Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Quiet Day

Today was very quiet for us. We spent some time discussing what we want to do about a new dinghy and outboard. Our current plan is to buy an 8 hp 2-stroke engine here in the Bahamas. We can use that on the dinghy we have and then decide what we want to do about a different dinghy.
The anchorage emptied out yesterday but six new boats arrived this afternoon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cleaning the Dinghy

This morning we dinghied ashore and walked south about a mile to the Office of Tourism. We heard they have wifi!Not only that but comfy chairs and air conditioning! We spent a few hours there and then walked north to Sou'side Bar and Grill, an outdoor bar that also had wifi. We ordered lunch and did a few more things online. Those two places appear to be the only ones in Salt Pond with wifi. That is ok, we like it here anyway. After eating lobster burgers we went to the liquor store/post office and bought stamps, then next door to Hillside Food Supply for some fresh vegetables. We returned to Breeze On and decided to take Chuggernaut to Cruisers's Beach to empty the little bit of water, clean the bottom and check for leaks. The first photo shows the items built by and contributed by cruisers in the area where they gather (George thinks it needs a Pepsi sign). We haven't gathered there with anyone yet, but there is still time. The second photo shows George letting the water d
rain out of the dinghy. After that held the dinghy up while I used a soft brush to clean the bottom. Then, we switched roles. We checked for leaks along the seams using a spray bottle filled with soapy water. Fortunately, we didn't find any.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cruisers' Net

We decided to stay another day in Salt Pond, maybe even another week. It will all depend on the wind.
This morning we finally were able to listen to the cruisers' net on VHF channel 18. It is a brief report of weather and local news given by a woman who lives in a house overlooking the harbor and goes by the call sign, Fairhaven. Up until yesterday we forgot about the net until it was too late. Yesterday we tuned in at 8:30 just as it was ending. She apparently moved the time up to 8:15 a while ago. I guess she provides information for anyone new (like where to dump your trash) when she sees a new boat in the harbor. This morning she said she didn't see any new boats.
We listened to other cruisers' nets in the Abacos and George Town. They can be quite useful.
After listening to the net we went ashore to pick up a few things at Hillside Food Supply. We returned to Breeze On for lunch and then went back to shore for a walk on the beach on the Atlantic side of the island. It was about a mile from one side of the island to the other. The water was clear and beautiful. The sand was pink. We didn't see another person on the beach.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a big deal in the Bahamas. Our neighbor, Mike, zipped by in his dinghy this morning to tell us that they have a big Boxing Day celebration in Clarence Town. That is 20 miles away so we would have to find a way to get there and get back. Gail, who took us under her wing at the Farmer's Market, had told us that it is quite acceptable and safe to hitchhike on the island. I would have liked to see the celebration but wasn't keen about hitchhiking. True confession: I have never hitchhiked in my life. Also, it is really windy today. We weren't excited about the idea of going to shore in Chuggernaut in this wind and returning after dark. So, we stayed on board and did boat chores. Ran the water maker, did a bit of laundry and added some foam insulation to the refrigerator. We are still trying to work on the power issues. We are using the main refrigerator again and trying to increase its efficiency. We took the door off of the tiny ice tray compartment to reduce frost
build up. We bought a can of spray foam insulation when we were driving around last week. George squirted it around the fridge in areas that didn't have much insulation. Hope it helps.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas on Breeze On

Today was Christmas Day. We celebrated with French toast made with fresh Bahamian bread. Delicious. Later, I baked brownies in tiny silicone muffin cups. We dinghied over to a nearby beach and took a walk. We found a path to a road and walked on that for a while until we noticed the clouds in the sky and remembered we hadn't closed the hatches. So, we turned around and went back to Breeze On. Once again a very unusual holiday but we are so grateful that we can be here on our boat.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Farmer's Market

Today we went to the Salt Pond Farmer's Market. It takes place every Saturday morning. We were told to get there early because things tend to sell out before it ends. We weren't sure we would make it there at all. It is quite windy again and we didn't know if Chuggernaut would make it against the chop. She did quite well and we didn't even get very wet.
The market, although small, was quite nice. A smiling couple approached us as we were walking into the parking lot and asked if we were on one of the boats in the harbor. We said we were and introduced ourselves. The couple took us under their wings and introduced us to a few others. We bought bread, beautiful straw placemats, handmade cards and hot sauce. The sweet rolls had already sold out, darn! We gained some local knowledge and learned that the bay is deeper than marked and we could safely anchor our boat closer to shore (and we did). We were also told about a little lagoon where we might be able to secure our dinghy when we go ashore. On our dinghy ride back we met Mike on the sailboat near us and a young couple who had just pulled into the harbor. We really like this island and the friendly, helpful people here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dean's Blue Hole

We picked up our rental car at 8 this morning and went south on Long Island to Dean's Blue Hole. A blue hole is a sink hole filled with sea water. Dean's Blue Hole is over 600 feet deep and is either the deepest or second deepest in the world, depending on what you read. For a while we thought it was going to be a bust. We followed our maps and the signs to get to it. The last faded sign said to turn left so we did. We came to a beach but couldn't see the hole. We decided it was in the left side of the large cove and we set out walking a mile or so. Along the way we had to climb over two high ledges of sharp jagged limestone. We eventually gave up and turned around. We couldn't imagine why anyone would bother to go to Dean's Blue Hole if it was this difficult. As we were driving away George decided to try a different road. Sure enough, there it was in a different cove. Right next to the beach. It was so beautiful. It was rather eerie as we snorkeled over it. We spent the rest
of the day touring around the island, shopping a bit and eating a nice lunch at Stella Maris Resort. By the way, George did a fantastic job of driving on the left side of the road. We had to laugh at the large sticker at the top of the windshield that said "Keep Left" with an arrow.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Salt Pond, Long Island

We had been waiting for the wind to calm down a bit before leaving Georgetown and heading for Long Island. It isn't the wind that concerned us but the waves that get stirred up when it is windy. Well, we waited too long. Instead of winds in the low teens and waves of 2 feet that were predicted we had wind less than a knot and flat calm. So, we motored the whole way. The water was fairly shallow (14 feet) and incredibly clear on the way. We could even see starfish on the bottom (shown in the second photo.) After we arrived we took Chuggernaut to the brand new, sturdy dinghy dock. The last one was destroyed during Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. Cruiser volunteers helped to build this one. It even has concrete footings. We walked to Fox Motors to rent a car. They had a sign that said they were closed for the holidays. We walked further to Hillside Supplies, an amazing small grocery store. Lots of exotic foods and so well stocked. We asked the cashier where we could rent a car. She s
aid she would call the people at Fox Motors. We told her they were closed and she said she would call anyway, she didn't think they were away for the holidays. Such nice people! We have a car reserved for tomorrow.
think they were away for the holidays. Such nice people. After we made arrangements for the car we got back in The Chuggernaut and dinghied to a fuel dock to fill a jerry can with diesel. George came back with fuel and two ice cream bars. Yay! On our way back we buzzed by one of the few other boats in the harbor and met a couple from Vancouver who have been here a week. They said the harbor is really calm when there is a lot of wind. Good news.
One plus of coming here today was that we got to meet up with Jean and Michael at the Chat 'n' Chill beach yesterday. They are staying in George Town a few more days and then will be heading further east. We said our goodbyes in case we don't see them again. We gave a Trader Joe's 1 lb. chocolate bar to Jean whose birthday is on Christmas Day. Jean and Michael got a big kick out of the wrapping job. Newspaper and a spectra line bow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Anchor Riding Sail

Breeze On likes to swing at anchor. A lot. The stronger the wind the more she swings. It can be a problem if we are close to other boats in a tight anchorage. Also, the swinging puts lateral pressure on the anchor, making it more likely to drag.
Last year I made an anchor riding sail from a kit I purchased from Sail Rite. It is a small sail that is attached to the backstay of the boat and pulled forward. It didn't make a bit of difference in how much Breeze On would swing. so we gave up on it. Last week we were anchored near a boat that was using an anchor riding sail and it seemed to be working. The boat hardly seemed to swing at all. We met the boat owner and asked him about it. He said he rigs his close to the center line (not what Sail Rite instructs) and pulls it as tight as possible. It is a little tricky on our split backstay but George finally found a way to make it work by rigging a block to a cleat at the bow and running a line from the sail, up to the block and back to a winch. We can winch the sail nice and tight and it reduces the swing from 70 degrees to 50 degrees. Since it shades the solar panels George puts it up at night and takes it down in the morning.
The wind is finally supposed to ease up enough that we plan to sail over to Long Island tomorrow. We have heard from a few people that it is worth seeing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Our Life at Anchor

Today's post is written by George. I am actually stealing it from the daily log that he has been keeping.

We walked the beach as far as hole #2 today. It was the most walking we've done in a while - probably since the Abacos. And the wet sand made it even harder going. We will probably feel it tomorrow. When we returned to Hamburger Beach we took a quick dip, then returned to Breeze On to clean up. After lunch & a short nap, I took the joker valve apart in the forward head. Waste had been seeping back into the bowl, usually a sign that the joker valve is shot. Since I just replaced it, I hope that is not the case. I cleaned the valve out & it seemed to hold water when I tested it out of place. I reinstalled it & we will see if that solves the issue ( hope so, or I'll be changing the valve again & I did not bring enough spares to change it weekly!)

On a positive note, the batteries are charged to 13.5 - 13.6 today! Yeah. I've been putting the boom out early to catch all the sun possible on both sides. We are only running the drawer fridge which has an impact, too. The other fridge frosted up pretty quickly & that reduces efficiency. I did check the fan (working) & reposition the fan output away from the compressor to help the next time we run the fridge (hopefully).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Chat 'n' Chill

Today, after running the water maker and washing a little laundry, we ventured out in The Chuggernaut to the Chat 'n' Chill. We stayed close to shore to keep out of the worst of the wind and we made it without any trouble. It is a small bar on a good size beach. There are a lot of picnic tables and volleyball courts. There weren't very many people there, although we had been told cruisers congregate at 2 pm. We did have a nice chat with a couple of men who were each single-handing their boats. While grabbing a quick drink inside we talked with a couple who have been renting a vacation home at Christmas time for years. They said the place was "dead" and normally much busier. We left in The Chuggernaut and toured around the inner harbors (called "holes") before returning to Breeze On.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hike to the Monument

Today we took a short dinghy ride to the beach next to our anchorage. It is apparently called Hamburger Beach after a colorful building that was once a hamburger stand, now closed due to storm damage. We had heard there were hiking trails to beaches on the other side of the island and to the monument on the hill. We set off on a trail but ended up in what looked like the property of a private residence. We returned to the beach and asked some people there about the trails. They directed us farther down the beach by the hamburger stand. We saw Jean and Michael behind us so waited for them. It took an hour of walking up and down then back up again on steep, narrow, very sketchy trails. A couple sections hugged the edges of cliffs. Finally, we made it to the monument. The views were beautiful. We all decided to take the trails down to the beach on the return trip. Down to the beach, along the beach and then back up across the island on a different trail. The return trip was just
15 minutes! We ended up right where George had thought we were in someone's yard when we started out. Low and behold there was a tiny sign that said "trail". We had completely missed it. We all had our bathing suits on so took a refreshing, well-deserved swim.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

George's Haircut

Just in case you are curious about his new haircut. I will try to send two photos.

George Town

After two days of not leaving the boat we finally ventured out thanks to Elvis's Water Taxi. Elvis is a lovely local man who seems to keep quite busy ferrying people around this very large harbor. Have I mentioned that Elizabeth Harbour is HUGE? It was so choppy on the harbor that waves were crashing over the bow of his boat. While we were in town George got the shortest haircut of his life. We both actually like it, though. We also dumped our garbage, walked around, stopped in a few shops, bought a few groceries and ate lunch. We got a kick out of their system to handle cruisers' trash. There is a very small dump truck parked near Exuma Market. Taped to the driver's side window is a sign with the prices ($2.00 for a small bag, $3.00 for a large bag). The window is open about an inch. You drop your money through the opening and leave your bag(s) in the bed of the truck. After a few hours in George Town we took the water taxi back to Breeze On. We actually had a bonus tour o
f the Stocking Island side of the harbor, since Elvis had other passengers to drop off there. I would also like to mention that he picked us up and dropped us off in very windy, choppy conditions and his boat never touched ours. Impressive.

Friday, December 16, 2016

We Made it to George Town

We left our anchorage at Big Galliot Cay before sunrise yesterday morning. The night before, we were awakened by some loud booming noises. George got up, thinking it was something with the anchor chain. When he got out to the cockpit he saw a very nice fireworks display. We had a perfect view off the stern. Then, back to bed. Our 40 mile trip to George Town was an easy motor in light winds and a gentle swell. We decided to veer off to port about 45 degrees for several miles to avoid running right into what looked like a nasty squall. By the time we got near it had dissipated so we got back on course.
George Town is located on Elizabeth Harbour, which is absolutely HUGE. It is over 5 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide. The harbor runs northwest to southeast. Great Exuma Island is on the west side and Stocking Island is on the east. There are several anchorage on both sides. We pulled into the first anchorage on the eastern side, Monument Beach. George Town is on the western side, but since we were expecting wind from the east we anchored here. We were greeted by a nice rainbow shortly after we arrived.
There is supposed to be quite the social scene here. The hub is near a bar on Stocking Island called the Chat and Chill. Cruisers gather near there every afternoon. Poor little Chuggernaut may not make it there, especially in winds over 20 kn. We hear there is a water taxi so we will most likely try that if we want to go anywhere.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Big Galliot Cay

We left Black Point Settlement early this morning to travel 14 nm to Big Galliot Cay. It was a calm morning of motoring on Exuma Bank with fairly light winds. There were small squalls on the horizon and I found them refreshing when we passed through them.
We needn't have left so early to travel that distance but the batteries were really low and I wanted to get the engine started to charge them up. We are still having issues with the batteries and working on getting them figured out. We were hopeful that the new solar panel would solve the problem but it hasn't. By the time we get it sorted out we should know quite a bit about marine batteries. The anchorage at Big Galliot Cay is quite nice. There is a lovely little beach nearby. There is good protection from north through southeast winds and the holding is good. The Big Galliot Cut that will take us out to Exuma Sound is just at the end of the island. We plan to go through it tomorrow morning on our way to George Town, arriving in the afternoon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Black Point Settlement

The first thing we did after arriving at Black Point Settlement yesterday was gather up the dirty clothes, towels and sheets and take them to the laundromat. This laundromat is well known and very popular with cruisers. The owner even does haircuts! George was counting on getting a haircut here. Unfortunately, the owner was off the island so the haircut will have to wait. The laundromat was open and there were two other cruising couples inside. They told us to go to the restaurant across the street to purchase tokens. Four tokens for two loads of laundry cost $15.00. That seems pretty standard for the Bahamas. While we were there we had a nice chat with the other couples. We used the wifi and returned today to use more wifi. When we returned to our dinghy today there were 3 nurse sharks swimming around they dock. We think they were hanging around to catch some scraps of fish being cleaned by a fisherman. George assured me they aren't aggressive. He even had the courage to go
for a swim a little later.
Black Point Settlement is tiny but very convenient and welcoming to cruisers. In the evening we went to Lorraine's for drinks and excellent fish sandwiches.

Monday, December 12, 2016

An Evening Out

Yesterday George and I were invited for drinks on Jabulani with Libby and Frank. We had met them at Warderick Wells a week ago. Libby and Frank had suggested that Big Majors Spot was a good anchorage to wait out a blow so we weren't surprised to see Jabulani there when we arrived. Libby invited us in order to meet two other couples: Sarah and Dan from Borrowed Horse, and Deborah and Bruce from Fast Betty. The three couples have been wintering in the Bahamas from 8-20 years so they have a lot of experience. We had a great time and received a lot of good suggestions. They poked some fun our our little Chuggernaut. Dan said, "My wife has a blender that is bigger than your outboard." Sarah told George that we must return a second year since the first year is spent just figuring things out. So true.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Staniel Cay

I haven't yet said much about Staniel Cay, about a mile from our anchorage. We visited Staniel Cay the day after we anchored here. Our primary reason was to pick up the new solar panel. We ordered a new one from Amazon to replace a solar panel that wasn't working. We had it shipped to Watermakers Air in Fort Lauderdale and they flew it to Staniel Cay 2 days later. We picked it up from Staniel Cay Yacht Club the following day. It couldn't have been easier. The whole thing took just a week. While we were there we paid $7.00 to dump our trash (not complaining), ate a delicious lunch at the lovely Staniel Cay Yacht Club, took a walk around town and visited Pink Pearl Supermarket. (In photo). We bought lettuce and carrots there. The lettuce is fresher than what we buy at the Giant back home, probably because the delivery boat had come the day before. While walking along the shore on our way back to the yacht club, George spotted a 5-foot shark swimming by. (Apparently, they are no
t uncommon. I take a look around before getting in the water.) At the yacht club we filled our two 5-gallon jerry cans with diesel and gas, loaded them, the solar panel and ourselves into The Chuggernaut and took the very slow ride back to Breeze On.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Waiting out the Weather

We are sitting at anchor at Big Major's Spot waiting for a cold front to pass. Weather guru, Chris Parker, has been talking about this front for a week. At one point he said it would bring winds up to 40 knots. Yikes! We chose to stay here after talking with some people who have been coming here for 9 years. They said it is a protected anchorage and the holding is good. They were right about the holding, our anchor is really buried. So far, a squall line passed through late yesterday afternoon ahead of the front (photo was taken after it passed). We guessed the winds were in the upper 20's. It is actually rather nice now, light winds and mostly sunny. It is 81 degrees (sorry, everyone back in the States). We decided to stay put because the winds are supposed to pick up again tonight and again tomorrow night. So, since we are happy with the way we are anchored, we will wait it out here. You know what they say about a bird in the hand...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thunderball Grotto

We fired up The Chuggernaut (our dinghy) bright and early this morning for the 20 minute ride to Thunderball Grotto. The movie, Thurnderball, was filmed in the Bahamas and the grotto is featured in the scene where James Bond is lifted by helicopter through a small hole in the top of the cave. We timed our arrival for slack low tide. We wanted to be able to enter the cave without going under water and we didn't want to be swept about by a strong current. It is hard to figure the tides out in the Bahamas but we were lucky and arrived at just the right time. The grotto was really cool. A short, narrow cave opens up into a "room" with a domed top. We could see the hole through which James Bond was lifted. It isn't all that big. I saw a small rat crawling on a ledge, eewww, so we decided to leave before it decided to join us in the water. We exited through a different cave and returned to the dinghy before the current came up. We both enjoyed the experience. Also, my new way of ge
tting back into the dinghy worked just fine. Sorry, no photos of the grotto. We don't have an underwater camera and I forgot to bring my iPhone to take photos of the outside.
By the way, our daughter is a librarian and bought the used Thunderball DVD at her Friends of the Library bookshop. Neither one of us remembered that Thunderball was filmed in the Bahamas, but we were so happy to have the DVD and be able to watch it before we visited the grotto. Thanks, Pam!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Getting Into the Dinghy; there is a better way

Well, we found a better way for me to get into the dinghy after swimming. George took one of our dock lines, tied it onto the port side handle and draped it over to the starboard side with the loop hanging overboard. I put my left foot into the loop, kick with my right foot (still wearing a flipper on that foot) grab the line and pull myself up. I then swing my right leg into the dinghy and get in. It works really well. I plan to try it again when we visit Thunderball Grotto tomorrow morning.
Speaking of the dinghy, George named it and our little 2 hp outboard "The Chuggernaut". It seemed appropriate today as we were going to and from Staniel Cay. The one mile trip took 25 minutes each way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pig Beach!

We are now anchored at Big Majors Spot, not far from the famous pig beach. Semi-wild pigs live at the beach and are fed by the tourists who come to see them. Today we were among those tourists. When we motored toward the beach we saw that Jean and Michael's dinghy was not pulled up onto the beach but anchored in the water instead. As we got closer they told us why. When they had brought their dinghy up to the beach a pig jumped right onto the bow! As we neared the beach, two pigs started heading right for us. I took a few quick photos and a brief video and we hightailed it out of there. Not taking a chance of a pig jumping into our dinghy. Tomorrow we plan to dinghy over to Staniel Cay and pick up our new solar panel. Yay! We ordered it only a week ago. Not bad. We will most likely stay here a while and wait out a cold front that is predicted to bring winds up to 40 knots. This seems to be a nice, protected anchorage and we like the way the anchor is set.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fowl Cay/Bubble Bath/Rocky Dundas

We left O'Brien Cay this morning and motored 10 nm to Fowl Cay. There are no fowls to be seen but there is one abandoned plane on the beach. We read that the plane overshot the end of the short runway on the island. We dinghied a long mile over bumpy water to Compass Cay where we planned to visit the "Bubble Bath". It is a pool where waves from Exuma Sound crash over the rocks creating a bubble bath effect in the pool. To get there we had to beach the dinghy, walk over some rough terrain and cross a stream twice. After all that we decided it wasn't very impressive so we took a selfie and left. Later, after we finished some boat chores, we dinghied over to Rocky Dundas (not sure what Dundas means but it is a big rock) and snorkeled. Not as many fish as we saw at Sea Aquarium but there was lots of really pretty fan coral.

Monday, December 5, 2016

O'Briens Cay and Sea Aquarium

We left Warderick Wells on Sunday to sail further south, choosing to go the "inside" route via the shallower, but calmer, Exuma Bank waters. We anchored at O'Briens Cay near the Sea Aquarium snorkeling spot and Little Halls Cay (aka Johnny Depp's private island--no sign of Johnny yet.). Sea Aquarium is aptly named. Snorkeling there really does seem like being inside a tropical fish aquarium. Thousands of colorful fish all around. The Sargent Major fish (thank you Stan and Essie for the card identifying fish in the Bahamas) are so tame they swam right up to us. We suspect they must get fed, even though it is against park rules. Sea Aquarium is located next to a small island. The current flows one way around one end of the island and the other way around the other end. George discovered that the hard way when he nearly got swept out to sea! After that we made sure to stay near the middle of the island where the current wasn't as strong.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Getting Back Into the Dinghy

Going swimming or snorkeling from the dinghy can be fun. Getting back into the dinghy--not so much. We brought a small 2-step rope ladder with us that we thought would work as our dinghy ladder. We didn't think to try it out on the dinghy before we left home. When we tried it after we snorkeled the other day and couldn't make it work. George was able to use his fins to kick up onto the side of the dinghy and the pull himself the rest of the way. I have tried that before and wasn't able to do it. After I wasn't able to get in using the ladder I tried using the outboard as a step. I had heard about doing that from other people. The problem was, our dinghy is rather small. After I hoisted myself up by stepping on the motor I became wedged between the motor and the side of the dinghy. I was stuck. I eventually got free and maneuvered my leg over the motor. Not before cutting my knee, though. There had to be a better way. I had seen a video of a woman doing a backwards somersault
by hanging onto the dinghy handles with her upper back against the dinghy, dropping her head in the water while flipping her legs up and over the side and into the dinghy. In desperation I gave it a try. I failed on my first attempt and couldn't lift my upper body out of the water. On my next attempt, George grabbed one of my legs once it was in the dinghy and that gave my enough leverage to lift my head out of the water and get the rest of the way in. Not exactly fun but it will do until we get a ladder that works.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park--Warderick Wells

This park is exactly what I imagined when, over two years ago, I thought about sailing to the Bahamas. I cannot say enough how beautiful it is here. Since we arrived we have snorkeled at three locations and hiked to the top of Boo Boo Hill (named because it overlooks the site of a shipwreck--during full moons the ghosts are said to make noises that sound like "boo boo"). There is much more we could do here but we have planned to move on tomorrow to another site within the park's boundaries.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Crossing to Exumas

We left Ten Bay yesterday morning and had an almost perfect sail south to Rock Sound, Eleuthera. Beam reach to broad reach in twenty knots of breeze. We anchored near Wild Orchids restaurant and used their dinghy dock to drop trash, buy a can of diesel and some ice. We returned later to eat a very nice dinner at Wild Orchids and use their wifi. We had intended to stay in Rock Sound a few days. The town has the reputation of being a great stop for cruisers. We decided to take advantage of the wind, though, and leave early this morning for Warderick Wells, Exuma. It was a fast sail over rather lumpy water (2-3 foot swells, increasing to 4-5 feet). We followed our friends, Jean and Michael On Desiderata, all the way. George radioed the Exuma Land and Sea Park to reserve a mooring. Since it is early in the season we had no trouble. This place is very popular in the high season. I can see why.
Wow, is it ever beautiful here. Clear, turquoise water, white beaches and lots of small, uninhabited islands. Tomorrow we will start exploring the many places to snorkel, hike and ride through the mangroves.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ten Bay

It was a very rolly day and night at Rainbow Cay. After a poor night's sleep we were quite happy to raise the anchor and move on. We sailed upwind, tacking and crashing into 2-foot swells for 5 1/2 hours until we reached Ten Bay. Active Captain and The Great Book of Anchorages both describe Ten Bay as protected from east winds with good holding if you get in close to the beach. They weren't kidding about getting close to the beach. As I motored toward shore, our chartplotter indicated that we wee in depths of less than 6 feet and very close to the beach. The depth indicator read 19 feet. I kept going. It was a bit stressful. I am not a good multi-tasker but I kept checking: "Whatvis the depth?" "Is the bow thruster still on in case I need it?" Are we going fast enough to maintain momentum?" "Where is the wind?" "What is the depth?" "Are we the area with soft sand yet?" "What is the depth?" "The chartplotter says we are aground!" We were a bit over anxious on our first
attempt and the anchor didn't hold. We went a bit farther on our second attempt and the anchor held. It turned out to be a lovely spot. The water was calm, the beach was beautiful and the swimming was nice.

Monday, November 28, 2016

One Month

A month ago today we left home. In some ways it seems as if it wasn't that long ago and in others it seems as if we have been gone a very long time. The first few weeks after we left Portsmouth were challenging for me. I felt out of my element and unprepared. I also felt vulnerable and exposed because I couldn't easily go home. Now I feel as if I am getting into the rhythm of living on a boat and being in the Bahamas. George and I spend a fair amount of time each day getting weather reports, studying them, reading cruising guides and looking at charts. We discuss where we might visit next, when we will go there and how long we might stay. And, of course, we are open to changing our minds if necessary.
I love the warm temperatures here and the beautiful water. I love being able to sail and swim, even though it is the end of November! I have a feeling that when it is time to head for home in four months I will think the time went by so fast.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rainbow Cay, Eleuthera

Today we left The Cove and had a really pleasant day sail south to Rainbow Cay. If I hadn't thought to myself that
it was pleasant I would have known from the number of times George said, "nice day!" That is code for "I am happy to be sailing." We were anchored before noon, with 120 ft of anchor rode in anticipation of winds in the mid-twenties tonight through tomorrow night. George took the dinghy out and used the look bucket to check on the anchor. It is such a new experience for us to actually see the anchor. After lunch we dinghied to the beach and had a nice chat with a young man who spends his winters here before we took a walk up the hill. Then it was time for a swim.
George was not able to fix the solar panel yesterday. His tests with the multi-meter showed positive for voltage but negative for amps. He sent an email off to the company and we will see if a replacement is available.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Glass Window

Today we visited Glass Window, the most narrow spot on Eleuthera. The Atlantic is on one side and the shallow Bahama Banks are on the other, separated by a single-lane bridge. To get there we took a dinghy ride of less than a mile to a beach, found a path to the road and walked on the narrow two lane road for about 1/2 mile. Glass Window is a fascinating site, with the waves of the Atlantic crashing on the cliffs on one side and the placid Bahama Banks water on the other. I am attaching a panoramic photo and hope it shows the effect.
After we returned to Breeze On we inadvertently discovered why we are having trouble keeping the batteries charged. I had the brilliant (I thought) idea of propping the solar panels up at an angle toward the sun. When we did that we discovered that the port side panels (closest to the sun) were putting out fewer amps than the starboard side. George then determined that one of the port side panels doesn't work. He is now doing what we have been told is the definition of Cruising, "fixing things in exotic locations". This location does indeed seem exotic today. Beautiful, clear, turquoise water lapping gently on limestone cliffs next to white sandy beaches, warm temperatures, a light breeze and sunny skies. Not bad.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Meeks Patch, Current Cut and The Cove

We left Spanish Wells about an hour before low tide with a plan to go through Current Cut two hours after low tide in Spanish Wells. We received that advice from Bandit, who is a professional boat pilot and also collected the money for our mooring. Since we needed only about two hours to get to Current Cut we thought we would stop and anchor briefly at Meeks Patch, just outside of Spanish Wells. We wanted to try some new techniques in a place known for good holding. After dropping the anchor and letting out the chain I put the throttle in reverse at low rpm, just enough to put some tension on the chain. Then I put it back in neutral and let the chain relax. I repeated this two more times before testing the hold by slowly revving the engine up to 1800 rpm in reverse. Hooray, it held!
After spending about 20 minutes at this pretty, uninhabited island it was time to move on to Current Cut. We had been warned by the guide books and by Bandit that the currents through the cut were very strong and had to be properly timed. Sailboats or trawlers might not have enough power to go through against the current. We sailed from Meeks Patch to Current and were about 1/2 an hour early. We dropped the sails and decided to give it a try and follow Desiderata, who went through about 1/2 hour before us. The current did not seem strong as we approached. We had about .1 knots against us as we entered and .3 with us as we exited the cut. (George took the photo just after we exited Current Cut). We sailed most of the way to The Cove, another highly recommended anchoring spot. We used the same technique as before and the anchor buried nicely in the sand (we checked it by putting on our suits and snorkel gear and going out to look). Also, George let out all 100 ft of chain and s
ome of the rope rode. We wanted to check the splice connecting the rope to the chain and also test how the rope goes through the windlass.
Before I forget, we saw a dolphin in the harbor before we left Spanish Wells and a rainbow at The Cove just before we dropped anchor. Good omens!

A Different, but Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day at Spanish Wells, Bahamas. We spent the morning dropping off garbage in town, buying diesel, walking in town and on the beach and visiting a few stores. Even though they don't celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday here in the Bahamas, everyone in the shops wished us a happy Thanksgiving. They really seem to enjoy Christmas, though. The stores were doing a brisk business selling sparkly Christmas decorations. We heard Christmas music in the stores and on the radio. A nearby restaurant had its Christmas tree lit and many houses had lots of Christmas decorations out.
It was cool, cloudy and windy in the morning but sunny and warm in the afternoon. Once again we were wearing shorts and short sleeves. We used the Iridium Go to call my mom and brother as they were finishing their Thanksgiving dinner with friends and neighbors. We had a brief, lovely FaceTime chat with our daughter, her boyfriend and the rest of the folks who were at my uncle's, where we normally celebrate Thanksgiving. It seemed strange not to be with there with them.
We celebrated the holiday by inviting our new friends, Jean and Michael on Desiderata, over for chicken enchiladas. We had a great time talking about sailing (of course!) They were part of the ARC Bahamas group and we have been on a similar schedule since arriving in the Bahamas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Laundry Day

Today was our first attempt at doing laundry on the boat. George fired up the Rainman and filled two 5-gallon buckets. I dropped a bag of Eco Nuts (thanks, Doug and Laura, for the suggestion) into one bucket to serve as detergent, put the sheets in the bucket and used the laundry plunger is an agitator. Then I moved them into the rinse bucket. After that the sheets went through the ringer we bought for the boat. Then we tied and clipped each sheet between a lazy jack line and shroud and allowed them to flap in the wind. The wind was in the high teens and we both imagined having to jump in the dinghy to retrieve them if they came loose, flew by and floated down the channel. Miraculously they stay attached and dried in no time. Next, we washed the rest of the clothes. Just as we were finishing clipping them to the lifelines it started to rain. We told ourselves it wouldn't last long and it didn't. After about the fourth rain we gave up and took the clothes down. Now, the
clothes that are still damp are hanging all over the salon on repurposed lee cloth lines.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Overnight Passage to Spanish Wells

We left Hope Town just before noon yesterday to begin a trip to Spanish Wells. We chose Spanish Wells (right next to Eleuthera) as a place to stop as we make our way to the Exumas. The trip was 88 miles and we were afraid we wouldn't be able to complete it and enter Spanish Wells during daylight hours. George suggested an overnight passage and I agreed, even though they have never been my favorite. Aside from the lack of sleep (and I do like my sleep) I actually enjoyed my night watches. There were so many stars in the sky. I also saw phosphorescence for the first time behind the boat. Bioluminescent organisms give off a brief bright light when the water is stirred up. So interesting and pretty.
Spanish Wells is a thriving industrial, fishing and vacation home community. The activity in the harbor reminds me of our home, Cambridge, MD. We picked up a mooring in the tiny, cramped mooring field. We are happy to be the only boat here at the moment.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Rain Man Watermaker

George used our Rain Man watermaker (desalinator) for the first time today. It worked really well. He made 12 gallons of water in what seemed like a short period of time. Since we are in a rather enclosed harbor and we aren't sure if people are using the holding tanks on their boats we decided not to add the water to our tank. Instead, he used it to pressure wash the salt off the boat. It worked great! The machine on the right in the photo is the motor. It is based on a gas powered Honda generator and is really noisy. The device on the left has the reverse osmosis columns. We plan to use the Rain Man again to fill our tank once we get to a more open anchorage.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Staying in Hope Town

We have decided to stay in Hope Town until Tuesday. We are waiting for a cold front with northerly winds to pass through. There are limited anchorages with protection from northerly winds around here so this seems like a good place to wait. Yesterday we cleaned the inside of Breeze On and took a walk around town and visited their historical museum. Today George changed the reef lines and defrosted the refrigerator while I did some sewing using the "Monster Wheel" that I crank to sew without electricity. Later we took a walk on the beach and considered snorkeling. (We decided not to go after talking with a local woman who said the bottom was pretty churned up from the wind and waves). We are really loving the weather here even though it is "cooler" (mid 70's) than normal.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Test--using Iridium mail for blog posts

So, I am still figuring out the best way of posting to the blog while having no wifi and limited cell phone data. We have an Iridium Go satellite phone on board. We can send emails from anywhere using Iridum and apparently one can post to blogspot via email. Who knew? This is a test to see if it actually works. Fingers crossed...

Hope Town

Our dinghy outboard was fixed in less than 24 hours. Yay! Thank you, Terence, at Master Marine. Terence said that there was water in the carburetor and salt was clogging the jet. We don't know how it got there. Maybe through the vent on the passage down as waves splashed on the motor. Maybe it was in the fuel. He suggested we check our fuel for water before putting in the motor. 
After picking up the outboard we made plans to leave the dock and head for Hope Town. We timed our departure so that we would arrive in Hope Town around high tide. The approach to the harbor is shallow and narrow so we didn't want to take any chances. 
George did a masterful job planning our departure from the dock during a strong (15-18 knot) cross wind. He tied a spring line and had me put the boat in gear to keep it close to the dock as he untied the other lines. Then, after all of the other lines were released, I increased the throttle as he released the spring line. We were out of the slip without touching anything! After we left Marsh Harbour we raised the main sail and headed for Hope Town. It was great to be sailing again. 
We pulled into Hope Town Harbour just after high tide. I was a bit tense trying to find the landmarks listed in the guide book, but we entered the harbor without any trouble at all. We picked up and mooring, ate lunch and then dinghied over to the historic light house. It was built in 1864 and is the last of its kind in the world. It has a light fueled by kerosene. We climbed to the top to see the beautiful views of the harbor, the Sea of Abaco, and the Atlantic. 
Next, we dinghied across the harbor to town. Hope Town is known for its quaint, narrow streets lined with small Victorian-style buildings. It really is charming. We walked up and down the streets and then over to the secluded beach. All in all it was a lovely day. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We Are Here--Now What?

George and I put so much thought and effort into our preparations to come to the Bahamas that we didn't think much about what we would be doing once we got here. I am normally a planner but I intentionally wanted to remain flexible with our plans while in the Bahamas. I thought everything would just come together once we got here. We spent a few days at the marina cleaning up and fixing things. We planned to leave the marina the morning after the ARC awards dinner. We didn't plan, however, for the fact that we couldn't check out of the marina until they opened at 11 am (Sunday). Ray suggested we go snorkeling at a nearby reef, then head up to Great Guana Cay to attend the pig roast at Nipper's, and spend the night at a mooring in the harbor. Sounds like a plan. Unfortunately, by the time we left the dock after checking out it was low tide. Since there was a full moon the tide was unusually low. We went aground about 50 ft from our slip and had to wait 3 long hours before the tide came in. No time for snorkeling. We went to Great Guana Cay, picked up a mooring and got ready to dinghy ashore. Except, the dinghy won't start. Ugh. George rowed the dinghy to the dinghy dock, we walked, then got a ride in a golf cart to Nipper's and learned that we missed the pig roast. We ordered off of the menu (it was actually very good) and enjoyed the view of the full moon over the ocean.
The next day we motored 4 hours to Sandy Cay for some snorkeling. We had to anchor on the side of the island opposite the reef. Because the dinghy outboard wouldn't start we weren't able to get to the reef where the fish were plentiful. Ray did see a large lobster and was followed by a large barracuda. Yikes!  We have photos but I can't get them to upload so that I can attach them.
We spent a peaceful night at anchor and came back to the marina so we could drop Ray off to catch his flight home. We also want to get the dinghy motor fixed.
We have a vague plan for what we will do once the motor is fixed. A plan with some flexibility. We are hoping that is the ticket.