March 2013

Finally !

Hello everyone

When I wrote the last time, we were headed to Spanish Wells and then on to Abaco, when weather permitted. Well, it didn’t permit for 18 days!

Spanish Wells is a lovely community but we hadn’t planned to stay quite so long. This year, we didn’t sit on a mooring ( at $20 per day! ) but opted to move about as the winds required. When it blew from the south, we would sail over to Meeks Patch, a few miles away. Then, when the front went through and the wind changed to the northwest or north, we would cross over and anchor by town. Fresh veggies were available on Thursday, after the mailboat arrived. Then the stores would be full of people, stocking their larder. Our friends, Pete and Lani on MarNel, tempted us out to lunch many times and each time we order a slice of Mud pie to share. Yumm. Too good but not good for my waistline.

Pete and Lani were having some boat issues and grabbed a window to sail back to the US. The huge ocean swells, that were keeping us from safely entering the cuts in Abaco, finally settled enough that we could head north. Before dawn on March 16th, we motored out of the cut at Egg Island. There was at least 20 boats in sight as the sun came up and we were in the last 4. By the time we reached the Little Harbour cut, we had passed half of the fleet and used the mainsail to catch any gust of wind. It wasn’t a sailing day but we were just glad to finally get to Abaco. The two fishing lines were deployed during the whole journey of 60 miles and we had not a single bite.

IMG_1658On St Patrick’s Day, we moved up to Hope Town, on Elbow Cay, and anchored just below the iconic red striped lighthouse. That night, there was a dinghy drift through Hope Town harbour. Approximately 20 to 25 dinghies and motorboats were tied together and the occupants shared snacks, stories and celebrated the day with a libation or two. If we got too close to a vessel on a mooring, someone on the opposite side would start their engine and give the mass a boost in another direction. It was good fun. The next day, we visited the stores of Hope Town to show my books and, with that accomplished, we sailed on to Marsh Harbour.

IMG_1662This is the big city in Abaco ( about 6000 residents ) and gave us access to fresh supplies and laundry facilities. As well, more gift shops to highlight the books. Here we met up with Doug & Sharon Sandercott on About Time. They are people that we have know for over 30 years but we seldom share an anchorage. It was great to finally have time to chat over a glass or two of wine, or beer, and catch up with each other’s adventures. Another bout of bad weather was approaching, so on we sailed to Man-O-War Cay. Both boats managed to pick up moorings ( there is not enough room to anchor here ) and went ashore to enjoy this lovely town. TJ and Kaye, on Sheerwater, were on a nearby mooring and About Time also had good friends in the harbour. It was a busy couple of days but we got to sit in on a jam session with Doug on his guitar, John and David playing mandolins. Good music and great memories.

The weather was changing again and, if we wanted to head to the US anytime soon, it was time to get above Whale Cay. This passage can be very rough and had been impassable for ten days with the recent swells. So, on March 20th, waving goodbye, we set off once again. The Whale Cay cut was a little rough but there were no breaking swells. It was, again, a motorsail but we needed to run the water maker and charge the batteries. Thus we didn’t begrudge using the diesel fuel. Just at lunch, we dropped the hook outside of the town of New Plymouth, on Green Turtle Cay. After a successful visit to the shops in town, the tide had risen high enough to allow us to enter White Sound. It is the larger of two sheltered basins in this island of Green Turtle. With the winds predicted to become south and southwesterly and increasing, including thunderstorms etc, it was the best place for us to shelter for the next few days.

Now we are securely anchored for the upcoming blows and have hope of a chance to cross over to the US on Easter weekend. The winter is drawing to a close. It has been shorter than usual, perhaps even windier than usual, but it has also been a good time with good friends nearby. The fishing has been uniformly lousy so don’t expect fish dinners this year in T’burg! Sorry about that.

Write when you have a chance and tell us about what has happened in your life. Until we meet again,

Hugs from,
Heather & Murray

Rock and Roll

Hello everyone,

The title of this update doesn’t just refer to the 60’s and 70’s music that we listen to aboard but also the action of the boat as we have traveled recently. It has almost been a corkscrew action as the waves lift our stern quarter. Then, dipping the opposite side down, passing under and allowing the starboard side to return to and pass the original position as the boat falls off of the passing wave. The boat has rolled from at least 10 to 15 degrees heeled to starboard over to 15 or 20 onto port. Needless to say, it is an ugly ride and those aboard must hold on tight in order to move about safely.

The weather guru gave the green light for the 60 mile trip to George Town, Great Exuma and we headed out from Staniel Cay, exiting onto the sound through Dotham Cut. Both fishing lines were rigged and we hoped for a mahi mahi to take our line. The wind was much closer to the bow than predicted and also much stronger. What else is new! But we were making good time until the winds blew up over 20 knots. Murray and I reduced sail and continued. Then the wind headed us ( came more towards the bow ) and increased once again. This was getting ugly! Tacking upwind, we made it to the next cut onto the banks and, using the high tide, poked our way a little further south before anchoring for the night.

Just after we hauled anchor in the early dawn, a rain squall hit and we completely lost visibility. Down went the anchor again and we waited out this storm. With clearing skies, we hauled again and departed onto the sound through Rat Cay Cut, with Georeg Town now just 25 miles ahead. Shortly after lunch, we were safely anchored near town. We rigged the dinghy and headed into the “big city”. There we visited the gift shop that had been selling my books and introduced her to the new one. After a successful time with her, we stopped at the grocery for fresh vegetables and fruit. Then back aboard for some relaxation.

A guest was invited for breakfast and we introduced him to a Rand McMuffin made with Canadian bacon ( the REAL stuff ), a fried egg and my homemade English Muffins. Yummm. Once we bade Rich goodbye, we hauled anchor again and headed back onto the sound. Even with our late start, we managed to cover over 50 miles and entered Dotham Cut just before sunset. In the morning, we did laundry ( at the best laundry in the Exumas! ), visited with friends and sailed on to Staniel Cay, anchoring near town.

Once more, just after dawn, we hauled anchor and headed into the deep waters of Exuma Sound, this time through Big Rock Cut. This trip was a motorsail but the waves were still large and tossed us about. Shortly before sunset, we dropped the hook at Poison Point, near Rock Sound, Eleuthera. Here we needed to visit a store to receive payment for books ordered last year. But the woman who dealt with those things was away and wouldn’t return until 4:30 pm. Now what? We walked back to the dock where we had tied our dinghy. There we met another couple of cruisers. They had a rental car for the day and invited us to join them.

IMG_1627So, off we went, driving on the left and headed north. Our destination – Tarpum Bay, the next town. At first, it seemed very small. But, as we explored, more of the town appeared. We found a Cultural Centre, displaying artwork and quilts, and a castle nearby built by an artist. Beaches on both sides of narrow Eleuthera needed to be walked and checked for shells etc. It was an enjoyable time and we made some new friends.

IMG_1641With our issues resolved, we headed out again in the early morning. This time it was a downwind sail but the boat was still tossing and turning, corkscrewing down the waves. This was the fifth day out of the past seven that we had been underway and all in rather ugly conditions. What happened to a lovely reach on a calm sea?

Again, we traveled until almost sunset, dropping the hook near Spanish Wells, Eleuthera. Our friends on MarNel were anchored nearby and we had a joyous reunion. Town beckoned with fresh supplies in the stores, so off we went again in the morning. Loads of fresh vegetables filled our sacks and we stopped at each gift shop in town to promote the books. All in all, a successful day celebrated with lunch out.

Now there was a cold front in the offing with high winds expected. It was time to move to a more sheltered spot. And here we will stay until the winds die down once again, allowing us to move about these islands. With another cold front expected again before midweek, it is doubtful that we will head to Abaco yet. But, when weather permits, if it permits, we plan to head north to Abaco and spend a few weeks there. Ten on to the US.

Right now the only rock and roll is on our XM radio. Thank goodness! But that too is life aboard.

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