Tues. Mar. 1, 2011 (Week 22, Day 148): Destination: Royal Island to Spanish Wells Departure: 0800 hrs. Arrival: 0910 hrs. Mileage: 7.2 SM/6.24 NM Weather: warm, sunny with cloudy periods; short period of dark rain clouds to the N & NE Winds: SSW 15-20K till mid am then decreased gradually to near calm after sunset & shift to W
The Morrows left shortly after 0600 hrs.; they called outside the harbour & said it was choppy. Hopefully the winds will drop as predicted by Acuweather (8--> 4K & swinging to the NNW). I pray they have a safe voyage & that their plumbing problem is rectified quickly & with ease. CP was back on air but perhaps not from his location in Florida as the reception was very poor & therefore we’re not sure about a big cold front arriving Wed. pm. (? 30-35K). When we left the anchorage there was only 2 boats remaining. We rolled out only ¼ jenny & motorsailed at >6K. We made several attempts to hail ‘Bandit’; the damn VHF! All these electrical issues need to be addressed! When we made contact we indeed had been assigned to mooring ball #6; hooked up with ease. It was much calmer here. A single dolphin played at our bow as an arrival greeting. Also we saw a colourful jellyfish + a white egret the size of a heron in the marsh grasses near us. From late am till early pm we walked about town & was given a golf cart ride to the large grocery store , Food Fair. Best to shop on Thurs. after the boat comes in early Thurs. I found prices better in Rock Sound. Also to note is lunch hour closure from 1200 to 1300 or 1330 hrs. at most business. Chatted with a couple from Halifax. I must remember to wear my knee brace from now on when walking--> pain has returned. Graeme filled the gas in dinghy gas tank & the generator & diesel into the boat tank & did an oil change. I, on the other hand, no longer have any ambition to do anything; I need to get home & get on with my life. Supper= leftover sweet & sour stir fry. A complete switch to calm conditions by sunset, clear skies & stars.
Wed. Mar. 2, 2011 (Week 22, Day 149): Destination: Spanish Wells Weather: sunny & cloudy periods, sometimes dark & threatening rain, but none Winds: concern for the next few days; increase to 15K & shift to the N during the night & further increase to 20-25K from NE by sunset
A good dose of rain in the middle of the night X 5-10 min. Sunrise definitely earlier these mornings. ‘Rainy Day’ transmitted weather & reception scratchy but understandable--> confirmed 20+ winds X several days through to Sun. Graeme did a fuel refilling run to Pinder’s with the jerry cans. I did floor & carpet maintenance + shower; I’m pleased with the frequent washing effectively keeping the interior mostly salt free unlike the exterior. Graeme insisted to take the ‘Bo Henghy’ Fast Ferry to Harbour Island at 1015 hrs. We met the couples on ‘Say Yes’, ‘Second Star’ (Crogan 38) & ‘Monk’s Vineyard’ also making the trip today. The outside passage was rough. The Tourist Office was our 1st stop of our walking tour for a map. We walked the area bordered by Dunmore St., King St., Bay St. & Clarence St. I lunched alone at a deli beside Bristol Wines. Loading back on the ferry opened at 1500 hrs. till departure at 1540 hrs. Once back in Spanish Wells, we walked down to the Lobster Processing Plant in attempt to connect to the internet like 2 yrs. ago but unsuccessful. We dinghied down to Yacht Haven Marina where ‘Say Yes’ was tied up because Wendy had the name of the location to buy internet--> Harbourside Gift Shop, Buggy Rental & Custom Brokerage for $15.00 for the length of one’s stay. We were invited to stay for a drink. Some pink sky at sunset; wind >20K. Supper= onion soup with pasta & onion bread. Graeme checked our mooring ball lines at my request. Stars+++ & some cloud in the dark night sky.
Thurs. Mar. 3, 2011 (Week 22, Day 150): Destination: Spanish Wells Weather: partly sunny, partly cloudy, temp probably about 20-23C but felt less secondary to the strong cool winds Winds: NE to ENE 20-30K
The winds & the wind generator were relentless & howled all night long, all day as well I’m sure but we didn’t spend much time aboard. Graeme did listen to ‘Rainy Day’ on SSB; not much change in the forecast; a short window Sun. & Mon. before the cold front leaves & a high follows. We dinghied to shore with full foul gear donned for myself: (1) to Harbourside to purchase WiFi; $15.00 for the length of stay, guaranteed, but only available at the building (table & chairs & electric plug ins) from 1030-1300 hrs.; (2) unnecessary but Graeme insisted to rent a golf cart X 1 day= $40.00, therefore to Food Fair grocery store for fresh produce & bread as this is Thurs. is fresh stock day; meat disappointing; (3) drive around Russell Island--> 3NM in length, country estate of Spanish Wells (larger properties & thus less dense), citrus & other plantings; (4) drove around Spanish Wells-->located on St. Georges Cay; 1.5NM in length, numerous streets across the length & width of sturdy built & well-cared-for homes, 75% Bahamian lobster fishing. It was extremely windy & thus cool & huge rollers beyond the many reefs around most of the island. In the past 2 years a metal retaining wall has been & still is being constructed on the west beach in the attempt to preserve & restore the beach that is disappearing. Very windy & rough on the beautiful fine sand north beach. Returned to Harbourside near closing time (1700 hrs.) as they kindly agreed to have me leave my netbook & notebook computers to do an antivirus screen overnight--> not done since ?Dec. We will resume our touring tomorrow till 1300 hrs. it was a wet ride home. And we discovered our newly hoisted Canadian flag & flag pole gone most likely due to the wind. Supper= meatballs in tomato & crab sauce with potatoes & a side salad. A dark night, cool temp, cloudy skies soon replaced by clear skies & stars+++.
Fri. Mar. 4, 2011 (Week 22, Day 151): Destination: Spanish Wells Weather: mostly sunny with cloudy periods Winds: continued to be a factor; ENE 15-25K & gusty
A sprinkling of rain from an overhead cloud. CP was back on the air at 0630 hrs.& there was not encouraging weather especially tomorrow + decreasing winds on Sun. but 8 ft. seas on Sun. & 6 ft. on Mon. with more weather approaching Tues. night & Wed. To shore wearing foul weather gear for 0900 hrs. to relieve my computers from Harbourside; full antivirus screens done & 0 issues; all protected once again after ?2-1/2 mons. We had the golf cart till 1300hrs. so tootled around till 1100 hrs.; Graeme continued his tootling & even took Bob from ‘Walkabout’ for the last hour; I got a lot done on the internet. Later Graeme too cleaned up his large share. I attempted to purchase more minutes for my TracFone so I would not lose service come April 4 & discovered both our Mastercards expired! How could I overlooked that! I emailed Mastercard to see what can be done. We met a stream of cruisers like us in a limbo stage. We finally dinghied home after 1600 hrs. Sunsets here in Spanish Wells are behind Charles Island so not a notable experience like the Exumas. Supper= homemade pizza with the thanks to Betty Crocker packaged pizza crusts & yes, I used the oven to bake the pizza. Some stars, some clouds & short spurts of rain but lots of wind.
Sat. Mar. 5, 2011 (Week 22, Day 152): Destination: Spanish Wells Weather: partly cloudy with sunny periods; sun was warm but temp. only about 18C secondary to cool winds Winds: ENE to E 17-22K, some 30K gusts & shifting to ESE after sunset
Another day that was too windy to go to the lovely sandy beach; I am in withdrawals. CP was very good & informative this am! A sponsored boat wanting to cross from Spanish Wells to the Abacos, our exact passage, called in; Sun. would be a good sailing day but the seas were 12 ft. today & would still be up at 10 ft. tomorrow with a prominent NE swell of 9 sec. Mon.= less wind but quieter seas of 6 ft. dropping to 4 ft. Floor & toilet & shower cleaning then to shore. Graeme caught up on all his emails apparently, then walked out & about ?somewhere. I worked again for several hours on some emails to address a few issues, cleaning up folders, chatting with Kim Hunt in Bequia & posted several weeks of my blog finally! Plus I sent a email out to my Bahamas category of people who requested to receive my blog notifying them of the several posts. Ken Pole, you have no idea how uplifting your ‘Ciao Bella’ makes me feel! We prepared our drinks & contribution to Happy Hour down at Yacht Haven Marina at about 1730 hrs. once back at the boat. There was a good attendance of both trawlers & sailboat cruisers; I think it was a release for all of us of the apparent confinement, lack of socializing & the howling winds for 3 very pleasant & enjoyable hours; just what the doctor ordered. A careful dinghy ride home in the dark avoiding unlit sticks in the canal marking shallows. Supper= leftovers of past meatball & stir fry meals. A very dark night, partly cloudy & partly clear sky with stars galore.
Today I finished my 1st 1.75L of Mount Gay Rum purchased in Vero Beach on Nov. 29; on the other hand Graeme did not keep track of the amount of his stash or refuses to admit to the number of cases of beer, number of large cheap rum for all morning coffees & number of sipping rum for his nighcaps.
Sun. Mar. 6, 2011 (Week 22, Day 153): Destination: Spanish Wells Weather: warm & a bit humid, dark threatening rain clouds in the am; slowly dissipated over the noon hour with warm sun & blue skies come 1400 hrs. Winds: E to SSE, variable from moderate to light, 5-10K
Suddenly the howling winds ceased & short lived rain fell about 0300 & again at 0500 hrs.; peaceful calm after 4 full days! No whitecaps & no spray off the whitecaps! The no-see-ums made their presence. We had not had bagels in a while; a nice change for breakfast with fresh coffee this morning. Boat showers X 2. I retrieved my bike from the garage to use to pedal to Spanish Wells Methodist Church (at 22nd St.) service at 1100 hrs. To shore early to check emails all dressed for church. There were no problems loading my bike or space issues in the dinghy, a scintch. I check new emails especially in regards to our Mastercards but no new cards at home in Ottawa. I merrily rode to the church; Wendy & Pat did indeed join me. It was my first time attending a Methodist Church--> quite different & only one hour long! I cycled up & down a few streets enjoying the well kept colourful gardens of most homes especially 15th St.--> the best kept garden in 2010. I also drove to the beach & gathered up lots of the baby powder fine pink sand. The seas were so much quieter today. But I have no idea what the plan is. It has become best not to rock the boat, not voice, but keep my opinions & thoughts to myself. How much more can I turn the other cheek? Now 1400 hrs. & another late lunch then reading in the cockpit in my bathing suit. Bob & Jeanne (Walkabout) checked out the narrow & deep passage out north of Spanish Wells; it is that, deep enough & narrow particularly at one spot. Still no decisions; leave tonight or early am or an overnight passage tomorrow? Then which route? High tide at Little Harbour, Abacos = 1000 hrs. & low tide= 1551 hrs.--> not ideal with a morning departure. The dinghy motor was hoisted up; we will pull the dinghy behind the boat as usual so the lines were prepared as such. Sunset at 1814 hrs. now. Supper= hamburgers & Japanese cabbage salad. A calm, quiet, windless dark night.
Mon. Mar. 7, 2011 (Week 22, Day 154): Destination: Spanish Wells to Lynyard Cay, Abaco Departure: 0610 hrs. Arrival: 1635 hrs. Mileage: 71.9 SM/61.69 NM Weather: expected high temp of 28C, warm, some sun, some interesting cloud formations Winds: light WSW 2-3K to start then NW to N 4-10K clocking to NNE about 8K
Sailing makes you more aware of weather & what’s happening around you. The changing clouds & cloud formations today were very interesting. ‘Walkabout’ & ‘Changes’ left the mooring field at 0600 hrs. & were going through the narrow passage between Spanish Wells & Gun Point. On the other hand, Graeme decided to go the long way around through the cut between Egg Island & Little Egg Island--> successful done at 0705 hrs. Many boats that had been in the marina positioned themselves Sun. at Royal Island anchorage. Lots of boat movement in & out of this area. Just out into the NE Providence Channel we were experiencing 1 ft. waves & 2-3 ft. swells which increased to 1 ft. waves & 5-6 ft, swells with about a 10 sec. interval--> very doable We were able to motorsail close hauled. Very dark clouds from the north fortunately passed over us, the winds shifted & increased to about 8-12K for a spell from the NNW (unable to keep sails filled), & the sun & blue skies with fair weather clouds appeared. We were moving between 5.5-7.4K but still we could barely catch sight of the sailboats & trawlers that left in around the same time frame as us. A third of the way across we changed to going with the current instead of against when we first set out. Disappointingly the winds clocked towards the north, thus directly on our nose so we furled the sail. The winds were predicted to be NE. It was for that reason that I did not enjoy the crossing—72 miles of motoring with winds from the wrong direction to sail but great sea conditions! A few miles from the cut there was cloud over Little Harbour but no precipitation. We received a lot of feedback from boats going through Little Harbour Cut; some positive & some negative opinions. There were large rollers to starboard of the cut with an NE swell but the passage through the cut was non problematic at 1605 hrs. at low tide. Lynyard Cay anchorage was calm; total of 22 boats. We anchored in 20 ft. of water, bottom all grass but a popular anchorage; we put out 120 ft. of chain. The land mass of Great Abaco Island interfered with the setting sun on the horizon but it was a picturesque sunset with the sun squeezed between a line of clouds & the land mass & lovely red sky followed. It will be a while before we will see an unobscured sunset. I have many fond memories of the Exuma & Eleutheran sunsets! A sliver moon before sunset, then a dark night of mesmorizing stars & Milky Way!
FYI: The Abaco Cays extend for about 130 mi. from Walker Cay in the north & Sandy Point in the south. The Abacos offer pristine water for swimming & sailing, reefs for snorkeling & diving, sheltered anchorages, deep sea fishing & beautiful beaches.
• The Northern Abaco Cays: Walker Cay to Allans-Pensacola Cay
They include 7 destination cays, 5 of which are uninhabited. They form a shielding barrier between Little Bahama Bank & the Atlantic, over 50 NM, running on a diagonal from NW to SE. There are four deep water ocean passes to or from the Atlantic, 3 in Walker Cay & the 4th is Moraine Cay Channel. Walker & Grand Cay are the only inhabited cays.
• The Central Abacos: Allans-Pensacola Cay to Great Guana Cay
It is a 35 NM run which includes 7 destination offshore cays. Reefs & cays to the eastern coast of Great Abaco form a barrier shielding a 3 NM wide shallow & largely protected water of the ‘Sea of Abaco’. This series of shallow banks that lie in the Sea of Abaco dictates 2 options when heading south: (1) stay on the western side of the Sea of Abaco & run along the coast of Great Abaco Island, (2) stay on the eastern side running parallel to the cays. An extensive area of sand running from Treasure Cay peninsula eastward to Whale Cay almost blocks the entire width of the Sea of Abaco; you must make a diversion into the Atlantic via Whale Cay Passage, totally no go in bad weather.
• The Southern Abaco Cays: Great Guana Cay to Sandy Point
A 48 NM span; 30 NM is the southern end of Great Abaco Island & is almost totally uninhabited except for Little Harbour, Cherokee & Sandy Point. Areas of interest= Man-O-War Cay & Elbow Cay (Hole Town) on the cay side & Marsh Harbour & Little Harbour on the Great Abaco side. There are 3 good ocean passes--> North Bar Channel & Little Harbour Bar are the exit or entry points to the Berry Islands or other islands of the Bahamas. These passes commit you to coastal Atlantic passages along the weather coast of Great Abaco Island which offers no shelter. Therefore one must be prudent of weather before exiting the shelter of the Sea of Abaco.
Reflecting over the last 5 mons., we have been so very lucky with our weather, certainly warm, & sunny for the most part, with a few blows that forced us to lay low in protected anchorages. The miles we have safely travelled, the number & variety of places we have visited. The people both cruisers & locals we have met. I realize how much easier life has been for me this time round on this new boat. I recall the hardships of basic everyday living from the last adventure. My only hardship this time that is not new but continues & is a constant is sadly the skipper & the loneliness I feel because of no conversation, no communication unless necessary, except with others in a social setting.