Shark Suckers by Cole

A couple of days ago we caught a shark sucker.  On top of their head, they have an oval-shaped sucker that they use to suck on to the bottoms of boats, fish and sharks.  After it got hooked on our lure, it sucked on to the bottom of the boat.  When it let go, we reeled it up and put it in a bucket full of water.  We looked at it and saw that its sucker was blue because that’s the paint color on the bottom of our boat.  If you slide the shark sucker forward when it is sucked on it will come off.  If you try to slide it backwards, it just sucks on more and does not move.

Some people use remoras to catch turtles.   They tie a rope to the remora’s tail and when they see a turtle, the fish is released from the boat with the cord still on the tail.  Usually the shark sucker heads toward the turtle and sucks on to it.  Then the people on the boat pull in the line, which brings in the remora and the turtle.

The sucker is pretty much like a cheese grater.  It feels smooth when you rub it one-way and raspy when you rub it the other way.

Shark Suckers are a remora.  In Latin, remora means delay.

Shark sucker disk.

Shark sucker disk.

shark sucker 2

look

The bottom of our bucket is a piece of plexiglass so you can see through it.  This picture was taken looking up at the bottom of the bucket so you can see their sucker.

Cole…

You Know You Are a Cruiser When… by Christine

You know you are a cruiser when you not only don’t know what day it is, but you don’t know what month it is!

Yes, this happened to us this week.  Our friends on Moonshadow were talking about how they need to make it back to Charleston by June 3rd and wanted to cross to the states soon.  Later I got to think how our boat insurance is due in June and mentioned to Mark that we needed to check on the policy coverage dates.  He asked what day it was and I said the 25th.  Mark asked, “Did we miss my birthday?”  Then he said, “It was yesterday.”  My mind went blank and I said, “I guess we did.”  My mind was thinking about May and it jumped ahead a month without remembering that morning I wrote 4/25/13 when I posted the weather in our log book for the day.

A while later we were talking on the VHF with a couple of boat friends planning the day.  I mentioned that Mark’s birthday was yesterday and we should get together on Truansea.  One thing led to another and soon we had a party planned for that evening.

A few hours later, I was talking with Bill about weather and crossing the Gulf Stream.  I mentioned that Moonshadow wanted to cross soon to make it back by June 3rd.  Bill said, “Well, they still have 5 weeks to get there.”  My mind went blank for the second time that day.  All of a sudden I realized what happened and that it was only April 25th.  We all had a good laugh over the time-lapse then cheered because we have another whole month to spend in the Abacos before we need to cross to the states.

We all decided to have the party that night anyway and called it the ‘un-birthday’ party for everyone.  We had a wonderful feast on Truansea with one of Lola’s (bakery on Man-O-War) monster cinnamon rolls served as the birthday cake. I even had trick candles on the boat.  We sang happy un-birthday to everyone.

The un-birthday birthday 'cake'.

The un-birthday birthday ‘cake’.

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Hatchet Bay Cave by Mark

The day after our arrival to Eleuthera our friend Tom rented a car and invited us to travel the island with him.  On the way back to Rock Sound we stopped at Hatchet Bay Caves for a bit of spelunking.  The names of many former visitors to the cave were written on the walls in spray paint by the more recent tourists, and in what appeared to be soot, by the caves earliest visitors.

Cave entrance.

Cave entrance.

Hatchet sign

Sign at cave entrance.

It’s interesting how just a couple of hundred years or so can reclassify graffiti into historical record.  It would have been an interesting, if not daunting task, to document all of the names and dates on the walls of the cave, so numerous were the inscriptions.

Who were those early visitors that wrote their names on the walls of that cave in soot and can be so clearly read even today.  Were they some of the early Loyalists who moved to the island after the Revolutionary war?  Perhaps, they are the names of some of the slaves they brought with them if they could write.  One can imagine them steeling away from one of the early plantations so destined for failure on these unfertile islands.  Escaping the monotony of building one of the many stone fences we have seen on the islands to record their names on the walls of the cave.

Miles of rock walls mark the boundaries of former plantations.

Miles of rock walls mark the boundaries of former plantations.

Ruins on Royal Island.

Ruins on Royal Island.

Many of the blacks in the Bahamas took the names of the landowners they worked for.  We saw the last name of Rolle many times in the Exumas before we realized it was because those former slaves had adopted the names of their plantation owners.  I did see a couple of tufts of cotton still growing next to a house in Hatchet Bay and some pineapples are grown on the island but all of those first plantations are little more than the foundations of failure today.

The names could have also been written by some of the blacks that had escaped slavery in the United States and fled to the Bahamas.

Exploring passageways.

Exploring passageways.

A hundred years before the Loyalists arrived in the Bahamas there were the Adventurers, who were seeking religious freedom from England.  The name Eleutheria is taken from the Greek word meaning freedom.  The first Adventurers actually shipwrecked on the reefs of Eleuthera in 1648.  They carved out a meager existence on the island and held religious services in another natural shelter called Preachers Cave on the east side of Eleuthera.  Their descendents are still living on the island today.  Many live and work not far from the place where they landed, in Spanish Wells.  With an accent unique to themselves they have a thriving fishing industry.  All of the people who fish for lobster own shares in their boats.  In this way they form a co-op pooling their resources and sharing the profits.  They are understandably proud that many of the young people choose to stay on the island and don’t have to move to Nassau or the US to find work.

hatchet columns

Large column in cave.

Large column in cave.

We did however feel slightly out of place in their tightly knit community.  It was almost as if we had entered a real life version of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village”.  Blond haired blue-eyed Eleuthreans sped about in golf carts and spoke with a drawl that sounded like a mix of the old south and British accents combined.  Surely their descendents must have written their names on the walls of Hatchet Bay Cave.   Just like the names of people we saw on our trip leaving Idaho, written with axle grease on rocks as they traveled the Oregon Trail, those immigrants and Bahamian Adventurers were recording their names in the landscape they passed through.   I wonder if the blogs today will last as long as the soot and axle grease of those early immigrants.

Names of previous explorers.

Names of previous explorers.

As we push deeper into the cave along the trail marked by bits of broken kite string, other passages branch off into the darkness.  If we were to explore them all would we find the name of Edward Teach or Mary Read?  After all they sailed these waters the same as us.  It’s not difficult to imagine them walking these same passages looking for a place to secret away their pirated treasure!

Watch your head,

Mark

Crossing to the Abacos by Christine

We waited out a front in Rock Sound, Eleuthera before making our way north to eventually cross to the Abacos.  The night before we headed north, the winds were forecasted to be 40-50 knots but the highest gusts we saw were 36 knots.  Along with the storm came a beautiful rainfall.  This was only the second big rainfall we have experienced since arriving in the Bahamas in the beginning of December.  Fresh water is hard to come by out here and we made full use of it by filling up all of our available containers first, taking baths next, and finally washing the boat.

Dinghy baths for everyone!

Dinghy baths for everyone!

We spent a few days working our way to Spanish Wells where we waited for our next weather window to open up to cross to the Abacos.  The first night we anchored near a catamaran and saw kids on the deck!  We have not run into any boat kids for a while.  Logan and Cole were yelling and waving at the other kids as we approached the anchorage.  Their kids had the same reaction and within 15 minutes, we all met on the beach.  We spent a few days with them before we headed north again.  They were working on a few engine issues before they could move on.  It was hard to say goodbye, but hopefully they will get their boat done soon and catch up with us.

New boat friends on s/v Anticipation!

New boat friends on s/v Anticipation!

Some other boat friends we previously met in Black Point on Great Mysterious were also experiencing engine difficulties but decided to try to sail to the Abacos and back to Florida to finish their repairs.  A bunch of us were anchored at Royal Island in a bay.  The wind was blowing into the anchorage and Great Mysterious would have a difficult, if not impossible, time getting out so we offered to give them a tow out the next morning.

Towing Great Mysterious out of the Royal Island inlet.

Towing Great Mysterious out of the Royal Island inlet.

The weather was predicted to be a great sailing day and about 8 boats left the anchorage that morning, headed to the Abacos.  The winds started out light but quickly filled in.  Great Mysterious is a smaller boat and was not able to sail fast enough to make it to the Abacos before night so they eventually turned back.  You can check out their blog post at http://www.greatmysterious.com.  We hope they get their boat running soon and see them in the Abacos.  A bad boating day can be really bad (I know).  It can only get better Britt and Dolby.  Hang in there.

We have had bad boat days, but crossing to the Abacos was not one of them.  We must have made good boating karma giving a tow that morning because we had our best sailing day ever.  We sailed the whole way, mostly at 6.5 to 7.1 knots on a comfortable broad reach.  The inlet at Little Harbor, Abaco was fairly calm and we were soon anchored on the west side of Lynyard Cay with time to spend on the beach before dark.

Truansea sailing to the Abacos.

Great Mysterious took this picture of us on Truansea sailing to the Abacos.

The next morning we sailed to Sandy Cay where we anchored for a couple of hours to snorkel the reefs.  The anchorage has poor holding and is definitely not the place to spend a night.  The snorkeling was outstanding.

Spotted eagle ray at Sandy Cay.

Spotted eagle ray at Sandy Cay.

We continued on to Hope Town on Elbow Cay and picked up a mooring ball in their anchorage to be close to town.  As we came into the anchorage it was like a reunion.  We saw about 12 other boats we met in previous harbors.  It has been fun and busy catching up with everyone again!  Hope Town is beautiful and we have enjoyed seeing the town as well as the island.

One morning we were in town at a coffee shop working on the computer while the boys were doing their schoolwork.  A couple of girls were having breakfast and as they were leaving, they asked us if we were writing a book.  We explained that we were a family sailing for a year.  They had come to Hope Town for a 4 day visit and were renting a place up the road.  They said they were taking the water taxi to the other side of the harbor next to spend part of the day.  We offered to give them a ride since it is close to our boat.  We asked them if they would like to see our boat on the way over so we stopped at Truansea to give them a tour.  The boys showed them around and the boys asked them a few questions.  Everyone we meet is interesting and these two were no exception.  Sarah is an actress.  http://www.sarahdaceycharles.com and Carol is a life coach.  http://www.whynotthrivecoaching.com

Sarah & Carol

Sarah & Carol

Sarah and Carol – thanks for taking the time to answer the boys (and our) questions.  It was so much fun!

We have been waiting for a new raw water pump for our boat and it finally arrived today.  Mark will install it today or tomorrow and we will be ready to head north to Marsh Harbor and Man-O-War next.  One of our boating buddies, Bill, on Providence needed a new impeller and water pump before he could continue on as well.  Mark and Bill spent a large part of the day yesterday tearing into his engine.  As they say, cruising is working on your boat in exotic locations…

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Sailing into Rock Sound, Eleuthera by Christine

03/30/2013  We waited in Norman’s Cay a couple of days to get a good window to cross to Eleuthera.  Tom on Lucent (trawler) was one of our buddy boats for a while and we all agreed to try crossing on the first day the winds subsided to 10-15 knots.  We headed out Norman’s cut on slack tide but it was apparent within a mile of getting out on the sound side that the wave height was too big for us.  It would have been a very uncomfortable day.  Tom continued on to Eleuthera and we said we would try again tomorrow and meet him in Rock Sound.

The next day the seas were settled and we had a beautiful crossing.  Two other sailboats came out the cut behind us.  We made radio contact with them and they were both sailing to Rock Sound as well.  Having radio contact with other cruisers is always comforting and we enjoyed getting to know them along the way.

s/v Pearl

s/v Pearl

En route, we were looking behind us at s/v Pearl and saw a huge splash next to their boat.  It appeared to be a small whale and it breached two more times.  We got on the radio with Pete on Pearl and asked him what it was.  Whatever it was gave him a good scare.  All he saw were a big splashes.

Shortly after that we saw a pod of pilot whales ahead of us.  They swam right toward us and graced us with their surfacing and blowing.  We were oohing and aahing like you do when you watch fireworks.  There were 10-15 of them.  They swam all around our boat then continued on their way.  We called Pete & Dianne to let them know the whales were headed for them and to have their camera ready.  Moments like that make for a memorable crossing (you can see the video of them on Logan’s blog post)!

We enjoyed beautiful sailing conditions throughout the day.  The winds started to lighten up as we approached Rock Sound.  Pearl had been motor sailing and eventually passed us so we started the motor to get in the harbor quicker to make it to the grocery store before it closed.  We had not been to a grocery store for 2 weeks and were craving some fresh food.

A couple of minutes after starting the engine, it started to make a new sound and it died.  First time that has ever happened.  Hmm.  I started it again.  It died.  Mark sprang into action down below while the boys and I continued to sail into the harbor.

Mark working on the engine.  He loves the 5 sided engine access on Truansea!

Mark busily changing the fuel filters on the engine. He loves the 5 sided engine access on Truansea!

I called Pearl and let them know our engine died and Mark was trouble shooting it.  Pete said they would slow down and stay near us.  Pete asked what kind of engine we have, and wouldn’t you know it, he has the exact same Yanmar 35 horsepower engine we do.  He has owned his boat for 7 years and has sailed extensively in the Caribbean.  He knows this engine well.

I let him know Mark was replacing the primary and secondary fuel filters.  The boys and I were on a run into the harbor and had to jibe a few times to make our way in.  There were a few coral heads along the way to steer around as well.  Meanwhile, Mark is down below working on the engine, feeling all of our maneuvering and hearing us moving around on deck sailing.  That was a strange feeling for him not to be topside.  Talk about trusting the crew…

After the filters were replaced and fuel lines primed, I started the engine and it still died.  By this time we were getting closer to the anchorage and it was apparent that there was something else wrong.  Mark had called our diesel mechanic contact in Florida and he said it sounded like the lift pump.  I called Pete on the radio and he agreed that it was probably the lift pump.  Guess what?  Pete happens to have a spare lift pump.  What are the odds of the boat you just met that morning sailing would have the same engine and the spare part you need?

The winds were fairly light and we calmly sailed into the anchorage to drop the hook.  Other sailors that saw us later told us they thought we were purists and enjoyed sailing in to drop anchor.  Ha, little did they know we thoroughly discussed our plans of how we were going to execute sailing in to drop the anchor.  It was nerve-wracking to say the least for me.  This was a good reminder to keep practicing sailing skills in all kinds of conditions because you never know when you are going to need them.

Christine and Cole sailing into Rock Sound.

Christine and Cole sailing into Rock Sound.

Before dark, Mark and Pete had the new lift pump in and tada, the engine started and ran beautifully.  The next day we ordered a new lift pump to be shipped in for Pete.

Cruisers kindness is hard to describe.  As a sailor, you feel a sense of independence on your boat; at the same time, you are also completely vulnerable to Mother Nature and breakdowns on your boat.  Being in another country adds another level of complexity to breakdowns.  Once you have had to order spare parts and have them shipped in through customs, you will understand how it can make a person crazy.

Tom on Lucent, who we had tried to cross with the day before, was at the same anchorage and he had arranged for a rental car the next day to explore the island.  We made plans to meet him the next morning for a day of island exploring by car.

We traveled north up Eleuthera and caught the ferry over to Harbor Island.

Taking the ferry to Harbor Island.

Taking the ferry to Harbor Island.

The island was quaint with narrow streets dominated by golf carts.  It is famous for its pink sand beaches.

Pink sand beach Harbor Island.

Pink sand beach Harbor Island.

On the way down, we took our time, stopping at the natural arch.

Glass window Eleuthera

Bridge that now crosses where where the natural ‘glass window’ used to be on Eleuthera.

Glass window

Glass window history.

We stopped at a vegetable stand on the way back to pick up some fresh greens.

Fresh greens from the veggie stand sure beats canned vegetables!

Fresh greens from the veggie stand sure beats canned vegetables!

We had Pete & Diane over to our boat the next evening and they taught us how to play a game called Farkle.  If you have not tried it, you need to!   It is another fun game to add to the fun cruising games list.

The following day was calling for winds from the west to north, possibly 30, 40 or 50 knots.  All the boats anchored at Rock Sound headed for the other side of the harbor to seek protection.  The winds gusted into the 30s but nothing worse.  We did welcome the rain the winds brought.  It absolutely poured rain.  We have not had hardly any rain on this trip.  Little Darby was the only place we experienced a rain storm and that was a couple of months ago.  We quickly scrubbed the decks and cleaned the dinghy to catch as much clean, fresh water as we could.  Cruisers get downright giddy at the prospect of fresh, free water.  Mark, with his sense of humor, got on the VHF and asked, “Is anybody else’s boat leaking except mine”?  A domino affect of comments followed.  Who wound have known before cruising that everybody’s boats leak to some extent.  Some apparently leak a lot.

Dinghy bath.  The fresh water felt so soft.  The simple pleasures in life...

Dinghy bath. The fresh water felt so soft. The simple pleasures in life…

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Elbow Reef Lighthouse on Elbow Cay by Logan and Cole

Today we went to see the lighthouse being lit.   The walls of the lighthouse were about five feet thick.  Otherwise hurricanes might knock it over.  Jeffery, the lighthouse keeper, told us it was one of only two lighthouses in that still run on kerosene.

Hope Town lighthouse on Elbow Cay

Elbow Reef lighthouse on Elbow Cay

When we got to the top Jeffery put a flame under the main light source,  he called it reheating.  After he did that he opened up a valve and lit the main light.

The lighthouse gives five flashes of light and then a pause.  It works that way because there are five Fresnel lenses that focus the light into five beams.  The sixth lens reflects the light back to the source, that is the pause.

Fresnel lenses

Fresnel lenses

To turn the lenses Jeffery had to crank up some weights on cables to keep the lenses spinning.  He has to go up every two hours to wind up the weights so he sleeps during the daytime.

The lighthouse was built in 1864 and so it is 149 years old.

Logan and Cole

Running With the Nordhavns by Mark

It was back at Lee Stocking Island when we met Don and Debbie at a bonfire on the beach.  Our boys were busy building a fort while we talked with the other cruisers and watched another sunset over the Exumas.  The next day, we met Don and Debbie again at the old research lab on the island.  Don started explaining fuses and electrical panels to our boys with a home field advantage he had gained from years of experience as an electrical contractor.  Debbie had been a teacher and took a liking to our boys and asked them how they liked the cruising life and schooling on a boat.

We told them about all of the exciting things we had discovered on the island and that the boys were busy writing a couple of spooky stories about the island and the research lab.  Don and Debbie couldn’t wait to hear their tales and we promised them the stories as the boys completed their chapters.  Over the next several days, and anchorages, as we traveled up the Exumas, the boys read them their stories over the VHF radio.  Finally at Shroud Cay we anchored Truansea next to Don and Debbie on their boat Valkyrie, a Nordhavn 55.  They had been traveling with a friend of theirs, Tom, who also owns a Nordhavn 46 named Lucent.

Valkyrie cruising to Shroud Cay.

Valkyrie cruising to Shroud Cay.

To sail with Nordhavns is a bit like sailing with the US Navy.  Maybe it was the touch of battleship grey in their paint or the slanted windows of their bridge but there was certainly a feeling of security just in traveling with these ocean capable cruisers.  Valkyrie overshadowed our little dinghy when we motored over the day before Easter to dye eggs.  Tom had graciously donated the eggs for the occasion and Deb had the food coloring.

eggs

Coloring Easter eggs.

 If the outside of a Nordhavn appears slightly militaristic from a far, the interior is anything but!  Both Valkyrie and Lucent had interior designs that were so attractive and so comfortable that after we went back to our little boat, by comparison, I felt like I was waiting at a bus stop when I sat back down on our bench style settees.

The engine room showing the main and secondary engines.

The engine room showing the main and secondary engines.

Don later gave us the full tour of their boat.  He showed us the engine room with its main 8.2-liter, 330 horsepower, John Deere engine and a secondary engine, a 70 HP Lugger diesel with its own shaft and folding prop.  Some trawlers of this size may have two main engines but it is easy to imagine the added expense of having two primary engines.  The secondary, or wing, engine gives you the added security of making it back to port if the main engine failed at a lesser expense.

Don had to replace some of the anodes under his boat and invited our boys over to dive beneath his boat using a regulator.  Needless to say they jumped (in the water) at the chance!  Beneath the water the boys dove along Valkyrie’s hull.  Toward the bow, two small wings spread out on each side of the hull.  These were the stabilizers that operate while the boat is underway to reduce their rolling in rough seas.  Simply put, when the boat heels to port, the port stabilizer will tilt up at the same time the starboard stabilizer will tilt down.  The effect is similar to putting your hand out of a car window and feeling the wind raising or lowering your arm as you move your hand.

helm D&D & dog

Don, Debbie and Roux at the helm.

Their Nordhavns displacement was a mere 125,000 pounds.  That’s nearly as much as two semis.  It takes a bit of fuel to push something that big through the water.  I guess it’s why they have a pretty big fuel tank, to the tune of 2,300 gallons!  At 7 knots, their engine burns 3.8 gallons of fuel per hour.  Don laughed when he said anytime you measure in gallons per hour, it is a good indicator that you’re not talking about great fuel economy.

 Don, Debbie and Tom all came over to our boat for Easter morning (7am) as the boys searched for eggs.  Who knew the Easter bunny could swim!

Searching for eggs on Truansea.

Searching for eggs on Truansea.

Valkyrie moved on, back towards the states via Nassau while we waited for a break in the weather to cross to Eleuthera.  The day we chose to cross turned out to be too windy for our comfort and we turned back while Tom on Lucent pressed on through 8 foot swells, but hey, if your bow is at least that high so is your comfort level.

Tom raising the anchor on Lucent.

Tom raising the anchor on Lucent.

We caught up with Tom the next day as we drifted into Rock Sound but that’s another story.  Suffice to say, I was happy we hadn’t chose to sail the day before!

Till next time,

Mark