Onward’s Cruise Journal 2018
Cruise to the Bahamas

Updated: 28 Feb 2018

February 2018

01 Feb 18; Thursday; Vero Beach

  • Another 12-hr day working on Onwards Boat To Do List

02 Feb 18; Friday; Vero Beach
  • Another day on the OBTL At 1600 I went into town to run errands and found A1A highway closed near Rt 60 bridge. I saw a bike rider and thought "this is a bad road to ride on". It took me ~1hr to get around the traffic and do the 15 min of errands. I later learned that the road had been closed because a cyclist was killed on the bridge…

03 Feb 18; Saturday; Vero Beach / Marco Island
  • A Great Day, I got to drive to Palm Beach International Airport to pick up Peggy who returned from her week of nursing daughter Valerie in Andover MA. Once she was securely back in my presence, we headed to Marco Island to leave the car at the condo.

04 Feb 18; Sunday; Marco Island
  • We spent the day catching up on this-es and thats before treating ourselves to dinner at Nacho Mamas dinner. Dinner done and sated, I was beat and never bothered to watch the Super Bowl.

05 Feb 18; Monday; Marco Island to Vero Beach
  • We picked up the rental car, closed up the condo, and headed to Vero Beach and Onward. We did our last minute fresh-food shopping on the way. Enterprise dropped us and our goods off at 1500 at Grand Harbor Marina. We found the water level to be 1 - 2" above the crustacean level on the pilings and thus in John Miller's safe zone for exiting the channel. As I have zero ability to predict the water level pattern here, I decided to depart immediately.
  • Onward departed GHM at 1600 and headed to Vero Beach City Marina where we pulled in to take on fuel before going to a mooring. We lucked out and got the only open mooring in the field.
  • Settled for a bit, we then focused on stowing all the gear and supplies littering the salon and berths.

06 Feb 18; Tuesday; Vero Beach
  • We spent the day in preparing Onward for offshore sailing.

07 Feb 18; Wednesday; Vero Beach to Ft. Pierce Inlet to Gulf Stream
  • We spent the morning continuing to stow gear in preparation for the crossing. At 1100 we dropped the mooring and headed to Ft. Pierce. The GPS started behaving a bit flakey for the first 20 min but the settled in before I had to breakout the backup unit. We arrived at the inlet about 1400 and anchored just NW of the Coast Guard Station on the G side of the inlet channel. I rewarded myself with a shower before continuing on with the stowing chores.
  • Heeling Time and Spellbound, another Catalina 470 based at Harbortown Marina departed the marina and met Onward in the inlet. We headed out at 1600. Winds were 10 - 12 kts from the ESE. We found some 4-6 waves to greet us at the mount of the inlet (all anchors stayed aboard this time). But other than a few small cascades over the foredeck, all was well.
  • We had a good crossing of the Gulf Stream. We departed Ft Pierce inlet at 1600 on Wednesday with ~ 4’ seas and 10-12 kts from SE. The wind angle was of no use to sail so we motored across the GS. Wind and seas decreased as the night went on.

08 Feb 18; Thursday; Gulf Stream to Little Bahamas Banks
  • We crossed onto the Little Banks at Mantanilla Shoals at ~0400 Thursday. From there we headed toward Great Sale Cay. I got to see an incredibly beautiful dawn and sunrise on my watch.
  • Our bad: we are out of practice and forgot to send Spot messages. We will try to do better.
  • We bypassed Great Sale Cay and continued on into the Sea of Abaco. We anchored at a new location for Onward, Crab Cay, recommended by Spellbound who along with the Talkingtons on Heeling Time were the other 2 of 3 Catalina 470s who crossed together.
  • There was, of course, a celebratory cocktail party on Heeling Time.
  • Peggy discovered Thursday morning that she had picked up a cold — so she remained aboard and went to sleep.
  • We managed to get checked in by Bahamas Customs & Immigration soon after we got here so now we are legal for the next 90 days.
  • Somehow, when I get here, I aways feel it has been magic.

09 Feb 18; Friday; Crab Cay to Green Turtle Cay
  • Peggy and I put into the Green Turtle Club marina on Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos at 1300 today.
  • Tom and I quickly rented a golf cart and headed into New Plymouth to the Customs & Immigration officer. For some strange reason, I ended up driving instead of Tom, the owner of a golf course — go figure. Let me warn readers: Do not believe anything Tom says about the trip like many wrong directions, backing over walls, etc — no one could be that bad at driving a golf cart! He was just jealous of my "interesting" skills.
  • We got there at ~1415 to find that the office was closed. However the officer was still inside. She said she had to close early so she could prepare for making the weekly office deposit in the bank at Marsh Harbor. Tom was quick witted and told her that he already had the forms filled out. She relented and while she dealt with Tom, I filled out Onward's forms. We were done by 1445 and headed back to the Green Turtle Club.
  • We noticed that Spellbound came in later and picked up a mooring.
  • We had dinner with the Talkingtons at the Green Turtle Club and celebrated again our arrival in the Bahamas for another cruising season. Great to be back in the Bahamas.

10 Feb 18; Saturday; Green Turtle Cay
  • Tom & Dana drove us back to New Providence where we walked around and did some shopping. I was impressed to see how well stocked, neat and clean Curry's Market had become. We stopped in at our favorite boutique where I found some gifts.
  • We stopped at the Leeward Yacht Club for lunch at the pool bar-restaurant and I got to meet James Cotman the General Manager. He told me they would have no problem accommodating Onward on one of the face docks. They have purchased another waterfront property with a pier to the E of them to expand the YC. They also have bought the property at the head of White Sound right across from the Green Turtle Club: Fiddlers Green which has slips and cottages for rent.
  • After a delicious lunch, we continued to explore the island by golf cart. Tom liked showing off the fact that he can drive a golf cart better in reverse than I can in forward!
  • In the evening we headed over to the Bluff House by dinghy where we enjoyed a C470 cocktail hour with the Heeling Times and the Spellbounds.

11 Feb 18; Sunday; Green Turtle Cay to Marsh Harbour
  • After breakfast, we noticed the wind had shifted to the SW. I was unable to get a Whale passage report from any vessel but we made the snap decision to depart ASAP as low tide was ~1100. I topped up the water tank, paid the bill, and headed out. I was able to use a spring line to the port bow to kick the stern out and we were off in <20 sec at 1000. Heeling Time followed. We had a min of 6.7' in the channel.
  • Once in the Sea of Abaco we made for Whale Passage and as we first got sight we saw 2 catamarans heading E followed by a sloop that departed GTC just ahead of us. Seas at the passage were <2'. The wind was 10 - 14 kts from the SW; this put both the E and W sides of Whale Cay in the lee of land. The passage was easy and pleasant. The best kind.
  • As we passed Bakers Bay, I could see a good deal of construction — but not as much as last year. They seem to be close to running out of waterfront lots. Some day I need to find a way to visit there.
  • Once E of Foot Cay, we headed for the entrance of the Marsh Harbour Channel. We anchored in 10[ to 12' just to the W of the shipping channel off the small cays that protect the commercial harbor. That done, Peggy and I were both done in and spent a nice quiet afternoon and evening reading.

12 Feb 18; Monday; Marsh Harbour; Marsh Harbour to Hope Town
  • Just after 0900, we headed into town with the Heeling Times. We found a fairly recently installed dinghy dock located along the shore N of the seafood store. It was built by donations from cruisers and the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club. A young boy was there to assist us and I gave him $2 for his help.
  • We headed directly for the BTC store and were there at 0930 just as they opened. We had to buy new SIMs because ours were deactivated because we failed to keep them topped up. We must do better this summer! They
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Monkey's
  • Wahoos
  • Sandbar
  • Hope Town channel shoaling

13 Feb 18; Tuesday; Hope Town
  • I received an email from the Exuberants that they would be on the lookout for a mooring for us. So, I settled in to a relaxed morning sorting out all the stuff we've been engaged in. About 0915, Burt called to say he located a mooring we could use for a few days nearby Exuberant. So, I quickly got underway. The tide was higher than when we went in yesterday but it was falling so there was no time to waste.
  • We had no problem in the channel along the shore or in the entrance channel. This time I remembered about the sandbar and steered well E of it. Burt was waiting in his dinghy at the mooring off Exuberant's port bow. It is a mooring owned by a local resident, Harold, who has a home just N of the Hope Town Marina. It is his only mooring and the pennant had just been replaced with Burt's help. However it was 5' shorter than it should be so we needed his help to pick it up. I gave him the Grab 'N Go Hook and he just clipped us on. I then launched Venture to attach our mooring bridle to the pennant. Nice and smooth.

14 Feb 18; Wednesday;
  • Happy Valentine's Day!
  • I found a beautiful eValentine from Peggy (of course, she showed me up again) when I checked my email.
  • We went ashore before noon and stumbled across a poster that said the BTC office was now open daily. So we headed there and Peggy was able to straighten out the problem with putting more $ on her pre-paid phone. We celebrated that with rum punches at the Hope Town Lodge beach bar before making our rounds of half of the shops in town.
  • After a needed nap aboard and a even more needed (psychologically) shower, Peggy and I headed over to the Hope Town Inn and Marina for their special Valentine's Day dinner. There we had one of the best meals for taste and presentation we have had in the Bahamas. Chef Carlton let his creativity loose and the results were 4 course, each vying with the previous for the best. A great way to spend the Day with a wonderful person, Peggy!

15 Feb 18; Thursday;
  • I went over and met Harold from Cat's Paw boat rental and paid him for our mooring. Then we took a walk around the half of Hope Town we did not cover yesterday. We stopped for coffee at the Coffee House and then walked to the seats overlooking the entrance channel. There we met two Canadian Couples who were visiting from Treasure Cay where they own a home with 4 other couples. Then it was off to the Hope Town Harbor Lodge beach bar and restaurant for a relaxing lunch overlooking the ocean. Having completed our walking tour it was back to Onward where somehow I stayed awake to work on trying to straighten out the management of all my websites.

16 Feb 18; Friday; Hope Town to Boat Harbor Marina, Marsh Harbour
  • High tide was ~0815 so Onward was on its way out of the harbor at ~0745 after bidding farewell to the Exuberant's. As we motored the short distance to Boat Harbor Marina where we were to spend the night to make Peggy's trip to the airport easier, I took the opportunity to recalibrate the fluxgate compass and to align the heading. Meanwhile Peggy decided to bake a cake and get ready for making chicken marsala for this evening's meal.
  • We put into the marina in slip 471 on S side E end of Pier 4. Once we were settled and checked in, we headed to the fantastic swimming pool.
  • We learned that a cooling water component had failed at the BEC power plant so they had limited generating capacity. This necessitated a series of rolling blackouts as they moved the available power around while they awaited the repair parts.

17 Feb 18; Saturday; Boat Harbor to Current Cut, Eleuthera
  • We were up at 0500 and Peggy was ready to fly the coop by 0530. We walked ashore and waited in front of the Resort/Marina office until a taxi arrived and whisked her away. I topped up the one water tank in need while Heeling Time did the same. Tom's guest headed off to the airport at 0630 and we both departed the marina.
  • The weather forecast held with Winds E to ESE at 5 to 10 kts. We headed S to the Little Harbor Cut and found it very pleasant when we transited about 0900. Peggy let me know that she had made it to the airport and onto the plane in spited of a power outage.
  • The wind had a bit too much S in it to motorsail with the genoa so we both deployed the main and brought the traveler to windward. This allowed us to motorsail to the Egg Island WP at NW Eleuthera at ~7 to 8 kts the whole way. The seas were pleasant with non of the confused swells I've experienced in this are so many times before.
  • Bill had sailed Providence to the anchorage yesterday while we were at Boat Harbor so he was about an hour or two ahead of us on the crossing. We reached Eleuthera at ~1530 and decided to keep on going to Current Cut to spend the night. We arrived at the NE anchorage just before sunset and anchored. This was a great crossing with a well-timed weather window.

18 Feb 18; Sunday; Current Cut to Rock Sound
  • We opted for a lazy morning and got underway through the cut about 0830. I've done a lot of research trying to predict the tide status and current status at the cut.
  • When Onward entered the cut, the current was in rapid flow (4kts+) to the West and the water level was near the high water mark along the shore. Go Figure…
  • We decided to take the straight-ahead channel we tried out last year. Again we found it easy and deep except for one ~8' spot at the S end. But that was only a few hundred yards and we were back in >11'. The wind began to pick up to 10+ from the ESE and we were able to sail most of the way to the next WP. In past years, I have always put into Cape Eleuthera Marina for the overnight.

19 Feb 18; Monday; Rock Sound to Warderick Wells
  • We were underway by 0630 after a quiet night. Needless to say, we traveled slowly until we were on the well-sailed path to the WP. The wind was 90 to 120º from the port side so soon we were able to motorsail to Cape Eleuthera down the Davis Channel. The wind picked up enough that once at the cape and on course for Warderick Cut, I was able to sail with main and genoa. The short wavelength made the crossing a bit less easy but not uncomfortable until an occasional rogue wave set shook up the boat and skipper. The wind continued to build slowly as the GRIBs had forecast. We arrived at Warderick Cut about 1300 and could see a squall line off to the SE.

20 Feb 18; Tuesday; Warderick Wells
  • Today was essentially a day of rest — kinda. I spent the morning catching up on this's and that's. I decided to celebrate with a pizza party tonight. So Bill and Dana came over and I took them through a dough-making lesson. That done, I turned my focus into trying to find the schematic diagram I had made of all of Onward's Nav Instruments, power, and network connections.

21 Feb 18; Wednesday; Shroud Cay

22 Feb 18; Thursday; Highbourne Cay
  • I received a message from Miles that Ariel was at Highbourne Marina for the day. So we changed our plans which had been to sail to Hawksbill Cay where we would be able to access the cell tower. What better than to go meet up with good friends and anchor next to the tower?

23 Feb 18; Friday; Normans Cay
  • A very lazy morning. During the night, I suddenly remembered that the ST60-Multi display located at the Nav Station, had a unused SeaTalk-2 connector. So this morning I verified this was the case. Next I plugged the Yacht Devices NEMA 2000 to WiFi converter into the Raymarine SeaTalk-2 to SeaTalk-ng converter strip. Then I plugged the connector cable into the ST60-Multi. Wonderful: I now had a wifi network that I can log into from my MacBook, iPhone, or iPad and see all the instrument data. Nice!

24 Feb 18; Saturday; Normans Cay
  • Hard to believe your ski week has come to its close. I was very happy that she got to bask in the joys of herchildren and grandchildren!
  • The Ariels departed for Warderick Wells. They will catch up with us at Staniel.
  • Tom and Dana decided to stay another day and start their retrograde to the US early Sunday morning.
  • I took them on a tour of Norman’s Cay by dinghy. This island never ceases to impress me with its beauty.
  • On the way back we stopped at Mack Duff’s to show them and it resulted in us staying for lunch. Very good!
  • After lunch, one of the island staff took us on a tour by ATV. The marina basin is all dug out and open to the ocean. They are installing utilities around the area. New docks are to go in in the next few months.
  • The Heeling Times will take off at 0630 for New Providence and I will head S to Staniel

25 Feb 18; Sunday; Normans Cay to Staniel Cay

26 Feb 18; Monday; Staniel Cay

27 Feb 18; Tuesday; Staniel Cay to Black Point
  • Up at 0600 for weather and to work on OBTs. At 0900, we Ventured into town to do some grocery shopping. We put into the new wooden pier built on the E side of the new Government Pier where there is now a dock, gazebo, and fish cleaning station. It was near low tide and in typical fashion, they did not cut off the unneeded ~12" of SS bolt thread sticking out of the pilings. This brought back nightmares of the puncture Venture's predecessor suffered at New Bight on Cat Island from a similar bolt. Peggy and I carefully tied off Venture where it was far from harm. I got the name of the local administrator from a fisherman and I plan to get his permission to use my cutoff / angle grinder to fix these on a future visit.
  • We first visited the Pink Store which continues to show improvements in its interior and offerings. However, the Mail Boat wasn't due in until Thursday or Friday so fresh stuff was almost non-existent. Next we moved on to the Burke's Store (aka Blue Store) where we found a few more things we didn't know we needed. Shopping done, we scampered back to Onward and weighed anchor in < 5 min. to get to the empty fuel pier. I called in and had been listening to the radio but as I pulled up, another boat said they had called in ahead of me. So we kept station for 20 min while they refused and dewatered.
  • Peggy and I are quite good at it but I still find the fuel & water drill stressful. As soon as it was done and I could down we paid our bill and headed to Black Point. I was able to eke my way from SCYC to the tip of Harvey Cay with only inches to spare as it was near low tide. I called ahead to Ida to schedule a haircut so by 1315 we were anchored at Black Point and on our way in to do laundry and get me shorn.
  • Ida did a great job in what I consider "The World's Most Beautiful Barbershop" — given what she had to work with. We went to Lorraine's Cafe for lunch and managed to get our order in before two tour boats brought some 20+ day trippers in. Lorraine's husband is building a new pier to accommodate customers — much needed because of the number and size of tour boats. The lazy, quiet place of a decade ago is slowly disappearing. I was disappointed to see that the new fuel & water pier had made no further progress since my visit last year.
  • Once back aboard Peggy and I crashed for sound sleeps before waking up to read a bit before going back to sleep

28 Feb 18; Wednesday; Black Point to Great Exuma; Elizabeth Harbour; George Town
  • Up at 0530 and ready to move. We weighed anchor at 0600 and headed out of Dothan Cut. The winds were very light and ~ENE with calm seas. It was just after high tide (Wide Opening) but we had the ebb current whisking us out at >8 kts and ~2200 rpm.
  • There was no wind for motor sailing. Peggy supervised the autopilot for most of the way while I took advantage of the calm seas to work on OBTs bellow.
  • We transited Conch Cut into Elizabeth Harbour at 1400 with glassy seas. We headed S toward Sand Dollar beach and anchor in the lee of Lumina Point resort in preparation for the strong N winds forecast for Friday-Monday.