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.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ambling Around the Abacos

It has been more than a week since Carrie left and we have a few more days before George and Deb get here.  With the anchorages in the Abacos so close together we feel we’ve done our exploring and so we are getting lazy and slothful (some would say Glen had a good head start.)  We went back to our perfect spot at Man O War but we were run out by a change in the direction of the wind.  We headed to Treasure Cay – which has a big marina and a huge anchorage for cheapos likes us.  We pay $10 per day for the use of their facility.  Not bad when you learn condo guests are paying several thousand per week and sit at the same pool as us.
So, ennui has set in – a word we use quite often in the crossword puzzles we do while we are drinking pina coladas in a pool lounge chair.

Ho hummm
After 6 days there we finally moved our lazy butts.  Nippers, at Great Guana Cay has been advertising the “Barefoot Man” concert and people who’ve been here in past years say it is not to be missed.  Our only challenge was that the weather was awful.  The winds were coming from the west at 25 to 35 and there is not much protection in Guana from the west.
So we decided to bite the bullet and crack open the wallet to pay for dockage.  Well dang, wouldn’t you know it, others thought of that before us and the marina was full.  We battled through a storm much like the one Skipper and Gilligan fought with crazy squall activity dropping buckets of rain.  But, don’t despair, dear reader.  The winds were due to die by evening and so we took a chance and anchored in a spot that would be protected… later on… maybe.
We were only at anchor for an hour before we began to see the weather improve.  So, off we dinghied to Nippers and the Barefoot Man concert.  Rumour had it that Jimmy Buffett was going to make a cameo appearance.  Well, Jimmy wasn’t there but his following was!  There were crazy get ups, sequined bikinis, more scantily-clad young girls, lecherous men throwing beads at pretty women.  It was awful for Glen!  He was, again, very uncomfortable.  We listened to Barefoot and watched the antics for over 4 hours.  We’ve seen Barefoot on YouTube – you should listen to “Alice” (our sensitivities prohibit us from quoting that kind of language), “Ride the Ferry,” and another one about, “How can I kiss those lips at night that chewed my *ss out all day long?”

Barefoot Man!

Barefoot dancin

Disgusting... Glen can hardly look. 
We finally left, wondering if our boat would be closer than when we left, perhaps blown up on some beach but there she sat where we left her, bobbing gently in the light breeze.  Faith and begorough – the winds had shifted to the north from the west so we were in the lee of the island and they died from 30 to 5 or 10.  HAH!

Careful getting into the dinghy!


Man O War Fire Department
We are looking forward to touring George and Deb around the local spots and then exploring Green Turtle, Manjack and Powell Cays in the northern Abacos.  We will be watching the weather carefully for a weather opportunity to head back over the top of Grand Bahama to Great Sale Cay, Memory Rock and then over to Florida.
Hard to believe we are heading back to put Blue Pearl to bed for the summer.  We are getting excited about seeing friends and family after six months.

End of another perfect day!