Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saturday 30th December



Turtle Cove Marina.
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands.

21 47.136 N
72 13.602 W

The morning began with Gerry putting all the various parts of the gen.set back onto the newly fixed frame work, then he decided to leave the reassembling of the gen set into the nav.station until tomorrow. We had planned on taking a trip into the town to have a look around the place so we gathered up our money, camera backpack and the tokens for the bus and headed to the bus stop where we waited for about 20 minutes until the bus arrived. They are small 12 seater buses which apparently run every half hour and cover almost all the island. We told the driver we wanted to go to the art market, handed over our tokens (worth $4 each) and off we went. A comment here about the place in comparison to the Bahamas – it is very much more developed, the roads are decent, the shops are like any westernized country, the restaurants are diverse and plentiful and the whole place is much cleaner and better presented than the Bahamas. Obviously they cater well for the tourist trade here which is reflected in the overall presentation. It started to rain whilst we were on the bus – not a good thing when you want to walk around shops, and was still raining when our driver set us down at the art shop, he was very helpful and told us that there was also a local “cultural arts and crafts market” just 2 minutes away on the beach pointing out the way. To be certain that we had a way of getting back he asked what time we wanted to be collected even though the bus was supposed to run every half hour to the designated bus stops (and we had been dropped off at one of these), anyway we gave ourselves an hour and he agreed that the bus would be here to collect us. We dived into the art shop and then browsed around for the next half hour, chatting with the owner – an expat Irish lady, after making our purchases we then headed off to the “cultural market” which we spent some time at, examining the supposedly local made crafts including wood carvings, shell monstrosities, bead work, paintings, clothing and the usual assortment of holiday mementoes also known as dust collectors. I am in seriously doubtful that some of them are locally made but as I didn’t buy them it is of no consequence. We headed back to the bus stop where we found the bus waiting for us, with a different driver – it didn’t matter, we handed over 2 more tokens and he drove us back to the dock. Another observation here – the locals seem like fast travel, whether it is driving a bus, car or stink boat they have to do it at break neck speed, you have to hold on tight and hope that nothing else is going to get in the way – this is particularly distressing when you are in a sail boat in a narrow, shallow channel and they are headed your way. Once back at the dock we headed into the Tiki Hut grill and ordered a couple of drinks and some lunch which we enjoyed before heading back to the boat. We had been told that Tiger Wood’s boat is here in the marina at present, we think it must be one of the enormous luxury yachts berthed near to us but we haven’t seen the man himself as yet so we can’t be sure. As it rained for most of the afternoon Gerry had a sleep and I read my book. Our evening was also a quiet one, spent onboard watching a movie.

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Friday 29th December



Turtle Cove Marina.
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands.

21 47.136 N
72 13.602 W

I made the Mcdonalds breakfast again today – this is becoming a habit we need to break! The man who had promised to come and do the welding today showed up a little after 09.00hrs and after a bit of discussion he took the bits away to fix up. Gerry seemed to think that the guy was on the ball and knew what was expected – our fingers were crossed! When we arrived here yesterday Gerry dealt with all the office stuff, as a result of being tired he forgot to ask how much the slip was going to cost, how much the laundry was and when we would see our clothes again – it didn’t seem to matter yesterday but today we decided that we really should find out. Before we had chance to go to the office our laundry appeared, washed, dried and folded in the bag, no price of course – it would be charged to our account.
Gerry decided to take the floor up in the cockpit and have a look at the auto pilot as it still leaks a small amount of hydraulic fluid on occasion which he is not happy about. I kept well clear, stayed below and uploaded the previous 8 or 9 blogs plus I finally had a connection which allowed me to upload some pictures, so have a look back over the past couple of weeks to see them. By the way you can click on the photos to enlarge them – some of them are better that way – especially the dolphin ones! It took me rather a long time to get them onto the site, by which time Gerry had finished fiddling with the auto pilot – very convenient, what’s more he couldn’t find anything wrong with it. It was then time for one of my favourite activities defrosting the fridge and freezer. It takes twice as long when Gerry helps me to do it but he insisted on helping, at least I know what I have left in the freezer now – up until now it’s been a guessing game. Once we had finished with that we had a sort through the books, putting aside the ones we have read which we then took to the office where we exchanged them for a bagful of ones we haven’t read. We returned to the boat to await the welder who was returning our stuff, fixed at 17.00hrs. Sure enough he arrived almost to the minute, Gerry seems to be pleased with the work and handed over $200 for the quick fix – phew repairs are certainly eating into our cruising kitty! Another meal ashore in the evening, this time at another “within walking distance” restaurant and then it was time for bed.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday 28th December

Turtle Cove Marina
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands.

21 47.136 N
72 13.602 W

Sun rise found us just off the NW point of the Providenciales, (known as Provo) part of the Turks & Caicos chain of Islands. We tore down the Bahamian courtesy flag and hoisted the Q (quarantine) flag that we are required to fly until customs and immigration have cleared us. We found our charts to be lacking in detail of the area and the cruising guide also seemed a bit vague about the area apart from informing us to be careful of the reef that almost totally surrounds the island. We were tired and desperately wanted to get into a marina slip, shower, turn on the air conditioning and sleep but we heeded all warnings and even asked the marina to send out a pilot to guide us into the marina (the charts advise this). As the Marina office didn’t open until 08.00hrs we had to spend some time circling around outside of the reef. We were so glad that we did ask for a pilot as the reef runs almost the entire length of the island with one usable “cut” once through the cut you still have to negotiate the channel which is very skinny water in places, luckily the pilot knew the way! The other problem is that the big fishing and dive stink boats don’t have a problem with their draft so they roar through the channel without a care for anyone else – there is not a “no wake” zone here! At times we had less than a foot beneath our keel – enough to scare anyone. We tied up at the fuel dock and then had to wait for the customs people to come down to the boat and clear us and the boat in, this took until about 10.00hrs, they were very polite, professional and efficient and for only $15 transit fee we can stay for 7days (longer costs more as you then need a cruising permit). Once cleared by customs we changed our Q flag for the British Red Duster ( it should be the blue one but we don’t have one), filled our fuel tank and jerry cans and headed into our allocated marina slip where we tied up and hooked up to power, took the laundry to the office to be done for us (no self serve Laundromat), took apart the gen set bits to be fixed, found the internet cards for purchase and read our emails. The pilot who brought us in to the marina has found someone to do the welding for us, he’s coming to the boat tomorrow so hopefully we will get it fixed pretty quickly and we can be on our way. I have to add a bit here because it fascinated Gerry and made me realize just how much abnormal stuff I’ve seen over the years and take for granted – the pilot’s assistant, a very helpful young man has 6 fingers on each hand, Gerry didn’t notice this, despite handing him money until I pointed it out. It makes you wonder if it is a bit of inbreeding or a family trait.

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Wednesday 27th December

At Sea

Again we were up early as the weather forecast for the area is at 06.30hrs. Chris Parker, the weather Guru, was giving us a fair day today with a front to follow early the next day and winds clocking around to the North – just where we didn’t want them to be coming from. Having heard the forecast we agreed to set out and keep going to try and stay ahead of the front and make it as far as the Turks & Caicos Islands if possible. As we set out the winds were very light and the sea was calm. We managed to sail (main and jib) for a while then the winds got lighter so we had to motor sail and eventually the sea became like glass – not a ripple in sight as the wind dropped to nothing. The sails went away and we had to motor for a bit, as we had nothing better to do we threw out THE fishing line and christened it, we trolled with it behind us for a total of 7 hours and didn’t get a single thing – Lyn & Peter, I though you said it was foolproof! I had the filleting knife and the fry pan all ready for the fresh fish dinner so it was a great disappointment to have to eat the sandwiches I’d made “just in case”. We made it to Mayaguana (one of our options) before sunset and decided to keep going through the night to try to beat the front. During the night the wind came up enough for us to be able motor sail again with just the jib. We took it in turn keeping watch and cat napping in the cockpit – we like the company! The auto pilot did most of the steering – he needs a pay rise.

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Tuesday 26th December

Attwood Harbour
Lady Slipper Cay


22 44.20 N
73 53.20W

Up before the sun and hauled the anchor, we motored out of the anchorage sniggering as we went at the luxury cruiser rolling around in the swell, yes I know that it’s petty but you would have done the same if you had seen it! As seems to be the norm for us the wind was on the bow making it difficult to sail however as we turned towards our heading we were able to fly the jib and motor sail most of the way to Attwood Harbour. We only saw one other boat all day and it wasn’t going our way. We were a little surprised on arriving at Attwood harbour to find it totally empty. It’s not a “real” commercial type harbour, just a natural horseshoe shaped bay which is supposed to be a good anchorage in all but Northerly winds. We slowed right down going through the entrance as it is reef and rocks – where isn’t around here?, passed a landmark rock named umbrella that lived up to it’s namesake only when the tide went out and approached a totally empty tropical paradise. A couple of dolphins appeared alongside our boat and acted as guides into the harbour, they played ducking and diving under our boat, leapt across the bow wave and then followed behind surfing in the small amount of wake we made until we dropped anchor, they then did a couple of rounds of the boat and swam off back out of the harbour. They were a very entertaining welcoming committee, I managed to take a couple of pictures which don’t do them justice but it set the right mood for a lovely overnight stay. The one down side was the appearance of flies and mosquitoes as the sun set - plenty of bug repellent was needed oh and rum! We spent the evening discussing options for the next day’s travel, we had a couple of alternatives but it would all depend on the weather forecast in the morning.

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Monday 25th December




Bird Rock
Crooked Island


22 50.7 N
74 21.6 W

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Despite our conversation the night before, Gerry was up at 0700hrs and tearing apart the nav. station, he’d decided to do the belt right here and now! So here we were on Christmas morning, not a present to be seen but the whole of the salon looked like a million children had unwrapped presents and discarded them, we had every tool imaginable out and spread around the salon, bits kept coming out of the nav. station and being handed off to me to find a temporary home for them. Then the wind kicked in – it started to gust and then settled into a steady 23knot blow which caused a swell which rocked our boat. We now had both pitching and rolling – what fun! Gerry put out a swell bridle and winched us around to face the swell which helped however we were still trying to get the gen set out of the nav. station – BAD TIMING GERRY! I must add that to get the gen set into the nav. station originally we had to remove the door and it’s frame, something we had only just remembered. So off came the door and frame which was handed to me to find somewhere to put it! I made chocolate mousse and brownies in between stashing bits as Christmas day was turning into a BAH HUMBUG situation and we needed something to make it festive. OK so we had the door and frame off, the chart table taken to pieces (it was very easy thanks to Steve’s handiwork), the block and tackle suspended from the hatch and dangling into the nav. station, Gerry on the floor hooking it up and guiding it whilst I had to haul the wretched thing up (did I mention that I hurt my back just over a week ago hauling a docking line in?). No matter, with Gerry yelling instructions I just hauled away and managed to suspend the engine whilst he guided it onto my floor rug – to make it easier to slide out of the nav. station of course! We slid it out into the last remaining square of space in the salon and then Gerry muttered a few obscene words – it wasn’t going to be as simple as he had hoped (doh – what was he thinking? Anyone could have told him it wouldn’t be simple). Once the back of the gen set was visible it became very quickly apparent that the frame to which the engine is bolted had fractured through at a weld spot. This may have been caused by the belt being loose and vibrating the engine or it may have just been a weak weld which gave out and caused the belt to become loose. Either way it was not going to be a job that Gerry could fix as we do not have welding equipment on the boat (I’m not sure why we don’t as we seem to have just about everything else that Home Depot & Lowe’s sell!). An agonizing discussion followed - we needed to get to a marina where there was at least a welder available, the nearest one to us was probably going to be over 100nm away at the Turks and Caicos Islands – at best a long sail and at the rate we have been bashing into the weather an extremely long and painful trip. It couldn’t be avoided, we had to get the gen set fixed so we decided to set out at dawn the next day and head towards a marina. It was a memorable Christmas day to say the least – no tree, no lights, no cards, no presents, no phone line, no internet, no family or friends around and back to limiting the use of all power as the gen set was out of operation (at least we had rum!). We salvaged what we could of the day by Bar-b-queing a couple of Bahamian lobsters that we had bought especially for Christmas. Just as we were about to sit down and eat Abigail managed to call us on the satellite phone which was a lovely surprise. We didn’t talk for long as we know how expensive it is but is was good just to hear from her. Just as the sun set a very large luxury cruiser (stink boat) came into the anchorage and dropped anchor, we were still winched into the swell with the bridle and riding quite well so it took them a while to realize that they were going to be pitching and rolling around all night – and you should have seen the roll they had, I know for a fact that they can’t have been happy! After rearranging the gen set “bits” for safe traveling we went to bed planning on an early start the next day to try and make some headway whilst the night lee still existed.

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Sunday 24th December


Bird Rock
Crooked Island


22 50.7 N
74 21.6 W

Surprisingly we woke before 0700hrs, in time to see the other boat leave the anchorage – was it something we said? We had thought that we would move a short distance to what was supposed to be a better sheltered anchorage, less than a mile away so we hauled the anchor and set off, avoiding the coral heads and arrived at the designated spot only to find that the swell was horrible and the anchorage shallower – fine at high tide but what about at low? Gerry decided that he didn’t like it there so we turned around without dropping the anchor and head back to where we had just left, I suspect that we were great entertainment for the family that was on the beach! So we re anchored at the same place as before and Gerry decided to go into the settlement about 2 miles away to fill the jerry cans with fuel whilst I stayed on the boat (he went alone as it had started to rain on and off). A decent interval passed and he returned with his story of being a good Samaritan for the day. Apparently a fishing boat left the dock just as he was going in to get the fuel, then on his way back to our boat he found the same boat had engine failure about a mile from the dock and was floundering around. He stopped and threw them a tow line and dragged them back to the dock – our little 8hp outboard had to tow a boat with a dead 75hp engine – it managed fabulously and the owner was very grateful. Gerry was offered dinner and then a drink both of which he refused, saying it wasn’t necessary and he would hope that anyone would have done the same given the same circumstances - just think we could have had Christmas dinner on some one else’s money! We spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the surroundings – a beautiful beach with no one else around and not another boat in sight. One hiccough though - the generator made a horrid noise when we turned it on in the evening, Gerry thought the belt was slipping and needed changing. This was a job for when we got to a marina as to get to the belt the whole gen. set has to be removed from the casing which involves a block and tackle suspended over the nav. station – it couldn’t be harder to get at if it tried. So we switched it off and went to bed thinking we need to get to a marina as quickly as possible, allowing for the public holidays over Christmas and new year.

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Saturday 23rd December


Bird Rock
Crooked Island


22 50.7 N
74 21.6 W

Happy 40th birthday David, hope it’s a good one! We love you.

As the winds and seas are conspiring against us we decided to set off at 06.30 hrs and head as far south as we could get, aiming for Bird Cay to try and get a bit of a jump on the weather fronts. We knew that the going would probably be a bit uncomfortable but what’s new? At the start of the day as we headed north to the tip of Cape Santa Maria the wind was just right for flying the jib, and the sea was beautifully calm - it didn’t last. As soon as we hit the point the wind came out of the south – straight on the bow and the sea became mightily confused with a double swell – hitting us on the beam and also head on, there was no way we could sail it so the jib got furled and the motor turned on. It was extremely uncomfortable and we were bashing into that for the next 11hrs. The sun set was a bit disappointing but as the moon rose we were captivated by the colours of the sky surrounding the moon – a painting could not do it justice and our camera couldn’t capture it on film adequately. The sky was awash with pastel colours – yellow, orange, pink, mauve, green and blue, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any better the stars began to appear – it was a sight to behold. We altered our course as much as we could to try and reduce some of the effect of the swell but it really didn’t have the desired effect. What we’d hoped was going to be a 13hr trip ended up being 20.5hrs. I have to say though that we did finally have a bit of luck after 11 hrs, the wind clocked around just enough for us to be able to put up a reefed jib which helped us enormously, we picked up almost 2knots of speed and as night fell the seas dropped and the last 9hrs of the trip were relatively comfortable. Of course with all the delay we arrived at Bird Rock at 03.00hrs, the lighthouse was one of the few in the Bahamas that actually worked and as we were to find in daylight is quite spectacular. The cruising guru’s all say not to attempt to go into the anchorage here at night because of the rocks and reef that surround the place but what do you do once you arrive at 03.00hrs – sit and wait? Of course not! We are foolhardy and we were very tired, nothing was going to stop us anchoring. We went VERY slowly into the anchorage, the sea gods were on our side for once, there was only one boat anchored there and we managed to miss him. Once we had the anchor down we fell into bed.

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Friday 22nd December

Hog Cay

23 39.00 N
75 21.60 W

We decided on an early start to see if the wind would let us get as far as Santa Maria Cay or hopefully further. We raised the anchor and headed out of the Elizabeth (that’s the Georgetown harbour’s name) at 0700hrs.The harbour took us about an hour to exit as it has many twists and turns to avoid the rocks and reefs. Once we cleared the harbour the wind was directly on the bow of the boat at a speed of 15 – 20 knots, the seas were about 5 foot and we would be heading almost directly into them for the whole trip – what fun. Anyway we’d had enough of Georgetown and decided to proceed. So for the next 9 hours we bashed into the waves making the 27 nautical miles to Cape Santa Maria by 15.00hrs. The trip leaves nothing exciting to report, we watched the white horses dancing on top of the waves and the mini rainbows caused by the wake coming off of our bow, we saw no other boats heading our way and not a sign of sea life anywhere.
Once we got to Santa Maria Cay we headed to the northern most anchorage which according to the cruising guide we are using, can get a bit “rolly” – it certainly was, so we then headed to the next anchorage down and threaded our way through the coral heads to the anchoring point only to find that this anchorage was no better than the first. The last resort was to head a little further south to Hog Cay and try there. Hog Cay is a privately owned Cay and you can only go ashore there by invitation, it is also apparently home to the largest flock of West Indian Whistling Ducks – we looked and listened but didn’t spot a single one! We did spy a very large osprey nest on the top of an old windmill tower and it was occupied by a nesting couple, we weren’t close enough even with the binoculars to see if there were any babies. Dodging more coral heads, running momentarily aground and backing off twice as quickly, we finally found a spot that wasn’t affected by the swell, was deep enough and set our anchor in plenty of time for sundowner drinks and an early night.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday 21st December

Volley ball beach
Stocking Island, Georgetown


23 31.212 N
75 45.437 W

Hopefully our last day of waiting. The winds are beginning to clock around in the direction we want them so we decided to make a run to town today and do the re provisioning and a load of laundry. We loaded up the dink, fully expecting a bit of a wet ride as the waves were 3feet high and we had to go about a mile across the harbour. We arrived slightly damp, unloaded our laundry into the machines, threw our rubbish in the dumpster and headed into the supermarket. We stocked up on the important things, and there wasn’t a piece of chocolate or a bottle of rum amongst it! Mind you there was some Darrell Lea licorice – in the Bahamas no less! When I thought we were just getting started on the shopping Gerry (Bah Humbug) said that it was too much to carry so don’t get anything else – I had to comply as he was doing the carrying. Anyway we had a plan – Gerry was taking the shopping and a container of water back to the boat whilst I checked on the laundry and loaded it into the driers, he would then come back with the empty dink to collect me and the clean laundry. When he returned he was a bit wet and he had changed his clothes, the story of the trip back to the boat then followed. On the way over to the town the waves were just on the beam and not too ferocious but on the way back to the boat they were slightly more on the beam, more ferocious and kept swamping the boat. Gerry and the shopping were drenched to the core and to top it off one of our oars managed to make its’ escape!! In fact Gerry said that he stopped about a third of the way back to pick up one oar which had come loose and was trying to get away and at the same time he checked the other oar to make sure it was still there, which it was. Unfortunately by the time he arrived back on the boat it had escaped – never to be seen again. Someone around this harbour must do a roaring trade in spare oars. He also seemed to be missing the plastic bag which he kept in his pocket with about $80 in cash. As we neared the dinghy dock and caught sight of our dink amongst all that were docked there we were shocked to see the plastic bag, intact, cash clearly visible, sitting on the seat of the dink where it had obviously fallen out of Gerry’s pocket. Considering how many people use the dinghy dock and the amount of people just hanging around the place we were amazed, it restored some of my faith in the human race (not much and not for long!) Anyway armed with the knowledge that the trip back to the boat was going to be wet going we loaded the shopping, protected by 2 plastic laundry bags and I donned a wet weather poncho that we keep in the dink for just such occasions. Gerry was already wet so he didn’t bother with his. We set off and within seconds we were being swamped by the waves and had to stop and bail out the dink. At times the waves hitting us were so hard and constant that we couldn’t see where we were going scary stuff!. Eventually we arrived back at our boat, unloaded, divested ourselves of wet clothing (I was reasonably dry, Gerry was soaked), dried off and then spent the rest of the day putting stuff away in preparation for an early departure tomorrow.

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Wednesday 20th December

Volley ball beach
Stocking Island, Georgetown


23 31.212 N
75 45.437 W

More waiting, more rain and even higher winds today. So what do you do? we sat on the boat and contemplated our navels alternating this with examining our bruise collection ( I win that one!). Oh we did manage to put in the waypoints for our next destination. We had a fairly good connection to the internet at lunch time and managed to have an online chat with Lorie and then Kay which was nice. Later on in the evening Gerry’s mobile rang (he has been trying to have it disconnected since we left the USA – obviously without much success), it surprised us and we then wondered if we could make calls still – we did get through to Abigail who then called us back and we had a good catch up chat. If anyone has Gerry’s mobile number and wants to try calling – feel free!

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Tuesday 19th December


Volley ball beach
Stocking Island, Georgetown


23 31.212 N
75 45.437 W

Another day of waiting. More rain squalls passing through so the game of open and close the hatches continues – well it does make a change from the hunt the gecko game Bob! We had no plans for today so Gerry decided to do “dirty “jobs. He cleaned out the hose from the kitchen sink – it was very smelly, full of greasy kitchen type debris though you couldn’t recognize anything that came out of it, he also attacked the shower drain filter which was full of hair and soap scum. You know how it goes though, you start on a job that could have been left for a while longer and as you progress you manage to break part of the thing you are fixing so the job gets more complicated. Yes it happened, Gerry managed to break 2 hose clamps on the sink hose – we had more of those so it wasn’t a major drama, he then broke (or he says he found it broken) a fitting on the shower discharge pump – we didn’t have the right size to replace the broken one so he had to rig a smaller sized one with loads of tape to make it fit. The job took longer than it should have but at least we have clean pipe work! It rained on and off all day and at one point we collected run – off water into a bucket and carefully poured it into our water tank – saves having to make some! I have to say that we did let quite a lot of the rain wash the boat down first before we collected the run off otherwise we would have had some very salty water. I managed to get online and load the last few blogs, though the signal strength isn’t strong enough to allow me to load photos so sorry, if I could I would! I’m getting very bored with my own cooking – I think I need a decent meal ashore somewhere, the only question is where? I think I’d even settle for a starbucks coffee and piece of expresso brownie, someone have one for me.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monday 18th December

Volleyball beach
Stocking Island, Georgetown.

23 31.212 N
75 45.437 W

What about the cricket then? Good to see that Tricky Ricky’s team did the job! Commiserations to the Barmy Army fans but at least the Ashes are where they belong.

Today was a total wipe out. We had rain squalls on and off all day so we played open and shut the hatches – trying to keep it cool without letting the rain in. Gerry fiddled about with the Generator whilst I read a book – what else could you do? We did try the internet again ad joy – we got a brief connection

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Sunday 17th December


Volleyball beach
Stocking Island, Georgetown.

23 31.212 N
75 45.437 W

We began today with a late cooked breakfast and then decide that we would head over to the Chill & Chat at lunchtime where there was supposed to be an internet café (according to the adverts) and also a pig roast from 13.00hrs to 19.00hrs. Our first disappointment was the bar – it was a run down old wooden shack set up as a bar. We ordered drinks and then asked about the internet café – our second disappointment it didn’t exist! So we took our drinks and meal tickets out to the cooking spot – disappointment #3 – it wasn’t a pig roast as we know them, it was a load of previously cooked pork and rice in bain marie dishes! Armed with our drinks and platefuls of food we found a table on the beach and had our lunch watching ever more dinghies arrive for the Sunday afternoon session. Our entertainment was watching a local boy hand feeding a very large ray which was loitering around the shoreline – so close in fact that it almost beached its self. We only stayed long enough to have one more drink then headed back to the boat for an afternoon of doing nothing except examining my bruise collection – it is growing daily! As dusk fell and the anchor lights began to appear we noticed that a few boats around us have Christmas lights up – we assume that they are planning on being here for Christmas as it is a lot of trouble to keep putting them up and then taking them down again to move somewhere else. Our lights are still safely stored away somewhere on the boat – maybe we will find them before next Christmas!

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Saturday 16th December


Volleyball beach
Stocking Island, Georgetown.


23 31.212 N
75 45.437 W

Having spent a reasonable night at the Exuma docking services slip we listened to the weather forecast and were dismayed to hear that the winds were increasing to 25 knots and coming out of E.NE until Friday. This meant that our proposed 2 night stay in Georgetown would have to be extended until then as we would otherwise be bashing into the wind and seas all the way to our next stop and once were got there the anchorage would expose us to some uncomfortable rocking and rolling around. The wind direction also meant that we would be blown onto the dock if we stayed where we were so the decision was made to move the boat across the harbour to Stocking Island. Before moving we headed up the dock into “town” – more like a small shopping area where we first tried to go to the internet café – it was closed, and then headed to the grocery store. We picked up some fresh fruit and vegetables along with cold cuts and a few other essential supplies, loaded up the backpack, sold our share of Microsoft to pay the bill and headed back to the boat. We filled the water tanks, treated the water, paid the dock fee and then Gerry went to see a local man about a WIFI connection that we had been told about. On his return he told me that he had obviously interrupted the man as he poked his head out of the door, answered yes to Gerry’s request for an internet user name and password then vanished inside. He reappeared with a bag of what we assume was dope in one hand and a card with internet details in the other. For the fee of $15 for the week he gave Gerry the card (Not the dope!) and assured Gerry that if we had a range extender we would be able to pick up the connection across the harbour at Stocking Island. We tried it out in the dock prior to leaving and got a connection so we then set ourselves adrift from the dock and motored over to Stocking Island – about 10 minutes later we were dropping the anchor at Volley ball beach. The beach is what most people imagine a tropical island to be like – beautiful white sand with chairs and umbrellas surrounded by sparkling clear azure water and trees. There is a volleyball court and a locally famous bar – the “Chill & Chat”. It sounds good doesn’t it? The biggest problem with the harbor here, according to the tourism minister, is that the harbour has a “sanitation problem”. There is not a good current flow through the harbour so it doesn’t get flushed out regularly –YUK. As hundreds of boats use this harbour all year round the water contents don’t bear thinking about – it’s little better than a very large sewerage pond, even though it looks pristine clean and crystal clear. Anyway once we set our anchor we tried the internet again – not a blip! $15 down the drain. It was a pleasant enough day so we took the dink off the davits and did a tour of the area – looking at all the boats and various beaches, we knew no one! The remainder of the day was spent lounging around the cockpit reading our books. The wind began increasing during the night but we were well anchored and didn’t move anywhere.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday 15th December



Exuma docking services,Georgetown.

23 30.232 N
75 46.019 W

We decide to pull in alongside today in order to do laundry, replenish our dwindling supplies, fill up with water and hose down the boat which has become covered in salt from the pounding it took getting here, oh and put the air conditioner on to dry the boat out a bit.
After a leisurely breakfast we pulled up the anchor and headed towards the dock. You wouldn’t call it a marina – it’s just a few badly weather beaten docks some of which have power and water. When we radioed in for directions to a slip we were told to help ourselves to any of them, the dock master had just gone out! There was no one to help us tie up and just enough current to push us off the dock. With Gerry steering that left me with my painful back to try and catch a pole to tie up to. It must have looked like a circus as we changed our minds after tying up to the first slip – we were being pushed against the dock so we decided to try for the other side, by throwing lines across the dock and pulling the boat across rather than trying to catch the poles that we were being blown away from! It worked and we managed to tie the boat alongside without any help from anyone – for the privilege of being here it costs 80 cents a foot. The water is Town water – apparently it is sometimes drinkable and sometimes not, it is cheap at 10 cents a gallon. Taking note of Karen and Bob’s problems with the water they bought at Spanish Cay we first tested it – it came out OK at 300 PPM (that is parts per million – ideally it should be as low as possible but as long as it is less than 600 it should be OK), we then taste tested it – it has a sort of rubber hose taste which is bearable but as we treat all of our water and then charcoal filter all the drinking water anyway we don’t think it will be a problem so our tanks will be full again. I took off to the nearby laundry to do 3 loads of essential washing – clean sheets and towels become almost a luxury! Meanwhile Gerry hosed down the decks to rid us of some of the salt. We found the local baker – “Mom’s Bakery” which operates out of a van just near to the dock and I bought a couple of loaves of bread. We are about to head off into town to see if we can find an internet connection and to do some shopping at the Exuma Markets and the shop rite grocery store – both a short walk away.

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Thursday 14th December


Monument, Stocking Island, Georgetown.

23 31.96 N
75 46.54 W

We had planned on an 07.00hrs start to the day to make sure we arrived at Georgetown before dark – everyone had told us that the channel into the harbour at Georgetown was a bit tricky to navigate. Unfortunately the wind was still howling at 07.00hrs. We prepared everything for leaving, Gerry received a weather fax via the satellite phone which said that the winds would be 15 knots and the seas 2- feet out through the other side of the cut, so armed with this information we decided to bite the bullet and set off. The trip for today involved going through a break in the Exuma island chain which would take us from the Exuma Banks to the Exuma Sound body of water – this was The Galliot Cut. We hauled our anchor up and began motoring towards the cut and almost immediately received a call on the radio from one of the other yachts that anchored with us overnight asking if we could give them a weather update. We told them what we had and said that we would let them know what it looked like once we were the other side of the cut. When we called them back we told them that the wind was 18 – 20 knots, the seas about 7 feet and that we thought the trip to Georgetown would probably be an uncomfortable one. We continued to monitor the radio and were amused to hear our information being relayed to several other boats in or approaching the area – we had become the weather Guru’s for the day! It also amused us to hear comments about ourselves – one boat said that he thought we must be “the Australian couple that we met in Nassau (?) –who were heading home to Australia” Another comment was made that we didn’t seem to be too worried by the 7 foot waves! (well we have been in worse), to which a reply came “ well if they are Australians they probably cut their teeth sailing in Tasmanian waters” (if only they knew we are die hard Queenslanders who prefer to sail the Whitsundays!). Anyway at the end of it all no one else followed us out of the cut, they all elected to stay until the weather was calmer. We ended up having to motor all the way to Georgetown as the wind was on our nose and we were bouncing through the waves, so much so that at one point I was thrown across the cockpit and ended up on the floor – it didn’t help my already painful back. The waves stayed pretty big for all but the last hour of our trip, I’m telling you Disneyland, Wet and wild, Seaworld etc. have nothing on a trip on our boat – maybe we could market it to appeal to the thrill seekers and make our fortune. Just for your amusement picture trying to sit on the toilet which is bouncing up 7 feet in the air and then dropping away beneath you 7 feet, it’s bad enough to leave you constipated for ever! Men have it so easy at times – not having to negotiate going below in the first place and also not having to sit on the toilet to use it must make life so very much more comfortable, no wonder most sailors are men!!
The highlight of the trip was seeing a dolphin fish (not a dolphin) leap out of the water chasing a flying fish, it was a beautiful iridescent blue on top and silver underneath which reflected the sun, unfortunately it was just too far away for us to catch! I don’t know if it caught the flying fish or not, we only saw it the once. As we were only making an average of 3.5knots we didn’t even both with a fishing line – we were unlikely to catch anything at that speed, but I will get Gerry to throw out a line eventually.
We reached the entrance to Georgetown Harbour just as the sun was setting and I took a couple of pictures of the sunset sky over Goat Cay as it was very pretty. We managed to negotiate the channel without any problems and elected to anchor at the first anchoring spot which was off of Monument Cay. It was an easy spot to anchor and we spent a peaceful, if breezeless night there.
Update: Gerry’s burns have split the skin now but are looking OK. – He’ll live!

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Wednesday 13th December


Galliot Cay Cut

23 55.55 N
76 17.80 W

We paid the bill and checked out of the Marina at 10.00hrs, intending to take a slow leisurely sail to our next destination – a staging point where we would anchor for the night before setting off for Georgetown. Once we cleared the shoals which surround Staniel Cay we found that the wind was on our beam – perfect we could turn the noisy engine off and shake out the sails! We put up the main – with the first reefing point in, followed by the jib – also reefed, turned off the engine and we were flying along at 6.5knots. This lasted for a couple of hours then we hit a dead spot, the wind died and it began to spit with rain. A beautiful rainbow appeared over one of the Cays that we were passing – guess the pots of gold could well be hidden there! We furled the sails away, started the engine and motored the rest of the way to Galliot. Arriving there we found ourselves the only ones there – we had the choice of best places to anchor. Once we’d dropped our anchor we watched for a while to make sure we weren’t dragging and whilst we did this 2 more sail boats joined us. The first was no fun, he dropped his anchor and it set immediately, the second one had 3 attempts before setting his anchor and even then we wondered about it as his boat pointed in an entirely different direction to the two of us that were his audience! He must have been OK as he was still in the same spot in the morning. It howled with wind all night – must have been the stuff we were missing all the way down.

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Tuesday 12th December

Staniel Cay.

24 10.33 N
76 26.75 W

Still a bit blustery today with the winds at about the same speed as yesterday. We decided to stay for a second night to give ourselves chance to see the famous “Thunderball Cave”. This cave / grotto is a large cave accessible only from the water but which has a sky opening allowing the cave to be lit by the sun, it is home to hundreds of tropical fish and has been used in several films the most famous of them being the 1964 James Bond movie Thunderball from where the cave gets it’s name. At 09.00hrs we set off in our dink, with snorkeling gear, to the small island that is home to the thunderball cave, it was about ½ mile away and we were soon there, in fact we were the only ones there. The sea was a bit “lumpy” and there was quite a tidal current going past on each side of the island, we did a very quick trip around it in the dink and decided to come back a bit later in the day when it was slack tide. We did a dink tour of the nearby islands and when we got back to the yacht club we found that there were several sharks hanging around the marina along with 3 or 4 stingrays, they obviously knew that people cleaned their fishing catch at the table on the dock and threw the yucky bits into the water – these sharks and rays were just waiting to be fed, the sharks were about 4 foot long and the rays were about 3 feet across – big enough to keep me out of the water anyway!
Back on the boat we waited impatiently (imagine that!) had a bit of lunch and then jumped back in the dink to head back out to the island again. When we arrived we were again the only ones there, we tied the dink up to one of the two mooring buoys there and were immediately surrounded by a heap of fish. All the literature about the cave / grotto say to take food to feed the fish, we had decided not to as I wasn’t too sure I wanted to be part of a feeding frenzy. We donned our snorkeling gear and jumped in over the side of the dink – Gerry going first to occupy any sharks that might be there! We swam around the island first accompanied by loads of fish – they were everywhere. Then we headed into the gaps between the rocks searching for the entrance to the cave, after a couple of misses we found the entrance but the tide was high and there was hardly any sun as the day was a bit overcast. Entry to the cave was difficult, we decided after venturing half way in that we didn’t want to continue so we backed out, thinking to return still later when the tide was lower. The entrance alone boasted more fish than imaginable – I think they are on to a good hiding place as there is no fishing allowed in the area and they are all obviously used to tourists arriving with food for them. Back at our boat we showered and changed and then discovered that low tide wasn’t until 20.00hrs. – there was no way we were going back there in the dark, a pity but at least we got to see some of it. I then did something a bit off balance and pulled something in my back, it hurts like mad and I’m having to be careful how I stand, sit, turn walk etc. I don’t think there is enough rum on Staniel Cay to kill the pain. We booked into the yacht club for dinner and again had a wonderful meal – the soup there was outstanding! Then it was back to the boat for a relatively early night in preparation for tomorrow’s passage further south.
Update on Gerry’s hand – the pain has gone apart from when I press hard on the burn marks, which remain white and blistered looking even though they haven’t blistered and the skin remains intact. Feelings are normal in his finger tips – or so he says and there is no contraction of the joints – I think he got away lightly!

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Monday 11th December

Staniel Cay.

24 10.33 N
76 26.75 W

The time had come, the winds were supposed to drop to 20 – 25 knots so we made the decision to leave for our next destination. We apparently weren’t the only ones leaving today we watched 2 other boats leave and then we untied ourselves from the mooring buoy –not an easy task in the prevailing wind, and motored out of the shelter of the park’s mooring field towards our first waypoint. Once we had cleared the numerous little islands that made up the land mass of the park we found the wind was blowing 15 – 20 knots on the beam. This meant we could put up a sail, we were a bit cautious though as there were some gusts up to 25 knots. We pulled our jib out to about ¾ of the way to see how we would go, our speed increased from the 5.5 knots we were motoring at to 7.5 knots. We were flying along but also heeling over quite a bit at this point. Gerry cut back the motor until we were back to 6 knots and once we were settled again he turned it off completely, we were now still flying along but only under wind power. We quickly reached our next 2 waypoints where we had to change direction slightly and this brought the wind further round towards the bow and slowed us down enough that we decided to start the engine again to help is along to our final waypoint. On arriving at the final waypoint Gerry said we would put away the jib – get ready. So I did my usual job of holding on to and gradually letting out the jib sheet whilst he hauled the furling line in, except that this time it didn’t go exactly as planned. I was fine but as soon as Gerry got the furling line off the cleat the wind gusted and began to rip the line out of his hands, how he managed to hold on to it I don’t know, I heard this awful blood curdling scream of pain accompanied by a yell of “Just let it go” . I did just that and hurtled across the cockpit to try and help him pull the jib in which we managed and then it was time to assess the damage. Prudently we both religiously wear sailing gloves for handling the lines, I’d like to say they did a good job but the fact remains that Gerry had rope burns across the pads of 2 fingers on his right hand – good job he’s left handed! Anyway I dashed below and grabbed some ice blocks and pain relieving gel whilst Gerry continued to steer us towards our destination – Staniel Cay. Glove off, first aid administered and Gerry then asked if I wanted to anchor or go into the marina. We had thought we were going to anchor up until this point but he was obviously having second thoughts, I left the decision to him and he radioed the Staniel Cay Yacht club for a marina berth and within 10 minutes we were alongside and tied up. Time to review the damage – the ice and gel had done their thing and the pain was now gone, the skin was still intact, very white and looked like it might blister, feeling was normal (?) in all fingers. We had a post mortem about how we could have done it better but really haven’t come up with solution apart from trying to use the winch for the furling line which isn’t ideal. Our next problem was to unravel the jib sheets which had wound around each other when I had let go of them to help Gerry haul in the furling line, it didn’t take too long but was another job that need not have been. We had another “casualty” as we tied up to the dock, as I undid the spring loaded safety line the spring flew out of the catch followed by the pin which holds it closed – straight into the water – well where else would it have gone? Of course it isn’t an item that we carry spares of so we had to cable tie it together. There was a chance of swimming down to get it but the circling sharks kind of put us off that idea! After our eventful arrival at the yacht club marina there was only one thing to do – go to the bar and sink a few beers / rums which we duly did. A quick walk around the immediate area followed as we sought out the “Blue Store “ and the “Pink Store” - apparently grocery stores, we found both, along with the church and an art studio – everyone of them was closed so we saved a heap of tourist dollars there! We booked ourselves in for dinner at the yacht club and had a “snore o’clock” before cleaning up and returning to the yacht club for a delicious meal. A few more drinks and we just about fell into bed.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday 10th December

Warderick Wells Cay.

24 24.10 N
76 38.30 W
Another day of the "hurry up and wait stuff". The winds have dropped marginally but are still a bit too gusty for us to want to take off as yet - maybe tomorrow.
We dinked into the ranger and paid our fees for yet another night and then headed back to the boat. Gerry had big plans for the day - attending to the generator. We had been having a few strange noises from it and had discovered that the casing which covers the electrical wiring vibrates and has begun to crack near one of the bolts which holds it on. Gerry had done a "quick fix" by cable tying around it - the time had come to do something more permenant. The outer casing came off the generator the all the tools that we possess were yanked from thier various storage spots and distributed to every surface in the salon. At this point if we had been tied up at a marina I would have headed off to the shops or laundry or movies or ANYWHERE! Bits began to come off the generator and eventually the electrical casing emerged from the hole, it was worse than we though (isn't it always?). it was infact broken around the bolt holes -not one but two. Gerry assured me that we didn't actually need the casing but that to do away with it he would have to relocate the oil and water pressure gauges to the outside casing. This called for a drill and the right hole bits - after a breath holding minute or so I managed to come up with the right size one - a miracle to be sure ,as we never have the right one and it usually requires a trip to the hardware store to acquire the right one. So 2 holes later, vacuum cleaner out to clean up the mess and we are then in business. I think I held my breath all afternoon as one thing progressed to another and I had to keep locating tools etc. for the master at work. In his defense he only swore a dozen times! The relocating of the gauges meant having to drain and then refill the water and the oil - that was fun! bowls, very narrow hose pipe (the size of oxygen hose), a very small funnel, the turkey baster (!!) a couple of containers, a heap of kitchen roll, pastic bags and a flashlight later and we had managed to do the task. It was then time to run the thing to see if it still worked, luckily it did though Gerry is still not completely happy with it. I think it will be the thing that has to be nursed all the way - that's something to look forward to. By the time we had finished messing about with the generator, packed every thing away again the day was just about over. It was tme for a very large rum and some dinner. Maybe tomorrow we will be able to leave here.

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Saturday 9th December

Warderick Wells Cay.

24 24.10 N
76 38.30 W

The wind howled all night long, we saw 32knots on the wind indicator (which thankfully seems to be working properly again!) and as it was still howling when we finally decided to get out of bed the decision to stay put on the mooring here was a very simple one – neither of us wanted to go anywhere in this sort of weather. It was a very relaxed morning we did nothing except read our books and watch the other boaties peer out of their cockpits. As we had only paid for 2 nights one of us was going to have to go by dink to the ranger station and pay for a further night. It doesn’t take much deciding really – it IS the captain’s job!!!!! So we got the dink off the davits, uncovered and hoisted the outboard back onto the dink, Gerry donned his life jacket and then it began to pour with rain – glad I’m not the captain!!!! He did wait for a brief dry period before setting out for the station – it’s only half a nautical mile away but in the gusty winds it can seem like a million miles. Once he’d paid for another night Gerry headed back to the boat bringing with him the news that “happy hour is at 16.30hrs, bring your own booze and nibblies, they supply the ice”. This was met with much mirth – did they really think we were going to be sociable in this raging wind? But we did leave it open to debate when the hour came closer. We had lunch and then spent the afternoon in the cockpit reading and people watching whilst the winds continued to howl around us. We decided that it wasn’t worth the certain soaking we would get to go to happy hour so we turned on the computer instead and tried ringing a couple of people on skype – it wasn’t a very successful attempt as the connection was still minimal. We picked up the forecast for the next couple of days – it looks like the winds are with us for a bit longer so we may be here a while yet. I tried again to publish the blogs for the last few days and to my joy finally had success, however I couldn’t get the photos to load, that will have to be done later when there is a better connection. Finally after dinner and showers we are about to watch a movie – one I haven’t seen before I hope.

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Friday 8th December


Warderick Wells Cay

24 24.10 N
76 38.30W

This morning we spent some time doing “housework” stuff and trying to upload the blog. Whilst we have a “very weak” internet access which allows us to read and answer our emails it just wouldn’t let me upload the blog. The ranger had told us that if we had any problems we could take the computer ashore and use it at the office so we packed everything into a water tight bag, launched the dingy and set off for the office.
Isn’t it amazing the difference a day can make? Yesterday I told you that there wasn’t enough wind to cause a ripple on the water, today the wind was already starting to pick up as we made our way to the ranger’s office. I digress – once we arrived at the office we plugged the computer in and found the blog site but it wouldn’t let us log in – it took so long that it kept timing out. I tried, Gerry tried and after so many attempts we decided to go for a long walk and try again when we returned. By now it was 11.00hrs.the ranger said she would look after our computer etc. but warned us that she had lunch from 12.00 – 13.00hrs, not a problem we would probably be back by then.
Off we took to walk to a place called Boo Boo hill, along a track called Shaggy dog trail. The hill is meant to be the highest point on the Cay, with an excellent view of the mooring basin. There are also a couple of blow holes nearby which are worth visiting. The track wasn’t a difficult track but you were walking on weathered limestone rocks which had to be climbed and balanced on, and you definitely needed to wear a good pair of trainers, which luckily we were. After trudging behind Gerry for a fair distance we arrived at the creek which we had to cross to continue on the trail, to our dismay it was high tide and we couldn’t get across it so we then had to retrace our steps back to the starting point on the beach. A second track – Julie’s trail, promised to take us to the Sunshine causeway from where we could make our way via Ian’s & Mark’s trails to Boo Boo Hill – there is more than one way to skin a cat! So off we set on Julie’s trail – it was supposed to be about a 12 minute walk and whilst I know we didn’t hurry it took us more like 20 minutes of scrambling over the rocks until we reached the causeway. Once we crossed it we reconsidered the rest of the walk – if it was all like the trail we had just come down then I really didn’t want to continue, Gerry wasn’t keen either so we turned around and headed back to the start once again, we were destined not to get to Boo Boo Hill. We arrived back at the ranger’s station at – you guessed – 12.05hrs! We had a quick “sit down and recover from the heat” and then took the dink back to our boat so we could have some lunch, with a plan to return later in the afternoon and try the internet again. Over last night there were just 3 other boats and us in the mooring field, by the time we returned to the ranger’s office at 14.00 hrs there were 8 and there was a slow procession of still more boats heading in to the park. We tried again to up load the blog and eventually gave up – you’ll have to wait until we get somewhere else for this thrilling installment – sorry! We swapped out 5 books at the office – there was a fair choice there so we have some new reading matter, then we packed our stuff back into the waterproof bag and headed back to our boat. At last count there were18 boats in the mooring field – everyone hiding out here until the weather front blows through. As the day progressed the winds increased – it put paid to any plans we had to snorkel on the reefs around here, this was a bit of a disappointment as they are supposed to be good snorkeling spots. We were getting gusts of up to 30 knots whilst we were eating our dinner, I’m glad we are safely tucked away on a mooring and not out on the anchor someplace. If the weather is no better tomorrow I think we will be staying another day.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thursday 7th December

Warderick Wells Cay
(Exuma land and sea park)

24 24.10 N
76 38.30W



After another rain filled night we woke early, well earlyish we feasted on a Mc’Donalds breakfast – Sausage & biscuit, which was a real treat for us both as we usually only do the toast or cereal bar thing in the morning. It was then time to set out for our next destination – The Exuma land and sea park – a short hop of 30 nautical miles. The anchor came up (eventually – Gerry had put out 100 foot of chain to make sure we didn’t drag in the night winds). We negotiated our way through a few coral heads to the first way point and then let the auto pilot take command. There wasn’t a breath of wind and the water was like a pond without a single ripple on it. We hoped that as the day progressed there might be a bit of wind and we could put up the sails – this wasn’t to be and we ended up motoring all the way – 5hrs worth of engine running. We were again surprised by the lack of other craft , it was almost as if we had the sea to ourselves – with the exception of a couple of very large stink boats that hurtled past us and disappeared off the horizon. The water was an astounding pale aqua colour and so clear that we could see the bottom at all times. With the sun out it also created a mirror effect and we could see our anchor reflected in the water – not just a shadow but the whole perspective – it was awesome and Gerry tried to get a picture of it, it didn’t turn out too well but if you look closely you can make out the reflection in the water.
One small problem we noticed on the way was that our wind indicator wasn’t turning at all, now I know I said there was no wind but even a light puff should turn it marginally. Gerry is most concerned about this and I’m dreading that he wants to go up the mast to see if it’s working properly – hauling him up our 64’9” mast is more than I think I should have to do.
A little after 13.00hrs we called the park ranger and arranged a mooring buoy for the night as you aren’t allowed to anchor in the park, once assigned a buoy we headed into the mooring field, picked up a very clearly marked buoy and settled ourselves in. There were only 3 other boats in the park –where is everyone? We launched the dink and headed into the ranger’s office where we paid our fee - $20 per night plus $10 for wireless internet use for 24hrs, picked up some information sheets and maps and then we headed back out to the boat to see if we could get on the internet – Yes! We could pick it up from the mooring so we caught up with emails and I wrote the blog notes.
The wind indicator is turning again now that we are actually having a bit of wind – hopefully I’ll get a reprieve on the hauling Gerry up the mast stuff!
Dinner, showers and bed completed the day. We decided that we would probably spend 2 days here as there is a front coming through which is meant to have 35knot winds and we don’t need to be out in that. Picture right - us at anchor.

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Wednesday 6th December



Highborne Cay.

24 42.757 N
76 49.666 W

Happy Birthday Paul, we’ve had a drink for you!

We awoke today to the sound of rain which was no surprise as it had rained on and off all night. The good thing about that was that the decks were now cleaned of the salt that was covering them making everything sticky. We took forever to get ourselves moving – well there wasn’t any need to hurry as we hadn’t planned to move anywhere today. Once we were up, dressed, had breakfast and decided to go ashore the sun had come out and the day was looking quite nice. We gathered all the bits for the dink (oars, fuel, life jackets and tying up chain) and headed in to the marina – a short 5 minutes ride. It is a small marina which is bounded by a spectacular beach. After tying up the anchor we checked at the office to see if we had to pay to tie up at the dingy dock – that was a no – bonus! We asked if there was a café or restaurant for lunch – also a no –bummer! Then we asked if there was WIFI – that was a yes but only for marina guests – bummer!! The office had a small store which was stocked with essential items that the cruiser might need, we had a quick look around bought a loaf, 2 soft drinks and a cucumber for the princely sum of $15, we decided we didn’t need the apples at $1.65 each or the tomatoes which I would have thrown out if I’d had them in my fridge. I have to say that the store was clean and well presented with enough “essentials” for most people and the staff were friendly. They did offer for us to bring the computer into their office and hook up to the internet for $5 for 20 minutes, we thought about it but decided that we didn’t want to make the trip back again later. We did our good Samaritan deed for them – one of the other cruisers had left behind one of his bags of shopping and the store keeper asked if we would deliver it to
his boat. What surprised us was that he didn’t even know he’d left it behind when we delivered it, even though it comprised half of his bill and contained a book which he wanted to read! We can only assume his brain is pickled with alcohol. We saw a baby shark swimming around his boat so we didn’t hang around there long – you know how it is – where there is a baby there also has to be a mum and dad, I didn’t want to meet them. Back on our boat we cleaned the cockpit, entered a whole load of way points for our next couple of days travel, caught up with some bookwork and were entertained by a couple of very cheeky birds who landed on the boat and then proceeded to investigate it as if we weren’t there, eventually they flew off which was a relief – we didn’t need 2 extra bodies on board.
Gerry caught up with his study (the backs of his eyelids) whilst I put together a few statistics of our month of November (only covering 7th – 30th) so here they are for your enjoyment!

Nautical Miles traveled: 354
Average speed: 5.5knots
Fuel used: 69 gallons @ a cost of $179.86
Repairs / replacement costs: $1186.02
Meals ashore: Lunch 7, Dinner 3 @ a cost of $296.77
No of nights in marinas: 12 @ a cost of $951.10
No of nights at anchor: 10
No of nights sailing: 2
Loads of laundry: 7
Toilets rolls used: 8
Toothpaste used; 2 tubes
Loaves of bread: 6
Cheese: 2 blocks
Wine: 2 bottles
Beer: 12 cans
Coke: 36 cans
Rum: 1 bottle
Chocolate bars: far too many to admit to here!

Obviously there are plenty more but it might give you some idea of the logistics of what we have to carry on board. I’ll try some different items for December –so you know we aren’t living on Chocolate and cheese alone!
There were no new boats coming into the anchorage tonight so we were deprived of our evening entertainment. We fired up the bar-b-que for dinner, had showers and spent the rest of the evening relaxing watching the stars and clouds flying overhead.

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Tuesday 5th December




Highborne Cay

24 42.757 N
76 49.666 W

“What’s the time Nick?”
“06.57”
“Better get up then”
“Mmm”
Followed by Gerry crawling out of bed, throwing on a pair of swimmers and me playing possum.
“Do you want a cup of tea?”
“Mmm”
“What flavour?”
“Albatross”
“OK peach it is, do you want some toast or a muffin?”
“Mmm”
“Should we leave early do you think?”
“Mmm”
“The boat behind us is just leaving – I think we should go soon”
“*!#X”
Followed by me getting out of bed – another unwanted early start to the day.
As any of you who know Gerry will be aware, once he has decided that he’s ready to do something its rev the engine and go. So here I was, rushed from my bed, half awake, drinking my tea (peach not albatross) and munching on toasted muffin and Gerry disappears out into the cockpit.
“I’m just taking off the bridle, are you ready?” he says as he turns the engine on and takes off towards the anchor. I emerge from below deck wondering what I’ve done to deserve this, I look forward to the anchor locker where Gerry has his anchoring head set on and is indicating that I need to put mine on. Once mine are in place and switched on I get “Can you hear me” as always, I reply “No” but it doesn’t stop Gerry from calling out instructions!
Within a couple of minutes we have the anchor up and are motoring to our next destination. The actual destination hadn’t been finalised, we are heading further down the island chain but were told that the anchorage at Allens Cay (our possible destination) could be very rolly if the wind was coming from the north. Bearing this in mind we entered the way points for both Allens Cay and the next one – Highborne Cay and decided to go into Allens first and scout out how bad it was going to be. If necessary we would continue on to Highborne which would add about another hour to our trip.
Like yesterday the wind was mild – 8 knots and the sea was less than 2 feet so once we cleared the initial rocks we put up the big white flappy things and switched off the engine and proceeded to sail on a port tack southwards.
Gerry yelled “Look a dolphin across our bow”. I grabbed the camera and bolted to the bow just in time to see the dolphin leap and vanish in front of us, I waited with camera ready for it to re appear but it was obviously camera shy as it never came back – will try to be quicker next time!
As we got close to Allens Cay we decided to err on the side of caution – the charts, books and GPS all showed and warned of large coral heads, just below the surface which would be apparent in good sunlight. As we had the good sunlight we felt reasonably confident but chose the safe route and furled the sails away in order to motor through this coral nightmare. I took the bow position – playing Miss Figurehead, to Gerry’s Master and Commander at the wheel, the auto pilot was off duty! We wove our way through the next few miles with me indicating where the coral heads were, and yes they were obvious. We couldn’t be sure just how much trouble they could have been to us as the perception of depth in the Bahamian waters is thrown by the clear water, white sand and grassy vegetation - it could be 3 feet deep or it could be 30 – one just can not tell so you have to rely on the charts and GPS. Eventually we were clear and headed in to Allens Cay, as we entered the anchorage we took note of the boats already there – they were rolling around quite badly and this was in very mild winds so we made an instant decision to continue on to Highborne Cay. We motored there, again avoiding some hidden rocks and made our way to an anchorage spot outside of the cay rather than going inside where the marina is. We were the 3rd boat to anchor outside and after setting anchor we sat back and watched a procession of boats heading towards us. Some went into the marina whilst a few anchored nearby providing the age old entertainment of watching someone else anchor. We are amazed that hardly anyone seems to use the “marriage saving” head sets put out by cruising solutions – we think they have been one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. They leave us with the dignity of not having to yell and scream instructions to each other or having to perform the “anchor dance” each time we set or retrieve the anchor. Sundowners, showers, dinner and bed followed.

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Monday 4th December


Chub Cay to Rose Island, Bahamas

25 05.026 N
77 12.649 W

Belated happy anniversary to Jean and dad.

When we went to bed last night we’d talked about leaving for Rose Island at 10.00hrs so it came as a bit of a shock when Gerry woke me up at 07.00hrs and said he wanted to leave as soon as possible. He knows that mornings aren’t my thing so it’s a good job he didn’t expect an enthusiastic response. After a hasty cup of tea, breakfast and getting dressed I was just about ready to face the day – “you take us out and I’ll see to the lines” he said – this was a change to our normal pattern of who does what. I feel sure he was just testing me to see if I could make a fool of myself in front of the other boaties who were gathered in their cockpits greeting the day. So we left the haven of the marina, with no problems I might add, to begin our passage for the day – a 43 mile trip to Rose Island where we intended to anchor at a place called Bottom Harbour. The day seemed cool and calm so once we cleared the marina navigation channel Gerry prepared the main sail – we debated whether or not to put the first reefing point in but decided against it as the winds were mild, @ 10 knots and the sea was only up to 2 feet. At last we had a chance to sail rather than motor! Both of the big white flappy things were deployed and the motor was switched off – a blissful silence ensued and we were flying along doing 6.5 – 7 knots. This lasted about 2 hours with Gerry fidgeting around, tweaking the sails to get the most out of them, I read my book and the auto pilot had control of the wheel – each of us content to do our own thing and ignore each other!. The wind and seas got stronger and at 15 knots Gerry decided that maybe putting the first reef in the main sail would be a good idea, I took charge of the wheel - though I’m sure the auto pilot could have done just as good, if not better job, whilst Gerry hauled the main sail down to the first reef point and secured it, once this was achieved we still maintained a healthy 6 knots but the heeling over wasn’t quite so bad. Our passage continued without any surprises or mishaps. There were a lot of other boats on the water all heading towards Nassau the Bahamian capital – close to where we were headed. When we got to about 10 miles out from Nassau we saw an enormous building which we thought was probably Atlantis – a resort on Nassau – where sea world meets the Bahamas in luxury. We continued to watch this Building grow in size as we got closer; I even took photos of it as it dwarfs even the huge cruise liners that go into Nassau with thousands of passengers on board – it is a spectacular sight from the water, I can only guess what it must be like from the land. I was a little sad not to get to see Nassau as it is one of the largest tourist destinations in the Bahamas but I guess I would have hate all the shops and attractions anyway!
Once we had passed the Nassau marina entrance an extremely large cruise ship came out of the marina and began to follow us (that must be because we knew where to go!!). We decided to take down the sails and motor for the rest of the trip as we had to negotiate a few tricky rock outcrops and shallow waters with big rips running through them. With charts and books to hand and the GPS giving us it’s wisdom we managed to find our way through the could be dangerous bits and we arrived at our destination, Bottom Harbour at 15.45hrs, dropped the anchor in 10 foot of water let out 60 foot of chain and 15 foot of bridle to give us plenty of swinging room. We watched the sun set whilst drinking coke (OH YEA honestly). When all the lights came on over at Nassau the island looked like a Christmas tree turned on its side – very pretty. Another gourmet dinner followed and after showers we were ready to drop into bed. The anchorage was perfect, the wind and sea died away to nothing and the boat hardly moved all night, though it didn’t stop us from bobbing up and down to check that we hadn’t dragged anchor during the night, which we didn’t. It was a successful day, our first one of just sailing and we did the entire sail on just the one port tack.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday 3rd December


Chub Cay.

25 24.629 N
77 54.303W











After sleeping in for a bit this morning we radioed in to the marina to secure a berth, clear customs and take on more fuel. We discovered that we'd caught our second fish without even trying, what a pity that the flying fish just are not big enough to eat! About an hour later we upped the anchor and motored into the marina,were directed into the fuel dock where we tied up and Gerry went in to see the customs agent. The dock master and staff were very helpful and pleasant and informed us that Gerry had to go out to the airport to clear customs - they arranged for a car to pick him up and take him out there whilst I waited on the boat at the fuel dock. After a short wait Gerry was back, all the customs details having been dealt with, including the $300. fee. We then filled our fuel tank and containers and were directed into a slip in the marina. The Chub Cay marina has only been open since the middle of the year following renovations, I have to say they have done a fabulous job - it is a world class marina with a ship store, beach, restaurant and WIFI. Not all the facilities are completed as yet but I was told they shortly will be. Surprisingly the marina was almost empty but we gather that there are a lot of game fishing tournaments planned for the future so I guess it won't always be as easy to get a slip. The cost of the slip was $3.50 per foot plus electricity ($25 flat rate for 30amp) and water ( 40cents per gallon) - who thought cruising was cheap?! Thank goodness we can anchor out and make our own water. The internet is free -wohoo!!!! so we've logged on to email and uploaded the past few days blogs, happily we've also managed to talk to Dale & Lorie and Kay on skype -what a bonus!!!! One thing that we didn't bargain for was that the shower block isn't up and running so they are using the old showers - only two showers for everyone to use and the water was cold!

Gerry gave the decks a quick hose down to get rid of some of the salt and then he collapsed into bed for a couple of hours whilst I answered emails and read my book. We ate at the restaurant - the coconut fish was delicious and then made it an early night - ready for another long day tomorrow.

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Friday 1st& Saturday 2nd December


At sea.

Miami to Chub Cay, Bahamas.


25 24.629 N
77 54.303 W





Happy wedding anniversary Kay & Martin, we hope you share many more.


Well the day has finally arrived, the wind has turned to the southeast and the seas are supposed to be 2 - 4 feet in the Gulf stream. We spent the morning doing a final load of laundry, filling the water tanks and readying the boat for the trip south to the Bahamas. After a last lunch at the habour restaurant we finally left the harbour at 16.00hrs - into a setting sun. Waved goodbye to the Florida coast line and settled in to the trip across the water. NEVER believe a weather forecaster. The winds picked up to 15 - 20 Kts on the nose so we couldn't even put up the jib to help us along and the seas were at least 5-8 feet. The constant throbbing of the engine and the thumping of the waves gave me a migraine and I was doing only the minium amount of watchkeeping - just enough to allow Gerry to catnap for a couple of hours at a time. On reaching the Bahama banks we dug out our Quarantine flag and took down the Stars and Stripes - we were offically out of the USA! We approached the narrow entrance to Gun Cay/ Cat Cay at 05.30hrs, it was still dark and not the ideal time to be going through a narrow, unknown passage but at least there weren't any other boats around to confuse the issue. Needless to say we managed to negotiate the cut without incident and then plugged in the waypoints for our ultimate destination of Chub Cay. As Saturday dawned and I began to feel a bit better we were astounded to find that there wasn't a single boat in sight in any direction and it remained that way until mid afternoon when all the big fishing boats began to speed past us on their way south. I kept asking "are we there yet" but didn't get a satisfactory answer until about 20.00hrs. We had arrived, again in darkness (thank goodness the moon was pretty close to full)at Chub Cay. We intended to anchor outside of the marina for the night and then check in in the morning. We dropped our anchor in 2.5 feet of water - we'd forgotten how shallow the Bahamian water gets! and sat watching ourselves swing for a while whilst eating a hastily prepare dinner (which was understandably fantastic). Then we realised that we were rolling very badly from side to side, to the extent that things were falling off of shelves - things that hadn't fallen off on the rough trip over! Gerry ended up putting a bridle on the anchor chain and winching it in until we were bow into the swell. This worked really well and reduced the rolling to a minimum. After a much appreciated hot shower we fell into bed and slept like logs, I think if we had dragged anchor during the night we wouldn't have really cared!

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Thursday 30th November


Miami




As the weather window seems to be holding out until tomorrow we decided to go into town to the library in order to pay bills, answer email etc. and post the blog. So once again we set off in blistering heat only to arrive at the library door which was bearing a sign saying "no computer access today". We were hot, tired and somewhat upset to say the least - did they not know they were going to be doing an upgrade to the system on Tuesday when we were here? We took our disgruntled selves to a nearby boulangerie and had brunch and then detoured to the supermarket again - they must think we are chocoholics by now! Then we headed back to the boat were we veged out for the rest of the day

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Wednesday 29th November





Miami

The harbour has emptied out further today so we moved to a slightly better position in relation to the wind direction. Despite our aching muscles from yesterday’s walk we decided to walk into the town again and collect a few more essential supplies. (Chocolate and cola) The walk wasn’t quite so long as we didn’t go to the library. We stopped for lunch at a Peruvian restaurant which was very nice, it made the conversation turn to the possibility of going to South America, NOT PART OF THIS TRIP!
Again we loaded up the back packs (and even bought a bigger one) with our purchases and headed back to the boat. We even got pictures of the Iguanas that were sunning themselves around the harbour, though they seem to be a bit afraid of people as they took off as soon as we got within ten feet of them.
We are looking at leaving here on Friday as the weather is looking good to cross to the Bahamas then. Our trip is quite open to change but just so you know our basic plan is to go to Chub Cay in the Bahamas, then on to Nassau, Allen’s Cay in the Exhumas, traveling down the Exhumas to Georgetown , Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Turks & Caicos, Luperon in the Dominican Republic and then on to Puerto Rico.

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