Big Majors to Black Point

On Wednesday, January 3, 2019, we motorsailed about six miles from Big Majors to the Black Point anchorage. Many cruisers have decided to skip the Big Majors Spot/Staniel Cay anchorage filled with speeding boats and megayachts for the nearby quieter, friendly settlement at Black Point, located on Great Guana Cay . 

Black Point is perhaps the most cruiser friendly of all of the towns we visit. While we feel safe and welcomed everywhere we go in the Bahamas, other than Nassau, the residents of Black Point seem to go out of their way to attract cruisers to their settlement and make them feel welcome. 

The Black Point residents no doubt noticed that many tour boats stop at Big Majors/Staniel Cay to see the swimming pigs and to snorkel at Thunderball Grotto, plus cruisers stop at the large anchorage. They wondered how they could attract more people to Black Point. Sadly, the massive amount of tour boat visitors has taken its toll in Staniel Cay.  The pigs are getting aggressive and many tourists have been bitten by them. Very few cruisers get out of their dinghies and go to the Pig Beach, but most people on the tour boats go ashore there, feeding the pigs and swimming with them. Thunderball Grotto at Staniel Cay is a fun place to snorkel, but the hoards of tourists who arrive on tour boats have caused the once colorful coral to die, since they step on it, and there are far fewer colorful fish inside the grotto than there were when we first snorkeled at Thunderball nine years ago. There aren’t many affordable restaurants in Staniel Cay, but Black Point recently added a new one so now they have at least four with a short walk between each one located on the main street. The tour boats that visit Big Majors and Staniel Cay now leave that area and go six miles south to bring tourists to Black Point for lunch.

The Emerald Sunset View Restaurant and Bar was built since we visited Black Point two years ago. It is on a piece of land at the southern end of the main street called  Regatta Point. Previously this land was an observation point and during the Black Point Regatta temporary shops were set up there. We heard it has a great brunch. 

Mark and Sailor enjoyed the view of the anchorage from stone benches next to the restaurant.  Scorpios Restaurant and Bar is a favorite of cruisers for Happy Hour. They have great pub food as well. Rum Punch is a popular drink in the Bahamas. Since rum is cheaper here than rest of the ingredients, including pineapple juice and grenadine, the drinks at bars are extremely strong.
Mark peaked through a hole in a large rock in front of Scorpios. I have a feeling when the bar was built, this rock was just too big to move!
DeShamon Restaurant is known for their barbecue and pizza.

Lorraine’s Cafe is a must stop for anyone looking for a typical Bahamian meal. Many of the establishments in Black Point have free wifi. Lorraine has a separate room attached to her cafe with tables and chairs for people who want to use her wifi.

Another draw for cruisers to come to Black Point is Lorraine’s mom’s coconut bread. Next to Lorraine’s Cafe is her mom’s house. To order loaves of bread, cruisers enter her house, go back to her kitchen and tell her how many and what kinds of loaves they want. Coconut bread is available in many of the Bahamian islands we visit, but her special recipe has a delicious swirl of a freshly shredded coconut mixture running through the bread. It makes exceptionally good French Toast. I talked to her for awhile this year while waiting in her kitchen for the bread to finish baking. When I complimented her on the unique coconut bread she bakes she said, “I think I was put on this earth by God to make people happy with my coconut bread.” She has been known to make more bread in the afternoon for the cruisers if she runs out in the morning. I suppose the local residents and tourists who stay nearby also buy her bread but she made it clear to me that she makes it specifically for the cruisers who come to Black Point.

We bought three loaves of coconut bread and two loaves of cinnamon raisin bread, froze four and enjoyed them for a few weeks. Of course we made coconut bread French Toast several times.  (I realize the two pictures below are sideways. I kept editing them to rotate but they seem to want to stay this direction.)

 

Perhaps the most popular place to go in Black Point for cruisers is Rockside Laundromat, run by a busy businesswoman named Ida Patton. It is on a par with a good laundromat one might find in the US. The laundry is always clean and the washers and dryers are in excellent condition. When we were there this time, one dryer stopped working and immediately a workman came to repair it. Even though we have a washer/dryer on the boat, we always bring several loads to Ida’s. Ida also has a small store attached to the laundromat, she gives haircuts, and there are coin operated eight minute hot showers available upstairs. She even has a VHF radio in her store turned on so cruisers can hear calls. Since we were here two years ago she has added several new docks where cruisers can tie up their dinghies while they do their laundry. This allows cruisers to bring their laundry right up to the shore and they only have to climb a few steps to Rockside Laundromat rather than walk several blocks from the free government dock carrying their bags of laundry.

This is one of several new docks by Ida’s laundromat. It can be used for the larger tour boats that come for lunch in town.

This is Ida’s new dinghy dock for her customers.

Ida has a well constructed covered porch where customers can sit outside in the shade while they wait for their laundry to finish.

I suspect almost every cruiser who stops in Black Point does some laundry here. It’s also a good place to meet and  talk to other cruisers. All laundries in the Bahamas are much more expensive than in the US. Most charge $4 a load for the washers and $4 a load for the dryers. While US and Bahamian money are both accepted everywhere, the coins are different so they always have you buy tokens for washers and dryers. 

Ida has a small store connected to her laundry. There is only one grocery store in Black Point and it is rather small so this is not a stop cruisers make to provision. If they stay here for a long period of time they sometimes make a quick trip back to Staniel Cay where there are three very small grocery stores. Ida always has fresh pastries for sale and cold drinks in her cooler as well as shelves stocked with a few marine supplies, souvenirs,  and other items cruisers might need.

Mark and Sailor waited outside the laundry since dogs aren’t allowed inside.

Mark needs a haircut but after losing it all a year ago during his chemotherapy treatments he’s thrilled about his new curly long hair so he refuses to cut it. He promises not to have a man bun or ponytail. 

This is Rockside Laundromat from the street side. The laundry and store are on the lower level and there are showers on the second floor.The area is always neat and clean, as is the rest of Black Point.

Ida also rents beach cottages and golf carts. A sports game shop is located next to her laundromat.  She is a true entrepreneur and is a very busy lady with all of her businesses.
The first thing you notice when coming ashore at Black Point are the very friendly local residents, in particular the children. We think they must be told to greet all visitors, because that is exactly what they do.
The first time we came here, in 2010,  I volunteered to help in a classroom at the Black Point All Age School.  I visited one primary class and read a book to the students. The children were extremely well behaved and respectful, standing to greet me when I entered the room and listening politely to me. The next time we visited Black Point I asked about volunteering again but so many other cruisers had been volunteering in the school they were a bit overwhelmed so I didn’t have another chance to visit the classrooms. Many cruisers bring school supplies to Black Point and drop them off at the school when they pass through. There are schools on most of the other islands, but there is something about the people of Black Point that makes cruisers want to return the kindness. The first picture below was taken on a Sunday and it appears either a teacher or the principal was there working.

We attended a church service in Black Point along with several other cruisers a few years ago. At the end of the service the pastor thanked the cruisers for coming to Black Point, saying how much everyone appreciated them visiting, and asked all of us to stand. The congregation and pastor applauded.
Farther down the main street there is a sign in a yard that reads “Garden of Eden.” Willie Rolle gives tours of his driftwood garden. He travels to various nearby islands to find interesting looking driftwood and rocks, places them in his yard and explains what he “sees” in them, including animals, sea creatures, a ballerina and George Washington. It takes a bit of imagination but they truly do resemble what he describes. He also has a fruit and vegetable garden.  He doesn’t charge for his tour, but of course everyone probably gives him a tip, as we did.
Adderley’s Grocery Store is small but has fresh produce, canned goods, and other basic necessities that can be purchased if you arrive on the day the mailboat comes to Black Point . A few days later most of the fresh food is gone. Sometimes no one is in the store so you have to call a phone number and the owner usually quickly appears. I love the sign about credit cards located at the checkout counter. The day we were there, I tried to purchase a few items several times and no one answered the phone or arrived at the store. The door was open but no one was inside. I later found out that Ida was watching the store for Lawrence Adderley whose wife was very sick and he had flown to Nassau to be with her. Ida was also watching her laundromat and had to attend to something at one of her vacation rentals. which is why I never did get to purchase anything at Adderleys that day.

Next to Adderleys Friendly Store is a house with a Justice of the Peace office which is also run by Lawrence Adderley.
Many of the islands in the Bahamas charge for taking cruisers’ garbage then burning it in their dumps. In Georgetown it costs $2 for a small bag and $3 for a large bag. A few years ago in Staniel Cay it cost $6 to leave a bag of garbage and we heard it is now $10 a bag, although it is possible to walk down a road to the city dump and leave your garbage bags there for free. Someone told us that in Compass Cay, which is a private island with a marina near Staniel Cay, garbage costs $20 to dispose of, which is probably priced that high to discourage anyone from bringing their garbage there. In Spanish Wells you can put your garbage in large cans located on any street for free, even in front of someone’s house. In Black Point there is a large garbage container next to the government dock. Cruisers are asked to leave a donation after leaving their garbage bags..

After leaving a dinghy at the government dock and turning north on the main street, it is a 15 minute walk to a sandy beach on the Exuma Sound. We usually turn south and walk towards the town of Black Point.

Near the government dock is a spigot where you can get free reverse osmosis (RO) water. It’s not as convenient as the one in Georgetown which is located on the dinghy dock at the Exuma Market where you can fill your water jugs while they are in your dinghy, but if you are willing to bring your jugs a short walk from the Black Point government dock you can have some fresh potable water to bring back to your boat.

Sailor enjoyed watching a few sharks near our dinghy. A local fisherman was cleaning fish on the government dock, which always attracts sharks.
A well known boat builder who has won many races in the local regattas sailing his boat Smashie lives in Black Point.  A few years ago Mark was invited into his house and saw shelves full of trophies from the racing regattas he won. His house is on the main street and we have always enjoyed looking at the current boat he was building. Sadly, we heard he died this year.

There are a number of government offices in the Black Point settlement. I don’t think you would want to spend a day in the city jail which is next to the police office. The first picture below is the Black Point jail. We have heard that on the small “family islands,” if someone commits a serious crime they are sent to jail in Nassau and are not allowed to return to their island. This is perhaps one of the contributing factors to the high crime rate in Nassau. Behind the jail you can see a tall cell phone tower. Wherever there is a cell phone tower in the Bahamas, a Batelco (Bahamas Telephone Company) office will be located next to it, which is the yellow building in the background. Since Black Point is a very small settlement, the office is only open a few days a week.
All government offices in the Bahamas are color coded. These are several others we passed on the main street.
One reason we stop at Staniel Cay is to go to their fuel dock to top off our tanks. Black Point is building a fuel dock and hopefully it will be available when we return to Black Point next year. Just another way the residents of Black Point are working to help the cruisers. 

Along the main street we passed a house that is partially built. This is common on many of the islands. Someone starts building a house, runs out of money, stops, and continues building when they get more money. 

The anchorage at Black Point is huge, which usually makes it easy to leave a nice distance between each boat. Big Majors also has a large anchorage, but it is often filled with mega yachts, large powerboats and people zipping through the anchorage on Seadoos or even water skiing behind a fast boat. Black Point is much calmer and thus preferred by owners of sailboats and smaller powerboats. We only stayed at Black Point one night and left early the next morning to sail south and anchor near an inlet to the Exuma Sound.

 

Bimini to Big Majors Spot aka Pig Beach

On December 23, 2018, we left Bimini Sands Marina at 0530, in the dark. There was a full moon but we still needed a spotlight to get out of the narrow marina channel and then into the channel that is the exit to the Atlantic Ocean from North and South Bimini. Turning south, we were on deep ocean water for one hour before we got onto the shallow Bank. We arrived at Chub Cay at 1729, after 12 hours of motorsailing and in daylight. The last hour of the day we were in the Northwest Channel, which is deep ocean water. The seas were fairly flat most of the day.

The marina at Chub Cay is a favorite for large Sportfisher boats since it is a very short distance to deep water fishing. It is a beautiful marina but very expensive so we have never stayed there. The Chub Cay anchorage is close to the marina channel and usually we are waked numerous times in the evening and early morning as fishermen speed by to enter or leave the marina. This time it was very quiet with not a single Sportfisher or any boats in the marina channel the entire time we were there. Perhaps they were all home for the holidays.

The next morning at first light, 0635, we brought up the anchor and were on our way to Nassau. The entire day we were in deep ocean water but seas were only 1-2 feet becoming 3-4 later in the day so it was a rather comfortable sail. Calling on our VHF radio, we asked and were given permission to enter the harbor at 1130 and were at a fuel dock by 1204. After topping off both 80 gallon diesel fuel tanks, we went around the corner into a slip at Nassau Harbour Club. This was the last time we will stay at a marina until we return to Sunset Bay in Stuart in May. Holding is terrible in the Nassau harbor anchorages, there is a lot of current, and it is a dangerous city so we always stay at a marina. We like this particular marina because we can walk across the street to a strip mall with a Starbucks, a Fresh Market Grocery, a BTC office (Bahamas Telephone Company), Radio Shack and more. There are also marine supply stores a close walking distance down that street.  I gave up my addiction to Starbucks last summer but we decided to celebrate getting this far with Frappuccinos. We also picked up some fresh vegetables at the very very expensive grocery store. Most items cost double to triple what we would pay at a grocery store in Florida.
We have stayed at Nassau Harbour Club many times.  We have always paid about $1.50 a foot at this marina. Seas the Day is 42 feet long. They charge $8 for unlimited city water (not potable) and power is metered but reasonable. We like being able to wash the boat with a hose and lots of fresh water, especially since everything is usually encrusted with salt by this point. We decided to have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve since we had shore power and could heat up our frozen leftovers from Thanksgiving in the microwave. We were also able to use  the convection oven, rather than our very unreliable propane oven, for cooking some side dishes.

We were in Nassau for one night and wanted to leave early in the morning for the motorsail across the Bank to the Exumas. A very strong storm was predicted on December 26 and we needed to be in a sheltered anchorage. The marina office was supposed to open at 0730 on Christmas Day and we were there to check out at that time but after waiting about 15 minutes with the door still locked, we taped an envelope on the office door with our meter reading and said they could use the credit card they copied the day before when we checked in. We preferred to pay with cash but didn’t want to wait any longer. I checked the credit card online the next day and was shocked to see a charge of $124.26.  We had paid $100 for an entire week at Bimini Sands (an unusual “special”) and rarely pay more than $1.50 a ft anywhere.  I received the receipt below by email. The VAT mentioned is the new 12% tax on just about everything. It went up from nothing to 6% several years ago and last year jumped to 12%. We paid $2.25 a ft for the marina slip plus VAT. Guess we aren’t staying there anymore.
Our intention when leaving Nassau was to cross to the northern Exumas and then sail as far south as we could get in daylight. However, after we left the harbor the wind started gusting over 25 kts and the waves built. We had to reef in the main and were still making 9 kts motorsailing. Usually we average around 7 kts. It was one of the  most uncomfortable sails we’ve ever had and it wasn’t even on the ocean. Before we leave an anchorage or marina I always put away any items that could fall and lock all the closet doors and kitchen cabinets and drawers, but this time things were flying around that had never moved in ten years. Of course Sailor was not happy with rocking and rolling so I was in bed with him while Mark was at the helm all day. We arrived at Norman’s Cay in the Exumas at 1305 and if the weather had been good we would have had over four more hours to continue farther south, but we had no interest in continuing and entered the anchorage close to the beach.  When the front came through the next day we had 40 kt wind with strong squalls and torrential rain. Unfortunately we quickly discovered there was a swell coming around a corner of the cay so we rocked from side to side most of the time we were there. We were at Norman’s Cay for five uncomfortable days.

On December 30, 2018, at 0745 we left Norman’s Cay and motorsailed to Big Majors Spot at Staniel Cay, known for the Pig Beach. We didn’t make our usual stops in the Exuma Land and Sea Park since it had taken us longer than expected to get this far but we will visit the Park in the Spring when we go to Eleuthera and Spanish Wells. Many cruisers no longer stop at Big Majors and Staniel Cay for a variety of reasons. First, each year more and more large yachts are in the anchorage with their toys: Seadoos, tenders with large fast motors,  water skis, water slides off their decks, and we even saw a motorized surfboard this year. Also there are many tour boats and float planes that bring tourists all day long from Nassau to see the swimming pigs. There are several resorts in the area and those visitors often come through the anchorage with fast small boats, which seem to be driven by people with no idea of the problems they cause the anchored boats when they race between us and come within a few feet of boats. We used to snorkel in Thunderball Grotto and loved it but now numerous tour boats are there at slack tides and the coral is almost dead rather than the showing their vibrant colors of a few years ago plus there are few fish in the Grotto. Just a few years ago we were surrounded by colorful fish while snorkeling inside the grotto.  In addition, if you want to get rid of a bag of garbage, two years ago when we were last here it cost $6.00. We didn’t even check this year. On most islands in the Exumas we pay a dollar or two to put la bag of garbage in bins. In Spanish Wells garbage can be put in cans on the streets for free. On all of the islands garbage is burned at dumps. There is rarely any chance to recycle although sometimes schools collect recyclables to raise money.

The three very small grocery stores located in houses in Staniel Cay are poorly stocked and very expensive. They get fresh supplies once a week which stay on the shelves about one day or less. Local residents place bulk orders from stores in Nassau and have them delivered to the public government dock when the supply boat arrives so they don’t depend on the local stores. On the positive side, there is a nice restaurant at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. The fuel dock has diesel and gas. One huge draw is there is a heavily used airport at Staniel Cay with both commercial and private planes landing frequently. It’s a good place for guests to fly in and out and for cruisers to have parts or other supplies shipped in.  

We stopped at Big Majors for the beaches for Sailor. Blackpoint is five miles south and it has many advantages over Staniel Cay but not very good beaches near the anchorage for dogs. When we arrived at Big Majors, Sailor was anxious to get to the beach but he has learned to be patient because there is a lot to do after we anchor before we can leave the boat.
Here a few photos of Sailor enjoying on of the beaches at Big Majors. There are three on the anchorage side – Pig Beach, Pirate Beach and a third beach that we use.  Even though there are many boats here, we were alone on this beach for over an hour. We are anchored on the west side of Big Majors, and there are more beaches around the corner on the south side.

On January 2, we will motorsail five miles south to Blackpoint. We’ll stay there a day or two, then go further south to Cave Cay where we will hopefully leave the Bank through Galliot Cut and sail south on the Exuma Sound to Georgetown on Saturday. We expect to have lots of company on the Sound since many boats have been waiting for good weather to continue moving south either to Georgetown or further on to the Caribbean. 

 

Waiting in Bimini

We left Dinner Key Marina on Sunday, December 16 at 0649 and arrived in Bimini at 1430. We had 3 to 6 foot swells on the port aft beam and it was an uncomfortable motorsail although we’ve had much worse Gulf Stream crossings. The first thing we had to do when we got to Bimini was check in with Bahamas Customs and Immigration. We filled out some paperwork and Mark took that, along with all of our other paperwork concerning us, the boat, and Sailor, in a taxi for a short ride to the airport. It costs $300 for our cruising permit. This allows us to stay in the Bahamas for eight months and the boat can be in Bahamian waters for 12 months.  However, Customs and Immigration officials never give cruisers more than six months, with the ability for us to extend it to eight months. Usually they only give cruisers three of four months. Only one time in seven visits to the Bahamas have we gotten six months and we have always checked in at Bimini.  In order to extend our cruising permit, we must be near a town with an Immigration official within a few days before it expires. We know we will be in Georgetown in three months so that is what we asked for this time. The last time we were in the Bahamas we asked for six months and were given four months. When it was about to expire we were in Spanish Wells where there isn’t an immigration office. We had to take a water taxi to Eleuthera and a land taxi to an immigration office to get the extension. Hopefully when we extend it in Georgetown the official will give us another three months. This does not always happen and we might need to extend it again in Spanish Wells. After Mark returned from the airport, he took down our yellow “quarantine” flag and raised the Bahamas courtesy flag.

Our plan was to stay at Bimini Sands one night and leave the next morning for Great Harbour Cay in the Berries. We got up at 0400 and Mark took Sailor for a quick walk. He went to the beach and saw rough seas in the inlet and further out in the ocean.  We sail on the ocean for several miles before we reach the shallow Bahamas Bank. We decided to stay in Bimini and went back to bed. A very strong cold front was forecast to come through the Bahamas Thursday night and Friday so we needed to be in a safe place by then.  We could have gotten to the extremely protected marina in Great Harbour Cay the following day when the seas were calmer and many cruisers did go there to wait out the storm. We stayed in Bimini because the marina we are at, Bimini Sands Resort and Marina, is running a special of $1 a foot ($42 for us) a day or $100 a week for a slip. If you have a 100 foot yacht, it’s still $100 a week. Great Harbour Cay has a weekly price of $10 a foot, or $420 for us before a discount with our Active Captain account.  Since we had already spent much more money than planned on a marina in Ft. Lauderdale for two weeks and the mooring field in Miami for a month, plus the unexpected cost of replacing the jib furler, we decided to save about $300 and stay in Bimini. Oddly, even with the extremely good prices at Bimini Sands, only a few boats are here. Perhaps that is because Bimini Sands is not advertising their special prices. We didn’t know about it until we checked in. After the pictures below were taken several other boats did come in. We noticed the marinas in North Bimini were not full either, so most cruisers must have moved as far into the Bahamas as they could get before the predicted cold front arrives.
On Monday we took the water taxi a very short distance from South Bimini to North Bimini and walked to the Batelco (Bahamas Telephone Company) office on Kings Highway. After getting a new SIM card for our Bahamas smartphone, and some scratch off cards to add data and phone time to it as needed, we went back to South Bimini. For $29.95 we have 15 GB of data, unlimited phone calls within the Bahamas, and 1000 minutes to call the States or Canada for 15 days. The data rolls over if we don’t use it all.  Every year we have come to the Bahamas Batelco seems to have better deals. There are several other options in the Bahamas for unlimited data with different companies which we will probably investigate when we get to Georgetown.
On Thursday, a prefrontal trough came through the Bahamas with high wind and torrential rain. We are tied up in a wide slip with numerous lines going from the boat’s cleats to both sides of the slip, so we hardly moved even when the wind picked up overnight with gusts over 40 kts. During the night the cold front arrived and all day Friday we had 30 to 35 kt sustained winds but the squalls had stopped. By Saturday morning the wind was down below 10 kts, and the high seas were slowly calming down. The photos below show waves crashing into the Bimini Sands Inlet on Friday.

At this time of year in the Bahamas, there are never more than three or four days of safe traveling weather in a row. The forecast for the next three days is good for getting from Bimini to the Exumas so we will leave at about 0500 Sunday morning and sail to Chub Cay.  Both Chub Cay and Great Harbour Cay are in the Berries and we could go to either one on Sunday. However, Chub Cay is closer to Nassau and will make our second travel day quicker. We will arrive in Chub Cay around 6 pm and anchor near the shore. Since days are short, we will be leaving Bimini in the dark and anchoring at Chub in the dark, but the anchorage there is a wide open area and there are usually few boats in the anchorage area. We will leave the next morning, arrive in Nassau in the early afternoon, get fuel and motor through the harbor to Nassau Harbour Club where we have a reservation for Monday night, which is Christmas Eve.  Our Christmas present will be to arrive in the northern Exumas on Christmas Day. There will be several sections during the next two days where we will be on deep ocean water. Most of the sail from Bimini to Chub is on the Bahama Bank but the first part and the last part are on the ocean. From Chub Cay to Nassau we will be in deep water on the “Tongue of the Ocean” as soon as we leave the channel out of the anchorage at Chub Cay. The sail from Nassau to the Exumas is on the shallow Yellow Bank. 

We are planning to reach the Exumas on Tuesday because on Wednesday another system with high winds enters the Bahamas. As weather allows, we will continue south on the Bank along the Exuma chain of islands and cays. Eventually we will exit the Bank  through a cut between islands out to the deep Exuma Sound and sail to Georgetown where we plan to stay until the end of March.

Finally Ready to Leave Miami

We have been in Miami for three weeks, since November 29. We knew we would have to wait at least two weeks to get the part for our jib furler. That came and we had it installed on Wednesday, December 12. Our rigger, Kyle, had estimated six hours to remove the forestay, install the new furler, and put it back on the boat. Like everything on a boat, this did not go quite according to plan. Below are two photos of the parts of the furler that we had installed.
First, since we are on a mooring ball at Dinner Key Marina and Mooring Field, we had to go to a dock in the marina for the installation. This marina was partially destroyed during Hurricane Irma in 2017 and there have been few, if any, repairs made so some of the slips and docks are still in pieces. We went to a sea wall in the marina and were told we would pay $23 for every three hours we stayed there.  There was no power available so our riggers had to use our Honda generator to power their tools. 

We moved to the sea wall at 8 am and the riggers arrived at 8:30 am. They  began by taking down the forestay, which included the furler that no longer worked, with a swivel at the top and a drum at the bottom. Mark had already removed the jib sail which saved some time. Before they took down the forestay, which supports the mast, they had to add several lines from the mast to the deck.  In order to do this, Kyle, the rigger, needed to climb the mast, attach the lines, and then release the forestay.

Once the mast was secure, Kyle lowered the forestay while his helper guided it to the dock.

Once the forestay was on the ground, they discovered a big problem. A cable that runs through the forestay was twisted and needed to be replaced. They hopped in their truck, drove back to Ft. Lauderdale where their office is located, had a cable cut to the exact length needed, down to a fraction of an inch, and returned with it. By then it was early afternoon. The addition of the cable replacement added time to the repair and by 6 pm they were still working. We contacted the marina office which closes at 7 pm and told them that we were not going to get off the sea wall and needed to spend the night. Normally this is not allowed. Apparently at that point we became transients, i.e. we were staying overnight and needed to pay $3 a foot. With taxes it came to $132.00. By 8 pm the riggers had raised the new forestay, attached our jib sail, tested the furler, and were finished. We don’t have a picture of them putting the forestay back up since it gets dark here in December by 6 pm.
While this repair delayed our ability to cross over to the Bahamas, and the cost was about the same amount we budget for our entire six months in the Bahamas, it was well worth it and thankfully we discovered the problem while still in Florida so it could be repaired.

We didn’t have to wait too long for the next weather window. Sunday, December 16, looks fairly good for crossing to Bimini. The wind is WNW.  We usually avoid any wind direction with “north” in it because when the Gulf Stream, which runs north, meets wind blowing from the north, the seas in the Stream are higher.  However, the forecast is for 2-4 or 3-5 ft seas and 8-15 kt wind. We suspect it will be rougher than we like, but the relatively mild conditions will continue for several days, hopefully allowing us to continue on to Great Harbour Cay in the Berries, Nassau, and possibly even over to the northern Exumas. However, it is very rare for us to be able to continue on to our next destinations so quickly, and we fully expect we’ll need to stay in one of those stops more than a day. 

Finally, our seventh cruise to the Bahamas can begin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ft Lauderdale to Miami

After a week in Ft. Lauderdale we were ready to leave. On Thursday morning, November 29, 2018, at 0647 we dropped the lines at the New River Docks. Since the railroad bridge goes down frequently and the two bascule bridges on the river we have to ask to be raised are closed between 0730 and 0900 on weekdays, we needed to plan carefully to get out to the ocean. We waited for the 0730 opening of the 17th Ave Causeway bridge and then were out on the ocean. 

Mark finally got the watermaker working so on the way to Miami we filled some gallon water jugs for drinking. We left Ft. Lauderdale with our three water tanks (120 gallons) full, so no need to make water for them yet.
It was a beautiful day with wind under 5 kts and following seas with a small swell. Proof that it was comfortable was that Sailor stayed under the helm seat through the Port Everglades Inlet and all the way to Miami. He has quickly remembered what goes on when we are sailing. He recognizes the difference between the ocean (which he usually doesn’t like), the ICW and the New River and when we leave the ocean through an inlet he quickly realizes that it is “safe” to go outside. However, this time he was fine staying outside through the Pt Everglades Inlet where amazingly we were the only boat in it and then again at Government Cut into Miami where once again we were the only boat. That was extremely unusual. The picture below is Sailor on the ocean just after we left Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed about a mile offshore the whole way following the coast south.
After entering Government Cut we motored to Crandon Park Marina in Biscayne Bay where we got fuel. We then continued across the Bay to the Dinner Key Mooring Field and picked up Ball 84 at 1347.

We came to Miami without our jib sail on and will be getting the parts for the furling mechanism in about two weeks. In the meantime we will enjoy walking around Coconut Grove which has a small downtown area with restaurants, stores, and coffee shops. Sailor is thrilled that we can walk to the best dog park we’ve ever seen, Blanche Park. There is no dirt, just AstroTurf, paved walkways, lots of benches to sit on in the shade, balls for the dogs and best of all the dog owners watch their dogs and the dogs are well behaved. Sailor goes there every morning and then goes ashore again for a shorter walk in the afternoon. It gets dark early in December so he doesn’t get a nighttime walk since we have quite a long dinghy ride in the dark to the dinghy dock at the marina. Below are some pictures of Sailor enjoying the area.

Sailor always has fun at  Blanche Park. There is a dog park and a separate fenced playground for children.
Sailor is standing by a fountain in the shopping/restaurant area of Coconut Grove in the photo below. The area that had a two story outdoor mall with a theater, restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, stores and a large Starbucks with a lot of outdoor seating is gone. A highrise building is going in its place. We will miss that area of Coconut Grove this time of year since it was always decorated beautifully for Christmas and had a nice place to sit outside.

Sailor is posing in this photo next to another sailor.
This is one of the many peacocks that can be seen around the Coconut Grove area. 

We can walk to two nice, although pricey, grocery stores, Milans (an IGA) and Fresh Market. Since all we need to buy is fresh produce, either one works for us. 

One advantage of being on a mooring ball is that you get to use the marina facilities. When we go to the marina office building we can use their free wifi, a nice laundry room, and great showers and bathrooms. While we can easily shower and wash clothes on the boat, we would have to also make water or bring it in five gallon jugs from the marina. We’ve decided we’ll take showers in the morning at the marina and wash our clothes there to save on water and power on the boat. 

Another way to save water is to give Sailor a bath using the free water at the marina dock. We have to use the Honda generator plugged directly into his blow dryer when we get back to the boat. If we don’t blow him dry he gets very matted. Also, to keep the boat clean, since his feet get very dirty walking on the city streets, we use a “paw plunger” to wash his feet after he gets out of the dinghy.


We love seeing dolphins but when we see manatees they are usually under water and not very visible. Also they aren’t as interesting to watch as dolphins since they usually just float around. Dinner Key Marina has a manatee named Puffy who has lived here for several years. In this photo Puffy is cleaning the dinghy dock so we were able to get a close up view.
After our jib furler arrives and is installed we will leave for Bimini or possibly Great Harbour Cay in the Berries at the next good weather window. We hope to be able to do this before Christmas and will then head straight to the Exumas and Georgetown. However, the most dangerous thing on a boat is a schedule so in reality we’ll get there when we get there. 

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Boat Repairs in Ft. Lauderdale

“Plans made on a boat are written in sand at high tide.” We know that, but still thought we’d be able to leave Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday, November 24, after spending four days at a dock on the New River and completing all the repairs on our list except a jib that wasn’t furling well while sailing on the ocean coming to Ft. Lauderdale.  On Saturday, while trying to fix it, the jib furler froze up completely and we realized we’d have to contact a rigger for help.

Monday morning we called Ft Lauderdale based Nance and Underwood, riggers we have worked with before. Unfortunately they couldn’t  get to us for a month, possibly in two weeks if they have a cancellation. We texted Scott, the hybrid guru who helped all of the Lagoon 420 owners when they were electric sailboats. He texted back immediately from France and gave us the name of a local man whom he highly recommended.

Kyle came to check our furler this morning. The good news is that he can help us. The bad news is we need a new one. Parts will be ordered and should be here in two weeks. We will go to Miami tomorrow morning and wait at Dinner Key on a mooring ball until Kyle can bring the new furler to us and install it. Mark has been able to fix 99% of the repairs on our boat, but this is one time we had to rely on an expert. In the last week and a half Mark has repaired or replaced a VHF radio, our watermaker, a bilge pump, the inverter, and  our chart plotter. While we heard the saying, “Everything on your boat is broken…..you just don’t know it yet,” soon after we moved aboard Seas the Day, I hope that is not true right now. We definitely need a break from this.

 

 

Lake Worth to Ft. Lauderdale

We left Lake Worth at 0645 on Tuesday, November 21, 2018, and arrived at Slip 4 on the New River Docks in Ft. Lauderdale at 1340. We arrived at 1240 at the 17th St. Causeway Bridge just around the corner from the inlet and went under the bridge at the next opening at 1300. It took us forty minutes to get to the New River Docks and tie up at along the sea wall just before the 7th Ave. bridge. We had to request two bridge openings on the New River and luckily got under the railroad single bascule bridge five minutes before it closed for a train. We went a total of 51.86 miles in six hours and 56 minutes, staying about a mile offshore with small swells on the port aft side of the boat.  It was comfortable enough that after exiting the Lake Worth Inlet and motorsailing for awhile, Sailor was convinced it was “safe” for him to go outside and sleep under the helm seat.

We have gone up and down the New River many times, every season except last year, since 2008. The river is not very wide and there are numerous megayachts,  sailboats, powerboats, fishing boats, tour boats, water taxis, pontoon boats, seadoos, kayaks, floating tiki bars, gondolas and small pleasure boats on the river. We have never had a problem, but this time on our way to our slip Mark moved over for a tour boat to pass us going the other direction and we went aground! The New River is dredged to the sea walls on either side, but unfortunately we found an area where the depth was less than five feet deep. Mark quickly backed out and we probably had no damage, but it was a shock after an uneventful trip here.

We are staying in a slip on the New River until Sunday, partly due to weather on the ocean for our sail to Miami, partly because we have a few boat repairs, partly so we could cook a Thanksgiving meal using various appliances, and mainly to rest and enjoy our last unlimited power and water at a dock until we return to Sunset Bay in May. 

We are located right across the river from the Broward Performing Arts Center. Several years ago we were here in December and saw “The Nutcracker.” Right now, “The King and I” is showing and the next production is “Legally Blonde.” The buildings are beautifully lit up at night and will probably be adding more decorations for the Christmas holiday. To the left of the Performing Arts Center in the photo below is the Huizenga Pavillion. Wayne Huizenga Sr was a well known businessman, entrepreneur and the founder of Blockbuster Video, Waste Management , AutoNation and owner of a number of sports teams. The family is well known throughout Florida for their philanthropy. His daughter and son-in-law are owners of our home marina, Sunset Bay. The pavillion is used for events and dining before attending the theater productions. The photo was taken from our boat.
Before we left Stuart, we purchased all the “fixings” for a Thanksgiving meal. Mark cooked the 14 pound turkey in our Magma Grill. In addition he made all the side dishes: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, steamed asparagus w/hollandaise sauce, homemade cranberry/orange relish, stuffing and gravy. We have lots of leftovers in our refrigerator and freezer.

My job was to clean up after the meal. Naturally we don’t have a dishwasher, but even after meals this huge, I don’t miss it. However, it would be nice to have an empty cabinet to hide dirty dishes in until they can be washed. You can see the Broward Performing Arts Center lit up across the river through our galley window.
We are in a slip next to a small park and the paved Riverwalk runs past us. We are also in the widest part of the river at a turning basin, where boats have room to turn around. There is a lot of boat traffic, but the whole river in this area is a no wake zone so most boats go by very slowly and rarely make our boat rock.  Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a noise ordinance and some small craft have speakers spewing loud music at all hours of day and night. The bridge tender near us must have gotten fed up last night because we heard him yell over his loudspeaker to a passing boat to turn the music down or he was calling the police. The music abruptly stopped. Below are a few photos of the area around us. There are lots of high rise condo and apartment buildings on this part of the river. Farther to the east, toward the ocean, the river edges are bordered with huge mansions. The little park area below is a few steps from our boat. It makes walking Sailor very easy, although I suspect he prefers riding in a dinghy to the beaches.

Thanksgiving Day was rather quiet on the river, but the day after everyone who has a small boat must have been out, along with a few large yachts that have been farther up the river at the Lauderdale Marine Center having work done. The megayachts are so huge they are required to have tow boats guiding them.  We even saw a tiki bar pass by in the late morning, a little early for drinks, but I’m sure they tell their customers, “It’s 5:00 somewhere.” In this  picture you can clearly see the brown railroad bridge down and one of the the pink bascule bridges further on that opens on request.

Early Friday morning we woke up to the sound of bow thrusters. Many powerboats, all yachts and some large sailboats have these devices so they can maneuver sideways into slips or away from a hazard. Yesterday morning our boat was the hazard. A yacht was held up for almost a half hour waiting for the nearby railroad bridge to go up. Every 5 to 10 seconds, the captain used the bow thrusters to keep away from our boat as the current was strong. The bow thrusters can be heard through the water and I woke up to them at 6:55 am. I came into the salon, looked out the window and saw this.
Just after I took this photo through the salon window, in my nightgown, three men on the yacht’s bridge waved at me. Hopefully they thought that was a dress I was wearing. We don’t worry about any of the large yachts hitting us, since they have very experienced crew. The entire half hour they were next to us, two crew members were standing on her starboard side watching that she didn’t get too close to us. Several more crew members were on the bridge and the captain was using the thrusters as needed.

We always watch out for The Jungle Queen, a large tour boat that goes up and down the river constantly. Since we are in the turning basin, it is wide enough for boats to pass her here. Sometimes she comes so close to us we are tempted to say, “Pardon me, would you have any grey poupon?” (Google “Grey Poupon Commercial” to watch on YouTube if you are too young to remember this.) The photo shows a trawler easily able to pass the Jungle Queen. At some parts of the New River, this would be difficult. We always wait to hear where the Jungle Queen is located before we start up the New River. Seas the Day is 25 ft wide so coming around one of the many bends on the river to see the Queen might be hazardous. 

Grey Poupon?
Of course, Sailor was delighted to arrive on the New River. He seemed to remember everything from previous visits. Below are a few pictures of Sailor investigating the area.

Sailor was very patiently waiting for Mark to finish a boat chore so they could go for their walk.
Once they were on their walk, they crossed the bridge and walked on the other side of the river where they found many interesting sights. Below is a sculpture of a sailboat riding a wave with pictures of various local scenes covering the boat.
Of course, Sailor insisted on getting his picture taken on a huge chair that he had seen small children climbing on for their photo.
Since Seas the Day was across the river, some of the photos included Sailor’s home.

This area of Ft. Lauderdale is very colorful.

Walking a few blocks to Publix for a few items yesterday, we had to stop and wait for a train at a crossing. The recently added Brightline passenger trains are what is causing havoc in Ft. Lauderdale, not just the numerous prolonged closings over the river, but also stopping street traffic all over the city.

After a long walk, Sailor always insists on resting on a bench. Back home in Stuart, the chosen bench is either in downtown Stuart or in front of Sailor’s Return Restaurant located next to Sunset Bay Marina. Sailor has many friends in the area of Stuart near our marina, so he is always greeted and pet by many people. I think he misses the adulation he experiences in Stuart since he was mostly ignored by the people here. Sadly, every year we stop in Ft. Lauderdale there seems to be more homeless people. They are either sleeping on benches or walking around with large garbage bags holding all of their belongings heaved over their shoulders. 
The string around Mark’s neck is there to hold onto his hat in case the wind blows it away while we are sailing. I wonder what people who see him think it is. It looks kind of like one of those necklaces that light up in the dark. The string does seem to work since he hasn’t lost his hat yet, so perhaps he should get a patent for it.  Incidentally, the numerous bruises on Mark’s arms are due to blood thinning drugs, but seem to have gotten worse due to the hormone treatment he has been taking for his prostate cancer. 

We are staying in Ft. Lauderdale until Sunday and then will sail to Miami. We missed the latest weather window to sail from Miami to Bimini on Saturday and Sunday. The next chance as of now is at the beginning of December. We’ll spend the waiting time on a mooring ball at Dinner Key in Coconut Grove, part of the Miami area. 

Our tracking device, a Garmin inReach Explorer, will enter a new track every ten minutes while we are moving. The link to see it is  https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/seastheday

Finally, one nice thing about being on shore power is that we were able to decorate our boat for Christmas and actually turn the tree lights on! We purchased our three foot Christmas tree with attached lights ten years ago for our first Christmas on the boat. The pothos plant in the decorated pot is very special to us. Pothos grow wild in fields in Spanish Wells. Several years ago we took a small cutting to remind us of one of our favorite stops in the Bahamas, our last one each trip. 

Stuart to Lake Worth

We left Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart at 0947 on November 20, 2018, and dropped the anchor in Lake Worth at 1544, a total of 5 hours and 57 minutes to go 37 miles. We went under 12 bridges, beginning with the Old Roosevelt Bridge next to our marina, and ending with the Riviera Bridge. Three are 65 ft fixed bridges, which we can sneak under with our 63 ft mast and an anemometer (tells wind speed) on top of it. The rest either open on demand or twice an hour, on the hour and half hour or at :15 and :45 after the hour. We rarely have to wait for openings but today we reached the Indiantown Bridge just after it had gone down so had to wait a half hour. We are now anchored in Lake Worth very near the inlet to the ocean. We haven’t been on the ICW since May, 2017, but Sailor seemed to remember just what to do.

The plan had been to leave yesterday, but as they say, “Plans on a boat are written in the sand at high tide.” We were all ready to leave at slack tide, 0730, when we discovered our chart plotter was dead. This instrument has our maps and routes on it. That was just after we turned on our VHF radio and called a station for a radio check. There was no answer and the radio was not working. We stayed at Sunset Bay and Mark spent the day fixing them. We had a spare chart plotter so he replaced the dead one and he was able to fix the radio. We suspected that perhaps we had a power surge or maybe were struck by lightning, although both devices had worked a week earlier when we moved to a different slip in the marina and there hadn’t been any storms. Today everything seemed to be working as we disconnected from the power at our slip and motored to the fuel dock. Away from shore power, the boat gets its electric power on the 12 volt DC system unless we turn on the inverter and then we have 120 volt AC.  Everything on the boat works on the 12 volt system except anything that has to be plugged into the electric outlets plus heat and air conditioning. We do have 12 volt outlets and we use them to charge batteries, phones, tablets, etc. Today we discovered the inverter is not working. Mark thinks he can fix it but if not we’ll have to buy a new one before we leave for the Bahamas.

We always avoid going on the ICW on weekends, and especially holiday weekends. Apparently this is a holiday week, with Thanksgiving on Thursday, because today the boat traffic was as heavy as we have ever seen it. This meant we got waked multiple times, since many power boaters love to go fast on the ICW and don’t care who rocks wildly from their large wake after they pass. To be fair, a few power boaters do give us a slow pass, and we always try to thank them on the radio. There were two or three today. We also had problems at a few bridges. The photo below shows a typical example. This Sportfisher was going north waiting on one side of the bridge and we were going south waiting on the other side. We called them on the radio and told them we’d need to stay on our port (left) side of the bridge since this is a single bascule bridge and our 63 ft mast would hit it if we stayed on our starboard (right) side of the bridge. They didn’t answer our two calls, so we had to slow down when they went on the side we needed. Then they sped up and waked us just as we got close to the bridge which caused us to rock back and forth. Another time two powerboats were waiting on the other side of the bridge.  They didn’t answer our calls on the radio so we informed the bridge tender that we would wait for them to go under before we started. Usually boats waiting for bridge openings on opposite sides call each other to decide who is going first, although the “rule” is that the boat going against the current goes first. Most boaters don’t know which way the current is going or don’t care. The two powerboats probably heard us talking to the bridge tender and they went first. The two pictures below show a single bascule bridge with only one span going up. This is the one where the Sportfisher almost caused us to hit our mast on the bridge. The second one is a much easier bascule bridge to go through since both sides go up straight in the air.
Sailor hasn’t been sailing for a year and a half but he remembered exactly how to be a boat dog. He is always tethered to the helm seat with his life jacket on. He usually sleeps there unless it gets rough. Today, he had enough of the waking so he made me get in a bed with him. After we dropped the anchor, we took Sailor in the dinghy the short distance to Peanut Island. President John Kennedy spent time in Palm Beach and had a bomb shelter on Peanut Island. There is also a Coast Guard station on the island. Google it…..very interesting history. In the photos below you can see how close our boat is anchored to Peanut Island. The walkways are lovely and there are some nice sandy beaches.
While we were going back to our boat in the dinghy we had to wait while a cruise ship that makes short trips to the Bahamas out of Lake Worth was leaving. Sailor seemed to be thinking that he might like a bigger boat to travel on to the Bahamas.
However he has to be satisfied with our sailboat.
Tomorrow we will get up early and go out on the ocean to Ft. Lauderdale. The seas are predicted to be 2-4 feet and the wind is going to be following us from the north. We will stay about a mile offshore. The Gulf Stream is a few miles offshore here and with the north wind blowing against the Gulf Stream which is flowing north, the seas will be higher in it. We have reservations at the New River City Marina in Ft. Lauderdale for four nights. Hopefully we won’t need to stay that long, but the wind and seas are picking up on Thursday so we might have to wait a few days to sail to Miami. It will be the last marina we stay at, other than one in Bimini where it is difficult to anchor, until we return to Sunset Bay Marina next May.

Getting Ready for Bahamas Cruise #7

For the last year and a half, since June, 2017, we have been at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, Florida. Oddly, I did not post a blog about our stay in Spanish Wells and another one about our cruise back to Florida at the end of our sixth trip to the Bahamas. I thought I had, but haven’t looked at our SV Seas the Day website since returning.  

Here is a brief summary of the last month of our Bahamas Cruise in 2016/2017. We stayed  in Spanish Wells until May 22, 2017. We then sailed directly back to Lake Worth, Florida,  leaving Royal Island, near Spanish Wells, at 10:05 am and arriving at Lake Worth the next morning on May 23 at 6:30 am. We had to slow down at the end so we could enter Lake Worth in the daylight. The next day we traveled north on the ICW back to our home port of Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart.

We didn’t go to the Bahamas the following November, 2017, due to some medical news we received after returning to Florida. Mark had a physical and his PSA had risen. Over the summer of 2017 it continued to rise until he eventually had a PETscan which showed cancer in his prostate that had spread to his spine. Chemotherapy began in the Fall but after horrendous side effects, his oncologist changed the treatment to a hormone injection every three months and daily hormone pills. There were no side effects, Mark gained back the 25+ pounds he had lost during chemotherapy and he got his hair back. After a few months, he felt 100% better, changed his diet from mostly sugar to mostly organic and has been healthy ever since. A PETscan a few weeks ago in October, 2018, showed the cancer is gone from his prostate and spine. However, the hormone treatment will continue for the foreseeable future. We had decided shortly after his diagnosis that we would go to the Bahamas for the 2018/2019 season and that is what we are doing. He will have to fly back to Florida every three months for his injection and have his hormone pills mailed to him each month in the Bahamas. For this reason, we will quickly get to Georgetown, which has a good airport nearby and stay there until April. Then we will go directly to Spanish Wells for the rest of the season. Spanish Wells also has an airport in nearby North Eleuthera.

So what have we been doing for the last year and a half? First, as always, we made some changes to  Seas the Day. For example, we have never liked the one inch deep cushions in the cockpit. We have a large seating area around the table, but it was uncomfortable. Therefore we had new cushions made, now much thicker and very comfortable. In the previous post, you’ll see an older photo of our cockpit seating with two boat chairs in the corners. Since the padding was so thin we always put these chairs on top of the cushions. The new cushions are the same color and material as the old ones, so they look similar, just feel different. In the picture are two of our new Seas the Day pillows. Mark also sanded the drop leaf table he made several years ago and put a new coat of finish on it.  Also in this picture, we changed the chain for the hanging lamp, since the old one had rusted. 

At the same time, we replaced the helm seat. We had already had a new one built a few years ago since the one that came with the boat was extremely uncomfortable. However, that replacement was not exactly what we wanted so now we have a seatback that is high with a thick cushion seat.  Our sunshade panels in the cockpit were starting to wear out so we had new ones made, once again the same color and material as the old ones. We were never satisfied with the SPOT satellite location device we have used since 2008. Sadly while the tracking was good,  it disappeared after a week. Therefore we have no online record of all of the places we visited during the ten years we have cruised on Seas the Day. SPOT was the only device available when we moved aboard, but a few years ago the inReach device became available. Starting with this cruise, we will be using an inReach and the track is permanent. It also includes the ability to add a message, along with many other desirable features. Our new tracking link for inReach is here. It can be found on the menu of our website under “Location.” Each time we move, we will turn the tracking on and it will update our new location every ten minutes. At the end of that leg of the cruise, the tracking will stop and I will write a short message about the trip on the inReach page. 

When Hurricane Irma came through Florida in the fall of 2017, we had to evacuate. This is the first time we had to leave town for a hurricane. We drove 28 hours to Knoxville, Tennessee, and stayed there for one week. Under normal conditions, this trip would take us less than 12 hours, but of course the roads were clogged. However, when we arrived in Knoxville we stayed at a wonderful LaQuinta which was across the street from a Starbucks. 

The Treasure Coast of Florida includes the counties of Indian River, Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach. In other words, it runs from Vero Beach, south to Palm Beach with Stuart in the middle. Amazingly, while Irma went through most of Florida, the Treasure Coast was hardly touched. We returned to our marina to find there was no damage to our boat or the marina as a whole. When we knew we were evacuating, we of course removed the sails and everything that was on the deck of the boat. Since we were worried about losing power, we purchased an Engel refrigerator/freezer and planned to empty our freezer and bring the food with us. Unfortuately, the Engel did not arrive in time so we had to give away our frozen food. However, now we can use the Engel while cruising. It uses much less power than our current freezer and can also be used as a refrigerator. 

During our last Bahamas cruise, a cruiser friend (Penny from M/V Pretty Penny) sent us a photo of a display she saw at a local Florida store, Bealls. Everything had “Seas the Day” written on it. Of course, when we returned I immediately visited Bealls and bought numerous items with our “logo” on them. Now we have new cups, insulated glasses, rugs, wine glasses, plates and trays with the name of our boat on them. I don’t know why anyone else would want something with Seas the Day on it and of course they were all on sale for that reason.

After getting the results of Mark’s PETscan a few weeks ago, we began to seriously start to provision and make purchases of spare parts. Mark was very busy with the “to do” list he had been avoiding for awhile. Provisioning was very different from past years since we are now eating very little meat, lots of veggies and fruits, and whenever possible “organic” foods. Our eggs and chicken breasts are from free range chickens, our beef is from grass fed cows and our salmon is “wild.” We did end up buying quite a bit of meat with those qualifications, which of course meant everything was more expensive. We saved a lot by not buying massive amounts of candy (for Mark) and ingredients for all the cookies, Rice Krispie Treats, and homemade caramel rolls I regularly made while in the Bahamas. Instead of coffee, we bought green tea. We didn’t have to buy any cases of Coke for Mark.

As always, we have to make preparations for Sailor. A few months ago I sent away for the paperwork he needs to enter the Bahamas. He had his yearly physical, during which our vet signed the Bahamas paperwork. Provisions for Sailor are seven months of food, treats, Heartguard meds, Nexguard (flea and tick), shampoo and conditioner, and one final grooming. Speaking of Sailor, I’m sure he has missed running on Bahamian beaches, but he has enjoyed his twice daily very long walks preceded and followed by sitting on the marina porch.

Now that we are ready to go, as usual something breaks at the last minute. This year our freezer is not freezing. While we have the Engel, we bought too much and the excess frozen food was placed in our large freezer. Tomorrow Mark will order the part we need and in the meantime, another cruiser is having freezer problems too and they have friends who have an empty freezer in a house, so we were able to put our freezer contents in it. Whew! I have lost count of the number of times our freezer has failed and we have lost massive amounts of food.

Tuesday, November 12, was a good day to make the three day trip to Miami, but we won’t be able to do that. As usual at this time of year, fronts pass through Florida and delay our departure from Stuart. We should get another window to leave at the end of the week.

Below are a few photos of our activities from the last year and a half.

In March, 2018, since we were in Florida for once, we were able to go to the Spring Fling, an annual reunion party put on by Sailor’s breeder Moss Creek Goldendoodles. We drove to Orlando and stayed for several days in a hotel. The romp was held outside of Orlando, where Sailor got to play with hundreds of his relatives.

Sailor has worn the same costume for every Halloween of his five years. Before he came home to us, I had already purchased his sailor costume in small, medium and large. He’s a good sport about wearing it. In the Crew section of this website, you’ll see a photo of Sailor the day we got him wearing his size small sailor outfit.

Sailor has a BFFF (best furry friend forever) named Zorro. His dad Chris visited us in the spring of 2018 at our marina in Stuart on their way to the Bahamas. Zorro fell off a dock at Vero Beach so he couldn’t run and play with Sailor. However, in the second picture of them they were running together on the beach in Hole 2, Georgetown, Bahamas several years ago. 

 

While I didn’t write about our visit to Spanish Wells in April and May of 2017, below are two of my favorite pictures from this island. I had hundreds to choose from and selected one of Mark and Sailor playing “fetch” on the beautiful Spanish Wells beach. The other is a picture of our favorite activity in Spanish Wells – going to get a soft ice cream cone at Papa Scoops. We always rent a golf cart for the month we are there, which makes it easy to get to Papa Scoops, which is only open in the evenings.

One advantage of staying in Stuart last season was I got to have my daughter Jennifer visit more often. It was especially nice to be with her during the Christmas season. We always went to the beach when she came on her once a month visits. Her dad had surgery during the summer and she got to stay with us for a month, not her usual three day visit.

 

I also got to go to some of Jen’s Special Olympics meets. Below she was competing in a track meet. Loving to win, she was very disappointed that she got second place.

Finally, while at a dock we have unlimited city water, so of course we do as much washing as possible before we leave. Besides washing pillows, quilts, curtains, dog bed covers, and rugs, Sailor’s toys got baths. He is used to this so he slept through the whole process. Below are a FEW of his toys. 

As I was writing this blog entry, our water pump stopped working. Mark will work on it tomorrow, and has temporarily fixed it so we can take showers tonight. Each time we get ready to leave for a winter/spring cruise, something goes wrong. Once we got to our first stop at Lake Worth/Palm Beach and while trying to lift the anchor, the electric winch fell into the anchor locker. A week later we had ordered a new one and moved to a marina from the anchorage to install it. Another time we got to Miami at Dinner Key Mooring Field and had to use our dinghy to go ashore.  The motor froze up and it couldn’t be repaired, so we had to order a new one. Such is the life of a cruiser. We were told when we first purchased Seas the Day that “Everything on your boat is broken.  You just don’t know it yet.”

 

 

Georgetown to Spanish Wells

After spending our longest time in Georgetown during six cruises in the Bahamas, we were ready to leave on April 2, 2017. We had been on a mooring ball in Hole 2 for four months and a few days, so it was time to start heading north. We like to leave one month at the end of the cruise to spend in Spanish Wells before sailing back to the States at the end of May.

The first leg of our sail north from Georgetown up the Exuma chain is on the deep water of the Exuma Sound, so  we have to watch the weather closely and usually we have to wait at least a few days for favorable weather. This year the trip on the Sound to Galliot Cut, which we crossed through to the shallow Bahama Bank, was calm. After filling the diesel tanks the day before and making one last trip to the Exuma Market, we left the Georgetown Harbor at 0730, traveling with True North. They travel a little faster than us, and stopped in Emerald Bay for fuel. We got ahead of them but we both ended up at the same time as we anchored next to Blackpoint at 1410.

We can always tell how calm the sea is by watching Sailor. He is perfectly happy sleeping at the helm if there is little movement, however as soon as we start to rock a little too much for him, Sailor goes to the salon steps leading down to a bed. He has finally become willing to stay on the bed alone, where he seems to feel safe. This makes me happy since I have spent many hours on that bed reading my Kindle while he sleeps. Notice in the picture below he doesn’t seem to get the idea that he is supposed to be on the towels. People who visit our boat often ask what we put away when we are sailing. It’s a catamaran. Unless the seas are rough, or we expect someone to wake us on the ICW or an inlet like Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale), we leave most things where they are, especially in the cockpit where none of the items seem to move even in rough weather. Incidentally, if any of my childhood friends from Duluth are reading this, notice the bowl of rocks between the shell arrangements. Those are the ones I picked up on our trip to Grand Marais last summer and I will always treasure them as a remembrance of the three days we spent together. 

When we entered Galliot Cut and got on the bank, where it is much calmer, Sailor suddenly thought it was going to be too rough for him so he went to his safe place. The cut can be very rough, especially if the wind and strong current are going different directions, but this time it was near slack tide and wasn’t bad. Sailor stayed on the bed until we approached the anchorage at Blackpoint. After four years of living on the boat, Sailor recognizes that when the engines slow down it often means we are stopping. If he sees land, he wants to be ready to get off the boat, which usually happens shortly after we drop the anchor.

After we anchored at Blackpoint, we went ashore, passing True North. Sailor recognized his friends Cathie and Tom also getting ready to go ashore.

Sailor looks very happy to be going ashore.

We spent one day in Blackpoint and had only one goal – to get a few loaves of Lorraine’s mother’s coconut bread. Hers is the best we have ever had, especially since she uses freshly grated coconut which of course she gets from palm trees on the island. Her bread is baked in the morning so on April 3, we went into town about noon and got two fresh-out-of-the-oven loaves. Sailor got a few beach runs that day and on April 4 we left at 0850 to head to Warderick Wells. Cathie and Tom stayed behind to do a few more things and we met up with them again in Warderick a few days later.

On the way south last November, we stopped at a number of cays to snorkel and give my son Peter a taste of the beautiful water of the Exumas. Sometimes we visit our favorite cays on our way north, especially if we were trying to beat weather to get to Georgetown quickly on our way south a few months earlier. This year we went directly from Blackpoint to Warderick Wells and spent some time there with friends. There were a few poker games on our boat since Carina, True North, and Riff Raff were there with us. Also, Mark had time to retrieve our sign from Boo Boo Hill and add some updates. The photo below is from when he went to get the sign to bring it back to the boat. It held up fine through Hurricane Matthew last fall. He added “17” and touched up the paint a bit. Our friends Jeff and Jane on Carina had put their sign next to ours earlier this year. It’s always fun to see how many boat names we recognize when we are on Boo Boo Hill. As you can see, many signs end up in a pile. You would think that in hurricane force wind all of these pieces of wood, located on a high hill, would blow away but oddly they don’t. The rules are that you can only use wood for your boat sign. Just like you can’t take anything away from the Land and Sea Park, you also can’t leave anything that is not natural. Our sign has stayed there since we first put it up in 2010 on our first trip to the Bahamas. Boo Boo Hill overlooks the north mooring field on one side and the Exuma Sound on the other.

The “plan” was to stay in Warderick Wells a few days and then across the Exuma Sound to Eleuthera. Those few days turned into eight days. The wind picked up, which meant the sea did too, and we waited until everything calmed down. It took eight days to do that. Meanwhile, the mooring balls filled up as more and more boats looked for shelter from the wind. I continued to do a water aerobics practice each day by myself in a small sheltered cove near the Emerald Rock mooring field. Sailor got plenty of time running and chasing his ball on that beach. Dogs cannot go off the beaches on the trails, but he would love to go chase the hutia (plump brown rabbit size rodent) that are found all over Warderick Wells. 

On April 5, we heard what sounded like a helicopter warming up. We had passed a mega yacht on mooring ball 1, reserved for large boats, when we entered the mooring field and noticed there was a helicopter on the upper deck. Sure enough, the helicopter was preparing to take off. It was a very windy day, but the pilot was obviously capable and soon the helicopter flew south. A few hours later it returned, perhaps with visitors who had flown on a plane into nearby Staniel Cay,  or perhaps the people on the yacht were just taking a tour over the nearby islands. Again, the expert pilot  dropped the helicopter on the deck.

We always try to stay in the north mooring field at Warderick Wells. The setting is extremely beautiful. This photo was taken from Boo Boo Hill and we are the catamaran on the far right side of the field.

While we love being at Warderick Wells, eight days was more than enough time there we were anxious to cross over to Governor’s Harbour the first day the weather on the Sound was moderately calm. Mooring balls in the Land and Sea Park for boats over 40 feet are $30 a night and we hadn’t planned on spending $240 in Warderick Wells. We left through the inlet at at the exit from the north mooring field  at 0823 on April 12 and arrived in Governor’s Harbour at 1615. We have been here many times, but only stayed one day and started north the next day at 0635, motorsailing off the coast of Eleuthera to Spanish Wells, arriving at 1250 on April 13. We left Governor’s Harbour under a beautiful sunrise with calm water, as can be seen from the fact that nothing in the salon had to be put away.

We were now at our final destination in the Bahamas, Spanish Wells, where for the past six years we have spent our last month before returning to Florida. 

(This blog entry was written in May, 2017, but somehow I forgot to upload it until today, November 12, 2018 as I started to write a new blog entry.)