Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hanging out in Georgetown

Wifi has been a bit of an issue since we've been here. We can get it on the boat sometimes, but usually not when we really want it. The laptop has also been having some problems. We took it into the local computer shop and thought we had it fixed but it seems it still will not connect to the Internet. So I'll try it with the IPad and Blogsy.


The time just seems to dissolve here. Hours turn into days and days turn into weeks. The water is always a million shades of gorgeous green and blue and the sun shines most of the time. What's not to love.

We usually start every day with our coffee listening to the weather. Then we listen to the cruisers net to see what's going on for the day. After a quick boat clean up (it's a small space and gets messy quickly) we decide what to do. If its calm enough we might head to town for outboard fuel, ice or groceries but if its rough it means wrapping everything in dry bags. Sometimes we just postpone the trip.

Bahamian kitties

The afternoons could be volleyball on the beach or a snorkel trip somewhere. The guys have not been having so much luck in hunting department these days. They're spot that was really good for lion fish earlier has been very quiet the last few times. I have gone along just to look, donned in my new (for me) wetsuit but have a floatation problem. Without weights it's absolutely impossible to get to the bottom. No matter how hard I kick, my chunky parts seem to stay on the surface. It was probably me that scared all the fish away.


Some afternoons I head out for a beach walk with the girls. The beach on the Atlantic side is really spectacular. Miles of sand and almost nobody on it. If we get hot, there are a couple of places where the water washes over a little reef creating a perfect infinity pool.











We don't eat out very much. Partly because its expensive, but mostly because the food is not great. The staple foods here are conch, chicken, ribs and burgers. A lot of times we get together with our buddy boats for appetizers or dinner. We hang out with a really creative group of chefs and have had some of the most amazing meals. One of the fan favorites are Brian's California rolls. He whipping up a batch as we speak and may brave the waves to Georgetown just to get a mango.


Yesterday Brian met a fellow cruiser Rick, who helped us out with some lighting problems. He sold us an LED bulb for our anchor light which means a huge difference in power consumption. Rob from Moonshadow offered to climb the mast to install it for us. Yay Rob! I'm sure I could have gone up the mast, but I'm not sure i would have known what to do when I got there. Rick also converted one of our fluorescent fixtures to LED. We can now turn on the light to look in the fridge instead of using a flashlight.

A view from up the mast of Volleyball Beach
Looking north



Looking south


Now, it looks like a good weather window to head south again. From here to Mayaguana, Turks & Caicos, then either Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. We'll play it by ear and see what the weather does. We may be out of wifi range for a bit, but we'll post when we can.

Ahhhhh! It's trial and error on this Blogsy. Mostly error. Hopefully things will get better with practice.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The anchoring dance

Well, we’ve been in Georgetown for a while now.  Originally we were anchored on the outside row of boats off Volleyball Beach.  While this was fine for a few days, when some boats pulled out we seized the opportunity to move in closer.  We snugged ourselves into a spot right in front of The Chat & Chill within swimming distance of the beach.   This was great for a couple of days while the winds were calm.  We could be at the beach within seconds and visiting other boats didn’t mean a long wet ride home.

the "on the beach" location
On Saturday afternoon a squall blew through from the west, which is unusual.  A west wind means there isn’t really any place to take cover here.   We paid for our front row parking spot by swinging around and bouncing off the sand.  Brian had the engine running within seconds but it was no match for the wind blowing us into the beach.  He jumped in the dinghy and told me to grab the wheel.  He powered the dinghy into the bow of the boat and finally got us turned and off the sand. 
During this time everyone was scrambling on their boats.  I do not like steering myself in close quarters and had visions of me…all by myself (if Brian couldn’t get back in the boat) navigating through the maze of boats out to open water.  Brian did manage to get back on the boat and took over the wheel to get us out of trouble. 
We picked out another spot back in the outer row and dropped the anchor again.  After a disapproving look from the next boat we picked up and moved again…and again.  We finally ended up about a quarter mile south of the beach where the boats were much farther apart.  With another Morgan on one side and a tug on the other we were happy that this was a good place.
these are all the boats anchored off
Volleyball Beach to the north of us
As the afternoon wore on and we got our hearts rates back to normal that nasty west wind continued to build.  As it got dark the wind started to shift to the north.  The boat which had been a comfortable distance away on our starboard side was now directly in front of us.  He had about 200 feet of rode out and we had about 125 feet of chain.  This put him about 20 or 30 feet right in front of us.  Re-anchoring was not an option because he was right over top of our chain.  Letting out more chain was also not feasible because it would put us too close to the tug. 
and these are all the boats anchored off
Sand Dollar Beach to the south of us 
We spent a lot of time in the cockpit that night just watching and making sure everyone stayed in place.  We do have an anchor alarm on our chart plotter but it isn’t loud enough to be heard inside the boat, especially with the wind howling like it was.   I have an anchor alarm app (Drag Queen) on the IPhone  which had good reviews.  I set it and hoped for the best.   The alarm sounded within about 15 minutes and we both raced to see if our anchor was dragging, but found we were exactly in the same place.   I ended up turning the alarm part off and just checked it every 15 minutes or so.  At one point it placed us over 6000 feet from the anchor.  Sorry Drag Queen, I have no faith in you.
Brian headed for bed about midnight and I stayed up dividing my time between reading and sitting in the cockpit to make sure all was well.  I did sleep a little.  With one eye open and the VHF radio on beside me.  I think a lot of others did the same.
We heard from friends staying at Staniel Cay the next morning that a 65 foot Sportfisher had dragged and ended up on the rocks. There was nothing anyone could do to help in the dark in their dinghies.  We also heard on the cruiser’s net that someone who had been anchored in the middle of the harbor had, had their dinghy come undone some time during the night.  A hard bottom dinghy with a 15HP outboard was on the loose.  Still today it has not been recovered.
Everyone has their own comfort level of how close they are willing to be to another boat.  I have decided that I like my space.  We had a power boat pull up right beside us this morning and start to drop their anchor.  Brian gave them “the look” and they waved and moved on.
Lesson learned! If if feels too close. It is. Don’t be greedy.
It calmed down for a bit yesterday so we headed to the beach for volleyball and some socializing.  We were invited to an evening on another boat so went back for a quick bite before heading over there.  We then heard an announcement on the radio of a strong squall approaching and that was the end of our plans. 
Last night was another windy bouncy one.  At one point on my look around I saw what looked like a transport truck in the middle of the harbor with 2 spotlights pointed directly at us.  It didn’t seem to be moving but I kept my eye on it.  It was still there this morning and as the sun came up I saw that instead of a UFO it was actually just a container ship waiting for customs clearance.

Friday, February 15, 2013

On to Georgetown

map_exumas[1]A quick overnight stop at Galliot Cay and were on our way early the next morning.  We had the sails up before we even got through the cut to the Atlantic.  The winds looked promising for a good sailing day.  There were about 12 boats in front and another 8 behind us as we all headed for Georgetown.  We had two fishing rods out hoping for a good catch for dinner.
We could see a little squally something going on to the east and soon spotted a water spout heading in our direction.  The signal went out to all the other boats with radar updates on it’s position and direction.  A water spout is like a tornado over the water and not something you want to be sailing in.  We watched it carefully as it fell apart and then reformed.  It looked like it was moving much faster than us so we made the decision to turn around until it passed in front of us.  With all the action of dropping sails, changing direction and watching the weather going on this is when we hooked a fish.  A big one by the sound of the line ripping out through the reel.  Unfortunately by the time we had the boat on course the fish was gone.
As we entered Elizabeth harbor we were amazed by the number of boats here.  We anchored off Stocking Island on Volleyball beach alongside Majiks and Banyan.  As soon as the boat was secured we were off to The Chat & Chill for a burger and beer.  No shoes required and you can just wear a swimsuit.  Perfect!moose majiks banyan
Every day at 8am you can listen to the cruiser’s net.  The weather is relayed, boats coming and going can introduce themselves, upcoming activities are announced.  There’s volleyball on the beach every day, yoga, basket weaving, conch blowing.  It’s your choice.  You can do as little or as much as you want.

The guys set off to hunt for dinner and Kathy and I set off for a beach walk.  A little path leads to the beach on the Atlantic side.  Miles of sand and water and in our 3 hour walk I don’t think we saw 10 other people.  We walked all the way to one end, then all the way to the other.  We stopped a couple of times for a swim and collected a few sea treasures along the way. 



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Black Point


We had a great sail to Black Point.    It was a great opportunity to take photos for our friends too.
This is where everyone catches up on their laundry.
A bright, modern building with lots of washing machines and dryers.  They also offer a little store, hair cutting, showers and snacks.  076
While we waited for the clothes to dry we had conch fritters and carrot cake.  Yum!078
We took a little tour of town, had a little lunch and back to the boats.  Tomorrow morning we would be heading for Galliot cut, staying overnight the on to Georgetown.

Staniel Cay

I’m falling a little behind with the posts lately.  An internet connection isn’t too hard to find, but one that lets me load pictures is.

We spent a few days anchored at Big Major’s Spot Staniel Cay.  There is room here for everyone from all the boats like us up to the huge megayachts.  We found a nice spot right off one of the beaches. 


A short dinghy ride took us to Staniel Cay Yacht club to tie up and a walk into town for provisions.  There isn’t a lot of choice in stores when it comes to provisions and you have to time your visit with the arrival of the mail boat.  We were lucky and the mail boat had just been the day before.  We loaded up mostly on fresh veggies and eggs.  You really miss them when they aren’t readily available.  While the prices here were better than Highbourne Cay they are still expensive, snack foods especially.  We are so glad we really stocked up in Florida.


The next morning we took a trip to the pig beach.  All the cruisers save their food scraps to feed to the pigs living here.  There were two of them there the day we went and as soon as they see you coming they swim out looking for handouts.  041By the number of people we saw on the beach and the size of them, these are well fed pigs.  We started off with pieces off a less than fresh cauliflower which they wanted nothing to do with.  053






They do like bread, but the big hit was a package of expired ham slices.  We learned not to get too close and to keep the outboard in gear.  At one point we had a pig with both hoofs and snuffling snout over the edge of the dinghy wanting to get in.  Big hoofs and an inflatable dinghy are not a good combination.  I don’t think insurance covers pig damage.  The food also attracted tons of fish.  We found that by holding scraps just below the water we had a feeding frenzy.

We got together with our friends on Majiks and Banyan for another wonderful dinner and like most cruisers, by 9pm we can barely keep our eyes open.  When there is no moon, once it’s dark, it’s really, really dark.  I pointed out to Brian the direction where I was certain our boat was anchored because the boat beside us had blue underwater lights and was easy to spot.  Once we got there I realized I had sent us totally in the wrong direction and didn’t have a clue where we were.  In an anchorage with a hundred boats in the dark they all look the same.  We did finally find our way home.

Brian took advantage of the clear water here to scrub the bottom of the boat and change the zinc on our prop.  We were given a great tip for extending the life of the zinc.  Our is held on with 3 bolts.  These bolt holes in the zinc are where they deteriorate the fastest so if you leave them too long they will just fall off.  We were told to coat the inside of the holes with nail polish before installing the zinc.  What a great idea!

While Brian was replacing the zinc on the prop 071I heard an awful lot of splashing as he raced up the ladder back onto the boat.  It seemed a shark had parked itself under the boat.  It was only a lemon shark about 6 feet long but I guess it startled him.   The set of allen keys were sitting on the bottom on the sand and the zinc only had 1 bolt in it.  We tried to convince the shark to move on with underwater firecrackers but he didn’t seem to get the hint. 


Staniel Cay Yacht Club was having a Superbowl buffet for game night.  Happy hour, then dinner and the game.  Not that we are big football fans it’s more of a social event.  During the day the wind and the waves started to build and we knew it was going to be a wet ride.  We dug out our rain gear to keep us dry on the trip over.  025Brian offered me the rain pants which are a bright yellow extra large set.  Quite flattering!  When rolled up 4 times at the bottom they still came up to my armpits.  I would have worn them but thought they would keep him drier and I could wear my rain coat and a poncho.  We even kind of dressed up a little.

Once we arrived at the dinghy beach there were already a lots of boats there so we stopped in what I thought was about a foot of water.  As I stepped out into the water my foot sunk in the sand and the dinghy kept going.  I tried desperately to hang on but with my foot stuck and the momentum of the dinghy I ended up sitting chest deep in the water.  So graceful!  Ha ha!  A few handfuls of paper towels to dry off and I met the others at the bar.  I did however leave a wet butt print on everything I sat on.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Warderick Wells

We had an easy trip from Norman’s Cay and soon arrived in Warderick Wells.  We had to call ahead to reserve a mooring ball and got one at Emerald Rock.  The scenery here is spectacular! 

We had a nice mooring off the beach, and the north anchorage is in the middle of a natural channel bordered by sand bars.  The colour changes from white to deep blue were stunning.


Warderick Wells is inThe Exuma Land and Sea Park so there is no fishing allowed.  There are trails to walk and plenty of beaches.  No stores or restaurants, no garbage disposal.  They did offer wifi at $15 for 24 hours and we did try it but it couldn’t get anything from the boat.  It was only enough to check emails, not upload photos or check Facebook.

045Our first night we met on the beach for a full moon party with other cruisers.  A typical happy hour potluck affair.  We met new people and caught up with others we had seen at different places along the chain.  As it got dark a few guitars came out and we were visited by some Hutia.  I had never heard of them but they look like an overgrown hamster. They usually eat the vegetation but I guess this is supplemented with snacks from the cruisers.

The next day we climbed Boo Boo hill where visiting cruisers leave signs with their boat names on them.  Not being prepared for this until a few days before we improvised.058  We smuggled a piece of wood from Norman’s Cay and used a magnifying glass to burn our name into it.  This took a little time and a lot of patience because the boat was constantly moving.  It smelled like we had a campfire burning in the cockpit. I had visions of melting a hole in the cockpit cushions. 


Near the north anchorage is a coral garden with 2 floats to tie your dinghy while you snorkel.  There were huge grouper, giant lobster and tons of other fish. 
We also had a little beach time.  Pulling the dinghies up on the sand is not such a good idea when the tide is going out.  We had to drag them out a long way again before we could get the motor down or get in ourselves.


Kathy gave me her recipe and boat tips for making bread.  There’s no turning back now.  We don’t eat a lot of bread, but even a loaf of Wonderbread in the stores costs about $5.  How did I never do this before?  The possiblities are endless.  This one has onion, bacon and cheese dip mix baked on top.004  Good with soup, for sandwiches, or dunked in olive oil and seasonings.

On a sunny day it rises really well in the cockpit because it's just like a greenhouse and on a cooler day the engine room works well.

Norman’s Cay

It’s been a while…
We spent one night at Norman’s Cay where the big draw was McDuff’s bar on the beach.  Unfortunately when we got there it was closed for renovations.  We had all been looking forward to a burger and beer here and although the kitchen was still open they were only serving the construction crews.  McDuff's is now under new ownership and should be up and running some time in March.

Normans cay 023
Normans cay 014
the runway
Normans cay 009
a leftover plane in the hangar
We walked around the end of the island and explored the remains of drug lord Carlos Lehder’s headquarters.  Most of the buildings and houses are abandoned and in ruins.  There is a partially submerged plane left over from the drug days that would have been fun to snorkel around but it was a little too rough.

It will be interesting to see what they will do with the island.  The plans are for a new marina, restaurant, resort and dock and with the runway already in place it makes it easy to bring people in.

Normans cay 028
I bet it was beautiful in it's day

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.