Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Time to move

March 8, 2013

I entered the fun volleyball tournament, six teams of nine, we managed to get together as a team and together we won five out of five games… Woo Hoo... First place won a flag and a bottle of rum for each member. In the afternoon was practice for the four on four tournaments on Wednesday, and played 10 or more games. These will be a lot tougher games. Some of the players are very good and able to cover much of the court on their own. Much attention to the rules and legal play… should still do ok though even though many of the players played in college. The two on two and three on three players are very good…

Well the 4 on 4 volleyball tournaments went well and we only lost one game out of seven for the best winning results and clinched the first place prize and another bottle of rum.  Last night was the closing dance and prize giveaway. My friend Steve on Slow Flight got a 5 nights on a mooring in Vero Beach that he didn’t need and gave that to me. Thanks Steve…

I may go to Long Island after this for a few days before the long slow trip back to Florida… More to follow… I signed up for the rally to Long Island and will head north from there. I hope to spend a few nights in Black Point and one or two at my favorite spot off Galliot and then Staniel’s Cay and Pipe Creek and Warderick Wells before heading to Nassau. From Nassau I will then to Bimini and on to Ft. Lauderdale and hope to be there sometime in April… These are all tentative plans depending on the weather and my mood. So now you all know… I am selling my Cuba chart book to a young couple here with a cute little girl and a baby so they can go to Cuba too.

I am off to Long Island in the morning for a few days. I will try to get back online there but may go silent until I get up to Black Point in a week or so.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March 5, 2013

Sailing with Jeanne

Now that the kids are gone we can relax and enjoy the island time together.  No more need to be somewhere at a specific time is a much better feeling to have.  We have been spending mornings at Flip Flop beach working on my tan lines when it was cooler for Jeanne and then I would play volleyball in the afternoon as Jeanne relaxes under the Caseopia trees. In the evenings we could meet friends for cards or dominoes. More boats are arriving and some leaving every day and I will need to decide if I am going to go to Cuba this year. Jeanne has decided to go back home to work at the end of January. She likes that job and the people she works with and they have offered to extend her contract to November.  We decided to stay in George Town at least until she left here. I just received an email from Graham; he will be flying in for two weeks on the day Jeanne leaves. 

Graham’s visit was great; we had a good time here even though I didn’t feel like going to sail to other islands.

March 2 2013

I just received word that David will not be joining me so it is time to make plans for a slow trip back north. Today started out mild with very light winds but as forecast the winds went suddenly up to about 25 knots. It is now about 20:00 and I have seen gusts to 40+ knots. It is a little choppy but the anchor is holding tight. The ride back in the dingy from town was a little wild with about 3 foot waves and the wind gusts trying to lift the dingy when I’d ride over a big wave but I made it safely back to the boat. I plan to stay here through the regatta and then may head to Salt Pond Long Island for a few days before I start my trip north. I entered the volleyball tournament and will see how we do over the next few days.

It will be next week before I get back online and then the next front will be here Wednesday or Thursday with stronger winds forecast. Maybe I will go to Cuba if I get to Miami too early and it is cold up north. I have come to the conclusion that I need more battery amp hours and will get 4 6volt batteries for next year and a wind generator.

March 4, 2013

I entered the fun volleyball tournament, six teams of nine, we managed to get together as a team and together we won five out of five games… Woo Hoo... First place won a flag and a bottle of rum for each member. In the afternoon was practice for the four on four tournaments on Wednesday, and played 10 or more games. These will be a lot tougher games. Some of the players are very good and able to cover much of the court on their own. Much attention to the rules and legal play… I should still do ok though even though many of the players played in college. The two on two and three on three players are very good…

I may go to Long Island after this for a few days before the long slow trip back to Florida… More to follow…

Monday, January 21, 2013

A much delayed update Jan 21, 2013

Sailing South 2012 / 2013

We left Green Cove after working on the boat for two weeks installing a new shelf, solar panels and bow roller extension among the many other chores to get the boat ready to launch.

The trip started out pleasant enough though for most of this trip the winds have been from the wrong direction. Our first stop was Jacksonville Landing for the night. In the morning we left with the tide and to get through the bridge before it closed for the morning rush hour. The timing of the tide was spot on and we rode the outgoing tide all the way to the intracoastal and then rode the incoming tide and following outgoing tide though the intracoastal all the way to St Augustine.

After spending a couple days seeing St Augustine we again headed south using the tide to help us along. Our next stop was Daytona Beach for the night and in the morning we headed for Titusville. We planned a long run for the day and late that afternoon we passed by Titusville and had a celebratory drink as we toasted passing the farthest point south that Jeanne had reached the first year. We had just enough time to make the next bridge before it closed for rush hour and anchored off Cocoa Beach for the night. We planned to relax in Vero Beach so we left at dawn for the next long run southwards.

Arriving late in the afternoon we pumped out and topped up with fuel and water and went out to a mooring and shut down the diesel. The water pump was leaking sea water onto the battery and I needed to replace the seal. We planned to stay a few days in Vero as the bus into town is free and stores are convenient for shopping and a beach and shops is a short walk away. Our time is spent relaxing and meeting new friends and shopping for necessities; and of course trinkets and gifts for the grandkids. While there Vero Beach holds its annual Christmas Parade. I locate a Volvo parts place in Ft Lauderdale on our last day there and arrange for a pump rebuild kit for when we get to Ft Lauderdale. Just before we leave I find out about another Volvo parts place in Vero Beach…

Our next stop was Manatee Pocket close to a cousins Florida condo. And we arrange to meet her for lunch while there. We met her for lunch and took her out to the boat for a bit and said our good byes. In the morning were headed out to the ocean for a long sail down to Ft Lauderdale. Unfortunately the winds were a little too far forward to sail and we had to motor sail or tack out to the Gulf Stream. After one tack we motor sailed the rest of the way and sailed into Fort Worth and then motored down the Intracoastal an hour and anchored for the night. The next day we did the bridge dance all the way to Fort Lauderdale and the Las Olas Marina. We had arranged for parts for the leaky water pump to be delivered there to affect repairs to it. We planned to spend three days there relaxing and seeing the city. For smaller boats like ours the dockage was almost as cheap as the moorings and much more convenient.

The repair went quickly and the rest of the time was spent seeing sights and shopping. We made plans to return and see the parade of lights when we were to pick up friends, Jackie and Dave. We made friends with a couple on the boat next to us who were living aboard and spent the winters down here. Bringing your own boat and the dockage is much cheaper than renting a hotel for the winter, and in a much nicer location.

After a few days we moved on to Miami. Our next stop was South Beach, an area of upscale shops and the haunt of the beautiful people. South beach is nice but a little expensive and after a few days we were ready to move on but not until we’d walked the beach and had a drink in a few of the trendy bars.

Next we went to Coconut Grove where we had a little incident with a submerged pipe but in the process made several new friends who helped in one way or another to affect the repairs. By the time Jackie and Dave arrived the rudder shaft was straight again with just some fiberglass work to be done to complete the repair. I can’t thank the friends we now have enough for helping get us into sailing mode again. We were soon on our way to the Bahamas and checked in at Bimini. I asked for and got 120 days on the permit and the visitor’s visa. We spent 2 days in Bimini and then headed out for the long overnight sail to Nassau arriving the in the afternoon of the next day. Spending a few nights there to stock up on supplies and watch the Junkanoo festival, an all-night parade and celebration in a Mardi’s Gras way. It is a lot of noise and crowds and costumes and floats with dancing and music.

A few days later we headed out for Allen’s Cay where we would anchor and could dingy ashore to feed the iguanas. In the morning we got an early start with our destination being Big Major’s Spot where the previous year there was a new year’s party on the beach. It didn’t happen this year but I made my banana bread anyways. Jackie and Dave had to fly home new year’s eve but the flights were full from Staniel’s so they left a day early an booked a room overnight in New Providence. Flying in and out of these Islands is an adventure in itself as Jeanne’s daughter Jennifer would find out soon enough.

After a few days we headed to Black Point and the hospitality of Lorraine’s CafĂ© and Scorpio’s Bar and happy hours. We planned to stay there until Jennifer and Dylan arrived. The market there is small but there is a good Laundromat with new coin showers and water available and other things to make the stay pleasant.


Dylan Update

Well our grandson just left in a taxi for George Town airport, they will be flying to Nassau via Rock Sound and then on to Atlanta and Detroit. I hope the return is less eventful than the trip out where a small ticketing snafu had them get off at the wrong island. They were able to flag the plane back down and hop over to the Black Point where we were waiting. For Dylan this was just another of life’s new adventures and he made the best of it. For mom it was it was slightly stressful but she also enjoyed the time we had, even with my phobia about water and battery usage. The first stop was a few days in Black Point where we met old friends and some new ones. Dylan made a few friends on the other boats with kids on them and happy hour was a happy time for about a half dozen kids. We took the dingy around the point to another island with an iguana sanctuary and Dylan delighted in the little lizards although he didn’t get overly close to them. What he did like was the “looky bucket” where we could float over a reef and watch the sea life below. Ohh and Lorraine says hello to all her friends and hopes to see them all again.

Our next stop was Big Majors Spot with the swimming pigs. It was a delight to feed and watch the pigs swimming in the sea and we had heard there were piglets though we didn’t see them. The next day we went over to Staniel’s and swam in Thunderball Grotto and fed the fish peas as they swarmed around us. On the sail from Black Point to Big Majors Spot we had a dolphin swimming with the boat and Dylan was up on the bow watching him until he tired of our slow boat and swam away. After two nights there we headed south and joined up with three other boats with kids aboard, and snorkeled on a small reef. Later we got together on Aileon for a potluck dinner and let the kids play while we relaxed and talked.

The next morning we headed out Rudder Cut on our way to George Town. The winds were marginal for sailing south east and eventually we simply Motor sailed into a tight reach and big waves. We passed through 4 rain squalls with winds up to 30 knots. We arrived at George Town and anchored off Stocking Island about 16:30.  Dylan had a good three days to relax, wade with the stingrays, play on the sandy beach, collect shells, check out the huge starfish, play in the surf on the ocean side beach, meet again and say goodbye to his new friends before they flew out at 06:00 Saturday morning. The boat got much bigger and way quieter after they left. Everyone had a good time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dec 13, 2012 Miami

We are now in Miami off South Beach. Plan to go to Coconut Grove for a few days before before Dave and Jackie arrive and then will look for that weather window to get to the Bahamas. Chris Parker says there could be a time early next week but it could close up by Wednesday or Thursday.
Will just have to hope it lasts long or returns in time for getting to Nassau for Christmas but will not push the limits just to get over. The weather has been decent enough here, though the last couple days have been overcast and the solar has been falling short on our needs with only 245 watts of capacity... I may yet get that wind generator.

Lost of little projects have gotten done but now a slight issue with the Lowrance plotter and the AIS, Seems the plotter will not display AIS targets and it was originally doing that. And Lowrance help desk is no help. They clain that it never did even though it did for a few days and then suddenly stopped. Anyone have a clue??? Please help me...

So now I will enjoy South Beach and all it has to offer and then the Grove...

Will write more soon but it is now time to go outside and enjoy lifes little pleasures...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25, 2012

We arrived in Vero Beach yesterday and will be here until parts we had made catch up to us... We left St Augustine and made a dash to get south where it is warmer. Now should be 80 degrees today.
We are staying inside until the weather improves out in the ocean, it is blowing hard out of the north for the last week or two and the water has been pushed inside with the tides being higher than normal and the bridge clearances pretty tight for some of the taller boats.
We only stopped overnight at Daytona and Cocoa and put in three long days to get here and will relax for a few days before we head farther south to Ft Lauderdale and Miami
Enjoying the warmer weather and will walk to the beach today...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A short update

I arrived in Green Cove Oct 31, 2012 and worked on the boat a week until Jeanne arrived. The bottom was done and the critters killed off and her new shelf installed. Then went to Orlaando to pick her up at the airport and to a friends place for the night. The next day we went to the boat where Jeanne asked why her palace was not ready for her comfort. Then another week of cleaning and sorting and she knew why...
But all is now well in our world. Another solar panel is installed. The AIS is programmed and installed but still to be wired in. New wind sensor is up on the mast top. Hull polished. Boat is launched and the machine shop is making parts for the new bow roller...
We left Green Cove Monday at 12:30 and arrived at Jacksonville Landing at 17:30. The next morning we left for St Augustine at 06:30 and arrived here at 14:30.
Along the way I installed the bracket for the AIS antenna and now need to run the co-ax for it. When that is done I will wire it up to power and the GPS.
Still chores to be done but at least we are on the move and heading south and soon to be warm again...
Now off to Sailors Exchange and the Oil Company outlet.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I know I have been a little remis on posting to the blog but here is an update, belated but hopefully in time to set a tone for this years adventure

Jan. 7 onward

Well I ordered a new radio online from Defender and am having it delivered to Exuma Markets in George Town. With any luck it should be in when I arrive there.

We are doing boat chores and snorkeling and spearfishing and otherwise just relaxing in Black Point. We out to catch lobster and fish one morning but had to cut it short when a grey reef shark started to check us out.

Jan. 8 we left Black Point at 07:30 for Big Galliot and after a nice motor sail we arrived at the anchorage and were the only boat there. We had the beach and our own private island for several hours. Later on four other boats arrived and had a drink with Skip and Carol on their boat. We planned to leave with them in the morning for an inside run to Lee Stocking Island. The tide was still falling and Skip ran aground twice and we pulled them off and decided to head out the cut for the outside passage. They stayed inside and had no other trouble and we had a nice sail once we got through the rage in the cut. Getting back in through Adderly Cut was tricky with the seas breaking on each side and us not sure exactly where the reef was but we kept a sharp lookout and made it in safely. We found Skip and Carol already there. At 09:30 on Jan. 10 we headed out for George Town and arrived at anchor off Monument Beach at 15:10. We had hurried south because my sailing companion of two months was heading out to Mexico in a few days to see her mother. The plan was for her to meet Jeanne and all have a final dinner together but Jeanne had her week off delayed so they never got the chance to meet. On Jan 15 I saw Chris off at the airport and was alone again in George Town. It was a windy and choppy day as I headed back to the boat alone. Jan 16 and Jeanne is now due to arrive in five days for a week-long stay. I am spending my time getting the boat cleaned up for her arrival and taking long walks on the beach and playing volleyball. I have noticed that I have lost a lot of weight and most of my stomach that had fattened up during the summer at home.

Jeanne had a great time here but it was way too short, I tried to show her everything there was to see and do but a week is just not long enough. We just had a relaxing time met other couples, walked the beach, played volleyball and went out for dinner a couple times. Before we knew it her time was over and I took her out to the airport and once more headed to the boat alone. Some boats are going to Cuba and I am giving that some serious thought. It is a lot closer to Cuba from here than it is back to the states and actually the short way back is almost along the Cuban coast. Well I have come this far…

Feb 17, 2012

Well we have been in George Town for several weeks, initially waiting on a radio, then so Jeanne could have a nice week on the boat. I am now getting ready to sail to Cuba. On Sunday Graham will arrive and if the weather window holds we will sail to Long Island. I will spend the next couple days preparing for the trip south. On Monday I will be officially in the tropics. 

George Town is great, you can get almost everything here, and my days are walks on the beach or snorkeling for fish and lobsters, beach volleyball, and visiting town or friends. It has been a great 3 or 4 weeks but it is now time to go and find new fresh places to see. I would recommend coming here with your boat and staying a while, but also to visit the other islands. Just sailing from place to place is pleasure in paradise. Cuba should prove to be an adventure, it is a 30 hour trip nonstop to Puerto de Vita from George Town but I will break it down to Long Island, then Flamingo or Water Cay and then Raccoon Cay. From there it is a pre-dawn start and once off the banks it is 40 miles to Puerto de Vita.

There is a frontal system to keep an eye on for after noon on Monday, but if the timing holds we should be arriving in Thompson Bay just in time. The tide is a factor as it will be falling and likely low tide when we want to transit hog cut so it will be off to the top of Long Island and in that way. Planning is always the key to a safe and pleasant passage.

February 21, 2012

We finally left George Town on our voyage south to Cuba, Graham is here and we have headed out to long Island, The weather looks good for the next few days. Graham’s luggage arrived the day after he did which delayed our start but at 07:00 we were pulling up the anchor. We motor sailed out and had a good but tight sail all the way to long island. We tried to anchor off Salt Pond the town but it was too shallow for our comfort. We went over to Thompson bay and dropped the hook. When we reversed the transmission started making a noise. I plan to disconnect the tranny from the prop shaft to determine if it is actually the transmission or the prop shaft and hub assembly in the morning when the sun comes up.

Well after several hours work I found that the hub on the back of the engine is stripped in its internal splines and will have to be replaced. The transmission input shaft is worn but should hold if I get a new hub. After several calls I located one in Nassau and have made arrangements to have it flown out here. It is used but in new condition and will cost me $600.00 plus air fare and I will have it in a couple days. Half the price of a new part from Volvo. In the mean time we’ll relax and Graham is renting a car to tour the island. We discovered that Greg and Janice on Glenice are here and they are stopping in to visit as they tour the island. I haven’t seen them since leaving Coconut Grove over a year ago on my first trip south. We toured the island and visited each end and the blue hole where they do the deep free diving competitions. It is the deepest blue hole in the world.

The boat is now repaired, yet again. Everyone in Salt Pond was very helpful  especially Les Harding a local business man with a construction and repair business who loaned me his torque wrench to complete the repair. It is now too late for Graham to sail to Cuba with us. We’ll just relax here until his plane leaves and then head south to stage for Cuba.

Feb. 29 2012

Graham has left and we are now sailing south to Flamingo Cay, we’ll stay there for the night and then head to Raccoon Cay. Arrived at Raccoon and are now well into the tropics. Very few boats come this far and being self-sufficient is crucial. Water food and fuel is hard to come by, and the wildlife pretty much owns the water here. Catching fish and lobster is much easier but the big sharks also abound.  It is March 4 2012 and we are departing at 17:30 this evening for Puerto de Vita, Cuba. We have waypoints in the GPS and are making a night crossing and will arrive in Cuba about dawn.  At 12:40 we are at 21*40.45N and 75*53.56W and 35miles from Cuba. It was a 14hour crossing with lightning on either side but we had a perfect 60 mile wide lane with great reaching conditions and the sunrise showed us the mountains landscape of Cuba ahead. Except for dodging a Russian freighter about 02:00 it was a pretty uneventful l crossing.  The water is over 7000 feet deep in the old Bahamas channel and we were entering the channel to Puerto de Vita at 07:30. Upon entering it is imperative to stay in the channel as outside of it it is very shallow.  And when at the marina you must anchor out until cleared in by the doctor under quarantine. Cuban officials are very strict to follow the rules but otherwise it is so much more pleasant than checking in to the US. They will take off their shoes if asked and are quite friendly in doing the entry procedures. We did have an issue with not having a document that listed the boat name but my translator help explain that the boats’ number was the official designation in our case. Monday March 5th we were in Cuba and ready to relax and see this new country. All in the fees were only $65.00 and we were in for three months.