Thursday, April 4, 2013

Week 26: Mar. 27- Apr. 2, 2013 (Day 176-182)

Week 26:
Wed. Mar. 27, 2013—Day 176:
Destination:  Manjack Cay to Northwestern Harbour, Great Sale Cay
Departure:  0750 hrs.                         Arrival:                                                      Distance:  58.5 NM
Winds:  NNW 15-20K increasing to 10-15K after sunset +/-15K    
Seas:  1 ft. & whitecaps to < 1 ft. chop
Weather:  mostly cloudy in am, mainly sunny with clouds in

Trying to capture the aqua blue of Bahamas water
The bouncy motion seemed to settle down sometime during the night as the wind shifted slightly more to the north.  It took some time to tune into hear Chris at all; if we heard right Sunday’s window has closed & it is favourable to cross midday Friday & Saturday.  ‘Second Option’ & ourselves decided then to bypass Crab Cay & head directly to Great Sale Cay, a 10 hrs. trek but with long daylight hours in our favour.  We set out & were able to carry a partial jenny for a short time as we motorsailed along (6.5K) until the wind was directly on our nose (5.2K at 3000 RPM).  We passed Crab Cay at 1045 hrs., bore off the wind & deployed a full jenny (6.0K at 2500 RPM).  A fair bit of seagrass was on the water today.  Also, generally speaking, the water was clearer & cleaner in the Exuamas than here in the Abacos.  We passed Fox Town at 1230 hrs. as a family of dolphins played only a short time in our wake; such joy!  About 4-5 boats from Fox Town either travelled to Carters Bank Waypoint or travelled south of Veteran Rock to Sale South Waypoint & finally Great Sale Cay Waypoint.  We were one of the very last to arrive & also one of the furthest out, anchoring in 8 ft. with 100 ft. of chain.  It was a rather easy & comfortable day with plenty of reading, although I did take a turn at the helm.  The clouds filled in late in the afternoon.  And as the sun was setting amongst the clouds it was a big red ball with rays of red light radiating down through the cloud & clear sky, followed by a peachy coloured sky between the cloud patches.  A patchy cloud & clear sky night with stars & the official full moon reflected off the water, which may have been the reason for the lovely firework display tonight.

Thurs. Mar. 28, 2013—Day 177:
Destination:  Great Sale Cay
Winds:  NW-NNW +/- 10K, N 15K at night
Weather:  cool breeze, mainly cloudy with sunny periods in am & mainly sunny in pm

Full Moon rising over Great Sale Cay
Calm water & calm winds during the night; a cool night so had to pull the duvet into service.  Chris confirmed the crossing to Florida best midday Fri. through Sat.  Eight or so boats moved on in the morning & we watched several boats arrive in the mid to late afternoon; a total of 23 tonight  very widely spaced out.  A bit more of intense cleaning of the main cabin.  Otherwise it was a lazy day of suduko, reading in the cockpit until it warmed up, even laying in the sun on deck reading wearing long pants & a long sleeve sweat top.  Graeme topped up the diesel tank in prep for our departure for Little Bahama Bank waypoint tomorrow as soon as Chris’ weather report is completed.  We lowered the dinghy & rowed over to ‘Second Option’ for an early happy hour & a short discussion of the 1st few days when we are State side.  A red sunset with a fair amount of clouds typical of a cool night .  A couple of conch blowers tried their talent or lack of—this was the last time we will here that sound for awhile, maybe forever.  A mainly clear, dark night & thus the most fabulous stars.  A full moon was late rising tonight.

Fri.  Mar. 29, 2013—Day 178:
Destination:  Great Sale Cay to Little Bahama Bank Waypoint 26o 55’N 79o 03’W
Departure:  0730 hrs.                           Arrival:  1615 hrs.                                 Distance:  50.8 NM
Winds:  N to NNE 10-18K                                       Seas:  1-2 ft. waves, 4 ft. NE swells
Weather:  mainly sunny & a bit warmer

Last Bahamian Sunset-- Little Bahama Bank 
Good Friday!   And Happy Anniversary Terri & Bill!  No church & no anniversary celebrations.
The northerly winds picked up after dark to +/- 15K, but by dawn they settled down to +/- 10K.  SSB report at 0630 hrs. reported the weather as still favourable to moving to the Little Bahama Bank waypoint today & on to Ft. Pierce tomorrow; now Sunday was added as a good day as well, so our plans now have a day of grace built into them.  Several boats departed early, some in direction of Memory Rock, some to Little Bahama Bank & others further north ie Cape Canaveral.  There were a few whitecaps on the 1 ft. waves as we got under way under sail with a full jenny at +/- 6.0- 6.5K  on a beam reach & motoring in idle to charge items.  The waves increased to 2 ft. with sustained winds of 15-18K till well after noon, then they slowly decreased to 8-13K & shifted slightly more easterly.  At 1230 hrs. we crossed onto the Little Bahama Bank where the water was a striking clear colour of turquoise.  We were the 3rd boat to anchor at the Little Bahama Bank waypoint (26o 55’N  70o 03’W), anchoring in not so shallow but 19 ft. & 140 ft. chain, with the bank shelf of turquoise water’s edge meeting & dropping to near 75 ft. depths of the cobalt or indigo blue water of the Straits of Florida, just shy of our anchorage.  But like our sail, it was quite rocky & rolly due to the NE swells.  Four of us anchored at this spot but not for long…..
This was the last of aqua to turquoise water, the last of quiet, tranquil & peaceful Bahamian anchorages & lifestyle, the last of some of the friendliest people I have met, both cruisers & locals.  And guess what?  The last Bahamian sunset with patch work clouds only above with a very slight  Bahamian green flash!  Or was it my imagination, or greater yet that desire to see my last Bahamian green flash?

Sat. Mar. 30, 2013—Day 179:
Destination:  Little Bahama Bank to Ft. Pierce, Florida
Departure:  Fri. at 2100 hrs.                      Arrival:  Sat. at 0900 hrs.                      Distance:  63.4 NM
Winds:  E 6-10K, increasing 15-20K                               Seas:  3-1/2 ft. swells, decreasing near dawn
Weather:  mostly clear & stars +++, 7/8 moon light up the night sky, mainly sunny day with cool breeze & clear starry skies

Removing the Bahamian Flag
It was a unanimous decision between the 4 boats that we would not stay here overnight as it was too bouncy, but leave at 2100 hrs. & do an overnight passage.  It wasn’t till after the passage that we learnt that Terri & Bill felt seasick at anchor.  It was too bouncy for Graeme to refuel & he felt it was not necessary, so he tried to sleep, but sleep did not come.  Grilled cheese sandwiches for supper at 2000 hrs., sandwiches & a pot of coffee made for overnight.  We up anchored in the pitch dark under zillions of stars; the 7/8 moon did not rise until 2200 hrs.—a huge orange ball until it was high in the sky.  We all agreed to maintain about +/-6K but 2 of us travelled towards St. Lucie Inlet with expectations that the Gulf Stream would push us north (proved to be the slightly, less ongoing corrective course) & 2 boats motored directly to Ft. Pierce waypoint, adjusting position as necessary along the way.  We were unable to set any sails as the wind was too light & directly behind, whereas those that departed from the Issac Rock area likely had a beam reach sail.  The NNE to NE swells made it a bit bouncy & rolly.  Phosphorescence was seen on the waves off the boat.  We took 2 hour shifts to begin with but Graeme did 0200 hrs. onwards for some reason; I slept in the cockpit till 0400 hrs.  Everyone checked in to the group every hour.  About 10 mi. (0530 hrs.) from shore our GPS lost it’s fix a couple of times.  Our intent was to pass through the inlet at slack tide (0806 hrs.), therefore we were all going too fast & had to slow up.  The American flag was taken down & the ‘Q’ flag took it’s place at dawn before entering port.  Daybreak put a more familiar perspective on the sea.  Ft. Pierce is a nice wide & deep inlet.  Being a weekend & Easter weekend at that, there was a fair number of recreational boat traffic especially fishing boats + local earlybird fishermen.  The dolphins were swimming, eating playing all around us as we passed the entrance to Harbortown Marina & prepared to anchor.   We anchored in the small & shallow anchorage south of the North Bridge (bascule), outside of Harbortown Marina—strong current.  Other options were City Marina or the anchorage by City Marina or Faber Cove.  A good thing we anchored early because in the afternoon there would have been no space; as it was it was too crowded.  I called Mom in Ottawa, we showered, launched the dinghy & tied up to Terri & Bill’s boat as they took a slip in Harbortown Marina.  We were unable to rent a car (none or too expensive), after 3-15 min. attempts unable to get our long digit number from Border & Homeland Security to check into Customs & Immigration & to add to our frustrations we were rudely spoken to on the VHF when making plans for the above.  To my American friends I apologize, BUT welcome to the US!  In the long run we took a taxi to the St. Lucie County Airport-- $13.00 each way.  It was mandatory that we have the long digit number; finally after waiting 25 min. on our cell we were successful & cleared our way into the USA.  A light lunch at the marina restaurant, then we all walked a few blocks to the West Marine & the Publix.  I called Lynn & Larry to find their whereabouts & plans.  A reddish sky after sunset; someone tried to blow a conch but it just wasn’t the same.  A clear starry night with gusting winds.

Last Bahamian Sunrise

Sun. Mar. 31, 2013—Day 180:
Destination:  Ft. Pierce (Mile 964.8)
Winds:  SE calm to gusty 10-15K to S by sunset at 10K
Weather:  mainly sunny but a cool breeze, H= mid 70’s & L= mid 60’s

Happy Easter!  But no proximity to any Church!
Pelican in Flight
A calm, quiet night with some bridge traffic & a nearby train, but slept soundly.  A calm start to the day; the Coast Guard message warned of increasing winds to 20K & rough seas from Jupiter Inlet to the south & Sebastien Inlet to the north; mid morning SE winds gusted up.  It was certainly shallow here in this anchorage; we saw 5’4” to 5’6” at low tide & ‘Second Option’ in their slip in Harbortown Marina were well aground at 3’4”!  For the second time in 2 consecutive days I’ve been rudely told to get off the VHF 71, a pleasure channel & use a cell or landline as today the excuse was that I was interrupting his fishing!  I blew it & told him to quit listening to my conversation or turn his radio off if I was interrupting his fishing & happy Easter!  I knew I needed to reacquaint & readjust to mainland living but this was ridiculous.  If I could I would never come back to Florida!  It’s amazing, we did not have even 1 person that was rude or unpleasant or even unfriendly throughout the Bahamas!  There are always a few that spoil it for the majority!  Graeme added 2 diesel jerry cans & 1-1/2 water jerry cans to the boat tanks; he sprayed clean water on the dodger & enclosure side windows which were heavily laden with salt.  We spoke to a fellow cruiser from the U.K. who had 3 yrs. spent with his wife cruising in the Caribbean, then this winter Puerto Rico & the Bahamas & now the US; because of the US Cruising Permit Laws it is not feasible for him to cruise in the USA X 1 yr. as his cruising permit will expire & he would then have to leave the US for 15 days before renewing the cruising permit, therefore he is forced to sell his boat & not cruise & spend money in the USA.  That applies to us as well but with Graeme being an American citizen the Virginian Border & Homeland Security thusfar has waived that 15 days.  After lunch we dinghied to Terri & Bill’s boat, walked to the West Marine, tried unsuccessfully to walk to the City Marina, charged my computer & checked a few emails, while Terri did laundry & Bill switched to a Bruce anchor & washed his chain locker & deck; at the laundry prices here I will wait till Vero Beach which are expensive enough.  We saw a sea otter swimming through the marina.  Lynn & Larry Morrow had a hell of a sail with 22K winds & 4 ft. seas from Marathon.  We returned to the boat late afternoon & had a nap.  I have not quite adjusted to DST & eating until dark which isn’t till after 2000 hrs.  Sunset was obscured by low level clouds; an orangey pink sky just above the clouds followed & the winds were slowly decreasing.  With all the lights around it was hard to detect how much cloud there was but some stars were visible.

Mon. Apr. 1, 2013—Day 181:
Destination:  Ft. Pierce (Mile 964.8) to Vero Beach (Mile 951.7)
Departure:  1020 hrs.                          Arrival:  1240 hrs.                               Distance: 
Winds:  W 8-18K & gusty
Weather:  cloudy, threatening rain clouds, few sun & blue sky patches & mostly sunny afternoon

A sleepful night & woke to a warm, slightly humid, cloudy morn.  After breakfast Graeme took the 3 empty diesel jerry cans to refill at Harbortown Marina.  We pulled the motor & dinghy on the davits & waited a bit for the tide to come up a bit more.  We went through the Ft. Pierce North Bridge (bascule) with 2 other northbound sailboats & 1 southbound.  A few spits of rain as we motorsailed under ¾ jenny with west winds gusting up & down from 8-18K at an average speed of 5.5-6.8K.  It took a long time for Vero Municipal Marina to answer our hail to receive our mooring ball assignment.  Eventually we were assigned to the empty #2 mooring ball (south anchorage) close to the entrance with ‘Second Option’ as our neighbours.  We learnt that ‘Whiski Mak’ was still here.  Some supper preparations were done for dinner guests, Terri & Bill this evening.  We saw a sea otter by shore & dolphins gracefully swimming amongst the boats.  Late in the afternoon we rode to shore to officially sign in at the marina office, took a lovely long hot shower & read just a few emails.  We discovered that other people we had met earlier in the trip in Staniel Cay were also here.  We had a lovely dinner on a lovely warm night in the cockpit.  Thank you Terri for baking a golden cake with dark chocolate icing—delicious!  A simple delightful evening.  A glorious evening sky, light winds, dark night sky with few stars.

Tues. Apr. 2, 2013—Day 182:
Destination:  Vero Beach (Mile 951.7)

It was an early morning rise, to shore for a shower after breakfast & climbed on the 0810 hrs. Go Line #1 bus from the marina to the transfer point, then the #2 bus to Target.  First order of business was a haircut ($15.00)—not great.  We shopped the specials at Bells; Tues. is senior discount day + store specials + new customer discount.  We walked to Walmart for reprovisioning of beer & most food; will purchase fresh fruit & meat closer to departure day.  We took ‘Anywhere Car Service’ (Johnny) who taxied us, Terri & Bill & all our groceries to the marina for a total of $12.00 + tip ($9.00 for 2 persons).  Bill, Graeme & I returned to town by bus to West Marine & ABS Liquor & back.  We organized a gathering of at Riverside Café—‘Second Option’, ‘Whiski Mak’, ‘Cocoon II’, ‘Plan B’ & ourselves.  We all returned to our respective boats before sunset.  No internet today.  The red sun setted behind the land of west Florida.  A clear night sky with stars & calm. 

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