Monday, 29 February 2016

Provisioning Can Be An Adventure!

Yesterday was Jeff’s 69th birthday, which we began with a pancake breakfast, followed by a birthday phone call from our kids and grandchildren, and many sweet e-mailed messages from friends. Then we relaxed on the boat in beautiful Joe’s Sound, and made a lobster/steak stir-fry dinner for our new friend, Pat (the “Mayor”), who told us wonderful stories about this area of the Bahamas.

The boat swung noisily on its anchor all night in the wind versus current conditions, and we were awfully glad to see the morning come. But today was the highlight of our visit here! We badly needed provisions, so we dinghyed off through the Sound for about 45 minutes, and finally came to a jetty in the middle of nowhere. We tied up the dinghy and followed Jeff’s I-Pad directions for about 2 miles to a tiny perfect store that had everything we needed (right next to a liquor store, no less)! Now – how to get 4 bags of groceries and a bag of liquor back to the boat, without reactivating my sciatica problem …

As we were pondering the issue, a van came up the road – the only vehicle in sight. I stuck out my thumb, and he stopped – a taxi, would you believe? He took us for free back to the jetty, and we carefully motored our way back to Sea Change through the very shallow turquoise water.

As we were putting away the groceries, Pat showed up with a collection of harpoons and asked if we wanted to go lobster fishing for the rest of our dinner! Of course we were game … how often do you get that kind of offer? So off we went for the rest of the afternoon in his little skiff. Pat and Jeff both donned flippers and masks and went a-huntin’. Five lobsters and several Glass-eyed Snappers later, we headed back to our boat, with a pail full of dinner. Now that’s a great way to provision J.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

That's More Like it!

Finally – we cruised today, on a Northwest 20 knot wind at an average speed of 5 knots (a little more than 5 mph), for 6 hours, to a tiny gorgeous harbor on Long Island (not New York!).  The waves were about 3 feet – enough to make it an exciting ride without any stress.

We arrived at about 3:30 pm through the most narrow entry we’ve ever tried – with rocks on both sides! But the fellow we met who told us about this bay, called Joe’s Sound, said it would be negotiable, with care. And careful we were. 

We edged our way through with no problem, anchored, and were putting away our lines when a sailor approached us in his dinghy, and introduced himself as “Pat – the “mayor” of Joe’s sound”! Pat spends his Winters here on his houseboat and 37-foot sailboat, and then returns to his home in New York where he charters a 70 foot cruising sailboat in the Summers.

He had a fishing trap in his dinghy, and had just caught a beautiful Grouper fish that he offered to us for dinner. Jeff went with him to the nearby beach, and got a fish-cleaning lesson, before he returned to our boat with the now filleted catch. This could be the freshest fish we’ve ever eaten! Pat was busy tonight – but we’ll invite him over for dinner tomorrow night – another new friend in the Bahamas J.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Our First Sail this Visit - on the Spinnaker!

Finally, we've left the George Town area and sailed for 3.5 hours, on our Spinnaker at 5 knots, to beautiful Emerald Bay Marina, the location of Sandals and Grand Isle Resorts.

Though Sandals is gated, and basically inaccessible to us except for a hefty day fee - the other place, Grand Isle Resort, is a 5-minute walk away from the Marina, and sports a tiki bar and restaurant with great (though expensive) Pina Coladas, a gorgeous salt-water infinity pool, and a magnificent beach - all available to Marina guests!

We had a wonderful Mexican dinner there last night, and swam at the beach yesterday afternoon and this morning before Susan left to return to Toronto. A nice ending to her visit, before I spent the afternoon doing laundry. Ah well - that's all part of the game.

We'll probably hang out here for a couple more days and then try to sail Stella Maris on Long Island to get our bottom paint done, and then on to Cat Island - a new destination!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Hanging Out at Red Shanks

What a beautiful day! The weather has finally improved and after a lovely hike to the ocean side at Monument Beach (pics below), we headed to one of our favourite anchorages, called Red Shanks.

This harbour is a well-kept little secret - there are only about 6 boats here, along with sea turtles, sting rays and dolphin (none of which we've seen so far this time, unfortunately).

But we did visit the beautiful empty beach near where we're anchored, then dinghyed over to where the turtles usually hang out. Jeff snorkelled while Susan and I kept watch from the boat.

A swim in the turquoise water and a great pasta dinner ended a great day. Tomorrow we sail (yeah!) up the back of Stocking Island to Emerald Bay Marina, from which Susan will prepare to leave for the airport on Thursday morning. All in all, a wonderful week with her!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

About to climb a mountain - fuelled with chocolate brownies!

It's been a while since I've written - mostly, because I don't have much to report! We're anchored at Monument Beach for now, trying to shelter from the crazy 30-knot winds we've been having since Thursday - It seems like one cold front follows another, with a day or two of stillness in between. I really hope that's not how this whole Winter will be, or we're unlikely to sail anywhere, including Cuba!

For now, we're taking it easy with our friend  Susan, who came aboard last Thursday, and the quiet days lying around the boat reading, painting, puttering and chatting with her have been good for 
Jeff's need to rest up and my leg to heal. The wind is supposed to abate today or tomorrow, and then we'll probably take off to Red Shanks, at least - a beautiful little Harbour about an hour sail away. And if it stays calm, we might return on the Atlantic side for another sail around the island. We probably won't go far, as Susan leaves next Thursday. Apart from some cloud, the days are sunny, though not warm enough for us to feel like jumping into the water much - very strange Winter!

But these days of enforced rest are a nice contrast to the boat preparation business we experienced during the first two weeks  - and of course, the Harbour is full of activities initiated by the sailing community here to keep everyone entertained - it's like one big adult Summer camp! We don't participate in most of it, but it's nice to know it's there when we want some social time.

For today, we're heading for a hike up to the monument, and over to the Atlantic side - my first foray into exercise since my leg started to hurt. I just baked chocolate 2-bite brownies for fuel - nice life!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Another day in Paradise!

Finally … the weather is beautiful (for now - more cold fronts expected), the boat is finished (for now - it's never really finished), we're fully provisioned, the laundry is done, the water tanks are full, and we even baked gluten-free chocolate chip cookies in our little oven last night (burned half of them - but never mind, the rest are delicious!).

Both of us are feeling better physically, and the no-see-um bites, that we got the first night we were here two weeks ago, have finally stopped itching. So all is right with the world :).

We're anchored right across from the Beach at Chat 'N Chill - our favourite hangout in Elizabeth Harbour, waiting for the arrival of our friend Susan today. Then, if the wind stays reasonable, we'll set sail for the first time this trip - probably to Red Shanks - about an hour away, for a shakedown (to test out our rig and make sure it's still working).

I don't know how much time I'll have to post on the blog while Susan's here, so it may be a few days, but I hope to have some good stories to tell at that point. For now, adieu… and be well, all! I hope you all had a fine Valentine's Day.

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Black Hole that is a Boat

OK, OK – I know it was -30 celcius in Montreal this past weekend, and probably just as cold in Toronto (or close!). But we’ve got our problems, too …

When my brother Robert and his wife, Susan, were on our boat to visit last year, Susan left saying “is there ever more than 20 minutes before something new needs to be fixed on a boat?”. Famous last words!

I only include pics of us lying on the white sand, looking at the sunsets and smiling happily over gin and coconut water sundowners. But we haven’t stopped working on this (relatively new) boat since we arrived, and that was after 3 weeks of non-stop work by Jeff in November L. It is worth it? If we don’t come home in frustration sooner, we’ll let you know in the middle of April.

We spent yesterday morning cleaning out the bilge after we discovered it filled with some unnamed black stuff (like ink), just after Jeff had partially installed a brand-new bilge pump. And today we hand-cleaned the holding tank, as the macerator, which is supposed to mash up and pump out the sewage, was blocked - yech L. But we’re determined to whip this boat into shape by next Thursday when we expect our first guest – and then we get to vacation for a week with her – yeah!

The pics below were taken in a rare quiet moment when we had a picnic lunch on the beach opposite where we’re now anchored. The first one is a sundial someone made out of stones and a piece of driftwood – and it really works!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

At Monument Beach - written yesterday

OK – so this is more like the Bahamas we know and love! Last night we went to a “rake and scrape”  - named after the saw and screwdriver instrument that used to be played, instead of the wired guitars that last night entertained us with great reggae music, while we ate Bahamian bar-b-que. Our new friends and Jeff danced on the floor, while I stayed off my sore leg, and “table danced” (not the same as lap dancing J).

Today the sun shone all day – I’m feeling better, we’re now in our favourite anchorage at Monument Beach, and were invited tonight for a “sundowner” on the boat of an old friend from Mimico, who is anchored right beside us (boat pictured below). Jeff has almost finished working on the bow roller for the anchor, while I waxed the deck this afternoon, and then read my last Practicum paper – yeah!

So we seem to be back in the swing of things here – about to call our grandchildren for the first time since we arrived. The first 2 pics below are of the presentation on Sting Rays at Stocking Island - the character covered in tattoos (of rays!) has a doctorate in Marine Science.