The Abacos by Christine

On my last Abacos post, I left off with us arriving in Hope Town on Elbow Cay.  We ended up staying there close to a week.  It was simply a charming town.

Walking the streets of Hope Town.

Walking the streets of Hope Town.

There were a few other boat families here that we spent some time with.  One is a family aboard s/v Take Two with 5 kids and a cat that has been living aboard for 5 years now.  They are an extremely organized, efficient family and just plain fun to hang around with.  Their blog site is taketwosailing.com if you want to check it out.

Boat friends from s/v Take Two.

Boat friends from s/v Take Two.

A couple of friends from Take Two came over for boat school one day to build a radio.

A couple of friends from Take Two came over for boat school one day to build a radio.

Another family we have spent time with at previous anchorages is s/v Makana.  They have logged a lot of miles and are a wealth of knowledge.

Boys swinging with their friend on s/v Makana.

Boys swinging with their friend on s/v Makana.

We enjoyed some fabulous meals together, had fun swinging on the halyards and swimming in the pools.  You can learn more about them at makanatours.com.

Hope Town has a fantastic museum which we really enjoyed.

Hope Town has a fantastic museum which we really enjoyed.

Cole and Logan in the back.  Mark, Christine and Bill (s/v Providence) in the front.  We all rented a gulf cart one day and explored the island.

Cole and Logan in the back. Mark, Christine and Bill (s/v Providence) in the front. We all rented a gulf cart one day and explored Elbow Cay.

Four of us leaving Hope Town together.

Four of us leaving Hope Town together.  Providence is in the lead, followed by Moonshadow, Slow Flight and us.

After Hope town, we sailed over to Marsh Harbor to re-provision.  It was definitely a big city.  Logan put it best when he said, “Good thing we stopped here to start acclimating us to what it is going to be like going back to the states.”  We were in awe of all the food and the big grocery store.

Mermaid Reef on the north side of Marsh Harbor was fantastic.  We were swarmed by a variety of fish and thoroughly enjoyed the long reef that we could swim out to easily from shore.

There was a big variety of fish on Mermaid Reef.

There was a big variety of fish on Mermaid Reef.

I never tire of watching the fish.

I never tire of watching the fish.

After Marsh Harbor we continued on to Man-O-War.  Cruisers say that every island is different and it is so true.  This island really states how different they can be.  You’d have to see it and the people for yourself to understand it!  We anchored north of town near a beautiful beach with good snorkeling and good fishing.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of fresh seafood.

Logan with a starfish.

Logan with a starfish.

us under tree

Logan walking on a street at Man-O-War.

Logan running on a path at Man-O-War.

This cracked us up.  Any ideas on why someone would number their steps to their house?

This cracked us up. Any ideas on why someone would number their steps to their house?

Providence hooked a cable with his anchor.  Mark is in the dinghy freeing it.

Providence hooked a cable with his anchor. Mark is in the dinghy freeing it.

Next we moved on to Guana Cay for a day then to Treasure Cay.

Treasure Cay's beautiful beach.

Treasure Cay’s beautiful beach.

Finally, we sailed to Green Turtle Cay which required going through Whale Cay Channel.  The Whale, as it is called locally, can be difficult.  We picked a calm day and had long, slow swells.

On Green Turtle Cay, in the town of New Plymouth, we enjoyed the Captain Rolland Roberts House, an educational historic house.  The poster below gives a history of how many of the other homes had been moved off the island.  I found it amazing that they disassembled and moved a number of houses all the way from Green Turtle Cay to Florida back in 1846.  I can’t imaging anyone doing that now days, let along back then.  The house is full of really good educational exhibits and a medicinal herb garden out back.  house moved

sponging

On the left hand side of this display are 3 conch egg sacks.  To the left of the sacks is a baby conch.  Continuing down the row shows their growth.

On the left hand side of this display are 3 conch egg sacks. To the left of the sacks is a baby conch. Continuing down the row shows their growth.

I have not seen a horse in 7 months until I saw this one on Green Turtle Cay.  He is obviously quite old and roams the island freely.  No one that I have talked to yet knows the story of the horse.

I have not seen a horse in 7 months until I saw this one on Green Turtle Cay. He is obviously quite old and roams the island freely. No one that I have talked to yet knows the story of the horse.

We were lucky to be at Green Turtle Cay when their Heritage Roots Festival was going on. The following is a video of the Royal Bahamas Police Marching Band.

They had fun activities.  One was the universally fun tug of war.  Logan and Cole were pulling with all their might.

Another cruiser that was stung by a lion fish.

Another cruiser we met at the festival that was stung by a lion fish.

The weather should be settling down for us to move on to Manjack Cay Tuesday to do some snorkeling and island exploring.

Fair Winds ~ Christine

The Diving Dog by Christine

There are some incredible pets on board cruising boats.   When we were in Hope Town, Abacos, we met a cruiser with a very remarkable dog.

A picture is worth a thousand words…  The following clip is 1 minute long but worth watching.  At the very end of the video, Sasha, dives down 8 feet and brings up a conch shell.  Sasha’s owner told us she has dove down as far a 15 feet to bring up a shell.

Fair Winds ~ Christine

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

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

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

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

 

 

Friends from Idaho by Christine

We were so happy to have friends from Idaho visit us this last week.  It was a fantastic week that went by too quickly.  Bill and Tawny arrived first followed by David and Valerie the next day.  As all you cruisers know, we had sent them a ‘wish list’ of things to bring, ranked in order with the most serious needed items first.  How did Cheetos end up on the top of our list anyway?

I took the dinghy to the dock in Georgetown to pick up the LaVigne’s.  It was such a strange sight to see them standing there.  I asked, “How did you get here?”  Valerie looked at me and said, “On a plane, silly.”  Well, of course on a plane, but to me our journey has been so long (months) and slow (5 knots) that I could not fathom how they just appeared out of nowhere down here.

Both couples brought an extra bag stuffed to the brim with our requests ranging from food to clothing to personal items to a pot holder.  One of my pot holders blew away from me at the grill on the stern of the boat a while back and I could not get to it in time to rescue it.  Thank you Reynolds for sending your beloved, sentimental pot holder.  I will try not to let this one get blown overboard.  Thanks for all the other special items you sent.  They mean a lot to us.

The Cooks, thank you for sending the photo book.  We love it and show it to all of our boat neighbors.  The boys loved seeing pictures of their guinea pigs.  Many thanks again for taking care of the girls while we are gone.  What a commitment!

LaVigne’s, thank you for the Valentine treats, etc.  As always, you are so thoughtful.

Flanders, thanks for all the goodies and for lugging it all along.  We seriously could not do this trip without friends like you.

David, Tawny and Bill in cockpit of Truansea.

David, Tawny and Bill in cockpit of Truansea.

Tawny and Valerie studying our Explorer chart of the area.

Tawny and Valerie studying our Explorer chart of the area while Logan looks on.

Bill, Logan & Cole on the bow.  The boys love popping in and out of the v-berth hatch.

Bill, Logan & Cole on the bow. The boys love popping in and out of the v-berth hatch.  Bill also spent an afternoon teaching math.  Thanks Bill!

David taking a turn on the wheel of Truansea from Red Shanks to Sand Dollar.

David taking a turn on the wheel of Truansea from Red Shanks to Sand Dollar with Mark enjoying the company.

Valerie getting ready to snorkel.

Valerie getting ready to snorkel.

Tawny getting ready to make the leap and try snorkeling.

Tawny getting ready to make the leap and try snorkeling.

Valerie snorkeling around Truansea.

Valerie snorkeling around Truansea.

The girls on our stern getting ready to explore.

The girls on our stern getting ready to explore.

Valerie and Tawny relaxing after snorkeling.

Valerie and Tawny relaxing after snorkeling.

One of the many beautiful fish they saw snorkeling.

One of the many beautiful fish they saw snorkeling.

The hunt is on.

The hunt is on.

David and Bill with the lobster.  It was a team effort of 3 of the guys to get him speared.

David and Bill with the lobster. It was a team effort of 3 of the guys to get him speared.

David, Logan, Mark and Bill returning from a successful fishing expedition.

David, Logan, Mark and Bill returning from a successful fishing expedition.

The day would not be complete without fried lobster, fish fillets and sushi.  Logan made the sushi for our guests.  What a great dinner on the boat.

The day would not be complete without fried lobster, fish fillets and sushi. Logan made the sushi for our guests. What a great dinner on the boat.

Bill ready for Logan to teach him how to make sushi.

Bill ready for Logan to teach him how to make sushi.

Of course Tawny was drug into the process as well.  Bill became an expert sushi maker by the end of the evening.  Tawny and I became expert sushi eaters!

Of course Tawny was drug into the process as well. Bill became an expert sushi maker by the end of the evening. Tawny and I became expert sushi eaters!

David just being David.

David just being David.

David seriously getting ready to cook the lobster in our boat.

David seriously getting ready to cook the lobster in our boat.

The first 3 days they were here, the weather was good so we took full advantage of the nice weather spending time on the boat, snorkeling, fishing, etc.  A strong front blew in the 4th day so we holed up at our favorite protected anchorage while our friends had time to take a guided trip to Staniel to snorkel the grotto, swim with the nurse sharks, see the swimming pigs at Big Majors and see the Iguanas.  Another day they took the water taxi to Stocking Island to hike and spend time on the sound side of the beautiful beach.  We were able to catch up with them on the last day again when the winds died down some.

Would you believe we never took a group picture?  Time goes by so quickly.  We enjoyed every moment we were able to spend with them.  Have a safe trip home.  Again, thank you for all you did for us and all the goodies you brought us!

Fair winds ~ Christine

Vegemite! by Christine

“Vege… what?” I thought when I first heard our Tazmanian/Australian friend mention his morning breakfast of Vegemite on toast. A couple of days later I heard him mention putting Vegemite in the soup he was making and on his cheese sandwich. He also hosted National Australian Day breakfast on his boat for all of the Australians in the bay with none other than Vegemite toast. Now my curiosity was peaked. I love trying new foods, especially different nationalities.

David comes over for breakfast and coffee some mornings and one morning he brought over his Vegemite. We toasted the bread on the grill, buttered it and David spread a thin layer on top. He emphasized Americans must only put a thin layer on. We were warned not to spread it thick like peanut butter. The paste in the jar is thick and black smelling yeasty and something else I could not identify with. Maybe hoppy? It tasted salty and a little strong or bitter. It probably does not sound too appealing yet, but it was fantastic with morning coffee! I love the stuff! Maybe it is having my family, good company on the boat in a beautiful Bahama anchorage that made it taste so good.

David and me in the cockpit of Truansea enjoying a great breakfast.

David and me in the cockpit of Truansea enjoying a great breakfast.

The paste was invented in 1922 when the Australian food company Fred Walker & Co. gave Cyril P. Callister the task of developing a spread from the dumped yeast from breweries. Talk about recycling! He came up with a way to extract the liquid and blended salt, onion and celery extracts to form the sticky black paste. It was endorsed by the British Medical Association as being rich in vitamin B, rationed during World War II, included in the Australian Army rations and was used in 9 out of 10 Australian homes.

David told us they ate it as children on their Australian farm and sang the jingle he knew from childhood used to promote Vegemite. It reminded me of how we all know the Oscar Mayer Weiner song. It is produced by Kraft foods.

After expressing my love of Vegemite, David brought over a jar of my very own a couple of mornings later. I was instructed on the ritual that must be followed upon opening a new jar. First you twist the top off breaking the seal, then stick your nose close to the paste in the jar and inhale deeply. It is somewhat like smelling coffee when you open a new can (yes we drink ground, canned coffee on the boat). Then you dip in your pinky finger and get a small amount of the paste on it and lick it off your finger. The jar is christened and ready for use.

Cole's reaction to it was not the same as mine.

Cole’s reaction to it was not the same as mine.

Try it yourself and let me know what you think!  I doubt if it is for sale in many stores, but I do see it on Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Kraft-Vegemite-400g-Jar/dp/B002O10K6C

If you have your own obscure food item that you have tried and love, please share it with me.

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Life on Truansea by Christine

Followers of our blog wonder what life is like for a family on a boat.  Being cruisers, we are only sailing a small fraction of the time so our kids are not stuck on a 37 foot boat going stir crazy.  One thing they love to do on the boat which gets some of their energy out is to swing on the bosun’s chair from the spinnaker halyard.

Hammock time is also nice.  They never just lay there and read.  The hammock is always a swinging when they are in it.

Cole is up the mast.  Logan in the hammock.

Cole is up the mast. Logan in the hammock.

Jumping off the bow of the boat and swimming back to the transom they can do when the current is not strong.

Laundry is a constant battle.  A bucket of fresh water on the front of the boat with a plunger is the best method we have found.  We occasionally make a trip to the laundromat for sheets or if the amount of laundry has gotten away from us.

Cole's turn to do the laundry.

Cole’s turn to do the laundry.

We also spend lots of time on shore hiking, beach combing, playing on the beach, walking around towns, etc.

Our days are not filled with idle time however.  There is always things to do on a boat, just like home.  We cook all of our meals and have to do all of our dishes by hand which is a process in itself.  The boat needs constant cleaning inside and out.  With four people living on a boat, plus friends coming over, there is always a battle with sand, salt and hair.  It is amazing how much hair we all shed.  it ends up on the floor and in the bilges where it is much more noticeable than in a house.  Everything we use needs to be picked up as soon as we are done with it or life becomes difficult in a hurry.  If we all left our things laying around like books, sunglasses, hats, life jackets, towels, sandals, dry bags, flippers, snorkels, wet swim suits, etc. it would be a complete, unlivable disaster!  Luckily Logan is the ‘pick it up police’ and keeps us all responsible for our things.

School takes a fair amount of our time as well.  Some days we get more done than others.  I am actually looking forward to the upcoming blow to spend a couple of days on the boat getting caught up.  Cruisers host a variety of classes on Chat & Chill beach.  One of the classes Logan & I took was sushi making.  We were both surprised at how easy it is!  Really!  We have been enjoying sushi on the boat ever since.

Logan learning to make sushi on the beach.

Logan learning to make sushi on the beach.

Logan & me with the fruits of our labor.  Guess what we ate for lunch?

Logan & me with the fruits of our labor. Guess what we ate for lunch?

 

I hate to say it but one thing we have found comforting is the TV.  We do not use it often, but it is nice for us all to kick back and watch a movie from time to time.  Of course, watching a movie is not quite as simple as at home.  After we haul the generator out in the cockpit, plug it into the outlet on the boat and fire it up, flip on the AC power master and the port AC outlets, then we can turn on the TV.  When we do run the generator, this is also the time to charge all devices that we only have a traditional plug-in for such as the laptop, ipad, ipod, cell phones, sat phone and VHF.  We do not have an inverter on our boat so generator time is the time to charge these ‘regular plug in’ devices up.

View of Truansea from the top of our mast.

View of Truansea from the top of our mast.

View of bow of boat from top of mast.

View of bow of boat from top of mast.

ancorage

Wish we had time to do more posts but our access to town has been limited due to winter cold fronts coming through.  When we do have a few days of calm, we are filling up the water tanks on our boat, getting groceries, etc.  We also take these days to enjoy snorkeling, spear fishing and exploring the islands.  This afternoon another front is coming in and we are in for 25-30 knot winds tonight at 20-25 knot winds the following 3-4 days.   We are in a snug anchorage at Red Shanks, just south of George Town.

Fair winds ~ Christine