May Already

Hello everyone,

I can’t believe that it is May ! Time has flown by this winter. By now things are quite green and warm where you are and flowers are popping up all over. Summer is just around the corner. And we still don’t know what we are going to do this summer! Oh well….

We spent several days around Royal Island and Spanish Wells. The fishing was very good and between the two boats, caught 3 mutton snappers of 8 – 10 lbs each. We ate well for many days. The reefs around Royal Island are very pretty and with the very calm weather conditions that we had, it was possible to dingy out onto the reefs and snorkel for a few hours. I was the last one still in the water when I spied a very large barracuda hovering nearby. I decided to join the rest in the dinghys. Just before that, I had hooked a very large barracuda on my line and, although he got away eventually, I was worried he may hold a grudge. On our way back to the anchorage, we had a close encounter with a water spout ( a tornado over water ). The three dinghys proceeded slowly, watching to see which way to run. Murray thought the funnel was going to hit land at the entrance to the anchorage and dissipate. He was right! It faded and re-tracted in front of our eyes. We were only a few boat lengths away.

Spanish Wells was a lot of fun as we met a couple of other boats and went out for dinner one night. Also, Murray’s friend Woody ( one of the local pilots ) visited us several times with offers of homemade jam and fresh tuna. Using his tips, we exited from Spanish Wells early one morning without the use of the pilots. We found our way between the reefs and made it out to deep water with no problems. The run north to Abaco and the Little Harbour inlet was 50+ miles. The wind varied from 10 kn to 30 kn to 15 kn. I liked the 15 better. We sailed through the cut, again between the reefs, and anchored in the Bight of Old Robinson to get shelter from the prevailing winds.

The next 3 days it blew like stink! But calmed down at night so that we could sleep! Strange weather. But, if it must blow, it’s nice that it’s calm at night.The second morning we arose early to the howling of the wind. As we looked off to the east, a huge funnel cloud formed and touched down behind us! Luckily, it was heading away from us. Two funnel clouds in one week is two too many! The rest of the day was spent reading, baking and relaxing.

It rained very hard one night and we collected 20 gals of rain water. Time to do the laundry. Laundry on board is done in buckets using a toilet plunger (new) to agitate. We squeeze out as much water as possible, rinse thoroughly in another bucket with vinegar to soften and remove soap. Then, squeeze again and hang them on a line strung between the shrouds and forestay. But, with the wind at 30+ knots, I had to sit “clothes pin watch” to make sure that nothing went overboard. But not too close, as the snapping ends were vicious. As each item dried, I dropped it below and filled the space with wet stuff. Eventually, all was clean, dry and sweet smelling.

Finally the wind blew itself out and we moved a very long ways ( 3 miles ) and anchored again at Lynyard Cay. Here, we fished, explored, snorkeled and dove for a couple of days and greatly enjoyed being off the boat again. The reef at Sandy Cay was worth a visit, but the current and waves made it a little uncomfortable. The anchors came up again and we moved a long ways ( about 10 miles ) to Tilloo Cay. About 9 pm that night, we saw a rocket that had been launched from Canaveral. From our position, we could see the separation of the stages and the final push through the atmosphere. What a sight! The next day, we moved on at high tide and anchored in White Sound off of Tahiti beach. More exploring, walking, visiting of other boats. During the calm afternoon, Murray and I cleaned the hull of the boat. It was sporting a growth of 2 inch long fuzz. Diving down under the hull and rubbing with a 3-M pad seemed to remove the worst of it. But we were exhausted! Every little while, one of us would suggest we quit, but we just kept working. It was 80-90% done by the time we stopped – just the keel left. It certainly made a difference the next time we sailed. But we still couldn’t catch that Shivaree – they are pretty quick!

Just before high tide, we hoisted the anchor, unrolled the sail and sailed off the anchorage towards Hope Town. More walking, exploring, shopping ( Not buying! ), and even a late lunch at Captain Jack’s. We anchored outside town and dinghyed in each day and saved the mooring fee. Also, it was cooler and less buggy outside. One evening. Murray used his 2 meter handheld radio to contact to local repeater ( 20 miles away ) and had a long chat with the a local ham. During the conversation, the ham was also talking to several stations in Cuba. These were unusual contacts that were aided by atmospheric conditions.

When the enjoyment of the sights of Hope Town were over-powered by the wakes of the frequent powerboats, we glided off the anchor again and moved closer to Marsh Harbour, anchoring at Matt Lowe Cay. It was peaceful and quiet there, but we must get to town for Mother’s Day phone calls tomorrow. A brief stop was made at Mermaid Reef to enjoy the sights of the protected area. It is a small reef but has a lot of colourful fish. A very active barracuda scared most of the tourists away.

Finally we anchored in Marsh Harbour. It only took us 10 days to travel about 20 miles. Phone calls were made along with the best type of dinner plans – reservations! Prime rib! The Jib Room was having their Sunday cook-out and we joined in. Great meal! After dinner, we managed to contact the rest of the family and had long conversations with both moms. I also had to call my boys so they could say ” Happy Mother’s Day”. During the night, a big thunderstorm blew in and several boats dragged anchor. Our anchor held and although we checked often, we still slept well.

The next few days were spent re-provisioning, re-fueling, filling water tanks, doing laundry etc. Of course, we still had time to visit with friends and catch up on their adventures.

By the end of this month we will point the bow towards the US. Probably leave from Walkers Cay and head straight to Charleston, SC or Beaufort, NC. If we get a good 3 or 4 day weather window. Until then, we will explore and enjoy these lovely islands. With secluded anchorages nearby, we will spend little time in the busy towns.

Enjoy your spring and I will write when I can.

Love to all,

Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA