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Showing posts from November, 2018

Pets’s Pub, Little Harbor

We left Hope Town at mid-tide yesterday morning and sailed the convoluted Sea of Abaco route south around the shallows. After going about half way down that southern part of the Sea of Abaco George commented about how clear the water was. There are a lot of cuts in that area allowing water to enter and exit from the Atlantic. We anchored near Bridges Cay, not too far from Little Harbour. Then we put the dinghy in the water and motored over to Little Harbour for a late lunch at Pete’s Pub. If you didn’t know us well you would think we were pub crawling. Actually, we went to two bars in two days for the good food. Really!  The food at Pete’s Pub really is delicious. George ordered coconut cracked conch (cracked conch is what they call deep fried conch) and I ordered  a shrimp gyro. Both meals came with two sides, pineapple walnut slaw for both of us, quinoa salad for me and rice and corn for George. We ate our meals at picnic tables in the sand overlooking the harbor. When we finished w…

On Da Beach

Yesterday, after the 20-30 knot winds finally calmed down, we dinghied ashore and walked south about 20 minutes to On Da Beach for a late lunch. We had heard good things about On Da Beach when we first visited Hope Town two years ago but this was our first visit there. The walk was quite interesting. The road was surprisingly busy with a mix of cars, vans and lots of golf carts. We are accustomed to walking on roads with very little traffic in the Bahamas but it was very different here. The rental cottages in town are older, modest and quite charming. As we walked south the houses were quite large and appeared to be new. Clearly a lot more money south of town. On Da Beach is, as you might have guessed from the name, an open air bar and restaurant on a small bluff overlooking the ocean beach. It was surprisingly crowded and noisy when we arrived. We chose a table as far away from the noisy group of mostly younger people as we could get (guess we’re old farts:). From time to time we hea…

Brilliant Idea

George came up with an idea that we both think is brilliant. He thought we could use a u-shaped handle on the swim platform that could be used when entering and exiting the dinghy. The handle would be inserted into the same holes used for the swim ladder. George first went to Cambridge Camvas and Sail and asked if they could bend some stainless steel tubing that we had after we removed one of the bows for the bimini. They said they couldn’t because the angle was too tight but recommended another local metal fabricating company in Cambridge, C.K. Lord. George took the measurements to C.K. Lord and within a week they had fashioned the handle. We love it. It makes it so much easier to get into and out of the dinghy. It is also safer to grab the handle instead of the edge of the swim platform when pulling up to the boat in choppy seas.  We now don’t have to risk getting our hands caught between the dinghy and the swim platform. When we are not using it we store it in a lazarrette in the c…

New Bimini

A while back I mentioned that I would write about the new bimini that I made over the summer. As I stand (no chairs) in the dingy laundry room at the Lighthouse Marina in Hope Town I will write about the project. We knew we needed a new bimini to replace the leaky old one. We considered making a rigid bimini out of expanded PVC. Ron and Dee from Ursa Minor had made one and said it worked really well. They talked us through to process of using a heat gun to mold the expanded PVC to fit the frame and then bolting it onto the frame. After looking into it for a few weeks we decided we just didn’t know enough to try it, so that meant I would have to make a new bimini out of fabric. The old bimini was too stretched out to use as a pattern so we made a new pattern out of Dura Skrim from Sailrite. We were very careful to follow the instructions and make it as accurate as possible. I decided to use Stamoid vinyl fabric from Sailrite. It is a very nice, but expensive, fabric made by the Ferrari…

Hope Town

We left No Name Cay before dawn yesterday morning with a goal to make it to Hope Town near high tide. The entrance to Hope Town is shallow and we didn’t want to run the risk of going aground on our way in. The dreaded Whale Cut was quite calm so we had no problems there. I think we both have less fear of the Whale as long as we pay attention to the forecast, especially the sea conditions. A few hours after passing through Whale Cut we were listening to the cruiser’s net from Hope Town on the VHF radio. During the net they always ask for conditions of the various cuts in the area. George shared the conditions for the Whale. We picked up a mooring ball in Hope Town shortly after high tide. It is still early in the season so there were plenty of mooring balls available. In the afternoon we dinghied ashore and went for a walk around town. Hope Town has really charming cottages on tiny streets with lots of beautiful flowers. We always enjoy our visits here. In the early evening we went bac…

Powell Cay

It was quite calm when we raised our anchor to motor north to Powell Cay. By the time we arrived and put the dinghy in the water the wind had picked up and there was quite a bit of chop in the water. We dinghied over to a beach in search of the trail to the ocean beach. We walked up and down the beach, but did not find a trail. George had raised the outboard when we had arrived at the beach but had quite a hard time getting it to go back down when we were ready to leave. He worked and worked at it while the waves splashed the dinghy and him and I sat in the bobbing dinghy. He was soaking wet by the time he finally got the outboard to drop down. We motored over to the next beach and searched again for the trailhead. We started down what looked to be a promising trail marked by pilings but it soon came to an abrupt end. Around this time I was thinking that our entire trip to Powell Cay was looking like a complete bust. We walked back to the beach and went a little further and finally fo…

Manjack Cay

After anchoring at Manjack Cay we put the dinghy in the water and motored over to the entrance of a mangrove creek.  We saw a few green turtles but didn’t stay long since the tide was going out. The creek was quite shallow and we didn’t want to get stuck there. As we were motoring back to Breeze On we noticed a squall heading our way. We arrived back at Breeze On just as it started to rain. After the squall passed the wind picked up again as if another squall was coming. It remained very windy, in the mid to high 20’s, all afternoon and evening. A low pressure trough had apparently dipped down and stalled near us. It was predicted to stay north of us so we weren’t expecting so much wind for so long. Fortunately the anchor held and the dinghy remained tied behind us. The wind finally subsided somewhat after we went to bed. This morning we dinghied over to a nearby beach and walked on a nice trail to the ocean beach. The homeowner who owns the land has it set up with picnic tables, a st…

Thanksgiving in Green Turtle Cay

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. In the morning we dinghied over to the town on Green Turtle Cay called New Plymouth.  We walked around and stopped in several shops. We were quite surprised by the nice, well-stocked grocery stores. Two of the grocery stores sold delicious looking fresh baked goods. We bought a cream cheese brownie in one and a loaf of fresh baked coconut bread in the other. We were talking to a very nice couple at the marina, Paul and Karen, who spend a lot of time at Green Turtle Cay, and they explained that the two stores, Sid’s and Lowe’s are each owned by two sisters who don’t get along. A daughter of one of the sisters does baking for her mother’s store but won’t bake for the other store. In the afternoon we walked over to the beach and bought some drinks at the Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar. We sat in the lounge chairs enjoying our drinks and the view. 
The restaurant at the Bluff House Marina offered a Thanksgiving dinner so we signed up and shared dinner with Paul a…

Bluff House Marina

I am sitting by the pool of the Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle Cay while I wait for my laundry to dry. Not a bad way to do laundry. Although it hasn’t been long since we last did laundry in Beaufort we accumulated quite a bit. We have the long underwear and layers of winter clothes that we were wearing when we started out on our passage from Beaufort. We also have the sheets that we use while sleeping in the saloon during a passage. While I am doing laundry George is washing the salt off of the boat and the enclosure panels. After they dry we will put them away until we leave for home in the Spring. We had a very peaceful night at anchor last night near No Name Cay, right next to Green Turtle Cay. No Name Cay has its own pig beach, although the pigs seem much less aggressive and there are fewer tour boats visiting compared to Big Major’s in the Exumas. Given how George felt about the pigs at Big Major’s we didn’t bother to go ashore at No Name Cay. We had a nice 10 hours of sleep …

Good Morning Bahamas

After what seemed like four very long days and nights, we arrived in the Bahamas just after sunrise this morning. I kept referring to the trip as the trip that never ends. If we had been able to leave Beaufort a few hours earlier we would have most likely been able to arrive before sunset yesterday. The conditions weren’t good for leaving Beaufort any earlier than we did. It is something to keep in mind, though, for another time. We entered the Bahamas through the Whale Cay Cut.  The conditions were benign, as Chris Parker likes to say. We plan to spend some time exploring the islands north of here. Right now we are anchored near the ferry dock at the Treasure Cay airport. George took the dinghy to the ferry dock to clear customs and immigration. We could have also cleared customs at Green Turtle Cay, but we read that you are most likely to get the standard 90 day permit when you clear in a location that does not also have immigration. (Green Turtle Cay has customs only). We plan to s…

Are We There Yet?

We left Beaufort Docks Friday morning shortly after 8 am. We were waiting for slack tide and also for the wind to die down. We left about an hour ahead of slack tide and it was still breezy. We made it out of our slip without incident, even though that enormous motor boat, after leaving early, was back in its slip sticking out into our fairway. Also, a small fishing boat had tied up on the wall making our exit even more challenging. There was a lot of wind chop once we were out of the harbor. At that point George guesses that the enormous boat had come out, taken a look and decided it was too rough. There were quite a few sailboats leaving Beaufort Harbor with us. Most turned off to the East, most likely on their way to the Caribbean.
We reached the Gulf Stream just before dark on Friday The conditions weren't much worse than what we experienced just outside of Beaufort. Our course it was dead downwind so we had to sail gybing angles, adding some mileage to our trip. Big Frisky …

Preparing to Leave

We are still on track to leave Beaufort, NC tomorrow and head for the Bahamas. Yesterday we borrowed one of the five loaner cars available at Beaufort Docks. It was a 20+-year-old Buick that had seen better days. Several things were falling off of it but it got us to the grocery store and back so we aren’t complaining. The weather has been cloudy most of the time we have been here so we finally gave in and plugged into the shore power for the first time in over a year. Our solar panels and lithium batteries work so well that we haven’t needed to plug in before now. We should have plenty of wind for sailing when we leave tomorrow but it is supposed to drop off fairly quickly and remain light for most of the trip to the Bahamas. We will most likely have to do a lot of motoring so we have extra cans of diesel just in case. We expect the trip to take about 3 1/2 to 4 days.  I am a little nervous about getting out of our slip. As I mentioned before, there are a lot of large boats here. The …

Beaufort, NC

We are settled into Beaufort Docks and plan to wait here until a good weather window opens up, possibly on Friday. We really like it here. Beaufort Docks is on Front Street in the middle of the downtown. There are numerous shops and restaurants within walking distance. The marina is full and almost all of the boats are much bigger than ours. The boat pictured below, named Miniskirt, is 115 feet long. The sailboats on either side of us are well over 50 feet long. We are accustomed to having one of the taller masts in a marina but here we have one of the shortest. We were happy about that last night when a couple of big thunderstorms rolled through. This morning we walked over to the North Carolina Maritime Museum. It was free and quite interesting. We ate at the Black Sheep Beaufort restaurant this afternoon and have another restaurant picked out for later in the week. There will be plenty for us to do here while we wait. 




Unwound

The diver arrived at 9 am sharp and stayed just 10 minutes. In fact, he had come and gone in the time it had taken me to put a load of laundry in the washing machine ashore.  The reef line was indeed wrapped around the small gap between the propeller and the saildrive. The diver pulled it out and didn’t see anything else amiss, was paid and went on his way. The reef line is slightly chafed in the area that was stuck. The bottom paint looks fine so apparently wasn’t rubbed off where the line was vibrating against the hill and making that awful growling noise. We turned the engine on and put it in gear up to 1000 rpm while we were still at the dock. Everything seemed okay. Phew!  We are currently at the fuel dock and will have to move. We already had reservations at Beaufort Docks so we plan to head over there. 
Photo of the propeller from 2015, before it was cleaned. Arrow shows where line was caught.

Today Was Not Our Day

When we left Cape Charles yesterday morning we were both dreading the conditions, especially the sea state. It turned out that the conditions weren’t as bad as we feared. Our plan was to sail two days and two nights to Cape Fear, NC. It was windy throughout our entire trip so we made very good time. We were sailing downwind in a 20-28 knot breeze. The winds were shifty, so the windshifts along, with the 5-8 foots seas, made it very difficult to maintain the right sailing angle. I generally like to read and listen to podcasts when it is my watch. I didn’t get the chance to do either because each time I even took my eyes off of the chart plotter the wind would shift and a wave would turn the boat so that we were either pointing way to high or starting an unplanned gybe. We had set the mainsail with two reefs and it seemed about right. George had prepared the last reef line so we could either put in another reef point or shake the reefs out and out the full main sail. When I got up this …

Leaving Tomorrow

Our plan is to leave Cape Charles late tomorrow morning and sail about 50 hours to Cape Fear, NC. It will be a brisk and bumpy ride. Not exactly the best conditions but the best we will get for quite a while. Yesterday was a nice, sunny day so we walked around town and did a little bit of shopping. I was in the market for a pair of flip flops since I had left my flip flops and shower bag at home. I wear the flip flops when I shower at marinas. I made the shower bags before we left for the Bahamas two years ago and we have both really appreciated them. I made them with three compartments for shampoo, soap etc., towels and clothes. I also put pockets on the ends for our flip flops. I had been using my shower bag for an exercise class in the pool at the YMCA at home, which is why it was in our condo and not on the boat. I didn’t even think about it while we were packing. I happened to have some Phifertex fabric on board so I made another bag for myself yesterday.  I looked around the sho…

Cape Charles, VA

We spent two peaceful nights and a day at anchor in Mill Creek off of Ingram Bay on the Western shore. We really like the anchorage and will most likely return. This morning we left at dawn and motored across and down the bay to Cape Charles, VA. There was very little wind throughout most of the day and the bay was completely calm. The wind started to pick up as we approached Cape Charles but we decided it wasn’t worth it to raise the sails at that point. We pulled into Cape Charles Town Harbor, filled the tank with diesel and pulled into our slip. It is quite a nice marina with floating docks and a newer, clean restroom. We plan to stay here until we have a good weather window for leaving the bay and heading south around Cape Hatteras. Right now it looks as if that will be Saturday or Sunday. In the meantime we will walk around town, visit the shops and go out to dinner. 


What Were We Thinking??

Our morning yesterday:
Wake up early Check wind forecast and see that 20 knot winds with gusts in the high 30’s forecast until 1 pm Talk about whether to stay two more nights in Solomons or leave  Check wind forecast Meditate for 10 minutes Check wind forecast Talk about whether to stay two more nights in Solomons or leave Check wind forecast Eat breakfast Check wind forecast Talk about whether to stay two more nights in Solomons or leave Check wind forecast and see that it has changed, high winds to end at 9 am Decide to leave (which is what we really wanted to do all along) Pull up the anchor in calm winds and driving rain Motor by several other boats not making any moves to leave
The wind and waves increased as we neared the mouth of the Patunxent River.  We also had the current against us. The combined effects slowed our speed from what would have been 6.5-7 knots at 2000 rpm down to 4 knots. The rain continued to pour and my new bimini started to leak. Darn. The worst leaking was along the two z…

Mill Creek, Solomons

We left home this morning to begin our third trip to the Bahamas. We were all set to go yesterday morning but decided it was way too windy. We would have had a miserable day of sailing and didn’t want to start our trip that way. Our friends, Dawn and Ray, were at the dock to see us off. It was a cool, crisp, sunny fall day with light winds. Just delightful. We had most of the enclosure panels up to keep us nice and warm in the cockpit. Since the winds were light we motored or motor sailed the entire 40 miles to Solomons. We didn’t mind because we wanted to make sure the propeller and engine were working well after the recent mishap. Everything seemed to be running smoothly, in fact George thought it was running more smoothly than before the mishap. We had plenty of company out on the bay. A lot of sailboats were taking advantage of the mild conditions and heading south. Several of them pulled into Solomons ahead and behind us. Fortunately there are plenty of creeks in Solomons with lo…

Returning to the Bahamas

We are packing the boat and almost ready to leave for the Bahamas. I thought I had posted here a few weeks ago to say that we are returning to the Bahamas but I see that the post isn’t here. Hmmmm...When we returned from the Bahamas last Spring I wasn’t at all sure we would ever return to the Bahamas by boat. After George’s sudden onset of a small bowel obstruction in February, and subsequent surgery, I was afraid to travel to the remote islands that we love. With the passage of time my fear has subsided so we are planning to head to the Bahamas again while we are both still healthy enough to go.  We spent the summer working on projects, sailing and visiting with friends and family. My biggest project was making a new bimini. I will write about that in another post. We were both doing well with our preparations and on track to leave home around the first of November. One of the items on the list was to take the boat down to the marina for a “short haul” and have the bottom and propelle…