Spanish Wells and Points North

Our time here in the islands is drawing to a close.

We sailed from Nassau on Sunday, the 16th, to Spanish Wells and entered the town the next day. Here we have re-stocked the larder, caught up with friends ashore and made some new friends. The stay here has been longer than we had hoped but the weather does as it wishes.

Tomorrow we will motor and sail northward to Little Harbour, Abaco. It is a journey of more than 60 miles and is all in deep ocean waters, once we get through a cut near Egg Island. A friend from London, that we saw in Nassau, gave Murray some frozen ballyhoo and he will be hoping that having bait on his fishing line makes it even more attractive to Wahoo or Mahi Mahi. He will have two lines in the water for the whole time. The trip will take all day and we will try not to fry in the hot sun.

I am sorry to mention the sun to you deprived northerners but, actually, it has been very HOT here. Some nights we can hardly sleep because of that and then, when the wind dies, the no-see-ums strike. Two nights ago we scratched until we bled, from the bites of those nasty critters.

In Abaco, we will make a stop in Marsh Harbour and then get around Whale Cay pass and wait for weather to head to the US. The word from the weather guy is the next week may be ugly. I hate to hear those words. But, we will monitor the situation and cross as soon as we can.

The plan is to be home by mid April and we look forward to seeing y’all at that time, either in person or on Skype. Until then, send the snow away and stay warm. Give yourself some hugs from us as we miss you guys big bunches.

Love and hugs
Heather & Murray

Update

Hello!

I am sorry for the extended silence from this end. We have been having difficulty making an internet connection. It is usually enough to eventually download messages but not enough to do extended work on-line. Thus, the website hasn’t been updated in forever and I cannot send you any photos.

We had two glorious days of sailing, from Nassau to Staniel Cay. And the second day, we even had to tack! No one does that down here, in fact we were the only ones sailing hard on the wind. Going to windward is not usually comfortable and thus, not done by cruisers. And it really wasn’t comfortable as we were heeled over at least 30 degrees most of the time. The waves were ugly, almost like Lake Erie – square ones that you fall off of on the other side. And they stop you in your tracks.

But, we made it down to Staniel Cay and saw that the pigs are still swimming. One windy morning, I sat down and finally put Gertie down on paper. So, the third book has been given to the artist here in Staniel. Also here, we ran into several friends and have had cocktail parties and even a dinghy drift ( tie dinghies together, drink and share snacks as you drift along through the anchorage ).

Our frig is filling up with fish and lobster, some that we caught and some that we have been given or traded for. Four homemade multigrain rolls for two lobster is a good trade, right?

Basically, life is good. The sun is mostly shining and the days are quite hot. In a couple of days, the wind will go NE and we will sail south 12 miles to the next settlement, Black Point. There I will do some laundry and we will meet up with some land based friends. Then, when the wind is right, we will slowly sail back towards Nassau, to be there for the book signing on the 15th.

Hopefully, by then, your snow will be decreasing and there will appear to be an end to this crazy winter. Until then, stay warm and look after each other.

Hugs from,
Heather & Murray
anchored in OZ!

Waterspouts and Windstorms

Hello all

Life has been interesting aboard W4 for the last few days. Remember that old curse ” may your life be interesting”? Well, I would be happier if ours went back to boring.

Waving goodbye to new friends, Klaus and Marion, we departed Lucaya on Sunday, the 9th. It was to be a 60 mile motor sail but we wanted to get south. Both of us were in the cockpit, reading and glancing around to check for ships etc. Suddenly, I noticed an area of white water nearby. What was that? There are no rocks near. It is very deep water here. Maybe fish? Then I noticed the twisting snake disappearing into the cloud. It was a waterspout or a tornado over water. And coming our way. All loose items were quickly stowed, just in case. But, although it approached fairly close, it did veer away and headed in another direction. Whew!

We have had two other close calls with waterspouts. The first time, we were in the dinghy and the spout dissipated over a nearby island. The second time, we were at anchor outside of Treasure Cay. I saw the waterspout approaching and Murray started the engine. Although it was quite a distance from us when it passed, there was still a lot of wind and all of our canvas strained and flapped. So, I was glad that this last one hadn’t come any closer to us.

The first few days in the Berry Islands were lovely. We were the only boat in sight and enjoyed the solitude. Chris, the weather guru, had been predicting passage of a strong cold front for Wednesday night. In preparation, we unloaded the dinghy and removed the outboard. By bedtime, the lightning was visible in the distance. Here she comes! Near midnight, our boat heeled abruptly and the wind howled in the rigging. The wind generator distorted from the high winds. Both if us jumped up and ran to check that the anchor was still holding. The lightning was almost constant and the wind incredible. After about 20 minutes, the wind calmed somewhat and that squall was passed. Another hit us about 2 am but it was not quite so violent.

Today is Friday, the 14th, and a lovely day with light winds. Another beach walk is in order. Life is again to be boring. Yeah!

Happy Valentines Day,
Heather & Murray

It’s The Islands, Mon!

Our departure from West Palm Beach inlet took place at 0430 on Feb 6th. The seas were calm and it seemed almost as if we were inside a opalescent dome as we couldn’t delineate the sea from the sky. But, soon there were three ships bearing down on us and the AIS system worked well for us once more. With it, Murray was able to ascertain the name of the ship and call it on the radio. Then they agreed on an appropriate action so that we would safely pass each other. The closest ship was only 0.4 miles off our beam and that can be scary unless you are sure what is happening.

The light improved as the sun appeared from the sea before us and we motor sailed on, and on. Winds helped us to lower the engine speed but we were never able to completely shut it off. Freeport was busy with many ships as usual and it seems like it takes forever to pass that area. That is because we can see the port from so far away. Eventually the rest of the island came into view and we kept watch for Bell Channel entrance buoy. Before dark, we picked our way in through the reef to a quiet anchorage in the canals.

It was a short evening aboard as we crashed into bed soon after dinner. Once breakfast was completed, we motored into the village to a marina for fuel and Customs. That was taken care of quickly and Ryan, the dock master, allowed us to remain at the dock for a few hours as we took the bus to BTC.

BTC is Bahamas Telephone Company and there we got out MiFi activated, allowing me Internet access. They have increased the month data plan to 2G, yeah! I seemed to run out last winter.

Bus back and then time for a Bahamian beer and conch burger for Mur. It is official, we are here once again.

Now, we are again tied to a dock. It belongs to friends of friends and they have made us welcome. By Sunday or Monday, we should have the right winds to travel further south, into the Berry Islands. Until then, we will enjoy this paradise.

Hugs
Heather & Murray
happy aboard

Fixed and Ready!

Hello

I thought perhaps you might wonder what has been happening aboard W4.

We departed the marina on Jan 26th and made good time down the waterway and all systems seemed to be working. Except for the rain prevention system – it rained hard for a couple of days and these stalwart cruisers carried on. On Thursday, Jan 30th, we arrived in Vero Beach.

In just the first few minutes, we saw two couples that we have met cruising over the past years. Visits were planned and one couple even stopped by between rain storms. Once the rain lightened up, we launched the dinghy and attached the outboard. Then we discovered that the outboard wouldn’t run. Mur tried to effect repairs while the engine was on the dinghy. But the rain stopped that job. In the morning, we hauled the engine back aboard and Murray took it apart, cleaned the gas and carb, put it back together and we lowered it back onto the dinghy. And it wouldn’t run. We went through this exercise twice more before giving up in frustration.

I called a repair guy but he was not able to get to us until Monday. Here we were, on a mooring, not a dock, with no way to get ashore. We were paying for amenities that we couldn’t use. So, we called some good friends that have a home near Stuart, with a deep dock. They invited us to come and stay and George made arrangments for the outboard to be repaired on Monday.

That was a great plan and we wasted no time dropping the mooring. On the way out, we stopped at the office, paid for our night and collected the parts that awaited us. By late afternoon, we were anchored near Jensen Beach, enjoying a barbeque. The new blades for the wind generator were installed before the sun set.

The next morning, when the tide was right, we went to our friends’ dock. As it was now Friday, we had a few days to tidy up some odd jobs on the boat. While Murray changed oil, checked the transmission, etc, I did laundry or visited with Nancy. The men made a “guy trip” to Harbor Freight, the liquor store, Radio Shack etc.On Sunday, the car was available and we dashed out to West Marine to replace the bilge pump that failed underway and to add some more things to the larder. As our hosts are big sports fans, we watched some basketball and also the Super Bowl with them. On Monday, Murray delivered the outboard to the fix-it shop. To pass the time, Murray worked on our plumbing system, removed a leaking part and installed the new bilge pump. By late afternoon, the outboard was repaired and back aboard.

On Tuesday morning, when the tide was high enough, we departed Hobe Sound and headed to West Palm Beach. According to the weather guru, we have a window to cross to the islands tomorrow, with light winds. I will believe that when I see it as there been more wind than predicted all day so far. and, in fact, we are in the middle of a thundestorm as I write.

If we go across, I will let you know of our safe arrival using winlink. Once we get the MiFi set up for the Bahamas again, we will be back on Gmail.

Take care and stay warm. Hugs from
Murray & Heather
ready aboard