Swimming With Bears

On 5/5 we got up to our coffee and iced tea and started up the ICW to one of our favorite places Myrtle Beach. We stayed again at Barefoot Marina. They have great rates and the dock hands and dock master are great and very helpful.

Since it was Cinco de Mayo, I knew I wanted some good Mexican food. We took an Uber to Margaritas and ate well. It was almost like what we get at home in Chesapeake at 3 Amigos. The only thing missing was the “white” sauce. I have since learned that it is a regional thing. NO ONE outside of Chesapeake seems to know what it is.

We stayed in Myrtle Beach 2 nights and then we headed out on 5/7 for a quick trip to an anchorage near the Cape Fear River. The current runs fast on the river and we wanted to be close enough to make the tide. We anchored near the South Harbor Boat Ramp. That morning we woke to a heavy fog. It lifted before we had to leave but it was beautiful.

We made good time on the river and since it was a nice day we kept going till we got near Camp Lejeune. It was a loud night as the Osprey’s were doing touch and go landings near us.

At our nightly “nav” brief, John took a look at the rest of our course and we decided if the weather held and we did some long days we could make it home for Mother’s Day. That would be one sweet surprise for Frances.

Since we would have to time it just right. John took a tip from our friend Doug Sanderson’s blog. He has the m/v Slow Bells And is doing The Great Loop right now. He puts a waypoint on his navigation software so he knows the time he will make the next bridge. If the bridge only opens at certain times, he knows when he will be at the bridge and can adjust speed accordingly. We have been doing that and it works. Thanks Doug! You saved me again!

After Camp LeJeune we hit an anchorage at Broad Creek. OMG we found the Midges. We got up and they were all over the outside and on the inside. Sooooooooooooo yucky. On our trip down the ICW in November it was cold and we had no bugs to speak of. All winter in the Bahamas we had no bugs. Back in the United States we get “Love” bugs in Florida and Midges in North Carolina. When get home we are going to need to wash the boat.

As we traveled along the Alligator River/Pungo Canal we saw something cool. I am down below and I hear John call me up. “Something is swimming across the rive.” We both walk to the bow and there is a black head with ears swimming across. I said is that a dog? John said no it was a bear. So out came the camera and we were able to get some good photos. Bears, unlike dolphin, like to have their photo taken.

On 5/11 we crossed the sound and tied up at Coinjock Marina it was time for a good long shower and a yummy dinner we don’t have to cook. The next morning we hit Great Bridge in time to tie up at the free dock and Christy is able to pick us up for a surprise Mother’s Day lunch with Frances. It was so good be back home with the family! It is really hard to say just how much we missed them.

After lunch we had time to make it to our summer resting spot, Tidewater Yacht. As we slowly made our way to our slip, our dear friend Ted Haler from m/y Dream On came over to help us tie up. We were able to share a beer and hear all about his mission, dream, goal in life, Warriors in Peace. Check out his Facebook page. He is going to be doing great things for our Veterans.

So our big adventure is over for now and we already making plans for next winter. Still so much to see in the Bahamas that we have to go back. I will blog next an overview of our trip by the numbers.

Coming Home!

When last you heard from your intrepid travelers on 4/24 we were in West End on Grand Bahama Island staging to cross back to the US. It was a calm but dark night and at about 4 am we pulled anchor to leave. It was a bit dicey at first. We had seen 3 small islands just off West End and we could not see them at 4 am. But Captain John followed the course set and away we went. The water was very calm and almost like glass while we were out. When at last we saw land the waves got a little choppy. Not bad at all for only the 2nd time crossing the Gulf Stream!

The wind picked up as we reached Fort Pierce and we tried to anchor and contact US Customs via the app but we could not get it to work so we picked up anchor and headed for a slip at Fort Pierce City Marina under the yellow Q flag. That way it would be easy to Uber to the airport in the morning. When we took down our Bahamas Courtesy flag down it was very tore up. I think I need to get a better made flag so it will last more then one season.

I made a yummy dinner of homemade corned beef hash (note that it is a SOFT meal). And as we were eating, I bit down on something HARD. It was one of my lower crowns. Oh my God, how did that happen and I am soooooo glad it happened in the States. So now we have to go to check in and I have to find a dentist to put it back in. Thank goodness there was no pain.

After a great shower and a lot of phone calls. (A lot of dental offices are closed on Fridays. Who knew!) I found Schwerer Dental Care and Dr. Matthew Rolfes took care of me. They were GREAT!!!!!!!! I LOVE Dr. Rolfes! Since we were leaving the next day he was able to affix the crown back in but did advise me to see my regular dentist upon my return home. Then it was off to “The Walmart” for some food and cheap beer ($17.95 a case). Beer in the Bahamas was between $50 to $75 per case depending on where you were. We did not buy beer much in the Bahamas. The next morning we headed out to our next anchorage near Indian Harbour Beach. It was very quite there all night. From there it was north to Titusville for one night and then on to Rockhouse Creek anchorage where we staged for an ocean jump out. We jumped out at Ponce de Leon inlet and had a very rolly 8 1/2 hours in the ocean to St Augustine FL.

On 5/1 we headed up the ICW to the Jacksonville Free Dock at Jim King Park. It is a nice park but the current runs fast. We were the first boat to get there and John and I were having a hard time getting tied up when all of a sudden a small power boat came up and a man jumped off to grab our lines. They were so nice to help! All boaters we have met along this journey have been so nice. After they left and as we were getting our lines just the way we want, here comes boat number 2. We both helped him get docked and then we headed out to meet our Uber for a Walmart run.

On 5/2 we headed up the ICW. This is a part of the ICW we missed in the fall when we jumped out at Hilton Head SC for an overnight run into The St Johns River.

The ICW around Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island is not a very straight shot. It has a lot of twist and turns and at Amelia River Bend there is a stinky paper mill. Now since when we lived in Chesapeake VA and if you ever went anywhere on route 58 would have to pass the Franklin paper mill. We are very familiar with that smell. John did get to pass the Kings Bay degaussing pier. They do the submarines and John worked at the degaussing pier on the Elizabeth River that did ships. It was cool to see their set up from the water. John said they have it easy as the subs just move into the cables and in Norfolk they have to actually wrap the ships in cables. We made it all the way to Jekyll Island GA and anchored near Jekyll Harbor Marina.

We got up the next morning with a plan for an overnight ocean run. We left out of the Jekyll Cut on 5/3 at 8am and hit the ocean and we came in at Charleston Harbor on 5/4 at 7am. As we were out in the ocean we had a hitchhiker. Now when we saw him there was no land in sight. I am not sure how long he had been flying but I think he was tired, very tired. He found a spot out of the wind and just rested. Sometime in the morning he was gone.

We did not plan to stay in Charleston so we kept going till we came to an anchorage on the South Santee River. It was very good to eat and sleep, and sleep, and sleep!

Our Last Month in The Bahamas

On 3/27 we left Palm Cay Marina in Nassau and headed over to the Eleuthera Islands. It was a bit of a blow so we were looking to get out of the wind and headed to Hatchet Bay. There is a very NARROW cut into the limestone cliffs and we were able to anchor. We stayed a few days till the wind died down.

On 3/30 we headed out to see “The Glass Window”. It is a cut in the land where you can see from the sound to the ocean. We anchored there overnight and it was worth it. You could see the water spray up higher than the road. Wow!

On 3/31 we headed up to Spanish Wells to anchor. We had a great lunch at Shipyard and the next night had a great happy hour at Wreckers. John had a dolphin welcoming committee to guide him in. We had a great few days there.

On 4/3 we left for Harbour Island via the Devil’s Backbone. That is about a one nautical mile reef in the way to Harbour Island. We draw about a 3.5 foot draft so we did the run on our own. A lot of boaters use a pilot to take them through, but we had no problem at all. The water was beautiful. We anchored off of Ramona Bay Resort and John and I rented a golf cart to go around the island. We did some shopping and we saw the “pink” sand beaches. The photos do not do it justice. We also went to the resort for their happy hour and dinner. John even went to the Pigly Wigly food store. It was just kind of nice to just hang out there.

We left to head to Great Abaco and we were able to anchor for the night just off the shore. The next night we moved up a bit to Sandy Point to anchor for another night. It was hard to decided were to go but since we were going to get some wind we headed into The Berry’s and Great Harbour Cay. We found a nice anchorage away from the wind but there were some noseeums at night . We met James and Carl there. Carl was selling his boat s/v Ishmael to James and he was going to take him back to the US. We enjoyed eating at the marina several times. They had Thursday night pizza and music. And then on Friday it was Chill &Grill. Were you could pick from ribs, chicken, steak And add 2 sides for $10. Best deal in the Bahamas. It was so funny but we saw our friends Rick and Elizabeth on m/v One More Moondance as they were leaving. We were soooooo sorry we missed them. We also saw Billy and Sierra on s/v Adrenaline I. John follows their blog Tula’s Endless Summer. That was kind of funny as we had also seen them at the October Annapolis Sailboat Show.

We left there on 4/13 and tried to go to the other side of the island to anchor but the wind was not with us so we changed direction and headed back to the southern Abaco area and anchored off Moore’s Island. It is just a small fishing village but we had lunch on shore and the owner of the restaurant took us in her car to their small grocery store. They were very nice people and the best ice prices in the Bahamas.

We left there on 4/17 and headed to Grand Bahama Island and anchored for one night then we headed to Flamingo Bay Marina for a few nights stay. They were a great marina only $1.25 plus vat per foot. We also had use of laundry, a water taxi to Port Lucaya Marketplace and the pool at Taino by the Sea Resort. We took the water taxi 3 times to Port Lucaya. We had dinner at Agave the first night and even enjoyed Miller Lite (it is very hard to get Miller Lite in the Bahamas). We ate at Giovanni’s Cafe for our anniversary and on our last night we had pizza at Pisces Restaurant. We spent several afternoons at the huge pool and enjoyed happy hour at the wet/dry Grotto pool bar. John and I even went down the water slide several times. Such fun.

After a great stay we left on 4/24 to head to West End to stage for a crossing back to the US. When we got there it was a nice anchorage but when we tried to set the anchor the first time it did not hold. It turned out we grabbed an underwater cable. It is good that John noticed it then and not when we tried to get underway the next morning as our plan was to leave at 4am and we would not have been able to go.

Friends and Family, Oh My!

We made it to Sandyport Resort before or Bonnie and Richard. (Darn airplane delays.)  So we headed for the beach bar Blue Sail for a couple of Sands and Sands Light while we watched the water and waited for our friends.  

Sandyport is what I would call a boutique resort.  It is small, but very friendly and very nice.  We had a great condo with our own balcony to watch the canal.  We got to see some spotted rays and turtles.  Nothing and I mean nothing can compare to the sound of water hitting the rocks outside.  We had dinner at Twisted Lime that first night. (yummy and great service)

Sunday morning the resort provided a continental breakfast and a briefing about what they have to offer and the area.   After that they took us to the grocery store in a shuttle.

The 2nd night we ate at Spritz an Italian restaurant.  All the places we ate at were within walking distance and within the Sandyport neighborhood.  Days were spent at the pool or beach.  We had one rainy day and John did our taxes and poor Bonnie hurt he foot and had to have have some medical attention.  We are all sure glad it was not broken.  It did not stop her one bit from enjoying the pool, beach, yummy dinners and her birthday.

We enjoyed Twisted Lime so much we ate there 3 times and even made it our last hooray!  Olivia was our waitress for 2 night and she was the best.  But all to soon our week of fun came to an end…….But then on to week 2 of vacation.

On 3/23 we head to the airport to say goodbye to Bonnie and Richard and pick up John’s sister Christy.  We are so glad she decided to fly down and spend a few days with us.  Since there was some heavy wind on the first day we decided to enjoy Palm Cay Marina where we had our boat.  It was nice to just enjoy the pool and beach.  We headed for Jaws Beach on 3/25.  It is called that as one of the Jaws movies was filmed in the cove.  Christy even “drove” the boat over.  On the way we passed The Atlantis Resort.  We even saw a parasailer.  Sunrise was beautiful there. 

After a toooooooooo short visit with Christy we headed out and over to Eleuthera.  Looking for the glass window, pink sand and more.

Vacation in the Middle of Vacation?

We enjoyed a late lunch at Xuma’s at Highbourne Cay Marina.  I think we will take Christy there.  The next day we headed over to Southwest Allen’s Cay and fed the iguanas and enjoyed a day of swimming  and paddle boarding in the very calm cove.  I was even able to stand up and paddle for awhile.  Unfortunately John was not able to get a photo.  (Sorry Katie maybe next time.)  John saw a ray and a lobster in the water.  It was a nice calm place to hang out.  There was a large tender off a big boat that got stuck in the shallow water.  All the people had to get off and they even had to push it out into deeper water.  Note: make sure of the tide before you anchor somewhere.

After a great day hanging around we headed back to Highbourne to anchor.  The way the wind was going to come up it was the best place to anchor.  We saw a very NICE motor yacht with a slide set up.  I asked John for a slide for next year but he said he did not have enough air in him to blow it up.  Oh well.  It was a very rocky/bouncy night as the winds picked up to about 20 knots.  It calmed down some the next morning so we could make our way up to Nassau.  On the way out we saw a sea plane land and take off.

The motor sail to Nassau was great.  We had the headsail up and we were getting 7.5 to 8 knots.  We were flying.  We did get passed by a beautiful monohull.  John got some great photos and when we got to Palm Cay Marina they were there.  We met Pierre from s/v Renaissance III and we shaired the photos with them.  It is very hard to get photos of you own boat while under sail.  We were in the right place at the right time.  Friday moNing it was laundry and clean up time.  We need to get the boat ready for Christy and since we will be spending the week in Nassau at the Sandyport Resort with Bonnie and Richard, we would not have any other time.  Of course we did have time for some yummy pizza at the beach club here.

Renaissance III under sail with Capt Pierre

On 3/16 we want to wish a happy birthday to VeNessa and we are sorry to have missed her party.  A Wease Birthday Party back home is whole lot of fun and we will miss being with all the family.  We cannot wait to send the week with Bonnie and Richard at Sandyport Beach Resort.  Nassau will never be the same after “Lasky Party of 4” gets finished.

Up And Down, Back And Forth

We decided to head up to Staniel Cay on 3/1.  We have our underwater camera charged and want to get some photos of Thunderball Grotto.  There were lots of fish “fins” and lots of swim “fins”.  But we did get some cool photos.  A lot of tour boats bring people to the Grotto and some of the young and foolish ones jump into it from the hole in the roof.  I was glad John did not get jumped on while he was taking some photos.  And while we are “young” at heart, we did not jump!

Staniel Cay has some cute homes and one night we got to see the “green” flash at sunset.  At night some of the light in the homes had evil eyes!  Spooky!  We spent several day going from Staniel Cay to Pig Beach.  I did not go back to see the pigs since we already had photos of them and I had nothing to feed them.  They can bite you.

 On 3/5 we headed up to Warderick Wells in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.  After we got there we took a dingy ride over to Rendezvous Beach and took a little swim.  We tried to sit on the beach for a while but the “noseems” were bad.  There was a north easterly wind coming up and the Emerald Rock field was full.  The office said it has not been full like that for several years.  There was a bit of a tussle.  There are about 6 mooring balls for very large ships (numbers 1-6) and small boats are asked not to take them.  Well a small boat had been on one for a night already and had paid for 2 nights when a very large power boat came in and started to complain.  He was making a big jerk of himself and tried to make the small boat move.  The wonderful park employee took responsibility for the mistake as she had allowed the small boat to be there.  The power boat did get a big ball but what a show it was.

On 3/7 we headed up to Hawksbill Cay and enjoyed a dingy ride and some beach time.  We stayed one night and then headed to Shroud Cay for a night. On 3/9 we got up and headed to Highborne Cay for a few nights.  We hope to try out the restaurant to see if Katie and Christy would enjoy it when they come down.  I just hope we remember to spring forward on Sunday the 10th!  We islanders do kind of forget about things like that and also what day of the week it is.  But we never ever forget where we put our bottle of rum!

George Town Part 2

On 2/19 we moved closer to Kid Cove near Lake Victoria (closer to ice and water). It was less rocky and we enjoyed several days on that side of the harbor. While there we met another couple that have a Wildcat like us. Marc and Isabella of s/v Isla Bonita keep their boat in George Town and fly down for a while in the winter from Canada. They both came aboard to see our boat and look at the changes we made. We were not able to make it to see their boat before we left. I hope we meet up with them again somewhere. On Friday the 22nd the Regatta held the “Round The Island” race. It was a timed start and all the boats went around Stocking Island. John and I decided we would try to find a new location in the harbor so we went from Monument Beach all the way to Sand Dollar Beach looking for a less rocky location. We found a spot at Honeymoon Beach close to shore. That is the good thing about a “cat”. You can get close to shore.

While the “Round The Island” race was fun to listen to on the radio, we could not see much. The “color” commentary by Donna and Lisa was great. We did have a great spot to watch the “In Harbor” race on Sunday and we got some great photos. It was a two lap race we sat on the bow and watched while we listened to Donna and Lisa again. They were very funny!

On Monday the 25th we left George Town to slowly make our way to Nassau. Our first stop was at Emerald Bay Marina for gas and water. After that it was out into the Exuma Sound for a trip up to Musha Cay for a couple of days. The funny thing was that a bunch of boats left George Town when we did and we saw a few while we were getting gas. As we were moving up the sound we kept hearing one of those boats s/v Cupcake trying to hail a vehicle that may have been in distress. At first we could not see her or the other boat but then we saw the smoke and Cupcake. At that point we turned around and headed to help. We were about 5 miles and it was taking us some time to get there. The m/y Patience was also heading that way and they launched their tender. The tender got there very fast and there was only one single handed sailor and he was in his dingy or life raft and was ok. The m/y got there and planned to wait for the sailboat to sink. They were asked if any other assistance was needed and they advised they were fine. When Cupcake and us heard that we both headed on our way. From Facebook we saw that his flexible solar panels caught the canvas bimini on fire.

After that drama we got to Musha Cay and anchored. We stayed 2 nights and one day we swam and drove our dingy around. John and I were both able to practice getting into the dingy from the water it makes it nicer to take the dingy to a snorkel location. We even got photos of The Musician a statute placed in the water near the Cay.

On 2/27 we headed for a short trip back up to Black Point. We did not go into the Sound as the wind had picked up. John had to be on the lookout for shallow areas and coral heads the whole way. At Black Point we were able to make it to Scorpio’s for the cruisers happy hour. We got to meet lots of fun people and then we headed to Deshamons for his famous pizza. It was good.