Bonus Photos

We’re anchored outside of Current Cut, Eleuthera awaiting a tide change so we don’t have to fight the current. Amazingly enough, in this remote area there is a blazingly fast un-secured wifi connection!  Enjoy the pics!

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Ankers Away, where we watched the AFC Championship

Nermal is starting to hang out on the very edge of the bimini.

Nermal is starting to hang out on the very edge of the bimini.

We think he'll probably be going swimming soon.

We think he’ll probably be going swimming soon.

It was so calm and clear at Tahiti Beach that you can see our anchor behind the boat.

It was so calm and clear at Lubber’s Quarters that you can see our anchor behind the boat.

Tahiti Beach was a great place to take a walk on our anniversary.

Tahiti Beach was a great place to take a walk on our anniversary.

Several other boats were also enjoying the crystal clear water.

Several other boats were also enjoying the crystal clear water.

Here's where we lashed to whisker pole when it fell down. It's 13'6" long, and wasn't easy to wrestle.

Here’s where we lashed the whisker pole when it fell down. It’s 13’6″ long, and wasn’t easy to wrestle.

 

I quickly tied it to the stanchions.

I quickly tied it to the stanchions…

So we could reel in these two mahi, a third one this size broke loose. Also pictured is our new gaff that works great.

…so we could reel in these two mahi! A third one this size broke loose. (Also shown is our gaff which we really like.)

 

Expensive parts that we found on deck. (Amazingly)

Expensive parts that we found on deck. (Amazingly)

 

The pin on the Harken car worked itself loose when the lower shackle opened.

The pin on the Harken car worked itself loose when the lower shackle opened.

 

The car is reassembled with the toggle, ready for the whisker pole. Note how I seized the shackles closed with a single pass of stainless steel wire. I wanted to make sure this didn't happen again.

The car is reassembled with the toggle, ready for the whisker pole. Note how I seized the shackles closed with a single pass of stainless steel wire. I wanted to make sure this didn’t happen again.

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Photo Friday!

Tuesday began our first of two exhausting days exploring Manjack Cay. We snorkeled a few spots, found a conch and generally hung out with Jay and Tanya. Dinner was aboard Joint Venture and we had goose burritos, courtesy of the farm fields of Cecil County, Maryland.

Wednesday we dinghied  through the cut between Manjack and Crab Cay and circumnavigated Manjack Cay around to the north. We stopped at a small reef where I was able to find a lobster. After returning to the boat, I cleaned the conch from Tuesday, steamed the lobster tail, and made a conch/lobster salad for happy hour. We had fresh onions, green peppers, oranges, apples, and limes, so the resulting conch salad was delicious. (We learned the secret of adding the apple from Max’s Conch Bar on Long Island, it gives a different dimension to the traditional conch salad.)

After our long morning of snorkeling, it was with some objection from all that we then headed to shore to walk the island. But it was generally agreed after the walk that the nice paths were worth it (at least that’s what everyone said….) We hiked around the island to the large beach on the north east side. From there we walked back across to Nunjack Bay, Coconut Tree Beach, and the overlook at the bluff. Returning to the boats after squeezing everything in we headed to Minx for grilled steaks. It was a long couple days, but we got a chance to experience all of Manjack before we left.

Thursday we fished on our way from Manjack to Hope Town. We fished the wall outside the bank in the ocean, yet we still only caught a barracuda. Thursday night we stayed in Hope Town while a front blew through. Jay’s parents, Ray and Eileen, on Ankers Away were very kind to have us over for a wonderful dinner on their trawler. We very much enjoyed hearing about the local happenings in Hope Town harbor and how things have changed in the Bahamas over the years.

Today is cloudy and breezy as the front passes, but hopefully the nice weather will return soon. We plan on heading to Eleuthera on the next weather window, which hopefully will be Tuesday. Shortly we plan on heading into Hope Town to see the village.

As promised, we now have wifi access, so here’s some photos of what we’ve been up to over the last week.

 

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We Leave on Friday

Since we learned that we would be delayed getting to the Bahamas we’ve been planning on spending a night or two at the Ft. Pierce City Marina to drop off my dad and visit my aunt and uncle who live in the area. On Wednesday we called to make a reservation and learned that they were dredging the channel and only allowing boats with less than 5′ draft into the marina. That change of plans seemed typical for this trip, so we called around and ended up going to Harbortown Marina just north of the Ft. Pierce inlet. On Wednesday afternoon we pulled into Harbortown, my uncle Bill met us at the boat, and the work began….

On Tuesday as we raised anchor I joked with Sabrina that this was the first time I’d pulled the anchor in shorts since before Labor Day (it was cold up north!)  As we arrived at Harborside on Wednesday I realized that this was the first time since August that I had access to a hose while it was warm enough to wash the boat in bare feet! While Sabrina set off to do our mountain of laundry (cold weather generates a lot of clothes) I washed the boat, and prepared us for warm weather.

Thursday morning I woke up early, unable to sleep, and starting checking weather. As I browsed various sites and sources I started to notice an opening that might allow us to get to the Bahamas. There is a calming trend during daylight hours over the next couple days in our area. The ESE winds abate to around 10 knots, just enough to let us make headway in that direction. When Sabrina awoke we reviewed the information, and decided to make a run for it.

Our plans shifted in an instant. We decided to stay another night at Harborside to finish up our chores and get groceries before our crossing. We changed the oil, stowed our winter gear, defrosted the freezer, and cleaned the interior of the boat. Now that the diesel heater is turned off we can stow items along the heater ducts without risk of fire, so the boat cleaned up nicely.

The Gulf Stream has been calm during these ESE winds. The winds from the south don’t generate large waves because they’re not pushing against the current like winds with a northerly component would do. Seeing northerly winds forecast to move in this time next week further convinced us that we should give this a shot. And if the forecast proves correct we should be able to sail portions of the trip while motor-sailing when we’re too tight on the wind.

We plan on leaving tonight at dark out of the Ft. Pierce inlet. We’ll sail south on the west side of Gulf Stream until we arrive at West Palm. From there we’ll turn east and allow the Gulf Stream to push us north to the Bahamian Bank. If all goes as planned we’ll have the hook down in Bahamian waters by sunset on Saturday.

When cruising, normally the only time I try to avoid leaving on Friday for superstitious purposes is when we leave our home port of Chesapeake City. But as we depart Ft. Pierce tonight, I’m hoping that leaving on a Friday will change our luck!

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Hit the Brakes

Lately we haven’t caught many breaks. Our trip south was maligned by running aground, a winter storm, a tree blocking our path, strong winds, light winds, and our latest misadventure – canal lock maintenance.

Since I last posted on New Year’s Eve from Great Bridge, VA we’ve made some miles, to say the least. We headed through the Virginia Cut (where we weren’t attacked by any trees) and anchored along the ICW the next two nights. On January 1st our dinner was pork with sauerkraut and dumpling casserole, a Fox family tradition, and hopefully what we needed to change our luck. Both days we were up before dawn and tried to have the hook down just as sunset arrived. It was cold, cloudy and raining off and on, in a nutshell miserable boating weather. Yet we hurried on because I was worried about the offshore forecast south of NC. Nope, not strong winds… no wind.

We fueled up quickly in Morehead City in the early afternoon on Thursday, January 3rd and immediately headed out to catch the tail end of the good wind. We ended up having enough wind to motor sail to Cape Fear. We passed Cape Fear at 3:00 a.m. and made the turn to Fernandina. At that point we were able to alter course to the west and we finally had both sails pulling on a broad reach. We turned off the motor and had a few hours of sailing. At dawn there was a welcome sight, the sun came out for the first time in days. I put on my sunglasses, and a little later we shut off the engine. The clearing skies signaled the end of the wind.

[Captain’s Note: Only catching the tail end of the wind was very disappointing. If we only would have made it out of Morehead City 48 hours earlier we would have been able to sail straight to the Abacos and I’d be posting this update from Green Turtle Cay! Hindsight is 20/20, but that fact is aggravating. As it was we wouldn’t have enough diesel to motor through the light winds, and the Gulf Stream would have been carrying us north while we had no way to fight it, so Florida was our destination.]

We stayed on the rhumb line to Fernandina while I continued to check weather. Finally it became evident that we wouldn’t be crossing to the Bahamas anytime soon, so we anchored at Cumberland Island and got a good night’s sleep on Saturday night. Sunday we fueled up in Fernandina and left at noon for Cape Canaveral. The north wind was supposed to fill in overnight and we wanted to use it as much as possible. We sailed off and on through the night, and on Sunday at dawn we shut off the motor and sailed the rest of the way to Canaveral, making good time.

Our timing was perfect to clear the two bridges on the Canaveral Barge Canal before they closed for afternoon rush hour, and the Canal Lock between them opens on demand.  Offshore we heard a boat ask a question to the Coast Guard about the lock being closed until 6:00 p.m.? The Coast Guard said that there was no closure…. As we arrived at the first bridge at 1:30 I called for an opening, at which point I was informed that the Canal was indeed closed until 6:00 for maintenance. Argh.

We made lemonade out of these lemons. Sabrina found a marina outside the bridges and lock that would allow us to tie up for a few hours and use their showers. All three of us took long, hot showers, and rested while we waited for the lock to open. We then had to run the Canaveral Barge Canal in the dark (not fun) but we arrived at our intended anchorage by 7:30 that night.

It’s calm here and we all enjoyed a wonderful night’s sleep. I checked the weather again this morning and saw the same sad sight – ESE to SE winds for at least the next week. Since the Bahamas lie SE of us, this would mean a long bash to windward.

There are worse places to wait for weather than Central Florida, and it’s sunny and 80 degrees today. Sabrina just served up plates of pancakes, and we’re going to take it slow for the next few days while we watch the weather.

On the way down we didn’t get many breaks, but now it’s time to hit the brakes and enjoy the sunshine.

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