Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas at Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park

The next day we decided to try hiking the shorter trail to the ruins from a beach around the corner from us. It was shorter but also had some steep areas to climb. We were successful in finding all 5 foundations of homes from the 1800's.
Checking out the ruins.

One of the five house ruins.

 There wasn't much left but it made me think, how in the world did these people survive on these fairly arid islands back then. 

The beehive furnace used to break down the conch shells.
 We also located the beehive furnace that they used to break down the conch shells into lime for use to make their walls of their homes. This area had lots of cacti and poison wood. However, it also had the antidote- the Gumbo Limbo tree. You are suppose to break the leaves and rub them on your skin to counteract the poison wood rash. It also said it could be used on wasp and bee stings.
The Gumbo Limbo tree- needed if you touch Poison Wood.

Later Serenity arrived in the anchorage with their problems fixed. To celebrate, Carina had us over for a Winter Solstice Pizza party. 
Pizza party on a catamaran named Carina.

 We had a great time enjoying each others company and getting a little fix of “communication.” That was catching up on emails because Mark and Kathy have an amplifier than got us just enough cell connection to get our emails if we held it right next to it.
Mary Jo enjoying the pizza!

Mike trying to get internet connection with his i-phone.

By ourselves we headed to Warderick Wells Park Headquarters. The rest were hoping for better weather tomorrow.  It was a miserable rough ride, taking green water over the bow when we hit a wave. We never expected on the bank side to have waves like that but we eventually made it in to one of the most beautiful spots in the Bahamas. We wanted to get there, because one of our goals was to put together the memorial bench for Pat Thorpe, our friend from Suncat, who died while we were hiking there last March. The other boats, Cool Cat and Makana who had the bench parts were already there. We made plans for the next day to put the bench at the highest point on the island, called Boo Boo Hill. It is a spot where cruiser's leave their boat names on pieces of driftwood in a huge pile. I finally remembered to make one and so we officially are on Boo Boo Hill.
We finally have a board on Boo Boo Hill after two other trips here.

Everyone carrying a piece of the bench.

Connecting the parts like a jigsaw puzzle.

A lot of pegs and glue.
It was a co-operative effort with Bill and Margie on Cool Cat, Katie, Rick and Hoku on Makana, us and Tom from Suncat to get the bench parts up there and put it together and selecting the spot. Katie pulled out a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream and cups so that we could share a toast to Pat who was always ready for a party. We shared our wonderful remembrances of Pat as well as a few tears.

The bench is made of teak, and the two sayings were found in Pat's journal which says a lot about her.

Tom enjoying Pat's Perch.

This is the view if you look left while on the bench.
This is the view of the sound side toward the ocean when you look right.

When it was completed I felt our mission was just about done. I only had to send emails to all who contributed with a photo of the completed bench and the views from it. Once done I know Pat is looking down very touched and pleased that so many contributed to her memorial bench called Pat's Perch.

Serenity and Sequence arrived in the park that day with just as rough seas as the day we had getting there. Sequence took a mooring in the Emerald Rock area which ended up being a lot further away than they thought, so they asked if they could be moved the next day to the north field where we were and much closer to the office, ranger station and us..
Enjoying Christmas eve.  How do you like my elf?!!

The next day was Christmas eve. It was my day in the galley making apple crisp for dinner, a cake for
the Christmas pot-luck dinner as well as a salad. I had to pick the one day that there was no breeze blowing to be baking! Then after lunch it just poured the heaviest that we have ever seen in the Bahamas. Al collected about 20 gal. from the dinghy and another 20 from the deck that he got to flow into our tanks. The rain put an end to going to the beach for happy hour but not with our dinner with Dave and Toni. We had a wonderful Christmas eve dinner of baked ham, sweet potatoes, fresh mixed vegetables, cabbage slaw and apple crisp for dessert.

Can't get a better view than these!
Christmas day we celebrated with other cruiser's and some park personnel at one of the most gorgeous spots in the Bahamas. It was on the deck of the home for personnel in the park. They provided several turkeys and a ham. The cruisers brought the sides and desserts. Believe me, no one went away hungry! 

Carving the turkey.

Plenty of food!

Presenting the money remaining from the bench fund collected.

While there, I presented Cherry, the park personnel from the office with $140 left from our donations for the memorial bench for the park to use where they deemed necessary. After a busy afternoon we were ready to go back to Blue Heaven and just chill as we watched the sunset over the horizon. Just another wonderful day in paradise!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Crossing and Beyond

Sun going down in Biscayne Bay
After a week of being anchored of the Venetian Causeway between Miami and South Beach, we finally moved to Biscayne Bay to anchor for the night to stage for our crossing. It was Saturday so we knew we would find the weekenders anchored on the shoal off of the entrance to Hurricane Hole. We were correct. The powerboats with twenty-something people were there drinking and blaring their music which tended to have a Hispanic beat. As sunset approached boats prepared to leave. Most of the smaller boats left at dark and finally it quieted down. 

Then we were entertained by the local boat club's boat parade with a stream of all sorts of boats decorated for the holidays. It was a nice surprise and they eventually went by just in front of us so that we could really see them. 
Not many sailboats in the parade

This was a Hawaiian Christmas boat

Sunrise heading across.

 Mershons on Sequence, Mary Jo and Mike on Serenity and another boat called Last Flight Out who asked if they could join us on the crossing and ourselves hauled anchor at 6am to leave for the Bahamas. It was a pretty sunrise and we were pleasantly surprised that the seas were only 3 feet and the 18 knot winds out of the southeast was perfect for a great sail across. There were many boats crossing. Al threw out his fishing line and caught and landed a 28 inch wahoo. Yahoo for wahoo! 

The lights of the armada coming across.

The night was nice sailing because it was near a full moon and so you could see quite well. When we looked in back of us there were numerous light from the armada of cruisers crossing. 
Around 4am the wind lightened so we turned on the engine to motor sail. Wow, we sailed for 22 hours. That is a record for us.
We made it to Nassau Harbor Club marina around 9am. We washed the boat, got our Bahamian cell phone working, as well as time for the computer and ipad. Showers were a must and afterward we headed to Cafe Villa for a good Chinese dinner. Dave and Toni, Mary Jo and Mike, us, and Sue and Dave from a boat named San Cle' who we had met previously in St. Augustines all went. 

Enjoying dinner out and celebrating the crossing!
An enjoyable night was had by all. But bed looked mighty inviting after that over night sail across.

We left Nassau the next day because some windy conditions were coming and if we did not leave, we would be there probably for three or more days. The group headed out an across to Norman's Cay. Not just our group but many others who had crossed, did likewise. It was not a pleasant night with a lot of bouncing due to north winds which we hoped were going NE and never did. After all the hobby horsing, we had to get off the boat, so we dinghied ashore to walk a bit. Where we came in, was a small landing strip and just after we crossed a small plane took off. 
 We walked to the other side where it was quite shallow so the water was a beautiful light turquoise.
The walkers on the other side.

Al and I decided after lunch to move to Hawk's Bill Cay because the conditions were still the same off of Norman's Cay. The other two boats wanted to hunt lobsters so they stayed because Hawk's Bill Cay is in the Exuma Land and Sea Park which is a “no take zone.” We were so glad we moved! It is just beautiful and the best part, quite calm! 

There was only one other boat here. Once again we went ashore to hike over to the ocean side. 

The area in the middle is flooded at high tide.
It was near low tide which you needed, to be able to cross, because at high tide you would have to wade through some pretty deep streams.  You might wonder how we know where to go.  Cairins have been built by previous cruisers and park personnel.

A cairin which is a pile of rocks formed by humans.

 It was a long, picture perfect beach, but the beaches on the sound side where we were anchored off consisted of that very fine soft white sand. So they were great too. There are several of them that we can visit which was great because we were going to be here for several days due to high winds so it was a perfect spot to be.
Coming back from shore we stopped at the other boat, Carina. They invited us over for happy hour so we got to know the owners, Mark and Kathy from Connecticut. We had actually met them at the phone store in Nassau.
We radioed Sequence and Serenity to tell them the wonderful conditions where we were anchored so they came down the next day. Not without some problems however on Serenity. Their gear shift broke so they sailed into the anchorage and dropped their anchor. Now the men had something to work on.
Serenity sailing in to drop their anchor.

Kayaking the area that was dry during low tide.
The next morning Dave, Mark, Kathy and I kayaked into the inside pond that Al and I hiked the day before at low tide. It was fun exploring through the mangroves. We stopped and hiked to the beach and walked the gorgeous white sands. We made sure to get back in the kayaks in time to return before low tide took the water out.
Due to a wind shift we decided to move around the corner to another beach where there wasn't as much roll. Unfortunately, Serenity still had not gotten their gear shift working yet and had to stay put. On top of it all, they were having a problem with their head (toilet for you non-boaters.)
We hiked the new trails off of the beach trying to reach some ruins that are on the island. Unfortunately, we got to the part of the trail that looked too dangerous along a cliff, so we turned back to hike the beach.
Poison wood- don't touch!
While hiking you have to be very careful of not touching or brushing up against the Poison Wood Tree. Al was our scout warning us when he saw any along the trail. It has five shiny leaves, and the bark is mottled on older trees. They say it is worse than any of the poisons we have in the states, such as poison ivy, sumac, or oak. I don't want to find out!
We ended the day at Mershon's boat playing Mexican Train Dominoes with Mark and Kathy beating us all.

The mottled bark on larger trees is easy to identify.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sampling Miami Healthcare and the South Beach Scene

This week was spent mostly stocking the boat and dealing with some health problems. I woke up with my left ear clogged and feeling like my head was larger than it is. As the day progressed Al looked at me and said what did you do to your nose. He said, “It looks like a brush burn.” I could not think of a single thing I had done to cause it. The next day it was redder and spreading with tiny bumps and oozing some clear liquid. So the search was on for a doctor. We first went to our health insurance site to see where I would be covered. Then it was to find a doctor within walking or bus distance. So I called for an appointment but they said I had to come to the office, fill out forms and then get an appointment. So the appointment was two days away. I went and she felt it was a cellulitis and I needed antibiotic. She checked my ear and said it look inflamed and felt I needed drops.
She told me if I went to Publix grocery store that the antibiotic would be free,and it was. The ear drops were another matter. No pharmacy had them, so finally the pharmacist called the doctor and asked if he could give me the cipro eye drops which was almost the same as the ear drops, just that they were a wee bit stronger and sterile. He explained to me that eye drops can be used in the ear, but not ear drops in the eye, because ear drops are not sterile. So I have been on the medicines for three days and it seems things are clearing up. I felt so self-conscious because I looked like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or like someone who had been hitting the bottle too much! 

Grand Daddy iguana on the right.

They love being around the bridges. 

We mostly entertained ourselves by going into South Beach. We pass under some low bridges on the Venetian Causeway always seeing a menagerie of large iguanas sitting on the pipe next to the bridge sunning themselves. Their tails hang down and when coming through the other way, they look like bell pulls. But believe me, I would not pull them!

 One day we went in to walk the beach with Mary Jo and Mike from Serenity and to enjoy a beverage on the way back.

Mary Jo and Mike on Serenity
 Another day we did laundry and hiked around town enjoying the variety of people and animals here. 

How often do you see a guy sleeping on a pillar?

This dog was cuter to look at than the guy!
 Yesterday we went in with Toni and Dave to have lunch and a walk as well. 

Toni,Dave, Al and myself enjoying lunch at "Paul's"
Needs the edge done but almost complete!

 I also had time to finish the hooking of my “Welcome” rug. Now I had to find someone who has a sewing machine on board so I can zig zag around it and trim off the excess to finish the edge. I already found out that Mary Jo has one, so when we stop at the marina in Nassau I will use it then.

We have enjoyed our spot at Di Lido Island, especially at night where we get to see the lights of Miami. It is a beautiful view, but it is time to move on.
The Miami skyline as seen from our boat.  The guys enjoyed the dancing girl on the purple lighted building
 We are heading to Key Biscayne for the night and will leave in the morning with three other boats in our group and the other 50 or more boats that will take this opportunity to cross as well. Next time I blog it will hopefully be from the Bahamas. We should get to Nassau mid to late morning on Monday.

Happy Holidays.