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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

16 FEB thru 28 FEB 07 - Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas

GPS Position: 26°04'.538N: 77°18'.998W

The storm came back today, but not as bad as yesterday morning. Rather than stay on the boat, we rented a car and went down island exploring. We found a tower that stood 40 feet above the hilltop and took some photos from its top. Then we went to Marsh Harbor and went to the grocery and hardware store.

Following Marsh Harbour, we went down to Cherokee (what a strange place) where people peek out from window curtains as you drive by and no one comes out and speaks to strangers. We went up in the hills, though, and found some orchids and air plants and took them to give to Rosie. Then, we went back to Treasure Cay, put our findings away, turned in the car and called it a night.

It’s the 20th and due to checking out from the marina and getting some last minute items from the grocery, we got a late start this morning. WindKist and About Time advised us they were going to go ahead to Guana Cay, so they departed about 0800 EST. We finally got underway at 1000 hrs, but we’re not really concerned about the lateness of the hour, as Guana Cay is only about a two-hour sail from Treasure Cay.
The trip over was uneventful and we arrived in Orchid Bay around 1230 hrs. WindKist and About Time were already situated and had reserved us a mooring ball. Gary got in his dinghy and helped us tie up to the mooring. I then shut down all but the most essential electrical items on the boat and we all dinghied in to visit the famous Knipper’s Beachside Bar.

Knipper’s is really neat and is painted in all sorts of bright colors and there is a pool, bar, restaurant and souvenir shop. We walked around and explored until close to sunset. Then, it was back to the boat for dinner and some relaxation. Tomorrow, we move on to Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco Islands. WindKist and About Time are staying in Guana Cay and then heading back to the northern Abacos for the balance of the winter. We’re sorry to leave them, but we need to move on towards Eleuthera.

We departed Orchid Bay around 0930 EST to the sound of conch horns blowing as we passed. Dan and Debbie Skidmore had gotten up and serenaded us as we left the harbour. It was really quite touching and a wonderful sendoff.

The passage to Hope Town was uneventful and we arrived at the above location around 1130 hrs. We are staying at the Club Soleil Marina, which is right under the Hope Town Lighthouse, across the harbour from the actual town. The lighthouse is one of two remaining Bahamian lighthouses that have full time tenders.

Chip and Kay (Beso) arrived around 1000 hrs this morning. It’s really great to see them again and to catch up on the past few weeks. Once they’d settled in, we all dinghied over to Captain Jack’s for happy hour and hors d'oeuvres. It’s another day in paradise.

Today, the 25th, we’re going to a soccer game. We got up around 0800 EST and got ready to go to Marsh Harbour. Chip came over in his dinghy and carried us to the Hope Town Ferry Dock so we could catch the 9:45 AM ferry.

The soccer matches were crazy!!! Absolutely every aspect of every match was gambled upon by the fans on the sidelines and Kim and I saw as much as $2,000.00 change hands on a single bet. The first match ended without any real issues. The second match, however, ended in a huge fight that saw one person being hit over the head by another with a school desk.

After the matches, it was back to the ferry and to Hope Town. It was really an exciting day and Kim and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

This morning, the 26th, there’s a strong south wind blowing at about 17 knots. Kim and I were up at 0800, filled all of the boat’s water tanks, paid the dock master for our stay and left Club Soleil Marina at 11:30 AM. From there we went to Lighthouse Harbour Marina to take on fuel and were on our way.

BESO passed us just as we were finishing up with the fueling. We followed them out of the harbour and all the way to Little Harbour, Abaco, where we hooked onto a mooring for our two day stay here.

At Little Harbour, there are only two things, Johnston’s Gallery of Bronze and Pete’s Pub. At the gallery, one can get beautiful art and become cultured. At Pete’s Pub, one can get good food, Kalik beer, rum and become inebriated. Here, Pete Johnston can be found sipping absolute vodka while entertaining his clientele with wit and commentary on an endless number of subjects. Under an awning made of multicolored T-shirts from patrons past, cruisers enjoy an endless measure of good food, good drink and good times at this southernmost, Abaconian oasis.

Kim and I got up at 0600 EST and got ready to depart Little Harbour. Beso and I headed south, BESO towards Royal Island and us to Nassau. Just past Hole-in-the-Wall, a major storm cell grew off of our nose and engulfed both Beso and us. We saw winds in excess of 74 Kts and waves in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 feet. Fortunately, it only lasted for a short period of time (25 minutes or less) and then the weather calmed back down.

We arrived at the Nassau Yacht Haven about 1830 EST and headed for our slip. Once tied up, we washed off the boat and settled in for a good night's sleep.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

01 FEB thru 15 FEB 07: Treasure Cay, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas

GPS Position: 26°40'.367N: 77°16'.778W

Over the past two weeks, many boats have come into West End seeking shelter from the unpredictable weather. We met Gary and Catharine Johnson (s/v Wind Kist) today and they are really nice people. They have a Hunter 42 and Gary does really great woodwork, so their boat has a lot of storage. Really cool!!!

The four of us got another car today and went back into Freeport and Lucaya and played tourist. After leaving the Old Bahama Bay, you go approximately 15 minutes to get to the local village of West End where we stopped at the local bakery for bread, a piece of bread pudding, and a cinnamon bun for later.

Our main stop was the International Bazaar, with its impressive red Torii Gate entrance. Then, it was on to “Our Lucaya”, which is loaded with nice, modern hotels and where the cruise ships come in to Grand Bahama Island. We saw the pictorial red-and-white striped lighthouse at Lighthouse Pointe as well as The Westin Hotel with its beautiful beach, grounds, flowers, palms and outside pool area.

Then we walked through UNEXSO, circled around past the Dolphin Experience
and Miss and Mr. Pirate statues, toured the Lucayan Marketplace and visited the Arts and Crafts Market with stalls of straw goods, linens, shells and other Bahamian souvenirs. Afterwards, we headed back to Old Bahama Bay Resort to unpack our goodies and rest from our day’s activities.

We spent the day repacking the boat and making ready to sail. We’re supposed to have a three or four day window starting the 4th, and we can’t believe it’s true. We haven’t had a window that big since summer time. Went to the m/v BESO for cocktails. Chip and Kay Marsh are really nice people and their boat is beautiful. The three of us, BESO, Wind Kist and Current Jumper are all going to the Abacos tomorrow.

We got up this morning about 0630 EST and made ready to depart Old Bahama Bay Resort. The sea is like glass and there is a light (4 to 6 knot) wind out of the NE. No one can believe how calm it was on the water today. Most of the day was like sailing on a piece of glass. We arrived at Great Sale Cay around 1600 EST and anchored for the night.

The next day we were on our way to Allan’s Pensacola Cay. The transit today was a repeat of yesterday, calm seas, no waves or swells and the sun shone brightly all day. We followed “BESO” & “WindKist,” arriving at the cay around 1215 EST. What a pretty place this is!

Gary, Catharine, Kay, Kim and I all went shelling together. We spent most of the afternoon on these two beaches, looking for shells. I was very lucky and found a Sea Heart Bean on the eastern shore. If dried, sanded carefully and polished, it will make a beautiful souvenir of the trip.

On the 10th, we departed at 1000 hrs as planned. The wind was in our favor and we were finally able to put up the sails for the entire journey to Green Turtle Cay. We averaged 5.6 Kts on the trip and anchored in New Plymouth Harbour.

Once secure, we dropped the dinghy and went into the town of New Plymouth with WindKist and Beso. We walked around town, went to the grocery and ate lunch at an FNM political rally. We had freshly BBQ chicken and ribs, peas and rice and coleslaw. What a treat!!

We returned to the boat around sunset and made the dinghy fast in its davits. Around 2000 hrs, we started the generator and, after about 15 minutes, lost all electric power. I opened the generator housing and discovered that the electrical end pulley had broken loose and shredded the drive belt. I have an extra drive belt, but the pulley bolt holes are stripped and I cannot tighten them. I'll have to wait until Monday and try to get some parts sent.

Monday, we chose to move on to Treasure Cay. BESO is staying here at the Green Turtle Club and we'll reconnect later. There is a storm front coming and this may be the last chance to make it through the Whale Cay Cut. Once in Treasure Cay, we'll have good phone service and Internet and can, hopefully, make arrangements for generator parts.
We made Whale Cay Cut around 0945 hrs and it took an hour to make the passage through it. The seas became increasingly worse as me neared the other side of the passage, but once we got back in the lea of Whale Cay on the other end, things calmed down to normal.

We arrived at the entrance to Treasure Cay and pulled into the marina about 1150 and docked into slip L-17. WindKist is on the dock across from us. We all explored Treasure Cay and it appears to be really nice. Lots of stores and amenities make this appear to be a good place to wait out the coming storm. We went to the beach club for lunch. Cheeseburgers, real French-fries and really, really cold beer made it a great meal.

The main body of the storm finally moved in to Treasure Cay last night. The wind is in the 30 to 35 Kt range and it’s raining off and on in band after band of heavy squalls, but in the afternoon, it cleared off some. We rented a golf cart and explored the north end of the island. We found half a dozen good coconuts and a whale vertebra. We also met Dan And Debbie Skidmore from S/V About Time. They are from West Virginia and live on their Hunter 42. All in all, a pretty cool day.

Tonight, the 15th, is Pizza night at the Harbour Club. We went with WindKist and About Time to try native pizza. Boy were we surprised. The set-up was just like in a big pizza carryout in the US. Lot’s of toppings, cheese and sauce to make a pizza to die for. We had pizza and cold beer and enjoyed it to the sound of a “rake and scrape” band. Ah, what a night.