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.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Off the Grid for a Bit

We are leaving Harbour View Marina today to do a little bit of snorkeling and exploring. We stopped by the BTC store yesterday to arrange for data minutes to enable us to communicate and connect to the Internet but they were closed. So, we will be off the grid until we return on Tuesday. We plan to walk over to BTC on Tuesday while they are open.
Also, until now I have used an app called Bloggsy to publish my blog posts. It hasn't been compatible with the wifi here so I am trying to publish directly on the blogger site. Not sure if I will ever be able to figure out how to attach photos, though.

We Made It!

It is hard to believe, but we are here in the Bahamas. With our boat. We left Portsmouth on Saturday, a day earlier than planned. The idea was to get ahead of the unfavorable northeasterly winds that were predicted for the time we would be crossing the Gulf Stream. 
We each wore a scopolamine patch to ward off seasickness. We stayed warm and dry with the cockpit enclosure. By the time we entered the Gulf Stream on Sunday morning, the swells had built to 7-12 feet with 2-3 ft waves on top of the swells. That kept Breeze On in constant motion, moving every which way. Up, down, back and forth in a totally random pattern. Standing up and moving from here to there was difficult. Doing anything at all was a major challenge. I would pick up my foot to take a step, the boat would lurch out from under me, and I would find myself lurching several steps to maintain my balance. 
When we turned around to look behind we would see a huge wall of water, sometimes higher than the boat. It was fascinating and a little scary. About the water, it was the most beautiful shade of deep blue. I have never seen anything like it before. 
Just after dinner on Sunday the outhaul on the mainsail gave way. The outhaul keeps the mainsail attached to the boom. Without it the sail was loose and flogging all over the place. George and Ray put on their harnesses, tethered themselves to the jack lines and went up on the fore deck to try to get things under control. It was dark and the conditions were still rough. I was terrified. It was at that moment that I decided I was never going to do this again. Once and done. 
They did manage to lash the sail to the boom safely. We turned the engine on and motored the rest of the night. At 6 am we unfurled the jib and sailed with it alone. The ride was still very rough. At one point George lost his balance in the cabin and did a back flip over the salon table! I stubbed my toe and was certain that I broke it (fortunately I did not). I 
By Tuesday the conditions had improved enough to rig and temporary fix for the mainsail. We were able to sail with both the jib and main for a day. The fix chafed through and they used a reef line to keep the sail attached to the boom. 
The winds died and we had to motor for 24 hours. By that time we were beginning to worry about running out of fuel. Then, on Wednesday, the winds picked up and we were able to sail the rest of the way. 
We decided on watches of 3 hours on 6 hours off. We kept the watch schedule through the nights and the days. We all agreed that it worked quite well. I was surprised that I was able to sleep when I was off watch, even during the day. I think the scopolamine patch might have helped with that. One of the side effects is drowsiness. 
For breakfast we each ate cereal in our own. We often ate lunch together, usually wrap sandwiches. For dinner we ate casseroles that we had prepared and frozen in advance. That worked really well since there was minimal prep work while the boat was in motion. We had plenty of snacks to eat in between meals. 
Since we arrived George keeps saying, "I can't believe we are here--with our boat." It is true. I find it hard to believe myself. I suspect that I might soften on my decision to never make the passage again. We shall see. 
I had intended to include a photo with this post but the wifi is slow here and I am having trouble uploading photos. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Beautiful Day in Portsmouth

We started the day with a beard trim! Jake, one of the World Cruising Club staff, organized a haircutting event with the proceeds going to the Make A Wish Foundation. George declined to get a haircut but he did get his beard trimmed.

George getting his beard trimmed

After that we walked the docks and met more people readying their boats for the rally. We are happy to have met so many friendly people here.

In the afternoon we participated in a tour of the Coast Guard facility in Portsmouth. It was very interesting and reassuring. We learned that they will be following our fleet and watching the weather, looking for potential problems. I love the idea that the Coast Guard will know where we are as we make our way to the Bahamas.

Speaking of following the fleet, the World Cruising Club installed a YB tracker on Breeze On that we will use until we arrive in the Bahamas. It is yet another way to follow us. If you are interested, go to the World Cruising Club website, click on rallies, choose the ARC Bahamas rally, then fleet tracker on the left-hand side. The boats are listed and color coded. I have included a screen shot as an example. It is free if you use a computer. If you use an iPad or a smartphone it costs $3.00.

The YB tracker
Fleet Tracker page. Once we are underway there will be color coded tracks.


This evening we will watch the movie, The Accountant, at the historic Commodore Theater in town. It apparently has tables, food and drinks. Sounds fun.

In between the activities we worked on the boat, of course. There is always more to do.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Seminars and Chores

Today we attended seminars on weather and Diesel engines. The seminars were held in a conference room in the back of Roger Brown's, a restaurant in Old Town Portsmouth. The town is historic and quite nice. It is a short walk from our marina. The seminars were informative but to tend to raise our anxiety levels. They emphasize things that could go wrong or everything that we don't know.

In the afternoon I attended a women's round table discussion. It was a lot of fun and helped to reduce my anxiety level. While I was doing that George installed the lee cloth in the salon. It will keep us from falling out of bed when the boat is heeling over. We usually sleep in the v berth, but that is the least comfortable place to be when the boat is bouncing on waves. George and I will sleep in the salon during the passage.

After the seminars I worked on installing snaps on the enclosure panel straps and sewing more Velcro straps onto the panels.

We are scheduled to tour the Coast Guard station tomorrow and then see a movie in an historic theater downtown.