Sunday, December 19, 2010

Update (finally)

Where have we been?? Where are we now?

Well, if you are watching the iBoatTrack on the Blog (, you know that we are at least half way across the Grand Bahama Bank. Essentially a 20 foot table that runs a good 90 miles from Bimini to Chubb Cay. How did we get here?

The last Blog entry was apparently way back on our Thanksgiving Cruise with the Schoonmakers. Charleston to Savannah with two overnight anchorages in the creeks flowing into the Intrascoastal Waterway. Great time in Savannah. A city that is, in my view at least, nicer than Charleston for its historic streets, squares and Southern gentleness. We were taken on several tours of the famous Savannah Squares by Jill and Bill and able to access great restaurants from the convenience of our city-side berth at the Hyatt Hotel. The surprising thing about the Savanna\h River is that it is the fifth busiest container ship port in the United States. But unlike Los Angeles, or New York or Baltimore, there is no expansive harbor. These huge ships enter the Savannah River at Tybee Roads and head 15 miles up river into the heart of the city. They then go under a 135 foot fixed bridge to access the working port at the river’s edge. As a result, our pre-bridge location often had us wondering why it got so dark all of a sudden. Looking up, a way of container ship would pass.

Highlights of Savannah, apart from the delightful company of the Schoonmakers, included those wonderful walks, the architectural, colonial and confederate history, and great food. B Matthews (the oldest tavern in Savannah), Molly McPherson’s (Scots, not Irish!!), and a progressive dinner which started at Vics for cocktails and appetizers, and ended at Rocks on the River for dinner and nightcaps on the roof.

On Tuesday, November 30, Bill and I began to get the boat ready for its offshore passage, and by Noon, Jill and Bill were off to the airport and George arrived to act as passage crew to Ft. Lauderdale. A passing front kept us at dockside on Tuesday and pushed our start date for Ft. Lauderdale off until Wednesday. Keen weather sense was at work here. As well as a heads up phone call from Captain Tim who was on a Southbound delivery and pulled in to St. Mary’s, just South of us, to wait out the coming storm.

Wednesday, December 1, we were off the dock by 0715 and headed the 15 miles to Tybee Roads and our meeting with the great big ocean. She was there, alright. Jumping up and down to see us!! Like really high up and down. The passing gale had decided ton stay awhile and we ran offshore to get in the deeper water, but still faced 12 to 15 foot waves and a pounding sea. No fun. And, having literally not sailed the ocean since our Fall 2009 transit from Portland to Baltimore (most of which, with Tim and Dennis, we motored in a glassy dead calm), it was like learning to sail all over again. Like learning, because we didn’t learn so well for a while.

We reached a point about 12 miles offshore from St. Mary’s about midnight and things began to settle down quite comfortably once we hit the Florida State line. Moving in closer to shore the wind had clocked around and we had wind and waves astern the rest of the way to South Florida. Though the first 254 hours went from desperate to horrible, the balance of trip was “worth it after all”. Florida sunshine, cavorting porpoises, and literally flocks of flying fish skimming the crystal blue waters. This is why we headed South, right?

Having sailed some good following breezes, we were only 30 minutes after sunset when we turned right into the channel for Port Everglades and Ft. Lauderdale. No worries, I thought. It’s a big city and there will be plenty of ambient light to make our way up the channel to Hall of Fame Marina. We made the 6:00 opening of the 17th Street Bridge. Good timing. On the other side of the bridge, the lights went out. I mean out. Really dark. It’s not a city, a suburb on the water. And it looked like everyone had closed their shades and gone to bed. A very tense and very slow daymark to daymark (emphasis on “day”) trail was followed to Hall of Fame. They closed at 6:00, but we knew to look for Slip 216 on the South dock just after the sportfisherman “Marlin Madness”. Which we passed. Bow out. And ended up in slip 210, putting us stern-to to a 125 foot motoryacht “Cariad” on the face dock of Bahia Mar Marina. Not happy with that layout, we spent the next 90 minutes maneuvering the boat kitty-corner in our double loaded slip and backing out at angle so as not to puncture a hole in the side of Cariad. That put us bow in to Slip 216 and, for next time, stern-to an open slipway at Bahia Mar. Savannah to Ft. Lauderdale in 59 hours. Exhausted, we headed to Coconuts for dinner.

On Dec 4, 2010, at 5:44, Tess Marts wrote: We arrived last evening. It was a rough road the first 24 hours, but how quickly that can be forgotten with beautiful, warm blue water, friendly seas, schools of little flying fish skipping across from wave to wave! (they look like tiny bluebirds, or tinkerbells of the sea). Apparently they fly to avoid being eaten by toothsome sea-creatures, but they are so Cute in their flight of terror!

Saturday, December 4 was a wash down and clean up day. Followed by a bit of catching up with South Florida relatives and a (mostly liquid) siblings dinner at the Bahia Mar Lobby Bar. Sailing and relatives require copious amounts of alcohol.

By Monday, I was on a plane to Manchester and Tess was left with boat work and family visiting. A blur until my return on Wednesday, December 8.

The following week was a flurry of activity as we attempted to ready ourselves and our boat for crossing the Gulf Stream and living in the Bahamas.

More on that to come. As well as pictures and further updates. The hour of wifi I have on Frasier’s Hog Cay has ended, so I must get this posted. Stay in touch…

Tomorrow, we sail South!!