Crossing The Stream

I had promised ( or was it a threat? ) to write more about our crossing. It was fairly uneventful which is a good thing for us but boring for you.

About 0830 Murray hauled the anchor and we departed Great Sale Cay in the Abacos on the start of our 150 nm journey. It was a fleet of six vessels, all headed the same direction. Sojourn, Flextime, About Time and W4 were joined by two US vessels, Feral Cat, a PDQ 36 with Rich and his two cats aboard and First Draft, a Little Harbour 51. Rather than list all of the names as we made radio calls, the fleet needed to be named. Bob on Flextime came up with AZONE for AZ ( for Rich ) and ON for the rest. Just then First Draft spoke up and said they were joining in and were from NY. So, AZONY Fleet became the final name and, if a radio call was put out, all of us would switch to channel 06 VHF and check in.

DSCF0168During the afternoon, we had a visitor aboard. It was a very small, about three inch, bluish bird with a yellow chest. Hopping about on the cushions, he twice attempted to climb into the leg of my shorts. He showed no fear of humans and we could almost touch him. He checked out the boat and spent a little time before flying off again. But, before he left, I managed to get some pictures. My bird book is either LOB ( lost on board ) or LIT ( left in Tillsonburg ) so I wasn’t sure of his identification. Rich has since identified him as a Tropical Parula, mostly found in Texas. He was certainly a long ways from land so hopefully he made it somewhere safely.

Nightfall found us at the deep water off of Matanilla Shoal waypoint. By now the seas were becoming confused and larger than expected. The winds were still very light and our mainsail only served to steady the boat a little.

Once again, the AIS was an awesome addition to our group. With it, we were able to access the name of the large ships nearby and, on three occasions, members of the fleet called the ship by name and got an immediate response from that vessel. Twice the ship changed course to avoid us. Those course changes were so minimal that they would not have been detected on a radar or with the naked eye but we were able to see them with the AIS.

Through the night, other than watching for ships, things were uneventful and the fleet checked in every two hours. By dawn, we were just off of Cape Canaveral and the small boat traffic increased as fisherman dashed out to catch the first of the day.

In Canaveral, the fleet split up. Some went to marinas, some continued on but us Canadians had to check in with Customs. Flextime joined us at Port Canaveral Yacht Club’s tee dock. There we used Bob and Jane’s cell phone to call in. Luckily the customs agent would be in the office briefly. The 1.5 mile walk was made as quickly as we could and soon we were on our way again, documents in hand. Through the lock we went and on to Titusville where we had an early dinner and were in bed before 1930 and slept for 11 hours.

On Monday, we launched the dinghies and visited the town of Titusville. Refueling both diesel and propane was on Murray’s list while I wanted fresh orange juice and a few vegetables and snacks. Time was even found to catch up with the laundry. Oh, the joy of sleeping on clean sheets again!

Today ( Tuesday ) we hauled anchor at 0700 and headed on north. Luck was with us as we made it through the lift bridge in the Haulover Canal just before it closed for 1 hr 45 minutes due to the landing of the space shuttle. Seemingly right above us, the twin sonic booms made us jump even though it was expected. This time we were unable to see the shuttle as it landed.

Tonight we are anchored at the cement plant and maybe will make it to the St John River by late tomorrow. That should get us to the marina by Thursday or Friday at the latest. Hopefully, we can schedule our haul for the following Fri or Sat. That would be the 30th of April or the 1st of May. And so the work begins. That too is life aboard.

We will warn you before we head your way.

Hugs to all

Heather & Murray

Abacos

Hello all

We had a grand sail all the way to Abaco, entering the shallows at Little Harbour bar. The three vessels traveled well together making approximately the same speed and arriving at the cut with only 30 mins between the first and last boat. But it was too rough out there for fishing. Even Murray put his pole away.

In the morning, we all moved northward to anchor near Boat Harbour to take shelter from the expected strong north winds. Seldom do vessels anchor here but by the end of a couple of days of north winds, there were seven or eight boat anchored around us. We dinghied to the nearby marina to check it out. There was a fee of $25 to land your dinghy but it could be put towards a restaurant or bar charge. Rob and Mary, s/v Sojourn, offered to treat us to lunch and picked up the dinghy charges. We had hoped that we would have access to the laundry for that fee but it was not allowed. Walking along the sidewalks into town, we checked out the changes in the past year. The harbour certainly wasn’t as full as during our last visit.

On the 31st, Flextime and W4 headed into Marsh Harbour for laundry and re-stocking. Sojourn sailed off to Hope Town to celebrate Rob’s 60th birthday. Once the jobs were done, we hauled anchor and headed out of the harbour again, dropping the hook south of Matt Lowe Cay, again in a spot that no one uses. Peace and quiet.

As an April Fool’s joke, I awoke with very painful joints and could hardly walk about the cabin. Flextime headed off to Hope Town to join Sojourn while Murray singlehanded towards Man-o-War Cay and a quiet day aboard. The other two vessels re-joined us on Friday and we celebrated with sundowners in a gazebo ashore where the island narrowed. By then, I was moving slightly better. On Saturday, we all headed to Fisher’s Bay, to join the hoopla the next day at Nippers.

Nippers is a bar/restaurant on the ocean side beach of Great Guanna Cay. Every Sunday, they have a pig roast, music and dancing. Easter Sunday was more of the same with the added attraction of Easter egg hunts in the water. The food was delicious and plentiful. But the crowd seemed younger or maybe we were older. So, on we went to Grabbers for one more round of drinks. Here we met up with Doug and Sharon on s/v About Time. By then, we were partied out and it was only 3 pm. Time for a nap or at least, a swim.

In the morning, everyone moved the 3 miles to Bakers Bay and arranged for sundowners on the old pier. Doug, Rob and Dave, from s/v Tamaki, brought guitars and sang as we chatted and enjoyed the evening. What a super time! Bakers Bay is much changed with a marina, golf course and expensive houses everywhere along the shoreline. What used to be an abandoned paradise used only by visiting sailors has been discovered by the rest of the world.

About Time sailed off to Treasure Cay while the rest of us went shelling on the Spoils Island. The shelling was as good as I remembered and my bucket soon was rattling with tridents and murexes. But the weather was about to change and it was time to get above the Whale Cay passage. All three vessels headed off to Green Turtle Cay the next morning and anchored just outside of New Plymouth. Time for another walk ashore. The wind increased later and the anchorage became bumpy. So, we led the crew around the corner to Cocoa Bay, where it was flat calm.

Right now, the four vessels are separated with Sojourn and About Time in Green Turtle on docks or moorings. Flextime and W4 took shelter at Munjack Cay, just north of Green Turtle. Here we can swim and take long walks ashore when the boredom sets in. The winds are blowing and supposed to increase soon. Every day, we download the latest weather report to see when we can make a safe passage to the US. From the info we have, it will not be before this weekend and maybe later than that.

So, don’t expect to see the whites of our eyes any time soon. But the water is approx 80F and the wind generator keeps the batteries full enough for movies at night. The smell of baking bread permeates the boat. How can we complain?

That too is life aboard. Hugs

Heather & Murray