Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Almost Home

We left Norfolk at 5 am yesterday morning, hoping to sail 90 miles to Solomon’s. We were able to safely leave the dock, even though the west wind was pinning us against the dock. Once we left Little Creek and entered the Chesapeake Bay the winds were blowing at 20-25 knots and the 2-3 ft waves from the NE were right on the bow. We motored until the sun came up then raised the main sail with a double reef line. The waves had the boat pitching every which way and had caused the main halyard to get caught on a spreader. Before we raised the sail George put on his life jacket and tether and went up on deck to try to get it free. No luck. It appeared to me that the lazy jack line was holding the halyard to I suggested turning the boat so that the boom and lazy jack line would move and release the pressure on the halyard. Hooray, it worked!  The boat was moving slowly with just the main sail so we unfurled the jib, which left us heeling at 30 degrees and way overpowered. So, we furled the jib and motor-sailed with the reefed main. The conditions were just miserable. Breeze On was crashing down many of the steep waves. Slam! Slam!  Slam!  Some of the larger waves crashed over us. The air was cold and the tide was against us. We decided early on that we didn’t want to continue all day under those conditions so we searched for an anchorage. George chose an anchorage in Mobjack Bay on the western shore. The entrance to Mobjack was littered with crab pots buoys.  They were difficult to see due to the choppy water and salt water splattered on the windows. Somehow we managed to get to the anchorage without snagging one and dropped the anchor just before noon. It was discouraging to see how little progress we made since leaving the dock 7 hours before. After we anchored I turned the fresh water pump on and it started running. I turned it off and checked the faucets. They were all turned off so I knew we had a leak somewhere. George discovered a line in the shower had come loose even though it had been double-clamped. It must have been all of the slamming. We were SO grateful that we had remembered to turn the pump off before we left the marina (that is our practice but we don’t always remember). We never would have heard it running and emptying all of our fresh water into the bilge. It was a quick fix & we had water again. 
The weather forecast seems to change by the hour but one thing remains constant, a front bringing high winds is due to come through tomorrow. We want to be home before that arrives. So, we raised anchor at 7 am this morning and began a marathon motoring trip home. The trip is about 112 miles so we won’t get home until the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately the creek where we live is very well-lit at night so we shouldn’t have any problems with visibility. 
Although the wind started out on our nose this morning, at least it is light and the waves are small. The sun is shining and warming up the air inside the enclosed cockpit so we are keeping warm. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Brunswick to Norfolk

Our weather window finally arrived. We left Brunswick Landing before dawn on Thursday morning. The winds were light so we were motoring for several hours. After leaving Brunswick we headed east to catch the Gulf Stream and take advantage of the current. There were residual NE waves, leftover from the last front so we were slamming into them through the day and all night long. Neither one of us was able to sleep much. The wind eventually picked up enough the first night to turn the engine off and sail. By mid-morning on the second day the waves calmed down and the slamming stopped. George took advantage of the calmer conditions and transferred some diesel into the tank. 
Our plan was to take three and a half days to get into the Chesapeake Bay. Yet another cold front was expected Sunday and the timing was tight. We purchased a custom weather route from Chris Parker (weather guru) and he confirmed that we could make it. George plotted out waypoints that indicated where we should be every twelve hours. Our goal was to not fall behind. If it looked like we weren’t going to make it before the front arrived our plan B was to go to Beaufort, NC. If our speed dropped below six knots when we were sailing we would turn the engine on. We made the 580 nautical mile trip in 78.5 hours, averaging 7.4 knots. We motored for 39 hours. Not bad at all. The Gulf Stream helped with our speed, particularly toward the end. As we pulled into Cobb’s Marina at noon on Sunday it was just beginning to rain. 
Our friends, Jean and Michael on Desiderata, were here already and we went out to dinner together to catch up. 
We are planning to leave before dawn tomorrow and sail about 90 miles to Solomon’s, then on to Cambridge the next day. As much as we love Breeze On we are both looking forward to being home. 
Transferring diesel


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Biding Time in Georgia

We are still at Brunswick Landing Marina, waiting for a weather window to continue moving north. There has been a series of cold fronts moving off of the east coast every few days. They haven’t allowed enough time to safely go offshore and make progress going north. We are anticipating a chance to make it as far as Beaufort, NC later this week. We will most likely have to wait there for another major front to pass. 
In the meantime we have been enjoying ourselves here in Brunswick. On Friday evening we met several other cruisers and walked over to downtown Brunswick’s “First Friday”. It is a lot like Cambridge, MD’s “Second Saturday”. The shops in town stay open late and serve free wine and snacks. In Brunswick there was also a live musician, a car show, a health fair, and a few art exhibits. It was quite nice and they seemed to have a good crowd. On Saturday and Sunday we walked into town to run errands and spend some time off of the boat. 
Yesterday we rented a car and drove up to Savannah for the day. George had made a reservation with Enterprise and asked for a pickup at the marina. Enterprise is apparently the only car rental agency that will pick you up and drop you off. Unfortunately, they did not pick us up. We a few minutes early to wait near the marina office. When they were 19 minutes late picking us up George started calling the local number which kicked him over to the main automated system. Eventually he got an option to be connected to the local office. The phone then rang and rang, then he was put on hold, then the phone and rang again, went to a fax machine and then he was cut off. This happened repeatedly. He eventually called and spoke to someone who makes reservations and asked for help. When that person could not help him, he asked to speak to customer service and was connected to someone in “resolutions”. That person couldn’t reach the local office either. She said she would send a message to the local office and theywould call him back. George said he didn’t believe they would and asked if she would stay on the line until someone did call him. She declined. In the meantime time I started searching for another rental car with a different company. I made a reservation with Hertz but we would have to find a way to get there. After George finished with the Enterprise “resolutions” person we requested a ride with Uber. It took about 15 minutes for the driver to arrive and another 15 minutes to get to Hertz. Just as we were pulling in to the Hertz office a person from the local office of Enterprise called George. He told George that he had a reservation but did not have have the message that we should be picked up. That is odd because George had received two confirmation emails noting that we requested to be picked up. Although the episode was very frustrating we are glad that we didn’t give up and let it ruin our day. 
We drove to Savannah in our Hertz rental car, an hour later than planned. We parked the car in a garage and started our self-guided walking tour. We had purchased an app for our iPhones called “Savannah Walking Tour”. It was very informative but, boy, did it drain our iPhone batteries. By the end of our tour we were using one phone and sharing the earbuds. It was a drizzly, cool and gloomy day but we still found Savannah to be beautiful. So many beautiful buildings and lovely squares. We ate lunch at Huey’s on the river walk. By the time we finished the walking tour we had walked over five miles and were tired so we headed back to Brunswick. My uncle and his partner were passing through Brunswick on their way north so we all went out for dinner at Marshside Grill. There are several good places to eat in Brunswick and we were all happy with our meal at Marshside Grill. 
Today was laundry day at the marina’s free laundry room. I worked on that while George returned the rental car and took an Uber car back to the marina. Tonight and tomorrow I will begin preparing food that we can warm up on our passage to Beaufort. 








Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ft Pierce to Brunswick, GA

Note: This Post is out of order. I thought I had posted it yesterday after we arrived in Brunswick, GA. Chalk it up to sleep deprivation. Or old age. 

We left Ft. Pierce at around noon on Easter Sunday, heading for Brunswick, GA. As I mentioned in my last post, we had hoped to get as far as possible but the timing between weather windows didn’t allow us to get as far as Cape Fear. This was our first overnight passage since George’s illness and surgery. The winds were fairly light and mostly behind us so we did a lot of motoring. We both agreed that the light conditions and shorter distance were probably a good thing since George is still recovering. He is feeling good but doesn’t want to risk a hernia if he can avoid it. 
We were happy to have a full moon for our trip. The first night, after George went to bed, the sun had set, the moon wasn’t yet up and the sky was very dark, I had the thought, “I have to do this for the next five hours?”  “Really??”  Then, after I queued up my podcasts, kindle and snacks, the five hours didn’t seem so bad. 
We were passed by four cruise ships leaving Port Canaveral on Sunday evening.  The Coast Guard made announcements throughout the day on Monday warning mariners to avoid a restricted area around Cape Canaveral due to a launch. We were well past the area but looked for the launch all afternoon and evening. Apparently we were too far away to see it. George just looked online and learned that a Space X missile launched just before 5 pm. 
We did see pods of dolphins several times, although they didn’t come to play with us. Last night we had enough wind to sail for most of my watch but not so much wind to kick up a lot of waves. It was some of the easiest offshore sailing that we have had. Before the moon rose I watched the bioluminescence in the water off of the stern of the boat. Some were as big as dinner plates. I might actually learn to enjoy night watches if they were all like this. 
We approached Brunswick shortly before dawn this morning. The current was with us and we had to slow down so that we didn’t get to the marina before it opened. 
We don’t know how long we will be here. It looks as if there is more winter weather coming to the East coast and we have to work around it. As usual, we are considering a few different options and we will be flexible. 


Sunrise at Brunswick

Shrimp  boats, Brunswick, GA

We Met Some Celebrities!

Note:  This post was written after we arrived in Brunswick, GA. We are now staying at Brunswick Landing Marina. The post I had written about our passage from Ft. Pierce didn’t post yesterday and follows this post. 

Early yesterday evening we met a couple of celebrities here in the marina. Well...celebrities in the cruising world anyway. Sara and Monty Lewis, authors of the Explorer Chartbooks, came in the slip right next to ours. I heard George chatting with them not long after they had tied up their boat. I joined him on the deck and we made our introductions. When Sara gave me her first name and Monty’s I paused and asked if they were the authors of the Explorer books. She modestly said “yes”.  I was practically speechless. The Explorer Chartbooks are known as the “Bibles” of the Bahamas. They have the most accurate charts and are full of information about all of the anchorages, marinas and settlements. In fact, Garmin Blue Charts for the Bahamas that are on George’s iPad are based on information from the Explorer Chartbooks and are the charts we use while in the Bahamas. We ignore the less accurate Navionics charts on our chart plotter. Sara and Monty had guests arriving so we didn’t chat long. I hope we meet them again so we can learn more about them and how they gathered the information for the books. 
Later in the evening we heard a clicking noise that sounded like it was coming from the deck. The wind had picked up and we thought it might be a line banging on something. I went up on the foredeck and pulled on one line after another while George told me he could still hear the noise. I eventually gave up. Later on George went out and looked and was listening near the water line. Jim, from the boat on the other side of ours, came out and told George the noise was caused by shrimp. We have heard noises from shrimp before and it sounded a lot like the “snap, crackle, pop” of Rice Krispies. This was louder and more like a click. There was another intermittent, lower pitched noise as well. While we were at the happy hour this evening Jim told us that the lower pitched noise was caused by Toad Fish that eat the shrimp. Well, we all tend to think there is something wrong with the boat when we hear strange noises and are relieved when we learn that there isn’t. 



Thursday, March 29, 2018

Waiting...

On Tuesday we packed up our things, washed the sheets and towels at my uncle’s house, remade the bed, loaded the car, drove to the marina, loaded everything on the boat, bought groceries and loaded those on the boat. Our plan was to leave at slack tide either Wednesday morning or afternoon. Although the wind conditions were good, the ocean swell was too high for our comfort. If we had been able to hear Chris Parker’s weather forecast on Tuesday morning we might have known that, but we were unable to download his forecast. We might have chanced going in those conditions if it hadn’t been so long since we have sailed and George wasn’t recovering from surgery. We didn’t want to start out knowing it was going to be rough, especially with George not being 100%.
Waiting here on the boat for another weather window isn’t the worst thing in the world. The current weather is delightful. We have been enjoying going for walks along the inlet down to Jetty Park. There is a small, very nice grocery store across the street as well a good diner and a laundromat. My uncle and his partner invited us to return and stay with them but we are all settled in here so will stay on the boat. They urged us to keep one of their cars so we would have transportation. We drove back to their house today for lunch and a few games of a Mexican Train and will go out for dinner with them tomorrow night. Our next weather window appears to be Easter Sunday. We have planned three possible routes, depending on the length of the weather window. The shortest will take us to Brunswick, GA. The next will take us to Cape Fear, NC and the longest will take us to Cape Lookout, NC. The winds are predicted to be light and we will have to do a fair amount of motoring. We plan to purchase two more jerry cans and fill them with diesel just in case. 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

All Cleared

We met with the surgeon last week for a post-surgery follow-up. The surgeon answered our questions and said that everything looked good. He told us that George should be careful not to lift anything heavier than 25 lb for six weeks. Even though the incision through which he excised the bowel is just a few inches long, George could still develop a hernia if he lifts anything heavy before he is fully healed. He had anlready lifted some jerry cans full of diesel before we learned that. For the next three weeks I will either do the lifting myself or help George. 
We have electric winches so raising the sails won’t be an issue. We both believe that we will be able to sail again whenever the weather allows.  We may have a small weather window in a few days. We plan to sail as far as we can before the next cold front arrives. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Inching Toward Normality

We left Ocala three days ago and drove back to Vero Beach. George and I were surprised and disappointed that he was exhausted after loading a few bags into the car and helping to make the bed after the sheets were washed and dried. After a brief rest, though, he felt much better and wanted to drive for most of the distance to Vero. Since then he has learned that he can do more if he paces himself. Two days ago we visited Breeze On to work on some chores. George was able to move the 5 gallon jerry cans of diesel and refill the tank. He also stripped the sheets from the and v-berth, put clean sheets on the bed and cleaned out the refrigerator It was my birthday and I was busy talking to friends who had called to wish me a happy birthday. I didn’t intend to let George do all of the work!  As long as he rested in between the chores, though, he felt fine. We returned to Breeze On yesterday to sop up the water from the defrosted freezer and add 10 more gallons of fuel to the tank. George has really enjoyed spending time on the boat and I have enjoyed spending time on her as long as he is there, too. 
Tomorrow we drive back down to Ft. Lauderdale to visit the surgeon. After that we will wait for a weather window that will enable us to start heading north. 







Friday, March 16, 2018

Three Weeks Ago Today

It was three weeks ago today when George was suddenly struck with severe abdominal pain. Two days later we sailed from Bimini to Ft. Lauderdale where George was admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with a small bowel obstruction. After the obstruction failed to resolve with conservative treatment, George had surgery. Throughout this process he went two weeks without food. He is now recovering at my mother’s house in Ocala and has made progress every day. 
As is the case with many stressful situations the three weeks seem like both an eternity and a short period of time. A lot of it now seems like a blur to both of us. We are both very grateful for the support of family and friends.  We are grateful that the ordeal is behind us and he is finally feeling better. 
George accomplished a few milestones today. He drove for the first time since we left the Bahamas. In fact, when he started out he joked about whether he was driving on the correct side of the road. He also fixed his own lunch while I was out getting a haircut and helped me clean out a few of my mother’s kitchen cupboards. His appetite is getting better each day and he is almost up to his usual pace of walking. 
We will stay here another day, then leave to spend some time at my uncle’s place in Vero Beach. While we are there we will do a few things on the boat and drive down to Ft. Lauderdale late next week for a follow-up appointment with the surgeon. George says he is optimistic that he will feel well enough to sail Breeze On home shortly after that. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Finally Out of the Hospital

George was discharged yesterday afternoon. We left Ft. Lauderdale and drove a few hours north to Vero Beach where we learned that my uncle’s partner was sick. We didn’t want George to be exposed to the illness so my uncle made other arrangements for us for the night. Before leaving the Ft. Pierce/Vero Beach area we stopped to see Breeze On and get a few things off of the boat. Breeze On looked just fine. I was very concerned that George was overdoing it by getting on and off the boat but he assured me he wasn’t. After visiting Breeze On we drove another three hours north to my mother’s house.  Since then I have been busy doing laundry, shopping for food, cooking dinner and unpacking. It has been a tiring few days. 
George continues to improve each day. His GI tract is settling down, his appetite is good and he is feeling good, but he is easily fatigued. We expect that each day he will get a little better. 




Saturday, March 10, 2018

Discharge Today!

We got word yesterday that George is cleared for discharge today! His diet was advanced to soft foods and he enjoyed his first solid food in two weeks. He is not able to eat much at one time but that is improving with every meal. The dietitian stopped by and talked about foods he can and shouldn’t eat while he is recovering. I worked as a dietitian many years ago but I appreciated her suggestions and asked her to return with more information about a discharge diet. She recommends low fat/low fiber for a few weeks to allow the GI tract to heal. As he improves he can add foods back as tolerated. He has lost 8 pounds and may lose more on this restricted diet. Those of you who know him know he didn’t carry around any extra weight. The weight will return, though, once he is able to eat the foods he likes. 
Right now George is eating a very nice breakfast of French toast. We are waiting for various medical devices to be disconnected and for the discharge process to be completed. Then we can be on our way and put this part of the ordeal behind us. 
We are lucky enough to have family in Florida.  We plan to stay with them while George recuperates. Then, once he regains some strength and feels well enough we will sail the boat home. At least, that is the plan for now. 



Friday, March 9, 2018

More Progress

George continues to make some progress. He is able to eat larger portions of food, he even finished his cream of wheat this morning. We just got word that his diet will advance to soft for lunch. Woo hoo!  This needed to happen before they will consider discharging him. After the fiasco of waiting 18 hours for the surgeon to follow through writing the order to discontinue George’s NG tube, the nurse and nurse manager have been on the case.  As usual, the surgeon was in the OR. The nurse manager finally texted him in the OR to ask if he would order the diet to be advanced and he agreed. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Some Improvement

George continues to make some progress. He finally had a good night’s sleep without the NG tube. He has been tolerating the clear liquids well and has slowly increased his intake. He will be graduating from clear liquids to full liquids and is looking forward to ice cream in his future. He is taking slow walks but feels very weak. Who wouldn’t be after 2 weeks without food?  He will be here another two days at least. I am trying not to focus on when he will be discharged, I don’t want to get my hopes up. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Slow Progress

After a rough first post-op day George is feeling a little bit better. He has been able to get out of bed, sit in a chair and take a short walk. The NG tube was finally removed this morning and he has started back on his clear liquid diet. He is eating small portions and taking it slowly. I have no idea when he might be discharged but he will have to improve significantly before he is ready to go.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Surgery was Successful

George underwent an exploratory laparoscopy early last evening. Fortunately, the surgeon was able to find the source of the blockage and repair it using four small incisions. Apparently a part of his large bowel, the mesentery, had draped over and trapped a part of his small bowel. We don’t know why this happened. The surgeon was able to separate the mesentery from the small bowel and remove the damaged portion of the small bowel. Because he was able to do this laparoscopically George will have a faster recovery (two weeks vs. six) and shouldn’t have to worry about developing adhesions in the future. The concern about adhesions leading to future bowel obstructions was the main reason we wanted to avoid surgery. The surgeon said he wished he had done this procedure when George was admitted, but there was no way to know that then. 
I spent the night in an easy chair in George’s room and I am very glad that I did. He has been in pain since the surgery and was supposed to get pain medication every two hours. I had to call for it each time and even then it was always quite late. The surgeon said George will be in the hospital another 72 hours. At least there is now an end in sight. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Surgery


George’s x-rays have been showing that the bowel obstruction is improving. However, George feels worse and isn't able to eat or drink. The surgeon has decided to do a minimally invasive procedure (laparoscopy) this afternoon to see what is going on. If he finds something minor he will correct it at that time. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Setback

Well, things have not progressed with George as hoped. There is a partial blockage & he is in a holding (literally) pattern while the medical team decides next steps. We will post another update when we know more.  Thanks for all your good thoughts!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Getting Better

The drainage tube was removed yesterday afternoon and George was finally able to begin eating clear liquids last evening. The lemon Italian ice was just about the best thing he had ever eaten. He is tolerating the food well and we are hoping they will progress his diet and discharge him soon. 
Ray and Scott arrived in Ft Pierce around 6 pm, before the sun set. We are so grateful and relieved to have Breeze On settled there. 

First food in a week. 


This morning’s breakfast. He devoured it all. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Breeze On is On Her Way

They are off!  Ray and Scott left the slip just before 6 am to catch the 6 am opening of the 17th bridge. They are now on their way to Ft Pierce. We have a slip reservation for a month and family nearby. George can take his time to recover before we leave Ft Pierce to make our way home. 
I am so grateful for the help and support of our friends and family. In addition to Ray and Scott’s help in delivering Breeze On, a friend from Cambridge contacted a friend of hers near here to offer me a place to stay. Now that Breeze On is gone I will be staying with her. The texts, emails and words of support from everyone mean so much. 

If you are interested in following Breeze On’s progress you can find her by clicking on this link. 


Also, there is a button at the top of this page called “Where is Breeze On?”  You can click on that any time, follow the prompts and see where Breeze On is located if she is out and about. 

I just heard from George. He has tolerated having the tube clamped very well. A surgeon just told him that they are going to pull the tube and allow him to have liquids. Hooray!

Breeze On going through the 17th St bridge. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Update on George

George and I have both had a lot of ups and downs (more downs than ups) through this medical crisis. Last night and this morning he seemed to be getting worse instead of better and I was really worried about him. Although this morning’s x-ray still shows a blockage there have been a few small signs of progress. I respect the conservative, non-surgical approach to clearing the obstruction but it is so hard to wait. Especially since he may end up needing surgery anyway. The surgeon just placed the order for his nasogastric suction tube to be clamped for 12 hours. If George tolerates it he can start to eat and drink. If he feels pain or nausea during that time, then he will need surgery. He has been doing laps around the floor trying the help the process along. Since he hasn’t had anything to eat for five days I wonder how he has the energy. 
Our friend, Ray, and his friend, Scott, are going to sail Breeze On the 90 plus miles to Ft Pierce. Ray and his wife, Dawn, recently visited us in the Bahamas. We are so grateful for their help. We had planned to use Ft Pierce as a home base while we visited my family. If the boat were to remain here in Ft Lauderdale our lives would be much more complicated once George is finally discharged. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Medical Emergency While Cruising

George was admitted to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale two days ago. His diagnosis is small bowel obstruction. We have no idea how he ended up with an obstruction.  He doesn’t seem to have the right risk factors for one, but here he is. The treatment has involved inserting a nasogastric tube for drainage. That is supposed to relieve pressure and allow for the obstruction to clear on its own. A surgeon told us yesterday that 80% of these cases do clear and do not require surgery, 20% do not clear and do require surgery. George’s case is right on the edge. There have been some good signs, but there is still too much drainage to pull the tube and allow him to eat. They are going to give it more time to clear. 
The treatment has been torturous for him. He has always had a strong gag reflex and the tube really triggers that. He had a test yesterday, a small bowel series, that made him want to die. He had open heart surgery 19 years ago to correct a hole in his heart. He says this has been much worse. 
Meanwhile, I am in charge of the boat. I have always said that I would be done with cruising if anything ever happened to George. This episode has really confirmed that. George and I operate as a team when we are on the boat, a pretty good one if I do say so. Since he has been sick the responsibility has been overwhelming for me. As much as I love the Bahamas it has made me question the wisdom of sailing that far from home again. I completely understand why people give up cruising when the health issues start piling up. I had hoped we would have more time, but I am grateful for the time we have had. 



Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bimini Sands Marina

We had a fast and bumpy sail from Nassau to Bimini. The winds were in the low 20’s and we moved along at 8 kn much of the time. The trip was 130 nm and it took just 20 hours. We left Palm Cay Marina at noon and pulled into Bimini Sands Marina at 8 am. There was another cruiser on the dock to help with our lines. When he and George made their introductions we learned that he was Bob from Her Diamond. We had heard a lot about Her Diamond through the Trekker’s Travels blog. Her Diamond has been buddy boating with Trekker for the past 6 months, all the way from upstate New York. What a small world!  Her Diamond recently turned around to start heading back to the US while Trekker continued on in the Exumas. We crossed paths with Karen and Hugh on Trekker (their Hanse 415) at Big Majors Spot.  We follow their blog and they follow ours so Bob and Sheila had heard all about us. They instantly recognized our boat and knew who we were when we pulled in 2 slips down. 
After George finished tying up he cooked bacon and eggs with toast for breakfast. Then, after a brief nap, he said he had an intense pain in his abdomen, right around his belly button. We both thought it would pass but it didn’t. He also experienced nausea and vomiting and couldn’t keep anything down. He felt just awful, so bad that he didn’t think he could get off of the boat to take the ferry to north Bimini and visit the clinic. A few hours later he finally agreed to give it a try. I called the clinic to make sure they were open but they told me they were closing (2 hours early-it’s island time). Sheila and Bob invited us to join them and another couple for dinner at the marina restaurant. George encouraged me to go so I did and had a fun time. George did not feel any better the next day. I went to the infinity pool for a few hours while George slept. We had wanted to take the ferry to North Bimini and walk around but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving George for very long. In the afternoon I walked to the office and explained our situation and asked it they had any suggestions. Two lovely ladies contacted a doctor for me let me use their phone to talk to the doctor. The doctor recommended Dramamine for the nausea and 1/2 cup of Gatorade every 20 minutes.  He should not eat solid foods and should drink only clear liquids.  The doctor told me that even if we waited until the clinic reopened on Monday it wouldn’t have the equipment to do any tests. 
I bought some Gatorade at the ship store and gave that and the Dramamine to George. We decided that if he felt significantly better we would leave Bimini as planned and sail to Ft. Pierce. If he felt moderately better we would leave early morning and buddy boat to Ft. Lauderdale with Sheila and Bob on Her Diamond. If he didn’t feel better at all we would either stay and wait it out or look into flights to Nassau or Ft. Lauderdale. 
George did not feel any better this morning. He still had the abdominal pain and nausea and was up most of the night. We made the decision to fly to Ft. Lauderdale. Then, after considering the logistics of getting to the airport, getting on the plane and then getting to a hospital from the airport it seemed just as easy to take our own boat. So at 6:30, shortly after Her Diamond left, we pulled out of the slip. The agreement was that George would untie the lines and I would drive the boat until we docked in Ft. Lauderdale, where he would he tie the lines again. The rest of the day he would rest. Although we had wind, it was directly behind us so we couldn’t sail.  The seas weren’t too bad but did make for a rolly ride. Her Diamond was ahead of us and checked in on us throughout the day. They are so kind and thoughtful. 
We are now in the ER of Broward Health Medical Center. George is on a bed in the hallway (we are not complaining) going through some tests and is on an IV for fluids, pain and nausea medication. It will probably be a few hours before the results come back. 



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Getting Ready to Move On

We are preparing to leave Palm Cay Marina around mid-day today, heading to Bimini. We plan to stay in Bimini two nights and then cross the Gulf Stream to Florida. Since it is still fairly windy we may have another relatively fast sail. We don’t want to leave too early because we want to arrive in Bimini after the marina opens tomorrow morning. The trip is 130 miles and should take us anywhere from 20 to 26 hours, depending on our speed. This is the first time we will be sailing overnight since we arrived in the Bahamas. We both used the marina WiFi to download podcasts to listen to on our night watches. We have some frozen dinners ready to pop in the oven for dinner while we are under way. 
After Dawn and Ray left on Tuesday we did a few loads of laundry. It was a very good thing we started early. The laundry has just 2 washers for guests and the 2 dryers are shared with the staff washing linens from the pool and condos. By the time we finished there was a line waiting to do laundry. In the afternoon we borrowed the marina courtesy car and went out for groceries. Yesterday was spent cleaning the boat and rearranging the garage. 
We have been planning how to get out of the slip with a brisk cross wind blowing down the fairway. George will use a spring line to help us turn into the wind. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pipe Cay/Shroud Cay/Palm Cay Marina

We left Big Majors Friday for a short, very pleasant sail to the anchorage at the abandoned DECCA Station on Pipe Cay. We don’t know what DECCA stands for but it apparently served as a navigation system post World War II, prior to the advent of LORAN. The abandoned transmitter towers are still there and resemble large channel markers. 
While we explored the nearby beach we met Franciose from the only other boat in the anchorage. He told us that the snorkeling off of a point at the northern end of the anchorage was good. We were able to pull the dinghy into a small shallow cove nearby and put on our snorkel gear while standing in the shallow water. The snorkeling was fantastic, with numerous fish of many colors and varieties. Several were fish we had never seen before.  Franciose had also invited us to join him and his partner onshore at sunset for a bonfire. However, by the time we returned from snorkeling, showered, and ate dinner we ran out of time. 
The next day we enjoyed another great sail further up the Exuma chain to Shroud Cay. There we planned to meet Tony, who had purchased Dawn and Ray’s boat, Azzurra, four years ago. It just so happened that Tony and his fiancĂ©, Sharon, had planned at brief trip to the Bahamas at the same time of Dawn and Ray’s visit with us. Azzurra looked so pretty as we approached her sitting in the anchorage. After we dropped anchor Dawn and Ray took the dinghy to Azzurra to visit and tour their former boat.  Early the next morning Tony & Sharon came over for coffee and muffins before whisking Dawn and Ray off in Tony’s fast center console dinghy for a ride through a mangrove creek. After they reached the other side of the island they walked along the beach and climbed up to Camp Lookout. It is said that US federal agents used this spot to spy on drug runners at Normans Cay. In any case, the view is beautiful.  George and I took the dinghy ride and hike last year so while they were gone we ran the water maker. The timing was perfect, we had just finished when they returned. Tony later hailed us on the radio to tell us about a fresh water well a short hike from the nearby beach. Buckets and ropes are provided so that you can use the water to rinse off. We spent some time swimming at the small, gorgeous beach and watching a small school of fish following us around. George and Ray took the dinghy to search for potential snorkeling sites but did not find any that would allow us to swim from a shallow beach. 
This morning we raised the anchor early and sailed over to Palm Cay Marina on New Providence Island just south of Nassau. The wind had picked up over night and we had quite a brisk sail over lumpy water. Our average speed was 7 knots. It was quite a challenge to get into the slip with an 18 knot cross wind but we managed without going sideways or banging up the boat. Tonight is Dawn and Ray’s last night with us. We will play a few more games of Mexican Train and eat at the marina restaurant to celebrate a great week. 

Dawn and Ray


Azzurra at anchor

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Visit from Dawn and Ray

Dawn and Ray, our friends from Cambridge, MD, flew in to Black Point on Valentine’s Day. It is a very good thing they are both pilots who are comfortable on small planes. It was a very small, full (and old) plane.  After they landed safely we started the 15 minute walk into town, turning down two offers for rides. People in the Bahamas are so nice.  We stopped at DeShamon’s for a very nice Valentine’s Day surf and turf dinner. 
Yesterday morning we raised the anchor and sailed to Big Majors where we met Hugh and Karen on Trekker and Ruth Ann and Fred on Shooting Star. We first “met” Hugh and Karen through our blogs. They read our blog and we read theirs. They also have a Hanse 415 and we used their idea for an arch to hold the solar panels and dinghy. Ruth Ann and Fred also live in Cambridge. Although we were all in the Bahamas this winter we haven’t crossed paths until yesterday. It was great to meet and catch up. 



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

And More Photos

Little Bay anchorage all to ourselves


Sargent Major fish

More photos

I write the blog on my iPad. The app I use can handle just two photos at a time. I have tried writing it directly through Blogger but I can’t seem to access my photos at all that way. So, here is a post to add a few photos that I didn’t post before. 
Pam snorkeling at Sea Aquarium


A rainbow so close we could almost touch it. Big Majors Spot. 

Awnings 2.0

After Pam and Brad left on Saturday we spent some time reattaching bungees to the reworked salon hatch awning. I had already sewed together the two awning pieces that had been attached either side of the boom in version one.  I had also removed the stainless steel rings and attached new patches and webbing. We put the awning under the boom and attached it to the boom vang. So far, so good. Saturday evening we went to a happy hour at Pirates’ Beach (aka Cruisers’ Beach). As always, it was fun to chat with old and new friends. 
On Sunday I removed the stainless steel rings from the v-berth awning. We replaced them with dyneema line rings. They will be much quieter in a strong wind. Early Monday morning we had another squall and both awnings seemed to keep the rain out. Hooray!
After buying fuel at Staniel Cay Yacht Club Monday morning we left Big Majors and had a jaunty sail down to Black Point. The anchorage and laundromat were quite crowded, it seems as if a lot of other people have the same idea!  If the wind calms down enough this evening we may dinghy over to Scorpio’s for happy hour. 



Saturday, February 10, 2018

End of a Great Week

We said goodbye to Pam and Brad this morning after a great week of sun, snorkeling, sailing, reading, beaches and games of Mexican Train. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and already miss them. The wind across the Staniel Cay harbour created quite a bit of chop leading to very wet dinghy rides. Because we didn’t want to send them off drenched in salt water, we made a plan to move Breeze On closer to town just long enough for them to get ashore. Plan A was to tie up the the Staniel Cay Yacht Club fuel dock. Plan B (in case someone was already at the dock) was to anchor in a tight anchorage near a beach in town. There was indeed already a boat at the fuel dock so we dropped anchor near the beach. It was a short and, thankfully, dry dinghy ride to shore where Pam and Brad had a 15 minute walk to the airport. The tide was going out and the depths are shallow in spots so we said our goodbyes and did not accompany them to the airport. We returned Breeze On to the same spot we had left at Big Majors. 
Bright and early yesterday morning we dinghied over to Thunderball Grotto for some snorkeling. We had researched the tides and thought we were hitting it at low tide. It seems we might have missed it, though. There was already a strong incoming current. The fish outside the grotto were pretty and numerous. We entered the grotto and where there were still a lot of fish but they were harder to see. Brad was taking pictures with the new camera. I suggested we leave the grotto through a different entrance. Pam and I swam out against the current and turned around to look for Brad. He had been taking pictures under water when one of his flippers came off. He swam under water to retrieve it and when he surfaced the current had pushed him toward to rock wall where he hit his head hard on a low rock. Pam and I saw him as he raised his arms to push himself away. By the time we returned to the dinghy (where George was waiting) we saw that Brad was bleeding.  Once Pam cleaned up the scrapes they didn’t look so bad. We were all grateful his injuries weren’t any worse. Pam and Brad took one last trip to the beach in the afternoon and Pam had the courage to take one last salt water bath (no sharks this time!)

Thunderball Grotto

Can you find the ray?





Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cambridge Cay to Staniel Cay

Yesterday we went back to the Sea Aquarium for more snorkeling. Much to my surprise it was even better than the day before!  There were so many fish of so many varieties. I saw some of my favorite, Queen Angelfish, and also some relatively small needle-nose fish that had snouts that seemed as thin as actual needles. 
After returning to Breeze On, Pam and Brad jumped in to take a salt water bath. Just after they got out of the water, and before they had a chance to rinse off, they spotted a 6 foot shark swimming right by the swim platform!  Yikes!  It looked like a nurse shark, but even so...  I am so glad it waited until after they got out of the water. A large ray swam by shortly after the shark. George opted to take a very quick salt water bath but I showered inside. 
This morning we sailed down to Staniel Cay. After anchoring at Big Majors we took a very wet dinghy ride over to Staniel Cay Yacht Club where Pam and Brad treated us to lunch. From there we walked to the airport just to see where it is and and time how long it takes to walk there (15 minutes).  On the way back to the dinghy we stopped at both the Pink Store and the Blue Store to shop for fresh food. The shelves were bare so we will try again later. Since the dinghy ride to Staniel was so wet and we are expecting more wind on the day of their departure we are making plans to get them ashore without getting wet. Plan A is to use the fuel dock at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. 






Sailing, Snorkeling and Sitting on the Beach

Last year the weather didn’t cooperate when Pam and Brad visited us in the Bahamas. It was very windy, often cloudy and cool (by Bahamas standards). They made the best of their week here and we all had a great time. This year the weather has been much more cooperative. In fact, it has been one of the best weather weeks of the winter. Pam and Brad have been taking full advantage of it. 
Monday morning we moved from Black Point to Little Bay. Pam and Brad loved the beautiful, secluded beaches and spent a few hours relaxing and reading on the beach. We were lucky to have the anchorage all to ourselves. After lunch we all dinghied over to the snorkeling spot by the Sandcastle house. We saw lots of fish including several of the Queen Angelfish. 
Yesterday morning we raised the anchor and sailed north to Cambridge Cay. It was an ideal day for sailing with just the right amount of wind. Breeze On was one of many boats sailing on the banks. After picking up the last available mooring ball and eating lunch we dinghied over to the Sea Aquarium for more snorkeling. It is a very popular snorkeling spot, for good reason. There are so many fish!  Brad used our new Go-Pro knock-off camera to take a picture of the Sargent Major fish swarming around me (looking for food, I suspect). It is a little freaky to feel trapped by so many fish. Pam and Brad loved the snorkeling and hope to go back to the Sea Aquarium again. In the meantime, they are getting in some more beach and hiking time while George and I run the water maker and defrost the refrigerator. 
By the way, the dinghy has been running just fine since it was trapped and submerged under the dock. We are SO grateful!

Pam and Brad both love to read. 


A swarm of Sargent Majors

Monday, February 5, 2018

Where’s the Dinghy??

It has been an eventful few days. Our daughter, Pam and her boyfriend, Brad, flew into Black Point in a small, and I mean small, airplane. The plane left from Nassau and had room for just 15 passengers. It actually had 5 passengers, a pilot and a co-pilot.  There was no partition between the pilots and the passengers. Fortunately the flight was very calm and the landing was smooth. George and I walked 15 minutes from the dock to meet them at the airport. We stopped at Scorpio’s for dinner before taking the dinghy back to Breeze On. Yesterday George took Pam and Brad to the dock and they walked a few minutes to the beach facing Black Point harbour. It was a beautiful day for the beach and they had it to themselves for most of the time. After they returned we had a light snack before heading to Loraine’s Cafe for a Super Bowl party in the late afternoon. Loraine’s was crowded and noisy but we were able to find a table with views of 2 large screen TV’s. The crowd seemed evenly divided between Patriots’ fans, Eagles’ fans and people who didn’t care. Our team, the Patriots, unfortunately lost and we headed back to the dinghy dock just before the end of the game. 
When we arrived at the dock there was a small group of people struggling to free their dinghy from under the dock. George, in the meantime, couldn’t find our dinghy. The other people said there was another dinghy stuck under the dock and sure enough, it was ours. Not only was it stuck under the dock but it was submerged under water!  The bow of the dinghy was about a foot under water, stuck under a section of the dock.  The gas can was floating, the outboard seemed to be out of the water. Water filled the entire dinghy right up to the gunwales. We had arrived at the dock during low tide and by the time we returned it was high tide. What little wind we had was blowing the dinghy away from the dock so George had not put out a stern anchor to keep the dinghy away from the dock. He had left a long painter to allow room for other dinghies to tie up to the dock. We aren’t sure what happened but our best guess is that dinghies that arrived after we did pushed our dinghy under the dock and it got stuck as the water rose. George and I held up the stern of the dinghy to keep water from flowing in while Brad used the bailer. Soon other cruisers started arriving at the dock and chipped in to help us. Someone gave their bailer to George while someone else helped me to hold up the transom. Bob, from Carrie Mae, used his bailer and another person used a hand pump in the bow. When I first saw our poor submerged dinghy I felt hopeless but it was bailed out faster than I could have imagined. We were all to traumatized to take a picture at the time. The other cruisers were so generous and helpful.   The only exception was one intoxicated cruiser (he had been loud and obnoxious in Lorraine’s) who walked by and yelled “why didn’t you use a stern anchor to keep that from happening?”  I answered that we didn’t think we would need one. He repeated the question again and I answered that if we had known this would happen we would certainly have used one. Then he said “just a suggestion from a dumbass, dumbass!” before calling us stupid newbies.  I thanked him for his help. I guess there is one in every crowd. I don’t know who he is and I hope we don’t encounter him again. 
After the dinghy was bailed out we were both afraid that the motor wouldn’t start. But, after several attempts it started! Hallelujah!  And, knock on wood, it is still running today. 
We left Black Point this morning and motored 4 miles south to Little Bay, one of our favorite anchorages. We currently have it all to ourselves. Pam and Brad are on the gorgeous beach right now.  This afternoon we will all go snorkeling.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

Long Island to Black Point

The wind finally subsided and we were able to leave Long Island early yesterday morning. We sailed a relaxing 60 miles and anchored as the sun was setting at Rocky Point on the “Sout’ Side” of Great Exuma Island. George pulled the water maker out and filled the water tank. He was finished by 8:15 but found that the starter cord wouldn’t retract. It took a long time to take the water maker apart to discover why. A small metal ring through which the cord passes had become dislodged and stuck in the mechanism. It looks as if a small piece of plastic in the hole where the ring sits had broken. George put the ring back where it belongs and crimped it. By the time everything was put back together and stowed it was after 10 pm. We had a restful night in the anchorage and once again got up early to continue on to Black Point. The winds were light and we had to motor sail all day. We arrived at Black Point in the early afternoon and headed right for (you guessed it) the laundromat!  George is getting his first haircut since October. I am up next. 




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Calm Between the Storms

Yesterday afternoon the wind subsided enough that we could safely leave the boat and go ashore.  Yay!  It was so nice to be able to stretch our legs and do something different after four days of boat-bound living. A happy hour had been organized for 4 pm at the cruiser’s beach. We left early with our drinks, crackers and dip and dropped them at the cruiser’s beach, then went for a walk. We returned at 4 pm and saw that no one else was there. No one else was even in their dinghy making their way there. I began to wonder if it had been cancelled and we had missed the announcement on the radio. I didn’t care, I was still happy to be off of the boat. Other cruisers did eventually arrive and I had a good time getting my social fix. It was quite calm but the time we returned to Breeze On and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening in the cockpit under the full moon. The forecast says that it will remain calm until mid-afternoon today when another front is expected to bring wind of 25-30 knots. We are going to use the time this morning to run errands on shore after the squalls pass before we hunker down once again for the next blow. 



Saturday, January 27, 2018

Blowing Like Stink

Blowing like stink is a term that some sailors use to describe a lot of wind. I haven’t decided how I feel about the phrase and I don’t understand how someone came up with it. In any case, it is really windy and has been for over 36 hours. It is supposed to continue for another 24 hours. The good news is our anchor is holding in 30 knot of wind with 40 knot gusts. George put out 130 of anchor rode. There is a lot of room in Thompson Bay and the boats are spread quite far apart. The bad news is this anchorage is quite shallow and the strong wind is pushing water out of the anchorage. We think we have just inches under the keel at low tide. We have heard other boats talking about scraping the bottom at low tide so we feel fortunate. We just heard from someone on a neighboring boat that he doesn’t see a plume of sand under us so he thinks we aren’t scraping the bottom. We haven’t been off of the boat for 2 days and I will be very happy when this lets up. 


Thompson Bay, Long Island, Bahamas

Friday, January 26, 2018

Hamilton’s Cave

We moved the boat before breakfast yesterday. George was concerned about the depth and wanted to find a deeper spot before the big blow. We meandered around the anchorage and ended up in a spot with about the same depth as the spot we left. Oh well. After breakfast Doug and Laura finished packing while George and I collected the laundry. It took two trips to get the four of us, the luggage and the laundry to shore. We drove about 30 minutes south in the rental car to a nice, large laundry in Hamilton’s. We had about an hour to spare after the laundry was done so we decided to tour Hamilton’s Cave. For $15 per person you get an hour-long guided tour of the largest cave in the Bahamas. Since we hadn’t planned to do the tour we hadn’t called for reservations. We were in luck, though, the guide had just finished a tour and was available again. We met him at the sign for Hamilton’s Cave and then followed his car about 1/4 mile north to a road that turned inland up a hill. He gave a flashlight to each of us and spoke briefly about the cave before we entered. It was formed eons ago (I don’t remember how long) when the sea level was much higher. The Lucayan Indians were thought to have lived there around 500 a.d., according to artifacts that have been discovered in the cave.  Our guide’s family came to the Bahamas from the Carolinas as loyalists just after the Revolutionary War. They bought the property from the king of England in the 1800’s. They have used the cave as a hurricane shelter and for hide and seek as children. The cave is huge, with many paths and “rooms”. I understand why having a guide is essential. One could easily get lost. The dark lines you see in the photo are the tunnels of ground termites. We also saw a few varieties of bats hiding in “tubes” at the top of the cave. After seeing so much poor, sandy soil in the Bahamas I was surprised to see clay soil in the cave. Our guide had a beautiful garden at the entrance to the cave and he said the soil is very rich. 
After we finished touring the cave we had a fantastic lunch at Forest #2 Takeaway before dropping Doug and Laura at the airport. We are sad that they have to leave early but if they had waited for the 30-40 knot winds we have now, and for the next few days, they would never have been able to get off of the boat. 





Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hog Cay, Long Island

Yesterday we took advantage of good conditions to sail 20 miles north to Hog Cay. It was a beautiful day of sailing. Hog Cay is a privately owned island with one house on a long, pristine beach. The water was incredibly clear and beautiful. Soon after we dropped the anchor we followed another couple to a reef for snorkeling. They seemed to know just where they were going. The reef was on the northern end of the anchorage and had exposed rock in the middle. It had a variety of coral and fish and was worth seeing. After snorkeling we dinghied over to Joe Sound, an area that is sometimes recommended as a protected anchorage. The entrance to Joe Sound is extremely narrow and shallow with a swift current. Not something that looked at all appealing to us. There were three boats anchored in Joe Sound that looked uninhabited. In addition we saw the wreckage of a large motor yacht. It was interesting to see but I don't think I would want to anchor there with the treacherous entrance and strong current that causes the boat to shift 180 degrees every 6 hours. From Joe Sound we dinghied back to Hog Cay for a walk along the beach. After returning to a Breeze On, Laura, Doug and George heard exclamations from another dinghy behind us. They were trying to draw attention to a dolphin that had been playing around them and even breached twice. The dolphin did swim by Breeze On, fulfilling Laura's wish of seeing a dolphin on her vacation. Shortly after dusk George saw some birds flying by and heard their unusual whistling call. He looked them up online and found out they were West Indian Whistling Ducks, the most endangered species of whistling ducks. Hog Cay is one of two places in the Bahama where they live. Throughout the evening we could hear what seemed like a large group of them in the distance. 
This morning we raised the anchor and had another delightful day of sailing back to Thompson Bay. We had originally planned to stop in Miller's Bay and dinghy to Chez Pierre for dinner. Unfortunately, we are expecting some very high winds in two days so Doug and Laura will be leaving a day early. We rented another car this afternoon and decided to drive it over to Chez Pierre for dinner. The food was fantastic and Pierre was in a friendly mood and quite funny. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Visit with Friends

Our friends, Doug and Laura, are visiting us from CT. They flew into Nassau, then caught a connecting flight to Deadman's Cay Airport on Long Island.  George and I rented a car to drive the 20 minutes from Thompson Bay to the airport. On the way we stopped at Seaside Village for conch salad. We watched Kenny as he picked out the conch, removed it from the shell, chopped it, squeezed fresh lemon and orange juice over it and chopped peppers and onions to add in. The salad was delicious. After meeting Doug and Laura at the airport we drove to Clarencetown and toured around before eating dinner at Rowdy Boys. It was dark by the time we got back to Thompson Bay and it was a bit of an adventure finding our unlit boat. 
We kept the car an extra day to continue touring the island.  Long Island is 90 miles long and we toured it from one end to the other. We started out at Dean's Blue Hole. It is 600 feet deep and touted as the deepest blue hole in the world. It was a favorite stop last year and we looked forward to sharing it with Doug and Laura this year. For some reason there was a lot of seaweed and plastic trash at Dean's Blue Hole this year. As we snorkeled over it we could see several plastic bags floating in the water. It was quite disappointing. Nevertheless, it is quite a sight and worth seeing. Next we drove down to Gordon's at the southern end of Long Island and walked along a beautiful sandy beach. We got back in the car and drove north, searching for places where we could find lunch along the way. Since it was Sunday very few places were open. Fortunately, the restaurant at Stella Maris Resort near the northern end was open so we were able to eventually find a late lunch. After lunch we drove to the Columbus Monument at the northern end of Long Island. The monument is located on a high bluff 1.7 miles down a very narrow, rocky, bumpy road. People had told us it was a bad road and they weren't exaggerated. Once we were at the end of the road we had to climb a steep hill to reach the monument. It was worth it, the view was amazing. 



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Another Problem Solved

A few days ago we began having trouble with the dinghy outboard. It didn’t want to start and then ran really rough, with very little power even at full throttle. We thought we probably had water in the fuel, although we aren’t quite sure how it got there. Was it the gas we just got in George Town?  Did water somehow find it’s way in the tank or outboard during the torrential rains?  We may never know. In any case it was a problem that needed to be fixed. George spoke to a few friends and received some suggestions on how to fix it. Michael offered to bring his dinghy and gas tank over and hook it up to our outboard. The motor ran better but wasn’t quite cured. He drove George down to Long Island Peteroleum and they agreed to take the bad fuel that was in our tank, even though it didn’t come from there. George then filled it with new gas. He then put in some Sta-Bil additive and changed the spark plugs. Now it runs like a champ!
In the midst of all of the outboard issues we took our very slow dinghy over to Tiny’s Hurricane Hole yesterday for a late lunch. Tiny’s is an adorable open air bar and grill (with a few cottages) on the beach overlooking Thompson Bay.  This afternoon we came back with our laundry. Michelle (aka Tiny) allows the boaters to use her laundry room. There are now over 30 boats in the harbor and we were concerned the laundry room would be too busy. If we hadn’t been able to do it here our next option was to hitch hike 30 minutes south of here to a laundromat. So glad we could do it at Tiny’s. 



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Sun Came Out and the Autopilot is Fixed

The sun was shining for most of the day today. What a difference that makes. It seems like it has been so long since we have seen much sun. We had a few short squalls but not the hours and hours of rain that we had been experiencing. 
I didn’t mention it in yesterday’s post but we lost our autopilot about half way through our trip from Conception Island to Long Island.  We were reminded how much we have come to depend on it.  The autopilot failed when we were in very rough seas & 20+kt winds near the tip of Long Island. We were hit on the beam by one especially big wave and the boat rolled to port and then back to starboard.  The autopilot struggled to keep up and then it just gave up, the wheels spun and the boat turned up into the wind. George regained control of the boat, turned the autopilot off and then on again but it didn’t work. We hand steered the rest of the way and we both had to resist, many times, the urge to turn the autopilot on. Today we set about trying to fix it. George first removed the cockpit floor to check the autopilot motor and the arm that attaches the motor to the rudder.  Nothing looked amiss there. I found some information online written by other Hanse owners who had fixed autopilot problems by replacing a fuse between the autopilot computer and motor. The trick was to find the fuse. After much looking and rearranging of stuff (which we had to do anyway), George finally found it inside the port lazzarette. He replaced the fuse and, voila, the autopilot works! Phew. Neither one of us relished the idea of long passages home without an autopilot. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Conception Island/Thompson Bay, LI

Last year Conception Island was our favorite place in the Bahamas. The clarity of the water has to be seen to be believed. It is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park system so there are no buildings or cell towers on the island. The beaches are pristine. It is a small island surrounded by deep water so it is best to visit only during relatively calm conditions. If there are a lot of waves it can get very uncomfortable. We thought we had good conditions for another visit to Conception Island.  Although a cold front was expected to bring a lot of wind to the northern part of the Bahamas it wasn’t expected to make it as far south as Conception Island. We left George Town two days ago to head to Conception.  We soon encountered a heavy thunderstorm that lasted three hours. There were several nearby lightning strikes. When we arrived at Conception the wind and the waves didn’t seem bad at all. After Jean and Michael arrived on Desiderata we invited them over for dinner. The waves picked up the next day and were downright uncomfortable. Most hit the boat on the beam and caused the boat to rock side to side dramatically. Several things inside the boat got knocked to the floor, including my full glass of lemonade. We took a chance getting into the dinghy to scout out a more favorable anchorage. We didn’t try to take the dinghy to the beach, it was just too rough and we could have easily capsized. We went back to the boat, moved north about 1/2 mile and eventually took the dinghy out of the water. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep due to the rolling. This morning we pulled up the anchor and left, without setting foot on the island or even going to a swim. Our mistake was to not consider the sea conditions surrounding the island.  Even if there isn’t a lot of wind right near the island, wind nearby can kick up the ocean swell which just wraps around the island. 
We sailed through some rough seas and yet another squall back to Long Island and were so happy to anchor in a very calm Thompson Bay. It just so happened a cruiser’s happy hour was planned at the beach tonight so we joined in and met some new people & saw some old friends.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Follow-ups: Engine Battery Switch & Rain Awnings

As we sit in George Town awaiting yet another squall I thought it might be a good time to write a follow-up on the engine battery switch and the awnings that I made. 

Engine Battery Switch
It is working like a charm. We have used the microwave a few times since George installed the switch. We have remembered to disconnect the engine battery before using the microwave and reconnect it immediately each time. Incidentally, we have not had any trouble starting the engine in several weeks. 

Rain Awnings
The awnings are still a work in progress. The awning over the v-berth hatch stayed secure even during the 50 knot winds we had the other night. That is the good news. The bad news is the stainless steel rings on the corners of the awning were banging on the deck during the worst of the wind.  They were banging so hard I was afraid they were damaging the deck. We have found that the awning needs to be close to the deck to keep water from entering the hatch due to rain splashing on the deck. However, when it is attached close to the deck and starts flapping in the strong wind, the rings bang on the deck. We are thinking of removing the rings and either sewing dyneema (a very strong type of line) rings in or just attaching the bungees directly to the webbing loops that held the rings. Also, the awning is too small. I wish I had not followed the recommendation to cut down the size to allow for stretching. I plan to make a larger awning once we return home. 
The two awnings used to cover the salon hatch and which were attached to the main sail cover ended up being a total bust. The Velcro that attached the awnings to the main sail cover came undone in just a moderate amount of wind. I am redesigning the awnings to make one larger awning that will be attached under the boom. I suspect that when I finally get this done we will not have another rain storm for the rest of our time here. 

Yesterday we had a long enough break in the rain to dinghy into town to visit Exuma Market and Top to Bottom hardware store. After we dropped the fresh vegetables off at the boat we dinghied over to Lumina Point for lunch. What a treat to be off of the boat for a few hours!  The skies looked threatening by the time we finished lunch and passed by Chat n’ Chill so we opted not to stop and socialize with other cruisers on the beach. There didn’t appear to be many other people there, anyway. 



Thursday, January 11, 2018

George Town

We made the trip from Lee Stocking Island to George Town two days ago. The wind was on our nose so we had to motor through lumpy seas all the way. Just as we were approaching the harbor at George Town the skies opened up with a very heavy thunderstorm. We slowed our speed in hopes that it would let up in by the time we reached our anchorage. Fortunately, we could follow the tracks from one of last year’s trips to George Town. The rain did indeed let up by the time we dropped the anchor. We were grateful for that but especially grateful not to have been hit by lightning. It is a little unnerving to be the tallest thing around during a thunderstorm. There was an even heavier thunderstorm at midnight. Lots of wind and rain. George stayed up for a few hours, watching the tracks of the boat on the anchor alarm iPad app. It turned 360 degrees a few times as the wind changed directions. We heard on the radio net the next morning that the wind had gusted as high at 50 knots. Yesterday it continued to rain off and on all day. We did have enough of a break in the morning that we were able to go into town and do a few loads of laundry. It was raining by the time we returned but our huge plastic zippered laundry bag (that I purchased here in George Town last year) kept everything dry. Our very first glimpse of the sun yesterday was at sunset, leading to a beautiful double rainbow. 
If the rain lets up today we will venture back into town for a bit of shopping and maybe a haircut for George. 




Monday, January 8, 2018

Lee Stocking Island

The squalls stopped and the sun came out, allowing us to get off of the boat for the first time in five days.  Hallelujah!  It was such a pleasure to go out for a walk and appreciate the beautiful surroundings. We dinghied a short distance south to coconut beach and hiked to the top of Perry’s Peak. As an added bonus we encountered Nancy, from Blue Bay, and her friend, Lois, sitting near the trail head. I was able to get my “social fix” for the day. 
The night before last we were anchored at Twin Beaches. It is a lovely anchorage but was way too shallow for our comfort. We were checking the depth several times an hour as the tide went out. At one point we saw 5.7 feet on the depth sounder. It is a wonder we weren’t thumping on the bottom. We believe that the strong east wind might have been pushing the water out of the anchorage, making it much more shallow than we remembered from last year.  In any case, yesterday morning we moved to the anchorage known as the Marine Center.  There used to be a marine research center located here, the empty buildings still remain. We had hoped to get an additional foot of depth here but ended up with more like 6”. Every little bit helps. There were three other boats here when we arrived but still enough room for us. 



Saturday, January 6, 2018

Wanderlust

Our sister-in-law once said that George and I have wanderlust. I suppose it is true since we moved five times in four states in our first eight years of marriage. We did finally settle down, living seven years in NY and 22 in CT. Now it seems like the wanderlust has kicked in again. We have found that when we are cruising we like to move about every four days or so. We had been anchored in Thompson Bay, Long Island for a week so it was time to move on. Yesterday we raised the anchor just before dawn and sailed/motorsailed 60 miles to the Lee Stocking Island area. It was one of our favorites last year. We entered Rat Cay Cut and anchored at Children’s Bay last night. We had to wait for a higher tide this morning to move on to Lee Stocking Island. We visited this area twice last year and each time there were several other boats anchored. This time we are the only boat, aside from the tours boats which continue to stop at a nearby beach. It is cloudy, windy, cool and raw right now.  I know we won’t get any sympathy from the people up north, but we are wearing long pants, long sleeves and even jackets at times. I suspect we might remain the only boat anchored here until the weather improves. The forecast suggests that might not be for a while.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Bomb Cyclone

A weather event, apparently known as a bomb cyclone, originated near the Bahamas and is now headed up the east coast causing blizzard conditions. In the Bahamas it triggered increased wind and lower temperatures (70 instead of 80). I read that the cyclone is called a “bomb” because of the rapidly dropping pressure. 
Yesterday morning it was very calm in the harbor. By the afternoon the wind picked up from the SW then shifted W. The harbor is not protected from the SW but we opted to stay and tough it out. It did get bumpy but not all that bad. By the time we went to bed the wind was behind Indian Point and the harbor was a bit more protected. The maximum wind recorded by Desiderata was 44 knots. If the wind drops enough we may go ashore to Tiny’s Hurricane Hole for an early dinner. If not, we will stay hunkered down. 
Before


After

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Battery Switch Installed

George installed the new battery switch that disconnects the engine battery from the relay. Now the microwave is back in business. Yay!  He installed the switch near the relay on a wall under the nav table. Since he didn’t have the proper tools for the job (hole cutter or multi-tool) he thought it might take a long time. In fact it took just three hours. We both think it looks great. We tested it with the microwave by turning the switch to off and watching the engine battery voltage while we ran the microwave. No change. The voltage dropped when we turned the switch back on and ran the microwave. I am optimistic that we will be able to remember to turn it off and on while running the microwave since it is close to other switches we have to turn on to run the microwave. Of course, it is cloudy today and we aren’t getting much solar power so we probably won’t use it until the sun shines again. Even so, I am very grateful to have the option. We plan to replace the engine battery and relay when we return to the states. We hope the switch will protect the engine battery until then. 
Yesterday morning we went snorkeling and tested the Up-n-Out ladder. It worked well both for getting in and out of the water. The snorkeling here is the not best we have seen in the Bahamas but it was actually better than we expected. The water is somewhat cloudy due to fine silt on the bottom. Nevertheless, we found a moderate-sized reef and saw quite a few fish, some we haven’t seen before.