Beautiful Hispaniola 🇩🇴

Thirty three years ago we reluctantly sailed past the Dominican Republic. We wanted to explore this beautiful and mountainous country. However, it was too late in the spring season. Hurricane season was approaching. This time around, we were determined to pay Hispaniola a visit, and see what treasures it had to offer. Our passage from Puerto Rico took us across the Mona Passage. Check out this video of our very pleasant sail and another clip of us entering Samana harbor. We completed the 141 mile downwind sail in 25 hours arriving at 9:00 AM on February 21.

Samana

Samana waterfront from observation tower

The officials were very welcoming. Before long, a local entrepreneur, Luis came alongside Lone Star in a long boat. Luis is an agent and interpreter that many visiting cruisers hire. He brought a navy officer to inspect the boat. Then took us on a walk around town, to the various customs and immigration offices. We used his services again to have a new custom cover for our jib sewn. The Spanish language that is used here sounds different and English is not as prevalent as in Puerto Rico. We soon became adept at using Google Translate to ask questions and gain answers.

Samana walking bridge is lit up at night

One day we decided to hike to the farmers market. We brought our trolley as it was a mile hike. It was a challenging walk up busy streets and past three rotaries or round-abouts. Every street crossing involved crossing an open drainage ditch. Now we know why Luis recommended using a TukTuk. Later we discovered the produce in the flatbed trucks on the waterfront street were often better quality than at the market.

TukTuk in Samana

Warning: Thar’ be technical boaters lingo ahead, Ye’ be warned, 😁. The anchorage across from the town of Samana is much deeper than our chart suggests, i.e. around 25-35 feet. Adding in our height above the water and the desired scope of 6:1, we needed to deploy over 160 feet of anchor rode. We do not like to anchor in water that deep as we currently only carry 90 feet of chain. This means that we had to let out ALL of our chain, and dip into the reserve rope attached to the chain for such occasions. All added together, we have 240 ft of available anchor rode. We prefer to use as little as possible, as it is a slow and dirty job to haul it all back in and flake it into the bow locker. In addition, the boat swings in a much wider circle. Side note: boy are we glad we have an electric anchor windlass now! We plan to replace the chain this summer and will have a much longer length in the near future.

Sunset over Samana anchorage from walking bridge

We spent many an afternoon or evening taking our dinghy to the nearby beach on Santa Barbara Island and walking across the bridge or up and down the many stairs on the island trails.

Samana from hiking trails on Santa Barbara Island

There were many stairs on the hilly island. This was a good workout!

Fabulous hiking trails, notice the runners behind Tom

There were also several flights of stairs to get to these gorgeous overlooks at either end of the walking bridge.

Sunset looking from Santa Barbara to mainland
Opposite view from mainland to Santa Barbara

One day we decided to move anchorages to the outer harbor so that we could desalinate water and fill our tank. This is much better for the watermaker if you do it in deep clear water, where there isn’t as much sediment to clog up the filters. We motored to Lovantado Island and stayed for the afternoon. There were plenty of tourists on the beaches and fishermen in the sea.

Small cruise ships come to visit Samana. Although the harbor is too small for them, they anchor near Lavantado island and utilize small excursion boats to bring passengers ashore. We saw a couple ships make port during our stay. There are many local boats that are used to bring tourists to see the whales in the winter season or to the National park just to the south. Of course there are also many popular tourist destinations on land as well. Like waterfalls, zip lines, tropical rainforests, shopping, etc.

Samana’s super small dinghy dock, shared with local tour boats

After two weeks visiting this fine port, we got the wandering itch again. A quick painless check out with the authorities and we were sailing on toward Luperon.

Luperon

We sailed 138 miles in 24 hours. The first 7 hours we motor-sailed into head winds. Then it was smooth downwind sailing for the rest of the trip. Luperon is a completely enclosed harbor, protected on all sides by hills, with only a narrow, twisting entrance. Due to this security, many cruisers stop here to provision, wait for weather, or to stay for the hurricane season. It is surrounded by mangroves and the nearby mountains often disrupt those big storms.

Cruiser/Fisherman dock in Luperon

We were very happy to see Stephen and Janet on Little Sister again. We last spent time with them in Georgetown, Bahamas two years ago. The same time frame for our rendezvous here with Emily and Clark on Temptress. The latter have a YouTube channel to help new cruisers prepare and to help pay there way in the lifestyle. Check out #emilyandclarksadventure on YouTube. Stephen hired a taxi driver to take the four of us (Stephen & Janet, Tom & Anita) on a tour of nearby Puerto Plata. Our first stop was a cable car that smoothly lifts its passengers to Isabela de Torres mountain just south of the city. Here’s a clip of us passing a cable car as we ascended.

Cable Car to an overlook of Puerto Plata
In the cable car leaving the base
View of Puerto Plata from the top
Our tour guide for a short hike around the top; taught us how to wake a flower

Our next stop was a rum factory. My, they had a lot of rum to sell and darn we still have a lot on board! The tour was a winding path through a very dark warehouse. We had no idea we’d be sampling nine different varieties of rum. No, we do not remember the names of all nine. I’m very sure we should not have done this right before lunch!

Rum factory

Our lunch stop had gorgeous scenery! I believe I have pictures of this same island with a statue on it from a couple other visits to the DR. We flew in for a long weekend all-inclusive resort stay in September 2016 and took a cruise ship that stopped in Puerto Plata in December 2017.

The view at our lunch stop

Our next stop was for ice cream and a gander at Central Park and its surroundings. Then we had a tour of a chocolate factory. The free samples of brownies and hot chocolate had the inexorable effect of us each purchasing various chocolate treats to bring home. Then it was on to a cigar factory.

Cigar factory, rolls of tobacco in presses
The finished cigars waiting to be purchased or shipped

They also had a smoking lounge in this factory. However, none of us are smokers. That was the last stop on our tour apart from a quick stop in Luperon to pick up some local beer: Presidente makes a pretty good stout called Bohemia. Does anyone not understand why we nicknamed this our Vice tour?

Employed a local to paint on Lone Star

Stephen introduced us to a local man who was earning his living working on boats. We gladly hired Manuel for a week to sand and paint our shower and the inner cockpit. A few weeks later, he and a friend scrubbed the bottom of our boat. Tom had last scrubbed it in Puerto Rico. There are so many nutrients in the enclosed mangrove waters of Luperon weeds grow very fast! We make it a habit to scrub just before a passage to ensure our best speed through the water.

Crowded dinghy dock means climbing from boat to boat when we returned from town

UJAM’n sailed in to Luperon early one morning. We went ashore together to walk around town, get them a SIM card, and have lunch.

Movie night on Lone Star with Jeff and Marcia

We watched one of our favorite sailing movies, ‘Riddle of the Sands’ and had popcorn of course!

Anita decided to visit a Swedish trained chiropractor that several cruisers recommended. Hans was a TukTuk ride out of town. He uses massage and gentle adjustments. Really helped her knees, lower back, and mid-back. Best chiropractic experience ever! She’s tried maybe 30? The Dominican Republic as a whole is well known for medical tourism. Many folks fly from all over the world into the larger cities to have normally expensive procedures done here. We recommend you look into it. This is a very friendly and inexpensive place.

We booked another four person taxi tour to Puerto Plata with a slightly different agenda this time. This was a weekend day so more people around. While we waited for our turn on the cable car we enjoyed a local band.

Rake and scrape band at the cable car
Map of the hiking trails on Isabel de Torres mountain

This time we were all eager to hike the many trails at the top of the mountain. Some of the areas are so quiet and others filled with tropical birds and lovely views of flora and fauna. Real nice place to explore and a bit cooler than seaside.

Gorgeous scenery at the top
Walking the paths with Jeff and Marcia
Exploring a small cave
Yes, he went in using his cell phone light
Flowers and sunshine make this girl very happy
A lot of work went into creating these trails
Rest stop, the view from here is the highlighted photo at the top of this blog and here’s a video
There are two fish ponds in this park
A cool looking bridge that is a walking path
A view from the bridge

We asked our taxi driver to take us to a restaurant that he thought served good local food as we all love to try new things. Sadly, his first three choices were all closed on the weekends. We ended up at a cafeteria style place that did serve tasty local food, just not the atmosphere we were looking for.

Fort at Puerto Plata

Next we drove to the San Felipe Fort that guards the entrance to Puerto Plata harbor. We chose not to go inside the museum/fort, as time was too short. We wandered everywhere outside and enjoyed the view.

A statue of General Luperon at the fort in Puerto Plata
A shallow reef at the entrance to Puerto Plata, clip

Our last stop on the tour was to a large grocery store in the city. We all took the opportunity to restock on a few staples.

We found the fresh produce in Luperon to be plentiful and a great variety. Stephen brought us to a meat store to get smoked pork chops that were so delicious we went back several times! The prices here were so reasonable. This is a great place for cruisers to stock up. We ate out often as well! Their ‘plata de dia’; special of the day, was often only $3.00. We met a few cruisers here, especially when we attended a happy hour one evening at Wendy’s Bar. Great mojitos! It was a friendly crowd, and we exchanged lots of sea stories.

Leaving Luperon at sunrise

We enjoyed our month long stay in Luperon, DR. It flew by so fast! Before we knew it we were heading out of the harbor in tandem with UJAM’n on our way to the Bahamas. Farewell for now; we will return one day.

🇵🇷 Puerto Rico cruising

Featured photo caption: Lone Star anchored in Salinas, Puerto Rico with pelicans circling. New Aquanaut Dinghy hoisted alongside.

We spent six weeks in January and February exploring Puerto Rico by land and sea. We spent a month in company with Wild Iris and did several land tours with them. Come along and see the sights.

Full moon rising at sunset

On Sunday January 9 we sailed from Vieques to La Patilla, which is a cozy protected cove behind a big reef. Sometimes a beautiful anchorage has a down side. When we arrived in the early afternoon, we heard two local bars with loud competing music. It continued until 2AM. Wouldn’t you know the off-key and off-tempo Karaoke lasted the longest.

Salinas

The next day we arrived in Salinas and anchored next to Wild Iris close to the mangroves.

Our package of rigging spares had arrived, so it was time to repair the back stay. We rigged the main halyard as a temporary back stay, then Tom went up the mast and disconnected the top. We slowly lowered the top to the deck and through the forward hatch to the workbench. Tom cut back some wire and re-attached the end fitting. Then he climbed the mast for the third time for the day to reattach the back stay! I forgot to mention that although he climbs the stairs, he’s sitting in a seat, so often he needs help from Anita at the bottom of the mast winching him up. We then used the spinnaker halyard to raise the repaired backstay back to Tom. We could not winch it high enough. Mark from Wild Iris, swam over to help winch and we ended up detaching the bottom of the back stay to get it a bit closer at the top. That worked! After re-attaching the bottom Tom came down the mast. We are so glad that project is done and the rig is intact!

Repairing the top fitting of the back stay
Exercise time! Can you find 3 people in this photo?
A pelican landed on our davit

The pelicans in the outer harbor at Salinas were most active at sunrise and sunset. They dive for fish and occasionally get one. Enjoy this private video. It’s amazing to hear and see these wild birds.

We rented a car with Mark and Lisa for a couple days to explore Puerto Rico by land. The first day we drove west and toured a castle built by the second generation of successful sugar cane and rum production in the region.

View of Puerto Plato from the castle
Tour of Museo Castillo Serrallés north of Ponce
The tour continued at a nearby Japanese garden
Not the healthiest looking koi pond

We ended this day at a big grocery store. It’s very helpful to be able to shop when one has the use of a car.

The winding mountain roads

The second day we drove into the mountains to the east to partake of a pig roast. This hilly region has a section of road that is lined with a village of choices. We still don’t know who offers the best pig roast? We went to one that was cafeteria style. We chose which grilled or smoked meats (pork, chicken or turkey) and sides (yucca, potatoes, and other root vegetables we did not recognize). Some of our confusion was due to the Spanish language. However, some of the offered vegetables are simply not common at home. We sat in a shaded picnic area by a babbling brook to enjoy this feast. Later in the day we drove back by this area and it was rocking with live bands and dancing. Fun place.

Pausing to enjoy the view from the trail bridge

We continued our mountainous drive to a hiking trail. We all wished to walk off that big lunch!

The trail ended at a swimming hole with waterfall

When we returned to the car the low fuel light was lit. The nearest gas station was 20 miles away and up and down many hills. We made it to the station, thankfully!

Close up of the peaks we see from Salinas
A road side stop with a view of Salinas
Salinas, a long ways away
Cruiser rendezvous on the beach
Anchored in Salinas, working on the Aquanaut
Neat set of swings in Salinas

In early February, Mark and Lisa flew back to the UK. They rented a car and we drove them to the airport in San Juan. Afterwards, we drove to the east and up to the El Yunque rain forest. We didn’t have a lot of time there, but lucked out with a clear view. It’s often raining!

Tom enjoying the view
Very nice walkways and unusual flora and fauna

Isla Muertes (Coffin Island)

We were the only boat anchored at this deserted island in early February. There is evidence here of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that took place on January 7 , 2020.

Our anchorage in Isla Muertes. Looking north towards Puerto Rico.
A walk on Isla Muertes
An afternoon view from the dock, pictured above

Gilligan’s Island

Our next stop was on the south coast of Puerto Rico. One island is known as Gilligan’s Island. It has a very protected harbor and is a good place to hide for a few days from strong winds.

Exploring the mangroves around Gilligan’s Island

Boqueron

Our next sail was 31 miles to Boqueron on the west coast of the island. This is a gorgeous, large bay with a beautiful park on shore.

Lone Star in the center of the picture
Beautiful spot! Our boat again centered in picture
Numerous shade trees in the park
A calm cove at the end of the walking trail

Puerto Real

We motored 5 miles to Puerto Real in very light winds. We enjoyed a last meal on shore, meeting a few more cruisers, and a calm anchorage. Checkout through the CBP ROAM APP was a cinch for a citizen of the USA.

Sunset on our last day In Puerto Rico, Diva is a Deerfoot ‘62
Farewell Puerto Rico

With a great weather forecast, we sailed away from Puerto Rico. We are looking forward to exploring the Dominican Republic next.

Ahh, the Spanish Virgin Islands

Featured picture for this blog: We purchased a string of lights in St Thomas to decorate Lone Star for the holidays.

Culebra

We enjoyed an easy 20 mile downwind sail to Culebra, Puerto Rico from Brewer Bay, St. Thomas. It’s only five days until Christmas and we were excited to spend the Holidays with Jeff & Marcia on UJAM’n.

UJAM’n in Ensenada Honda, Culebra

We made several trips ashore to walk around Ensenada Honda, learning the town and where things are. A highlight was shopping at D’s Garden, across the harbor from town. A plethora of fresh tropical vegetables and fruits, like pomegranate, melons, and decent salad vegetables. A little disconcerting to have no prices listed and sticker shock at checkout. The fresh smoothies were a big hit at this store as well! However, so very thankful for this fresh bounty before the holidays.

Almodovar Bay with UJAM’n and Tethys

A few days before Christmas we motored around the corner to the east and picked up some moorings behind a shallow reef.

Calm anchorage with wind coming across this reef, no waves in the anchorage.

On Christmas Day we gathered in the late morning on Lone Star for appetizers: a fresh fruit salad, raw vegetables with homemade dips and mixed nuts. Stories of past holidays and cruising grounds were shared.

Christmas Day, appetizers on Lone Star
…with crew of Tethys and UJAM’n

A few hours later, we continued the fun with Christmas dinner on UJAM’n. Grilled steak or chicken, chili, twice baked potatoes, steamed vegetables, and wine. Topped it off with lemon squares and turtles for desert.

Vieques

The sail to Vieques was also 20 miles, a reach to the east end and then downwind to another Ensenada Honda (translation: deep cove). This one had twists and turns, a very protected anchorage, and some rocks for snorkeling that looked like and were named the Turtles.

Sunset near our buddy boat in Ensenada Honda, Vieques

When the winds calmed a bit, we sailed 3 miles to La Chiva. Mother Nature provided a beautiful canvas to capture.

A full rainbow in La Chiva

Rather than the oh so common and protective mangroves hugging the bay, we finally had a beach to admire and to stretch our legs!

Ahh, beach walking in La Chiva, Vieques

Our next stop was Sun Bay. There was a very nice park here with shelters and marked swim areas along a couple mile beach. They even had a section of storage lockers so the locals did not have to cart chairs and beach equipment home every time they visited.

Sun Bay park shelters, our boats in center

This was a well protected harbor and we enjoyed some lighter winds while here. Time for laundry and boat maintenance. Tom climbed the mast and while up there he discovered a single strand, of a nineteen strand wire that is our back stay, was broken at the top fitting. Luckily, there is plenty of rigging wire in the turnbuckles, so we only need to redo the top fitting. After checking our spares he discovered we did not have the right size replacement cones. We ordered some and will have them shipped to a Marina in Salinas, Puerto Rico. In the meantime, we rigged two running back stays to help support the mast in that direction.

Maintenance time, Tom climbed the mast stairs.

There are many wild horses on this beautiful island. They have plenty of room to roam and graze. There are also some working horses on farms or available for rides.

Wild horses that are quite used to people
They like the fresh rain water puddles

On our last full day on the island of Vieques, we took a long walk down the beach to Esperanza with Jeff and Marcia. We enjoyed a relaxing lunch and a walk around the town. This is an absolutely beautiful island.

Tom, Marcia, and Jeff on our hike to Esperanza

We spent nearly three weeks in the Spanish Virgin Islands rekindling our love for these remote and picturesque islands. We last visited Culebra in 1989. Let’s hope we return before another 33 years go by.

Exploring the U.S. Virgin Islands

Photo above: The hills and beach of Brewer Bay, St. Thomas

We spent two weeks in December exploring St. John, Great St. James, and St. Thomas in the USVI. The rules at the time allowed us to spend only two weeks in the USVI, without filing a prepaid anchoring permit. COVID rules, regulations, and fees made a visit to the British Virgin Islands difficult and cost prohibitive; so we’ll reluctantly skip that this year. We plan to go where the wind takes us, generally west in the northern Caribbean Sea. We’ll move on to the Spanish Virgin Islands of Puerto Rico after two weeks.

Sunset in Caneel Bay St. John, USVI

Tom had a bit of maintenance to do after our ocean passage. He spent hours in the engine room chasing the fuel line air leak. He replaced every washer and the entire fuel filter assembly. After weeks of successful cold engine starts we are finally confident the problem is fixed. It’s a huge relief to have this problem behind us!

We made a quick stop in Cruz Bay (west coast of St. John) to check in with the National Guard with our printed health visas. Then we had a wander around town. There are very narrow streets in this old village. We found a market to purchase fresh produce. No haircut was available for Anita, so she finally cut it herself a few weeks later. No laundry services were readily available either. We have several loads of winter wear, including down vests, flannel sheets and blankets. Too big and heavy to wash in a bucket on board!

Trunk Bay, St. John, arggh embarrassing photo. Just look at the beach and beautiful water color!!

At the National Park Museum in Cruz Bay we learned Tom could obtain a senior pass for US National Parks at Trunk Bay (north coast of St. John). So that became our next destination. Many of the anchorages in St. John are part of the National Park system. To protect the coral reefs and wildlife, anchoring is not allowed, one must pick up a mooring and pay $26/night in advance. With the senior pass it is half price. We prefer to anchor, but still want to see these beautiful protected waters. After obtaining the pass, we sailed on to Francis Bay for a less bouncy and more protected anchorage.

Coral Bay is outside the park, anchoring is allowed

We recall Coral Bay (southeast coast of St. John) as a popular stop for cruisers. It offers a fairly well protected harbor and a small friendly town. Sadly, the harbor was predominantly occupied by abandoned hurricane wrecked boats. The town had little to offer as most places closed due to COVID. We did find a take out breakfast place that was open and doing very well with takeout offerings.

Beautiful downwind sail to Great Lameshur Bay

Our next destination was Great Lameshur Bay on the south coast of St. John. Beautiful bay!

Finally getting the hang of picking up park moorings

The water was a bit chilly, Tom needed a cup of tea after a hot shower to warm up after his two hour swim to clean the bottom.

Time to mow the grass!

The steep peaks of St. John are a challenge for the cruising sailor. The wind accelerates between the hills and creates shifty strong winds we call willywaws. We had numerous small rain squalls daily while visiting this mountainous island. Warm air rises and creates clouds, which dump rain and provide lots of rainbows.

With the rain, comes a rainbow 🌈

Our next stop was in Christmas Cove on Great St. James Island. We enjoyed another beautiful downwind sail to get there.

Boat name is PI, and they make/sell takeout pizza in Christmas Cove
Yummy

Sailing to St. Thomas is a trip down memory lane. We last visited here on a cruise ship ourselves. Of course we visited all these islands in Sundsvalla back in 1988-89 as well as four different bareboat charter excursions.

Three cruise ships in Charlotte Amalie

One of the very special things we enjoyed in this busy harbor was the afternoon and evening entertainment of a steel drum orchestra. We heard them nearly every day, but we never saw them.

Our anchorage in Charlotte Amalie

We scheduled our COVID booster shots at Walgreens and found a Budget Marine store where we could obtain needed spare parts. The best way to get there was to travel on the local bus system, called safari. Although, by the end of the day we were tired and settled for a private taxi to get us the rest of the way back.

Riding the Public Safari (open air bus) to Red Hook and back

When the weather finally settled down, and our errands were complete we moved on to our final stop in St. Thomas, Brewer Bay.

Brewer Bay, where we anchored near a boat similar to our previously owned White Bird
Sunrise over Brewer Bay as we sail off anchor, toward Culebra, Puerto Rico

In summary, the harbors in the USVI were not over-crowded this early in the season. The majority of the boats we saw were charter boats and shoreside facilities and the authorities seem to cater to that style of tourism. It was a fun and all too brief visit. We are happy to be a bit further south this winter season. We are enjoying the steadier trade winds that most often come from the east. This makes for some very pleasant sailing! Also, the cold fronts with their accompanying wind shifts generally don’t get this far south.

Offshore Passage to the Caribbean

Half moon rising at 22:30 our first night

The stars aligned, though the moon was waning, as Lone Star and crew were ready for a passage from Beaufort, NC to the US Virgin Islands. We left on a cold (36 degrees F) November morning the day before Thanksgiving, with a favorable weather window. Sadly, we missed out on Anita’s family’s annual zoom call and individual chats with Tom’s folks on this special holiday. We are so thankful for our family and friends that mentally support us on our chosen adventurous lifestyle on the sea. We are so grateful for our health and happiness at what we do. Most importantly, we’re very thankful we are finally ready to head south! Looking forward to more than 9 hours of daylight.

Crockpot beef stew for dinner

We were bundled up in many layers of clothes including hats, long johns, down vests, windproof layers, and the dreaded socks and shoes. For the first night we had to dress warmly indoors too!

Bundled up in the cold!

Unfortunately, we can’t run our diesel heater when under sail because the smoke stack blocks the boom from swinging. Well the boom can still swing, but the stack would lose in that battle and likely be swept overboard. The air temperature warmed to the low 60’s after passing the Gulf Stream our first night out.

First cold front approaching from the west

Our third day at sea we double-reefed the main in preparation for a cold front. This was a quick passing weather system with southwest winds before and favorable northwest winds on the backside. We experienced a short 29 knot gust in a rain squall. Really enjoyed the next day surfing down the long rolling seas and sailing on a broad reach. We had our best daily run of 167 nautical miles in a 24 hour period. This is an average of 7 knots.

Reaching along, very pleasant sunrise and sail

We quickly adjusted to our four hour watch system, often having meals together. Occasionally, one of us didn’t sleep well during their night time off-watch so might sleep through meal time the next day. We generally slept 6-7 hours in a 24 hour period, though not all at once due to the watch system. Dishes were done only once a day but rarely by the Captain. This practice is occasionally broken.

Captain Tom doing the dishes, note the wide stance

Soon the wind settled to 5 knots or less. We sail beautifully in 10 knots, not so well in 5. It’s too early in the passage to burn up our limited fuel supply. So we took this opportunity to drift around and do a bit of boat maintenance.

When it’s this calm there is time for rest and…
… maintenance, replaced a discharge pump

The maintenance job on the head took two and a half hours. Tom will rebuild the pump. He needs to replace a very small bearing and some seals. Thankfully these are cheap parts, no need to buy the whole expensive thing. Sorry for the disgusting work picture, but such is life during maintenance.

Captain doing his daily deck check and rig inspection

We also reorganized things that shifted in heavier seas. Here’s an unusual thing to do in a calm: I gave Tom a haircut before he grabbed a hot shower.

Sunset, rain showers approaching

On our sixth day we experienced a second cold front. The morning sunrise above was beautiful. This cold front had mild winds and a full day of steady rain. This storm was a slow mover, in fact we sailed south to get out of it and it meandered east.

Sailing toward a squally weather trough

To get to the Caribbean this year one needs to sail through a zone with variable weather conditions before reaching the steadier and predictable easterly trade winds. Luckily during our passage there were squalls with wind and rain, but no convection (lightening and thunder).

Land ho!!

There be land on this ocean. It’s the Virgin Islands.

Hello Virgin Islands

We experienced three mild weather systems in our 1320 mile, 11 day and 4 hour passage with a period of calm after each one. We used about 18 gallons of fuel and motored for 31 hours.

The track of our offshore passage
Sunset over St Thomas, moored in St John

Goodbye cold winter, hello 11 hours of daylight and an 80 degree tropical winter!

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Does anyone recognize this 1980’s song by The Clash? The line: if I stay there will be trouble, if I go it will be double, may be particularly poignant for us this month.

It’s November, the clocks have been turned back, daylight is diminishing, cooler weather is here. Yikes, we need to escape winter! Should we stay in Hampton, VA to wait for the next offshore weather window to the USVI or just go a bit south around Cape Hatteras? Or should we go down the ICW to Beaufort, NC to get warmer weather and wait for the next weather window?

Can’t leave without a trip to the Bakery for a couple cinnamon buns, and one Boston cream donut. All those little ones were free, honest!

Our friends on Wild Iris and U’Jamin picked November 8th as their weather window to head offshore for the Caribbean. They left from Deltaville, VA; the former heading for Dutch Ste Maarten, the latter for Puerto Rico. A cold front had just blasted through for days and the seas were higher than we wanted, plus the forecast was for multiple days of light or no wind, and some south winds. Not our kind of window, but we were really bummed to give it a pass. Note: both boats arrived safely at their destinations after 11+ days at sea.

Go outside around Hatteras

We saw an opportunity to go offshore 240 miles to Beaufort, NC by leaving the following morning. We had a prediction of a whole day of pretty good winds, then light winds for 12-24 hours, then building winds from the south. We hoped to get around Cape Hatteras before the wind died, motor around the next corner, then use those south winds to sail into Beaufort.

Becalmed near Oregon Inlet

Five and a half hours out of Hampton, we had exited the Chesapeake. It’s 8:30 at night. Tom had just settled into the bunk for a rest. Anita was contemplating setting sails. The engine oil alarm blipped, then beeped. Anita immediately shut it down and started raising sails. Tom took a peak in the engine room and saw black engine oil in the bilge. The bottom of the oil pan was wet and slippery. He turned the automatic bilge switch off, so we don’t accidentally discharge this small amount of oil. Then Tom helped finish raising the sails and heading south. Tom wondered aloud if we should head back to Hampton, but the wind was dead against us for that scenario. We sailed 104 miles in the first 24 hours, but we’d lost the wind about 12 miles south of Oregon Inlet.

The afternoon of our second day at sea, Tom called the Coast Guard to advise them of our non-emergency predicament, becalmed near Oregon Inlet with a disabled engine. They commented that they could assist with arranging a tow if required. We were still hopeful the wind would fill in overnight to get us around the cape. It didn’t.

Sipping my morning coffee and watching Dolphin frolic in the fog off Oregon Inlet

Trouble

Due to the expected south east winds, we decided that it would be unsafe to continue to try to round Diamond Shoals at Cape Hatteras. For the first time in 43 years of ocean sailing, we called for a tow. We also want the help of a mechanic, not something we do very often as Tom is very handy mechanically.

Starting the tow, we centered the boom right after this picture was taken

Anita was hand steering to keep Lone Star centered behind the tow boat.

Oregon Inlet is a massive sand bar with 65’ bridge clearance, we need 55’

The breaking surf heading in the inlet was nearly a solid line. Our Sea Tow captain Stuart, at one time informed the coast guard via VHF that he may need them to take us through the surf and under the highway bridge where he would pick up the tow. However, Stuart persevered and we made it through. As we were driving just 100 feet off a beach, his comment over VHF, “My pits are dripping (sweat) to my waist,” made me laugh and broke my tension and the strong grip I had on the steering wheel.

Quick video clip right after the worst part

Stuart switched to a working VHF channel after the bridge. In the next 2 hours of this tow, he provided an awesome tour of our surroundings. The first tidbit of news is that the rusty metal bits of the old bridge that was being deconstructed and removed was dumped in the exact location he picked us up. Next was how the islands on either side of this narrow channel were created by dredge spoils. Some of these man made islands were 20 feet high covered with flora and fauna and a home for multiple species of wildlife. There were a few more stories, you get the picture.

Safely docked in Manteo on Roanoke Island, Sir Walter Raleigh ship replica and Lost Colony museum across the channel

Having never experienced a tow before, I was very impressed by the professionalism and helpfulness of both the Coast Guard to engage a tow and the Sea Tow Captain who arranged the Marina dock and provided recommendations for a mechanic. A few days later, we received another big dose of southern hospitality when our Tow Captain brought us a couple Carolina barbecue dinners from a local fund raiser on Sunday. Pulled pork, crispy fried chicken wings, cole slaw, baked beans and a dinner roll. Delicious!

Track of Lone Star on this passage, Beaufort, NC is at the southern tip of this map

We arrived in Manteo on Thursday, Veterans Day. The earliest we could schedule a mechanic was the following Monday. That gave us time to hike, explore the town, do laundry, and catch up on computer logging and blogging 😁.

Fabulous miles of boardwalks around Manteo

Tom had purchased a new oil pan, gasket and hardware this summer as he noticed some corrosion in the area. We engaged a mechanic and helper to lift the engine and replace the oil pan. There was no proof this was the source of the oil leak, just a strong suspicion. Raising the engine off its mounts then tipping it to one side allowed easier access to the oil pan. There were 21 fasteners and a few were rusty and hard to remove. It took the mechanics 3 hours to remove the old oil pan.

Surprise! The oil pan is still half full

After lunch, they installed the new oil pan, remounted the engine and hooked everything back up, topped up engine oil and coolant, primed the filters, then started her up. Uh oh, she’s squirting clean engine oil from a high pressure metal tube that wraps around the back of the engine. We immediately ordered the new part and requested overnight shipping.

The leaky part!

Go inside

Two days later, the new part was installed. The engine runs with no leaks, although shifting into reverse is a little difficult. We elected to continue our journey south via the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). Winds were too strong and from the wrong direction to go south and west through Pamlico sound, so we went north, west, then south. We left Manteo early Thursday morning, a week after we arrived.

Manteo Town dock, playground, and shopping

We had a pretty tough first day of ICW traveling. There is a super shallow channel leaving Manteo, Anita remembered going aground briefly here 3 years ago. There were more crab pots on this northwest stretch than Casco Bay Maine. The crab pots plagued us all the way to the Alligator river entrance. Many were small, dark in color and hard to spot. Thankfully, we didn’t hit any. Just lots of hand steering to avoid them all. We were definitely making a snake wake, not something I’m proud of. Next we had to motor-sail all the way south directly into the wind in the Alligator river. However, on the positive side; we are 41 miles closer to Beaufort, NC. We made it to our chosen destination for the night. The anchor was down just after sunset. We saw a mini 🌈 as we entered the harbor.

Enjoying the autumn colors in the Alligator-Pungo river canal

The next day was very close to ideal conditions. We raised the jib right after the anchor. In the less sheltered area of the canal it gave us an added 1-2 knots of boat speed; 5-7 knots is acceptable.

It was actually a very windy day, not in the canal.

Double Trouble

Beautiful sailing conditions continued past Bellehaven, crossing the Pamlico river, and south down Goose Creek, 49 more miles done. As we turned upwind to drop the mainsail in our chosen Gale Creek anchorage, the engine was revving, but we had no forward momentum? “Tom, drop the anchor now, no propellor or forward thrust from engine!” He lowered the anchor, then finished the mainsail. Turns out the transmission cable broke. It was bent by the mechanic stepping on it. Bending it back only works for a little while. Tom was up until 1AM replacing that cable. Yes, we had a spare on board.

Sailing in Pamlico Sound to Oriental, NC

The next day we enjoyed another beautiful 19 mile sail to Oriental. We assembled our Pota-bote dinghy and went ashore to walk around and shop in the Provision Company. Then stopped for refreshments at the coffee shop.

Anchored in Oriental

Our final 21 miles to Beaufort was under motor. Light to no winds and mostly through narrow bodies of water. We chose a more direct route this time through Town creek to Taylor creek rather than around Radio Island. Nice shortcut, much less traffic too. We had scheduled appointments for a drive through COVID test, required for USVI entrance. So soon we were on shore calling Old Town Taxi and on our way to Walgreens and Lidl for our final stock up.

Anchored in Beaufort, NC, final stock up done

We Should Go

The temperature was 39 this morning, November 23rd and predicted 33 on the 24th. We should go south. The weather apps we use and our weather router agree there is a good weather window to head for the USVI starting tomorrow morning. We should be warmer as soon as we cross the Gulf Stream. We and Lone Star are ready for a passage to escape winter and enjoy the Caribbean this season. Please no more trouble. As you can see like the ocean, we roll with whatever comes our way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heading South for our Fourth Winter Season

Above picture: Requisite shot of Race Rock as we leave home waters heading south

While making preparations to sail south for the winter we were delayed by an international shipment of our new Aquanaut Dinghy. It was very disappointing to finally have the dinghy arrive, unboxed and damaged. We can’t even assemble it to see what it looks like. Oh well, we’ll take it with us and have replacement parts sent to Hampton, VA.

Bent poles, bolts, washers, and pins for new Aquanaut Dinghy

Passage: Groton to Hampton

We finally set sail from Groton on September 29th. So much fun to have Alex, Jenna and Nani motor with us to the club fuel dock for final fuel and water top up. We almost sailed away with Nani. She loves the boat and wanted to come back aboard.

Saying goodbye for our fourth winter – we miss you

Our weather window suggested an easy run straight to Hampton, Virginia. So we headed for Montauk, Long Island then south, south west. We keep four hour watches on Lone Star. We quickly settled into the routine and rhythm of life at sea.

Sunset at sea, peaceful and pleasant sailing

We lost all wind for our final day, so motored quite a bit. This was a 357 mile journey that took 66 hours. We had the engine on for 31 hours. Yeah, it’s warmer in Hampton than it was in Connecticut!

Deja-Vu

As we approached the north anchorage near Hampton town dock, we both commented that the only other anchored boat looked like an old Prout Snow Goose 34, like our first cruising boat.

Our first cruising boat in 1987

We assembled our Porta Bote dinghy and rode around her and discovered it was our exact boat that we sold in 1992. We could see many of the changes we made to her still there. Unfortunately, no one was aboard. Wow! So cool to see her again. Looks like she has some nice upgrades, like a cockpit awning, and painted coach roof. Not bad for a 1976 built boat.

Finding her anchored in Hampton, VA

We verified the shipping address here, ordered some parts and sailed north to Deltaville, VA to meet up with cruising friends. We enjoyed several cookouts and musical jam sessions. We met Steve who’s a really good flute player. It’s always good to meet new and old cruising friends.

Hampton at sunset

After a trip to a local clinic, it was suggested that Anita get to an Orthopedic Hand Surgeon as she may have a ruptured tendon in the palm of her right hand. After a week of fun, we sailed back to Hampton to be closer to the specialist. Uber rides are plentiful and reasonably priced here. Thankfully, this was the wrong diagnosis. Trigger finger and a tiny cyst were treated with a cortisone shot. Pain was gone in another day. Anita started exercises to improve dexterity and hopefully avoid future surgery.

Lone Star in Hampton with light air roller-furl sail

This is a fun time to be in Hampton: two organizations have Caribbean rallies that depart from here. We are members of the Salty Dawg Group, but have not yet joined a rally.

Gorgeous Hammerhead trimaran in Salty Dawg rally to Antigua

Emergency

One breezy afternoon, we were on shore. Tom stopped to chat with the crew on Flying Fish, the trimaran pictured above. Someone ran to their dinghy announcing, “my boat is dragging anchor.” Anita had just entered our dinghy, looked up and saw that Nero was dragging into Lone Star. Oh no!! “Tom, come quick!” By the time we arrived on Lone Star, Nero was across all three bows and we were dragging anchor too with the added weight of a big monohull. Soon we were pinned to dock pilings and tangling with an abandoned power boat in the first slip. We could not start our engine without bleeding the air from the lines. So we concentrated on raising our anchor; which of course had a jam, and fending off and giving dock lines to cruisers who were assisting via dinghies. Several dinghies pushed Nero most of the way off our bridle line. In order to get them off the final starboard line, we pulled the pin attached to Lone Star. Unfortunately, Anita called out as soon as it was free, Nero promptly spun up their propellor in the dropping line. Within a minute the captain of Nero was in the water in full wetsuit and cut the bridle line from the propellor. Then they quickly motored away and anchored. Four dinghies surrounded us and towed us to a safe anchoring spot and we dropped anchor as well. Then we bled the air out of the engine fuel line, started it, and set the anchor properly. I counted eight dinghies assisting us. What a great community of cruisers! We spoke with Nero’s owner twice, he felt responsible. He has a quarter sized divot where our bowsprit hit him. We have scrapes and scratches and a bit of damage to the Wind Pilot we think. Nothing major, phew.

View of the town dinghy dock from Lone Star’s stern

Tom has been chasing the source of the engine air leak for about six months. If the engine sits cold for a while it won’t start because of fuel starvation. He completely changed the housing of the secondary fuel filter. He also recently tightened one of the bleed screws above that filter. Our fingers are crossed that the fuel system air leak is fixed now.

Hampton anchorage, Lone Star just left of center

We missed the sailing window that the Salty Dawg boats left in during the last weekend in October. We needed to wait for one more vital package: our replacement Caribbean chart chip. The defective chip was delivered a week before. It took a while to convince C-Map to replace it. We hope to head to the USVI this winter with planned stops in Puerto Rico, perhaps the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.

So we wait for a weather window and continue to ready the boat for the next passage.

Abaco’s, Passage Home and Summer 2021

Downwind sail from the Berries to Great Abaco. Note the old baggy sails.
Rounding the southern tip of Great Abaco, very shallow water near land, so pretty

We continued to enjoy great sailing in May. Fewer storms, lots of sunshine, and not too hot. The cold fronts that come off the USA east coast affect the Bahamas less frequently at this tome of year.

Our first stop in the Abaco’s at Little Harbor was brief, just a couple nights. We visited Pete’s Pub for a yummy outdoor lunch. Folks are still friendly from a distance. No reports of COVID here at this time.

We enjoyed a 17 mile sail to Matt Lowe’s Cay just north of Marsh Harbor. What a neat remote anchorage! One other boat anchored nearby late in the day. Although we did not snorkel it looked like it would be a nice place for that.

The next morning we raised anchor right after the morning radio net. We went to Marsh Harbor for supplies for us and our buddy boats. Maxwells is so well stocked, it’s the largest grocery we’ve seen since being in the USA. We sailed to Crab Cay, just past Green Turtle Cay to rendezvous with U’Jammin and Wild Iris and deliver their groceries.

U’Jammin sails back to USA

Sad to say goodbye to Jeff and Marsha on U’Jammin, but happy to see their big smiles as they head out for a few nights sail to the south coast of the USA.

The weather report was not yet right to head straight for Beaufort, NC and beyond. The weather fronts were still affecting most of the east coast regularly and the temperatures were much lower than normal. So we stayed in Crab Cay/ Manjack Cay with Wild Iris, hiking, singing, cooking and eating.

Who doesn’t love a rainbow?

Lone Star made a quick trip to Green Turtle Cay Club to checkout of the Bahamas. That was new this year due to COVID! We’ve never had to check out in the past. We purchased one spare can of diesel to spend the rest of our Bahamian dollars and donate the change.

Lone Star track sailing the Bahamas

Statistics for our third winter in the Bahamas:

  • 1192 miles sailed, more than previous two years combined! (2019-852 miles, 2020-337 miles)
  • We visited the Abaco’s, Eleuthera, Exuma’s, Long Island, Jimentos and Ragged Islands, Great Exuma, Cat Island, Exuma’s again, Rose Island, Andros, the Berry Islands, and the Abaco’s again.
  • No problems filling out the Health Visa for each move between the island groups.

Passage North

When we finally chose a weather window, we began by beating and bouncing into a head sea for the first 12 hours or so. Alex was able to act as liaison between us and Wild Iris, so we could keep in touch once we were out of VHF range. We arrived about 5-6 hours behind our buddy boat.

At sea May 18, 2021

First leg: Green Turtle Cay to Beaufort, NC in company with Wild Iris. We arrived at 7:30 AM on May 22. By 10:30 AM all 4 of us had appointments at CVS in Morehead City to get our first COVID vaccination. We celebrated with Mark and Lisa with lots more music and pizza. We enjoyed a nice walk around town and dinner served outside with friends, Len and Robin. Amazing and a bit daunting to see Americans socializing again. Many are vaccinated in this area. Three days later a weather window appeared to head north again.

Flying fish found on deck in the morning
  • 495 nautical miles
  • 81.5 hours
  • 6.1 nm. average speed
  • 3.5 hours motoring
Enjoying the sunset in Beaufort, NC

Second leg: Beaufort, NC to Cape Henlopen or Lewis, Delaware; the southernmost point of Delaware Bay. Glad to be at anchor behind the breakwaters! Nasty weather front kept us in the cabin. Cold, windy, and rainy. Long underwear and many layers of clothing at the end of May! Changed back to flannel sheets, extra blankets and put the cabin heater on. Welcome to New England, where it is not yet summer.

Dodging rain squalls!
Celebrating our arrival at Cape Henlopen
  • 327 miles
  • 57.75 hours
  • 5.7 nm. average speed
  • 21.5 hours motoring
Trying to stay warm with baked Uglies!

Third leg: Cape Henlopen to our home port in Mystic, CT. Expected to motor for 24 hours. Very thankful it was a lot less than that!

Passing big ships
  • 228 miles
  • 46.5 hours
  • 4.9 nm. average speed
  • 9.25 hours motoring
The storm has passed, time to finish this passage!

Summer 2021

We’ve had a very busy summer. Not a lot of time for sailing this year.

Our son, Alex married his lovely bride Jenna in July. Congratulations to the happy couple!!

Welcome to the family Jenna Kintz!

A short break to sail Lone Star to Block Island during the week…

Block Island

… and to Watch Hill to join friends from Shennecossett Yacht Club for the weekend.

Hands-on demonstration with Fire Department

We made time for a few daysails with friends and family. Found out Alex and Jenna’s dog Nani is quite comfortable as a sailing dog!

A week long visit with Mark and Lisa after they delivered a friends boat to Newport, RI to escape the heat in Deltaville, VA in early August. Thanks for more great times dear friends!

We toured Fort Trumbull and Fort Griswold

Then visited long time friends on Cape Cod for a few nights. Thanks Tim and Alex for the wonderful motorboat tour of Chatham harbor. I had no idea there were so many boats anchored there! Tom really enjoyed the small boat sailing too!

The dock between the boats is moored!

Anita’s sister Jane and husband Dave celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in Maine in August. Congratulations!!

Happy 25th Anniversary Jane and Dave!

And last, but not least boat projects! New Sails, and new below deck auto pilot. New running lights too. We purchased a few more items to take with us. There are always more projects waiting in the wings.

We followed this up with our second drive to New Hampshire to visit Tom’s Dad. More fun with small boat sailing and card games, or was it barricade? Fun times!

New sails and a new stack pack for the main sail

Life is good with us. Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing!

Lone Star sails to Andros and the Berries

We were enjoying cruising in company to Rose Island near New Providence and Nassau. Sadly, in mid-April it was once again time to bid farewell and part ways with our buddy boats. They were starting to plan their departure from the Bahamas. We planned to stay another month.

U’Jammin and Wild Iris depart for the Abaco’s

While our friends enjoyed an overnight sail north we left the next morning sailing west for Andros Island. We enjoyed a mostly downwind sail across the north side of New Providence. So happy with our boats performance: 46.2 miles in 9 hours, despite having to motor for 3 hours midday when the wind died. We anchored in Morgan’s Bluff at the north end of Andros at 5 PM.

Sunset our first night at Andros

Steve and Janice on Steadfast invited us over for a delicious dinner made by Janice: fresh caught fish! She is a marvelous chef. We were also happy to meet up with Steve, another long range radio relay. Great to put a face with the voice we hear every morning and fun to get to know them a bit better.

The next morning the local Customs official gave us a ride to a small local grocery as we were out of fresh produce. They sure didn’t have much, but something is better than nothing. We purchased diesel at a reasonable price here too. The next day we hiked around to enjoy the uniqueness of the area.

Morgan’s Caves believed to have been used by the pirate captain himself
Lone Star at anchor in Morgan’s Bluff

Sully gave us a guided tour to the Mennonite farm early on our last morning in Andros. I highly recommend other cruisers ask for Sully, he is not a taxi driver, just a friendly local that enjoys people. What a nice load of fresh produce!! Well worth the trip!

Bananas, melon, cabbages, green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, fresh picked strawberries, apples, oranges, white & sweet potatoes, onions, and kale
Carrots, broccoli, romaine, pears, farm fresh eggs, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery and scallions Yes, the refrigerator needs to be defrosted!!

Right after lunch we sailed the 16 miles to Chub Cay in the Berries. Regrettably, I took no photos here. However, we were here several years ago with Jenna & Alex on board.

2019 photo of Chub Cay
2019 photo sunset at Chub Cay

Time to explore new places in the Berries! We sailed east and north up a shallow bay to anchor a mile or so from Cockroach Cay.

Cockroach Cay in the Berries

This was a secure and beautiful anchorage to hide from a north east blow. No waves for us in this harbor. We saw an occasional fisherman, but no other cruising boats here. We stayed for 3 nights, then motored 15 miles to Bonds Cay. Ironically, we were now a couple miles north east of Cockroach Cay and still received a good cell signal from Chub Cay.

Full moon well risen before …
… Sunset anchored at Bonds Cay, looking toward Cockroach Cay

After three more days of moderately high winds keeping us on board, we were starting to crave a walk on shore. No beaches at all on the west side of this long skinny island, just coral. We could see a small beach toward the north end. So we pulled up the anchor and motored a couple miles north and re-anchored.

After a mile plus dinghy ride we found a small beach

We walked back and forth a few times until it looked like a whole lot of people had landed on the beach. Haha, we haven’t seen a soul. However, there was a very large flock of people shy birds!

It was a pretty small beach
Picturesque none the less
Heading back to the speck that is Lone Star

The next day we sailed 23 miles to Hawks Nest Bay. We only used the engine to set the anchor upon arrival. We were so pleased to see we were surrounded by beautiful beaches on three sides. Yeah! Let’s go for a walk!!

Hawks Nest Bay was surrounded by beach!
Now that is a nice beach to walk on!!
Looking for turtles in a nearby warm river
Ahh, our happy place!
Beach walking at Hawks Nest
Life is Good… in the Berries

We enjoyed four days filled with beach walking and turtle spotting and dolphins in the bay. Then we saw an ideal weather window for a long day sail east then north to the Abaco’s. Lately, the northern islands have experienced stronger winds than we’ve had from three passing cold fronts. Perhaps we can catch up with our buddy boats again?

Exploring the Exuma Cays and National Park

Caption: Looking out to sea after entering the Exuma banks via Dotham Cut between Bitter Guana and Great Guana.

Considering there are fewer boats in the Bahamas due to COVID this season, we decided to spend more time exploring the northern Exuma islands and the Land and Sea park. We occasionally found it challenging to find safe anchorages to hide from pesky cold fronts coming off the US east coast. Life is good, we all need a challenge now and then. It keeps life interesting.

Sailing on these shallow banks is easy and fun with our 3.5 foot draft trimaran

A popular stop for cruisers, tourists and even locals is to visit the once wild pigs at Big Majors. Sailors of old dropped off breading pairs of pigs to fend for themselves on several Bahamian islands. These sailors planned to return for fresh meat as needed. They did the same with goats as we’ve witnessed in the Ragged Islands and perhaps with roosters and chickens as we hear them everywhere!

Pigs on the beach at Big Majors

In current times, the pigs are well cared for by locals. Fed and watered twice a day and ample shade provided.

Funny way to guard the piglets
Shady spot for the pigs to rest
Yes, pigs can swim!
Big Major’s anchorage
From pig beach on Big Majors

From Big Majors we went 13 miles south to Black Point for protection from south winds. Good opportunity to drop off the garbage and grab a few groceries. Early the next morning we headed around the corner to Little Harbor to get protection from north winds. We didn’t leave quite early enough. Left in fog, dropped the anchor while it was raining. No problem, the rain is warm. At least we had a quiet anchorage last night. Boats that anchored here yesterday had a bouncy night in waves. We spent 4 nights here. Met up with a group of 7 other boats from Georgetown and enjoyed a potluck and bocce ball game on the beach when the weather finally cleared.

Bocce ball on the beach at Little Harbor, Great Guana

Wild Iris pulled in to the anchorage. After Cat Island they and UJAM’n had gone further south to Rudder Cut in the Exuma’s. UJAM’n leaped ahead of us to join cruising friends in the Land and Sea Park.

Blow hole at low tide is not impressive

The next day we enjoyed a long walk to the blow hole and through the town at Black Point. Fresh cinnamon bread from the bakery! So good to stretch our legs.

Singing at sunset

So much fun to sing and make music while the sun goes down. Mark learned a couple new songs at Tom’s suggestion: Bimini and Sail Away from the Kingston Trio. We spent the next week sailing in company with Wild Iris. Next up we sailed north to Big Majors. This time we anchored on the southeast side closer to Thunderball Grotto.

Thunderball Grotto, zoom in to see boats

Tom went snorkeling in the grotto and cave with Mark and Lisa. Anita did laundry and read. She does not have a wetsuit yet, it’s on the list of things to purchase.

Roof of Thunderball cave

Next day we sailed to the west side of Pipe/Fowl Cay. Two things we want to see here: Rachel’s Bubble Bath at high tide, and some underwater caves at low tide. Mark and Lisa joined us on Lone Star and we motored 1.6 miles up to Compass Cay and immediately went to Rachel’s bath. We were a little past high tide so the bubbles weren’t very frothy, but we saw the leftover froth on the approach. Must be very impressive with an east wind and astronomical high tide. We had lunch together then went snorkeling at the caves.

A variety of fish seen in the aquarium in Exuma park

Next we sailed together to the Bahamas Land and Sea Park. We chose to anchor up a sandy river near Compass Cay. There are a couple neat things to see here. A crashed airplane in shallow water and an underwater aquarium. That same day we walked on a nice beach and up a bit of a hill to glimpse the ocean.

Beach walk and snorkeling with friends

One day Anita invited Mark and Lisa over for a baking afternoon. Our oven is very good and will heat well over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They made pizza, dinner rolls, and a cinnamon roll. We baked corn muffins and brownies.

Baking with friends on Lone Star

We rejoined UJAM’n at Highborne Cay. Stayed in Fishing Bay on the northwest coast. East winds were predicted. A cold front came through with a one two punch 12 hours apart. We had no idea the first one would result in northwest winds immediately, it was rather bouncy after the strong thunderstorms blew through in the late evening. It was a sleepless night for our cruising friends as they were anchored near two mega yachts. One dragged in the high winds and fouled their own propellor with their tenders very long tow line. We all moved around the corner the next day for more protection.

Beach games with friends, our boats in the background

Added bonus: nice beach to play games on!

Anchored together

This cruising lifestyle is a lot of fun when we cruise in company and get to know other people. We all sailed north together. More about that in the next blog.