Chub Cay to Nassau

Hi everyone,

We had spent four nights in Chub Cay at the marina. The wind was howling through the rigging the whole time. The group had got together three times at the little tiki bar/hut. Twice for pot-luck cocktail parties and once for a pot-luck dinner. Murray had bought some conch and I made a conch creole that was excellent. But, it was time to move on. The wind had finally died down Tuesday evening and everyone was making preparations to head out.

Wednesday dawned clear and sunny with a little breeze. We left the island and headed the 30 odd miles to Nassau. Motorsailing, again. But, the water was gorgeous and very deep – 1500 meters in one spot. We trailed our fishing line again but had no luck. One of the boats caught a 36 inch dolphin fish or mahi-mahi. He was thrilled as he said it had long been one of his dreams. They will eat well for many days. We arrived in Nassau at about 4 pm and there were two cruise ships in the harbour plus many other freighters etc. This is a very busy place. We got our two anchors down without much problem and then waited for the tide to switch to make sure everything was set well.

Murray invited everyone over for drinks – but our bar is pretty depleted. I provided snacks and everyone brought their own drinks. A different kind of cocktail party than is usual at home. We slept like logs that night. The fresh air and sunshine makes for early bedtimes.

On Thursday, we loaded into the dinghy and headed for a shore adventure. We walked to the base of Paradise Island bridge to the open air market to check out prices of produce. Then found a spot where we can send e-mail – $6 US! But that’s the only place around. We walked up a long hill to the grocery store and picked up some items that we could carry in the back packs and then walked into town. Some local boaters organize a luncheon every Thursday at the Sugar Reef. We are just in time for that. Then, off to the liquor supplier. Luckily, he will deliver to the dinghy dock. In fact, he even delivers us. Boy, are we pooped. We have walked many miles. Back to the boat to wash all the bottles before we bring them aboard. Also get rid of all cardboard that may harbour insects or insect eggs. I don’t want any un-invited guests aboard. Another cocktail party, on Lo n Slo this time. Just before sunset, the schooner Empire Sandy went out for a cruise with all sails up. What a lovely sight.

Now, it is Friday morning and the sky is a lovely blue again. Two ships have just entered the harbour – one cruise ship and a freighter. The traffic has begun again. The five mph speed limit seems only to apply to visitors. The local boats “go like hell”. Sometimes it is even difficult to walk around on our boat from the wave action. Today, we will send e-mail and visit the marine store and grocery store again. And perhaps get downtown to the straw market and the rest of the stores.

This will probably be our last contact for a while. Once we leave here, it will probably be difficult to connect to a phone.

Best to all and enjoy your spring/winter.

Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA
PS Please don’t send our whole message back to us with your reply as we
pay for telephone time at an outrageous rate here in the islands.

Island Time

Hello from the Bahamas!!!

We made it! After 15 years of dreaming, 5 years of planning and 6 months of traveling, we are finally in the Bahamas. We left Miami at midnight on Wednesday in calm wind conditions, and made a run for the islands. There were about 14 boats that left at the same time. Everyone had been waiting for an opening.

After the moon rose, visibility was quite good. But as is always the case, the weather reports were not quite accurate. We meet several line squalls and even thunderstorms. But we had it good. Other boats really got beaten up. With the radar, we could see exactly how large the storm was and get an idea of how long it may last.

As we got closer to the islands, the winds increased and, of course, so did the waves. To make the entrance into Cat Cay, it is necessary to come very close to Gun Cay and then hug the shore to clear around the sandbar. It was very disconcerting to come that close to the island, especially with the wave and wind conditions. The water out in the Gulf Stream was a navy blue with lots of white foam crests. But close to the islands, it became a gorgeous blue-green and very clear. And the sand is soooo white!

We entered the marina at Cat Cay ( pronounced key ) and cleared customs. We were the first boat of the convoy to make it in! By 11 am, it was time to slip our lines again and move out to an anchorage and get some much needed sleep. We had a short nap and then jumped into the salty water to cool off. That actually is hard to do in water that is close to 78 F! It sure felt good to me. The sun was shining and very intense on our pale skin. We must remember to use lots of sunscreen.

Tomorrow, we will cross the Bahama Bank heading towards Chub Cay. As it is quite a distance, we may anchor on the banks tomorrow night. That will be quite disconcerting – open ocean as far as you can see from your anchored boat. Hopefully, at Chubb, we will be able to send e-mail.

Well, we are anchored on the banks with 7 other boats. There is not a light to be seen in any direction except for the anchor lights. The boat is tossing a bit from the waves but it is supposed to calm down soon. On the barbeque is our first fish dinner. We caught a mackerel on a hand line today. I have stuffed it with lime and onions and wrapped it in foil to bake on the grill. We may learn to live off of the sea yet.

A storm is forecast for late Friday,so we will be up early and under way for Chub Cay. We sure didn’t sleep much. Our bed was rising 4 or 5 feet into the air with the waves. And, just to add to the fun, the waves smacked hard and loudly against our stern.

We crossed the rest of the banks and found our way into the deep water again. The entrance to Chub is a little tricky, with a reef and shoal that must be threaded between. We will stay here until the storms pass – perhaps two or three days. There are a large number of the boats that crossed from Florida here as well. I’m sure we will think up some mischief to entertain ourselves.

Now if I can just send my e-mail!!

Love to all

Heather
Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA

Lake Worth to Miami

Hello everyone,

Just a brief note to update you on our progress.

We spent a day in Lake Worth and sent e-mail, as you know. We met a couple on another boat interested in crossing to the Bahamas but it looked like no window existed. So, Thursday morning, we rose early and prepared for an offshore run to Ft Lauderdale. As we left, the other boat called and said the window looked good for tonight. We loaded on fuel and water and anchored near the outlet to the sea in preparation. Everything loose below decks was carefully stowed. Pulses quickened and, even though we tried to nap, sleep wouldn’t come. Just before we were to leave, we checked with the weather guru, Herb, and he indicated wind switching to the north west at midnight. No go ! If the wind is from the north at all, the gulf stream is not a good place to be. When we arose in the am, it looked as though the wind had stayed SW to SE, although that was inshore. Who knows what is going on out there.

But we did go out on the great blue ocean anyway. We traveled offshore to Ft Lauderdale, motor-sailing as the winds died. We were in water that was up to 200 ft deep. The fishing line, that trailed behind, did not catch anything for dinner. Oh well, I thawed some chicken. A large cruise ship chased us into the inlet at Lauderdale. But he didn’t go under the bridge! We motored a little way up the ICW and found an anchorage in Lake Sylvia. We are surrounded by very expensive homes and large hotels. A 24 hr limit is placed on anchoring here. But tomorrow we will move on to Miami, just 20 miles on the outside.

Feb 14th. We spent Valentine’s Day on the ocean being bounced around. The wind was from the NW and so far astern that we could not make our course but had to tack down wind. The seas were very lumpy and confused. But, we hadn’t seen anything yet! The entrance channel to Miami harbour was wild! Waves crashed into our boat from all sides and a small fishing boat tried to go between us a large ship. The fishing boat was tossed like a cork and almost crashed into us. Eventually we got inside the breakwater and into calmer water. At least it should be calmer! There was so much traffic of cigarette boats, cruisers, jet skis, ferries etc etc that the channel was extremely rough. Eventually, we found our way to a very calm, protected anchorage at Marine Stadium. Before Hurricane Andrew water shows were held here but the facility was very damaged in the storm and not re-built. Here we found some boats that we had met previously and had invitations to cocktails on one boat and dinner on another within an hour of anchoring! This seems like a great place!

Most of the boats here are awaiting a weather window to cross to the Bahamas. From here it is only about an eight hour sail to Gun Cay or Bimini. Just a short hop! If the weather is good! For the next several days, it sounds like it will be very bad, so I am glad we have a secure anchorage in which to wait. The soonest we may cross is Thursday. Now we have to re-stock with fresh vegetables and bread and get the laundry bucket out. The toilet plunger and bucket laundry does quite a good job. There also is a beach nearby where we can swim if it gets warm enough. In fact the anchorage looks very clean and inviting but just a little cold today.

I am not aware of anywhere to send this e-mail from, but I will be looking. Friends, Charlie and Nancy Stevens, are staying nearby and we will try to connect with them on Sunday.

All the best to everyone.

Heather
Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA

Vero Beach to Lake Worth

Hello everyone,

Well, we finally did it – we threw off our dock lines. That was a difficult thing to do after seven weeks at dock!

By the time everything was ready, it was almost noon. We left anyway. Heather & Jeff VanDyke were aboard for the trip as far as Ft Pierce. It was sunny but quite cold with a lot of wind blowing. We let out a tiny piece of sail and motorsailed down the waterway. We did a great job of docking at Ft Pierce and were lucky that the tide was slack and the current wasn’t as bad as usual. A frozen pair of passengers left us there and we continued on to Big Mud Creek. The book had said that it was a protected anchorage and a good spot to see manatees. The entrance channel didn’t seem to have as much water as the guide book said and my captain looked at me with questions written all over him. But, we kept going as we were committed by then. Inside, there was a lot of water! Fourty feet in fact! A little deep to anchor but we did it. We were all alone except for pelicans and manatees. We enjoyed the sunset and a lovely dinner and then an early night.

Up early and moving the next day, with lots of water in the entrance channel now. The tide was up. This was bridge day. There was at least six of those things, all on different timetables. Along the waterway were incredible houses with beautiful grounds right up to the water. And mega yachts. At other spots, the scenery was quite wild and undeveloped with mangroves and sand dunes along the waterway. We arrived in Lake Worth / West Palm Beach at three pm. Shortly after our anchor was down, we saw two other boats that we had seen in Vero. Dinghies were launched and we caught up with all the news. It sounds like it was no advantage to have left Vero a week ago as everyone stayed in marinas here due to the bad weather and high winds.

We will stay here a day or so a wait for good weather to cross to the islands but if it doesn’t materialize, we will head off-shore to Miami and maybe take in the boat show. Just what we need – more gear!

I will write again when there is more news. All the best to all.

Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA

Engine

Hi everyone,

I hope this is the last time that I say to you “We are still in Vero Beach”. Tuesday, the 3rd, Murray installed the engine and we started it before the end of the afternoon! She purrs like a kitten. We have to do some sea trials before we head off, but on Saturday, we “be gone”. It has been a long time tied to this dock.

The people we have met here have made our wait quite enjoyable. We have made many friends on the dock and will miss them when we move on. Jeff and Heather Van Dyke have been just wonderful to us – feeding us and loaning us their car. Jeff and Murray have re-done most parts of the little Honda, so that, when we return it, it will be better than ever. Jeff and Heather are going to travel with us this weekend as we proceed on down the waterway.

As you have probably heard on the news, there is quite a storm going on in Florida at this time. In fact, they are calling it ” The Storm of ’98”.In Miami, they had wind speeds of 104 mph! There have been several tornados touch down. Most boaters are staying hunkered down and not even traveling the ICW. So, we have been very glad to be tied to a secure dock in a harbour with very little wave action. Monday night, after the engine was lowered into its bed, one of our neighbours on the dock invited us up to their condo for dinner. So, we watched the first of the storm in comfort. The lightning was spectacular but the thunder didn’t seem to indicate a close strike. During that night, about four inches of rain fell! Since then, it has not rained again heavily. But the wind has just not let up. The boat sits here straining at her lines – of course, it doesn’t help that we are doing an engine burn as well. Even when the engine is not running, she bucks and pulls. I think she is trying to tell us ” It’s time to move”.

Since we have been sitting, Murray has worked on the teak and many of the other jobs on the list. The teak just glistens now. He has four coats of satin and three of glossy Cetol on it. He has added a remote oil filter system for the engine that will allow him to more readily reach the oil filter. We put two teak steps on the boarding ladder. And I think every cubby-hole is full of stores for the Bahamas. We found a box that will fit in the dinghy and hold safety equipment while also acting as a seat for me. The dinghy itself also needed repairs. The patch, that we had put on after the close encounter with an oyster bed, was leaking and needed replacing. I attacked the mildew that seemed to suddenly appear in the back of our lockers. Almost every locker had to be emptied, cleaned,dried and then re-packed. So, we have been busy here.

Due to the wind conditions, I think we will stay in the waterway as we go further south. If it works out, we may attend the Miami Boat Show near mid February. But, we can’t spend any more money. The budget is still reeling from the engine hit! What a time for the dollar to be at an all time low!

Once we leave here, it will be hit and miss for the e-mail. We have to find someplace that will allow us to us their phone line. That means we have to be ashore during business hours. And that means we are not moving. When we get to the Bahamas, the major centres have phone buildings where calls can be placed and we can hook-up. But, we will try to stay in touch with everyone. It may just be less frequently.

This is Windswept IV signing off for now. All the best to everyone.

Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA