Saturday, December 19, 2015

When Is That Front Coming?

After exploring around Rat and Pigeon Cays by dinghy and foot yesterday, we put the dinghy on deck and tidied up Hold Fast for a trip down the Exuma Sound. It was hot and we were sweating. Although it was tempting, we discussed the wisdom of skipping a swim so late in the day. As we continued to prepare Hold Fast, I saw a huge needle-fish doing a tail walk across the water and shouted for Myron to look. We were admiring the distance that fish was making and then we saw the dark fin and accompanying wake of what looked like a bull shark chasing it. The shark was successful and somehow the entire event became much less entertaining.

We make our plans to move, or not move, based upon a forecaster adjusted grib from NOAA, among other things such as 24, 48 and 72 hour surface forecasts. Everything kept lining up for the front to pass near our area around noon. That is why we staged at Rat Cay, which protected us from the relentless SE winds but is rather exposed from the north. Every time I could feel the boat's bow swing last night, I would wake up to see which way we were pointing and whether the winds had come early and foiled our plans. To the contrary, we had mild winds from the east when we pulled anchor, raised the main and headed for the cut. Rat Cay Cut was in its last two hours of ebb, with only about a two foot swell. One of our easiest transitions. Once we got underway, the winds got brisk and we figured the cold front would catch us on the cut into Georgetown. But in the short three hour trip on the Exuma Sound, we never saw winds over 12 knots. Our new friends, Bob and Liz on 'Arapesh,' a Beneteau 411, made the trip down with us.

Once in Elizabeth Harbour, we were shocked to see so much of the Monument anchorage wide open. We rarely get any space there. We took advantage of it and anchored next to Hamilton on 'Sarah G,' launched the jeep and made the long trip to town for much needed supplies (food). Julien had his BBQ going, but it was too early to get jerk chicken or ribs. We purchased some ground beef and buns and made green chili cheese burgers back on the boat instead. We rushed back to beat the winds, which can make Elizabeth Harbour difficult in a dinghy. We have eaten, napped and still no front yet. We are getting our second squall and the winds are increasing. It is probably around the corner. It is so nice to be in!

Love to all,

{GMST}23°31.61'N|075°46.02'W|12/19/2015|4:52 PM{GEND}

Friday, December 18, 2015

Rat Cay

We moved here to Rat this afternoon for a early departure for George Town. It has been very hard to move south with all the wind out of the south. Should have favorable winds tomorrow.

{GMST}23°43.92'N|076°02.89'W|12/18/2015|7:30 PM{GEND}

Monday, December 14, 2015

Alone Again

We were all alone at Rudder Cay yesterday, almost all alone for a short trip out in the Exuma Sound this morning (we saw one boat behind us for a brief period), and now all alone anchored off a beach on Lee Stocking Island. It is not us. It is that there just does not seem to be very many boats in the Bahamas right now. I saw seven boats at Pigs Beach when we went by, only seven in Black Point. When there was over a 100 boats at Black Point one year, there were seven boats in here at Lee Stocking Island. I guess the math sort of reasons out that we would be alone. Plus, it was rather nasty out on the Sound. Very few are many willing to transit these seas.

Not sure how long we will be here before we have a decent opportunity to head further south. I can see my hopes melting away about being at Long Island before Christmas. That is OK. We will be where we will be, and we are quite happy to be there!

The dinghy is launched, finally. So we are off for a walk.

Love to all,

{GMST}23°45.63'N|076°05.22'W|12/14/2015|1:57 PM{GEND}

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rudder Cay

While it is not our first time to transit Rudder Cay, it is our first time anchoring here for the night. It is a bit shallow around here, but we managed to find a spot, with mostly sand, a bit of distance from the shore. We moved on from Black Point after we received an email from Ida that she and Terrance were in Nassau to attend a funeral for two ladies from Black Point. The folks that would attend and conduct church services in Black Point are with Ida in Nassau and the laundromat is of course closed. The town is basically gone and when they return they will be in mourning. Best that we move on for now and hope to see Ida and gang on our way north.

We never did launch the dinghy at Black Point. Over 20 knots of wind makes it difficult to lift over the side. Besides, a high free-board vessel like Hold Fast takes the strong weather just fine, which can be deceiving. Once you get down at water level in an eight foot dinghy, you question your sanity for wanting to take the 'jeep' (as we sometimes call the dink) somewhere in such bad weather.

Leaving today, after all of yesterday's wind, did not give much hope for a smooth ride through any cut. As we approached Galliot Cut, it was clear it would be much more fun to travel down the inside. Cave Cay Cut presented the same display. Myron braved the shallows to get us to Rudder Cay. We shall see what tomorrow brings and what direction we go. By the way, Musha Cay now looks like a resort. I think it can be rented out for a week for some astronomical figure, or you could just be really good friends with a certain magic man.

Time for some rest.

Love to all,

{GMST}23°52.38'N|076°14.57'W|12/13/2015|3:19 PM{GEND}

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Laundry Time

As it seems to go, I am always ready to get some laundry done by the time we reach Black Point. We moved over to the west side of Norman's Cay near sunset yesterday, based upon a forecast of strong winds out of the NE. It was probably going to be a lumpy night no matter where we anchored. A number of boaters complained about it this morning. At about 4 am, we were both up for different reasons. We stepped outside to take a gander at our position. I happened to see a really large meteorite, or falling star. I kept watching. In the course of 20 minutes I saw about 20 more. At one time, I saw three in 15 seconds. We have not seen such clear skies in quite a while, and then for it to put on such a show. It was all something to behold.

At 6:30 am we were pulling up anchor and working out of the coral heads for room to raise the main sail. It was a wonderful sail, about 40 miles. It began with a broad reach and ended with a tight reach as we continued to arc around the shallows and into this anchorage. We had a few rain storms along the way but kept full sails up and were pressing along over seven knots. We were hit by a squall shortly after anchoring here at Black Point. The winds are really up so we have yet to launch the dinghy. Maybe it happens today, maybe tomorrow. It would be nice to go for a walk and purchase some laundry tokens as I will not be able to purchase them on Sunday. There is always Monday - which is the proper attitude to have in the Bahamas mon.

There are only about eight boats here. Last year we heard there was 105 boats. The weather has not permitted many boaters to get across the Gulf Stream since we crossed.

Since the latest squall arrived, we have not had internet. Maybe this will get posted soon.

Love to all,

{GMST}24°05.89'N|076°24.25'W|12/12/2015|4:17 PM{GEND}

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In the Exumas

The night we arrived in Rock Sound, we were accosted with one of the strangest thunderstorms we have encountered yet. It was fear inspiring. There was very little wind or rain. The lightening, however, was most impressive. The overhead lightening was rapid enough to keep the sky generally lit. The cloud to ground lightening was something to behold. It would catch me off guard and I would squeeze shut my eyes, but not before it had burned a blinding memory of the bolt striking the nearby shore. The thunder that followed had a percussion that shook not only our eardrums and bodies, but also the boat. During one of the thunder percussions, I heard the window by the galley pop out of place. The boaters anchored a half mile from us thought we had been hit. Myron thought they had been hit. I knew better. The outline of the lightening bolts hitting the ground was seared on the inside of my eyelids. The next day we checked our electronics. All was well. Myron checked the galley window. He had to tighten up the screws, but otherwise all well. It is one thing to sit in a house during such a storm, it is another to float on water with a metal mast reaching up to the sky. We are grateful to God for His protection.

We had great church with Pastor Bradley, his family and church members. We set February 15 through 20 as the dates to conduct the after school program for the kids in Rock Sound. Pastor Bradley and another church member gave us several bags of clothing and toys to take to Long Island. It says a lot about people that have little and give to others. We are hoping the weather will let us get these items to Pastor Craig Fox before Christmas.

We planned on sailing across tomorrow, but the forecast called for a better fishing weather today. It was smooth enough to be sure, but hardly a ray of sunshine. We had a double hook up of mahi mahi. Landed one, just over three feet, but by the time we could reel in the other, it got off. We are very thankful for what fish we get. After some rest, we will have fish for dinner!

Love to all,

{GMST}24°35.59'N|076°48.58'W|12/10/2015|2:55 PM{GEND}

Friday, December 4, 2015

Long But Pleasant Day

We rose early, before first light, so we could transit Current Cut well before sunrise. We entered the cut about 2 hours after ebb tide began, which probably gave us about 3 knots against us at the throat. Hold Fast pushed through just fine and soon we were on the banks headed for tonight's destination. We spent enough hours in route to get a full range of weather. From watching a thunderstorm east of Spanish Wells at sunrise, to a light wind and dazzling sunlight that made the sea sparkle like diamonds (I think I shall call that 'sea diamonds' from now on), and finally a misting rain as we were anchoring.

We made water today, over 100 gallons to top off both saddle tanks. There are not many other boats out here. We only saw two other boats during the day and there were only two boats anchored in Rock Sound when we arrived.

Tomorrow we will seek out the pastor who wanted some help. For now, though, it is time for fish, shower and a show.

Love to all,

{GMST}24°52.16'N|076°09.89'W|12/4/2015|4:31 PM{GEND}

Moving on

Through current cut headed for Rock Sound.

{GMST}25°22.14'N|076°45.68'W|12/4/2015|6:55 AM{GEND}

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Better Late Than Never

This morning we had a little indecision about leaving. The wind was up more than we expected and the predominant swell was about four feet. We were not sure what seas we would get from these on and off winds. We finally decided that there was just too little confidence in the forecast for Friday, so we set out, just later than normal. As a result of our initial delay combined with slower progress due to wind and seas, we knew we would be arriving after dark. We were not worried, we left Royal Harbor in the dark last year and did just fine. We decided to press on and anchor near Current Cut to position ourselves for tomorrow. It is a more open roadstead, but we like getting a little fresh air. Royal Harbor can get a little sticky hot.

One benefit of the less than favorable weather was that we did not have the sea grass until about six miles out of Egg Island (the inlet). For the first time in all our crossings of the Northeast Providence Channel, we caught a mahi mahi. She was quite a fighter. Only about three feet but she fought like the 4+ footers we caught in the past. Given how rough it was, we wanted to her get all that fight out of the way before we brought her on board. Thank goodness there were no sharks around to take her from us.

I cooked up a lunch of fresh mahi mahi, batatas (sweet potatoes), onions, and sweet peppers. We are very thankful for the catch and have a couple more meals to go.

Our bright light came in handy tonight to light up the bottom as I wanted to make sure that I dropped the hook in sand. After we set the snubber (a line that goes from a cleat on the boat to the anchor chain to dampen pull) I looked for the chain with the light. We had snapped back over the anchor and could view the amchor at night, well dug in! That always helps us sleep well.

Time for a shower and a movie.

Love to all,

{GMST}25°24.76'N|076°47.33'W|12/3/2015|6:11 PM{GEND}

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Not Goodbye - Just See You Later

Saying goodbye is too difficult. We prefer to say "see you later." Because we probably will. It was hard to leave Jay's dock and all the gang that comes with it. We hope to see Barb and Barry in the southern islands in a month or so. We should see Jay and Jan and the girls on our way back north.

The wind kicked up today out of the south as forecast. But it has died down now. We were the first boat to anchor in Lynyard Cay. That is a first for us as there are usually several boats lining the shore. We are trying out a new anchorage and should be able to follow the shoreline in the morning right to the inlet.

We were enjoying a ginger beer with coconut water when another sailboat arrived in the anchorage. I think the name is Satori. We may have company on the crossing tomorrow.

We are showered up and ready to get some rest as the next couple of days may work out to be good and long travel days.

Love to all,

{GMST}26°21.26'N|076°59.14'W|12/2/2015|4:09 PM{GEND}

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Time Flies

It seems like we just got to Jay and Jan’s dock yesterday.  We only had a couple of good days of weather, followed by more than a week of strong winds.  There was plenty to do while we were pinned down.  Myron worked on building Jay a top-bar bee hive and the two of them worked the community to find bees.  There are two other beekeepers on Man O War Cay, but neither have queens or a nucleus ready yet.  There is a hive living in the side of a local house, but capturing those bees will require subsequent carpentry work.  Maybe a nuc will be ready when we return early next year on our way back north.

I kept busy with my own projects.  Jay helped me with a broken zipper on the enclosure and then gave me 20 plastic pulls to replace the metal pulls that are freezing (metal/salt water reaction) in place on the zippers.  I have replaced all but nine pulls and greased all the snaps and dot springs.  Getting the enclosure panels off when the zipper pull is frozen is a slightly greater challenge than getting them back on with such a tight fit (nice job Pat at Pat’s canvas, that these panels still look so good and tight after five years).  Once the winds got above 20 knots, I could no longer work on the project. 

Myron also helped me replace my cutting board that is also a sink insert.  The butcher block cutting board was slowly breaking off blocks during my pounding (cracking) conch.  The initial plan was to glue the old board back together and hope it holds for the season, then buy some one inch thick polypropylene and craft a new one next summer.  But Jay had some starboard laying around that was 3/4” inch thick and more than large enough to get that project done right now.  I am so glad to have a new and strong cutting (pounding!) board, plus it looks so much better than the old wood boards.  Bring on the conch!  Here is the new (in the sink) and the old (to the left of the sink).

We have been at Jay and Jan’s dock for over two weeks.  It will be close to three weeks by the time we move.  We have had great internet, thanks to Barry’s wifi design.  Life has been pretty easy.  Hold Fast is shy about 10 inches at low tide, so the only thing we have really had to manage is one of the dock lines at high and low tide, especially on a northeast wind.  Here is a picture of Hold Fast on the bottom and leaning on the dock.  Notice the flag shows the wind blowing (at 20-30 knots) the opposite way she is leaning.  

As Myron and Jay go around town together, attend church and sit in the same pew, people have asked if they are brothers.  There must be talk around the town because one of Jay’s daughters, Giovanna, was asked how long her ‘uncle’ was going to be in town.  That is what we shall call him around here now:  “Uncle Myron.”

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday.  Jan had to work Thursday and Friday, as it is not a holiday here.  We had a 22 pound turkey and all the trimmings.  I made three pies:  Bahamian fresh coconut pie, fresh coconut cream pie, and chocolate cream pie.  Myron and Jay husked and harvested fresh coconuts for me.  The Bahamian coconut pie was a new try at a recipe for me, from Jan’s cookbook.  It is always dangerous to try new things at an important gathering (please disregard the over-baked crust edge, we just tossed that out and enjoyed the good parts). Most folks found something they liked.  

Jan set a beautiful table.  Note the turquoise water in the background off the balcony. 

The lousy weather ruined our chances of going out with Uncle Willard to hunt conch.  We are expecting a few days break in the weather soon, therefore we will push on to Eleuthera Island to meet with a pastor in Rock Sound.  We are not sure the timing of our plans with his church and community, but I imagine we will have some time to get down to Long Island and see how we can help Pastor Craig Fox and his flock.

I posted several months’ worth of pictures on Picasa.  Please click on the photo galley link to the right and see the three new albums for South to JAX and MOW, Trip West, and North to Deltaville.  Google changed the format again, so if you want to see the captions, you must click on the 'info' icon and leave that up as you browse through the albums.  If we find free internet during our travels south, I can post more pictures.  Otherwise it will just have to wait.  Will keep you all posted on our whereabouts.

Love to all,