March 2016

Safely Across

Hello everyone

We just wanted to let you know that, once again, we have crossed the Gulf Stream and are back in the USA. This makes 38 times across that stream.

The passage was rough, as usual, but blessedly short as we crossed from Ocean Reef , Grand Bahama to West Palm. The journey was to take 13 hours but took us 11.5 ! The wind and waves were off of the stern so the boat rolled and tossed about a lot. Murray remarked that we were in the agitation cycle in a washing machine.

This morning, we got checked in at Customs and renewed our cruising permit. Once that was done, we hauled anchor and headed northward. Some good friends suggested that we spend the weekend at their dock and we plan to take them up on that. The waterways get crazy on the weekends in the spring and this is also a long weekend. Our friends are not home ( in fact they are still in the Bahamas ) but told us where to find a key to the house and car and to make ourselves at home. Just super people.

On Monday, we will continue our journey northward, with clean clothes and re-filled lockers. It will take us about 5 days to reach the marina and then about a week to prep the boat for storage.

It will not be long now and you will see our smiling faces once again.

Hugs from
Heather & Murray

Sent from my iPad


thumb_IMG_0286_1024Yes, believe it or not, we picked the perfect time to sail from Spanish Wells over to the Berry Islands and on. Bob & Liz, on S/V Arapesh, followed us out between Egg and Little Egg just as the sun was breaking over the land behind us. The wind was on our beam and we quickly set sail and shut down the engine. All we heard from then on was the blessed quiet with only the swish of the waves passing beneath our hull. It was a wonderful sail of about 42 miles and we arrived at Devils/Hoffman Cays in lots of time to get securely anchored in the daylight.

Murray jumped into Bob & Liz’s dinghy in the morning to show them the trails to the blue hole and to the ruins on Hoffman Cay. By 1030, we were ready to depart once agin. This time the winds were quite light but the plan was to only go 18 miles up to Great Stirrup Cay area to anchor again. It was a lovely day with the sun shining and the boat sliding along. Arapesh complains that they cannot keep up to us, even though they have a newer boat with a longer water line. W4 was just performing beautifully!

As we approach the anchorage, we take note that the wind is not changing direction as expected. The waves are rolling along that island and maybe right into our anchorage. We enter the area to confirm and it is being affected by ugly waves from the northeast. It is not the spot for tonight but there are a couple more possibilities nearby.

We go back out into the deep water and pass by the cruise ship anchored off of Great Stirrup. They stop here and ferry their passengers ashore to enjoy the beautiful beach and some Bahamian cuisine. Between Great and Little Stirrup is another anchorage – Slaughter Harbour. But the waves are rolling right into there as well. Darn! Do we really have to go all of that extra distance around to Great Harbour Cay?

Murray steers us around the west end of Little Stirrup Cay and towards the shallow sand bar. Here we are out of the waves and safe for the night. Although there is no note on the chart that this is an anchorage, we certainly found it to be perfect for this night. The sun set over the empty sea behind us giving us an awesome view of a green flash.thumb_IMG_2583_1024

The next day found us continuing to sail at hull speed, making the journey of 55 miles to Lucaya in great time. Arapesh disappeared behind us until they turned on their engine to assist. Once in Lucaya, we anchored for the night not far from the entrance as we planned to move on again in the morning. During dinner, we heard a voice “ Captain, captain! You have to move! ” By now, it is full dark and the police boat wants all three boats to haul anchor and follow him to somewhere else. There was no arguing with them as they threatened to arrest the owner of one of the boats who was simply asking questions. They took us over by Grand Bahama Yacht Club and told us to anchor there. But, we had been chased from this spot before and expressed our doubts. “This is fine because I am putting you here!” OK, safely anchored again, we finished dinner and went off to bed. It was just barely daylight, when we again heard a voice. “ Hello, you have to move!” The dock master from the nearby marina is chasing us off. We explained that the police placed us here. So, he left and came back in about an hour with two police aboard his boat. “You cannot anchor here! There are sewer lines all over this area” Well, any thinking person knows that to be untrue as they would never put sewer lines under the water. What happens if you have a break? How do you fix that? It was just an excuse.

The bottom line was that Lucaya was no longer the friendly port that we had enjoyed for so many years. Unless you wish to pay for a dock, perhaps visiting Lucaya should no longer be any part of our plans. Between the extra charges for checking in and being chased from an anchorage twice, once of those times in the dark, we don’t feel welcome here any longer.

But, luckily, we were moving on once again. This time to a dock at Ocean Reef resort. So, on Wed March 2nd, we tied up to the dock here for approx one month. Friends, Bob & Jane Argue formerly from S/V Flextime, are staying here in a timeshare for two weeks and helped us tie up and escorted us on a dinghy adventure right away.

Life is very different on a dock in a resort. There are scheduled activities and lots of boaters to chat with. They have buses to take you to the beach or shopping plus there are dance lessons, scuba lessons, aqua-fit classes, a gym and lots of washers and dryers. Yeah! Clean clothes without using a bucket!

For about a week previously to our arrival here, there had been some concern about a health issue for me. A local doctor came to the boat and sent me for further testing. It took a few days but the bottom line was nothing of real concern was noted. For a time, a CVA was suspected but the MRI ruled that out. So, right now we are doing some exercises to improve my balance and stability again. By the time we are ready to head out again, I should be back to normal. If I was ever normal.

Family arrive on Saturday, staying in the resort, and the fun will begin in earnest!

A different form of life aboard!
Heather & Murray



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

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