Monday, March 21, 2011

Mid-March Update

Yikes!!  No update since February in George Town.  We’ve been around the Exumas since then.  Little Farmers Cay.  Black Point Settlement.  Lee Stocking Island.  George Town, again.  Emerald Bay, again.  Black Point Settlement, again.  Big Majors Spot.  Bell Island.  And, back to Big Majors.

 Since the Photiades visit (took weeks for my liver to recover), we headed to Emerald Bay Marina for fuel and water and laundry and groceries.  Had a real Klondike Bar, which was like a frozen fantasy after months without ice cream.  Emerald Bay was quite a reunion with plenty of boats we have come to know and love.  Great snorkeling in Exuma Sound and at Sandals Beach with Messenger and Ivy from Three Belles, included.  

 Then off to Black Point up the Exuma chain.  Our transit back to the bank side from Exuma Sound was through 3 to 4 foot breaking waves at 29 to 39 knots of wind against the outgoing tide.  Once inside, it was great Bahamas bank sailing, but for our catching a 3+ foot Barracuda which I was happy to shake off the hook before his teeth made contact with my fingers.  

Dinghy racing in George Town.

Dolphins were feeding in Black Point Harbor on Saturday (March 12) when I tuned in to Chris Parker’s 0630 weather broadcast on the SSB.  A week of continued Easterlies predicted.  Great day for a bike ride to the “Castle” and White Point where there is a beautiful beach and a quiet anchorage.  Great views of the Sound and the Bank from the ridges and the two are no more than 500 yards apart.  Also ran in to friends of George and Sue Nostrand from Vermont who happened to be guests aboard an anchored trawler.  Small world, Black Point.

 Sunday’s fishing expedition (as you all have probably heard by now) was more adventure than anticipated.  Having caught a large Gar and tossed out a large Barracuda and a Needlefish, I beached the dinghy to clean my catch.  After filleting the Gar I tossed the big knife (yeah, the big, sharp knife) in to the bucket which held the fish remains to be disposed of.  I clearly said to myself “That’s a bad place for the knife.  It will go overboard when you clean the bucket”.  Sure enough.  It did.

The dilemma was this.  Retrieve the knife amongst the fish guts at the ocean floor (without snorkel mask), or get a mask and retrieve it properly assuming that I could find the spot again.  Expediency won out.  I dove.  I squinted through my unprotected contacts.  I grabbed the knife handle.  I shot skyward through the water.  The knife blade shot skyward through the dinghy.

Just a scratch, I tell myself.  As I climb in the dinghy, I look for signs of a hole.  None.  I start the engine and the dinghy’s bow goes up.  As does the sound of bubbling water.  Uh, oh….

The new dilemma.  Head to the boat to remove the motor and hoist the dinghy on deck before it sinks?  A long shot.  I head back to the beach.  Luckily, I have a radio.  Necessary since, even though I have an emergency patch kit, I have no pump to re-inflate my destroyed boat.  I call for Tess to find a Good Samaritan to bring me a pump, “in about an hour”.

Sure enough, Bob from Shazza arrives with my pump and a gracious lunch which Tess prepared in anticipation of not seeing me for a while.  Bob and I drank the beer.  Though my patch held till I made it back to Endurance, it was clearly a temporary solution.  I needed a real patch adhesive.  Luckily, Painkiller, in its continuing battle with a leaky dinghy had a storehouse of patching products.  Over the next two days, with dinghy on deck, a (hopefully) permanent fix was made.  An expensive fishing lesson.  And the Gar went overboard as too wormy to be appetizing.

 Effects of a bad day fishing.  Emergency Scotch Supply finally broken into....

Eastern Daylight Time.  What a shock and surprise.  Does that mean it’s Spring up there where you guys are?  Here, it was $20 for a two pound lobster tail (perfect on the grill), and the green flash of the sunset on our first day of EDT.  Give us a call when the crocuses are up.  Two’Fer Tuesdays at Sampson Cay Marina.  A calm clear morning at Thunderball Grotto.  Lunch on the deck at Taste ‘n Sea.  Great sailing in 15 knots on the beam on the Bahamas Bank.  An afternoon at Rachel’s Bubble Bath.  We can get used to this whole idea of Springtime.

Man and dogs kayaking at Black Rock.

 Now, snug again at Big Majors Spot, we are hunkered in for a 12 hour front passage and await Paula’s visit on Wednesday.  Chris Parker has promised perfect weather into next weekend.  We are planning a last hurrah through the Exumas.  Then Nassau.  Then we head for home.  Via the Abacos?  Florida?  Charleston?  Norfolk? 

We’ll let you know, when we know.  See you all soon. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

A quick but busy visit to George Town

The time began,
Early on March 4th.
6:30 we left,
And walked out the door

Boston to Charlotte,
Then Nassau too.
And off to Georgetown,
Three planes we flew.

Patricia and Elvis,
Planes, car and a boat.
At 9:30 we arrived
For three days afloat.

For Tess and Lynn,
It had been 20 years.
Since they saw each other
There were many tears.

Tony and Tess,
Amazing hosts.
Gave us their cabin,
And a wonderful toast.

Four days of Exuma,
A few things to note.
The highlights enjoyed,
On the IP 45 boat!

The food just rocked,
Even more than the surf;
Thanks to Tess’ great cooking,
On her home turf.

Early on Saturday,
It was off to the race;
Tony, I and a crew,
Hoped to save face.

There were jibs and sheets,
And sails in our face.
My job was to grind,
And we took 3rd place.

Tony says grind
And adjust the “travel”;
And I say what else,
Should I get out a paddle?

Messenger, Pain Killer,
And Skedaddle too.
A GA from Northwestern
Can you believe it’s true?

A lost soul at sea,
Maybe just a paddler.
We found him though,
It was Ken Sadler.

The mornings were great ,
The snow far gone.
Listening to the “Net”,
And Rockin’ Ron.

Then confusion set in,
On Tony’s great Endurance.
When we forgot the name,
And called it Insurance.

Rumor has it,
He’s changing the name.
Cause he loves the stuff,
Who can you blame?

Take & Toke,
Or Chat and Chill.
Food and drink,
We had our fill.

And our favorite dish,
There was nothing to lack.
Tony grilled to perfection,
Our fish friend, Bar Jack.

Then off to St. Francis,
One last night to pass.
With great new friends,
And a dingy with no gas.

As Sunday night wound down,
And we stowed all the play
Tony and I
Conquered Mount Gay!

Or it conquered us,
It’s hard to decide.
I slept great that night,
Beside my bride.

Special thanks go out,
For Tony & Tess.
For extending their home,
Our lives have been blessed.

Be safe as you said,
To all the new places;
And enjoy each day
Seeing new faces.

We quickly are missing,
The ocean so blue.
So one last shout,
Thank you, thank you!!

Jeff & Lynn

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

George Town Photos with Ali!

And together again....

Welcome to March!

Well, it’s been a long time.  It’s the end of February already!

Here we are watching another beautiful Bahamian sunset.  At Lee Stocking Island for a second time, we have gone South, then North, then South again.  Ali arrived from New York City on Sunday, February 13.  That was three Sundays ago!

The weather in George Town kept us in harbor for most of the week.  The dinghy ride in to or back from the boat (and often both ways) was wet and miserable (if being splashed in mid-February by 80 degree water is what you consider to be miserable – thank goodness the air temperature never dropped below 82 degrees!).  We left on Friday morning after finishing out of the money at Thursday night’s Texas Hold’Em Tournament (Ali did hold in there almost to the last table, though).

An easy 12 mile sail North was expected, but huge following seas made it a bit uncomfortable.  Likely the largest swells we have seen since the Frazier’s Hog to Nassau run with George.  No fishing this time as I hand-steered the entire way.  ( oooh, how much the captain leaves out!  The swells were paired with ugly gusts and nothing on the right angle – it made the dinghy ride look reasonably dry!)

Coming in to the notorious Emerald Bay Channel was a treat.  They routinely close it if there is wind from the NE at 25.  Having an ESE at 25 is okay, I guess.  Huge breaking waves – in the channel!  As we go up one, we lose sight of the buoy that a minute ago was right beside us.  Yikes!  (We also never had a visual on the sail boat entering moments before us, who left George Town half an hour earlier than we did…that is to say, swells were big enough to not have visibility more than 2 boat lengths ahead, especially if you’re hyperventilating)

But once in, it is calm as a mill pond.  And the Marina at Emerald Bay is by far the nicest we have ever been to.  Great docks.  Great showers.  Free laundry.  A multi-level clubhouse with a bar, reading rooms, big screen TVs, pool table and a private club feel to it (but a private club that would invite us as members – imagine that). (this is what the Wentworth wants to be – a first class marina in all ways, from radio contact to dock hands to courtesy shuttle to grocery and liquor store …they are the bomb!)

Had a great beach and snorkel day with Ali on Saturday at the adjacent Sandals Resort beach.  Even used their great umbrella lounge chairs.  There was a small reef there just chock full of bait fish about six inches long which just swarmed around us as we swam.  Pretty cool.  Tess and Ali attempted a kayak ride out toward the channel, as I followed on a bike.  (Not having sufficiently forgotten the terrifying entry to the channel, Tess balked and needed to head back in to the Oz-like marina!)

Sunday was a Haircut Day.  Alison did an admirable job, without the first time jitters (and gouges) of my Spanish Wells haircut.  Cribbage, reading, beach walks and more cribbage filled the day until Ali’s flight home in the early evening.  Though we didn’t travel far or to any of the diverse islands here, it was great just to be “home” with family for us.

Ed & Karen from “Passages” (our IP40 mentors) were at Emerald Bay with their guests and we, of course, took advantage of the opportunity to squeeze more tips and experience from them.  We also finally met and spoke at length with Josh & Jen – the newlyweds from New Hampshire – aboard “Sheliak”.  And we were able to spend time with Steve & Alice from “Ocean Star” before they took off for Turks & Caicos with Monday’s weather window, planning to go South until there was no more South to go.

Our Monday was a boat work day.  Oil, filters, laundry, circuit breaker replacement and generally getting our house in order.  Tuesday was a full on office day.  But Wednesday, we had a glorious (and flat calm) exit from Emerald Bay and headed North to an empty anchorage at Little Farmers Cay.  What a difference from the Festival mob.  What a great place to relax and swim and reconnect with the clear, warm water.  After a few days in Black point (to score one more loaf of  Lorraine’s coconut bread), we headed South again on the Bahamas Banks side of the Exumas.  On our way a pair of feeding dolphins highlighted the tranquility of the Banks.

Now at Lee Stocking Cay, site of the Caribbean Marine Research Center.  I flew through True Grit and Mike Birbiglia (thanks. Ali!), and have broken down to read sailing how-to books (some would say, it’s about time), and a stack of legal magazines that have been sitting around since October (some would say, that’s a first).  The respite quiet and solitude have been lovely since leaving Georgetown’s city-like feel, but it’s time for us to return to cruising friends for a bit and look forward to a visit from Jeff and Lynn.  This is the Regatta week kick off, and we should have our eyes wide open to a festival of cruisers.  Georgetown, here we come!

Today, we head South.