Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chat and Chill on the beach

We made it to George Town by first light the next morning and anchored in what locally is called Volleyball Beach Bay. After a nap we went into town to do some business and stopped at a bar on the beach to watch the National Family Island Regatta which is currently underway.

Hey, Mike and Suzy Reaves – ever been to the Chat and Chill?

Water is skinny in the Bahamas for us...

We left Allan’s Cay the next morning (after all how may iguanas do you need to see?) and were heading for either Sampson or Staniel Cay for the night. Well, on the way we read the cruising guide and found that low tide in both places is 6 feet and our draft is 6’ 4”. CRUD!

I suggested that we might just want to skip through Conch Cut and cruise on the Atlantic side of the Exumas down to George Town overnight. We did just that and to our amazement the Atlantic side was much calmer that the western side and we sailed (no motor, YEAH!) though the night.

We stand 2 hour watches when there are only two of us in two hour shifts. The off-duty person sleeps in the cockpit to be close at hand in case of emergency.

Iguana John nad Mark...

Our new friend John was going the same way, we met him at Allan’s Cay and did a bit of touring together.

Iguanas are us...on Allan Cay

We left Nassau on 4/20/09 headed for Allan’s Cay known for it’s many iguanas. They tell you not to feed them (they are herbivores) because they have bad eye sight. We took some cabbage leaves and were careful not to try to ‘hand feed’ them. We saw many…they just come our of the bushes toward you on the beach…from little ones about 3 inches long to this 3 foot model. It was very cool though I doubt that our friend Angie would have liked to visit this place.

The chain gypsy is in the fridge?

One day Mark decided that it was time to change the chain gypsy on the anchor windless. As I am the boat organizer he asked me where it was. I THOUGHT I knew exactly were it was but alas it was not there. I looked at my ‘spares’ inventory list for ‘anchor’ and came up with nothing so did not even look there. We gave up and Mark did something else instead. I woke up the next morning and thought….I wonder if I listed it as chain gypsy instead of anchor windless…sure enough, there it was, in the 'spares' locker.

To tease Mark, I put it in the fridge for him to discover….he opened the fridge, got a drink out and closed it again without even noticing the darn thing. I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes… (This is actually the old one as he installed the new one so fast I failed to get a picture.)

Sea Serpents are my friends

We took the dinghy over to Paradise Island and wondered around for a few hours. This Sea Serpent was one of 4 surrounding a bar inside one of the hotels.

We stopped at the casino and dropped a few coins in the slots – we made 75 cents and cashed out.

John, Chris and Mark at the Green Parrot.

John, Chris and Mark at the Green Parrot.

Last photo of chair for Dad

Here is a front view. The thing I really liked about them is that the seat was extra sized, I can sit cross legged on them.

Second picture for Dad's new project...

Mark is showing the size compared to him in this picture.

New project for Dad....

I can not resist looking for projects for my family, found a car in Key West for my brother to fix up and here are some bar stools that Dad can make.

They were great to sit on and nearly indestructible as they seem to be made with 2 by 6 boards.

Green Parrot #2

Here is our second ‘Green Parrot’ bar…the first one was in Key West.

If you say 'mega' you are not referring to Silhouette...

Some of the yachts in Nassau were incredible, 150 – 200 feet long. I gotta wonder what folks do with all the space.

Laundry day

Mark is sealing a hole in one of the anchor lockers while I do laundry. Having just a washer (so far) is no problem as clothes dry pretty quickly. However when it is really windy (as it is right now) I am afraid to trust that they will stay on the lines….seems like I am missing one plum colored pillowcase, my guess is Davy Jones’ locker got it. DRAT!

The Green Parrot and John of Celtic Dream

I met John (Celtic Dream) at the marina counter in Marathon Key on afternoon…he too was on his way to Nassau, but as we intended not to stop I thought I would not run into him again. In Chub Cay we found that getting mail to the states could take up to a month.

Mark was in a tizzy to get our paperwork from the dinghy purchase back to Florida. (We did not have to pay sales tax if we left Florida in 10 days which we did…but then we had to send proof as in a customs check in, listing the dinghy and motor as arriving in the Bahamas.) We diverted to Nassau to get the forms mailed. Guess who we ran into at the Green Parrot Bar? John of Celtic Dream – he was amazed that I remembered his name.

Graycliff Hotel=Hospitality

We got a photo in front of the Graycliff Hotel building. They also make exclusive chocolates. It was very posh and even non-residents (us) were treated with warmth, much hospitality and friendliness. If you ever had a few extra bucks and want to splurge this might be the place to do it.

Cigar wrappers in a 4-drawer file cabinet?

The man pictured here is responsible for the care and humidity of the cigar wrappers….look closely and you will notice that he keeps them in a 4 drawer file cabinet lined with plastic. Who woulda thought?

the Graycliff Hotel

Mark wanted to visit the Graycliff Hotel, where they make cigars in Nassau . We ventured via foot (of course) to the beautiful hotel. Here is one of the folks that roll cigars. Notice the top of his desk where there are two bundles of cigars he has already rolled.

We arrive in Nassau

We arrived in Nassau at 4:30 PM and anchored inside the main harbor channel between Paradise Island and Nassau Island.
We passed the cruise ship docks on our way to the anchorage.

The new Chub Cay

Here is a photo of one of the yachts in a slip with new vacation homes built since we were last here.
We left Chub Cay Club on 4/14 at about 9:30 AM and made our way to Nassau.

Seaweed removal from the sea

They had folks cleaning the seaweed out of the slips each day….I have to believe that this is one of those unending tasks, kind of like washing dishes but the slips were immaculate.

Harry's Bar, again

We then went to our favorite bar (Harry’s) as we visited the same one when we cruised with Mike and Suzy Reeves in 1998. Since it was Easter we had lamb chops for dinner in the very nice restaurant as well.

The Captains first customs check-in...

We arrived in Chub Cay on Saturday just in time to miss checking into customs. We anchored our boat outside the marina and raised our ‘quarantine flag’ and settled in for a good nights sleep.

The next morning we secured a slip (beautiful new docks along with a price to match) and the ‘Captain’ had to check into customs while the first mate (Chris) was still quarantined on the boat. Since we were in a slip it was first class all the and a van was there to take Mark to the customs office, however it still took quite a while. This is Mark arriving back from that task….we lowered our quarantine flag and raised our Bahamian flag as a visiting boat.

Can you say clear water...

At one point crossing the Bahama Banks it was so calm we could see the bottom clearly as we (yes) motored along.

How may wind generators are too many?

We had to have a picture of this windmill farm. We wondered if these boats vibrated when the wind was up.

We left Marathon Key in Florida at 4:30 PM to cross the gulfstream as it was important to arrive in the Bahamas in the morning (the better to see). We were finally on our way to cross the dreaded gulfstream. We waited for favorable winds (never want to cross when the wind is from the north or northeast) from the south which means that the wind is with the gulfstream current and the waves are lower. It was uneventful but we were glad to have that behind us. We pulled in Chub Cay 26 hours later.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Check pockets before jumping into salt water

The day after we took delivery of the new dinghy as I came back from a ‘solo’ ride the bowline came loose from the front as I was tying it to Silhouette. The dinghy floated away as I yelled for Mark, took off my sunglasses and jumped into the bay with my cell phone in my pocket…note to self…check pockets in the future.

Yesterday I went to the AT and T store to obtain a new one but they told me that since I bought my phone in Texas they could not help me (they serviced Florida and Puerto Rico only). I had to go to radio Shack, on foot two miles down the street (new car only works on water, sigh). As it was past time for new phones I got two…my sim card was saved (YEAH!) and if it happens again we already have the new phone….just need to plug in the sim card.

The dinghy captain of the day…

The dinghy captain of the day…

The new 'car' looks great

The new dinghy is a 12 foot Caribe 12 foot inflatable with a 25 horse Yamaha engine with electric start (a ‘chick’ dinghy). Since this is our new ‘car’ I need to be able (and confident) when I take it out by myself…the electric start engine makes it easy for me to start it every time.

New dinghy arrives

Without going into all the gory details our new dinghy was delivered by Clay and Lisa. The next day we delivered the old dinghy to Eric of Inflatable Boats of the Florida Keys for more patches and a general clean-up ordered by Clay and Lisa. Clay and Lisa say they got a great deal…we are glad they are happy with their purchase.

Girls day out

Shortly after we arrived in Marathon we were invited to happy hour aboard Katherine and Joe’s boat…not sure of the boat name. I thought it was American Girl but when I went by the other day that was not on the hull. So anyway, Katherine took me for a Marathon tour and we had lunch out.

Cruising means work in exotic places

The trip to Marathon Key was uneventful and accomplished in one day. Boot Key harbor was welcome as it is protected from all sides and very calm. We finally erected the wind generator and wired it and the solar panels into the electric panels for quiet electric. Here Mark has a line to the wind generator to prevent it from generating electric while he was working on the wiring.

The dinghy bites the dust (for us)...

The dinghy has been a problem since the get-go. Loosing air overnight despite our best attempt at patching it – Mark nicknamed it ‘Patches”. Then, the final straw the engine quits and we get a tow from another sailor (Richard aboard Sea Spice) just in time. Mark was already researching sources for new dinghies, he now had his eye on a new engine as well. We got on the VHF radio during the cruisers net and sold ‘Patches’ to Clay and Lisa aboard Benzailing in about 4 seconds. We agree to meet in Marathon Key to finalize the transaction as this is where we are picking up our new dinghy.

Boat traffic is better than rush hour in Dallas

There was a LOT of boat traffic in Key West and the anchorage got kind of rough the last 3 days of our stay…Mark (he bum) sleeps though the noise while I am getting about 3 hours of sleep per night.

Bars in low places

We visited a few bars…this one (we already forgot the name) was on Duval Street and had a bull with red eyes….one of you who is not a stranger to Key West can supply the name. Our favorite was the Green Parrot whose motto was ‘No Sniveling’ we stopped in on the way to and from touring Ernest Hemmingways’ house.

more birds...

Not to mention pelicans…Mark favorite line is “Pelicans, their beaks can hold more than there belliescan.”

Roosters and Sea Chickens...

Guess we like chickens or is it a rooster? Also, we have a new knick name for sea gulls. Jerry referred to them as 'Sea Chickens' and was none too happy when their raucous noise woke him early each morning.

Tree rooster

In the past when we would visit friends on their boats in various Caribbean Islands chickens were always present. Even in Key West chickens and roosters roam the streets, or in this case, roam in the trees.

Tourist at last

The last two days we were in Key West we finally had a chance to tour a bit. Here we are in a maritime museum with artifacts from a sunken ship – not sure I would like cooking with these tools…

Jerry leaves

Our next crew Jerry left on St. Paddy’s day, naturally we had to stop for a beer before seeing him off on the ferry to Marcos Island. (Note to self: Jerry mentioned multiple times how pampered he was during his stay…STOP that!)


Us in front of the boat at the Key West Bight Marina.

David leaves

Guess all good times pass and David had to leave on Sunday to catch his flight…we await the bus with him.

The anchor chain tried to escape

(Opps, I forgot to blog this one of our Gulf Crossing)
A temporary solution to a permanent problem. Much to my horror during our passage across the gulf I went forward to get something and noticed that the chain locker was open and the anchor chain was ‘oozing’ out onto the v-berth bunk, wet and salty…darn! David and I managed to get the chain back in place (ok, it was David that did the hard work) and rig a temporary dam. Mark has since put a latch and hook on the door (it only had a small catch) and inside the locker a board was installed to prevent the chain from hitting the door….whew!