Well, the weather guru was spot on again !!
We awoke this morning to a freshening south wind and ever darkening clouds and then the heavens opened and it poured as it only can in the tropics. We were completely astounded to discover that we had filled our aft water tank….. that’s 30 gallons in about 30 minutes or so. Catherine will post some of the pictures of the rain and our water catchment system which clearly works very well.
Much to Catherine’s disgust but to my relief my one week of not shaving has now come to an end and I once more have a smooth shaven chin. It really was annoying – I did not care for the feeling of bristles and therefore despite impassioned entreaties to do leave it for a few more days an executive decision was taken and I now have blessed relief!!
Not much else is going on today….Catherine has cooked a big pot of chili… It has now stopped raining and I have bailed out the dinghy, so we are thinking that we may go for a walk and see if we have any e mails, post this with the new pictures and generally spend a little time ashore. It was wonderful to speak to Mother yesterday on her 93rd birthday – I was a little nervous that she would not be able to hear but the Skype connection worked like a charm and we were able to have a nice conversation with her, my son and brother Christopher. It seemed strange to imagine them all in my Mother’s sitting room, whilst I was sitting alongside the pool and gazing out over the bay to New Plymouth.
That’s all for now – we are off for a walk.
I ended the last blog with talk about an “idyllic” place well the 25th was not so idyllic !
The cold front that had been promised by the weather guru for so many days finally made its appearance with 25 knot winds and heavy rain and real tropical squalls with torrential rain and likely 35/40 knots of wind. We were glad to be safely on a mooring ball and out of the worst of the weather.
During the worst of the deluge we became creative and decided not to allow all this free, fresh, clean drinking water that we were being given go to waste. Step one was for me to scrub the deck of all the accumulated salt deposit so that it was clean. Step two block the scupper on the starboard side, build a dam at the stern where the water would normally run off, and finally block the fairlead for the aft mooring rope. Step three, open the filling cap for the aft water tank and then wait for a good deluge of rain. This came, and voila, our aft water tank was filling with clean fresh water for free as the aft corner of the deck flooded and drained itself into the tank!!
Why go to all this trouble you may ask….? Well down here water must be paid for at anything from $0.20 to $0.40 per gallon - “Solitaire 1” when empty has three tanks for a total of 96 gallons so obviously for every gallon of rain water that we can collect we have more cash to buy rum punches with …..!!!
The wind blew and the rain fell all day, we were thankful that we had not chosen yesterday to tour the island in our open golf cart ! Catherine baked yet another wonderful two sourdough loaves of bread and believe me they are excellent and delicious, Jacqueline was obviously a very good teacher and Catherine clearly a very receptive student. I cleaned the chart table up – amazing how many odd bits of paper and old business cards etc one can accumulate over the course of a cruise – the table now shuts properly and everything is where it should be – I even found our guide of fishes to be found in these waters, which I knew was on board somewhere but couldn’t find it so now we shall know what sort of fish we have caught when we go fishing.
Otherwise we read – snoozed and ate – a very relaxing although windy and wet day, today whilst still windy it is bright, sunny and warm, so we shall probably go into town to post the reports done to date and for Catherine to insert the pictures.
A bientot !
I finished Sarum…finally…what a wonderful book… just started “The Alchemist” which I should finish in a day or two…
GTG we need to bail all the rain out of the dinghy before we go to shore today.
We heard from Andre and Louise of “Jem” yesterday, they were on their way from Spanish Cay to White Sound on Green Turtle Cay and were caught in the front that came through with gale force wind and rain… given the weather conditions and having missed the high tide water levels to get into the sound they anchored in a neighbouring cay and spent the night there before going into one of the marinas in White Sound.
Our approach to Black Sound was straight forward although cautious and we passed through the shallow spots with no problem – once into the sound you are in plenty of water but the channel in (or out) must be negotiated at high water or very close thereto even for our two boats which draw a maximum of five and a half feet .
Luck was on our side and we found two mooring balls close to each other and were quickly secured. After that it was lunch and then dropping the engine into the dinghy (our version of the motor car), we were ready to explore the town of New Plymouth.
What a charming town we found…..! This is an absolutely lovely place – everybody that we have met has been so friendly, good stores if we needed supplies at not unreasonable prices – just a gorgeous place! We will likely be on our mooring ball for a few days and at $10.00 per diem it is hard to beat for value. When we asked how we pay we were told to just come by the marina and tell them how many days we were on the mooring and pay whatever was due…. Now that’s trust, unlike some of the places who want credit cards and addresses etc immediately upon arrival!
After exploring the town on foot and investing in a fishing rod etc so that we can really try and be totally self sufficient (some hope!), we made a reservation for a golf cart for the next day. These are , by the way, the preferred mode of transportation here even for locals. Supper, again, was had aboard “L’Equipe”, pork tenderloin, potato salad, and a delicious curry salad with fruit, veggies and pasta along with the requisite amount of vino.
A word by the way about the internet here…… we find that the Bahamian Government has given free wifi all over the islands, but you basically have to be in town to obtain this, so you may see pictures of us on the computer in various odd places – today it was on the deck of a closed restaurant where we checked our e mails, I visited the office and Catherine checked the bank and visa accounts.
We expect to be here a few days more so you can expect more on this idyillic place in the coming days when we go into town and post this and Catherine’s snaps.
We have been on Spanish Cay for 2 days and it is just beautiful.... balmy breezes keep us warm but not too much... it is just about as paradise as the brochure claims... except for the fish patrolling the harbour, I took so many pix but with the sun reflecting on the water you cannot quite make them out.... but believe me they were there nice sand sharks .....
We are now anchored in a bay at Allan- Pensacola Island having had a wonderful day on the sea! We left Great Sale at 10.00 hrs and motored for an hour or so before the wind came up and we were able to put up all sails. Yes, “Solitaire 1” really does have sails and goes like the wind!! We couldn’t remember the last time we have had both sails up I am afraid.
We had a glorious beam reach for about two and a half hours in about 13/14 knots of wind – “Solitaire 1” rarely went below 7.25 knots and with great whooping and hollering we spent some time recording 8.25 knots !! Both the boat and we were having a grand time !!!
Our destination was Fox Town on Great Abaco Island however once we got there I got very nervous as the water depth was extremely shallow and I didn’t like the anchorage at all so I chickened out and we came over to this bay on Allan- Pensacola Island where we entertained the crew of L’Equipe for a change . The island is called as it is by the way because at one time it was two islands (Allan and Pensacola Cay) however a hurricane built up the sand between the islands to such an extent that it is now permanent and all one island . Amazing the forces of nature !!
Not sure where we are off to today (21st) possibly somewhere with internet connections so that all this scribble can be posted to the blog or edited by the chief blogger.
Au revoir !
Yesterday, the 18th, we left West End to continue our journey of exploration of the Northern Bahamas.
We moved to the fuel dock at 07.00 hrs and topped up our diesel before leaving at 08.00 hrs following L’Equipe who took the responsibility to lead us through the narrow Indian Cut. A couple of 7’06” spots, no buoys or other type of markers at all, but a very clear picture of the bottom when standing in the bow.
After about four miles of quite shallow motoring we reached “deep” water, - I say “deep” because it is still only about ten or twelve feet . It is a fascinating experience to be unable to see any land on the horizon at all, but to look down and see the bottom as clearly as if you were looking in an aquarium. Now we understand the cruiser stories of reaching the Bahamian banks and anchoring for the night in the middle of nowhere!! It is entirely possible. For those of you in Montreal and who sail on Lake St. Louis imagine sailing on the lake but being able to see every single boulder, weed, fish or whatever quite clearly. I am not so sure that you would wish to see the bottom of Lake St. Louis quite this clearly but the idea gives you an idea of the sea that we are sailing in
Our first landfall was Mangrove Cay, a very small uninhabited island where we made a course alteration to the East and headed for Great Sale Cay and specifically Northwest Harbour. At this time we were motor sailing but the wind started to freshen and some rather dark and ominous looking clouds, with quite possibly heavy squalls in them, appeared across the bow, so discretion became the better part of valour and the main came down and we continued motoring. Luck was on our side however since although it became overcast all the rain and there did seem to be a lot of rain went around us and barely a drop on us.
The island and our anchorage appeared exactly where it was supposed to appear ( all these islands are very low with small trees so we do not see them much before eight miles out) and by 15.00 hrs we were safely anchored in eight and half feet of water. You can stand on the bow and see the chain and anchor so it is easy to tell whether the anchor is dug in or not!!
Heinz and Jacqueline were soon in their dinghy and came aboard to be introduced to that old favourite of mine, rum and ginger ale with a squeeze of fresh lime juice – very refreshing. The clouds were leaving and the sun was shining once again. After sunset we dinghied over to L’Equipe for a delicious supper – a different type of Shepherd’s Pie, to be called Great Sale Pie and so to bed after a long but very stress free day.
A quiet but busy day today spent at anchor in Great Sale Island. Catherine spent the entire day baking four loaves of delicious whole wheat, sourdough bread with walnut pieces in it. Her first solo effort and a huge success !!! She really does seem to have this bread making down so we can look forward to more home baked bread although a moratorium has been called for a while since the fridge/freezer will not hold any more.
I spent the day getting the dinghy organized with the motor on and we filled up the gas tank from our store of spare petrol aboard. Having worked fine when we put the engine onto the dinghy the engine then quit and refused all attempts to coax it back to life.. I will have to spend a day soon taking that apart – hopefully it is nothing too serious.
Supper was, once again, aboard L’Equipe where we were treated to a hot, spicy and totally delicious stew and so the day ended! We shall leave tomorrow the 20th.
They were declared a success... I guess anything is better than what you find here ... white sweet doughy bread....so our menfolk are pretty supportive and appreciative...also it is a wonderful satisfaction to know "I made this!"
So we went to the bus stop at 1000 only to find out the next bus was at 1100...we got on the 1100 bus, which arrived at 1130, which is the same one as usual.. the driver picks up the kids at home and Joshua and Willie go for a ride with Daddy....yesterday the Mama came too!
A couple of kids just in front of us were fascinated by J & I speaking French and finally Casey turned around and said "Bonjour" .
Jacqueline and Heinz were aboard Soli last evening, we were having nice sundowners and munchies when Carlos apears wearing BOOTS and announces "we have a rat on board!!! "....
That was exciting...David is flipping through cruising books, I, of course, am Googling and finding a picture of the cutest rat walking along a rope ... Jacqueline asks if she can sleep on board Soli tonight and Heinz continues eating guacamole and finishes his rum punch calmly... as if this was an every day occurence...
The only thing to do of course was to catch him.... and I must say the marina was very helpful, they found a couple of traps which they gave to H&J to be baited with pieces of tomato...apparently rats LOVE tomato seeds (Heinz recalled reading that somewhere)...
Hoping this was going to work rapidly, the three of them came back to Soli for more rum punch...but after a while the rat was still not caught, so they decided too go home and make pizza... Jacqueline, after the initial shock, was really amazingly brave...
Eventually, the rat could not resist the lure of the tomato and got trapped...this kind of trap is actually a sort of board with an extremely sticky surface and the rat just got stuck to it... poor little thing...
Heinz caught him by the neck but as he was in the process of putting him in a bag the rat bit his left hand... so off to the doctor they went to have it all cleaned up...and that was the story of the rat..... I had asked to take a picture of it, as I was sure you would all be dying to see it, but the rat in the bag was taken to the doctor and I never even saw it ...
Today was laundry day...which is quite a social occasion... all the women (and some men) gather in the laundry room and juggle time and turns with the machines.
Then I came home and made a big batch of spaghetti sauce bolognese.
David and I ran for a quick walk on the beach....
At 1600 we were invited to "The Manager's Cocktail party" at the straw bar on the beach.... Jacqueline and I sprayed ourselves to guard against the horrid little noseeums (they have been much better lately because it has been very windy) .
Jacqueline's legs look as if the "Q" (quarantine) flag should go up again on L'Equipe...mine are not much better!!!
We were treated to delicious rum punch and food and I mean wonderful food, duck, shrimps, smoked salmon and conch fritters while a local band was entertaining us ...
Eventually H&J had to leave as Heinz was going to get a tetanus shot.
As you can see, the life of a cruiser is seldom boring... one day you are in the rat patrol and the next a beach bum/party animal..... wonder what tomorrow will bring?
We have been here at the Old Bahama Resort and Marina now for nearly a week thus are pretty well settled into a routine. Catherine, I know, left it to me to describe my feelings about our Gulf Stream crossing which I find hard to do, other than to say that as we were rocking and rolling across I knew why I had always loved what I did in my younger days. The dawn was almost perfect, there was a nice sea running so that you knew that you were on the ocean, but it was not in the least bit uncomfortable and the flying fish jumping out of the bow wave or just out of the swells were just as I remembered.
We pitched and pounded quite hard as we came out of the inlet but it was basically the ocean swell meeting the shore line and once out of it things quieted down and we had a glorious passage. I would have liked that the wind came around onto the beam a little sooner so that we could have sailed rather more than we did but I would say that this passage would be hard to improve upon.
Since then we have spent a day lounging on the beach and drinking rum punches, a day in Freeport, not too prepossessing, and today we spent the day in Lucaya, tourist heaven .
Yesterday was major maintenance day, all day. For those of you who may think that we are spending all our time lying around, drinking rum punch, and sleeping Catherine and I did the following…….
- All batteries (7) checked and topped up as necessary.
- Main engine raw water filter cleaned.
- Air conditioner raw water filter cleaned.
- Potable water filters removed, cleaned and replaced.
- Main engine oil and filter changed
- Racor fuel filter changed
- Water levels checked and adjusted as necessary.
Since a lot of the filters are low down and in the back of lockers we had to unpack all the additional gear, clothes, stores that Catherine, in her role as Chief Steward, had so cleverly hidden and stowed. I found out how much beer we actually had aboard and had been hidden from me (beer is horrendously expensive here in the islands) so she didn’t want me to know exactly what we had aboard! The unpacking and then repacking takes quite a lot of time.
The previous day had been spent polishing all the stainless steel fittings on deck as the salt air and water that we had taken aboard during the crossing wreaks havoc even with stainless steel.
Look at her shine...
Yes, “Solitaire 1” is now a happy puppy with all systems in top condition and lord be praised the engine started and ran without problem after all this had been done !!!! I think that we surprised even ourselves !!!!
Today, as mentioned above , we have been to Lucaya, tourist heaven…… casino, big hotels and tourist trap shops selling everything that you do not need. We walked around , had a good lunch, bought a couple more bottles of rum and returned to our boats in West End , with, I think a sigh, of relief and delighted that we had picked this spot, which is so much quieter to wait out the norther than Lucaya.
Talking of our touring, we are taking public transport, which, I find to be great fun. Small buses with lots of locals all of whom are very friendly and happy, one driver, we have had him twice, even stops at his home on the forty five minute run into Freeport to pick up his children, for the ride so we are almost like family. The buses are small vans like Volkswagon combis, seat twelve people in the back and two up front with the driver, and cheap .
That’s about all for me, I shall hand over to the chief blogger for a more detailed and better informed view on the past week. Binow!
After an absolutly brilliant crossing we are safely tucked in at West End on Grand Bahama Island...
The journey started at 0300 on a moonlit night ...there were about seven boats leaving at the same time ...I guess everybody had listened to weather guru Chris Parker the day before and we knew we had that "window" for a perfect crossing.
It was a bit rough and choppy going out through the Palm Beach inlet but the seas soon smoothed out to about 4 to 6 feet !!!...I surprisingly do not have any bruises from banging into everything every time I walked around the cabin.... David the brave skipper was at the helm the whole time, except when nature called and I went to relieve him as he did likewise...
I, of course, immediately put on the auto pilot which did a wonderful job of keep ing us on course (much better than I could!) but David is an old fashioned mariner and he just likes to do it the way he did it at sea last century... even though he had to admit that James (our auto pilot) does a "pretty decent job"!
David was in heaven... but i will let him tell you about that himself.
The seas further calmed down and we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise at sea around 0700... it was absolutly magical to see nothing but water in all directions... I must admit I had been a little bit apprehensive the evening before as we were getting everything ready for that early start...night sailing...offshore passage...no land in sight....crossing the mighty Gulf Stream... those were first for me but I have all the faith in the world in David's expertise and our wonderful Soli is quite well equipped with all kinds of electronics... but you know how it is, you can have equipment failure so I took a position every half hour which I logged then plotted on the chart with dividers and parallel rulers and could see that we were making a staight bee line for our destination, we were right on course for West End .
When the sun was up we saw lots of little flying fish... they are absolutly amazing they just fly out of the water and flap their little wings and go a good long way...probably to get away from a larger one who wants them for breakfast....I had never seen them before, unfortunately I could not get them on camera as they are too small.
Then all of a sudden at 1100 Hawkeye says "land ho" ....blind me could not even see it with binoculars!!! but I soon could... a few tiny palm trees growing out of the ocean... imagine that ...we had found our island and it was just where it was supposed to be...
Up went the yellow "Q" quarantine flag and by 1300 we were entering this most wonderful "Bahamian blue" harbour.
We were greeted by this nice young man, Kyle, who needs to teach me how to tie to a pylon as I still don't know how and could not reach the top of one to throw a rope around even if I knew how!!! I have never felt so short in my life as on this trip... I wonder if traveling with taller women such as Jacqueline and Louise has anything to do with it.
This morning David got into the dinghy and did a marvellous job on Soli's hull.... she has worked so hard for us and deserved a lot of TLC ... we then went to the beach and proceeded to enjoy a "few" rum punches as a trio was playing some raggaemusic at the bar... it could be paradise if not for those horrible NOSEEUMS!!!
A little hermit crab came to visit...guess he wanted to meet the lucky guy!!!
PS for CJ ..... I ran into a guy named John Revolta yesterday on the dock... he is making a film here .....he wanted to be remembered to you... but I told him you were taken so he was SOL... first it was Roy Dupuis in Willsboro and now John in West End ...are you sure you would not rather be sailing????