Exumas To Key West

We have been in Key West, Florida for almost a week, and I finally have a chance to sit down and catch you up on our journey here.

Our last ten days in the Exumas were frustrating. We had strong, sustained winds for seven straight days, out of nine. The noise of the wind was terribly unnerving, and the slapping of the waves against the Aluminum Princess tied behind us added to the madness. By day five or so, I resorted to blasting music to try and drown it all out. We’d hoped to get to one or to more cays during our stay, but time was getting short. The check in date for our slip in Key West was getting close, and the weather window for good gulf stream travel was very small. The weather in the Exumas was calming down, but there was a cold front predicted for the Florida area, bringing rain, storms and winds in the 30mph range.  We decided to do a 50 hour run straight through to Key West, and hopefully keep ahead of the front.

At 6am on Tuesday, we pulled up our anchor and started the long journey to the keys that would take us across the Bahama Bank, up the Tongue of the Ocean, back across the bank and then into the Atlantic, crossing the gulf and continuing on in the Atlantic to Key West.

The Bahama Banks is similar to the Chesapeake Bay, in that it is an overall shallow body of water, averaging less than 30 feet. Because it is shallow, waves are closer together, or have a “shorter wave period.” This is can quickly become unnerving and uncomfortable, which it did (for me). Unfortunately, we could not deploy our paravanes in less than 30 feet, to avoid them possibly hitting bottom as we roll. So, we rolled our way across the banks.

I was watching the depth finder like a hawk, and as soon as we approached the Tongue of the Ocean, and deep water, I shouted out for the paravanes. As Scott suspected, our trip up the tongue was “spirited.” The winds had finally calmed down after seven days, but it takes water longer to settle. Even with the paravanes deployed, we were really moving about. I worried that it would get worse, not better as we approached our second banks crossing. Scott predicted that it would settle by the time we hit the banks, and it did…in time for him to go off watch and to sleep, lucky dog!

Of course, as we approached the Atlantic things picked up again. We consistently rolled, As a result, I didn’t enjoy the calm-water sleep that Scott had. It wasn’t as bad as we’d had in the tongue, and I eventually got used to it, keeping in mind that the boat will take way more than I am comfortable with!

Howard bounced back to his old travel self, and again wanted to be in the pilot house with us, where he assumed is “trucker” pose on the bench.

As it got more rough, we made a “triangle of safety,” to keep him from sliding back and forth as he slept. He approved.

Since we were traveling in the deep waters of the Atlantic and the gulf stream, Scott decided to set the fishing rods out and see if he could get a bite. About an hour later, one of the reels started spinning, and he’d caught a mahi mahi (dolphin fish)! I was then berated with commands…”FISH ON!! FISH ON!! PUT IT IN NEUTRAL, BRING THE GAS DOWN, COME REEL IN THIS OTHER LINE, GET THE CAMERA, OPEN THE TRANSOM DOOR, MAKE SURE HOWARD STAYS INSIDE!!” I tried to do all of these things at once, running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.  Scott reeled the mahi in toward the boat, and as he went to gaff it (a pole with a sharp hook on the end that is used to stab the fish and then lift it into the boat) the  fish slipped off of the lure. ARRGHH!! He reset the line, and it was back to the drawing board.

Not 30 minutes later….FISH ON!!

This time, I handled my ten jobs at once much better, and Scott decided to pull the mahi into the cockpit and then kill it. The fish was pretty sizable, and was still putting up a fight. I ran inside and closed the screen door, not wanting to entertain a mahi in the saloon! Scott quickly killed it…our first fish!!

 

At 7pm on night two, Scott came on watch. I stayed up until about 8:30, and then went down to try and catch a nap in the saloon (I have trouble sleeping in our bed when we’re underway, too much movement down there). An hour later, I woke up to a new noise in the cockpit. When I called up to Scott about it, he informed me that it was our flag, whipping in the increased winds, and that we were coming into a thunderstorm. Thunderstorm….in the dark. I rolled over, and prepared for terror, Howard ran up to the pilot house with Scott!

We were in the storm for almost 45 minutes. The winds quickly kicked up to 60mph, and the waves grew so much that Scott had to bring the motor speed down. At almost idle speed, the boat slammed up and down less. It was a challenge for Scott, not being able to see the waves, and it was also the strongest winds we’ve ever been in, but eventually the storm passed. Scott increased our speed, and we continued on. Howard weathered the storm out in the triangle of safety.

At approximately 2:30 am on Thursday, we were off the coast of Key Largo, and made our turn to continue another six or so hours to Key West. I was on watch, and noticing lightening off to our port side. Scott was sleeping on the bench behind me, and said that it was most likely in the gulf and would stay there. However, by the time my watch ended, just before 6am,  rain  was again appearing on our radar and the lightening was now visible in front of us as well as to our port side.

We were back in range for cell service, so Scott pulled up radar on the internet. A MASSIVE front was moving toward us, full of red and yellow precipitation. I immediately felt nauseous. The thought of going through this thing terrified me. After viewing it for some time, Scott was fairly confident that we could beat the worst of it to Key West, and get tied up in time to ride out the rest. So the race was on! He chose a quicker route that required us to maneuver through some crab pots, but we’re very experienced with that, having cruised the Chesapeake for so long!

We were now moving against the current, so our speed was  down. It felt like we would never get there! After 52  hours and another, bigger pending storm, I was done. Finally, we turned into slip A-7 at the Key West Bight Marina, and tied Sea Life to the pier. Thankfully, the worst of the front stayed to the west of us, and we just had some light off and on rain until evening.

So, we’d traveled 52 hours straight..our longest leg yet! We arrived at 8:30am on Thursday, and by the time we tied up and got the systems running on shore power and such, it was 10:30; we were zombies. There was debate as to whether to sleep until the afternoon, but we decided to go into town for lunch, have a few celebratory beers and try and stay up until late afternoon. We made it until 6pm, and then collapsed for 12 hours of straight sleep.

We are here in Key West for the month, and look forward to holiday events and visitors from home!

Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

Howard And The Remoras

November 30th

We again have acquired a school (?) of remoras under our boat. One is yellow…wait for it…ICK!! These things really creep me out, with their flat, suction heads and upside down-like mouths. Howard has somehow caught sight of them, and is now incredibly intrigued. He sits out on the swim platform gazing down off of the side and through the slats, hoping to catch a glimpse.

I insist on Howard being supervised when on these viewing missions. I’m terrified he’ll try and jump in after one if they are spotted. You may think that there’s no way a cat would willingly jump into the water, but you would be wrong here.

At our slip in Baltimore, Howard jumped from our bow…onto a duck…that was in the water! He landed squarely onto the duck, which would have been a victory had the attack happened on dry land. In this case, the duck rolled and Howard followed…into the harbor! I wasn’t so terrified that he’d gone into the water, but that he may grow a second tail from being in that “icky” water. Unfortunately, the Baltimore harbor, as you may expect, is far from clean.

Scott put his arm into the water, and Howard “climbed” it to get out (not pleasant for Scott). He careened into the boat, looking like a cartoon character, soaking wet with legs flying in all directions. He then proceeded to lick the ick off of him, and thankfully still only has one tail! He has fallen in twice since then, more by accident, but it the last has been almost a year ago. I’m worried that he has forgotten that we sit on water.

Back to the remoras. What scares me about Howard falling into the water here is the remoras sucking onto him. I don’t know their preferences..would they suck onto fur? I have visions of fishing Howard out of the water with a big bald spot on him. Yeesh.

Scott spends his supervising time educating Howard about the remoras, as they watch the water together.

Scott points out the remoras when they surface.

Scott then explains to Howard that they are in the water, and are “sucky.”

Howard seems to get it, although he hangs over the edge of the swim platform way to far for my comfort. I’m happier when he just hangs out in the cockpit, waiting for a glimpse.

His boat skills continue to develop!

Don’t forget to check the link to Howard’s photos, on Our Boat Cat page. We’re always updating it!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

Trails And Beaches

November 29th

We’ve been stranded on the boat for most of our stay here, but finally had a wind reprieve and managed a full day ashore today..woohoo! Scott wanted to hike the south part of the main island, and I wanted some chill time off of the boat.

We had a choice of two or three beaches to anchor off of, for Scott to start his hike. The first one was a semicircle, with water that was as clear and still as a swimming pool. However, right on the beach was this sign:

What kind of sign is that? What the heck does it mean? Are there aggressive owls? Why the skulls on the sign? Do they claw you with poison talons? Seriously, I wanted to know what this foreboding sign meant! Scott did not seemed phased by the word “Danger,” and the skulls. What did he care, he was going to leave and hike! I, however, did not want to be left on some dangerous “owl” beach, so we headed to beach number two. No danger signs…check.

We anchored off of the beach and waded our stuff to shore. Scott suited up for a hike, and I flopped onto a chair in the sand. I quickly realized that I did not have the beach to myself. Two meaty lizards came over to eyeball me.  I’m guessing cruisers who come to use the picnic table on this beach feed them, because they came closer than normal. They  were quite persistent, coming right back after I would shoo them away. Lizards skeeze me out. I don’t mind one crossing my path, or getting a photo of one and continuing on my way. What I do mind, is the possibility of falling asleep and being woken up to a creepy lizard on my back…ick!

My “shooing” didn’t work, and neither did the “lizard stick” that Scott had left me. I then decided to give them an unexpected bath. I filled a cup with salt water and splashed it on them. This ran them back into the bushes and held them off for longer periods of time, but they kept coming back. Like I said, persistent little reptiles. I guess the Chex Mix in my bag smelled pretty darned good, but I wasn’t into sharing it.  Again, I was having flashbacks of petting zoo, bum-rushing animals!

Eventually, Scott returned. After laughing at my frustration and failed attempts, he fetched the massive water gun from the Princess. He uses it to suck up water that gathers at the stern of the boat, that the bilge pump doesn’t quite get (yes, the Princess has a bilge pump!). When the persistent twosome again appeared, he doused them. I can imaging it equated to opening up a fire hose on them. Poor things, one was running on his front legs, because his back legs were being held up by the water gun stream. Needless to say…problem solved!

The south end of the island gave Scott an even harder time, with overgrown and unmarked trails, but he managed. This end of the island had ruins of the colonial settlement.

He also came upon Pirate’s Lair, located near a hidden anchorage. Pirate’s would come ashore to drink from the well here, and sleep for the night. They left seeds which fell from their sleeping mats, and some grew, leaving a plants not native to the area.

Again, I would not drink this stuff. If I were a pirate, I’d stick to my rum ration!

This main island of the park is named Warderick Wells, because of the many fresh water wells on the island. The word “well” is a stretch. We’re not talking Evian here. These are small, dark, dank holes, that I would not drink water from!

The day was a nice reprieve from the wind and waves at anchor. Here are some great photos of the trails and beaches along Scott’s hiking route.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Boo Boo Hill

Friday, November 27th

One of the highest points on the main island of the park is referred to as Boo Boo Hill. It provides an awesome panoramic view of the central Exumas. Legend has it that on a wild, stormy day many years ago, a luckless schooner sank off  of Warderick Wells.  All souls perished in the disaster, and  not a single body was recovered for a Christian burial.  It is said that if you climb to the crest of the hill at the bloom of the full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns.

Tradition has it that leaving an offering to King Neptune and the sea gods at the top of BooBoo Hill will incur good sailing and safe passage. It has become custom for cruisers to leave something with their boat name on it (usually driftwood), and the date that they were here. We hadn’t run across any driftwood, so Scott painted a conch shell that he’d found while we were in the Berry Islands as our offering.

We’d planned to climb Boo Boo Hill on Thanksgiving morning, hoping to leave our shell and maybe find a speck of cell service to call home, but the winds were just too much to launch the Aluminum Princess. By today, things had eased somewhat, so we gave it a go.

To get to shore, we had to anchor the Aluminum Princess off of a beach and wade in. We left dressed in shorts, and then changed into long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats, and hiking boots. Any visible body part was coated in bug spray, and we were off. The trails were far from what I would call marked. Scott has done a fair amount of backpacking, and he agreed that they could be much better maintained. We had more than one “guess” at which way to go, but always managed to come out in the right place.

After a short hike up the first, smaller hill, we were already enjoying amazing views (that included our boat!).

As I’ve mentioned before, the terrain on the island changes dramatically. We started walking across coral rock, that resembles what I think would be on the moon’s surface.

That led us into thick fan palms, and then we came out to more rocky terrain along the cliffs leading down to the Atlantic.

From there, we traveled across sand and shrubs, and then made our way up Boo Boo Hill.

Once there, it looked like someone had dumped a pile of reject wood. The pile is quite thick and spreads across the top of the hill.

People have found many ways to leave their name on wood and other materials.

Some coming year after year, to mark their trip!

We left our “mark” on Boo Boo Hill.

After a short rest and enjoying more great views, we made our way back to the Butterfly Beach where we started.

We changed back into our wading clothes for the ride home, and I successfully eluded the bugs this time, what a victory!

Here more pictures of the beautiful scenery we walked through, and the awesome views (along with the usual sunset photos!).

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Exuma Cays Land And Sea Park

Wednesday, November 25th

On Saturday, we traveled a short three hours to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The forecast called for big winds to build and blow out of the south and then slowly move around to the west, north and north east. There is no good coverage in the Exumas from all direction wind, so we chose a spot and anchored with plenty of chain let out. The first night was pretty bouncy, even for our big boat. Whipping at 20+ knots, the winds pushed two and three foot waves right at us, but we had no issues other than having to be mindful of walking around inside.

A day later, when the winds slowed as they shifted directions we pulled up anchor and moved, to be more protected from the northerly winds. We couldn’t go as close to shore as we’d like, due to park restrictions, so we went in as far as possible (which wasn’t terribly close), dropped anchor and waited to be beaten again.

Over the past few days, Scott has explored the area by boat, and gone ashore to hike the park (he took our Delorme tracker with him, so you can see his route). It was challenging, as the trails were not well marked at all, but he managed to cover about half of the island. The terrain is really interesting, changing a lot along the way, and there are also some colonial ruins on the island.

There are many beautiful beaches along the shoreline of the park. We spent an afternoon on Tabebuia Beach. The sand here is much more powdery than at Big Major, and very pudding-like when wet. As usual, we had the area all to ourselves which was great.

With all of this wind, getting to shore is a challenge. You have to get into the Aluminum Princess as quickly as possible without breaking your neck, before she smacks into the swim platform. Even though Scott has fenders along the edge of the platform, the rough waters still bang her into it. Once you’re in, it’s a rough ride until you get closer to shore, where the land breaks the winds a bit. Scott has done more shore trips than me. A banging, rolling ride isn’t my favorite way to get around.

The winds have steadily increased, and today we are getting sustained 30 knot winds with even bigger gusts. Scott has decided to stay aboard today, as it’s just too much of a hard time to go out. We aren’t bouncing around too much, but the sound of the wind is getting pretty unnerving. At night, it comes gushing down the hatch (Scott says that it’s like a helicopter is trying to land on our bed). While the air makes for great sleeping, it is again unnerving. We hide under the covers, to escape the air beating down onto our faces. It doesn’t make for the best night’s sleep.

However, on a very positive note, we have discovered that our anchor is awesome! I have dubbed it The Incredible Hulk! At most anchorages the anchor has just laid on the bottom, not really digging in at all. The sheer weight of our chain has kept us in place. However, when pushed to extremes over the past five days, it’s become a beast, digging in hard. We’ve been taking a beating here, with conditions only getting more windy, and the Hulk hasn’t..moved..an…inch! Scott keeps track of our movement on our Ipad and checks it regularly, even throughout the night. We swing a bit, which is normal, but with all of this crazy wind we are shocked that there hasn’t been any drag. That big, giant, expensive Hulk was worth every penny!

Some photos from the past few days here.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Lazy Bahama Days

The last few days have been pretty lazy around here. Scott continues to explore and snorkel, and we have spent time on a beach nearby. I won’t go into the water around the boat anymore, for fear of having a remora suck onto me!

We are now up to six or more remora under the boat…ick, ick, ick. When we through food scraps into the water they immediately come to the surface and fight for them..ick. Did I mention that they gross me out?

The other night, they got a real treat. Two nurse sharks spent time under us, and they immediately took hold (ick).

Howard, as usual, is always finding new things onboard to amuse himself. He just realized that the dingy we have stored on the starboard deck makes for great climbing, and a new way to enter the saloon.

Other than that, we’re just enjoying the scenery and the sunsets.

This morning we are pulling up anchor and making our way north. Our slip reservation in Key West starts on December 3rd, so we have about two weeks to make our way there. We can make it in far less time, but will have to wait for, move around and get ahead of weather on the way.

Today we plan to anchor farther north in the Exumas, in the Emerald Rock area off of Warderick Wells Cay. The area is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Established in 1959, it was the first land-and-sea preserve in the world. It includes 76 square miles of water, along with dozens of cays and beaches. The waters of Exuma Cays have been managed as a no-take marine fishery reserve since 1986, allowing populations of  queen conch, Nassau grouper and spiny lobster to thrive. It should be good scenery, above and below the water!

We anticipate little to no internet access in the next ten days, until we arrive in the keys area, so posts will be sparse. If we don’t post next week, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Lazy Bahama days photos (Scott loves his sunset photos!)

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

Spear Fishing & Thunderball Grotto

As you know, Scott had been busy honing his spear fishing skills while we’ve been in the Bahamas. Sizable fish have eluded him so far, living too far down for him to spear and retrieve in one breath.

We have, however, been enjoying many lobsters, and he recently speared his largest one yet!

A video of the kill..

He also spent some time snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto. Underwater scenes from the James Bond movie, Thunderball were filmed here. They recommend that you go a a slack low tide, making it easier to get into. Of course, Scott decided to do his own thing and go at a higher tide. It was the best light option, but made it harder to get inside and there was also a pretty good current going through. Again, worth the hassle for the photos.

Check out this video of Scott squeezing through sharp edged openings, swimming through underwater holes and sliding along rocky walls….with fish, and perhaps a shark.

As is common around here, the day included minor bleeding.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Our Day On Staniel Cay

Earlier this week, we ventured over to Staniel Cay for the day. There are few options to dock your dingy on the island. You can pay to dock it at the yacht club, but the logistics of our dingy make that difficult. The public beach next to the yacht club is available for free, but you have to anchor off shore and wade in..hmmm. The general store that we visited earlier in the week has a dock behind it, but it’s reserved for their patrons.

There are several places on the island that rent golf carts, the general store being one of them. The idea of a golf cart was fun, and we would also have the most hassle free dockage. We again tied up at the dock behind Isles General, were given a golf cart, and told that there was a battery charger under the back seat should we need it. Hmm…people use golf carts for long periods of time (like playing 18 holes of golf) without needing to charge a battery, but oh well. We were off and running..

We first did a spin through “town,” which consisted of the yacht club, two other restaurants, a church, a clinic and two more grocery stores; the “blue” store and the “pink” store are literally right next to each other.

Pink Store

Blue Store

When getting our golf cart, we’d asked about buying fresh bread. We were told to check at the yellow house, before the blue store. We found the yellow house, just before the blue store like they told us. I expected some kind of bakery, with a sign, but this was definitely someone baking out of their house.

I poked my head into the open side door (of someone’s house) and gave a hello. A woman appeared behind us with a big smile, and asked if we wanted bread. We had a choice of either white or coconut, we chose white. She pulled a saran wrapped loaf off of a shelf, where it sat between her paper goods and various other things. I blocked out the condition of said kitchen where I assumed this bread was baked, paid her 7.00 and we went on our way (the bread, by the way, is terrific!). I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll go into someone’s home for what we need.

We continued on, stopping at the “wholesale” liquor store and laundry, where we bought beer and then to the Atlantic side of the island. There are really big houses being built there, complete with ocean views on one side, protected piers on the other, clubhouse, etc. I’m sure this island will look very different in the coming years.

As we continued on, we quickly realized why we were given a charger. Our battery was obviously on the older side, and wasn’t going to last us the entire day. Our golf cart had really hard time on inclines. This was a frustrating, as the hills here are not big by any means. Big, four-wheel drive-type carts would pass right by us, making Scott crazy. We’d rented the cart at 9:30, and by 11:00 we were at a quarter charge, and on the Atlantic side of the island. We decided to head to the yacht club for lunch and a plug-in.

All routes back to the west side of island involved a hill. We chose the one with what seemed to be the smaller hill. Once up that hill, our only road took us up another, bigger hill. Yeesh. Scott got out and walked to the top of the hill to make sure that there was a public road on the other side, and not someone’s private, do-not-enter driveway (this had happened before).

By now, our battery light was blinking, meaning that we were on borrowed time. Trying to save every bit of usable juice we had, Scott got out and pushed, while I floored the gas pedal (ha…if we only had gas!). We just made it up the hill without rolling backward, and Scott got his cardio for the day!

We paused at the top. Scott caught his breath, and we took advantage of the views.

The term “road” was used loosely, for the route down on the other side of the hill. It was a steep decline, made up of ruts and large stones. In addition to being power-challenged, our gimpy little golf cart also lacked good breaks…on a flat surface. The whole way down this stupid “road,” I was terrified that we’d blow one of the tires (which were low on air, so maybe that was harder to do), break an axle or just plain flip over. I prayed that disaster would happened sooner than later. Flipping at a slower speed meant less chance of death.

By the time we reached the bottom, the poor cart was rattling to beat the band. The road bottomed out into a big puddle from the previous night’s downpour, and veered hard right, toward the road to town. Thankfully, no one was coming or going, and Scott mercifully missed the lake-like puddle as we careened to the main road. At this point, I considered an entire liquid lunch. I hoped that their beer was cold.

We literally coasted into the yacht club, and were shown were to plug in (no one around us was plugged in, because their carts worked!).

Our lunch in the bar at Staniel Cay Yacht Club was great (I decided to add solids to my liquid lunch). The James Bond movie, Thunderball, was filmed throughout the Bahamas, and underwater scenes were shot right near the yacht club in Thunderball grotto. There are photos on the wall of the cast, hanging out at the bar. The yacht club has been around since the late 50s, and seemed to be quite the hangout in the 60s. It’s polished up a bit since then, but still has a great atmosphere.

So we’ve eaten lunch, had some beer and cooled off. It was time to check the battery. On the way, we stopped to see the nurse sharks at the sea wall. The yacht club feeds them, and some were sizable.

Back to the cart. The battery was still blinking bars for “empty.” It was time for a trade in. We managed to get back to the general store, having to push up a small hill along the way. They close from 12-2 for lunch, but we lucked out and found the man who had helped us in the morning behind the counter. We explained our dilemma, and he brought us a replacement cart to use for the rest of the afternoon.

It soon became clear that we had gotten his best cart the first time. This poor thing had an even harder time going up hill. It also made a random, scary, shuddering noise. Determined to see the ocean, we continued on. When we found the ocean path, Scott backed the poor cart up the path as far as it would go…until it stalled. I was now sure that we’d either have to walk back to the other side of the island, or spend the night right where we were. Luckily, we’d had a huge lunch and I had brought plenty of bug spray with me, so we were good either way.

We followed the rest of the path to the ocean over look. The views were beautiful, and we were glad to not be traveling out in it. There were white caps out as far as you could see.

When we returned to the cart, it had half a charge, and she thankfully started up for us. We headed back to the yacht club for another drink, and another shot at a better charge. Here’s our second, even sadder ride.

After some mango daiquiris, we gave in and decided to head for the general store. I wanted to make a stop at the blue store along the way, and it was getting close to sunset.

We coaxed the cart up the ant hill of an incline to get to the blue store. This one was half the size of the general store, not offering hardware or auto parts. I grabbed some fresh stuff for salad, more milk, some Ramen noodles and Scott added some cookies to the pile. Here’s the scale the the woman used to weigh my tomatoes. Scott loved it.

We drifted down the ant hill and back onto the main road. There was one more hill that we had to get up, to get to the general store. So once again, I floored it while Scott pushed the even bigger cart up the hill. The cart shuddered it’s way into the general store lot, and we left her to die. All in all, it was a fun way to see the island, and was worth the hassle and the heavy breathing.

On our way home, we stopped at the yacht club’s fuel dock, for gas. They are the only location on the island that offers fuel, and regularly run out! We’d heard on the vhf radio (aka island phone) that they currently had fuel so we stopped. It was comical how high the fuel dock was.

We paid for our 5.35 a gallon to fill the tanks for the Aluminum Princess and then headed back to the boat. Quite a day!

Here are the rest of our Staniel Cay photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Rainy, Squall-ly Day

A strong cold front has been moving our way. The winds started to build Saturday evening, and yesterday we had a cloudy, windy day. This morning, the cold front officially arrived.

Here is where we are on the map, and it shows the front passing us (tongue of the ocean is to the left).

We had steady 30 knot wind, with gust to 42, as shown on Scott handy weather monitor (he loves it).

Nothing dangerous, but it was nice to see how our anchor and chain responded. It was also good to see that no one around us had an anchor drag, which can be common in a storm.

We have had some really warm temperatures since coming to the Bahamas. Our daily highs range from the mid 80s to the low 90s. The afternoon high in our saloon usually gets to 86 (we don’t have air conditioning at anchor).

Needless to say, we were ready for a temperature drop. So when the squall came through, Scott said that God turned on the air conditioning! We woke up to 84 degrees, and the squall knocked it down to 78. It  is after 3pm, and our temperature is at 80, which is a nice break!

We have come to realize that in the islands, the vhf radio is used in lieu of a telephone. Most days, we keep our radio on scan, so it will pick up anyone talking on it. We hear talk between employees at Fowl Key Resort next to us, as well as people contacting Staniel Cay Yacht Club.

Most interesting, however, is listening to boaters talk to each other. We hear chatter about meeting for lunch, working on boats, ordering parts. etc. People also discuss where they’re headed to next, or where they’ve come from. They’ll also call to shore to make a reservation, or ask about transportation from their boat.

Conversation between the two UK boats near us is a favorite of ours (they are from Scotland),  especially as the storm came through. They commented on nearby boaters washing their sailboat in the rain (people often do this to make use of free fresh water), and how that they were surprised that the people weren’t showering in it (something that happens here regularly). Apparently, whisky is scarce aboard, but they have a friend bringing in reinforcements. All of this is of course made more entertaining with the addition of their accents!

And by the way, this guy showed up to anchor today..big! The boat to the left is the dingy, that was towed in behind him. Once they are anchored, it will tie up next to them.

So, we have our first rainy day since mid September. Scott is on a Black Sails viewing marathon, and I am blogging and baking. By the way…even through clouds and rain, the water still a beautiful blue!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

 

At Anchor In The Exumas

We are enjoying life, anchored in this gorgeous blue water.

Scott has been snorkeling and exploring since we dropped anchor here. Some of that being under our boat! First, check out the clarity under there!

We’ve seen stingrays and hermit crabs hanging out under us, and what we thought were small sharks are actually two remoras, or suckerfish..ick! They’re two feet long..double ick!! I think I’d rather have small sharks under there. Whenever I get into the water, I’m panicked that they’re going to suck onto me. That’s a spa treatment that I’ll pass on, thank you.  As I mentioned in my previous post, A Rainy, Squall-ly Day, we’re boat bound today, so here is what we did (we’re beginners, so bear with us, we’ll get better)!

On one of his excursions, Scott went ashore and climbed to the highest point on one of the nearby cays for some photos. The path up was overgrown, and Scott had to tramp through to get his “money shots.”

On the way down, he realized that he had grabbed onto, and brushed by poisonwood on his route. He was so zeroed in on getting to the top, and to his photo site, that he hadn’t paid close attention going up.

Poisonwood is a tree similar to poison sumac, and it’s very commonly found in the Bahamas. Not good. Scott hustled back down to the Aluminum Princess, stripped down and jumped in the saltwater to rinse off. He then rinsed out his clothes and put his swim suit on to high-tail it back to the boat, where he again stripped down and showered in fresh water with soap. So far, no itchy rash, so it appears that we’re in the clear and the risk was worth the pictures!

Right near us is Pirate Island. Years ago, a cruising couple who were here on their boat (named Pirate) “developed” the beach here for cruisers to come ashore and enjoy. There are benches and tables, a bean bag toss game, lounge chairs, fire pit and a charcoal grill stocked with charcoal.

Throughout the years, those who visit maintain it, keeping the beach swept and the charcoal supply full. When you’re onboard for extended periods of time, it’s nice to have a place to go to, and be able to stretch you legs and have a cookout. In the winter months, when there are many more people here, the cruisers meet here for pot lucks and happy hours.

We are “around the corner” from Staniel Cay, and Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Their adorable cottages have been on my vacation radar for years, so I had Scott do a drive-by for me. They’re soo cute!

As usual, Howard is enjoying his happy hour stints on the pulpit.

He’s getting more and more comfortable out there, yeesh.

When we arrived, there were four other boats. There are now sixteen other boats. We attribute this to the winter season approaching, when people bring their boats here and stay for months. There is also  a strong cold front coming through, with big winds. This anchorage is pretty protected from most of it, so we’re guessing some are here to wait it out.

There are boats here with cruisers from the UK, Germany and France. The French like to bath “au natural” on their swim platform, so that’s entertaining. The “Germs,” as Scott has taken to calling them (they have a generator on their bow, and the noise annoys Scott, go figure), are getting great use of Pirate Beach. Excuse the blurry photo, but Scott could not get over how big their fire was. He was convinced that they were burning one of the tables, or had thrown their dingy onto the fire.

That’s it in a nutshell so far. Signing off with the sunset and the rest of our photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”