Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Treasure Cay

This morning, after the squalls had passed and the wind calmed down, we left Marsh Harbour for Treasure Cay. We had wanted to see Treasure Cay and it is on the way to Green Turtle Cay, another place we want to see. To reach Green Turtle Cay you have to exit the Sea of Abaco at Loggerhead Cut, travel a mile in the Atlantic, then re-enter the Sea of Abaco in the Whale Cay Channel. Whale Cay Channel, “The Whale,” is notoriously challenging. It can be very rough, especially after high winds. Sometimes it can form breakers all the way across, known as a “rage.”  When that happens it should be avoided altogether. Since it has been windy for a few days we decided to stop at Treasure Cay for a night and give “The Whale” a chance to calm down. We plan to leave here tomorrow morning and go through Whale Cay Channel to visit Green Turtle Cay. Treasure Cay is a resort with a numerous condos and a large marina. On the way to the marina there is a large, protected harbor with several mooring balls owned by the marina. Just as we were picking up our mooring the skies opened up. We assembled the Porta-Bote on the deck in the rain. We used the spin halyard to drop it over the side. George used the arm on our new arch to lower the outboard onto the Porta-Bote. So much easier than our old method!  We were glad that the motor started right up. We took the dinghy to shore and explored Treasure Cay. It wasn’t quite what we expected. It isn’t as upscale as we thought it would be. There are bars, shops, a pool, a spa, tennis courts and a really nice beach. 



Monday, November 20, 2017

Happy to be Here

I have to admit, there were a few moments when I thought it just wasn’t worth it. Those moments passed quickly. Yesterday, as we were preparing to go for a swim in the pool, I realized I was happy to be here in the Bahamas. We have had two full nights of sleep since we arrived. We spent yesterday cleaning the thick crust of salt off of the boat. I wiped down the enclosure panels and put them away for the winter. We did laundry and put away the long underwear. George was preparing to put the dinghy together and drop it in the water until he realized there isn’t enough room between our boat and the catamaran beside us to drop the dinghy in the water. It will have to wait. 
Today we walked into town and picked up a few fresh foods at the grocery store. Later we walked to a local restaurant, Colors by the Sea, for a good Bahamian lunch. We are ready to move on as soon as the wind subsides. We plan to visit Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay and possibly Hopetown. The timing and order depends on the wind and the tides. If the wind doesn’t subside until tomorrow afternoon it may be too close to low tide to leave the slip. In that case we will wait until the next day to leave. We both feel more patient this year compared to last year since we now realize there is plenty of time to see what we want to see. 



Sunday, November 19, 2017

Marsh Harbour, Bahamas

We made it. Phew!  It was quite a trip. Parts of it were just fine and parts were downright uncomfortable. We arrived here at Harbour View Marina yesterday at 2:45 pm after traveling 455 nautical miles in 75 hours. The last 100 miles were among the most uncomfortable. We were sailing upwind with waves crashing over the port side of the bow. We were motor sailing because both of us really, REALLY wanted to make it to Marsh Harbour by late afternoon. We didn’t want to take the chance of spending a night killing time waiting for daylight so we could get through Man O War channel. In hindsight, we wish we had gone to West End on Grand Bahama Island instead of Marsh Harbour. It would have been a shorter, easier sail. We chose Marsh Harbour primarily because of the places we wanted to go after we cleared in. The options are much more limited from West End. 
We arrived here 15 minutes after low tide. Not good. We went aground just as the bow was entering the slip. The dock master tied up one line, we turned the engine off and waited 1/2 hour until we were floating again. We cleared in with Customs after we finally tied up but are still waiting for someone from Immigration to stop by. Technically we shouldn’t even get off of the boat until that is complete. I think that is one rule I am willing to break to take a long, hot shower and do a load of laundry. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

We Made it through the Gulf Stream

We are just over half way on our passage from Brunswick to the Bahamas. Per Chris Parker's weather routing we entered the Gulf Stream yesterday morning at about 10 am. The conditions were not as "gnarly" as last year but they weren't great. We had 7 ft waves with a 7 second period much of the five and a half hours it took us to transit the Gulf Stream. (For all you non-sailors the period is an indication of the distance between waves.) The waves were hitting us on the port bow. A few broke onto the boat and sent water over the entire length of the boat. Some of the waves would lift Breeze On up and and then let her crash down on the other side of the wave. BLAM! It was so rough that we opted to eat granola bars and nuts for our mid-day meal and put our casserole in the oven after we were through the Gulf Stream. The good news was that we crossed during daylight hours and it was short. It didn't seem short, though. George commented a few times after crashing down over a wave, "OK, I am officially ready to be done with this." If any of you are watching our tracks you may be thinking we are taking a crazy route. After exiting the Gulf Stream we are making some turns that are meant to keep us from fighting the current in the eddies around the Gulf Stream. Last night, after sailing east, we realized we were fighting the current in an eddy. We then turned to sail west to get out of the eddy.
We are keeping our usual 2 hour watches during the day and long watches at night. We are more tired than usual because this passage requires more vigilance and we aren't napping as much as usual.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Heading for the Gulf Stream

Well, we received our email from weather guru, Chris Parker. We have a window to cross the Gulf Stream and make it to the Bahamas sometime Saturday or Sunday. The conditions won’t be ideal but should be less than “gnarly”.  We are making our last minute preparations and plan to leave within the hour. I admit that I am nervous. I am not looking forward to the 5-6 foot seas, especially if they are on the beam. 
Before we leave I just want to mention how much we like Brunswick and Brunswick Landing Marina. The people here are so nice and the marina is focused on providing a good experience for cruisers. The city reminds us of our home, Cambridge, MD. Once a prosperous city with a lot of natural beauty. It fell on hard times but seems to be on the upswing. Great restaurants, a nice little grocery store and a well-stocked old fashioned hardware store are an easy walk from the marina. Yesterday we walked into town to eat lunch at Indigo Coastal Shanty. The food was delicious. I imagine we will be back. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Charleston to Brunswick, GA

We made another coastal hop from Charleston to Brunswick, GA, arriving here yesterday morning. The conditions weren’t the worst we have seen but not the best, either. It was pretty rolly the entire trip with waves hitting the port quarter.  We were both grateful for the full enclosure - it was cold with winds 15 - 20kt.
George spent the morning replacing our fresh water pump while I did a load of laundry. Our pump has been acting up since last winter. When we run water through the Sea Gull water filter the pump tends to shut off after about 15 seconds. If we let the pump rest for a minute it starts working again. We were just letting it limp along but the other day it began to shut off when we ran water through the galley tap. Since this was a new devopment we decided it was time to replace the pump before it shuts down for good at a really unconvenient time. George replaced it with a spare pump we have had on board. Fortunately, Jabsco & Hanse made it very easy. George didn’t even have to empty the water tank. The hose connecting the tank to the pump was long enough that he could quickly lift it up above the level of the water in the tank. Way back in 2014, when we were making our delivery trip from NY to Maryland, one of the fresh water hoses in the forward head became disconnected. As we were motoring down the East River the pump was emptying all of our 80 gallons of water into the bilge. The pump had to work pretty hard and long to do that. It has been noisy since then. I think we are going to be happy with the new pump. 
We are tentatively planning to leave here tomorrow afternoon and head for the Bahamas. We are waiting for more weather information from Chris Parker before we make the decision. If we don’t do that we will most likely make another coastal hop in a few days. If we go to the Bahamas from here is should take about 3 days. 



Saturday, November 11, 2017

Brrrr

We woke up this morning to temperatures of 57 inside the cabin and 52 in the cockpit. It could have been worse, it was 43 outside the enclosure. Brrrrr. We fired up our little propane heater and warmed up the cabin. Later on the sun warmed the cockpit inside the enclosure to almost 80. We wanted to retain all of that heat to help keep us warm tonight. 
Yesterday morning we took the shuttle to the grocery store and picked up a few fresh foods. The casseroles I prepared and froze at home to be heated and consumed on passages thawed long ago. We have been eating them before they go bad. We picked up a few frozen entrees at the store that we hope will last until we do get the opportunity to cross over to the Bahamas. After the grocery store we rode the shuttle to downtown again. This time with our friends Jean and Michael. Jean bought a Charleston walking tour guide and we used that to explore on foot. It was a gorgeous day and we saw a lot more of this beautiful city. 
When we checked into Charleston Harbor Marina 5 days ago we opted not to hook up to shore power. We wanted to see how our new batteries and solar panels would do on their own. The first day the solar panels charged the batteries right up. The next 2 days were cloudy so the charge on the batteries dropped. By yesterday morning they were 25% charged. Since they are lithium ion batteries that isn’t a problem. Yesterday was a sunny day and the batteries charged up to 65%. This morning they had dropped to 45%. By late this afternoon (another sunny day) they were back up to 85%. Not bad!
The stiff NE winds that we have had for the past few days are supposed to ease up a bit by tomorrow morning. We decided to take the opportunity to make another coastal hop down to Brunswick, GA. The conditions will be more “gnarly” than we have had on our recent passages but not as bad as our passage to the Bahamas last fall.