February 2010

Back in Oz

Hello everyone,

When we last wrote, we were hiding from a frontal passage near Buenavista Cay in the Jumentos. While there, a single-handed sailor anchored about 5 miles away, fell and broke his wrist. We all listened as others tried to arrange for the Coast Guard to airlift him out of these remote cays. The Coast Guard determined finally that it was not a life-threatening injury and the man had to charter an airplane from George Town, Exuma to fly to Duncan Town while other cruisers helped get him the 20 miles or so to the airstrip. His boat was left behind and nearby sailors will keep the systems running until his return. That may be some time as he needed to fly to the US for surgery on the wrist and it was discovered there was also another broken bone in the arm and some rib breaks as well. Falls and injuries are always a fear for those of us far from medical care.

Once the weather improved, we took the opportunity to sail north to the Exumas, making the passage of 118 nm in 18 hours, arriving in Little Bay at 0100 the next day. We seldom sail at night here due to the lack of lighted navigation aids but this course gave us a safe passage. Other than anchored boats that is and they should be showing anchor lights. Maybe. But there was only one boat at anchor in Little Bay and we gave him lots of room.

After a visit with our friends at the Sandcastle, we hauled anchor and headed into Black Point to do the accumulated laundry. That huge job accomplished and some internet work done, we sailed on once more to our favourite hidey-hole near Staniel Cay. Oz. Surprisingly, there were already 5 or 6 boats at anchor but the prime spot was open. Slipping through the little cut from Big Major and around the shallow sandbar, we tucked ourselves in between the moorings, against the island of North Gaulin and laid out two anchors. The second anchor was set to the direction of the expected high winds.

What a winter this has been. This week, we had three cold fronts go through! Between each front, we have one nice day to swim, walk or visit town for fresh items and catch our breath in preparation for the next blow. Friends, Rob and Christine on Celebrian, are anchored nearby and now Flextime with Bob and Jane aboard has joined the party. The wind is howling through the rigging now, after the latest front arrived in the wee small hours with near 40 knot winds. The amazing thing is that we have had two full days of rain recently! Here, in the Bahamas. In the winter months, that is a rare occurrence. There has been more rain this winter than we have ever seen here.

When the wind blows hard and the fronts hit, the boats nearby often drag their anchors as the wind changes direction. We leave our VHF radio on, all night long, in case we are the boat dragging or the one being dragged into. So far, so good, we haven’t been involved in the middle-of-the-night anchoring dance. But the front expected Tuesday is reported to be the worst of the season. Maybe, after 10 days in Oz later this week, we will be able to travel about again and visit some more of our favourite locations nearby. Then I will need to do laundry in preparation for our guest’s visit and my departure on March 11th.

Thank goodness for all the books and movies aboard this winter. They fill the hours that we are stuck aboard.

But, spring is coming and things should improve. Murray will pick me up in Nassau on March 25th and we will sail on to Eleuthera and then to Abaco. The plans to stay later in the islands have changed, due to the refrigerator problems. When the air temperatures get warmer, our current method, keeping the icebox cool with bottles of frozen water, will be challenged to keep up. So, likely, we will arrive back in the US by mid April and into Canada near the 1st of May. Written in Jello, you understand.

Until then, that is life aboard. Hugs,
Murray & Heather

The Valentine’s Party on Hog Cay

Concern had been expressed by Miss Maxine that the weather would be too bad for the planned party. But, some cruisers convinced her that Sunday would be fine rather than the initial plans for Sat.

Two cold fronts had come through in just one week and we had been hiding south of Hog Cay for days. Everyone was bored with being trapped aboard due to high winds. Some dinghies had braved the space between boats to play dominoes or farkel but most just stayed aboard and read/watched movies.

Miss Maxine prepares to carve the turkeyOn Sunday, the wind was still north and, with trepidation, we stuck our noses out around the point and headed for the anchorage. Boats sailed down from Doublebreasted Cay and Man of War Bay as well. Eventually there were 23 boats at anchor off of the party place, bouncing in the waves. The men had gathered wood and expanded the fire pit to accommodate all of Miss Maxine’s big pots. A decision was made to collect funds from the cruisers to contribute to the cost of the event and to provide for next year’s party.

Maxine arrived with all of her food about 1330 hrs but, unfortunately, the children didn’t accompany her. It was too cold! In fact, church had been canceled that morning as it was just too cold. The temperature was probably 65F or 17C! We all wore shorts though as it warmed up on the beach.

The cruisers contributed salads and desserts to add to the turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, peas and rice, chicken wings, cookies and bakery cakes provided by Maxine and the ladies of Duncan Town. No one went away hungry! Some of the men from town came out in their boats to visit and have some of the leftovers.

The bonfire continued on into the evening as everyone was loath to end this day and it was full dark before we headed back to tumble into our vee berth.

The wind switched around in the morning and allowed us to sail northward to Buenavista Cay, where we took shelter once again in preparation for a cold front. Lady Marie, a fishing boat from Spanish Wells, is anchored here as well and we visited them to purchase some hogfish and lobster. Thank goodness the freezer still works. The frig is still under the weather and we freeze a bottle of water in the Engel, switching it out every 12 hours, to keep the frig slightly cool. Oh well, ….

that’s life aboard!

Heather & Murray

Super Bowl etc

A few days ago, we experienced an island tour in a fast boat owned by Phichael of Silvertail Lodge. He picked us up in the afternoon and we flew northward towards Double Breasted Cay, where we dropped in on friends. It was great fun to go that fast past these cays and through shallow areas where we would never venture.

On Saturday, the mail boat arrived and we made a trip to Duncan Town for supplies. The wind had picked up so that it was a bumpy ride. We had taken on extra crew from the sailing vessel Our White Magic from Sarnia. They have 3 daughters aboard and it makes quite a load in the dinghy. At Miss Maxine’s, I managed to get one dozen eggs from the 4 dozen that she had left. Also some butter, two grapefruit, a few bananas and a small cabbage. The whole group of us went to The Fisherman’s Lounge for lunch with a choice of fish or conch. Everything was fried except the coleslaw. We made it back to the boat just before the onslaught of the next cold front.

On Sunday, Phichael was putting on a Super Bowl party at his lodge in town. He agreed to pick everyone up and deliver them back afterwards. The trip in the boat and the time spent chatting to the locals was every bit as good or better than the game. Although most people were quite excited to see New Orleans win. Phichael’s wife prepared chicken wings, conch fritters, cracked conch and lobster. All deep fried, of course. The cruisers contributed snacks as well. There was no fixed price for all of this but the cruisers rallied around and passed the hat. The return trip was in the pitch black at low tide and our captain ran aground at the end of the channel. The local guys jumped overboard and pushed while us cruisers were directed to the bow, stern or side to help free the boat. Once free and into deeper water, the throttle was again opened up and we sped across the water, with no moon and no lights on the boat. That is a scary feeling! The boat is 30 feet long and has twin 250 hp engines.

Today we moved out of our hidey-hole but have two more cold fronts approaching in the near future. What a winter!

The Acer computer has been packed away to be used as a back-up when necessary. Mark on s/v Reach helped us resolve the charting issue on the Mac by updating some software. So the Mac is in full time use now and is working well. The refrig is still a challenge. Mur had given up last week after another session with vacuum pump had failed to give us positive results. The Captain Eddie, of the supply ship Captain C, is bringing in some R134a refrigerant for us on Thursday, so maybe we can get this working yet. The ship also took our propane tank to Nassau where it will be filled and returned this Thursday.

That is life aboard.
Heather & Murray

PS the beer is NOT cold!!

Pass The Beans!

Yesterday, the Impaired Olympics were held here at Hog Cay. We had such events as Kayak Racing ( the paddler was blindfolded and used fins to propel the kayak, guided by his crew ), Conchshoes ( tossing conch shells at a curling-type target ) and Crab racing ( with numbered, captured hermit crabs ). An awards banquet was held after sunset with everyone in attendance.

One of the funniest things that happened was everyone brought beans for the potluck. Two bean salads, one green bean casserole and two baked beans! All with different flavours and all delicious. That is what can happen at a potluck.

Today we have moved to take shelter from an expected cold front. This one is forecast to be very strong from the south, west and northwest. These directions are difficult ones to find shelter from, down here in the Ragged Islands. So, we expect to have some uncomfortable days and nights but will not be unsafe.

The refrigerator has stopped working completely but we are coping. I freeze a bottle of water in the Engel daily and we use that to cool the frig. Thank goodness for the Engel freezer as it is keeping everything, that can be frozen, frozen. Besides which there is not much in our frig other than some cheese, 3 eggs and some bottles of water. Hopefully when the supply ship arrives, the weather will allow us to visit town and the small store there.

But that is life aboard.

Heather & Murray


Hello all,

Sorry for the lack of news but we are having issues aboard. Firstly, the frig. We borrowed a vacuum pump from a cruiser and pumped the system down to remove any condensation in the tubes. The consensus of opinion was that frozen condensation was blocking the orifice and shutting down the system. This seemed to fix the problem and the frig worked for about a week or 10 days. Yesterday, it failed again. Luckily we have a separate freezer to keep our meat etc very cold but the cold drinks aren’t cold right now. So now we are thawing out the cold plate to get the refrig very warm and try the vacuum pump once more.

Also the computer has developed two largish black spots on the screen and they are expanding lowly. Consequently, we try not the have the computer on for very long, to preserve the screen as long as possible. We use the computer for our charting.

In between issues, we snorkel, beach and trail walk, fish and share cocktails with friends. There have been a couple of beach parties with bonfires and guitars for sing-alongs. The weather has been hot with several cold fronts through this area already. But the one expected this weekend may be a real dilly. Oh well, we can’t worry about it until we have more information and, who knows, it may peter out.

The water temps here have been in the low 80’s F so it has been lovely in the water, either swimming or bathing. Feel sorry for us yet?

Hugs to all,
Heather & Murray

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