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Sunday, December 31, 2006

16 DEC thru 31 DEC 06, Current, N. Eleuthera, Bahamas

GPS Position: 25°24'.778N: 76°47'.323W

These past two days have been a maze of stores and shopping. The interior of the boat looks like a Wal-Mart 18 wheeler with stuff packed into every spare storage compartment. Perry and I have all of the stuff for Christmas, his B-day party and the stuff for the boat and our forthcoming guests. There’s no spare room on board.

With everything loaded, we’ve decided to take advantage of a weather window and leave the US around 1630 EST and head across to Bimini. The trip took just shy of eight hours and we spent the first night anchored off of North Bimini.

In the morning, we set out across the Great Bahama Bank toward Chub Cay and had an uneventful trip. We arrived at Chub Cay around 2230 and anchored out until morning, then we went into the harbor, took on fuel and cleared customs and immigration. Having passed inspection, we now have our cruising permit and are legal for up to the next twelve months in the Bahamas.

Leaving Chub Cay, our next destination was Nassau, on the island of New Providence. I have reservations at the Nassau Yacht Haven beginning tomorrowbut we should arrive well before sunset today, so we'll anchor out in the harbour, west of the twin bridges connecting to Paradise Island, until morning.

It's the 20th and we're snug in Nassau Yacht Haven. Perry and I went up Mackey St. and had breakfast at the local Wendy's and then picked up a few things at the Super Value at the top of the hill. Kim arrived from the airport, via cab, at 1730. She has pictures of our new granddaughter, a few things she picked up in Atlanta and her luggage. It's good to have her back on board again.

We spent the 21st shopping for some last minute Christmas items. Bay Street, Mackie Street and all points in between. Kim and I learned that the bus routes are the best, cheapest way to negotiate downtown Nassau. We finished up at 1630 EST and returned to the Yacht Haven. The Dock Master allowed us a late checkout and we finally departed Nassau Harbour at 1700 EST.

We followed the islands between Nassau and N. Eleuthera, staying close on the west side, in the lee of an east wind. We made N. Eleuthera at 2330 EST and anchored off of N. Beach at 25°24'.778N: 77°47'.323W. Tomorrow, we’ll move over to Grants’ Dock and offload the stores from the boat. That should give us a lot more room, and with Kim's sister coming, we'll surely need it..

It is Christmas Eve and we are anchored off of our favorite place in the Bahamas; North Beach, Current, N. Eleuthera. The sky is full of stars, the wind is warm and light and the world seems at peace. The only thing that could make it better is to have all of the kids here with us. Kim’s sister and Grandniece arrive tomorrow, however, and we’re looking forward to having them aboard. At least we'll have some family here over Christmas.

Sonia and Zoey arrived at N. Eleuthera Airport right on schedule. They had a long trip from Oklahoma and are pretty tired. We had celebrated Christmas with Perry and his family in the morning and now we got to open more preasents with Sonia and Zoey in the evening. We were back on the boat and asleep by 2200 hrs as we had to get up early on Boxing Day and help with Perry's 60th birthday party celebration.

We were ashore by 0900 and people were already making preparations for the party. This was a a big deal with the entire town invited (about 117 people) plus at least that many more from down island.

Kim and Sonia worked on pasting sequins and colored paper to the Junkanoo style banner that wished Perry a Happy 60th Birthday, while I helped Perry get the town gazebo set up with decorations, chairs and coolers of ice for the pop and beer.

The party lasted from noon until nearly dark. Believe me when I say that nobody went home hungry. There was music and dancing and a "Rush" put on by the Junkanoo Association from Tarpum Bay. If there was anyone there that didn't have a good time, it was thier own fault.

The day of the 27th, we took the boat to Spanish Wells to get fuel and to do some shopping in town. We docked at Ronald's Service Center, took on about 40 gallons of fuel and spent 4 hours or so shopping in town. Then, it was back to our anchorage off N. Beach, dinner and bed.

The next three days were spent touring Harbour Island and the island of Eleuthera as far south as Rock Sound. We walked beaches, found seabeans, explored old churches and visited many points of intrest on the island. With this much activity, no one had any trouble sleeping each night when we returned to the boat.

On the 31st, we were up early and dinghied ashore to get Sonia and Zoey to the airport. It was a sad parting, but we hope we'll be able to do this kind of thing again sometime soon.

We returned to the boat well after dark and were almost asleep when WW III broke out on the beach. Someone set off rockets and aerial bursts for almost an hour and ended up being one of the best fireworks displays we'd ever seen.


Friday, December 15, 2006

01 DEC thru 15 DEC 06, Miami Beach, FL

GPS Position: 25°6’.156N: 80°08’.341W

After 37 days in Charleston, we are back on the water again. We need to get as far south, as quickly as we can so we can make the Bahamas by Christmas. We're achoring out as much as possible to maximize our float time and minimize our expenses. As we head south, however, we're beginning to have problems on the boat with the alternator, the autopilot motor (again) and the breaker panel blowing breakers at odd times. I spoke with Hunter and they've instructed me to stop at St. Augustine Marine and they'll have someone there to correct the problems.

After passing through the Bridge of Lions, we made a northerly turn up the San Sebastian River to St. Augustine Marine. We'll be staying here until the "laundry list" has been completed to our satisfaction. St. Augustine Marine appears to be well run and very professional in their approach to repair work. We'll see.

On the 7th, we learned that we have our first grandchild. A girl, Havyn Ansley, was born in Atlanta, GA at 2359 EDT, on December 6, 2006. How cool! Kim will be leaving for Atlanta as soon as we hit St. Augustine; me, I'll stay with the boat.

By the end of business on the 8th, the laundry list was complete. A threshold was installed in the aft head shower to prevent water from running out of the shower, onto the main head floor. Hunter Marine sent in a technician who replaced both the AC and DC breaker panels and the AC/DC control panel with upgraded units. The main engine alternator is now working after finding a 10-amp fuse blown in the control circuit. A second Mamba Motor for the Autopilot was installed in the Helm (this one has a new style of clutch that is supposed to cure the motor failure issues.) And lastly, two (2) new zincs were installed on the main prop shaft.

With the repairs finished, it's on to Miami to meet with my Bahamian friend, Perry Neilly, who lives in Current, N. Eleuthera. We paln to do some Christmas shopping here and take everything over to his home in the boat. We'll meet Kim in Nassau and all go to Eleuthera for Christmas.

The first night, I anchored off of the town of Oak Hill, FL. Originally, I intended to anchor just South of the last New Smyrna Beach Bridge. When I got to the site, however, it was packed with boats at anchor. As a result, I had to continue on South until I could find a proper spot to drop the hook. Oak Hill is the last town before the Great Mosquito Lagoon, which is best navigated in the daylight.

The second night, I ended up just off of Palm Bay, FL. I elected to stop early as there’s no other place to anchor along this stretch for another two hours and in two more hours it will be pitch black outside. I’m anchored near “I WANDA,” which is a boat we met in Charleston, SC. The owners are French Canadian and they left Charleston about three days before Kim and me. We chatted on the VHF for a bit and then both hit the hay. In the morning, I was underway at 0630, but I WANDA wasn't leaving until 0700, so we parted company and I continued on south.

It's taken three days to get to the town of Tequesta, FL and shortly before my arrival, the alternator failed again. I replaced the blown fuse, but it blew almost immediately. I got on the radio and arranged to stay at the JIB Yacht Club Marina and when I pulled in to the palce, there was Milano Mist.

Once berthed, I called Hunter and they'll have a new alternator on the way to me in the morning. So, for the short term, I'll have to sit here patiently and wait on my parts. What I can do while waiting, however, is to tear down the alternator and get the new unit ready to be installed. By doing it that way, I can have the new alternator installed and running within 30 minutes after it arrives.

The alternator arrived at 1030 EDT sharp on the 14th. I had the new unit installed, the engine running and power going to the batteries at 1045 hrs. Not too bad! I was underway and heading south by 1055 with all systems go. I'll have to figure a way to send the bad alternator back to Hunter sometime in the future, but for now, it's on to Miami.

I made it to Ft Lauderdale and went past Port Everglades to the Dania Cut-off Canal. Just inside the canal, I anchored in about 10 feet of water and spent a quiet night. In the morning, I Made my way back to Port Everglades, went outside and headed south, parallel to the shore, towards Miami.

I arrived in North Miami Beach around 1330 EDT and called in to the Miami Beach Marina. I was able to get a slip there and was docked by 1430. Once docked, I got on the VHF and made contact with the fishing boat that had given Perry a ride from the Bahamas to the US. The Captain said he'd bring Perry to the marina after they were done with customs and immigration.

While waiting, I called and arranged for a rental car for the next couple of days. We'll be able to pick it up in the morning after 0930 hrs. With that done, the Captain dropped Perry off at the marina around 2300 hrs. Both of us were dead tired, so knowing we'll have pleanty of time to catch up on old times, we both hit the hay and prepared to get an early start tomorrow.