2008.12.22 West End Grand Bahama Island FINALLY!

We have not posted for a few days as we were on the move with no wifi…we are now ensconced in Old Bahama Bay Marina, riding out a “Norther” (cold front from the North) so I will try and get you caught up with Soli’s adventures and misadventures.

Back in Vero Beach, Danny did install the new raw water pump (the thing that keeps our engine cool) and we were now all set to go the very next morning.

On Friday morning, we did cast off from our very nice neighbours Bill and Jeanette on Myosotis who are going to stay there while Bill is recovering from carpal tunnel surgery.

I also met a lovely lady, Ann, in the laundry room, which is where most cruisers meet and talk, exchanging experiences and tips. Ann, who is from Perth Australia, has been cruising with her husband for the last six years on their ketch Ketchup 2... when asked about provisions and refrigeration, she replied that on one of several occasions, they were somewhere for several months where there were no people, no stores no civilation of any sort and all they ate was the fish they caught and rice of which she had an ample supply on board...now that is the real cruising life style.. they were on their way home, down to the Gulf of Mexico, through the Panama Canal and then across the Pacific....just like that...they should be home in a few months...Ann if you read this can you email me please.

We had met another boat “Chanceux” who was planning on doing the next leg “outside”, which means on the ocean instead of “in the ditch” which is the ICW.
This would avoid all the bridges and shoals…we thought it was a good idea and decided to go out at Fort Pierce inlet and the plan was to come back in at Lake Worth inlet…
Chris Parker was predicting a good “window” to cross on the week end and the timing was right…so many cruisers stay stuck in Florida waiting for that “window” sometimes for weeks! So here we were quite a few boats planning to cross on Saturday…always safety in numbers!

So here we are sailing happily on the beautiful blue waters of the Atlantic, the sun is shinning, David is sporting his old mariner ecstatic smile when all of a sudden, Soli developed a very strong vibration…the whole boat was shaking so hard…it felt like an earthquake.
David immediately went and checked where the propeller shaft is visible inside the boat, the dripper seal, where the shaft goes outside the hull … it was not turning smoothly at all and was making an awful racket… at that point I was at the helm and saw we were close to St Lucy inlet, we then decided to go in but this inlet has a poor reputation with shoaling and we had this lame boat so D called Tow Boat US to escort us into the channel.

Capt. Woody met us as we were entering the inlet and guided us towards Manatee Pocket where we could safely anchor… I took the helm as David went forward to get ready to drop the anchor and all of a sudden I thought the shaking stopped!

We called Hinckley to see about having the boat hauled to check the prop & shaft for damage… fortunately as it would have cost at least a thousand dollars, they could not take us until Monday… groan, groan there goes our “window”.

I then tell David that I “thought” that at the last minute before we dropped the anchor, the vibration had stopped….Capt Woody was still around and he suggested sending a diver down to inspect…so that is what happened and the consensus was that we had picked up something big on the ocean that had lodged itself around the propeller shaft and maybe when I put the boat in reverse to anchor it fell off.
Capt Woody came back with a diver, Gary, we happily gave him $50. for diving and Mr. Hinckley will have to do without our money for this time PHEW!!! It was our first experience with Tow Boats US and they were extemely helpful and pleasant to deal with..

Manatee Pocket is a lovely little bay with beautiful homes…we spent a relaxing afternoon and evening, we tried to call Marcel and Gail who have a place in Stuart and had asked us to stop by but there was no reply….guess they have already gone.

The next day was quite uneventful, TG, we have had enough excitement to last us a while…we were already back on the ICW so decided to proceed down from there.

So back to opening bridges with friendly (mostly) bridge masters...

That area is lined on both sides with huge mansions….and what is amazing is that are still building new bigger ones…the credit crunch is not showing any signs here near Palm Beach!

This is David's favourite one... I think he likes the statue of the mermaid on the lawn!!!
After fueling up, topping up water, emptying holding tank and disposing of garbage (is that not what everyone does before going on a voyage)…we proceeded to drop our hook in Lake Worth anchorage just south of the inlet and get Soli ready for her passage…. Jack lines, harnesses, PFDs, removed all lines and fenders, programmed our course line on the chart plotter etc…

We had an early supper as we planned to get up at 0110 in order to start at 0200.
We had noticed another Canadian boat anchored nearby, “Roupillon” so I hailed them on the VHF to see if they were planning to cross the next day…they were, but going to Lucaya which is further South…we planned on starting off together… this was my first crossing without L’Equipe or some other boat close by and after our experience with the prop shaft I was a little apprehensive.

I woke up at midnight….there was wind blowing from the North…oh no!!!! cannot cross with a Northerly… we lost our window!!! We listened to the weather station on the VHF and they were still predicting SW, BUT IT WAS BLOWING FROM THE NORTH!!!

I could not go back to sleep and David decided we would go out in the ocean and see, Claude from Roupillon said it was just a night wind so he was not worried either…
The skippers were right and we had a lovely night passage, as Claude and Andree were going South to Lucaya so we gradually lost sight of them and here we were all alone on a starless night on the big ocean blue… well actually it was quite black…with the reassuring light of our trusted (sic) chart plotter and my brave skipper at the helm.

I TOOK NO PICTURES as my camera battery died just as we left…but you have all seen pics of sunrises on our previous crossings. We made landfall at 0930 when Hawkeye first spotted a water tower on the horizon, some 13 miles away and docked at Old Bahama Bay at 1130…my friend Jamal was there to help us tie up.
We had a walk on the beach, saw a ray graciously swimming by, a little conch and a blue crab exploring the shallow water… as it was windy there were no seems as we had on our first visit here.

We also met a family of Brits having a holiday on the island… unbelievably the 18 year old daughter has friends in Tiptoe which is where David’s brother Jeremy and his family live…now if you blink when you drive through Tiptoe, you’ve missed it!
We had our first grouper sandwich…it was not on the menu but they were happy to make it for us when we asked.

Today we are charging the batteries on all our toys…phones, hand held VHF, camera, palm pilot, computers…how did the real old time sailors do without all the modcons.
We are still planning on cleaning the boat… maybe that is why I am being so long winded… sorry about that...procrastination!! But it is so cozy to be cocooning in our bunk drinking coffee and chatting with you when the North wind is howling outside.
By the way, we bought a new Guide to the Abacos as ours had got wet and the pages were stuck together and fwe ound 2 pictures, one in an advert for Old Bahama Bay Marina and the other of Hope Town harbour where both L'Equipe and Soli can clearly be seen...

We had hoped to spend Christmas with all our friends in Hope Town …it was not to be…so in case this is our last posting before the holidays may we send you all loving wishes for very joyful Christmas and Hannukah celebrations…enjoy your families… wish we could be with you.

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