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Monday, June 30, 2008

Leaving Eleuthera

We are finally on our way! The plan was to leave Spanish Wells on Wednesday, heading to Little Harbor, Abaco. This would have been great had it not been for the thunderstorm and high winds that arrived unexpectedly at 7:45am. "Ole’ Pot," a pilot boat captain, was hired to take us out the back channel of Spanish Wells and across the infamous, uncharted "Devil's Backbone Reef." Going across the reef would save us 4 hours of travel time and $40.00 worth of fuel. We had arranged with him to leave at 8:00am, but due to the storm, we left 35 minutes later and were very wet!

With the rain over, we followed Ole' Pot out of Spanish Wells Harbour and out the north channel past Gun Point. Ole' Pot seemd to know where he was going, even though the water was cloudy from the rain, churning from the wind and there were no visible landmarks. It was truly amazing to watch the way he navigated the reef by instinct alone. As promised, however, we were soon through the shallow coral reef, although the water under our boat was never less than 8' in depth, and with a final wave good bye, Ole' Pot was gone and we were on our way to the Abaco Islands.

The crossing to Little Harbor was fairly uneventful, although Jeremy would disagree!! We were barely outside of Spanish Wells and he became sick...I mean really sick. The seas were 4’ to 6’ in height and Jeremy stayed below, in the forward cabin, in the dark, the whole trip!!! We got to Little Harbor around 3:00pm and, once we were in calmer waters, Jeremy started to feel much better.

Once inside Little Harbour, we hooked onto a mooring ball and made the boat ready to spend the night. Then, we all went ashore and checked out "Pete's Pub." Not much new, but the mosquitoes were horrendous! We counted 22 bites on Havyn today! Andie, Gordon, and Jeremy spent an hour killing them in the cabin before we could call it a night.

I was awakened at 4:30am with mosquitoes back in force and buzzing all around my head. I went below and got 2 Bounce dryer sheets, rubbed one around my head, the other on my legs. Then, I laid one sheet on my chest and the other between my toes and the mosquitoes stopped biting! The dryer sheets really worked and I managed 4 more hours of sleep!!

The next morning, we pulled anchor at 8:00am and three and a half hours later, we were tied up to the dock in Hope Town, at the Club Soliel Marina!! The marina lies underneath the famous Hope Town Lighthouse, which was built in 1864 and still operates to this day. After a tour of the lighthouse, we got into the dinghy, headed across the harbor to the town and had an early dinner at “Captain Jack’s”. It’s still one of the most reasonably priced meals you can get in the Bahamas! Havyn and Andie enjoyed their fish, while the rest of us had the cracked conch. Still can’t get over $4.00 beers and $2.00 cokes though!!

Tonight, we will all enjoy the AC and get a good night’s sleep, except for Andie, who says it’s too cold!! (Schooner sure likes it!!) Tomorrow, it’s a ride on the local ferry and a trip to Marsh Harbour for a day of sightseeing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Busy Weekend

Today is Monday and we are still in Spanish Wells. We have had rain every day and beautiful lightening shows every night. Andie, Havyn and I have spent some time at the beach, but most of our time has been spent with the Neilly’s.

On Saturday night, we had the privilege of attending the 50th wedding anniversary and vow renewal of Perry’s brother and sister-in-law, Lawrence and Shelia Neilly. It was a community event! Perry is one of 10 children and all but one is still living and most have family still living in Current. So, if you aren’t a Neilly, you are most likely related to one somehow! We are fortunate to have been included in this event and enjoyed seeing so many of the family and friends of Lawrence and Shelia. (I have included some pictures in a slide show for your enjoyment.) Havyn was a real trooper, sitting through the wedding and party that followed. She made friends with everyone!! And, the comment of the night was “she reminds us so much of Andie 27years ago.” It brought back memories for all!!
Sunday was quietly spent on the Neilly’s front porch. Schooner was quietly resting when 2 cats fighting went running by, which awakened their cat Twinkles. Twinkles must have thought Schooner was involved in the skirmish because she came out from under the couch and walked over face to face with Schooner and attacked her!! Yes, I said ATTACKED her!! Schooner was so surprised and she cried out like a baby; she only suffered a scratch to her nose and cowered to her daddy’s lap. It was so out of character for Twinkles and she quickly knew she was wrong, especially after Perry smacked her hip for it!! I hope the two will make up and Schooner can move on without any animosity towards cats!

So we will be here until Wednesday, as we wait for a low-pressure system (Tropical Wave) to pass…thank you Chip for the weather reports, now if they would only make Gordon easier to live with!! All this rain has him in a frumpy mood!! Along with his boat complaints!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another Day in Paradise

Oh my, what a busy week it has been! After touring Nassau most of last week, I came down with flu like symptoms and spent most of Saturday in bed. This kept us in Nassau one more day, so on Sunday, we headed to Current, North Eleuthera. The sail over was great! The seas were as flat as I’ve ever seen, but we still a bit of a breeze, so we had the sails up and made it in just over 5 hours. We dropped anchor and Andie and Havyn made fast for the water. Havyn really likes the water, but she’s not so keen on the sand.
On Monday night it was quite hot (and it wasn’t just me) and I slept in the cockpit. I didn’t sleep too much, as we were circled by thunderstorms. The lightening was absolutely beautiful and lit the sky all about! In between the rainstorms, the almost full moon lit the sky along with all the stars in the world. If it hadn’t been for the gusts of 50knot winds all would have been peaceful. With more storms on the way, Gordon wanted to play it safe and move over to Spanish Wells, which fit the plan to attend Tevin Neilly’s 6th grade graduation today. For graduating only 21 students, it was a very lengthy ceremony, 3 hours!! (Havyn ate a box of animal crackers, a bag of fruit bites, a bottle of water and a banana!) Their message was “with determination and diligence come rewards,” very appropriate for the Bahamas! Tevin will start grade 7 in the fall, at the same school here in Spanish Wells. We were also able to meet up with Tony Symonette, who was only 16 the last time I saw him. Now he has 5 children, one who's in college in Florida. What a nice surprise that was. Although a little older, he still looked like Tony!

We are still waiting out some yucky weather (just like Florida with afternoon rain) and we’ll be here until Friday most likely! Havyn and Andie will get to see Spanish Wells and I'll have AC for a few nights!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nassau With Andie & Havyn

Andie and Havyn arrived late on Tuesday, the 10th, but, even though we stayed up late talking, we were up and moving early on Wednesday. Andie, Havyn and I walked down to the City Market (thanks Sharon & Bern for showing us this store) and picked out a few things, then walked back to the boat to pick up Gordon. He had stayed behind, so he could install the new voltage regulator that Andie brought down. Thanks to BESO, we have been able to keep running for the last month, because they loaned us the extra voltage regulator they had on board (what great friends!)

With the work finished on board, we walked over the bridge to Paradise Island and did a walking tour of “Atlantis.” Thanks to my quick talking; we were able to see all of the aquarium and the outside pools and water features for FREE! We walked the little legs off Havyn!!
On our return across the bridge, we stopped at “TONY’S SEAFOOD,” on Potters Cay, for cracked conch, conch salad and fries. Havyn really liked the conch salad, even with the hot peppers in it! She reminds so much of her mother at this age and to watch her chow down on conch salad is great!! Add another Bahamian to the family!

Today, we took the jitney bus downtown and checked out the shops and cruise terminal before catching Gary’s bus to the “FISH FRY”. This is a group of eateries that lend toward the locals. The food was terrific and very reasonable! Andie had grilled conch with peas n’ rice, Gordon had grilled snapper with the works, peas n’ rice, slaw, and mac n’ cheese. I was conservative and stuck to my favorite, conch salad, which I shared with Havyn. Actually, she ate off of everybody’s plate!! She also had her first sapodilla and we wound up buying 2 because she liked it so much.

The outing after lunch was a visit to Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Nature Preserve. What a neat place to see and you never hear about it in any of the promotional material on Nassau. I even got to see FLAMINGOS! The trees, plants and animals are clearly labeled and it was nice to know what all the plants are that we’ve been seeing. All of us agreed that it is definitely a Nassau secret!

We got back to the boat around 4:30 pm and Havyn got her “sink” bath and crashed at 6:00; mom wasn’t far behind! We decided to take it a bit easier tomorrow, let Gordon fuel up the boat and do some last minute grocery shopping before heading to Current on Saturday.

Wishing all you fathers a happy Father’s Day….we’ll be thinking of you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Just Another Week

Friday was Bahamian Labor Day and most places are closed. One thing you can say about the Bahamas is they have a three-day "Holiday" every month.

It has been hot ever since we arrived in Nassau and the winds have been blowing at 15-20 knots for a week now. We have never stayed here at the Yacht Haven when it has rocked us so much. To get off of the boat for a while, we spent a day in downtown Nassau, visited the Bahamian Lighthouse Museum, which was pretty cool, and went to the Cruise Ship port and checked out the arts and craft center there. The little shops had different and much nicer things than you find in the Straw Market. It was a clean and safe atmosphere to be in. Afterward, we walked around the city some more and even visited the local Mickey D’s for lunch!

Gordon has spent the last three days inventorying all the spare parts, tools, cabinets, and other storage spaces, so he can go to his computer and find where he has what and what he is looking for. This is supposed to simplify our lives LOL!!! I know it has been pretty messy down below every time we have to find some seldom used item. Also this is a good way to child proof the salon with Havyn coming on Tuesday!

I have spent my time washing rugs, blankets, linens, and towels. SPRING CLEANING!! Today we spent the day scrubbing the Bimini, (canvass top over the cockpit) deck, and washing the lines to get the dock post crud off. Tomorrow, we’ll finish polishing up the stainless and mopping the floors inside, then everything should be clean and tidy for a day!! LOL See, it’s not always a vacation here in paradise!

Tonight, Gordon prepared a great dinner: steak, baked potato, and baby beets…we treated ourselves to ice cream for desert and today isn’t even a holiday! Well, with that, it’s off to bed for a few hours sleep before tomorrow and Andie and Havyn’s arrival.

Monday, June 2, 2008

So Long Compass Cay

So, here we are in Nassau… we left Compass Cay on Friday and made an overnight stop at the Exuma Land Sea Park, at Warderick Wells. We beat the high winds predicted, but not the rain. We have been surrounded by thunderheads, although not as much rain as I expected.

On Saturday, we got up early (6:30 am) and listened to the weather. More wind is predicted and there is now a tropical storm (Arthur) in the western Caribbean. This storm is supposed to increase the winds and bring in more rain from the southeast. All of the available data and information said we should head toward Nassau as soon as possible and get to a sheltered harbor.

With this new information in hand, we cast off from our mooring at 7:30 am and headed for the east side of Nassau Harbour. Our crossing from Exuma to Nassau was fairly uneventful and Schooner and I did a lot of sleeping while Gordon read his book during most of the trip! The last hour, however, was fairly rough, as the wind had picked up and the swells were coming at us on the starboard beam. Once we entered Nassau Harbour, though, the swells came at us from the stern and it wasn’t too bad.

We called into the Nassau Yacht Haven and got our slip assignment, which was on the east end of the marina (Sailboat Row.) Upon entering the marina, we found there was a pretty stiff current, due to the tide having turned and it was now going out. Gordon went to back the boat into our slip and, as luck would have it, we blew the fuse on the bow thruster and we lost all of the precision steering on the boat. We ended up getting in without incident, however, as Gordon was able to maneuver the boat close enough to the dock for me to toss lines to two other boaters that had come out to lend us a helping hand. After a few scary moments, we finally made it in and were secure in our slip.

Sunday was spent inventorying our food stock and making a shopping list to be filled here during the next week. A load of laundry to catch up on before we started the major cleaning topped off our day. It is surprising how dusty it can get on the boat along with the dog hair, which isn’t surprising!! I will wait until this weekend to do the major below deck cleaning. Mostly, I am happy chillin’ in the AC for a couple days…the heat is pretty bad here with not much of a breeze in the harbor. Oh Yeah! I almost forgot, the darn rain that was forecast never did show up! Yes, there have been lots of stormy looking clouds, but only a sprinkle of rain so far.

Anyway, here are some pictures to catch you up with from Compass Cay, hope you enjoy them as much as we did being there in person.