2010/01/20

2010.01,16

16th January2010. Happy birthday Allan!!!!

Our last writing was from Green Turtle Cay and the Leeward Yacht Club, a very nice new facility and one that we would recommend to anyone passing that way.


Our last day in this island was spent with a rented golf cart and doing a little touring. A trip to the Green Turtle Club, one of the more upscale restaurants, where we had a good but expensive lunch….. conch fritters followed by a grouper BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) for the English readers who may not be au fait with such north Americanisms, salad and French fries, good bit not cheap. Then a quick stop at the local dive shop for Steve to purchase more weapons of mass destruction of lobsters (hopefully) and then it was off to a new beach for a nice walk.

On the way back to the boat, we stopped in at the Abaco Boat Yard to see if we could find our friends from Montreal’s boat, which is stored there for the summer . Not only did we find the boat, but we founds our friends – Jean Pierre and Marie Francoise – looking frazzled having just arrived from Montreal, about thirty minutes earlier with a whole stack of gear, food etc and madly cleaning and stowing.

A final stop in town at the liquor store – can never have too much rum and gin on board – another quick stop at the boat yard to invite our two frazzled friends for supper , which was accepted and so back to the boat.

We had a lovely evening with them…MF was a little “decouragee” and I know the feeling well, commissioning a boat at the beginning of the season can be overwhelming, especially as in their case not having ample supply of free water to clean the boat before you can stow anything.

Anyhow a nice hot meal, good French music and wine and they felt restored and ready to face the task at hand…we will surely run into them again soon.

Top up our water tanks, remove the engine from the dinghy and we were pretty well set for a short hop around the Whale passage and on to Guana Cay. It would have been nice to go all the way but that was impossible since we needed a high tide to get out of Black Sound and another high tide to get into Hope Town harbour.




We sailed at 06.45 hrs on the 14th and had a very civilized passage through the notorious Whale passage, a very gentle swell and were able to sail or motor sail most of the way to Fisher’s Bay where we grabbed two moorings and relaxed. We put the dinghy engine back on and went into town, visiting most of the watering holes, Nippers and Grabbers , they did not get any business from us although it was pretty quiet…we finally came home to have happy hour on board Indian Summer






An early start on the 15th once again and we were on our way by 06.30 hrs, unfortunately with a head wind which made sailing impossible and slowed our motoring, but we still made Hope Town harbour entrance very shortly after high tide . An easy entrance and our buoy was awaiting us !! Home again !!


It is so nice to be back here and within a very short while there were various friends and acquaintances gathed around the stern of the boat in their dighies welcoming us back and asking how the trip had gone……. Slow and windy was the main answer that we gave !!


So, we are now settled in, we have declared this weekend as a holiday and we are relaxing and reading and have also gone for our first walk on the beach. Maybe tomorrow we will go out for lunch and we have already signed up for the first of the ladies lunches on the 26th January. Not much has changed, although there is a lot of work going on at the marina, and if everything one hears is to be believed, it will be very smart in a year or so time - maybe too smart for us ! Hopefully there will still be buoys available for those who do not wish to spend too much !















I am writing this in our cockpit – the internet has been excellent here so far – such that we have been able to talk to family on skype with little problem. Long may that last.

It has been warm, sunny and windy…. ideal conditions for our electrical power needs for between the wind generator and the solar panels, plus of course our new digital thermostat for the fridge and freezer we are completely self sufficient. I hope that we do not have to start the generator too often.

I think I must go, delicious smells are coming from the galley and I guess supper is just about ready. Good night.

20th January 2010







Since writing this and not getting it posted on the blog life continues to be peaceful and calm, as it should be in this wonderful harbour. We have walked and poked around on the beach, with various friends, read and generally relaxed. There will be more undoubtedly from the editor.







2010/01/13

2010.01.13

We are still in Green Turtle Cay , Black Sound, at the very hard to leave Leeward Yacht Club.
Yesterday We went back to Gilliam Bay and had a gorgeous beach walk at low tide...found a few sand dollars (did not take a pic yet)...we met this woman who was actually bragging and showing us her treasures...several sand dollars and a small conch ALL OF THEM ALIVE....when we pointed out that they indeed were alive she just said "I know" ...we just walked away in sheer disgust...she was just to dumb or did not care!



We always love that little Cay with a small house on it, the water gets very shallow at low tide, you almost think you could walk to it.











Real action pic, notice Rugger's hind legs lifting off as David has just thrown the stick!

We have rented a cart for a few hours today so we'll be off soon to visit White Sound and maybe have a little lunch... We've only gone out ONCE since we left Savannah!!!


We received a deluge of emails from friends and family concerned about the tsunami coming to the Bahamas as an after shock of the earthquake in Haiti...we are happy to report we knew nothing about it until the alert was over...

Talk to you soon









Rugger had a ball runner into the water to retreive sticks, and kept us all in shape throwing them...we'll bring a ball next time!

2010/01/11

2010.01.09

Yesterday morning when we were still anchored outside Green Turtle, we had visitors…this dink racing towards us with Reg and Val coming to greet us ….they had been anxiously waiting for the goodies we had picked up for them in Savannah.

Then David zoomed around the anchorage, organizing everybody as to the planned move into Black Sound while I cleaned the boat some… I can never understand where dust and dirt comes from in the middle of the water and we yet to finish cleaning salt off. It may seem like an insane mission to keep a boat floating in salt water salt stain free….and it is!




Talking about the middle of nowhere at some point during the passage, as we were going between Great Sale Cay and Little Sale Cay, both totally deserted , the phone rang…I could not believe it. It was my daughter Wendy casually calling me from her car on the way to the arena to tell us our grand daughter Kaitie had just started to play hockey…I was astonished to have a signal in such a remote area, but it only lasted a few minutes and then we lost it.

We are now ensconced in Green Turtle Cay’s Black Sound.

Unlike previous visits we are not at one of Kevin’s moorings but at a very nice new marina “Leeward Yacht Club”, with brand new, clean facilities…and we can plug in and only be charged for any power we consume.

As David said previously Soli is now managing her power very well (as long as we have sun and wind of course) but we cannot run the heater off the battery bank and I was never so cold as in Westend, so being plugged in will allow us to have heat should it become so cold again!

We actually had a very nice little alcohol heater, but we bought kerosene by mistake in Savannah and of course once I had filled the heater with it there was no way of emptying it short of burning it off. I of course did not do this on board but ashore and watched it burn with quite high flames and black smoke, being whipped around by the wind for two and a half hours!!!! I was a little apprehensive that someone may think I was trying to burn the resort down…my new past time pyromania!

We went for a walk into "town" and get a little history lesson on the settlers of the Bahamas who were for the most part British loyalists.




We also went to Gilliam Bay beach, but it was high tide so we could not look for sand dollars.  back tomorrow!




We really liked this little house on the beach....and her magnificent view...hate to think how much it cost!








We had a very satisfying day, each with our own project...David actually rewired the "down" switch to our windlass which had stopped working after being repeated dunked in the salt water during our crossing...so he can now add electrician to the many caps a cruising skipper wears... I relined our freezer with some material fron Steve


Oh and did I mention this little get together with S&S and R of course, we had most delicious smoked salmon pate, caught, skinned, smoked and canned by the crew of Indian Summer as well as cold lobsters with Soli made ailoli!!!





.... GTG Adrian needs to close the office...more tomorrow

2010/01/08

2010.01.08



We have all heard of those friends and acquaintances that come to stay for a day or so and then stay for longer, well that is what we were beginning to feel like in West End.

The problem was the wind and weather, it blew like stink for the entire week!

One big plus of our stay was that our electricity making capability was exploited to the full, and boy does it work well! Between the wind generator, which really came into its own and the solar panels, we avoided the extortionate rate that the marina would have charged and lived for the entire week that we were there under our own power – no generator, no engine and no shore hook up…… awesome !!!! This is with the fridge and freezer on normally and normal electric usage. With the new digital thermostat on our fridge and freezer, it would seem that the last piece of our puzzle is complete and we can be self sufficient.

How did we spend our week, well relaxing, entertaining, chatting and reading and most of all….. trying to stay warm !! One complaint that the Admiral has is the cold, but she was able to find a sunny nook, out of the wind, and sit in the sun and read. (Steve and Rugger stole my spot!)


The weather meant that we were unable to use the resort to its fullest i.e. no swimming pool, no tiki bar etc but some members of our little flotilla did use the beautifully equipped gym. We did spend many hours studying the weather maps, charts and I spoke to our weather guru once again and it looked as if we would have a good window on the 7th but we need to be in shelter by the weekend because of yet another front coming through with all that that brings.

So the 7th it was ……. bills were paid, water and fuel taken on and we were set for an early departure with a long leg planned, which we calculated would bring us to the Green Turtle anchorage at some time after midnight. For this leg of our trip we were joined by Jim and Barbara Thompson from N Carolina on “ Skat “ a CnC 38, making their first trip into the Abacos.

We left the harbour between 07.00 and 07.30 hrs on a bright, clear and only slightly windy morning and very soon were able to motor sail north to the position where we were to cross onto the banks. The first leg of a couple of hours therefore was in anything from 300 ft of water to “out of soundings”, but then we crossed onto the Bahama Banks and we were soon in anything from ten to twenty feet of water. The wind went ahead so back in with the sails and our trusty Westerbeke continued to purr and purr and purr.



Lunch came and went and then supper for which Catherine made me a super salmon chowder. Sunset saw us just about two thirds through our journey.


We were treated to a typical colourful and very red sunset and as darkness fell and the stars started to appear, Catherine was able to appreciate what is quite common at sea with no light pollution, the night sky. The stars were just magnificent with her favourite Pleiades hanging there immediately above our mast.

As our approach to Green Turtle came closer and the Sea of Abaco becomes narrower, more careful attention needed to be paid to lights on shore and areas of shifting sand, which thanks to “Indian Summer” we avoided with little problem that a couple of sharp turns . Navigation in this area is not particularly easy as there are no navigational marks, sparse shore lights, a number of radio beacons that can be seen for miles and often resemble other vessel’s side lights at first.

Anchor was down and the engine stopped at midnight off New Plymouth, Green Turtle .

A quick drink and then into bed to sleep peacefully in millpond like conditions. For those interested in such things the distance that we did was 114.4 nm in a time of 16.33 hours for an average speed of 7.00 knots, most respectable !!


We are presently sitting peacefully at anchor awaiting high tide at 15.00 hrs for us to enter Black Sound and go to the dock that is reserved for us to ride out the next norther, expected late tonight and over the coming weekend.

2010/01/03


2010.01.03 Sunday...cocooning in Westend waiting for a couple of "Northers: to go through...a bit dreary but a good day to read or cook...we are invited next door tonight, so I am reading and I thought I would upload some pictures...some action shots from Sharon's camera.

Soli coming down the ICW.



Taken when IS was exceptionally taking the lead!

Sunset in Lake Worth (Palm Beach) north anchorage.



Soli being airborne.....




and then crashing down. I wondered why the mirror in our cabin was wet until we became airborne again and as we landed heavily back , a geyser of salt water shot up from our sink drain!!!! think we will close the seacock next time!

By the way did I mention ...it is VERY windy!!!



But Soli is well protected in her slip.



We had a nice celebration on the first....cracked open the bubbly since we were too tired to do it on the previous evening.




Then we had those delicious lobsters...just a little butter and lime juice....SWEET!!!



I stole this map from Harriet (Moondance)'s blog.



GTG the folks next door are awaiting us!








2010/01/01

2009.12.31 We made it !!!!

North Lake Worth anchorage , in company with eleven (count ‘em) Canadian boats, many awaiting a suitable window to cross the feared Gulf Stream. To imagine this anchorage, imagine a bay, with a line of condominiums down one side and at their base a couple of marinas for the rich and famous, with mega yachts lined up side by side…

“Privacy” belonging to Tiger Woods was also there (with her name covered up for “real” privacy). Continue around the bay to a small beach where the cruisers land their dinghies and wade ashore to walk the dog or finish up their shopping. Moving around to the other side you have large mansions with gardens and lawns leading down to the water. That gives you a reasonable picture of where we spent the last couple of days - not such a bad spot !!. Last minute shopping by the ladies over a two day period, whilst yours truly stayed and fiddled. Our travelling companions also walked their dog, which has to be a living breathing advertisement for a real boat dog !! Ruger (named, we understand, after the pistol) you rock !!!

On the thirtieth afternoon all preparations were made and we left the north anchorage and anchored again in the south anchorage off Palm Beach (Nothing like north Lake Worth, but still with large mansions on the one side and large shipyards and the commercial dock on the other) ready for the appropriate time to leave .

On our way near the inlet we saw a fine example of the pride of the British navy  The Bounty...on a more modest but not less endearing manner..Catherine's favorite a tug boat!








All indications were that the best window was this morning ….. Sirius weather from “Indian Summer” we talked to our weather guru Chris Parker on the SSB and we all listened to NOAA weather on the VHF…. All seemed to be in agreement – an early morning start was indicated.

Supper was early … we were in bed by eight o’clock and up and about at 02.30 hrs on the 31st raring to go. If we had not gone then, indications were that we would not be able to leave for at least a week. The dinghy was lashed securely to the deck, all opening ports and hatches tightly closed and all mooring lines and fenders stowed , everything below was secured – we were as ready as we ever would be for sea!! However….. and there’s always a however, I must remember to close the seacock for the forward sink, Catherine found seawater spouting up the drain every time the forward end of the boat came out of the water as we pitched!!!!

Anchors were away at 03.30 hrs and we were on our way out of Lake Worth inlet, an easy commercial inlet well lit. The tide was coming in and progress to put it mildly was slow……. Violent pitching and pounding (that’s when the whole bottom of the boat comes out of the water and lands with a crash and a shudder on the next swell) … not particularly dangerous but decidedly uncomfortable. We could not believe our speed (or lack of it)…. “Indian Summer” saw 1.9 knots and we did not fare much better…. I don’t think that we ever got below two knots but not far off !!!!

As you may imagine it took forever for the lights and the sea buoy at the entrance to the inlet to fade into the distance, but as we made it into deeper water and when the echo sounder stopped recording the depth (after 500 feet), the swells got less steep and we just pitched and rolled with not a bad motion. We still shipped water over the deck and went up and down but were in no difficulty. Speed also increased to something over four knots but each time we hit a swell the boat tended to stand still, shake herself and plow on, but we had lost a knot or so !!


With the dawn and a bright sun we unrolled a very small part of the genoa in order to try and improve our speed, (the wind being very close to dead ahead), which it did, for at the speed we were making previously we would not have arrived before late evening and in the dark. Although we know the West End harbour entrance, this, we did not wish to do, thus out with a little more genoa and as the sea and swell gradually decreased our speed gradually picked up and we started averaging our more normal seven knots or so. We did not find the Gulf Stream as strong we have in the past, probably only about two knots rather than the advertised three or more.

The afternoon was magical… bright sun, blue skies with wispy high cirrus clouds, a southerly wind and a cheerful boat relishing the weather. No worries !!



We arrived in West End at three thirty, a long voyage (twelve hours) compared to our previous trips across the Gulf Stream in eight or nine hours, but we made it !!! There were several boats also making the run and some who chose not to for various reasons, Unfortunately those who chose not to may have to wait for a week or more before another window shows itself, all something to do with the El Nino effect according to our guru, but we had had enough of Florida and really wanted to be in the Bahamas sooner rather than later. Others, more adventurous, bypassed West End and went onto the Bahamas banks immediately so will be that much further ahead of us, for the weather is supposed to turn nasty again and we may be here for a couple of days, but with the pool, the beach and good company it cannot not be bad !!!

After our arrival it was off to the Customs and Immigration office to check in, forms to fill out and passports to be stamped – cleared in we gave our faithful chariot a nice fresh water wash to try and get at least some of that corrosive salt off . More will be done in the morning, but her crew also has needs too….. a good shower to wash the salt off us and a couple of rums to celebrate our arrival !!!

C put this champers in the fridge while underway..it will wait until tomorrow!




I fear that we are unlikely to see the New Year in, other than in our cozy bunk, for it has been a long and tiring day, but we are here at long last and we have a visa for the next four months should we choose to use it !
Our first Bahamian sunset..



And our firt sunrise



2010.01.01 Westend

While the newly retired skipper slept in I had to go for a walk on the beach and catch my first sunrise.
I got a pic of the"buddies" enjoying a well desrved rest after yesterday's passage.




An egret or something close to one was enjoying the peaceful morning with me











Came home with 6 freshly caught lobsters I bought from a fisherman and made David the first breakfast of his new life... Happy retirement!!!

Next is Great Sale Cay anchorage and then either Green Turtle or Manjack (pronounced Munjack) Cay, and finally to Hope Town where we have many friends awaiting our arrival. After that who knows ???

To each and every one of our readers wherever you may be, the trusty crew of the good sailing vessel “Solitaire 1” wants to wish you a wonderful New Year, may it be filled with peace, happiness and good health and now before I start getting too maudlin and the rum starts to talk I will wish you all a very good night!.