Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30th - Bimini to Nassau

We made it to Nassau (125 nautical miles) and what a beautiful crossing it was.
Bimini is a very unique place. It's only a half day sail from the USA but has that laid back tropical atmosphere. The Florida Keys has nothing on this place. It's very small and quaint and everyone is very friendly and kind. Everyone we talk to has the same opinion and hope it does not become corrupt by the American influence. We spent 5 days in Bimini awaiting weather, so what else to do except act like a tourist and see the place.
I took a walk to the north end of South Bimini Island. What a lovely place. Small stores with unique names like "Buccaneer Booze & Screws" and the "Thirsty Turtle Yacht Club" that contained a small restaurant and bar with on 51ft sailboat. I still don't know how that got in there.

At the north end of the island there is a small ferry that takes you over to the North Island for $2.00. The flats around there are very pretty and you can watch all the Canadian boats as they arrive from the US.

Did I mention all the traffic on the South Island? Here we were at rush hour. No different than at home ...... The driver had his left foot up on the dash and was talking on da cell phone ... hahaha.

The ground transportation here is free....A little rough at the seams but colorful just the same. Just watch you don't step through one of the rust holes in the floor. The front bumper is held on with a rope and the light above it is wire-tied in place.... Sounds like some of the cars I used to drive.

Oh Yes !!!! I forgot to mention how tough this cruising life has become. We are now down to eating from the sea as we don't want to deplete our supply of frozen food too quickly. Every day the local fishermen come around with an assortment of fresh fish and lobster tails. So far we've bought some 36 tails for about $2 each between the three boats. Peter used to be a chef on cruise ships so he had the pleasure of preparing and cooking them.

When we left Bimini Sands at 0830 on the 28th the tide wasn't high until 1030am and at the entrance there was only 5.3 feet of water. COSTELLO and TANGO made it through OK with their shallow drafts but we had to wait inside the Lagoon until nearly 9 to get enough water to get out.
What a perfect day for a crossing of the Bahama Bank. ESE winds about 8 knots (on the nose again!) and about one foot seas.
Unfortunately it was overcast in the morning and all we had to worry about was water-spouts and shipwrecks.

As you can see, we let Chris on TANGO go on ahead to see if we were going to turn to the east before we got to the spouts.

Our timing for crossing the Great Bahama Bank couldn't have been better. The sun came out and the extremely clear water painted a beautiful picture of what is to lay ahead.
For some 60 miles the depth averaged 12 feet and you could literally see everything on the bottom.

We were making over 7 knots when I took this picture over the bow.

Darkness came as we approached the NW Channel light. Sounds like a major navigational aid but it's just a steel pipe stuck in the sand with a small solar panel and red light on the top. This marks the beginning of the Tongue of the Ocean that leads down towards the Providence Channel and on to Nassau.
So, as we were only in nine feet of water in the middle of the ocean, what else is there to do but drop the anchor for the night. We really didn't realize the vastness of the place until we awoke to a spectacular sunrise.
I told you we were in the middle of the ocean.

Sunday morning brought an even nicer day with light winds (on the nose again) and calm seas. We passed the NW Channel light and continued on with our 57 mile trip. The depth on the chart showed over 10,000 feet as we motored on down to Nassau. You can see that just to the left of our boat it's 10,764 feet deep.
In this picture we were just south of Chub Cay. A few very rich people own property here like Shakira, and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.

LAND HO !!!!(again)
At about noon we could pick up the twin towers of the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, across the harbour from Nassau. You've seen them in movies such as "After the Sunset".

As we approached you could see the place was full of cruise ships.

The ship (Norwegian Sky) Jan & I went on for our cruise 3 years ago was thee but was dwarfed by the brand new Oasis of the Seas. This thing is massive. Norwegian Sky is to the left in this photo.

Our trip through Nassau Harbour DID NOT go without incident. We saw what we thought was a bag r something floating up ahead when we realized that it was a person trying to swim with a back pack on. He had jumped into the water from shore and tried to swim back to his small boat when he was over-powered by the 4 knot current and was destined for sea. After circling, we lowered the swim ladder for him to hold as we towed him back up throught the anchorage to his boat. He told us he was from Spain and never been on a boat until last month. His name is Ankel.
Rescue Mission Completed !!

So tonight we're all tucked in at the Nassau Harbour Club Marina where we'll be staying for a few days of sight-seeing and getting some fresh produce, etc, and awaiting weather before heading down into the Exumas.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


That's right everyone. WE HAVE ARRIVED IN THE BAHAMAS !!

What a crossing. We got up and departed Miamin in the dark at 0500 ... made our way out the cut by No Name Harbor and out into the Florida Staits. The crossing couldn't have been better. Winds East at 15 knots with 2 foot waves. It was a direct motor all the way.
Ted Haight told me that when you arrive in the Gulf Stream you'll certainly know it ... and Ted, you were so right. 30 miles of 3.5 knot current from south to north and the most beautiful colour of deep true blue that you've ever seen. Nothing to do with the fact that the sea averaged over 2,200 feet deep.

LAND HO !! At about 12 noon we sighted the Bimini Islands dead ahead and we were safely tied up to the Big Game Club Marina in Alice Town by 1330.
This little town is so very quaint and there is absolutely nothing modern about it. All the marinas around here are absolutely deserted. We had a 100 berth marina to be split among 7 boats, a four foot barracuda, and a 5-6 foot lemon shark.

The entrance between the North and South islands was very narrow and shallow but we made it inside ok.

The main street of Alice Town is very narrow with a few cars and a lot of golf carts.
That night as we were going up to the restaurant for supper a tremendous fire erupted in a housing complex right across the street. Forty people in seven families lost their homes that evening. There is virtually no fire department here. All they had was a one ton flatbed truck with a couple hoses, barrels of watrter AND NO NOZZLE! Total chaos! The folks in neighbouring homes could be seen on their roofs with garden hoses trying to keep them from catching fire.

Our hearts really went out to all those panicked and crying families and friends. The marina hotel supplied them all with rooms for the night and free food after the catastrophe died down.

The next day Jan & I went for a walk around Alice Town and took in the sights. The water is an amazing colour and the atmosphere is sooooo BAHAMIAN, MON !

This was the entertainment section of town with two sports bars and a restaurant.

After we tried our first KALIK beer we walked over to the beach and stepped into the water. It was wonderful. No sharks at this beach.

Yesterday we decided to move the boat to Bimini South Island and got a berth at the 100 berth Bimini Sands Resort. It was cheaper($1.10 per foot) and better sheltered from the easterly wind. Again, only 6 boats and no sharks or barracudas in sight. The entrance was very narrow with 0.2 feet under the keel. This marina is so American looking.

Personally, I liked the tropical atmosphere of the Big Game Club a lot better (pics below) but the strong currents there and the waves slapping at the stern made it a little uncomfortable. There was Bob Marley music playing continuously in a lush tropical setting. I hadn't seen enough of that place yet.

Today, we'll do a little exploring of the South Island and try once again to fix the new water bladder that's still leaking into the bilge ..... And at 50 per gallon for water you don't want that to continue.

Around the end of the week we're hoping for good weather to make the 60 mile run across the Bahamas Bank to NW Channel light then on to Chub Cay (20 miles) before making the 30 mile run down to Nassau next week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Depart Marathon for Miami

On January 17th everything finally started to come together for Wind Warrior and we would finally get to leave Marathon and continue on our journey.
Our old fridge, being the major culprit of our power problems was tossed and replaced with a brand new Adler Barbour system. We thought all was well until after two days the new one wasn't working very well. A rescue call from Mel, the fridge guy, a little charge of Freon, and it was working ... FINALLY.
Our newly installed West Marine water bladder was filled up and all ran out the bottom into the bilge.... not a good thing, so today we have to look at that again.
Tuesday evening was spent over at Dockside Bar & Grill where we met up with Scott Hamilton, who was going to accompany us to Miami and the Bahamas with Esperanza. More bad news .... his high pressure injection pump had bit the dust and leaked oil all over the engine shutoff solenoid. Now it wasn't working either. Further comm's told us that he'd be another week, so we're off without him. See you in the Bahamas, Scott.
Our weather window had come and we had to get back to Miami for the passage to Bimini on Sunday.
Finally, January 18th arrived and we were off. Marathon was left behind for the last time. We journeyed up Hawk Channel for about 60 miles to Angelfish Creek where we followed "Castello" in through the very shallow channel entrance. There area a trawler and draw 42 inches and called the depths back to us. Our original plan was to jump off from there but the "window" closed.

Finally, safe inside we anchored up a small channel in 18 feet of water. A nice evening was had by the three boats crews on Castello before we headed back to our own boats for the night. At 1am we heard yelling down in the mangroves. Chris and Brenda, from "Tango" had gotten caught up in the strong 4 knot current while rowing back and were swept by their boat. They started to be carried on out of the channel. Luckily, they had managed to make it to the mangroves and were hanging on to the roots when Brenda started calling for help.
Ron got the little outboard on the dingy and managed to find them in the dark and tow them back to their boat .... all's well ..... gone to bed for the night as we had had to depart by 7am to have enough water to get over the hump. Zzzzzzzzzzz ... Then, at 5:30am ... BANG!!! RATTLE, RATTLE ... What the hell was that !!!!
As I ran out on deck I discovered that the current had changed 180 degrees and increased. We had run down on "CASTELLO's" chain and it dragged up across our stern. We got them clear and Ron pulled in 15 feet of our chain to get clear of them. Needless to say, nobody slept that night. Morning came and we made it out the bay end of the cut for an uneventful trip up Biscayne Bay to Miami where we anchored in a beautiful anchorage near South Beach.
Enroute, Ron spoke with Dave Gaetz of Misty Seas from DYC by VHF and they were heading down Hawk Channel to Marathon for a few weeks.

Yesterday, Friday, we took a bus ride over to beautiful Miami Beach and toured the historic Art Deco District where they filmed "The Bird Cage". Just how do you get a large Iguana off an umbrella at a restaurant?? Two guys with bins and a lot of yelling!!

A great day was had and today we prepare to leave for No Name Harbour for the night and our 5:30am departure to Bimini.

See you all from the Bahamas ....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14th, 2012 - Still in Marathon, Fla.

Well everybody, Christmas is over and we are now back in Marathon. What a difference this place is. From very few transient vessels to being loaded to capacity with every type of boat imaginable..... and of all sizes. here's a few of the more notable ones

Everyone is busy carrying out repairs of some sort in order to get on with their cruise.
In this photo, we were all wondering just how many people it really takes to mount a wind generator on a catamaran.

The whisker pole was donated by yours truly so they could create a boom to lift it with.
As for us .... we still have a problem with our power issues. The damn fridge just won't shut off and it's dragging down the batteries by 5 amps per hour. Yesterday Mel came over with his gauges and determined that there is a leak in the Freon system and moisture has gotten into the system. Therefore .... the decision was reached to purchase a brand new Aldler Barbour unit for a mere $1400 and get rid of the problem right away.

Mel drove Ron down to Key West to pick up the evaporator and the new compressor unit was ordered in through West Marine to be picked up today.
Sooooo, this being Saturday night, all the parts have arrived and Ron & Mel will install the new fridge tomorrow afternoon.....Right after we install the new water badder to replace the one that burst.

Did I say money? Seems that the old adage is very true when cruising. All this cruising thing is about is that you move your boat to a new location and continue to dump money into it.

As for the solar panel, we took the advice of others and rotated it ninety degrees to get it out from under the shadow of the radar. Instantly, we started getting 8 amps of current into the batteries when the best we could do before was 1.2 amps
Like I said ... Boot Key Harbour is full of boats right now. It's really funny sitting here listening to the net about how long ... for hours ... they complain and debate about some guy who shoots off a cannon at sunset. Everyone has to analyze it to death.

Well, I guess what keeps you going is friends and family and we seem to have plenty of both.
Yes Girls .... Mom still wears the bib you gave her so she doesn't drop food down her shirt.
In case you didn't hear ... Jan & I were baptized into the harbour last week when getting into the dingy. Ron was sitting in the stern and holding the boat in to the ladder for Jan. The current caught the bow ... Jan lost her balance and landed on Ron. The dingy immediately flipped upside down right off the stern of the boat. Only Ron's pride was hurt and his glasses were rescued the next day by the diver who was scraping the bottom of the boat.
Our neighbours thought this was a new way to clean the barnacles off the bottom of the dingy so didn't help. They might have clued in when they saw the propeller sticking straight up in the air ... duh !!!

The hope right now is that we get all our repairs completed in the next couple days and we're expecting a weather window by Thursday so we head back up to Miami and wait once again to cross over to the Bahamas, some 52 miles away.
Thursday and Friday are calling for Easterly winds 8-10 knots. Should be OK for the run up to Miami.
Scott H is also looking at doing the run up to Miami as he says he's getting tired of swinging from the ball down here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I didn't send anything

The video that went out by email to my 300+ contacts was NOT sent by me. I received it in email and just deleted it. Do not open it as it is a heck of a virus.
I've thanked the person who sent it to me !!
Sorry about all this.


I believe the song goes "Well our bags are packed and we're ready to go........"
Actually, one bag is packed.... full of boat stuff, so we can get things up and running again.
We have our new WIFI antenna (which looks like a big stick of dynamite with a long wire coming out of it, so that should be fun with Homeland Security :( )........ two new thermostats for the fridge, so we know that nothing will ever go wrong with it again since we have a spare, numerous fittings for water tanks, solar panel installation, stainless U-bolts, etc and for the cockpit..... 2 sets of solar powered Christmas lights and two solar powered spotlights.
At least we'll be well lit up.
After hours of research and discussion, we've realized that the entire power problem on the boat has probably been a result of us closing a cupboard door where the fridge compressor is located. Who knew that you need to have a lot of fresh air passing over it to keep it cooled down. As the book says "If you don't have a good air flow, the compressor will warm up and won't shut off...... BINGO!! Hope that's the problem !! Why on earth would the past owner of the boat write on the inside of the door...."Keep open when fridge operating"......... Now we know.
We have the diver set up to clear off 6 weeks worth of barnacles that have grown on the hull from sitting still.
So....."With one bag packed and three more to go", we're ready to leave on Thursday morning to return to Wind Warrior and continue with our journey.
The plan is to spend the week getting the boat up and running again so we can head back to Miami and join the other Halifax area boats,.... wait for good weather to cross, then head out for the Bahamas and land in Bimini.
Failing to find Bimini, I guess we'll see you somewhere on the other side of the ocean in about 6 months (hahaha).
Hope everyone had a nice and safe Happy New Year, 2012