Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Abaco Bahamas May 2006

May 03

We finally left Vero Beach after many hectic days. The weather is looking better for crossing. Went to Port Petroleum in Ft Pierce and took on 717 gal fuel. This filled all three tanks. Since it was late by the time we finished they let us stay at their dock for the night. (14 nm) (nm is a nautical mile, approx 1.15 miles

May 04

Since the seas were marginal we decided to wait another day before crossing so we headed south on the ICW for Lake Worth (Port of Palm Beach). Things were fine until as we passed under the Jupiter Federal Highway bridge the tender informed us that the bridge at PGA Blvd was closed for the next 24 hrs. We turned around and waited for her to close and then re-open the bridge and after calling Tow-Boat US for local knowledge proceeded out of Jupiter Inlet (which is not recommended for cruising boats). This was a first for us but conditions were mild and we proceded to Lake Worth inlet and anchored south of Peanut Island. (52 nm)

May 05

Left Lake Worth inlet around 4:00 am at 1625 rpm on the Cat. The seas were mild with light westerly winds. We travelled all the way to the eastern side of Great Sale Cay (Tom Johnson Harbor on the chart) to get protection from the westerly winds. (104 nm, approx 42 gal fuel burned).

I have started using Nobeltec VNS software which lets me show the chart and a satellite photo side by side on the 20'' widescreen Dell LCD monitor with the boat position in real time from the GPS. I usually have the photo zoomed out to give an overview and the chart more zoomed in to see detail. Very happy with this.

May 06

Moved to anchorage off Green Turtle Cay. Tried to clear customs but the customs lady was tending bar at the "Roots Festival". Island time! (50.4 nm)

May 07

Cleared customs ($300) early and went snorkelling off No Name Cay where there are moorings along the reef. When we were lifting the dinghy for the night the 80A fuse blew. We managed to get the dinghy back in the water. Proabably need to replace winches when we get back to USA.
In the meantime we are towing the dinghy which is not as good and leaving it in the water at night which makes it possible for someone to steal it. They usally take the whole thing and the remove the engine and discard the dinghy.

May 08

Eddie bought new snorkel and mask from Brendal's ($104) and we snorkelled mooring #13 off the same reef off No Name where we saw two large sleeping nurse sharks. Carol tried to call her Mom from a pay phone and as it was getting dark and the light in the booth was out, Eddie had to stand under a light by a store and yell out the credit card numbers. She couldn't get through anyway!

May 09

As Carol and I left the boat to try to call her Mom we let go of the boat before we noticed the key was not in the dinghy (duh!). It was too windy to paddle back to the boat so we tossed out the anhor. Eddie came to the rescue in his underwear and flippers. He dove in and delivered the key.

May 10

We left Green Turtle and moved to Baker's Bay on Guana Cay. This place was developed by a cruise ship company as a "private island" but was abandoned several years ago. Now someone is planning a big golf course and residential development. People are fighting it, but in the Bahamas, like in the US, money usually wins. (13 nm)

May 11

Took long dinghy ride to settlement and got drenched when the wind picked up and made the Sea of Abaco pretty rough.

May 12

A squall line brought winds of 40 mph and hail! (another first for us). Our anchor held fine and it passed quickly.

May 13

Moved to anchor off north end of Man-O-War Cay. (9 nm)

Carol and Eddie snorkelled around the shore and I blew up one of the inflatable kayaks and took Ursa ashore. I met a couple from Ohio that own a house that overlooks both the ocean and Sea of Abaco at the narrow point of the Cay. See pictures. They were originally from Ohio and had the house built by local contractors (whose background is as ship builders) in the '70s and have now retired here. The house has gone through some serious storms with minimal damage. In hurricane Floyd their neighbor's anemometers recorded gusts over 180 mhp. We see very few structures on land with signs of hurricane damage. Damage to docks, etc. is more obvious as many have not been repaired.

May 14

Took dinghy tour of harbors on Man-O-War and snorkelled at Fowl Cay Preserve. Highlight was two large rays, but most of the reef is not in good shape. Also saw the biggest royal blue parrot fish ever! We moved to Marsh Harbor late in the day as another front is forecast and that is more protected. (5.7 nm)

May 15

Went to shore and Carol called her Mom from Batelco. Checked out WiFi internet access from (Out Island Internet). Tried to sign up on the boat but got timed out.

Stopped by JAZMYN and talked with Bob and Mary. We met them in Cracker Boy Boat Yard after Hurricane Frances damaged their Defever 49. They lived on her in the yard for 180 days while she was being repaired because rental properties were not available after the storms. That is not fun, but she looks like new now. Later they joined us on FLUKE and shared stories of their 30 years of cruising. We try to learn all we can from people like that.

May 16 (Carol says worst day of boating yet)

As the local cruiser's net on VHF radio was starting at 8:15 am a big squall hit and our anchor started to drag immediately. This is hard to describe because stuff happens so fast. I got the engine going right away but control is difficult in the high winds with the anchor dragging. We were on top of the boats behind us quickly (it is a very crowded harbor) and people were yelling on the radio. When this happens you are are quickly pushed broadside to the wind which complicates things. In addition to trying not to hit boats one has to worry about getting things in the prop which would disable the boat immediately. Our own anchor chain and other boats are prime candidates. Carol ran to the cockpit with a big fender (the dinghy was also tied tight sideways off the swim platform) and Eddie managed to get the anchor up. By some miracle we didn't seem to hit anything but we got a lot of people exited. (this is not a good way to make friends) Carol said one sailboat bow was practically in our cockpit and she could see his anchor chain going under our dinghy, but somehow we got away. Once the anchor was up I had more control and was able to get away to an open area in the channel and wait until the wind (and our nerves) settled down to re-anchor.

I went ashore and got signed up for WiFi access ($40 for a week) so I could see that my ACVT stock options are about worthless.

Later in the day another squall line was forecast so we moved to the outside of the harbor and anchored along the shore where we would have less protection, but a lot more space. (1 nm)

May 17

It was a relatively quiet night as the sqaull line dissipated. It is raining now but winds have been mostly light with a few gusts. Hopefully, this front will move out of here so we can have some good weather again. Eddie was pumping out the dinghy, but got interrupted by the latest shower.


We have not been happy with our power situation. The main engine alternator output while running at 1600 rpm is basically enough to power the load so there is none extra to recharge the batteries. It takes about 3 hrs of generator time twice a day to keep the batteries charge. The fridge and freezer are the biggest loads.

Here is a picture. Clicking on it will take you to where you can see other pics we have posted. I am having a hard time getting them to upload so be patient if I haven't got them yet.

Home at a peaceful time