Eleuthera with cruising friends

Above Caption: Gorgeous mirror image on a calm morning in Rock Sound, Eleuthera

Sunrise leaving the Abacos

We elected to make a long passage from the Abacos to Eleuthera on the tails of a cold front. We raised anchor before sunrise and lowered it after sunset. A very pleasant 67 mile, 11 hours sail with the wind at our backs most of the way. We elected to press on through Current Cut as we thought the current would be slack or with us. Little did we know, that particular current should be calculated using 1.5 hours after Nausau high tide, not Eleuthera west coast. So we had a 3 knot current against us. Thankfully, the rip current is only for a very short distance and it is a deep channel. However, the current did slow us down so we had to choose a closer anchorage to be able to stop before it was completely dark. Rotten Bay near Little Bogue settlement on Eleuthera was a peaceful anchorage with good holding, a cell tower and not much else.

Sunset looking back at Current Cut

Tom has really enjoyed connecting with family members almost nightly playing card games on Trickstercards.com on the iPad. Fun way to keep in touch with three generations of the Kintz family. The internet makes life better during a pandemic and isolation.

Tom and Lone Star

The next morning we sailed about 5 miles to Glass Window, our original destination. We did not turn on the engine, rather honed our skills sailing while raising then lowering and setting the anchor. Glass window with a view to the Atlantic ocean is a bridge on a narrow strip of the island. Long ago there was a natural rock arch at this location. We’ve heard sunrise through the window is quite a view. Unfortunately, this time of year the sun rises well to the south of the window. We met up with cruising friends on a power boat here and really enjoyed exploring this and the remaining Eleuthera harbors with them. Much more fun to share the experience!

View of anchorage on hike over Glass Window
Hiking over the Window, view of Atlantic
The Atlantic side of the window
Glass Window bank side, from the dinghy

The contrast of water colors from the ocean and bank side are dramatic. After our hike and lunch, we motored over to Hatchet Bay as there was almost no wind. This bay is completely enclosed and therefore offers great protection from bad weather. We had good weather while here. However, we’re so glad we stopped and now know what a treasure this stop provides.

Hatchet Bay, beautiful dinghy dock between boats

In the morning, we all went ashore for our daily exercise and to explore the settlement. We were greeted by a helpful local entrepreneur offering many services to visiting yachts: laundry, trash disposal, take-out restaurant, guided tours, etc. Friendly place!

Entrance to the bay at Sunset

The following day we enjoyed a 3 hour, 17 mile easy reaching sail to Governor’s Harbor. We only used the engine to get through the narrow cut at Hatchet and to set the anchor.

Governors Harbor anchorage

After lunch we joined our friends for a walk around town. Ed remembered where the Bakery was and they were well stocked. We bought a loaf of coconut bread and one with cinnamon and raisins, plus two pastries: a cinnamon bun and a coconut tart. All were sinfully delicious! We still have half of the cinnamon raisin bread in the freezer and it keeps well!

Lone Star on left

We’ve noticed that many of the towns on Eleuthera are clean and neat. They have nice landscaping and this time of year prolific Christmas decorations.

As seen on our walk to the farm

The next day we made a short stop at the Pineapple Cays to visit a farm other cruisers told us about. The four of us hiked a mile to the farm and were rewarded with lots of fairly priced fresh produce. Spinach, lettuce, cabbage, scallions, mini sweet bananas, potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, eggs, etc. We brought our trolley so no one needed to carry the heavy bags on the walk back.

Quick stop at Pineapple Cay’s to visit the farm

We enjoyed a fresh salad for lunch then continued sailing on to Tarpum Bay for the night. Anita has enjoyed swapping recipes with our son, Alex, then downloading them into the Paprika App so she can make notes and swap ingredients as needed. We recently swapped these two: Egg roll in a bowl (yum) and crustless chicken pot pie made with any cream soup, lots of veggies and leftover grilled chicken, Anita adds hot sauce. Alex spread mixed cornbread on top as he wanted a crust!

Just our two boats anchored in Tarpum Bay

Our hike around this settlement was more like a scenic walking tour. I later found out Castle MacMillan is available for rent (pre/post pandemic).

Castle MacMillan in Tarpum Bay
At the gate to the castle

As there was no wind, we motored 13 miles to Rock Sound. It was very hot, Ed and Marge stopped at a reef, but didn’t end up swimming. The water is getting colder already due to lack of sunlight on these short days. After lunch we took another walking tour together to the 600 foot deep land-locked Ocean Hole and settlement.

Ocean Hole in Rock Sound
Lots of big colorful fish in the Ocean Hole

A young boy fishing on the dinghy dock told us these fish are not good to eat as the water is brackish or part fresh water and mostly seawater. The next day our friends left very early for the Exuma Cays as it was a beautiful day for motoring. We stayed to do some chores and wait for wind to sail to the Cays.

Dinghy dock in Rock Sound

The above shot was taken after we completed laundry. This was the first time since Beaufort, NC several weeks ago and we had three big loads. Tom had to hang from the dinghy dock and drop into the dinghy that wanted to scoot under the dock due to the wind and low tide. My hero! I rewarded him with a favorite, flat bread Pizza.

Playful dolphins surround us and a neighboring boat

One afternoon we kept hearing splashes even from inside the cabin. Upon investigation we discovered we were surrounded by playful and probably hungry dolphin. We were able to change our call with son, Alex to a video call so he could see them jumping around too!

Just another day in Paradise

We ended up staying in Rock Sound for five peaceful yet productive days. Tom took the opportunity to catch up on paperwork We moved across the harbor for our last day as Northwest winds were predicted with a cold front. We planned to leave before sunrise on the tails of that front for a sleigh ride to the Exuma Cays. More on that next time!

2020 Stats and Cruising the Exuma’s

Picture Caption: Arriving in the Exuma Cays, Black Point on Great Guana Cay

Counting our blessings to be living this life

We’ll start the new year by comparing 2020 stats with 2019. As expected COVID had an impact on our cruising lifestyle; mainly fewer miles traveled due to lockdowns.

2020 / 2019
17 / 18 nights at sea
223 / 251 nights at anchor 117 / 60 nights on our own mooring
3 / 3 nights at a dock 5 / 33 hauled out on land, still on board
3114 / 3507 nautical miles traveled
5 / 8 states in the USA 2 Countries: Bahamas and USA

Sailing from Rock Sound Eleuthera, deep blue sea

On December 19, we left Eleuthera on the tails of a blustery cold front. Winds were 18-25 MPH. Lone Star and crew enjoyed sailing on a broad reach for Black Point on Guana Cay in the Exuma’s. We sailed nearly sixty miles in under 8 hours. The highlight was surfing down a couple steep waves when we entered the cut to the Exuma Banks then entered tranquil waters. It was a fun and sporty sail; shorter than we predicted. That’s always nice!

Black Point harbor as seen from land

We took a four mile walk on shore the next day all the way to the North end of Great Guana Cay.

Nice dock in a cove, north end of Great Guana Cay

The next day we motored down the gorgeous Exuma Banks to Cave Cay.

Great motoring day!
No filters used! Just serenely blue.

We had hoped to spend some time exploring these beautiful Exuma Cays. However, the water is cold for swimming this time of year and the Christmas winds are predicted to kick up. After spending a night with 3 other boats at Cave Cay we decided that we are close enough to make it to our favorite secret secure anchorage in Georgetown. So off we went for a quick offshore run straight to Conch Cay Cut and the multitude of beautiful anchorages and beaches. Gorgeous reaching sail in 10-15 knots of wind in company with other boats we’ve met a few times. There were fewer than 20 cruisers in the Georgetown area anchorages when we arrived on December 22.

We spent 12 windy days as the only boat anchored here!

We loved going on afternoon walks on nearby Crab Cay and occasionally met other cruisers doing the same thing. Sure missed sharing this harbor with Little Sister, Sunset Trader, Miles and Pegu Club as we did last year.

Tom starting out on a hike
Sharing the path to the old Loyalist plantation

Here are a couple of video’s of the ocean beach and a jungle like hike back to Sanddollar Beach from the ocean in the afternoon.

Ahh waves and wind, no better sound to a sailor
Hiking the trails
Sand dollar beach walking

Tom restarted the local cruisers VHF morning net just before the New Year. It’s a short net, with fewer boats here. However, it’s good to hear there are other cruisers in the vicinity willing to lend a helping hand when needed.

Standing in the shade can be a wonderful thing

We continued working on boat projects. Tom has replaced old rusty plastic coated wire lifelines with Spectra and soft shackles. Anita repaired the jib sail cover; replacing a worn zipper, removing sun-rotted velcro and restitching most of it. She also made a seat cover for the dinghy and some small ditty bags. So many more sewing projects waiting in the wings.

A late afternoon walk to Flip Flop beach

We were able to attend the first Beach Church of the season with only 14 physically distant mask wearing cruisers. So good to meet with people in small groups. No new cases of the flu here in some time.

Flip flop beach, decorated by cruisers

We love this life! We’re so happy to be sailing and enjoying nature and are very glad to be staying in warm weather. Sailing south for the winter suits us. The boat count had reached 71 by the time we left the Georgetown area.

We sail to Long Island and the Ragged Islands next in search of warmer water and weather.

Post Dorian/COVID cruise in the Abacos

Picture Caption: northeast beach on Elbow Cay

This is our first trip back to this archipelago since Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Abacos in September 2018. We are heartened to see progress toward rebuilding. Bahamians are strong resilient people who love their beautiful islands. Cruising in COVID times means fewer and/or shorter trips ashore. Wearing masks, frequent hand washing and keeping our distance from our friendly fellow man.

Much devastation in Marsh Harbor

We heard Marsh Harbor is focusing on rebuilding the Commercial district away from the harbor. The Mud, an area with a shanty town that was completely washed away, is fenced off and the marsh is reclaiming the land. Many of the shanty town residents perished in the storm, but the number will never be known.

Floating wrecks in Marsh Harbor

Perhaps the owners of these boats have not yet returned to the island? Population in this area is still very low.

We started out using T-Mobile and the BTC cell towers. It was very difficult to download email never mind load a webpage with 3G service. On Black Friday, Aliv cell service had a sale; we purchased a chip with a fantastic plan! $90 for 250GB a month; double there normal 125GB. Time to back up the computers and other devices. Service is LTE/4g fast now too.

BTC tower at half-height

Amazing to see that rebar reinforced concrete buildings were no match for the power of the ocean during a monster hurricane. After 3 days we were ready to move on and explore other islands in the Abacos.

Motoring from Marsh to Green Turtle Cay
Ahh, the water color; so soothing!

Green Turtle Cay Club and Marina is completely rebuilt and operational. So beautiful and welcoming. This is a port of entry and we saw a few cruising boats come and go here.

Green Turtle Cay Club from anchorage

We rented a golf cart to drive (on the left side of the road) to the Settlement to get our 5-day COVID-19 nasal antigen test at the clinic.

Touring Green Turtle

Tom called his Dad and we ended up taking him with us on our golf cart tour of the island.

Beautiful Gilliam Beach on Green Turtle

After our tour and second confirmation that we do not have COVID, we celebrated with lunch on the deck at GTC Club restaurant. Lone Star is centered in the below picture, hidden behind the nice new docks.

Outdoor lunch at the Green Turtle Cay Club

We were itching for a good sail. The 20 knot north-northwest wind normally means do NOT head through Whale Cay cut. We sailed northeast through the cut at slack current with 4-6 foot seas with no problem. The wind was at our backs the rest of the way to Hope Town. Excellent sail, 27 miles in just over 4 hours.

Made it through Whale Cay Cut on a windy day

Hope Town is on the north end of Elbow Cay. We anchored outside the harbor in 5 feet of water. We took a long walk on shore and found this boat tossed high up on a hill by Dorian, a long ways from the water. The leaning mast and rigging hung over the road.

The creek is to the right of this picture
Busy workers renovating the Primary school

Hope Town is recovering and we saw lots of new roofs and renovated homes. There is a lot more work to do in the village. Again the local population has not yet returned.

On Da Beach Bar & Grille is open

Vernon’s grocery was open and we purchased our first Bahamian Mac & Cheese of the season. Dense and baked like lasagne, this one had some hot peppers and was very delicious. We purchased some fresh produce as well.

New solar array in Hope Town

After 3 days we motor-sailed south to Little Harbor. There is a very secure inner harbor here, but we elected to anchor outside as the wind was light. A client/friend of Tom’s came out for a dinghy drift visit in the evening bearing gifts of wine and hats. That means they stayed in their boat tied behind ours, rather than coming aboard. It’s what we do in COVID times. Bruce & Trish graciously shared information about the Abacos and places to see.

Beach outside Little Harbor

The next day we took the dinghy in and inspected moorings for rent and took a walk around the village. We stopped for a fresh lemonade at Pete’s Pub, very pleasantly surprised they were open on a Sunday morning.

Nice spot for a picnic!
Love these homemade swings and sandbox
This is the type of fish net Tom cut off our propellor in the Gulf Stream

Even though there was a windy day approaching we elected to move into the Bight of Old Robinson rather than Little Harbor. We wanted to leave for Eleuthera at first light and would not have a high enough tide to get over the sand bar at the entrance.

Tom and Lone Star at Little Harbor

As soon as the cold front passed we joined the North winds to surf and sail southward to Eleuthera in search of warmer weather and turquoise seas. Stay tuned for that story next time.

Oh Lord, what a passage!

We left Beaufort, NC on Friday, November 20 just before noon. Superstitious sailors say never begin a passage on a Friday. There may be some merit to this! We started out with very light winds and expected we might need to motor for most of the first 24 hours.

Ready to leave Beaufort from fuel dock

Less than 11 hours into the passage we were slowly drifting north in the Gulf Stream; no wind and no engine. Around 10:30PM the engine suddenly slowed, then stopped. Tom could find nothing wrong in the engine room and the motor ran fine, though it stopped immediately when put in gear. Anita thought the steering was also sluggish. We learned in the morning a rugged fishing net was wrapped around the propellor and rudder. Tom donned a wet suit and used an air tank (left on deck) with a long hose. He tied a rope around his waist tied a knife to his wrist and gripped it as he lowered himself into the warm Gulf Stream water. Anita laid on the aft deck (alternately praying and crying) and watched the boat bash up and down 1-2 feet while Tom worked to cut away the net and ropes for about 35-40 minutes. Sorry no pictures or video of this harrowing experience, focused on praying for a successful outcome. Tom said his hand hurt for two days after; from gripping the propeller shaft so hard to hold himself in place.

Captain Tom to the rescue, he deserves a rest!

At 9:30AM we were once again under power motoring SE across the Gulf Stream. The wind was still less than 5 knots. Once across the stream we finally had a bit of sailing off the wind. By the next morning we had 4-6 foot seas from several directions and gusty winds in squalls. Thankfully, thunderstorms stayed distant. Tom experienced some heavy rain on his watch.

Squally weather

On Anita’s mid-day watch the weather changed dramatically from squalls in the distance to beautiful clear sunny skies.

Seas calming, no rain over us
Same watch, just two hours later

The wind calmed enough that we turned on the engine to charge and make hot water for showers. Uh oh, the sea water cooling alarm won’t shut off. We drifted around a bit while Tom dove in the engine room and eventually pulled out the raw water pump and changed the okay looking impeller. It worked, but he’s not sure that was the problem. We both enjoyed some moonlit watches.

Moon was a bit more than half and waxing

The cold front that passed by us several days earlier was still blowing from the North. As seas had not subsided we elected to avoid Whale Cay Cut and chose wider northeast exposed Man of War Cut instead. To avoid a night time entry we hove-to overnight, drifting at 1-2 knots rather than actively sailing. The constant motion and dropping off the waves slowed, but never stopped. It was very hard to sleep or even rest. I kept thinking some people pay for amusement rides like this. Sorry to say, I was not amused. This is the third time we had to deliberately slow down; sure hope family members that are watching our track are not worried about us. Despite these pauses in our progress we made the passage in less than five days. We used the engine for 26 hours and were more or less adrift for nearly 24 hours. The last day and a half we sailed under jib alone due to a lot of wind and the need to slow down and arrive during daylight.

Followed small freighter into Man of War Cut

We arrived in Marsh Harbor before noon. There are at least 30 wrecked boats strewn about the harbor left by Catagony 5 hurricane Dorian more than two years ago. Some floating, some on shore. We hear lots of generators on shore which means power is not yet restored to all areas of the shoreline. The best cell service we could obtain via T-Mobile high speed international on BTC towers was 3G. There are no landline phones working here.

BTC tower is half normal height

First we worked on completing our health visas. Thanks Kimberly for stepping in to help when we had no data service upon arrival. We eventually learned T-Mobile had a block on our account even though they sold us a high-rate International plan. The folks managing the Health Visa system were very helpful and friendly. We were originally denied because the lab report needed to be attached not a picture of the email saying we had a negative COVID test result. Phew, that’s a relief!

Government dock on left, floating wrecks

We tried all afternoon to locate Customs and Immigration. We were finally successful the next morning after calling Nassau. They told us to go to Government Dock. Customs officials confirmed they do NOT have a phone in their office trailer. We were processed by Immigration in the parking lot outside the Customs trailer.

Customs office on Government Dock in Marsh Harbor

A short walk into the commercial district after checking in showed us the Bahamians are hard at work restoring power and property in Marsh Harbor. Maxwell’s Market is huge and well stocked so food is readily available here.

Power lines and construction crew

Not all passages are easy. Cruisers like us do not like to sail with a schedule. We had to arrive within 5 days due to Bahamas COVID-19 protocols. Thank you Lord for answering my many prayers on this challenging passage from Beaufort, NC to the northern Bahamas. We have arrived safely and we are so thankful and happy to be wintering in the warm, beautiful and friendly Bahamas.

Next up cruising the Abacos.

Where to from Hampton Virginia?

Tom really wanted to sail offshore around Cape Hatteras to avoid the long hours at the helm through the Virginia Cut. The weather forecast only had south winds or no wind in the forecast. so a motoring we will go toward Beaufort. NC

Early morning look at Portsmouth, VA

We have seen very few cruising boats thus far. We have heard many cruisers are moving onto land until COVID is under control. The boat is a better option for us. We do a lot of research before venturing ashore and avoid hot spots completely.

First boat in the lock, Tom at work as a yacht broker

We left Hospital Point in Norfolk, VA rather early and it paid off as we were first in the lock. The water was lowered less than 2 feet. Cloudy day with lots of birds around.

Motoring through the Virginia Cut

We motored 3.5 miles past Coinjock and anchored to the side of the channel just before sunset. Tom checked the engine before we started out the next morning and found a most unpleasant surprise.

Loose bolts are broken; of four only one remains

The Serpentine belt drive shaft cover plate was attached by only one bolt out of four. He spent a couple of hours taking things apart and analyzing how to fix it. A few phone calls later the necessary parts were ordered, to be delivered next day to Coinjock Marina. The folks at the marina also gave us a phone number for a diesel mechanic and Tom arranged for him to meet us the next day to remove the old drive shaft pulley and install a new one. Amazingly, Tom was able to put the pulley back together with only one bolt(!) so we could motor slowly under our own power back to Coinjock. We stayed on the west side docks away from the restaurant and marina. So glad we hired the mechanic! He worked really hard to remove the nut holding the drive shaft pulley. He finally used a four foot long wrench! Not a tool we have on board. One boat unit ($1,000) later all was repaired and we were ready to move on.

Dockside in Coinjock

We enjoyed some walks around the local neighborhood and never saw anyone outside. Unless you count the Halloween decorations.

Happy Halloween!

We left Coinjock Marina in the late morning so we didn’t travel far; perhaps 20 miles. A cold front was approaching that evening. The next day we used those North winds to sail downwind across the shallow Albermarle Sound. It was a fun day despite gale warnings. We were very lucky to make it through the Alligator River bridge during a lull in the wind. The bridge can’t open under some wind conditions. After traveling 50 miles, we anchored for the night at the beginning of the Alligator Pungo River Canal. The next day we traveled another 50 miles and stopped for the night just north of Bay River in Bayboro, NC.

Sunset at a private anchorage in Bayboro, NC

We chose to skip one of our favorite ports, Oriental, NC due to an impending cold front with strong NW winds. We hid in Adam’s Creek for a couple of nights. Then we made the final inland journey to the Taylor Creek anchorage in Beaufort, NC.

Our route through the ICW, with anchorages noted

We like to celebrate the end of a journey with something special, like a meal out or something hidden away in our own lockers for a special occasion. There are so many nice restaurants in Beaufort and they were allowing very limited dining in. We chose to go to a Mexican restaurant, Mezcalito for burritos. We took half home for lunch the next day. Very tasty, and good strong fresh iced tea!

Yummy burritos at Mezcalito in Beaufort, NC

We finally spotted some of the wild horses on nearby Shackleford Island!

Wild horses on Shackleford Island

As there was no weather window in sight for at least 10 days; Tom decided to do the wiring and relocation of the solar controllers to the galley bulkhead. It took about four days, but he finished! We now have 1000 watts of solar panels to charge our lithium battery bank.

Tom working on the solar panel wiring
A kilowatt of solar finished

We finished all those numerous last minute details that need done before leaving the country via sailboat along with some new ones due to the Pandemic. Things like: laundry, food shopping, pay bills or setup bill pay, fill fuel tanks and jerry cans, setup cell service for overseas etc. All while being extremely cautious: wear masks, wash hands, stay away from people.

The Bahamas has protocols for the Pandemic. We ordered PCR COVID test kits from Everlywell.com and had them shipped to us at Beaufort Docks. They took 4 days to reach us. We used them the day we left, then sent them off via UPS Drop Box. A link to our results will be emailed to us. We completed our Bahamas Health Visa profiles; we’ll add the International Trip when we have our test results. They only give us five days from time of test to arrival in the Bahamas so we must go! Time to go sailing in the big blue Atlantic Ocean.

Passage South to Hampton, Virginia

Looking back at the nearly empty docks as we leave

We left Groton, CT on Monday afternoon, October 19. This was later than we planned for many reasons. In a nutshell: the weather, boat and crew were not ready. The cooler autumn weather encouraged us to set our sights on a more southern destination, Hampton VA; rather than our normal Delaware Bay. We hope to bypass the longer inland sailing route, ie. up the Delaware and down the Chesapeake.

Nearly empty mooring field as well

We have had more than our fair share of southerly winds lately, some of them quite strong. So as soon as the forecast did not include winds from where we were trying to go for a couple days; it was time to go! This year that meant leaving with very light winds.

Sunrise at sea
Really calm winds and seas

We used our normal four hour watch system around the clock. Thankfully, we both were able to rest/sleep well on our off-watches. No on-deck drills to disturb our rest.

Sunset at sea

When we entered the mouth of Chesapeake Bay near dawn on the third day, we had approximately 20 miles to go. Unfortunately we faced a few challenges: fog, low fuel in the two main tanks, very light wind and a contrary current for at least an hour. Luckily we have radar, spare cans of diesel, and patience. Such is the life of a sailor.

Refueling at sea

We arrived in Hampton, VA after a 69 hour 360 mile ocean passage south. Yes, our average speed when motoring is only 5 knots, so sad. 61 hours of motoring and a few hours here and there of peaceful sailing. Wow, it’s quiet when we turn off the engine. It’s a lot warmer here; 80’s rather than 50’s for a high. Yeah, back to shorts and tees.

At anchor in Hampton, VA by the chiming clock

We added a Garmin InReach Mini to Lone Star this season. Sorry, we choose to share the link with only close friends and family. No need to let the whole world know where we are. It sure added a new level of fun, safety and peace of mind to the passage.

InReach track for this passage

Next we need to decide if we will motor down the ICW or sail around Cape Hateras? Destination: Beaufort, NC. Not yet sure where we will go after that?

Summer in New England 2020

We arrived in CT in mid-June when restrictive stay at home rules were just beginning to relax. Outdoor exercise was encouraged, so the day after arriving off we went with a small family group to Arcadia Management area early Sunday morning. I think we only saw two other lone hikers.

Hiking with Jenna, Ipo, Nani, & son Alex

We drove to Maine to drop off a damaged dagger board; for repair, at Greene Marine and spent one night at Anita’s sisters house. Then we drove on to NH for a quick visit with Tom’s Dad.

We had been placing a bunch of online orders as we had some repairs to do. The mast track was very warn where the large batten cars rested. Poor design! Tom had to cut a larger gate in the existing mast track and installed a new super slick track. Then we both worked on replacing the sail slides. Love it when a project goes smoothly and makes a real nice difference! Check out the video below.

Removed the boom and installed new mast track
Installed new sail slides
New track works great!

On Tuesday, August 4th we had the remnants of a tropical storm. We decided to stay at our mooring as it weighs more than 1200 pounds, bigger than any anchor we have! The video below was taken when the winds were 43 knots, that’s about 50 mph. I see at least 3 roller furling jibs flapping. Folks did not prepare. Warning: do not watch the video if you are prone to seasickness when standing on a dock.

Early August Tropical Storm

A few days later we rented a car and drove to NH to join some Kintz family members for a socially distanced lake vacation. We wore masks indoors, ate separately, and most importantly everyone stayed healthy.

Newfound lake vacation

When we returned the rental car, we took a short break to sail to Block Island during the week and sail home on the weekend when most people arrived. There were no crowds on BI. We took a short hike on a new trail and looked down at the surf side beach; all were nearly empty on a gorgeous August afternoon.

Sail to Block Island
Fewer boats in the anchorage than normal
Found a new deserted walking path
Windy day at the beach, not many people

A few days later we joined a few boats from Shennecossett Yacht Club for a weekend cruise to Watch Hill, RI. This event began with a gathering at the hosts’ boat where everyone stayed in their own dinghies. The next morning, we gathered for breakfast on the beach. We kept our distance and still got to visit in small groups while wearing masks. Really fun time and great breakfast sandwiches from a local restaurant.

Dinghies tied to host boat
Breakfast on the beach
… At beautiful Watch Hill

Before we knew it, Labor Day weekend was over and we had sailed up the Connecticut River to Essex Boat Works for a four day haul out to scrub the topsides, apply two more coats of bottom paint, grease the propellor, and change the zincs.

Ready to launch

We made one last trip to NH to visit and play games with Tom’s Dad and enjoyed a hike nearby. Delicious beef stew and yummy pies, thanks Ilse!

Dad and Tom on a hike

We helped plan a last minute wedding shower for our son. They’ve set the date for next May! We’ll sail north again next spring to attend.

Wedding shower for Jenna & Alex

Our next summer project was to install 4 additional solar panels on the pilot house roof. We will have 1 kilowatt of power when the installation is complete. We couldn’t head south until the panels were safely secured. Tom finished that on October 15th. He still has to do the wiring and install a new controller, but that can be done south of here. It’s getting too cold! Although our diesel cabin heater has been working fine, keeping us warm.

New fiberglass brackets to secure the panels
New handrail to guide main sheet past sharp edges
Bundled up to read. Time to head south!

Tom’s yacht brokerage is more active this year than last. People must be realizing boats are a great way to travel and live in isolation. We love this lifestyle and look forward to making a passage south real soon.

This summer recap shows a few highlights only. The majority of our time was spent in isolation on our boat at our mooring. We look forward to a future beyond this global flu pandemic, when we can hug and laugh and be social again. Stay healthy, happy and safe everyone.

Ocean Passage Georgetown Bahamas to Groton Connecticut

Spring 2020

We are so thankful to have been allowed to shelter in place in the anchorages surrounding Georgetown on Great Exuma in the Bahamas. Lone Star was our quiet refuge during the first three months of the global pandemic known as COVID-19. As of this writing the island of Great Exuma was still blessedly free of this flu. We were in no hurry to head home where the virus was prevalent. However, hurricane season was approaching and early this year.

Ahh the view!! Ruins Bay Anchorage, Crab Cay

We consulted with Chris Parker at Marine Weather Center and twice abandoned a planned departure. It was quite ironic that we left Georgetown when there was a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico, a stalled ridge with severe thunderstorms off Cape Hatteras, and the potential for another tropical depression near Bermuda. What? Why? Sometimes things are not as bad as they seem.

Life boat and jacklines

Final preparations for an extended ocean passage on Lone Star include:

  • Bring Portland Pudgy on deck and rig as life boat, add gear bags, and cover
  • Top off diesel tanks and two gerry cans, secure in port cockpit
  • Fill two gerry cans of water and secure in port cockpit
  • Rig jacklines for safety harness tethers
  • Charge all batteries for safety and navigation equipment
  • Secure portable electronics in floating bag
  • File a float plan and share with emergency contacts
  • Last run to grocery store to top off on fresh food (as we have a freezer it is pre-stocked with vacuum bagged homemade meals well in advance)
  • Send out family email with contact info
Sunrise at sea

Tom is a HAM radio enthusiast. Radio schedules determine our watch system on Lone Star. With just two of us on this passage we prefer four hour watches. As many boats travel in late spring to leave the hurricane belt, the radio nets were very active. Tom is a net relay several times a day now and he enjoys speaking with and assisting boaters.

The front mentioned below as seen at sea

On this passage we checked in with several nets twice a day so our family could manually track our progress. Our son, Alex did a wonderful job keeping our group of family and friends well informed via a group email. He provided handmade charts of our progress and discussed the weather where we were. We even spoke with Alex via a phone patch one morning using our ham radio and KPK. Thanks Glenn!

Alex’s plot of our progress

From Georgetown we headed north between Cat Island and Eleuthera. Then straight north until we swung a bit west to pick up the Gulf Stream just south of Cape Hatteras. The weather was cloudy the first few days, but the winds were behind the beam so very easy sailing.

Weather report provided by Alex

The last 50 miles proved to be the most challenging of the trip. Just after we left the Gulf Stream to head straight north for Montauk, the fog rolled in and the wind became very light. In the early morning hours, we were motor-sailing when multiple engine alarms sounded: charging and over-heating. The alternator belt was missing. After installing a new one, Tom found the original in the bilge and surprisingly in tact. When the engine was turned on again, it promptly threw off the belt again. Tom quickly found that the water pump had seized up. Hmm, no spare on board, so we are now an engineless sailboat. We can do this! We can make it home under sail. It required patience and perseverance, dealing with light shifting winds and contrary currents. As the ocean water in New England is cold, Tom determined we could use the engine for the 10 minutes it took to drive into the harbor. We arrived in our home port just before sunrise on Saturday, June 13. Yep we were tired, happy and satisfied that we had made it in on our own. No rest for the weary however, as it’s a summer weekend and boats were bustling by our mooring all day.

Arriving before sunrise

Statistics for the Passage

We sailed 1200 miles from Georgetown in the Exuma chain of Bahamian islands; to Groton CT. We were at sea for eight and a half days. We ran the engine for only 19.25 hours, which consumed approximately 11.5 gallons of fuel. Each day had more and more daylight; 13.5 hours to start and 15 hours nearer our destination. On our fastest day in the Gulf Stream we did 178 miles.

Lucky to be in the Bahamas

We feel blessed, prepared, thankful, and happy to be living this naturally isolating lifestyle on our boat in the Bahamas during this global pandemic with COVID-19. Of course, we are also concerned and hopeful that family and friends everywhere are taking the necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy.

Lone Star anchored at Crab Cay looking toward Stocking Island

In late February and early March, we spent a week in a Long Island anchorage and two weeks exploring three remote and quiet anchorages on Cat Island. We thoroughly enjoyed beautiful sails between these idyllic and remote islands. The fresh baked cinnamon swirl coconut bread purchased on Cat Island is the best we’ve found so far! The locals have been kind and welcoming.

Lone Star in Ruins Bay, Crab Cay

There is always something to do on our boat so life afloat is not boring. As you can tell we enjoy remote areas and each other’s company. We often write about projects and chores, but we have play time too. Like swimming, snorkeling, listening to books or podcasts, watching movies, playing games, reading, walking on shore, often on a beautiful beach or a trail on a deserted island like Crab Cay near Great Exuma. Anita enjoys finding new recipes and Tom likes eating!

Tom rebedding chainplaits under new awning Anita made.
New rope clutch covers to protect from sun damage

We were lucky to return to Georgetown on March 16, the day before the virus related curfew began in the Bahamas. We met up with friends who borrowed a car. It was very quick to drive to our favorite stores to stock up on fresh and frozen food. The pantry is still well stocked so no need to purchase food with a long shelf life. I almost took a picture of the well stocked shelves; no sign of hoarding here. Freight is still moving into and around the Bahamas. People are restricted to the islands they occupy and are required to stay in their homes unless absolutely necessary to obtain food, fuel, or medical assistance. The Bahamas were also early adopters, instructing all to wear masks in public, wash hands thoroughly and often, and maintain physical distance at all times.

Beautiful Sand Dollar beach

The Bahamas have done a very good job in slowing the spread of this virus through curfews, and weekend lockdowns which mean: stay at home as nothing is open. As of May 21; there are no known cases of COVID within 100 miles of us; in the Exuma chain of islands.

Rain squall approaching Param, Georgetown in background

In early April the Prime Minister released a new protocol for pleasure craft. All boats needed to register their intentions: go home or stay on their boats and shelter in place. We chose to continue to shelter in place. They took a survey of all the boats in Elizabeth harbor to establish a starting point of our self-quarantine. For nearly five weeks we were not allowed off our boats (we did do a lot of swimming). Water, fuel, and groceries were delivered to us and trash was picked up weekly. We were so blessed to have a handful of locals and businesses cater to our needs and ensure we were doing okay.

Never tired of the view, neighbor is Little Sister

The cruiser community here is so positive and uplifting. We have actually had a lot of fun learning about our neighbors who have sailed or motored here from all over the world. The morning VHF radio net includes weather, news, departures, arrivals, upcoming VHF radio community events, boaters needs, and concludes with a joke or final thought for the day. At least six nights a week; except Sunday, we have volunteers host evening VHF radio events. Local Bahamians are encouraged to participate as well. Tom has hosted three events so far: a couple discussions on ‘boat hacks’; changes we’ve made to our boats that others might want to try, and a very detailed discussion on multihulls for cruising. Tom talked so much the radio over-heated. We put a fan on it and asked others for input to allow it to cool. Other topics we’ve enjoyed on the VHF radio: Night net: cruiser interviews and psychology discussions, book discussions and multi-character readings, discussions on diving, fishing, hurricane preparedness, cooking on a boat, Trivia night, joke night, and interactive murder mysteries. Tom has been an adlib actor in the latter five times. He was the nasty secret murderer in at least two. There are actually a lot of laughs in these quirky mysteries with fantastic accents to entertain as well. Here’s a link to a fun video of what Georgetown cruisers did on their boats during or just before this lockdown. Emily is a genius at making videos! We are in this one three times, can you spot us?

Pavilion on deserted Crab Cay

Tom has been a net relay all winter on the morning Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) single side band radio net. He has communicated with boats all over the Caribbean, Central America and out into the Atlantic.

Celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with this. Delicious!!

We’ve enjoyed our warm seven months in the Bahamas. It will soon be time to head to sea and return to New England for the summer. We sure hope the pandemic is in the recovery phase soon. We need to move north for hurricane season. Looking forward to a smooth moonlit passage!

Recipe Sharing

Who loves to try new recipes? There are so many recipes available on the internet today, one can easily find something new to wake up the taste buds or use the ingredients they have on hand. One can also rediscover one of Grandma’s recipes they enjoyed in their youth.

I want to share an app I use to browse the internet for recipes, download them, add my own labels like Breakfast, Cookies, or Bread; add my own notes, alter ingredients, and save to my App. I do not need the internet to access my recipes within the App.

I’ve also used this app without the internet to type or copy and paste recipes from other sources like documents or emails.

This morning I wanted a quick tasty and healthy breakfast. I made Three Ingredient Breakfast Cookies, but I didn’t have any bananas so I substituted drained, canned strawberries. I didn’t have mini chocolate bits so I finely chopped up a 90% chocolate bar. The recipe says to use both quick and whole oats, so chopping some oats in a coffee grinder worked. The cookies were ready to eat in less than 30 minutes and were so delicious. Really looking forward to making these again with many other fruits, like spiced apples, peaches, pineapple, and of course bananas.

Download Paprika and start saving all your favorite recipes with your notes, pictures, and personal labels all in one place. Share the link to your favorite recipes so others can download them into Paprika too.