Saturday, 31 January 2015

Another Dramatic Ending!

Isn’t it interesting how, on one side of a group of Cays it can be perfectly calm – while on the opposite side, the wind and seas are raging?

That was our experience today as we left Lee Stocking Island’s beautiful, calm anchorage, and braved Rat Cut into the Bahama Sound. I say “braved”, because crossing the cut between the Bank and the Sound felt like running major rapids in a canoe – the waves were so big, they came right over the deck of the boat! But it only lasted the few minutes that it took to run through the cut – at which point, the ocean calmed to large rollers on the beam (for non-sailors, not a bad point of sail). The wind was blowing a steady 22 knots (lots of wind for a 36-foot boat) – and we were making 7.8 knots of speed at the height (the boat is designed to do 6.5 at its fastest). 

All of which is to say that we were really moving – surfing, in fact! Add to that a pretty cloudy sky and some rain, and I can tell you that we were both very happy to reach our home port at Monument Beach within about 3.5 hours – just on time for lunch J.

A friendly neighbor came over to invite us to a pig roast and scrabble game at
Chat ‘n Chill tomorrow, and we watched the sun set to the sound of conch shells being blown in unison, all in different keys! It’s good to be “home”.

This will probably be my last post, as we’ll be preparing to leave for our colder home in a few days – but it will be good to be there, too. We’ve missed our friends and family, and are looking forward to seeing you all very soon! TTFN

Friday, 30 January 2015

Homeward Bound

Last night we had an “end of holiday” drink with two lovely Canadians we met from the boat anchored next door to us. We had no fresh food left on the boat, but managed to scare up all kinds of snacks from our pantry, and spent 4 fine hours getting to know each other, trading sailing stories, and polishing off a bottle of wine and several glasses of rum.

Today we shopped for some food, and then had 5 glorious hours on fairly calm seas, with what wind there was, behind us – the perfect sunny Bahamian day. Now we’re anchored with about four other boats opposite what used to be a Caribbean marine research station, now defunct, on Lee Stocking Island (not to be confused with Stocking Island, near George Town, where we keep our boat).

Another cold front is predicted to come through tomorrow, with heavy North-East winds, so the plan is to leave early and do the 4-hour sail back to George Town before the wind gets too crazy. At least it’ll be behind us again – could be exciting!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Captain for the Day

Well – I’ve graduated – from first mate to captain-in training!  When I woke up at 3:00 a.m., I noticed that the wind had shifted, and we were being blown perilously close to the shore. I checked the depth, and we were still OK and the anchor was holding, despite the raging wind. But now the wind was coming from an unprotected place and blowing us around like a rocking horse. I decided we’d need to wait until first light to do anything, and since we were in no imminent danger, I went back to sleep.

When I awoke again at 7:00 a.m. to the sunrise, Jeff was still asleep, so I decided not to wake him yet. I took a depth reading and looked at the tide charts on the I-pad – close to low tide, still with 7 feet under the keel, but going down.  I also consulted the chart for alternative locations to re-anchor. I debated about just hauling in some anchor line, but thought that would wake Jeff up anyway – so I woke him, and together we moved Sea Change to a safer, more comfortable anchorage near-by.

My Captain congratulated me on all of that, and said I’d graduated! Unfortunately, I’m not doing as well in the First Mate department, since, because we couldn’t shop yesterday, we’ve run out of food (for which I’m largely responsible). So for today my challenge will be to make something from nothing – I’m sure we’ll survive.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Hellish Hour

We left Shangri-la just to refill our tanks with water and shop for provisions – and then we planned to high-tail it back to this amazing anchorage for one more day, before heading to home port. We also planned this to avoid the very high winds forecast for tomorrow.

What we didn’t anticipate were the huge waves and wind blowing today onto the fuel dock! It knocked us around like a bowling pin, while Jeff tried to fend off with his arms, and I kept retying the fenders as the boat changed position on the dock. The blows to the side of the boat dented the aluminum and rubber bumper, and as we were leaving, the heavy wind pushed our stern back onto the dock posts, which grabbed our bar-b-que and twisted it all out of shape. Truly one adventure we could have done without!

We decided to skip the shopping, and not stay one minute more in that situation. So high-tail it back we did, and my Captain promptly repaired the twisted Barbie J.

Tomorrow we just stay put … both my computer and my watch have stopped working – maybe that’s a message….

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Perfect Day in Shangrila

Today was the perfect day! Though the wind was still whipping up the ocean when we woke this morning, it was beautifully sunny, if a bit cool.

We had a leisurely start with breakfast in the cockpit, after which each of us tackled various boat and work projects until lunchtime. Then we left the billionaire’s paradise, and snaked our way down-wind following the deep (enough) channels to the nicest anchorage we’ve been in so far. It is totally protected from all sides, right next to a gorgeous beach, and the best snorkeling grounds we’ve encountered. I snorkeled right off the boat (see pic that Jeff took below), and then enjoyed the surroundings while I spent the afternoon painting. I’m trying a new approach – Chinese brushpainting using watercolour materials. Pics of the results below, as well.

Meanwhile Jeff has been puttering away – and just exclaimed, “that’s three projects done – do I have any left?”. This must mean he’s over his bout of exhaustion and back to normal – yeah!

We’re heading back to George Town starting tomorrow – finally feeling really settled in to this place. Ah well – there’s our return in March to look forward to!

BTW - the first pic is the pizza we made from scratch with gluten-free dough for our dinner last night.