Alabaster Bay

When we left Hatchet Bay, we were headed for Governors Harbour.  We decided en route, due to the slightly uncomfortable sea state, that we would cut the passage short and anchor in Alabaster Bay.  This ended up being a great choice!  This bay is gorgeous!  The beach is miles long and the beach combing fruitful.  There were 2 other boats when we came in and the catamaran was gone the next day.

We were able to easily get the dogs to shore, watching when the other boaters had their dogs ashore.  There was also some ruins to explore on the beach and plenty of trees for hanging our hammocks.  A US Navy base was a mile and a half down the road and we walked there to explore.  There are old barracks, gas station, brig, store, absolutely everything that a small base would require.  And it was abandoned.  It turns out that this base played a major role in the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The base was formed to “listen” to submarines off shore in the Atlantic.  It was initially an experimental sight, that ended up being exactly what worked to divert catastrophe.

Jeff and Jennifer rented a car for 2 days.  While they had the car, we were able to explore both ends of Eleuthera.  The first day with the car, we went to Governors Harbour and explored the Ruins of Club Med.  What a place this must have been!  A lot of the buildings are gone, but the pools (with resident ducks), daycare, tennis courts, basketball courts and courtyard  remain.  Every time we tour one of these ruins, it leads to investigation of the site.  I’m always left wondering how these places can just be walked away from.  There were documents here, plans for the future, financial logs, etc.  And they are left, to mold and blow away in the next wind.

After Club Med, we ate lunch at Buccaneers and ventured further south and found church ruins at Bannerman Town and Lighthouse Beach.  This, my friends, is the most beautiful, secluded beach I’ve ever laid eyes on!!  Now, before you hop in your Chrysler and head out there, be forewarned that the road is questionable.  It’s a good thing the Savori’s rented a Jeep, that’s all I’m saying.

Day 2 of the car rental took us north.  We ate at an absolutely amazing restaurant along the way that had the best local cuisine.  It was called Island Something or other and was in Bluff, along the main road.  I had Curry chicken and it was delicious!  There are only a few items on the menu, but they are made to perfection.  Matthew had wings.  When I asked if she had BBQ sauce for them (when he ordered) she said no, but offered to make some~ and she did.  It was sooo good!  Also, when here, don’t trust the bathroom lock…..

We stopped at the Queens Bath just before the Glass Window Bridge.  This is something special.  There are several small pools and caves that fill with water depending on the sea state and tides.  The water varies in temperature and depth per pool.

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We continued up the road to Preacher’s Cave, stopping first at the Sapphire Blue Hole.  This is a salt water pool that is approximately 60 feet deep.  “Blue holes are typically found on shallow carbonate platforms, exemplified by the Bahama Banks…..” (Wikipedia).  It is a sinkhole originating from a limestone cave.  Regardless of how it’s formed, these holes are beautiful and fun.  When we stopped, there was another family there.  Two sons and the mom had made the 30 foot leap into the pool.  We didn’t really talk about jumping, but before we knew it, Matthew had taken off his flip flops and handed his dad his shirt and was preparing to jump.  Mike just had time to turn on his phone and record it!

 

 

 

After the blue hole, we went on to Preachers Cave.  This, readers, is historically very cool. It seems that this is where the first descendants of Eleuthera came, although, not on purpose.  They shipwrecked in 1684 on the Devils Backbone.  This is an especially shallow area to the north and east of the island.  They sought shelter in the cave and this is where the first church service was held on the island.  There is a cemetery, it is unmarked and we were unable to find it.  This cave is pretty large and has several alternate entrances to the grassy knoll above.

After the cave we wondered down a few other narrow roads and found some mangoes.

 

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That night we made hot dogs on the beach.  It was our last night on Alabaster and we were a little sad.  This also marked our turn around point and from here on we are headed back to the states.

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The next leg was making a turn towards New Providence.  This is where Nassau is, the Capitol.  We had no desire to go here (we have been vacationing there every year since 2005) while cruising.  It was, however, on the way.  We anchored at Rose Island.  The sea was bumpy and the anchor kept up the rolling.  When we were nearing Rose Island, Mike caught a fish, that when he pulled it in, had been partially eaten in the process.  We hadn’t had anything like this happen and were a little weirded out….  Also along the way, I had tea in my favorite cup from Lynn and read a little.  I was seasick for part of the day and the tea was comforting.

We sit, now at Hog Cay.  Yesterday we explored Bird Cay and the fascinating story behind it.  This was owned by Francis Frances, who was a descendant of the Rockefeller family (Standard Oil).  He bought the house from his sister, Joe Carstair (now that’s an interesting story- look her up.  There is a book called The Queen of Whale Cay, which I intend to read about her.  Anyhoo- Frances and his wife built a mansion and essentially a compound here and made it their winter home.  Google Bird Cay and see the stories.  It is pretty cool.  The house could be made beautiful again with repairs (a lot of repairs) as it’s not completely ruined.  The bones still look good, to me 🙂  I didn’t get many pictures, mostly video and I haven’t gone through them, yet.  Stay tuned!

This brings me to my next point.  YouTube.  We have posted a few videos.  Let me tell you something…. if you enjoy a YouTube channel or two, appreciate the work that is involved.  It is time consuming editing a video!  It is also HARD!  So, that said, go visit our sight.  And be kind- it’s the beginning and it can only get better.  I look at comments on other channels and wander where people get the idea they are invited to criticize….  How about say something nice, or not at all..  Ok, enough.  Yes, I’m fearful of criticism.  There, I said it.  I’ll continue posting videos either way, as this is a good way for us to save them and show our families.  So there.  Enjoy:

Here’s the link for the latest episode.

My next post will likely be from Florida.  We either have 3 days to go, or straight through any of those days depending on the weather.  Pray for safe travel, if you are so inclined.  I will be flying Matthew to Sioux Falls and bringing my dad back in a week or so.  My brother, Jamie, is calling this the prisoner exchange.  Matthew likens it more to a hostage situation as he is very excited to be going home.  Dad will make the last leg with us.  I’ll be happy to see him, then anxious to get home to my big kids and grandson and the rest of the family.

Until then~ Slainte’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing South

Holy Moly! What a few weeks it’s been!IMG_20190416_190431_878.jpgThis was a super cool sighting for us! After leaving Hope Town, we were only there the one night, we crossed back over to Marsh Harbour and stayed outside the Abaco Beach Resort for a night. We arrived in some weather and after anchoring, Mike stayed on deck to shower in the rain. The next day, in the marina, Ventolines and Mike spotted this famous tender….. belonging to one of our favorite YouTube channels! We fangirled/fanguyed at the tender, then when we didn’t spot the owners, went back to our boat. Meanwhile, Jennifer just happened to see Riley with baby Lenny approaching and seeing how he had his hands full, offered assistance when they were going aboard the dinghy. I was so incredibly jealous that we missed them by mere minutes! We did see them heading back to the boat, but missed our opportunity at meeting them.Here is Mike showering in the rain (nothing indecent)!20190415_164233.jpgThat night we headed south to stage for our crossing to Eleuthera. The weather has been shifty and we sail when we can, but have had bouts of unfavorable wind- like when it’s on our nose and we have to motor. We were, however able to sail for the most part when we crossed. Here’s is what the wind meter tells us when it’s a “no sail” kind of a day.

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No sailing…

Right. We crossed, leaving from the Lynyard Cay Cut. We sailed the majority and saw some interesting seaweed formations along the way. We also got some nice pictures of Ventolines. Matthew, Falcon and I snuggled- believe it or not, it can get cool on the water and we like to bundle up in the comforters. I was also a little seasick, so this helped.

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The sunset the night we reached Egg Island

When we reached Eleuthera, we anchored initially at Egg Island. There was a small, pretty beach with a swing and table. We took the dogs ashore, they promptly went for a run and while we were looking for them, Meg the dinghy decided to float back to the boat without us. She actually just made it about 20′ offshore and Mike was able to get her pretty quickly. Later that day the guys decided to fish from the dinghy. That was a little scary seeing them out in open water with several actual sized fish boats around them.20190418_111411.jpgMike was doing his usual browsing on Facebook and noticed that Sailboat Story, another of our favorite channels was a few miles away at Meeks Patch. He made contact with them and we all decided to meet up at Royal Island the next day. This was, again, very exciting for us. They have an 8 year old, Molly, who we all adore on their channel and just enjoy them as a family, also. We ended up staying a few nights, the first few being very rolly and uncomfortable and then we had Easter there as well. This was actually a safe harbor and there were soooo many boats around. There isn’t really anything to do there, on shore, however. Jennifer and I managed to find some diverting activity, though…..

Here is the link to Sailboat Story on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6V3ozIm1SrUVP315YEKNA

EASTER MORNING! HE HAS RISEN!

IMG_20190420_131917_759.jpgHere is what Jennifer and I found: turns out we are both passionate about ruins….

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On Monday, after Easter we all made the jump to Spanish Wells. We stopped at Meeks Patch along the way. The beach on the NW side is beautiful and we opted to go there to avoid the pigs and what could have been a more populated beach. We were able to let the dogs run, Mike snorkeled a little and we just enjoyed the peacefulness of it.

On the way to Meeks Patch, Mike caught a couple fish. Another barracuda and a mutton snapper. He was also in the midst of baking coffee cake- quite the talent my husband is.

When we got to Spanish Wells, we again met up with the Sailboat Story crew. We enjoyed Pappa Scoops ice cream 4 nights in a row. The town is quaint and colorful and has all basic necessities. Budda’s is a great place to eat and they have an African Grey pair that we especially enjoyed.

Mike got a few boat projects done, mostly some varnishing and climbing into the engine room for some work on the genset. We also attempted to color Matthew’s hair. It didn’t take and we were a little disappointed. He did think the plastic bag on his head made him look like a windsock and had fun with that visual.

We bid Sailboat Story adieu in Spanish Wells and we certainly hope we are able to meet up with them again in the future. We had a fun time with their family to be sure!

From Spanish Wells, we carried on to Current Cay. We spent a few nights there and this was by far my favorite part of the journey to date. I can’t say why exactly, except that we had one almost perfect day. Matthew and I had jumping off the boat contests and were swinging from the boom on a rope into the water with Wyatt. Jeff, Mike and Wyatt went snorkeling and Jennifer and I SUPed (stand up paddleboard) and combed the beach. It was relaxing, the weather was perfect and for whatever reason, I was at complete peace. Wyatt also told me that he felt it was a perfect day, so I wasn’t alone. Something that we found interesting was that there was a black dog on shore. People came and went a few times and there were 2 structures there. The dog would occasionally come down and bark at us, but when we went to shore he wouldn’t approach. Jennifer tried…. haha

As I write we are sitting in Hatchet Bay. This, is where we came when we sailed on Mambo with Bruce and Colleen 2 years ago. We reintroduced ourselves to Pete, whom we met at that time as well. He and his wife, Bonnie have been coming here for years. His car is what Bruce drove to pick us up from the airport.  We have met Emmett who owns and operates the convenience store and bar and restaurant at the public dock. He is very nice and eager to please. His grandson, also Emmett, is younger than our boys, but they have formed a friendship quickly. I love that about these kids!20190502_181800-1.jpg

A couple days ago we hitched a couple rides to the Glass Window.  This is a bridge that originally had a rock arch beneath it, which has long since been swept away in a storm.  On one side, the north is the raging Atlantic Ocean.  On the other, south side, is a quiet and tranquil Eleuthera Sound.  It’s quite the contrast.  I have seen videos where the Atlantic is fiercely blowing over the bridge.  This day it was rather calm.

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Yesterday, we hitched a ride to the Hatchet Bay Caves.  My knee and hip were hurting, so I opted to stay up top.  I went down a very short way, then took out my book and read while the rest of the group explored.  Apparently there’s 2 miles of cave to explore and they figure they got to about a mile of it.

We had explored Gregory town a little while here on Mambo.  We decided to walk around there a little bit today and see if anything had changed.  It hadn’t.  It’s a cute little burg with a little more happening than in Alice Town at Hatchet Bay.

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Today, we are bound for Governors Harbour.  This is the route we took with Bruce when the infamous “knock down” took place on Mambo.  This is when the boat heels over so far, a spreader touches the water.  The spreader is what keeps the standing rigging away from the mast.  We didn’t completely knock the boat down, but it was close.  The weather is a little calmer today and we don’t anticipate anything remotely similar.

We have been talking more frequently of when we will be turning around to head back to the states.  The Florida Keys is somewhere we may head to first, we are still undecided.  At some point in the next few days, we want to try and nail down some dates to shoot for, so we can get my dad back on board.  The weather determines everything, so our “nails” have to be flexible.  I’m a little sad at the talk of going back, as our trip was about 2 months shorter than it should have been due to the boat yard work.  Next season will be a longer one and Mike has said this has been a “get our feet wet and see what still needs done” season.  Of course he’s right.  I feel like this life truly suits me, I love the boat life and meeting people and waking up to the sound of water and breezes.  I also ache to go home and see my kids and parents and brother and friends and church family.  There is a very small part of me that misses having regular and reliable mail service and the conveniences that go along with our easy life at home.

 

OK~ enough of that~

And another thing~  we have been playing around with a YouTube channel.  Check it out at your leisure.  There is only a single video for now- but we have some footage we will try and edit into something more interesting.  Eventually.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMlOgYZH_RLjaByUCGBW56Q

 

Hello Beautiful Bahamas!

After 2 weeks of waiting for the right weather in West Palm Beach, we were finally able to cross.

While in West Palm, we kept busy. There were errands to run, chores and laundry and all the usual household chores. Mike and Jeff, from Ventolines, made a trip to Ft Lauderdale to purchase a watermaker kit and that was installed. This is big news for us. I like to rinse the deck with fresh water, rinse the dogs, shower, etc without worry. This is such a blessing! Mike also had to go up the mast several times to replace a broken halyard. You can get seasick when you are 60 ft in the air when the boat is rolling. Thank you very much motor boats for the wake!!

We also went to the Manatee Lagoon and Loggerhead marine hospital. These were fun and very informative. However, the manatee still elude me. I’ve been pursuing Barbara Manatee (my fellow Veggie Tale fans will know what I’m talking about) for a year and have still not seen one!!
The day we spent out at the Lagoon, etc we were bringing provisions back to the boat and were watching flashing blue lights that appeared to be near Voyager. As we got home, we could see that the law enforcement boats were nearby and one approached us. Due to our recent history while here (see last post) we were a little defensive. They were, however, warning us that there was to be a fireworks display in about 30 minutes and our boat was in the downfall. We explained it would take us a bit to move as our dinghy was full of provisions and we had to get them aboard, etc. Mike also had to address an oil overfill before we could start the motor. Matthew was terrified because they used “we don’t want your boat to catch fire” as a nudge for us to take them seriously. In the end, we got things sorted and moved a short distance up wind to watch the fireworks then went back to our anchorage. The dogs were exhausted and we wondered how hard they worked while protecting Voyager from the police while we were gone.

We decided late Saturday the 30th of March that we would cross the next morning. We had a completely random message from Bruce on Mambo. He is who we sailed with 2 years ago in the Bahamas on a charter. We learned so much from him that trip and had arranged to crew with him last May. We weren’t able to as the weather didn’t cooperate (see first few blog posts). Now, Bruce contacts us, out of the blue and he is in the same anchorage! He and Mike talked after several facebook messages and after a long discussion, Jeff and Mike conferred and we made plans to cross the next morning rather than waiting for evening. We were just blown away that not only did the Lord send us Ventolines, but now He placed Mambo, with his decades of experience here with us, as well! He is so good to us! Matthew had kayaked over to Ventolines for a sleep over, so we made plans for him to come home early the next morning before departure.


At approximately 0630 Sunday, we were ready to move out. It took a little bit longer, but the excitement was tangible. We set a course and off we went. We had just gotten into the gulf stream when Mambo called and said he was having concerns over his engine temp. Mike and he brainstormed a little and Mike commented on how much seaweed we had in our strainer and he might want to check that. Not long after, Ventolines called and were having motor problems. Their Raycor (fuel filter) was plugged. The sea was rolling and there wasn’t great wind for sailing, so Jeff raised his main to try to stabilize the boat while he worked on it. After an hour and a half or so, they decided they would probably need to call a tow boat. Working in a hot engine room with diesel fumes and rolling seas is not fun. This was terrible news. They wanted us to go on, but we were reluctant. We were barely off shore and we weren’t sure we wanted to leave them. If we had been further out, we definitely wouldn’t have. Mambo had just let us know he had reversed his prop and unloaded a bunch of seaweed that was wrapped on. This took care of his overheating. Since he was out there, headed the same direction, we conceded to go on. I cried as Mike increased our speed and we pulled away. It was an absolutely awful feeling!

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About an hour later, we get a call on the radio from Ventolines. Jeff had continued to work on the motor rather than call for a tow and they were running and underway! Matthew and I screamed for joy! What a relief this was! We had originally planned to anchor south of Memory rock, but then decided to make Mangrove Cay. We came in after dark. I hadn’t slept well for the last few nights and my perception was questionable. We could see a few other boats anchored, but were unable to determine just where they were and how far. The island is very small and about a mile in the distance. Since we were in very shallow water on the Little Bahama Bank, we decided to just drop the hook there rather than trust our judgement any closer in. We were also thinking about Mambo and Ventolines coming in after us and wanting to be visible for them. I went to bed almost immediately. I sat outside and prayed and thanked our Lord for the blessings of the day. The stars were so bright and felt so close, it was mesmerizing! Mike sat up waiting for Ventolines. He had radio contact with Mambo, who was going on until he was tired, but was unable to get ahold of Jeff. Mambo passed on where we were so they knew to look for us. Jeff told us later that when they were approaching, he recognized Voyager by the dim lights. The other boats, although further away were brighter. Our anchor light was out and Mike has rigged a solar garden light to our stay as a temporary fix. We laughed at his recounting of seeing us, dim as we were. Mike said he was watching a movie and still hadn’t heard from them, when a spotlight came through the portlight. He said it startled him and he wondered who the heck was spotlighting us way out there…. Jeff, that’s who! HAHA!

The next day we made for Crab Cay at the north end of Little Abaco. This was a beautiful bay with a few other boats anchored in. Mike had caught a few barracuda and a king mackerel on the crossing. Ventolines crew came over for supper and we enjoyed the mackerel with rice and salad with brownies for dessert. It was marvelous. It was so good to sit in our cockpit with these precious people again! I’m still so grateful they were able to come on!

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We reached Green Turtle Cay yesterday afternoon. We were at low tide, so had to sit outside the sound for a few hours. Our boat needs 5 ft 4 in of water and the inlet is only 4 ft at low tide and 7 feet at high tide. The wind was blowing higher than expected and the anchorage was rocky. It was still nice to sit out on the deck and read while waiting for the tide to raise. We made plans to anchor somewhere more sheltered if there was no mooring or dock available inside. When 4:30pm came around Donny’s Marina came through and offered us 1 mooring and 1 dock space. We took the dock and Ventolines took the mooring. Docking is so nerve wracking. We have done alright so far, but I get terribly anxious every time. There were 3 people waiting for us to catch lines and we managed just fine.

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Total distance with stops= 180kt miles

As I write, Mike and Jeff are off to Customs and Immigration to get that sorted. I can’t wait to take the dogs for a good walk and explore the area. Green Turtle Cay is someplace that everyone who has been here, loves and raves about. There is a ton of history and I’m especially interested in the Loyalist history after the Revolutionary War.
Right. So, that’s where we are and what’s been happening. I have no idea what the plans are from here. What I do know is the Spirit will lead us.
Slainte’

Hallelujah- We are on our way!!!

On March 4th, at sunset, we were launched from the boat yard! Because we were launched so late in the day, it meant we were also anchoring in the dark, in a 7 knot current, with 6 foot tides and a very narrow channel. We reset our anchor 5 times that night, with a good set finally being attained the next morning at 0600. It was not a restful night, but we were sooooo very happy to be floating again!

We wrapped up a few projects and were finally able to be underway on Friday. S/V Ventolines had contacted us Thursday evening. They are the friends we had met in Brunswick, who had also had some delays. They were currently anchored just a few miles from us! So, on Friday morning, we all set sail for a few miles off shore and headed south.

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I can not begin to express the jubilation and excitement leaving that river had on us! The only down side, was that I had just had news that my aunt, the closest adult I had besides my parents and grandma, who had been on a ventilator for more than a month, had made the decision to stop all efforts that day. So, as we bobbed and rolled and sailed that day (it was a rolling sea), I grieved for my aunt. If we had still been in the yard, I probably would have lost my mind! The sea is truly therapeutic and I spent most of the next 24 hours crying and praying. Mike and Matthew were understanding and just let me mourn.

We were at sea for about 36 hours when we crept into Cape Canaveral. There was another channel, a lift bridge and a lock system. The lift bridge and lock being entirely new experiences. I think we managed like rockstars and were feeling pretty good until we saw where we were to dock. Docking a boat is likened to a controlled crash. Put the controlled crash between 2 pylons and a 10 foot long dock and things get tense. We knew it was coming and with the motor in neutral as soon as we nosed in, we used the gaffs, ropes and a very nice gentleman from another boat, we only knicked the bow a little.

We stayed at the Harbortown Marina for 3 nights. We were able to do some laundry, ate a few good meals and had fellowship with the Sivori family whom until now we had only had radio contact with for 2 days. Wyatt and Matthew get along so well, as do the adults. Mike and Jeff tuned the rigging of both boats and discussed all kinds of other projects, goals and plans. The boys swam, Jennifer and I went to Goodwill. It was a great place to rest for a few days.

We then proceeded south on the ICW. We looked at the weather and decided if we had to motor, we might as well stay a little more comfortable. This also gave us the chance for more practice with the bridges and anchoring. Since anchoring in the channel outside the boatyard, I had some anxiety about it.

Our first ICW anchorage was called Serenity. Some of you will understand why this name has special meaning to us. We had a short dinghy trip to shore on an isolated island and the dogs loved it. They swam and smelled everything. We had our buddy boat over for spaghetti and had a grand time. I still worried over the anchor all night however, despite us not moving even a little…..

Our second anchorage was near Vero beach. We were adjacent a bridge and there was a restaurant with a dinghy dock. Conchy Joes had delicious food. I had a grapefruit and fennel green salad with mahi mahi. It was soooo good! Mike had fish tacos which he claimed were equally delicious and Matthew had his usual burger. There was also a fishing pier and boat ramp at a park and we were able to give the dogs a good walk. It was a quiet night and yet I still checked our anchor all night long.

Our 4th leg brought us to West Palm Beach. We are in a huge anchorage with a prominent police presence (more on this later). There are cruise ships, mega yachts, various trawlers, fishing vessels and sailboats. We have access to the Palm Beach Sailing Club and their facilities. We can shower there, use the dinghy dock and participate in any events. Due to the weather, we will be sitting here until the next weekend. I have relaxed my anchoring worries a little while here and sleep has been welcomed. Last night we had some strange tides and wind, Voyager rocked and rolled enough that the hook holding our fruit and veggie hammocks came out! Still our Rocna 20 held! This is a confidence booster for us (me mostly).

Right- Police Presence. Well, as soon as we had set the hook, we lowered the dinghy and took the dogs to shore. We were about half way there and were pulled over by a young, zealous GFP officer. We were speeding. We also didn’t have our paperwork onboard. Mike had somehow thought to take his wallet, so we at least had some ID onboard. He gave us a warning and stern lecture on knowing the local rules. We thanked him and were on our way. After that, we have proceeded very slowly in our dinghy and I took pictures of our paperwork to keep on my phone for reference. Well, 3 nights later, we are towing Jeff on their tender, the motor had given out. It was dusk and I was using a spotlight in the bow. We are about 1/2 way back to the boats when we are pulled over, again! Same officer. He starts in on how neither of our boats have a 360 light….. Mike explains, the motor had broke down, hence the towing and we weren’t anticipating being this late, etc. The officer then recognizes Mike and says, “I’ve already stopped you once, I’m not giving you anymore warnings after this one!”. He then looks at Jeff and says, “do you have ANY documentation to show this boat is yours?” Jeff read him off the registration number, using military phonetics and promised to have a 360 light and the officer calmed down a little. While we have seen several vessels pulled over for speeding, etc, ours have been the only dinghy’s we have seen pulled over, most are power boats and wave runners leaving a significant wake. Most tenders around us have gone much faster and there have been no other 360 lights. As Jeff said, “that guy has a special place in his heart for Mike, now”. HAHA! Both guys report the police are very visible on shore as well. Florida has a reputation for harassing cruisers and I guess we are an easy target.

We came in last Thursday, the 11th. Saturday while Mike and Jeff went to Ft. Lauderdale for a water maker (YAY!!!) Jennifer and the boys and I took Meg (dinghy) over to Peanut Island. Its a lovely spot with beaches and a campground with a walking trail around the perimeter. There is supposed to be a museum, but it wasn’t open. Apparently President Kennedy had a bunker here during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His family’s beach house is just across the island from us, about 1 mile on the Atlantic side.

Mike took the dogs for their health exams today, so we are ready for our crossing as soon as the weather permits. As I write, Wyatt and Matthew are playing nerf guns and running, yes running all over the boat, up on the deck and down below. It’s very noisy and screetchy and I wouldn’t change it. Matthew has been missing his “brothers”, Kadrian, Kyrihn and Kyuss like crazy as well as nephew Luc and niece, El. Having Wyatt has eased his homesickness and having Jennifer to relate to on this journey has been a blessing for me, as well. Mike and Jeff get along like they’ve always known each other- it’s amazing. I can’t not believe that all our delays and frusterations were where God was leading us to these people to buddy boat with. I’m so thankful He put us in each others path!

Right- as we sit here, waiting for our chance to get our passage to the Bahamas started, Mike has put the water maker in, we are just waiting for the pump to arrive tomorrow. He has also completed a few other projects, shower drain pump, deck pump, etc. He wants me to post the complete list of all he has done since buying the boat, but I’m not up to that. Maybe he will have to do his own blog post 😉

Boat schooling is going pretty well. Matthew has a standardized test next week that I’m a little anxious for. The wifi and computer have to be a certain strength and settings. If we have been able to make our passage, I’ll have to make sure those requirements are met by Monday. Perhaps we can find a library to use the computer. We will be praying for all this to fall into place as everything else has.

Slainte’

PS Check out Sailing Ventolines on Facebook and Instagram

PSS I highly recommend Max Lucado’s book on Anxiety; Anxious For Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

PSSS Sitting on the hook in windy, rolly seas can also make one seasick 😦

Boat Yard Life Episode 2

 

I haven’t written in awhile. I will attribute this to the old adage “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”.

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A pretty Island Packet that was just hauled out. This is how close we are to the lift.

While this is mostly true, our life here hasn’t been bad. We have met some extremely nice people. We have made some friends. Boat schooling is going pretty well. We aren’t in the frozen tundra of South Dakota. Being here for the last 6 weeks isn’t where we planned on being, and this has led me to being a little resentful of being away from family and friends to just “sit here”. One of the first people we met said, “when you’re sailing, you learn to let go of plans”. Touche.

One of the friends we have made, Chris (S/V Water Frog) has spent the last solid year making repairs that weren’t in her survey, which, interestingly, was also done by the same surveyor we had. She wasn’t able to sail for a couple years, so didn’t begin getting her boat ready immediately, thereby wasn’t aware of the true condition of her boat. The resident boatbuilder, Ron, who has somewhere around 35 years experience has been overseeing Mike’s work and making recommendations on how to proceed with Voyager. John, the rigger had a similar situation with his boat and was able to tell us right away when we hauled out, what the problem was with our deck. Rocky and his family have been amazing. This is his yard and he lives on site. His son, Clayton, 5, has entertained us with his driving prowess (he sits behind the wheel of side by sides, a dirt bike, the heavy forklift, basically anything with wheels) and has kept Matthew busy on his trampoline and playing.

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Chris climbing the mast of Water Frog.

Ron has said he would happily put his name on any work Mike has done. The gentleman in the Tayana next to us has tried relentlessly to get Mike to work on his boat. When he realized Mike is actually a physician by trade, he couldn’t believe it. John has offered Mike a job doing the wood work on his boat. I guess if we wanted to stay here indefinitely, he could have a job!

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Wet deck core.
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Wet deck.

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Finished port deck and new rigging.

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Finished port side cabinetry.

I, meanwhile, teach Matthew and we go on field trips. I keep the dogs out of the way and try to keep them safely exercised. I help Mike when I can. I’ve mixed epoxy, held the backs of nuts and bolts, removed stanchions and plates, pulled a portlight to replace, painted and painted and painted, sanded the new fiberglass on the deck (I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN) and I clean the galley before I prepare every meal, due to the constant dust from the construction.

 

 

 

Some of the sites we have taken in are the submarine museum, the Cumberland Island Museum, the Amelia Island Museum, the Tabby Sugar Mill and various restaurants. A block from the yard, I found an old, very small cemetery. There’s a stone there for a Revolutionary War soldier! We have met some friendly dog owners at the dog park and boat schooled at the parks nearby. We have learned about local mushrooms due to Katniss deciding it was a good idea to taste several varieties we found in a local park. This was a scary occurrence and we are still keeping an eye on her to make sure she is ok. This dog is constantly pushing the limits on safe activity. She eats everything and gets herself into some perilous situations routinely! She has worn me out cleaning up after her! Because of this, she is well known in the yard, not something I’m especially proud of.

 

All in all, this is part of the adventure. We are learning as we go and making friends. No experience is wasted and we are hopefully blessing those around us as they are blessing us.

We have been advised to write a letter to the certifying agency of the surveyor we used due to the number of issues that weren’t listed on the survey. While we haven’t done this yet, we are certainly considering it. We just aren’t sure how much more energy and time we want to give this, other than getting the boat repaired and back in the water. On one of my walks, I found a house down the road. It resembles a mansion and is considered a “handyman special”. There’s a dilapidated tennis court, fountain, pool, etc. The asking price is less than we sold our house for. I jokingly said if we were going to be here awhile, we might as well take on another house rebuild, too. At least the dogs would have a yard while we worked…..

Slainte’    _/)

Why are we living in the boatyard when we are supposed to be sailing?

Murphy’s Law/ Myers Law/ God’s Timing~

Maybe I should just learn that my timing and urgency isn’t necessarily the Ultimate Plan.  Maybe, I need to learn patience and not to rush my plan.  I’m guessing this is the lesson.  On Saturday at about noon, we threw off the dock lines and headed for the fuel dock on our way out of Brunswick.  After fueling up and dumping the head, we departed.  ONE mile and just across the bridge we encountered the first problem.  While checking the engine, Mike found that the front of the engine was streaming antifreeze and steaming.  Mike had replaced all the hoses on the engine, except one that wasn’t included in the hose kit from American Diesel.  The piece of hose (an old rubber cap) that wasn’t replaced cracked and antifreeze was streaming out of the engine.  So, Mike and Dad devised a plug and got her rigged so we could make it to an anchorage.  We were by now about 1 1/2 hours behind schedule.

 

The channel leaving Brunswick has markers 8 miles into the sea.  Therefore we have to motor or sail that far out before turning south.  We opted to cruise out of the ICW because it gets a little hairy behind Jekyl Island and we weren’t wanting to risk running aground.  However, we got out to the last marker and the seas were pretty rolly.  It wasn’t scary and the wind was only 9-11 knots from the NE, but it wasn’t comfortable.  We had 3-6 foot seas coming from what seemed like every direction, but was mainly the north.  We got our cutter sail up and headed south.  The temp was in the 60’s and the breeze was brisk. (Side note; I’ve been wearing my North Face coat most days since leaving SD.  Not something I thought would happen.  Funny how one climatizes so quickly.)  Mike was pretty seasick after he went below deck checking the engine.  Matthew had a bit of a meltdown, then decided that he was comfortable on the floor of the aft cabin wrapped in his blanket.

 

We had by now decided we weren’t going to make it to our original destination of St Marys river at the southern end of Cumberland Island.  We chose the northern end in the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway AKA The Ditch) to anchor for the night.  This took several hours to reach and was after dark as we came in to St Andrews Sound.  We were praying the GPS was accurate as this was new territory for us and there are shallows several miles into the Ocean.  At our first marker approaching the sound, we hit 9′ depths.  Our draw is 5’4″, thankfully, but that was a little uncomfortable.  With Mike and Dad both watching for the markers, we made it safely to our anchorage and dropped the hook.  We then made supper and settled in for the night.

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Erin; helmswoman, galley slave.

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Car carrier passing us as we headed out the channel at Brunswick.

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Awaking to an amazing sunrise, we broke our fast and headed down the Ditch for St Marys.  On our way, we had a few other very shallow areas (6-7′ in one place) and passed a Navy Submarine Base.  This was very cool.  There is a large “degaussing” station in the channel to navigate around.  Apparently some cruisers have been witness to subs coming into the base.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be for us.  We made it to the mouth of the North River, where we would approach the boat yard to haul out to paint the bottom.  We anchored for about an hour and made lunch and waited for high tide.  The approach is a narrow river that is shallow at low tide.  We followed succinct directions that are provided by the yard and made it without problem.  About 3/4 in we had a dolphin escort, which was fun.  We had seen a few along the way, as well- it’s always exciting.

When we arrived we were pulled into the lift backwards.  We hadn’t hauled out before, so this was all new to us.  These men are skilled, let me tell ya.  I had minimal maneuvering to do, as they guided us and pulled on Voyager with gaffs.  As soon as we were in the sling, they assisted us off the boat.  I walked the dogs and tried to keep the peace between our dogs and the yard dogs.  I soon saw Mike approaching with a not so happy look on his face.  It seems that one of the crew noticed “oil canning” on our starboard side.  This is basically a deformation of the hull- it looks like dents.  This is caused by a weakness in the deck with the knee, hull and deck beginning to separate.  Not good news for us!  If we hadn’t hauled out to paint the bottom at Mike’s insistence it could have been detrimental for us.  The rigging attaches to the chain plate.  The chain plate attaches to the knee.  The knee is supported by the hull and the deck. In a strong wind or rocky sea, this could lead to a de-masting of our boat.  (A few years ago we had experienced a de-masting on our MacGregor 25- that was traumatic enough- nothing compared to what this would have been.)  We discovered the deck was weak from previous water damage and had bulged upward 3/8 of an inch.  The tabbing on the hull that attaches the knee to the hull had separated 1/4 of an inch.  When will I learn to listen when Mike is feeling particularly led to do something?

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Freshly painted hull

 

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Dad scraping the bottom.

So- that night, Sunday, we painted the bottom of the boat with 3 coats.  Voyager remained in the sling and we discussed and prayed about the situation.  We were happy to find that a boat builder and rigger were both available for consultation as well as the many other “experts” who live or hanging around the yard.

The next morning after all the opinions were made, it was decided we have at least 1, maybe 2 or 3 weeks of work to do.  Voyager was presently unsafe and needed to be dealt with.  After coming out of the sling and put on stands, the hull shape improved, minimally.  Where the deck was raising at the placement of the chain plates, weight was applied.  That also helped, minimally.  Mike began ripping into the interior cabinets on the starboard side.  He found the interior woodwork was rotten and easy to remove.  Thankfully, he didn’t feel he needed to dismantle the fronts, where the stained glass doors and beautiful teak wood work are appealing to look at.  An assessment and more conversations, now also including the man who conducted our survey, showed where the fiberglass on the hull was separating from the knee.  More bad news.

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Showing how the new support will go threw this slates and be fiberglassed into place.

 

Now, Mike has rigged a frame inside the boat that stabilizes the hull and it has regained the shape.  When he did this, our aft cabin door began closing easily.  We had thought humidity was to blame for the difficulty in closing it the last few days.  So, with that sorted, a plan for restructuring and reinforcing was made.  Ron, the boat builder and John, the rigger have made several stops to see how she’s looking and make suggestions and guide Mike through the process.  This week, beginning tomorrow, we will move into a motel while the fiberglass work is done.  The dust and fumes will make it necessary.  This is absolutely not what we had planned on happening and are pretty disappointed.  However, since it has happened, we are grateful that it was found here.  This is a one-of-a- kind place with helpful, friendly people and great service.  We aren’t wonting for much.

 

 

Sean flew in to Sanford/Orlando Friday night.  I went to pick him up and we returned to the boat at 0200.  He and dad will fly back to South Dakota Monday.  The boat is going to feel so lonely!  My mother’s heart has been so happy to have Sean here and Dad has been with us for nearly a month.  I’ll miss the company and old stories.

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Eating around the frame that’s keeping the hull’s shape.
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Cemetery at St Marys. the oldest grave is marked 1801, we saw 1802. A Revelutionary war Captain claims the oldest marked grave.

Yesterday, we explored St Marys a little.  Unfortunately, due to the government shutdown, the Cumberland Island museum and all services are closed.  We had fun, anyway.  We have also discovered a fantastic dog park and spend time there, everyday.  We have met other dog owners there and enjoy visiting with them.  We woke up today to a calendar notification on my phone telling us it’s our anniversary!  After 11 years, I finally have a reminder that we notice.  Mike and I are neither one good at remembering this, for some reason.  Maybe we will get a lunch out as a reward- haha!

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“Happy Anniversity” from Matthew.

Right- so I think I’ll sign off, here.  There is much work to be done and writing this blog post has been a process- it’s been lost and revamped and I’ve been trying for awhile to attach photos.  The Wifi is sketchy and Mike likes to review the details of what’s happened to be honest and precise.  Here’s a couple provisioning pictures (remember how much I was dreading that task), the second also shows the cabinetry I was hoping to save.

 

 

So- with that said-

Slainte’

We have moved onto the boat~ now what?

We made it.  We arrived in Brunswick December 28th at 0200.  We were beat, had a decent sleep then welcomed friends from South Dakota aboard at 1100.  We have been here a week and a day, now, it feels like longer and I want to get out of the marina.  The boat work continues and we still need to provision.

 

I’ve been reading Sailing Totem (veteran sailors that have been cruising with their kids for over 10 years) posts on provisioning and feeling a little less anxious.  She really tries to buy fresh food where they are, but takes into account the high cost of destinations.  The Bahamas are a high cost destination.  All produce is imported, as well as everything else.  Since the thought of doing without “fresh” produce almost consumes me, this has been a good blog to be reading.

Ok~ enough~ what have we been doing?

Getting “stuff” put away, organizing, changing our minds and reorganizing, Mike has gotten the solar up and wired, but now finds that our old panels from Summer Breeze are working marvelously, while the 4 new panels are barely working at all.  He has fixed a leak in our hanging locker and gotten the dingy outboard running smoothly.  I got the safety net put up and feel like it looks pretty good (I was skeptical).  Have bagged up dog food and made a few decisions on how to stow that (huge endeavor with 2 large dogs on board), made lists and more lists.

 

Matthew has made 2 friends, Max is 15, Wyatt is 9.  The younger one and Matthew seem to have really hit it off.  We hope to see this family in the Bahamas later.  Based on the current outlook, they could be behind us a couple weeks.

So, what’s left to do?  The lists is as follows:

-fix the diesel leaks, there are 2

-finish the solar

-install the refinished handrail on the aft deck

-put trim pieces on the kitchen sink counter

-provision

-replace boom lift block

-Replace the traveler block

-jerry can boards

-install closet shelves

-investigate DC power for the fridge

-install a pvc pipe to house the small propane bottles for the grill

Still a list…. granted several of these can be sorted in a day, but the big items have taken over and demanded more time than expected.  Add to this that I have had a cold and have now shared it with my Dad and maybe Mike this has slowed us down somewhat.  Matthew has not succumbed and has kept busy with his video games and toys when not working on school work.  We have taken the kayaks out some and he has fished off the dock with Max and we went down to the Yacht Club on New Years Eve.  We aren’t the social butterflies most cruisers are, so the New Years Eve celebrations were fun, for about an hour, then we went home and played Phase 10.  I’m sure we will make more trips to the club events before we leave.  They have an exercise class most mornings at 0900. I’d like to take part in that, but can’t seem to get myself moving with this cold to be in public by that time.  Yesterday, after we finished up school in the library in the club house,  I visited with a gentleman about the benefits and draw backs to homeschooling and how well (or not) homeschooled kids do as adults.  He shared some statistics I hadn’t known.  It was an insightful conversation.  I appreciate meeting these people from so many walks of life, their views and experiences are always interesting.  I also had a great homeschooling conversation with Wyatt’s mom.  She is using a curriculum we considered (ABEKA) and loves it.  I’m storing all this information for when we make curriculum decisions next year.

 

Right~ so, while I am getting whiny about sitting here not sailing, we are networking and making friends and learning from other sailors.  We have made acquaintance with 2 separate people because of the dogs, alone.  Weimaraners stand out and draw attention.  Something we have learned with the dogs on board, is that not all stowage areas are dog proof……  Hard lesson learned.

So~ until next time~

Slainte’