February 01, 2010
Obviously, we have been slow to get our blog going. The weather,
travel and boat fixing has kept us very busy. So here is the first
report that covers the last two months.
After two days of driving we arrived in Fernadina Beach to find the
boat in excellent condition. We escaped the internal damage from
mildew or critters that have affected others in previous years.
After three weeks we headed south. The next few days we motored down
the ICW through the fields of waving brown grasses, bushy areas draped
with Spanish moss, and pastel coloured mansions with manicured lawns,
two boat docks and sometimes a plastic snowman or some Christmas
decorations – but no snow. Dolphins, often in pairs, would rise up as
two arches that circle over a spot in the water then glide down
effortlessly, then repeat the cycle repeatedly. Once a ten foot one
jumped out of the water about 15 feet from the boat.
We motored from sun up to sun down to move as quickly as possible
south to a warmer climate. Florida weather changed greatly. One day we
sweated in shorts and tee shirts then the next day were wrapped in
wool hats, mittens and layers of clothing – dreaming of our furnace in
Equipment problems left us tied to a mooring ball in Vero Beach (
about half way down Florida on the right side) Our steering became
stiff and after a couple of dives on the rudder, expecting weeds, and
disassembling the steering cables, the culprit was the bearing at the
top of the pedestal. Of course such bearings are no longer available,
so Edson is happy to send us a new pedestal in a few weeks. Of course
we are so happy that we can stimulate the US economy. A leak in the
dripless (sic) shaft seal was also a major concern since I am most
annoyed with water molecules that don’t know their place and want
invade the inside of the hull.
We were in no name harbour for a couple of weeks. Most of the fixes
were done (new pedestal, leak gone, installed the radio – after a
repair trip to California. The weather was incredibly cold. Miami folk
were shocked. Record low temperatures were being set. This morning the
temperature was six degrees inside the boat and 1 degree outside, but
with the 20 knots of wind we are clearly reminded of skiing. This has
taken us by surprise and regret having left our heater in Fernadina
Beach because we were certain (sic) we would never use it. Fortunately
we have sleeping bag and some fleece blankets and a sleeping rug from
Oz so we can stay warm.
Getting the right weather was a challenge – no wind with the word
north is the conventional wisdom.
And finally …
We arrived in the Bahamas at Morgan’s Bluff, a small town at the north
end of Andros Island.
The crossing was OK, but with a few challenges. The wind was forecast
for north west but less than ten knots. We started out as five boats
determined to arrive in Nassau about 150 miles and 35 hours later.
After a few hours in the gulf two boats returned to Miami because of
the rolling. The NW wind was averaging 16-18 and sometimes went to 20.
We were able to use the mainsail although we continued to run the
motor for maximum speed. As the wind decreased we used more sail.
Being a stiff boat we maintained about 7.2 knots and did not wallow as
much as the more conventional cruising designs. About half way across
one boat had decided to stop Bimini – about 45 miles from Miami and in
the Bahamas. Another was considering Bimini, then after the emergence
of motor problems decided to stop there. So we were on our own. We
arrived on the bank about 2:00 p.m just north of Bimini then motored
until 1:30 am on Wed before anchoring near the North West Passage
which we want to cross in daylight. Light is gone from 6:30 p.m. until
6:30 a.m. Many stars and a small sliver of moon poked through the
black. Of course we can see nothing around us. Only the lights of
boats are visible. There are no navigation lights over the 60 miles we
traveled. Distance perception is very inaccurate. Life is controlled -
quite well this time – by the chart plotter and electrical autopilot.
We ran the motor all the time. With only a few knots of wind, the
water was more or less flat except for a continual roll. It was quite
mystical in a way as well as daunting because of the absolute
darkness. We had a moment of great concern as I saw a very large
fishing boat bearing down on us at great speed around midnight. It was
not changing course as I expected and coming closer and closer. I
turned quickly to one side and Maj-lis flashed a spotlight on out boat
as well as a quick flash at the boat. It made a quick turn and was
gone. I think the lack of depth perception was a contributing factor
as well as fatigue and perhaps the need for brighter navigational
lights. After emerging onto the “Tongue of the Ocean” we headed
towards Nassau on flat water, which was up to 5000 feet deep, but
decided that Morgan’s Bluff was a shorter and interesting alternative.
So around 2:00 p.m. we arrived – the end of a 32 hour trip.
We rented a car with two other couples and toured Ambros Island. Here
there4 are trees and some produce is grown – quite a contrast to the
After traveling 12 hours across the “white bank” we arrived in Normans
Cay. Norman’s was infamous during the 80’s as the work site for a
ambitious entrepreneur who was the sole transporter (up to ten
DC3’s/night) for all the cocaine produced in Columbia. Having read a
book about the rise and fall of Carlos Lehger’s business the walkabout
was quite interesting. The once pristine and lavish resort is in ruins
with the walls of the buildings hiding amongst the trees and brush …
the bullet holes still clear to remind one that this was not a church
The anchorage was another memory maker A squall came through at night
with 30 knot winds that clocked 180 degrees in 30 minutes and with the
help of the current pushed us and another dozen boats around in. I
stayed in the cockpit for a few hours enveloped in darn and armed with
a spotlight and adrenaline watching one boat come within a few feet of
another and wondering if we were on another boats dance card that
night. When the light broke through it revealed we were all OK. And we
prepared for another leg of traveling.
After seven hours of sailing – yes sailing, No Motor – at about seven
knots, we anchored in Little Bay , just south of Black point. The
water here is so aquamarine blue and the beach so white. We walked for
a while on the land and were given a tour of a house built by a couple
on the edge of what may be a marina some day. What a view they have
from inside the colours are astounding – dark blue ocean water one
side light blue on the other, dark gray stone dark green leaves and
low snarly shrubs on the land. At night, the blue sky is replaced by
the black sky, with a bright full moon painting the shore and water
with a pale bluish light. Shining a flashlight down from the deck
reveals the white sandy bottom 12 feet below as if the water is almost
We traveled about 300 miles in ten days and are now in Georgetown. We
planned to stay only a few days then move on. But the char plotter
died just as we were entering a cut that gave us a hard time last
year. With the help of another boat we went through the cut then used
the aper chart for the next 46 miles. I am now in e-mail conversation
with West Marine trying to sort out what to do. Probably the usual
wait about four weeks and help the Bahamanian economy in the usual