We’ve Arrived in Georgetown! by Christine

01/18/13 We arrived in Georgetown!  Our goal for this year was to make it to Georgetown, Great Exuma Island and we did it. Of course, plans are written in sand in the sailing world and you never know from day-to-day what the weather may bring, what may need fixing on the boat, etc.  That’s half the adventure, right?  Truansea has been taking us on this trip without more than normal wear and tear boat repairs.  Hookie, our little Zodiac dinghy (which is like our car) has also been doing great.  We had to hoist the outboard into the cockpit a couple of times for repairs and a new prop, but she has been doing a great job taking us snorkeling, beach combing, water runs, trips to town, etc.

It has been a while since I have been able to make an update, and I need to go back to January 2nd to get caught up.

01/02/13  through 01/14/13  We stayed in Black Point longer than we anticipated due to the winds either being too strong (18-25 knots) or from the wrong direction (south/southeast).

Truansea at anchor in Black Point.  It is the blue hulled boat in the middle of the picture.

Truansea at anchor in Black Point. It is the blue hulled boat in the middle of the picture.

The forecast for the week was for even stronger winds south of us and we wanted a weather window open long enough for us to enjoy some of the islands on our way south to Georgetown.  We plan on spending 1-2 months in Georgetown waiting for calmer spring weather to start making our way back up the Exumas, possibly Cat Cay, Abacos, Berry Islands, etc. before crossing the Gulf Stream back to Florida the beginning of June.

The remoras have taken a liking to our boat.  The first time I saw them swimming around, I thought they were sharks.  Needless to say, every time I get off Truasea and into the water, I look all around the boat to see what else may be waiting for me. At least they are doing a job down there, sucking algae off the bottom of the boat.

The remoras have taken a liking to our boat. The first time I saw them swimming around, I thought they were sharks. Needless to say, every time I get off Truasea and into the water, I look all around the boat to see what else may be waiting for me. At least they are doing a job down there, sucking algae off the bottom of the boat.

Logan and Cole with their friend Nic from s/v Southern Bound.

Logan and Cole with their friend Nic from s/v Southern Bound on the beach at Black Point.

One of our boat neighbors, Steve on s/v Slow Flight has scuba gear and offered to put a new anode on our prop.  I have never scuba dived before and he offered to give me a quick course and try it out.  I never pass up a chance to try something new.  It was great to be able to give it a try.  Thanks Steve!

One of our boat neighbors, Steve on s/v Slow Flight has scuba gear and offered to put a new anode on our prop. I have never scuba dived before and he offered to give me a quick course and try it out. I never pass up a chance to try something new. It was great to be able to give it a try. Thanks Steve!

I’m a 10-15 knot wind girl kind of girl and apparently that is what a lot of other people’s comfort zone is.  There are 35 other boats in the anchorage and most of them are also headed to Georgetown.  If the winds are forecasted 10-15 and end up blowing 20, which happens sometimes, I’m still comfortable.  If they are forecasted 15-20 and blow 25, I’m not a happy sailor.

Cole studying a starfish.

Cole studying a starfish.

We were invited by Ida, who owns the laundromat, to go to their annual Christmas church dinner.  They have it after Christmas since many families go to Nassau during school break.  We were the only cruisers to attend and they made us feel very welcome.  The older women all sat at the tables and the younger women served them.  Then the children lined up and were all served where they scattered everywhere to find a spot to eat, then the men were served and lastly the younger women ate.  It was a fantastic meal of pork, turkey, rice with beans, coleslaw, crab pasta salad and macaroni and cheese.

We were invited by Ida, who owns the laundromat, to go to their annual Christmas church dinner. They have it after Christmas since many families go to Nassau during school break. We were the only cruisers to attend and they made us feel very welcome. The older women all sat at the tables and the younger women served them. Then the children lined up and were all served where they scattered everywhere to find a spot to eat, then the men were served and lastly the younger women ate. It was a fantastic meal of pork, turkey, rice with beans, cole slaw, crab pasta salad and macaroni and cheese.

On 01/04/13 we did one overnight trip just south of Black Point to Hetty’s Land on Great Guana Cay with a few other boats to snorkel, fish, beach comb and hike.  The anchorage was not very protected and after a night of rocking and rolling on the hook we all headed back to Black Point.

Mark at picnic table behind laundromat catching up on emails.

Mark at picnic table behind laundromat catching up on emails.

Castle house outside of Black Point that we hiked to a couple times.

Castle house outside of Black Point that we hiked to a couple of times.

Logan on one of our beach exploration days.  I found my first hamburger bean this day!

Logan on one of our beach exploration days. I found my first hamburger bean this day!

Cole with bow & arrow he made on the beach.

Cole with bow & arrow he made on the beach.

Catching a ride on the way back from the castle.  I used to ride in the back of a pickup all the time as a kid.  This was the boys first time doing this!

Catching a ride on the way back from the castle. I used to ride in the back of a pickup all the time as a kid. This was the boys first time doing this!

01/14/13  The forecast is east winds at 12k increasing to 15k in the afternoon and 15-20k in the evening so we made a break for it, along with everyone else in the harbor.  It was the best sailing day we have had so far on this trip.  We sailed along at 5.2 to 6.3 knots and arrived at Cave Cay at 1345.  Cave Cay is private so we enjoyed some snorkeling time and a nice, quiet night at anchor.

Mark enjoying a great day of sailing.

Mark enjoying a great day of sailing.

01/15/13  Today brought a forecast of straight east 90 degree winds at 12-15k so we set sail for Little Darby Island where our friend David on s/v Mist has been anchored for a couple of weeks.  This is the first anchorage where you need to put out two anchors due to limited swing space.  We have not had to use two anchors yet so this was a great learning opportunity.  We put out our primary, a Rocna, then the Foretress.  We have a third anchor as well, a Delta (Mark tells me you can never have enough anchors on a boat).

Starboard side of Truansea with the usual rail stuff.

Starboard side of Truansea with the usual rail stuff.

Port side of Truansea with the laundry hanging to dry.

Port side of Truansea with the laundry hanging to dry.

What cruising kids do without computer games, wii's, etc.   Cole built this on a rather windy night which means the boat was rolling around.  The house fell many times before he was able to complete it.  Two seconds later and boat rocked and the house of cards collapsed!

What cruising kids do without computer games, Wii’s, etc. Cole built this on a rather windy night which means the boat was rolling around. The house fell many times before he was able to complete it. Two seconds later and boat rocked and the house of cards collapsed!

The second day here we were exploring snorkeling places and Mark slowed Hookie down as we neared a black spot.  Black spots are generally coral heads and are easy to spot, especially if you are standing up in the dinghy.  It was a small spot so we were not sure how good it would be so just Mark stuck his head in the water to take a look before we deployed the anchor.  His head popped back up and said, “You’ve got to see this!”  The boys dropped the anchor and Mark plunged overboard.  We all quickly followed suit.  I started laughing underwater when I saw it and my mask filled with water.  I cleared it out and dove again.  If anyone knows how this grand piano metal sculpture with a mermaid at the bench ended up under the sea on the west side of Musha Cay, please let us know.  I could look it up on the internet but it would be more fun to hear from you followers as to its history.

Christine diving with the mermaid at grand piano sculpture off west side Musha Cay.

Christine diving with the mermaid at grand piano underwater sculpture off west side Musha Cay.

Mermaid at grand piano.

Mermaid at grand piano.

The sculpture is spectacular and is not in any of the guide books that we know of.  We passed the word on to all our other cruiser friends to check it out.  No one else had ever heard of it.   David Copperfield owns Musha Island and Jonny Depp, Nicholas Cage, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill own islands close by here.  Steven Spielberg’s mega yacht is also anchored not too far away and Tom Waits was spotted on Staniel Cay.  There is only one musician I have ever wished I could meet or see live and that is Tom Waits.  I can not believe I was so close and never got to see him!  Aargh!  Anyway, I am guessing one of these people commissioned the sculpture.

There were some nice calm, slack times at Darby and our kids and Southern Bounds kids enjoyed a little freedom rowing around.

There were some nice calm, slack times at Darby and our kids and Southern Bounds kids enjoyed a little freedom rowing around.

Cole knows how to enjoy a ride!

Cole knows how to enjoy a ride!

We were treated to the first rain of any quantity at Darby.  It was a gentle, long rain.  Everyone got on the decks of their boats and showered first.  We had not experienced a rain yet and had not prepared how to catch the excess water.  The rain stopped and at least we were all clean and rinsed.  Another cloud was coming our way so we got out brushes to wash the salt off the deck, washed out the dinghy and had a few plans on catching as much rain water as we could.  The next rain was another nice, long one and we caught enough water to do the laundry and wash the rest of the boat which had become quite covered in salt crystals.

Collecting rain water.  You can see Logan has a vested interest in getting enough water to finish washing the shampoo out of his hair.

Collecting rain water. You can see Logan has a vested interest in getting enough water to finish washing the shampoo out of his hair.

Big Darby and Little Darby have some interesting history which I will let you look up if you choose.  We enjoyed hiking and beach time there.

Tight anchorage at Little Darby.  Everyone has 2 anchors out.

Tight anchorage at Little Darby. Everyone has 2 anchors out.  These are our friends on Southern Bound.

Castle on Darby which has long since been abandoned.

Castle on Darby which has long since been abandoned.

Inside the castle at Darby.

Inside the castle at Darby.

Cave near the castle where livestock was kept.  There is a natural stone fence out the back side of the cave which naturally fenced in about an acre of land.

Cave near the castle where livestock was kept. There is a natural stone fence out the back side of the cave which naturally fenced in about an acre of land.

Succulent plant along the trail.  Does anyone know its official name?

Century plant along the trail.  Can anyone spot the tree frog on one of the stalks?

Cactus along the trail behind the castle.

Cactus along the trail behind the castle.

We have seen a few sea turtles snorkeling but this is the first one we have been able to get a picture of.

We have seen a few sea turtles snorkeling but this is the first one we have been able to get a picture of.

Another boat neighbor in the anchorage.

Another boat neighbor in the anchorage.

The beaches are beautiful on every island and unfortunately they are all also covered in trash.  Plastic is on every beach we have been to.  Some of the trash is interesting!

The beaches are beautiful on every island and unfortunately they are all also covered in trash. Plastic is on every beach we have been to. Some of the trash is rather horrifying!

We caught a few conch here and have always struggled to clean them.  Some local guys passed through and I asked if they would show me how to do it more efficiently.

Christine getting a conch cleaning lesson from the locals.

Christine getting a conch cleaning lesson from the locals.

01/17/13 The weather window is wide open and we will say good-bye to Little Darby and head to Emerald Bay tomorrow or possibly go all the way to Georgetown.

01/18/13  We left the anchorage at 7am with our friends on s/v Southern Bound and headed out Rudder Cut to the sound side.  We have stayed on the Banks side of the Exumas where it is more protected on every sail except for one day back on 12/28/12 when we had a calm day.  At Rudder Cut, most sailboats must cross over to the sound side to get to Georgetown.  The banks side becomes too shallow and has lots of reefs and coral heads.  We could count 30 masts around us all day as us cruisers took advantage of the weather window and sailed south.  We put out a fishing line and mid-morning I heard the tell-tale zinging sound behind me of a fish on.  The boys took turns reeling it in and they caught our first barracuda.

Logan taking his turn reeling the barracuda in while I sail.

Logan taking his turn reeling the barracuda in while I sail.

Now how do you release him without getting bit?  With a very long handled pliers!

Now how do you release him without getting bit? With a very long-handled pliers!

We arrived in Elizabeth Harbor where George Town is located at 2pm.  The harbor is big and there are lots of sailboats anchored in the various protected areas along with a few trawlers.  It is truly a community here.

We set anchor near volleyball beach.  This is a view of the boats out our 'back door'.

We set anchor near volleyball beach. This is a view of the boats out our ‘back door’.

We are excited to be here, settle in for a while and are looking forward to exploring the area.

Our first trip to town involved getting some parts, stocking up on water and getting some fresh food.

One of our first stops was to Exuma Parts to get some spare engine belts.

One of our first stops was to Exuma Parts to get some spare engine belts.

Inside the store.  It is a treasure trove.

Inside the store. It is a treasure trove.

Otherwise, we have been exploring on Stocking Island side, enjoying the beaches and hiking.

Sound side where a blue hole comes out.

Sound side where a blue hole comes out.

Fish abound in blue hole.

Fish abound in blue hole.

View of one of the anchorages from the top of monument hill.

View of one of the anchorages from the top of monument hill.

Christine and Mark on monument hill.

Christine and Mark on monument hill.

The 'cruising kids' hiking for the day.

The ‘cruising kids’ hiking for the day.

We have boat friends over often or go to other people's boats.  We enjoy everyone's company.

We have boat friends over often or go to other people’s boats. We enjoy everyone’s company.

Cole, Nic and Logan.

Cole, Nic and Logan.

January 30th and we are in swimsuits.  In fact, we have wore nothing but swimsuits since September!

January 30th and we are in swimsuits. In fact, we have worn nothing but swimsuits since September!

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Nassau to Black Point and Back by Christine

12/17/12  We left Nassau next for Allen’s Cay.  David on s/v Mist sailed along with us.  Allen’s Cay is known for their iguanas.

under way

Coral heads as we approached Allen's Cay.  We have read about them and when you see them, you know it.  We are always on the lookout for these dark, dangerous spots.

Coral heads as we approached Allen’s Cay. We have read about them and when you see them, you know it. We are always on the lookout for these dark, dangerous spots.

Sailing into the bay, we could see the famous iguanas on the beach.  We wasted no time in getting the dinghy in the water and headed for the beach.  (See Cole’s post on the iguanas).   There were some good snorkeling spots here as well with beautiful coral heads and fish.  It is hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner.  We put a Christmas tree and decorated it on the boat.

X-Mas tree on Truansea.

X-Mas tree on Truansea.

Lone palm tree on Allen's Cay.

Lone palm tree on Allen’s Cay.

12/19/12 We headed for Norman’s Cay to get protected anchorage from the high winds forecast coming up.  We tried to get into Norman’s Pond, which is very protected, but kept getting stopped by the sandy bottom.  We knew it was a shallow entrance and several people told us we could make it with our draft.  The channels are ever changing and evidently it has filled up enough that 5’ drafts can no longer make it in.  We anchored near the submerged plane wreck and dived it at slack tide.  Beautiful fish, coral life, stingrays and nurse sharks are living in and around the wreck.

One of my favorite fish.

One of my favorite fish.

Plane wreck we dove at Norman's Cay.

Plane wreck we dove at Norman’s Cay.

After snorkeling, the boys (and us) head for the fish books to identify what knew sea life we saw.

After snorkeling, the boys (and us) head for the fish books to identify what knew sea life we saw.

Mark cooking on our camp stove in the companionway.

Mark cooking on our camp stove in the companionway.

12/20/12  The next day we went to Warderick Wells Cay.  You can anchor here, but have to anchor a ways out so we picked up a park mooring ball to be close to the beach and hiking trails.  Their mooring balls are regularly maintained so we felt secure here as well with the winds picking up.   Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park which is a no take zone.  Nothing living or dead may be removed from the park.  There was beautiful, diverse snorkeling spots here which we went to on several different days.  Our favorite spot was called Ranger’s Garden.

Whale bone skeleton at Warderick Wells Cay.

Whale bone skeleton at Warderick Wells Cay.

The hiking at Warderick covers diverse terrain.  We made driftwood placques to leave at BooBoo Hill to appease the wind gods, had fun sticking our heads over the blow holes, made a palm hut, did beach combing and hiked a variety of trails.

The legend of Boo Boo Hill.

The legend of Boo Boo Hill.

There are a variety of beaches here as well.  The kids made a palm tree hut on one of them.

cave

The park warden hosts a Christmas dinner at his house every year.  He cooks the ham and turkey and everyone brings a dish to pass.  Needless to say, the food was fantastic and the cruisers company was even better.

Cole climbing a palm tree. He keeps me supplied with coconut milk!

Cole climbing a palm tree. He keeps me supplied with coconut milk!

Cole climbing a palm tree.  He keeps me supplied with coconut milk!

12/27/12  Our next stop was Cambridge Cay and our friends Graeme and Laura on s/v Sweet Chariot joined us.  We snorkeled five different sites here, one with a cave, another plane wreck and our favorite place was called The Garden.  It was the most beautiful spot we have been to yet.  The best part of it was we saw a sea turtle.  We watched him peacefully munching sea grass then swam gracefully away.

Sweet Chariot

A different kind of school...

A different kind of school…

Cole snorkeling.

Cole snorkeling.

12/28/12 On to Big Majors Cay after stopping at Staniel Cay to top off on diesel, gas and water, then spend some time seeing the area.  We rang in the New Year’s here with some fantastic new cruising friends – Laura, Graeme, Sean, Candi, Nick, Morgan, Chip, Eleana and John.

Yes, pigs do swim.  Especially if they think you have food.

Cruising friends on Eleon.  Logan, Eleana, John and Cole.

Cruising friends on Eleon. Logan, Eleana, John and Cole.

Pizza birthday party on Eleon.  Chip is a fantastic cook!

Pizza birthday party on Eleon. Chip is a fantastic cook!

The starfish are big and beautiful.  David, Logan and Cole.

The starfish are big and beautiful. David, Logan and Cole.

The winds picked up for a couple days.  We are glad we purchased a Rocna anchor and 70′ of chain.

The Rocna anchor buried to the bar.  I love to see it buried (helps me sleep better).

The Rocna anchor buried to the bar. I love to see it buried (helps me sleep better).

The famous Thunderball Grotto (for all you James Bond fans).  Unfortunately the club is still not open.

The famous Thunderball Grotto (for all you James Bond fans). Unfortunately the club is still not open.

David rowing to Truansea for supper.  "The real deal sailor," as the boys call him.

David rowing to Truansea for supper. “The real deal sailor,” as the boys call him.  He taught us to play Rummy 500 which we thoroughly love but changed to Rummy 300.

We walked to the dump to drop off our garbage and Mark found a few parts needed for the boat!

We walked to the dump to drop off our garbage and Mark found a few parts needed for the boat!

The colorful houses are so much fun.  Maybe we will update the color on our Mossy Cup Street house when we return to Idaho!

The colorful houses are so much fun. Maybe we will update the color on our Mossy Cup Street house when we return to Idaho!  What do you think Paul & Mary?

Mark with the catch of the day, 2 lobster and 1 conch.

Mark with the catch of the day, 2 lobster and 1 conch.

New Year's Eve party.  John, Morgan, Nick, Cole, Logan and Eleana.

New Year’s Eve party. John, Morgan, Nick, Cole, Logan and Eleana.

Catamaran wreck during the New Year's Day regatta.

Catamaran after a collision during the New Year’s Day regatta.

01/02/13  Off to Black Point on Great Guana Cay.

Logan doing school work on Truansea on the way to Black Point on Great Guana Cay.

Logan doing school work on Truansea on the way to Black Point on Great Guana Cay.

Cole hard at work.

Cole hard at work.

01/04/13 On to White Point to anchor in a bay with boat friends and do some snorkeling and fishing.  We explored the beaches and did some hiking as well.

01/06/13  We headed back to Black Point on Great Guana Cay.  The winds are supposed to pick up so we are holing up here until the winds drop back to my comfort level.  It looks like the winds will stay for a while and we may be here over a week.

This is Cole's favorite spot on the bow of Truansea.

This is Cole’s favorite spot on the bow of Truansea.

Blowing of the conch shell is a tradition at sunset.  This is the conch Mark caught a few days ago.  The shells all make a different sound.  It is somewhat like an elk bugling.

Blowing of the conch shell is a tradition at sunset. This is the conch Mark caught a few days ago. The shells all make a different sound. It is somewhat like an elk bugling.

Cole & Logan blowing conch shells.

Cole & Logan blowing conch shells.

Cole's perch doing dishes.

Cole’s perch doing dishes.

Breadfruit on a breadfruit tree.

Breadfruit on a breadfruit tree.

We are all happy that some cruising kids are holed up at Black Point with us.  They love to dive off the bow of the boat, swim around to the transom, walk the side decks to the front of the boat and do it all over again and again and again!  Happy,tired kids and parents at night.

We are all happy that some cruising kids are holed up at Black Point with us. They love to dive off the bow of the boat, swim around to the transom, walk the side decks to the front of the boat and do it all over again and again and again! Happy,tired kids and parents at night.

Class on the telegraph machine on Truansea, incorporating the pony express and morse code into it.  The kids are going to send morse code messages by flashlight back and forth between boats tonight.  Nick, Elana, Cole, Logan, John and Morgan.

Class on the telegraph machine on Truansea, incorporating the pony express and morse code into it. The kids are going to send morse code messages by flashlight back and forth between boats tonight. Nick, Elana, Cole, Logan, John and Morgan.

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Pictures Bimini and crossing to Nassau by Christine

I did not take the time on the previous posts to get many pictures out about Bimini and none of the Nassau crossing so following are some catch up pictures.

Main street of Alice Town on North Bimini.

Main street of Alice Town on North Bimini.

Pier on Bimini where we moored.  Doesn't it look tropical?!

Pier on Bimini where we moored. Doesn’t it look tropical?!

About 2 hours into our passage from Bimini to Nassau.

About 2 hours into our passage from Bimini to Nassau.

Sunset photo from the bow of Truansea.  You can see one of our 'buddy boats' in the background.  It was reassuring to have a couple other boats to see and talk to throughout the night.

Sunsetting off the stern of Truansea. You can see one of our ‘buddy boats’ in the background. It was reassuring to have a couple other boats to see and talk to throughout the night.

Sun rising off the bow.  Morning finally arrived!

Sun rising off the bow. Morning finally arrived!

Crew waking up in the morning.  They opt to sleep in the cockpit where seasickness is not so apt to get you.  Logan woke up several times throughout the night to help out with the passage.  Cole has liked sleeping on the floor of the salon or the cockpit since he was a baby.  We are just careful not to step on him!

Crew waking up in the morning. They opt to sleep in the cockpit where seasickness is not so apt to get you. Logan woke up several times throughout the night to help out with the passage. Cole has liked sleeping on the floor of the salon or the cockpit since he was a baby. We are just careful not to step on him!

DSCN3136

We filled up with fuel on the way in, found a place to anchor and changed into our swim gear to cool off and snorkel around our boat.  We were quickly greeted by marine life.  The most exciting was the Eagle Rays and Mark was greeted by a barracuda peeking at him around the keel of our boat.

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Overnight Passage to Nassau by Christine

We left Bimini at 2pm yesterday and arrived in Nassau at 10:30am today.  It was our first overnight passage and all went well.  A couple other boats were headed the same direction so we buddy boated with them.  It was nice to have other boats to talk to in the middle of the night.  They kept on going past Nassau this morning, headed straight through for the Exumas so we said ‘later’ to them (as we will more than likely see them in the Exuma’s in the next month).  We fueled up and anchored in Nassau Harbor.  We snorkeled off Truansea, to be greeted by Spotted Eagle Rays, a few other fish we have not identified yet and Mark met a barracuda while removing some fishing line off our prop!

I will send pictures another day when we have a better connection!

Fair Winds ~ Christine

Bimini Blue Water by Christine

12/10/12

We left No Name Harbor in Biscayne Bay at 3:10am and arrived at Bimini at 2pm.  The wind was out of the east to southeast the whole way and we were headed due east so that meant motoring the whole way for us.  The winds picked up to 15 knots for a large part of the day but slowed to 10 knots about 2 hours out from Bimini and the seas calmed as well.

Logan steering across the Gulf Stream.

Logan steering across the Gulf Stream.

Another sailboat followed us the whole way to Bimini. One of the freighters we saw crossing behind them. We did not encounter much boat traffic during the trip.

Another sailboat following us to Bimini with one of the freighters we saw crossing behind them.

Amazingly we could see the Miami skyscrapers in the distance for 5 hours.  We were out of sight of land for a little over 3 hours before we spotted Bimini.  Flying fish accompanied us on and off throughout the day.  About half an hour from the harbor entrance to Bimini we started seeing the bluer water and white sandy bottoms.

We picked up a slip at Brown’s Marina and raised our quarantine flag.  Mark checked into customs and immigration, then we were able to take down the quarantine flag and raise the Bahama flag.

We had time to explore Bimini a little bit before nightfall.  There are beautiful fish around our boat.  You definitely know you are in another country.  It is a fun island full of interesting people and history.

Another sailboat followed us the whole way to Bimini.  One of the freighters we saw crossing behind them.  We did not encounter much boat traffic during the trip.

Cole taking a nap during the crossing.

Fair Winds ~ Christine

To Bimini in the Morning by Christine

Yesterday we cruised down to Miami and anchored at Belle Isle.  The skyscrapers of Miami were all around us in their vibrant, flashing colors.  One of them even had a huge scene of people dancing on it.  Very strange to be anchored in a bay with a huge city around us.

Today we topped off with diesel, gas and water then sailed down to No Name Harbor in Biscayne Bay.  As we were cruising down, dolphins graced us by swimming along for a bit.  This was the closest we have seen them.  They were about 3 feet from the side of our boat!  The winds were nice for sailing today and the boys had fun in the cabin ‘standing straight up’ while Truansea was at an angle.  This picture gives you an idea of how much our home tilts!

Cole standing in Truansea while we are heeled over sailing.

Cole standing in Truansea while we are heeled over sailing.

After we anchored in No Name Harbor, we saw the manatees again.  Truly gentle giants.

Manatee in No Name Harbor.

Manatee in No Name Harbor.

We headed to shore to do a load of laundry, empty the garbage and take an outdoor shower.

Cold holding the dinghy (Hooky) painter while we are getting ready to go ashore.

Cold waiting on the transom to get in the dinghy.

Cold holding down the shower pull for Logan.

Cold holding down the shower pull for Logan.  Yes, you can shower outdoors in Florida in the winter!

We plan on leaving for Bimini at 3am.  The weather looks promising for a crossing and there are lots of other boats here staged to cross as well.  Hopefully we will be able to send out a post tomorrow night from Bimini!

Fair winds ~ Christine

Ready to Go! by Christine

Sunday evening, 12/02/12 we had our boat denaming and renaming ceremony officiated by Captain Nick Chiappani.  The dock had one of their potlucks that evening which completed the evening full of good friends and good food.  We appeased the wind gods during the ceremony and installed the lettering on Truansea so she is now official.  Our dinghy is affectionately known as Hooky, and although we didn’t put her name on the transom  she received a little of the champagne spray as well.

According to tradition, once all traces of the previous name have been removed it is not to be spoken again.  As a final gesture on the first voyage with the new name one also needs to sail the boat backward at least one boat length to  back over the old name and appease the spirits.

A toast to Truansea during the renaming ceremony.

A toast to Truansea during the renaming ceremony.

Logan spraying champagne on the bow at the end of the renaming ceremony.

Logan spraying champagne on the bow at the end of the renaming ceremony.

One of our friends introduced us to a group of his Canadian friends that made their way down the coast to Florida and are also crossing to the Bahamas.  We will be joining up with their boats this morning to make our way to Miami again.  We will anchor there and wait for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream.  If the weather pattern holds, we should be good to go Saturday, Sunday or Monday.  I can’t believe we are finally ready to go!

We are going to miss all of our friends at Riviera.  When we moved in here, they said it was very easy to get comfortable here and it is a hard place to leave.  They hit the nail on the head.  We are very fortunate to have met them all and can’t wait for our paths to cross with them again.

Boats throughout Fort Lauderdale are beautifully lit up for the holidays.

Boat neighbors, sv Scarlet, all dec'd out for Christmas.  Can you believe they had all these decorations on their boat?

Boat neighbors, sv Scarlet, all dec’d out for Christmas. Can you believe they had all these decorations on their boat?

Provisioning the boat has been an interesting experience.  Needless to say, our water line is lower than it used to be.

Provisioning the boat.  IT is amazing how much stuff you can pack in a 37' boat!

Provisioning the boat. IT is amazing how much stuff you can pack in a 37′ boat!

The last boat maintenance has been completed, including changing the engine oil.

Mark changing the diesel engine oil.

Mark changing the diesel engine oil.

We will not have internet access until we get to the Bahamas.  Hopefully we will be making a post by December 10th letting you know where we are at!

Fair winds ~ Christine

Biscayne Bay post by Christine

After spending another night anchored at Lake Sylvia earlier in the week, we were finally ready to take a bigger shakedown cruise to Biscayne Bay in Miami.  The winds were forecasted to be from the north at 10-15 knots for the next 3 days which would be a great sail downwind to the bay so we decided to leave last Friday morning (11/16/12).

Logan checking out the mega yachts we pass by.

We are feeling comfortable navigating through the intercoastal waterway now.  To get our boat out to the Port Everglades entrance to the Atlantic in Fort Lauderdale, we have to go through the Las Olas Bridge opening and the 17th Street Bridge opening.  Our mast is 59′ high and we can not make it under these bridges when they are closed.  After we were out of the Port Everglades channel, we headed south, raised the sails and cut the engine.  The winds were only 10 knots at best, dropping to 5 at times.  Our sails were flogging and the south current against the north wind made an uncomfortable chop so we started our engine and motored.  We had a 5 hour journey to make and this was a good test of our engine, especially the new high output alternator Mark put on yesterday.

Mark installing a new 80 amp high output alternator.

We were able to motor at 7 knots and made it to Government Cut in Miami at 2:30pm.  We navigated the cut and out into Biscayne Bay then south to No Name Harbor where we anchored for the night.  We set the anchor, cut the motor and manatees started surfacing off the bow of our boat.  This is the closest we have ever see them and you could hear the big breaths they take, truly a magestic moment.

As we were motoring through the harbor to select a spot to anchor, some kids were waving from the back of their boat.  After we finished putting things away on the boat and making sure our anchor was holding, a dinghy motored over with the kids and their dad to say hello.  We arranged to meet them on shore in 15 minutes.

Christine, Candi, Logan, Sean, Morgan, Cole and Nic.

Making new friends at No Name Harbor.

We took a walk along the shore with the O’Sheill’s, letting the kids run off some steam, then headed back to our boat where the kids played a game of Clue while the parents kicked back in the cockpit.  The kids laughter coming up from the cabin was infectious.  They too are taking some time sailing their 37′ Islander with their kids to the Bahamas because as Candi puts it, “Life is short.  I want to show my children that life is to be lived everyday.   I hope it teaches them that fear is nothing more than a 4 letter word, and there is nothing wrong with watching a sunset instead of a television”.  Well said Candi!

The next day we explored for part of the day with the O’Sheill’s, touring a lighthouse, walking through the woods, swimming at the beach, cracking open a coconut and watching the local raccoons.

The weather for the following 2 days was forecasted for winds from the north at 10-15 knots.  We decided to head back to Fort Lauderdale the next morning.

We pulled up the anchor just after dawn and headed out around the southern tip of Key Biscayne and up the coast instead of going back up through Government Cut.  The winds were light and continued to pick up throughout the day.  When the winds reached 10 knots we hoisted the sails and beat to windward for a while.  Making headway against the north wind was slow and the winds kept picking up so we again decided to motor since we had a long day ahead of us.  We were glad we did as we were not able to make as good of time as we made on the way down.

The boys love the big waves and as they put it, they ‘defy gravity’ in the v-berth.  When a big wave comes along and they are in the v-berth, it sends them airborne which is great fun in their book.  Every now and then we make them come back in the cockpit to make sure they are not getting seasick.

Logan enjoying the waves on the way back to Fort Lauderdale from Biscayne Bay.

Logan enjoying the waves on the way back to Fort Lauderdale from Biscayne Bay.

Mark put out a line on the fishing pole after we were underway and while I was at the helm in some pretty good swells, I heard a zinging sound coming from behind me.  It was a fish on the line.  Everyone took turns reeling in our first tuna.  Gaffing it and bringing a fish on board a sailboat in swells was a bit of a challenge to say the least but we had fish for dinner.

Tuna we caught on the way back to Fort Lauderdale gave a  good fight!

Little tunny we caught on the way back to Fort Lauderdale gave a good fight!

Emergency communications was one concern we had not yet addressed until a friend introduced us to Andy Cool, the owner of Explorer Satellite Communications. Andy gave us a great deal on one of his SAT phones.  We tested the phone on the way back from Miami and programmed in several emergency contacts and the Coast Guard’s number into the phone.  It will be a great peace of mind to have two way communication via satellite if the need should ever arise.

Testing out the Immarsat, IsatPhone Pro we picked up from Andy Cool at Explorer Satellite Communications.

Testing out the Immarsat, IsatPhone Pro we picked up from Andy Cool at Explorer Satellite Communications.

We were all happy to see the 4 smokestacks at Fort Lauderdale in the distance at 1pm.  By the time we made it to Port Everglades and back to our slip it was 3pm.  It was a great shakedown cruise with a few more items added to the list to complete before our crossing.

We enjoyed fresh tuna for dinner.  Some we made on the grill and the rest we added to a jumbalaya mix complements of our friend Kurt.  Thanks for sending the Slap Ya Mamma mixes Kurt!

Fair winds~Christine

Hurricane Sandy: posted by Christine

Many of you called us as Hurricane Sandy was moving through the Bahamas towards Florida to check where we were and if we were in a safe place for the storm.  Unfortunately, we had internet connection and computer problems this last week and were not able to get a post out to let all of you know we were okay and safe at our slip.

The calm before the storm. This is a picture out the back of our boat over our canal, Isle of Venice.

We prepared Truansea for Hurricane Sandy last Wednesday evening.  The hurricane’s path was not forecasted to reach us; however, we would be on the edge of the storm with wind gusts possibly reaching 60 MPH.  We decided it was not necessary to take down our jib or main but we did take down our new dodger, the bimini, life sling, throwable pfd, lashed down the dingy on deck, tied down the main in the stack pack, removed the propane from the BBQ.  Mark also picked up 2X6’s to make a stronger fender system than the 2X4’s we had.  The larger fender boards ended up being quieter which was an added bonus when trying to sleep.

Larger fender board.

Extra lines were added from Truansea to the pilings and dock and we are ready.

Truansea stripped down for the storm.

The next evening the wind was picking up.  We went down to the beach to check out the surf and the wind.  The salt spray and sand quickly coated us requiring a shower for all when we returned to our dock.  We could hear the wind through the night and the boat was rocking.  We are quite protected where we are at and the winds only gusted into the low 30’s.

The beach along Highway A1A.

The next morning we went down to the beach to see what the coast looked like after a night of high winds.  Sand blew across the walkways and roads and debris was scattered along the beach and up the streets.  Some streets were flooded.

Along Highway A1A the morning after the storm arrived.

There was flooding in a variety of places near the coast, including our dock.  We could not get off our boat without getting wet feet.  If you look in the picture, you can just see our wooden finger dock on the starboard side is under water.

Flooding at our dock, a combination of high tide, full moon,  and storm surge.

Unfortunately the northeast coast did not get by as easily as we did.

Sandy was a Category 1 hurricane, but it was an immense storm almost 1,000 miles in diameter.  A near-record low barometric pressure occurred with Sandy offshore Monday afternoon. The pressure bottomed at 27.76 inches.

This was our first experience close to a hurricane and hopefully this is as close as we’ll ever get.

Fair winds~Christine