Hello everyone from a blustery day in Oz!

When last I wrote, we were headed to Nassau. We arrived around 2:30 after a lovely sail down from the Berry Islands. Good sailing but no fish. We dropped the hook in the usual spot, across from Nassau Harbour Club. Once we got the dinghy ready, Murray took me and my huge bags of laundry to Nassau Yacht Haven where I did three loads. The machines mostly work and the floor isn’t too dirty so it is the best choice nearby. The sun was setting as we returned to the boat, tired but with clean, sweet smelling clothing once again.

In the morning, we loaded up our bags and headed out. First stop, Batelco ( Bahamas Telephone Company ) to get the MiFi up and running once again. That took about an hour and close to $50. From there, we took our life into our hands and walked west ( with the one way traffic ) on Shirley Street. There are no sidewalks and two lanes of fast-moving traffic. Sometimes we had to wait for a break in traffic to go around a telephone pole! That was a very scary mile! The destination: the offices of my book distributer in Nassau, Media Enterprises. It was good to meet face-to-face and he gave me some good suggestions for the future to help sales. He also recommended that we visit some of the book stores in town to promote the books, especially the new one.

From there, we headed back towards the boat to re-group and have lunch. Murray had broken a tooth on an almond while we were in the Berry Islands and thus needed to see a dentist. Heading back, we passed a dentist office and asked for an appointment. They gave us one for the next day. But, only about four blocks later, my phone rang and they told us to come right back. The dentist took X-rays and examined him but concluded that the tooth was broken below the gum line. It would have to come out. So, a little later, with Murray’s sore mouth and lighter wallets, we headed back to the boat to relax for the balance of the day. Just as well, as we had walked for miles in the heat.

Re-energized in the morning, we loaded up again and headed off to visit many of the book or gift stores that had been recommended. Up over the large hill and down the other side, we tramped. In total, we visited four stores and two took books to sell. They had many positive things to say about the books and my confidence soared. Once the larder was re-stocked with fruits and vegetables, we were ready to depart Nassau and headed out the very next day.

Our friends on MarNel had been unable to sail the course from the Berry Islands to Nassau ( they are a large catamaran ). So, they had headed off towards Spanish Wells and then on south the next day to the top of the Exuma chain. We were able to sail once again and met up with them at Norman’s Cay, where we anchored for the night. They had hoped to snorkel but Murray was instructed to not suck on a straw for several days and snorkel is a large straw. Besides which, his mouth was still sore.

Sailing again, in light air, we made it most of the way to Staniel Cay before we had to run the engine. Soon we were anchored at Big Major Spot were we noted a large change in the type of boats around. For the first time, the sloop or single-hulled sailboat was in the minority! There were an equal number of large and medium sized power craft and catamarans. And the power boats had forced their way to the shallows, and had taken over one of the beaches for their private use. How rude!

Here in Staniel Cay, the books were again received with favour and soon resided on the store shelves. I visited the local school, donated a book and read “Penny Dives In” to them. When the wind allowed, we sailed south to Black Point as it was again time for laundry. While not as simple to do as at home, it is certainly better than using a bucket and a toilet plunger. Ida runs a very clean laundry that overlooks the anchorage. We bundle all of the dirty stuff into bags, take soap etc and load all into the dinghy. Then Mur takes me to the dock where we unload all of the supplies, carry them up the hill and do the laundry as usual. The, once folded, all of the laundry must be loaded into waterproof bags in order to get it back to the boat still clean and dry. If it gets splashed with salt water after all of that work……well, I could almost cry.

Black Point also was a high point in book sales, with three places making orders. One evening, we got together with our friends, Doug & Jean, from Sandcastle, their home at Black Point. It looks just like a castle and they built it themselves. It was super to see them again and to catch up on all of the local news and gossip.

With a strong cold front expected, we sailed back towards Staniel Cay and got tucked into our hidey-hole, in Oz. The front hit last night, in the dark of course. The rain and wind arrived at the same time and it blew 30 knots! Our anchor held us securely although we rocked and rolled all night long. About 0300, a vessel started calling for assistance. He was a 65 foot powerboat on the rocks, after his anchor line had broken. Our dinghies are not big enough nor powerful enough to help in this situation. We listened as others offered suggestions re persons on-shore who might be able to help. He was helped off this morning with only damage to his props after a very uncomfortable night.

When the wind comes around more to the northeast, and the tide is higher, we will slip through the small pass and head back out to Big Major for a night or two. If possible, we would like to sail down to George Town, again to promote the books. There is a store there which already orders the Pig book and I want to show her the new one. But, if we cannot sail down, we will probably turn the bows northward and make our way back up the chain of islands.

Future plans, you ask? We need to visit Rock Sound and Spanish Wells, on Eleuthera. From there, we will probably head to Abaco and slowly work our way to the top of these island chains. Hopefully, we will return to the US by early April or late March, allowing us to be home by mid-April. That is the general plan but the weather determines the details.

That too is life aboard,
Heather & Murray

In And Settled

Hello everyone,

I promised more details of the crossing and here are probably more than you might even want.

We hauled anchor in West Palm Beach on Friday 25th and headed north towards the Flagler Bridge just around 3 pm. A quick radio call informed us that the bridge was broken, unable to be opened and might remain the same for the next two hours. But luck was with us as, after a delay of only 10 minutes, the bridge opened and allowed us to go on our way. By 4 pm, we had made our way to the inlet and the sea beyond. The waves were confused, as usual, and about 4 feet high. Many fishing vessels ( 80 to 90 feet long ) roared past us, causing even more wave action.

But, after a few hours under motorsail, we were past most of the small boats and meeting freighters. One of them caused us to slow and change course to avoid a collision. The surface of the water was litter with Portuguese Man of War. From afar, they look very attractive with their blue bubble floating on the surface and their lacy “sail” raised to give them propulsion through the water. But, below the water, they are deadly. With the long tentacles hanging beneath the bubble, they wrap around any arm or leg placed nearby. The toxin in the tentacles has been know to cause cardiac arrest and/or death. Even when they are tossed onto the beach, these critters can cause pain.

By sunset, most of the land behind us was out of sight with just a few lights showing on tall buildings. It was bright even after the sun set as the full moon lit our path and showed the horizon clearly.

The route to Great Harbour Cay, in the Berry Islands,was 130 miles but our course, due to the Gulf Stream, took us about 150 miles in total. By 2:30 on Sat, we had reached Great Harbour Cay and proceeded to the marina to check in. Once the formal procedures were done, and our $300 paid, we left the marina and anchored outside the harbour just as the sun set again. It was past time for a good night’s sleep so we had a quick meal and crashed into bed.

The next morning we arose early and departed, heading for Devil’s/ Hoffman Cays about 30 miles away. Murray strung his fishing poles out and got four hits during the trip. The first fish fought hard and spit the hook just before he could land it. The second one came for dinner as did the third. But the fourth one again proved to be a challenge. It was a large, thick, tasty-looking fish that, of course, got away. Those are always the biggest. But we had more than we could eat for dinner and the freezer was very full still.

Currently we are anchored in the shallow banks, behind Hoffman Cay , with five other boats around. Two nights ago we all got together on a beach to share stories and snacks.

The captain has been very happy with the charging system this winter. The money that we spent for new batteries and solar panels was well worth every penny. It has been four days that we have been at anchor and we have not had to run the generator. The wind and solar panels have kept the batteries charged while we made water and even did some sail repairs.

At this moment, Murray is taking the toilet apart and will , hopefully, have it back together soon, working even better than before.

Our plans for the future? A cold front, with high winds expected, is to arrive later today and blow hard for the next several days. Sunday or Monday may find a break in the weather to allow us to head south on to Nassau. We need to do laundry and get some supplies as well as set up my MiFi again. I also plan to visit my book distributor there, to show him the new book and fill an order ( I hope ).

So that is what is happening aboard Windswept IV. We hope that all is well with you and yours and that you are managing to stay warm during this winter.

All the best from
Heather & Murray