Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 20-21, 2014 Snake Cay


This morning, our 3 boats listened to the weather on the cruisers net.  We all decided we still wanted to go to Snake Cay even though tomorrow night doesn't sound too promising.  Today is predicted to be 5-10 mph out of the west at 72 degrees and tonight basically the same but a low of 65.....sounds great!  We all agreed to head back tomorrow unless the morning weather report improves.  Tuesday has a 70% chance of rain with 20-30 mph winds out of the NE.  We'll just have to wait and see!   We left the dock at 10:20 am after Circe II backed away from her slip.  The winds were perfect for each of us to raise our sails heading out of the harbor and as soon as we made our turn to starboard to Matt Lowes Cay we were sailing wing-on-wing! What an awesome sight!!  
Turning south around Matt Lowes Cay we sailed beside Sugar Loaf Cay and then west to Boat Harbor....south again being sure to steer clear of Lubbers Bank to Witches Point.  From here, it was an easy ride to Snake Cay, our destination!  What a beautiful day with perfect winds....Once we got where we wanted to anchor, the bottom posed quite a challenge to get our anchor to set in what looked like a sandy bottom…..sandy yes, but in many of these patches there was also sandstone or gravel.  After a few tries each, our boats seemed set and secure for us to go exploring.   

We were all anxious to motor around the ‘dock’ into Snake Cay Inlet and then into the shallows between the Great Abaco Island and these smaller outlying cays.  This water is suppose to abound with turtles, rays, starfish, and fish.   We had a great time looking over the sides of the dinghy into the water and now wished we had a ‘look bucket’.  

Chuck and I saw 2 rays, no turtles, and quite a few large orange-red starfish. It would have been easier to see the bottom if the wind weren’t blowing and creating ripples across the surface of the water.  The water was too cold to snorkel today!!  Because of the out-going tide, we had to head back to our boats or soon we might not have enough water for our dinghies!!  Happy hour/appetizers for tonight all of a sudden turned into a pot luck dinner on Circe II…Rita’s idea. She had made stuff cabbage and coleslaw and wanted to share it with us.  She a one super gal…and cook!  Irene made mac and cheese, and Chuck grilled kielbasa while I decided at the last minute to bake an Apple Cinnamon Bread that I’ve been dying to try!  Dinner was at 6:00.  In the meantime while my bread was baking, the wind died and the water around us was perfectly flat.  Chuck called me up on deck and when I looked over the boat, I could see everything that was on the bottom….11 feet down….it was that crystal clear.  David said that it was ‘mystical’ in our own private anchorage!!When we got together on Circe II, we all agreed that this was probably the cleanest, clearest water we’ve all been in.   The meal came together fabulously.  Everything was outstanding....even my Apple Cinnomon Bread.  I can always tell if it’s good when David and Billy want a piece for the next morning!! LOL  It is so dark out tonight.  I’ve never seen so many stars…even more than what we see in the OBX.  We are also getting a sparkling show from the phosphorous floating in the water.  It truly is mystical here!  Back on our own boat, Chuck got his flashlight and we walked around the deck looking down into the water.  We can still see everything in the water, on the bottom. Hopefully  tomorrow’s weather improves so we can stay at Snake Cay one more day.

We woke up this morning and so wanted the Cruiser’s Net to give us an improved weather report….it didn’t happen!  The winds are to be 15-25 mph during the day and higher tonight.  The chance of rain is still 70% .  It’s sure not looking very good.  After the net, the 3 boats called back and forth.  Circe wanted to stay for a few hours to get some more exploring in and then stop behind Matt Lowes Cay to maybe do some fishing.  We knew with S winds, that we’d have a challenging time maneuvering into our dock at 20 mph and really ugly at 25 mph.  The winds are light at the moment, so we hoped that the sooner we hauled up the anchor and headed out, maybe we’d beat the high winds.  Whisper decided to head out also.  We left our anchorage at 9:30 and knew we wouldn't have to be too careful dog-legging it around Lubbers Bank because high tide is at 11:14 am this morning.

Whisper and Happy Hours II both decided to fly only our head sail because we didn't want to have our main up and be slammed with an unexpected 25 mph gust.  We still were cruising at a good clip with the winds first blowing over our stern and then our starboard side.  Once we got to Matt Lowes Cay and made out turn SW, we had to furl our jib because the wind now was blowing like a banshee pretty much on our nose.  When we started out this morning, the water had ripples on the surface, progressed to a chop, and now we have 3 footers.  Chuck and I both commented that if this were Lake Erie with these winds, we’d be motoring into 5-6 foot waves, if not bigger!  Our poor little dinghy.  We were dragging it and now it was bouncing like a bobber!! When we entered Marsh Harbour, the waves subsided a bit but the winds increased.  I called the Jib Room a few minutes before we docked to let them know that we needed assistance at the dock.  Normally, Jason is the only one who comes to help.  Today, we had Jason, Desmond, and Mitch.  Chuck did  a fine job and put Happy Hours II close to the dock, but the before the guys could hand me any lines, the wind gusted and pushed us away.  We had to be muscled back.  It wasn't pretty but we docked without hitting anything! About an hour later,  Billy and Ilene came motoring into the harbor.  We walked around and over to their dock.  They had decided to just anchor out until the winds calmed down a bit, but when they saw us on their dock, they decided to ‘just do it’!  Billy did a fine job keeping the bow of their boat into the wind and with our help, they safely docked Circe II.

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 19, 2013

Not much going on today.  We decided to go to Maxwells again to get the last minute supplies for our little cruise tomorrow.  I need to be prepared because we usually get together in the evening for either happy hour or pot luck.  Rita is our party planner and she is particular with what we make so everything goes nicely together!  LOL With the winds and the cool temps, the ride across the harbour was quite interesting....not to mention wet!  Once again, it seems that everyone is spending their time in their cabins....not too many people out and about.  In the afternoon, we went for a walk.  Chuck wanted to show me the houses on one of the streets close to the marina.  He walked there yesterday when I was trying to get the internet running so I could upload pictures.  Anyhow, we walked there and the houses were very nice.
We walked by a wild aloe plant that had the tallest spike I've ever seen.  It
was almost as tall as the electric pole next to it!  A little further was a house surrounded by a fence with 2 German shepherd guard dogs running along the fence line.  I wonder why these people feel they need so much protection?????Even further, we ran into a gated community called 'Snapper Point'.  With all of the foliage, we couldn't see how many houses were behind the gate, if any!  Once we walked out back to the main road, we turned toward Fanny Bay.  At one point, the road is very close to this bay.  Boats and trailers are stored here and they have a 'no trespassing' sign. So, we decided to trespass and get a closer look at Fanny Bay from the shore.  We figured, no one would really care!  Back to the boat to get dinner.  I bought stone crab claws from Jason the other day, and boiled 6 of them.  They are very sweet tasting and I think they're much better than the lobster tails I ate a few days ago
crab claws

Banana Tree

Fanny Bay
Fanny Bay


Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 18, 2014

It continues to be cool in the Abacos....71 during the hottest part of the day but down to 62 tonight.....burr.   Chuck is going up the mast this morning before the winds increase.  The light went out our first night anchored off of Tahiti Beach.  David volunteered to help tail the safety line but we didn't get started early enough and he and Rita went into town.  That's okay because Billy was a willing replacement.  Once Chuck had everything ready that he needed, up he went for the 7th time on this trip! Wheeeee!!  It turned out to be a quick up and down.  He's really getting good at taking the cover off the anchor light, replacing the bulb, cover back on, and down he comes.  Once again, the bulb had burnt out.  Chuck can't figure it out, but those bulbs should last a whole lot longer than  a few months!

After the anchor light was taken care of, we took the dinghy across the harbor.  The waves were rolling in and I swear we had some 2 footers.   Sitting in front of Chuck, I got wet and he stayed dry because I made a perfect wall for him....the water was cold!!!On our way to the one store, I saw this car pull quickly off the road in our direction.  Two women and 3 kids jumped out and were trying to get our
attention.  We had no clue at first what they wanted. They were all excited and talking at the same time! Here,  they were on a scavenger hunt and they needed a picture of their whole team with a 'guy with a beard'.....guess who? Chuck cooperated with them even though normally he hates to get his picture taken. Hopefully they win the competition.  We got what we needed from town and headed back to the boat.  Half way there, the motor quit....it just quit!  Chuck would get it to start, then it would stop.  Finally he checked the tank and we were out of fuel. (Not Mr. Perfect!) That's an easy fix....fill the tank....wrong.  After the fuel tank was full, he pulled and pulled and pulled.  The motor would start but when Chuck would put it into forward, it would stall.  Yikes, the wind's pushing us into a huge motor yacht.  The captain of the boat was watching us and popped his head out and offered us a tow.  I was ready to say 'ok' but Chuck shouted out 'no that's ok'.....????  What's with men that they can never  accept any help?  Oh well, he's the one that has to row us half way back across the harbor to our boat!  Once back, he messed with the engine and it seems to be running properly now...I'm crossing my fingers......

The wind seems to be increasing all day and the temperature felt much colder than 71. By late afternoon, it seemed everyone stay below on their boats to keep warm.  We did venture out later in the afternoon to go for a walk, but the winds were blowing cold air from the NWN across the Sea of Abaco, so it was a very short walk.  Sometimes it's nice to just lounge around the boat and do some reading!

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 16-17, 2013

January 16th
It started to rain last night before I went to bed.  When I went up into the cockpit to close some of the side panels, I noticed how cool it had gotten.  Apparently the cold front the weathermen were predicting arrived,  but surprisingly we had very little winds.  They were preparing us for up to 30 kt winds!  In fact, throughout the night, it was quite calm.  The morning brought even cooler temps but 69-70 is very comfortable.  Our plans for today were to go to Maxwells and get our boat provisioned for our trip on Monday....to Snake Cay.  Even with the low hanging clouds threatening rain,  we still needed to venture across the harbor to the grocery store.   Boaters who have been coming for years have told us Marsh Harbour is the cheapest place to provision.....and it's not cheap!  The ride over to the dinghy dock wasn't bad but by the time we finished our shopping, the winds had clocked out of the west.  Needless to say, we had a bumpy, wet ride back to the boat. 

January 17th
It's cooler than normal this morning in the Abacos....again.  Nothing was planned for today until Rita hailed our two boats and wanted to know if we wanted to play bocci ball at 2:00 across from Snappas.  Why not?  We 6 decided it sounded like fun!  Billy and Ilene decided to motor over to town and check it out.  They didn't come back with a very good report.  Apparently there is only one bocci court and none of us could figure out how this was all going to work without it lasting all day.  I think it's just a  way to get people over to Snappas to 'drink' while you wait your teams turn!! LOL  So, we all axed our plans!

In the meantime, Chuck and I went for a dinghy ride to check out the little cove just north of the entrance to the harbor.  I found out later this cove has a name....Fanny Bay.  Chuck thought it might be a good place to snorkel.  We cruised along the shore out of our marina, passed the small rock islands at the end of the land and into the bay.  The color of the water is beautiful but shallow with a sandy bottom. As we slowly dinghied, it was easy to see the bottom but there wasn't much there.  We did see one ray that quickly swam away and one starfish.  Other than that, there's really nothing to see while snorkeling.  On our way back, our ride enabled us to get a close-up view of the houses along this north shore of Marsh Harbour.   A few were 'For Sale' and I'm sure very expensive.
Fanny Bay

Tonight's plan is to go over to Snappas to listen to a young saxophone player.  He is a 24 year old Bahamian and quite good with his instrument!  We were told that he plays at Snappas every Friday night from 6-8 and they provide free appetizers.....wings, egg rolls, and smokies.  It's a good thing the six of us got there early so we could snag enough tables and 8 chairs.....Ginger and Sam from sv/Grace were joining us also.  It didn't take long for every chair in the restaurant/bar to be taken!  Before we left, Rita and David even got up and slow danced.

January 15, 2014 Back at Marsh Harbour

We got up to listen to the weather this morning on the Net.  The weather has been so iffy and the weather reports seem to be changing from one day to the next.  Our plans are to head back to Marsh Harbour and Whisper has decided to do the same.  There seems to be fairly decent weather this morning but worsen throughout the afternoon and night.  Once again, it's important to enter and exit the Hope Town channel  on a higher tide.  There are a few areas where the water level is less than 5 feet at low tide....that's not good!  So we decided to leave after we motor in to the Hope Town Marina and pay for our mooring.  We are just so honest.  We could have just sailed away and I would imagine that there are many boats throughout the year that do! They are just so lax with collecting their money.  It took us about 2 hours to leisurely motorsail back to our dock.  Once ouside our marina, I hailed Jason on the VHF to see if he could lend us a hand with the lines.  He was there waiting for us.  Now that we're back at the dock, there's so much to do....wash and dry our dirty laundry, grocery shop, Skype my mom and dad, call Chuck's mom.  We also decided to pay for another month at Marsh Harbour Marina.  We want to spend some time here with Mike and Chris Link from the sv/Missing Link.  The last we heard, they are waiting for a favorable weather window to make their crossing.  We can't wait to see them!
So far, it's been calm all day.  Hopefully it will stay the same tonight!

January 14, 2014 Hope Town

I woke up early to heavy rains.  I got out of bed and
went topside to lower the sides so the cushions wouldn't get wet....too late!!  It was raining so hard that I could hardly see Whisper anchored near us.  Maybe we won't be going anywhere this morning!!  We waited it out and Whisper called to let us know they would be leaving shortly to venturd back up to Hope Town.  That's the direction we decided to go also.  We knew we needed to be heading out soon if we didn't want to have to worry about shallow depths. We told Rita that as soon as we finished eating our eggs, we would raise our anchor and be off.    Circe II and Simplicity II were still undecided but stayed at anchor to wait and see what the morning's weather would bring.

Up came our anchor at 8 am, and we headed slowly toward Hope
Town, waiting for Whisper to catch up.  The rain had quit but the skies were still threatening with huge dark clouds but during our 45 minute trip, all we got was a fine mist.  The trip  was uneventful because it was about 1 hour after high tide.

 Even the motor into the channel was good!  :))  Once we entered the harbor, I was shocked at how many boats were already moored there. We had been told by many of our dock neighbors that during this time of the year, the harbor doesn't seem to fill up.....wrong.   I think the predicted weather has everyone that normally anchor, scrambling for a safe haven.    We were lucky to find blue mooring floats right in front of the Hope Town Lighthouse.  We were able to get a front row seat!  I love it!!  Whisper came in right behind us and they grabbed green mooring floats right off our port stern.   Moorings are tight here!!  Tighter than I feel comfortable with.  
Elbow Cay Light

Head boat behind us looking out the channel
Harbor Marina store

Pink Flamingo Villas

Sign to the lighthouse

It's weird but the different mooring floats belong to different people.  The blue that we picked up belong to the Hopetown Marina, while the green that Rita and David grabbed  belong to a guy named Truman.  It really doesn't matter because all moorings are $20 a night.   No one here seems to be in any hurry to collect their money.  We waited all day for someone from the marina to motor out to collect....David too.....and we didn't see anyone.  What the heck?  We are planning on leaving in the morning.  They better show.......Once settled in, we hopped in our dinghy and motored over to pick up Rita and David.  We wanted to first off climb the lighthouse.  So, we motored over to Harbor Marina, tied up, visited their store, and then walked the short distance to the light.    The light's correct name is the Elbow Cay Lighthouse but it seems everyone has dubbed it the Hopetown Lighthouse.  It's relatively short with only 101 steps and it could use a new red and white paint job.  Chuck and I climbed to the top.....piece of cake....but David and Rita made it up about half way.  I was a little disappointed because the cat walk was closed but we still had an awesome sight. What a view looking down and across the harbor....there's Happy Hours II....there's Whisper....and over to the ocean.  I am loving every minute of this.  I love lighthouses and I love water! And, walking back down the spiral staircase wasn't as bad as the Cape Hatteras Light!

view from top of light -HH II bottom right
View from top of light. HHII bottom right

We hopped back in the dinghy.....I should say we climbed down the ladder into the dinghy because the water was on the low tide swing...and shot over to Capt'n Jacks for lunch.  We tied up to their deck and climbed up their ladder onto their dock.  The restaurant's deck was 8 feet off the water at this time today.  We found the perfect table out of the sun and connected to their wifi while waiting for the waitress.  Rita convinced me to order the fish reuben sandwich.  She ordered one and I was game to try it.  We had a choice of grouper or mahi-mahi....we went with the grouper because it is more tender.  David had a grouper dinner and then there's Chuck....a BLT sandwich with carrots!!  ha ha. The fish reuben was excellent.  I just would never think to put sauerkraut on fish!  I also had ice tea.  I am really missing my daily  large unsweetened ice tea from McDonald's.  I'm addicted!

After we ate lunch and caught up on our emails and blogs(Rita), we wanted to walk around Hope Town. The colorful houses and buildings sit very close to each other and the cement paths they consider their roads are only about the width of one car.  We saw only 2 vehicles. Everyone either walked, rode bikes, or drove golf carts.  You never know if the next building is a house or a store! They are intermingled among each other.  Signs are stapled or nailed to the light-posts showing the direction to the different shops.  The pace is very slow and all of this makes Hope Town a very lovely place. We didn't stay or walk very far because Rita's ankle was telling her it was time to go back to their boat.  Chuck and I will be back with Rick and Bev and we'll stay more than one day.  We didn't get to see it all!  On our back to the boat,  we spotted the 'sv/Dream Catcher' with Gary & Jane aboard.  Their home is a 41'  catamaran.  They just got into the harbor when the 4 of us motored over to say 'hi'.  Of course Gary invited us aboard for 'Dark & Stormys' but we had to pass since David had a bag of ice to get into his cooler.

 After we dropped David and Rita off at their boat, we went exploring around the harbor before we boarded our boat.  About an hour later, we ventured over to the public dinghy dock and to the sandy ocean beach that we had discovered earlier.  Chuck and I both love to walk, and a sandy beach is just the ultimate site!  Soon we were interrupted by black clouds approaching Hope Town, so  we headed back hoping we weren't going to get drenched.  We were in for a bit of a shock when we got back to the dinghy dock.  Our dinghy was missing!!!Oh no!  This is our lifeline to land when we're  anchored.  What are we going to do?  We looked around the dock and found it on the opposite side of where we left it!  Here's what happened.  We originally tied up on the windward side of the dock.  Chuck threw the anchor out back to keep the dinghy off the dock.  The wind must have kicked up when the front blew in and it blew the dinghy and anchor underneath to dock....it was low tide and there was plenty of room under the boards. Some kind sailor noticed the boat and pulled it to the leeward side.  We were very lucky it didn't get stuck under the dock...dinghy, motor, and anchor!! What an expense if we had to replace everything, even more so in the Bahamas!!

Taken from Capt'n Jacks deck

Look how close Whisper is to the blue Cape Dory!

We made it back to Happy Hours II and were in for the night.  We relaxed by reading and later watching the light flash from the lighthouse.  A perfect ending to a perfect day.......