Thursday, February 26, 2009


Since we arrived in Green Turtle cay, the wind has not let up at all, remaining at 20 to 25 from the NE. This makes it next to impossible, and at any rate not prudent, to try and get through the Whale Cay passage under these conditions.
So, we are still here this Thursday afternoon, having quite a pleasant stay. My crew took me yesterday for a walk to the village which took us almost an hour and a half. Good way to burn the calories coming from the Bahama mama or the Gombay smash. In the village of New Plymouth, we even had time to go shopping for emergency groceries (understand white wine for the before dinner drinks) , postcards and stamps. At noon, we were able to take a ferry which took us back to the White Sound where we are docked, at the Bluff House marina. We then had a good lunch of grouper and conch, with fries and various rum based mixtures to wash it down.
Today the walking was less intense, but we still had to wash down lunch at the same place.
The wind is supposed to loose a little bit of its strength tomorrow and we intend to try and make the passage and head for Man-O-War cay and pay a visit to Ted Dowty and Barbara.
With another front coming, bagging some SW wind up to 30 knots, we won't have time to visit any other place and we will leave on Saturday morning early directly for the Gran Lucaya waterway, which is some 142 miles from Man-O-War. If the forecast is correct, we should make it to the waterway before the wind goes over the 20 knots mark at 8 to 10 in the morning on March 1st.
I settled my bill today as everything closes from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. The prices are not cheap, but since the marina deducts the dockage from the overall bill, including charges at the bar and restaurant, it makes it quite affordable.
Tonight will be a quiet dinner on the boat and get ready to go early tomorrow Friday morning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The sea of Abaco

The sea of Abaco

Finally we made it, despite a persistent and strong northeasterly wind.
On Monday, we left the Old Bahamas Bay marina (the dockmaster pronunces it Obama marina!) around 8:15 to go east. We entered the bank in the Goodwill channel and kept motoring, with the help of the main sail until Mangrove Cay at which point we were able to unfurl the genoa and sail.
We arrived at Great Sale cay in time for drinks and dinner. There were more than half a dozen of boats anchored there, but not much to visit on that desert island. The night was quiet as it is a very well protected anchorage, maybe with the exception of southwest winds.
Tuesday morning saw us up early as I knew that we would still be motoring against the wind and I wanted to get as close as possible to the Abacos. So, we left shortly after 7:00 and,as expected went on motoring, with 2 reefs in the main all the way to Crab cay. After that however we were able again to set the genoa and sail on close haul. Ajut rigged up a block and tackle (named Handy Billy) to pull the clew of the genoa low and in. It looked like a perfect setting and we were able to sail at more than 6 knots with the wind at 45 degrees apparent. I am hoping that in the next couple of days we will have the opportunity to do a few tacks and see what angle we get on the ground between tacks.
We arrived at Green Turtle cay and went to the Bluff House marina. With more than 20 knots of wind, backing into the slip was not the easiest thing to do and I made quite a mess of it. Still, around 5:00 p.m. we were securely tied up, without breaking or hitting anything.
I had time to register with the marina and ensured with the attendant that the bathroom were accessible at all time without the need for a key, and that I was going to be able to get a token for the laundry from the bar and grill.
This appeared to be the time when the dock attendant used to go back home and we found the bathroom locked and no token to be found at the bar.
Welcome to the Bahamas !

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Leisure Cruise

Saturday was devoted to cleaning the boat thoroughly and getting ready for the first real dinner party of this cruise. We were expecting Stephanie, Ezio and their friend Peter for dinner and we wanted this to be a success. And thanks to the cooking talents of Ajut and Claudie, it was. Six around the dinner table did fit well. Very enjoyable, pleasant and happy evening.
On Sunday, it was up at six a.m. to try and leave at seven. In fact, we were under way at 6:45 a.m. with a very pleasant weather, light breeze from the NNE, which made it impossible to sail but allowed for easy and pleasant motoring into West End where we settled for the afternoon shortly after noon. I had forgotten that we were in the Bahamas, and the rates ( which don't include a hefty charge for water and electricity) almost shocked me. There won't be many nights in marinas this cruise.
However, the whole idea was to allow Ajut and Claudine to take a stroll in the settlement and do a little touring around, and this was worth it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

off to paradise

Finally, finally, we are ready to go (almost ready since we forgot the dish washing liquid although we rushed bak to Publix for last minute shopping). With a very nice sent off from Babette and Claude, we took the first giant step from Cooley's Landing to Lake Sylvia around 11:00 in the morning, almost 2 miles, not including a little tour towards Las Olas bridge so that Ajut could take a gazillion pictures of the mega Yachts anchored around the Hall of Fame marina.
At Lake Sylvia, we had lunch and we waited until around 3:30 to get going, top up the fuel tank at the Lauderdale marina and sail under the 17th street bridge at the 5:00 p.m. opening.
Across the Gulf Stream, the conditions were perfect with southerly wind and less than 2 feet seas, although we almost had to beat into the wind when the forecast was for SSW wind. We sailed all the way across under the guidance of Mister Monitor.
I realised however that, as it is mentionned in the manual, it is important to have the sails well balanced for the monitor to steer with ease.
Once we got on the east side of the gulf stream, the seas became a little rough while the wind veered from SSE to SSW and we could ease the sheets quite a bit. As we prepared to enter the channel into Port Lucaya at 8:30 a.m., the lever that command the transmission broke off. Ajut made an emergency repair that allowed us to enter into Port Lucaya and drop the hook, time for us to make a more permanent repair.
Once this was done, we went into the Port Lucaya marina to clear Customs and Immigration, which took almost 2 hours, and then went out again to get to Ezio's place, 8 miles to the East of Port Lucaya.
The weather had become a little rougher, and one breakfast went back into Neptune's domain.
We arrived at Ezio's at 13:10, in time for a nice lunch (Claudine and Ajut are first class cooks and I stay away from the galley).
More photos in the photo album
It is now time to enjoy the Bahamas !

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the starting blocks

It's been more than two weeks since Papy Jovial arrived in Fort Lauderdale and time has been flying by.
First of all, on Sunday Feb 1st, the super Bowl party which took place at the home of Julian Harper and that I truly enjoyed, for the company, the game and possibly the commercials, although I found them not as striking as in previous years.
Then, there was time allocated to tidy up the boat and prepare for the arrival of Ajut and Claudine. Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday, I made a trip to the west coast to Port Charlotte and Sarasota, to take my life raft to Winslow for servicing and to spend some time with R.K. and Pat in Sarasota.
Ezio arrived with Bob on Thursday evening, and on Friday, at the crack of dawn, we left for Stuart, via Riviera Beach and Palm Beach, to have a look and purchase a Boston Whaler 29.
I drove back to Fort Lauderdale, only to drive back up to Riviera Beach, to have dinner with Ezio and Bob there and bring there some stuff that they might need on their way down to Fort Lauderdale.
They arrived the next day and I met them at Cooley's Landing where they settled for the night.
The next four days, it was a constant shuttle between Costco, Walmart, BassPro shop, West Marine, Publix and others as they were many thinks that Ezio needed to take care of before departing for the Bahamas.
Finally on Thursday the weather improved and they were able to leave for Freeport.
Wednesday, I had gone to Miami to meet Ajut and Claudine who will be going with me to the Bahamas after the Zaf in Fort Lauderdale. We had dinner with Ezio and Bob at the Lester Diner on SR 84 on Wenesday night and breakfast there before they left.
On Thursday night, I drove back to Miami for a meeting at the Miami Springs Lions Club. I belog to that club but I had not been there for years.
Friday was the first day of the Zaf, with the traditional "boucan" in one of the brother's house and freebooters clothing. We had the opportunity to blast the cannon towards the Jungle Queen, and at the end of the evening we inducted a new brother.
Saturday started with a picnic on the new River, followed in the evening with a "cruise" (we sailed underneath the 17th street bridge at least three times) aboard Musette.
Sunday, I had the opportunity to play golf with Frank, Ed and a friend named Hank. I did not do too bad, considering that I play once a year. After the game, I rejoined Ajut, Claudine, Stew, Diana, Claude, Babette and Henri at Henri's home.
A short nap later, it was on to the Mai Kai (Polynesian restaurant) for more food and wine.
The official ending of the Zaf was breakfast at a restaurant on Las Olas, but I stayed on the boat, hoping that TNT would deliver the tracking beacon, but it did not happen.
Now, starts a new chapter, with a short cruise to the Bahamas with Ajut and Claudien.