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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Georgetown to Little River, SC

Intuition Log - 31 May
Georgetown to Little River, SC
Underway at 0752 and back in the waterway by 0805. We had read in Skipper Bob that leaving Georgetown at high tide allows a favorable current all the way to Myrtle Beach. It seems contradictory, but we started with a 0.7 kt push, so we can't complain.

Beth at the Helm
Shortly after 0800 Beth called Boat/US and let them know we were north of Florida, effectively cutting our insurance rate in half. Our sympathy is extended to responsible boaters in FL and the Bahamas paying exorbitant insurance rates.

Osprey Nest on ICW

North of Georgetown the waterway winds through cypress swamps. Osprey were nesting on channel markers and in dead trees along the route. Took lots of photos in hopes of getting a few good ones. Water hyacinths were floating upstream in the current with us, so Beth netted a couple for our little pond at home.

On the Way to Camden

Kayaks are a common site on the waterway; usually folks out for some quiet and to see the bird life. At 1136 we came upon a kayak that stood out as it had a pontoon for stability. Sure enough, it was the same woman that we had passed two days ago coming north from Charleston. Slowed and chatted for a minute learning that she is kayaking from Miami, Florida to Camden, Maine! And we thought we were cramped for space. She has a web site at that we will check out once we are connected again.
By noon the trees and swamps were behind us. A man made canal was surrounded by the huge homes and golf courses of Myrtle Beach. One golf course spans the waterway and uses cable cars to take golfers across. The Grand Dunes area even had a bridge that matched the architecture of the resort.

Single Family Home on the ICW
Approaching Barefoot Landing we noticed a boat aground with the crew rocking it from side to side. Getting closer it was our friends on Snow Day from Toronto. This crew of two adults, two kids and two full sized dogs on a 27 foot ketch always seem to be in good spirits and were taking this in stride. They were off shortly and docked at Myrtle Beach to get off the boat and see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
We passed the entrance to Coquina Yacht Harbor where we stopped on our way South at 1500 and decided we could go further. By 1547 we had the anchor down near the Little River inlet, within 400 yards of North Carolina. We covered 55.2 nm in under eight hours. Skipper Bob was right, we carried a fair current the entire distance.

Anchored on the Border
Six boats ended up anchoring here by sunset. The area was active with head boats coming in and out from Calabash and casino boats going out into "international waters" from Myrtle Beach. Just before dark a shrimp boat came in and ran their bow right into the shoreline between two anchored boats. They spent a couple of hours messing with their outriggers, then backed off and headed out the inlet.

Sunset on the ICW
Noah finished his math review problems after much procrastination. When we are still long enough to review the other subjects with him it will be time for the year end tests and school will be over. After dinner he designed a "Monkey Madness" video game on paper with rules, key definitions and three screens. He walked me through level one and then we read more of "Around the World in 80 days."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Georgetown, SC

Sunrise on the South Santee River

Spent last night on anchor where the South Santee River crosses the ICW. We were all alone except for the birds, gators and bugs. It was a beautiful, quiet spot where we slept well after the 32 hour voyage from Florida. This morning we arose to the sound of birds. Going out on deck revealed a soft, foggy view of the abandoned rice fields.

We decided to make today a short day and headed to Georgetown, South Carolina, a town we didn't get to explore on the way South. On the waterway by 0735, we consulted Skipper Bob and Claiborne Young for the best place to stay. Called Harborwalk marina on the radio and cell phone, but didn't get an answer. S/V Second Wave heard us on the VHF and called us from the Gulf Stream. They had waited at Green Turtle for a weather window all the way to Beaufort and were having a good ride, enjoying a 3 knot boost from the stream. Noah was finishing math from yesterday's school day as we motored up Winyah Bay. That was the last lesson, so now he just has review and tests.

Intuition at Boat Shed Marina

By 0900 we gave up on Harborwalk and called Boat Shed Marina. They came back right away and had room for us. By 1005 Tom & Jeb had us tied up to a nice floating face dock and we were looking over a welcome packet of maps and menus.

Walking into town we found ourselves on a tree shaded street with homes dating to the 1700's. A couple block walk put us into a nicely preserved downtown. Noah found a bookstore with a good selection of used books upstairs. We added a few more books to get him up the waterway. Found a place for lunch with grilled cheese for Noah and Carolina BBQ for me. Boy that was a good taste of home after almost a year.

Local Temple
After lunch it was time to take in some history so we signed up for a Swamp Fox Tour. Learned about Francis Marion aka the Swamp Fox and his role in the American Revolution along with some other local stories, including a few about ghosts. Several churches and a synagogue were also featured on the tour. Seemed to be quite an ecumenical town.

The Rice Museum
The Rice Museum was next where we learned about the two hundred years of rice farming that made the area prosperous up until the Civil War (or "The War of Northern Aggression," if you are from these parts). It took slave labor to make rice profitable. Conditions must have been horrid with mosquitos and alligators sharing the rice fields with the laborers. The average male plantation slave only lived to be 28 years old. The museum also had the ribs of the earliest example of US boat building on the east coast.

Back at the boat we filled up with diesel and got Intuition ready for another day of voyaging. Back into town we found an interesting yarn shop and we stopped again at the book store and asked for a dinner recommendation. Taking the bookseller's advice we had an excellent dinner at Revolutions, with crab cakes and spinach artichoke pizza at a reasonable price with very friendly service.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Florida to South Carolina

Intuition Log - 29 May
FL to SC
Memorial Day started with a review of our weather data and confirmation of our plan to sail from Fernandina Beach to Charleston. By 0900 we dropped the mooring pennant and headed for the inlet. We raised the main and deployed the staysail while passing the cannons of the fort guarding this northern approach to Florida. The St Marys current was opposing the wind so our exit to sea was a bit uncomfortable. By 1100 things had settled down and we were sailing through 4 ft seas with a period of 8 seconds
as reported by the sea buoy off Fernandina Beach. We lost side of land at 1232 in a light rain. Gave Noah Benadryl and the iPod with a story on it as a preventative for seasickness, although I expect he is fine as long as he stays away from chocolate or cookies for breakfast.
By 1500 the rain had ceased and we had an apparent wind of 040 making good 6.3 kts over the ground with a little unfavorable current. We noticed small black birds with white markings on their wings skimming the surface of the water in the troughs between waves. Not a species we recognized. At 1611 we passed a big sea turtle swimming along on our same course. A big yellow weather buoy (ODAS) came into view at 1750, so we now know what these valuable sources of information look like at close range.

After dinner Noah and I were on watch while Beth went below for a little rest in the lee cloth. The apparent wind angle narrowed a little so we were on the edge of being able to sail at 030, but with the help of the engine we were making 6.8 kts. Just before sunset Noah and I were startled by a big splash right beside the boat. A large dolphin had come alongside leaping completely out of the water and splashing down on his right side within a yard of the boat. He repeated this four times and then
disappeared. We wonder if he was trying to tell us something or was just trying to dislodge some sea louse.
With two adults, we alternate three hour watches overnight. Beth was back up and on watch until 0100 when it was my turn. There were between two and six ships around us most of the night making it easy to stay awake. Between radar, AIS, binoculars and the radio conversations we knew where they were, but it still provided a bit of anxiety. Most were headed for Savannah.

Sunrise at Sea

Sighted land at 0620 and passed a large ship that appeared to be sucking sand from the sea bed with the help of several tug boats that were moving huge hoses. It may have been for beach "re-nourishment."

Off Charleston

At 0820 I called into the Waterway Radio & Cruising Club net to report our position off Charleston on the Ham radio. A few minutes later our VHF radio rang and it was Wayne on Born to Cruise who had heard us check in. He and Jill are in Charleston and welcomed us to South Carolina. We tried to get a slip near them for the night, but with the holiday week there was no room, so we decided to press on north into the ICW.
By 0916 we were approaching the Charleston entrance channel and took the sails down so we could slow down and wait for a big container ship to go in ahead of us.

We'll Let You Go First

0933 had us in between the breakwaters where we pulled Noah away from the Lego catalog that he has been memorizing since Aunt Brenda brought it aboard back at Green Turtle. He stayed out in the cockpit long enough to find Fort Sumpter and Fort Moultrie and check out the cannons.
Passing out of the first swing bridge heading north of Charleston at 1055 we slowed to a stop as I had mistaken a square warning sign for a square green marker and had gone a little to far to the right of the channel. A local fisherman grabbed a line and pulled our bow over so that we were underway again by 1109.

At Least I Wasn't As Far Aground As This Guy!

Since the water was flat we emptied three of our jerry jugs of fuel into the main tank while motoring along a straight stretch of the ICW. Noah stayed in the cockpit to make sure we didn't get off course while Beth and I filled the tank. The remote control for the autopilot allowed us to steer while working on the deck. Using our favorite jiggle tube we didn't spill a drop.
Noah entertained himself most of the afternoon by reducing the population of big green flies that descended upon the boat. We were lucky that they weren't biting us. Maybe it was due to the pile of fly corpses that Noah accumulated in a corner of the cockpit. Both his fly gun and the fly swatter got a real workout.

The Mighty Hunter
We were in the backwaters of South Carolina weaving through the area that was once rice plantations. A couple of big alligators were floating along the side of the ICW just before we anchored at 1715 in the South Santee River.

Gator Country

We were ready for a relaxing night after covering 195 miles in the last 32 hours. Nobody else was around and all we heard were birds and mosquitos outside the screened hatches. It didn't take long for all of us to fall asleep.

Intuition back in ICW

The crew of Intuition came into Charleston Harbor around 0930 and is motoring north on the Intracoastal waterway. About 24 hours from Fernandina Beach FL to Charleston. Cut out the winding ways of Georgia. A little tired, but all is well.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New Smyrna Beach to Fernandina Beach

Intuition Log - 26 May
New Smyrna Beach to Fernandina Beach
Saturday morning we met the folks on the boat next to us. They had turned their boat in the slip overnight so that the bow would be into the current and we were sleeping so soundly we never heard it. Turns out that Jim is the plant manager for the big Sea Ray plant that was next to Harbortown Marina. He was, of course, piloting a Sea Ray.
Underway at 0735 we passed the Ponce De Leon inlet at 0825 motorsailing up the waterway with the jib out. Winds were calmer than yesterday with 10-15 kts being just enough to keep the sails full and the sailors cool.
Noah finished "Smiling Hill Farm" his last assigned reading for school. He had a hard time limiting himself to just the assigned chapters over the last few weeks and says it is one of his all-time favorite books.
If you've been following our blog you may recall that we spent a little time aground on our last visit to St Augustine. This time we decided to anchor 4 miles south of town where there wouldn't be as many witnesses if we "became a cottage" again. We found three boats on moorings in the anchorage and proceeded to anchor with no problems.

Quiet Anchorage South of St Augustine

Poofing sounds woke us on Sunday morning as dolphins were feeding nearby and sending jets of water into the air as they exhaled. Shot a little video, so hope to have that as a reminder.
Back underway at 0720 we cleared the Bridge of Lions at their 0800 opening. Just after the bridge is an old Spanish fort where we noticed Stella Maris anchored. Tried to raise them on the radio but they didn't respond.

Spanish Fort in St Augustine

Tembo, from Vancouver, BC whom we had last seen at Green Turtle Cay did respond from a boat yard in St Augustine. They had, unfortunately, hit a marker coming in at Ft Pierce and were undergoing cosmetic repairs to fiberglass and teak before delivering the boat to the new owners in Charleston.
We were not alone on the waterway in the middle of Memorial Day weekend. Noah counted 18 jet skis passing us in under five minutes. Hundreds of powerboats of all sizes passed us up until about 1500 when the rain clouds caught up with us. Passing a boat ramp we felt sorry for the folks that only get a few days a year to be out on the water with their families. At least 30 boats were milling around in the rain waiting to get access to the two ramps.

Bridge of Lions

At 1743 we wound our way into Fernandina Beach and picked up a mooring ball. It was a good run making the 57.5 nm in just over ten hours despite all the boat traffic. We decided to just stay put for the night and didn't even lower the dinghy even though Fernandina is an interesting little town. We did enjoy watching a big freighter dock with the help of a tugboat and a train shuttle cars to and from the local paper mill.

Old Meets New in Fernandina Beach

Took take time to change the oil and filters for the 450 hour maintenance. Then we all treated ourselves to hot showers.

Fernandina Beach Waterfront

Merritt Island to New Smyrna Beach, FL

Haulover Canal Bridge

Intuition Log - 26 May 2007
Merritt Island, FL to New Smyrna Beach, FL
Leaving Harbortown at 0904 despite the objections of Noah (there were lots of kids in the marina) we were out the barge canal and back in the ICW by 0946. Heard "Stella Maris" calling a bridge and found out they were only three miles ahead of us. They left Green Turtle with us and continued on to the US without stopping at Great Sale.
Throughout this stretch of the ICW the dominant sight is the massive vehicle assembly building at Cape Canaveral. We had it in sight for over four hours of the trip. At 1310 we slipped through the Haulover Canal Bridge sighting a couple of manatees grazing near the boat launch.

Coming into the more open stretch of the river we were able to get a boost from the sails as the wind picked up to 21 kts. A boat tried tacking up the waterway and ended up running aground under full sail. Winds moderated to the low teens as the afternoon went on and we were safely docked at New Smyrna Beach at 1430 covering 44.9 nm.

Pelicans at New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna has a very nice city marina with floating docks and John, the dockmaster, made us feel right at home. A fishing derby and boat show were going on at the park next door so we went off to explore that. John recommended Jason's Deli on Canal Street for dinner. Canal street looks like a nineteen fifties downtown street with lots of little shops and restaurants. This was only the second night that Jason's was serving dinner and we were the only customers when we walked in. Beth ordered steak for the first time in six months and it was excellent. The crab cakes on my plate were some of the best I'd ever tasted. This place is worth a stop!
After dinner we went to the very nice waterfront playground where Noah hit it off with some kids and they played spies. We checked out the boat show on the way back to the marina and met a couple with two adopted dogs that tried to talk us into visiting the local humane society. We stayed just a little too long as the sky opened up and Noah and I were soaked. Beth was smart enough to return to the boat earlier with the leftovers from dinner so she was enjoying a hot shower while ours was a little bit cooler.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cape Canaveral

Port Canaveral was an easy place to check-in with customs and immigration, but Port Cove marina was a little on the expensive side at $80 per night. We were on a floating dock that was exposed to the waves coming through the inlet driven by 25 knot winds. Spray was coming over the bow of the boat from breaking waves. It made for a bouncy night at the dock, but we were so tired it didn't matter.
We spent the morning visiting with Brenda as she was heading back to NY. She was good crew and will be missed on the rest of the voyage. She gave us presents before leaving. That isn't the way crew are supposed to behave!
Brenda caught a shuttle to the Airport at 1100 and we looked for another place to spend the night. Called Harbortown marina on the VHF and they had room for us. Although it was only 2.6 miles away, we had to wait for a three span lift bridge to open and then get lowered a foot using the Canaveral Lock. Both the bridge and lock operators were very accommodating and we made it through without any delays. Outside the lock we were greeted by dolphins and pelicans as the barge canal crossed the Banana River.
An hour after leaving Port Cove we were safely tied up at Harbortown and Noah was headed for the pool. The price was less than half that of Port Marine and the harbor is completely protected. The only real dangers here are the alligators sunning themselves on the shore line.
We enjoyed dinner at the marina restaurant Wednesday night, chowing down on salads. Fresh vegetables were few and far between in the Bahamas.

m/v Hattitudes

Noah found kids to play with, Shamus and Ocean, on a boat called Hattitudes. They invited him over to watch Star Wars on their big sport fishing boat, so he was a happy camper.
We considered leaving today, but the winds were blowing 25 in this, very protected, marina. With forecasts of 20-25 gusting to 30 we elected to stay another day and do a few boat projects. Noah completed yesterday and today's lessons and then headed for the pool. Beth and I planned our Intracoastal Waterway route north to insure we could get home in time for me to go back to work. Beth borrowed a bicycle from the marina and went off to supplement our cereal supply. The Hattitudes kids had to go back to Orlando this afternoon and Noah went off to play basketball with David from Emerald Sea, a boat with a hailing port of New Bern, NC that has a new local owner. Checking on the boys, they had found two others boys and opened a "store" with a birds nest, palm fronds and a live lizard in a pepsi bottle. They were thrilled when someone bought the lizard for 4 cents. Had to haul them both back to the boat to treat all the mosquito bites with ammonia.

Marina Resident

The winds are supposed to lay down to 20 tomorrow, so we plan to head north to New Smyrna beach. We did hear from "Our Turn" and they made it to St Simons, Georgia motorsailing all the way. They reported that Grateful Attitudes reached Fernandina Beach, FL. Sister Brenda safely landed in Albany, NY proving the proverb: "Nothing goes to windward like a 747!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Crossing to Florida

Intuition Log - 21 May
Great Sale, Bahamas to Cape Canaveral, Florida
The morning weather forecast called for unsettled weather for the next 1-3 weeks. After carefully considering the weather options, we decided that it was time to give up on a window for getting all the way to North Carolina in one hop. That left plan B, which meant crossing to Florida and then moving up the coast along the ICW with some jumps outside when the weather permitted. A weather window was open for a day or two to get over to Florida, so we secured things aboard and raised the anchor at 0906.

Intuition Sailing Over the Bahama Banks - from s/v Our Turn

Prior to that we had conferred with Grateful Attitudes (a Lagoon 44 Catamaran) and Our Turn (an Island Packet 440) and they also decided to head for Florida leaving a little behind us. We were worried about Paul on Our Turn as he had been sick in the anchorage with flu like symptoms, but he felt good enough to give it a go.
By 0935 we were in the groove, motorsailing past the Great Sale South waypoint doing 7 kts heading across the banks for Matanilla Shoal. By 1145 Grateful Attitudes caught and passed us motorsailing. Our speed over the ground was 6.7 kts with the second reef in the main and our jib out.

s/v Grateful Attitudes

Beth pulled the last four unread books out of our stash for Noah and, by 1322 he was on book three. He enjoyed that so much he re-read some of it aloud to Beth and Brenda in the cockpit on their first watch. After getting Chris Parker's daily weather email we made the decision to head from Matanilla Shoal to Cape Canaveral. That would get us to a place where we could check in easily and Brenda could get a shuttle to the Orlando airport. It would also allow us to be out of the gulf stream in plenty of time to avoid the predicted 25 kt NE winds. Grateful Attitudes and Our Turn decided to press further North and head for Fernandina Beach as they are both larger and faster vessels.

s/v Our Turn

At 1428 we were accompanied by dolphins for a while. These banks are their spring breeding grounds and we hoped to see some along the way. Also passed a large anchored research type vessel that didnÕt show up on AIS so we donÕt know what they really were. After sailing 52 miles across the banks, we slipped off by Matanilla Shoal at 1740 and watched the depths go from 35 ft to 200 ft and then too deep for our sounder to report. Waves picked up to 5-6 feet, but we were making excellent progress at 7.3 kts through the water and 7.8 over the ground with a favorable current.

Brenda, Beth & Noah on the lookout for dolphins

By 1900 our course diverged with that of Grateful Attitudes and Our Turn. We did agree to talk on the VHF every hour through the night to make sure we were all awake. At 1924 the wind was 17 kts so we turned off the engine and enjoyed the sounds of waves and water. It wasn't necessary to motor through the night as we would end up getting into Cape Canaveral before dawn.

Sunset at Sea

Brenda and Beth took the first watch after dark. With an apparent wind angle of 150 we had the northeast wind and waves on the stern quarter pushing us right along. Our 17 year old baggy main was reefed to the second reef point while our new 130 jib was reefed down to about 100% as we always like to be a little under canvassed in the dark. By 2200 our speed through the water (S) was 5.7 kts, but we were feeling the effects of the gulf stream as our speed over the ground (SOG) was 7.5 kts.
We lost direct contact with Grateful Attitudes as they were pulling out of range, but Our Turn relayed position information between the three boats. Electrical gremlins were out that night. Grateful Attitudes lost their autopilot and ended up hand steering to Fernandina Beach. Our Turn's radar was being fluky, so we were radioing them with ship positions from our AIS. We were lucky and our systems stayed working through the crossing.
As midnight approached Our Turn relayed a message from another yacht passing in the night. It was Blaine Parks making a delivery from Charleston to the Abacos. Blaine is another IP owner. He, Janet and their two golden retrievers have had lots of adventures. WeÕre sorry we were only passing in the night, but it was good to hear from him.
My watch was on at midnight and we were close to the center of the gulf stream. Still moving through the water at 5.5 kts, but our SOG was up to 8.2 kts. Brenda stayed in the cockpit to keep me company and we watched the phosphorescence in the water. If you havenÕt ever seen it, it looks like hundreds of underwater fireflies radiating out from the hull where the boat makes a wake.
The bottom came into "view" on the depth sounder about ten minutes before 0100 as it registered 300 feet. By 0200 ours SOG was down to 6.8 as we had our last contact with Our Turn. At 0300 there was just static on the radio and our SOG was down to 5.7 with the winds moderating to 15-17 kts. By 0500 we were definitely out of the stream as our S and SOG were both at 5.3 kts and the depth was now registering 100 feet.
Noah was the only one that got any real sleep overnight, but the rest of us did take turns closing our eyes down below. Beth had rigged the lee cloths on the salon setees so we could sleep without worrying about falling out of bed.

The Cabin Rigged with Lee Cloths
We started the engine at 0612 as we needed to crawl a little further north than our sailing course had allowed to get into Port Canaveral. The engine starting woke Noah. He climbed up into the cockpit at 0700 so he could launch his message in a bottle that he prepared before leaving the Bahamas. The original plan was to launch it in the Gulf Stream, but we werenÕt going to wake him up to do that. The bottle was from the wine Wayne and Janet Estabrooks gave us as a departing gift on our cruise. Noah wrote a note with our email address and sealed it with some candle wax. I hope someone finds it and writes to him.

Noah's Message in a Bottle
The seas were lumpy as the bottom shoaled on our approach to Port Canaveral. As the launch platforms and vehicle assembly building came into view Noah had a ginger nut cookie as his first food of the day. A minute or two later he was feeding it back to the fishes. Not a good way to have breakfast, but within ten minutes he was fine, telling jokes and ready to have a real breakfast.
0900 found us inside the breakwaters used by the Disney Cruise lines, getting our lines ready for docking. Beth found a flying fish next to one of the cleats confirming what she thought were the sounds of something live on deck overnight.

Cape Marina was recommended in the cruising guide as a good spot to check-in to the USA, so we pulled up to their floating t-dock. Our first assigned dock space was already occupied with a powerboat, so we made a second pass, then tied up on another dock in front of a 1970 Chris Craft power boat bound for Washington, NC. We covered 150 nm in just over a day at 24 hrs and 2 minutes about half of it under sail power alone.

Intuition Docked at Cape Marina

Checking in with customs was a bit confusing as we called the toll-free number and were informed that Cape Canaveral wasn't a place you could check-in. The marina had provided us with directions to customs and immigration, so I read the officer the address and telephone number. He put me on hold and then came back and said we could check in at the address I'd given him and we should call, hold on a minute, and then he came back with the phone number I'd given him. Once we called the local office, things went smoothly. We all walked the 1.2 miles down to the office, showed our passports, the officer spent some time with his computer, and we were legally back in the USA.

NASA Ship at Port Canaveral

Walking back towards the marina we stopped at "Fish Lips" where the folks on the Chris Craft recommended going to eat. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs as we had salads and meat that hadn't been readily available in the Bahamas. It was relaxing to sit on their deck and watch the waterfront without having the table lurch to starboard every eight seconds. Back at the boat we let Noah, the only well rested one of us, watch DVDs while the adults all took naps.
It was a successful crossing as nothing broke and we all made it back safely. We are very grateful to Brenda for taking the time off to come help. She was a great sport and excellent crew. It made the trip more fun and it was fun to see some of it through her eyes.

Intuition back in the USA

We arrived in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 0936. Covered 150 nm from Great Sale Cay, Bahamas in almost exactly 24 hours. We're all well and tired. Need to clean the flying fish off the deck and go check in with customs and immigration.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Intuition at Sea

Left Great Sale at 0926 this morning headed home to the USA.
We've had a good run so far. We passed Matanilla Shoal at 1740 and watched the water depth drop from 30 feet off our scale as we left the Little Bahama Banks. We were in the company of Grateful Attitudes and Our Turn (IP440) until that point. They are headed for Fernandina Beach as they can go 2 knots faster than us. We wouldn't get there before dark on Wednesday night so are heading for Cape Canaveral.
Our current location is 27*30'N 079*23'W and we continue to put our position reports on the web site. Waves are around 4' with winds 17-20 kts. We have a double reef in the main and a partially furled jib for the night. We're making 6.9 kts over the ground! Noah is reading a story to the Beth & Brenda in the cockpit and we've had sandwiches and tuna spaghetti for dinner. Ginger Nuts for dessert to keep our stomachs settled.
We'll be checking in with the other boats every hour to exchange position and weather info.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Double Breasted Cay

After lots of rain on Wednesday, Thursday dawned without a ripple on White Sound. We've been getting anxious to start moving, so took the opportunity to head North to stage for jumping back to the United States. It was a hard choice because we would have liked to explore the cruiser friendly, Manjack Cay, but we're starting to feel the deadlines looming to get home. We've been told that the residents of the island put up a "Yes Trespassing" sign.
Light winds meant motor sailing out into the Sea of Abaco. Leaving at 0919 we were approaching Angelfish Point by lunch time and bidding farewell to the Abacos. Quite a fleet was headed north with many conversations on the VHF about potential destinations. We decided to head for Great Sale Cay where we could stop and evaluate our options. At 1645 Brenda was treated to her first dolphin sighting as a pod surrounded Intuition and played with our bow wave.

It was 1844 when we anchored at Great Sale in the company of 14 other boats. We found two other Island Packets (Jule and Our Turn) along with friends from our home marina on Grateful Attitudes. A boat named Firelight, that we had met the day before, came sailing into the anchorage with a transmission that only worked in reverse gear. They attempted, unsuccessfully, to get TowBoat/US to meet them at Memory Rock and ended up going back to Green Turtle to have their transmission replaced.
Friday started with Dave on Grateful Attitudes announcing the "Great Sale Cruiser's Net." He then proceeded to entertain us all with a parody of the Marsh Harbour and Georgetown morning nets. "Doubtful Dave" shared valuable weather information in a light hearted manner with the six boats on anchor.
We don't carry enough fuel to motor all the way to North Carolina. After motoring 63 miles in ten hours yesterday we decided to look for more fuel, just to expand our options. Found that "Rosie's Place" has fuel in the settlement at Grand Cay. We weren't able to raise Rosie either by calling for Rosie's Place or using her published handle of "Love Train" on the VHF. Dave graciously called on his satellite phone and confirmed that they were open and had diesel on hand. Chris & Cathy from Jule, an IP 38, decided we had a good idea and brought over 3 jerry jugs for us to take with us. Getting ready to pull the anchor we were surprised to see a barracuda at least as long as Noah is tall drifting just off the side of the boat.

A 15 mile run north brought us just off Grand Cay where we anchored and filled the dinghy with seven empty jerry cans. Brenda and I zoomed into town and found Rosie's place. It wasn't a place we would want to spend much time as it looks like hurricanes have taken their toll and rebuilding will take a few more years. We were surprised to see that a sandy cay across from town had been turned into a dump with stacks of garbage and piles of used tires. Several boats floated on moorings, some with shredded sails flapping in the breeze and others with broken ports and bruised hulls. Prices for a gallon of fuel were less than in Green Turtle at "only" $4.25 for diesel and $5.00 for gas. Glad we didn't bring the big boat in as there wasn't much water beside the fuel dock at low tide.
It was 1518 by the time we loaded all the jugs onto Intuition. We had originally planned to go back to Great Sale to enjoy a pot luck on Grateful Attitudes, but decided to forgo that and spend the night at Double Breasted Cay. We were anchored there by 1614 and had time to go out exploring in the dinghy. Double Breasted is billed in the cruising guide as a place to get away from the crowds. We explored in the dinghy and went snorkeling close to the boat around some shallow heads with juvenile angelfish and squirrel fish. It is two miles out to the barrier reef, so we didn't go out there this late in the day. At least Brenda was able to get into the water and see some marine life. As the sunset we took turns blowing the conch horn and were the only boat in sight.
At 1230 we were awakened by flashes of lightening and waves lapping against the stern. The current had overcome the wind and had us turned around, but we were still in a good position. We added a couple more sail ties to the main and dropped a zinc over the side just in case the storm came our way. It wasn't until 0330 that rain woke us up to close all the hatches and ports. Thunder and lightening were nearby, but never went directly over us.
Waking up in time for the 0630 weather forecast was a little difficult after the restless night, but we listened in anticipation of improving conditions. The prediction is still for increasing winds and no good window to go north until after next Wednesday, so we decided to head back down to Great Sale Cay. While readying the boat to leave we watched a colony of terns swoop around us in pairs as they left to go fishing from their evening roost on the limestone rocks of the nearby cay.
Underway at 0849 we only ran the engine for ten minutes to pull the anchor and raise the sails. With winds out of the NE we were carried along at 7 kts in a very light chop over the banks. We returned to Great Sale with full fuel tanks and smiles on our faces. Spent the afternoon looking at weather, replacing the spare halyard and doing a little school.

Beth made brownies and we sang some silly songs to round out the evening. At story time we just passed through India in Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days." We were glad to be anchored here as the winds picked up to 25 kts and there are squalls around this afternoon. Fourteen other boats are here with us in the anchorage.
After looking closely at the weather we decided not to leave tomorrow on a straight path to Beaufort. The conditions are marginal and the weather gurus are saying they are only confident of the next 48 hours while we need at three to four days to make our passage. We're thinking about a crossing to Ft Pierce or Cape Canaveral in Florida, leaving on Sunday or Monday if there doesn't appear to be a better window opening up before Memorial Day weekend for an offshore trip to North Carolina. As I type this it is raining and winds are blowing 15-20, but we are cozy, well fed and comfortable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Waiting at Green Turtle

Friday NOAA issued its last statement on Andrea, one of the earliest named storms ever. Let's hope this early start doesn't signify an overly active hurricane season. Our Noah waved goodbye to the kids from Iceni as they headed out towards the Northern Abacos to explore some of the more remote cays and stage for their crossing to the United States. We visited with four other Island Packets that made their way into White Sound; Galatea, Our Turn, Three Bells and Wind Dancer.
On the morning of 10 May we took a slip at Bluff House Marina to make it easier to pick-up Brenda and have power to install the parts she was bringing. We spent much of the day cleaning and organizing to make room for another crew member. We're all excited to have her here AND to have an extra adult aboard for the passage back to the USA.

Brenda arrived on the 1600 ferry from Treasure Cay. Noah was very excited to see her and ran down the dock to greet the ferry. After being initially impressed at how lightly she packed, we realized that her luggage hadn't made the trip with her!
Sunday started out hazy as the smoke from the fires on Great Abaco was blowing over this way. Higher in the atmosphere we were seeing the smoke from the Florida and Georgia wildfires. Noah presented Beth with a nice hand made card and we all celebrated Mother's Day by going up to the Bluff House for lunch.
We had planned to attend a beach potluck for dinner, but mother nature had other plans. A squall came through and gave us 30 kt winds and the opportunity to top off our water tanks. Noah was just as happy to stay aboard the boat as he has been glued to the Lego catalog Aunt Brenda brought in the "important" mail folder.
Brenda spent most of her first day here on the computer using Skype to try and track down her bag. By evening she had learned that it had actually arrived in the Bahamas.

The Durham Burgee hangs over the Marina Office here at Bluff House in Green Turtle Cay

Monday we woke Brenda up at 0630 so she could get into our boat routine of listening to the weather on the SSB radio. Unfortunately the news was not good for crossing. Chris Parker, our weather guru, said that he didn't recommend leaving anytime this week. Locally, the wind shifted from southwest to east, so the skies cleared and conditions were calm on our side of the Sea of Abaco. After a frustrating morning of talking to ferry boat captains and airport baggage handlers, Brenda and I took the dinghy over to New Plymouth as a diversion. Had a fun walk around the town and meet several other cruising families in the Hardware store. Explored Black Sound by boat and passed a local work boat with the creative name of Tugnacious. All the ferry captains knew that Brenda was looking for her "big red bag" and would slow down as they passed us to say that hadn't seen it yet. On the way back to White Sound we heard squawking in a tree along the shore. Four large parrots took to the air, the first we've
seen in the Bahamas. This area is supposed to be the home to rare Abaco Parrots.
The long anticipated event occurred at 1600, with Brenda's bag arriving at the dock, 48 hours after her landing. We celebrated by heading to the pool to cool off and have hot conch fritters and cold drinks. The kids from Stella Marris, Stardust, Firelight and Second Wave all gravitated to the pool while the adults pondered the weather forecasts. We were back at the boat by sunset so Noah could show Brenda the tradition of sounding the conch. She caught on right away and received some applause from surrounding boats.

Tuesday morning we gathered around the radio hoping that the forecast might change. It did, but for the worse. Chris is now saying not to plan on going anywhere for the next ten days -- arghh!
Noah put down his Lego catalog after breakfast and dug into his schoolwork. He and Brenda wrote and put on a puppet show for his creative writing project. After that he worked on his other subjects on his own while the three adults started on the installation of the replacement parts Brenda brought. We had the knotlog/temperature sensor installed by lunch and the new LED stern light installed by dinner.

Winds were in the twenty to twenty-five knot range all day long, with only a trace of rain. The boat systems are ready to go, we are provisioned and have a great crew. Now we just need a good weather window.
Linda on Second Wave shared a good definition of cruising. "Cruising is waking up in the morning with nothing to do and not being able to get it all done by bedtime."


Friday, May 11, 2007

More at Green Turtle Cay

We're still at Green Turtle Cay, preparing the boat for crossing back to the United States. Tuesday we washed the boat and changed the fuel filter and cleaned the raw water filter.
Tuesday the waves were still rolling in from the Atlantic and we walked over to the beach again to observe. The crews of Tembo (Vancouver Island, Canada) and Stella Maris (Oriental, NC) joined us. The five kids played well together on the beach. After the outing we all took dinghies over to the Bluff House to use the pool, since the Green Turtle Club pool was closed for repairs. Although the pool is saltwater, there are bathrooms with showers so it was easy to get rinsed off. Ended up staying for dinner and celebrating the pending sale of Tembo as they bring their cruise to a close.

There is a low out north of us swirling around as a semi-tropical depression. It is a little early for hurricane season, but anything can happen. We will hang out here until Tropical Storm Andrea dissipates.
Wednesday the crew from Iceni came in and we all went over the hill again to watch the surf. Hannah and Fraser spent the night on Intuition, with popcorn and a movie while we were connected to shore power. We filled up the fuel tank and the 30 gallons of jerry jugs on deck so we should have enough to motor back to the states in case the wind doesn't cooperate. Beth has been whipping the ends of the lines for each of the jerry jugs. She cut the continuous line that went through all the jugs on one side of the boat into individual lines for each jug. This will make it safer to remove one jug at a time, but has made for lots of loose ends to whip.

As the sun dropped below the hills on Green Turtle, we brought out the conch horns. The three of us gave it a go and all four people on Jule next door took turns with their conch. Learned that Jule used to be Gypsy Common, an Island Packet 38 we met last year in Lake Worth. We were all put to shame by a long winded blow from Steven on Balou that broke into a melody. He had brought out a trumpet and he knew how to use it!

Today we made pancakes for breakfast with the kids. After cleaning up we moved all of 0.2 miles to anchor in White Sound within sight of the marina docks. The wind is out of the South so there aren't many good anchorages in the area, but this is well protected. This also put us directly downwind of the Bluff House Marina, which had the Gully Roosters Band playing until midnight last night. The night before they were at the same marina we were staying in, but hooked up to shore power, we had the air conditioning on and the windows closed, so we hardly heard them. Not the case last night!

Here's a photo of the "other" Intuition and a boat we met from Wrightsville Beach, NC at the Bluff House Yacht Club in Green Turtle Cay.

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