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Thursday, December 29, 2016

MOW

All tuck in at Man-O-War cay.
No problems on crossing just bad radio propagation so no position updates.
Myron

{GMST}26°35.42'N|077°00.05'W|1:18 PM|{GEND}

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Content

Damaged roofs, broken windows and mangled docks have been a steady component of our scenery. Hurricane Matthew has certainly had a hand in the full employment of roofers and dock repairmen.

I realized how much I missed watching pelicans and terns at the hunt. They are some of my favorite seabirds. Pelicans, because they are quiet, and terns because they are so elegant and graceful. South of Smyrna Beach, we got into white pelicans and royal terns. Some dolphin played on our stern wake and we had a few glimpses of manatees. This afternoon I changed into shorts and a t-shirt. Sunshine warms more than the skin. The winds were up the last few hours of travel, accompanied by whitecaps. The jib was put to work to get us here before 5 pm.

For the curious, our new anchor did fabulously again last night. It is our first time anchoring in this spot. No current but winds are certainly up. A three-masted schooner (like Hamilton's) followed us most of the afternoon (pirates!) and anchored to the south of us.

There was much less boat traffic today. On Christmas Eve, most people are where they want to be. We are running behind given the challenges of this fall, so we have adopted the attitude of wanting to be where we are. I believe that meets the definition of content. We enjoy Christmas wherever we are - the exception of course being stuck in an airport.

We wish you all the best this Christmas and that you too are content. Merry Christmas!

Love to all,
Dena & Myron

{GMST}28°07.45'N|080°35.98'W|5:14 PM|{GEND}

Friday, December 23, 2016

Rockhouse Creek

It is official: we like our new anchor. Only one night is not enough to make a conclusion, but it is better than NOT liking our new anchor. At 65 pounds, it sets pretty quick and pulls the bow down when we tug on it. It also fits much differently in the bow roller, a little better than our Manson Supreme.

We had a small swell that wrapped into our anchorage last night and at least three tugs that went by. Neither were a nuisance, more of a pleasant rocking to sleep. We were anchor up before sunrise and through the Bridge of Lions (St. Augustine) at the 7:30 am opening. I am glad to get through that bridge as well. One year it broke a couple hours after we when through and no one that had a mast was going south on the ditch for more than a week.

Rockhouse was a bit full when we arrived at 5 pm. Today the tides were against us until 1 pm. We putted around looking for a spot. We almost gave up but decided to snuggle in between a cruiser and a derelict boat. Rockhouse has a good current running in and out. We consider it another good night for an anchor test.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}29°03.66'N|080°55.88'W|6:12 PM|Farm{GEND}

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Down The Ditch

Metro Park gave us a quiet night. No boat wakes after dark.

The weather does not currently support an ocean sail down to Fort Pierce. Therefore we are going down the ICW and hope to meet up with friends at Vero Beach. Other than our last two hours of today's travels, the tide was with us, helping us move over 7 knots, sometimes 8.6 knots. We arrived in plenty of time for showers and dinner before sunset. Sometimes the tides work with you.

Dinner was rice pilaf, corn and salmon cakes,topped off with a sip of eggnog. I am pondering eggnog French toast for breakfast...no syrup needed!

Love to all,
Dena


{GMST}29°55.46'N|081°18.23'W|6:05 PM|St Aug{GEND}

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Splash At Last

After almost three weeks of significant projects, Hold Fast was launched today. We appreciate Green Cove Springs boatyard, but we are very happy to leave any boatyard. They lowered us in but kept us in the straps while we checked for leaks. There was a little hiccup with a leaky strainer for the engine raw water. Once that was resolved, the crew lowered us the rest of the way and we headed for the Main Street Bridge. It was so cold I could not stay out on deck very long. As a result, it was not until we got to the first red marker that I found the yard's rub rail blocks still hanging over the sides. Back to the boatyard we went, like that place has some kind of vortex that would not let us leave. Beau saw us return, drove the golf cart out on the pier and let me toss the blocks to him. We did not even have to tie up.

We initially had to the tide with us, so we were off to the races, doing almost 7 knots. Even when we left Ortega River Marina, my motto was "just get us through the Main Street Bridge." That motto rang true today due to the time restrictions for openings: midnight, 4 am, 6:45 am, noon, 4:15 pm and 8 pm. Of course none of those times work with the tidal currents. We had to wait for the FEC RR Bridge and we were still an hour early for the 4:15 pm opening. Jacksonville Landing was abused by Hurricane Matthew, but good enough to tie up while we waited for the designated time. There was not much traffic, just two tugs inbound and us outbound. Paul and Shari followed with tradition, even in the chilling temperatures, and met up with us on Gretel after we cleared the Main Street Bridge. They pressed on to figure out where we should tie up at the Metro Marina. The Metro is adjacent to the Ever Bank Ball Park and it can get quite busy for the Jaguar home games. The next home game is this weekend, so we are good for the night. Only two other boats here. We had a nice visit with Paul and Shari, and they brought cookies they just made today! Yummy!

We just finished dinner. The wood burning stove was lit, and it is time for a shower. It is a relief to be finally underway.

Love to all,
Dena


{GMST}30°19.15'N|081°38.44'W|6:14 PM|Farm{GEND}

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Boatyard Green Cove Springs

There is no decent internet at this boat yard.  As a result, our update is almost outdated.

We have had a whirlwind of one mission after another.  We had only one night to visit with our friends at the marina.   The next day we had breakfast with Fred, and then took a rental car up to Deltaville to retrieve our van.  The rental car was an experience of its own.  The first clue came when the rental car guy wanted to know how many bags we were carrying.  Odd question to ask unless we were getting an exceptionally small car.  This was a one-way rental and the clerks usually try to get rid of cars they do not want on their lot.  He said he was giving us a Chevy Spark.  I told him I have no idea what that is.  He said it kind of looks like a skate.  He was right.  He asked if we wanted to pre-pay the gas.  Why not?  I told him the thing probably only held five gallons of gas.  I was wrong, it held nine.  Which was all we needed for that long drive through five states.  


It was an exhausting ten hour drive as I am sure those little tikes were only meant to drive around town, not up Highway 95 at 70 MPH behind trucks.  The pros were that we got a gazillion miles per gallon and if we crashed, we could save on funeral costs as they could just bury us in that thing.  The cons included an incredibly rough ride, so much so that some of the bumps threw the phone right out of Myron’s hand.  Praise be to God, we arrived tired but safe.

We spent two nights in Deltaville visiting the Wards who are practically family.  Here is Helen Elizabeth, Sophie, Helen, and Macon at breakfast:
 

Floyd, Jean and Myron enjoying breakfast at Helen Elizabeth's gourmet "The Table" in Deltaville:
 

Saturday we had a few hours with Chris and Bill, and their dog Flaco, in Matthews: 

After that visit, we drove on to Elizabeth City and spent one night visiting with Dan and Kathy of Maritime Ministries, as well as playing with their dog Baxter.  We were back at the marina by Sunday night to visit with Phyllis, Merrick and the boys on Galaxy.  On Monday, Shari came aboard to help us to move the boat to Green Cove Springs Marina.  In route, we saw Paul and Jack sailing on the St. John’s River.  What I was hoping would be a nice day on the river with Shari turned into a lot of wind and salt spray.  Paul said the highest gust he saw was 37 knots.  Not a "Shari sailing" day.

Paul sailing near us on 'Hansel:'


Paul later brought our van down to the boat yard.  We were hauled out after lunch on a rather warm Tuesday (90 degrees), got the prop off and shaft out on Wednesday, drove them up to Brunswick the same day and repeated that drive to pick them up Thursday afternoon.  After lunch with Fred on Friday, a bunch of parts arrived – except one needed to finish the prop shaft project.  We have many other projects on our list.   What gets done, gets done.  It is all a matter of the availability of time and BOAT units (Break Out Another Thousand).

Hold Fast being moved into position for the lift:
 

Transitioning Hold Fast from the lift to the trailer:

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}29°58.94'N|081°39.05'W|3/19/2016|10:06 AM{GEND} 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Quick Run

It was a pleasant stay at Pine Island. After anchoring in the midst of cities, it was a welcome relief. The wildlife noises go all night long. More calls from cardinals and osprey are added in the morning as the greet the morning and go in search of breakfast. We were glad for the protected anchorage at Daytona, but it was bike week there and the droning of bikers as well as the motorcross at the speedway did not go unnoticed.

We took up anchor early, hoping to get as much of a ride on the tidal current as possible. To our surprise, we were able to make more than seven knots heading toward the St. John's River and therefore were able to have a unexpected fast run up the river. When we added the jib, we were doing nine knots. That got a little rowdy so we reduced sail to keep Hold Fast off her ear. We were through the Main Street Bridge by noon and into a slip at Ortega River Marina before 1 pm. After some visiting, and good wash down on the boat and a load of laundry thrown into the washer, we are getting showers and preparing to walk across the street for some Chic Fil A.

Hold Fast will be in this slip until March 14, when we head down to haul out.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}30°16.49'N|081°42.94'W|3/9/2016|4:13 PM{GEND}

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Welcome Sight

Today felt like a long day. We were underway before 6:30 am and at our first bridge by 6:45 am. Our last bridge was at 2 pm, the Bridge of Lions at St. Augustine, and from that point, we eased up and cruised in to the anchorage at Pine Island just after 4 pm. I think it felt like a long day due to the bridges as well as the stress of some shoaling areas that we hit during a negative tide. Matanzas had a negative 0.9 tide just after we passed through. I was at the helm when we were near the south anchorage at St. Augustine. The water shallowed up swiftly (from 30 to 8.8 feet) with no such indication on the chart plotter. We suspect it was a sunken vessel. We are on too tight a time schedule to get caught up on those old bones. I do not recall a year when we have seen so many broken vessels along the ICW. The anchorage at Cocoa Beach had three sailboats ashore and one power boat sunk but exposed. Several boats, I counted five, were sunk or ashore at Titusville. I saw a fairly new power boat sunk at a dock north of Daytona, plus many, many more. It seems like a sad commentary on broken dreams.

Speaking of dreaming, it is time to grab a nap and then maybe think about dinner.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}30°03.03'N|081°21.98'W|3/8/2016|4:36 PM{GEND}

Monday, March 7, 2016

Daytona

Today was a three bridge day. That is the way I look at it when we are traveling on the ICW. Three is the number of bridges we needed opened to get through. I love fixed bridges that are 65' or more.

We saw more bird and sea life again today. It is such a joy to see dolphins. We also saw manatee around Haulover Canal Bridge near the Cape. The huge population of small ducks would not let us get close enough to identify them. We also saw loons and white pelicans, in addition to the usual feathered suspects of gulls, terns, oyster catchers, osprey and regular pelicans. The winds were mostly on the beam, letting us use the jib to pull us along at over six knots. When the tidal current was with us, we were doing over eight knots. As a result, we had the anchor down by 4:15 pm.

Tomorrow will have a few more miles to cover and, more importantly, it is a five bridge day. One of those is the Bridge of Lions at St. Augustine, a timed opening with restrictions. Hopefully it will all work out and we can be in as early as today.

Time to rest up. Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}29°10.52'N|080°59.62'W|3/7/2016|4:41 PM{GEND}

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Coca and ICW

Our trip from MOW Cay to Fort Pierce was mostly uneventful. It was no 'Shari Sailing' for sure, and we have not had many of those days this season. We were banking on the forecast for winds moving quickly to the NE, right about the time we were to round the corner at Crab Cay. But no joy on that, which is why we anchored at Coopers Town and waited out the westerlies. Once the winds went NW, we pulled up anchor and carried on. We had to slog into wind and seas for just over three hours until we could turn further south at Fox Town and put up the main sail. Slog is my technical term for running the boat straight into the wind and seas and doing an unimpressive 3.5 to 4 knots. With that behind us, we strategized on the next required change of winds to the northeast. Myron re-worked our route to use Great Sale Cay as a bailout if we needed to wait yet again for a wind change. The Lord answered our prayers and just at the bottom of Great Sale Cay, the winds went east of north and we could change our heading to about 290 degrees and even put the jib on the outside as we headed toward the exit of the banks called 'Little Bahama Bank.' The winds continued to clock eastward and lighten. We were supposed to have 3 to 4 foot seas with a 7 second interval in the Gulf Stream, with an occasional 5 foot seas. What we saw was regular 4 to 5 foot seas with about 5 second interval, more than occasional 7 foot seas, and once we had a set of waves that must have been over 9 feet. I estimated the height based upon my view of the crest of the wave being blocked by the hard top as I sat in the center cockpit. I watched in awe and partly wondering whether it would break on Hold Fast. I should have called out to Myron as the force of the waves through him into a bulk head. One of the sail slides separated from the sail at the second to the top batten before we could get another reef in the main. More stuff to fix. Things improved as they always do when we exit the Gulf Stream, and soon enough we were in at Fort Pierce and it was all over. We got our fuel, checked in over the phone, ate, showered and slept great. We had a hiccup in the internet part of the phone service, which entailed several phone calls with customer service, but, happy day, it is working as of Sunday.

We had an interesting sight while we were still on the banks. At first we thought it was an airliner making a jet trail. Looking more closely we realized it was a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. (Yes, I still call it Canaveral. Old school.) We had a good view of the separation of the stages. I asked Myron if those things falling off the rocket were going to land on or near us. It had me worried, I asked more than once. I wondered if they thought the northern Bahama banks were uninhabited enough to let stuff fall from the sky. At first they looked like stars in the twilight. Once one of them fell beyond the rays of the sun, it was glowing red. One boater made a radio call that he thought he saw a red flare and wanted to know if a boater was in distress.

Today we slogged against north winds on the intercoastal waterway. At least we can keep up our speed on the ICW and we can keep moving toward our destination. We have not been on this ICW for a while and we enjoy some of the sights and all the variety of sea and bird life. It is nice to anchor every night for a good night's rest. We had several sea gulls and one tern drafting behind the boat and picking goodies out of our wake. Not sure what they were eating, but they did it for hours. As long as we and Hold Fast can handle it, we will keep this quick pace to get to Jacksonville. See many of you soon.

We just listened to a USCG urgent marine weather warning for strong NE winds tonight and very big seas both near shore and in the Gulf Stream. It is good to be at anchor!

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}28°20.99'N|080°43.04'W|3/6/2016|6:18 PM{GEND}

Saturday, March 5, 2016

In at Fort Pierce

We arrived at 2:30 no problems checking in. We fueled up and are ready to head to Coco tomorrow.
Myron

{GMST}27°27.42'N|080°18.19'W|3/5/2016|4:08 PM{GEND}

Position Update

Approaching Little Bahama Bank way point.
ETA Fort Pierce 3 PM today.
Myron

{GMST}27°04.22'N|079°00.42'W|3/5/2016|3:05 AM{GEND}

Friday, March 4, 2016

Off Fox Town

We are off Fox Town en route to Fort Pierce FL. It has been a little slow going against left over wind chop from the westerly.
ETA Fort Pierce tomorrow night.
Myron

{GMST}26°56.90'N|077°47.44'W|3/4/2016|4:39 PM{GEND}

Coopers Town

We are temporarily anchored off of Coopers Town, waiting for the winds to be more favorable to continue on to Fort Pierce. Currently winds are out of about 265 magnetic forecasted to be north by evening.

At least we are getting internet here!
Myron

{GMST}26°52.34'N|077°30.43'W|3/4/2016|11:33 AM{GEND}

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Near End of our Stay

Our weather window just closed on us for a nice long week of easterlies.  If it is too good to be true, it is probably not true...We will do what we can with what weather we have and leave rather soon.

In the meantime, enjoy pictures (photo gallery link to the right, new file is 01.29.16 Eleuthera Island) of our time at Eleuthera Island.

There were several opportunities to buy lobster at Rock Sound.  Some lobster were quite large:

Snack time at Bible camp:

Kyanno, a 6th grader, at our last night at church.  He plays the drums and is teaching himself to play the trumpet.

We already miss Pastor Bradley and Sister Kayla:

Love to all,
Dena

Monday, February 29, 2016

More Pictures

I just added a few more pictures from our Long Island trip and a few more Exumas.  Click on the photo gallery link on the right and look for the new album "01.07.16 Long Island and Exumas."

Long Island Pastor Craig Fox and his daughters and niece take delivery of the donations for hurricane relief.


Myron makes a new friend on our dinghy drift at Long Island with other cruisers and also some locals who rarely get out on the water.

The pool that was at the Long Island Breeze resort ended up down at Basel's fuel dock and tanks after Joaquin hit.

Not only did the houses lose roofs, but the some trees lost their tops in hurricane Joaquin.

Still more to follow.  Love to all,
Dena

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Few Pictures

Now that we are using Jay's internet, I am able to share pictures and upload to Picasa, or Google Photos.  Please click on the link to the right to see all the photos in the new collection labeled "12.03.15 Eleuthera and Exumas.' Once you are into the collection or album, make sure you click on 'Info' so you can see the captions.

As always, here are a few pics to entice you.

Leaving Little Harbor Cut at sunrise:

Dolphins join us near Royal Island:

We raced the squalls from Norman's Cay to Black Point.  Squalls won, barely:

Hold Fast all alone at anchor at Lee Stocking Island:

"Sarah G" as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow:

Local regatta in Georgetown, near Fish Fry:

More to follow!  Love to all,
Dena

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Long Day

Myron set an alarm for 3 am and then woke up one minute before it went off. We slept soundly until then. It was a good thing we slept well, today was a long day, rough too. We did indeed see eight foot swells. Thankfully those only lasted about three of the 12+ hours we were underway. We were about twelve miles from Little Harbor Cut, singing some of the songs Pastor Bradley played, when the reel finally went off. Unfortunately the four to six foot seas had become confused then and, to be sure, it was less than optimal 'bring a fish aboard' conditions. She was a big mahi, mahi, measured four feet. It took over 30 minutes to tire her out. Truth be known, we were all tired out. We were most thankful to have her on board. We usually do not catch anything on that run across the Northeast Providence Channel.

Entering the cut required a lot of helm work by Myron. I sat looking backwards calling out the swells, whether they were from the starboard side or behind and whether they were breaking. It gives Myron an opportunity to put pre-input into rudder to keep the waves from making us broach. We had a couple good surfs and were happy to be in. There were at least three smaller boats several hours behind us. Myron tried to encourage them that it would be rough, but they could do it if they stayed center channel. We know one made it in and were out of radio contact by the time the next two arrived, but at least they were coming in with the tide.

Myron is not feeling well. Our schedule was full last week and we were with kids - who always carry some type of germ or another. On the agenda is more rest tonight and nothing too involved tomorrow. We were still in a negative tide when we arrived at Man-O-War Cay just before 4 pm, so we took a mooring rather than go directly to Jay's dock. Moving to the dock may be our biggest accomplishment tomorrow, if we even do that.

We are safe and sound, have showered, eaten and watched a show. Time for bed.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}26°35.41'N|077°00.12'W|2/23/2016|6:19 PM{GEND}

Monday, February 22, 2016

Difficult Goodbyes

We spent over three weeks in Rock Sound, as you can tell by our lack of postings. We were quite busy helping out in school and preparing for and conducting the after school Bible camp at Pastor Bradley's church. For a few days, we had to move to the west side of the sound to get protection from yet another nasty cold front system with a double low.

We asked the teachers and principal, rather pointedly, whether our assistance at school was beneficial. The answer was a most resound 'yes!' I was blessed to participate in teaching 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Myron worked exclusively with the 6th grade, except for one day when the 6th graders did art, he helped out in 4th grade. We fell in love with the kids and have a great appreciation for the teachers. Last Friday, our last day, Myron went on a field trip with the 6th graders to Governor's Harbor. They toured the Botanical Gardens, a bakery (for lunch), and Cupid's Cay. When Myron had to say his goodbyes as the kids exited the bus back at the school, there were tears. And they were not just Myron's.

One of my 5th graders, Charles, invited us to his baseball game. The opposing team did not show up, so their coach had the older kids (13-15) and younger team (10-12) mix up and play each other. They had practice during the week in preparation for another game last Saturday. We attended that game as well. Only the older kids had an opposing team, therefore our primary school guys and gals had to play another scratch game - but everyone seemed to have fun.

We got to know 'Showboat' at 3-T's Laundry, and his wife Willie Mae. Showboat is quite a character and runs a nice Laundromat, with a small goods store. I discovered that he has some of the best prices in town. He used to play for the Bahamas National Softball Team and is just an all around fun guy.

The After School Bible Camp at Brad's church was great fun. We were so thankful that Jim, Stacy and their girls, Lauren and Marlene, joined us to help on the second night. They sailed in near sunset. Myron stayed behind to direct them to the church and they went to work right away! What a relief to have such help and Stacy has a way of teaching the kids Bible verse memory that is brilliant! We all had the verses down. We had 10 kids the first night, 12 the second, 24 the third and 25 both the fourth and fifth nights. It got louder and rowdier each night. We had Pastor Brad, his wife Kayla, their daughter Kristy, Brother Hudson and his wife Sophie, Uncle Phil and Aunt Zed (yep, we are family now), attending each night and helping out as they could. Other ladies helped prepare the sandwiches, desserts and drinks. We were all beat after the last day, but we had so much fun. The kids learned more about Christ and it was worth it all. I am already trying to figure out next year's program!

Last night Myron preached at Brad's church, the Church of God, where we had the kids program. After it was all over, we all tarried with long goodbyes. As it goes in our lifestyle of travel, it is so difficult to leave the ones we have come to love. The kids and adults on shore, and the other cruisers. What keeps our spirits up is that we shall see them again next year, Lord willing. Further, when we leave one group of loved ones, we are on our way to see another group of loved ones.

Today's travel was pretty easy. We were underway shortly after 6:30 am with the wind at our back and not much seas, through Current Cut at 8.2 knots with an outgoing tide, and anchored by 3:20 pm. We will get as much rest as possible and will probably be in bed before sundown, since we will be underway about 3:30 am or so. We will be accompanied by a bright moon, but we do not expect such an easy travel day tomorrow as the swells are running about eight feet out of the ENE. Hopefully we can still catch some fish, get them aboard and worry about cleaning them later. May God give us a bounty to share with those we see next. We are hoping there is a mooring available for us as we will be pretty tired when we arrive.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}25°24.76'N|076°47.36'W|2/22/2016|3:45 PM{GEND}

Friday, January 29, 2016

To Rock Sound - The Long Way

We managed to get to our destination, Rock Sound, via Royal Island. We chose this northwest and then southeast route to keep the winds aft of our beam and to keep us sailing, as much as possible. We also chose Royal Island Harbour as an interim destination for the strong southwest winds as well as the cold front passage Thursday night. We were expecting 20-25 knots, gusting to 30. We saw gale force winds (35 knots) and a squall with reported winds up to 48 knots. As you know, we do not have a wind instrument, but we use the sound of our rigging. It moans like a cartoon ghost in the upper teens and twenties. It sings a higher pitch in the thirties, and has an even higher pitch and decibel level in the forties. But to get technical, some guy with a wind instrument reported the 48 knots. We were thankful we were in such a protected anchorage that had little or no fetch, therefore it was all about contending with the wind. Plus looking out for the boat that anchored near us.

We were up most of the night, therefore we were not enthusiastic about moving on this morning. Once Myron was convinced this was the only day of favorable winds, northwest 20 to 25 knots, he roused me up and we set off. We knew we would not be off Governor's Harbor before the sunset, but we have been in and out of Rock Sound so many times, our confidence was high to arrive in the dark. The real challenge of the day was negotiating Current Cut in high winds. We tried to time our arrival at slack, but the tide tables were off and it was just beginning to ebb and on its way to getting quite rowdy. On the other side of Current Cut was a completely different world. Complete peace. A local boat passed us with a six year old driving and dad on the bow, both waving and having a great day. That is the thing about that place: if it is bad on the west side, go to the east side!

We filled both saddle tanks with water, probably over a hundred gallons made, and all around had a very pleasant day. After dark, Myron had a dolphin jump out of the water at the side of our center cockpit and take a good look at him. Gotta love dolphins. We arrived about 9:30 pm. Time for a shower and much needed sleep.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}24°52.03'N|076°09.94'W|1/29/2016|9:48 PM{GEND}

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Royal Island Harbour

I forgot to mention yesterday that we had a pod of dolphins join us on the banks just off Highbourne Cay. We both went forward to watch their antics. They seemed as happy as us that we were having a boisterous sail.

The wind never let up last night. At 5 am, squalls began to come through. It made me wonder about the difficulty of today's journey. But the sunrise chased away the squalls and we had another great sailing day. We did start the motor to get through Fleming Channel, as the tide was against us and the wind, creating lumpy seas that are better to just get through. We tried a few times to find a good hold in this harbour. We wanted to be further west in this anchorage, but the holding was better where we ended up. Normally we are well on the east end, however strong southwest winds have been forecasted which make our usual spot less desirable.

This should be an excellent place to wait out the next few days of bad weather. When the winds turn favorable for our next journey, we shall set off again.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}25°30.90'N|076°50.80'W|1/27/2016|5:10 PM{GEND}

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

And So It Goes

They say, if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans. As mentioned yesterday, our plan today was to sail across the Exuma Sound, fish if possible, and anchor at Rock Sound, Eleuthera Island tonight. Alas, the wind forecast changed, losing the better south component, making for a reach on the Exuma Sound that is too tight for Hold Fast. Further, the seas were four to six feet with a four second interval. We believe it, because we had occasional three foot seas today sailing on the banks.

And so it goes, as we know Auto Paul understands, sometimes you have to sail north to sail east. We shall get to Rock Sound again, at some point. We are taking a longer, sailable, engineless route, and will in the meantime be looking for a place to hide from the next trough, cold front, low, combo weather punch.

We were the ONLY boat heading north in these strong winds and seas. It was a great sailing day, for us, although we had to keep reefing the main to keep Hold Fast near seven knots. We ended up with a triple reefed main and the jib was reefed on and off, depending upon point of sail. We began to wonder what is wrong with us to be so completely against the herd. More than 20 boats pounded, bashed, motored and tacked around us, as they headed south against the weather. We saw our sister-ship 'Anneteak' and hailed them on the radio. They were not happy and it did not look fun, but they were bound and determined to get to Cambridge Cay to hide from the cold front and ultimately to Georgetown.

It has been years since we anchored at Ship Channel Cay. It is so rough on the Exuma Sound that a swell is wrapping its way around to us. It reminds me of a tame anchorage on the Channel Islands of the west coast. In other words, a little surge will not affect our sleeping. There is a boat fishing behind us, but otherwise we are all alone.

We keep hoping we look brilliant. Tomorrow will tell.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}24°48.64'N|076°49.77'W|1/26/2016|3:56 PM{GEND}

Monday, January 25, 2016

Staged at Staniel

Our weather this year has been interesting, to say the least. We just finished taking the effects of the fourth low to form in the Gulf since the beginning of January. Last Friday and Saturday were different than our wind event a few weeks ago. Rather than abnormally high winds for about three hours out of the northwest, we had over 24 hours of strong winds out of the northwest. It got so rough at anchor in Georgetown about 2:15 am Saturday that I finally got up. We were taking turns keeping watch through the night. It is not so much that the anchor will let go, we had over 10 to 1 scope. The concern was more about other boats hitting us. We had anchored out by ourselves but by the time the winds were due, three boats came in and anchored in front of us. To entertain myself, I got creative with the nearby boat names. One was called "Let's Dance." It seemed fun for about the first hour. Poor Hold Fast worked back and forth on her anchor chain so hard and for so long, the chart plotter looked like it had a solid green banana inked on it from the boat tracks. I guess it was more furious pacing than dancing. Another boat name was "Last Rodeo." It was a smaller boat than us and was bucking like a bronco. I chose to take the name optimistically and hoped this was our last rodeo due to these lows. However, I figured if there was a wife on board Last Rodeo, it could be prophetic and she might soon be off that boat.

We have one more low forecast to form in the Gulf, possibly Thursday. Since the trough that just went over us Friday is regressing back to us, and a new trough is coming toward us, and the low is forming soon, it appears we only have two good days to get somewhere. We took advantage of it and moved north to Big Majors Spot (lovingly known as 'Pigs Beach') near Staniel Cay. If the weather holds, we should be able to continue sailing north to Rock Sound tomorrow. That is the plan. The execution of the plan depends on more than just us. Hopefully it is not too rough to get some fish involved, as in on the BBQ.

It mostly a nice sail north, we could have used a little more wind. But we were glad the winds were light when it was time to enter the cut. Our timing was not great and we hit Cave Cay Cut about mid-ebb flow. There was not enough wind to push us in, so we had to throttle up and drive her in. It took only a few minutes but it felt much longer. Once inside on the banks the wind filled in well and made for a great sail. We made about 101 gallons of much needed water. Time for dinner, show and sleep.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}24°10.93'N|076°27.67'W|1/25/2016|4:57 PM{GEND}

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Georgetown Fish Fry

We enjoyed our stay at Long Island. It was nice to see the people recover so quickly from having a hurricane hover over them. The donations were gladly received and the folks we talked with were quite thankful. Thank you to all who donated and for the prayers.

We highly recommend a visit to Salt Pond, Long Island, not just because we find the people so friendly, but we also very much enjoy the Saturday morning Farmer's Market. Here is a tip: they say it begins at 9 am, we go at 8 am because the vendors sell to one another and what you want may no longer be there by 9 am!

We suffered through some mild south winds there, but could not stay any longer with strong SW winds forecast, therefore we came back to Georgetown. The winds were calm upon our arrival, allowing us another visit to Fish Fry for local food and local socializing. The Patriot/Chiefs game was on, so there was much to be rowdy about.

Weather is unstable, hence so are our plans. We will keep you updated as we move around.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}23°30.46'N|075°45.68'W|1/17/2016|4:57 AM{GEND}

Friday, January 8, 2016

Full of Water at Long Island

Before Wednesday night's fiasco, our plan was to ride the wind to Long Island on Thursday. However Thursday ended up being a day of repair and recovery. Myron got our outboard squared away and it is purring nicely. He went to help Brent on 'Strider' with his salt soaked outboard, but Brent was already getting help from another cruiser. We went and fetched some of our 'Sea Foam' to share with Brent to help disperse the water in the gas. They were up and running within 30 minutes of our visit. We toured around in Hold Fast looking at the bottom, but could not find our other gear. While touring, we saw several dinghies at 'Blue Heavens' with people all over her like ants, repairing the damage suffered from hitting the rocks. It was heart-warming to see. We heard a lot of thank-you's over the radio and appreciation of the cruiser kindness. The lady on Bamboo, who was hit by another boat that tore up her rigging and chain plates, was almost in tears when she was thanking people for their help, including someone that brought her chocolate. Gotta love that!

In town we got a few more details of the previous night, such as the winds went from 10 knots from one direction to over 70 from another in the snap of a finger. We met Ed and Sharon on 'Imagine,' a Passport 42 we managed to avoid as we tried to raise anchor. Ed was impressed with Hold Fast and her crew, mostly because we avoided them, but also because it was so rough they would occasionally see our keel. Not just the round bottom at the bow, but the keel. Sharon kept repeating that to me because she was so stunned that we came that far out of the water. They could not believe Myron was keeping control of the boat in such rough waters. I also discovered that the revving sound I heard when I was on the bow of the boat (trust me, it was hard to hear anything in that wind, but I heard this) was not Jammin's prop coming out of the water but their wind generator trying to tear itself apart. During the mayhem, the thought did cross my mind about someone's wind generator shedding its blades in all directions - like toward us - but I was too busy to dwell on it.

So kudos to Myron's driving, to Hold Fast's big engine, but mostly we thank God for our safe delivery.

We understand that the low is now a storm system and may possibly even get a name. Even though it is gone, it is sending us some large swells from the north. Nothing too bad as we left the southern cut from Georgetown, but it was uncomfortable. Once we were behind the long line of reefs, we had smooth running to Long Island and a slight breeze out of the northwest. I emptied most of the water in the fouled tank when I used it to clean salt water off our solar panels and the enclosure (salt water on the inside AND out!) We made about 117 gallons of water and every tank is full.

There are about ten boats here at Long Island. We should be meeting them under better circumstances!

At some point, Pastor Craig will be available to receive the donations. We can see some of the destruction from the anchorage, such as a boat way up on land, roofs missing and damaged docks. The trees are dead a good 30 feet up the shore. We should know more when we meet with Pastor Craig.

Love to all,
Dena

{GMST}23°21.48'N|075°08.08'W|1/8/2016|4:54 PM{GEND}

Thursday, January 7, 2016

We are OK



Last night, after sunset, we had a significant weather event.  According to boat reports with wind instruments, we had winds in Georgetown to 75 knots, gusting to 91 knots.  At Staniel Cay, they had 106 knots.  It was all related to an elongated low that formed near Cuba and then moved northeast very near if not over us.

We were in the middle of dinner when it hit and knocked us over on our side.  The wind direction made a change of over 90 degrees.  It is great holding at Monument, however when Hold Fast’s anchor turned to reset, it fouled on some canvas.  We were on the move.  The seas were quickly over 4 feet in the anchorage.  Myron drove the boat to keep us from ramming others, while I was on the bow trying to get the storm snubber off the anchor chain and get the anchor up.  It was a significant challenge as I spent about 20% of the time holding my breath as the bow dipped into the oncoming seas.  I had my inflatable life vest on and I am thankful that it did not self-inflate in the middle of my task.  Everyone had their motors on and we were all able to keep boats from coming together and we never fouled anyone else’s ground tackle.

As we maneuvered away from the anchorage to an open spot, we checked to see if the dinghy was still attached to Hold Fast.  It was, but it had flipped over in the winds.  We could not see the dinghy engine and assumed it was on the bottom back at the anchorage.  We pulled out into the middle of Elizabeth Harbour and put out a 12 to 1 scope, managed to get the storm snubber back on in the rough seas and then waited it out.  It was now 8:45 pm.  By midnight, the winds let up and we could go check gear again.  The wind vane suffered some re-arranging when the dinghy went airborne, the generator had been tied down on deck, so it still there and we secured it in the cockpit.  I had one of the water ports open hoping to catch rainwater, so we fouled the port-side tank with sea water.  The inside of the boat was a mess.  To my delight and surprise, the coconut pie I had just made was about the only thing that did not find the floor!

Our first priority at daybreak was to right the dinghy.  As we pulled the dinghy to the side of the boat, we were elated to see that the black motor which we could not see at night was still attached, albeit inverted and taking a good salt water soak.  We wrestled the dinghy upright using a halyard, and were able to recover the fuel tank and fuel line.  The dinghy anchor was entangled with the motor and fuel line.  We lost one oar and the paddles that attach to the ends of both oars. 

The outboard is now on the back of Hold Fast.  Myron has pulled the spark plugs, sprayed it with WD40 and it is drying out. He will change the oil next.  He did a good once over of Hold Fast’s Ford Lehman engine as it worked very hard as Myron powered against such significant winds.  All is well. 

Many of us were checking on each other via radio and email last night.  It is good to be in the company of people who care and want to help.  Last night we got an offer from ‘Jammin’ to help us find out outboard and this morning we got a call from ‘Tilt’ offering the same thing.  We listened to the net this morning about all the boaters who incurred damage either from going ashore or tangling with other boats.  Myron is making notes about who else needs help.  Several have suffered much worse than us.  I will put our oar and oar paddles on the lost and found list.

I have bruises but nothing is broken.  To sum it up, we had our butts handed to us last night.  But we are OK and better off than some.  Today is a day of recovery.
  

Love to all,
Dena