Saturday, 1 February 2014

January 31st, 2014

Hello to everyone!
Yes, we are still alive and kicking here in the beautiful Bahamas and have had a marvelous few weeks. Sorry for such a lapse in the blog but between company and nonexistent internet it just has not been in the cards.

We continued to enjoy our time in Bimini, doing laundry, stocking up on a few fresh items, beach combing and getting a crash lesson in Mexican Train Domino’s. Al and I experienced our first conch salad, very good but I still had an issue with the texture as they don’t tenderize it for the raw salads. I also made mind blowing French toast with Coconut Bread from Bimini Breads Bakery, the best we’ve ever had – incredible!
The weather stayed a bit cool and the winds kept up as we continued to plan our good weather passage to Nassau. Sunday departure was looking good but the final decision wasn’t made until the morning of. With a favorable weather window to make the entire 120 mile overnight passage into Nassau plans were made to leave dock at slack tide, 11 am.

Mexican Train
notice the sweaters!

heading for Nassau

Paige was sitting somewhere between slightly apprehensive and downright terrified about doing this type of sail with us, what to expect! She was given a choice to stay with friends of ours that were staying at dock until the next day when we could fly her back to Nassau and meet us once we had arrived.
Weighing the potential experience of a life time vs. fear of the unknown, Paige opted to join us for the ride. Making sure she took her sea sick meds before leaving and trusting her Dad, myself and the fleet of boats that were all traveling with us, she ended up with a smile on her face the entire way across (expect when she was sleeping).
We had a large pod of Dolphins travel with us for a short period of time, flying fish everywhere, the most incredible night sky full of a multitude of the most brilliant stars (Paige got up to see at 2am) and all of us up to watch the sunrise over Nassau. 
Congratulations Paige, you toughed it out well and we were so very happy that you were able to share that experience with us!! YOU GO GIRL.

up to watch the sunrise

Our overnight trek went extremely well motor sailing the entire way. The seas were fairly benign except for some significant waves as we entered the “Tongue of the Ocean” but they didn’t last long. 3 hour shifts at the helm for the captain and myself, unfortunately neither of us slept very well when we should have been.
Checking in every hour with the fleet, ( 9 boats in total) gave me something to focus on and the time past fairly quickly. We had to slow down as we approached Nassau as we wanted to enter the harbour in the light. We also had yet to make reservations at the Marina so we needed to wait till they were answering their phones.
Permission was granted by Harbour Control to enter and we were all tucked into Nassau Harbour Club Marina by 9:30am. Great spot although it has seen better days as the grounds and facilities are showing some significant wear. The price was right the location great and Paige took full advantage of the pool while Al and I tried to catch up on some lost sleep.

Later on we took a short walking tour of the area to get the lay of the land including a must stop by Al and Paige for Dairy Queen Blizzards (in the same mall as Star Bucks!)
Nassau was not our favorite place but very glad we stopped in to experience the Bahamian capital city. We visited the Paradise Island Aquarium, lots of fun. The weather had turned cool and wet again so a good day to be inside. The following day Al and Paige explored the down town area while I tried to catch up on some heavy duty cleaning. Finishing off the day with a cut throat game of Domino’s aboard Harmonium.
The weather broke again so we took Haven out to Rose Island for the night in hopes that Paige could experience a Bahamian anchorage with white sand beaches and snorkeling. It turned out perfect although we had an extremely rocky night from the swells of the ocean. Another farewell dinner aboard Harmonium then back to the boat where we turned off the anchor light and laid on the deck to watch the night sky, a beautiful night. We returned the following day to the marina in Nassau to anxiously await the arrival of my sister, Jennifer and her family for a 9 day vacation.

Although delayed, everyone showed up safe and sound that afternoon. We tucked all the luggage away in the boat – Jen did very well minimizing what she packed but it still made Al’s jaw drop.  hee hee

The afternoon was spent by the pool with kids practising snorkeling and Conch blowing, beer drinking (not the kids) lazing in the sun and I caught up on my laundry. We decided to treat ourselves to a dinner out, celebrating the Shorts arrival and Paige’s last night in Bahamas, delicious and a great night all together!!
Conch blowing 101

sleeping quarters

In the morning Paige sadly said her goodbyes to everyone then Jen and I shared a cab with her, jumping out downtown as she carried on to the airport.  We sure had a fabulous visit.
Jen and I managed to do some quick souvenir shopping at the Straw Market, grabbed some groceries then headed back to the boat via bus. We took a detour, getting off the bus and making a stop at the fish dock, purchasing the “catch of the day” – Snapper, not sure what type- paid to have them cleaned then off we went with our $14 bag of fish. ($10 for fish, 4$ for them to be cleaned, whole fish heads off etc.) It was a fun experience.

Al was finishing with some boat maintenance and had filled the water tanks with bottled water from the grocery store, we were ready to shove off the dock around noon. Heading back to Rose Island for our first night, a short 6 NM trip and dropped anchor on the NW side of the Island this time. It was nice to be greeted in by some of our fellow sailors from the B2B fleet who were also enjoying this beautiful spot.
Managed to get a swim, snorkeling and beach time in before sundown. Cooked up our fish that we had purchased that morning and wasn’t it our bad luck that it was some of the worse fish we had ever had.
Very small fish with a high ratio of bone to flesh and a slight hint of diesel to it!! Better luck next time, hopefully one of the crew aboard Haven will catch our next meal from the sea.   
We had a much more comfortable night then the previous visit after enjoying a fabulous sunset.

In the morning we left for Allen’s Cay and had a wonderful sail all the way there along with Mar-a-largo, Luna and Amoronie II. We did pull the sails in as we crossed the Yellow Bank with trepidation and caution but Al had plotted a great coarse for us and managed to avoid getting too close to any of those menacing coral heads.
time out for fishing


We had given Ella Gravol for the trip as she was a bit sea sick the day before, unfortunately with the longer trip little Russ was also not feeling too well. We quickly dosed him up and after a lie down he felt better. We’ll know better next time to pre medicate both before we head out.

Allen’s Cay was a beautiful anchorage. Harmonium was the only vessel as we arrived but the anchorage quickly filled up. After setting the anchor all of us, expect Al, jumped into the water for a swim and snorkel, within about 2 minutes of being in the water I found myself staring at a Nurse shark swimming under our boat making its way across the anchorage. It was a very unnerving but we managed to stay in the water and watch it even though we all made a quick bolt to the back of the boat. Unfortunately the kids didn’t catch it, hopefully next time!

The Iguana’s here are a protected species and there are signs and lots of notice in literature NOT to feed them. This didn’t seem to deter the masses of tour boats from showing up all throughout the day to take pictures and of coarse, feed them. Because of this when we showed up for happy hour on the beach all the Iguana’s also show up expecting to share.
Al did some research into flights back to Nassau as the weather wasn’t looking great for the week which meant that we would have to start to head back to that area early so we wouldn’t get caught in it. He managed to make arrangements for a charter airline to pick up the Shorts at Normans Cay in a 6 seat air plane and fly them to their connecting flight in Nassau. This worked out great and allowed us to stay a bit more remote for longer.

We enjoyed two nights at Allens Cay then moved on to Highbourne Cay Marina. We had a fabulous time here, a beautiful spot. Great beaches, shark feedings, awesome restaurant(nice treat from Jen and Adrian, Thanks again guys), groceries, R/O water, good exploring and well protected from a storm we had to ride out. We were able to purchase some lobster and Trigger fish from a local boat for an evening feast, absolutely delicious!! So much fun and relaxing, unfortunately Adrian spent one full day laid up with an unknown illness but was fully recovered after 24 hours.  Al also met a captain, Carl, of one of the mega yachts who needed a ride to Nassau so we sold him the 5th seat on the plane out of Norman’s. He was very grateful and surprised at his luck!
After an extended stay on the dock and all who required drugs were adequately dosed we made the short hop down to Normans Cay early in the day.   

putting the crew to work

Again, after setting anchor we were off for some snorkeling over to a plane wreck left over from some drug running days in the 70’s. We looked for some more spots but no real success with the cool temperatures and wind the kids lost interest pretty quick. A walk about on the island took us to check out where we would be meeting the plane and the old resort that is going through massive renovations with the new owners. They are also extending the runway to accommodate larger planes, lots of construction and development expected on Normans in the coming years.
Al made arrangements with some of the workers to get a ride to the air strip the following morning for the low cost of 3 warm beers.
A fabulous farewell dinner of BBQ steak and Rum followed by a night of enjoying the beautiful night sky.

saying goodbye to the Shorts
All was on schedule. Our ride came through and we arrived in lots of time to meet the 10am flight. Carl also made it, what he thought would be by the “skin of his nose”. When we saw the plane approaching multiple times and then disappear we were puzzled. Al thought he was just checking things out as it is an uncontrolled airstrip, but when the plane still hadn’t landed 40 minutes later we began to worry. Al finally made contact with the head office and was told that the pilot wouldn’t land unless the construction crew moved further away from the runway. Al went one way and Jen the other and personally cleared the workers, even though another plane had landed and departed just prior??
One hour and 20 minutes after the plane was originally arranged, it landed safe and sound, loaded all passengers and had them to Nassau for their connecting flight. Very stressful for the Shorts I think, but in the end all worked out very well!

We had a fabulous visit with everyone and I hope they had a good holiday. I’m sure aside from the daily regurgitation of what paper products are used for what body part, where it goes and then where it doesn’t go and what light got left on… they did.

Since the family departure we’ve been slowly making our way down the Exumas.

The weather continued to be up and down with more continuous good weather this last week.
We spent 2 additional days at Normans, exploring the North Pond and surrounding beaches by dingy. It took two days because the first day we tried to defy the odds and went at low water. After multiple portages we gave up, went back for a well deserved beer and Al promising to go back the next day.

Next was going to be Shroud Cay, but the weather said otherwise. We ended up having to continue on and were lucky enough to get into Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park. They work on a reservation system and lately there was no guarantee that you would get in the day you wanted. We called at around 11am, two hours after reservations were taken, and given a ball designation. It turned out that we got the second to last available. A truly awesome place with the best snorkeling we had done about 100 feet off the back of our boat on mooring ball 16.  We did some hiking around the Island, and watched a spectacular sunset. Two days in the North Mooring field then we headed for Hog Cay or South mooring and spent a great night there.

Sun down, Al blowing the conch

The following day we headed to Compass Cay under sail but the winds were not co-operating so it was another motor sail day.  We arrived at high tide as the entrance can be tricky with shoals etc. Went into the marina to fill up with water and rinse the boat off, 0.50/gallon of R/O water. Very friendly folks and a cute little dock side shack for internet and cold drinks. We decided to go and anchor then come back in with the dingy although 10$/person to arrive by dingy, even if you spend money there, was not very inviting.

Al and I had quite the adventure going out in the dingy for a photo op in high current when our engine decided to quit! So there we were heading to Andros – across the bank – with a broken oar from a couple of weeks earlier. Luckily a fellow boater who was anchored close to us and his dog alerted him to our cries for help, happily came out and towed us back to our boat. We could have thrown the anchor out and waited for slack tide but that would have been hours. We were very appreciative for the assistance. Compass Cay does not have fuel so after an unsuccessful attempt to buy a couple of gallons off anyone at the marina we were going to go down to Sampson Cay. When we got on Active Captain to get the details we discovered that the entire Cay was closed. A decision was made to just stay anchored and enjoy a relaxing day on the boat then carry on all the way to Staniel Cay to replace the fuel the next day. It turns out we had water in the fuel and ended up tossing 2 ½ gallons.

Staying 3 nights at Staniel Cay anchored behind Thunderball Grotto. Some of the most beautiful weather we have had to date. Swimming off the boat, snorkeling in Thunderball (had to shave my legs to get my wet suite on!!), visiting with friends, more hiking, beach parties, feeding the pigs etc. etc. One of our favorite places so far. We celebrated Al’s birthday enjoying the sun with Bob and Monique from Last Waltz and went for a lovely dinner at Staniel Cay Yacht Club meeting some new friends, Louise and Charlie aboard Jubilee.

We are now in Black Point after spending one night at Bitter Guana. Meeting up with old friends and meeting lots of new ones. This is a great spot, even though there has to be more than 80 boats anchored out there.
Very clean and the most friendly locals that we have met yet, free water and incredible laundry mat!! We (cruisers) apparently ate the entire stocks of food at Scorpios Bar last night, the owner had to make an emergency run to Nassau to re supply the kitchen before Super Bowl Sunday party.

Today is January 31st, we will be staying here until Sunday or Monday and then will make our way to Little Farmers for the 5 F Festival.

We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We have not yet retreated to living in opposite ends of the boat. Taking the good with the bad, which at the moment are the bloody flies, you would think there is a carcass on board somewhere!!

Hope all is well with everyone. We are missing you all and send our love.

PS. Again very sorry for such a long time between blogs, I will try hard to make it sooner next time.


  1. what a great time...loved reading about it. Reliving the beautiful Exumas thru your blog, so please keep it coming....was that Lorraines coconut bread? (Black Point. Great places and people, eh? So happy you are loving it, as I do. Now got to get Ray to experience the day! Xxx Angie and Ray

  2. So nice to see your family made it down there and you could share the experience with the younger ones. keep the blogs coming love reading them. Carl and Robin.