Saturday, March 31, 2012

Long Island to Black Point

We decided to finally leave Long Island and go to Black Point in the southern Exuma's.  Rather than taking the traditional route up thru Georgetown and up the sound we opted to go west and north around the southern end or Great Exuma island. The distance was only 10 miles further but the entire trip would be on the Banks so there are not any island cuts or tide/current times to worry about.  Also our friends Jerry and Barb on Kumbaya did the route the week before and reported back that depth was not problem.

We did the trip in two days.  The first was from Thompson Bay to Rocky Point which was 63 miles and took just over nine hours.  Rocky Point is just a small rock outcropping that we anchored on the west side of to have protection from the easterly winds.  The second day we went 47 miles to Big Majors Spot which was six miles past Black Point.  We opted to go there because a cold front was coming thru and would bring west winds.  Big Majors Spot would give us much better protection.  I would rather be in 35 knots of wind from the east than 10 knots of wind from the west when down here.  There are not a lot of places to hide from westerly winds and seas.

After a couple of days at Big Majors Spot and a dinghy ride to Staniel Island we backtracked south to Black Point where we are now.  Black Point has the best laundry facilities in the Exuma's and we really needed to do laundry.  Clean sheets and clothing is such a luxury when you are out cruising.

We will stay at Black Point another night and then head north to several islands and stage for a crossing back to Florida.  It looks like we may have a good weather window in about 10 days.  We are going to travel in company with Kumbaya, Jerry and Barb at least back to Florida.  They are from the same marina that we are going back to this summer in North Carolina.

Probably no internet connection until we get back to Florida so until then there will be no updates.

Long Island , Bahamas

We stayed at Thompson Bay, Long Island much longer this year than last.  There was a magnet holding us there in the friendship and love we received from a couple we met who are from Ohio but are winter residents of Long Island.

John and Penny who have the beautiful home, Fairhaven, overlooking Thompson Bay were introduced to us thru our friends Bill and Margaret on the sailboat Margarita.  What a great time we had at long Island.  It was a much different experience this year compared to last year.

We also met Penny's sister Cathie and her husband Gary who live in Missouri and were visiting for two months.  We all had a great time getting together and going to several different beaches, the Long Island museum, out dining and dancing at the Beach Bungalow Bar in Deals and the Stella Marris resort at Stella Marris.  John was great at carting our butts all over the island in there van.  I just cannot say enough about how good they were to us and we will miss them but will surely meet up again either back on Long Island or somewhere down the road.

  Photos taken at Forests restaurant - Greatest burgers in the Bahamas.
                                          Top:  Margaret, Penny
                                          Bottom:  Cathie, Sandy
                                           Left-Right:  John, Gary
Taken at the Long Island Museum - us with the museum Curator.

On the way over to the Bahamas our autopilot was having problems.  At Long Island I met Mark from "Wind in the Morning"  who was a radar technician in the navy and had worked on electronics.  He is known as Mr. Fixit.  He was nice enough to come out to our boat and check out the autopilot and discovered a connector that he didn't think was connecting properly.  He couldn't find that type of connector to replace it on the island so I took small strips of copper foil from my SSB ground and slid them into the female end of the connector and that made the connection tight.  The autopilot has worked since then so many thanks to Mark.

We rented a car for a day and went to Stella Marris to recheck in to the Bahamas since our 90 days was up on our cruising permit.  We also went south to Dean's Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world where free divers train and compete.  A young lady was on the island to train and was going for the woman's world record dive of 200 feet.  We thought she would be at the Hole that day but we missed seeing her train.  We did get a chance to meet and talk to her at one of the beach parties however.

So much for Long Island, back to the Exuma's soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

At Long Island, Bahamas

We left Warderick Wells after staying there one night. We went south to Cambridge Cay. We sat out a cold front there with winds in the 20-30 knot range. Once that past we explored some of the islands in the area and walked the beaches.

After six says at Cambridge we departed and headed down to Blackpoint to do laundry. Blackpoint has the best laundry facilities in the Exumas. On the way we made a quick pit stop at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to fill our diesel tank. Filling with diesel took us about 30 minutes to get in, fill and get out. It took us another couple hours to then get down to Blackpoint where we anchored off the government dock. We loaded up the dinghy and headed over to the dinghy dock at the laundry. Sandy got that started and I headed over to Lorraine's cafe to check email. When I walked into Lorraine's it was like old home week. I knew about six couples that were there and had arrived at Blackpoint the day before. Once the emails were checked and the laundry was done we went over to happy hour at Scorpio's bar with Jerry and Barb from Kumbaya and had drinks and snacks.

We stayed a few more days at Blackpoint and went beach combing to find sea glass. Sea glass is broken glass that is washed and smoothed in the surf. When it looks frosty and is smooth it is ready to collect.

The next day we met with Jim and Bess on Destiny. They had been delayed coming across to the Bahamas from Florida do to engine problems but finally caught up to us. We left and had a great sail down to Rudder Cut Cay for an overnight anchorage before heading down to Georgetown.

The next morning we went out Rudder Cut Cay inlet at high tide for the 35 mile sail down to Georgetown. We pulled into Elizabeth Harbor and set anchor off Monument Beach on Stocking Island which is across the harbor from Georgetown.

I was hoping to find some facilities to get hydraulic parts for my auto pilot. No such luck on that one. While working on the auto pilot I discovered that the hydraulic ram arm is sucking in air so it needs to be rebuilt and have new seals put in. That won't happen until we get back to Florida.

We stayed at Georgetown for a week and then sailed the 38 miles down to Thompson Bay, Long Island. We are anchored out in the bay which has good wind protection from all but the southwest. We pln to stay here a while and if the weather is right go out to Conception Island for a few days and then return here.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lucaya to the Exuma's

We decided to continue on down the Bahama island chain to the Exumas even though the auto pilot isn't working correctly.  We will probably regret it later but there are not any over nighters that we will be doing until we return back the the U.S.

We left Lucaya on the 29th of December at 7:30 AM.  The winds were blowing 10-15 knots out of the east and our course is to the southeast so we wouldn't really get much sailing in.  We decided to go almost straight south and take the route that goes west of the Berry Islands instead of east of them.  This allowed us to sail with the east wind.  We were able to sail all the way down until we had to turn southeast to go through the Northwest Channel into the tongue of the ocean on the south side of the Berry's.  When we went through the Northwest Channel we couldn't find the light that guides the way until we were within about 150 feet from it.  The light was not lit and it was dark and scary out.  So much for the Bahamians keeping up with the navigational aids.  I'm sure someone will eventually hit the post the light is on and do some major damage to their boat.

We came out of Northwest Channel at 7:30 PM and went by the west end of New Providence island around midnight.  We continued southeast to a point just south of two shoaling areas and turned more east onto the great Bahama banks.  We picked this area to cross the banks because there were no coral heads around to hit.  The sun came up just as we got far enough east where we could head more south down the Exuma chain of islands.  We ended this leg of the trip at Warderick Wells island which is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  We did 183 nautical miles in 29 hours hand steering all the way.  Which is really exhausting by the way.

We will stay here on a mooring buoy and head 10 miles further southeast to Cambridge island tomorrow.  There is great snorkeling around Cambridge and we missed it last year so we plan to stay there a week or so.

Everyone have a Happy New Year.  I will write more when we have internet connectivity.

Vero Beach to the Bahamas, MON

We left Vero Beach on the 23rd of December.  This was the third time we had gotten all ready to leave with two times being cancelled because the weather changed so fast.  But, this time was the charm.  We left the mooring field at 8:30 AM went down the ICW to the Fort Pierce inlet and headed out.  Once out in the ocean we turned south to hug the coast until we got down to the Lake Worth inlet.  We arrived outside the Lake Worth inlet around 6 PM and turned left to cross the Gulf Stream.  The wind was around 7-9 knots from the southeast so we were motoring right into it, however the seas were only about one foot in the Gulf Stream so the crossing was a piece of cake.

We had a comfortable ride over but had to dodge several cruise ships and cargo ships around the Freeport, Grand Bahama inlet.  We passed by there around 5:30 AM while it was still dark so it was a challenge watching for all the ships.  We arrived outside Bell Channel, which is the entrance channel for the Grand Bahama Yacht Club where we would be staying.  We decided to go to the fuel dock at Port Lucaya and get diesel fuel and check in at customs and immigration which is right there before going over and getting our slip.

We were in the slip by 10:00 AM and ready to take a nap.  We didn't get a chance to nap because there were four other boats there that we knew and as boaters are they want to know all the details about the crossing.

We stayed at the marina for five nights.  We had Christmas dinner on Margarita, Bill and Margaret, who we were rafted to at Vero Beach.  We both supplied the goodies and dinner was great.

On the way over to the Bahamas our auto pilot decided to give us trouble again.  Here, I thought we had that all behind us.  Now this brand of auto pilot is rated as one of the best and I'm sure I am the only one in the world that is having problems with it.  I found a mechanic that works with hydraulics and had him come take a look at it.  I told him that several other mechanics had severe problems getting the lines bled.  He gave it a try and actually made it worse than it was.  Now we are deciding whether to continue on or come back to the states.  Hand steering on over nighters is not fun at all.

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fernandina to Vero Beach

We stayed in Fernandina Beach for two nights. We dinghies into the marina and walked the main street. There are lots of shops to stroll around in. We also had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, the food was very good.

We departed our mooring and motored down the ICW to Jacksonville Beach where we stopped at Beach Marine. We wanted to go into a marina so we could wash all the salt off the boat. We had quite a bit of sea spray during the first eight hours of our passage south and needed to get it off before the corrosion started. We also discovered that they had a really nice laundry room so Sandy did six loads of laundry.

We left the next morning and continued down the ICW to St. Augustine. It is always a treat to visit St. Augustine. There is so much to see and do there and they have some very nice restaurants. We met some friends that also left from New Bern and did a restaurant hopping adventure. I think it was mostly for the happy hours. We stayed for three nights and then continued on.

We continued down the ICW and anchored at Rockhouse Creek for the night. Our anchor windlass still wasn't working so I used the secondary anchor which only has 30 feet of chain. I have to haul it all up by hand and it can get darn heavy. The chain weighs 40 pounds and the anchor weighs 44 pounds. The following day we traveled 63 miles and anchored in Eau Gallie. We were the only boat at this anchorage. We had gone further than other boats on the previous day. Most of them had stopped 15 miles before us at Daytona Beach. On the third day out of St. Augustine we only had a run of 35 miles to get to Vero Beach where we planned on doing some last minute provisioning to replenish what we used on the way south and to get the darn windlass fixed.

We rafted with a Canadian boat named Moxie. We met Grant and Donna and got to know them, very nice couple.

The next day I took the windlass off the deck and tore into it. I ordered some parts from Defender not knowing for sure what I might need. If I didn't need them they would become spares. After stripping the gears all apart and taking the motor off I discovered that the motor runs fine. As I would put each gear back into the gearbox I would test it. It would go both forward and backward until the final gear went in. I think I had guys from 5 different boats coming by and giving advice. I was really stumped. By this time Margareta had come in and rafted to us. We know Bill and Margaret from the marina at New Bern. It was also Thansgiving so I put the windlass aside and Sandy and I celebrated with dinner on Margareta with Bill, Margaret and Hutch and Linda from Sandcastle. We know Hutch and Linda from the marina in New Bern also. We all brought part of the dinner and it was wonderful.

I needed to call a shop that works on windlass' for some advice but everyone was closed for the holiday until Monday. I finally got ahold of Florida rigging and Hydraulics in The Palm Beach area. I explained to the technician my problem and he respond with 'Oh, that would be the compound gear'. He knew immediately why the problem was. Later that morning we rented a car and drove the 75 miles to their shop. The technician, Buck, met us at the counter and immediately grabbed the gear and confirmed the problem. The compound gear is supposed to turn a quarter of a turn in order to reverse the direction. He had a new compound gear in it by early afternoon. Sandy and I went over to the Garden Mall and had a nice lunch while it was being worked on. Well, the windlass is installed back on the boat and we are now waiting for a weather window to cross over to the Bahamas. We may have one coming up this Thursday night. In the mean time we are strolling over to the beach and just hanging with friends. We know the couples from about 12 boats that are here also waiting to cross over to the Bahamas.

Next post will hopefully be from the Bahama Islands.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

North Carolina to Florida

We left Oriental on Sunday  November 5th after getting our transducer replaced.  We crossed the southern part of Pamlico sound and went into Adams Creek.  Adams Creek is a really nice stretch to get us down to Morehead City.  The weather was not all that nice out in the ocean so we continued down the ICW to Swansboro.  We were able to motor sail with 20-25 knots of wind on our starboard beam.  There we stayed overnight at Caspers Marina.

The next morning we left at 0625 with four huge power boats.  We had four bridges that we needed openings and two of them opened only on the hour.  If you get there even a minute or so late they won't open for you and you end up waiting until the next hour opening.  We lucked out and had the current with us the entire run of 45 miles.  We got to  all the bridges with minutes to spare. 

We stayed in Wrightville Beach Monday night and on Tuesday morning met for breakfast with Island Packet 35 Island Spirit owners Hayden and Radeen and Island Packet 460 owners Eric and Pat.  Hayden and I have been communicating through email for about eight years and this is the first time we have met in person.

Xperience IP380, Cutter Loose IP460

After breakfast we continued down the ICW where we anchored at Carolina Beach.  We stayed here for two nights waiting for a weather opportunity to go out into the ocean at the Cape Fear river inlet.  A cold front was about to move through the area so on Thursday we moved down to the Southport City Marina and get the boat prepared to leave on Friday behind the cold front.  Thursday night the wind came up to 25 MPH with gusts to 35 MPH but was forecast to calm down by Friday late afternoon.

We departed the Southport marina at 1100 on Friday and headed out the Cape Fear inlet.  The wind was blowing 20-25 with some higher gusts from the northwest.  That put the wind on our starboard beam and gave us a really fast ride.  The seas were running from 3-5 feet and were a bit confused so the ride was a little rough.  Clewie did not have a good afternoon as she barfed all over the bed.  Mercedes took it all in stride and rode it out in her kitty cave.

The wind did calm down some around 10 PM, a little later than forecast but we enjoyed the extra push it gave us.  We passed the Charleston, SC inlet outer buoy at 0400 on Saturday morning.  That was 114 miles in 17 hours.

We had to slow down quite a bit on Sunday morning so we could enter the St. Mary's inlet on the Georgia Florida border in daylight.  We stopped at the Fernandina Harbor marina to get some fuel at 0800 and are now tied to a mooring buoy across the ICW from the marina.  We will stay here a couple of nights and then continue down the ICW.  We hope to be at Vero Beach for thanksgiving.

Friday, November 4, 2011

We have moved.

However we are now a little further north.  We left New Bern on Thursday after waiting a couple of hours in the morning for the fog to dissipate.  We couldn't see the channel markers that are about 100 feet off the dock.

Once it did clear out we motored down the Neuse River to Oriental, NC.  We needed to stop at Deaton Yacht Service to do a short haul to replace our Airmar depth tranducer that quit working over the summer.  I had ordered a new one last week and had it shipped directly to Deaton's.  We were out of the water for only a couple of hours to get it replaced. 

We are now sitting and waiting for the rain to pass over.  Also there is forecast to have very high winds and seas for the next two to three days.  Winds to 45 knots and seas running up to 20 feet.  We have no business being out in that.  It looks like we may leave here on Sunday or Monday and head down the intracoastal waterway to Southport and see if we get a good weather window to head out for Florida.  If not we will continue down the intracoastal to either Wynah bay and exit there or go to Charleston and go out there.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Waiting for weather

We are pretty well set to head south.  We are now just waiting for a good weather window.  This weekend there is a strong cold front coming through.  The winds are going to be north, which is good, but could be up to 35 knots, which isn't good.

We have all of our provisions onboard.  All of our bins are full and the freezer is full of meat.  The aft cabin which we call the garage is full of paper products and other dry goods.  We are carrying three five gallon jerry jugs of gasoline and two five gallon jerry jugs of diesel fuel.  The boat has settled down to almost the top of the bottom paint line in the water.  I really wouldn't want to put any more weight on the boat.

We will most likely take the same route we did last year.  Go down the ICW to Southport, NC and then out the Cape Fear river inlet and do a 48 hour run to the St. Mary's inlet at Fernandina Beach, FL.  Once in Florida we will most likely stay in the ICW down to Vero Beach and wait there for a good weather window to cross over to the Bahamas.  We still are not sure of what route we will take to the Bahamas but we would like to go out the  Lake Worth inlet at Palm Beach, FL.

There are about ten other boats here at the marina that are also about ready to head south.  We all meet on the docks in the morning to discuss the weather.  When we are out cruising we live by the weather.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


We have started the provisioning process for our winter cruise.  We will store about 5-6 months of food and supplies on board.  We have already stored $400 worth of canned goods.  Next we will purchase paper products and dry goods.  After that we will get the drinks, soda pop, wine, juices and powdered drink mixes.  Last we will get the meat products that will go into the freezer.  In all we will spend about $2000 which isn't bad for 5-6 months.  There will be some fresh produce and fruit we will purchase along the way when we can find it.  While in the states that isn't a problem but in the Exumas you just cannot get much good quality produce.

We are still putting the boat back together from when we had taken all of the sails and canvas off because of hurricane Irene.  I have finished the maintenance on the generator and the outboard motor.  We plan to leave New Bern, NC around the end of October or the beginning of November depending on weather.  This year we are going to store our Expedition at a friends house about 2 miles from the marina.  We will come back here next summer at least for awhile.