Waiting for weather

Hi everyone,

It is a week since Robin & Jane left us and we have’t moved very far in that time. The wind has blown very hard ( 20 – 30 kns ) from the north to northeast for the whole time. And where do we want to go? To the north ! We have to make a passage on the outside of the islands – a distance of 50 miles and the waves have been coming all the way from Africa! They are huge out there and everyone is sitting and waiting for a break. We have moved somewhat – from Hatchet Bay to Spanish Wells to Royal Island but even those short protected trips were wet ones with waves crashing against the boat. So here we sit – in a hurricane hole surrounded by blue green water with bright sunshine above. Sounds pretty hard to take, right.

We caught another fish yesterday – a 4 ft barracuda! Darn things keep taking our lure. This one we dragged for a mile or so and drowned him so that we could get our lure back. Not a nice thing to do, but he was too big for me to hold while Murray used the pliers to retrieve it. And those teeth are huge.

Our passage up to the Abacos takes us over some very deep water – 2600 fathoms or 15600 feet ! That’s deep ! We have to enter onto the banks again after the 45 miles and if the winds are too high or the waves to large, the pass may be un-usable. Then I guess we would heave-to and wait for better weather. This is a much better spot to wait. When we get onto the banks, it is only another part day to Marsh Harbour. We plan to stay in that area for a month or two and enjoy the snorkeling and explore quiet anchorages. We hope there is someplace nearby where we can send e-mail and stay in touch with everyone.

I am so glad I had stocked up on canned goods before we left the US as we often cannot get fresh vegetables here. Or fruit. I bought some bananas yesterday and that was the first in a long time. We miss the fresh oranges and juice available in Florida. I also bought a six pound salami that didn’t require refrigeration but we haven’t started on that yet. Snack foods are very expensive here but available. Peanut butter is a terrible price – $3 for a small jar – but luckily, I’m the only one that eats it and I have part of a jar left. Rum is cheap but pop to mix it with is expensive ( $ 13/ case ). I have baked bread but only twice so far. We have been able to buy it most places. I did make English muffins a couple of times and they are simple and very good.

The solar panels have been working well for us. We didn’t have to start the engine to charge batteries for three days. The solar panels kept up with most of the demand. And they are much quieter than the windmills that some boats have.

Mar 31st

Well, we did it – we are in Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island now. Yesterday we left Royal Island early and sailed 60 miles through waves of heights varying from 5 – 15 ft. The wind was up and down but mostly up. And so was my stomach – at least upset. Murray caught a fish on the passage and he really put up a fight – the fish that is. And eventually the fish won as he broke the tackle and was gone with Murray’s favourite lure. As with most fish stories, he was a big one. Murray said it was much more difficult to reel in than the 48 ” barracuda. I’m just as glad we didn’t land him because we had 3 more hours to sail and what would we do with a big fish in the cockpit!

We entered through Little Harbour Bar between the breaking waves and anchored down for the night behind Laynard Cay. There were 8 – 10 sailboats and 3 trawlers there as well. We got up early again today and continued on to Marsh Harbour, negotiating our way between the sand bars and shallows. The water is incredibly clear and a lovely turquoise-blue. We had our anchor down here by 11:30 and will go ashore to explore and hopefully, send e-mail.

All the best to everyone,

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

Visitors from the North

Hi everyone,

It is Sunday, Mar 22nd and the sky is very overcast. But no rain today. We are back in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera awaiting weather to move to Royal Island to await weather to move to the Abacos. Lots of waiting, I have certainly learned to be more patient this winter.

We had a great week with Robin & Jane Hewson. We caught 3 fish – 2 barracuda ( one was huge! ) and a mutton snapper. The last one made a lovely meal for the four of us and we managed to release the barracuda with no loss of lure or limb. Well, Robin did get a nasty blister on his thumb from the reel during the fight with the large barracuda. We had several seafood dinners while they were here – grouper and conch as well as the snapper. I have discovered that I can not eat conch. I have been ill every time after eating it and the last time was very violently sick. So, no more of that for me.

We spent a night or two in Royal Island again and then moved over to Spanish Wells. A man we had met on a previous visit arranged a tour of Harbour Island for us. A ferry boat picked us up at the boat and took us across to the mainland. A taxi was waiting there and took us to the ferry to Harbour Island. We spent the day walking and riding on a rented golf cart and seeing the sights. The beaches are lovely and slightly pink but the wind was so strong that it was not a day to sit on the beach. We met some other boaters and had lunch and then shopped and headed back to our boat to rest our tired feet. When we returned to Hatchet Bay, we arranged to rent a car for 24 hrs and did a land cruise. There is a bridge on the island that was shoved 7 feet askew by a rogue wave in 1991. It is unbelievable! And they still drive on it. Robin drove ( on the left ! ) and we saw most of the island in our allotted time and managed to get them to the airport on time only to discover that their plane was very late. Snowstorm up north was the word from the airline. When we left, there was a plane coming to take them to Freeport were the Canada 3000 would meet them. I imagine they were very tired when they got home. Here on the boat, we went to bed at about 8:30 – 9:00ish!

The wind is supposed to switch around tomorrow and allow us to move on. We will dinghy ashore later and send this out today. I am sure this will be the last contact until Marsh Harbour which may be a week or more from now.

Hope everyone is staying well. All the best from the islands, mon!

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

Royal Island to Eleuthera

Hi everyone,

It is now March 13th and we are in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera awaiting the arrival of Robin and Jane Hewson. We spent a week anchored in Royal Island with a short hop to Spanish Wells for supplies. Yesterday we sailed ( actually turned off the motor ! ) here through a very narrow gap, called Current Cut. We calculated our arrival time to co-coincide with slack water and had a relatively easy passage through the cut. There are rocks and shallows to avoid.

Hatchet Bay is a small town with little in the way of shops or groceries. The marina office has a few fresh vegetables for sale but they had seen better days. We have had very little fresh fruit and veggies since Nassau. And there was little fruit there. I am glad I bought all of those cans.

In a week or so, we will head towards the Abacos and Marsh Harbour. A lot of the other cruisers are also heading in that direction and we are looking forward to meeting up with some old friends. Dromenon is headed that way and we heard that they were lucky enough to recover their dinghy which had been missing. Silent Running is in Rum Cay awaiting weather to return to George Town due to transmission and autohelm problems. I’m not sure if that will postpone their trip to Venezuela or just delay it.

Hope all is well with you and the winter is almost over. Think warm thoughts.

Love to all

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

Nassau to Royal Island

We spent much more time than anticipated in Nassau – 6 days. After the larder was replenished, we explored. On Paradise Island is a casino/hotel complex called Atlantis which has a huge aquarium containing rays, sharks, snappers, barracuda, etc etc. It is a huge area and we spent an afternoon there. We also stopped in to the casino and left behind $5! Last of the big spenders. On the way back to the boat, we found a restaurant with happy hour drinks and a free buffet. Lunch for two for $6 ! What a deal! That is rare in Nassau where meals are very expensive.

The next two nights were very lumpy with high winds and waves. But our anchors held well. Our neighbour had anchored very strangely placing his anchor chain in large arcs on the harbour bottom. With the high wind, he started to come back on us and refused to move. So, we dragged our anchor backwards and away from him.

On Monday, we did the laundry and picked up a couple of items we had forgotten at the store. Late in the day, we prepared to leave but Murray came down with a “bug” and was running a fever. I bundled him into bed with some tylenol in hopes that he would feel better in the am.

Tuesday dawned windy but ffrom the right direction to sail to our destination. We got the anchors up and waved farewell to our friends. On the way out the harbour, we met two ships coming in but managed to slip through. The next stop was 40 + miles away across the tongue of the ocean.

The fishing line was rigged with the new lure that had been guaranteed to catch dolphin fish and catch one we did. But did we land it? No! Just as Murray was bringing it up the transom, it shook itself off the hook and disappeared. What a pretty fish it was – all bright gold and blue. It looked to be about 2 feet long. Oh well, the lure does work. We tossed it back in.

The wind had increased as usual, and we had to reduce sail by reefing the main. Just after 2 pm, we entered the banks and the waves calmed down. Shortly after that, the fishing line went off again. This time we landed a mutton snapper – also a good size. The entry into Royal Island is a little tricky, so the fish had to wait till we were safely anchored. When Murray cleaned him, we had 3 lbs of meat. Which we cooked on the grill with some honey, soy sauce and garlic. Mmmm good.

The next day was spent exploring this island with its abandoned houses. There are many stories about why the people left and who knows what is true. The tile floors in the house are still intact. But the roof and upper story floors are gone. There are remnants of bathroom with sinks and showers. The only living things on the island seem to be roosters and snakes. We saw two of the later and heard the former crowing.

One of the boats in the anchorage is owned by a man who was a weather forecaster and he helped me read the weather fax. He has invited us to visit him in the Chesapeake this summer. Perhaps we will.

Friday morning, and we are alone here. All the other boats have left. We spread the foam from our bed on the foredeck and enjoyed some sun bathing. Then, we jumped in the dinghy for more exploration – this time the reef offshore. It was a long dinghy ride but we drifted over the reef for quite a while, looking through the “look bucket”. This is a bucket with a clear bottom. Then to a beach to hunt for shells and swim. Finally, cocktails and a steak bar-be-que as the sun sets. What a wonderful day!

We will stay here for a few days, then stock up in Spanish Wells and sail to Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera to meet Robin and Jane Hewson. We will certainly bring them to Royal Island to enjoy its peace and quiet. And beaches.

Now, I seem to be catching Murray’s bug and have trouble keeping my eyes open. So, bye for now. I hope to send this in Spanish Wells soon.

Love to all,

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