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


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!


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


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.

Cat Island by Land and Sea

Caption for above photo: Father Jerome’s Hermitage on the highest hill in the Bahamas on Cat Island

Tom ran the Georgetown Cruisers VHF radio net one last time the day we sailed to Cat Island in company with Ujam’n; a Hylas 49’ and Wild Iris.; a Swede 48’. We sailed fifty-one miles on a comfortable reach, heading north across the deep blue Atlantic ocean. Surprisingly, our boat speeds were very close. Ujam’n left first and managed to pull ahead a bit and anchored first. We didn’t know our TriStar 39’ cruising trimaran could compete with or nearly keep up with deep keeled longer monohulls.

Approaching The Bight of Cat Island

Eight hours later we anchored in Old Bight with our buddy boats. Notice the amazing contrast of the deep blue ocean and the shallow turquoise banks as we approach the island in the picture above.

Anchored in Old Bight with friends

We often got together in the mornings to hike, afternoons to play beach games, or in the evening to sing songs and watch the sun go down. So much fun to travel in company with fellow cruisers.

Jam session on Lone Star

After the easterly winds calmed down we moved over to New Bight.

New Bight, can you find Lone Star?

We enjoyed a walk around town, to the bakery for fresh made coconut cinnamon raisin bread and pineapple tarts and then on to the Hermitage. Father Jerome was an architect and sculptor as well as a humanitarian and a Catholic priest. He designed and rebuilt several hurricane damaged churches in the Bahamas. He occupied this Hermitage circa 1940. Read more about him in the link provided above.

Morning hike to the Hermitage uphill tthrough the stations of the cross

The view was fabulous. I guess I should mention the doorways are quite short throughout this tiny home. I was wearing a visor and didn’t duck low enough upon entering the devotional area. I was thrown backwards on impact and fell on my backside. Had a nice dent in the top of my head for a few weeks and a few other aches and pains. All healed now. Please don’t wear a hat and be sure to duck when you visit this extra special place.

Father Jerome’s final home

Tom and Jeff are engineers and Mark is a physicist. It didn’t take them long to work out the clever design of using the sloping land to collect rain water in an underground cistern and a hand pump to retrieve the water.

Natural water catchment, cistern and manual pump

The next day we rented a car together and drove south first. We found some ruins, so stopped to explore. Read more about this 18th century cotton plantation here.

Andrew Deveaux’s Great House
Deveaux Waterfront
Tours are best with friends

After some twists and turns we managed to find Hawks Nest Creek. Good to know we probably would not find refuge here. Narrow creek and not a lot of deep water. Very strong current here as well.

Hawks Nest Creek exit

We searched for restaurants on our way back north. Ironically we decided the best place was where we were anchored in New Bight. We all enjoyed delicious meals and a bit of shade.

Lunch break at the Fish Fry

We drove all the way north to Orange Creek then stopped in Arthur’s Town at this closed bar. Sadly this town still looks rather abandoned as it did during our visit last year.

Marsha, Jeff, Tom, Anita and Lisa (Mark took the picture)

We ended our tour with a stop at the New Bight grocery for fresh food and supplies. Now that we’d seen the whole island, we all elected to sail back to the Exuma’s the next day as it was another great day to sail. Our buddy boats chose to go a bit further south to Rudder Cut. We chose to go back to Black Point and continue north from there.

Sailing through the cut at Black Point, Great Guana, Exuma

Although parting ways now, we definitely plan to cruise in company again soon.

Next blog will be about sailing slowly north up the beautiful islands of the Exuma Chain.

Great Exuma revisited

After our trip south to the Ragged Islands we returned to the Georgetown area in mid-February, for lots more fun in this beautiful cruiser friendly area. Tom jumped right back into helping out with the morning local VHF cruisers net and Anita volunteered in the choir at Beach Church.

Elizabeth harbor has at least a dozen good anchorages to choose from. We like to spend 3-5 days in a location, then move on to another. They all have different things to offer. We’ll take this opportunity to expand on a few.

Lone Star at north Monument anchorage

Kidds Cove is the anchorage closest to Georgetown and dinghy access to Lake Victoria where shops, laundry and restaurants and entertainment abound. The anchorage is often bouncy due to a lot of boat traffic. We plan our trips here around the weather and tides. Calm seas and a slack current make for a much more pleasant trip into town for provisions.

Kidds Cove anchorage

Goat Cay is a quiet picture perfect anchorage with swimming, snorkeling and a gorgeous beach. Plus an easy walk to propane refills, a pharmacy with groceries, and a hardware store. It’s a longer walk to our favorite butcher shop and grocery, but doable from here as well. The bay is open to the north but offers great shelter otherwise. A shallow area near the bay entrance keeps deep draft boats out.

Goat Cay anchorage from the beach
Bringing in the empty propane tank
Carting back the full tank

Monument Beach is directly across the harbor from Goat Cay and offers numerous trails across Stocking Island to the ocean side beach or up to the monument. There are also several gathering spots for cruisers with fire pits and make shift tables and benches.

Trail leading to the Monument and anchorage at south Monument
Monument salt pillar, informed sailors of old they could harvest salt on this island

Chat n Chill or Volleyball Beach is our next favorite beach on Stocking Island. The former is a business and has a bar/restaurant and gift shop on this area of the island. We enjoyed their Sunday pig roast for the first time this year. Fantastic place to meet up with cruisers every afternoon. A place to enjoy chatting with new and old friends, music jam sessions, volleyball, card games, dominoes, basket weaving, sailing topic lectures, or a walk on the beach. Oh, and beach church on Sundays is held here.

Jam session on Volleyball Beach

Sand Dollar Beach is one of my favorite anchorages, though it can be a bit bouncy in a south breeze. East winds are perfect here. Beautiful long beaches to walk on and several trails that cross to the ocean side of the island. An artist trail decorated by cruisers is a favorite. There are several gathering spots on the beaches of this anchorage as well.

Sand Dollar anchorage
Jeff (Ujam’n) adding a stone on the Artist walk
Artist walk with crew from Wild Iris and Ujam’n
The ocean side of Sand Dollar

We had one strong Norther where we hid out in our favorite anchorage behind Crab Cay in Red Shanks. We had great all around wind protection and only a small group of nautical neighbors. The island is deserted.

Red Shanks anchorage

Houseboat Puff hosted a farewell pot luck one evening. We have really enjoyed our time getting to know these people. Until we meet again dear friends on Puff, Margaret Lee, Local Knowledge, and Maranatha. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this welcoming cruising area until mid-March.

Gathering on houseboat Puff

It was exciting to cross to Cat Island with two boats we had begun to hang out with: Wild Iris and Ujam’n. Stay tuned for more on that trip in the next blog.

Long Island and the Ragged Islands

Featured Picture Caption: Setting sail at sunrise from Long Island Bahamas

In our opinion, 2021 is the perfect year to travel farther afield in the Bahamas. The number of boats here this year is greatly reduced. It’s easy to find a peaceful anchorage either alone or with one or two other boats. Maintaining physical distance is very easy to do when traveling slowly by boat. The Bahamian government has added a few regulations to keep their residents and visitors safe. We find filling out the domestic travel visa takes less than three minutes and approval via email has been almost instantaneous. We are grateful for the privilege to sail and explore more of these beautiful islands as we escape the cold winter in New England for the third year in a row.

A glimpse of Thompson Bay and a few more cruisers

On Monday, January 18 we left Georgetown, on Great Exuma and motor-sailed to Long Island. We expected more than 10 knots of wind, but it did not materialize.

Salt Pond Long Island; heading back to the dinghy dock

There were only 8 other boats in this large protected harbor. We had a couple very windy days here and eventually went ashore for a walk and to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables before sailing south to the remote and mostly uninhabited southern Bahamian islands known as the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands.

Raising anchor and sails at sunrise

On Thursday, January 21 we were ready to head south towards the Ragged Islands; on the tails of a cold front of course. We love a good downwind sail! We left anchor under sail power alone at 6:45AM. We sailed 56.7 nautical miles in 11 hours, arriving at Flamingo Cay in the southern Jumento Cays just before sunset. We were all alone in this normally popular anchorage. No internet here, so a nice quiet night of reading on board.

Video: Arriving at Flamingo Cay at sunset

The weather was great for sailing. We sailed off anchor again and kept heading south toward Hog Cay, just north of Ragged Island. Ragged Island is the only inhabited island in this beautiful chain of islands,

Raising anchor the second day, sailing to Hog Cay

Hog Cay is a cruisers meeting place. There is a large pavilion on shore and several fire pits. There are lots of chairs and tables and a beautiful view. Cruisers generally gather around 4:30 pm to swap sea stories and watch the sunset. Bring your own beverages. The cell tower on nearby Ragged Island means internet is available.

Sundowners at the Hog Cay Yacht Club photo courtesy of Carol Hall Burchfield
Hog Cay Yacht Club at sunset

One morning we joined a few friends for a hike across the island. There are many wild goats on most of the islands around here. The goats must be afraid of people or they hide real well in the shrubbery. I did not get a picture of them.

Hiking the trails on Hog Cay

Video: Our destination; windward side of Hog Cay

Harvesting floats that washed up on the beach

On one of the beaches we found intact floats that must have fallen off a fishing boat. Tom and Russ untangled them and brought them back to the yacht club for reuse.

Circling back to our anchorage after our hike

We came back on a different path north of our anchorage. Nice three and a half mile hike. There are so many paths, many maintained by the goats, teehee. On another day, Tom and I took a different path and had to come back the same way as we could not find the ocean side entrance to the paths we had used before.

Walking to town on Ragged Island from Southside Bay, cell tower on right

We sailed to Southside Bay on Ragged Island and anchored there for a deep cold front that hit the whole east coast. One day we decided to walk to Duncan Town. There are supposedly about 50 residents on Ragged. We only saw about 8. We had no luck visiting the grocery. No one was around that afternoon. When the east winds returned we sailed north to Raccoon Cay. Beautiful sail in fairly calm seas most of the time. The below chart plotter picture shows five other boats heading north as well.

Fast sail to Raccoon Cay

Video: Sailing to Raccoon Cay

Another storm was reaching down and this one had a couple of days with a west component to the wind. There are very few harbors in the Raggeds with shelter from west winds. We sought shelter a day early in Low Water Harbor on the south end of Buena Vista Cay and paid the price with a rolly anchorage for the first night. However, we picked a very good spot. By morning other boats were seeking shelter there too. We managed to fit eight boats in with no problem. We celebrated the end of the storm with a small bonfire on the beach.

Bonfire on Buena Vista Cay

During this storm the Ragged Island cell tower stopped working on Saturday evening and didn’t get repaired until Tuesday morning. A couple boats that were working remotely had to sail north in the strong winds to reach another working cell tower before their Monday morning work meetings. So glad we are not on a schedule.

Sundowners on Lone Star

Appreciating another day of life afloat with a snack on our aft deck. We did see the green flash as the sun set into the blue water this day. Disappointed we couldn’t capture it with a picture.

Ice cream social at Hog Cay. YUM!!

We sailed back down to Hog Cay from Buena Vista. A couple of highlights were an ice cream social and a potluck that featured delicious ribs crisped up on an open fire with a few other cruisers that have been in the area for more than a couple of weeks, similar to us. Note: COVID-19 has not made an appearance on nearby Ragged Island. We certainly hope that continues to be the case.

Two beautiful days of sailing to return to Georgetown

We utilized some beautiful southeasterly winds to sail north up the chain of islands. We stopped at Water Cay on Valentine’s Day and grilled some delicious strip steak paired with parsley potatoes and carrots and topped off with mint chip gelato. The next day we enjoyed a smooth sail on the beautiful banks and through Hog Cay Cut before high tide and into Kidds Cove in Georgetown in the early afternoon.

Video: Approaching Hog Cay Cut

We sailed nearly 300 miles in the past month. The last two days were absolutely gorgeous reaching sails.

Our route to Long Island and the Raggeds

As we reflect on our recent travels we are so thankful for our health and floating home, and the freedom to travel among the beautiful Bahama islands safely despite the global pandemic. We hope you also find joy in your lives.

Baby it’s cold up there. 70’s where we are.

It’s mid- February and the U.S. is in another cold snap. Stay warm and connected friends.

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 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!