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.