Friday, January 25, 2013

Highbourne Cay

Brian & Dan snorkeling off the dinghy
over by the little island
Yesterday morning Brian and Dan went out to hunt.  We had great plans for lobster cakes or lobster alfredo.  Actually lobster or fish anything would have been good.  They saw lots of fish but didn’t manage to catch anything.

Meanwhile Kathy and I took a walk around the island.  Check out the link!   Everything here is so clean and well maintained.  I think this is one of those rich and famous getaway destinations.  There is a restaurant and bar up high overlooking the water.  We didn’t eat there (we were fixing the sail), but Kathy and Dan did the day before.  A glass of wine was $10 and a burger was $18.  Expensive, but you have to factor in the cost of everything being shipped in.  They said it was delicious!
There are roads here and everyone drives golf carts.  High up on a hill is a pavilion with views all the way around.  It was all set up with exercise equipment.  TRX straps, yoga mats, balls and ropes all in perfect condition.  I can only think a workout up here would be great.
Along the road there are several paths down to the beaches where the views are just amazing.  The marina has several gazebos with tables and grills, bathrooms and a book exchange.

can I keep this?

just for fun

There is also a little store that sells just about everything.  They had a fairly good selection of fresh fruit and veggies.  I did check out a few prices.  A bottle of Oceanspray cranberry juice was $10.95 and a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce was $5.95.  I didn’t buy anything but I’m glad now that we brought as much as we did with us.
you have to love a beach all to yourselves
We spent the afternoon at a little beach with a cooler and snacks.  Another cruiser was snorkeling just off the beach and speared a couple of Lionfish and a small lobster.  He wasn’t sure what to do with the Lionfish so Brian told him how to clean it.  You have to be really careful with their spines because they are poisonous but once you cut them off with scissors they are supposed to be very good to eat.
If you don't eat them, kill them anyway
they are invasive

We started with about 6 boats here this morning and by the time the sun went down I counted 34, many of them Canadian.  I think they were all ducking in from the wind for the night.  It was a rolly night even where we were.  It’s not that it makes me seasick, maybe it was staring at the computer for too long last night, but we both felt just a little off balance. 
Today the guys are going hunting again.  If someone else got Lionfish then they will too.  Enough for all of us for dinner we hope.

Bimini and beyond Part 3

The next morning’s weather was predicting another front moving in  which meant we needed to find shelter from the North winds.  The Exumas Land and Sea Park looked like a good place to hide out.  We would have protection from the north and they had mooring balls.  We were a little worried that other people might have the same idea but there was plenty of room when we got there. 
Blue Moose is behind the red boat
Instead of bouncing around on the boat for the afternoon we took the dinghies to shore.  We motored as far as we could up a small creek then anchored on a beach and climbed a hill where we had a magnificent view of our boats on the other side of the island.  While we were gone the wind and waves had built quite a bit making for a wet ride back to the boat. 

If ever there was a “do not try this at home moment” it was trying to get back in the boat.  Kathy & Dan got to their boat first and we watched as a wave catapulted Dan right out of the dinghy into the water.  They have a swim platform on their boat where we only have a swim ladder. 
As the boat went up the dinghy went down and I’m talking at least 3 feet either way.  At the risk of puncturing the dinghy with the swim ladder or crushing a finger we opted to climb in from the side.  This is no small feat for someone with short legs.  Our freeboard (the distance from deck to water) is over 4 feet so it’s all in the timing.  Wait for a wave, stand on the seat and heave yourself up.  No blood, all’s good.

We didn’t get a lot of sleep that night with the sideways waves rolling us.  Poor Cricket was not very comfortable either.  Being pleasantly plump (shhhh…we don’t tell her she’s fat), her skin stays put but her, ummm…bulk tends to slide around.  She finally found a secure spot on her back wedged between a cushion and the wall.  She has been a real trooper with all this sailing stuff.  We have found the best place for her while we travel in in the head (bathroom).  I fluff up 2 towels on the floor with her litter box and a bowl of water.  I don’t think the engine noise is as loud in there so she doesn’t get wound up and she hasn’t been seasick since we tried this. 

The next morning the group voted for a calmer spot.  Back north we went but this time we actually got the jib out for a while.  We were making over 7 knots which for us is great.  Unfortunately once we changed direction we had to start the engine and slog through the waves but the closer we got to Highborne Cay the calmer it got.  We anchored off the shore with about 6 other boats.

If you look at our jib (front sail), it has a blue fabric sacrificial edge.  This is to protect it from the elements when it is furled.  I guess the sun had taken it’s toll on the stitching because mid sail it started to come loose.  With strong winds expected we decided to take the sail down and fix it right away.  When there is no wind this isn’t a problem at all but once the sail unfurls, if there is wind it catches it and flaps wildly.  Brian told me to hang onto the lines and I know my feet left the deck at one point.  I was sure I was going parasailing at the end of the sail. 

The sail doesn’t look that big until you have to roll it up and maneuver it into the cockpit.  In an hour and a half we had the repair done with me sewing and Brian holding the sail steady.  All this on a domestic Janome sewing machine.  It grumbled a couple of times but did just fine. 

Bimini and Beyond part 2

We then fuelled up and set off for Allen Cay (pronounced key) along with about a dozen other boats. An easy 32 mile trek.

we had some good looking company

Once inside the cut, the anchorage was beautiful. Not very big, but plenty of room for about 20 boats. Totally calm and crystal clear. We couldn’t wait to get in the water. The best part was the swim off the boat. There’s nothing like a salt water shampoo with a fresh water rinse.
this is 10 feet deep
it looks like the bottom of a pool


Allen Cay is uninhabited except for it’s iguanas which were waiting on the beach for us. Although they do like handouts from tourists I really didn’t want to get too close. They were probably about 50 of them and the bigger ones were over 3 feet long.

Dinner of sushi, homemade soup & homemade bread (yum!) on Majiks with Kathy & Dan. After dinner Dan brought out his guitar. As well as a great voice, he can really play. I could have listened all night. Then back to the boat and an early bed time. Who am I kidding, it’s always an early bed time. Some nights (OK, most nights) I’m lucky to make 9pm.

Bimini and Beyond Part 1

After 3 days at the Bimini Sands marina we headed out early on Saturday. We were able to get the sails out for a little bit before we rounded North Bimini but then were headed right into the wind again. Majiks has the same engine as us, but because their boat is a lot lighter they travel much faster. They had their anchor light on as a beacon and we caught up to them at the Northwest channel where we spent the night. It was hard to tell because it was dark when we stopped, but it really is the middle of nowhere. I have never heard such totally quiet or seen as completely dark as that before. The stars were amazing. We could see the shadow of our boat from the moon on the sand below us.
We woke early the next morning to flat calm. Next stop Nassau, and we expected to be there in the early afternoon. From Bimini to here we had been travelling on the banks where the water is about 15 to 20 feet deep. We then entered the Tongue of the Ocean and the depth dropped to over 3000 feet. Brian rigged up 2 fishing rods with great expectations and was not disappointed. I was steering and Brian was making lunch when we came along a big weed line and where there’s a weed line there are usually fish.
Allen-Key-031_thumb1Bingo! A Mahi Mahi (Dorado or Dolphin) was a big item on Brian’s bucket list and he got one. My description will never do justice to the colour. The water was deep sapphire blue and the Mahi with the sun on it was iridescent turquoise and green. I wish we had taken the picture sooner because after we gave her a shot of rye she lost her colour very quickly. I’m not sure if the booze kills them or just gets them drunk but one glug down it’s throat did the trick. It’s hard to steer with a big fish flopping around your feet.

As we approached Nassau we could see the cruises ships in their slips and we headed for a charted anchorage quite near them. It was a little intimidating being that close, but if the charts said it was safe, it must be, right?

Kathy and Dan came over to share our Mahi, which we marinated in soya sauce, Thai seasoning, lime juice, agave syrup, salt and pepper and then grilled. It was delicious.
Then the cruise ships started to leave. Allen-Key-039_thumb1We were beginning to have second thoughts of the where we were especially when the second one to leave had to turn around right beside us, but a pilot ship came up along side with his lights flashing and told us we were fine. It was a fairly peaceful night until about 6 am when we were woken by another cruise ship coming in. I guess it was their thrusters creating wash under the boat but it sounded like we were being sandblasted.

Just as we were pulling up anchor to leave we were approached by harbour security. They requested to board both of our boats, check our paperwork and do an inspection. They were very nice about it and told us even though the charts had the anchorage marked we were too close. They inspected the boat and we passed, however they did question the amount of beer we had on board. They asked because of the quantity if it was cargo or provisions. Beer, along with everything else in the Bahamas is very expensive so we stocked up in Florida.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Highborne Cay Exumas

Just a quick check in.  We are anchored at Highborne Cay in the Exumas.  Beautiful!  Will post later today, right now the guys are going lobster hunting and the girls are going for a walk on the island.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Moving on again

Bimini Jan 2013 023
Majiks & Blue Moose at our slips

Today it was cool and cloudy so weBimini Jan 2013 001 went to see what North Bimini was like.  We walked to the ferry dock where $2.00 gets you across the channel between the two islands.  There isn’t much to see in North Bimini.  A few marinas, restaurants and shops but we did come across something interesting.

Bimini Jan 2013 019

The Dolphin House in Alice Town is worth the $2.00 tour.  Ashley Saunders is a local artist and historian.  He has built the house himself using recycled ceramic tiles, shells, bottles and coral.

Bimini Jan 2013 002

Bimini Jan 2013 008

Bimini Jan 2013 009

Bimini Jan 2013 014

Bimini Jan 2013 020
the ferry ride

The weather looks decent for the next few days so we are heading out in the morning.
We are heading to Nassau which means crossing the Great Bahamas Bank.  It’s more than a day trip so we’ll be anchoring in the middle tomorrow night.  That sounded kind of scary to me but it’s pretty common.  It’s very shallow out there, 10 to 20 feet average.


Hopefully by Tuesday we will be in the Exumas, that’s the string of little islands south east of Nassau and that’s where we plan to explore for a while.
We won’t have wifi for a few days so I’ll catch up then.


Cricket doesn't look happy but she was
purring thoughout the life jacket fitting
After nearly two weeks waiting for the weather at Dinner Key we followed Kathy & Dan on their boat Majiks over to Key Biscayne.  It was out of the wind and waves which would be really nice for a change.  The plan was, weather permitting we would leave in the morning.

We set 3 alarms so we wouldn’t oversleep and were both awake well before they went off.  The anchor was up and we were on our way before 6:30.  There were four of us crossing together and we checked in by radio every hour on the hour.

The sun was just starting to come up as we made our way into the Atlantic.  We watched our depth change and as we went from the hundreds to thousands of feet the water changed from emerald to sapphire.  It was really beautiful. 
We were heading directly into the wind so we didn’t have a chance to sail.  We ended up motoring all the way across.  Right from the time we headed out the channel there were good sized rollers which made for a bumpy ride.  At times the waves would break over the bow but we stayed dry although not very comfortable.  We were making jokes between the boats about how everyone’s kidneys were holding up.

I noticed what I thought were tonsP-Man-o-War[1] of plastic water bottles.  They were actually hundreds of Portuguese Man O War.  They look like an iridescent panzarotti floating on the surface.

As the day progressed we kept getting weather updates from the other boats.  Thursday looked good but a cold front was expected on Friday.  Once to Bimini we still had to make it through the banks and that wasn’t going to be a good place to be during a blow.  A group decision was made to find a marina to wait out the front. 

our first view of South Bimini

our Bahamas courtesy flag is up

Majiks was the first boat into Bimini Sands Marina and secured slips for all of us.  It’s very nice here, well protected and relatively inexpensive.  There are two pools, showers, laundry and a nice beach to explore.  We haven’t spent a night at a dock in two months so it was a big treat for us.  The water is crystal clear and there's lots of marine life to see right around the boat.  Starfish and sea urchins and all kinds of fish.

After a good night’s sleep all the guys went into customs and got us cleared in.  We now have a 4 month cruising permit for the Bahamas. 

our group are the 4 sailboats on the right

This afternoon we took our snorkel gear and headed down the beach.  Brian and Dan checked out the underwater scenery and Kathy and I floated in the waves.  It was wonderful.

it's Dory from finding Nemo

As the afternoon wore on more and more boats pulled into the marina to hide out from the weather.  We had a squall pass through earlier and right now it’s really blowing even in the marina where it is almost totally enclosed.  I think we made a good call to not move on.

We shared a happy hour potluck at the pool tonight with about 10 other couples who are staying here.  It was a good time to meet other cruisers and see where they have been and where they are going.

Tomorrow we’re heading out to explore some more.

it really is this colour
it's amazing

Sunday, January 13, 2013


by Brian
While on the water we have met a lot of people who live on boats full time and some who will be as soon as they can make it happen.  We have yet to meet anyone who is selfish only caring and willing to share and help. Our first experience was with a couple in St. Petersburg Florida. While sitting on our boat in a marina a wonderful couple came to visit us and in a very short time we had found some new friends.  077Like us they want to live life to the fullest and want to share that experience with other friends and family. They took us under their wing, invited us into their home for Thanksgiving after only knowing us a few hours. They have shared everything they could with us along the way. We have been friends for 14 months now and even though we are on the water on the other side of Florida we still keep in touch.   003 


231We also have a friend who is a professional captain and teaches sailing for a living.  He has gone out of his way time after time to help make our dream come true.  From teaching us how to sail, get off sand bars and delivering us parts for our boat clear across the state of Florida with out any concern or payment.  Every time we meet up it is comforting to know he is only an email or phone call away. He would be the (call a friend) guy on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Then you meet up with people like the owner of our favorite marina in Florida.  Pasadena Marina.  The owner and her head dock master are two very wonderful people.  Their mission is to have you as a guest and if you choose, as friends.  This was again a great place to be.  Never did we have a bad experience.  It started with the owner while we were looking for a marina to live in.  When we called her she was prompt and professional. The dock master the same.  Very clear with all they had to offer and left us with a feeling that we really wanted to live there.  For a pair of people who clearly have a lot to do in their day they both would stop whatever they had been doing and give you the time it takes to help you. The marina is smaller and very well kept.  Of all the places we have stayed this is one of the best.

038During our stay at Pasadena Marina we have met some wonderful friends.  We shared happy hours, dinners, boat fix consults and fun around the pool.         019                                                                                                                                                                                                       025




Now we find ourselves in Miami, a very big and sometimes scary place.  Way too busy, dirty and the marina is not well run.  However the people around us again are amazing.  All types of people on all types of boats from all walks of life.  We would have been on our way with two others boats who wanted share experiences and friendship as well in the Bahamas.  As you know our plans changed when we had to stay back to do repairs. 
A new group has arrived and over the course of a week or so we have seen  boats with flags from all over.  Most are from the United states and Canada some as far away as the United Kingdom.  I doesn’t matter what people did for a living only where they have sailed what they have in the way of plans.  It seems we all have one common goal, to get out on the water and make it happen.  Be happy see the world and live life. This is not like when you go to a resort for a week it’s a way of life. 
I find it amazing how a total stranger will invite you onto their boat for a drink and even offer to feed you.   It doesn’t matter the condition of the boat.  It could be a very large ultra new yacht or an older sometimes very well used and worn little boat.  You always get the same result.  Happy to meet you, keep in touch, here is my boat card.  Yes a boat card or business card with all the information you need to keep in touch.  It’s also very handy for remembering names when you meet a bunch of people the same day.                                                   
         Thanks to the great friends we have and the family who wish us well.

from Sally
Wouldn’t it be great to have a sailing family reunion.  I’m thinking a potluck/bonfire/jam session/catch up on a beach somewhere fun.  Everyone’s invited!

About Us

Brian, Sally and Cricket the cat sailing on our 41 foot Morgan Classic sailboat. In October 2011 we sold our house, quit our jobs and set out for Florida in search of a sailboat. We found her in Madeira Beach Florida. A 1987 41 foot Morgan Classic. Our plan is to sail for a couple of years. First to the Bahamas, after that...who knows.