Sunday, December 30, 2012

Marsh Harbor part I

Since we arrived in Marsh Harbor, it's been almost partying everyday, with a few trips here and there to Great Guana Cay, Hopetown by boat, Little Harbour and the famous Pete's Pub and Treasure Cay by boat. We are being entertained and taken care of by the friends of Karen, Rusty and Nancy who are being absolutely wonderful. We have been invited already to three different parties, with almost everytime the same people, who are all interesting and long timers of Marsh Harbor. Along the way, we are making new friends and enjoying our time. Anne, who is fluent in english, also had the opportunity to talk to a great variety of people and I am happy to see her fit in so well.
Anne left on the 28th and her departure was as dramatic as her flight in. To start with, her plane had to depart for West Palm Beach and return with a full load of people, leaving at the time it was supposed to leave for Nassau. This meant at least two and a half hour delay. Still doable to catch her flight from Nassau to Miami, but just.
Anyway, since we had no control over that, Rusty suggested lunch at Wallis, which we enjoyed. Good food and a super slow food service. Back at the airport, the plane came back later than expected and hopes to catch the flight from Nassau to Miami were evaporating and Anne was stressing a max. Anyway, she took off and once in Nassau was offered by Bahamas Air another flight to Miami which enabled her to get back on the scheduled flights from Miami to London, then London to Marseilles.
Yesterday was another party at the Jib Room, which is the restaurant attached to the marina, with some 130 people attending, and a Limbo dance to finish it off. Great fun.
 Tomorrow, I will play a round of golf with Rusty and two or three of his friends. I am expecting to play lousy since it has been more than a year since I touched a golf club. And I discovered that I have a "trigger thumb", which is an inflammation of the tendons. Not too painful, but very uncomfortable. I might be able to see a doctor here next week. Otherwise, I will have to wait until I am in a place that offers decent health care, and that place will not be Haiti.
Quiet evening tonight, with a very strong wind from the NNE, but we are well protected.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Back in the Abaco for an unspecified period

Broken portlight
Anne flew in as planned, although she almost missed two connections. One in Madrid because she was in the wrong terminal, and the other one in Miami because her flight was late by one hour. She was very tired as well after more than 24 hours of travelling and she was soon in bed after a quick dinner. Next day was touring around Nassau, doing the traditional tour on a horse drawn carriage, then on to the beach for a swim, and then a short visit to the Paradise Island.
With Anne in Nassau
Our departure from Nassau on the late evening of the 19th was not the best that it could be. I had to dive into the engine compartment to check on something with the engine and I left Karen at the wheel, forgetting that with her short size, she cannot see forward above the dodger. As a result, Papy Jovial rammed herself into the bowsprit of an anchored sailboat and exploded one of the portlights in the V-Berth.
Dock and Dine in Man O War
Anne and Karen worked feverishly to kind of closed that gaping hole on the side of the boat with cushion, lots of duct tape and a special tape used in construction, given to us by Scott Ripley in Norfolk.
At Ted and Barbara house
We were very fortunate to have calm seas, light winds and a very nice sail up back to Man O War where we arrived in the afternoon of the 20th, way before the cold front and the strong winds hit us.
This of course happens as most suppliers in the US are closing for the Holidays and won't reopen until after New Year. We are therefore expecting to be stuck here in the Abacos until we can get the part and have it installed. There could be worse places to be stuck in the middle of  the winter.
Receving a present from Ted
On the 21st, we had a very nice evening with the Brothers of the Coast of the Island, eight of them and their spouses being present. Ted's house is a very interesting one, leaving no doubt  that you are in a sailor's home.
Meanwhile, we walk the island and Anne is taking advantage of the nice waters to swim and get some sun.
For two days, we are being subjected to strong winds, sometimes up to 30 knots, but we are safely tucked in into a marina and very safe.
If the weatherman is correct, the weather should return to perfection tomorrow and we are going to Marsh Harbour, visit friends of Karen, check on flights back to Nassau for Anne, visit the local grocery stores and generally speaking plan our stay for an unspecified length of time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Across to Nassau

At the west en of Bay Street
As forecast, nice crossing ending up in 4 hours motoring as the wind died 25 miles before reaching Nassau. Other than that, no problem. The Whale Cay passage was no problem at all with 12 knots of wind from the  ESE, maybe 4 foot seas but no breakers. Then after Whale Cay we went back inside the sea of Abaco and had a beautiful and easy sail down to the Little Harbour where the  cut was a little rough, but very comparable to what you get in the numerous cuts of the US East Coast.
The Pirate museum
As soon as we got out, I set up a course on close haul as I knew that the wind would veer from ESE to SSE, which would have made a direct course impossible. And the wind did exactly what was forecast, and we arrived in Nassau Harbour at day break. I had been trying to get a spot in Harbour View marina, but instead, we went to Nassau Central marina, much closer to downtown. At first, the problem was that they have no Wifi, but I found a service provided by the Paradise Island resort. A bit pricey, but works well.
We went downtown to have a look and have lunch in a greek restaurant. There are three cruise ships in town and all those people were busy spending their money, shopping, dining and drinking. But as soon as you step out of that small area devoted to cruise ships and called "downtown", Nassau becomes very much dead and desert.
Green Turtle Cay to Nassau
Apart from doing the routine stuff on the boat, my time is devoted on trying to find the best option to get back to the Abaco. Another front is coming, with easterly wind until Friday morning when very light wind in the morning will be succeeded by strong northerly wind on Friday afternoon, when you want to be already hunkered down. My only worry is what is the best time and the best weather to re-enter the sea of Abaco. As usual, I will keep monitoring the weather and then choose an option and hope for the best.

Anne is arriving tomorrow late afternoon and I am very excited to have her with us for unfortunately only 10 very short days.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sailing at last !

West end to Great Sale Cay
Arriving at Ezio is almost like coming home. We had to deserve it anyway as we had to beat a few storms to the finish line.
Ezio and Stephanie are so wonderful friends that it is difficult to describe. Ezio helped me with the boat, doing himself 100 % of the repair on the hull and helping me with my aquatic/electric gremlins. We thought we had gotten rid of them, but they  reappeared in Green Turtle Cay. Ezio also managed to point me in the right direction to fix the  WiFi amplifier which had taken water and screwed up the IP address of the LAN connection in the computer.
Great Sale Cay to Green Turtle
On Sunday, we went for a brunch in Lucaya (instead of the traditional breakfast) with Ezio, Stephanie and their friends Peter, Bob and their wives and Edna which looked to me in great shape. Another very good time
After too short a time at the Great Lucaya waterway, we left aiming to get to Nassau where my daugther Anne will be flying in on the 18th, but going around the northern part of Great Bahamas Island, the winds being from the South.
We had a great sail to West End and spent a nice evening there, dining out by the pool.
On Wednesday, sailing from West End to Great Sale, I did not feel safe to take the short route through the Indian Cay, with cloudy skies, the sun light in my face and a narrow channel know for shoaling randomly. So I went to Memory Rock, which adds 10 miles but is perfectly  safe. We sailed the whole day with 10 to 15 knots of southerly winds and it was a dream.
Bank opening hours
Beware of attack chicken !
Next morning, we left very early, like 6:30 , hoping to get to Green Turtle cay early. That was forgetting the the channel to get in can only by sailed through from mid tide upward, so having arrived around 2:30, we got in only at 4:30. This time, instead of going to Bluff House, I went to Green Turtle Cay marina which is as good a marina as any. And you can deduct your restaurant and bar bills from your dockage, which at 1.50 $/foot is not exagerated.
On Friday, we rented a golf cart and went to New Plymouth and through the whole of the island, ending up with a drink at Bluff House before returning to the  boat. At first I was hoping to be able to leave on Saturday morning, but the winds are still fresh enough to make the Whale Cay passage too uncomfortable. So, we will leave on Sunday with the risk of ending up motoring when nearing Nassau with light southerly winds.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The party goes on !

Roger is taking the picture, Linda in the background
Having surrendered the car on Sunday afternoon, John from the Solomons Island, came to pick us up at Enterprise Rent a Car and took us back to his condo and Monica. There, I showed them the way I do "mayonnaise", and then he took us back to Papy Jovial and Harbortown marina where we had a quiet dinner, preparing to leave the next morning.
Again, we had to deal with a bridge, this one opening only at 8:30. Little scare as we were leaving. I had cleaned the main strainer for the raw cooling water for the  engine and forgot to reopen the sea cock. Consequence, high temperature alarm. I immediately knew what it was, but I was in the middle of manoeuvring to get out of the marina, and by the time I dove into the engine compartment and opened the sea cock, Papy Jovial was already scaring birds in the trees lined up between the marina and the barge canal. Fortunately, no damage.
Crossing the Gulf Stream
But we had to speed up to make it to Vero Beach marina where I scratched the hull against the finger pier, which is raw concrete and no fender of any kind.
Next morning, we left as early as possible to deal with 8 bridges on our way to Old Port Cove marina in North Palm Beach. There, we had dinner with Steve and Lili who have a condo there, have their boat at Shelter Bay marina in Colon, and are preparing to leave for New Zealand early next year. Preston and Sherry, Roger and Linda (aboard Sandcastle), Karen and myself and of course Steve and Lili for yet another wonderful evening.
West End to Ezio's
By 4:30 next morning, I was awake, and although I had said that I would not leave before 6:00 to have some daylight, we actually left at 5:40 headed for West End.
The crossing was uneventful but the conditions were slightly less than fair, with headwind forcing us to tack under engine and main sail, and 4 feet seas on the nose, which Papy Jovial does not like at all.
We got to West End in pitch darkness and since I had not been there in a long time, I was not very comfortable coming in. It went however smoothly, and we were tied up in time to welcome Preston and Sherry who were just behind us.
Clearing customs and immigration went like a charm next morning and we were able to leave at 8:40 and arrive at Ezio's on the Great Lucaya Waterway around 3:00 p.m.
Now, we are in the Bahamas.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Entertainment !

This was Gary's Kingdom and he is responsible for us spending a tremendously wonderful week. And we have not done it all !
In addition, we were so lucky that Preston and Sherry were also there for most of our stay, and then John and Monica from the Solomons Island arrived on Saturday before Preston and Sherry left.
We did a lot ! Restaurants, a concert "Smooth Jazz" with Dave Koz and friends, Tiki Bar, an evening at the movies to watch "Lincoln" directed by Steven Spielberg and what has become for me a pilgrimage to "Roberto" for a cuban dinner.
We had rented a car for the week, which allowed us to do all the shopping that we needed to do, take care of the various tasks that had to be done before leaving the US.
This was supposed to be basically our last stop before jumping to Great Bahamas Island, but it seems that there will be more quality time with friends before we leave the US.