Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

APRIL 28TH – FT. PIERCE, FLORIDA (HEADING NORTH)

A long crossing and a very late night trying to get the anchor to hold in Ft. Pierce Inlet and before you knew it, it was midnight.
The next morning it was time to clear into US Customs so we decided to get a marina at the Pelican Yacht Club as we had to take a taxi out to the airport to clear customs. Clearing in was very quick and simple.
Pelican Yacht Club is very nice and the rates are quite reasonable. Beside the clubhouse there is a great pool, and it’s been a while since we were in one. As you can see, the place was deserted.

The fresh water at the dock was a flat $5 rate so the boat finally received a thorough scrub down.
After a couple days of relaxing it was time to head up to Vero Beach (aka. Velcro Beach). It got that name because a lot of cruisers come here and never leave.
It’s back to the ICW and brown water again.
At Vero beach we’re staying on a mooring operated by the Vero Beach City Marina. Very good shelter in here and the surrounding lands are very pretty and clean.
The bus service here is free to everyone and runs once an hour so we decided to take the bus into downtown Vero Beach. Good view of the mooring field from the bridge.

Once we arrived “downtown” we quickly realized that there isn’t one…. Just a lot of big stores and a mall…… not what we wanted so we went back to the boat and went for a walk around the local area. We followed that with our own self guided dingy tour of the canals around here. They’re kind of pretty actually.

This afternoon we took the bus again to the beaches. Now that’s more like it. There is a quiet waterfront street full of small shops and stores.

We crossed over to the beach but the red flags were out and it was too rough to swim.

Continuing along the beach we came upon the Driftwood Resort, built in 1964 out of, you guessed it, driftwood. There isn’t a straight board or cut in this unique place.

The bar and restaurant didn’t offer any shade so we decided to continue on up the beach.

A short walk later we arrived at the Costa de Este, owned by Gloria & Emilio Estefan. Yup, same ones, but you never see them there.

Now that we’re here, we may as well have lunch followed by a welcome swim in the heated pool with a couple poolside drinks.
After a couple hours of this relaxation it was off to the bus stop just outside Mulligans Bar & Grill for the 10 minute trip back to the boat.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, it’s north to Titusville and Cape Canaveral.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27th - Great Sale Cay and Beyond

It's time to start the trip back towards the USA. The route takes us up the east coast of Great Abaco Island and inside all the barrier cays such as Manjack Cay, Allens & Pensacola Cays, Spanish Cay to Crab Cay at the NE tip of Great Abaco. This part of the passage is very sheltered from any seas. Along the route we pass the village of Coopers Town which looks interesting and worthy of a stop on our next trip.
The water has taken on a new clarity, similar to that in the Exumas and we again encounter some white sand bores which we had to go around.

We cut the corner of this one in 12 feet of water.

Five miles west of Crab Cay, this ominous looking rock could easily destry some unsuspecting cruiser's boat in the dark.

What's this? I thought we were still in the norther Bahamas. Did we make a wrong turn somewhere?
A look at the chart confirms our suspicion .... we're at the center of the earth .... but not like the Jules Verne novel.

Let's just go around it and hope we don't fall into some deep blue hole.
With Jan at the helm we head off another forty miles to the west and aim for Great Sale Cay.

The water is still very clear with white sandy bottom with depths of around 4-5 meters.

By afternoon we round Little Sale Cay to port and head down to our anchorage in Great Sale.

The anchroage is well protected and gave us our last Bahamian sunset.

The next morning it was time to leave for the crossing. The weather was forecast at SSE winds 10-15 knots with 1-2 foot seas in the Gulf Stream.
We're going for it, 125 miles to Ft. Pierce, Florida.

As we head out to Little Bahama Bank waypoint (27 07N 79 10W) the seas were calm so it was time for some maintenance on the anchor windlass.

Little Bahama Bank is magical. The water is very clear and is decorated by patterns of light and dark blue.

OK, we're almost at the end of the Bank. Time to get the rod out again to catch an unsuspecting Mahi Mahi ...... Zing!!!! .... Darn .... another barracuda. This one's a little bigger than the last but with a lot more teeth.
Get out the vodka again. A little dental surgery is in order.

Summer is coming to the Bahamas and so are the Americans. It's cooler in the Abacos than in Florida and there is very little humidity.

With a wonderful crossing behind us, we see "Big Daddy" smiling down upon us as the sun sets over Ft. Pierce. We've made it across in 16 hours.

Good bye Bahamas until the next time. It was a blast!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26th - Green Turtle Cay

Lat: 26 46N Lon: 77 20W

We departed Treasure Cay around 10am and headed for Green Turtle Cay. The weather was perfect .... man, it's always perfect .... just on the nose all the time. The "Whale Report" on the morning net was favourable so today was the day.
Approaching Whale Cay Cut we could see about 25 other boats heading in the same direction. The swells were only about three feet high coming in off the Atlantic Ocean. As they bounced off the east side of the cay, it made it a little choppy in the confused waves. I can see now why you never go out there in the wrong conditions.

This rock was actually at the end of Whale Cay but you can see the clear blue water. To the left of it, the depth is only 2 feet so there's no cutting corners.

Well, here we are. We entered the narrow channel in White Sound and went up to the end to the Green Turle Club Marina and Resort where we tied up for the night.

It's a good deal here for dockage as the amount of your restaurant and bar tab is deducted from your dockage until your dock is free. However, this is a little misleading as we thought that anything over the dockage rate had to be paid(ie. the difference), but the way they do it is to add the restaurant bill to your dockage then they subtract the dockage, so you still have to pay the restaurant bill. Makes sense after you think about it.
This little community in New Plymouth is much the same as the others in the Abacos. You mainly drive golf carts around the little narrow streets and the houses are brightly painted.

This large church overlooks the harbour.

Everyone likes their little white fences.

As you come down over the hill in your rented golf cart you're faced with a very neat and clean cemetery on the left and a wonderful bakery on the right.

Not much of a main street business section here but there are some stores.

As the good book (Explorer Charts) says "The one settlement on the island, New Plymouth, is rich in history and charming with much to offer cruisers in terms of necessities as well as frills".

Believe it or not, there is a very large boat yard with haulout facilities complete with 50 ton travel lift and an excellent Yamaha marine dealer on Black Sound. The sound is quite small but has a quaintness about it. You have to enter on high tide as there is a sand bar at the entrance. Once inside you can see the many boats at anchor and on moorings.

There are a couple marinas and the Leeward Yacht Club inside.

Although small, the yacht club offers a little bar with a great view of the harbour and a small swimming pool in front of it.

Like I said, this place is small and we've pretty well covered it all.

We first learned of some of these places from past famous Dartmouth Yacht Club voyageurs like Ron & Chris Hurst, Pat & Ted Haight, Randy Sherman & Susan Brown, and Dave & Paula Gaetz along with the many cruising friends that we've made in the past year. All your help is appreciated ....

But now it's time to leave and work our way back towards the United States. It's our plan to work our way north and west along Grand Bahama Island to Great Sale Cay for the night tomorrow.

Safe Sailing Everyone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24th - Treasure Cay - Great Abaco Island

Lat: 26 40N Lon: 77 17W Our journey north through the Abacos continues with a stop at this gem of a marina.

Treasure Cay Marina is the northwest corner of the Sea of Abaco and is our final stopping point before making the run around THE DREADED WHALE where you have to time it perfectly to clear Wale Cut and run out on the Atlantic Ocean for a few miles before re-entering on the other side of Whale Cay The very well protected harbour is entered through a very narrow channel that has been dredged all the way into the marina. Our trip up from Marsh Harbour was supposed to be a quiet motor, however mother nature decided she'd throw in a bunch of wind which kicked up the seas and put the whole works right on the nose AGAIN! We made the trip up with Denny and Debbie on "True North". They're from South Dakota and have been here before.


As the sign says, just follow the stakes to the end. You have to pass a quiet anchorage before entering the marina area. If you anchor they charge you $10 a day and you get full use of the facilities. It costs $1.00 per foot to tie to a dock.


We chose to take a marina which was a great deal.


As you can see, there's nobody here. Our davits look great, don't they? Wind Warrior I looks so different now compared to when we left. Back to the story ...... After our traditional celebratory drink for arriving safely we thought we'd wander up to the pool area. WOW! This place is beautiful. Too bad we didn't get here sooner. We'll definitely be back here again.


Surrounding the marina area are condos. I hear they fill up during the summer months rather than during the winter.


Anybody hungry? Denny knows of this beach bar on the other side of the peninsula that has great food and entertainment, so off we go.


Did I mention that this is a beach bar ...... I didn't realize that the beach would be this big ...... And the sand was very fine and felt like powder.


We all had a great evening of dining, dancing and singing before returning to the boats for the night.


Tomorrow morning was going to be early as we wanted to depart Treasure Cay hit the tide right for going around THE WHALE enroute to our next destination of Green Turtle Cay. Have a great evening.


Monday, April 23, 2012

April 20th - Thought I'd Seen Everything!

Well as our time in the Bahamas is quickly coming to an end, I'd thought I'd seen it all .... until the other day. This guy in a sailboat beside us has been having trouble with his Yamaha engine on his dingy and said it wasn't reliable .... so what does he do??? Instead of getting it fixed, he flies back to Florida and brings this back with him. The trip was 200 miles long and he did it in 5 hours .... gotta love it.

Yesterday we had a fantastic storm front run through here. When you see this and hear the 50 knot winds coming you'd better get inside QUICK !!

We're leaving Marsh Harbour on Wednesday for Green Turtle Cay and staying there a couple days before heading back to Florida on Sunday. The gulfstream weather is calling for East 15kn with 2-3 foot seas. Should be a good crossing. We'll keep in touch.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

APRIL 19TH- GREAT GUANA CAY, SEA OF ABACO, ABACO, BAHAMAS !!!

There you go .... Try to find that one on Google Earth. In a nutshell we're out on the extreme northeast end of the Bahamas. Lat: 26 40N Long: 77 07W Since I last sent out an update things have been moving along very quickly and most of my time was take up with repairing the steering system that broke. Since arriving in Marsh Harbour, the boat was tied up at the Marsh Harbour Marina. We departed there two days ago for a short jump over to Hope Town to check out the repairs and to check the place out. Today we departed Hope Town for Guana Cay and that's where we sit tonight. Our plans for the rest of this week are to head back to Marsh Harbour tomorrow as there is a huge storm coming in over the weekend Where do I start? ...... We departed Harbour Island on Easter Thursday bound for the Abacos, via the Devil's Backbone. As we'd made this run before without a pilot we thought it would be OK ..... until we rounded the point and ran smack into 8 foot northerly swells crashing over the numerous coralheads. Things were fine until about 10 miles out into the Northeast Providence Channel when the steering cable parted and the rudder wouldn't go past midships to port. This brought on a very long day. Dodging ship traffic got to be routine

We called this fellow numerous times but he just wouldn't answer us. The sea conditions were moderately rough entering the cut at Little Harbour but we passed there without incident. Once inside we ran up to a small protected anchorage called Snake Cay (26 27N 77 03W) and called it quits for the day ..... but not after a well deserved shower on the after deck that night. Gotta love those solar showers

Man that felt good!! Upon inspection, we discovered that the problem with the steering cable was that it had started to part up in the engine room and the broken strand had worked it's way loose and formed a knot in the rest of the wire. This knot would not pass through the conduit.

A temporary fix was to cut out this section of wire and tie the strands back in with red electrical. We did this and everything worked out .... for a while! Making a long story short, a new conduit was ordered from New England and it only took 3 days to receive it here. We then proceeded north to Marsh Harbour, in the Sea of Abaco (Lat 26 33N Lon 77 04W). Marsh Harbour Marina is quite small but it was very clean, had a pool, and the staff was extremely friendly.

We met a lot of wonderful people there and developed new friendships. Marsh Harbour itself is geared for the boater and has a NAPA, four marine supply and dealer stores, a great grocery store (Maxwells) and numerous restaurants, banks, etc. It is also the Abaco base for Sunsail ant the Moorings Yacht Charters. The harbour itself is kind of polluted .... somewhat like Halifax USED to be, and the water is not very clear. There is a large anchorage in the center and a good sized Sipping dock for the small container ships that arrive here.

You know you've been in one place far too long when you start to see amusing things like faces in dock pilings like this one.....

The bar scene also starts to scare you when you see these HUGE curly tail lizards hanging around....

The marina itself hold steak BBQ's every Saturday night with live "rake & scrape" and limbo entertainment.

Towards the end of our stay we took a local ferry over to Man-O-War Cay for a day of relaxation.

As you can see on the map this is a very small but populated Cay. It has an excellent sheltered anchorage as well.

The village is very quaint with all it's narrow streets and brightly coloured homes. No cars on this Cay.

While everyone was shopping for souvenirs, Ron had his own agenda and purchased the new davits for Wind Warrior 1.