v-berth.  And actually, we have been showering outside since we came to the Bahamas, so it’s not as much of an issue right now. 

I did hear Dave cursing “those eco bastards” while he was working on the faucet.  He is really frustrated by what the government has done to the fuel cans.  They took the vent out of the can and made a spring loaded nozzle that has to be manipulated with one hand while you are holding 40 lbs of fuel in the other hand AND pouring it into the fuel tank on a rocking boat, which is often done while you are under way.  So without the air vent, you have a dribble of fuel.  And you are holding the heavy can for a longer time.  It has potential for the nozzle to pop out of the tank opening while the boat is rocking.  Dave feels he had spilled more fuel with this new type of can than he ever did in his entire life.  When we were buying fuel cans for this boat in 2013, he noticed the change and couldn’t find any of the older types.  When you spill fuel in the cockpit, it has potential for going into the ocean, which you can be fined for.  Plus it makes the cockpit slippery and dangerous.  Plus the fuel is flammable which creates another hazard.  It probably works great in a stable lab, but not in real life rocking boat.  So Dave has “modified” our fuel cans and hasn’t spilled fuel since.  

Dave fixed the leaks in the two port lights/hatches in our saloon.  He also cleaned the windlass that lifts the anchor.  That job has been on his list but moved to the top this week.  He talked to another boater that was having to pull up his anchor by hand because his windlass wasn’t working.  Those conversations help you prioritize your list of projects.  Dave rinses the windlass with fresh water occasionally to wash off the salt water and any muck that comes up with the chain and anchor.  But sand gets in the grease.  So he periodically wipes off the old grease and replaces it, which he did today. 

This evening, we were sitting outside enjoying the sunset while we had the generator running. We wanted to charge batteries since it was such a cloudy day.  Normally the solar panels will keep up with what we use in a day.  Dave is so in tune with the normal sounds, that he noticed the generator sounded different.  It had stopped spitting water out, which means trouble, so he shut it down right away.  The first thing he did was cleaned the raw water filter.  It was full of sea grass, as had happened before.  But it still didn’t spit out water.  So he had to get into the generator, which is under a lot of things stored in the starboard lazarette.  He first checked the impeller.  It was fine, so he cleaned it up and replaced it.  Still no water.  Looking further, he found salt crystals in an area where there shouldn’t be any raw water, meaning sea water had gotten in and evaporated.  So he decided that would be a job for another day.  Somewhere, raw sea water is leaking.  So he wants to get to some kind of civilization before he works on this further.  Maybe he will be able to get a part if he needs it, maybe not.  If it can’t be fixed until we get back to the US, we won’t be able to run our water maker.  We have been so spoiled.  We’ll have to be more frugal and possibly pay for water here in the Bahamas.  Just when you think you have accomplished so much in a day, you take a big step backwards. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 21, 2015 Highbourne Cay, Exumas

Since we are comfortable with this anchorage and we have wifi here, we decided to stay one more day.  Today I cleaned the heads and the saloon area.  It seemed as though there was sand everywhere.  So it was a long day of hard, sweaty labor.  I guess we have to pay the price for being in such a beautiful area. 

Dave put out a “rocker-stopper” stabilizer system today from Magma.  It is a piece of stainless steel metal about 3 feet long that is hinged in the middle.  Dave also added zincs to it to stop the corrosion.  As the boat rocks, the metal folds and sinks.  But as the boat rocks back the other way, the metal  pieces open and resist coming back towards the surface, thus slowing the motion of the rocking.  This hangs off the end of our boom.  We could use the whisker pole that we use for the jenny which would get it further away from the boat.  We may try that next time because it work even better.  But we did notice a difference, less rocking motion.

Dave also reorganized the aft lazarettes.  He wanted to group all of his dock lines together.  Everything he had in the lazarettes were in black garbage bags.  So it took time to check out everything.  Along with his dock lines, he located all of his snubbers and chafe gear.  Now it is all stored together.  These are important for strong winds.  He did find 30 rolls of toilet paper that I was sure was there, but he didn’t see them the last time he was in there.  So now I am ready to take more of his “crap”. 

There was a leak in the port light above our berth.  So Dave poured a bucket of water over the closed hatch while I was below watching for the leak.  It was coming from the hinge.  The hinge had 2 screws with a backing plate and a rubber gasket.  The gasket was bad.  So he removed it and placed butyl rubber, his answer to everything, and it sealed great.  We have 2 other port lights with that same mechanism, so he plans to replace those gaskets with butyl rubber, too.

We have cushions in our cock pit with the female part of the snaps on the under sides.  And the male part of the snaps  are in the fiberglass of the seats.  But they have never matched each other.  We noticed the bottom of some of our nicer seat cushions were torn from the male snap heads.  So Dave removed all of them today and placed blue tape over each one.  At some point, he will fill them all in with gelcoat.  There are other areas of the boat that need gelcoat.  So he will make a day of doing that all at once.  This is one of those jobs that was put off until we could look at pretty blue water while we were working on things.

We also did a load of laundry.  What wasn’t dry was brought into the cockpit overnight, since it threatened to rain.  Just a busy boat day.

Apirl 19 & 20, 2015 Northern Exumas

We enjoyed a leisure morning and then set out for Highborne Cay in the Exumas.  We enjoyed a day out on the water again.  I even spent some time on the computer and napping.  Dave loves being at the helm.  Just like he wants to be driving if he is in a car.  The high light of Dave’s day was watching the clock on our chart plotter hit 12:34:56.  It can get pretty boring spending 7 hours on the water. 

We anchored at Highborne Cay about 6:00 pm near a BIG power boat.  Once we settled in, we could see that they had lots of people there and lots of jet skis and toys.  We decided to move the boat before the sun set.  They looked like they were going to enjoy their vacation and we were ready for peace and quiet to enjoy our anchorage. 

We decided to spend another day here getting some things organized.  Dave spent the day outside cleaning dock lines.  That involved stretching them to get the loops off of the aft cleats.  I helped with wrapping the line around the winch and tightening the line.  Not sure how we got 2 of those on there in the first place.  He is trying to clear up the deck to be able to start refinishing the teak toe rail. 

I spent the day organizing the inside of the boat after company.  I organized the bedding, which we were able to wash at the marina last weekend.  And I worked in the galley storing food.  Always have to check what is possibly spoiling. 

I got up early to update my blog.  The internet was really slow the night before, so I thought there would be fewer people online in the early morning.  So we both took a nap in the cock pit this afternoon.  Tough life, but somebody has to do it.

We grilled chicken mid afternoon instead of having lunch or dinner.  We threw the bones overboard and were surprised by several large fish that came out from under the boat to get them.  They appeared to be small sharks about 3-4 feet long.  But they had a strange marking on their heads.  it looked like an oval shape with tire tread.  We used our precious data and found out they were remoras.  That was my first thought, but didn’t realize they were that big.  Dave read that if they can’t find a “host” they will school together, like under our boat.  So does that mean that big sharks and rays frequent these waters?  No swimming off the boat tonight!

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 18, 2015 Palm Cay to Rose Island

We had the marina arrange a taxi to pick up Joe and Erin at 5:30 am.  We also got up to say our good-byes.   We are already planning to have them join us next winter, but not sure where we will be, but they’ll make it work. 

Since the marina had free laundry, but only one machine each, I figured it would be open at this time of day.  So I packed up laundry and my computer and spent the morning catching up on by blog and using their electricity to do a couple other projects on the computer.  I needed to edit photos and put together a spread sheet for our expenses over here.  We are mostly using cash, so I am tracking where it is being spent.  It started raining shorty after I arrived, so it was good timing.  And it was nice for the boat to get a “bath” with fresh water.

We were able to use the marina’s courtesy car to go to a grocery store for provisions.  It wasn’t available until 1:00.  Dave let me drive on the left side of the road.  After unloading groceries, we moved the boat to their fuel dock to top off our diesel and gasoline (for the dinghy) and headed to the north side of Nassau, Rose Island.  We were staging ourselves to head further north to the Berry Islands tomorrow. 
leaving Palm Cay Marina

When you get to the west end of Rose Island, waves are hitting it from the south, and there are rolling waves coming from the north.  So right where you have to pass between two rocks, there is “confused waters”.  The waves just move up and down, and it feels like it could move your boat sideways if there was a strong wind.  Once you pass those rocks, there are just smooth rolling swells.  This anchorage is always “rolly”, but we like it.
confused water
calm water past the confused water

During dinner, we tossed around what options we had for the time remaining in the Bahamas.  We changed our plans and decided to head further down the chain of Exuma Islands.  We can always go north to the Berry Islands as we head back north to leave the Bahamas.  That’s why it is so hard to make plans to meet people while we are in the “exploring” mode. 

April 17, 2015 Hookah and Palm Cay Marina, New Providence Island, Bah

This morning we decided to let Erin and Joe try the hookah system to dive under the boat.  Neither of them are divers, so we gave them a crash course on what they would need to know for a shallow dive.  We were only in about 25 feet of water.  They both enjoyed it, and Joe stayed in longer while I went in for awhile, too.  We saw two strange creatures on the bottom.  They looked as thought they were snails without their shells and were about a foot long and half as wide.  I googled them and decided they were sea hares.  We also found a couple unbroken sand dollars.  There were only a few fish in the area, but it is always nice to get in and under the water. 

sea hare
internet pictures, but this is how we saw the sea hares
We cleaned everything up, had lunch and left Rose Island for a marina on the south east side of New Providence, the island that Nassau is on, Palm Cay Marina.  We decided that would be the easiest way for Joe and Erin to catch their 8:00am flight in the morning. 

We enjoyed the swimming pool for a little while.  It was in a beautiful setting looking out over the ocean.  Then we showered and returned at 7:00 for their “event” of all you can eat pizza and jazz music outside by the pool.  Dave had been dreaming about having pizza for a couple days, so he was in heaven. 

pool side dinner
nice beach area
It was a relaxing evening back in civilization.  We also enjoyed the Palm Cay Sour-scotch, sour, lime juice and red wine. 

April 16, 2015 Sail to Nassau, Bah

We discussed moving further north to another island in the Exumas or heading back to Nassau today.  Since weather can change plans for sailors, we decided to head back today, but anchor outside of Nassau.  By the time we got everything ready, it was 11:30.  It is at least 35 nm and we average about 5 kt/hr, so we had a day on the water ahead of us.

The winds were light, so Dave put up our spinnaker sail for about half the trip.  As the wind was dying, and we weren’t making 5 knots, we decided we better motor the rest of the way to make it there before sunset.  We anchored on the north side of Rose Island, same place as last Friday with Cheryl.  It was close to 7:30 and we watched the sun set as we had dinner. 
wishful fishing

Several times throughout the week, if we said we were sorry about something, like having to spend the whole day moving the boat between islands, Joe would say “Did I tell you I was trudging through snow last week?”  Joe and Erin really have been easy guests.  We just decided each day what to do that day and every day was an adventure.  They would jump in and help where ever they could.  And we had a lot of laughs with them. 

Atlantis in Nassau seems out of place after being on deserted islands

Apirl 15, 2015 Normans Cay lagoon, Bah

Today we decided to explore Normans Cay by dinghy.  It is shaped like an upside down V with a lagoon in the middle.  Of course you can’t directly enter the lagoon from the south.  We had to navigate our way through small islands and rocks and approach the lagoon from the opposite side of the island.  The west side of the Exumas, where we were anchored, is called the Exuma Banks.  There is a lot of shallow water for about 20 miles before you get to deep water.  The east side of the island is the Exuma Sound.  It is rocky and shallow near the islands, but then it goes to 1000-3000 ft deep.  As you head east, you would come to the Eleuthera Islands before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean.  

After we rounded the southern tip of Normans Cay, we headed east through the channel that we were at yesterday with the lone palm island, now named Erin Cay.  As we moved further east, we passed the remains of an airplane in the bay.  The top half of the fuselage was above water.  As we moved closer, we could see the wings underwater.  Then we motored further east close to the inlet to the Sound.  But we were able to head north inside some small islands/rocks.  We started to pass a beautiful beach that had crashing waves on the far side.  We decided to stop for a while and let the tide rise before we entered the lagoon.  It looked really shallow in front of the beach, so Joe got into the water to check and it was above his waist.  So we continued to motor and he wanted to walk through the water.  We had seen a ray earlier and could see another one.  So we took the dinghy around it and tried to herd it towards Joe.  When he saw it coming his way, he did a funny scurry through the water, then it took off in another direction.  It was probably 5 feet in diameter.  We had a great laugh at his expense.

remains of C-46 Curtiss Commando from Colombian drug runners

Once we landed the dinghy, we tried to walk to the top of the island, but it was real jagged rock similar to lava.  But we were able to get a few pictures of the Exuma Sound.  Back on the inside of the island, we found a break in the rocks with crashing waves that looked like a good photo opportunity with a passing sailboat. 
rocky divide from ocean

Back at the beach, I decided to snorkel and look for conch.  No luck.  Erin found a hermit crab  walking around with a shell on it’s back.  In the meantime, Dave and Joe decided to dig into a hole that was in the sand just to see what kind of creature was inside.  They followed the hole down about 2 feet and then it turned to the side.  At first they were poking their fingers into the hole.  Then Dave decided to get a stick.  As they were poking further into the hole, a crab grabbed the stick and they pulled him out.  He was not a happy camper.  His body was about 6 inches wide and an edible size, but they let him go.  We enjoyed a snack lunch before leaving.  We decided to call this beach Mary Cay since I suggested we stop.  They pronounce cay as key.  But my middle name is Kay, so we called it Mary Kay. 
following hole in the sand
discovered the inhabitant
Which one is the crab?

We moved further north and found the small entrance into the lagoon.  We had to pass between two rocks.  On the rocks, someone had stacked rocks and a metal tube to make it look like cannons on each side of the entrance.  Another rock had another cairn marking the entrance.  There was a channel that headed back west for a ways.  Then we rounded a corner and it opened up into a beautiful blue pond.  We explored 2 caves in the east side.  Actually Erin did and took pictures while we waited in the dinghy.  She is a rock climber and had no trouble maneuvering about the rocks with an expensive camera in her hands.
cave along shoreline
Erin inside cave
looking out from cave

As we moved through the lagoon, we saw several eagle rays, a shark, and 2 different turtles, a big sea turtle and a smaller loggerhead turtle.   Towards the north east end, there was a little grove of mangroves.  We had Joe stand at the bow and use one oar like a canoe paddle and we went inside an area about 50 feet in diameter, then back out.  We saw mangrove jellyfish in that area.  We also saw a native bird called a tropicbird.  They were white with long tails and were circling the sky above us.  March and April are their mating season.
paddling in small mangrove lagoon

There were a few homes around the lagoon.  Most of them were tucked back into the woods.  But one mansion stood out that was under construction.  We didn’t see any activity, so not sure how long it’s been sitting there like that. 

At the north end, I snorkeled for conch because we had heard others had found them here.  Joe and Erin walked around near the dinghy with our plexiglass bottom bucket also looking for conch.   Dave did a little fishing and we let a line drag behind us on the way out, but no luck. 

We retraced our way back to the boat, avoiding rocks along the way.  When we passed the airplane wreck, the tide was higher and you couldn’t see it at all.  So it was good to have my cell phone along with a Garmin navigation app to help us through these waters. 

Since we didn’t catch any fish or find any conch, Joe made us a Thai peanut sauce from scratch with what we had on the boat.  We mixed in canned beef and served it with our angel hair pasta.  Amazing!! and So delicious.  Now we have to have him write down what he used. 

April 14, 2015 Normans Cay & Shroud Cay, Bah

Today was a fun day on the water.  We packed up fishing gear and snorkel gear and went off in the dinghy in search of an adventure.  We rounded the southern tip of Normans Cay and found the PERFECT Island to call home for the day.  It had one palm tree and beautiful shallow water surrounding it.  We all went to shore and explored the island.  Then the guys took off in the dinghy to fish while we hung out at the beach.  Joe said that he figured if Erin could dream of the perfect spot in the Bahamas, I’m sure this would be it. 


 Erin found a tiny live conch at the water’s edge.  We originally thought it was a hermit crab inside the shell, but then realized it was a live conch.  She moved it onto the shore to get a better picture of it.  Then it stuck it’s leg out to roll itself over to get back into the sea.  Pretty cool to watch.  We sat in the water as clear as a swimming pool until we thought we had burnt enough.  Then we headed for the shade.  We watched the guys fishing out in the channel between islands.  Pretty soon they came back to the island starving.  While packing all the gear, we forgot to pack lunch.  So we headed back to the boat.


After lunch, Joe made a spaghetti sauce and we put it in our “wonder bag” to let the flavors mix in for several hours.  Then we hopped back in the dinghy and went to Shroud Cay.  This is about 4 nm south.  It is the beginning of the Land and Sea park in the Exumas.  At the northern end of the island, we followed a channel through mangroves for about 1 nm and ended up on the Exuma Sound.  There were great sandy beaches and a sandbar that formed a semi circle past the inlet.  So we walked to the beach on the opposite side of the inlet from where we anchored the dinghy, all on the sandbar.  Erin found a tide pool with several different kinds of fish.  Joe and Erin hiked to a high point for a great view of the Exuma Sound and the Exuma Banks (east and west bodies of water) and over the mangroves.  I had never been in mangroves with such clear water. 

walking on the sandbar across the inlet

view of the mangrove inlet from the ocean side

mangroves in clear water
view of mangroves from top of hill

We made it back to the boat before sunset and decided it’s best to go through these shallow waters when the sun is higher to be able to see the rocks and the shallow areas. 

Joe made us a fantastic pasta dinner.  We even pulled the bag of previously boxed wine out of the bilge for the occasion.  Dave was the first to head to bed.  Joe and I decided to have another glass of wine, just long enough for Erin to do the dishes. 

Another great day!!  I started to look at what our options were for tomorrow and was pleasantly surprised that today was Tuesday and not Wednesday.