Cruising in the Abaco’s

Cover photo: sunrise in Marsh Harbor.

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

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

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

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

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

Nassau and Eleuthera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up: heading north to the Abacos.

Sailing with Sandy

We’ve spent two months in the Bahamas so far. Still amazed at the view of the blue ocean and aqua green Bahama Banks, the warm temperatures, the fun and helpful cruising community here, and the Bahamian style foods like jerk chicken and baked macaroni- yum!

However, the mail back home was stacking up and we needed a replacement wind vane. We were ever so thankful that friend Sandy Gordon was up for a visit and willing to bring those items and some surprise dark chocolate to us! Sandy had previously sailed her own boat, Summer Wind to the Abaco’s, but she had never been this far south; to the Exuma’s, in the Bahamas.

Sandy flew in to Georgetown on January 29th. Rather than a mid-day arrival she had an extra flight halfway from Atlanta then back again; and a final trip on a different plane. Her arrival at dinner time was a relief for us all. We had anchored in beautiful Goat Cay to ensure a calm anchorage and a short walk and dinghy ride.

The next day we motored over to Kidd’s Cove to buy a Bahamas cell chip for Sandy’s phone and do some looking around town and shopping. Then it was lunch time! Let’s have “a burger and a refreshing grapefruit beer” at Choppy Waters, the Exuma Yacht Club restaurant.

The upper deck is a great place to eat and to capture the view of our boat in the harbor.

After topping up the water tanks, we motored across the harbor to anchor at the gathering spot on Chat ‘n Chill beach. The holding is tricky in spots and this was our first time anchoring with the new Rocna 20 anchor and new electric windless, we had fun bringing it up and down by stepping on the electric switches or using a handheld remote as we adjusted our position relative to the beach and nearby boats. Wow, what a nice improvement to our boat life; loving this!

Sandy and I took an afternoon walk on the beach and spotted a ray. Then we quizzed some cruisers about weaving baskets with silver palm fronds.

The next day, Tom and Sandy attended a Georgetown cruisers were beach seminar on batteries.

Then we set sail with 3 other boats for Hog Cay to the southeast of Great Exuma. We made it through Hog Cay Cut before high tide and anchored for the night. The next morning, we were the last to raise the anchor and head south to the Jumento’s. Unfortunately, the engine immediately quit as the alternator belt broke. So we re-anchored to replace it with a spare. Winds were light and behind us. However, we chose to conserve engine running so had a leisurely sail south to Water Cay. We broke another belt just outside the anchorage. That belt only lasted an hour! Once in the harbor, Tom spent some time rechecking belt, alternator and water pump alignment. He also electrically disconnected the alternator to see if the belt would run smoother.

Sandy promptly went snorkeling when we arrived. There was a reef very nearby, but not many plants or fish at it. She also saw a 5 foot nurse shark.

The crew of Allie May came by on their dinghy having snorkeled at a further away reef. They promptly told their kids to get out of the water as there was a large bull shark in the area. That ended our plans for snorkeling here!

The weather was real nice for two more days then predicted to get windy with rain squalls. So rather than continue south and get stuck there, we decided to stay put for one day to enjoy the private anchorage and head back north the next day. Hard to believe it’s been a week with Sandy on board already; let’s do some laundry the old fashioned way in buckets! Agitating the wash with a plunger is kind of fun. The clothes dry fast in this sun and wind!

Enjoyed eating dinner on deck and having Sea Ya crew over in the evening to watch the sun go down.

We had a very long day sailing to windward the next day, 9-5 if I recall correctly. Lots of tacking in light winds and calm seas. We had hoped to go to Long Island, but ran out of daylight. Anchored south of Hog Cay Cut again with only one other boat. The next morning we left early, following the PDQ 36′ catamaran, Allie May through the winding cut. I was surprised to see them utilizing the western passage which is shallower and the way through unmarked on our Explorer chart. Unfortunately, they need less water than we do. Although we thought we had timed our departure right before high tide, it was actually several hours before and our rudder and stern were soon aground. We waited about an hour, then were able to gently pull off using an anchor we had dropped via dinghy.

We were not surprised to learn the rudder was once again off to one side making steering to starboard impossible. We were able to get back to the anchorage safely. Then we ate lunch. Anita emptied the aft cabin and Tom worked to re-center and re-pin the rudder. A more permanent fix is on our list for the next haul-out. The next day we waited until one hour before high tide, put our dagger boards down as an early warning for shallow water and followed the straighter eastern passage on the Explorer chart. Depths never read below 6 feet, we need a little less than 4. Yeah, we made it!

We raised the sails and enjoyed a quick downwind sail anchoring at Sand Dollar beach on Stocking Island.

yWe took a walk on the beach that afternoon and discovered a band of cruisers playing cool jazz music on our way back.

We left Tom there while Sandy and Anita went back to the boat to use the facilities and get drinks. Then Anita picked Tom up with the dinghy at sunset. This appears to be a weekly event that we hope to catch again!

The next day we motored over to volleyball beach to take in a solar seminar and then motored on to Goat Cay to hide from the wind and for Sandy to enjoy one last snorkel in this clear protected cove. No sharks here!We walked to Shirley’s at Fish Fry for lunch on Sunday. On February 11th we all shared a taxi to the airport. Sad to say good bye to Sandy, and thankful she made the trip! We were able to clear our replacement wind vane through Bahamian Customs. No problem retrieving it once we provided their receipt, our receipt and a copy of our cruising permit. We were also lucky to share a taxi back to the boat!

Hope you enjoyed sailing in the Exumas with us Sandy, you were a great guest. You definitely experienced the real cruising lifestyle. Yes, we really do get to maintain our boat in beautiful harbors. {Note from Tom: the alternator belt issue seems to be better. Update in the next blog. (Always keep them wanting more😎). }

Long Island Bahamas

We spent two weeks anchored in Thompson Bay Long Island, moving from the North end near cruisers beach to the town anchorage every 3-4 days. This is a large and beautiful bay. Amazing that there were less than 20 boats there at any given time we were there. We joined in a couple of the cruiser organized events: a beach potluck and a dinghy drift as well as a few happy hours at Sou’ Side and Tiny’s. Shared a delicious pizza at Tiny’s!

One day we joined two other cruising couples to drive a rented van around the north end of the island. The bar at Broken Bridge was closed for construction. What a beautiful spot, and they are building a truly nice meeting place. There is a fast flowing current under the actual broken bridge.

Pictured above Ted (Boatel 1) Elaine (Sea Ya), Tom, and Mark (Sea Ya).

This shallow cave was over the edge of the ledge and a long way down at the monument to Columbus and the aboriginal people.

Diane from Boatel 1 and Mark from Sea Ya at the monument to the original inhabitants and Columbus who landed here.

We looked for a local lunch restaurant, but found most were closed on Monday. So we went to the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort for lunch. Good food and a beautiful beach and view of the west side of the island.

We found this unique art shop and the owner reopened the shop so we could all have a look.

Her husband makes beautiful objects d’art out of thousands of seashells and she is very talented with basketry. You’ll have to zoom in to see the tiny shells this beautiful artwork is made of.

We ventured to Long Island to rendezvous with cruising friends we haven’t seen since they left SYC in Groton, CT eleven years ago. However, after enjoying the Ragged Islands and Jimento’s for an extra week, they elected to sail to Georgetown to avoid several days of strong winds. We heard there were lots of dragging anchors in that over-populated anchorage during this storm. We stayed safe and were well protected on Long Island. There were 17 boats in the harbor with lots of swinging room and none dragged anchor.

We decided to use the last day of east winds to sail downwind back to Georgetown. We sailed in company with Sea Ya and Allie May. This was a fabulous sail for us sailing flat at 7-9 knots. We were able to rendezvous with former SYC members Mark & Michele on the new to them, sailing vessel Reach.

Fun evening at the Peace & Plenty restaurant where we also met up with Chuck Wright another former SYC member. Great time reminiscing and planning future cruising locations.Friday, Tom filled our water tanks. We also purchased some groceries and Anita was able to get her hair cut. Saturday, Tom purchased and siphoned 10 gallons of diesel from jerry cans into the main tank. Then we moved the boat to a different cove on Great Exuma near a couple of very small cays or islands and two resorts.

Tom has completed the installation of the electric windlass and has spliced the new anchor chain to the anchor line. We just need to check that it can all be stored in the anchor locker and get the new Rocna anchor unwrapped and shackled to the chain.We are looking forward to having our first guest aboard. Sandy, a sailing friend from home will arrive tomorrow bringing our mail and a few essentials in her carry on luggage. It will be fun to sail, swim and play tourist along side her!

2018 Stats and Sailing

Caption: a picturesque no wind day on Long Island in the Bahamas.

We began our cruise south on September 22, 2018. Our stats for the year from then onward include:

11 nights at sea

81 nights at anchor

9 nights at a dock

1800 nautical miles traveled

5 states in the U.S. / 2 countries

We continued our stay in Elizabeth Harbor Great Exuma as it has many anchorages and interesting places to explore. We moved around every 3-4 days and we still didn’t stay in all of them. We stayed in Kidd’s Cove the most as access to the shops and WiFi at the BTC office in Georgetown is easiest from there. Next would be Volleyball beach where most activities take place. Here, we often chose to anchor in the inlet on the side of the beach. The music from Chat n’ Chill was not quite as loud there. However, the Bahamian taxi boats have one speed, real fast through this anchorage. Hence the boats at anchor will bounce or roll in daylight hours. Honeymoon Bay, Goat Cay, and Sand Dollar beach were very picturesque and oh so quiet! Many boats anchor at these quieter spots. No matter where we went it was never crowded like Block Island or Watch Hill on a summer weekend. A weekly census of boats was reported on the morning net. I think 120 was the most I heard scattered throughout Elizabeth Harbor. We hear, in years past there have been over 400 boats here at once.

We took several breaks from projects to enjoy various activities and walks on the beach.

The Electric anchor windlass project has proven to be more challenging than expected. The motor below decks is in such a tight space that Tom needed to cut away a non-structural bulkhead to make room for it and to have access to install it.

As the deck part was finished and bolted down, covering the holes in the deck; we decided we could sail on to the next island. We enjoyed the past thirty four days in the Georgetown area and look forward to exploring more of the Bahamas 🇧🇸; though we will probably return here as it is a great spot to get good free water and so much more! Water costs 30 cents a gallon in Long Island and 50 cents a gallon in the Abacos. We hope to add a water maker some day.

On Thursday, January 10 we set sail for Long Island, 35 miles away. As soon as the sails were set two engine alarms sounded: water temperature and alternator. We quickly shut it down and continued sailing. Tom discovered the alternator belt was missing. It was under the engine and had broken. We had a spare belt, so Tom dug out tools and opened up the engine room and proceeded to get very dirty while Anita hand steered through reefs and islands. By the time the engine was fixed we were out in deeper water with a straighter and longer course.

Yeah, time to post a watch, engage the auto pilot and make lunch! Our down wind sail in relatively calm seas all day was really nice. So pleasant, Tom was reluctant to turn on the engine to motor the last mile to the anchorage even though we were slowing down due to lighter winds when sunset was an hour away. Thompson Bay approach does not have any coral reefs and multiple anchorages are well labeled on the chart; so no concerns about seeing through the water late in the day. We were the 13th boat to anchor in the north end of the harbor. The next day we took a walk across the narrow part of Long Island, on a mostly coral road; to the eastern shore and walked the beach before joining other cruisers for happy hour at Sou’Side bar.

We finally used up our ration of ice cream that we had purchased in the states. After defrosting the freezer, it was time to breakout the ice cream maker and start making gelato. Mint chocolate chip first than vanilla using coconut milk and Irish Creme flavoring; so perhaps it’s more like coconut cream.

Anita is also starting to bake: berry scones and French bread, and whole wheat bread so far.

Yes, we are living and working on our boat in exotic harbors! Our sonic wind instrument on top of the mast is no longer discoverable by the network. It is more challenging to sail without this instrument that provides wind direction and speed. However, we will add some ribbons to the shrouds and continue to sail the old fashioned way. Tom climbed the mast stairs and/or was winched up while in the bosuns chair. He was not able to remove the device as he couldn’t get high enough to get a two handed grip on it to unscrew it. We will need a different style of mast climber or a rigger’s help in the near future. Sadly, they no longer make this model. Although the manufacturer may be able to repair it. We’ve ordered the older style with the spinning cups and will wait for that to arrive before continuing with this repair project.

Every once in a while we check the weather app to see what we’re missing where family is located:

We need to add Bangor, Germany, China, and the U.K. to the list of where family is 😉.

Life is good in the Bahamas!

How about where you are?

Christmas Winds & New Years in Georgetown Bahamas

Picture: Stop to admire the view and a wind surfer on our walk around Lake Victoria in Georgetown.

On Christmas Eve we baked white and sweet potatoes and mixed up the innards to make twice baked for the Christmas day potluck. Tom is a master at the white and Anita used a simple recipe for the sweet, just add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and butter, dash of salt & pepper and then garnish with a pecan half and bacon bits. Both were a big hit and delicious!

Anita also made a pull apart party bread that came out a bit too dense, but was still tasty.

Christmas Day was the beginning of a five day stretch of strong east winds; over 20 Knots and often gusting above 30. The first couple of days were also rather wet with scattered rain showers. The organizer of the potluck decided to cancel the beach part of the potluck due to the probability of rain. Plan B was to have the small groups meet on host boats. Our group met on Boatel I a 65 foot trawler that is a top-rated bed and breakfast in Toronto Canada in the summertime. Note the picture of the trawler was not taken on Christmas Day, although the picture of us was.

We are not like most other boaters in Georgetown, though there are some like us who move their homes or mothership to the locations where events will happen and plan on short dinghy rides. Most have large tenders/dinghies with big outboards. The change of venue was made after the wind had picked up. Our group had a brief radio discussion about meeting time and location (more than a mile away) for our potluck and we mentioned a concern about our dinghy range into the strong winds. Bill on Charisma offered to pick us up in his dinghy on his way by. This turned out to be a rather wet and very bouncy adventure! Cruisers here have a habit of steering their tenders while standing up and holding the tiller in one hand and the bow rope (called a painter) in the other. Passengers either stand, kneel or hide in the bottom of the boat. We did the latter trying unsuccessfully to keep the hot potatoes and insulated bag on the bow seat. We dried quickly and at least the water is warm! The return trip back was downwind and much drier though still a bit of spray.

Sorry to say I did not take pictures of the wonderful array of food we had. Everything was absolutely delicious: grilled turkey, cold baked ham, green bean casserole, orzo salad, cabbage salad, two kinds of stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce plus the twice baked potatoes and dinner rolls! Topped off by dessert bars and Christmas cookies and candy canes.

The next day is also a holiday here, Boxing Day. So all businesses are still closed. However, we decided to move over to the town anchorage as we had hoped it would be more sheltered. We soon learned it was not at all sheltered. We stayed aboard all day Wednesday and Thursday as it was too rough to attempt getting in the dinghy. Nights were restless due to bouncing and the heat with hatches closed due to rain showers. By Friday we were anxious to get our feet on terra firma, yup we are gonna get wet coming back to the boat, prepare!

We were on a mission! We spent three hours at the BTC mobile office. We first purchased a SIM chip for the iPAD and later a data plan. We will use this as a hotspot when we need faster service than we get with T-Mobile. Then we found a corner to plug in 2 devices at a time and began doing updates on systems and apps on phones, watch and iPAD.

Then we took a walk around lake Victoria to stretch our legs and see the Far side of town. We checked out a few other places for lunch, but decided to go back to a favorite for charcoal grilled jerk ribs, so tasty and served with a small piece of corn on the cob and baked macaroni and cheese.

One more stop at the Exuma Market for groceries then a wet dinghy ride back to the boat. This was one time I should have used plastic grocery bags; my cloth bags were soaked in salt water. Here’s a 10 second video of Tom’s new and improved water transfer system which he did right after returning to the boat. You can see how bouncy it was!

Thanks Dan on Cutting Class for the picture and idea to make this task easier! Tom still plans a few more modifications to prevent the hose from kinking.

Tom started the next boat project: installing an electric anchor windlass. The hole is cut in the deck, foam core routed out, and reinforced with epoxy and filler. He still needs one more finish coat of epoxy and to design, cut and install an interior backing plate. Then the windlass and foot switches can be installed! The electric wires are already in.

We made one more quick trip to town on Saturday morning to use the WiFi in front of the closed BTC office to update computer software, buy those sweet little bananas, and fill the water cans one more time.

Then we raised two anchors; we had dropped a spare when the winds were over 30! And motored back over to Stocking Island. This time we found a really nice anchorage next to the moorings in the channel toward the three holes. The music from the Chat and Chill was not as loud here and we were around the corner in more protected waters.

After beach church on Sunday we moved Lone Star a couple miles down island to Sand Dollar beach. We joined about 60 other cruisers for an early New Years sunset celebration, blowing into conch shells and a bonfire on the beach with lots of appetizers.

We plan to sail to Long Island, Conception, and perhaps Rum Cay as soon as we finish installing the windlass.

Christmas in Georgetown Bahamas

We’ve enjoyed photographing the Georgetown Christmas decorations and joining in the weekly musical jam sessions singing carols and other folk tunes.

What a fun and talented group of musicians! Tom has started playing a recorder we have on board, and he is covetous of the plastic trumpet Ian on Local Lola has.

Music is also a big part of beach church on Sundays at 10 AM. Yesterday, we attended the cruisers Christmas luncheon at St. Francis Resort. Seven ukelele musicians led the great sounding sing-along.

My favorite was this altered version of White Christmas:

After a yummy grilled chicken or tilapia salad lunch we enjoyed a gift swap with about 35 people in attendance. Tom got the honor of having his gift stolen the most times, six that we recall! Someone had made homemade cinnamon buns and paired it with a can of nuts and a bag of pumpkin spiced M&Ms. There were 2 identical gifts like this and Tom swapped for each of them, but they were stolen 3 times each then frozen; meaning the third person gets to keep the gift. He also opened a hammock, had it stolen, later stole it back, and had it stolen again!! Then he opened a Popeye Captains’ hat, corncob pipe, and a small can of leaf spinach. That was stolen too! We ended up with some very nice gifts: Tom received a bottle of Freakshow red wine, a wine skin, and drink floats. Anita has a dark chocolate rum cake that smells heavenly!! We also won a door prize of a table decoration of a piece of driftwood that says Seas Greetings. We now have one Christmas decoration on board!

Tom has really enjoyed his morning routine on the SSB/HAM radio. He has a good strong signal and is repeatedly asked to relay for the net controller on the morning SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) Security SSB net on 8104 frequency at 7:15AM EST. At 7:30AM he switches to Chris Parker’s SSB net on 8137 for weather updates. At 7:45AM he listens in on the HAM Waterway net on 7268; Bahama’s weather is often read first. At 8:00AM, it’s time for the local VHF net on Channel 72 here in Georgetown.

Today we moved Lone Star from her beach side anchorage near Chat ‘n Chill on Stocking Island:

to a beautiful, secure and shallow anchorage around Goat Cay on Great Exuma that we currently share with 3 catamarans:

We are sheltering from a cold front that is bringing 20-30 knot southerly winds ahead of the front. We also want to explore ashore here this afternoon and visit the NAPA store and pharmacy nearby.

We have been working on some boat projects this past week:

Tom cut backing plates for the soft-shackle dinghy davit lift points out of a cutting board:

We raised the storm jib, replaced a shackle and outfitted it with sheets (ropes to trim the sail):

Tom’s current project is installing an electric anchor windless. We both look forward to that improvment!

Anita’s been working on washing and storing winter wear, hand washing the shower curtain and harnesses, and baking banana bread. Thank you to her sister Jane in VT we now have many more bread recipes to try!

We have plans to join fellow cruisers on Christmas Day for a beach potluck. Each table plans their own potluck. We are planning to bring a cheddar monkey bread and twice baked potatoes both white and sweet. Our table will have 13 people so far. We hope you are all enjoying your Christmas or other Holiday preparations and spreading the joy of this Holiday Season.