Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Update from Exumas

Thank you Jill for covering the blog for us while we were without the internet, the further south we get the less reliable and available the internet is for us. Nassau is not the place I want my friends or family to come to visit us for the cruising life on our boat or to visit a nice Caribbean location, no sir. We’ll find and did find better places. (More on that later) What Jill is saying about Nassau is the story of refueling. The marina we were at didn’t have a fuel dock and the price of fuel ½ a mile away, the need to move the boat in shallow waters with strong current and LOTS of boats dictated that I refuel across the street at the “On the Run” Store as so many do. Of course I couldn’t drive the boat there but I was able to take the fuel tanks on deck, put that fuel into the boat and then get the cans to the store. So the way they do it is a grocery cart, yes sir you can get four or five cans in a cart, push it across the traffic and right up to the pumps. A nice gentleman will help you, a small tip was greatly appreciated from and the nice man and on my second trip there he made sure I came to his pump not the other guys set of pumps. I didn’t even have to pump the fuel which was good because the pumps were slow pumping diesel at about ½ gallon per minute, do the math. So I buzzed the door to get in, went inside sat next to the armed security guard, used their WIFI, had a beer and made a few calls. Of course it took like 4 hours for 2 trips to refill the tanks and tie the tanks down again, what else was I going to do, gamble at Atlantis, right?

We left Nassau early on Wednesday and had a six hour motor sail across the Northern edge of the Great Bahama Bank heading for the Exuma Islands. During that time the average depth was 20 ft but one part had only 14 ft with reported coral heads to watch out for so Arline was on the bow looking for them. No close calls. That only lasted an hour then off to sailing again. We anchored by Normans Island in some really beautiful water with a couple other boaters near a wrecked plane. You really couldn’t tell it was a plane until you got up close to it in the dingy and saw a wing with an engine and propeller on it. I would guess it was an old DC3, sorry Jill no pictures on the way down, I’ll try for the same spot on the way home to get some with our new viewing bucket. Anchoring was a little tricky because there was a strong current there from the tide, but in 8 ft of water at low tide we could see the anchor in the morning. We were right over it at slack high tide. On shore the sand was very course, a couple of buildings that were old restaurants that Robin Williams in “Club Paradise” would have bought into. It really was very pretty there. We were underway before 8 am trying to get to the Exuma Park on Warderick Wells. They have mooring balls, we couldn’t get to the most protected area so we settled for an evening in the area of Emerald Rock which is open to wind from the west, so we were good for the night at least. Getting a mooring ball in the protected area is like getting a beach chair at a resort. You have to be pushing and aggressive on the VHF in the morning, but chances are you’re not going to get one. We went ashore with the dogs; they could only go ashore at a beach, had to be on a lead and couldn’t go on the trails. The beaches were the cleanest so far and fantastic. The following morning the wind shifted around to the west and picked up, the mooring field was not the place to be, so off before 8 am again. The wind was right on our nose (of Course) so we tacked out a couple miles allowing us to make our waypoint under sail and we did. By noon we were taking sails down to get into Staniel Cay. The water is in the 10 ft range coming into the area and about 2 hours from low tide and at max ebb, meaning it was ripping though this little area or cut we had to go. By ripping I think it was moving at about 2 or 3 knots, carrying us along with it. I was only trying to move at 3 knots to maneuver into an opening of 100 ft around a point and before the rocks, rounded the point and opened it up, full RPM and slowly we made ground but really had to Fly Kasidah sideways throught the small opening. Way to go Auntie, (remember that’s the engines name now) It was still ripping in the area we wanted to anchor. We were still a few hours away from low tide and dropped anchor in a nice sandy spot a little shallower than I would have liked but lots of boats were around, so prime spots had been taken already. After setting the anchor in some nice sand and settling down for a while I took the dingy over the anchor and saw that the chain had fouled around the shank of it, trying to pull it around in the dinghy didn’t work so a swim was in order at slack tide. It must have been a good idea because several other boats were checking theirs too. No suit was needed it was very warm. The bottom here is mostly sand and it is ripped across like snow drifts (You all know what those look like). As I looked back to Kasidah I saw her keel, she had settled down onto one of these sand drifts with deeper water on both sides by at least a foot. It really was a very pretty sight, even from 100 or 150 ft under water I could see as clear as could be. It’s one of those moments or sites that will stick with me for quite a while. First day Sara and Blue meet Nelson and played a lot on the beach. We offered up some tools to help fix an outboard on another boat of new friends. Back to the boat late afternoon we found that the full moon meant extra low tide, leaving Kasidah sitting on the bottom again. It wasn’t heeled over bad or even stuck by that much, it’s just that we hadn’t been swinging like every one else and we had gotten close to one boat (50 ft) he had his engine running and was very nervous. Tide was coming up but darkness and a front with winds of 30 Knots was coming soon. They suggested we move NOW, I would have liked to wait because I knew our anchor was set right and the next low tide would be up by at least a foot, but,…. So Frank from “Fat Chance” pulled the top of the mast over with his dingy (it didn’t take much) and off we were. But the anchor had been compromised so a reset was in order, and the wind is now picking up, !@#$&*. We got a good set first try and rode out the night on almost 100 ft of chain in the cockpit as did many other people. 2 or 3 boats dragged and got tangled up doing minor damage to each other as early as 11pm. It was a long night, the over sized anchor and chain held great and our distance from other boats was ok. Checked the anchor in the morning and only the smallest part of the top could be seen. It was a bit of a fright when we found that one boat that dragged right by us and we didn’t see him till he was trying to get back to his spot to reanchor. So with a good anchor set we’re staying put for a couple of days. Oh yeah most boats left this morning for the other side of Majors Island to get away from the 10 to 20 mph wind, but they’ll have to come back here by Wednesday, we’re staying put and will settle on a bit of a roll. But knowing the anchor is set an extra cocktail at night and I’m out for the night. We’ve fired up the water maker and charging battery’s, I think a walk about town is in order shortly.

Staniel Cay is indeed one of the places that we would want people to come. All you do is buy your round trip ticket to Nassau from the states for the time you have. And then check out Flamingo Air, it's $99 one way from Nassau to Staniel, Black Point, or Little farmers, the same flight twice a day, and you just get off where ever you what to. Then when ever you need to you just hop back on and go back to Nassau, and catch your flight back to the states. Of course in Nassau you’ll have to do the check in and security thing so leave time for at of that. Check the Staniel Cay Yacht Club’s web site, they have a couple of cute beach huts that are on the beach to rent and there are other rental cabins too. Cheeseburger in paradise is the only caption I can think of for this place. Of course we'd need to see your return flight ticket to the states before we let you and your luggage onto the golf cart to the dingy dock. Or you better pack light because we might have to carry the bags to the dock, the 2 golf carts might be rented out already.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To the world, from Jill

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to let everyone know where mom and dad where headed next. They have been and Nassau now for a couple days and to their dismay it did not hold up to any standards. I'll let them tell the story when they get good internet again however from what I can tell Nassau is not a very welcoming place. They couldn't find any really cheap or free internet so I briefly talked to them with a bad signal at a very noisy cafe. They said that there is a lot of crime, security is a problem, and everything is extremely expensive.

They are heading away from Nassau tomorrow, Wednesday, to head farther southeast to the Exhumes Islands. They are going to try and stop first at Norman's island, where their is apparently a air plane crash site that I am anxious to see pictures of. Then they want to head farther south to the Waderick Well's island which is also happens to be a national park. It looks very pretty from satellite image.

They are not sure where they will be able to pick up internet again, there is no signs of getting any at Norman's island so it will probably not be until they get to Waderick Wells.


Monday, January 17, 2011

1/15/11 our first days out from GHC

Well everyone knows about the rebuilt motor, I'm amazed at how many people I've
talked to that have had to do this out here. I'm very pleased and confident in
the job we did and in finding the cause, then installing new parts and sensors to
make sure we have an early and multiple warnings if the same failure accurres.

We ran auntie (I had a great aunt whose last name was Wescott, and that's
easier than Westerbeke, she may have been tougher than this diesel engine) 5 hours
at the dock to break it in right. I don't think I like using that word, break, when
taking about Auntie. It runs as good as ever and maybe better. We left Great Harbour
Cay Marina with little fan fare early in morning to get out on a high tide, but
with a heavy heart missing so many local people who went out of their way to help us
and include us in social ring of parties. We really can't say enough about all of

After a beat up wind on a starboard tack we maneuvered around 2 large cruise ships
anchored on the north side of Coco isalnd. This is thier private island where masses
of people get off the ships to go ashore for the great beach there and to buy island
trinkets that the locals sell there, that they bring in from Miami. Then we are on
a 4 hour run with 18 kt winds and a following sea. This is one of the first sails
we've had on Kasidah in a while and I do love how she handles herself in the seas.
We anchored behind white sand cay in 20 ft of clear water and only one other boat
in sight. It is still blowing pretty good at 15 knts and the current has put the
wind on our beam with a pretty good swell setting up, We are riding well, better
than the 31ft boat with a plumb bow line next to us. Wind and solar have kept all
things working well, cold things cold, anchor alarm on, anchor light on, and still
having enough power to make ice, mmmm.

Sunday: Well I will admit it was a little more Rollie than we would like it to be
overnight. I slept in the cockpit for 2 reasons, less rolling, nice breeze, and just
in case the anchor dragged, you pick the 2. We were only 100 yards from jagged
rocks. So on Sunday morning my confidence level was way up in my anchor and chain,
we twisted and turned and yanked on that thing all night long and it held! We made
the decision not to stay as we had planned, but to move on to Nassau. You can't get
there when the wind is SE and it had just turned a bit more east than they had
predicted, so SE was next.

Off we went a bit late and the wind kept Kasidah moving over 6 knts with a little
help from auntie, with waves about 3 to 5 ft. Another great day on Kasidah. We
arrived at Nassau at 5 pm the exact same time as 2 Huge cruise boat where leaving.
We had to wait outside the makers for one to leave and then we drove auntie fast
as we dared in front of the 2nd boat and made dock just at dusk. Nassua has more
people living here than the rest of all tha Bahamas. Plus 4 or 5 big boats come in
each day and drop hoards of people to buy there little trinkets from the locals ;-).

So we will spend a couple of days here looking for free wifi and cheap food. We need
more stores, fuel and a pizza would taste good too. The weather next week looks like
we'll cross a bank east and south of here on Wendsday. We're trying to get south to
some people we met in Stuart and crossed with, Hey Jude. These are the folks that
helped us get in when our engine quite.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sad Good-Bye but happy to go.........

Jon has finished all the little last minute things on the boat and gives the "ok its time to depart sign". Now we are just waiting for the wind to die down a bit more. Monday we were pretty much ready to leave but then as we looked at the weather we decided to wait out the next front so we would not be at some remote place and have something go wrong. Of course Jeff has said that if we run into any problems call him on the radio and he can be there in 15 minutes. Wow what a guy.....These type of people don't come around everyday, well maybe they don't because they spend most of their time here on the Island, and since they are great people they stopped by and asked us to join them for Cheeseburgers and fries at a local place in town, the burgers were great just like they said(thanks Jeff and Lana). We are having a hard time saying goodbye to this place.
So our plans are to leave first thing either Tomorrow or Friday which we will leave up to the weather gods and decide when we walk the dogs to the other side of the island in the morning and see how the seas look. We will be at and anchorage one night on the inside of an island south of here for shelter then off to Nassau for one or two night before heading to the Exuma on the eastern side of the Bahamas.

Its really funny how long your beard can grow when you stop moving.....

OK Schyler we forgot FPM's koozie or we would have used that instead, so here is another plug for our good friend. This was my favorite shot.

Monday, January 10, 2011

She is in.... and now running

Jon and Victor have been working on the engine for two days now. We brought it to the boat yesterday and began getting all hoses and gaskets ready to drop her in. The drop-in went fine with the help of Tyrone and a local boy. Jon did notice we were short one gasket so had to work around it. With some luck she should be running later today.
Once again we were invited to a few functions on the Island. Jan came over and drove me to the beach to do a little walking with the dogs and then we sat on her porch and played scrabble. Later on we were invited for Corned beef and cabbage at Jeff and Lana's house which ended up being a great evening of chit chat with more homeowners from the island. I love some of the vehicles that they drive around here and of course they drive on the left side of the road here.
Dorcus left this morning to head back to her place in Florida but before leaving she brought us a "Kindness package" which consisted of some of our favorite items from Newman's Own products, plus an awesome Bracelet that she had made for me (If you like it I am taking orders for her). We hope our paths meet again on a beach somewhere because it seems already as we have known her forever and it would be way to cool to meet again.
Well since I have started to write this entree in the blog Jon has managed to get the engine running so I think we will be drinking Champagne tonight (which was sent to us by our three kids). ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

As we were talking to Jeff on the dock a huge yacht pulled up next to us and we found out that it is Jack Nicklaus's, then a jet came in so this should be interesting. He is a big bonefisherman so he comes to the Berry's a lot we were told.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Parts Are Here!

Finally the box of parts to repair the engine came in today. Our friend Jeff and his awesome Wife Lana, have helped us with many things, I repaired our extra outboard in his shop,

we eat dinner with them and some of their wonderful friends last night, boy can they entertain and the steaks were the best.

He also found out when the flight and package was coming in. There are no scheduled freight flights here only charters and they come only when they are full. So a ride to the airport (over statement, it's more of a landing strip) and a wait of about an hour found a plane landing with nothing but freight. Jeff talked to his friend at customs and we found our box-o-parts. The officer looked at my cruising permit and said have a nice day. We where told that they might try to collect duty of 35% on the parts which would have been $700. Instead we got the "have a nice day and hope you get it going soon". More about parts later
Tonight we are invited to a couples home that are from Michigan, their place is right across from the boat so I think we will go by dink or maybe just holler for them to pick us up, they don't mind:). Jon is off to Dorcus's boat to try and fix an electrical problem she has had with the boat and it seems that no one can do this sort of work on the island so Jon was more than happy to take a look.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wish you all were here........

We have been enjoying the island to the fullest and the weather has been absolutely the best we could ask for. We have been to beach party's, house party's and of course our own party's. Joe the manager here at the marina has been wonderful and has invited us to many events on the island. On New Years eve we went to a local place (just in front of our boat) that everyone gathered to listen to a band from Nassau. We met Joe's girlfriend Dorcus which happens to be the second person we've met with the name Dorcus so this was a conversation in its own, she is such a great person to hang out with and hope to meet up with in the future. One night they invited us over to their place for a cookout with some other homeowners of the island and a few people that work at the marina for Joe. This is Dorcus and Meeko, Meeko works for Joe and ended up driving us around alot (what a great guy).
We have been to many beaches, trying not to stop at the same ones twice. We even had a great time going out for conch this morning, we decided we would only get six or so, if we could even find the dam things. We found a place that on the map said grass and dry at low tide so off we went. It was a place near the cruise-ships. We watched the tide and decided to go right after high tide so it would give us a little time before we would have to either leave or sit there till we could move the dink with enough water under us. Once we got to the spot I started standing up so I could see more ground and in a matter of about five minutes we spotted our first conch, it only took about twenty minutes and we had our six conch and off to the beach to extract the critters and clean them.
Good news so far on the engine parts. Everything should be here Thusday..........