Turtles!

I had hoped on this trip that we would get to see a lot of sea turtles.  We had seen a few so far, but not as many as I had expected.  What happened our first morning in the Royal Island anchorage more than made up for it.

Hearing a motorboat pass us rather closely, I popped my head out of the cabin to find a guy on the bow of the motorboat holding a net and another guy steering.  When they came by again I asked them what they were up to. “Catching turtles!” the net guy replied.  “TAGGING turtles” came the quick correction from the driver.  We laughed about that being an important distinction, and the driver said they would come by when they were finished.

After about twenty minutes they puttered up to Pegu Club and tied off on our rear cleat.  It turned out that the boat was affiliated with the Bahamas Sea Turtle Network and the University of Florida.  The guys had two turtles and we were welcomed onboard to watch the tagging process!

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We’ve finally decided to head farther south.

We’ve had such a nice time in the Abacos that we repeatedly asked ourselves whether we wanted to stay for the remainder of our time here or move farther south to the Exumas.  On the one hand, we’ve covered a lot of miles over the past six months and it would be nice to stay in one area for a few months.  On the other hand, while Jeff continues to do well, we can’t just assume that we’ll be able to come back again in the fall, so perhaps we shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Exumas.  If we went to the Exumas we could finally see our friends on S/V Lone Star, and deliver the chocolate, almond milk, and whey powder that we picked up for them in Lake Worth.  But if we stayed we would see them as they passed through the Abacos.

Back and forth, back and forth.  We literally would change our mind a few times a day.  Every time we decided to stay, we would think that maybe we should go.  When we decided to go, we thought it was lovely here so why don’t we stay?  Finally I decided to put our dilemma on the Facebook Bahamas Cruising group.  The responses were overwhelmingly in favor of going to the Exumas.  With the decision made, it was time to start making some tracks south.

Continue reading “We’ve finally decided to head farther south.”

Junkanoo!

After enjoying several lovely days in Hope Town, we backtracked to Marsh Harbor for the Junkanoo event.  According to the Bahamian government website, a Junkanoo is a Bahamian national festival with roots that can be traced to West Africa.  Participating teams spend months working on a theme, developing costumes, musical compositions, and choreography.  Judges roam throughout the groups, scoring them on a page-long list of categories.  The Marsh Harbor Junkanoo is on a much smaller scale than the annual event held in Nassau on Boxing Day, but we still very much wanted to see it.

The posters in town said that the Juniors event would be held at 6:00 on Friday, with the Adults the following night at 7:00.  So being typical Americans from the northeast, we showed up slightly before 6:00 on Friday evening.  This being the islands, the fencing was just going up when we arrived.  Looks like we were a little early!  

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February by the numbers.

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Below are the numbers for February, including what we spent.  We crossed to the Bahamas on February 3rd and have been there ever since.

Now that’s more like it!  Nothing like spending most of the month in uninhabited places to keep the cash outflow down!  March should be even better because we won’t have the extra grocery provisioning that we did before leaving Florida, and we also won’t have the check-in fee.  Here we go:

Days under way: 14

Nautical miles covered: 282.43

Number of states: 1 (Florida)

Number of countries: 1 (Bahamas)

Nights at anchor: 28 – our first month where we anchored every night.

Expenses:

Groceries/Non-food Groceries: $327.85

Diesel/Gasoline: $120 (we topped off in Lake Worth and also paid $5/gallon in Hope Town for 15 gallons)

Cell phone and internet (2 phones, iCloud storage, Garmin inReach subscription, $10 in Skype credit, and myislandwifi because the T-Mobile service is so slow in the Bahamas): $247.63.  This will go down next month because we had to pay $50 for the myislandwifi router.

Mail: $5.00

Water: $14.10 (approximately .35/gallon in Hope Town for R/O water)

Ice: $4.50

Restaurants/Entertainment: $90.00

Uber/Bus: $40.00

New York Times subscription: $20.20

Clothing: $32.00

DAN Boater Evacuation Insurance: $50

Check-in fee at the Bahamas: $160 (it’s actually $150 but I didn’t have the exact amount and the customs/immigration officer didn’t have change).

Random: $128.54.  This includes a haircut for Jeff, DVD’s, a book on the Abacos, and a swim noodle to replace the one that was lost.   

Total: $1,239.82

September, 2018 through February, 2019 monthly average: $4,594.78

Moving into the southern Abacos.

On Friday the weather had calmed down and we saw a good opportunity to go through the Whale on Saturday, so we said goodbye to our hidey hole for a welcome change of scenery.

The plan was to anchor at No Name Cay for the day and night, but as we approached I looked over and was entranced by the beach on the southern end of Green Turtle Cay near Gilliam Bay.  Jeff asked if I wanted to go there instead, but I said that we had already decided on No Name so we stayed the course.  I couldn’t stop looking over at the other beach though, which really did look much nicer, so we made a U turn and anchored by the prettier beach instead. 

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How could we pass this up?

We had the anchorage all to ourselves, and it was lovely.

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Continue reading “Moving into the southern Abacos.”

Our introduction to the Abacos.

After a good night’s sleep at Great Sale Cay, we shoved off again bright and early for Green Turtle Cay where we planned to check in with immigration and customs.  After getting our obligatory “rip roaring argument stemming from not putting the sails up in a long time so we’re rusty* (*Trademark)” fight out of the way, we had the sails raised and motorsailed the 57 nautical miles to Green Turtle.  It would have been nice to turn the engine off, but we wanted to have the anchor down before dark.  Now that we know how casual the check-in process is, next time we’ll sail as far as we can and simply arrive in Green Turtle on day three. Continue reading “Our introduction to the Abacos.”

Our first Gulf Stream crossing.

We spent several days in the very large north anchorage in Lake Worth stocking up on last minute parts at West Marine and groceries at Publix.  While it was a bit of a scramble to get across the beached dinghies, the anchorage was convenient with Publix only a block away and West Marine a few minutes beyond that.  We even were able to pick up some items for our friends on S/V Lone Star.  They have been in the Bahamas since early December and are running low on chocolate in particular.  This constitutes a crisis on their boat and ours!  With a small package of Dove costing $10.00 in the Bahamas, we were more than happy to pick up extra chocolate for them, to be hand delivered at some point down the road.

All the while we were keeping an eye on Sunday’s forecast which appeared to have great potential for a Gulf Stream crossing.  The Gulf Stream runs in a northerly direction so conventional wisdom says not to be in it when there is wind from the north.  The wind against current stacks up the waves, and depending on the wind strength the resulting ride can be anywhere from very uncomfortable to deadly.  In the winter the crossing windows can be few and far between due to the fronts that regularly drop down from the north.  We had been looking at Sunday for several days, and we figured if the forecast changed we would simply continue to head farther south towards Miami and the Keys, and leave from there.

Continue reading “Our first Gulf Stream crossing.”

January by the numbers.

 

Below are the numbers for January, including what we spent.  We really slowed down on the boat this month, spending the entire time in Florida. 

The cash outflow was, frankly, painful.  However, we knew that it was going to be a very high-cost month.  After debating over the course of a few months, we made the decision to switch from our hank-on jib to a roller furler.  One of the reasons we debated it for so long is because we were knew just how expensive it was going to be to make the switch.  It represents just over 50% of what we spent this month.  We also spent a lot of money preparing for the trip to the Bahamas by stocking up on groceries and extra boat maintenance parts.  Finally, we rented a car and took a trip to the west coast of Florida to visit family and friends which was an atypical expense.

We are consoling ourselves with the knowledge that our time in the Bahamas should be extremely low cost, helping to bring the monthly average down to something that is actually sustainable.  With a deep breath, here we go:

Continue reading “January by the numbers.”

Velcro – I mean Vero – Beach.

Vero Beach has a reputation for being extraordinarily convenient for cruisers.  It’s the kind of place where cruisers come to stay for a day or two and end up spending the rest of the season.  A not-insubstantial number of cruisers end up swallowing the anchor here and moving to Vero permanently, with the CLOD’s – Cruisers Living on Dirt – organizing a Cruisers Potluck Thanksgiving every year.  You can see why it gets the nickname “Velcro Beach.”  With this kind of build up, we were excited to finally pull in and see for ourselves what it was all about.  

Continue reading “Velcro – I mean Vero – Beach.”

Entering the 21st century.

One of the reasons we’ve been in Vero Beach for so long is that we decided to switch back to a roller furler.  Yes, I finally agreed to give up my beloved hank-on jib.  

Little Bristol came with a furler and so did Pegu Club, but a few years ago we decided to remove it and switch back to a hank-on jib.  We tend to be a bit old-school and liked the simplicity of a hank-on with the added bonus of better pointing ability into the wind.  It was great while we were sailing on weekends and vacations.

However, what we discovered while cruising over the past almost-five months was that the hank-on jib wasn’t really working for us any more.  Jeff did NOT like me going up to the foredeck when conditions were sporty, and the jib bag was taking up valuable foredeck space making anchoring more of a hassle than it needed to be. 

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Our hank-on jib, all bagged up on the Dismal Swamp.

Continue reading “Entering the 21st century.”