Onward’s Cruise Journal 2016

Updated: 29 February 2016

February 2016

1 Feb 16; Monday; Powell Point to Warderick Wells Cay; Exuma Land & Sea Park

  • I was up before 0500 after a very peaceful and quiet night. We all listened to Chris Parker to see if anything developed that we should postpone our crossing to the Exumas for. The good news was nothing but some pedestrian rain squalls should occur. So the decision was made for the fleet to depart the marina while there was no wind to complicate things. The Merlins departed first and then I helped Heeling Time with its lines while I waited for Peggy to return from a good shore shampoo. We were underway by 0745. A few miles offshore, the wind filled in from the S and we launched the genoa to motorsail across Exuma Sound.
  • Tom announced there would be grilled hamburgers aboard Heeling Time once we were moored at Exuma Park. So I then went below to whip up a batch of dough to make hamburger rolls.
  • As we approached Warderick Wells, I heard Gill from First Love on VHF 16 so I called to say hello. They were at Shroud and headed for the 5Fs festival at Farmers Cay so we will eventually catch up with them.
  • The Fleet picked up moorings 5, 6, 7 with Onward in the middle. The Heeling Times invited the Fleet for a lunch of grilled hamburgers. As soon as we were settled, I fired up the oven a baked 6 hamburger rolls for lunch and 6 pepperoni rolls. The hamburger lunch was fantastic and a real celebration of now feeling like we were REALLY in the Bahamas. The rain squalls Ed ordered up to wash off the boats came in and did quite a nice job while we ate lunch.
  • We departed for our own boats and noticed a dark patch to the N but I did not think it was coming this way. Tom and Chris from Persistence came by for a visit and then realized they had left their generator running so they headed back. Just as they left, that dark patch arrived as a strong squall that lasted a long time — enough time for me to fall soundly asleep.
  • Peggy and I were tired and decided to forego going ashore where a beach party was to happen. We also expected folks to stay home due to the storm. Lee from Alesto came over in his dinghy to prod us into joining the festivity. We couldn't turn down the personal invite so we headed ashore to enjoy the party in progress.

2 Feb 16; Tuesday; Warderick Wells
  • At 1000, we went ashore to the Park office and signed in for our stay. Cherry is back after an interlude away and we were saddened to learn about the recent death of her brother.
  • The fleet went on a hike with Boo Boo Hill as our first stop. We noticed the island was greener than last year; perhaps due to all the rain this season. There is still a huge amount of dead shrubs that have been killed off by the Hutia. Peggy located the Onward sign from the 2009 & 2010 season. The name of Lady of Lorien which shared the sign is just barely visible. Somehow the long sign had gotten well wedged in and thus has survived the storms.
  • We hiked down along the E shore and then cut back over Hutia Hill to the causeway and bridge. Peggy hiked with her new hiking stick and found it helped her a lot. However at the end of the long hike over difficult terrain she found her right leg getting very tired. We engaged in a debated about which side she should use the walking stick on. Here Physical Therapist told her to use it in her left hand. I maintained that the PT had no idea of the difficulty or highly hazardous hiking conditions presented by the rocky terrain on Bahamian Cays — so she needed extra support from the stick on the right side. Caba Rossa.
  • Mooring 9 opened up and I moved there because it had better swinging room.
  • Koala invited Onward and Heeling Time over for drinks at 1600. We had a nice visit catching up on our activities over the last couple of years.
  • Then the social whirl continued as we headed over to Merlin for dinner. They are still experimenting with their pressure cooker and made chicken cacciatore. The experiment was declared a hit by all and as measured by the empty plate and pot. We had our first Farkle game of the season where Peggy made an amazing last series of rolls to beat us all quite handily.

3 Feb 16; Wednesday; Warderick Wells
  • It was a beautiful sunny day. I decided to work on mounting the cellular signal antenna on the arch. I tested out the location to see if would do a better job of picking up the signal in the slightly higher location. No Joy.
  • So, I made a rig to allow the antenna to be hoisted up over the foredeck with the staysail halyard. When I tested this, I could not get the MiFi to connect but I was able to get the iPhone 5 to connect and act as local hotspot to download mail and do some financial chores. However after an hour it ceased being able to pick up the cell tower.
  • We had the Fleet over for dinner. Both the Merlins and the Heeling Times had baked bread and brought over samples. I made angel hair pasta with sausage, pine nuts, olives, garlic and olive oil. Peggy baked individual brownie deserts in pyrex cups. Delish. We capped off the evening with Farkle and at the last moment Tom Talkington came from behind and won! He is no longer a Farkle Win Virgin — ah, well, such things happen.
  • Both the Merlins and Heeling Times have guests arriving in the next 10 days and the weather is not being cooperative with long periods of W winds to deal with in order to find a safe place for the boats but close to where guests will arrive: Staniel and George Town.
  • As our guests departed for their boats, Ed thoughtfully told Tom he still had enough water to dinghy across the central sand bar — NOT. But they recovered.

4 Feb 16; Thursday; Warderick Wells to Cambridge Cay
  • Another beautiful sunny day, it is really the Bahamas in winter! I again tried to connect to the cellular data network and it is not cooperating. I started to think about how much time and effort trying to gain and maintain connectivity to the world has cost me so far this season. This is due largely to being sucked into the always-connected-at-high-data-rates world as I wander the US with all my smart devices. This results in a subliminal expectation to have the same here. In deed, being in the Abacos was easy in this regard once the right SIMs were in hand. However, the area around Warderick Wells Cay is a black hole in the BTC cellular data network as the closest towers are at Staniel Cay and Highborn Cay. Somehow I didn't worry about this as much on the first year of cruising — I just didn't have the expectation of being connected.
  • At 0930 I realized there was an opportunity to move the Fleet to Cambridge Cay to be closer to the airport. So we dropped anchor and booked it to Cambridge via Exuma Sound.

5 Feb 16; Friday; Cambridge Cay
  • A sparkling warm sunny day. Just the kind of weather we travel to the Bahamas for. Finally.
  • The first item on the agenda was to fix the outboard. I removed the carburetor and opened the fuel bowl. There I found that the screw that holds the hinge for the float valve shaft was loose and it allowed it to get cocked so the float valve didn't work right. Ed Burke had suspected this. I also cleaned the low-speed jets again to make sure they were not part of the problem. Success! The engine is working again!
  • I took the dinghy out on a fast run to check the repair job and also stopped by the remote beach where we had cocktails last night in an attempt to find my missing sunglasses. No luck with that. It was such a beautiful moment that I couldn't miss going over to the corner of the pool where one of my favorite COB is for my first swim of the season.
  • On returning to Onward Peggy and I set out to follow the Heeling Times and Merlins to visit some snorkeling sites.

6 Feb 16; Saturday; Cambridge Cay

7 Feb 16; Sunday; Cambridge Cay

8 Feb 16; Monday; Cambridge Cay

9 Feb 16; Tuesday; Cambridge Cay

10 Feb 16; Wednesday; Cambridge Cay to Staniel Cay
  • At high tide, we headed out the S channel and then headed W in the cut and then

11 Feb 16; Thursday; Staniel Cay

12 Feb 16; Friday; Warderick Wells

13 Feb 16; Saturday; Warderick Wells

14 Feb 16; Sunday; Cambridge Cay

15 Feb 16; Monday; Cambridge Cay to Sampson Cay

16 Feb 16; Tuesday; Sampson Cay to Black Point

17 Feb 16; Wednesday; Black Point to Staniel Cay to Black Point
  • At 0730 we weighed anchor and headed to Staniel Cay to take advantage of quiet winds to take on fuel and water. On the way N we passed by Walkabout going Unfortunately another boat got there just before us so Onward had to stand station for > 30 min before pulling in. With full water, gas, diesel tanks we headed over to the grotto anchorage just as Merlin came in from Black Point.
  • Time flies when you are having fun and today was departure day for Peter and Sheila. Once settled, we helped ferry baggage ashore and celebrated the event with another great lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club before going off to walk to the airport. This time two Emerald Air planes came in for the passengers. We got there when the "terminal" gazebo was empty and by the time the planes arrived it was full of people. It appears that some folks flew in from Nassau for the day to do some snorkeling and sightseeing. There were also a number of people who were coming or leaving from rental cottages. The number of non-cruiser visitors has picked up substantially.

18 Feb 16; Thursday; Black Point
  • We headed over to Merlin for dinner and enjoyed a chicken stir fry whipped up by Chef Tugboat Willie. We also survived a viewing of Jurassic World. Perhaps it would have been better seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old.

19 Feb 16; Friday; Black Point
  • door adapter
  • hose bib
  • ashore for pizza; expansion of Deshamons
  • Light Waves for dinner; farkle score sheet; chicken marsala

20 Feb 16; Saturday;
  • door adapter
  • ashore no fresh food
  • Vern, Smashie & first boat
  • windlass problem
  • Motown night @ Lorraine's

21 Feb 16; Sunday; Black Point to Little Bay
  • Windlass trouble shoot
  • Got underway to make the short trip around the S headland to Little Bay on the S side.

22 Feb 16; Monday; Little Bay to Musha Cay
  • We got underway at ~0900 to move S to the anchorage at Musha Cay so as to be positioned for a move to Emerald Bay if the weather looked good on Tuesday. Once out of the anchorage we had a very pleasant sail on a close reach in the E wind using just the genoa. Onward was able to hold about 50º apparent on a port tack and do > 6 kts for most of the way in ~ 15-18 kts apparent. It always amazes me how well Onward sails with just the genoa with the apparent wind >50º off the bow; the motion is easy and the sailing is lazy.
  • I took advantage of the heel to starboard to remove the windlass sight glass and add gear oil to the brim of the access port.
  • We transited the shallows between Cave Cay and Musha Cay at just about dead low (why does this always seem to happen to me???) and saw a minimum of 8.6' along the way. Onward anchored in the usual place in the channel just SW of the heliport on Musha Cay.

23 Feb 16; Tuesday; Musha Cay to Rudder Cut Cay
  • At 0730 we decided to take advantage of the high tide to transit the shallow part of the channel between Musha and Rudder Cut Cays. I had left waypoints from my previous transits and soundings transits so it was an uneventful transit (good!) with a minimum of about 8.5' at a tide of 3'. We anchored just SW of the entrance to the dredged basin on Rudder Cut Cay.

24 Feb 16; Wednesday; Emerald Bay Marina
  • I used the morning to work on my enclosure door to dodger adapters.
  • At 0945 we headed out of Rudder Cut just after the tide turned; a relatively easy transit with the winds ESE at ~ 13 - 15 kts. We were not really able to motorsail due to the wind angle but we partially deployed the mainsail with the traveler hauled to windward to provide a bit more stability.
  • The entrance to Emerald Bay was fairly easy but there is always a bit of pucker factor.
  • Once settled across the pier from Heeling Time and checked in with the office, I got down to baking hamburger rolls. The Jackson National Burger Boat (aka Heeling Time) invited us over for burgers and a grand time was had by all!

25 Feb 16; Thursday; Emerald Bay Marina
  • I worked on sewing the zippers on the enclosure door adapters and got them in place. They appeared to do the job well.
  • At 1200 our rental van was delivered and we headed off to explore S Great Exuma.
  • Lunch Rain
  • February Point
  • Shopping.
  • Cocktails & Farkle

26 Feb 16; Friday; Emerald Bay Marina
  • Morning shopping
  • HT bow thruster fix & starter fix

27 Feb 16; Saturday; Emerald Bay to George Town
  • I topped off the water tanks and then checked out of the marina. With a good deal of sadness we bid adieu to the Merlins and helped then get underway. After farewells to the Heeling Times, we cast off at 0915.
  • We enter
  • Regatta

28 Feb 16; Sunday; George Town
  • carburetor rebuild
  • short ribs
  • Downton

29 Feb 16; Monday; George Town
  • Hey, an extra day! Somehow I managed to stay ignorant of this being a leap year until late last night when a bank statement said a charge would be posted on 29 Feb.