Hello all,

We have arrived in the Bahamas once more, departing West Palm Beach, Fl on the 26th at 0700 and arriving here on the 27th at 1330. It was a distance of 200 nm and a motorboat ride the whole way. The boat performed well and all systems functioned as expected.

A different route was taken this year. First we headed south for 2 hours until we were not making much headway against the opposing Gulf Stream. Then we angled across the stream on a course of 125M. Once out of the stream and on the Bahamian side, we turned more south again, heading towards Great Isaac light ( which wasn’t on!! ) and an entrance onto the banks. The egg shaped moon rose shortly after we worked our way around the island and between the neighbouring reefs. It was easier than it sounds, due to radar and computer charts. The balance of the night while crossing the shallow banks, we took turns napping while the other stood watch ( reading a book in the cockpit using a headlamp with a red lens to maintain our night vision ).

Arriving at Northwest Channel light ( which was working !) in the pre-dawn hours, we transitted this reefy area and back into the deep waters of NorthWest Providence Channel. Then it was another 50 miles on to Nassau.

The dockmaster at Nassau Harbour Club, Peter, assisted us ably into the slip as the current and wind both were pushing us ahead. Murray did his usual awesome job of putting the boat right where it should be. Customs and Immigration soon followed and we were then allowed to go ashore.

After buying some more liquor for the locker ( take note George & Barb! )and a few other supplies, checking the internet at a nearby Starbucks and a brief walkabout, we departed the marina by eleven today, 28th. Using the external wireless antenna we have been able to access free wireless from aboard the boat. Cool!

So, here we will sit until the wind dies slightly or changes direction. Yes, it is coming from the direction that we want to go. As per usual. Time to chill, drink some rum and catch up on our sleep.

Hugs, Heather & Murray

Christmas in Palm Beach

Well, I really hate to complain about this, but here we are in West Palm Beach. The weather is gorgeous, with hot sunny days and little wind. The problem is much further out to sea where there is a gale whipping the waves ever higher. Those waves are generating a very nasty swell that is keeping us here. They will subside shortly and the good weather is supposed to continue. Thus, plans are to cross over on Wednesday, Boxing Day, perhaps continuing on directly to Nassau.

I have been holding off on putting up the tree as the crossing is usually rough. But, today our tiny tree graces the middle of our table. Clear LED Christmas lights are strung beneath the bimini and are likely to remain there for the balance of this winter. Using little power, they give a nice ambient glow to the cockpit.

There will be presents under the tree this year as I had a chance to shop for some small things for us both. Surprises for Murray.

For Christmas Day, we are making plans to share an early dinner with friends. The menu : turkey breast that was tucked into the freezer, some garlic mashed potatoes, perhaps a green bean casserole and something gooey for dessert. All washed down with copious amounts of wine. Sounds exactly like your plans, right?

Except we will also be going to bed very early so that we get lots of sleep in preparation for a 200+ mile journey the next couple of days, sleeping in the two hour off-watch periods.

Wherever you are and whoever you share this day with, we wish you all a Very Merry Christmas!! Good Health and Joy for the coming year.

All the best, Heather & Murray

Pulling Free of Velcro Beach

Our last replacement part has arrived. Murray is deep in the cockpit locker installing the new inverter. The food lockers are stuffed so full that I hesitate to open the doors. All of the laundry has been done and clean sheets await us tonight. Our final bill for the last six nights of mooring fees has been paid. I think we are ready to attempt to pull free.

The cruisers call this place ( Vero Beach ) Velcro Beach for good reason. There are many conveniences that keep you here. The free bus come through the marina once an hour and delivers you, by transferring to other routes, to various spots around town – grocery stores, WalMart, a shopping mall etc etc. Vero is a good sized town so most repairs can be found here. The marina has few dock space but approx 60 moorings on which they put up to 3 boats. Almost every time, we manage to raft with friends. And, if they weren’t when we arrived, by the time we leave, they are good friends.

For us, the days traveling to here seem to bring out all of those niggling things that will break down soon. So, for us, we stop here to repair the boat and get it in tip-top shape before heading to the islands.

Speaking of that, there is a weather window opening up later this week. So, we plan to leave here today and travel to Ft Pierce. That is only 10-12 miles away. But, we will anchor there and fill our diesel tanks at a close-by, budget-priced fuel dock. In the am early, we will head off-shore to West Palm – a distance of 45 miles. Then we will anchor near Peanut Island and await the correct timing and weather to cross over to the islands. Maybe before Christmas.

If so, we will be in the Berry Islands and quite remote, with no phone or wireless access. Don’t worry about us and we will write using the ham e-mail to stay in touch. Just know that we love you all and wish you only the best.

Hugs, Murray & Heather

The Rest of the Story

Hello all,

Well, we cast off lines at 12:40 from Green Cove, after storing the car and paying the bill. Down the river we headed, putting the final things away as we traveled. In the big city of Jacksonville, we caught a favourable current and were making 9 knots through town. The current carried us along and we managed 40 nm before the sun set. Our anchorage for the night, Blount Island, about 6 nm from the entrance out of the St John River into the Atlantic.

Oh, and what a discovery we had as we dropped the hook. The chain showing above deck looked great, with no rust. But, the balance of the chain stored in the locker is one big ball of rusty mess. And, only two years old too. The evening is spent researching chain, picking the right size for the windlass and deciding if we return to Green Cove to pick up the chain. As you can imagine, 100 feet of chain sent by UPS or FedEx becomes very expensive, very fast.

The alarm went off early as I arose to check the weather to get the go-ahead for an outside passage. All sounds good, except for this pesky pea soup fog that surrounds us. With the amount of ship traffic entering this harbour, we decide to stay put until we can see. The anchor is hauled at 0930. Another boat from the marina, anchored nearby, offered to call the marina office to check on our order of chain and their ability to drop it into Vero Beach Marina. Done deal – not sure what the bill will be, but we cannot manage without that chain.

The two vessels ( the other one is Linda & Ron on Water Music, from Michigan ) departed the anchorage and headed to sea. It was a rolly, bumpy ride but we have done 200+ nm between Monday at 12:30 and Wed at 12:30, when we anchored near Melbourne, FL ,in the ICW. We entered at Cape Canaveral at approx 0930 this morning, twenty-four hours from our anchorage in Jacksonville. Tired puppies but otherwise, none the worse for wear.

Tomorrow, we will continue on to Vero Beach, meeting friends and parts there. If the parts arrive quickly, we won’t stay too long. But, Vero seems to have a hold on all of us cruisers. We call it “Velcro Beach”.

The job list remains and we will work away at it. Watching the weather all the while. Hoping for an island Christmas.

Hugs to all, Heather & Murray

Dodger Job

Hello everyone,

For a while, I didn’t think that I would ever get to say this. The dodger is done! And it does look good – from 10 feet or so. Murray and I see all of the flaws but most everyone that looks at it seem quite impressed. I have sent photos to Jeremy to be posted on the website, just in case you want to check it out. But, we have been at the marina just short of one month. In that time, we waxed, bottom painted, launched, provisioned, built a dodger from scratch and finished installing windows in bimini.

But now, we are ready to head out. Except for the outboard motor. Last thing to try and it won’t run. So far. Murray is taking it apart right now and cleaning crud out of the carburetor. If we get away today, we will head as far down the St John River as we can. Then, tomorrow, if the weather holds, we plan to go off-shore and get as far down the coast as possible. Maybe as far as Ft Pierce, before we head in again. There are two parcels awaiting us at Vero Beach, so we need to drop in there to pick those up. But, then we will be ready to cross at the first weather window.

Breaking news: the outboard is fixed. I must run, pay the bill, store the car and get ready to cast off lines.

Will write again later on. Hugs to all, Heather & Murray