Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heading North

Leaving Vero Beach at Sunrise

We ended up staying four nights in Vero Beach because we heard from Dave and Toni that they would be there Wednesday.  Then we stayed an extra day because Al was having the light for the bow that he ordered, sent to St. Augustine Municipal Marina and that it would not get there until Monday, so why leave “Velcro” Beach with free bus service to almost any type of store you want and to the beach as well.

We left Friday and had a terrific sail up the inter-coastal waterway which you don’t get too often.  We made it to Titusville where we anchored for the night.  The next day we did some motor sailing up to Daytona where it blew a good 25 knots for a while but then settled down for the night.  We then motored to St. Augustine where I made the 5pm mass at the Basilica of St. Augustine which is a beautiful old church with a lot of history.
The next day we went into the dock to fuel up, get water and to hose down the boat.  It was the first time we hosed the boat since leaving Nassau in December.  We did have two good rains that helped clean the boat, but nothing is as good as a hose down.  

Afterwards we decided to do the tourist thing and go tour the fort, Castillode San Marcos.  It was our lucky day because this was the week that all National Parks were open free to the public.  It was interesting to see how they built such a strong fort and how they lived there to defend our country. Also I found the decorative touches to the cannons thought provoking.  Like why make them fancy? There were some great views from the top of the fort as well.  We left at sunrise the next day and got another beautiful sight looking similar to our sunset at Great Sale Cay.
Sunrise leaving St.Augustine

Our next destination ended up being Cumberland Island.  We had been doing some long days because we thought we might like to take a good weather window to go out in the ocean from there to Charleston, thus by-passing the twisting inter-coastal waterway in the buggy marshes of Georgia.  That is what we ended up doing after countless hours checking the weather from all the sources we could use, television, internet, and NOAA weather.  There was a 20% chance of thundershowers when we neared Charleston but luckily it never happened.  The winds were in the 7-9 knot range from the south, but wasn’t enough to keep us going at 6 knots so we motored sailed.  We saw some interesting sights along the way.  One area of the ocean was just covered with the round jelly fish with a brown ring.  Another area had groups of skates just floating below the surface, almost like they were sunning themselves. 
Three dolphins playing beside our boat
 But the most fun were the dolphins that came and played next to both sides of the boat around dusk.  We never have had so many at once.  We saw at least six on one side and four on the other rolling up next to the cockpit.  It is so much fun watching them and “trying” to photograph them.  It seems all I can ever get are their backs and fins.  This was one of my better shots.

These long days on the ICW and mild sailing in the ocean have given me an opportunity to get some rug hooking done on my Halloween rug.  My witch has been a lot of fun to do after the repetitive geometric I completed earlier on this trip.

We made it into Charleston inlet around 8:30 in the morning and headed to Isle of Palm marina to visit with some friends.  Al slept to mid afternoon since he was up almost all night, while our friends took me to replenish produce and milk.  The predicted thunder storm did finally arrive but while we were having dinner with our friends safe in their home!  We had a pleasant visit with our past neighbors and moved out the next day to continue our trek north.  We motored from Isle of Palm and spent 6 hours in the ICW in rain, with the radar swinging, and the six mile band of showers followed us the whole time. The only change was regular rain, or downpour!  We are in Georgetown, SC to enjoy the town and attend church on Easter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Last Days in the Bahamas

Fires in Marsh Harbor
Pavilion at Man of War Cay
We could not wait to leave Marsh Harbor because of the smoke from the fires so we visited Man of War Cay next. We did the usual walking to the beach and the settlement to check out the few stores.  It was Sunday so nothing is open generally in most settlements on the various cays but I determined that I wanted to come back the next day to check out the store that has the renowned Andros batik fabric.  Several boats we knew were anchored out with us at the narrowest part of the cay where there was a pavilion with picnic tables.  We decided to stage a Happy Hour gathering there which was lovely and a fun way to gather so many people to share stores and plans for the future.  

After a quick trip to the fabric store, we headed across to Treasure Cay Resort area.  Some nasty storms were predicted for Tuesday so we wanted to be in a protected area.  The harbor here has 360 degree protection, so well worth the ten dollars a night to anchor there.  You also had use of their pool, showers, beautiful beach and internet.  We checked out the beach, and I can understand why it is considered one of the top ten in the world.  Just gorgeous!  We got the lay of the resort and were ready to enjoy for the rest of our stay.
Treasure Cay Beach
Treasure Cay Beach

The next day we enjoyed the beach and had lunch with Sandra, Chuck and Freckles at the Beach Bar.  It was so beautiful that you say to yourself, “How can we leave these beautiful waters?” knowing that in another week we will be back to dark green or muddy waters of the inter-coastal and eventually to the Chesapeake Bay.  I am not sure I can swim in the Chesapeake ever again!  We enjoyed our first land showers since December and then headed back to the boat for the skies darken and we had to prepare for the storms.  The rains and wind came but we only saw 26 knots at the most, while our friends back in Marsh Harbor had 53 knot sustained winds for about 15 minutes!  When it was over, the air was much cooler with no humidity which was a welcome treat.

Being cloudy and cooler we took advantage to walk the grounds, pick up some groceries and I did some baking in the afternoon.  Sandra and Chuck invited us for dinner which was a welcome treat.

Before leaving the next day we fueled up and paid to fill our tanks with water.  For us, it was the first time we paid for water since we left Nassau in December.  Most of the time it is 20 cents a gallon, but this was a flat fee of $9 for boats 40-50 ft.  One of the reasons people like Georgetown is because of free water being available and we took advantage of it.  We also found free water in about two other places.
New Plymouth at Green Turtle Cay

We sailed to Green Turtle and picked up a mooring in Black Sound.  We once again went to check out the settlement of New Plymouth which was a bit larger than Hopetown or the settlement at Man of War. It had many quaint small houses and businesses.  We also sped over to White Sound to see what it is all about.  It is mainly two resorts, restaurants and marinas that people enjoy there however we did not have time to try them. 
Black Sound

The next day after exploring the beach which wasn’t much after seeing Treasure Cay Beach, we decided to anchor outside of New Plymouth because there was no wind or bad weather predicted.  When we went into New Plymouth to get a few things, we met up with Pam and Glen on Blue Pearl and their guest as well as Chuck and Sandra on Eliora. 
So we decided to go to Happy Hour at Pineapples after everyone was finished with their shopping.  Wow!  Powerful rum punches which made for a very happy hour!  But it also was sad because we also had to say our goodbyes because we were heading out to Great Sale Cay to prepare to cross to Florida and they weren’t leaving until later in the week.

Sunset at Great Sale Cay
As often is, the wind was right on our nose so we motored most of the way to Great Sale Cay.  We only got about a twenty minute sail at the end of the trip.  There were about ten boats in there mostly staging to cross to the USA.  We heard another two boats that had the same plan as us to go to Fort Pierce inlet.  So Al called them on the VHF and asked if they minded if we tagged along.  They were the usual friendly cruisers on boats called Oz and Star of the Sea, and said that it would be great to have us.  So our departure time was set for 3pm the next day, which was Sunday.We experienced the last beautiful sunset in the Bahamas with Al blowing his conk horn as it went down.

About quarter to three we started out engines, except that Oz’s would not start.  We waited hoping he could get the starter to work but was not being successful.  So we put our dinghy in and Al rowed over to be of assistance.  After about 30 minutes the engine was started by hot wiring it, and we were all off.  The light winds were out of the northwest not the southwest, as predicted, so once again it was a total motor trip.  The nice part was, there were very little or no waves.  The Gulf Stream was calm.
Sailing west to USA

It ended up being a easy trip which is what we want for a crossing.  We reached the Fort Pierce inlet around 11am at slack tide which is exactly what we wanted.   Then on to Vero Beach for a night or two and restocking in an American grocery store.  Woohoo!   

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Taste of the Abacos

We left Meek’s Patch anchorage across from Spanish Wells around 6:45am to make our passage to the Abacos.  We had a great sail to the cut but once through it was mostly a downwind sail.  We sailed several hours but then put the motor on for the last few hours anchoring off Lynyard Cay around 5pm.  It was a loooo…ng day!
Lynyard Cay
 After listening to the Abaco Cruiser’s net which tells you all sorts of information we took the dinghy ashore to a pretty beach on Lynyard Cay.  Once again on the ocean side we had great sea glass pickings which was a lot of fun.  Marilyn on Discovery, Sandra and Chuck on Eliora, Mary Lou on Cygnus and myself all came back with a stash of glass.                                                    
 Pete's Pub "Where the elite eat in their barefeet."

Afterward we headed across by dinghy into Little Harbor to lunch at Pete’s Pub and to see the Pete Johnston gallery of sculptures.  Unfortunately, they were not having a pouring at the foundry until Thursday and it was only Monday.  We now understand why people say you have to go to Pete’s Pub because it was a great eating experience!  It was the best fish of the entire trip so far.

The next stop we made was Marsh Harbor after a vigorous sail.  The harbor was very crowded with so many cruisers starting to head back.  We saw at least six or seven boats in the harbor whom we had met along the way or down in Georgetown and it was fun to reconnect with them.  It was a place to get the chores such as laundry and food shopping done.  The food store was a mega store which was a bit overwhelming after all the little stores we had been shopping this winter.  We found an internet cafe which is how we got the last blog out.  Our bullet isn’t working well for us so we are not getting connected out on the boat.  There were a few more shops here to so I got my “shopping fix” somewhat filled. 
Smoky sunset in Marsh Harbor

Unfortunately they were having fires on the island.  They called them forest fires but since they have no forest I would think they were brush fires.  Unless they are threatening homes they do nothing.  So it was a bit smoky and made for an interesting sunset,but not pleasant sleeping.

Freckles praying.
After two days in Marsh Harbor we decided to sail over to Hope Town on Elbow Cay.  There is no anchoring in the harbor and we got one of the last two moorings available.  Now here is a quaint little town!  The streets are barely wide enough for a vehicle and most use golf carts.  The little cottage type homes with the beautiful flowering bushes were just lovely and they had a very nice beach as well.  We met up with Chuck and Sandra from Eliora and they told us about the wonderful coffee shop with great mango sorbet.  It was superb!  And while we ate, their dog, Freckles, entertained us with his tricks.       

Hope Town from the Lighthouse
  The town had the typical gift shops, ice cream store, coffee shop and various restaurants that most tourist towns have but not in excess.  It was a true delight.  Our friends, Bill and Marge on Jubilant were there so we shared another happy hour and the following day we went to dinner together.  Earlier that day we had a front come through with a downpour.  Before I could get all the hatches and ports closed, we had some went bedding and wet computer but luckily all dried out.   It was one of the few rain showers we had so we took advantage and really cleaned the boat of dirt and salt.  When you have not been into a marina since December it is hard to clean the outside.  We climbed all 101 steps of the lovely lighthouse there and had some great views of the harbor and the waters.  I really liked this stop except for the close moorings.

One of the many pretty flowers in Hope Town
Al's Birthday Dinner
We decided to go meet up with Eliora and Discovery back in Marsh Harbor to be able to celebrate Al’s birthday with friends. So we had Marilyn and Carl, and Chuck and Sandra over for dinner and chocolate cake which I made and decorated with peanut butter and chocolate chips.  Another year older and another year wiser!