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

Omnia Oven by Christine

Several readers have asked for more details on cooking on the boat, specifically the Omnia oven.  Hopefully this post answers your questions.  If not, feel free to send me your questions!

We do not have an oven on our boat; therefore, the omnia oven is how we cook breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, biscuits and casseroles.  Our boat has CNG (compressed natural gas) for the 2 burner stove top.  A CNG tank lasts us 1 month cooking 3 meals a day plus baking a loaf of bread (or biscuits or muffins) every day and a desert every other day.  We knew that CNG was not available in the Bahamas so we talked to other cruisers, read blogs, and did a little research to decide how to cook on the boat for our family of 4 for the year.  We decided on a Thunder Range, which runs on butane canisters.  The butane canisters have been available in the grocery stores in the Bahamas and run $12.00  for a pack of 4.

Omnia Oven on top of our portable stove.

Omnia Oven on top of our portable stove.

Butane canister.

Butane canister.

This is what the packs of butane look like when you buy them in the store.

This is what the packs of butane look like when you buy them in the store.

Side view of Omnia oven with lid off.

Side view of Omnia oven with lid off.

View of the bottom ring of the oven.  This goes on the bottom, below the ring that we cook food in.

View of the bottom ring of the oven. This goes on the bottom, below the ring that we cook food in.

One of our mainstay cakes is Cinnamon Supper Cake (recipe below).  I grew up with this cake and never grow tired of it.  It takes a minimal amount of ingredients and everyone loves it.  I frequently make it for potlucks on the beach and there is never a crumb left.  Yes, the recipe calls for Crisco (gasp-we have resorted to using Crisco) but you can use butter.  We opted to go without refrigeration due to the high power it requires.  Crisco requires no refrigeration and keeps once opened, probably for years.  We do buy butter sometimes and do not refrigerate that either.  We generally use butter up within 4 days.

Eggs go unrefrigerated as well on Truansea and we have not had any of them go bad, but we use them up in 4-6 days.  You can do the float test with your eggs if you are concerned with them being bad.  Bad eggs float when you put them in a cup of water.  If you can buy unwashed eggs, they last much longer but we have not found locals that sell unwashed eggs.

We use powdered milk or box of milk if we have one open that needs to be used up.  The Country Cream Nonfat powdered milk in the picture below we bought in Idaho.  We have tried several different kinds and this is as good as it gets from our boys taste tests.  The Parmalat box milk I have never seen in Idaho but we found in Florida grocery stores as well as in the Bahamas stores.  It is usually located in the baking aisle by the flour.  This box is 2%, which was the only kind I could find when provisioning.  We are skim milk drinkers and have had skim box milk in the past, which we like much better than the 2%.  If you can chill the box milk, it tastes considerably better than ’boat temperature warm’.  If you buy milk in the Bahamas, you will pay $5.50 for a quart.  If you decide to spring for it, open it and taste it before you leave the store.  We bought it one time and it was sour.  Other boaters have said they have gotten sour milk too but have learned to give it the taste test in the store.

Box milk, on the left, requires no refrigeration.  Powdered milk, on the right, is another staple of ours.

Box milk, on the left, requires no refrigeration. Powdered milk, on the right, is another staple of ours.

Cinnamon Supper Cake

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Topping:

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Add sugar to shortening, add egg and beat well.  Add vanilla & milk.  Add flour, baking powder and salt. Bake in greased Omnia oven on low to low/medium flame on gas stove or camp stove.  Rotate the oven half way through cooking if needed.  Cook for about 20-35 minutes depending on your flame height and how windy it is where you are cooking.  When it is lightly brown around the edges, turn the stove off and let if finish cooking on the stove with its own retained heat.  Remove from oven and spread top with butter.  Mix powdered sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over cake.

Raw cake dough ready to cook.

Raw cake dough ready to cook.

Cake 1/2 way through baking.

Cake 1/2 way through baking.

This is the flame height that works for us.  Not too high, closer to the  lowest flame possible.

This is the flame height that works for us. Not too high, closer to the lowest flame possible.

Finished cake before putting the topping on.

Finished cake before putting the topping on.

Cinnamon supper cake.

Cinnamon supper cake with topping in the pan.

slice of cake

Another one of our mainstays is Baking Powder Biscuits (recipe below).  I grew up with this one as well and it requires just a few ingredients.  Sometimes I put them on top of a chicken/sweet potato Omnia oven dish and bake the dish until the biscuits are lightly browned.  I also make TVP in gravy for Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast.  We also use TVP in our spaghetti, chili, sloppy joes and shepherds pie.

TVP - Textured Vegetable Protein is a great meat substitute.

TVP – Textured Vegetable Protein is a great meat substitute.

Or I just make the biscuits alone to have with eggs and hash, to have with soup, or as bread with supper.

Baking Powder Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup Crisco
  • ¾ cup milk

Mix dry ingredients, cut in Crisco with a fork and stir in milk just until dry ingredients are barely moistened.  Put on lightly floured surface and fold over about 6 times (do not fold over much more).  Pat to about ½ inch thick and cut with biscuit cutter or rim of a glass.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Cole making biscuits to put in Omnia.

Cole making biscuits to put in Omnia.

Baking powder biscuits ready to bake.

Baking powder biscuits ready to bake.

Finished biscuits on the table.

Finished biscuits on the table.

Yesterday afternoon Logan made a strawberry cobbler in the Omnia to take to our boat neighbors.  We had tea and cobbler with them while playing Shut The Box.

Shut the Box is one of our favorite boat games when guests come over.

Shut the Box is one of our favorite boat games when guests come over.

This is what the actual game looks like.

This is what the actual game looks like.

Boat neighbors Bud & Eileen played Shut the Box with us as well as Clue (long night)!

Boat neighbors Bud & Eileen played Shut the Box with us as well as Clue (long night)!

A way we use up apples that are bruised, apples that  end up not being good eating apples or over ripe bananas is in coffee cake.  We also sometimes put some chocolate chips in them.  All our chocolate chips melted in their bags in the boat and turned into big hunks of chocolate so we just shave off pieces with the knife and add them to cake or to fruit pancakes.

Quick Coffee Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T butter, margarine or Crisco melted and cooled (I just use it at room temperature and do not melt it)

Optional:

  • Apple cut into small chunks

Or

  • Over ripe banana

And/or

  • Chocolate shavings or chips

Topping

  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 T softened butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare topping; set aside.  Lightly grease 8-inch square or round pan.

In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Pour milk into 1 cup measure; stir in egg and butter.  Pour into dry ingredients and stir just until flour is moistened.  If using apples, bananas or chocolate chips, fold in.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle cinnamon-nut topping evenly over batter.  Bake 20-25 minutes.

If using a Omnia oven, bake on low flame height until done.

Apple coffee cake almost done.

Apple coffee cake almost done.

I also put the omnia oven on the grill if I am making something else.  I can cook 4 mini pizzas on the grill at a time.  On a night when we had a guest for supper, I baked a batch of biscuits in the omnia while the last pizza was cooking to make full use of the grill.

Omnia oven on grill with a pizza.

Omnia oven on grill with a pizza.

Happy baking and eating!

Fair winds ~ Christine

Whales & Dolphins in the Eleutheras by Logan

We have seen a lot of cool things when we have been sailing on this trip.  I’ve always been wanting to see a whale and when we were sailing, I saw some black dots in the distance.  I wondered what they were.  As we got closer, I noticed they were fins.  We sailed over to them.  One jumped and it was a pilot whale.  Here is a video.

I also have some facts on the whales.  Pilot whales feed on mostly squid and sometimes fish.  They give birth every 3-5 years.  They were named pilot whales because one whale pilots all the others in the group.  When pilot whales feed they take several breathes before diving and they are capable of diving to 600 meters but usually only dive 30-60 meters.  Usually their deeper dives are taken at night.  Pilot whales are still hunted but are threatened.

Here is another cool thing that happened to me.  There was this bottle nosed dolphin that came to play with us as we sailed.  He stayed by the side of our boat for 15 minutes and did flips.  He even chirped at us.  Then a whole family of dolphins came to us and did tricks.  Here is a video of the dolphins.

I hope we see some more things in our travels.

Logan

Message in a Bottle by Cole

A few days ago I put a message in a bottle on a crossing from Norman’s Cay in the Exumas to the Eleutheras.

Me with the message in a bottle I made.

Me with the message in a bottle I made.

I threw my bottle out to sea.

In less than a week, I received an email from a girl on a yacht.  My message had been found!

Katie who found my message at Hawksbill Cay.

Katie who found my message at Hawksbill Cay.

I released the message half way from Norman’s Cay to Eleuthera and it drifted 17 nautical miles to a beach at Hawksbill Cay.  On the picture below the straight line is the course we took our boat on.  The dotted line is where the bottle must have drifted. chart bottleIt was really cool to know that someone found my message.  I’ll probably send out another message on one of our other crossings.  I hope someone finds my next one too!

Cole…

George Town in Review by Christine

We were in George Town from 1/18/13 to 3/6/13 and divided our time between Sand Dollar Beach, Monument Beach, Chat & Chill Beach (also known as Volleyball Beach), Kidd’s Cove and Red Shanks with a majority of our time spent at Red Shanks.  We planned on spending at least a month there waiting for the worst of the winter cold fronts to pass before heading north as spring and weather patterns comes to the Bahamas.  The cold fronts we have experienced are not generally cold in temperature, but they bring strong winds, especially from the north and west.  We have never worn anything other than swim suits and shorts on this entire trip although one morning it was a little cool but not cool enough to bother digging out long pants from the recesses of the boat.

The ‘beaches’ that I mentioned are where a majority of the action is happening.  That is, if you like a semi organized, year round camp type atmosphere.  We enjoyed the activities but also enjoyed heading south to Red Shanks where there were usually only a handful of boats unless a blow was coming, then there would be around 6 in the channel going into Red Shanks, about 6 in the first hole and 3 in the next hole (usually cats since it is a shallow entrance).  During bad blows there would also be around 10-20 in the open area before the channel leading in to the holes.  The majority of boats would stay in Elizabeth Harbor and weather out the winds.

There was a morning net on VHF channel 72 at 8am by Herman on s/v White Wing.  He does a phenomenal job of remaining diplomatic and friendly while doing the net.  He would start the net out by asking if there was any priority or emergency traffic (missing boats, etc) then move on to the weather, tide, local businesses, current days activities, upcoming activities, boaters general (need parts, advice, etc.), housekeeping (garbage dumpster status, etc.), arrivals and departures, people who needed more time for a lengthy announcement, then foreign speaking announcements.  The rest of the day everyone stands by on working channel 68 in Elizabeth Harbor.  After the net there is a flurry of radio traffic with communication scattering to a number of different channels to have their conversations.  It is like one big party line if any of you remember when telephones operated on the party line.  Neighbors knew neighbors business because you could listen in to their phone conversations (not that I ever did this as a kid).

The boater’s general part of the net was extremely helpful to all boaters.  We lost an oar on our dinghy during one of the blows and someone gave us another one.  One morning we announced that we were looking for east coast charts and intercostal guides.  One person had a new set he would sell us but we decided to wait and see if there was an older set for cheaper and someone gave us their complete set from Florida to Delaware.  We borrowed a large rivet gun to put a missing rivet on the bottom of the boom.  The most valued was advice from a variety of experienced boaters.  We were able to repay some favors and borrow out or give to other cruisers oil, acetone, hoses, tools and our newly gained experience on boat repairs.  One boater had hurt his knee and could not climb up his mast to do some work so Mark went up and did a couple of jobs at the top of the mast for him.

The 33rd Annual George Town Cruising Regatta took place from 2/25/13 to 3/8/13.  At peak time during the regatta, there were 280 boats in the harbor.  We thought that was a lot until we were told that there used to be 700-800 before the crash.

The majority of boats seem to be Canadians.  Evidently they weathered the crash better than the Americans did.  They fly their flags while the Americans generally do not so it is hard to tell the exact numbers.  Everyone has to fly the Bahamian courtesy flag.  We also fly our American flag and SISA (Southern Idaho Sailing Association) burgee.  The rest of the foreigners are a mixture and seem to fly their flags.

The activities were a mixture of daily yoga, volleyball, art, and basket weaving.  Every other day and weekly activities ranged from sushi making, sign language, book swap, DVD swap, battery seminar, cruising to Cuba seminar, cruising the Caribbean, etc., dances, no-talent talent shows, conch horn making, jam session night with bonfire, miscellaneous bonfires on a variety of beaches, softball, Bahamian history, tour buses of Great Exuma to water walk hosted by Jim helping us all to, as he put it, “Achieve those buns of steel”.  There was so much to do, you could not possibly do it all.  We escaped to Red Shanks during the blows where it was much more protected and enjoyed some ‘down time’ while we were too far away from George Town.

Boys at a bonfire on Hamburger Beach (Big D's).

Boys at a bonfire on Hamburger Beach (Big D’s).

Our friend Greg from s/v Serenade playing at one of the jam sessions on hamburger beach.

Our friend Greg from s/v Serenade playing at one of the jam sessions on hamburger beach.

Mark playing his harmonica at one of the jam sessions.  They asked him to come back for the next one!

Mark playing his harmonica at one of the jam sessions. They asked him to come back for the next one!

Cole roasting marshmallows.

Cole roasting marshmallows.

Cole & Mark camped out in hammocks on Stocking Island one evening.  Thanks for the hammock Petra!  It has been put to good use.

Cole & Mark camped out in hammocks on Stocking Island one evening. Thanks for the hammock Petra! It has been put to good use.

This was a boat project day, whipping the ends on all our lines.

This was a boat project day, whipping the ends on all our lines.

Cole, Christine & Logan hiking on Stocking Island.

Cole, Christine & Logan hiking on Stocking Island.

Ruins on Crab Cay left from the cotton plantation days.

Ruins on Crab Cay left from the cotton plantation days.

Livestock wall on Crab Cay.  We have seen these stone walls on a variety of Cays.  There has not been livestock on any of these islands for a long time.

Livestock wall on Crab Cay. We have seen these stone walls on a variety of Cays. There has not been livestock on any of these islands for a long time.

Logan at an abandoned resort on Crab Cay.  The building of the resort stopped sometime after the crash.  We have seen lots of resorts and buildings that were put on hold.

Logan at an abandoned resort on Crab Cay. The building of the resort stopped sometime after the crash. We have seen lots of resorts and buildings that were put on hold.

Mark at the plantation ruins.

Mark at the plantation ruins.

ruins

Underwater cave Crab Cay.

Underwater cave Crab Cay.

Catamaran that hit a reef in Elizabeth Harbor is now at the local boat yard.  The reef won that battle.

Catamaran that hit a reef in Elizabeth Harbor is now at the local boat yard. The reef won that battle.

Mark climbing the neighbors mast.

Mark climbing the neighbors mast.

Logan & Cole with conch horn they personalized to leave at Red Shanks Yacht & Tennis Club.

Logan & Cole with conch horn they personalized to leave at Red Shanks Yacht & Tennis Club.

Adding our Truansea shell to the 'Red Shanks Yacht & Tennis Club'.  This club is really on one of the charts in a guide book.  If you blink or go in at high tide, you won't see it.

Adding our Truansea shell to the ‘Red Shanks Yacht & Tennis Club’. This club is really on one of the charts in a guide book. If you blink or go in at high tide, you won’t see it.

Logan & Cole making a boat for the boat races.  The rules are they can be a maximum of 4 foot high by 4 foot long.

Logan & Cole making a boat for the boat races. The rules are they can be a maximum of 4 foot high by 4 foot long.

Making the sail for their boat.

Making the sail for their boat.

Cole swinging from a tree at Chat & Chill beach.

Cole swinging from a tree at Chat & Chill beach

On the days when the weather was nice, we maximized our time snorkeling, exploring islands and beaches.  The weather patterns were variable.  Some days we would see light and variable, other times winds from the east at 10-12 knots for days, northeast at 22-28 for a couple days at a time, and southwest to west to northwest at 25-30.  One night someone said the gusts were to 38.  That is the worst we have experienced.  Our mighty Rocna holds tight as long as we have enough scope out.  Whenever the forecast was above 20, we went to Red Shanks.

The kids 'Dinghy Band'.

The kids ‘Dinghy Band’.Kids made diving thing

It's fun to have friends with a dinghy powerful enough to pull the kids knee boarding!

It’s fun to have friends with a dinghy powerful enough to pull the kids knee boarding!

Coconut

Coconuts are plentiful here.

Sunset at Red Shanks.

Sunset at Red Shanks.

We had days when we had time to work on boat projects like whipping all of the ends of our sheets.  A looking bucket was on our list of wanted items, but they cost $53 at Georgetown so I was able to get a bucket for free at a restaurant and buy a piece of plexiglass for $6.00.  Viola, Mark and the boys put together a great looking bucket.  These are invaluable for checking the anchor when you don’t feel like diving on it and checking out reefs to see if they are worth anchoring and snorkeling on.  Another boater makes jewelry out of seashells, seabeans, etc. and taught us how to do it one afternoon (thanks Robert!).

Logan with a lobster he speared.

Logan with a lobster he speared.

 

Time was divided to town days as well where we would explore the local stores, do laundry when it got out of hand to do on the boat, fill up on water, gas and fuel and groceries.

We have since worked our way back up the Exuma’s and are now in Eleuthera.  We will update the blog when we have the opportunity.

Fair winds ~ Christine

 

 

Recipes for conversation by Mark

We have now been at Lee Stocking Island, the site of an abandoned oceanographic research facility, for 5 days.  Since we are not in a big rush to move north (the wind has been in the wrong direction for us to sail), we have been content to spend our time exploring the island and made friends with some of the other boaters in the anchorage.  I thought that the reader might enjoy meeting them yourself so asked two couples on different boats a few questions about themselves and their boats.

First Nanny

The boat just astern of us at the moment is called First Nanny.  She is a Cape Islander 36.  Her owners are Tony and Renate, originally from Berlin, Germany they bought a piece of land and built a cabin in Nova Scotia after choosing to change their lifestyle and retire early.  After that they started thinking about cruising on a traditional boat.  Tony had thought about building his own boat but ultimately he chose to renovate a retired lobster boat because he liked the looks of a more traditional craft.  Built for heavy work in the North Atlantic it has a low sheer aft and a precipitous bow.

First Nanny

First Nanny

Their boat is a reflection of their life I think.  She is a simple fishing boat converted for living aboard yet is equipped with all of the extras that a long term cruiser would want.  They have an SSB radio for getting weather information and their electrical power comes from three solar panels and a 2kw generator.  They have recently added refrigeration and use a simple camp stove and a toaster oven for all of their cooking.  Renate bakes bread in the oven every other day, which is run off of an inverter.

First Nanny

First Nanny

first2

Tony and Renate aboard First Nanny.

First Nanny was built in 1964 and was used to fish for lobsters and is powered by the original 135hp Ford Leman diesel engine.  After purchasing the boat they made improvements to make her more comfortable for cruising.  They added several feet of interior cabin space and replanked the cabin sole. Altogether they spent 5 summers working on rebuilding her.  Tony and Renate cruise on First Nanny about 6 months out of the year and then either go back to their cabin in Canada or to their home in Berlin for the rest of the year to visit their two children.

Their cabin, which is as unique as their boat, is located deep in the woods of Nova Scotia, 35 miles from the nearest town.  They have no power but use a generator to pump water into a holding tank.  The latest addition to their property was a bathhouse that Tony built.  It is a glass gazebo with a bathtub inside and wood heats the water heater, which fills the tub.

Logan and Cole in First Nanny's cabin.

Logan and Cole in First Nanny’s cabin.

Christine & Logan in First Nanny's cabin.

Christine & Logan in First Nanny’s galley.

I have read of accounts of sailors who have seen apparitions while cruising so I listened eagerly when Tony related an experience he had on their first gulf crossing. They were crossing the Gulfstream at night when all of the electronics on their boat went down.  With no VHF or chart plotter to guide him thru the darkness he was trying to troubleshoot his systems when he saw the image of a bearded man on the forward deck looking back at him through the glass.  He spoke to Tony and told him not to worry, that he just needed a few minutes.  After ten minutes all of the electronics began working again.  It was some time later when Tony realized that the person he saw on deck was the same fisherman that is in a very early photograph of the boat when it was used for lobster fishing that he has framed in the cabin.

Picture of First Nanny when it was a lobster boat.

Picture of First Nanny when it was a lobster boat.

We were invited over to their boat for dinner one evening and Renate made a delicious fish soup and an equally fantastic potato salad another night.  Their lifestyle may be simplified but like the extra equipment on their boat Renate was preparing gourmet meals with a minimum of ingredients and spices. Her recipe for fish soup follows.

Fish Soup Recipe

2 big onions chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
4-5 stalks celery chopped
3-4 carrots sliced
1 green pepper or hot pepper chopped (we omitted this too but used red pepper flakes)
3 T curry
1 T milk ground red pepper powder
1.5 liters chicken stock or bullion

Simmer for 20 minutes.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.

1-2 yellow zucchini sliced (we omitted this)
cubed fish (They say Monk Fish is the best.  We had Mahi Mahi this night)
½ cup dry rice

Simmer about 15 minutes until rice and vegetables are tender.

Sea Camp

Our other boat neighbors are Bud and Eileen on Sea Camp a Witby 42.  Their boat is a center cockpit design with a spacious aft cabin.  When they purchased their boat they had a five-year plan for cruising the Caribbean.  The boat had come with and engine driven refrigeration system but that required running their 65 hp Perkins twice a day for an hour to cool down the coldplates.  Bud has since converted to a more conventional 12v compressor. His large battery bank is kept topped off with a wind turbine and a 200w solar panel mounted to the top of his davits.  Six batteries onboard are capable of storing an impressive 1400 amp hours!  As a comparison our single house battery stores a more modest 230 amp hours, an amount that has been adequate for our needs but it just goes to show the lengths you need to go to get those precious ice cubes in ones drink.  It’s also why we like to suggest having cocktails on their boat whenever the opportunity permits!

Sea Camp

Sea Camp leaving Lee Stocking Island.

Bud and Eileen carry equally impressive reserves of water and fuel.   With enough tankage to hold 270 gallons of water and 200 gallons of fuel they rarely have to buy water or pull into port to take on more fuel.  They are a ship of the desert but unlike their “camelian” counterpart they store their vast reserves not in a hump but closer to the keel.

Bud & Eileen in s/v Sea Camp's cockpit.

Bud & Eileen in s/v Sea Camp’s cockpit.

If the wind doesn’t blow and the sun refuses to shine they still have a 2kw generator as a last resort but there are few days in the Bahamas I think when they would have to resort to using the generator.  They bought their boat on the Chesapeake and have been sailing in the Bahamas for five years now.  They still have their home in Manitoba and have another lake sailing boat there, a C&C 26 named Gypsy that they sailed with their two children before purchasing their Whitby.

Bud showing the boys the engine.

Bud showing the boys the engine.

Bud had worked in Canada as an electrical engineer and Eileen taught high school chemistry.  While they have enjoyed the cruising lifestyle they are thinking about the next adventure and would like to travel abroad, perhaps living in different countries for several months at a time.

One day when Christine was contemplating how to cook up a squash on the boat for a little variety Eileen offered the following recipe for yet another fantastic soup.

We have enjoyed listening to their Canadian perspectives almost as much as the sound of another tray of ice cubes being broken into!

Squash soup

2 small butternuts cubed (we used 1 pumpkin)
1 medium onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
3 carrots sliced
¼ cup brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp curry
¼ tsp cayenne
8 cups water

Simmer until vegetables are tender then puree.  We do not have a blender so we lightly mashed it with a large spoon.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.  We did not have either of these and it was still fantastic.

Fair winds and good eating,
Mark

Coral by Logan

Coral grows in warm seas and are alive.  There are lots of different kinds of coral.  Here are the types of coral that I observe in the Bahamas:  brain coral, mustard hill coral, finger coral, elk horn coral, fan coral, and sea ship coral.  Those are the main types I see and here are pictures I took.

Brain Coral

Brain Coral

Sea Whip Coral

Sea Whip Coral

Finger Coral

Finger Coral

Fan Coral

Fan Coral

Mustard Hill Coral

Mustard Hill Coral

Elk Horn Coral

Elk Horn Coral

All corals have polyps.  Polyps are the living parts of coral.  They are tentacle like creatures.  They are like builders.  They build the coral.  Brain coral polyps come out only at night.  Brain coral likes facing the surface of the water.  Mustard hill coral polyps come out in the daytime.  On all kinds of coral polyps, they either come out at night or day.  Finger coral have day polyps and comes in many different colors like green, purple, pink and grey.  Elk horn coral is the biggest coral.  It grows six inches every year.  Fan coral lives on drop-offs and finally sea whip.  Sea whips come in sea like forests.   Here is a picture of polyps.

Logan