2010.12.26 LYC Green Turtle Cay - Black Sound

We haven’t posted for a while….afraid to bore you. We are still snugly tied up in Leeward YC (Black Sound), doing what we do best…having a lazy morning, sipping tea, reading  books and the net (mostly other cruisers blogs!). It is blowing and pouring and we are grateful for our full enclosure and no leaks anywhere!

Since we arrived in GTC , we have had a very nice visit with our friends Harvey and Mary Helen (Gone Away, you may remember the lady of the reef from 2 years ago)…they came around the Whale to see us and we spent a few days tied up next to each other.
We rented a cart and did some exploring of the Cay, as they had never been here, but mostly socializing…David drove through every muddy potholes on the cay  like a maniac and MH and I were covered with mud by the time we got home....but we had fun anyway and I got to see my mocking bird (or one of its relatives) at Bluff House in White Sound....unfortunately he was not in a singing mood.
 This palm tree was uprooted a while back but it does not keep it from growing toward the sun....Bahamian spirit.
The Sea of Abaco from Bluff house
Cruisers, being far from home and family during the Holidays, really go the distance to spread holiday cheer…on Xmas eve morning, we had a great breakfast hosted by Canadian retired hockey player Gary Aldcorn who used to play for Toronto, Detroit and Boston.. When this Redwings legend retired from hockey he went on to get a masters in virology and an MBA…not just another pretty face!

His boat is aptly named “Breakaway” and he enjoys getting cruisers together, there must have been around 40 of us enjoying a delicious breakfast….Thanks Gary!

We then went on a walk on Cocoa beach with Reg and Val, we have rented a golf cart (again!) with them for a couple of days…but this time Val is sitting in front and keeping D from driving too fast…although he had us on a path along the sea with about 1 inch (no exaggeration) between the wheels and a plunge down when we drove into town.

We went to Genevieve (local bar & liquor store) for drinks and munchies and admired the Xmas decorations in New Plymouth.
Santa was wearing CROCS - sorry I cut his feet!

Yesterday, Christmas day, we attended the annual cruisers Xmas potluck, there must have been between 70 and 80 of us …again mostly Canadians, a few Brits and very few Americans…
Jan and Leslie
Pete (Cloud Nne) & Ruth (Tonka)

.The food was great …Jen (Te Amor) made a fabulous lobster chowder, with lobsters that she actually caught herself…there are some pretty amazing women around.

It really is interesting to see how most of the boats we see are Canadian flagged and we have met quite a number of Nova Scotians (?).
The dynamic D&D duo - Dick and Deb 
More colourful Nova Scotians - lobster chowder queen Jan and hubby Cam

Last evening we had Val, Reg (Aquabella), Deb & Dick (Ar Sgrail) over for drinks….Deb is another one amazing Nova Scotia woman, she and hubby Dick are both Canadian Coast Guard, she baked and distributed plates of delicious boatbaked Xmas cookies, made a full course turkey dinner (just for herself and Dick….so they’ll be eating turkey for a while) and yesterday when the tide was very low and Soli was almost hanging by her lines she and Dick helped me redo her lines (the Skipper was on the beach) so I had a “dock lines 101”course which was much appreciated. I now feel sorry I complained to the dock master about the abusive delicious smells coming from Ar Sgrail on a daily basis.

We are now snug in our slip, as a front is going through…blowing 30 and gusting 43+ knots since midnight and the skippers are walking around the boats, adjusting and adding lines  making sure they (the boats) are not being chewed up by those potentially nasty pilings.
Maybe this way....

All together now....heave Ho!!!!
There is a concert at the church this evening, which we had planned on attending, but I am not sure we will  be braving the elements to go across to town in our dink and get thoroughly drenched.

That’s about it, folks, I told you nothing exciting…We do miss Indian Summer!

Hope you are all enjoying a happy holiday season with your families and friends.


2010.12.18 The Bahamas

 18th December 2010.

The Bahamas at last!!!

If memory serves us aright we left you when we were on the way from St Augustine to Vero Beach.  We had uneventful days motoring down the ICW through Daytona, and Titusville to Vero Beach. 
Uneventful except that we went into marinas in each place so that we could plug in and use our heat pump, since the temperatures in Florida have been absolutely frigid!

We were lucky to get a berth , rather than a mooring ball , at Vero, enabling us to plug in once again and enjoy warmth, since the cold weather did not let up.  It was mainly O K when the sun was up but as soon as it went down you needed warm clothes and some heat in the boat.

We stayed in Vero Beach for six days allowing our friends on “Lady of Lorien” to catch up with us , as we intended to travel together across the Gulf Stream.  In actuality we lost nothing in the way of time since there was not a safe window to be had whilst in Vero Beach.  It is a nice marina and a nice town with free public transportation to all the main shopping areas that a cruiser would normally need to reach.   Publix….  Fresh Market….  West Marine and ABC liquors where 1.5 ltre bottles of  Appleton Estate Rum went for $23.50 and similar sized bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin went for $ 21.00 per bottle !!   A good place to stock up.  We have also been turned on to boxed wines the equivalent of four bottles for $19.00 of very drinkable every day Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon .

Eventually all shopping was completed , no more space in the boat and a window to cross was approaching , so at 06.30 hrs on the 15th December (son in law, Jamie’s birthday) we left Vero Beach for Lake Worth. 
Vero Beach..I love taking sunrises through bridges
A fast and trouble free trip, once more down the ICW saw us shave an hour off the time that we did the same trip the previous year, all the bridges cooperated and opened as advertised then a quick stop in North Palm Beach to top up our diesel.  I like to start an ocean passage with a full tank of fuel….  Topping up was not really necessary, just a case of “belt and braces” !!!

Lady of Lorien raising sails in Lake Worth anchorage to meet up with us
No belly showing this year...just classy lines
Then from North Palm Beach it was a quick hop to Lake Worth where at 16.00 hrs, e hailed  Mike and Angie on “Lady of Lorien” so they were  just coming out of the anchorage as we went by, and we were off out of the inlet and into the ocean.   What a difference a year makes!!   
 Last year with “Indian Summer” you might recall that both boats were leaping out of the water and showing their keels for the first couple of hours, not so this year however .  A nice long six odd foot swell gave us a nice gentle roll and with a NE to ENE 10/12 knot wind both sails were up and we romped along  at  7.00/7.5 and even 8.00 knots – just great !! 
Sun setting over  Palm Beach on the horizon.
Happiness is SAILING at last!!!
While David sails I navigate....this is my turf, the nav table.
The wind held pretty much most of the way and the swell also decreased the closer to the Bahama bank that we got, until we had to furl the genoa and haul in the main tight to steady us .   The long and the short of it was that we made the Gulf Stream crossing from 16.00 hrs on Wednesday 15th until midnight thirty on Thursday 16th morning when we crossed onto the Bahamian banks.  A record crossing for us!!

The Bahamian banks were their typical selves, flat calm and as clear as a bell.   About 03.00 both boats saw a bright white light on the horizon, looking very much like a large fishing boat or such and heading our way.   We maintained a watch on it until we discovered that instead of getting closer it was getting higher……  yes, we had seen the planet Mars rise above the horizon !!  Looked just like a ship at first too !!

Our first Bahamian sunrise of the season...may not look so special but after a long dark night it is a welcomed sight.

Our course took us direct from Memory Rock to Little Sale Cay which was passed at 07.00 hrs as the sun came up, our first real landfall since the skyscrapers of Palm Beach had disappeared below the horizon.   We pressed on to Spanish Cay, where we docked at 12.30 hrs after a perfect 31 hour voyage.   Customs and Immigration were seen and gave us no problems although we only got permission to stay in the Bahamas for 90 days as opposed to our normal 120 days,  we shall have to extend if we need to, but that should not be a big deal.  After all the formalities were completed we retired to the bar where we had our first Kaliks and blackened grouper with a Caesar salad….  Just as good as we remembered !!

Fiddled in the afternoon and then went to “Lady of Lorien” for drinks and a “picky” supper, my personal favourite, cheese, biscuits, some raw veggies and peanuts, smoked salmon and a delicious “stollen” cake etc. By eight pm our eyes were closing so it was off to bed – we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow and the next thing that we knew it was 07.30 the next morning and “Lady of Lorien” were getting ready to depart for Orchid Bay on Great Guana Cay where they were meeting other friends and spending Christmas, about two islands down from where we will spend Christmas and New Year.
Lady of Lorien cast off early in the morning.

We waved good bye to Mike and Angie...

After they left we had a very private marina....
 After a very lazy morning and we cast off just after 13.00 hrs to head to Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay  which we have to enter on high tide or very close thereto.  It was an idyllic 15 mile trip in a gentle southerly breeze and rippled sea, with the sun shining brightly and warmly.  Catherine reclined on the deck, whilst I pulled out the Genoa, reduced the engine revs and we gently motor sailed along.  Entry to Black Sound was accomplished without excitement and various friends were there to greet us and to help us tie up.  As you can see from one of the pictures this marina is getting very classy with staff in blazers and white shirts !!

Adrian and Kristi of the Leeward Yacht Club.
A nice evening on board with our friends from “Gone Away” who came to Green Turtle to see us and then bed.   This morning we launched the dinghy and put the engine on, which started, not exactly at first pull, but very soon there after, so now our car is once more up and running.   The weather today has been cooler and somewhat threatening although so far no rain, but there is some in the forecast.  We don’t mind as it will wash a fair amount of the salt off “Solitaire 1” and save us the job of doing so and having to pay for the water that we use!
As the days progress we shall gradually get back into the swing of island life – work a bit on the boat – read – walk on the various beaches – talk to friends – make new ones and generally relax.  On Christmas Day there is a cruiser’s pot luck luncheon put on by one of the local dive shops that we shall likely go to- should be a fun event.

I think that this brings everyone who is reading this up to date with what we have been doing.  One thing that have been pleased with so far is that we have not plugged in to the electricity since leaving Vero Beach…     the fridge has been running perfectly and all our systems are working and the solar panels and the wind generator are keeping our new AGM batteries fully charged.  Long may it last !!

That’s it for me, now over to our photographer and editor in chief !

All I have to add is after drinks and wonderful conversation on Gone away with Harvey and Mary Helen, I am pleased to report that the skipper's prediction turned out to be accurate and Soli is, as we speak, getting a great fresh water shower as it is raining cats and dogs .

Our Titusville blue heron
Going out for lunch



2010.12.06 Titusville

6th December 2010 St Augustine to Titusville FL

At last we are away from St Augustine, not that we minded our stay there at all, and once again on our way down south, in search of that elusive, it appears this year, warmer weather.

All the work that was needed to be done in St Augustine was done in a wonderfully professional manner and appears to have been most successful.   After two days of searching and testing, Mike Perrault (our tireless refrigeration engineer) found the freon leak having increased the pressure in our system significantly .  What a relief !!   A small valve at the back of the condenser which took about a minute to replace was the culprit.  Since that was done and the system purged, cleaned and refilled with fresh Freon, the electrical refrigeration has been working like a champ.   At Mike’s suggestion, we also gave First Mate the task of trying to get our engine driven compressor to stay in place, thus avoiding our never ending battles with the compressor belt.  With good American ingenuity and know how they came up trumps and low and behold we can use the engine driven compressor without any fear of the belt slacking off – marvelous !!!
Mike found a big freon leak!
Cindy Kern of  Custom Marine Canvas also completed our new “sun room” “verandah” or whatever you wish to call it !   Yes, “Solitaire 1” , is now sporting not only new canvas but a full enclosure so that yours truly doesn’t freeze whilst driving .  With the cold weather that we are currently having in Florida – the last two passages down the ICW have been sheer bliss as we have had a cold north westerly following wind, that without the enclosure would have made for a much more uncomfortable ride.
David admiring Cindy's  work.

Cindy reupholstered our salon cushions as well.
We had a pretty good signal while in St. Augustine and really made good use of Skype, we were treated to long conversation with Catherine and Veronica,http://www.homesrome.blogspot.com/ , unfortunately were not as successful with Elisabeth, http://www.wavesandrocks.blogspot.com/ ...we'll keep trying!
David had his own project, our jerry cans are now properly and smartly secured.

We stayed in St Augustine an extra day so that we  could join Mike and Angie Williams from “Lady of Lorien” for a trip to a local farmer’s market.  A very well worthwhile decision – lots of goodies to buy at reasonable prices.  There was even a stall selling all manner of English delicacies and we came back to the boat laden with Scotch eggs, steak and kidney pies etc etc .  The Scotch Eggs were superb !!!

That afternoon  we spent doing laundry, washing the boat and generally preparing to leave.  That evening we invited Mike and Angie and also Bob and Jane Fulton from “Voyageur” aboard for drinks and to christen the new cockpit enclosure which was done very happily.
Bob and Jane are the amazing couple that stayed up until 0200 one night last spring to greet and catch our lines when four boats came in from a sea passage from Cape Canaveral...they were God sent.
We have followed the adventures of Mike and Angie on Harriet's blog, http://moondance38.wordpress.com/  for the last few years, it was really good to get to know them better.

An early night to bed and then up at 06.15 to get out of the harbour and up to the Bridge of  Lions for the 07.00 hrs opening.

The new Bridge of Lions
Haulover canal bridge

Fresh Scottish eggs from the market YUM!

I got me a nice fish
Does look yummy...can I have some?
'Tis very yummy!
Quite handsome in a scruffy sort of way...anyone know what I am?
 Made it with about five minutes to spare and so on down  the I C W.  Now we are in Titusville in the shadow of Cape Canaveral and all the NASA buildings (particularly the Vehicle Assembly Shed) which can be seen for miles .  Since the shuttle programme has been stopped we wonder what will be next from this cape.  

Tomorrow – weather permitting – it will be onward to the south with Vero Beach being our next stop .   We understand that there could be a weather window for crossing the Gulf Stream on or about the 11th/12th December, so we intend to try to be in position to make that window.  We shall see !!

Until the next time – au revoir!