Rare Occurrences

This week has seen two very rare occurrences in our cruising time here in the Bahamas.

The first was our three day stay at The Marina at Emerald Bay, as we seldom stay in marinas in the islands. This one is a first class operation. The dockhand, once he has you tied securely to a floating concrete dock, lays out a rug, decorated with the marina’s logo, on the dock. They have golf carts available to whisk you off to the beach, pools or shopping areas. The bathroom/showers are individual rooms with toilet, sink and shower. By the sink are bottles of hand soap, lotion, mouthwash and sunscreen. In the shower area, there are containers of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and shaving soap. These are all in bottles with the marina logo.

The laundry area has 3 washer and 3 dryers, all high-end front loaders. And these do not have a coin slot as they are free for marina guests. The office has two lounges, one downstairs and one up. The downstairs one is smaller but has a desk, some comfortable furniture and books and magazines. Upstairs was the exclusive club for members but is now open to marina guests. There you will find washrooms, a bar ( not operating ), a pool table and a large lounge with 50 inch flat screen TV, two or three desks, a large couch and several tables and chairs. The wireless internet access is also free but gave us some difficulty from time to time. Not far down the road was a well stocked grocery store where we were able to re-provision with fresh fruits and vegetables. The best part of this stay? It only cost us 0.50/ft on an un-serviced dock.

We departed the marina on Monday morning, into what was predicted to be a 5 – 10 knot breeze from the south. Huh! It was blowing at least 20 and we had to motor right into it. Not a comfy ride and we were glad to drop the hook in George Town for the night.

On Monday, we rose early and departed for the long trip down to Water Cay in the Jumentos. The wind had died and thus it was a hot motorboat ride. Murray had both fishing lines out with nary a hit. Once we entered the shallow Comer Channel, we were behind a trawler headed the same way. But shortly thereafter, he disappeared into a fog bank! Fog! In the Bahamas! We traveled in the fog for four hours with the trawler ahead appearing and disappearing. Talking to the captain of the trawler, he said that in thirty years cruising the Bahamas, he had never seen fog.

Luckily, it cleared out and we motored into the anchorage at Water Cay near 4 pm after a 60 mile day. The wind picked up just as we climbed into bed. The bed rose and fell about a foot or more as the waves built around us. Eventually we did sleep some and the wind died again as dawn approached.

Today we are headed on further into the Jumentos, planning to anchor at Buenavista Cay for a few days. We have spent time here on previous visits and dove on the reefs in the anchorage with Doug & Connie on High Stepper. They were unable to travel this winter due to medical issues and we miss their company very much.

Hugs to all up north and stay warm,
Heather & Murray

PS As I send this out, we are safely anchored at Buenavista and the water temp is 82F!

Slight Detour

No matter how many plans we make, they can be changed in an instant by forces outside of your control. And that is exactly what has happened recently.

The wind howled for the last few days and we spent our afternoons playing cards, reading and watching videos. And, while watching a movie, we must have popcorn. Just as we neared the end of the bowl, Murray commented on the fact that he had found a stone in his popcorn. Examining the “stone”, I noted that it was actually a filling. One of his wisdom teeth had lost a filling! The resultant hole is sharp and, although painless right now, needs looking after.

Using the ham radio ‘net, we obtained the name and phone number of a dentist who comes to George Town weekly, when required. Yesterday, we called his office and were given an appointment for this Saturday morning. His office is in Farmer’s Hill, on Great Exuma. And thus, the rest of the story..

The same person who passed on the info re the dentist also informed us that Emerald Bay Marina and Resort is having a “deal” on dockage. Normally we wouldn’t even consider a marina. But, they are charging $0.50/ft ( 3 day minimum ), free laundry and free internet, plus use of all of the resort amenities including pools etc. Murray can walk from the marina to the dentist’s office, rather than an expensive taxi ride from George Town. So, on Thursday we will enter Emerald Bay, planning to depart on Sunday.

With wireless, we will try to make some Skype calls and catch up with e-mails that have been sent to the gmail account.

Take care and maybe we can talk soon. Hugs,
Heather & Murray

Showers al Fresco

Hello everyone,

A recent question made me realize that most people have not seen our boat and have no idea how we do even the simplest things. Thus this latest message.

Our “head” or bathroom is quite large as boat heads go. It is approximately 4 ft by 4 ft, with a counter along one side. This gives us about a 2 by 4 foot floor space. Part of this space is taken up by the toilet. The counter has a small sink in it, cupboards above and below and a cut-out in the top called “the hell hole”. This hole gives me lots of room to store extra towels and supplies.

To shower in the head, we string a cut-down shower curtain along the windows, protecting the counter and drawers from water. One person sits on the closed toilet seat while the other sprays water on them. The waste water accumulates below the floor grate and is pumped over by a sump pump. But, as the pump doesn’t always work and the whole room then needs to be dried, we seldom use the indoor shower.

Instead, Murray has cut a shower panel with hot and cold water, into the cockpit combing. This works very well. Except when it is cold, as it has been the last few days. The cold wind blowing over wet skin is not especially inviting. And, of course, the water is only hot if we have been motoring. Otherwise, it is just at the water temperature of the surrounding seas. That might be in the low 70’s ( 20C ) or cooler.

To shower, we sit on the cockpit seats, slightly out of view from neighbouring boats. One person, seated next to the shower controls, runs the water and gets us both wet and then turns off the water. We apply shampoo and then soap ourselves. Then, the rinse cycle, making sure to get all of the soap off but not use too much of the precious water supply. Then we wrap ourselves in large towels to warm up and dry off. Murray mops the cockpit seats with a string mop and the job is completed.

Once the days warm up, we will take navy showers. That is, we jump into the salt water and wash hair and all with shampoo. Bar soap will not suds in salt water. Once we are squeaky clean, we climb back aboard using the ladder and rinse off with fresh water to remove the salt. This can all be done either in bathing suits or without, depending on the closeness of nearby vessels.

So, as you can well imagine, we very much appreciate the first few showers at home, where the water is always hot, the shower has a door and the wind isn’t whistling through the rigging.

That is life aboard.

Hugs from the clean,
Heather & Murray

Passages South

Hello everyone,

On Dec 26th, our alarm sounded at 0430. It was time to go! The wind had died somewhat overnight and we were making a daylight crossing of the Gulf Stream, an unusual event for us. By shortly after 0500, we were underway in the dark, finding our way between the lit markers ( and some unlit ones ) out into the Atlantic. Course was set for Lucaya and we settled back to allow the autopilot to do it’s job.

The seas were confused, as usual, with waves coming from all directions making the boat toss to and fro. Both of the sails were full but with not quite enough wind to allow us to sail. So, the motor continued to tick over and we started the watermaker ( with it’s new, expensive membranes ). Clear drinkable water was produced within 15 minutes! Yeah, at least that problem is fixed.

There was a definite lack of shipping within our sight during this trip, even when we reached Freeport. There were only three or four large ships awaiting attention at the busy seaport that Freeport has become. The sun set as we piloted the south coast of Grand Bahamas and it was full dark when we arrived at Lucaya. The entrance markers were brightly lit and we boldly entered, making our way into a canal to anchor. The trip only took 13 hours but we were pretty tired.

In the morning, we hauled anchor and proceeded to Lucayan Marina to re-fuel and clear customs. That process was accomplished quickly and efficiently and soon we were back at anchor. After launching the dinghy, we wandered through the town and marvelled at the scant number of tourists around. Most of the shops were empty of customers and this was the busy Christmas season.

First light found us underway once again, this time headed south towards the Berry Islands. The seas were flat calm, with no wind when we set out. By noon, the wind filled in but still behind us. Motorsailing on, we reached Great Stirrup Cay by 1700 hrs and, after some difficulty, got the anchor set. Overnight the wind howled in the rigging.

Early morning once again, we hauled anchor and headed out the cut. Once in deep water we turned the bow southward again, headed to Devil’s/Hoffman Cays just 25 miles away. Just one vessel was anchored within our sight as we dropped the anchor on the shallow banks behind Hoffman Cay. The dinghy was launched once again as we planned to be here a few days.

Devil’s Cay’s beaches beckoned and we planned a shelling expedition. But, on the way, Murray dragged a hook and landed a 6 lb Yellow Jack. Back to the boat to store him out of the sun and off we headed again. A few hours were spent hiking the beaches in search of unusual shells. Some specimens were added to the buckets but nothing really special.

Two other boats had arrived and it was time to plan a New Year’s Eve beach party. We made the rounds of the anchored boats to extend invitations for the following evening at a nearby beach. Murray snorkeled on a shallow reef and shot a couple of lobsters to add to the menu. He made some smashed fish and I mixed up curried lobster ( all from Devil’s/Hoffman! ). Everyone showed up and even Chester, the owner of Flo’s Conch Bar on Little Harbour Cay, came. It was an early evening though as we all sped back to our vessels before the sunset.

On New Years Day, Murray went out dragging a line from the dinghy again and caught a ten pound mutton snapper! He said that it was like having a cement block on the line as it almost pulled him out of the dinghy. During the early evening, the wind picked up and a nearby vessel started to swing wildly around their anchor. It was a full-keeled sailboat and, with the wind and current, it was doing doughnuts around their anchor. Some of the passes were coming uncomfortably close to us! We pulled in some chain and also put down another anchor to try to stay safe. Neither one of us slept much and we moved over near White Cay early in the morning.

By the morning of Jan 3rd, the winds and seas had subsided, allowing us to head on to Nassau. All fishing lines were deployed but without any luck today. Monday, the job list was quickly ticked off, as groceries, fuel and clean laundry were bundled aboard and stowed. Today the wind is blowing hard again and I have taken advantage of the cool weather to bake some banana muffins and a pumpkin quick bread for treats or even a fast breakfast in the coming days.

Yes, I did say cool weather. It isn’t snowing here but most people are bundled up in coats and hats. Temperatures may reach the mid 60’sF.

Tomorrow we plan to head south again, into the Exumas. Another cold front, with lots of west and northwest winds, is due soon and we will need to find someplace to hide. Never have we seen so much wind from the west and northwest as we have experienced so far this winter. Hopefully, it will soon get back to the usual pattern of east winds, clocking briefly into the west only when a front passes.

Take care all and write when you have time.

Hugs,
Murray & Heather

Updated Website

I have updated the appearance of the website. Not sure that the photo interface is as good as the old one but I will see if I can improve that a bit in the future. But, I think things look better this way. Let us know if you have any issues with these changes.