Crossing Plus

Hello everyone,

Well, we had a good time in the Berry Islands, hunting conch, fishing and shelling. We made some new friends and spent some time with old ones. The plan had been to cross the stream during the full moon, to take advantage of the additional light. That was to be near the middle of April.

But Chris, the weather guru, was saying that the next front was going to give us high northeast winds for many days. Then it would take quite a few days for the ocean to calm down somewhat. We weighed the options of crossing earlier in a good weather window that would be a motorboat ride versus waiting for more moon and maybe some wind to sail. The decision was made to take the earlier crossing. Both of us started to work.

I baked muffins, hardboiled eggs and made salmon and egg sandwich toppings. A big pot of chilli was made up and cooled for easy dinners underway. Murray put all of the fuel into the tanks, tied down all gear on deck and readied the boat for rough seas.

At dawn on Thursday April 6th, we hauled anchor and motored out of the cut at Devil’s-Hoffman Cay. A tall ship from The Netherlands was anchored outside and she made a pretty picture in the hazy morning light. We turned our bow north once clear of the reefs off-shore and settled in for a long haul.

The trip was a total of 258 nautical miles and, with the assistance of the Gulf Stream, took us 33 hours total. It was basically uneventful. The ships that we saw were mostly far enough away to keep me happy. In fact, there was very little traffic until we neared Cape Canaveral.

We traveled alone. But, we were in Ham radio contact with people in transit from Abaco to the US and with people on-shore. Plus, you all knew that we were out there.

The wind came up in the morning and we were enjoying a nice sail, when friends radioed with custom’s info. The custom’s office closed at 5 pm. For the weekend. Unless we wanted to stay at anchor until Monday when we could check in, we had best hustle. With engine assist, we made it to the dock by 3:30. But, the cab was delayed while we paced the pavement. Finally, we made it at 4:30! Forms filled out and we are all set for another year of cruising.

Back to the boat, re-fuel ( only used 16 gallons of diesel! ), and motor through the lock at Cape Canaveral to drop the hook in the Banana River. Time for a shower, a rum , dinner and bed.

The next day we moved north to Titusville and anchored. During the evening a very strong cold front with lightning and rain etc blew through, leaving strong northeast winds. We decided to push northward anyway and to play the tides at the shallow inlets that we needed to transit. The next few days were spent birdwatching ( golden eagle, roseate spoonbills, white pelicans etc ), house watching ( huge homes in Daytona area ) and keeping track of our position in the waterway.

On Wed afternoon, we arrived at Green Cove Springs. Now the work begins. Mur will change the oils ( in the engine, dinghy motor and generator ), put in a different heat exchanger to get rid of the overheating problem that continues to plague us and remove the wind generator for repairs. His list is very long but those are some highlights. I have a few sewing projects ( a duvet, blanket and two sets of sheets for the vee berth ), laundry and packing. Probably the next two weeks will fly past quickly.

By early May, we should be on the road again. This time in the trusty Volvo. But, we will keep you informed. See you soon.

Hugs, Heather & Murray

Spring in the Berry Islands

Hello everyone,

Well, we have meandered slowly northward for the last week or two.

Using the strong easterly winds we had a romping sail from Staniel Cay to Shroud Cay on Mar 28th. We traveled under a black cloud that gave us increased winds. Friends were under a similar cloud and there the winds were light! But, we both made the trip in record time and anchored at Shroud. Quickly an expedition was planned to cross through the island by one of the shallow flowing creeks. Forgetting that it was a day with extremely low tides! So, two hours after low tide, we set off. Not far up the creek, we ran aground for the first time. Oh well, we are just early so we will wait awhile for the tide to come up. The guys were not too patient, so out we jump and tow the boats through the shallows. Back in and roar ahead, only to run aground again. That scene was repeated over and over during the afternoon. Finally, we made it to the other side of the island and a beautiful white sand beach that stretched for miles. Too bad that there was so much plastic debris on it! The current was roaring through the area where the dinghies had been left and we were nervous about staying too long. No shelling allowed here anyway as we are inside the Land and Sea Park.

An early start the next morning brought us to Nassau in time to finish the laundry the same day. The anchorage was very rough overnight and, after visiting the grocery and liquor stores, we hauled anchor and moved to a different spot.

Again the super low tides caught us unawares and we sat aground for a couple of hours waiting for the tide to rise, to swing us clear of the shallows. The engine wasn’t able to power us off . Murray had taken the anchor out into deep water and by tightening it slowly, we were able to pull free. The wind continued to blow hard for the next few days and we just stayed put.

One morning we walked downtown to experience the hustle and bustle of the harbour area. Several cruise ships were in at dock and everyone was in a buying frenzy, except us. We got our lunch from a lady with pots in her trunk – chicken breast, peas and rice and macaroni and cheese for $8. One meal fed us both and we skipped dinner that night.

We departed Nassau and sailed to Frazer Hog Cay at the south end of the Berry Island chain. Friends, Horst & Sharifa on Sunborne, were already anchored there and invited us for dinner aboard. The next day was an expedition looking for conch. Mur and I swam and towed the dinghy for what seemed like miles. But, seven conch landed in the dinghy so the hunting was good. There were hundreds of starfish around, in various colours from dark orange to almost camouflaged green. One starfish was seen all humped up on the bottom. Mur dove down and turned it over to find a mid sized conch in it’s grasp. It is true then, that starfish do eat conch.

Our friends headed west for Bimini and then to cross to the US, while we sailed on northward. The winds were light but we managed to sail most of the 25 miles to Devil’s-Hoffman Cays. We dropped anchored and set up the big canvas cover to protect us from the intense sun. This spring sun will burn us even after all winter becoming tanned.

An evening cocktail party was already planned for a nearby beach and we joined in. The beautiful sunset, the crackling fire and new friends to visit with – what more could we want for?

Plans? Well, we will stay here a week or so, until our supplies dwindle too low. Then, we will sail on over to the land of grocery stores. Probably we will make our crossing from Great Stirrup Cay, just north of us, to Port Canaveral, which will take 36 hours or so.

Near the first part of May, we will be loading the car once again for the drive north to Ontario. In one hour in the car, we can travel as far as we normally do in one day in the ICW! But it takes us a while to get used to the speeds again.

Sure hope that your spring is approaching up there with signs of grass and flowers popping up. Has the snow all gone yet or are there still some piles holding on? Enjoy and we will see you all soon.

Hugs, Heather & Murray