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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Marsh Harbour

After some well deserved rest last night, we listened to the 6:30 am weather forecast and then headed for Marsh Harbor. Myron set up the water maker and it took 143 gallons to top off all tanks on Hold Fast. If all goes well and we get a weather window in the next ten days, we will not be making water again in the Bahamas.

By our calculations, during our time here in the Bahamas we made 1,795 gallons of water. We left the states December 9 - just short of five months ago. Minus the 300 we have on board, that means 1,495 gallons of water in about five months, or about 300 gallons a month. That is roughly 10 gallons per day, including the week with a guest on board. We probably used a little more because we did catch a few gallons of rain water on one occasion - something we cannot measure unless the tank starts dry and is completely filled (which was not the case). The two of us drink a total of about two gallons per day, so the rest is for cooking, washing dishes and clothes, showers and some fresh water washing of gear on the boat. The price per gallon of water in the Bahamas is typically $0.40 per gallon. If we had to buy our water, the cost for the five months would have been $718. At that rate, or about $1,720 per year, it would take less than 1.5 years to recover the cost of the 60 gallon per hour water maker. Yes that excludes the cost of diesel, which we find logical since we only make water when we are motoring to a destination. We thought some of you might be interested in the water maker bean counting.

Enough of that! Most of our errands are done and we were only rained on twice. We will try to time a break in the rain tomorrow to finish up onshore at Marsh. There are always more boats here in the spring than in the fall/winter, so the anchoring is a little tight. But the holding is good and everyone seems pretty amicable. I pray we all dance the same when the squalls come.

Love to all,
Dena

Posted via 3G.
{GMST}26|32.774|N|077|03.403|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lynyard Cay

This stay in Royal Island Harbor was the best we had ever had. Historically, we only stay one night and never launch the dinghy. This time, we explored the mansion ruins and met a young couple on a 30 foot Hunter named 'Journey.' Our first sailing friends cruised in a 30 foot Hunter and when they returned from Mexico and upgraded to a Passport 40 they named her 'Journey.' I love life's little twists like that. We became fast friends with Mark and Jade and were sad to see them head south. It was a tough goodbye and such is the cruising life.

We knew today was going to be work. We had five to six foot swells out of the ENE and one to two foot wind chop. The winds alternated between 12 and 17 knots out of the ESE, with relative winds just forward of the beam. To put it plainly, it was too rough to fish. There was an aluminum sloop off our starboard for the entire nine hours of crossing the Northeast Providence Channel. They flew a French flag. We have no idea who they were, but it was kind of nice to have company.

We were listening to another boat, 'Cool Cat,' trying to get a report on the conditions of the same cut we planned on entering. The outlook at that moment was not good. Little Harbor Channel had breakers all the way across. The tide was still ebbing when we heard the report, and we were still several miles out. Cool Cat went to another cut further north. We kept trying to slow down Hold Fast so that we would arrive at slack tide. We reduced sail and got her below five knots but then the winds freshened and we were back up above six knots. I must admit that six knots is more comfortable in bumpy seas than 4.5 knots, but we really were trying to slow her down. We were near the end of the ebb tide when we arrived. It was decision time. The French boat made a run for the cut and pulled it off. We lined ourselves up with the full main, a little jib and a growling Ford Lehman. There was no reading water today. Myron hand steered and focused on the chart plotter while I watched the swells and called out when they were going to hit us (quarter stern) and whether they were breaking. We only had one swell break and that was mid-ship. We had another swell knock us 90 degrees right…but Myron straightened her out and we were in! Cool Cat called us in the middle of our run on the cut. Myron said we would have to get back to him and the guy shouts "good luck buddy!" When we got back to him he told us he had surfed a wave in his catamaran in the other cut at 15 knots! Glad we chose this cut.

Too much fun for one day. Now we are anchored inside, sails stowed, tired bodies showered and ready to relax. Hopefully in the next couple of days we can take care of a few errands and reunite with Barb/Barry, Paul/Sue and our friends at church. Soon enough we will be looking for a weather window to sail to the U.S. How time flies.

Love to all,
Dena

Posted via 3G.
{GMST}26|21.993|N|076|59.092|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Royal Island Harbour

In summary, today was a lovely sail. Some detail: The total trip was 52 miles. We were very close to the wind on the longest leg, 24 miles. We put out all canvas except a single reef in the mizzen to balance the helm. Even so, such a tight reach with frequent gusts seemed to consternate our autopilot. Myron hand steered for a bit to see if there was much load on the helm. There was not. But we did not want to hand steer for the next four hours…it would have been cool to have a helicopter drop in Auto Paul for today's sail! Ultimately the wind eased and the auto pilot stepped up to the task. We had a little concern over an eight mile leg because the forecast showed us heading into the wind and big northerly swells just outside the Fleming Channel. In another blessing from God, the swells were almost non-existent, the winds died completely, and we motor-sailed that eight mile leg on flat seas. The wind freshened on the nose for our last seven miles, but we were on the banks and all was well.

We are anchored inside this harbor at Royal Island and look forward to some sound sleep. We will be watching for a weather window to sail north to the Abacos. Hopefully in the next few days we will get east winds with very little northerly component.

It was a very early start this morning for our 3 pm arrival here. Time for a nap!

Love to all,
Dena

Posted via 3G.
{GMST}25|30.947|N|076|50.444|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Highborne Cay

After our fishing yesterday, we returned to Norman's and anchored on the inside. A squall was approaching and we were not sure when the northeast winds would arrive. The same boats as the previous two nights were still anchored in there and more had arrived and were coming. We decided it was too crowded by dissimilar boats for 20 knots of wind and opposing current so we went to the westside of Norman's. The holding there is great, we found a spot all to ourselves and went for a swim. During the course of the evening, however, the winds picked up but did not get very far east of north. It was still safe but not as comfortable as we had hoped. As a result, we repositioned this morning to Highborne Cay. In all our travels of this area, we have never stayed at this anchorage. It appears to be much more comfortable in a northeast wind and we should get good rest tonight. We are looking for a weather window to sail to the north of Eleuthra and then the Abacos. We wish we had our southeast winds back!

Must go now and cook up some fish for dinner - thank you Lord!

Love to all,
Dena

Posted via WiFi.
{GMST}24|42.849|N|076|49.744|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Fishing

Disregarding a store purchase, the basic steps of putting fish on the dinner table are: fishing, catching, landing, killing, butchering (plus then clean up - unless you are a big fan of flies), and cooking. Miss one of the steps and nobody eats fish. Other than the cooking aspect, all of these steps are typically summarized by the one word "fishing." I speculate the description is shortened to "fishing" due to the disproportionately large amount of time spent on that first step and that if step two is never achieved, no other steps come into play. We have painfully played out that theory all this season.
Our weather window for fishing in the northern Exumas had finally arrived. It was such a nice day, we were able to depart Norman's Cut an hour or so into the ebb flow. We had just over four hours on the Exuma Sound before we would enter a cut on a flood tide Based upon past experience, we had high hopes for a big day.
It was almost an hour before Myron spied our first sign of birds and fish feeding. I kept my eye on the spot while Myron turned Hold Fast about 150 degrees back to the feeding ground. It paid off. We hooked a fair sized bull mahi mahi. He was a tremendous fighter, but soon enough was at the side of the boat. Each time I put the gaff near him though, he found the resources to fight, including spectacular jumps at the side of the boat. This was not good. It is very hard to keep tension on the line if your fish is going vertical at the side of the boat. Four such jumps and he was free. Step one, check; step two, check; three, no joy. Return to step one.
We were both so disheartened that it took twenty minutes for either of us to talk and probably another twenty minutes of pep talk from Myron that we will catch more, that this was a good sign. Yes our first mahi of the season, but at least we hooked one. We went all the way north of Highborne and found ourselves in too much sport fisher traffic. Myron had to sound the loud speaker horn because we almost got hit! It was not until we were headed back to Norman's that we saw sign again. Now we were all alone and could turn back over the spot. Four times we crossed the area of feeding, but nothing we presented was taken. During the course of the day, Myron tried six different lures and now he put frozen pre-rigged ballyhoo on both poles. Our last two. Still…nothing. After all our previous success, this felt like a humbling from God. We had resigned to defeat and were discussing at which point we would bring in the poles before entering the cut when suddenly we got a hit. Less than 20 seconds later we got the second hit. We had come across some schoolies (small mahi). It took us ten minutes or so, but we landed and killed the first. A small bull mahi. Myron began reeling in the second but he could barely turn the reel. Finally he got it close enough to Hold Fast to realize that we had just fed a shark. Myron was able to simply grab the line with his hand and bring aboard what remained of the fish. He would butcher off of it what he could.
I figured the end score as:
Fish - 1.0
Shark - 0.9
Hold Fast - 1.1 AND fish for dinner!

The most important score is God's:
Persons humbled - 2
Persons provided for - 2
Persons praising HIm for His Provision - 2!

Love to all,
Dena

Posted via Wifi.
{GMST}24|36.672|N|076|49.222|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Norman's Cay - Inside

It was really hard to leave Black Point. We made new friends, old friends having sailed south or back to the states or who knows where. We also encountered such a pleasant surprise when we were chatting with other cruisers while they ate at DeShamon's (our dining out budget was already spent for the week) when in walks Don, the owner of a sailboat two slips down from us at Ortega Yacht Club and Marina in Jacksonville. I recognized him quickly, but it was not mutual. So I stepped outside and caught David and Jackie's attention. Beth was with them and they all joined us at a table at the restaurant. It was great to spend time with them and catch up on their travels. They were frantically short of gas for their dinghy and no one had any supplies for miles. They bought a few gallons off of us and were on their way again. Hopefully we will see them during our short stay in Jacksonville.
On Sunday we attended church with Ida and the Adderlys. Mr. Musgrove, the 7th/8th grade teacher at the local school, gave us a ride back to our dinghy. During the course of the ride, we were recruited to help with math for the 8th graders on Monday. We were told to be there at 10:45 am and thought we would just be helping kids individually. When we arrived, however, Mr. Musgrove turned the entire class lesson over to Myron. We had to clean the cobwebs out and remember algebra, angles, volumes and all, but ultimately we demonstrated that we are smarter than an 8th grader. It turned out to be good fun and we were invited back the next day, at 9:15 am. On Tuesday we finished at 3 pm and we were spent. We were instructed by Mr. Musgrove and the principle, Ms. Young, to return at 1 pm on Wednesday. When we arrived, the school was closed. It was something we surmised would happen. An airplane had been in and out several times that morning. Turns out almost the entire settlement was flown to Nassau for the funeral services of the settlement's 46 year old Chief of Police, who was also the pastor of Mission Bible Church. We stayed around town until they returned on Saturday so we could say our goodbyes. This settlement is one of the recipients of the donations we bring. They are special to us and we already look forward to returning next year.
Now we are anchored on the inside of Norman's Cay, with a view of the cut and a couple days of weather window for fishing. I pray the Lord provides as there is little meat left in the refrigerator!
Love to all,
Dena

Posted via Ham Radio.
{GMST}24|35.365|N|076|48.799|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Videos!

We have access to great internet here.  This has allowed us to upload a few videos from our GoPro.  The GoPro takes very high resolution video, however the setting for the videos below is on lowest resolution to accomodate those without much bandwidth.  Once you hit play on the video, you can click on the gear icon on the video bar and increase the resolution suitable to your bandwidth.  Enjoy!

Love to all,
Dena








Friday, April 12, 2013

Black Point



If you looked at the map, you would think – as I did - that White Point would sufficiently protect us from southeast winds.  Protection was good from the winds when they were about 20 knots, but once they dropped to 15 or less (which happened after dark) the wind swell was able to wrap around the point and into our anchorage.  We took the rolls on the beam.  It was far from a horrible night, just not as dreamy as Lee Stocking Island.  After the weather forecast this morning, we set out to make more water and find an anchor spot at Black Point. 

Five loads of laundry promised to make it a long day in the Black Point Settlement.  It was so humid the towels required a second go at the dryer.  Since everything else was folded and bagged, Ida let us leave the towels going while we headed to DeShamone’s for that rare meal out.  We made some new friends at the laundromat and they joined us for lunch.  Everyone ordered conch burgers.  Shortly after our tea/sodas were delivered, the entire settlement lost all power and the restaurant kitchen’s propane gas failed.   The owner assured us “the current will soon come” and not to give up on lunch.  It pays to be patient.  In just short of an hour we all had huge burgers on the table.

We hope to stay at Black Point a few days and attend church with Ida again.  We are not yet sure of our next stop.

Love to all,
Dena

Posted via WiFi.
{GMST}24|06.127|N|076|24.053|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Jack’s Bay – north of White Point



After two days full of exploring the southern end of Lee Stocking Island, we headed out the Adderly Cut for points north.  On Wednesday the winds were 20 to 25 knots.  During our hikes we observed the white and wild seas and it was hard to keep my hat (tied at the chin) from blowing away. On the morning of our sail, however, the winds seemed shy of 15 knots.  Our speed was down to five knots in some rather unruly seas.  We calculated our arrival at the Galliot Cut would now be an hour or so into an ebb flow.  We opted for Rudder Cay Cut, which takes a northeast angle similar to Galliot.  It was our first time through this cut and Myron kept her steady on center and soon enough we were inside for smoother sailing.  We were deeply impressed by the beauty of Rudder and Musha Cays and vowed to visit them someday.  They are private and therefore no landing is allowed, but we would be content to drink in the beauty at anchor and explore by dinghy.  Hey, if we had more money than we could spend, that is an island I would buy!!

Even though it was easy sailing on the inside, we needed water and ran the motor for about 60 gallons worth.  Since it was a short trip, on the day of our arrival we had time to explore White Point and the cave along the shore north of the point.  We received a radio call in the evening that our friends Greg and Luba on Rhapsody were leaving for the states on this weather window.  Our plans for a little reunion at Black Point were shattered.   Boo hoo!  Such is cruising life.

We find that it is also God’s way of inspiring us to meet new people.

Love to all,

Dena

Posted via WiFi.
{GMST}24|02.652|N|076|22.522|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Moseying North

We just finished putting Hold Fast back into pre-visitor mode, which means, in short, the v-berth reverts to its garage status, allotting more spaciousness in the main salon, aft cabin and cockpit.  Fred's visit was accompanied by two frontal passages, but we managed to have about 36 hours of pure calm that takes your breath away.  I fear we have forever spoiled him with the incomparable difference between the tannin dark waters of Jacksonville and the brilliant multiple variations of azure waters of the Exumas.  It cannot be avoided.  Fred said he had a good time, ready to come back!
Today's forecast promised winds of 15 to 20 knots out of the southeast.  It takes at least 15 knots to get Hold Fast inspired.  We had the wind velocity, although out of the east.  No matter, it was a nice broad reach.  We were strictly under sail by the time we passed Chat and Chill Beach, sailed out the northern cut and all the way to Rat Cay cut.  It was nice to have favorable winds.  We motor sailed up the inside to this tidy little anchorage, then lunched, napped and hiked.  We were after "Perry's Peak," the highest peak in the Exumas.  No drum roll please, it is only 123 feet - but the view is awesome!  We will share pictures later.
Love to all,
Dena

Posted via 3g.
{GMST}23|45.509|N|076|05.226|W|Anchored|{GEND}