Monday, February 28, 2011

To Treasure Cay

We have raced up to the Abacos to be here when Cousin Todd and Uncle Bob arrive at the beginning of March.  After our last post, we continued north along the island of Eleuthera to Governor's Harbour  - where our friend, Berlington Saunders, was once the Customs superintendent.  We visited him and his family back in 1992  (Columbus sailed the ocean blue 500 years previously) with Gubby, (Pam's mom) renting a beautiful place overlooking the now defunct Club Med with the pink sand beach.

We only stayed one night this time, worried that we might get held up by weather.  We had a nice anchorage in the harbour with a view of the colourful houses on shore.  We walked the streets of the settlement and found a great Bristols liquor store that sells Goslings Rum - the drink of choice of Alex Hawke, the hero in a novel Glen just finished.  So we had to get some.  Now we have to get some more.

The next day we motor-sailed 30 miles from GH, across flat, clear water to Current Cut.  We went through the Cut to Spanish Wells, a community started back when Loyalists decided that the American Revolution would undermine their loyalty to the Queen.  It is a very business-like place.  If you have lobster at a Red Lobster restaurant, it probably came from Spanish Wells.  Fishing is the life of this settlement.  We tied up in a tight little spot with shallows on both sides to one of the 6 mooring balls.  We dingied to shore and had a pleasant walk through the town.  People here take great care of their homes and yards.  There are none of the disasters you see in other Bahamian villages from hurricanes, fire and neglect.  Each house is colourful and well manicured with beautiful foliage.  In the morning, while waiting for "Bandit" to come and collect his $15 for the mooring ball, a small dolphin swam around the boat.   But did we have time to dally, you ask?  NO!
Ronald's Fish Supply in Spanish Wells

Spanish Wells home

Dry dock

Leaving Spanish Wells for Royal Island
Onward to our next anchorage at Royal Island which has evidence of a magnificent manor, gone to seed for some obscure reason.  Also, evidence of a failed development, one of so many in the Bahamas.  Lots of building trailers, heavy equipment, scars in the land where they have started to create building lots - but now dead in the water.

From Royal Island we had to make an open ocean (next stop Africa) trip to Little Harbour, Abacos.  We were up at 5:45 a.m. and lifted the anchor at 6.  We had very little wind and big rollers for 50 miles.  Bad combination.  Pam was gritting her teeth and Glen was worried about her wanting to sell the boat.  Not dangerous, just uncomfortable.

We arrived at Little Harbour after 10 challenging hours and Pam was in bed by 8:00 p.m., after a comfort-food dinner of mac and cheese.  We had a lovely anchorage and so we were able to sleep without alarm until morning.  Nice!  After a lazy breakfast, we left for Man O War Cay with a stop for fuel and water at Boat Harbour Marina.  When we were in Man O War on a chartered sailboat back in 1979 with old friends, Glen bought a canvas bag from Albury Sailmakers and Canvas.  The threads holding the zipper are coming loose and Glen tried to return it as defective after 32 years.  They fixed it and Glen bought a new one!

Where the hell are we?

Alburys cleaning conch... Glen sucking up... they took pity and gave him 3!

A lot of bags to choose from!

Old bag... new bag!

We moved to an anchorage just outside of Man O War and found the best "linksys" router we have seen in our entire trip.  We had great connectivity and used it to good advantage.  Glen's mom pointed out that we have been doing a crappy job of keeping our maps updated, so Mom ... check out our map page.

Otto, our auto-pilot had an aneurysm today.  Glen found a blown capacitor on the circuit board and we are hoping that replacing it will bring him back to good health.  We REALLY depend on Otto.  Where to get a new capacitor in the Abacos???

Today, we moved to Treasure Cay and here we sit, waiting for Uncle Bob and Cousin Todd.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movin' on

We were anchored at Long Island for 3 weeks and loved it… but it was really time to move on.  Our engine, Yan Diesel, had significant issues but after he was fixed by a brilliant, local mechanic, Les Harding, we ran up against some winds that held us in Thompson Bay.

Yan's exhaust manifold

We went to a buffet dinner at Tryphena’s, beach combed looking for sea beans, rented a car again, bought fruit at a farmer’s market, had happy hours and dinners with buddy boats and could have stayed another 3 weeks.  It is such a lovely place.

Thompson Bay Inn - cool beers

Glen visiting the neighbours
Long Island straw weavers

Tryphen's cracked lobster
Unloading our empties
But, Uncle Bob and Cousin Todd are coming to visit and they are flying into the Abacos – 225 miles north – arriving in less than 2 weeks.  So we were anxious to set out.  We left our friends on Kolibrie in Thompson Bay for Calibash Bay at the north end of Long Island.  When we had travelled this route south weeks ago and crossed the Tropic of Cancer, Long Island Larry, a dolphin, had greeted us and rode our bow  for awhile.  As we headed north this time, at about the same spot, a dolphin (Larry?) joined us again for a ride – maybe escorting us out of the tropics?  We had dinner in Calibash Bay with the crew from Quest and celebrated the 2nd birthday of Quest’s ship’s dog.  The evening started out rocky and rolly but we set a stern anchor that put our nose into the swell.  Pam said things were great until 3 am when the stern anchor pulled loose.  Ever intrepid Glen slept through the whole thing.

Barry the barracuda getting dental work... and back into the water
We set out for Cat Island early the next day, knowing that the winds were going to be on our nose (a close reach) and that the open ocean waves (next stop Africa) would be big.  Pam put on her dentist chair face for 5 hours as we pounded through 8 to 10 foot seas.  The boat would occasionally leave the water and slam down into a trough, shaking the fillings in our teeth.  Eventually, we got into the lee of Cat Island and things quieted down significantly – however Cat Island was getting it’s first rain since December and we got drenched.  Actually, that’s not a bad thing because the salt that had caked on the boat from the crossing was all washed away.  With less than a mile visibility, our anchorage came into [/caption]

We anchored near the Batelco tower in New Bight, Cat Island and Glen immediately turned on the TV.  At Farmer’s Cay we had learned that some of the newer Batelco towers carry digital signals.  We were rewarded with an afternoon of Ellen, the local Bahamas news and other important work by the major US television networks.  Oh, bliss!!!

The next morning we set out to hike to the Hermitage – where Father Jerome spent his final days.  It is on the highest point in the Bahamas and we were exhausted after climbing this significant acme of some 206 feet.  We are going to Wikopede (doesn’t act as a verb like google) Father Jerome when we get decent internet.  Amazing guy.  He rebuilt many churches on Long Island and Cat Island after coming from England and then travelling to Canada and Australia.  He chose the hill on Cat Island as his retirement home.  He died in the 1950’s.

The hermitage

Cat Island itself was something of a star early in the 20th century.  It supplied produce for all of the Bahamas, had a railway (the only one in the Bahamas) to transport the produce and has several plantations left over from the plantation owner-slave days with many of the owner and slave homes still standing.  Great place!  Very quiet.

After our hike we walked a mile or so to the local grocery store.  We have suffered an emergency shortage of red wine and so were thrilled to see that Chile ships even to remote Cat Island.  The local Roman Catholic priest was more than pleased to give us a ride back to our dinghy with a case of red wine when Glen explained that it was for communion on the boat!  Not long after unloading our wine, a group of 5 Spotted Eagle Rays passed by the boat.  We were anchored in only 6 feet of beautiful clear water and it was easy to see their spots as they went by.

You can call me Ray...

At sunset we headed to shore with new Canadian friends from the Bayfield 36, Mad Cap.  Not much was happening but we did find a beach shack that sold us reheated conch fritters, chicken and pork dinners and Kalik beer.  As we were finishing, a local “Rake and Scrape” band started playing their music.  Not sure of the origin of the name but one man played an accordian while a young woman scraped a saw with a screwdriver and the third member of the band played a drum, which needed heating over a beach fire of burning Styrofoam and pine needles to get the right sound.  A few other locals arrived and the domino table was busy.  We heard that there was to be more music down the beach starting after 9 but that is past our bedtime so we would miss it.

We be jammin'

Back to the boat in the dark where we had a glass of communion wine and watched the Archie Reunion movie and CSI Miami on TV.  Occasionally, as we swing on the anchor we lose reception but we did learn who the killer was and if Archie chose Betty or Veronica.

After listening to the music from shore ‘til after 1 am, we leapt out of bed at 6:30 to listen to Chris Parker’s weather and then remembered that he doesn’t broadcast on Sundays.  By 7:30 we were waving good-bye to our new friends on Mad Cap and Sea Fever and setting out for Little San Salvadore – renamed by the cruise lines as Half Moon Cay.  We had a brilliant sail, averaging more than six knots over the 35 or so miles.

Little San Salvadore has a great beach and after the cruise ship left at 2:30 we walked the length of it.  Beautiful beach - one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas... ootmbbitb.

We settled in for the night just as the surge started and we rocked and rolled until we couldn't stand it and jumped up at 5 AM and took off.  Two cruise ships were on their way in but we blew out, heading for Rock Sound in South Eleuthera.  We've gone for a walk, seen the local inland Ocean Hole - another cenote and found free internet at the South Eleuthera Mission.

So, here we sit, putting final touches on this installment of the Roger Family Sailing Adventures!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Uh oh!

Funny how quickly things change.  On Wednesday, February 2 we finally got motivated and decided to head off to the very remote Jumentos and Ragged Islands.  Dozens of uninhabited cays with absolutely no services.  Many people hide out down there all winter, fishing and lobstering.

We fired up Yan Diesel and headed out for our new adventure. We were motor-sailing along when the engine overheated.  We stopped it right away and found that there was no coolant.  We check every morning before we start up so that was weird.  Filled up the coolant and started the engine again but very soon it overheated again... no coolant.  So we sailed back into the place we had been.  Lots of fun sailing in and setting the anchor with no engine.

Turns out the water jacket in the exhaust manifold that runs cool sea water over the hot fresh water coolant has corroded and there is a hole.  The coolant just gets flushed out with the sea water exhaust.  A local mechanic whipped off the manifold and took it back to his shop.  Luckily, the mail boat was in and scheduled to leave for Nassau Wednesday night so he hustled the part up to Simms where the boat docks.  He knows someone in Nassau who will sandblast, weld and machine the surface to put it right... for now.   Sort of leaves you unsure about heading off into the sunset.  Lucky for us that it happened an hour out instead of a hundred miles from here.

So we are hanging around Long Island doing small jobs on the boat and visiting with other boaters.

Cleaning Yan Diesel

Goin' my way?

Internet cafĂ© – the Sou’ Side Bar

Life is tough!

Now where?

Pam’s kitchen window

Splicing lines

Another sunset, another G&T