Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dec. 28, 2010- Jan. 3, 2011 (Week 13, Day 85-91)

Tues. Dec. 28, 2010 (Week 13, Day 85): Destination: Warderick Wells Weather: cloudy with sunny periods but a mostly cloudy pm; cool temp of 15C Winds: NNE to NE 10-15K

A good sleep although I woke X 2 to check surroundings. A pancake breakfast listening to Chris Parker, followed by Highbourne Cay then Staniel Cay weather reports. I signed onto the internet but only after 40-45 min. was timed out---I could not have used 100 MB! At least I did get an email sent to my family. Both of us had boat showers then went to shore to pay for the last 3 day stays & find out why I was timed out; the explanation given was updates running in the background may have used the 100 MB; we bought more internet. Skip & Hariett (Moondance) showed me how to change the auto update settings. The wind was cold as we sat outside the office close to the tower doing emails so we returned to the boat to continue. After lunch Larry & I dinghied over to Rendezvous Beach & walked the trails to the ruins, the stone wall that bisected the island down to Beryl’s Beach; we then retraced our steps. Lynn & Graeme stayed back doing emails but both got timed out again. Not happy we returned to the office--- another 100 MG used up; why? Apparently something must still be running in the background or I have a virus; it was not worth buying anymore internet. We were invited to the Morrows for pizza supper-->delicious! An early night with the agreement that we would most likely depart at 0800 hrs. in the am barring bad weather. Some reading but the eyes were very heavy. A much quieter night. The wind gen had been keeping the batteries 100% charged the last few days; we had no need to run the engine except to charge my computer. Cloudy patches with some stars tonight.

Wed. Dec. 29, 2010 (Week 13, Day 86): Destination: Warderick Wells to Staniel Cay Departure: 0805 hrs. Arrival: 1205 hrs. Mileage: Weather: fair amount of cloud cover in am; clouds lingered most of the day with frequent sunny periods by 1400 hrs. Winds: E 8-9K

Still unable to get Chris Parker clearly even with an external antenna clipped up on a side stay at 0630 hrs. nor BASHRA at 0720 hrs., but it seems favourable to move today according to Highbourne Cay weather at 0730 hrs. All was readied for our departure especially anything that might go flying in the galley ie coffee pot. We flew the jenny part of the distance until it started flogging; we motored along at near 6.0K passing through the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park at it’s southernmost point at Conch Cay & past Compass Cay, Pipe Creek, Joe Cay Cut, Sampson Cay to Staniel Cay. Cambridge, Compass & Sampson Cays are locations I wish to visit at some point. We anchored in 10-11 ft. turquoise water in sand off Pig Beach (west side of Big majors Spot); 60 ft. chain let out. Graeme refueled the boat tank with 2 jerry cans of diesel-->full. The jerry cans + garbage was placed in the dinghy & we were soon off to shore. A 1-2 mile long ride to Staniel Cay Yacht Club where we refilled the cans with diesel & the dinghy motor tank with gasoline & disposed of our garbage ($2.50 for small bag/$5.00 for large bag). We will explore the location of the dump & the whereabouts of the island hopefully tomorrow. We walked around the yacht club & saw the rental cottages--> used by Carole & Bob Noble’s family 2 yrs. ago. We observed some of the happenings around this active place & obtained some useful information while having a Kalik (local beer-- $3.00). We met Skip & Harriet here; in fact all who had anchored in the north field at Warderick Wells have moved on today. There seemed to be some good anchorages north of the yacht club that we need to investigate. I had spotted a Batelco Tower on our approach to Staniel Cay so took the opportunity to phone Mom on my Canadian cell--- success! On returning to our anchorage we discovered many more boats in this huge area by Big Majors Spot. We sat in the cockpit reading facing west ready for the sunset, but clouds interfered; no green flash. Supper= cube steak with onions, potatoes & beans. Reading, journal entry then an early bedtime. Clear sky with stars & comfortably cool.

Thurs. Dec. 30, 2010 (Week 13, Day 87): Destination: Staniel Cay Weather: partly cloudy with much sun mid am till mid pm then threatening rain clouds but no precipitation; temp about 20C, warm enough for shorts & tank top but a cool evening Winds: NE to E 10-15K (variable) with increased gusts be evening

We listened to the weather report from Staniel Cay on VHF12 at 0800 hrs. over breakfast. Boat showers X2 while running the engine as Graeme needed to charge his camera battery & my laptop off the inverter; we readied ourselves for a day onshore. Firstly, Larry downloaded my photos onto his netbook, we did a pass by of Pig Beach but all the pigs had gone into the brush, so off to the government docks by the Baptist Church; we pulled the dinghys way up on the sandy beach as the tide was coming in. First stop was the bakery; 1 coconut loaf ($6.00!) &1 cinnamon raisin ($6.00!). Slowly we meandered past the library (the oldest building on the island), the Pink Pearl Groceries & Blue Wing Groceries just to check out stock & prices---scant & expensive; onto the post office, well (strewn with garbage), a picnic area by the front beach, Chamberlain cottages (brightly painted, colourful), St. Luke’s Medcical Clinic, All Ages School, Roosevelt Memorial Recreational Center (basketball, volleyball & tennis courts)-->primitive & finally the communication center (Batelco). It was noon so we thought we would try out a new establishment--> Sea & Taste Café—Dat’s Art Gallery (Bernadette’s) for lunch; huge, good cheeseburgers with fries + Kalik. We really needed to walk more, so proceeded in the direction of the dinghies, checking out Lindsay’s Boutique, the Original Straw Shop (permanently closed), the boatyard & into our dinghies to Isles General Store; the mail boat had come in late Wed. & most of the supplies had been picked over by the time we arrived (1400 hrs.). We dinghied to the beach behind the breakwaters to port of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club & sat people watching, chatting to other cruisers; lots of people milling around as there was an auction followed by free drinks & nibblies from 1600 to 1800 hrs.; the auction was well underway but the winds were picking up, the skies were looking quite dark, plus it was decreasing light in late afternoon & without the sun it was quite cool (sleeveless, no jackets) & NO evidence of free drinks & nibblies! Surprisingly the ride home was mostly dry as we were latterly surfing on the waves. Even more boats in our anchorage. At the Morrow’s we tried to connect up to the internet; we could see their secured line when they connected up so Larry bought 3 days or750 MB of WiFi= $25.00 paying by PayPal, then I would link up to his connection & we would split the cost; but with the increased winds (so we were told) our connection was if at best, only getting as few emails out. When I’m I going to get weeks of my blog posted & out? Supper= soup & sandwich, running the engine to charge my laptop again. The night was clear with tons & tons of bright stars--- so amazing!

Fri. Dec. 31, 2010 (Week 13, Day 88): New Years Eve! Destination: Staniel Cay Weather: warm in the sun but felt cooler due to the breeze; partly cloudy & partly sunny Winds: ENE 20 with gusts to 22K

Half a slice of cinnamon raisin & half a slice of coconut bread, toasted for breakfast; no the best bread we have had in the past as the coconut was actually doughy in the middle. The Morrows were over mid morning to see my WiFi antenna arrangement (poor reception in comparison to theirs for the most part) but all seems working as it should & they too had poor reception this am--> winds are up & could that possibly affect reception? We felt it was almost false advertising re availability of WiFi. We chatted the morning away making arrangements for new Years Eve Dinner here tonight & a typical New Years Day Southern-style US Supper at the Morrows tomorrow nightàChampagne in the fridge! + we watched the ‘A’ Class boat race between ‘Lady M’ & ‘Tida Wave’ which was to start at 1000 hrs. but was finally under way at 1202 hrs.--> a crew of 20 on hicking boards, 4 races planned with switching of anxious crew between races. Then at 1300 hrs. Graeme & I jumped into the dinghy to Pig Beach-->photos + we explored along the coast to the 2 other beaches & turned around at Royal Plantation Resort; we dropped into say hello to Tom & Phyllis (‘Cocoon Too’—B.C.) & we given a tour of their Crogan 42-->WOW! Home to start preparations for this evening’s feast. It was a leisurely evening of drinks & stuffed zucchini appetizers (thank you Pam!), supper= gnocchi compliments of Larry’s already made homemade spaghetti sauce, stuffed pork tenderloin, glazed carrots & potatoes. We watched a 2 hour DVD of George Carlin, I phoned Ottawa but 2200 hrs. was as long as we made it; Morrows back to their boat, I washed dishes while Graeme slept & that seemed to revive me till 2400 hrs. & the spectacular fireworks from ?Sampson Cay, then ?Compass Cay & finally Staniel Cay. Happy New Year & Best Wishes to All for 2011! To bed at last! No moon, clear skies & stars as bright & plentiful as one can imagine.

Sat. Jan. 1, 2011 (Week 13, Day 89): Happy New Year! Destination: Staniel Cay Weather: partly cloudy, partly sunny; at times clouds were so dark we thought for sure it would rain, but only drops Winds: E & brisk 15-20K; whitecaps in the anchorage

The weather report at 0800 hrs. by June from ‘Blue Yonder’ was inaudible--> problems with her antenna so what you see is what you get. The plan was to go ashore, do some emails & rent a golf cart to tour the island especially the Atlantic shores (east side of Staniel Cay). We left in our dinghys shorts & tees under rain jacket, garbage & netbook & camera quadruple bagged; we farred O.K. scooting across our anchorage but rounding Big Majors we were splashed repeatedly from one wave after another; Morrows turned back while we pressed on as we were already drenched from head to toe; my eyes burned from the salt water. Upon arriving I marched to the ladies washroom of Staniel Cay Yacht Club (SCYC) & proceeded to wash my face & arms with soap & fresh water & rinse my hair using paper towels to pat dry. I somehow was able to connect up to Exuma WiFi for free for a few hours before being kicked off. Our clothes were near dry by then. We had heard ‘Artful Dodger’ & ‘Firecrest’ had arrived yesterday & we thought we would check them out. No sooner had we packed the netbook up & were about to leave when Patric & Dave came around the corner; e heard about some of their adventures in Nassau when the blow (40K) on Dec. 26th & 27th blew through. The four of us took a long walk (2-3 miles) from town to Club Thunderball, passing the dump burning garbage, sporadic homes here & there, some started & abandoned, & signs indicating beach access. We returned to our dinghy by way of SCYC where we were introduced to Chris Parker (weather forecaster on SSB that cruisers highly respect & regard his predictions) & his partner Mike who gave us info re Farmers Cay & the 5F Party--> First Friday in February on Farmers Cay Festival & other tidbits. The ride home was much drier. A quick rinse down in the shower & preparation of our part of tonight’s dinner at the Morrows= hoppen john + cornbread, salad & banana bread--> delicious & stuffed! We forgot all about the champagne last night & tonight; we will have to pick a celebratory night soon. We were all pooped from staying up late last night so called it an early night. We dinghied home under a star filled night sky.

Sun. Jan. 2, 2011 (Week 13, Day 90): Destination: Staniel Cay Weather: partly cloudy for a short time after sunrise, then brilliant sunshine with only occasional clouds & wonderful warm temp Winds: E to ESE about 10K; NE by evening

While the engine was running & charging my laptop I worked away at 3-4 days of journal entries. The water seemed calmer this am so we ventured into town, but once again around the tip of Big Majors the east wind was kicking up enough that we were again getting hit by waves of salt water. Plan was to do some emails (Larry’s purchase of WiFi 3 days ago would be expiring at 1800 hrs. & he still had over 700MB remaining so offered it to me) until slack tide about noon time & then we would snorkel Thunderball Cave (in the James Bond movie Thunderball & the movie Splash). We met other cruisers that the Morrows had met in lake Sylvia Last year & who happened to be from Gimli, Manitoba & knew some people Graeme knew. Before we knew it it was 1300 hrs. The dinghies we up high & dry on the beach so we literally had to lift them down to the water. We tied up to the mooring balls by the cave, donned our snorkeling gear, except I did not have my wetsuit & made our way to the entrance of the cave. We were surrounded by a massive thick cloud of sergeant majors (used to being feed); saw orange, green & purple coral & multiple variety of fish ie yellow tail grouper, needlenose, gar & brilliant iridescent royal blue small fish, teal & green coloured fish. When we entered the cave & looked up there were openings in the rock, long roots of plants hanging down & more fish. It was difficult to swim out from the opposite opening as the current was fairly strong; on turning back we were effortlessly pushed back into the cave; we had left it too late from slack time. The water was comfortably warm but the air was cool especially when the sun went behind a cloud; next time I must wear my wetsuit. Home James! A quick shower, snacks & a drink when the Morrows came over to see if there old antenna received a stronger signal; my computer was receiving a strong connection with no booster just by having it in the cockpit. I worked away till nearly 1800 hrs. posting 2 (Weeks 10 & 11)out of 3 weeks onto my blog successfully; WiFi must have times out & I guess Week 12 will have to wait; it is impossible to post pictures as well. An absolutely glorious sunset with no cloud interference. Supper= leftover hoppen john. I finished reading Dan Brown’s novel ‘The Lost Symbol’; fantastic & a must read for everyone! No moon just a clear night sky filled with brilliant stars.

Mon. Jan. 3, 2011 (Week 13, Day 91): Destination: Staniel Cay Weather: magnificent sunny day with few white clouds Winds: light NNE 5-10K

The last of the cinnamon & raisin & coconut bread, toasted for breakfast while listening to the Staniel Cay weather report. Events of the day: dinghied to shore, no power on the island (changing generator oil?) therefore no WiFi. A stat holiday but we were able to rent a 4 seater golf cart for half a day (4 hrs.)= $40.00 divide by 2. What a hoot! No road on the island was left untraveled! Numerous stops allowing me at one time to hike atop a rock trail where I took a 360 degree panoramic movie of the Exuma Sound/Atlantic Ocean to the N, NE, E, SE & S, the surrounding islands, ocean beaches & the Great Bahamas Bank to the SW, W, NW, N. We viewed beautiful homes overlooking the Atlantic, new house constructions, Ho Tai Cay Beach from both banks on a falling tide & at low tide with a ribbon of turquoise water winding through, Club Thunderball, Pirate Trap Beach, & the Air Strip; in fact we drove across & along the airstrip. A round of Kaliks at ‘Big Dog’ before returning the cart at 1430 hrs. Nicki never showed X 1 hour so we drove the cart to SCYC for more beers & fries, handing the keys & a message for Nicki to the bartender. The bartender phoned Nicki & she was back at the office. We missed snorkeling the cave again today but this adventure all over the island was worth it. By 1600 hrs. it was cooling off as the sun was lower in the sky. After dinghying home we lifted it’s motor & fuel tank in preparation for our departure tomorrow am. A rinse off shower was in order--> dust & salt water. Supper= leftover port tenderloin, potatoes & beans. An incredible sunset but no green flash. Some new & different boats in the anchorage tonight. It was a dark night (no moon), bright stars by the trillions filled the clear sky.

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