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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Land & Sea Park






The wind continues to blow around 25 knots and we continue to stay on "our" mooring at Exuma Land and Sea Park.

We were going a little stir crazy on Sunday, so went snorkeling around Emerald Rock. Only had a few waves surprise me by flooding the snorkel. Got a couple of good pictures of Nassau Groupers living without fear in the park. Beth elected to stay in the dinghy and watch through the floor. She ended up getting wetter and colder than I did because of the splash from the wind and waves.

Did end up taking the crew of Sun21 to shore today. They are a very interesting trio of guys working to spread the message of solar energy. The boat has two electric motors either of which would easily fit into our engine compartment. They fired them up so we could hear them and they were virtually silent. Just need to find room for the 1.5 tons of batteries and lots more solar panels. They are documenting the voyage and shared some of the photos and video. It was fun to chat with another Mac computer user using Final Cut Pro and iPhoto. His narration reminds me of old Jacques Cousteau films. They also have a musical bent and carry violins aboard. I can picture these three Swiss gentlemen sitting on the deck on a calm day in the mid-atlantic sipping wine and playing a violin trio.

While I was visiting with the crew of Sun21, Beth and Noah had visitors as well. Intuition was surrounded by small minnows which brought lots of larger fish in a feeding frenzy. Fish were bumping up against the side of the boat while Beth went for the video camera. This is the most fish we've seen in any spot. Seems like the protection of the park is doing some good.

Monday we decided it was time to give a little back to the park, so we signed up as volunteers. Andrew assigned us to update the park map by walking the trails and recording the time between landmarks. That and pick-up trash on our way back.

We left park HQ at 0930 and walked along the eastern side of Warderick Wells Island. Now the wind was blowing 25 kts and the waves from Exuma Sound were pounding up against the cliffs creating lots of spray. This made for a wild, wet and windy walk. Noah counted 13 lizards of three varieties as we walked along. The views were awesome and we were the only people along the trail on the way south. Beth spotted some White Tailed Tropic Birds while taking a detour, but they were gone by the time Noah and I caught up.

Trails are marked by small piles of rocks called cairns, so they blend in with the natural limestone of the area. Noah was good at picking out the next cairn and showing us the way. We ran across one beautiful spot where a natural rock bridge had surf surging underneath and breaking over the top. Of course we didn't bring the camera as we had expected to be sanding a boat or mending mooring lines.

After timing the trails on the way down, we broke out the big leaf bag and started picking up plastic washed up on the beaches between the cliffs. I never thought plastic could be so heavy! It was 1430 by the time we returned to park HQ. The trash bag was left about half a mile back near a beach where we could retrieve it by dinghy.

The ride back to the boat was into the wind and all three of us were drenched. After showering off with fresh water Beth made bread and Molasses Gingersnap Cookies to warm us up -- yum.

Met a couple from Albany, NY moored on a boat behind us and gave them photos of their boat with a rainbow in the background. It is an old Chris Craft 37 in beautiful condition. It was news to me that Chris Craft had ever made sailboats.

None of us had any trouble getting to sleep. Noah didn't even complain when we said it was time for lights out at 2100.

Today we were up at 0630 to catch Chris Parker's weather forecast and it sounds like Thursday might be a possibility for crossing to Eluthera with winds down to 17 kts and the seas settling down to under 8 feet. Will listen again in the morning and see if we want to move to a marina and get water and do laundry in preparation for moving on.

After breakfast we headed back to HQ to continue where we left off yesterday. We were a little better prepared today and brought the handheld GPS and the little camera. Walked five trails on the lee side of the island and had a much more relaxing day. Noah found more lizards, a couple of hermit crabs and a brown snake. He enjoyed visiting the "Pirates Lair" where pirate ships once waited to ambush sailors. I did one trail alone and surprised a pair of Hutia (rodents similar in size to muskrats) that promptly scurried into a hole in the limestone. By 1500 we reported back to Andrew with the new trail times. After two visits to the park, we have now walked all eighteen trails and even timed a trail that wasn't on the map.

Relaxing in the cockpit before dinner we noticed a trio of small sails coming toward us. Kayaks materialized with small lanteen sails pushing them up in the lee of the island. We'd heard that there were some kayakers traveling from Georgetown up through the Exumas chain. Made us feel like weather wimps as these tiny craft glided past and disappeared to our North.








Sunday, March 25, 2007

Solar Powered Sun21


The wind is still blowing in the mid-twenties out of the NE so we remain at a mooring in Warderick Wells. If we hadn't been "stuck" here, we might not have met the interesting crew of Sun 21. From Basel, Switzerland this boat has crossed the Atlantic using nothing but solar power and electric engines. They pulled up to the mooring next to us and we offered them a ride ashore. Dr. Vosseler showed Noah and I around the 21 ft catamaran topped by a flat roof covered with solar panels. They have a website at www.transatlantic21.ch if you want more information about their adventure.
The ranger came out with a bigger boat to ferry the crew ashore, so they didn't need our help after all. We met them again at park HQ where they took some photos of Noah feeding the Bananaquits.

Noah picked a couple of DVD's from the park office and enjoyed "Undercover Kitty" and "National Treasure" while we had plenty of electricity from the wind generator. I guess we let Noah watch too much TV yesterday because he is having a hard time concentrating on school this morning. Forty-two lessons remain in the Calvert Curriculum.

There was a potluck and bonfire on the beach at the North mooring field at 1730. We made curry and raisen baked beans to share. We elected not to attend at the last minute since the wind was over 25 and we didn't want to get soaked going the 0.8 miles in the dinghy.

After a squall at sunrise today, there was a beautiful rainbow. Noah has been reading weather books for the last few days and went out to check if he could see a secondary rainbow above the first. No double rainbow, but the boat behind us from Albany, NY will have a nice photo of their vessel framed in a rainbow.

Word on the radio nets is that White Tailed Tropic Birds are returning to the Exumas with one of the first sightings yesterday in the Brigantine Cays. We'll keep a lookout for them as there is a nesting area here on Warderick Wells.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Windy Warderick Wells


The wind continues to blow at 20+ knots out of the E/NE so we haven't made the crossing to Eleuthera. We did get enough rain to add a day to our fresh water supply. The forecast is for winds to continue through at least Wednesday, so we're not sure when we will cross Exuma Sound.

Visited with the crew of Tembo on a Beneteau 44 center cockpit from Ontario. It is the same model boat that we chartered in the BVI's with Jim and Barb Thompson, but it much better condition. They are finishing a three year cruise and have the boat up for sale. Turns out that they traveled with Sea Loon (friends from Oriental, NC) for a couple of month's in the Carribbean. For those of you that know the Looneys, they are headed for Texas where they are buying a house.

We've explored almost all of the trails on Warderick Wells this week. There are great views of the waves crashing over the rocks from the Exuma Sound side. Curly Tailed Lizards and Bananaquits are the kid's favorite fauna.

The crew of Iceni came over Thursday evening for dessert and a game of Quiddler. They relayed a story about a boat heading for Georgetown. A couple on the beach was talking about following another sailboat because they were not familiar with the route. They mentioned that the boat must have known what they were doing because they did that zig-zag thing. The sailboat doing the following didn't have it sails up! Iceni is headed to Nassau and we hope to meet up with them again in the Abacos.

Yesterday was test day for Noah at lesson 120 of 160. He did great on science, writing and reading, but is reviewing math, history, and spelling today. After school we went over to the North mooring field to do a drift snorkel at slack tide, but were a little late so the current had picked up. Stayed in the dinghy and watched through the window instead of getting in the water. By the way, the water is noticeably cooler now than it was in January. We also floated over mooring number 9 where a fishing
boat burned and sank several years ago. Noah spotted a grouper and a nurse shark living under the lip of the hull. The fire is said to have started while the owners were having dinner on another boat. A generator was left running that caused the fire.

Since the wind isn't letting up in the near future, we may head South for a change of scenery. Would like to get into Cambridge Cay where there should be good snorkeling. If it is too rough to make it through that entrance we may go to Compass Cay. Either one of those spots will give us a better angle to sail to Eleuthera.



Thursday, March 22, 2007

Noah's Birthday Aboard


Noah started his ninth year with a variety pack of cereals and a mug of hot chocolate on Tuesday.

He and Beth worked on party favors while I zoomed up to the park office in the dinghy to find out if there were other kid boats in the area. Was able to round up four other kids in addition to Hannah and Frazier from Iceni, so we had a boatload for the celebration. Lots of wind with off and on rain showers made for an indoor party.  They played pin the tail on the donkey with a magnetic dart on Noah's hand drawn donkey. After cake, they all watched a movie as the wind generator was able to provide plenty of power. Noah said that was one of the best birthday parties ever.

In the evening, a large trimaran started drifting off their mooring over towards the coral heads around Emerald Rock. They called for help and the Park Ranger zoomed out and took them in tow. It turns out that the owners were ashore and guests on the boat had adjusted the mooring line without tying it off properly. The mooring line slipped off the boat and it drifted out towards the banks. No damage to the boat or the coral, so a happy ending to the story.

Forgot to mention one fun experience a couple of days ago. Changed the prop shaft zinc back in between the Majors. Although the bottom appeared to be a barren sand flat, an Atlantic Stingray swam over and was eating something on the bottom beside the boat as I worked. After finishing up the job I snorkeled out to check the anchor and noticed a couple of small blue crabs and a flounder making themselves at home on the chain. Noah, who had been visiting the kids from Iceni, came back and jumped in the water to retrieve several sand dollars. Guess there is plenty of life on the sand flat after all.

Yesterday morning we investigated the intermittent behavior of the Nexus instruments. Performing the recommended voltage tests, it seems the combination knotlog and temperature sensor died. The good news is we hooked up the GPS to the Nexus server again and now have Speed Over Ground (we think, as we can't tell until we get moving again!).

After school and lunch we went to shore at the park headquarters and meet the Iceni crew. The kids fed the Bananaquits and checked out the whale skeleton, although they really enjoyed the yellow water tricycle. We all hiked up to Boo Boo Hill to watch the waves beating against the Eastern side of the island. Even though it was low tide, the waves were creating lots of spray as we walked along the cliffs. Beautiful views of both the sound and banks from here. We could see the Grande Mariner, a 200 foot cruise ship anchoring behind us over by Emerald Rock. I'm glad we explored ashore today, since tomorrow may have a few more visitors. The kids played together back on the sheltered "Powerful" Beach until we decided they had enough sun for the day.

We picked up the kids directly out of the water in the dinghies in order to minimize the sand brought home from the beach. Iceni traded their kids for our Hookah so they could clean the bottom of their boat. The kids made a cafe in the cabin, while Beth gave me a haircut as I hung on the stern ladder to keep the cockpit from getting furry.

It was a beautiful sunset among building clouds last night. As Venus and the Moon appeared, I opened up the water tank fill as it looked like we might get some rain. At 0100 Beth and I woke up as the wind was howling and the rain started filling our tanks. Squalls for the next hour or so brought gusts to 38 knots. It was nice to be in a mooring field as there were no panicked calls of anchor dragging on the VHF. Guess we had it mild as Lee on Windstar IV reported gusts of 60 in Georgetown overnight on the morning BASRA weather net.

Beth finished her Kumihimo project. She wove a fairly complex retaining strap for her sunglasses, putting the final touches on the seizing this morning.

We are not getting email on a timely basis. Seems to be a delay in the Winlink system. The 0800 weather email from yesterday came in shortly after midnight today. Received a notice from the developers saying that the 3rd party spam filter kicked almost all internet email for the last few days, so they have dropped the service. If you sent us any emails recently, please send them again.





Tuesday, March 20, 2007

We've Had Better Days

The island of Big Majors Spot proved to be a good windbreak. We rode out the gusty west winds from the cold front without any problem. Lightning lit up the sky at 0230 and voices on the radio were a little excited when a large powerboat named "Pirate" dragged anchor a few boat lengths to our north. They fired up their engines and reanchored without incident. Winds gusted to 30 kts and a couple of boats grounded in the sand, but no one suffered any damage and the boats floated off during the next high tide.

Noah decided that he would like to celebrate his birthday with the kids from Iceni, so we headed north on Sunday so they could make progress towards their visa appointment in Nassau. The winds are predicted to be NE 20-25 through the end of the week and we plan to go to Warderick Wells where we will be able to go ashore and explore the Island instead of being boat bound. Too many of the islands between here and there are private and don't let people come ashore.
Pulling anchor we headed to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to top off our fuel and fill the water tanks. There is a rock named the "Crown of Thorns" between the cut and banks here that is barely visible at high water. A sailboat spent most of yesterday freeing themselves from the rock, so check your charts and look for the stake marking the rock when transiting this area. The current was running three knots near high water when we passed the "Crown" and headed for the SCYC fuel dock. It is easy to see
how boats could be driven off course through there.

Approaching the SCYC fuel dock, the wind and waves were blowing towards the dock, making us a bit nervous. The current that slowed us down coming through the cut, helped us here by offsetting the wind and letting us sit just off the dock as if we knew what we were doing. While Noah helped with fueling and taking on water, Beth turned on the wi-fi and updated our .mac email. I looked for the Neuse Sailing Association burgee that we had seen in the restaurant to take a photo for the NSA newsletter, but it was no longer there. Guess we need another member to sail down and replace it.

At 1030 we headed out onto the banks flying the jib and running the motor enough to give us a little boost and charge the batteries. Running west of the plotted line allowed us to sail at 6.6 kts watching for starfish through the clear, shallow waters.

My problems with gravity continue. It appears that I've lost a little too much weight as my wedding ring slipped off my skinny finger while pinning Noah's wet shorts to the life line. After bouncing once on the deck it became part of the treasure of the Bahamas. Although the water was clear, we were moving a little too fast to make stopping for a search worthwhile.

By 1335 we gave up on sailing and motored into the wind towards the Malabar Cays. After catching up with Iceni we picked up a mooring ball at Emerald Rock in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. Looking forward to a calm and relaxing night we encountered a problem no boater wants to find. The head was clogged. We pumped and prodded and decided to let things soak overnight.

Monday morning brought no improvement in the head situation, so another project was undertaken. We'll spare you the details, but we worked from 0900 to 1836. The bolts holding the unit to the boat were rusted and we ended up fabricating a new base for the "throne" out of starboard. Even though the water was cold, Beth and I truly enjoyed showers last night.

After Noah finished school, he went off exploring Warderick Wells with the crew from Iceni. This saved him from having to wear a clothespin on his nose. Tomorrow brings the big Ninth birthday party. With the head working we can host a party!






Friday, March 16, 2007

Between the Majors- Again



Greetings from Between the Majors.

With the winds, we decided to stay at Lee Stocking through Wednesday night. After calling the Caribbean Marine Research Center on the radio without a response, we took the dinghy over to their dock to see about a tour. Unfortunately we learned that the center didn't get funded (they were part of NOAA) in 2006, so only have a couple of staff their trying to keep the facility repaired in case they can find a new source of funding or congress allocates funds in 2007. More info can be found at www.PerryInstitute.org.
Although boaters are still welcome to use the free moorings, the owners of the island are not allowing visitors now that the center isn't functioning.

Of the five cruising boats at Lee Stocking, three had kids. Although it was too rough to do much exploring in the dinghy, the kids took turns going from boat to boat and had a good time.

The crew of Iceni hails from Great Britain and has been across the Atlantic in their 40 foot Warrior. They are headed to the US next and have to go to Nassau to be interviewed for Visas. I took and printed "head" shots of them all so they wouldn't have to find a place to have passport style photos made. The US govt specifies a white background, so we utilized the head on Iceni as the walls had the appropriate coloring.

By Thursday morning, the winds were down to 18 kts so the crews of Intuition, Iceni, and Emotional Rescue (a Westsail 32) all decided to make a go of Exuma Sound. In order to go north we needed to go out into the sound since the inside route is a little too shallow.

We led the way as we had been through this cut before. Going out Adderly Cut into eight foot waves was bouncy, but not as bad as coming out of Emerald Bay earlier in the week. Once the depths dropped off over two hundred feet, the waves were much further apart, and with a wind from the stern quarter, we were sailing at about six knots.

After 12 miles in Exuma Sound, we entered Galliot Cut at slack water and slid into the lee of the islands. Letting out the 130 Jib, we were running close to 7 kts on smooth seas in 18 kts of wind. The clear water was only 8-12 feet deep, so we could see the bottom streaking by during one of our best sails ever. All good things must end, so we set out to roll up the Jib as we approached Black Point. Arghhh - a riding turn on the furling drum. This meant that we couldn't roll up the sail. We continued
on using the autopilot remote to steer as Beth and I took the sail down onto the foredeck.

We headed in to Black Point and dropped the hook in a great spot. Checking with Iceni and Emotional Rescue, we found they hadn't escaped problems either. Iceni ripped their mainsail coming out the cut. This explains why we were able to sail faster than a larger boat. Emotional Rescue's staysail boom cracked as it swung and hit their anchor in one of the bigger waves on the sound. Nobody was hurt and repairs are underway.

We needed to get rid of garbage, so I volunteered to go into town with Noah and take care of it. We picked up eleven year old Elias from Emotional Rescue, along with their trash and headed in. Boneheaded me had my wallet in my shorts pocket and I felt it slip out overboard. I'd brought it to give the boys a treat at Lorraine's Cafe, but failed to secure it in the dinghy locker. Quickly turning the dinghy around, I grabbed the still floating wallet and breathed a sigh of relief until we noticed plastic cards reflecting the setting sun as they settled down towards the bottom. We criss-crossed the area all looking down through the window in the bottom of the dink, but didn't see the credit cards. Noah had the good idea to drop a buoy on the spot attached to the dinghy anchor. I called Beth on the radio and she got the mask and fins ready. I picked her up and dropped the boys at Emotional Rescue. Running as close to the same course as we could remember, we actually saw credit cards through the look down window. I jumped in and recovered my drivers license and a couple of other cards. By this time the sun had just disappeared beyond the horizon. Now I was just looking for an American Express card. Found an old metal plate, a frying pan and, believe it or not, the AMEX Green credit card. With much relief, we motored over to the town dock and disposed of our trash, completing the original mission. Changed into warm, dry clothes and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate back on the boat.

Another cold front is predicted to pass through on Saturday with winds clocking around through the west. As much as we wanted to stay in Black Point, there is no protection from west winds in that harbor. Today we raised the anchor and motored up past Staniel Cay to anchor in between Big and Little Majors Spot islands. Iceni joined us while Emotional Rescue elected to ride out the front in Black Point.

After an uneventful trip up, we anchored near a Nonsuch 36 who turned out to be owned by Jeff and Nancy Letts out of Punta Gorda, FL whom we had corresponded with back in the nineties when we were enjoying our Nonsuch 26.

After lunch the crew from Iceni joined us for a dinghy ride over to Thunderball Cave. It was their first visit, so it was fun to show them the area. Noah and Hannah were exploring all the nooks and crannies, finding a grotto where three big (15-24") puffer fish and a Nassau Grouper lived. We were there a bit after low tide, so the current was running stronger than on our first visit. The kids did a real good job keeping up with it. That should have burned off a little energy.

We should be here until Sunday morning and will then decide where to go for Noah's birthday on Tuesday. Winds are predicted to be 25-30 out of the NE for most of next week, so we will probably go back to Black Point where there are things to do ashore.

My right shoulder has been aching since Palm Beach. The shoulder gets better and then I pull a little too hard on something and it gets bad again. Beth has been taking on more and more of the heavy lifting. Wanted to acknowledge what a great job she has been doing.










Sunday, March 11, 2007

Leaving Emerald Bay- Really

Saturday morning was the first weather window this week, so all the captains were up early discussing the situation. Gathering at the front of the marina where we had a good view of the waves, we all tried to talk each other into being the first out so we could watch the motion. Grace took the initiative and headed out into 8 foot breakers and turned south to Georgetown. We will miss this crew from Portland, ME and wish them well.

We buttoned up the boat and were just about set to go. Noah slept for 11 hours Friday night, so something was amiss. He complained of a sore throat and his temperature was 100. A good day to stay in port. Noah rested while Beth and I took turns charging the computers and getting our internet fix. The old web site finally did a complete update and is running again, though we will use the newer http://svIntuition.blogspot.com/ site for current and future posts as that works with our ham radio connection.

Wayne and Jill on Born to Cruise came back to Emerald Bay to drop off their kids at the airport. Jill gave Beth a sample of Yogurt and the recipe, so we might have fresh yogurt growing soon. They also loaned Noah "The Sound of Music" which he watched for the first time and enjoyed so much that he asked if we could buy it. It really is a great movie.

Delivering the movie back to BTC, I ran into Bruce from Jet Stream who was trying to get the marina staff to notice a fire that had started under the main deck. They did finally get a fire extinguisher and put it out, but it was frightening how close it came to being a full blaze. Another forty feet and it would have been under the restaurant kitchen where there are propane lines.

This morning we woke up later than usual due to the early spring time change. Noah's temperature was back to normal and he felt fine. After a couple of cups of coffee and hot showers we decided to cast off the dock lines. We really enjoyed our "vacation from cruising" at Emerald Bay and highly recommend the marina, especially while the price is at 75 cents/foot.

At 1000 we were motoring out the channel into 8 foot breaking seas. We thought to put up the main and staysail in the marina to add some stability, but there were 2 boats that had just come in and were in the way, so we went without them up. We were tossed around considerably. As soon as we got out a bit, we raised the main, which flogged as we were dead into the wind and we lost a batten overboard in conditions that were NOT conducive to recovery. Getting out into water over 200 feet, the seas settled down to six feet, but were confused as the wind was from the NE and the swell was from due E with a little remaining from yesterday's North wind added in. We averaged 7 kts and made it to Rat Cay cut in less than two hours. Passed Jules (IP40) and Grateful Attitudes (Catamaran from NW Creek) as they were both headed south. Interesting to watch the boat cabins disappear as they sank into the troughs.

We timed the cut to just before high tide, so the current and wind were working together to take us smoothly through. It was our first time through this cut which proved to be narrow, but deep with good visibility. Once inside behind Rat Cay, the seas smoothed out and it became very pleasant. We wound our way between Rat and Pigeon Cays to find the pretty island of Children's Bay Cay, once owned by Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.

Shortly after noon, Noah made us sandwiches so Beth and I could pay attention to the water depths. We followed the shoreline of Williams Cay and thought about anchoring with two other boats in Williams Bay. From there, Beth could see the moorings at Lee Stocking were all empty, so we elected to continue on and use the CMRC moorings again.

Winds are projected to pick up this afternoon and blow 20-25 through Thursday so we may be here for a few days. There is a shallow water route on the inside from here, but we probably won't fit through except at high tide. Born to Cruise is going through this afternoon with their four foot draft, so we await their report. If we can't get through, we will explore this area by dinghy until the wind and waves lie down a little in Exuma Sound.








Friday, March 9, 2007

Bahamian Bluegrass


Hi again from Emerald Bay. The wind has continued to blow and the seas have been lumpy most of the week. We've been catching up on boat projects and restocking the pantry.

We treated ourselves to lunch at the Four Seasons. Calamari Steak was something I hadn't tried before and it was delicious. Dessert was a work of art. Billed as a brownie, the plate arrived with a spiral chocolate pipe bridging a mound or banana rum ice cream atop a raft of dark chocolate to a tepee formed of thin white chocolate. The warm brownie was hidden inside the white chocolate. Not the kind of desserts we've been making aboard Intuition!

Found the part for the head and, after another breakdown and rebuild, that is now working without leaks. Wayne and Jill on Born to Cruise rented a car and stopped at a shop where they found, of all things, a 6mm bolt. With this elusive bolt in hand, we know have zinc protecting the outboard!

We were able to help out the folks on Passport work on their zinc and autoprop. He was trying to change both with a snorkel. Offered the use of our hookah and he was able to stay under long enough to get the job done. It took close to 2 hours, so that would have been a long time to hold your breath.

With lots of help from Brenda, we are finishing up our taxes. The internet is back up and running here, so we were able to get scanned copies of the documents needed via email.

After dinner last night there was a special treat. The crew of Four Aces, Jet Stream and a couple of other boats were playing Blues and Bluegrass in the crew lounge. Two guitars and a mandolin made for a fun evening. Although they had only played together once before, they sounded professional and did a great job taking turns with the lead. The cruising community needs more live music.
We were going to leave this morning, but the predicted low formed further south than expected and the winds and waves are up again. Will stay here one more day. Confirmed that decision a few minutes ago when a Valiant, across the finger pier from us, attempted to leave and was blown into the bow pulpit of a power boat where the anchor caught his life lines. No real damage as a three of us managed to untangle them, but we don't need any more excitement like that. One of the marina crew leapt aboard to help and was dropped off at the fuel dock on the way out.




Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Still Relaxing at Emerald Bay


The wind is blowing 20-25, the skies are overcast and the temp is 79 here at Emerald Bay. It is a great place to relax while the waves pound the breakwater. We watched a 100+ foot megayacht go out yesterday and the waves were breaking up over their bow. We are still enjoying the facilities here and catching up on boat projects.

Took the head pump apart yesterday only to find that the gasket we needed wasn't in the rebuild kit, so just cleaned, lubricated, and reassembled the pump. At least the leak is on the fresh water side!

The water in the marina here is perfectly clear, so we can check out the underside of boats. Looks like the bolts I replaced on the weed shoe between the rudder and keel are all still there. This used to be a salt pond that was dredged and stabilized with concrete walls before adding a channel to Exuma Sound. There isn't much life on the bottom, but a Spotted Eagle Ray has come under the boat a couple of times. The couple on the boat next to us came in on Friday and passed a Sperm Whale in sixty feet of water just outside the entrance channel.

Received a prompt reply to my plea for advice to the autopilot dealer back in NC. He suggested isolating the problem to the remote head by disconnecting it and using the wireless remote instead. If the problem goes away we know where it lies.

We enjoyed watching "The Davinci Code" last night. Emerald Bay has a free DVD lending library which is very nice on rainy days.

Beth's still got a little touch of cold and sore throat.




Sunday, March 4, 2007

Emerald Bay



We feel like we're on vacation here at Emerald Bay. The marina isn't quite finished, but it is a beautiful resort. We've had l-o-n-g hot showers for the first time in two months, enjoyed the freshwater pool and have clean laundry. Life is good!

Yesterday we motored up the 12 miles from Georgetown under nice conditions. The only trouble underway was the autopilot stopped working. Another item added to the list to troubleshoot. Disappointing after only nine months. It is an intermittent problem, probably a poor connection somewhere. We were greeted at the marina by a dockhand that took care of all our lines, even coiling them on the floating dock. We are one of the little boats here. Kahaki Blue is the biggest yacht here, rumored to be owned by Tommy Hilfiger.

Four other boats with kids are here, so the pool was full of frolicking youngsters yesterday. There is a beautiful view of the beach and bay from the pool. Floating in cool fresh water watching the boats sail by in the sound is not a bad way to relax. We were really looking forward to a wi-fi connection here, but the entire island was without internet as something happened to a Batelco tower.
Although the laundry is free, there are only three washers. Beth really wanted to get the laundry done, so waited in line and stayed up until 1:30 getting it all clean. At least the wi-fi came back up so she caught up on email.

Today the kids came over in the morning and played on Intuition. Noah went off shopping with the crew from Snow Day and had lunch on their boat. It really is nice having other kid boats around.
In the afternoon I was getting ready to rebuild the pump on the head, but the shore side facilities went out here and we didn't want to do it without a back-up. Brett on Grace invited me to go snorkling and it didn't take but a second to abandon the head project.

We found some interesting spots with lots of Elkhorn coral. I finally speared my first fish after Brett showed me the technique. You have to really stretch the band on the pole spear to get enough velocity underwater. I wasn't using enough tension in my earlier attempts. We had fresh fish for dinner!

The wind is supposed to pick-up starting tonight. We are planning to stay here for another three or four days to catch up on some boat projects and wait for calmer conditions.




Friday, March 2, 2007

Children's Day


March started with a long day of school in 15-20 kts at anchor in Elizabeth Harbor. By 1500 school was completed and it was time to go back to work on Noah's boat for the competition on Friday. He decided to go for most environmental boat so used items collected from Sand Dollar beach to build a catamaran. Bamboo for the hulls, sticks for the cross beams and palm fronds and mesh (there is a fine mesh material underneath the palm leaves where the stems are attached to the palm tree) for the sails made up the material list. Beth was very patient and helped him learn how to secure all the parts together with cotton thread. Working until he ran out of light, the boat only needed a few sheets to hold the bottom of the sail.

Today was children's day at the cruising regatta, the main reason for being here. After a lumpy night at anchor, Noah was up shortly after dawn and immediately went out to the cockpit to finish the "Binocular." At least 150 kids converged on Volleyball Beach where they were grouped into teams after swearing a "blood" oath on a pirate's sword. The sword had been cleverly coated with red magic marker, leaving a mark on each child. Games included a scavenger hunt, bean bag toss, and an obstacle course.

After a craft project, it was time for the big event -- the model boat race. Boats were divided into divisions based on age. There were some very interesting entries in all the categories; downwind, cross wind, environmental, and creative. Noah's boat floated okay in the downwind category but didn't move very fast, or far for that matter. He wasn't disappointed as he said all along he was going to be the best environmental boat. We tried to prepare him for being a good loser, but his name was called for first prize!

Afternoon brought boatloads of local bahamian kids for an environmental talk and to join in with the teams for afternoon activities. Everyone went home with a prize of some sort and it looked like all the kids had a great time. Plenty of water and snacks were provided to keep the kids hydrated and energized. We thought Noah had scrapped his face on something, but it was only the remnants of the pudding eating contest. The organizers and volunteers deserve special awards as they really did a fantastic job.

As long as the wind moderates in the morning, we plan to head up to Emerald Bay to do laundry, fill up the tanks, and take a little break from anchoring.


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