Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sail Pass

Sunday brought a new opening event for Regatta Week - the Sail Pass. All the boats in the harbor, well over 300 at this point, were asked to "dress ship" with all the flags available. The anchorages brightened considerably as thousands of flags were unfurled in the 15 kt breeze. Boats were invited to submit a short script about their boat and crew and then pass the committee boat in front of Volleyball Beach. We watched for several hours as boats paraded past while "Union Jack" provided commentary on the VHF radio. Quite a colorful way to start the week.

A radio announcement for an impromptu Island Packet owner's gathering on Sand Dollar beach led to meeting crews from seven other IP's anchored here. Sea Otter, Island Star, Intuition, Seldom Seen, and Its About Time were the names I can remember. We did get a group picture on the beach.

Speaking of boats, there are five boats anchored here in a row from NW Creek in New Bern. What are the chances of that? Jocks Lodge is followed by Scandia, Born to Cruise, Intuition and Miah. Running across the harbor we found Round About, also from NW Creek, making six boats.
Chris Parker, our sailing weather Guru, flew down from Florida to give a seminar on Monday and I, along with 250 of my closest friends, attended at the community center in Georgetown. Quite a turnout! Some good info on basic marine weather and a little bit of insight into GRIB files and how to use them.

While I was being educated, Beth and Noah finished school and then attended a model boat building seminar to prepare for the kids day boat sailing contest. We met up again on Intuition and then headed for the Atlantic side beach where twenty or so kids were playing in the surf. The waves were perfect for trying to body surf and everyone ended up covered with sand.

Home for dinner before sunset and then an evening of playing Quiddler with Jill and Wayne from Born to Cruise rounded out a very nice day. Noah watched the last of the "Back to the Future" movies and continues to draw time machines.

Beth is still trying to kick a little winter cold, but it isn't slowing her down too much. We are trying to figure out"when" and "where to" from here. We do plan to try the new Marina at Emerald Bay on our way out, as it is time to do laundry and fill up our tanks. Friends from Milano Myst described it as a "vacation from your cruise" as it is part of the Four Seasons Resort, but a true bargain at 75 cents a foot.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Back in Georgetown

The anchor was up by 0730 and we were motoring, with some regret, toward Indian Head, leaving Thompson Bay behind. We really enjoyed Long Island and would like to go back some day. Rounding the point we raised the main and jib and brought out the camera. Three other boats were also leaving under sail, so we captured some good shots to share.

Northeast wind filled the sails nicely for our Westward trip. For the first time we were going with the trade winds. At 1026 we slowed to reel in a maceral on the hand line. He was a good size for eating, but we lost him overboard when transferring him into a pot that was too small. Unfortunately, this was after we had fed him some rum to knock him out. Some shark will be enjoying him for dinner rather than us. Although we put the hand line back in the water, we didn't get any other bites before
reeling it back in at Pigeon Cay where the protected - no fishing zone starts around Georgetown.

Beth made sandwiches for lunch. Shortly thereafter we furled the genoa and headed in through Hog Cay cut at slack tide with a following sea. Much more comfortable than when we left through this same cut a week ago. We reported the good news about conditions to the crew of Born to Cruise who was following about 45 minutes behind us. They had picked up a Canadian Couple that needed a ride to Georgetown to see mutual friends on Jocks Lodge, another boat from NW Creek in New Bern.

As we passed between the reefs into Elizabeth Harbour, the view was a forest of masts. I don't know how many boats have arrived in the last week, but it took us quite a while to find a spot to anchor. Thinking we had plenty of clearance, we checked with the boats around us to see what kind of scope they had out (that is the length of chain deployed compared to the water depth) and to ask them if they were comfortable with the spacing as a courtesy. The neighbors thought it was fine. It must have
been, because four more boats anchored around us before sunset.

The radio waves were alive again as the constant chatter between boats in all the anchorages reminded us where we were. Three boaters reported that their inflatable dinghies had been vandalized while at Volleyball Beach late this afternoon. All had been punctured; one had ten holes puncturing the tubes around the seams. This is the first case of vandalisim we've heard of in the Exumas. With the 15-20 kt winds and lots of chop in the harbor we had decided not to go to the beach this afternoon and are now glad of that decision. Everyone is now tuned into the problem and we hope for no repeats.

Lots of fun events coming up this week with the start of the Georgetown Cruiser's Regatta. We plan to stay through Friday for Children's Day and then see what the weather is like for passages north.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Exploring Long Island

Stanley was waiting, as promised, with the rental car as we emerged from the cruiser's trail at high noon. The Honda Civic had a broken trunk latch, courtesy of the last renters, but was otherwise in reasonable condition. Knowing it would take a couple of weeks to get a new latch, the lid now has a piece of heavy wire with which to secure it. After dropping Stan off at his house, we headed south on the Queens Highway for our first day of land touring.

The island lives up to its name being 76 miles long. Our first stop was at the oldest Anglican church on LI. It no longer had a roof, but the beams were there creating interesting shadows on the floors and walls.

Next we were off on a quest to find beaches with Sea Beans. These are seeds that have floated over from Africa or Spain. Hamburger and Heart beans are the most prized. The roads off the Queens Highway are unpaved and proved to be challenging in our slightly aged Civic. We now know why it needs new shocks.

Cresting a hill, a beautiful bay protected by reefs came into view with an intriguing Island. The island appeared to have an abandoned stone house and a large pyramid shaped stone structure. If it had been slack tide we might have been able to swim out to the island, but since it wasn't and the reefs prevented much from washing up on the beach, we moved on. The second beach we found was called Turtle Cove. Here we found all kinds of trash that had washed up from the Atlantic along with lots of Sea Beans. Noah turned out to be a good collector after a little help from Wayne and Jill who planted a couple of beans to get him started. There was beach almost as far as we could see, and there was no one else there.

After pulling ourselves away from Turtle Cove we drove all the way to the end of Queens Highway to Gordons, at the south end of the island. Driving across a small causeway between two salt ponds we noticed a sailboat up on the beach in the distance. Walking towards the southern tip of the island we met some interesting creatures, one a long armed sea star and another the first big land crab we've seen. Found several sea biscuits and starfish in the shallow waters. Lots of clothing was washed up along the shoreline. Coming to the last bay there was a beat up looking boat that had washed ashore with more clothing aboard. Probably refugees from Haiti that washed ashore here. These folks are determined and brave when they set out in these small boats filled with people and their few possessions.

As dusk approached we were in Clarence Town where we stopped to see the Flying Fish marina. Good views of the Atlantic and some off lying Cays. While checking out the menu at the open air restaurant we were accosted by mosquitos, the first that had found us since getting to the Bahamas. We went back into town and found the Harbour View Restaurant where they had screens on the windows and good food at reasonable prices. Fish, conch, and mutton were all good. Had Guava Duff for dessert, a local favorite that is bread with a warm guava sauce.

On the way back north we sighted something that looked out of place in the road ahead. Slowing down, we passed an elderly man on Donkey. The island has many churches, especially in relationship to the population. Mostly Anglican, with a few Catholic and Baptist churches as well. The homes are nicer than those on other islands we've visited and the people are all very welcoming. Back at Thompson's Bay we opened the old gate and drove the car down to our "private" dinghy marina for the night.

Meeting again at 0730 we headed North to Cape Santa Maria. At the end of the Highway we headed out on to a dirt road. It was a challenge for the Honda to make it up the hills where the road had washed down leaving lots of rocks. It took us about twenty minutes to make the three miles to the cape. Wayne did a great job keeping us from getting stuck along the way. The view made it well worth the bouncy road. We climbed up the hill to the edge of white cliffs overlooking the reefs where Christopher Colombus ran the Santa Maria aground, his third stop in the new world. A monument was dedicated to the Lucayans that lived here before Colombus and to the voyager.

Heading back to return the car by noon we stopped in Stella Maris where there are beautiful vacation homes perched on cliffs with great views of the Atlantic. Not many beaches, but wonderful vistas. Also found the Coral Gardens which are reefs just off the shore. One has to get into the water from the coral rock ledges so I would want a calmer day to venture in.

Returning the car to Stanley's house, Stanley gave us a stalk of bananas from his orchard. He's 72 and still working hard. Dropped us back at the Cruiser's Path and we spent most of the afternoon getting the boat ready to head back to Georgetown on Saturday. We enjoyed our visit to Long Island and only touched the surface of the things to do here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cold Front

Greetings from Long Island.

We are still in Thompson's Bay near Salt Pond. Sunday we didn't leave the boat as we clocked winds at 38 kts making the bay a little too bouncy to be out in the dinghy. We all curled up with good books. Noah finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The cold front brought the temperature down to 64 overnight, the coldest we've seen since arriving in the Bahamas.

By yesterday morning, the wind had calmed to below 20. Checked in on the Cruiseheimers radio net this morning and heard, "Side by Side," another boat checking in from here say they had a ten year old celebrating a birthday today. I mentioned we had an 8 year old aboard and they called us on the VHF after the net and invited Noah to the birthday party. They were worried that there wouldn't be many kids to help celebrate, but there turned out to be eleven kids at the party out of the 24 cruising boats anchored here.

Turns out that the crew of Side by Side is from Saratoga Springs, NY. Marc and Angie Johnson with their kids Sabrina and Parker are out cruising on their Manta 42 catamaran. Noah was impressed that Marc was the dentist in a music video by one of his favorite groups, The Zucchinni Brothers. The party was very nice with cake and even ice cream. The kids all went ashore in the afternoon to work on a fort and tree house at the beach.

After dinner, Jill &and Wayne came over to Intuition to play Sequence. Noah was invited to movie night on Side by Side. No one had any trouble falling asleep.

Every morning at 0700, the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) has a radio net where they gather weather reports from boats scattered throughout the islands. Yesterday's report from here was from a boat that was on their way out, so I contacted the coordinator via email and received the instructions for reporting. This morning I reported the weather from here.

We hope to explore beyond the beach here today. There are no cold fronts in the forecast, so we shouldn't get chased out by the weather right away.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

TOC Xing

Good Morning from Thompson Bay Long Island

We played around with web sites on Friday experimenting with what might work better with slow connections. Both and work allow posting via email. Sailblogs is geared more towards boating logs and has a very clean interface. The only drawback is a $50 annual fee to allow email posting. The basic package is free. Blogger appears to be owned by Google and also allows posting by email. It is free, but doesn't seem to support posting images via email. We only touched the surface of the program. bit were able to post a blog entry using the ham radio. The site is at:

Although it wasn't calm enough to go swimming in the afternoon, we did let the wind blow the dinghy to shore to go for a hike across Stocking Island. Wayne and Jill joined us from Born to Cruise. A well cleared trail led through palmettos over the ridge to the sound side. Noah played in the surf and we found some small, but nice shells. Jill told us about searching for sea beans. These are plant seeds that have floated across the Atlantic from Africa. When polished, they make attractive jewelry.

Saturday morning dawned with a forecast for lessening winds and a small window opened for exploring further. Born to Cruise suggested Thompson Bay on Long Island as a good shelter for the predicted 25-30 kt winds coming on Monday. With 329 boats reported in the morning's Georgetown boat count, we were ready to head for less crowded anchorages. We prepped the boat and commenced pulling the anchor. Apparently we had been in our spot too long since it took us twenty minutes to break the anchor out of the bottom.

Underway by 1000 we headed down the harbor skirting the reefs marked with floating pvc pipes topped with traffic cones. The boat moved nicely through the water hitting over seven and a half knots. Glad we cleaned the bottom last week. Motoring with the staysail out Fowl Cay cut, the seas were 4-5 feet and fairly closely spaced bouncing us around a bit. The wind cooperated and we deployed the Genoa and headed southeast. Noah got in some good feet dunkin' on the leeward rail.
At 1239 we crossed the magical line depicting the Tropic of Cancer -- we are in the Tropics! The water shallowed to 15 feet, the winds calmed and the seas subsided to only about one foot. We could see big red starfish on the bottom through the crystal clear water. Had a good photo session underway with both crews taking pictures of each other taking pictures. At 1515 "The Pink House" on shore called the approaching boats on the VHF and welcomed us to Long Island offering assurance that there was plenty of room left to anchor in Thompson's Bay.

Rounding Indian Head, we entered Thompson's Bay. The rocks around the head look like they may contain some interesting caves. Surprisingly, the water became cloudy and even in seven feet of water we lost sight of the bottom. At 1608 we had 90 feet of chain in the water and were swinging in the calm waters just off Salt Pond, Long Island. We dropped the dinghy and went over to check the anchor through the viewing window with no luck. We couldn't even see Born to Cruise's anchor and they were in only five feet. The charts report clay on the bottom, so that may be a contributor to the poor water clarity. It felt good to be in a big harbor with only 24 other boats.

After dinner we motored over to Born to Cruise and enjoyed the spaciousness of their 40' catamaran salon to play a couple rounds of Quiddler. Noah teamed up with me for the first round and came up with some good words. For the second round Noah went off to read Harry Potter and I didn't do as well. Beth was the winner of both rounds. The bay was calm as we motored back to Intuition at 9:20 pm, well after "Cruiser's Midnight".

The winds picked up as predicted after the real midnight and are blowing about twenty this morning. The bay offers good protection from these NW winds. They are supposed to pick up to 25-30 and shift closer to North this afternoon. The bay should offer even better protection from that direction, so we should be fine. We're looking forward to exploring the Island over the next few days. The Atlantic side beaches are supposed to be uncrowded with good spots for snorkeling and shelling.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Born To Cruise

Greetings from Sand Dollar Beach.

We're still here in Elizabeth Harbor enjoying all the activities Georgetown has to offer. The boat  count is up to 247. Since we're here for a while, we've pulled out the inflatable kayak and have started using that to explore shallow areas and get a little exercise. Noah enjoys this, especially because other "kid boats" have them and the boys can race. They have also dug a little "kayak lagoon" around the edge of a sand spit where they can just get the  
kayaks pulled in. Of course they have to do this over and over since the tide, which is about three feet here, erases there work twice a day.

This weeks Ham Radio Lunch was interesting as they talked about the various uses for airmail (the radio email program we use) beyond just email. There are ways to get weather information, find the positions of other ham radio operators, create virtual buoy weather stations and even update web logs.  The last was of special interest since we've had difficulty keeping our site updated. It works with and we will be testing it to see if it is a viable option.  (Note: We later found: to be the site we use). There were about fifty people at the lunch, which moved inside the Peace and Plenty Beach Club due to a sudden squall. It was more exciting than we would have liked as two crews were called away because they were dragging, but no damage was done.

We've made the complete circle around Lake Victoria and now seen all the shops. There is a second grocery store, called the Shop Rite, on the opposite side of the lake from Exuma Markets. Similar in size and the prices seem to be a bit lower.

Valentine's day was low key on our boat. Noah and I made some cards for Beth and we had a relaxing time playing games. There was a cruiser's dance at the Chat 'N Chill with "Rockin' Ron" as DJ from one of the visiting boats, but we elected to relax instead.

The only boat project we've accomplished in the last few days was to shorten the tiller extension on the outboard. An extension allows you to get the crew's weight forward and makes it easier to get the dinghy up on plane. The extension West Marine sells is too long for most dinghies so needs to be cut down.

Noah finished his testing after week 100 of school and we celebrated with an ice cream cone in town. We needed gasoline as the dinghy and generator have been used more thean the diesel engine. Gas is $4.29 per gallon at the local filling station. On the way home Wayne & Jill from Born to Cruise (BTC) flagged us down and asked where we were anchored. Beth & Noah jumped ship and rode across the harbor on BTC.  They are from Raleigh and were our marina neighbors at NW Creek.  They showed us a new card game and loaned Noah a copy of a Harry Potter movie.  He has been devouring the stories and is now reading  
the fourth book since we found it at the library. That is Wayne & Noah in today’s photo.

Beth made Brownies yesterday afternoon to take to "Death by Chocolate" on the beach. I guess it was a way to share valentine's goodies. There were way too many yummy treats so we had to leave before sunset to keep from eating them all. Made scrambled eggs for  
dinner for a change of pace, then stayed up and watched the Harry Potter movie since we were all wide awake!

There will be a couple of cold fronts coming through over the next few days, so we will probably stay here through at least Monday. We would like to get out and go over to Long Island or Conception Island for a couple of days and then come back for Regatta.

Our Local Computer Shop

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dinghy Drift

Dinghy Drift
We're still in Georgetown and plan to relax here for a while.

Friday Beth took off on a "Bush Medicine" tour. They explored the lower half of the island by bus and learned how traditional medicines were made from local plants.  Friday evening we headed to shore for a meeting of the Sand Dollar Yacht Club. This involved dinghies on the beach with everyone bringing snacks and drinks. Noah was the only kid out of 25 boats and he entertained himself by wading out and helping folks land and anchor their dinghies in the sand. It was a beautiful sunset as we headed back to the boats.

Saturday we headed across to Georgetown for a local arts & crafts show at the Peace & Plenty. Walking through town we found that the library was open. It is run by cruisers and had just been re-roofed on Friday. For $3 a year you join and can borrow from the permanent collection and also trade books. They have lots of children's books and one of the best collections of boating books we've ever seen in such a small library. Noah got the Harry Potter book he had been listening to so he could finish it without needing batteries.

The Police Children's Band was supposed to be at the Peace & Plenty art show at 1100. There were some nice local crafts and paintings, but the band never showed. The kids from Milano Myst were there and found the TV lounge at the hotel where the kids waited in the cool getting their Discovery Kids Channel fix. The Peace & Plenty looks like a nice small hotel with a beautiful view of the harbor and a location in the middle of town.

Stopped to get another wi-fi access card, but the shop wasn't open. They won't be open Sunday either. Maybe we can get a connection sometime next week.

It was 1330 by the time we got back to the boat and made lunch. Dropped Beth and Noah over at St Francis so they could walk over the Island to the sound side beach. I went back to the boat to try a radio contact with Earl & Jim back in NC. Had a 30 second contact and then were stepped on by some radio contest.  Headed back to the beach to join B&N as it was 92 F and I was ready to get wet. Noah was digging a hole in the sand, so I snorkeled out off the beach finding a dead reef with a few fish. Swimming further out there was a shallower living reef, but breaking waves made me worried about being driven into the reef.

Sunday dawned with calm waters and the prospect of beach church. It was a nice service with about fifty people attending outside the Chat 'N Chill on Volleyball Beach. Even had a small choir with guitar accompaniment. Coffee and snacks afterwards provided an opportunity to meet other boaters.

Without wind, we needed to run the generator in the afternoon. This was the first time we had run a full tank (1 gallon) of gas in the Honda 2000i. It ran for 3:20 and provided 193 amp hours to the house bank.

After charging the batteries I headed into the water with the Hooka to see about cleaning the bottom of the boat and replacing a missing screw on the weed shoe. The Hooka is an electric air compressor that provides air to thirty feet of hose and a regulator so you can stay underwater. Ours is by Sea Breathe. This being the first time, it took a little time to get comfortable using it. It has capacity for two divers and vents unused air underwater by a valve on the diver's waist belt. The bubbles are in the way when cleaning the boat as they blocked my view much of the time. It did allow me to spend almost two hours under the boat and we now have three bolts in the weed strap and a smooth, clean boat bottom.

On the morning VHF net they announced a "dinghy drift" would form at 1700. Dinghies gathered off Volleyball Beach and tied together in a big raft. Everyone brought their own drinks and food to pass. Are you seeing a food theme amongst cruisers?  The official dinghy count was 71, with many boats displaying flags of their home ports or yacht clubs on upended oars. Even Michigan State University was represented. We drifted across Elizabeth Harbor en masse enjoying good company, lots of food and a beautiful sunset. Once again, Noah was the only kid in the group, but the adults steered oreos and popcorn in his direction and he was a good sport.

Bush Medicine Tour Leader

Medicinal Plant

Lee Stocking Island "Yacht Club"

Intuition at Anchor

Peace N Plenty Art Show

Public Library

Water Entrance to Georgetown

The Ocean Side of Lee Stocking Island

Thursday, February 8, 2007


We're still hanging on the hook here at Stocking Island. The first part of the week was windy and we even received an inch or so of rain overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning. We did elect to stay on the boat Wednesday as it was a little too breezy to be out and about in the dinghy.

We have made several trips into town to stock up on food and water. Exuma markets has a nice floating dinghy dock (pictured here) in Lake Victoria with free R/O water right at the dock. We've patronized them and now have a fully stocked galley again.  

We have attended one "formal" meeting which was a radio lunch. Around one hundred people showed up for burgers and info. Two cruisers did informal presentations, one on local radio etiquette and the other on the use of DSC.  Well done and informative. Ham tests will be offered here on 23 Feb, so Beth may study up and get her license now that the morse code requirement has been dropped.

Thursday we had wi-fi all day as we picked up a card in town. You can buy prepaid wireless access cards for $5/day or $15/week at several places. They all use the same network. We've been able to pick up a signal from across the harbor using our external antenna. It is good enough to skype and we've been able to talk with family back home.

The wi-fi was still not good enough to completely update our web site. After getting feedback in the Apple forums, it seems the iWeb software and servers we are using really needs dedicated lines in order to fully update. It worked fine from home, but with the slower connections here in the islands it may remain iffy with broken links where pages don't get fully uploaded. We may have to go back to the older apple software or try something that works with radio email. We may just leave it alone for a while and enjoy the Bahamas!

Noah's been doing well in school and is generally done by ten or eleven. Started multiplication this week and that is holding his interest. Also studying the sun and moon in science. He has been reading the astronomy and ocean books that Tom & Mel Allen gave him last summer. Also a book on comets that he picked up in a library book sale.

Kids gather at Volleyball beach most afternoons to play in the sand. There just aren't many of them around. After hearing "you will find kids in Georgetown" all up and down the east coast, it is disappointing. Folks here say there just aren't as many boats as usual this year.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Good morning from Sand Dollar Beach, Stocking Island, Exumas.

Yesterday school was done in under two hours, so we had time to visit Georgetown before lunch. It is about 1.5 nm over across Elizabeth Harbour. There is a huge Batelco tower that makes an easy landmark when looking for the town. The shopping area circles Lake Victoria which has a tiny link to the harbour under a small bridge. Once inside the lake, there is a long floating dinghy dock at Exuma Market where there were already 35 dinghies tied up. There is free R/O water available at the dock and trash disposal beside the grocery. The market had the biggest selection we've found in the since leaving Nassau. Ran into Susan Goldsworthy from Hillsboro, NC while shopping. She and Tom are doing well aboard "Gypsy Soul" and will be here for several more weeks.

One hundred percent humidity and a temp of 92 made wandering about town wear thin quickly. We are still looking for the elusive 3 amp mini fuse and neither the marine or hardware stores carried fuses. Faced with a 1.5 mile walk to the auto parts store we elected to take our groceries and return on a cooler day. Beth did find a good looking head of cabbage in the straw market as we were leaving.

The breeze on the water felt great as we zoomed back across the harbour. After depositing the groceries we set off for the southern tip of stocking island to explore some coral reefs. We just let the dinghy drift and watched the underwater scene go by through the glass viewing window. This is referred to locally as "Bahamian TV."

Noah did get into the coconut that his friend from Black Point gave him. It took the electric drill to get into the husk. After anticipating sweet coconut milk for four days, the sour liquid that came out was a real disappointment.

The local vhf radio has been interesting. When anchored off Black Point, the local power company came on channel 16 and warned folks that the disconnect team was going to be on the island today, so "you better check and make sure your bills are paid."  Here in Georgetown there is a very active morning radio net with commercial announcements, items for trade, and local activities.

After lunch we visited Volleyball Beach, a hub of activity on Stocking Island. The Chat n' Chill allows cruisers to use the large beach in return for purchasing beverages from them. Adults were playing Volleyball, Bocci, Dominoes and weaving baskets. Kids were swinging from ropes and building sand castles. Noah's friend David showed up so they went lizard hunting and played on the rope swings.

We drove the dinghy around the three natural hurricane holes near Volleyball Beach. Boats are stacked in the outer holes like sardines. The inner holes now have mooring balls. I walked around the beach and could almost touch the stern of a couple of anchored boats, they were so close to the land. It might be protected from the wind, but is way too crowded for me to be comfortable. Today’s photo is of the anchorage cove behind the Chat N' Chill.

Around dinner time the winds picked up as predicted and we had steady 25 with gusts to 32 overnight. The spacing of the boats is good and there was no reversing current to worry about so it was actually a fairly comfortable night. Too much wind for the KISS, so we shut that down before going to bed. Winds will continue to be in the twenties today before decreasing tonight, so we will probably just hang out on the boat.

Popular Posts