Ocean passage from the Bahamas to Beaufort, NC

We had an extra week to prepare for our voyage from the northern Bahamas, known as the Abacos, back to the U.S. We had attempted to leave Thursday, May 9th, but realized that morning that the weather window was closing. Although we were already underway, we didn’t feel comfortable committing to a three day-500 mile passage to arrive in Beaufort, NC at the beginning of a gale. Four days for that length of passage is more predictable in our boat. So we anchored at Great Guana Cay and the next day moved on to Green Turtle Cay.

We continued to make the boat better for the ocean passage ahead. Tom took the time to scrub the bottom on two different occasions. He ran out of sunlight the first time. A smooth surface under water will improve our speed, especially in light winds! Anita spent her time cooking and baking, filling the freezer with vacuum sealed meals and treats to make meal preparation super easy at sea. We caught up on laundry and house cleaning, recharged batteries on a bunch of items like handheld radios, spot light, and battery jump packs. We also reviewed and organized ditch bags and medical supplies.

The Bluff Point Cay anchorage on Green Turtle Cay was a beautiful, secluded location with a few birds twittering and only a few houses occupied at this time of year. We were the only boat at anchor in the harbor for four days.

Our last night in the Bahamas some local swimmers out for their morning exercise invited us to dinner at one of the houses on shore. A group of 9 or 10 guys were sharing the house at the time. They even picked us up on board as we had folded up our dinghy in preparation for our passage. Delicious marinated chicken and rice, great fellowship and swapping of stories. They took some drone pictures of our boat in the harbor and measured the height of our mast, so cool!We gave them some dehydrated peanut butter as a thank you gift, something we still had in stock and they had never tried.

We prefer ocean passages to inland waterways for several reasons. Fewer obstacles is a given. Amazing night sky especially now with a full moon (though the stars and Milky Way are beautiful when there is no moon). This time of year, nights are relatively short, even shorter as we head north. The rhythm of the four hour watch system is easy for us to adapt to. We have the same watches each and every day forming a pattern.

We left our lovely anchorage at 7AM on Thursday, May 16 and sailed nonstop to Beaufort, NC in just over four days; arriving at 1PM on Monday, May 20. We anchored across from Beaufort Docks; the same place we left from last November.

The passage was super easy! The full moon made it very easy to see at night.We had one bedraggled bird sleep on our lifeline all night. He flew away at dawn and was a long way from land!Fun to see a pod of dolphin play with us in the Gulf Stream.

We enjoyed great weather the whole trip. Very few clouds, light winds, no rain. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We actually would have preferred a bit more wind. The highest we had was around 12-14 knots right behind us. We ended up motoring almost one third of the time: 29 hours of 102. We steered with the electric auto pilot exclusively on this passage, rather than the wind vane. There was not enough apparent wind for the wind vane to work well.

In contrast, the entry into the Beaufort inlet was sporting with following seas and a contrary current of a knot and a half. There was also a large dredge blocking off the entire deep water entrance channel at one point. The real entertainment began when we started the engine as we needed to turn up wind and weren’t sure if we could still sail. The alternator belt broke almost immediately. No time to fix it now! We sailed the last 2 miles up winding narrow channels, against the tidal current, and with a variety of small pleasure craft. There was a large motor yacht passing us at the last turn as we were sailing too slow (4-5 knots) at the same time that a larger fishing vessel was coming the other way. It’s understood they didn’t know our engine was out of commission. Fortunately, we never had to turn fully into the wind so were able to steer flawlessly! A sailboat stops when it points closer than 45-50 degrees (360 degrees on a compass) either side of where the wind is coming from. The same large motor yacht chose to block the entire channel right in front of the anchorage by spinning his boat around in preparation for docking. We managed to steer past his bow and avoid other anchored boats. Then we turned upwind into the narrow anchorage across from Beaufort Docks. Tom dropped the jib and after the boat stopped; lowered the anchor. Meanwhile, Anita dropped the main. Once we were sure the anchor was not dragging and the nearby boat was far enough away, Tom dove into the engine room to replace the alternator belt while Anita covered sails and stowed sailing gear. Once the engine was available, we re-anchored a little further from the channel and nearby boat and ensured the anchor was set by backing down with the engine. Exciting finish to an easy and relaxing passage. John, from the neighboring boat stopped by to chat in the evening and congratulated us on a well executed anchoring under sail. On our first cruise 30 years ago we had plenty of practice sailing on and off anchor. Good to know we still have the skills to make our floating home safe and secure.

Incidentally, we believe the underlying engine problem is a small amount of rust on one of the pulleys that chafes the belt. Tom has sanded/smoothed this area and we have been able to continue using the engine as evidenced by the twenty nine engine hours on this passage alone. We have a brand new higher output alternator, pulleys and serpentine belt waiting for us in CT. It will be the first of many new projects on Lone Star.

Check-in with U.S. Customs was a breeze with the CBP ROAM application (Yes, there’s an app for that.)

The weather is unsettled for the remainder of the week so we plan to stay near town for awhile. Perhaps do some walking, browsing and chores. Not to mention restocking on ice cream, chocolate, chips and brownie mix. Things we never bought in the five and a half months in the Bahamas. We hope to find another weather window soon to continue our passage north offshore.

Cruising in the Abaco’s

Cover photo: sunrise in Marsh Harbor.

We tried to leave Spanish Wells, following Pegu Club out of the harbor one afternoon. We had the main sail up and the anchor bridle off. When Anita turned on the key and pushed the button to start the engine nothing happened. Tom tried too, still nothing. We thought about sailing off anchor, but decided to drop the sail and trouble shoot the problem instead. This happened around 2PM. Tom had spent the day rigging the steering lines for the WindPilot self-steering out in the hot sun. Then he had to dive in the airless engine room. We took apart the engine control panel in the enclosed cockpit as well. Buffing wires and rerouting a few made it work, but the real problem is a couple broken prongs inside a wiring harness. No spare on board so we connected the wires directly and will complete the repair once back in the states this summer.

The next morning we left before sunrise at 6:00 AM to sail from Spanish Wells, Eleuthera 65 nautical miles to the northern Bahamas island group known as the Abaco’s. We had light winds, but were able to sail most of the way, only turning on the engine in the late afternoon. We crossed paths with this container ship…and Pegu Club who left from Egg Island at sunrise. Their towed dinghy is hiding behind a wave.We both anchored in the Lee of Lynard Cay shortly after entering Great Abaco Sound via Little Harbor Cut. It was an easy off the wind 11.5 hour sail and the WindPilot self-steering wind vane quietly and competently accomplished all the offshore steering! Yeah, another successful project completed!

The next day we sailed 20 miles northward to Marsh Harbor on Great Abaco. This is one of the larger settlements on Great Abaco. We visited both a large hardware and grocery store, both the biggest we’ve seen all winter with the exception of Nassau. Then back aboard to enjoy the sunset.The next day, we stayed aboard and celebrated Kimberly’s Birthday by grilling steaks and hamburgers on the grill accompanied with parsley potatoes and carrots and brownies and chocolate malted milkshakes for dessert. So happy to have sailed so much with Kimberly and Jeff this winter. We wish them well on their return trip to CT. The next day they headed west, while we headed east for a nostalgic return to Hopetown on Elbow Cay. We cruised here nearly thirty years ago. We had a great walk to On Da Beach restaurant and enjoyed a relaxing and delicious lunch. Thanks for the tip Marcia!We had to wait out some nasty weather at anchor near Eagle Rock…Enjoyed more pretty sunsets …Explored the still operating kerosene historic lighthouse and the amazing view from the top…And a two mile walk on the beach, love the sound of crashing waves on a beach…We enjoyed our six days in Hopetown. Then we motored to Man of War Cay about six miles away. It was low tide when we left. Easy to see how shallow the water was; 4-6 feet deep for a mile or so. Interesting that the water color in this part of the Bahamas is a deeper green, some people call it emerald green, rather than the bright turquoise in the Exumas. This is looking straight down into six feet of water with a sandy bottom while sailing…After one rocking night with south winds; we decided to move back to Marsh Harbor for our final stock up before heading to sea, and north toward New England for the summer. There are other cruisers getting ready for their crossings as well. Always fun to compare plans and swap sea stories. On our walk to Maxwells, a large grocery store, we spotted a cruiser on a folding bicycle with a Burley Travoy trailer holding two ten pound propane tanks. Tom stopped him by asking a question so we were able to see what we purchased online last month. He said, it’s the best purchase he ever made! We’re looking forward to getting ours!

On Wednesday afternoon, May 8; we decided to get the boat ready for sea as we had a weather window to go offshore. We rigged safety lines on deck, disassembled the dinghy, secured a lot of loose items, bought fuel and water. We left at first light on Thursday, and listened to Chris Parker on SSB for a weather update as we sailed out of Marsh Harbor. We also checked a few apps we use to predict weather. Unfortunately, our weather window had diminished. We chose to abort this attempt rather than sail into a gale near Beaufort, NC nearly 500 miles away. We anchored on the south side of Great Guana and enjoyed another new beautiful Bahama anchorage. The next day we had a leisurely sail to Green Turtle Cay. Tom dove over the side to check the anchor as this is a grassy anchorage; labeled poor holding. He also scrubbed and inspected the bottom of the boat. The next day we went ashore to walk around this historical loyalist settlement. It is very neat and clean. It had the best new dinghy dock we’ve ever seen!How’s this for a front yard tree?After a couple days anchored here we moved into quiet Bluff Cay cove on Green Turtle Cay. We were the only boat in this small nearly enclosed harbor. The only sound here is the twitter of birds. The view includes sea turtles and beautiful houses hidden in the trees. One morning some locals were out for their morning swim and stopped to say hello.

We continue to enjoy sailing in the Bahamas as we prepare our boat and ourselves for the voyage back to Connecticut (CT) for the summer months. Yes, we plan to sail south again to avoid a cold winter and we love to sail year round. Looking forward to connecting with family and friends in CT.

Nassau and Eleuthera

We were a bit skeptical about sailing to Nassau after hearing that 80% of the Bahamians live there and the crime rate is high. However, we were pleasantly surprised at how friendly all the local people we engaged in conversations were. The majority of the Bahamian people are very kind and friendly. It is, more importantly, an international airport hub from NY and the reason we decided to go there.

The day after Alex and Jenna left we bagged all the laundry and took the dinghy to Junkanoo beach. We hauled our 10 foot Porta-Bote way up beyond the high tide mark and locked it to a railing where local merchants hawk their wares later in the day. It’s also where the taxis hang out waiting to give tourists a tour. The mile long walk to a very large laundry facility was up a long gradual hill. Tom commented that this laundry was well thought out for its purpose. It had great ventilation, large aisles, and hundreds of machines, all in working order! We enjoyed a much easier walk back although the bags were still heavy. That afternoon we moved the boat a mile east to be closer to the big grocery store we walked to and from. Once again loaded down with too much to carry. We seriously need to find a cart with big wheels! We walked more than five miles today and carried a fair bit; our arms and necks are weary.

Has anyone heard of cruisers midnight? Many cruisers adopt the clock of the sun, like farmers we rise and rest early. Consequently, 9PM seems like midnight. By moving a mile east, we had escaped the throbbing musical entertainment at Junkanoo beach which ends at 1:30AM, half-way into our sleep cycle. Now we were anchored in front of Atlantis Park to the north. They had an easy listening live band that started playing in the early afternoon. Around cruisers midnight, that was drowned out by a dance club on the south side of the river and, you guessed it the noise blared until 1:30 AM. Who needs sleep?

The next morning we hoisted the anchor at 7AM and left Nassau. We sailed close to the wind for 11 hours; hand steering for the first 4 as we were too close to the wind for the electric auto pilot. We were so relieved to get out of the rocky seas by entering Alabaster Bay. Unfortunately, we were greeted by all too familiar loud Bahamian head banging music complete with a lot of foul language this time. Thankfully the entertainment ended at 9:30 PM. Ah, finally a good night sleep!

The next day Pegu Club sailed into the harbor from Rock Sound. We gathered on Lone Star for a fun game of cards and cruise planning as we are both heading north.

We enjoyed a two hour walk the next afternoon with Jeff and Kimberly. We wandered across the island and around the remains of a World War II military base and to this beautiful pink sand beach.Then back to this view of our snug and beautiful harbor. We shared a slow-cooker beef stew and biscuit dinner followed by fresh brownies (thanks to K&J) and a good sailing spy movie: “Riddle of the Sands”, on Lone Star.

The next day we sailed in company with Pegu Club from Alabaster Bay to Royal Island Harbor at the north end of Eleuthera. It was real nice to get a first hand report about the conditions in Current Cut from Kimberly via VHF radio. It was much easier than we anticipated! She even took pictures of us right after we came through the cut.We stayed aboard our boats, visiting each other occasionally, in the nearly enclosed private island harbor of Royal Island for four days. South winds above 20 knots were prevalent throughout this time. Luckily, only the last day had rain squalls. The south winds would have been great for continuing on to the Abacos except for the accompanying waves. The early morning when the wind was at its peak Anita got up several times to check our position. At 4AM we had 3 boats in front of us, at 5 we had only 2. One had dragged their anchor and ended up well behind us. No idea how it didn’t hit us, but very thankful! There was no one on board that boat or 2 others anchored nearby. We did meet the owner two days later, just as we were hauling our anchor to head to Spanish Wells for a few days. He asked us,”Who moved my boat?” We told him the wind and a dragging anchor. He and his family were staying with a friend on a nearby island for the storm. He was very lucky he sustained no damage.

Spanish Wells is a lovely, well decorated, colorful and clean town. On Easter Sunday we walked the beautiful north beach for miles.

A couple days later we spotted these dolphin as we entered the harbor.How’s this for a front lawn?Tom is enjoying the challenge of installing the used WindPilot self-steering. He disassembled and cleaned everything before installing. Rigging lines and tuning to ensure it will steer in any weather. Haven’t attached the wind or water blades yet.We mentioned wanting a cart to Kimberly and she suggested the folding versatile Burley bicycle trailer/hand cart. Tom found one on eBay and we won the bid! It will be in CT waiting for us. We have decided to go back to SYC this summer. We plan to arrive in June. Anita’s current project is restocking the freezer with homemade meals for the upcoming passage.

Next up: heading north to the Abacos.

Berry Islands, Andros, and Nassau

Our son, Alex and girlfriend, Jenna flew in to Nassau on Thursday afternoon, April 4th. They each had only one carry on backpack. Alex’s was very heavy and nearly half filled with spare parts for us. TSA entertained them in the US by trying to guess what the parts were. They didn’t guess any correctly. Bahamas customs only wanted to know the name of a marina or dock our boat was at. We were anchored off Junkanoo beach near the cruise ships so our boat was not near a dock or marina. Rather entertaining to see them insist on the name of a nearby dock. They finally used the name of the cruise ship dock. The taxi ride and picking them up at the beach via dinghy went smoothly. Around 10 PM, the hull started vibrating with deep bass music that was playing on shore. It didn’t stop until 1:30AM. Welcome to Nassau!The next day after breakfast, we sailed down wind out of the harbor heading northwest for the Berry Islands, 35 miles away. The wind was lighter than expected so we motor-sailed occasionally.

As soon as the anchor was down near Pigeon Cay, guess who went for a swim?After dinner, Alex & Jenna went out on deck to watch the sunset.

Jenna wanted to call her Dad to wish him a Happy Birthday 🎈🎂 🎉. Alex scrambled below, dug in his bag, and raced outside again. Mommy radar was blipping. Eventually, we hear happy giggles. It seems our son asked a question with something shiny and was accepted; on our boat at sunset in the Bahamas ❤️ 🇧🇸 🥰. We were all surprised and very happy. They couldn’t stop smiling and inspecting the very pretty ring.Alex had asked her Dad for permission to marry her. Which is why he needed to propose before her call home.

We stayed another full day at this private anchorage. Alex & Jenna took the dinghy for a long run, so they could walk on the beach of Bird Island and swim in the shallows. They brought back a few very small shells and saw some little silver fish. Sunsets are a time to be outside:On Sunday, we sailed a few miles to Chub Cay and anchored by the beach. Tom & I drove the dinghy to the marina to get two loads of water. Alex and Jenna swam to the coral wall to see more little fish.

Alex captured the best photo of the gorgeous sunset at Chub.Tom and Alex just had to finish the project they started; installing the new Tank Tender gauge. Completed at 8:30 PM. Tom had earlier installed a pickup tube directly in the deepest part of the water tank. Now we can measure how many inches of water we have in the tank. Much nicer than running out!The next day, we motored a mile or so to the south coast of Chub Cay and tried to anchor at the entrance to the mangroves, planning to dinghy into them to see the turtles. The anchor just skidded along the top of the hard bottom and it was a lee shore with 12 knots of wind that were increasing. Time for Plan B.

Off came the sail covers, up went the sails, we turned off the engine and sailed 14 miles to the north end of Andros Island. Our entrance into the harbor was quite exciting as a brief rain squall came through with heavy rain and 20+ knots of wind. Alex expertly steered Lone Star through the reefs on both sides. Then hovered in the wind while Tom and Anita lowered and wrapped up the sails. We had plenty of protection from the southerly winds for the next couple days and a new place to explore! We waited until afternoon when the sun was lower to dinghy ashore. We poked around a few wrecks on the beach:Lone Star at anchor, a beached Tug, and Tom for perspective.

We explored Henry Morgan’s caves and (lower picture) his lookout point where the pirate is alleged to have watched for ships to plunder. This place is now called Morgan’s Bluff.Our full day on Andros Island was a mix of sun and clouds. We also started the day with light winds that turned gusty in the afternoon. We went ashore in the late morning to make 3 dinghy runs for water and walk around a bit. It was too hot and not much more to see. We went back aboard to hide from the sun. The next day was also supposed to be cloudy with occasional rain showers steady 10-15 knot winds with gusts in squalls around 25 knots. However, southwest winds would carry us downwind back to Nassau. The forecasters got only the cloudy part right. Winds were under 10 knots all day, we motor-sailed for 9.5 hours, rotating the watch every hour between the three of us.No rain for us until after sunset. We were safely anchored at a little island just east of Nassau called Athol Cay.

Snorkeling here was pretty good. Both Tom and Alex took video. Tom and the affianced couple took the dinghy to a beach on the south side of the island in the morning. In the afternoon, they snorkeled again near Lone Star on the north side. This was actually better; more fish and variety of coral. Somehow Tom still squeezed in an engine maintenance project: replacing the salt water pump and belt. He also went swimming and scrubbed the bottom. Busy day and everyone is tired, but happy!

It’s hard to believe eight days have flown by so fast! We raised the anchor and jib for the short motor sail through Nassau Harbor. We anchored off of Junkanoo Beach again and met Bahama John’s Taxi on shore. He took this picture for us:It was a nice vacation for Alex and Jenna and we are so glad they could come for a visit and leave engaged to be married! Congratulations you two, we wish you a long and happy life traveling the world to your hearts content. We hope you visit us often as we sail about.

After a few days to do laundry, restock, and wait for winds other than straight east, we sail east to Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

Sailing Northern Exuma’s to Nassau

The day after Dad and Ilse flew home to New Hampshire, we had restocked fresh food and water, done the laundry and were sailing north. We sailed 50 miles the first day from Georgetown to Little Bay Great Guana Cay. We stayed three nights anchored near our friends on Pegu Club.

We joined Kimberly for a meandering walk to town one day for a few groceries and a look around. Nice view of the harbor and east side of the island too!The next day we all took a walk ashore with specific plans to visit a blow hole on this windy day.

We enjoyed a lot of laughs here! We also got together in the evenings for cards and one night we watched the James Bond Thunderball movie as Pegu Club will be heading to “the cave” where it was filmed soon.

When the strong winds abated we bid von voyage to our friends. Thank you Kimberly for the great pictures of us sailing off anchor. What fun!

We took advantage of favorable winds to sail 45 miles from Great Guana to Norman’s Cay. Fantastic reach under full sail on the Bahama banks. We averaged 7 knots per hour. Crystal clear water and easy navigation.On Sunday, March 31st, we motored about five miles from Norman’s Cay to Highborne Cay Marina for diesel fuel. Very tricky navigating, but we had very good sun and clear visibility. We called Dad to wish him a Happy Birthday and showed them the anchorage where we waited for word it was our turn to get fuel in the Marina. The shadow of our mast in the absolutely crystal clear water.The Marina was inside a very snug cove beside the cell tower in the center of the above photo. After fueling up we motored around the corner to anchor in the lee of Highborne Cay for the night. The anchorage was busy with mega yachts and all their toys including inflatable slides hanging off the sides and jet skis tied to the back. Surprisingly it was a very quiet night. The next day we motored a couple of miles from Highborne to Leaf Cay to photograph the Iguanas on the beach; or as Tom refers to them, mini dinosaurs.This is the anchored on the shallow sands between Leaf and Allen Cay.Looks like another lovely, deserted beach, except for the many Iguanas 🦎 !There are three in the above photo!The sedate elder is cautious, but calm.A closer look at the many tracks left by the critters on the beach.Oh, the beautiful view. We appreciate this every day!

After our visit ashore, we motored around to the outside of Allen’s Cay to make our departure for Nassau tomorrow easier. This was a deep water anchorage with a slight sideways roll due to the ocean currents being contrary to the light winds.

We motor-sailed 40 miles from Allen’s Cay in the Exumas to Nassau Harbor New Providence Island Bahamas the next day. We have a ringside seat for all of the cruise ship activity. Four ships in port when we arrived. 

The big ships come and go regularly, but do not make a big fuss. The Tiki Bar at the beach on shore and the local huge flock of birds disturb the peace much more than the ships. This is a very secure area as their are cameras everywhere. We feel safe anchored here with a few other cruising boats.

We took the dinghy ashore the next day for a walk around town then a longer walk to a large grocery. Met a fun, and happy local Grandma, Carmen McPhee. Although she lives here now, she calls herself Exuman. When we told her we’ve spent four months in the Exumas and love them; she declared we are Exuman too and gave us a group hug. After our big grocery shopping trip we took a taxi back to the dinghy as we had too much to carry. The variety was fantastic here in a city, a bit fresher, and prices slightly lower. What’s not to love!

Looking Back – Bahamas Sailing to Long Island and Conception

Photo: Gordon’s Beach on Long Island

In mid February, we left Georgetown to revisit Long Island and head north a bit for our first visit to Conception Island.

We sailed to Calabash Bay in the north end of Long Island to join Sea Ya for the next day’s motor-sail to Conception Island.

We used our quiet time in Paradise to work on some boat projects, and catch-up on sleep and reading. I believe Tom was still working on the electric windless installation, which turned out to be quite the challenge, but oh so worth it!! I also made ice cream, muffins and bread, restocking the larder. We heard from nearby cruisers that the snorkeling was not that great during this visit. There were very few fish to see and conditions were a bit cloudy on the reefs as bad weather had passed recently stirring things up. The water was also still a bit chilly and a wetsuit would have made it better. Conception Island is now part of the Bahamas conservation park so the wildlife here is protected. No fishing allowed and there are LOTS of birds. Perhaps the birds are eating all the fish?

One evening all the cruisers in the harbor gathered on the beach to let the children play, the adults chat about boats and places we’ve been or want to go, and to watch the sunset. Below is a short.video.

After three very pleasant days, our weather window for this open harbor was going to close so we needed to move on. We chose to return to Salt Pond, Long Island for a few more quiet days in this oh so friendly community. The sail down the west coast over some reefs and shallow sand banks was beautiful.

This time we were there on a Saturday and made it to the farmers market in time to get some delicious baked goods and fresh eggs and local produce.

We also met up with Bill on Charisma and went to lunch with him to Tiny’s at the far end of Thompson Bay one leisurely afternoon.

Another evening we were invited on the new Reach for a delicious dinner of fresh caught fish. We really enjoyed spending time with Mark and Michele especially when we jointly rented a car for a day and explored the south end of the island with them.

First stop was this old church:

We walked the path behind the church to the shrimp hole, but did not swim here as planned as a famous wildlife photographer was busy at work in the small cave.We found the BEST beach in the Bahamas: Gordon’s Beach at the southern end of Long Island has super fine sand, like talcum powder. Aren’t the colors gorgeous?

Next stop was a Clarence Town church designed by Father Jerome well known for his designs throughout the Bahamas.Unfortunately, it was locked so we couldn’t experience the 360 degree view. Though we took some pictures from the steps:We toured the coast here and a nice Marina and then had lunch in a nearby restaurant.

This is now the windy east shore. After lunch we went to the famous Dean’s Blue Hole. It’s over 600 feet deep! Tom just had to go inspect it.

We returned to Georgetown the last day of February needing to fill up the water tanks. Fantastic downwind sail with a nice shady deck to lounge in.

Real nice excursion away from our winter home base. Life is good living the dream.

Sailing Exumas with Friends and Family

On Tuesday, March 12 Jeff and Kimberly on Pegu Club sailed into Georgetown harbor and anchored nearby us at Sand Dollar beach. They brought some groceries for us from Florida, such good friends! Yes, they’ve been carrying our stuff for 2 months! Who does that? They didn’t even succumb to eating the dark chocolate bars. Such will power! We are always happy to see them and spend time together. Dinner, ice cream, card games, route planning, and rainy hikes across the island; making memories and having a blast!

Boats anchored at Sand Dollar beach.The east side of Stocking Island at Sand Dollar.

Found a good view of our boat hiding under a tree while waiting for the light rain to stop.

Three days later Dad and Ilse were due to arrive from New Hampshire. We motored Lone Star from Sand Dollar beach to Georgetown’s Kidd’s Cove in the early morning hours to get water, do some hand laundry on board, grocery shop in town, and then pick up our guests at the airport. After the first wet water run in the dinghy, Tom agreed we should move again to a more secure harbor; Goat Cay. A wet dinghy ride is not the way to welcome our respected elders aboard our humble floating home for a 12 day vacation.

Tom hitched a ride to the airport and arranged the return taxi. Before our guests knew it, Lloyd the friendly Bahamian taxi driver was loading their luggage into the taxi for them. Here they are arriving on Lone Star via dinghy:

They arrived on the boat around 2 PM on Friday, March 15. We provided big drinks and lunch right away.  They had a rest, then we toured the boat and they unpacked. After a good nights rest, Tom & Anita left them alone on board to enjoy the gorgeous view at Goat Cay. We completed the last of the provisioning by hitch hiking to Island Meats, a small grocery about 4 miles away. The locals are so friendly and happy to share their ride, we learn a bit more about the area each time too! Our last ride this day was from a man at the Exuma Foundation. They provide guided tours of the Exuma’s and organize volunteers for a variety of projects to help those in need, like rebuild a house.

This is what we came home to, Dad and Ilse lounging on the stern soaking up the view and the sun:

We offered options: a swim/snorkel in this beautiful bay or a sail to another harbor. Dad really wanted to go for a short sail. After lunch we hoisted the anchor and sailed north until the channel narrows then tacked back and forth south to anchor at Chat ‘n Chill beach a couple hours later.

On Sunday, we all dinghied ashore for Beach Church and even joined the choir. The gathering afterward with coffee and baked goods was fun too. we did a small boat project: adding markers to our main anchor line that Dad just delivered to us.  Seeing the anchor was most of the way up we motored around the corner from the very busy anchorage to quieter Sand Dollar beach. Dad worked really hard lowering, raising, and once again lowering the anchor with his big toe! We didn’t like the first spot we’d chosen; too far from the beach.We anchored near Pegu Club and were all soon in the water snorkeling to the nearby reefs and beach.Dad, the chemist, commented about the extra fine sand in the Bahamas. Tom’s answer: here soft limestone is pounded by the sea to make fine sand. In New England, hard granite is pulverized by the ocean waves to make gravel and courser sand.

Jeff & Kimberly came over for a visit at sundown and we played a game of hearts with them. Lots of laughs! After another leisurely day at Sand Dollar we moved Lone Star across to Kidd’s Cove to top up the water tanks that we had abandoned on windy Friday. Dad, Ilse and I took a short walk around a small part of town. Then picked up a few groceries at Exuma Market.

On Tuesday, we enjoyed a five hour, 35 mile, down wind sail north to Lee Stocking Island in the Exumas. Pegu Club led the way. We enjoyed a Hearts rematch that evening.

The next day we all hiked ashore to stretch our legs. We found a good view of our boat and had extra people around to take our picture.The island is now deserted, but was home to a marine research center until 2015. We saw an abandoned air strip and a ghost town. A short trail led to a beautiful view of the beaches on the east side of the island.We returned to Lone Star and discovered a nearby sail boat aground on the shallow sands. Tom motored over to lend a hand to this unknown cruiser by first attempting to heel the boat over with a halyard; that didn’t work. Then he relocated their anchor into deeper water. As the tide rose they were able to winch themselves free. We watched from the deck.Swimming here was a definite challenge as there was a current to contend with. Streaming a life jacket on a rope behind the boat was a necessary precaution. Dad still enjoyed his daily swim.

Kimberly joined us in the evening for a card game – Oh Heck this time, quite fun!Dad and Ilse enjoying a beautiful sunset!

On Friday morning a guy on a neighboring boat stopped by asking for our email address. He took the following picture of Lone Star this morning and told us the pot of gold must be on board. We’re still looking, ha!On Friday, March 22, we waved farewell to our friends on Pegu Club as they continued sailing north and we returned to Georgetown. We timed the weather well. We enjoyed another easy downwind run, this one taking six hours to go the 35 miles. We anchored at Honeymoon beach for protection in the upcoming southeasterly blow. Seeing there was no possibility of card games with our friends on Pegu Club we turned to movie watching for evening entertainment. Watching Red October in stereo while the boat is rocking was a highlight. The last three nights we laughed watching Odd Couple first season episodes before bed time.

Swimming in Honeymoon beach was easy and fun. Although once the tide was too low and our guests complained of a stinging sensation in the grass near shore. Thankfully, the sting washed away when they swam back to the boat. A favorite pass time for our guests was playing games: cribbage, barricade, hearts, and UNO.We couldn’t pry them away from the Barricade board this evening to see this pretty sunset, so I showed them the pictures.Sunday was too windy for a dinghy ride and it threatened to rain all day, but held off until over night.On Monday, we moved the boat to a reef near Honeymoon beach in hopes of spotting more fish on their last full day in the Bahamas. Guess we didn’t anchor close enough. There was a current running, making it a challenge to swim. Then it turned cloudy making it very hard to direct them to the reef. They gave up without finding it. They saw only sand!

We motored over to Kidd’s Cove that evening so we would be a short dinghy ride to shore the next morning for their taxi to the airport. We had a real nice visit and believe they had a nice vacation too!Spring has begun and cruisers are beginning to head north now that weather patterns are settling a bit. Time for us to head north as well to see more of the Bahamas.