Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rock Sound to Norman’s Cay (inside)

Last night was very peaceful in Rock Sound.  The wind died to nothing, except an occasional whisper out of the east.  We started up with the anchor at 6:30 am, but did not make it to the Exuma Sound until after 8 am. It was one of the most perfect days on the Sound that we have ever experienced.  We were on a broad reach in winds under 10 knots.  We ran the engine at just under 1,300 RPM to make water and our speed was about 6.5 knots.  We made good time.  We saw one squall, but it never came near enough to molest us.

We saw a few flying fish, and I saw some swimming birds.  When they popped up out of the water right next to us and took flight, I quickly shouted to Myron.  Birds are a good sign when fishing.  Sure enough, right then we took a hit on the blue and white tuna plug.  It fought for a while, Myron started to bring it in and we lost it.  We decided it must have been a small tuna or jack and was barely hooked.  We recovered the tuna plug, a little worse for wear.  No more hits for quite some time after that.  We were only about six miles out from the cut at Norman’s and it looked grim on the fishing aspect.  I saw more flying fish and we took a hard hit on the black and purple jet head.  I hit the ‘mark’ on the GPS, it helps us keep track of good fishing areas.  It was a bull Mahi Mahi and he fought hard, even with two gaffs in him when on board.  We hung him up and measured him, 44 inches.  We started to return to the original hit when we noticed Mahi’s hitting flying fish around us.  I again marked it on GPS.  We fished about a mile between the two marks and we got another hit, the same black and purple jet head.  Myron had sweetened that lure with some chunks of squid and maybe that was helping.  It was a cow Mahi Mahi and did not fight as hard, until we got her on the boat.  We tied a line on her tail and had a gaff in her when we brought her aboard.  She fought hard and beat us up a bit until Myron could reach the knife and end it.  She was 47 inches.  Both those catches were in water depths of 3,800 to 4,500 feet.  We were a bit surprised as we previously caught fish on the drop off by the shore.  We will take the blessings however they come and thank God for them!

There are ten other boats in the anchorage with us, including another Whitby42 anchored near us.  It took us an hour to clean up Hold Fast from all the fish parts and blood.  In the middle of our cleaning, D and Molly on ‘Allegria,’ the Whitby, came over to say hello.   We talked Whitbys and Bahamas, and then shared two large fillets of our freshly caught fish.

It is dark now.  I just cleaned up from a fish dinner that was too big for both of us to eat.  It is only 7:30 pm and I am exhausted.  Not sure of our plans for tomorrow, but I hope they include leaving the anchor right where it is and stretching out in the cockpit with a good book – or a quilt!!

Love to all,

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Hatchet Bay to Rock Sound

I need to get you all caught up on our adventures!  We arrived in Hatchet Bay on a Sunday evening.  On Monday morning, we set out on a walk to explore Alice Town.  We found the Triple TLC grocery store and grabbed a couple of things.  We found the St. Stephen’s Baptist Church and noted meeting times.  As we continued on our walk we came across a Methodist Habitat work group setting up for some local home repairs and improvements.  Myron promised to bring by some needed tools that folks did not want to carry on the airline.  Continuing our walk we came upon the P.A. Gibson Elementary school.  We found the principal’s office, introduced ourselves and asked if any teachers wanted help teaching math.  The principal, Ms. Ingraham, did not let 90 seconds expire before we were introduced to the 6th grade class of about 14 students.  We taught fractions and measurements from 10:15 am to noon…rinse and repeat the next day. 

We took a day off to investigate the long cave (they say it is a mile long).  We hitch-hiked north to the cave and were graciously picked up by the mother of one of our 6th grade students.  We were accompanied by Mitchell and Natalie on Sea Major, a Westerly Sea Lord.  Mitchell just finished his PhD in Physics.  They are getting this sailing trip in before any kids come along.  We were all impressed by the caves, we just had to look past the graffiti.  Myron and Mitchell went down into a lower cavern and waded through fresh water. Natalie and I stayed above and shouted reminders to our husbands of the dangers of their endeavor.  We continued through the cave after their safe return, and had to crawl out the end to what looked like a well with a rope ladder.  Out of the top we came to beautiful sunshine! 

Wednesday night (2/12) we had snarky weather with a westerly component.  Myron dove the mooring before the wind came and discovered that some of the chain between the mooring and the ball had eroded to 1/3 its original size.  We pulled out our ¾” line and he dove down and ran that through the good chain closer to the mooring.  We were not able to get a line through the mooring hoop, due to growth.  Myron put our mooring “grabamatic” on the hoop.  The resulting configuration was our primary, normal two lines to the mooring penant; a secondary, snap shackle on the mooring hoop; and tertiary, the ¾” line in the water down to good chain.  There are times when you think, oh that is not necessary, we will be fine.  The forecast called for 40 knots in the squalls and it was right.  In the worst of the squalls we were quite happy to have the redundancy.  Dawn revealed that we were still on the primary, but the wind stayed with us all through Thursday. 

We did not do much Thursday, since the snarky weather was still with us, except I did hunt down the tickets for the Baptist Church Friday night dinner.  At $15 per person, that is a good deal in the Bahamas for a three course meal plus dessert!  The food was fantastic as well as the company of the couple who dined with us, William and Audrey Gibson.  By then we had had only two days with the kids, but they still came up to us at dinner with hugs and smiles.  My heart was melting.

Sunday we were joined at church by Andrew and Rebecca on Blueberry, a 30 foot sailboat with no refrigeration.  Before church, they tried to pick up anchor and move onto the mooring near us vacated by Sea Major.  However, whatever they had hooked on prior to the bad weather, was too heavy for Drew to pull up manually and pulling with their engine only dipped the bow.  We suggested they put a float on the anchor chain, get on the mooring and we would help them after church.   We slipped Hold Fast from her mooring while Drew put a shackle on his anchor chain and we ran our ¾” line through it.  With that line on our windlass, we pulled their chain taunt.  When Myron put Hold Fast in reverse, her bow dipped down as well.  We probably weigh at least 6 six times what Blueberry displaces.  So we waited with tension on the line.  Drew dove his anchor, still not in sight, but he noted that we had pulled up some kind of equipment with prongs, initially he thought it might be a ladder attached to something.  It was only a matter of a couple more pulls on the windlass until the anchor broke free and we were back on our mooring preparing lunch!  Still a mystery as to what was down there, but problem solved.
Monday we taught 6th grade math again, then Tuesday and Wednesday we were with the 4th graders.  These kids really need to get their multiplication tables down before we can go much further.  If anyone knows of any songs or other helpful learning aids to the tables, please let me know!  Ms. Ingraham recognizes that the kids are not ready for their exams and expects to have afternoon tutoring starting possibly in April.  I am not sure if the weather will allow us to route back this way, but we noted that we would be glad to help.  We regretted not purchasing in the U.S. some Expo markers for whiteboards, some composition books (they use one for each study), and chalk for the boards in Black Point. 

The kids took a mid-term break, leaving us free for a few days to hitch-hike some of the island.  Friday we went south to Governor’s Harbor.  It is pretty and has a library with free internet upstairs.  We asked around a got a recommendation to have lunch at Pammie’s.  It was more food than we could eat and most delicious!  After eating we hitch-hiked back toward Hatchet Bay.  Associate Pastor Johnson picked us up just outside of Governor’s Harbor and offered to take us all the way to Gregory Town.  In route, we stopped at a business and school supply store and purchased some Expo markers and chalk! Gregory Town is built on the hills surrounding the ‘precarious’ harbor.  On our walk out of town we found a shop that sells solar panels and gear.  The prices were much more than you would pay in the states, but at least some folks are going solar and some parts might be available if you need them.  We were picked up shortly after leaving that shop, by a young man who works in avionics at North Eleuthera Airport. 

It was good to see the other towns, yet it confirmed that Alice Town was the right spot to extend our stay.  The local folks have been delightful and the kids have been fun.  I told Myron I am not ready to leave.  But we are overdue at Black Point and overdue for some fish. 

Saturday we supported the local Girl’s Brigade by purchasing lunch at their annual fund raiser, and by purchasing dinner when we returned from Surfer’s Beach.  Another hitch-hiking trip.  I have to say, the Bahamas must be the only country in which the drivers will slow down and holler an apology out the window if they do not have room or are only going a short way down the road.  In the U.S., if a driver slows down, it is probably to throw something at you!

After church on Sunday, we did some snorkeling with the Blueberry’s and with Lawrence and Kelly on Mary Sue.  I was sad afterward as we stowed the dinghy and gear and prepared to head south.

Today the winds were not as light as forecast, or as favorable.  The only sailing we got in was the last five or six miles heading toward Poison Point.  We tried to get a hook at Starving Creek, but just plowed marl.  Kind of unhealthy names to those places anyway.  We settled for motoring another two miles up to the Rock Sound Settlement and anchored off town with the other cruisers.  Very good holding.  We launched the dinghy and walked to town.  People were nice enough, but we are clearly spoiled by our precious new friends at Hatchet Bay.  We checked out the grocery store.  It is pretty well stocked, just as Barb described.  I even found fresh kale!  We rewarded ourselves with an ice cream and headed back to Hold Fast to check weather.  There is a massive thunderstorm to the north west of us.  Someone will get some grumpy weather tonight.  The ‘forecast’ is good for a fishing trip across Exuma Sound tomorrow.  Hopefully it does what they say.  We stowed the dinghy and prepped Hold Fast for an early morning.  People say we work well as a team launching the dinghy…that is because we do it over and over again, sometimes within an hour like today!

Time for a snack and some rest. 

Love to all,

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Royal Island to Hatchet Bay

When we got to Current Cut this morning, we still had about an hour of ebb flow.  Myron tucked into the flow to test the current speed and found it to be about 1.5 knots.  That is not really a problem for Hold Fast and we proceeded through.  Our plan was to spend several days at Glass Window on Eleuthera Island with light winds out of the north and east.  For this we waited another day in Royal Island.  Best laid plans.  The actual wind was out of the south and then the west.  We arrived at Glass Window just before 1 pm and drug the anchor around until it grabbed.  Myron caught a yellow tail snapper in route on some old lure that was on Hold Fast when we bought her.  We rarely, if ever, fish the banks but we heard someone excited about catching a snapper yesterday.  Could not miss out on that!  Myron BBQ’d it in foil for lunch with batata (like a white sweet potato that is red on the outside), sweet onions, sweet peppers and a plantain.  As we dined, we waited to see if the wind was going to let up.  The clouds and swell told us it was not going to give up for several hours.  The holding is not that great and we were on a lee shore.  So we pulled up anchor, snapped a few pictures and leisurely sailed southeast along the rocky cliffs.  Gregory Town’s harbor was along the way, the guide describes it as precarious.  Moving on…  When we got to the entrance of Hatchet Bay, it took my breath away at first.  We had turned to drop the main sail and suddenly the entrance was there and then it was gone.  The tidal current sets along the coast, directionally dependent upon flood or ebb.  It was just past max flood and set us toward the rocks on the right.  Something to keep in mind on the way out.  

If the forecast holds for winds with a south or west component in a few days, we will stay here for several days until that passes.  We are on a government mooring and we are not sure about any stay limitations.  We are happy to be here and will begin our adventures on shore tomorrow.  There is some disappointment that we could not spend a few days at Glass Window walking on the beautiful white sand beaches and investigating the bridge that was moved seven feet to the west by a rogue wave in 1991, but that is how it goes with weather and anchorages.  At least we got to see it.

Just before posting this blog, we watched the fuel freighter move off the government dock, right by us (we are on the mooring furthest east near a dock) and out of the cut.  A large ferry was on its way in and the freighter wanted to be out of the cut before the ferry came in.  I wish I could have seen their width against the cut!

Love to all,

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Lynyard Cay to Royal Island

It was good rest last night.  The wind died down and Hold Fast gently rocked from what little swell could made its way around the cay.  We left this morning, the last of five boats to head out, four sailboats and one power boat.  It was slow going at first and then we got a little wind to help us along.  It is hard to describe the beauty of the blue water and bright sky dotted with clouds.  We saw a rain shower, but it kept its distance.  It was a perfect day and a great crossing of the Northeast Providence Channel.  The only thing that could have made it better would have been landing a fish.  Myron must have tried five different lures, a couple of teasers and he even laced some lures with conch skin.  We got three hits but no catches.

Once we were settled in to the anchorage we got a call from Pete and Linda (from Tilloo Cay, Abacos) on ‘Empty Pockets.’   They had been given plenty of fish from Helen, a single-hander on ‘Ain’t Ms. B Haven,’ a Schucker 436.  She caught AND LANDED a 53” cow mahi on the trip over today.  She loves to fish, but does not like to eat it!  Her secret today – pre-rigged ballyhoo.  So there you go, via Helen and Pete and Linda, God still blessed us with fish – just not how we expected.

I am going to go make dinner now…with some very fresh fish!

Love to all,

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Man-O-War Cay to Lynyard Cay

It is terribly difficult to leave a place of friends, fun, easy living, and two small children that have stolen our hearts.  We want to see a few new places on this trip south.  The thought of exploring something new has taken the sting out of leaving Man-O-War Cay, just a little.

There was so much going on at MOW Cay that I told Barb we need to leave so I can get some rest!  In addition to Pastor Randy’s church, we met new people and did more things in MOW Cay than we have done previously.  I already told you about the sewing room with Barb, which was a welcome break.  One day, Myron went out with Willard for conchs…lots of them.  We learned how to clean conchs…lots of them…according to Jay and Jan.  We made desserts out of sapote.  The inside of a black sapote honestly looks like poop when it is fully ripe.  It has a mild chocolate flavor.  We called our desserts ‘poo poo pudding’ and ‘poo poo sherbert.’  Even so, it was good and I will be making more.  Jay and Jan got Myron hooked on black sugar cane, and then Barry and Barb helped me with intervention.  When Ernesto, Natalia and the kids finally showed up, we went to their lunch at school, plus swimming and sand castle building with them after school.  The kids told Myron the Bahamas are worth all the effort to get here and Camila is pretty sure she has the best dad in the world!  The kids went to church with us last Sunday and I had to pry them away when it was all over.  We were the last to leave!  We spent an afternoon with Ian, Janine and Tammy on ‘Jasamine,’ a 50+ foot sailboat that Ian and his brother built in Australia.  And of course we watched the Super Bowl at Jay and Jan’s place, with Giavana, Barb, Barry, and Pirate Joe.  We could fill up our day as much as we wanted, or as little as we wanted.  It was terribly hard to leave.

Speaking of filling up, one day last week, I think it was the day after Atlanta got all that snow, we got plenty of rain.  During a lull, I opened the starboard fill to capture rain and then went off to the sewing room with Barb.  It rained so hard I began to get concerned about overfilling the tank.  That tank holds about 110 gallons and we had emptied it.  Sure enough, when Myron and I got back to Hold Fast, the bilge pump was running.  More than 110 gallons collected from one third of the forward starboard deck in less than four hours – plenty of rain!

Today, after a provisioning trip to Marsh Harbour with Barb and Barry, we left MOW Cay about 1 pm and were anchored in Lynyard by 4 pm.  The wind was light and mostly on the bow, so not much sailing.  After anchoring we finished a boat chore, then dinner, a shower and now we need to get some rest for tomorrow’s trip to Royal Island - as soon as we have some of Barb's key lime pie she sent with us!   

We pray that we will be blessed with a fish or two along the way.

Love to all,

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