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Monday, March 31, 2014

Back at Hog Cay, Jumentos

Man of War Bay afforded good protection from west and northwest winds. We had to pick out sand between the rocks as best as we could. Our strategy was to stay there as long as we could tolerate it until the wind clocked around to more east than north. It was about 4 pm on Wednesday when we picked up anchor, or started to anyway. When the wind clocked overnight, our chain apparently wrapped around a rock. After a couple of different approaches to it we pulled free and headed to the west side of Raccoon Cay. It was fairly uncomfortable there for about six hours with large swells on the beam, but safe. Not for one of our Tervis cups though, on one of the big swell rolls, it tossed itself on the floor and broke into two pieces - pretty sure that is covered under warranty. We knew it would get better in time, so we got off the big boat and went dinghy fishing until almost dark. Myron caught two Nassau groupers, one 17.5 inches and the other 18.5 inches, probably about 5 pounds each. As we were removing the hook from one of the groupers, we could see that he had an octopus leg still in his mouth. He should have stopped while he was ahead!

The anchorage was much more comfortable by 10 pm. We stayed at Raccoon Cay until Friday, when we moved back to Hog Cay in some snarky and squally weather. Our goal was to get better cell coverage to finalize some things back home. With that all complete now, we feel free to move about the Bahamas, cell coverage or not.

That being said, our future plans are weather (and whim) dependent and not worth an attempt to document here. Better to keep you posted after the fact.

Love to all,
Dena

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{GMST}22|15.024|N|075|45.133|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hog Cay to Man of War Bay

There is a storm that just left the coast of Florida and is trailing a cold front that will reach all the way down here. As a result, we relocated to hide from the forecast 20 knot northwest winds, more if we get squalls. When we were anchored at Raccoon Cay a few days ago, we dinghied over here to snorkel and walk the beach, so we were somewhat familiar with the layout. After we pulled up anchor at Hog Cay, a French fleet of four boats followed us over here. We were the second to get the pick of an anchoring spot and now we have a total of seven boats here. I doubt more will come as most are settled in where they plan to ride out the blow. The plan is to move again tomorrow as the wind clocks around, probably back to Raccoon Cay.

Amazingly, we are still getting cell phone coverage, and pray that continues, as we are trying to take care of some things back home, plus it makes getting the weather forecast more simple.

Love to all,
Dena

Posted via 3G.
{GMST}22|20.930|N|075|47.885|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Raccoon Cay to Hog Cay (Middle Pen)

The trip to Hog Cay from Raccoon would take only about 1.5 hours, that left us with the morning to do some snorkeling, fishing and beach combing. The snorkeling was great, more fish and coral than I could identify. The fishing was with a pole off the dinghy. We have yet to see success with that configuration. The beach combing was interesting. I found sea beans, some which I could not identify, but the beach was southeast facing and therefore had a tremendous amount of garbage, mostly plastic. I even found two unbroken light bulbs. Who knew.

After arriving at Hog Cay, we were immediately invited to attend a bonfire and to bring some dinner to put on the grate. We met new friends and were reunited with others. There are 13 boats in the two anchorages, with plenty of room for more.

We are about 60 miles north of Cuba. This far south, we should get a glimpse of the Southern Cross again! It is a pleasant and cool night and I look forward to a good night's sleep.

Love to all,
Dena

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{GMST}22|14.938|N|075|45.133|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Water Cay to Raccoon Cay

Everyone is still thankful this morning that the dinghy was found in the pitch dark last night. I need to find out what kind of spotlight Bob used - I believe he procured it at Walmart. But the adrenaline of the late night search, and the frustration of the incredibly uncomfortable anchorage, left little room for rest. Plus, it kept going through my mind as to what kind of seas we would have on our outside passage today, given how rough it was behind a cay.

There was no need to borrow trouble. The seas were not bad at all. I am thrilled that we took the outside route. I think it was worse in the anchorage last night! We scratched using the south cut on Water Cay and backtracked to the north cut. It is wider and deeper and it was no problem other than needing more RPM against the tidal current. We dropped in a jet head and a tuna plug when the depths were adequate and looked forward to 40 miles of fishing in new territory. We were unimpressed. We caught a small cow mahi, under two feet, that put up a good fight and all we were trying to do was get her to the boat so we could get her off our lure. She hit a pink and black jet head sweetened with squid parts. After a long fight, we finally got her aboard. I held her in a towel while Myron removed the hook, then he told me to sling her overboard by her tail in one motion. I made it so and she dove deep, undoubtedly wiser to our ways. Other than that, we caught grass, trash and a cockroach of the sea (barracuda). We were surprised that we caught him in over 800 feet of water when we were approaching the Johnson Cut, south of Raccoon Cay, so Myron pulled all our gear in and called it quits.

Depths in the Johnson Cut were 20 to 30 feet other than one hard bar that ran about 11 feet. We arrived at the cut with about an hour left of ebb flow, so not quite low tide. After the cut, the shortcut channel to our anchorage did not look straightforward, so Myron opted to take the long route around the sand bar. We dropped the hook, set it, put a few things away, and then got showers and took a nap. The nap was not at all sufficient and will have to be improved upon after dinner and either a movie or a something, if we make it that far. Bob and Anita stopped by in the dinghy asking where to hunt, but Myron was still in nap mode and I had no idea where to send them. Like the rest of us, Bob got little sleep as well, but he is so excited to be in these remote islands that he cannot miss a moment of daylight!

I am not sure of our plans for tomorrow. I am completely content to stay here. However we need to get cell phone reception to get internet, therefore we may have to move to Hog Cay or Ragged Island.

Love to all,
Dena

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{GMST}22|21.336|N|075|48.802|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Salt Pond to Water Cay, Jumentos

Today was almost perfectly still as we motored and made water for almost four of the initial hours of our trip, putting 163 gallons into the tanks. We were stunned at how calm the Jumentos were today and took the dinghy all around and through a cut. Not to last though. We are now rocking and rolling with a north swell wrapping around into our anchorage. I am glad Hold Fast is a big girl - I see the smaller boats rolling gunwale to gunwale. It looks like a whiplash motion.

We had dinner aboard Nancy Lu, the Hallberg Rassy 43, along with Bob and Alita on Discovery, a Hunter 456. As we prepared to leave, it was discovered that Bob's dinghy had somehow left the boat. We discovered this at 9:30 pm, VERY dark outside, and a lot of wind and swell. Mark and Bob set out to find it. Myron and I changed clothes to join the search. Mark and Bob found it slowly heading out to the banks. I was a miracle and we thank God!

It has been a truly full day! Hopefully we will get some kind of rest tonight and be off on another adventure tomorrow.

Love to all,
Dena

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{GMST}23|01.661|N|075|43.023|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Georgetown to Salt Pond, Long Island

As in our last post, we had more things not go as planned, or even as contracted.  We waited around Georgetown for the closing on the sale of our house, but received word yesterday that the closing needed to be extended.  As a result, we took advantage of a weather window to head toward Ragged Island.  It takes us a few stops to get there, Long Island is the first of those.

We thought we would be motoring all day as the winds were promised to be too tight for us to sail.  This time I am so glad the forecast did not hold!  Shortly after clearing Elizabeth Harbour, we were able to turn the motor off, put out a reefed jib along with the reefed main and then sailed on a very close reach.  Our route required us to make a few turns to avoid shoals, which put us in an even better point on the wind.  We put out a reefed mizzen and were sailing at over 7 knots.  It was a glorious day and there must have been 15 other sailboats with the same idea.  The winds lightened up, as forecast, and we shook out the reef on the main and on the jib.  As we finally approached Indian Hole Point to turn into the anchorage, we lost all effective wind (Hold Fast needs more than ten knots!) and turned on the motor to get to an anchoring spot. 

What is funny is that Hold Fast made a good impression on our sailing neighbors.  We out performed a catamaran because it could not point as close to the wind on our last leg and had to fall off and then motor up.  The only vessel we did not out perform was ‘Nancy Lu,’ an HR 42 with a seven foot keel.   We do not set out to race other boats, but sailing in a group does give us an idea of just how well Hold Fast can do relative to other makes.  We really stretched some distance between us and the other boats when the seas got rough and the winds were up.  That is when 30,000 pounds can help! 

Nancy Lu wants us to lead them through the Comer Channel tomorrow, so we have an early morning.  We finished the last of our fish for dinner and I need to get a shower and some rest.

Love to all,
Dena

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{GMST}23|21.013|N|075|07.946|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Black Point to Georgetown

Things do not always work out like we plan. On a sailboat, we have learned that we have to be quite flexible with plans. Bend with the forecast, or break. Bending sounds better.

We had hoped to be in Black Point for two weeks to help with math at school and the children's program with the churches. We arrived Saturday afternoon, attended church Sunday, dropped off donations Monday, and I did laundry while Myron taught math at the school. There were 39 boats at Black Point, and I think we were all trying to get our laundry done at the same time. Monday after school, we met with the principal, Ms. Young, and she planned to put us to work with some selected students on Tuesday morning at 9:30. Myron was checking weather at 2 am, however, and when I got up at 4 am, we worked through the new weather forecast and timing to get to a protected anchorage. All the forecast gave us for moving south was Tuesday, otherwise the winds would be right on our nose and quite strong. As it was, today's forecast called for light SE winds, but we would manage. We waited until about 8:00 am to drop off garbage and inform Ms. Young that we had to leave due to incoming weather. By the time we put the dinghy away and pulled up anchor, it was 8:40 am. We figured it was OK because we were going less than 30 miles to Leaf Cay, next to Lee Stocking Island. That was the new plan.

As we headed out, I began to ponder about the number of boats that may be seeking shelter at the same anchorage. I suggested we move right along to Georgetown if the water on the Exuma Sound was agreeable. Myron thought I was crazy. It was another four hours from Lee Stocking Island and we had gotten a late start. We went out on the Exuma Sound through Galliot Cut during an ebb flow. It was a pretty good rip, but Myron exited to the right of it as soon as we had good depth. We saw a boat going by outside. The water looked reasonable.

After a bit, the winds picked up, but not from the SE as forecast, rather from the NE. Fantastic! We were making great time, and we know Georgetown well enough to anchor in the evening. We got to Adderly Cut, the entrance to Leaf Cay and Lee Stocking Island - our original plan this morning - at just after 1 pm, but there was already three boats anchored where we thought would provide the best protection. Furthermore, there was a mass exodus going north from Georgetown and many were headed into that same anchorage. Myron was glad we were pressing on. I lost count, but I am certain there were more than 20 boats heading north. The Cruiser Regatta in Georgetown finished yesterday. That in no way means that Georgetown was emptied out of boats, because most boats are seeking shelter for the coming weather - just like us. We could see the multitude of boats as we came in Conch Cay Cut to Elizabeth Harbor (Georgetown). There must be 300 boats here!

For the first time, we are anchored off the town near Kidd Cove. We are in good company of 50 or so other boats and hope to be protected here from the SW and W winds.

Suffice to say, I need some rest. It is exciting to be back in GT, but Joint Venture, Straight From the Heart and Dream Catcher are not here. Maybe we will run into Eileen and Ed on Tropical Impulse or Wes on Moonshadow. If nothing else, we will just have to make new friends. With 300 boats, there is plenty opportunity for that!

Love to all,
Dena

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{GMST}23|30.416|N|075|45.773|W|Anchored|{GEND}

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Norman's Cay to Black Point

We were not the only ones to seek refuge in Norman’s from the south and west winds.  Hold Fast was uncharacteristically on the move at anchor in the tidal current opposing wind.  When the winds got up to 20 knots, opposing the tidal current, she would sail at a speed of over one knot to the end of her tether, then turn around and race to the other end.  All the other boats at anchor gave us plenty of distance.  It might make regular folk seasick, thankfully not us.  I was thinking we ought to turn off the anchor light and turn on the navigation lights!

Of the four nights we were there, one of them was peaceful.  We were glad to see the winds go northwest with the promise of easterlies on the horizon.  We headed out Norman’s Cut this morning, offshore outside the park, and fished our way down to Dotham Cut.  All we caught was grass. 

Once anchored at Black Point, we launched the dinghy, went into town and met up with Ida.  The supply boat came in while we were anchoring, so there was no hope of getting anything done in town.  Restaurants and stores are locked up and everyone is down at the dock or dealing with the delivery.  We hope to catch up with Ida tomorrow at church, then on Monday talk with the school principal about teaching math.  The weather forecast does not look favorable for a long-term stay at Black Point, which is very disappointing, but we will squeeze in as much as we can while we are here.

Love to all,
Dena

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{GMST}24|06.174|N|076|24.135|W|Anchored|{GEND}