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.

Lucky to be in the Bahamas

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

Lone Star anchored at Crab Cay looking toward Stocking Island

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

Lone Star in Ruins Bay, Crab Cay

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

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

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

Beautiful Sand Dollar beach

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

Rain squall approaching Param, Georgetown in background

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

Never tired of the view, neighbor is Little Sister

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

Pavilion on deserted Crab Cay

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

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

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

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!

We Love Exuma

What a fantastic place to spend the winter! Temperatures in the 70’s day and night. Many lovely anchorages to choose from, no crimes against yachtsman that we’ve heard of; hitch hiking on shore is encouraged, convenient, and sometimes educational! Beautiful aqua marine clear water and helpful, friendly, caring cruisers surrounding us.

Hiking Sand Dollar with long time friends Steve and Helen on Miles

Many people have commented on the numerous weather fronts and reinforced trade winds since early December. We are thankful that this weather encouraged us to explore additional sheltered anchorages in the Georgetown area. This enabled us to spend quality time with new friends for sun downers, hiking, snorkeling, shopping excursions that included lunch out (yum!), or fun new games on board. Life is good here! Note: Sundowners include bringing an appetizer to share and your own drinks of choice to a host boat to watch the sunset and swap sea stories or ask for advice on a nagging boat problem, or to discuss the next port of call. Fun event to host as well!

Thanksgiving potluck at Sand Dollar beach
Hiking a newly groomed trail to Lumina Point from Sand Dollar via the eastern shore beach that included…
Some wading and …
A swing at the top edge of a cliff overlooking the beach
Christmas potluck Volleyball beach with all the cruisers
Hike to the Monument with cruisers
Enjoying the view and each other
Beach walking
Exploring some plantation ruins
Touring Crab Cay by water
Sundowners with friends
A nearby water spout, luckily no one was hurt though it went right over a friends boat.
Learning a bit of history about Junkanoo courtesy of Exuma Ministry of Tourism

We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon recently at a reception for cruisers and international home owners on Exuma. They offered a wonderful buffet of Bahamian food, raffle prizes included gift certificates for local businesses, a dance demonstration and a brief history of Junkanoo. We learned the tradition was started by a Bahamian slave named Jon Kanu on Boxing Day which was the one day off per year that plantation owners allowed slaves to have off. They chose to begin their celebration of freedom one minute after midnight and beat their drums all day long. Each year they have a theme and their costumes and music represent that theme. This years theme was under the sea, costumes show waves, sea life, and the color of the sea here. Music included “Wade in the Water”, for example. A newer meaning of the word is “Junk made new”; as there costumes and instruments are made from recycled items. Pretty neat!!

Bahamian dance demonstration

We continue to work on projects to improve our floating home. Completing the water maker, a desalinater system has saved us from having to lug and pay for water this winter.

Beautiful sunset!

Love Exuma in winter!

On Schedule to Escape Winter

Last year we arrived in Beaufort, NC on November 21st and left for the Bahamas on November 29th; the temperature was 31 degrees. It felt like winter. This year we arrived on October 23rd with plans to head for the Bahamas around November 1st. Daytime temperatures were in the 70’s and lows were in the 50’s. Only two boats in the anchorage when we arrived. More yachts populated the docks and anchorage on the weekend.Bird landing on the water atThe public dinghy/fishing dock, directly across from the anchorage.

We are very impressed with our new super quiet Torqueedo long shaft electric outboard motor. The driver can feel a slight vibration in the tiller. However, it is SO quiet it is difficult to know if it’s turned on! Listen to this short clip:On Saturday we walked up to the Farmers Market. They were celebrating Halloween a few days early.Many of the vendors wore costumes and had candy for the children. Yummy Bacon twist!

Delicious meat pies and farm fresh fruits and vegetables!!

Although we did a lot of provisioning in CT before we left; it was time for the final stock up before heading to the Bahamas. We rented a car for two days, rather than borrow an hour at a time from the local marina. No rushing through the stores this year.First run to Walmart, hardware and pharmacy.

The first half-day of having a car we made the first shopping run. Then Anita picked up our nephew Brian at the bus stop 4 miles away. He flew in from Germany and had been traveling for at least a day and a half. Brian wants to sail to the Bahamas with us and experience an ocean passage. We arrived on Lone Star just at sunset and the insects were feasting on us! After a good nights sleep, a big breakfast and a cup of coffee; Brian spent hours going through our three medical supply boxes and compiled a shopping list to bring them up to snuff. We threw away a lot of old stuff that was no longer sterile or usable. After a light lunch, Brian and Anita went shopping for another round of provisions and filled the small dinghy again. Meanwhile, Tom worked on replacing the electric autopilot motor with our spare and preparing the deck for the replacement rope clutch. He found the old electric autopilot motor had three bolts that were all very loose. It still worked but squealed a lot before the bolts were tightened. Therefore, we still have a working spare, yeah! Unfortunately, once again the shoppers returned right at sunset and again got caught feeding a variety of insects. Guess this is the down side of being here early. No frost yet to reduce the insect population.

The final half-day with the rental car Anita shopped to top off the freezer and refrigerator. Before leaving she put all home-made frozen food for the passage in the cooler. She was satisfied when all the groceries neatly filled every available cold space. We are provisioned to the max! And the black boot stripe at the waterline is still visible; not over loaded.Picture courtesy of Brian

Our weather window was originally Friday, then Saturday. It finally settled into a firm Sunday morning departure. This gave us time to do our remaining chores slowly and enjoy Beaufort a bit more. Like going out to eat at a local barbecue place and doing laundry one last time. Brian volunteered to go up the mast to lubricate and inspect the mast track and rig.He wore our GoPro camera; so cool to see what he was seeing remotely on the iPad. We could snap pictures from the iPad! Pegu Club is featured in the center of this next photo from the top of our mast.Despite our busy days we really enjoyed playing Hearts with 5 players for a couple evenings. So glad Jeff and Kimberly could join us and see a bit of Beaufort, NC.

On Saturday afternoon we started our last project before the passage south: making the Portland Pudgy into a lifeboat and storing it on deck.We are so blessed and thankful to have Brian’s help these last four days of preparation. He was very quick to pitch in and do just about anything and he’s a great cook too. Chicken jambalaya, is on the menu during our passage. A big pot of chili has been made, so it must be time to sail away.

On Sunday, morning November 3rd we raised the anchor and headed out to sea. We did it; left America without running the diesel cabin heater!

Next up; Passage to the Bahamas.

Countdown to Sailing South

Last year we only had two and a half weeks after Tom retired to settle our affairs, load the boat, and head south. It was fast paced with long days to get everything on and off the boat as needed. It was also exciting to be following our dream of going south and cruising full time once again. This year we planned for specific maintenance and upgrades to be done during our July haul out. Sure, some boat projects have kept us busy this summer. However, we’ve taken the time to enjoy ourselves and even sail a little.

This year September was all about spontaneity. In the last blog I mentioned that we have been looking for a life raft. An emergency device we might need, but hope and pray that never happens. Tom suddenly found the perfect lifeboat for us. It is NOT an inflatable raft people sit in and hope to be rescued. A concern we have about these expensive and heavy rafts are that only qualified inspectors can and must service them every 2-3 years. Our lifeboat is a Portland Pudgy rigid dinghy. Checkout the link to see more details. This well designed short boat can be used as a row boat, motor boat, sailboat and most importantly to us it’s a lifeboat. We hope that by using it every day we will also be more familiar with how to use it in an emergency.

Tom found a slightly used 2016 Pudgy in Eliot, Maine for a decent price. Soon we were driving to Maine to inspect and purchase it. Yeah, it fit easily in the back of the van! Phew, that’s a relief. We were not looking forward to trying to hoist 125 pounds on to the roof.

We continued driving north to visit Anita’s sisters in Newcastle and Nobleboro, Maine. After all, we were less than an hour away. I can’t believe I have no pictures of our visit. How disappointing! Fun dinner hosted by Eva, with Linda and Janet and all our spouses too. Tom had a few days to catch up on computer work while Anita pitched in to help Linda get ready to move to a cottage in Nobleboro.

Next stop was Portland Pudgy itself in Portland, Maine. We met with the owner and filled out an order for the remaining equipment needed to fully outfit our Pudgy as a sailboat and lifeboat. We actually decided to leave our Pudgy there to have the sailing hardware installed by them.

In the mean time, we drove to the middle of New Hampshire for a last visit with Tom’s Dad. A generous helping of chili and corn bread was welcome after a walk around Wellington State Park. Thank you Ilse for the fresh Blueberry pie, blueberry crisp and jelly too!

We then returned to Portland, Maine to pick up our dinghy and accessories and drive back to Connecticut in the same day.

On our over night voyage from Block Island to Delaware Bay we carried the lifeboat upside down on the port bow.It fits well on our Davits and has a clever harness under the dinghy for added support and security.And it passed the test of carrying our first grocery run with our Burley Trolley. A versatile folding hand cart or bicycle trailer.A week later than last year, we saw a weather window for our first passage south. Similar to last year we were on shore when we saw the end of a rainbow over our home. A good sign it’s time to leave!Our sail to Block Island on September 28th was fast and fun; 26 miles in three and a half hours. We met with Steve and Helen on Miles and we both planned to leave for Cape May early the next morning. So happy to be heading south again!