March 2005

Warderick Wells to Farmer's Cay


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01 March 05
Warderick Wells

          It rained all night. Jane caught 5 gallons of fresh water off the bimini. Since the morning weather was crappy, we stayed another day at Warderick.  Brent and Pam came by and we walked around the island all day.  We plan on leaving in the morning and they are staying.

Brent and Pammy-Sue

Trash or mementos at Warderick Wells

Jane Leaving our Mark at Warderick Wells.

02 March 2005
Anchored at Staniel Cay. Between the Majors (N24-11.49 W076-27.16)
Trip: 23nm / 1602 nm. Eng: 552 hrs

          Motored out of Warderick wells into about 20 kts of wind.  Wind was NE and there was a 3-4 foot chop on the banks.

          As soon as we could, we turned SE and ran with just the jib and staysail wing and wing.  It was a very rolly ride.

          Entering Staniel Cay from the banks side, we saw no less than 7.8 feet with most of the shallow areas only 9.8 feet.

          There were about 20 boats in this little place.  We put down two anchors and swung between them.  There was no wind and it was a very quiet night.

Warderick Wells to Staniel Cay (23 nm)

Anchorage Between the Majors just north of Staniel Cay.
I should have gone right of the rocks (as the ‘route line' shows).
The swells come in through the cut and curve north through the anchorage.
A much better place is west of Big Major (except in a west wind).

03 March 2005
(still at Staniel Cay)

          I spent some time untangling the anchor chains. There was no wind today.  We spent the morning reading and the afternoon walking around Staniel Cay.  The town was very small and the stores were little one-room shops.  You can buy some essentials, but the selection is minimal and the prices are high. 

          We attended a little sundowner on the beach where we met a few of our neighbors.  One guy, who has been here many times said, “If the wind comes from the southeast or northwest, get out of here.  This anchorage turns into a washbasin.”  I didn't listen. But I should have. And even after the next few days of living in a very rough anchorage, and swearing not to anchor in here again, I do just that: anchor in here again. And, again, after that experience I swear never to do it again.

04 March 2005
(still at Staniel Cay)

          Last night we had strong SE winds.  The wind came right up through the anchorage.  Mid-day half the boats moved to the west side of Big Major Cay.  Our two anchors, while each was holding well, were crossed under the bobstay.  So to keep them from rubbing on the stay, I had to put snubbers on them running from each up to the side of the boat where the anchor was.  Hard to explain, but I ended up with so much rope and chain hanging of the bow that I had a hard time understanding what was what. One more of the many times I now think, "I should have taken a picture of that." That's another habit I'm slowly learning. You can't take too many pictures.

          Also, last night there was no moon. After a visiting Cajynn we were dinghying toward Galena but missed her.  We were motoring along, dead slow, trying not to bump into any of the many boats in the anchorage.  It was so dark, and the anchor lights were all way up at the top of the masts. We couldn't see any of the hulls until we were about to bump into them. And forget about the anchor rodes! We'd make out a boat in the darkness, and say something like “Hey, isn't that the power boat that was just west of us?” or, “That's the big cat that was way north of us, isn't it?”  We wandered around for a good half hour before we found Galena.  Two lessons learned:  One, put on a “special light” before you leave; something that will stand out.  Others use a couple of those solar-powered lawn accent lights and we will probably do something like that next time out. And two, it's a very nice gesture if the people on the boat you're leaving shine a light on your boat while you are in transit.  After this experience we will do that for anyone leaving our boat after dark. It makes it so much easier for them to find their way, and then to get up and into their boat. It also makes us feel better knowing that the drunks who just barely made it into their dinghy actually made it back into their boat.

[Later Note: We did, in fact, buy a set of those solar-powered lawn accent lights (Home Depot, $20) for our next voyage. We got the amber ones and mounted them at the bow, amidships, and at the stern. Throughout the entire next voyage, everywhere there were more than just a few boats (George Town, Luperon, Jost Van Dyke, etc) we could always, from a mile or so away, look out across the water and say, "That's our boat, the one with the three amber lights." It was very cool.]

          The whole day was shot due to the high winds, rain, rough water.  Tomorrow will be better.

          I should have just anchored on the west side of Big Major.  This “between-the-majors” is bullshit. Out there on the banks side there's no reversing current and, unless the wind is from the west, no waves. Or, we should have moved around to the banks side when everyone else did instead of being lazy and staying here.

05 March 2005
(still at Staniel Cay)

          We had lunch and dinner with Brent and Pam.  There was no wind all day, then after dark it went west at 15 kts.  We're going to Farmer's Cay tomorrow as a short leg toward Georgetown.

06 March 2005
Farmer's Cay, West Side (N23-57.05 W076-19.18)
Trip: 23 nm / 1625 nm.  Eng: 556 hrs.

          Before we left Staniel Cay, we had lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  I did some e-mail (they have a good, free WiFi hotspot) and Jane talked with Michelle on the phone.

          We left the Majors at 1330 hrs with the wind just a little too much on the nose.  We motor-sailed and got here by 1700 hrs.  On entering the cut, we saw a few of the boats that had been with us between the Majors.  They had all the mooring balls just inside the cut. The current is strong there and the bottom is scoured clean. Anchoring just doesn't work. And the reversing current makes it unsafe to trust your hook. We went around behind (west of) Little Farmers Cay and had a very nice night quiet night.

Staniel Cay to Little Farmer's Cay (23 nm)

Anchorage behind Little Farmer's Cay

07 March 2005
George Town, Great Exuma, Bahamas. 
Trip: 42.6 nm/ 1667.6 nm.  Eng: 564 hrs

          We've made it.

          We left Farmer's at 0700 and arrived here at 1500 hrs. 

Farmer's Cay to George Town (43 nm)

Anchorages in George Town Harbor:
Chat'n Chill (aka Volleyball Beach), center,
Sand Dollar Beach, far right
Captain Kidd anchorage, just East of town
Hamburger Beach, below the monument
George Town, lower left (with dinghy dock just inside the lake on the left)
Each area held about 100 boats.

          We were called by m/v Sailor on the way in and anchored near them at Hamburger Beach, right under the monument. But we're too close to the boat next to us and we'll probably move in the morning.

          John (s/v Jennie-Marie) came by and he and I went in search of the beach bar (“Chat-n-Chill”). I felt a little guilty about leaving Jane behind but went anyway. One of my many mistakes. We found it and had a beer (or was it two?).  Then I went back and got Jane and we had lunch there.  Then we went over to see Dennis and Betty on m/v Sailor.  Chris and Mary Liz (s/v Wandering Albatross) were there, too.  So were John and Cathy (s/v Miss Alice) and Brent and Pam (s/v Cajynn II).  We had a nice evening with everyone and went back to our boat about 2200hrs.

We're now right on the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north of the equator). And than puts us officially "in the tropics."

GPS showing that we're just at the north edge of the "tropics"

This was as far south as we had planned on going.  This is the terminus of our trip.  Here we turn around and head back north.  I said to Jane “Congratulations! We've made it to the end of the voyage.” She said, “No, it's just the half-way point.”  That's probably a better way to look at it.  Now we have to sail all the way back home. But that direction is mostly with the wind. We will not have to wait for the weather as much as we did on the way down.  And we have only a handful of places we want to stop on the way back.  Places we passed up on the way down and places we liked and want to see again.

We came into the harbor here and I couldn't believe the number of boats.  Someone said that there are over 370 boats here.  On the way down here from Farmer's Cay, we must have seen 20 boats leaving and heading back north. But there were at least 20 more coming south into the harbor with us.  It was like a highway.  It seems that everyone goes to Georgetown.  People then either continue south into the Caribbean or they turn around and head back north.  But everyone comes here and stays for a week or so.  In fact this is “Regatta Week.” There's a week of sailboat races, sand sculpting contests, conch-blowing contests, and of course serious drinking.  Assuming I get my leave of absence dates straightened out, we'll stay here for a few weeks then head back.  I figure 21 days to go from here to the jumping off point at Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island; stopping to see everything we want on the way back.  Then 12 more days to sail up the coast to Annapolis.

10 March 05

          At about 0200 this morning the wind came up out of the Southeast.  It was blowing about 25 kts.  Since we're on the north  side of the harbor, it was rough here.  The weather was cold, windy, and the bay was rough all day.  Registration for the various events of Regatta Week was postponed since no one wanted to try to cross the harbor in the rough chop. Brent came over. We played dominos and ate dinner and drank.  A nice evening.

11 March 05

          Today the weather is great.  But no wind.  Good thing we're just going to sit here. We will go to town so Jane can do laundry and I can do internet stuff.

          We may also go to the beach to practice the sand sculpting.

          Well, what we did was sit around most of the morning, then Jane and I went over to the nude beach and did some serious sunbathing.  Then we came back to the boat for lunch.  But we saw that ‘just everyone' was at the Chat n Chill.  So we went over there and had beer and lunch/dinner.  We met the usual crowd and were invited to a beach party.  It seems Xapic had caught a Dorado and Wandering Albatross had caught a couple lobster.  They were going to do a cook-out.  Cajynn and Galena were to bring side dishes.

          We went over to the beach (Sand Dollar Beach) in the dark.  Quite a ride.  We had a good time.  The guys were talking trash about the upcoming cruiser's race.  We left when Xapic started passing out tequila shots.  We know where that leads and we didn't want to go there that night.

12 March 05

          The wind came up strong from the Northwest at about 0400 and the harbor was a washboard all day.  But Jane and I went into town anyway.  We filled up the water tanks and did some grocery shopping.  Now we're back to do laundry and internet stuff.

12 March 2005 (Cont)

          We thought the water tank was just about empty.  We also thought the tank held 40 gallons.  But we added about 23 gallons and the tank was full.  If there were about 6 gallons still in the bottom of the tank, then we don't carry nearly as much water as we thought.  Instead of a total of 80 gallons, we carry about 60 (usable) gallons.

          Bob Bradley (my boss back at Integic Corp) got my leave of absence extended to the end of May.  I plan on being back near the first or second week, but a little slack time is good.

          The Races are coming up soon and I'm starting to think about strategies. Even though I've never raced before.  Of the 20 or so boats in the race, I'm only really interested in beating Chris on Wandering Albatross.

I talked with John (s/v Voyager) in town and I said in passing that it's just a little fun race.  He said he's played volleyball with these guys and they don't do anything for just ‘fun.'  That it will be cutthroat and very serious.

13 March 2005

          The wind is gone.  George Town harbor is glassy calm during the morning. But later in the day the wind picked up to about 8 kts.

14 March 2005

          Sand Sculpture day.  Jane had a great idea/design for a sand sculpture. A face with a large tongue coming out.  Brent helped build it.  Actually, Brent and I moved sand, Jane sculpted it.  Wandering Albatross was in the harbor practicing for the race tomorrow.

          Brent was very hung over.  Jane and I went to town to fax some papers to Integic and we came by his boat and woke him up at 1230.

          A lady came over and asked if she and her daughters could help us with our sculpture.  Jane couldn't say no.  But the little kids were more of a hindrance than a help.  Anyway, Jane made a fantastic sculpture.  Everyone loved it.  But because of the weighting of the judges criteria, we came in fourth out of four.  Everyone thought we should have been first; or at least second.

Sand Sculpture with Bill, Jane, and Brent

15 March 2005

          The In-Harbor George Town Regatta Race.

          Mary and Larry (s/v Samara) crewed for us.  Larry is a big-time racer.  He was the tactician.  Jane was at the helm for the whole race.  Mary and I were grinders.

          Did I mention that Larry worked in a boat yard.  He even knew s/v Kabuki.  He had replaced the fuel tanks on it back in Robinhood, Maine.

          Mary was also the cheerleader of our little crew.

          The course was a triangle. Upwind, downwind, and close hauled. 

          At the start Wandering Albatross was about 100 feet ahead.  We had a bit of a slow start.  By the first turn they were 200 yards ahead.  But we were only 100 feet behind at the second mark.  But there was this cat that we were passing.  He wouldn't budge and took the inside line at the mark.  But he couldn't turn quickly and pushed us way out around the mark.  We were then in his wind shadow and couldn't make speed.  Wandering Albatross pulled away again.

          By the time we crossed the cat's stern and passed him to windward, Wandering Albatross was again a couple hundred yards ahead.

          Then after the third mark (the start/finish line), on the start of the second lap, we made up a lot of ground.  At the second mark, of the second lap we were right on his stern.  Then we messed up.  The second mark was in the wind shadow of a huge mega-yacht.  We were about to turn the mark, when then wind died and the boat stopped.  We couldn't get any forward speed.  We had to tack, then move about two boat lengths, then tack again, then get around the mark, then start down the down-wind leg.

          They beat us by about 3 minutes.

          Of the 20 boats in the race, we came in 5th overall on corrected time. Wandering Albatross came in 2nd overall on corrected time.  Not bad for a couple of heavy old Westsails.  We came in 4th in our class out of 7 boats.

17 March 2005

          Today was the Round Stocking Island race. On Cajynn II, it was Brent, Chris and Mary-Liz (Wandering Albatross), and me (Jane didn't want to come out and play). Chris played tactician and helmsman. 

          We were doing fine for the first mile or so.  The race was 21 miles long. We went northwest through the harbor and around Stocking island (the barrier island that is between George Town and the ocean) and back into the harbor at the south end of the island.

          Then we found we couldn't point as well as everyone else.  We headed out away from land much more than the others did. We were also making about 13 degrees of lee-way.  Anyway, by the time we came back into the harbor we were way behind.  But we had a great time.

          Cajynn II came in 4th out of 7 boats in his class for the round the island race.

19 March 2005   

          We went fishing today.  We sailed out the North end of the harbor and around Stocking island, and back into the South end of the harbor (just like the race). But we went very slowly.  We were trolling several lines.  But all we caught was a barracuda.

          Actually the reason we sailed outside was so that we could pump out our holding tank.

          We decided to stop and do a little ‘drift' fishing. So I set up the sails to ‘heave-to.' But Galena wouldn't turn her head to windward. Finally I started the engine just to turn us around, and was startled when a trolling line (1/8” nylon) snapped!  We had been essentially ‘anchored' with a large lure and a thin line.  It had settled to the bottom and was stuck on some coral.  And it was holding us!  Till I started the engine.

          But also, this let us go just south of the Tropic of Cancer.  For a few hours, we were truly “in the tropics.” This shot of the GPS confirms we were south of 23.5 degrees:


20 March 2005

          Jane and I dinghied over to Sand Dollar beach and walked the path to the ocean side.  We found a small beach that was hard to get down to.  And was all our own.  We got naked and played on the beach till we were sunburned.  We had a great time.

This is the way it's supposed to be.

          Then we went into town to call Michelle.

          Then back across the harbor to Chat-n-Chill for burgers and beer.

          Then to boat and bed.

          Life is good.

21 March 2005

          Today is Jane's birthday.  We went to town to try to find something at one of the tourist shops for her, but didn't see anything that she really liked.

          We bumped into John (s/v Voyager). He's flying back to New York tomorrow but will be back in 8 days.  He wants to accompany us on our trip back up the Exumas.  He may have to catch up since I don't know if we'll still be here at that time.  But he mentioned that Lee Stocking Island is a great place, so he may find us there when he comes back and heads north.
So we bought a cake and came back to the boat. Brent came over and brought Jane a give: a bottle of scotch. 

We drank, ate, played dominos and cards.  A nice night.

22 March 2005

We went to a small beach party tonight. Toby and Donna (s/v Cariba) were throwing a “delayed St Patrick's Day party.”  It was a nice pot-luck affair. We drank, talked with folks.  This was on John's Beach (AKA: the nude beach) but clothing was required.  We met John who actually owns the beach.  Nice old guy. 

          We also played “butt-darts,” an interesting game.  You hold a quarter between your butt cheeks and walk (waddle) up to a bucket on the ground, and drop the quarter into the bucket.  Then they replace the bucket with something smaller, like a soup bowl.  Then they finally get down to a shot-glass. 

          Jane won.  Mary-Liz came in second. They were the only ones who could drop a coin out of their butt cracks and hit a shot glass on the beach. After a second round, ML missed. Jane won a tee shirt autographed by Jimmy Buffett!

24 March 2005

          We talked with Samara. They had to return the outboard motor they had borrowed. See, they're waiting on a part for theirs. But the part was in and they were going to sail over to the city side of the harbor, row into the dock, then sail back to this side of the harbor.  Since Jane and I were going for a long walk on the other side of the island, I suggested that they just anchor near us and borrow our dinghy to motor across to the town. 

          When we got back from the walk (Brent wanted to go, too, so he ‘drove') Mary and Larry invited us to “one last cold bear” at the Chat-n-Chill.  They were heading back to Maine in the morning and we would probably not see them again.

          We did the Chat-n-Chill, then we went to Samara for wine and crackers.  Jane drank a lot of wine.  We got home after 10, which is very late for cruisers.

25 March 2005.

          Samara left this morning.  They are going to cruise the Abacos before heading back to the States.  They may come through the Chesapeake and if so, will stop by to say ‘hi.'

          We actually moved Galena today.  Except for the race and the fishing trip, Galena has not moved since we got here.  Even then, we re-anchored in exactly the same place each time. But the wind is going to clock to the South and we have some provisioning to do before we leave, so we moved to Kidd Cove to be closer to town.

26 March 2005

          The place is emptying out.  We've gone from about 400 boats to only about 150.  The place seems deserted. We topped off the water tanks, called Michelle, and called it a day

27 March 2005

          Still at George Town.

          Checked the fuel:  Stbd – 22 gals, Port – 34 gals, on-deck – 15 gals. Eng: 568 hrs.

          So we've used 13 gallons of fuel in 20 hrs of engine time (but I think the clock is a little fast).

29 March 2005

          Cold Front came through at 0400 hrs.  We went from SW at 5 kts, to NW as 5 kts.  No big deal.

          A handful of boats took advantage of the front to leave heading further South. Most of the southbound boats have left now.  Wandering Albatross is entertaining family visitors this week so will stay for a little longer.

          Since we might leave in the morning, Chris and ML stopped by to say a final goodbye.  Brent was over, too.  We had a good evening.  We copied a bunch of mp3 disks for ML and also gave them a pile of DVDs for their trip south.

          We've been cruising with Chris and Mary-Liz since Christmas in Miami.  It's going to be strange not having them close by.

          They are continuing south.  They may spend the summer in Luperon, DR. But they may head further south if they can.  Like good cruisers, they are flexible.  I wish them all the luck in the world.

[Later Note: we would hear from Chris and Mary Liz several times during the next summer. They would, indeed, spend the summer in Luperon, Dominican Republic. Then they would continue south, eventually making it to Trinidad as planned. We would see them again in Puerto Rico in February of 2006. ]

30 March 2005
Little Farmer's Cay, Exuma (N23-57.2 W076-19.0)

          On a mooring for $10/night.

          Trip 42.6 nm/ 1767 nm. Eng: 578.

          Left George Town, Exuma, at 0900.  Motor sailed to here arriving at 1700.

          Winds were East at 5kts. The sea was calm.  Jane did a great job of playing the gusts and keeping us on schedule to arrive here before dark.

         We tried to anchor. But the bottom is too scoured. Nothing but some coral and rock. We can hook onto some coral. But this is a tidal inlet. So in about 6-hours, the tide will turn, and we'll pull the other way on the anchor. That will cause us to be anchored to nothing until we snag another coral head. That's not a good thing. So we took a mooring.

          Just as we were putting Galena to bed, the mosquitoes attacked.  Jane was bitten 21 times on one shoulder alone! 

31 March 2005

          Walked to Ocean Cabin, but they were closed. We had one of their moorings and had to pay them $10 per day. It was only 10 AM. But they have some really great hours of operation:

So we walked over to the Farmer's Cay Yacht Club.  We had a great omelet for breakfast.  We also met Sherry and Ed on s/v Twilight Time. They are waiting for an engine part.

          We talked with the eldest of the Nixon girls.  The Nixons were the original owners of this island. She's very old. She's had 15 children and says she doesn't know how many grandchildren.  She runs a small store on the island.

          This is the last day of lobster season.  So we bought 3 very big ones from a guy on the dock.  Brent took them to Cajynn II to cook them.  We went over there and spent a nice evening eating and drinking.

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