Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blowin' into Georgetown

Well, here we are in Georgetown! 
We ran down from Freeport, taking advantage of the northern component to the wind.  We were one night in Great Stirrup... a Norwegian Cruise Lines fantasy island... one night at Hoffmans (after landing a 44 inch Mahi Mahi!)...and then coasted into Nassau.  
Determined to avoid getting mugged (see The Keys in the Cays - April 2010) we stayed on the boat at the Cloisters and left at 7:00 am.   By mid afternoon we were at our anchorage at Shroud Cay.  Friends have raved about Shroud Cay... the northernmost part of the Exumas Land and Sea Park.  The island is mostly acres of mangroves threaded by creeks.  We set out for the "Washing Machine" - a swift running current from one of the creeks with a back eddy so you don't get swept out to sea - next stop Africa!  A couple of couples - retired Bahamian teachers - taught us the fundamentals - and in we went!  We'll post a you-tube video once we get decent Internet.
We left Shroud after a two-day respite and headed to Staniel Cay.  We were determined to hang around Staniel and enjoy the swimming and snorkeling.  Pam is in the middle of some really cool projects and she is anxious to spend some time on them.   She had cut out some pattern material for dingy chaps at Shroud and she has started on a sun-screen enclosure so Glen won't have to squint into the setting sun while enjoying gin & tonics.  However, the weather forecast was for a couple of days of good weather and then some nasty so we changed plans and decided to use our good travel days while we had them.
We coasted down to Little Farmers and dropped off school books and then went another 10 miles or so to anchor off Rudder Cay - just south of Musha Cay.  If you haven't already, google Musha Cay.  It is fabulous!
The forecast was for light winds behind us so we were quite surprised to get 25 knots all the way down.  It was quite a sleigh ride!  We did the 36 miles In just over 5 hours. 
So now we are lolly gagging around - getting ready to leave the boat with Blair and Sharon over the holidays.  Our connectivity is very limited and is severely compounded with some computer power supply issues.  Hopefully that will get fixed during our time at home.  We will hold a gathering/wake for Glen's dad and spend as much time as we can with our kids and our friends.  Really excited about playing with our grandson, Jack.
We are struggling with Internet but we found a stray signal tonight and watched a short video of Jen's about Jackson's first year.  Pam used up all the bandwidth and was blubbering for half an hour.  

Ghost ship from "Pirates" anchored in Lucaya

The mother of all mahis

Some other fish - a jack?  We ate it.

Shaggy Glen

Glen at the spa

Shroud looking out to Africa (or Cat Island)

The mangrove creeks of Shroud Cay

Unloading school books at Farmers Cay

Sasha the ray - at Chat and Chill beach near the conch bar

The wind is really blowing - hope it dies down soon

Using a fid to splice a loop in a line

Showin' em how it's done!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Glen's dad

We’ve been thinking a lot about Glen’s dad, Carl Roger.  Carl passed away a few days ago at 82.

Glen and Donna’s dad was a character. He was an adventurer, moving from farming in Saskatchewan to the brand new town of Kitimat, BC, built by ALCAN to smelt aluminum. He hunted, fished; he was a star hockey player on the local team. He was a fireman and later became a fire chief. Dad retired early to live on a houseboat on Shuswap Lake in Salmon Arm where he continued to hunt and fish and charm anyone who knew him.

Until he was 74, Carl lived a fulfilled life. He was funny, intelligent, stubborn, and opinionated and the life of any family gathering or party. He was the local handyman – he could fix anything. He built the most wonderful toys for his grandchildren – playhouses, kitchen appliances, ride on trains, rocking horses, a boat with an actual outboard engine. Not everything was a success - once he burned down our patio when a fish-smoker malfunctioned. He blamed Glen.

At 74 he suffered a devastating stroke that took away his independence. He spent 8 long years in care – and, with the luck of the draw with the Roger family genes – his stroke was augmented with dementia.

So his 8 years in care were uncomfortable and undignified. Every once in a while he would get into an argument with the staff when he came up with a new, ingenious way to make his life easier. “Drill a hole in the wall, attach 3 feet of rope and then I’ll be able to use my teeth to help steady me when I try to stand up!” The staff, of course was worried about the wall but his teeth were too far-gone to worry about.

So we experience mixed emotions with the passing of Glen’s dad. We celebrate the heroic, adventurous life he lived, and we sigh with relief that he is no longer uncomfortable and humbled by his condition.

Caught a huge mahi today, Dad! Must have been 15 pounds!

Carl and Glen - 1955

Fire Chief Carl - 1967

Glen, Carl and Brad celebrating Carl's 80th

Friday, November 18, 2011

Toes in the Sand

So here we are – with our toes back in the sand in the Bahamas.
Just before we packed up from Stuart we ran into Barry and Susan from Nighthawk.  They live in Chilliwack and although we had never met them we’ve seen their boat in previous years.  Once in awhile they shop at Clancy’s on Whatcom Road near Abbotsford and had talked to the owner (Mike!) about sailing in the Bahamas.  Mike said he has friends (us!) who sail the Blue Pearl in the Bahamas and they said, “Oh yeah, we’ve seen the Blue Pearl!”  So it was kind of cool to meet them standing near the fantastic boaters’ lounge at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart.

Loading school books for the students at Little Farmers Cay

Last minute provisioning at nearby Publix

Now, at the risk of running on at the mouth – we love Stuart.  The old town has such character and like so many other Florida towns, the A1A is dotted with malls so you can get any thing you want.  Lots of folks get their boats in the water at Indiantown and just come down the river for several months at Stuart.
St. Lucie Inlet - see where we went aground, George?
But our path takes us far beyond Stuart and so on Wednesday we set off for West Palm Beach.  We try to avoid the Intercoastal Waterway as it is boring and obstructed with bridges that have to be waited for, and then passed.  This, though, might have been a better route than the one we chose.  The waves weren’t big but they were spaced just nicely enough to keep the Blue Pearl significantly under 6 knots and so we banged and crashed our way to the WPB inlet – rather then glide down the boring ICW.  Boring is better than crashing.
Anyway, we gassed up and headed over to our spot, just south of Peanut Island, prepping for our 4:30 start the next morning.  We connected with Doug and Lisa on Carefree over the radio.  They had never crossed and were comforted to go with such seasoned veterans as us.
So we left at 4:30 – crossed without much fuss – and arrived at West End at 2:30.  (Check our SPOT locator to see our check-ins along the way.)  We had to motorsail.  The wind was light and variable but that is what a “weather window” is – an opportunity to get across with a minimum of discomfort.

The Blue Pearl enjoyed a refreshing shower... a couple of times.

Checking-in was easy – we asked for and received a 180-day Bahamas cruising permit and then settled in on the Blue Pearl.  Glen borrowed a marina bike and rode down to the settlement to buy conch salad.  While he was waiting for the salad Bumpy and his son drove by so Glen’s mission was interrupted with several Kaliks (local beer) and stories. 
After a game of crib, which Pam won by cheating, we had a delicious jambalaya, several glasses of wine and Glen fell asleep on the couch – just like home!!!
Within hours of tying up, the weather window slammed shut and we were whacked by a front with 35 knot winds. Glen reminded the marina staff of the Daring Rescue At Sea last year and received a $10 per night discount.  So we will sit here and wait for a couple of days.  We’ll check to see if John Travolta is at his West End home and head back down to the settlement for more conch salad.
After the front, we will head to Freeport to visit Bumpy and his family and then continue further south.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On to Stuart!

We are in the final days of our preparations before we leave for the Bahamas.  We’ve got the plumbing work done.  We’ve put in the new refrigeration system.  Now that we are in the water we’ve been able to get the sails back on, canvas up, solar panels functioning, lines and sheets where they are supposed to go.  We’ve filled up with water, we are provisioned.
Happy Shopper
This will last a while!
Now we are looking at our lists to decide what to do, what to postpone and what to forget.
We moved to Stuart today.  We are looking forward to wandering around the town – Pam is aware of a couple of consignment stores that might have baby clothes and toys.
There is a weather window for next week – light winds, not from the north that might allow us to cross.  Once we cross, we’re not sure of our route.  We need to be in Georgetown by early December but how we get there will depend on weather and circumstances.
Looks like we are ready to move!

Sewing bumper covers.

Putting up the dodger.
New fridge compressor and Glen's size 11

Checking out the guard dog.

Through the St. Lucie Lock to Stuart!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh Bliss – we are in the water!!!

For the last week we’ve been climbing our ladder to get in and out – making sure we don’t run into Bob – as he works to change out the septic holding tank and lines.  He was like Sheldon the Painter on Murphy Brown – woke us up in the morning, putted around, cut, painted, glued, ripped out, installed and gave us advice.  Nice guy – at $500 per day.
Old refrigeration

More old refrigeration - holding plate - heavy
So Bob did the septic, we ripped out the old refrigeration, put canvas back on, negotiated with our seat cushion guy and did odd jobs.  Pam set up her Sailrite and fixed up our sheet bags (bags that hang in the companionway to tidy up the halyards and sheets ) and also fixed a rip in our new canvas.   Glen dithers.
Costco goodies
When we got sick of hanging out with Bob we did our Costco and Walmart runs and did $$$ of provisioning. 
Lots of interesting characters at the marina office/lounge.  Every day at noon and again at 6 or so people gather to chat and compare notes.  There are really interesting folks doing amazing work on their boats.  Some are in and out of the yard quickly – some are working on projects that will take months or even years.
In this heat, beer starts calling before noon.  At home, we have a beer once a week or when we are out golfing or fishing.  A case of beer can last a week or so – unless we get a visit from Don and Pat.  But, at about 10:30, visions of a cold, frosty glass start to overpower, the work slows down and hands start to shake.  Pam suggested trying water but Glen isn’t buying.
 Anyway, we finally got our through-hull installed, the prop nut replaced and so there was no reason to remain in the dreaded work yard.  So we are launched!!! Wooopeeee!  This boat belongs in the water. 
Home - mind the stairs
Getting out of the work yard!

Almost there!
Folks enjoyed Glen’s demonstration of all that can go wrong in backing up an Island Packet but they soon got bored after 7 or 8 attempts and started to offer help and advice.  We moved the boat from the travel lift to slip #12 where we plugged in that great yellow dock-line (the power cord) and fired up the air conditioning.
Got the new cushions so we are sitting in luxury – and chaos.  This years’ guests will be so amazed at the classy ultra-leather. 
Happy Hour
So, Pam chips away at the bright-work getting ready to reapply Cetol, Glen pretends to know a lot about refrigeration and we bob gently in slip #12.   
Pass the beer!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back to the Islands

We had a terrific summer with family and friends.  We saw lots of friends, dined, partied, had adventures – so nice to not be interrupted by work.  We were blessed by several extended visits from grandson, Jackson and his mom.  Even though he woke us up at 5:30 (and earlier) he quieted down once Pam took him down to play with all his toys.  Glen made sure to sleep in so he could help out later in the day.  Jen wonders if he is over-stimulated… do you think???  Toys-R-Us checks with us to see what we have in stock
What that means is that we had decidedly mixed feelings when it came time to head south.  It is a very schizophrenic life.  We love being at home with family and dear friends.  We love being on the boat for all the simplicity, the romance of the sea, the adventures and all the new people we meet.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Seattle airport.  Carrie drove us to Bellingham where we picked up a rental car.  Our sailing friend, Sid (Quest,) told us last year of a great summer sausage from Costco that doesn’t need refrigeration – available in Bellingham but not in West Palm Beach.  Hmmm… that would be great on the boat.  We stopped at the Costco in Bellingham and bought four 3-pound sausages.  When we checked our duffle bag at the airport it was 6 pounds overweight so two of the two-foot long sausages went into Glen’s carry-on bag along with the 4 pounds of smoked salmon already in there.  At security, Glen had to have his bag rechecked and the two sausages went through the x-ray machine by themselves.  In-flight snack?
Overnighted in Orlando and then drove through orange groves and cattle ranches to Indiantown.  A lovely drive, directed by Otto’s friend, our car GPS, Madeline.
So we are happy and sad to be off. 
Except, TODAY WAS LIKE CHRISTMAS!!!  We were able to see the beautiful Blue Pearl and moved her into the work yard.

We picked up all the new toys we have ordered – like cockpit lights, a new knotmeter part, stainless bimini fittings, wire, cordless hair clippers, a new refrigeration unit, a new waste holding tank (don’t ask), tons of Sailrite sewing stuff (Pam) with more to come.  Woooo hoooooo!

We hope to be done with chores in the next two weeks and then head to West Palm Beach to wait for a weather window.

We plan to be in Georgetown, Bahamas by December 9 when we will leave the boat for 3 weeks to go home.  Then our penciled-in plan is to leave Georgetown in early January for the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rica and the Virgin Islands.  All that can change.  Our kids keep interfering in our good plans with grandchildren and weddings.  We’ll see how it goes.  However it goes – we’re in the warm on a sailboat – can’t beat that!
So – what’s up with Hurricane Rina??!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

End of Our 2010-2011 Cruise

We’ve entered a new phase in our cruise as we wind down and get ready to come home.  We’ve been enjoying Florida, living on a mooring ball in Stuart.

After our Daring Rescue at Sea, we spent the night at West End in Grand Bahama and left the next morning for our Gulf Stream crossing to Lake Worth (Riviera Beach) Florida with the help of George and Deb.  The crossing was uneventful and we arrived in the late afternoon.  We cleared customs but had to meet with officials the next morning so we anchored in Lake Worth and enjoyed a peaceful evening.  First thing in the morning we took the dinghy in and walked to the office – spent a little time smiling at the officers and then we were officially welcomed back to the USSA!  Yay!

Took off right away for Stuart and, after almost losing George off the bow with some rugged waves in the entrance we had an almost boring trip to Stuart.  Almost.  Coming in through the Saint Lucie Inlet was a breeze – except that it has shoaled and so, some of the markers have been moved, making the navigation difficult.  We smugly glided past the offset markers when… thunk… we hit the bottom.  NO PROBLEM!  We will simply navigate off – but which way?  Some thought south, others north and in the end after several fits and starts we finally bounced back into the navigable channel and on into Stuart.  George and Deb left us there (in Stuart, that is, not in the middle of the channel) and headed off for an adventure of their own in Florida.
Running low.  At least we have cava
Civilization at last!

We love Stuart.  The old town is quaint and features old restaurants, shops, parks and theatres and it is an easy walk from the marina.  We stayed on a mooring ball for a week enjoying the commerce and emptying our wallets.  We met up there with Sid, on Quest.  He was very generous with the loan of his truck and cooking meals for us.
Added a temperature probe for Yan Diesel

After days of enjoying access to Total Wines and West Marine and doing small boat chores we finally untied from mooring ball #7 and headed up the St. Lucie River, up 14 feet from sea-level through the St. Lucie Locks and on to Indiantown.

Four bridges and a lock to transit.

We need 52 feet - clearance was 56 - lots of room!

We had a good night’s rest Sunday night and then on Monday, took down the sails, the canvas, the solar panels, changed the engine oil, the generator oil, wiped down all the woodwork with vinegar and water and did loads of laundry.  While Pam did all this Glen talked to the yard service manager about potential work on the boat, visited with the locals and watched TV.  On Tuesday, we unloaded stuff to come home into our rental car, took the cushions into Stuart to be recovered and then headed north to Orlando for our flight home.

Hauled out and put to bed.

Resting until November.

And so, dear reader, thus ends our blog for the 2010-2011 cruising season.  Looking forward to thrilling you next year with continued "Roger Family Sailing Adventures."
Very excited about seeing all our family and friends.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Daring Rescue at Sea

We have been enjoying our time with George and Deb from Abbotsford.  They almost made it to Marsh Harbour as scheduled and were landing when a vicious squall hit the area.  The plane aborted the landing and returned to Nassau where they spent the night.  We were on the boat, watching the rain, lightning and thunder and strong winds.  The next morning we were able to pick them up and take them up to Treasure Cay.

George and Deb visit OOTMBBITB
We took a couple of days showing them our favorite spots around the sea of Abaco before taking the Whale Cay passage north to Green Turtle Cay.  The “Whale” can be a crazy passage in a blow but our crossing was benign.
Green Turtle Cay has two sounds – White Sound in the north and Black Sound in the south.  The settlement of New Plymouth lies in the south of the island near Black Sound on Settlement Bay.  We had Goombay Smashes at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar and took a leisurely walk around the community.

Miss Emily's granddaughter

A slightly younger Pam on the right at Miss Emily's a few years ago.
Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar

Our anchorage in White Sound was fine but the Bluff House Marina was having a special so that if we ate in the restaurant our moorage would be free.  Free is our favorite price so we moved in 50 meters and tied up – and importantly hooked up our power and turned on the air conditioning.  WOW – we have grown accustomed to sleeping in the heat but AC is a great luxury when we can connect to shore power.

Wasabe sesame tuna at the Bluff House at Green Turtle Cay
 From Green Turtle we moved only about 3 miles to Manjack, where we walked across to the Atlantic side and then swam in the harbour.  Nice place!  From there we headed to Allan’s-Pensacola and ran into Pat and Tuttie on Keltic Kat, a Canadian boat.  We’ve bumped into them several times beginning at Indiantown all the way down to Georgetown.  The Atlantic side of Allan’s-Pensacola features the “signing tree,” kind of like BooBoo Hill in the Exumas where cruisers leave their mark by hanging driftwood and flotsam in trees on the shore.  There are ruins from an old US missile tracking system but we couldn’t find anything very interesting.

The Signing Tree - not the Hanging Tree

We’ve heard boats reporting in over the radio from Double Breasted Cay in the north and it offers protection from all directions.  It was on the way and overnight squalls were predicted so it seemed like a good place to anchor.  There is a strong current which required a Bahamian Moor – one anchor upstream and another downstream so the boat alters from pulling on one anchor to the other as the current changes.  It keeps the boat from swinging wildly in a narrow anchorage.  We had never done it before and we say with great humility that we executed it perfectly.  Our night was secure – even as squalls hit us at about 1:30 in the morning.  Pam and George reported that there was incredible lightning, thunder and winds.  Glen slept through it.
Throughout our journey we have been nervous about fishing on the banks because we seem to catch nothing but huge barracudas.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, Fish-Killer Pam got up the nerve and what did we get – huge barracudas.  We think we might have hooked something good like a mahi but Glen screwed it up.
After a small jolt with our fish defibulator, he was as good as new.
On our final day in the Bahamas, crossing the banks, George and Pam spotted a strange apparition off in the distance and we changed course to investigate.  As we came closer we found three young Bahamians on a runabout, anchored in about 15 feet of water.  According to them, they had been fishing and become lost and then ran out of gas.  They had no idea where they were and had been adrift for 3 days.  Our first thought was that they were Somalian pirates starting a Bahamian franchise and we were reluctant to invite them onto the boat.  A radio check with someone in the community of West End confirmed that they were searching for missing fishermen.  So we scooped Manny, Darnell and Van aboard and took their vessel in tow.  After an hour some very relieved rescuers met us in a speed-boat and took our guests back to their family and friends.

Finding the Lost Boys

Grateful search party leaving with our boys
We had expected a heros’ parade and free conch salad when we arrived at the dock at West End – however that somehow eluded us.
We have loved our time in the Bahamas but now that we are heading towards home we are in a hurry to get there.  Soon we will be in Florida – spending time fixing small problems and enjoying civilization.  Then home to family and friends!!!
Heard it snowed at home in Abbotsford yesterday - "Dang, that ain't good!"  Hope it warms up soon.