Friday, December 28, 2012

Sand Dollar Beach

Even though our stay at The Marina at Emerald Bay was brief, we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the marina and the competence of the staff.  I understand that the no power dock can fill up quickly when a strong front is passing through, but we visited during calm weather.  Since there were very few boats, I was able to push through four loads of laundry in just a few hours.  The laundry is 'in the price of the slip' and in my opinion paid for a night's stay.  And get this, the laundry room is air conditioned!  Considering that the marina is related to the Sandals Resort, you would expect such quality.  Myron was done with his chores before me, enabling us to checkout by the required noon deadline and be on our way to Elizabeth Harbour.  There may be a couple of downsides:  some people may want a car to get around.  Also, since the weather was so good and zero wind, I sustained several no-see-um bites.

The winds were southeast today and we were glad we only had six miles to the harbor entrance waypoint.  We scouted out the vessels along Hamburger Beach, Chat and Chill and in between, but saw no one familiar.  We were set on anchoring at Sand Dollar, not entirely favorable in these winds, but still our favorite hang out.  Who do we see in 'our anchoring spot' but Straight From the Heart!  We had big plans of play on arrival, but the early morning chores and arrival's sense of accomplishment, accompanied by a late lunch, drained away all energy.  We have not even launched the dingy - sufficient to prompt Don and Maryann to inquire whether we were leaving tomorrow.  No, just catching up on rest and pleased to be back out our Bahamas 'home base.'

Here are a couple of tips that may be of use:

Bahamian woven baskets – If you want to get a high quality basket at an affordable price, be sure to stop by Ida’s store attached to her laundry shop in Black Point.  A woman in Andros makes these baskets for Ida and most all of them have androsia fabric woven into the basket in some way.  I price compared these baskets and you would pay five to ten times as much elsewhere for this good quality.  It is nice to do business with an honest woman!

Here is picture of one with our stuffy “OT”:

Stop the no-see-um bite itches – I was so pathetically miserable from over 50 bites during our stay at Vero Beach that Myron spent a late night scouring the internet for a solution to relieve the effect of these evil creatures.  We chose the most plausible and, I’ll be doggone, it worked for more than 95% of my misery.  The tip was to get water to a boil, put some on a washcloth and then put that hot washcloth – or a tip of it - on the affected area as long as I could take it.  Now…this solution is not for everyone.  At first I thought - of course it will stop the itching, at least until I begin to heal from the third degree burn.  But it really worked and the itching stopped.  Some bites required another application 24 hours later – however anything was better than scratching my skin off!

Hope those help!

Love to all,

Posted via Cell.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Emerald Bay

Today's forecast was for light and variable winds with very little seas.  This is what we seek for a fishing day.  We warned Ida that we might go a-fish'n.  We pulled up anchor around 7 a.m, and set out for the Dotham Cut.   As can so often be the case, we had a hiccup in our plan.  The autopilot went on strike and refused to turn on.  Sometimes it would flash a light or two, other times no lights at all.  Really?  Another autopilot failure in less than a year?  Myron pulled out the manual to trouble-shoot the misfit.  No joy with any of the suggestions in the manual.  We prayed about it, and prayed again.  We watched Farmers Cut go past on our starboard, then Galliot Cut, then Cave Cay Cut.  After three hours of hand steering – where is ‘Auto Paul’ when you need him? – Myron decided he might as well take a look inside the unit.  With the guts out but still hooked up, he was suddenly inspired to tell me to “try it again.”  I did and the thing came to life.  We give God the glory because Myron said he did not do anything.  It was such a riot that the unit was working with all its guts out that we took a picture.  Here it is, finally working away and we are hands free of the helm!

Now we were far enough south that Emerald Bay was within easy reach, which is just north of Georgetown.  There were still no fish in the locker.  Then we prayed about that as well.  Myron decided to move over from the ‘deep’ to the ‘shelf.’  Not too long after that, we had a fish on.  Our new ‘used’ fish fighting belt turned out to be a great $10 investment.  The fish was a wahoo and they like to fight.  Probably just over two foot, it dressed out into several days of food.  Again, we thank God.  When we made it to Emerald Bay we shared our fishing success with dockmaster John.  He said ‘no one is catching fish – who are you?’  Blessed by God is what we are.  We shared two large steaks with him.  We were all having fish tonight!

We are at the no power dock at $1.00 a foot/day plus gratuity.  We are told the gratuity covers the free showers, laundry and trash pick-up.  I went up to take a ‘Hollywood shower’ in RO water when Myron discovered that ‘Straight From the Heart’ was on the neighboring dock.  We spent some time with Don and Maryann and their cat and kitten.  Cye (a Bengal kitten) hardly looks like a kitten anymore, I am not sure our photo captures his size.  

Don and Maryann leave tomorrow, I am not sure when we will head out.

There are more pictures on the Picasa link, and here are a few scenes from the last few days:

At Big Majors, the squalls preceding the passage of the cold front:

Dawn at Big Majors after the cold front has passed.  And yes, it chilled down quite a bit!

Love to all,

Posted via WiFi.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Black Point

The weather at Big Majors on Christmas Day was picture perfect. Today the winds were light out of the south, which will make tonight a little rolly in about any of our preferred anchorages. We relocated to Black Point to reunite with Ida, the owner/operator of the Laundromat, and deliver the donations for her church to disperse. She reported that everyone at Black Point came through hurricane Sandy pretty well, just some roof shingles that departed and one dock was destroyed that has already been rebuilt. Her concerns were more for people and crops at Cat and Long Island. School at Black Point will not start up again until January 7, 2013. Lord willing, we will get to spend some time helping the school when we return here in the spring.
Love to all,

Posted via WiFi.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We have enjoyed that last couple of days with only about 15 to 18 knots out of the ENE. We are anchored off of Pigs Beach, closer in than we have ever been before. The catamarans are behind us! It pays to move around at the break of day knowing that the wind change is coming. Yesterday we had the opportunity to meet some new folks from France on one of the catamarans that arrived at the Exumas the same day as us. Other agenda items were to feed the pigs with veggie scraps I had been saving for the last week, dive Thunderball grotto, as well as drive the dinghy counterclockwise around Big Majors, including the little cut between Big Majors and Fowl Cay. We did most of this with film rolling on the 'Dena cam,' a new go-pro camera with multiple mounts, including a headband. We found our head cam mount does not lend itself well to capturing the essence of snorkeling, it splashes between under and above water - something I found annoying as a viewer. These are pretty significant files therefore we will need decent internet before we can share any videos of our adventures.
We dove the grotto again today and met more new folks from France. We also swam at our anchorage to take a look at the anchor. A huge hermit crab caught my attention until I saw a shark swimming along the bottom in the distance. I told Myron there was a shark and I was heading back to the boat. I did not tell him the location of the shark, which was not very fair to him. Once we cleared that up and I turned to head back to Hold Fast, to my surprise I saw another shark swim under our boat. One would think this was a very clever strategy by the sharks. However, these were nurse sharks, which are bottom feeders and not really interested in any encounter with humans. Regardless, it gets your nerve up!
There are not many Christmas movies in our library, I only found The Holiday and Elf. I hope to rectify that with ebay when we are back in the states. I did make fudge to share with our new friends and we have on occasion filled the air with Christmas music. I miss playing the music on my piano (thank you Jen, Jody and the girls for taking care of it in our absence). It is hard to pick a favorite carol, but I am partial to Angels We Have Heard on High, O Holy Night, and The First Noel. I was thinking about the lyrics to the last one "…Noel, noel, born is the King of Israel…" and the scriptures that support such words in Zechariah 9:9 and Matthew 2:2. We are so thankful to God that He did indeed render goodwill toward men and give us peace with Him through Jesus. Jesus has yet to return to take His Throne in Jerusalem. We long for that day, for then there will truly be peace on earth.
May the blessing of Christmas touch your heart as we celebrate that Holy Night, O Night Divine!
Love to all,

Posted via Cell.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Not Alone in Our Hidey Hole

Today we made 173 gallons of water today while we motor-sailed southeast. Water quality started at 166 parts per million and finished up at 155 parts per million. We like our water!

Our Hidey Hole is no big secret: Big Majors, aka 'Pigs Beach.' We are tucked in near Fowl Cay in anticipation of the northwest winds - they should be here in about two hours, after dark of course. I can see the squalls delineating the approaching cold front. All day we have had 15 knots out of the southwest, which has made this anchorage unpleasant. However we, and the other 28 boats anchored in here, will tolerate this misery to be better positioned when the real winds come. We dove the anchor and inspected the hull of Hold Fast. The anchor dug in, as expected. That copper/epoxy bottom job is holding up well, but two months is too soon to come to a conclusion. I know swimming sounds awful to our friends and family in the grip of winter - sorry. The water here is 80 degrees and the air is in the 80's. I am sure we will feel a chill very shortly.

The dinghy has been tied on the deck since we left MOW Cay. In other words, even though we are in sight of shore each evening, we have not left the boat. Neither of us has felt the need. I doubt we will launch the dinghy before Sunday since the strong winds will be with us for the next 24 to 36 hours. It does not bother us, especially if we can go for a swim. We are at least a quarter mile from where the pigs swim, I have no fear of them joining us on a swim!

Thank you for your prayers. We are praying that the pressure of the holiday season does not consume your joy!

Love to all,

Posted via Cell.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Outside Norman's

It was a peaceful stay at Royal Island, a great opportunity to catch up on rest. Still, we got up pre-dawn, listened to weather and set sail to the Exumas. A couple of things were different this year. Last year we hardly saw another vessel. This year it was a full on traffic jam at the Fleming Channel. At least six boats converged on the channel, three were fishing in the channel. We all gave way to the ferry boat, mass has a way of winning that argument. As we dodged coral heads in the middle grounds, two cats joined up with us from the Current Cut side, then more boats coming from Nassau. We were having such a fantastic sail that we skipped past Ship Cay toward Allen's Cay. I spied ten masts in Allen's Cay. Much too crowded so we sailed past there as well. By 4 pm we were anchored off our little safe haven hills on the west side of Norman's Cay. Last year we motored or motor-sailed all these miles. Today the sailing was so enjoyable that we did not turn on the engine to make water as originally planned.
Tomorrow the weather will change and we will be looking for a place to hide from northerlies. We appreciate your prayers for us to find a safe hidey-hole.
Love to all,

Posted via WiFi.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Royal Harbour

Although the direction was the same, this mornings forecast called for winds at only 10 knots, much lighter than we wanted. We dreaded a motor boat ride. Forecast schmorecast. We had a great sailing day and the winds were 15 to 20 knots. We caught a sierra mackerel a few miles out of the Little Harbor Channel. To God be the glory!!

We were anchored in Royal Harbour before 4 p.m. with a fish on the barbie by 4:30 p.m. A great day!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

Great Sail

We are having a great sail to Royal harbor winds 15+ and boat's speed of 7.5 to 8.2 kts.

Posted via Ham Radio.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lynyard Cay

We left MOW Cay today. As Barb said, it is bitter sweet. Sweet because we love the Exumas, but bitter leaving great friends and such a snug harbor. We are positioned to sail to Royal Harbour, if the weather holds. We pray for God's favor on fishing during the journey. We caught nothing last year, so we will consider it a miracle.

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

Monday, December 17, 2012


We relocated to Man-O-War Cay yesterday.  It was unfair play by Barb, she lured us over with her famous key lime pie.  The winds were up and directly on the nose.  It was slow going and wet at first.  I told Myron I was fine with waiting another day.  He gave me a look and I knew the invitation to key lime was sufficient motivation for him to tolerate a little spray.  And yes, it was yummy!  Thanks Barb!

We are on Beach Cruiser’s mooring until we get a weather window to head south.  We were able to attend church this morning and reunite with Pastor Randy and the other brothers and sisters we met there last season.  

New Life Bible Church before Sunday School.  Notice people drive golf carts to church!

We sang lots of Christmas songs, some new to me.  It was a blessing.  We pray that the true spirit of Christmas infects you with joy!

Love to all,

Posted via 3G.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Marsh Update

We have taken care of our major chores at Marsh Harbour: check-in, fuel, prescriptions, BTC card, and ginger beer.  I have yet to get Abaco chicken and more fresh produce.  That must happen before we leave this area.  We hope to see Barb, Barry, Paul and Sue at Man-O-War Cay and our brothers and sisters at the church there, but that depends upon the timing of the weather.  We are waiting out the passing of a front and wish it would move along.  At least the worst of it is well north of us.

Before we left the U.S., Myron secured a toggle that works with the BTC cell towers.  Yesterday he successfully connected to the internet on our computer through the Bahamian phone service.  It is not quick, especially during prime hours, but it is much less expensive than the cost of the internet service providers here and more available throughout the islands and cays.  The SIM card cost $14.95 and the monthly service is $30, as opposed to one month with an ISP at $99. The toggle is an HUAWEI E353.  It was about $30 on e-bay, unlocked.  It is compatible with the alpha R36 router, so both of us can be on the internet at the same time.  Leave us a comment with your email address (we will keep that private) if you have a question about it.

We miss our routine with our friends back in Jacksonville.  Tonight we would have had Moon River Pizza with Paul, Shari, Fred, and whoever else joined us.  Tomorrow we would spend the day with Fred and get Mexican food.  Sunday would have been breakfast with Fred, John, Marnie and Tom.  At Marsh Harbour, we have a different routine.   Thursday is the day for the special on a burger and fries at $8.00.  It was a really good burger!  We went there last season with Barb and Barry, but they did not make it over from MOW Cay today.  We rarely eat out due to the expense, even groceries are hard on the wallet.   As a result, we will make our own pizza with flat bread, pesto sauce, sausage, muenster cheese and onions.  But not tonight, we are still reeling from our lunch! 

We have been doing chores and projects on Hold Fast, because it never ends.  Do not kid yourself, it just never ends.  Myron was up the mast today and if it is calm enough tomorrow, he will go up again.  It is always something.  The disappointment is dampened when that fact is acknowledged, and we thank God that we rarely have something serious.

Here are a few pictures.  You can go to our picture album link to see more.

Barb and crew Karl step outside the cockpit to wave as we sail near:

Sunset at Marsh Harbour.  The cargo dock (toward the right with the light and arm lift) was busy all night.

Love to all,