Friday, January 16, 2015

Underway after a week on Long Island .. 01/13

We decided to head out Tuesday morning the 13th.  We got a bit of sailing in for 8 miles but it was only moving us 4 knots...slower at times.  This was because we had to head west to go through some charted passages through shallow areas.. down to just inches more than our draft.   We dropped sails to motor through these passages.  Once through these passages, which were the East and West Commer passages, we turned sharply and again were heading straight into the wind.  It was not bad but dark clouds were building and we took the misen down just before we hit the first squall.  Gusts were to 30 knots then 20 or 25 knots with some choppy seas that occasionally slowed the boat down to 4 knots.  We were originally planning to go overnight to Crooked Island and anchor and rest but we decided to anchor at the protected side of the south tip of Long Island.  It was dark as we motored toward our resting spot and we went through a second squall.  Then as we continued there was a lot of lightning just behind us from where we'd come.  We never heard thunder but perhaps due to engine and water crashing against the hull.  On some of the waves the very front of the bow would just reach the water.  Asperida is a 52' boat.  It was more due to the steepness than the waves being a huge size.  Going just off the chart plotter and depth sounder we dropped anchored and ate dinner prepared hours earlier.  It was a very bumpy night with a lot of chain noise as we swung back and forth.  Plus all the other items hanging on the boat here and there.   Once we had had breakfast we decided to stay and leave in the morning as a storm was due by 11 AM according to the newly downloaded Grib files.  We weighed anchor and moved to a bit less rolling spot.  So far no storm but there have been dark clouds to our north...but partly cloudy blue skies above.  It's still blowing from the south..even a hair west of south but we are supposed to have some days of northeast winds light at first but then a little better...motor-sailing I suspect?  The plan is to leave tomorrow and go non stop to Great Inagua Island and if conditions allow anchor a night out in front of Mathew Town to clear out of the Bahamas and so Candace can communicate with the group she's meeting in Les Cayes, Haiti.  

Walter just discovered one dinghy oar is missing.  We suspect it came loose last night during the storms of sometime during the bumpy night.  At least Walter has a smaller dinghy packed away onboard with a set of oars.  

Below was supposed to be a few photos of our first real sailing.  Unfortunately I had some oddity happen when putting photos from camera too iPad and they are not really on my iPad? Blank spaces where they should be but viewable when I click the blank space but not editable or movable to different folder?  I'm hoping I can recover them somehow but I think they're lost.  I have only one photo of Genoa ..and rainbow.  It was only the second time we put up the main and the first time we actually got some sailing in.  Candace was commenting on how she thought sailing would be faster.. The answer was sometimes it is faster but it's always slow.   She said she can swim that fast.. It was mentioned, not if you want to bring your home with you.

Another beach on Long Island .. 01/12

On our final day Monday, January 12th, anchored in Thompson Bay on Long Island, Otis dinghyed over and asked if anyone wanted to join he and his wife Marty to walk across to the southern beach.  Candace and I expressed interest and at 1:30 we were picked up and dinghyed over to the government dock and walked the road across to the beach.  It was still heavy with plastic trash but perhaps on some level had a bit less.  We walked the beach back and forth and took the photos below.. 
We also saw a sea turtle near shore that morning when we went to fill a couple jugs with water from a shallow well in the limestone.  It's for bathing as we want to make sure we have enough freshwater to reach ... Haiti?  There are 2 water makers on board but some thing or another must be done before they are ready to use.  Later that evening Walter and Candace went there with laundry and bathing stuff and bathed in plentiful freshwater..  I'd already done my bathing off the back of the boat.. I use Joy dish soap and sea water. Granted the final step is supposed to be rinsing with freshwater but it seems to make me clean enough though sure I feel the slight stickiness of saltwater residue.  I did rinse in a couple rain showers yesterday the 13th while underway.. I'm writing this on the 14th.
Now the beach photos

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Long Island Breeze Resort deck...

I suspect Candace will be here soon so I'll just post once more from where I've been having coffee and WiFi.
It was busy with others but is quiet now.  Some even had breakfast.  

Another day in Thompson Bay

It's January 9th and it sounds like we will be here through the weekend anyway?  The guy from the cat ketch rig stopped over this morning with a recording of Chris Parker's cruiser's marine forecast.  Walter has a nice new SSB transceiver but it's not working yet as it requires some thing or another.  Walter also has an icon SSB receiver that he can connect to a laptop but needs to connect that to the mast head antenna of his non complete SSB transceiver.  I think he plans to do that today.  We have learned of beaches on the outside of Long Island just across from Thompson Bay so that's what Candace and I will be up to today.  I found yesterday hanging out on the boat and reading etc very relaxing.  Candace was more bouncing off the walls so she's excited at the idea of some beach running.  As it turned out all 3 of us went to the beach today.  It was a nice beach a mile or 2 long but as is the usual on beaches around the world these days it was full of plastic trash washed up from the waves.  It seems even in remote wild places plastic trash is often washed up on the beach.  Only 'maintained' beaches with resorts, private homes or park lands with adequate funds is the plastic trash picked up as it is continually deposited from the ocean currents, wind and waves.  
Today turned out to be nice with very light winds and there was consideration that maybe we should have set out this morning.  It was just some report of strong winds Sunday on the Chris Parker report that kept us from leaving.. Well, that and the fact that it was already almost 11 AM... It rained a couple times and was still blustery until then.
Candace and Walter have coconuts with painted lettering they were going to today but the Salt Pond Post Office was lacking and they wouldn't take them.  Only letters or postcards could be mailed from there.?

January 10

M,Nin Thompson Bay.  Again we are here due to a forecast of string winds.  It's supposed to be tonight and tomorrow.   So far at 7:30 it's 10 or 15 knots.. I think we will be setting out Mondsy morning.  So far the SSB receiver doesn't seem to be receiving any verbal signal.. Only various sounds.  I'm not sure how getting the weather on SSB frequencies works but for us it's not working so far.  The cat rigged Freedom 40 captain brought us the forecast from Chris Parker on SSB.  He recorded the Caribbean forecast he does at 6 EST and the Bahamas forecast that follows.  After each forecast he has sessions responding to his paid subscribers requesting weather details for specific passages.  You can't hear the request but you hear Chris Parker's response.  The Caribbean one was pretty much all the SE Caribbean.. It mentioned Dominican Republic a couple times but never the W├«ndward Passage which we will be passing through once we head south from Great Inagua Island.  Anyway Tuesday and Wednesday sound kind of light winds but Monday might still be squally.  A front over Cuba might make for some west and northwest winds on Thursday or Friday as it clocks around but not overly strong so that might make good sailing if it lasts long enough.  That is if I understood Chris Parkers forecast?  It's really hard to understand the report but I can tell the more you listen to his reporting the better you hear and understand it.  Also we have only heard recordings on a little Sony digital recorder.
After listening to the recorded weather forecast Candace and I went to check out the Farmer's Market the have here Saturday mornings.  It was only crafts by the time we got there.. I guess it's pretty good if you get there by 10 AM.  It runs from 8 to 12 noon and we arrived about 11:30.  All the produce was gone by that time.  Then we went to get a few things at the grocery store and gas for dinghy and generator.  I'm going to use wifi again tomorrow morning at the Breeze Resort.  
Later once back to the boat we all went to check out another beach on the outside of the island.  It was a pretty cool spot but again sadly there was tons of washed up plastic trash.  I'd have some photos on this post but my battery must have gotten turned on accidentally so the battery was dead at the beach.  Sooner or later I'll maybe add some from Candaces camera but maybe not as well.  Not many internet connections before she leaves in Haiti.  

Now it's Sunday the 11th. The stronger forecast winds did arrive just after dark last night. I'm again at the Long Island Breeze Resort using wifi and having coffee. 
The latest is we are leaving Tuesday and have a weather window until the following Sunday to reach Haiti.  This is from new Grib files Walter downloaded yesterday.  As it tuned out this will be the longest Bahamas place we've been.  Slight chance I'll get internet one more time at Mathew Town on Great Inagua Island as Candace needs communications concerning meeting her group in Les Cayes.  We also need to check out of the Bahamas.  Sounds like we will go non stop nowhere but with ok conditions perhaps spend a night out from Mathew Town which has only east wind protection.  
No photos for this one.. I might be able to get the photos I took on Candace's camera yesterday.. I downloaded an FTP manager and Walter has a network fror Asperida on the boat.  He has already done this on the boats local network with some of Candace's photos.  
My mom returns to her home assisted living place after her getting a flu that put her in the hospital then a rehabilitation lace to regain strength before finally heading home.  It will be this Wednesday. 
After dropping Candace off at the beach for her morning activity...I continued on to the resort here.  It was squirrels as tide was low so I wanted to stay near shore yet was concerned about shallow spots.  The light bow was continually blown downwind facing me away from shore so I'd compensate.  Can da e is meeting me here and going back will be fine ad the tide will be higher.  There were a few sailors here from the catamarans nearby but no one from our end of the bay were bothering to leave there sailboats.  I of course had in mind how rowing the dinghy to shore if the outboard acted up would go? It was quite a string wind gusts over 25 knots anyway.  The coffee was good here..I wonder if refills are free?  I've already paid 5 bucks for the WiFi and $2 for the coffee.. 
That's the latest.

Gusty northeast winds and rain

It's been an interesting day.. January 8th.  We had a calm beautiful morning watching dark clouds build to the north.  About 9 AM  a breeze developed and rain started briefly.. Then it stopped and for a while looked like the day would be sunny and bright...which was followed by clouds, harder rain and strong north winds.. Then that let up and it was partly sunny but the wind got even stronger and from the northeast.  It's basically 20 knots but I'm sure some stronger gusts.  We have heard gusts would be to 30 knots though so far we've not seen it.  
When we dropped anchor yesterday at the north end of Thompson Bay on Long Island we were the second sailboat anchored with many more further to the south a mile or more away.  No where near the number in Elizabeth Harbor near Georgetown but a couple dozen anyway.  Yesterday morning a 40' cat rigged ketch motored over from the south end and told us of the coming front.  They anchored nearby and dinghyed over to chat.  By cat I don't mean catamaran.  I refer to the rig with the main mast far forward and no stays or shrouds...self supporting masts, a main and slightly shorter misen.  We learned a bit about the town of Salt Pond and difficult times shutting a few businesses down listed in the chart book what to know about Salt Pond section.  Also an unlisted dinghy dock option.  Later yesterday afternoon and evening several other sailboats moved up to this north end.  Even once the front had passed and the winds were blowing 20+ knots a few more moved up.  Last I counted we are now one of 13 sailboats.  There are still a few that haven't bothered to move.
We watched a movie this afternoon.  It was the first time we've done that mid day.  I read more when volunteer crewing than while home.  This year it's been books by Tristan Jones, a favorite author of Walters.  He was quite the voyaging sailor back in the day and wrote a lot of magazine articles and books.  Last year it was Clive Cussler adventure paperbacks found in give and take libraries here and there.  
It's getting dark now after a day mostly inside the boat.  Although both breakfast and lunch were in the cockpit.  Dinner will be below deck as its cool in the wind with no sun.

I forgot to take a sunset photo.  Here's one from just after breakfast today when Candace was getting some swimming in while Walter escorted her in the dinghy.  You can see the dinghy and splashing from her swim strokes in the distance.  I was letting out 30 more feet of chain.

Varnishing the main mast

Today, January 7th, Walter hoisted Candace up the main mast to sand and varnish it.  I went to shore and mostly hung out at the Long Island Breeze Resort where I had lunch and WiFi.  I docked the dinghy at a closer dinghy dock option and walked which was hot and sweaty.  It took a while once I got there to not feel like I'm in a sauna.  I then checked out a grocery store the other direction past where I'd docked the dinghy.  I asked around about BTC phone cards and public phones for Candace but failed to find out anything other than few places are still selling the cards besides BTC themselves plus finding a working public phone booth is rare.. Mobile phones have made those a lot harder to find everywhere, the difference is old non working remnants remain here where they are generally removed in the USA.
Once I returned to the boat, the mast varnish project was progressing and once they were done they went off to get showers at the Long Island Breeze Resort.  While I was having lunch and WiFi, I asked about showers and the owners implied a water shortage had them not really wanting non guests taking them up on the $5 shower option. ...Later that night...  As it turned out Walter and Candace had trouble getting a shower and had to include dinner to convince the resort to grant them showers.. Hence it was a late dinner for me whipped up by Candace upon their return.  

This rainbow was back at Elizabeth Harbor where we were anchored a week near Georgetown.  The rain never fell where we were.  We left there on the 6th.  Last night it rained a little here on Long Island.

OK..back to Long Island on the morning of January 8th.  It was a lovely morning with breakfast in the cockpit.  We watched as the dark clouds to the north arrive with rain and not very strong winds.  A few other sailboats have anchored up on the north end of the bay.  I think mainly just moving up from further south in Thompson Bay.  So far, it's rained off and on this morning.

Sunset last night (above).  Early morning before the rain (below).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Long Island

We motored to Thompson Bay on Long Island in the Bahamas.  We are now beyond the Exumas I believe but have a few more Bahama Islands before we head south though the Windward Passage to Haiti's south coast.  
We have a very shallow area to traverse next day out but due to a norther we are going to stay here a few days or maybe just 2?  30 knot winds again are forecast.  Surely we will get some nice sailing in on the way to Haiti.  Anyway I'm not sure I'll be back here to use WiFi at the resort here in Salt Pond, Long Island..   Only if we all come back.  Depends on the weather..
Candace and Walter are varnishing some upper parts of the mast(s)?  Not sure if it is just the main or both?  She was high up in the bosun's chair as I rode off in the dinghy.  
It's a nicely protected bay which is why we want to wait out the norther here.  Protected from all but the SW.
Once we continue south from here there are no really good anchorages so hopefully the trade winds will stay more consistent. The last Bahamaian Island is Great Inagua Island.  Then it's on south to Ile a' Vache, Haiti.  Of course we will be anchoring 2 or 3 more times before leaving for the Windward Passage.  
Here's a few photos including where the Asperida fish sign ended up.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The fish sign

Candace instigated the project of making a 'Asperida' sign for putting up on a post at the Chat and Chill beach bar restaurant.  As it turned out its really one of those sign posts of arrows pointing with distances to different cities and countries around the world from visitors.. There was one or two that had a boat name along with home port and distance but Asperida's fish sign will be the only one quite like it.  We plan to attach that later today and have dinner there while we hang it.  Here's a few photos of the project.. Sorry none of it hung as it's not up yet and we are heading out tomorrow so no more Georgetown Internet.  Next Internet.? Who knows.

It goes on this post somewhere?

It was not so wet heading back

After We were done with lunch and internet today at Peace and Plenty we decided to walk down to a place called Fish Fry Village.  Perhaps a half mile from P & P.  Surprisingly a few booths were open.. Maybe 3 out of over 12 or so.  
Candace was trying to take a selfie of the 3 of us and a lady from a couple nearby walked over and asked if she could take our picture and then we would take her and her husbands.  She snapped ours and Candace went to take theirs and of course was chatting away with them.  She came back and said they were from Minnesota so I had to go say hi to fellow Minnesotans.  Then as I mentioned I was on  the sailboat as volunteer crew they said their son had gotten into sailing with his wife and sailed around the world.  
As we were about to leave we decided to go sit at their table and then found out that the husband was the father of the husband who with his wife had sailed around the world and it was the Bumfuzzle couple who wrote a book and have a website on their adventures..,which I was quite familiar with though I never did read the book.  
They were to Georgetown for the second year in a row staying in a hotel or resort nearby the Fish Fry Village.  We exchanged emails.  Now I wish I'd taken their picture.. 
Anyway it was getting late so we walked back to the dinghy, filled the water jugs and went back to the boat and it was not the wet ride I was expecting.  We got back a short while after sunset but it was just getting dark as we arrived to the boat.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's going to be a wet ride back to the boat

Next thng you know we decided to go to town.. Another trip to fill our 3 five gallon jugs and eat lunch and use wifi.  It was a ghost town and everything seemed to be closed.  I assumed the hotel peace and plenty would be open and it was.  About the only thing open in town perhaps?  
The Internet is not working so good for posting on the blog so this post is mostly to try a different app.


Too windy to dinghy to Georgetown

Note* over the last couple of times with Wifi I've added a few photos to the 7 blog posts I'd posted without photos from Exuma Cayes Land and Sea Park. There are some photos out of sequence added to the wrong post. Also it's still slow internet in Georgetown but a lot better than the Park.
Anyway..back to the present.

We had met an interesting single harder sailor on New Year's Day when we took the dinghy to the beach on Stocking Island. He was also on the beach oil painting. Later he stopped by our boat to ask if any of us wanted to go snorkeling at a nearby patch reef. Candace and I went with and it was ok but a bit murky. Then we ended up visiting his boat and cracking open coconuts. I like coconut water but really don't care for the 'meat'. Later when he brought us back to Asperida and we were taking and suddenly were thinking of heading to town to check out the evening scene. Actually it was already well past sunset so More like checking out the night scene the night after we years? As we were waiting for him to come back we nixed the idea and invited him to just have soup and more conversation. The conversation got very metaphysical. He has lived on his boat, a 50' ketch, for 14 years. He had volunteer crew but lost them in Boot Key Harbor as they were off to Haiti by plane to volunteer with a reforestation project. Candace is also volunteering in southern Haiti at an orphanage in Les Cayes which is on the mainland 6.5 miles across from Ile a' Vache.

We are anchored near Stocking Island which is the barrier island parallel to Great Exuma Island that creates Elizabeth Harbor. There are a lot of anchoring options and the cruising guide says at times nearly 500 cruising boat are anchored here. We are in a cluster of about 20 boats give or take as they come and go. We are within view of another much bigger cluster and other clusters are closer to Georgetown. Closer to town are mostly catamarans or shallower draft boats. We have a 1.25 mile crossing to reach Georgetown. It was a wet dinghy ride back after our time in town yesterday as its been getting windier since the evening of New Year's Day. It's supposed to peak early Sunday with gusts to 35 knots. That's according to the Grib files but our new friend Steve who gets his weather from Chris Parker says gusts will be 40 knots. I'm sure we will be get to town once more before we set out again, but it won't be today or tomorrow. So far our 45 pound Manson Supreme is holding great...though a boat the size of Asperida should use about a 65 pound anchor. Tonight and tomorrow morning will be a good test.

As we were on the beach yesterday Candace went off jogging and her turn around point was a little beach bar/restaurant called Chat & Chill. Candace has us all making a fish shaped sign for Asperida to hang near the Chat & Chill. They have one of those posts with signs pointing the direction and indicating the distance to different cities and countries from here. There is one or two that just say the name of a boat but dozens and dozens pointing to places with distances. I think we will try eating there when the sign is ready? It needs only the lettering painted on it and an eye for the fish. OK Candace painted the fish sign this morning but I haven't put the photos on my iPad. We ended up going to town this afternoon and hence I'm posting this.. I'll write one about the sign and post it later.. Here's a few photos from earlier.

Posted with BlogPress on my iPad

Location:Anchored near Stocking Island across from Georgetown, Bahamas

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Years

After about 5 hours in Georgetown for Internet, Deisel, phone call to my mom and lunch etc...Candace and I returned to Asperida. We spent the evening onboard and watched a small fireworks display on the nearby island east of the anchorage. It was about 10 pm. We then went to sleep and while Walter and Candace did get up again for the midnight fireworks in Georgetown, I didn't bother. Probably bigger displays but from farther away s no loud noises like the explosions on the beach out here at 10 pm.
We had a nice breakfast of ham, eggs and pancakes. I'm not sure if another trip to town will happen but I think we might? It feels like we won't be departing today so why not a trip to Internet and what ever else one more time. news.. We are having a discussion. We are now contemplating heading to Haiti to drop Candace off sometime around January 20? She is going to volunteer with a group from home at a Haitian orphanage in the town of Les Cayes. Formerly, one option had us sailing through the Turks and Caicos and then straight non stop to the east side of Puerto Rico. This would involve a final a 4 or 5 day non stop passage. She would then bus to San Juan and fly to Miami to meet up with her group before flying on to Haiti and taking a bus to Les Cayes. Another option being considered is to head southeast and than through the Windward Passage and on to the south side of Haiti. We would anchor in the little bay at Callie Coq village on Ile A Vache. I've been there back in 2013 on our retreat back to Jamaica during my first volunteer crewing with Denny and Gabby. Candace would either take one of the regular sailboat/rowboat ferries from Callie Coq to Les Cayes or we would just buzz her over on the dingy? It's about 6.5 miles. It seems at this moment of typing we are leaning toward heading to Haiti. We would virtually be taking Candace to the town where the orphanage is. It would also mean a leisurely pace hence we might likely stay anchored here near Georgetown for a while. And stop a while another place or two. There would be a couple longer passages but nothing like Turks and Caicos to eastern Puerto Rico.

Main Georgetown dinghy dock taken from little bridge over a little canal cut through the limestone to access Lake Victoria

Peace and Plenty Hotel..Restaurant where I used WiFi and had lunch

Sunset New Year's Eve
Posted with BlogPress on my iPad

Location:Elizabeth Harbour, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas