Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bahamas 2006 (Part 2)

May 18

Bob and Mary on Jazmyn (a Defever 49 that we first met while they were getting damage from Hurricane Frances repaired at Cracker Boy Boat Yard in Ft Pierce) anchored nearby and gave us a tour of their boat that now looks brand new. Bob and Eddie and Wayne spent a couple of hours in the engine room talking about watermakers, batteries and other fun stuff. Bob also makes and sells pole spears. He is an avid hunter. We bought 2 spears.

The dinghy battery died! For the rest of the trip we have to hand crank, which means removing the cover and wrapping the rope around by hand.

May 19

We moved to near Mermaid Reef for a snorkel and lunch stop. It is an easy reef to access so many people go there and the fish are used to being fed. It is a no-take area and there are many fish. We did see some freshly discarded lobster heads (they are also out of season) which was sad. We then went over to anchor off White Sound on Elbow Cay. Changed oil in genset.

May 20

We went into Hope Town and enjoyed lunch at Harbour's Edge. We all had conch sandwiches. Very good!

The conch feast-Hope Town, Elbow Cay

As usual, we walked around town and climbed the lighthouse. It was a beautiful day. See more photos at

May 22

Moved around to Snake Cay off of Great Abaco. Took several tries to find a place that was sandy enough for the anchor to grab. Finally further offshore SE of the "hook" on Snake was OK. This area was a big logging operation and then attempted sugar cane production 20-30 years ago. Now all the equipment is abandonded and rusting away.

May 23

We walked around the abandonded site and dinghed through the cut (lots of current) to look at the shallow back side of Deep Sea Cay. Carol and Eddie later took the kayaks around the loop.

May 24

Moved to anchorage at southern end of Lynyard Cay, going around Tiloo Bank. I let the Nobeltec software on the PC tell the autopilot where to steer (NAV mode) for the first time. This worked fine until the autopilot heading started to drift. Then we had to hand steer. This has been happening after a few hours run time ever since we left Lake Worth inlet.

May 25 - 28

Left the Abacos at first light and went out the cut at Little Harbor. We had to tow the dinghy because when we tried to lift it last night the boom winch "let go" and dropped the dinghy. Fortunately, it was only a few feet up and no one got hurt (it weighs obout 700 lbs), but the boom smashed the railing. Now we will be forced to tow the dinghy all the way home, which we don't like. I set up Nobeltec to give an audio position report every 10 minutes. We use this as a reminder to check that the dinghy is OK and still following us. There is a lot of pressure on the lines.

We travelled about 70 nm in 10 hrs to the Market Fish Cays in the Berry Islands (also part of the Bahamas) where we had stopped for a day on our trip to the Exumas in 2000. This area is uninhabited and there are a few other boats around. We met "No Call", a Krogen 42. Bruce is a retired physican. He and Janet live aboard and are avid divers and spear fishers.

We did quite a bit of hiking on Hoffman's Cay (Holmes on some charts). We would dinghy along the beaches until we spotted a trail head, then hike off through the bushes/low trees with plenty of mosquitos. We were looking for a trail to a "blue hole" but found one to an oceanside beach with high bluffs, one of which had a structure on it. We eventually found the right trail to the blue hole and it was very interesting. You are walking through the jungle and all of a sudden there is a big hole in front of you. We brought food for the resident grouper and he was waiting for us. See pics. Later, Janet told us how they had hiked to the top of the cliff and found the US Navy triangulation marker. We found that trail the next day and hiked in and up. The day was clear and the views from the top were spectacular. (see more pics on flickr)

50' up, south, Hoffman's Cay

Carol also caught a 4-5' reef shark while fishing from the boat one night. We cut it loose.

May 29

In preparation for the crossing to Grand Bahama we moved up to Goat Cay in Great Harbor. This is adjacent to Great Stirrup and Little Stirrup where the cruise ships have their "private out-islands". We could see what looked like a couple of thousand people on the beach through the binoculars and the ship towered over the island. There were also a few dozen jet skis (we call them fleas, like land pests!), but they were controlled by ship personell and were well behaved.

Later in the day, after the ship left, we walked up to the lighthouse and also to the ruins of an old tracking station. That night we noticed the lighthouse was not operational, like a lot of nav aides in the Bahamas.

May 30

We left before first light for West End, Grand Bahama. At first, it was very calm, but as we neared Freeport the winds kicked up and we dodged thunderstorms. By the time we got to West End the winds were still blowing out of the North/Northwest which seriously reduced the possibilities for anchorages. We called and got at slip at Old Bahama Bay, which has continued to build and upgrade since we were here in 2000. Cost for one night $122, including water and electric. That is why we don't spend much time in marinas. The dockmaster on the radio gave us our slip assignment and told us it would be a tight fit. With the wind and other boats to avoid I was concerned, but made it in without a problem.

May 31

We left at sun-up. There was not a lot of room to back out of the slip, but the wind was calm so it went well. We got a call on the VHF radio from Tar Heel, another boat that spent the night there and they wanted to confirm that we were heading for Ft Pierce as they had a broken shaft and were travelling on one engine and wanted company. On this trip we ended up making both Gulf Stream crossings in the company of other boats. We hadn't done this in the past. (Courage, a Krogen 42, had followed us across from Lake Worth).

The weather wasn't great with thunderstorms and at least 3 waterspouts close by. The winds were supposed to be East but seemed a little North of that which made for a long day. Coming into Ft Pierce Inlet was against the tide which makes it rough and slow going. We finally got into our slip in Vero Beach about dark, but not before stopping to tow a guy in a disabled fishing boat. While getting him hooked up the wind blew us out of the channel and we were aground. I was able to use the bow thruster to get the bow headed back to the channel and powered off.

Called customs and went to Ft Pierce airport for immigration the next day.


We went 543 nm, put 88 hrs on the engine, used 328 gal fuel, and put 140 hours on the generator (if I did the math right). Here is a chart that I added our route to.

abaco map anno

When I called SIMRAD about the autopilot they knew immediately what the problem was and I ordered a replacement board for the heading sensor ($300 with return of the old one). It was easy to install and seems to work (at least for 24 hrs).

We have also bought and installed two new Superwinch S4000 winches for the dinghy. Since it spent so much time in the water and doesn't have bottom paint, it is a mess. Eddie has made it his mission to get it cleaned up!

I have a quote from Ward's Marine Electric to upgrade our inverter/charging system so we can increase our battery capacity. We want to get this done before heading north in the next couple of weeks.