Saturday, December 1, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
Somes Sound splits Mt. Desert Island right down the middle. Much of Mt. Desert Island is in Acadia National Park but there is a village at the end of the sound and a bus service that will take you all around the island. We rode the bus to Bar Harbor to get some groceries and look around. Bar Harbor is a tourist town, and during the summer season, is pretty busy and crowded.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
We arrived at Block Island, RI in the morning. There was some fog blanketing the Island but we could still make out cliffs and trees. Block Island is a popular weekend summer vacation spot and many boats were just leaving since it was Sunday. Our original plan was to stop and rest at Block Island but we decided to suck it up and go the 6 more hours to Andy and Judy's house. I'm glad we did because we were treated to a great RI clam dinner and now we could really relax. The islands and shores of Narragansett Bay were beautiful and green. I really expected it to be more urban. Palatial mansions line the banks and we anchored right across from one (thank goodness Andy and Judy's house was more modest). Many clam fishermen work these waters. They appeared very early in the morning raking clams with a basket on a very long pole. This has got to be hard work and there must be a bunch of clams there to support so many fishermen.
Judy had bikes and kayaks and we spent a day touring the peninsula of Warwick neck. There was even a blueberry farm down the road where we picked blueberries. The next day we took a tour of Newport and hiked the Cliff Walk where we gawked at the mansions. We didn't see any reason to pay to go in them but there was one (being used as a university) that we could look inside the first floor for free. When we got back to the house Bill found that the GPS chip had been delivered--hurray!
We said goodbye to Andy and Judy that night and left early Wednesday morning. We motorsailed down the Sakonnet River passing more mansions and small towns on the way then made way across Buzzards Bay Massachusetts. We anchored near the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal for Wednesday night. The canal passage must be done with the proper tide and we had it Thursday morning. Thursday we crossed Cape Cod Bight and anchored that evening at Rockport, MA. The lobster pots were thick as we approached the coast and we tangled the propeller in one on the way to the anchorage.
Friday morning was foggy and the first thing we had to do was get the propeller untangled. Thank goodness for radar because the whole day was foggy and it took both Bill and I to watch for boats on the radar and watch for lobster pots. The fog finally lifted a little at the end of the day and we got our first sight of Maine as we approached the twin lighthouses at Cape Elizabeth. The lobster pots were thick--they are not set out in orderly lines like the crab pots in NC. They are scattered all over with barely enough room to fit our boat. But we made it this time without snagging one and arrived at Jewel Island exhausted. Jewel Island is a state-owned island and a popular boating and camping spot. We are lucky that the weather forecast has not been good so there are not dozens of boats in this tiny harbor. We made it to Maine!!!
Yesterday cleared up and after a very cool morning we had a good day of hiking the island.
We met the island caretaker, Vinny, (what a great summer job) who gave us a trail map and told us that we could find baby lobsters in the "Punch Bowl", at low tide. So we hike across the island to a nice tidal pool filled with seagrass and rocks. I immediately started looking under rocks and soon found baby lobsters. I could have stayed there all day--maybe a week but Bill wanted to press on. The trails led through fir and spruce forests, swamps, and fields of ferns and goldenrod in bloom. We climbed the abandoned WWII spotting towers and were treated to a breathtaking vista of forested islands around us.
When we got back to the boat we were ready for lunch then Bill was ready for a nap. I got in the kayak and checked out the dead seal on Little Jewel Island and attempted some seagull pictures. Rocks and seaweed were more cooperative subjects. Then it was time to take care of what we really came here for. We got in the dingy and went across the bay to a small fishing port. A guy was on one of the docks was taking lobsters from a pen and was happy to sell us 4. He also had this very unusual half albino lobster that he had found last week. So it was lobster dinner last night!
This morning is very foggy and we can hear the fog horns. I am not sure if this will last all day or not. We are planning to stay here a couple of days then will be off to discover more.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Always there are alot of repairs. The batteries were old and we knew we had to get new ones, the crack in the deck had to be repaired and the shroud plate reinforced--I think it now can take a nuclear blast-- and the bottom needed painted. That is finally all done and we are on our way to Maine-Finally!
Time to rest and enjoy a relaxing trip. Its good to get out on the water again. The Neuse River is calm and the thunderstorms last night cooled the air off nicely (we have been without air conditioning for the last couple of weeks). A great beginning to a new adventure?
NOT!!!! We have just discovered unexpected water on the floor. Bill has looked under the sink and found the drinking water pipe is leaking. Something else to fix. He swears (both ways) there is something he has to fix on this %$@#&+! boat every day. We have gone about 5 miles and we already have today's repair. At least this one will be cheap. Bill says he hates boats.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Just as we rounded Dragon Point Bill noticed that the boat was having a real hard time making headway--full power was only giving us less than 5 knots (where it should be 6 or 7). We both knew what the problem was (I guess we were ignoring this-hoping it wasn't true). Two weeks sitting in one place had allowed barnacles and skuz to accumulate on the bottom which was slowing us down. So down goes the anchor and we drag out the snorkeling gear (that I had just rinsed off, dried and put away yesterday), and we get in the water to clean the hull. The lower units and props were covered with barnacles. There was also a thick carpet of algae, small encrusting critters, and amphipods (small crustaceans). First you scrape then you brush. Scraping the bottom, for me, is the most hated job. The combination of being upside down and swallowing water makes me nauseous (funny how this doesnt make me sick when I am looking under rocks on a beautiful reef). Certainly the job was much more pleasant in clear beautiful water but now we had about 1foot visibility brown-green water and the amphipods covered us and our gear as we scraped their tubes off. In some places I would scrape and brush, look at it again and it was dirty again--I realized that the dirt was crawling--they were that thick. Finally it was done as well as we could do and we ran to the shower to scrape the amphipods off our bodies. I hope we got them all or we are going to be smelling like dead shrimp for the next few days.
In any case, we are off again--much faster. The cell hotspot seems to be working well. I can write as we travel now, however, once we get out in the ocean we will be out of cell phone range until we get to Beaufort. I have attempted to post more pictures but there seems to be a problem with the slideshows on the blog. They just don't appear when I post them.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
During the sail to the Banks, we stopped at a"Donut Hole" a formation of thick seagrass with rocks in the middle surrounded by sand. There was a huge aggregation of fish there, snappers, grunts, spadefish, 2 nursesharks, jacks--tons of fish that were also VERY friendly. I suspect people feed the fish here. I saw a large green moray eel (who was a little more friendly than I cared for him to be) and some very unusual anemones. This was not a very big bunch of rocks but it was loaded. Bill tried to spear a snapper but he could only stun them.
I knew this would be my last snorkel , the water was so nice and warm, but we still had quite a ways to go to meet our friends on the Banks. The wind picked up and we had a good sail but, as we approached, we knew the waves were not going to make for a comfortable restful night. This is quite common on the banks and you either suck it up and try to sleep or continue on. Taking down the sails and anchoring in the wind was not easy. Our friends had been there for a while and decided that since they weren't going to get any sleep anyway that they wanted to cross to the States overnight. We didn't have any problem with this but it would have been nice to know that before I struggled with getting the sails down and anchoring. So we pulled up anchor, set the sails and sailed right into some thunderstorms--down go the sails-again. Fortunately the storms only lasted a couple of hours but wind directions changed and confused the seas--which we had really not prepared for (remember--we were going to start in the morning in "calm" conditions). Everything started flying off tables,shelves and counters. Spaghetti escaped from the box and leaked out the pantry cabinet onto the galley floor. The whole boat looked like a tornado went through it. At around 2am, the Kitty came out of the back bunk and WAILED-it was so pitifull and she was seasick. I consoled her and got her back into the bunk.
Not the best crossing--but we got into Ft. Pierce around 8am, checked in with Customs (they wanted us back-darn!) and will rest up before heading back to Melbourne. Kittty's find too. She is taking it easy on the deck.
Monday, May 28, 2012
The Abaco Islands are much different than the rest of the Bahamas and much more developed. We are now anchored in a development much like one you might see in Florida. Today we will be headed toward Great Sale Cay which will be our jumping off point for the trip across the Gulf Stream to the US. This part of the trip must be carefully planned with consideration of the weather because the wrong winds combined with the Gulf Stream's current can make for a very uncomfortable and dangerous sail.
There has been some very good snorkeling and diving in the Abacos and we hope to do a few more dives before we leave. The water is warm enough now to dispense with the wetsuits sometimes.
I will miss the Island Life.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
Kitty gave me that “oh no—not this again” look and headed off to the back bunk when Bill started the engines. We pulled up the anchor just before 8am. There was an organized cruisers rally to Long Island and we passed a few early starters as we left
The swell decreased on the banks and the fishing lines were set up in hopes of catching dinner. Not too long and a barracuda hit one of the lines but cut the lure off as Bill reeled it in. We didn’t want a barracuda anyway. I reeled in another one and we gave up fishing until we got into the deeper water. Then we got lucky and Bill brought in a beautiful Cero Mackerel.
Another long day of traveling—so we got up at sunrise and made way through a morning of small squalls and rainbows. When we passed the tip of
We are now in the Acklins, a remote set of
Happy Spring! The Acklin Bight is shallow but large and not particularly sheltered from the east wind which happened to go with the outgoing tide. However when the tide changed, the forces of the wind and current worked to position the boat broadside to the waves which tends to roll you out of bed. This happened early in the morning when I wasn’t really ready to wake up but going back to sleep was impossible.
Long Cay has a population of flamingos that we were eager to find so we repositioned the boat closer to the shore we expected to find them. In fact we could see them as a pink smudge just off the beach. We launched the dingy and took pictures but discovered the engine was overheating and barely made it back to the boat. This is not a good place to have boat trouble—no one to help but we were ok. Now we need to find a more sheltered place so that we can remove the motor to replace the water pump—at least we have one. Tomorrow the plan is to travel across the bight to
Strong squalls the night before allowed for little sleep—there was no lightning but the rain came down horizontally in 40mph winds. Anchor held well. In order to have the deepest water possible across the bight, we started at sunrise and crossed to Delectible Bay at
Got out the kayak today and headed for shore. I first visited the ruins of the government dock. A supply ship was waiting to unload at a landing place a little ways up the island closer to the village. The interior of the island has a lake and I set out to find the inlet. The inlet was barely deep enough for the kayak and the lake was very shallow. I was hoping that there might be flamingos there but there were no birds. I am puzzled by the lack of waterfowl and seabirds in the
While I was gone, Bill rigged up the dingy motor so we can lift it onto the boat for repairs. We will wait for the wind to calm down a bit before we do that. We did put a new water pump on the dingy motor and got it working--Hurray!!!
The next day we headed for Datum Bay at the southern tip of Acklin Island. We found some good snorkeling there but were eager to get on to Hogsty Reef. The crossing to Hogsty was a motorsail crossing because the wind was right out of the direction we were going. Hogsty Reef is an Atoll (a circular reef created from a sunken island)--the only one in the Atlantic--and if you want to be out there in the middle of the ocean, this is the place. I have a picture from the air that I took on the way to Barbados last year. To our surprise, there was another boat anchored there and we soon met Alex and Maria from Austria. They went snorkeling with us and helped us eat the huge lobsters Bill and I caught. It seems that Hogsty Reef had been an exciting place a couple of days before we arrived. A fishing boat came in with a crew that did not really know what they were doing anchored on the wrong side of the reef then they lost their anchor. The coast guard came and picked them up--the boat was abandoned. As we were talking about this we asked what the name of the boat was--Fish Master--This was the same boat that approached us asking for where to get fuel at Long Island. I don't know what the deal was with them. They appeared to not know what they were doing and told the coast guard that they had no food or water.
The anchorage at Hogsty Reef afforded little protection and we had bouncy nights with little sleep. So we think it was Thursday that we crossed to Inagua. We had great wind and sailed at about 8 kts with a reef in the sail. NO MOTORS!!!--Love it! Bill wanted to go into Alfred Sound but it was too choppy so we ended up at Man O War Bay--calm waters and a good night's sleep were welcome. And, as I said--Beautiful!!
Friday, March 16, 2012
The original “plan” was to take a week or 2 here in
Snorkeling has been good here. Bill and I got one good day on the Exuma Sound side and found some nice coral reef but there are many shallow patch reefs in the Harbor that can be snorkeled in just about any weather. Last week someone asked if the ban on spearfishing in the harbor included lionfish. The harbormaster cleared spearfishing for lionfish so one night we had lionfish sandwiches for dinner. I have not seen too many here compared to other places though. We have seen some nice big lobsters but they all have good dens and we come back with only fire coral stings.
There are many hiking trails all over Stocking Island and I have hiked about all of them. The Sound-side beaches are beautiful and a nice mixture of rocks and sand. I have so many pictures of the beaches--they are different every day.
Many people get to Georgetown and stay the whole season or longer. There is a huge cruising community here (right now about 250 boats) and the town is happy to have our economic input. Every morning there is the Cruisers Net where activities are be announced and people can get together.
NEWS FLASH--THE MAIL HAS ARRIVED!!! We will be leaving tomorrow going south. We were going anyway and coming back here but now we can go on!!! So check the SPOT tomorrow we will be moving!
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
The Exumas are the island chain on the eastern side of the Tongue of the Ocean.
When we left Fresh Creek we headed due east about 54 miles to Highborne Cay at the northern end of the chain. The wind sped us along and a lone dolphin joined us for a few minutes. We anchored at Highborne Cay just before sunset while we watched 2 seaplanes deliver guests to the live-aboard next to us. The next day we took the dingy to Allen’s Cay where there are Exumas iguanas. Boats from Nassau bring people there to see them and feed them grapes and the iguanas emerge from the bushes when they hear boat motors. We went over to a neighboring island which was ruled by a huge iguana. The water was crystal clear and the shallow reefs we snorkeled were beautiful.
Sailing is leisurely once in the Exumas. The islands are close together and for most of the way you usually have a choice of sailing on protected water either on the inside banks or the outside Exuma Sound. Over the next few days (they are all running together now) we Island hopped and snorkeled accompanied by Marion, Boyd and their dog, Zola on s/v Chinook Winds. From Highborn, the next stop was Norman’s Cay on Jan. 30. There is a harbor with beautiful water, a perfect little island, and the wreck of a cargo plane that was being delivered to the drug lord that used to live here during the ‘70s and 80’s. It is said that pilot ran out of gas and didn’t make it to the runway. Shortly after we anchored there was a rainstorm and the wind picked up but we still got a good snorkel at the airplane. It was windy and stormy all night but we were well sheltered in the harbor.
Next stop was the Exuma Land and Sea Park where we took a mooring ball for the night at Emerald Rock. We hiked up Boo Boo Hill and to the blow holes—and, of course did more snorkeling. Then on to Compass Cay where we spent a VERY rocky night causing us to move the boat the next day to a more sheltered part of the island. Marion wanted to see the Bubble Bath, which is a walk up a creek to a basin where the waves crash in and make a bunch of foam. While walking back we surprised an octopus who squirted a big bunch of ink.
Once we got out of the park we could fish again and look for lobster but all we have done is fish and not catch and the only lobsters we have seen were there because they had good holes. It used to be when looking for lobster you had to be wary of long-spined sea urchins and moray eels. The sea urchins disappeared for a while—a disease killed most of them but they are back now. A new impediment to lobstering is lionfish. They are everywhere and hang around holes in the reef where lobsters might live. They are not the least bit shy and do not move when you approach. I have come close to hitting one with an arm or leg before I knew it was there. Bill and I will come up, at some point, with the best way to spear and bring some lionfish up for dinner. They are good eating and my blackened seasoning would be great.
Staniel Cay was our next stop. This has become a very popular spot and many people were there for the Super Bowl Party at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Thunderball Grotto is a spectacular snorkel during low slack tide. This large cave, open at spots at the top, was a scene in the James Bond movie Thunderball. It is surrounded by coral and sponges and friendly fish inside and out. Inside sponges rule but it takes a camera flash to see the bright colors. We also found an interesting drift dive that I later discovered was called Blue Valley by the local dive shop. We just got out of our dingys and held onto the ropes as we drifted by soft coral, Nassau groupers and a large eagle ray. The dive ended at a shallow coral reef where we picked up a couple of conchs. The next snorkel was at a small reef near Fowl Cay where I found an octopus that posed for a picture. It suddenly disappeared and when I asked Bill if he knew where it went he replied that the octopus was hiding from the shark. Sure enough—I looked up to see a 6 foot reef shark—he was not very interested in us though, and just swam by. We did not tell Marion and Boyd until we were back at the boat eating conch salad.
Staniel Cay was the end of the road for Marion and Boyd since they have to be back in Sasketchtuan in April so they headed back to the park and we proceeded south stopping at Black Point to do laundry at one of the nicest Laundromats I’ve been to. Then it was on to Little Farmer’s Cay. The number of lionfish on the small scattered patch reefs there was quite remarkable. Often a dozen would be packed in and around one hole. The one lobster I saw there was not an option because it was surrounded by lionfish.
The winds had been light and from the south so there was not much sailing to be done. We motored between islands charging our batteries and didn’t even bother raising the sails for the trip from Farmers to Lee Stocking Island. It was a good opportunity, though, for making water with our R/O unit since we were now on the Exuma Sound side in deep blue clear ocean water. Still no fish! At Lee Stocking Island we got out the SCUBA gear and dove a beautiful reef just south of Adderly Cut then came on into the mooring balls field just off the CMRC research station. I was lucky to have spent a week working there about this time in 2003. Since then I have always had a piece of me there. The water colors are just incredibly beautiful. Bill wearies of me staring out and wistfully saying “beautiful water”.
I wanted to stay a couple of days at Lee Stocking Island but the wind was so favorable for the sail to George Town and the weather was predicted to be rather poor for the next few days. We glided down Exuma Sound at 8 kts. with no motors. So here we are anchored in front of the Chat n Chill bar, the gathering point for cruisers here. There are about 300 boats in the harbor right now and at night the anchor lights look like a city. Yesterday Bill and I played volleyball—haven’t done that in probably 30 years—we managed not to hurt ourselves. Thank goodness the sand is soft.
There are several things we will do while in George Town in preparation for the next part of our trip that will take us “off the beaten path” to the most southern part of the Bahamas. Internet is somewhat reasonable here so I will try to update everything before we continue.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Although finding fuel took longer than we expected, we decided to cross to Bimini late Thursday morning. We passed Biscayne lighthouse and set out to a glassy smooth sea. The crossing was very uneventful with no wind until the last couple of hours. I was a bit nervous about finding anchorage in the dark but
Sunday we left Dragon Point heading to some point south where we can cross to Bimini. Sundays's anchorage was in
Sunday, January 8, 2012
- ▼ 2012 (25)