Saturday, March 5, 2011

Feb. 15-21, 2011 (Week 20, Day 135-140)

Tues. Feb. 15, 2011 (Week 20, Day 134): Shroud Cay to Normans Cay Departure: 0815 hrs. Arrival: 0945 hrs. Mileage: 6.9 SM/6.01 NM Weather: cloudy am, slowly clearing to a partly cloudy & partly sunny pm, but heavier clouds again at night; sun was warm but fresh brisk winds chilled the air--> about 18-20C temps Winds: NE 12-15K increasing to 20K after sunset
It was fresh enough during the night to bring out the comforter again. We awoke about 0400 hrs. to a rolling boat movement yet the winds were still NE. CP was still predicting strongish NE winds today up to 20-25K & clocking to ENE tomorrow. For a change the Abacos were experiencing less strong winds whereas George Town & the SE Bahamas (Turks & Caicos) were experiencing stronger winds in the 20+ range & for an extended period of time. Due to the NNE to NE wind direction & speed + the falling tide it was not feasible to explore that northern Shroud Cay mangrove canal leading out to Exuma Sound. Hence we moved up one island north to Norman Cay as close to the west shore as we dare nicely spaced between 2 coral heads--> 8 ft. water & 100 ft. chain. There were 2 other boats in the anchorage but they departed soon after out arrival. Another lazy day of reading & catching a few rays sitting on the transom out of the wind. It’s been awhile but we both had boat showers as opposed to transom showers. Late afternoon we dinghied to shore to experience MacDuffs Bar & Grill; they were out of beer & no WiFi until they sign a contract with a new server! Just our luck! My family will have to wait longer to hear from us but they know no news is good news. And also I haven’t been able to email friends except when I can post new episodes of my blog. It has been more of an issue this time round. Unfortunately that is the state of affairs. So it was a round of drinks & I bought a loaf of bread ($3.00, a bargain) from the restaurant. Otherwise this was a very nice establishment. Another lovely sunset, but no green flash, a red sky, a near full moon till the clouds rolled in. We were only 2 boats tonight. Supper= leftovers. We watched another DVD tonight. The wind generator has been earning it’s price for several days now. We have seldom ever been under 12.4V showing on our domestic batteries. Throughtout the night the waters remained calm & the wind a steady 10K.
Wed. Feb. 16, 2011 (Week 20, Day 135): Destination: Normans Cay Weather: overnight clouds disappeared soon after sunrise to nothing but wall to wall sunshine & blue skies till later afternoon, then dark clouds; temps were warmer (23C) with no humidity Winds: ENE to E at about 13K-->8K-->20K by evening but more NE
The usual am routine especially listening to weather which dictates everything; Highbourne Cay broadcast called for stronger ENE winds than what Chris predicted. The morning & part of the early afternoon was spent reading another new novel on the deck. In hindsight, the Morrows thought today would have been a good day to cross to Rock Sound, Eleuthera, as they heard reports of ½ ft. seas out on the Sound, whereas all weather forecasts indicated 4-7 ft. seas. Conflicting forecasts vs actuality continues! We took the dinghy & looked at coral heads nearby via a look bucket, then to shore & walked the to the southwest end of the island & across the airstrip, then to MacDuffs to take photos & still no beer till tomorrow. When we returned to the boat there were several new arrivals, sudden & increasing dark clouds & east wind that suddenly increased with gusts >20K. Rain clouds swiftly passed over us to the west but rain was evident on the horizon at sunset. Sunset was seen as a white cloud on the horizon directly in front of the sun giving the cloud an orange colour & dark clouds all around. Supper= nachos. 14 boats tonight in the anchorage. A full moon was seen now & again as the sky cleared but the gusting winds continued to howl all night long.
Thurs. Feb. 17, 2011 (Week 20, Day 136): Destination: Normans Cay Weather: huge high pressure area persist bringing warm sun & blues skies again today Winds: NE to ENE but back to NE to NNE by evening at 10-12K but increasing in the afternoon especially at 1500 hrs. to 15K at least; high winds continue to dominate the Exumas & cause 4-7 ft. seas out on the Sound
This huge high over the Atlantic kept the wind & seas high & now predicted by CP & Nassau Weather to continue through the weekend with no break to cross to Eleuthera till Mon. now. Not the news we wanted to hear. The howling winds were having a negative effect on us. Some boats moving in & out of the anchorage & north & south on the Banks. I read for most of the day on deck & prepared a macaroni salad for future use; G ?--> hibernates most days when not on the move down in the cabin. Morrows were over for cocktails, snacks & to watch a picture perfect sunset with yes, a green flash! In the east, a full moon had risen. As the winds increased in the afternoon they became more NNE & it seemed that waves were curling from the east around the northern tip of Normans Cay & kicking up some chop. The waves created behaved as if the winds were generated from a west component wind, therefore bouncy. Supper (late)= steak & canned beans. A very bright full moon in a clear sky with fair weather clouds about. But it was the moon’s brightness magnified by the water that was fascinating.
Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 (Week 20, Day 137): Destination: Normans Cay to Highborne Cay Departure: 1000 hrs. Arrival: 1230 hrs. Mileage: 14 SM/12.2NM Weather: sunny & warm, mostly blue skies till 1400 hrs. when heavy, dark clouds rolled in for the night Winds: ENE to E at 15-20K & still howling
The damn winds did not weaken. This was the 8th day without communication with my family; I was getting antsy. I need to move somewhere close to a Batelco tower to at least use my Canadian cell despite the roaming costs! And it was not one of my better days emotionally; in fact one of the lowest. Tears were welling up in my eyes & spilling over & trickling down my cheeks. It was not even helping looking down at my LIVESTRONG armband. I couldn’t help of thinking of only sad thoughts. I was tired of this confining weather, this lazy lifestyle, this lack of ambition. I wanted to go home! I wanted to be home! We motored out of the anchorage in a westerly direction to avoid coral heads & shifting shallow sand areas, then turned north unfurling some jenny appropriate for 15-18K winds; boat speed= 5-6.5K. The anchor was lowered into sand in 14 ft. water with 100 ft. chain on the west side of Highborne Cay in line with the Batelco tower. Highborne Cay is privately owned & is the most northerly inhabited island of the Exumas. It was once a plantation of aloe & watermelon. There are 3 cottages for rent at Highborne Plantation. The skies clouded over from the ESE direction & continued to get thicker & darker, but no rain. A faint orangeness on the horizon where the sun set. I phoned Mom shortly after 1800 hrs. Further sadness added to the day with the news of the death of one of my parents’ close friends, Guido; the wake was today & the funeral is tomorrow. Tears were streaming down my face now. Supper= spaghetti but sauce was from a tin. The ENE winds were relentless & the moon was trying it’s damnest to break through the heavy cloud.
Sat. Feb. 19, 2011 (Week 20, Day 138): Destination: Highborne Cay Weather: by sunup clouds were dissipating; fresh sunny day with only blue skies Winds: brisk, howling NE winds settled down during the night; NE about 10-12K
All weather broadcasts indicated winds were to increase to 15-20K this afternoon & seas 4-7 ft. A thought was expressed about crossing ASAP. But the wind direction & passage direction were directly opposing (on our nose—a motor ride) & should the wind & seas increase as predicted it would have been an uncomfortable passage. Thus the crossing was dismissed. Instead we all ventured to shore. Highborne Cay Marina, a very nice marina with a very nice store but ridiculously outrageous prices (outdated white bread= $4.40, but “I didn’t have to buy it” you know; I was near desperate though). I walked over the hill to the beach on the Atlantic or east side, then we dinghied to the beaches on the west shore; Larry took their dog, Murphy Brown to shore where she ate sand, drank salt water & rolled in dead fish. I noticed the singing & presence of birds, surprisingly absent throughtout the Exumas. Early afternoon Larry & Graeme rectified ‘Twomorrows’ bowroller problem, then I gave Larry a haircut, a #6; I was rather nervous as his son’s wedding is in a month. By 1600 hrs. the anchorage was filling in; total= 14. Sunset = 1803 hrs.--> magnificent clear sky, perfect sunset, a green flash + reddest horizon! Supper= pork chops & pork ‘n beans. Thusfar the NE winds had not increased to the predictions; a constant NE 10-12K. Such a clear night sky & the stars were amazing until the full moon (officially today) presented itself! Guido, you & your family have been in my thoughts all day & will continue to be in my prayers!
Sun. Feb. 20, 2011 (Week 20, Day 139): Destination: Highborne Cay Weather: mostly sunny & warm (23C) with few clouds; suddenly about 1715 hrs. dark clouds swiftly rolled in from ESE--> scant rain Winds: NE to ENE about 10-12K; with sudden dark evening clouds winds shifted to E & increased to howling & gusting 15-20K.
There was unfortunately no opportunity to attend Church today but my prayers were dedicated to Guido & family. A little housekeeping in the am, then several hours of reading on the deck. Early afternoon we dinghied to the reef area extending from the northwest shore in a falling tide with hope to snorkel for conch etc. But the Morrows saw little but rock & grass with their look bucket. We dinghied to a shallow cove at the northern tip of the island where there was a lovely sandy beach, bench, tables & garbage container where we deposited our bags of garbage. We only saw small live conchs or old conchs already harvested & a lone stingray that we followed until it raised it’s barbed tail out of the water. Few boats left today & also some new arrivals; total= 12. A transom shower, prepared supper, read in cockpit hoping to see another great sunset tonight; but dark clouds from the ESE suddenly changed that possibility. Supper= meatloaf with macaroni salad. In short time the brisk east winds cleared the night sky --> stars! And the moon rose after 2100 hrs.
Mon. Feb. 21, 2011 (Week 20, Day 140): Destination: Highbourne Cay Weather: sunny & warm (23-25C), blue skies with few clouds Winds: ESE to SE about 10-15K & fresh
By all accounts tomorrow is suppose to be the best day to cross to Eleuthera, with seas at 4 ft. dropping to 1 ft., winds SE to S but on the light side of 10K & dropping; with an early start we hope to be able to sail. This am with the shifting winds, it’s strength & the falling to low tide the anchorage was a bit bouncy. Graeme cleaned the enclosure windows, lifted the dinghy motor & I baked 12 blueberry muffins & read+++. Few departures today but no arrivals, therefore total boats= 7. A lovely sunset, no green flash as we watched hosting social tonight. The crimson sky was replaced by a clear sky with multitude of stars & a late rising of the moon. This was our last night in the Exumas (Dec. 16 ’10- Feb. 21 ’11)! I have mixed feelings; of the enchantment & pristineness of the area & sadness of leaving all of it behind; & the sheer desire & magnetism to be home!

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