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 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.

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.

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.

Sailing Bahamas Out Islands – Long & Cat

On Thursday, February 27 we used a rare weather window to motor/sail east to Long Island, home for nearly 3000 Bahamians. We sadly left our fun friends on Pegu Club, though they were thoroughly enjoying our remote anchorage in Red Shanks. After seven hours and 35 miles we anchored in Salt Pond, Long Island right in front of the prominent cell tower. There are 26 boats here versus the 333 in the Georgetown area. We ventured ashore Friday for groceries and happy hour with cruisers at Sou’ side Bar and Grill. We then set an alarm Saturday morning in order to get to the Farmers Market early. It worked! We found delicious cinnamon buns, honey wheat bread and pineapple tarts. All exquisitely delicious! We moved the boat to the protected end of this large harbor called Thompson Bay, as we expected strong winds for a couple of days.

By Tuesday, February 25 there were 35 boats in the harbor and the wind had abated enough for a cruisers gathering on the beach.

Sharing appetizers, chatting,
Listening to cruising musicians
and Admiring the view

The next day we decided to explore a new-to-us Bahama Island and embarked on an all day sail to Cat Island, sixty-six miles away. We raised the sails and left before dawn at 6:00 am. What a fabulous sail we had! A beam reach, gorgeous sun, a slight swell, just enough to provide a comfortable easy rocking motion any baby would love! We both commented on the soothing sound of the water rushing beneath our hulls. We averaged a very comfortable 6 knots for this eleven hour passage, though the afternoon winds of 15-18 knots, drove the boat faster.

Now there are only five boats in New Bight harbor on Cat Island. We went ashore the next day to visit the bakery and hike to the Hermitage, Father Jerome’s final home and resting place. Here is an official description of this famous highest peak in the Bahamas. We were awed by it.

Yes, these islands are relatively flat!
Entering
Easy gradual rise
Beginning of the Stations of the Cross
Continuing up the path
Steps made the steep parts easy
So reverently hand-crafted
Almost there
Our rest stop
Last station before the peak

The hermitage itself is a three-quarter scale, designed for a single person. We did not have to duck as we are short by today’s standards, less than 5’6”.

Tom in archway, near bell tower
The view
A single bedroom with windows on three sides
Handy sundial

Our return to sea level was easier by a gradual path.

Lone Star to right of center of photo

And those clouds foretold our future. We will have six days of winds in the 20 – 40 knot range. It would be a wet ride to get to shore. So we occupy our time on board with projects, cooking, writing, and reading. Can’t wait for the wind to abate so we can explore some more!

Heading South in the ICW

October 16th dawned cloudy with the promise of rain. A cold front was predicted with strong winds behind it. We elected to motor through the rain for two hours to find a more protected anchorage than Hospital Point in Portsmouth, VA. We were the only boat to anchor in a small cove at statute mile marker 10 in Chesapeake, VA. The highest wind we saw in this protected anchorage was less than 20.Picture courtesy of Tammy Merritt from her house

There are two routes south at the beginning of the Intracoastal Waterway or ICW. You may recall last year we chose the Dismal Swamp and suffered propellor damage when a thirty foot tree was kicked up by the wake (waves created by a boats forward motion) of the boat in front of us. The depth of this man-made canal has shrunk over the years from ten feet to perhaps six foot deep as there are years of debris from the overhanging trees.Dismal Swamp 2018

The width seems narrow in spots, especially for sailboats with masts; due to the overhanging trees. We’ve read that there is a large amount of duck weed floating in the swamp this year. Engine raw water filters have to be cleaned often.

This year we chose to transit the ever so slightly shorter route, sometimes referred to as the Virginia Cut. We found depths from 10-16 feet most often and the shorter canals merged with rivers and were often quite wide. There were a lot more birds this year as well. Larger flocks and more of a variety of species. Great Bridge Lock is only a 2 foot rise, quick and painless.Great Bridge LockLooking back to the lock entrance, this crane was dredging near the entrance. Don’t you think the below picture of the winding North Landing River looks wider than the Dismal Swamp?North Landing River

We anchored in Shiloh, NC after nearly 9 hours and 50 miles. It was a long day at the helm, too narrow and many twists and turns to use autopilot. We had the engine on all day. Though the jib gave us a boost with the wind behind us for about 10 miles in Currituck Sound. I was surprised that there were so few boats migrating south at this time of year. However, our night time anchorage had about a dozen boats.

The next day we sailed downwind across Albemarle Sound and down the Alligator River. This Alligator river swing bridge was closed for a couple weeks this fall. So glad it was repaired by the time we arrived. It’s a long way around this stretch of water! We anchored for the night just before the Alligator/Pungo canal and enjoyed this beautiful sunset.Alligator/Pungo CanalMorning fog in the beginning of the canal.

We chose Pungo Creek rather than Belhaven Marina for our next stop-over as the remnants of a tropical storm was predicted to race by. We found good holding near the Marina and enjoyed a walk on shore before the blow. Locals were extremely friendly and the neighborhood was filled with very friendly dogs.A TriStar 46 docked in Pungo Creek. Similar design to our Lone Star which is a TriStar 39.

On Monday, October 21 we sailed south to one of our favorite spots: Oriental, NC. This historic town is so welcoming and we love the unusual and practical supplies at the local consignment store. Last year we sold a Porta-Bote that was too long for our davits. This year we dropped off a gasoline outboard and a series drogue. They were replaced recently by a Torqueedo electric outboard and Shark drogue (sea anchor.)Bringing the Series drogue to the consignment store in Oriental, NC. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant behind Tom.

We motored the remaining 24 miles to Beaufort, NC two days later. We completed our southern trek down the ICW in only a week. So excited to have reached our final destination before heading offshore to sail south to the Bahamas!

Next up Preparations and Passage to the Bahamas.

Sailing the Chesapeake

It felt so good to kickback and relax for a couple of days in the Bohemia River. Click the link to see that this is located in the very northern part of Chesapeake Bay, only a mile or so from the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) canal. We had one windy/rainy day then woke up to fog. On the third day, October 4th, we were well rested and ready for a downwind sleigh ride to Annapolis, MD.The anchorage on the Bohemia River.Sailing south with Miles.

The seas were choppy as we headed south and wind gusts were in the high 20’s when we decided to lower the mainsail and continue at 5-7 knots under jib alone. Miles did the same. We wondered if they had an advantage as both their sails are roller-furled while ours are the old style hank on. Our self-tacking jib has a built in wishbone shaped boom, you can’t roll that up! However, self-tacking means we have no lines to pull when we turn or tack the boat. Near the end of the day, we both anchored in Back Creek just south of Annapolis. Miles found an anchoring spot half-way down the creek, near all the Marina’s and dinghy docks. We were directed by a local to a beautiful and quiet anchorage at the head of the harbor, a bit further in. The annual power boat show was underway and we wanted to avoid the crowds and boat wakes in Spa Creek. We met the crew from Miles on shore the first morning to take a much needed mile hike to the Giant food store, a large grocery store. It felt great to stretch our legs and get some exercise! So glad we had the Burley Trolley with us, so much easier to wheel our groceries rather than carry them.That evening we went to a nearby pub to celebrate Helen’s birthday. Great dinner and fun time with them and another cruising couple.

The following day we took our dinghy, laundry, and shower bags down to a marina near where Miles was anchored. They charge a small fee to tie up the dinghy and use the showers and coin laundry. Unfortunately, Miles received a message that their boat was dragging. It wasn’t, but they did re-anchor right in front of us. Much easier to play cards or enjoy afternoon tea!Steve and Helen in their dinghy near their boat, anchored in front of Lone Star.We were literally anchored at the end of the navigable creek.

We were able to rendezvous with Jeff and Kimberly on Pegu Club one day. We last saw them in July at SYC in Groton, CT. We are looking forward to Christmas in Georgetown Bahamas with them!

The Annapolis Sailboat Show started Thursday, Steve and Helen acquired some free tickets and spent the day browsing the show. We elected not to go to remove the temptation to buy more stuff. However, Steve had shown Tom a nifty new device he recently purchased and Tom asked him to buy one for us if they were discounted at the show and they were. So now we own a Bushnell imaged stabilized monocular.After a week in Annapolis we saw a weather window to head south. Can’t pass on fair winds and following seas! On October 11th, we enjoyed a fast 48 mile sail to Solomons, MD.A Chesapeake Lighthouse.We elected not to go ashore here as the full moon tides, called king tides in this area; resulted in flooded docks and the main street too.

We left Solomons just before noon and motor-sailed 35 miles to Little Wicomico River, MD. A fisherman’s haven and a beautiful spot on earth. We entered the narrow entrance channel at sunset, against the current, and through a small fleet of local fishing boats.Such a peaceful and beautiful anchorage.

After a quick warm oatmeal breakfast, we fought the current once again to leave the river. We sailed 26 miles to Jackson Creek in Deltaville, VA. We had a quick lunch then went ashore at a nearby Marina. We had a surprise guest jump in the Portland Pudgy dinghy on our way ashore: a fish jumped into the boat, trying to escape a bigger fish most likely. Tom threw him back in.

The next day we hiked across the peninsula to Norview Marina to take pictures and video of a Seascape custom 55′ trawler cat Tom has listed on yachtworld.com

That was our last stop in the Chesapeake for this year. On October 15th, we sailed the rest of the way down Chesapeake Bay and across Hampton Roads into Portsmouth, VA. We anchored at mile marker zero of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). This is also known as Hospital Point on the Elizabeth River. We only spent two weeks in the Chesapeake this year compared to just over four weeks last year. We had fewer stops waiting for good weather this year. The goal is to not run the cabin heater, which means getting south earlier.

Next up transiting the ICW.

Sailing, Shopping, and Socializing – Ahh Summer!

Lone Star anchored at Flat Hammock, near Fishers Island, New York in late August.

It appears our social calendar was as full as our project schedule this summer. Anita often took time for a brisk morning walk around nearby UCONN campus, sometimes with friends, always admiring the view! Tom preferred to obtain his exercise in the college pool and commute to and from on his bicycle.Avery Point Lighthouse on UCONN property.View of SYC from UCONN.

We first met British friends Steve and Helen Lawrence 32 years ago in Barbados after we each had crossed the Atlantic in our respective sail boats. Since then they have completed a circumnavigation. We were so happy to see them cruise into our harbor in their latest boat named Miles. Here they are after a tour of the Nautilus submarine museum in Groton, CT. We were so lucky to have use of a car this summer. Trips to Defender marine supply store, hardware stores, laundry and grocery stores whenever we needed to go were invaluable. We were prepared to use Uber all summer. Tom’s generous sister and her husband offered us the use of their van. Thank you, dear sister!! The car was also a big help when we decided to move into a better priced storage unit and downsize our belongings a bit more. We were also able to visit our son a few times and help them out with a garage insulation project. We were grateful son, Alex and fiancé, Jenna came to more than a few Friday night picnics at Shennecossett Yacht Club.

Tom’s next Project was installing a new lithium iron phosphate battery bank. He was so happy when he moved the old AGM’s off the boat!So sad that I don’t have any pictures of the beautiful blue inner cells, but here is the finished project. We still have a separate engine starting battery for now. So far we are very happy with the new lithium battery bank. It delivers a steady voltage consistently. We’ve even used the microwave and a heat gun with no voltage drop as our old batteries did.At the end of August Tom’s Dad and friend, Ilse came for a short couple night visit. We sailed to Flat Hammock and anchored for lunch and a walk on shore. What a beautiful day. So glad they made the trip!Our next event was to attend a 100 year celebration at the Montville, CT power generation station that Tom worked at from 1979 to 1987. Great time visiting, reminiscing, and touring the current facility. The food was fabulous as well. We decided to do the majority of our provisioning for the Bahamas right here. This was facilitated by the van we borrowed. This time we stocked up on some dried fruits: apples, peaches, and strawberries. Repacked in vacuum sealed bags for longer storage.Tom is always researching new marine products. We’ve been looking for some specific emergency equipment. Things we want to have on hand, but hope to never need. The first was an emergency rudder or perhaps a tiller arm. What he found is a very compact sea anchor: a Fiorentino Shark Drogue. It is deployed on a bridle off the stern and can be used to steer the boat by bringing it close in on one side or the other. The boat will turn to port if you drag it close to the port side of the boat. It doubles as a reliable sea anchor when the seas are rough by adding a weight to the thimble at the tail end; and once again dragging it behind the boat on a bridle.The item stores compactly in itself and is smaller in size than a basketball 🏀. Very well engineered product made of high quality materials. We purchased one and will practice using it as it is so easy to deploy. The YouTube videos for this product were fun to watch and informative.

Next up will be our second piece of needed emergency equipment: a life raft.

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