Author name: jrand

Spanish Wells & Eleuthera

Hello everyone

It has been a few weeks since I have updated y’all, so here is the latest news.

We tried to go out for lunch at Flo’s Conch Bar, in Little Harbour, Berry Islands one day when the wind finally died down a little. But, just before time to get into the dinghy, a squall came thundering through the anchorage packing winds of 55 knots. As there seemed to be more of those squalls around, we decided to skip lunch out.

On Feb 17th, we motorsailed across to Spanish Wells, about 55 miles to the east. There was just a light breeze so that we did have to run the motor. But, shortly after lunch, one of Murray’s fishing poles started to sing out – zzzzzing! With his mouth already watering, Murray quickly reeled in the fish. It was a nice size Mahi Mahi! They are so pretty in life with the iridescent gold and turquoise scales reflecting the sun. But, it isn’t long before the colour changes to a dull blue.

By late afternoon, we were anchored outside of Spanish Wells. It was time to launch the dinghy so that we could go to town in the morning. The wind was scheduled to increase again as another cold front was to reach us before dawn. Why do these things always come through in the wee small hours? Just to add to the challenge I guess.

We loaded up the dinghy in the morning with two propane tanks, the cart, the folding crate that fits on the cart, a weeks worth of garbage and lots of bags to carry groceries. At the Pinder’s Tune-Up, we left the propane to be filled and walked on to the grocery. The supply ship was in port and we were advised to take our time as things hadn’t been unpacked yet. But, we managed to get a few fresh vegetables and an order for some books. Back to the boat, unload the propane tanks and groceries and then head back in with books.

As soon as all of our town jobs were done, we hauled anchor under sail and sailed out to Meeks Patch, just a few miles away. It is an uninhabited island with a nice beach and protection from the current winds. Several other boats joined us over the next few days and we had several beach parties, making new friends and sharing sailing stories.

Yesterday, the ship was due in again. So, off to town we went for more fresh vegetables and maybe even a lunch out. Murray had read all of the books aboard, so we also had to visit some friends who run the local book exchange in their home. It was great to catch up with Tom & Jean again. Several years ago, they purchased a broken-down cottage in Spanish Wells. Since then, they have performed miracles and have a lovely home now that we visit whenever we can.

You may have noticed that the weather has played a larger part this winter than other years. The cold fronts have been coming through every 2 days, bringing strong winds and cold temperatures and making it a tough year to move around. I know that we don’t have snow and ice as you have there, but we can still whine about the weather.

On Monday, we think that we can sail back to the Berry Islands and then on to Lucaya on Tuesday. That should bring us to Ocean Reef on Wednesday when the tide will allow. There we will relax for a time. We will be on a dock in Ocean Reef Resort for the month of March. Few boat jobs each day, followed by lounging by the pool – it sure sounds tough.

But, is that really life aboard? It will be for a month anyway.
Heather & Murray

Berry Islands

Hello all

On Jan 30th at about 4 pm, we set sail from West Palm Beach inlet and crossed to Lucaya, Grand Bahamas. The seas were lumpy as usual and we had many encounters with commercial traffic. But, our trusty new AIS receiver gave us the ships name as well as their Closest Point of Approach. This allowed us to radio any ship that was coming too close for comfort. And they would respond immediately. Dawn found us threading between the ships that were sitting off of Freeport. Most registered as Not Under Command or, in other words, just drifting.

By 9 am, we were secured to the fuel dock to get some diesel and clear Customs. Unfortunately, the marina no longer had fuel and they informed us of a $25 charge for clearing Customs. We filled out all of the paperwork and cleared Customs easily. Then Immigration showed up. She informed us that there would be an additional charge of $40 per vessel. By the time we paid the Customs fee of $300 plus the extras, our total was $365 which is about $450 Cdn. Yikes! Amost a full months spending allowance.

Leaving the dock, we started our search for a spot to anchor. The best ones were already taken. Eventually, we tied to a friend’s dock, Klaus and Marion Karn from Germany. Klaus was in the US but Marion, and her friend Ingrid, made us very welcome. Margaret & Steve on Lion’s Paw also tied up there. Both of Klaus and Marion’s large catamarans were in the US for repairs and thus they had lots of space at the dock.

The weather didn’t co-operate and it was over a week before we were able to depart. But, we shared some meals and cocktail hours with the ladies and Murray and Steve did some home repair jobs for them as well. I think that they were sad to see us go.

This past Monday, the 8th, we took the opportunity to sail to Great Stirrup Cay, at the top of the Berry Island chain. Tuesday, the strong winds came back and we hunkered down aboard. Luckily, we had found a nice patch of sand to set our anchor into as the holding there is not the best and the winds were howling through the rigging.

On Wednesday, the wind died slightly and we sailed on south to Devils/Hoffman cays and were anchored again by 1 pm. During the night, our anchor chain hooked on a piece of coral and the boat was sitting sideways to the wind and current, jerking and heeling over to one side. At first, we thought to wait for daylight to fix the situation but, eventually, after many tries, Murray managed to motor ahead far enough that the anchor cleared the coral. The boat fell back onto the anchor chain and lay quietly. Time to sleep!

Yesterday, we took a hike to the Blue Hole and also explored some ruins on Hoffman Cay. Several other vessels were in the anchorage now, so it was time for a beach party. Meeting new sailors, making friends and exchanging information is what makes this life so unique.

Today, we may take the dinghy down to Flo’s Conch Bar on Little Harbour Cay. Clarence Darville, Flo’s son, lives there now and runs a small restaurant. We try to support it whenever we are in the neighbourhood.

And tomorrow the high winds return. It is going to blow and be ugly for the next several days. Hopefully we have enough books aboard to last through all of the nasty stuff this winter. It has been a tough one with a cold front every two or three days. And the temperatures are much cooler than usual – 60’s with wind. Too cold to swim and even too cold for a cockpit shower. I am hoping that there is enough sun today to warm our solar shower bag so that we can smell good for Valentines Day.

That too is life aboard. Hugs from
Heather & Murray

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



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.

Heather & Murray
happy aboard

Fixed and Ready!


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


We did it! We tossed our lines on the deck and cast off from the dock! The lockers are full and we were only waiting for the spell of below freezing temperatures to abate before heading out. And the next couple of days seem like the lowest temps overnight will be in the high 30’s.

I know, I know – it has been unbearably cold up there and what are we whining about? You have to realize that there is NO heat on this boat, once we leave the dock. So, we wimped out and stayed a couple of extra days in order to have some heat from our ceramic heater. Also, my chest cold was still quite bad and I didn’t want to get too chilled.

But now we are underway. And have already discovered a couple of glitches to get straightened out in Vero Beach. Hopefully. The autopilot is the main one. It is still on vacation – who knew? Until we leave and try it out, we can only assume that, as it worked last spring, it will work this year. What were we thinking! But, maybe it just needs bleeding of its lines. Maybe. If we need parts…….we may not have an autopilot this winter.

Already we have parts meeting us in Vero. One of the blades from our wind generator disappeared overnight a few days ago. It broke at the hub but is passed its warranty period. For only $120 plus shipping, you too can have new blades for a wind generator. But, we were glad to even find them as the company had gone out of business some years ago. Thank goodness for Internet searches.

The warmer weather is within reach now. It will take us about four days to get to Vero and then maybe we can pack away the blue jeans and get the shorts out. We will stay a few days, re-provision, fix glitches, do laundry and then head on further south. And start looking for the weather to cross over to the islands.

My book signing has been re-scheduled for March 15th at Atlantis Resort, on Paradise Island, Nassau and we are both looking forward to that event. Once that is over, we will be looking to head back state-side. A very short cruise this year. But, at least we made it.

Hugs to all and please keep each other warm!
Heather & Murray
Bobbing at anchor

PS the Captain just reported that the oil reservoir on the autopilot was empty! No parts need for this fix and we even have hydraulic oil aboard. Good planning, right?

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.

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

Scroll to Top