Monday, January 31, 2011

On top of Boo Boo Hill

Some folks took this picture on top of Boo Boo Hill in Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park.

Legend has it that a shipwreck which claimed many immigrants just in front of the hill two hundred years ago haunt this hill. On a full moon you can hear the faint hymns the ghosts are singing.

It's a great story and I choose to believe it. Of course, there is the matter of several blow holes in the area....

Note the boat names on boards in a heap - a cruiser tradition. Messenger is just behind us.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Black Point

We are in Black Point still this morning and after three patient hours Scott finally got our Blackberry connected to the laptop so we're in business.

We are planning on taking a run to White Point this afternoon - only a couple of miles away. There's a pretty beach there apparently.

We hesitate to leave Black Point, there are several activities going on here and the people are very friendly. Yesterday I did five loads of laundry at Ida's laundromat and picked up a few things at the yard sale in front of Lorraine's Cafe. I managed to stub and maybe break my middle toe and so whined enough that Scott ran in to get a pizza and we basked in the knowledge that we were sleeping in clean sheets that night.

The kids have loved hanging out with Sheet Music and Ruahk and we've enjoyed their company too. Marty on Ruahk offered to amputate my toe but seeing how he is a DENTIST not a surgeon, I declined.

Anyway, we're getting ready to try to navigate our way to Georgetown once these easterlies blow out this week - we are considering Farmers Cay where there's a festival this Friday but not sure about it, so we'll see.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Today we pulled a James Bond and dove on a spectacular cave where the film was shot. hard to believe it is natural with a skylit torch and hundreds of colorful fish and coral. We also finally met up with Sheet Music and the three kids aboard. They are travelling with a family from Ontario with six kids aboard. yay

We are loving the area around Staniel Cay here in the Exumas. The water is warm and shifts with depth from sapphire to pale turquoise.

The trick here though is to dance around various cays and rocks to stay in their protection from the winds.

Tomorrow we head to Black Point to do a monster-sized laundry and explore the village.

Scott is just popping two loaves of bread in the oven while we sit and rock and roll at our anchorage waiting for this howling wind to shift or die.

Still have not conquered my Internet connection so grateful for my Kindle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

weather is everything

we made it to the exumas eight days ago after a romp across exuma sound and ran into a week of fronts then hot weather. Onc again we're goimg to dash around som islands to miss two days of howls. We'll post again once I figure out my new Internet connection. Geez we love this kindle. Oh yeah I baked bread today. Aidan said it tastes like cake. It is that good.

We are in the Staniel Cay area.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Exumas at last

We had a fantastic 40-mile run from Rock Sound in South Eleuthera to Highbourne Cay in the Exumas Sunday. The wind was on our back and we ran at about 6 to 7 knots, helped considerably by our spinnaker pole Scott set to hold the jib.

We travelled with our friends on Painkiller and Endurance. About five miles from the Exumas, we got a message on the radio from Tess on Endurance that Tony had caught a giant skipjack tuna and she was freaking out about the blood in the cockpit.

We congratulated them then we set about taking our spinnaker pole and getting ready to maneuvre the cut when zing! we heard our pole go with a big fish on the other end. I was on the helm and Scott raced to get back to reel the big thing in - he started to reel it and it fought, he reeled, it fought. I was wondering what the heck we were going to do if got the thing into the boat. Scott yelled for me to slow down - a bit hard when we're sailing with full main! Then snap! the line, the fancy lure and the big fish got away.

Scott berated himself for not reeling properly but we were all cheered by Tess and Tony's promise of a big feast that night. Sure enough, we got together and had a potluck. That fish gave eight of us such a meal - tuna steaks that were so meaty and juicy - Tony is also a great chef.

We had a great night with Pictionary with all of them. The next day we were told we got a mooring at the Exuma Land and Sea Park at Warderick Wells - it was a bit surprising as it's sometimes hard to get a spot here.

We came in yesterday and had the most fantastic day today - hiking through the trails on the island, swimming and snorkeling. Elizabeth was a bit put off from her first experience but we need to find a place with less current for her to find her fins.

Our friends Heather and Murray Rand on Windswept heard us on the radio and we connected and hope to see each other soon. Another boat that we had heard of through mutual friends also contacted us and we hope to see them this week too!!

This is a marvelous place with sparkling secluded beaches, marked paths and fantastic coral reefs with massive pieces of coral.We have so much to talk about with the kids for science class! We hope to bring Reggie up here because we all said how much he would have loved it. Aidan said that this is what he imagined the Bahamas would be like.

Elizabeth-Anne was excited tonight to get an email from the editor of an Eleuthera magazine that wanted to interview her after reading her blog, She put together her answer including observations about Eleuthera and sent it back. She's starting to develop a following.

Scott just saw some huge ugly fish in the clear waters under our boat tonight. Spooky.
The interior of Warderick Wells Cay, along the trail

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Exumas, here we come

Tony and Scott brave the waters to explore the blue hole near Rock Sound, Eleuthera
We've stayed a while longer than we expected in Rock Sound but we've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. We've spent some time with Beth and Scott on Painkiller and Tess and Tony on Edurance. We're all on kind of the same plan to get to the Exumas.

We've had a great deal of fun with them - a games night aboard Endurance and then yesterday we had a series of activities: We all drove our dinghies to the blue holes just off the beach here and Scott and Tony were the only ones brave enough to jump in the cool water and snorkel to peer at the holes.

Then we went back to the boat, rinsed off our salt water spray and headed to Northside Cafe, on the Atlantic Ocean.

We called Dingle's Motors and they called Rose, who owns the restaurant. She picked us up in her 'gets me to and from' tired Honda and headed up the hill to her home. She has the most fantastic view  of the ocean.

We were upset though at the garbage on the beach that had washed up - plastics, shoes (?), bits of glass and debris, much of it apparently from the passing cruise ships.

Still, it was such a terrific afternoon. We lounged on Rose's enclosed front porch out of the wind and she whipped up a series of Bahamian dishes: grouper in tomatoes and okra, plantain, jerk chicken, coleslaw, warm potato salad, cracked conch and homemade sauces for sides. There were eight of us and we actually couldn't quite finish everything.

We heard about Rose's children - most live in Freeport on Grand Bahama, where she's from, but one, her son, lives in Mississauga - for now 'until he figures out he doesn't need to live in Canada and he needs to be at home' said Rose.

We heaved ourselves out of the restaurant decorated in beachcombing finds and shells and a dried turtle and pufferfish (!) and Rose took us back down the hill, letting us out to buy fresh produce from Mr. Hill. We have had the best fresh tomatoes, peppers, tangelos and today we had giant papaya. You can't believe that people grow food on the thinnest of soils here but apparently it's very rich. There are also mango and guava groves too - we also bought a watermelon filled with pits and flavour.

The kids are getting anxious to see our cruising family friends - we know Sheet Music is on its way to the Exumas too and our friends on board Folie a Deux have had a scare with their son having an attack of appendicitis. After a trip back to the U.S., the family is back aboard together in Georgtown. We very much want to see them, particularly after their ordeal. Plus, we just love to visit other cruising kids, everyone just hangs out and has such a good time.

Aidan's been very busy with a number of projects helping Scott as well as trying to finish up his English and French courses - he is resisting Romeo and Juliet even though we tell him how it will help him with the ladies!

Elizabeth is plowing through her math and English and is enjoying her Poisson (fish) project for French.

We're trying to get through some subjects now to make room for several science field trips and labs their teacher has planned.

We are so fortunate to have such good cruising companions with us and we are all enjoying sharing stories and experiences. Sailing seems to be the perfect way to cultivating great relationships.

We're off now, leaving the friendly folks in Rock Sound for the Land and Sea Park and the cays of the Northern Exumas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rock solid in Rock Sound

We've put the brakes on here in Rock Sound - cool place with gorgeous harbour and friendly people. Town is a bit of a mix of down at the heels and bright and new.

A front is hovering over the area so we think we may end up hanging out here for a few days until it passes and we can make a run for the Exumas.

A bit frustrating - we likely should have left today but are struggling with our extremely crappy new Grundig shortwave radio that is not picking up our weather info that is so critical here.

We did access Internet quite well here though so that's told us, yep we should have left today and we're stuck here.

Just ordered another new shortwave radio to be delivered to Scott's mom before she comes down with Scott's dad and Reggie in early February.

Anyway, we'll post again soon I hope.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Falling for Eleuthera and the out islands

The entrance to Hatchet Bay - skinny isn't it??
We left Spanish Wells Monday in a slight breeze - too slight for a long sail, but enough to satisfy for now. We managed to negotiate Current Cut - so named because the cut can have currents running 10 knots or more. But it provides, at slack water, a great shortcut into the banks of Eleuthera island.

The trick here though, is to try to figure out just when slack water is. There are no current tables and the tide tables, well they're a bit more flexible, let's say, in the out islands. The tides here could be anywhere from half an hour to an hour or two off of the official Nassau tide tables and our Garmin's tide tables were hard to read as well. We took a stab at it, and guessed fairly correctly that the current would be somewhat slack. We made our way to Hatchet Bay and took the spooky narrow entrance into a fabulously protected anchorage. We went in for happy hour and met some interesting cruisers and had a wonderfully quiet night.

Today we motored in a dead calm for about six hours and made it to Rock Sound, Eleuthera. All throughout our trip, two things have struck as surprising: lack of cruisers and who we did meet, many, at least half are Canadian. So we came into Rock Sound, there are only six sailboats in the harbour and two of us are Canadian, one British, two American and one Bahamian. Of course, still no cruising kids in sight. That was not a surprise, unfortunately.

We have heard from three cruising families we have met and know they are either in Georgetown or are headed that way and we know we'll see them soon.

This is a neat spot and we'll wait out another front tomorrow before perhaps making our way across the Exuma Sound to the Cays - can't wait, it sounds fantastic.

The Atlantic beach of Spanish Wells
We're surprised at the sheer beauty and crystal waters though of Eleuthera and Spanish Wells. We hope to come back.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Art Of Staying Calm in a Crisis

Ever since Scott was little, he’s liked to take things apart and sometimes put them together again.
This tendency, I think, led him to become a mechanical engineer. I became acutely aware of how helpful, if at time somewhat maddening, this trait is on our offshore passage to Eleuthera from Little Harbour, Abacos.
We were sailing along, just near our friends on Painkiller, when I noticed a sighing from the engine. Then it was a kind of sick-like coughing. I asked Scott if he heard that and he said he didn’t. (He confessed later he was in denial).
He told me just to increase the throttle a bit. I did. It died.
We already had had the mainsail up and the Neptune was blessing us with 10 to 15 knots of warm wind, and a light chop. Scott quickly unfurled the genny and we started to slip along, eventually going faster under motorsail, up to 7 knots. 
He and Aidan dove down below and started troubleshooting. He changed one fuel filter, tried the engine, and it sputtered and died. 
At this point, I started to worry a bit. But I needn’t have. Scott and Aidan then replaced the second fuel filter (never hurts to have a bunch of spare parts around) while I tried to keep Messenger as much on course as possible and steady as they bounced around with their heads down around the engine and the diesel fumes.
It worked. I was never so grateful for Scott’s skill as that moment.
We caught up to Painkiller and we hurried to our anchorage at Royal Island in Eleuthera. A blow was coming. What we didn’t know was just how big it was going to be.
We got into the anchorage which has with it varied holding. Our Rocna is a terrific anchor with 100 feet of 5/16th chain. It has held in many different bottoms and in winds so far of up to 35 knots in tough spots. 
We set the anchor a bit closer to shore than Painkiller and about two hours later, Scott thought it had dragged a bit. I was in denial this time, and shrugged it off. By now it was blowing 20 knots and didn’t relish the idea of trying to reset it in those conditions.
I talked him out of it and we settled in. We were watching a movie and Scott positioned himself on the salon berth to keep an eye on the anchor alarm up in the cockpit.
Suddenly Scott leapt up and yelled ‘We’re dragging! We’re dragging!” He ran up and turned on the engine, I took the helm and he rushed to the bow. Aidan followed close behind, threw on a lifejacket and went up to help him.
By now, the wind was howling, pushing 25 to 30 knots. Finally the anchor was up and we made our way in the black to a spot, guided by Elizabeth holding our faulty spotlight (turns out a fuse was going).
We set the anchor just as the wind was building. Scott and Aidan worked their way back into the cockpit and we were just going down into the cabin when the wind really hit us - thunder, lightening, sheets of rain and gusts up to 40. The Rocna didn’t fail us this time, we held fast.
We were rattled though and Scott and I took turns through the night keeping an eye on the anchor alarm. 
By morning we were all a bit wiped out, the wind was still blowing 20 knots or more until today when we had a terrific sail from the anchorage where we had been boat-bound to Spanish Wells where three of us who were at Royal Island took docks. 
Another front is heading our way so we think we may hunker down here until it leaves us hopefully Wednesday. Spanish Wells is a picturesque village with beautiful homes and a lobster fishing fleet that apparently serves the Red Lobster restaurant chain. There is also a ferry to nearby Harbour Island and a gorgeous protected ocean beach. 
We walked around the village today, had lunch at a neat little spot with four other couples from the marina, we’ve made friends quickly here, and collected some seashells.
Time to catch our breath.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Goodbye Abaco

We are heading off for more adventure today as we leave the beautiful beaches of the Abacos for Eleuthera then the Exuma Cays further south. When we finally get to Georgetown we'll be very close to the Tropic of Cancer.

It's exciting to think of going where we have never been before, discovering new anchorages, new breaches and new seascapes.

We've stocked up on food (oh my gosh, two shopping carts at Maxwell's in Marsh Harbour), two filled propane tanks for cooking all that food and a dozen other items including a much needed solid Internet connection for banking, etc.

We just found out today too that Scott's parents will fly down with Reggie in early February - yay. Also, my sister and husband and darling Stella may make their way down here later that month. We'll see and try not to get too excited. We've been a bit homesick over the holidays for family and friends at home partly due to the lack of good skype and other connections.

We go south with new friends and we know we'll see more families down there - particularly Folie a Deux and Sheet Music - we can't wait to see them!!!

Til our next post.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

We're celebrating the New Year with a series of Junkanoos - celebrations with fireworks, music and a general party until you can't party no more. There was fireworks on Treasure Cay beach last night - awesome. Then there was a party at the Treasure Cay marina. Several boats came into the anchorage last night, most of whom we knew.

It was Reg's last night with us before he returns to us in Georgetown at the beginning of February.

A weather window has come up that makes a trip to Eleuthra possible this week. We will likely be making the 50-mile or so passage with a few other boats we've met. Then after we work our way down the Eleuthra chain we'll head across the Exuma Sound to the Exuma Cays and then to Staniel Cay and Georgetown. We have several good friends down there already. It will likely take us about one to two weeks to make our way depending on weather. Our Internet service is about to get very spotty so posting will be infrequent at best until April when we start heading back.

We are still struggling with issues with our shortwave radio, a good source (theoretically) for weather info critical to making passages and a few other electronic issues such as how the heck to make our wifi antenna work.

Thanks to everyone for their comments on the blog, for the real story go to Elizabeth's blog at She gets a few more chances to post than I do and does a fine job.