Monday, April 30, 2007

Marsh Harbor, Abaco

We're anchored in the lovely harbor of Marsh Harbor. The grocery store and laundry are a short dinghy ride away. Several of our friends are here as well, including Shamrock, with a slip space among the Moorings charter catamarans. They were given a pile of goodies from one charter group who had left over food and drinks. So we scored! After splitting up the goods, we got together at Curlytails (named after the local lizards with a curly tail) for drinks and laughs.

We'll be here for at least a few days before heading to the nearby islands. Each island is close to it's neighbor with only 1 outside passage necessary so this will be comfortable cruising. We plan on swimming on the nearby Mermaid's Reef this afternoon. A mild cold front came through last night so temperatures are very comfortable, probably 70 at night and 80 during the day.

Two turtles hang out around our boat, and we love watching them surface near us all day long.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tilloo Cay, Abaco

We just beat a storm into the north end of Tilloo Cay and anchored with Shamrock, Jupiter’s Smile, Gone, and a few other boats. All of us spent the day snorkeling on the reef in the Pelican Cay Land and Sea Park. Being as how it was another park the fish were everywhere. I even grabbed a Nassau Grouper by the tail, that’s how close you can get in these parks. We saw a squadron of 5 Spotted Eagle Rays (well, since they fly, of course you can call them a squadron) glide by under us. The 3 of us had our 3mm wetsuits on and were completely comfy as usual. Pat was swimming with us and got cold, but plugged on regardless due to the fantastic sights below. The coral was magnificent even with patches of bleached coral areas. 10-15 pound snapper, grouper, mackerel, and plenty of parrotfish swam with us totally unafraid of our presence. Only 2 barracuda and no sharks made for a pleasant swim.

On Wednesday our flotilla of 8 boats left Royal Island at sunrise bound for the 55 mile passage across a piece of the Atlantic bound for Little Harbor in the Abacos. We left up to 45 minutes later than the first ones out of the harbor and passed all but one boat during the passage. Stardust performs very well and we are very happy with her. We averaged 7kts and saw 8.6kts max during the crossing with a 15-20kt wind on our beam from the east. We saw 3 whales. I said they looked brown, Rachel said they looked grey, and Kathy said they looked wet. So we didn’t positively identify them. Shortly afterward I hooked the largest fish yet, probably a Wahoo by the look of him 200 feet back. He rapidly spooled out all the line as I cranked down on the drag and Kathy and Rachel hurried to drop the jib to slow us down. But the 70 pound test line broke in my effort to avoid running out of line by using too much drag. Darn! Right after that Daniel on the French boat Gone hooked a 56 inch long Wahoo and brought him onboard. I asked him if my blue squid lure was in his mouth but he didn’t understand my joke so we had to talk about it upon arrival in Little Harbor while he divvied up wahoo steaks to anyone who wanted some. It made the best meal of our Bahama tour. Thanks Daniel! I even had time for some spearfishing upon arrival at Lynyard Cay and shot 3 good size snapper, the largest being a Schoolmaster, so we’re eating lots of fish these days. All 3 were in the cooler in the dinghy within 15 minutes and we were out of there before any sharks showed up. Cool.

The whole gang went to Pete’s Pub for lunch on Thursday. Pete is the son of Randolph Johnson, a sculptor who settled Little Harbor in the early 1950’s with his family. Mom and Dad loaned us his book, A Study in Self-Reliance, and man did they put up with hardship for years. Every 5 pages I’d think to myself that, ok, I’d quit now, but they never did. Finally Pete is now making a good living with his pub and various enterprises on the family estate. We toured the foundry for bronze casting, and walked around the island. Earlier in the day I scraped and cleaned Shamrock’s hull and prop and Jim forced a few bucks on me for the task. Hey, maybe I can make a living at this boating stuff. Not!

Tomorrow (Saturday) we’ll sail to Marsh Harbor and do laundry and shopping. We’ll be in the area for a few days at least. If anyone out there can drop what they’re doing and hop a jet into Marsh Harbor, we’ll stay as long as necessary to make the connection. Looking at the charts, the Abacos have lots of protected sailing and accessible reefs. It could be that we’ve saved the best of the Bahamas for last!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spanish Wells

Our armada of 4 boats left the cozy anchorage in Royal Island bound for Spanish Wells. We’re here to get fuel and water before heading to the Abacos. It was tricky and shallow getting in here, but we let the 2 catamarans with a 3 foot draft and Jupiter’s Smile with a 5 foot draft go first and report on depths. Kathy, Rachel and I are in a restaurant waiting for Jay and Barb to arrive for lunch. The internet café will open soon across the street so I’ll be able to post this after lunch.

Spanish Wells is a well kept little town with all the amenities. Small colored houses of every color, mixed with a few large homes make up the neat neighborhoods. We’ll walk around some more after lunch and get to know it better.

The sail from Rock Sound to Hatchet bay was very nice with 15-20kt winds on the beam. Hatchet Bay has poor holding and limited moorings so we shared a mooring with Jupiter’s Smile. Shamrock rafted up with another boat as well. It was very comfortable, but the town leaves a little to be desired so we left the next morning, bound for Current Cut and Royal Island. The Cut was very narrow with a 2kt current against us but the wind didn’t create any problems getting through. The wind was 20-25kts and we heeled pretty hard and made 7 to 8 kts but we were all comfy. After the Cut, winds increased so we made the last 5 miles with a reefed main. The boat performed well compared to the other boats we were with.

We’ll go back to Royal Island this afternoon, possibly spearfish tomorrow, and then sail to Little Harbor, Abaco on Wednesday.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Leave tomorrow

We'll pull out of Rock Sound tomorrow with the other 8 boats headed to Hatchet Bay, then Royal Island, followed by the run to the Abacos if the weather stays good enough.

Our drive around Eleuthra with Jay and Barb on Jupiter's Smile yesterday was excellent. We toured most of the island, and saw Harbor Island, the cave which harbored the shipwrecked survivors of the Eleuthran Adventurers in the 1700's, some neat beaches with pink sand, and the window bridge which was knocked off center by a rogue wave during the Perfect Storm of 1991.

Don't know when or where the next internet stop will be, but I'll post again as soon as possible.
Stardust standing by on 16.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rock Sound Harbour, Eleuthra

We’re in the large bay of Rock Sound, Eleuthra. This is one of the few protected anchorages in all of Cat Island and Eleuthra. We wanted to stay in Cat Island and explore coral heads which are very numerous along the west coast, but a strong cold front (billed in the US as the strongest in a decade) roared towards us, forcing a 2 day march to Rock Sound. We just made it in as the wind picked up to 30kts from the SW and then W. It blew 20-30Kts all day yesterday, but we’re sheltered behind the west point of Rock Sound so it was comfortable. Winds are down to less than 10kts, so we’ll move over near town and shop and connect to the internet. Jim and Pat on Shamrock are anchored near town, so we’re looking forward to seeing them again.

Here’s a brief synopsis of our most recent travels:

April 9: We said goodbye to the Bostiks and put them on a taxi to the airport. They were hassled by customs and got home to Melbourne at 10pm. We spent the next 2 days in George Town getting groceries, filling the water tanks, and giving Rachel more time with her friends on Volleyball Beach. We had a great dinner on Second Wave with Linda, Matthew, Nick and Chris.

April 12: Motored 45 miles to Cat Island in light winds and smooth seas. Caught a large barracuda and released it, only to watch a very big fish eat it. We were too far away to see what got it, but it was BIG. We anchored next to Hawks Nest Marina and airport in the bay next to some coral heads. I shot a large grouper, but it spun off the spear.

April 13: We had a lovely sail to New Bight and hiked up the largest hill in the Bahamas to visit the Hermitage, a unique stone structure built by a priest a number of years ago.

April 14: Sailed to Half Moon Bay on Little San Salvador. We covered 35 miles at an average speed of 7kts and a top speed of 8.4 on a beam reach with winds blowing 15kts. Caught 2 barracuda and then a Cero Mackerel which we had for dinner. Jupiter’s Smile with Jay and Barb met us for a walk on the beach which is owned by Holland Cruise Lines, but no cruise ship was here so we had the run of the place. Winds increased to 20kts overnight, and a large surge rolled us all night long.

April 15: A cruise ship anchored out and started ferrying passengers to shore. Sailed to Rock Sound, 45 miles at 6.5 average and 8 tops running downwind with mainsail only with it blowing up to 20. Caught a 25 pound mahi mahi. Winds increased to 30kts as we approached the Sound, so we took down the main and motored to a great anchorage and a great night’s sleep.

April 16: Winds 20-27kts WNW. Changed the genset fuel filters and the oil and oil filter. Swapped the fuel pick-ups back to the original configuration with the engine pick-up lower than the genset pick-up. We invited Jupiter’s Smile over for mahi dinner. Man that fish tasted good!

Monday, April 09, 2007

End of a fantastic visit

Joe and family will be leaving us today to fly home to Melbourne. We’ve had a wonderful time together with lots of swimming and spearfishing. Joe and I shot enough grouper and snapper for 2 dinners and could have provided dinner every night if we had spearfished everyday. I saw 5 reef sharks one day and are getting used to them now. They show a little curiosity at first and then swim away.

We organized an Easter egg hunt yesterday on Vollyball Beach and had about 20 kids running around wild finding eggs, candy and toys. It was great fun.

Rachel’s school books arrived in the mail, so we’ll probably leave George Town in the next day or so.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bostiks visit George Town

Joe, Georgia, Christina, and Joey arrived last night for a week with us in the Bahamas. We moved Stardust over to Kidds Cove to be near for the dinghy ride in the dark. The wind dropped to near zero, so we had a smooth ferry ride in the dinghy. We were all up at dawn this morning drinking coffee to the sunrise. Everyone is shopping now, and when Joe brings them back we'll up anchor and head for some snorkeling on the south end of Elizabeth harbor, around Fowl Cay. Joe and I hope to provide fish for dinner tonight.

A weak cold front will arrive tomorrow, so we'll anchor back here at Kidds Cove for the day and then decide where to go next.

Monday, April 02, 2007

More Photos-different islands