Category Archives: Beach

Peanut Island on Memorial Day Weekend

We arrived in Lake Worth from Bimini on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and were not looking forward to the speeding boaters in the ICW on one side of Lake Worth and in the channel next to the anchorage on the other side. However being able to go to nearby Peanut Island is worth the time spent in the rocking anchorage. The island is a fantastic park with a paved walkway that winds through palm trees and other vegetation.  It is a very popular area for the locals to come to on weekends and holidays, with Memorial Day Weekend being particularly crowded. Many visitors come by small boats and water taxis bring people to the island from Riviera Beach or Palm Beach. There is a tent campsite and numerous covered picnic areas as well as areas to swim and snorkel.

Palm Beach is home to large estates with ocean beaches on the east side and Lake Worth on the west side. The Lake Worth inlet is a popular one for cruisers to leave from to go to the Bahamas  and to return to at the end of their trip. Peanut Island is located just inside the inlet.  The western shore of Lake Worth near the anchorage we are in is mostly industrial.

After anchoring near the inlet, we took the dinghy to Peanut Island and on the way passed a large wooden vessel at a dock in front of one of the houses where a party was taking place. A closer look revealed she was the yacht used by five presidents.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy spent the Christmas and Easter holidays on this yacht and in his Palm Beach home. During the summer months she  was docked in Cape Cod. Each president could change the name of the yacht and Kennedy christened her Honey Fitz, after his maternal grandfather Boston mayor John Francis Fitzgerald, whose nickname was Honey Fitz. The yacht is now privately owned and can be chartered, renting for $5000 for four hours.  She is docked at a marina in West Palm Beach, but retains her home port as Washington DC.  There is a presidential seal on the smokestack and the Honey Fitz is decorated with memorabilia from the five presidents who used the yacht. It’s worth a Google search to find out more about her fascinating history.

imageThe Kennedy family had a vacation home in Palm Beach purchased by JFK’s father in 1933. During the 1960’s it became the winter White House. A bunker was built on Peanut Island as a fallout shelter for Kennedy shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Kennedy bunker is now open for public tours. When we were in the Bahamas, we met a couple who live on Lake Worth next to the anchorage we are presently in and were cruising in the Bahamas in their yacht.  They told us about the bunker and the local rumor that it was used by Kennedy one time, when he took Marilyn Monroe there! Three feral cats live on Peanut Island now and are named Jack, Jackie, and Marilyn.

In the early 2000’s Peanut Island underwent a massive construction project which converted it to the beautiful park it is today.  It was completed in 2005 and the photos below describe the changes.  (If you click on the photos of the posters, they should become large enough to read. Poster were under glass, so it was difficult to get a clear photo.)


Here are more pictures of our visit to Peanut Island.

Visitors line up on the dock to take water taxis back to Palm Beach or Riviera Beach. The docks are free to use during the daytime and small boats can also anchor near the shore or pull up on to the beaches, except the ones designated as swimming areas. The wide walkways and bridges run along the shore and weave through the interior of the small island.







This is the bunker built for President John F. Kennedy. The entrance is through a small tunnel.



I suspect that reservations for this tent campground are made at least a year in advance for Memorial Day Weekend. It was full all weekend, but completely empty by Monday afternoon.

imageThere are numerous places to snorkel around the island. During the construction process, reefs  were added where many varieties of fish can be seen in the crystal clear water.


Peanut Island is very dog friendly. When we stopped here on our way to the Bahamas in early March, Sailor was afraid to go in the water by the docks. He had never been swimming and ran into the water without realizing it was wet! Realizing his mistake, he raced to get back to solid land.  This time, he enthusiastically fetched his wubba. He learned to love the water during his three months playing on many beaches in the Bahamas.


This is one of the covered picnic areas which are placed throughout the park.

imageThe pond where Sailor swam and the tiki hut picnic area were empty every time we went to Peanut Island. There are several other beaches on the lake shore of the island which have lifeguard towers  and were crowded with swimmers.


While Sailor was in the water, a kayaker paddled by with his dog on the front.  They noticed each other but wisely did not try to get together.


After walking and swimming, it was time to rest on a bench and watch the busy boat traffic go by, including the Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship which was leaving the Lake Worth Inlet for a two night cruise to the Bahamas.



We are staying in Lake Worth through Tuesday, when we will raise our anchor and go the short distance across the lake to Cracker Boy Boatyard where Nance and Underwood Riggers will remove our sails, unstep the  mast, and bring them to Ft. Lauderdale to store until we have them put back on again at the end of hurricane season in November.   On Wednesday we will take the final leg of our 2014 cruise back to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL.

A Beach a Day

What is better than walking on a long sandy beach with clear turquoise water to wade in or swim through?  The sky here is usually bright blue, there is often a breeze or stronger wind, and the temperature at this time of year is always around 80. It’s hard to believe but EVERY stop we make in the Exumas has at least one, and often several gorgeous beaches next to where we anchor. The water is clear and warm, the sand is soft and the beaches are almost always free of debris.  They are usually free of other humans too, and if people are walking on the beach, there are never more than a handful. Every beach is dog friendly and of course no leashes are needed, although we do bring one to control Sailor if/when other people pass by us.  All beaches in the Bahamas are public. Some of the more than 500 islands in the Exuma chain have been sold to celebrities and wealthy people, but even Oprah has to let us use her beach up to the high tide water line.  It’s the law.

In the Exumas, there are two types of beaches.  The calmer, smaller beaches are on the “bank” side, the inside of the islands.   We are always anchored on this side.   The water is shallow and usually very calm so these beaches are perfect for swimming.   Of course, the soft sand is on the sea floor as well as on the beaches which makes walking out in the water no different than walking on the beach, just wetter.

A short hike over rocky hills, often on a trail marked by other cruisers takes us to the Sound beaches.  (The “marks” are varied, including conch shells, rocks, cloth tied to branches, and even old sandals.) These beaches are bordered by high rocky hills which can be climbed for dramatic views of the Sound.  The beaches are often as far as you can see, deserted, and covered with soft, white sand.  Waves crash over reefs close to shore, but in some parts there are calm areas where you can safely swim, almost like ponds in the water.  The Sound beaches are breathtaking because the water offshore consists of shades from light to very dark turquoise, depending on the depth and floor of the sea.  There might be sand, rock, reefs,  or grass underneath, which affects the coloration.

Pictures being worth a thousand words, below are some I took today while on a beach walk on the Exuma Sound side of Georgetown.  Pictures in the previous post were at a beach on the Elizabeth Harbor side, where we are anchored.  To get to the beach on the Sound we ride a short distance to a very small stretch of harbor beach where we leave our dinghy, throwing the anchor up on the beach.  If it is high tide, we put the anchor out in the water so we don’t come back to a dinghy sitting on a beach when the tide goes out.  We climb a rather steep rocky hill up and then down on the other side to the beach you see in the photos below.  Although the trail is steep, there are branches and sticks deep in the ground to grab for support so it is quite safe.  Today we walked for several hours along this stunning beach.






What Do You Do in the Bahamas For Six Months?

Recently, I was talking with an acquaintance about our plans to go to the Bahamas on our boat for six months.  He asked, “What do you do for six months on a boat in the Bahamas?”  I don’t know if he was inferring that it would be boring or if he was genuinely confused, but I gave him the stock answer:  we snorkel, swim, sail, hike and have sundowners with other cruisers.  Later, I started to think about it and realized if you’ve never left the country on a boat for an extended period of time, then you might have this same question.

As I started to write this blog entry, I found myself thinking about what we DON’T do and DON’T have for those six months, so I’ll get that over first. We can’t walk into a grocery store and have every food choice known to man in front of us for reasonable prices.  While we have Direct TV on the boat and we have satellite coverage every place we sail, we would use up too much power if we watched it very much, so other than a few favorite shows, we don’t.  We can’t go to our regular doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists or specialists for check-ups and we can’t visit them when we are sick.  I can’t go to my favorite hair salon or yoga studio. Since we make our own power with solar panels and a wind generator, we have to be frugal with the appliances we use.  That limits using our blow dryer, curling iron, toaster, microwave, ice maker, and other power hogs. We make our own water and that uses power so we can’t take long showers. And of course the real biggie……no Starbucks!

Because of those “don’ts” we have to make lots of lists and “provision” before we leave.  Think having to buy six months worth of everything in your kitchen and medicine cabinets because likely you won’t find your favorite shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, make-up, etc. in the little stores on most islands.  Food is a different story because you could go there with no food and eat well.  The difference would be the expense and the lack, in most stores, of your favorite brands so we try to buy sufficient amounts of everything we think we will eat. My hair won’t look as nice, but Mark is a pretty good hair cutter and there is usually a nice wind to blow my hair dry. We get our physicals and check-ups between June and November. Luckily we rarely get sick and if we did there are clinics on most islands. We don’t miss TV, especially the news, and we get to read lots of books. While we limit using certain appliances, when the generator is on we can use anything. If we need something not available in the islands, we can order it online and get it shipped to us. As far as frappuccinos, I just have to endure withdrawal symptoms for awhile. There is a Starbucks in Nassau and when we stop there I usually linger over my last one until I get back to Florida in June.

Once we are in the Bahamas, we have no schedule.  That is on purpose because cruisers know the most dangerous thing on a boat is sailing with a schedule. If you have to get somewhere on a certain date you are tempted to leave when the weather forecast is not safe.  Luckily, in the Exumas where we travel the next destination is usually a few miles away and at most less than a day’s sail or motorsail. Also, there is no hurry to get there or even go there.  We have no fixed itinerary, just places we would like to visit.

Now for the answer to what do we do all day for six months.  Remarkably, every day is different.  The weather changes, the location changes and the people around us or the lack thereof, changes.  On a typical day, we wake up with the sun and eat breakfast outside in the cockpit.  Sailor will ride ashore in the dinghy to a quiet, sandy beach where he is the only dog. At each place we stop there are usually several nice beaches close to us.  If another dog is in the anchorage and going ashore, we can choose to play or be alone.  He’ll have a run and swim and take care of his “business.”  Back on the boat, we might have a few chores to do… or laundry for me, a boat repair or maintenance work for Mark.  If we don’t have work to do we might paddle the kayaks into nearby mangroves or along the shore.  Stopping at a beach via kayak or dinghy, we might swim in the calm turquoise water or take a short walk to the other side of the island, which will be on the Exuma Sound, and enjoy a whole different rocky ocean shore.  After lunch on the boat, we might relax with a book from our library or on our Kindle.  We almost always have Internet access through Batelco (Bahamas Telephone Company) so I might write a blog, check email, pay bills online or look at what mail has come into our mail forwarding service.  At our request, St. Brendan’s will scan any important mail into a pdf so we can read it online and print it out if needed. Sailor will get another dinghy ride ashore in the afternoon. If we don’t get together with friends for dinner, we’ll probably go ashore for sundowners (drinks and snacks) with a group of cruisers anchored near us, or we’ll have friends over to play Mexican Train (domino game).   When we are tired we go to bed.

That’s a typical day but on other days, depending on the island we are near, we’ll snorkel, go ashore to walk through the small towns, ride our bikes, and do some grocery shopping.  If we are near a more populated town like Georgetown, we have numerous options for eating out and shore activities.  That town, in particular, has activities for cruisers going on every day like beach yoga, volleyball, Texas Hold’em, dances, pot lucks, sundowners, scavenger hunts, etc.  When we are in Georgetown, we are one of over a hundred boats spread out over numerous anchorages. We can anchor alone or near a group of boats.

Bottom line is we never get bored.  We are totally relaxed most of the time except when there is a problem with something on the boat.  In that case, Mark fixes it. We meet a lot of people with similar interests and make lifelong friends.  We actually socialize much more with friends when we are in the Bahamas than when we are at a dock in the States or than we did when we lived in a house. If we have a question or problem we make a call to everyone in hearing distance on our VHF radio and ask if anyone can help us.  Invariably we get that help.  In Georgetown there is a cruiser’s net broadcast every morning on the VHF radio where we can hear and share news, questions, and announcements.

One last thing.  The Bahamas are beautiful.  You could spend hours just looking at the sunrises, sunsets and everything in between.  The water is crystal clear and an indescribable color.  (The background on the computer version of this website is a picture we took of the water under our boat in the Exumas.) Dolphins are everywhere and no matter how many times we see them, we have to stop what we are doing and watch these mesmerizing creatures.


What do we do for six months on our boat while in the Bahamas?  We “seas” each and every day.


Sailor’s First Beach Walk

Mark and I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and their forecast for the next two weeks is snow with lows in the 20’s. It appears they might get an early winter this year. Seasons in Florida are changing too.  When we first moved aboard the boat five years ago we were getting a car to rent and were picked up by a Hertz employee.  While talking to him about the weather he informed us that, “There are two seasons in Florida……hot and damn hot.”  We are now entering the “hot” season, with “damn hot” hopefully almost over. Today seemed like a good day to take Sailor for his first beach walk. Unlike Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, almost all the beaches in this part of Florida allow dogs and there are a number of designated “dog beaches” where they can go off leash.

Stuart Beach is just six miles from the marina. After we parked and made our way towards the water, Sailor seemed quite interested.  He had never walked in sand before and on the wide beach that’s about all he saw at first.  He was straining, obviously wanting to run across the sand, but we had no intention of removing his leash.


For his first ocean beach experience, we probably should have gone to nearby Bathtub Beach, where there is a reef that keeps the waves off shore. Unfortunately, today the waves on Stuart Beach were a bit high and the tide was coming in.  We connected a long training leash to his harness and waited to see his reaction.  Sailor is always curious about new things and he stood at the edge of the water looking out at the ocean, not knowing that the edge would soon change.


And then it did and he wasn’t quite so curious anymore. As the water came towards him, Sailor ran backwards while Mark let out some of the leash.


Not wanting to scare him, we walked along the beach for awhile staying away from the water’s edge.  Eventually, two off leash dogs came by and Sailor got curious again. They played for a little while and then the dogs continued their walk.


Daisy’s first beach experience was along the coast of Lake Superior and those waves scared her.  Eventually, she learned to love walking on the beach and I’m sure Sailor will too.  He has a lot of them in his future.