Onward’s Cruise Journal 2016
Florida to the Bahamas

Updated: 2 February 2017

January 2016

1 Jan 16; Friday; Stuart

  • Somehow I never got all the paperwork stuff I needed to do done while I was traveling the last 3 weeks. So I set aside today and tomorrow to get this done as well as complete the planning for the things that really needed to get done before we cross to the Bahamas.

2 Jan 16; Saturday; Stuart
  • Another planning and inventory day.

3 Jan 16; Sunday; Stuart
  • I declared today engine service day. So after breakfast I changed into my skinsuit and did the engine oil and filter change, fan belt change, raw water impeller change, transmission oil change, and engine coolant change. Not a lot of cursing this time — but enough due to terribly physically uncomfortable nature of these jobs. I was a bit concerned to find the outer 20% of one impeller blade had broken off and I could not find any pieces. But the temperature held lower than previously when I ran in the engine.
  • While I worked on the mechanicals, Peggy worked on a final inventory of our dry stores and found a few boxes had gotten infested with pantry moths so she carefully inspected everything and restowed any boxed foods into sealed plastic bags.
  • We finished up by thawing the freezer compartment to get it ready for our final provisioning runs.

4 Jan 16; Monday; Stuart
  • Today was a serious shopping day.

5 Jan 16; Tuesday; Stuart
  • More shopping.

6 Jan 16; Wednesday; Stuart
  • Peggy and I went out early on another round of shopping. We returned to the marina just after the Merlins arrived back aboard from their holiday sojourn to MD. Once we got all our swag hauled out to the boat and loaded aboard, we visited the Merlins to catch up. We then decided to go into Old Town Stuart for Dinner and had a very nice evening together.

7 Jan 16; Thursday; Stuart
  • We heard from Tom on Heeling Time that they were not going to be able to make this weather window because the replacement rigging would not be installed in time. The Merlins had some heavy duty shopping to do and the Onwards had this's and that's to pick up. While Peggy tackled the laundry, I got boat parts, had my hair cut, and had blood test samples taken. The balance of the day was spent shopping, hauling, loading, and stowing.
  • We found out the divers had cleaned Merlin's and Onward's hulls on Tuesday and that my zincs didn't need replacing. Peggy also found the pantry moths had gotten into some open chocolates and to grains and pasta stored in plastic bottles in the galley. Yuk!!!

8 Jan 16; Friday; Stuart to Lake Worth
  • Ed and I took the rental cars back and then returned to the marina where we quickly cast off and headed to the fuel pier. Onward topped off all 3 tanks and got a pumpout before we took off. We the weather window did not look good for leaving this evening so we headed S for Lake Worth to see how things would be in the morning.
  • As we progressed S we heard NOAA warnings of severe weather as a strong storm squall passed just S of us and then headed NE. The off-shore weather was really nasty and there would be no good crossing conditions until perhaps tomorrow morning.
  • The trip S on the ICW as pleasantly uneventful until we got to the Riviera fixed bridge above Peanut Island just before sunset. The N height board read 63.1'; much too low for us to pass as it was still 30 min + to high tide. The Merlins pressed on to the anchorage while we waited. There seemed to be no good place to anchor and wait so we were just slowly motoring up and down the ICW. Then I heard someone calling a sailboat above the bridge. I answered and it was a fellow sailor, "Half-Hitch", who told us there was enough water in a channel going E from the S side of G37 for us to get into a small anchorage. Apparently the channel is maintained but not marked for the county sheriff's marine base there. So we headed in and about half way anchored in ~11' for a couple of hours. I called Half-Hitch and thanked him for his assistance.
  • I napped until 2200 when we weighed anchor and headed toward the bridge were we found ~64.2' on the boards. We made a safe passage. Then came the challenge of following the twisting channel around Peanut Island with several long string of dredge equipment to port. I crawled though the area because even though it was a beautifully clear night, the myriad ambient lights made navigation a challenge. Once around to the S shore of the island, we homed in on Merlin's AIS and anchor light. We anchored nearby then talked with them about plans to check on the crossing in the early morning. It was a very calm and peaceful night. I gave Half-Hitch a weather radar update as he was also planning a crossing to the Bahamas. I slept well with none of the pre-crossing jitters I usually have.

9 Jan 16; Saturday; Lake Worth to Little Bahamas Banks
  • I was up early and did my normal weather drill: checking a number of NOAA sites and downloading GRIBs. The weather window looked to be there and actually better than any other I can remember. Chris Parker agreed with there being a good crossing opportunity but felt the conditions tomorrow would be a bit unsettled. So after taking we decided to make a try and make it an overnight trip directly to Green Turtle Cay. We weighed anchor at 0840 and headed for the inlet. We departed the inlet at 0900. It was the easiest crossing I've yet had; wind waves were minimal with just a long-period ~ 8' swell from the NE. The winds were from the W at 10 kts or less with a promise of backing to the S in the evening. It was a very gentle crossing. We were on soundings at 1520 and passed the Memory Rock waypoint at 1600 and set the genoa. At sunset we reefed the main to the top spreader. We sailed all night with the wind slowly backing from the WSW to the S. At 1800 we started our watches: Peg 1800 - 2100; Joe 2100 - 2400; Peg 2400 to 0400; Joe 0400 to 0800 and the normal relaxed day watches.

10 Jan 16; Sunday; Little Bahamas Banks to Green Turtle Cay
  • I slept really soundly during my off-watch periods because the boat moved around so little. At about 0230, Peggy depowered the main because we were moving too fast and would get to Green Turtle Cay before daylight. Shortly thereafter she shut down the engine and sailed on with a partially reefed and de-powered main as the winds increased from the S; 10 - 15 kts. I slept peacefully — only waking to wonder if it was "legal" to sail so peacefully on a crossing.
  • We arrived off Green Turtle Cay at 0630 and sailed around until 0800 when we entered the channel to White Sound at high tide to boot. We were settled in the marina by 0830 and checked in with Bahamas Customs and immigration by 1130! Not bad: a 22 hr peaceful crossing.
  • During the crossing, Peggy's leg began to ache and she had to move about until she found a comfortable position. We could remember no traumatic incident that would have caused this. So we decided to give it a rest and stay aboard.
  • I started looking at the wifi booster antenna and cell signal booster antenna I had received just before departure and was chagrined to find out I didn't have the right coax cable or connectors to hook up the cellular signal antenna. I immediately used the marina's wifi to order the right parts from Amazon to be delivered to Heeling Time for Tom and Dana to haul over for us.
  • The Merlins started the cruising dinner rounds by making a pork roast in their new pressure cooker. We celebrated our arrival with a bottle of Prosecco. Experiment was declared a success by all!

11 Jan 16; Monday; Green Turtle Cay
  • We had intended to take the ferry to Treasure Cay at 0900 but then Ed found out it was a Bahamian holiday and the BTC office we intended to visit would be closed.
  • So while the Merlins wandered about the island, Peggy read and worked on photos while I worked on the ash & trash of my cruising lifestyle. Peggy whipped up some of her chicken Marsala, which we all enjoyed so much there was almost no leftovers!

12 Jan 16; Tuesday; Green Turtle Cay to Hope Town
  • At 0900 I talked with Truman and he said he had two moorings he would hold for us. He advised getting around the Whale today because strong N winds were on the way and a "rage" was in the offing, So we immediately went up to the office to check out of the marina. Peggy and I were a bit slow off the mark and I looked out only to find Merlin GONE! I had never seen them move so fast.
  • By 1030 we were out of White Sound and heading for the Whale. The wind there was was N @10 kts. There was no appreciable wind chop but some long swells from the NE from the storm hanging out there. Sets of 3 big waves in a row made it interesting. We lucked out and did not have one of these sets to contend with so the passage was easy if "hilly".
  • Once we were settled on the mooring, I checked the BCG and found the BTC office was open today. I also called to verify they were open So I rounded up the crews and dashed for shore. I sent Peggy and Ed up to the office while I tied up Venture. As I approached the office I found them walking toward me. They got to the office at 1502 and it closed at 1500! BAAH.
  • We celebrated our arrival in Hope Town by having Taco Tuesday dinner at Captain Jacks. 2 Margaritas each made it an early night.

13 Jan 16; Wednesday; Hope Town
  • We were off on the 0945 ferry to Marsh Harbour to get to the BTC office. We had just tied up Venture at the government pier when Ed realized he had left his iPhone on Merlin. So he Ventured back to fetch it while we got the ferry to wait a few minutes. In Marsh Harbour, we went straight to the BTC office and in < 30 min, we were all take care of. I forgot to remind Ed he needed his passport to buy a SIM card so now Peggy was able to buy an extra SIM — all we need to do is keep Ed out of trouble for the rest of the cruise.
  • We walked back to the waterfront doing errands. I realized, I'd forgotten to eat breakfast and started feeling a bit peeked. Lunch at Curlytails fixed that. One more stop a Maxwells for some groceries and then we walked back to the ferry. We were all a bit bushed so it was a quiet night.

14 Jan 16; Thursday; Hope Town
  • I spent the day aboard doing boat tasks.
  • In late afternoon I took a break and made a stew and baked rolls. The Merlins joined us for dinner and treated us to key lime pie from Vernon's Grocery — always a Hope Town must-do. We enjoyed watching Wind a movie about an America's Cup challenge. Neat.

15 Jan 16; Friday; Hope Town
  • The morning revealed heavy cloud cover. At 1000 we headed over to the Coffee House for breakfast followed by a leisurely walk around town. Peggy's leg continued to give her trouble so she called her doctor. We considered going to Marsh Harbour if they had an MRI but Vernon called and found out the closest MRI was in Nassau. So we returned to Onward to get her off her feet. If things do not improve, a flight to the US will happen…
  • By late afternoon there was little improvement so she made the decision to fly to NY and get a medical evaluation on her home turf. A flight from Marsh Harbour to W Palm Beach thence to JFK got set up.

16 Jan 16; Saturday; Hope Town
  • I made Peggy stay put for most of the day in an attempt to reduce further aggravation of her injury. The Merlins went off on a bike ride.
  • I prepared to go up the mast to install the new anchor/tricolor/strobe light. This time I made stirrups to stand in to allow me to take my weight off the chair. Because I have to take the chair right up the top, it tips the bosun chair forward and all my weight pushes the boys into the retaining strap — not a joyful experience.
  • About 1500 Ed & Tina came back and helped get me up the mast. There was a minor hiccup when the strap that interconnects the stirrups got hung up on the tank for the inner forestay. At the top, I was quickly able to mount the new light and bracket. I had intended to cut away the damaged light cable (from my aborted installation attempt last May) and connect the new one directly to the in-mast cable. However there was not enough wire left to allow me to connect directly. So I left the connections to the damaged cable in place and I cut off all but ~6" of the old cable. I then connected this stub to the new cable for the light. And it worked! I took more measurements of the height of things on the mast top plate. Then some photos before blissfully being let down to the deck.
  • Onward Air Draft Measurements:
Height of mast-top plate above water line: 63.0'
Heights above mast-top plate:
VHF antenna: = +33"
VHF mounting bracket on side of mast: -3"
Tip of SS static brush: +16"
Top of SS static brush tube: +12.5"
Top of windex tail: +8.5"
Top of windex pylon: +6.5"
Top of anemometer tail: +11"
Top of anchor/tricolor/strobe light: +5"
  • I quickly showered and we Ventured into town to have dinner with the Merlins at Wine Down & Sip Sip. Peggy and I both had a delicious shrimp & fettuccine dinner. We then all went back aboard Onward to try out the new game the Merlins discovered: Quarkle (or such??). Good fun.

17 Jan 16; Sunday; Hope Town
  • At 0930, I took Peggy to board the Ferry to Marsh Harbour to start her trip to NY for medical evaluation. The idea was for her to get across the Sea of Abaco before the forecast 35+ kt winds set in later in the morning. She did manage to beat them out - just. The front passed through before her flight departure time and the flights to PBI and then on to JFK went well. In NY she was greeted by a snow storm but daughter Lori brought warmth and sunshine.

18 Jan 16; Monday; Hope Town
  • The good news was that Peggy was able to get in to see her neurologist early in the morning and also get MRI and EMR tests done. As we suspected it seems a disc is putting pressure on a nerve so she was given a couple of steroid shots to reduce the swelling. By the end of the day the neurosurgeon said no surgery was indicated. Meds and exercises should effect the healing. She started making plans to be able to fly back at the end of the week!
  • With Peggy in good hands, I turned my attention to the problematic generator. First I had to excavate the forward berth and move all the stuff temporarily stowed there to some other temporary location. With access gained, I removed the cover and started a fuel line air bleeding cycle. I eventually got it started and charged the batteries. I later tried a restart and found I needed to clear air in the line yet again!

19 Jan 16; Tuesday; Hope Town
  • Peggy said she was feeling well as the steroid shots and meds were working. I have my job cut out to remind her not to be over-exuberant again!
  • It was back to the genset problem. Did another bleed cycle to get it started. I went through the entire fuel system checking that there were no loose hose clamps or banjo fittings.
  • I asked Peggy to see if she could get copper washers to replace the 8 or 9 on the genset fuel line It turns out to be almost impossible to find the right metric sizes. She did manage to find some SAE near equivalents.
  • I was able to get the genset to restart several times after short shut down periods.

20 Jan 16; Wednesday; Hope Town
  • After breakfast I tried a genset restart to no avail. I added a small rubber washer to augment sealing at the low-pressure bleed screw at the injector pump intake because the existing Cu washer was deformed on one side. I did another air bleeding session before it restarted. After only a short shut down, the genset would not restart without doing a bleed cycle.
  • Ed came over about 1330 to give me a hand trouble shooting the genset. We took the see-through fuel filter I bought and connected it in the fuel line just before the injector pump and found a lot of small bubbles streaming in. We moved it to the fuel line just after the back flow valve and again saw small bubbles streaming. Next we moved it to the intake of the electric fuel pump and again found the streaming. We were about to put the see-thru filter in line at the point where the genset fuel line is teed off the Yanmar fuel feed line. In tracing the fuel lines to be sure I selected the right place, I noticed the two hose clamps on the Yanmar final fuel filter which I had missed when doing my hose clamp check. Ed tightened the intake side and then found that the hose clamp on the outlet side was broken! Examining the clamp showed it had been broken for some time. We replaced the clamp, I rebelled the line at the low-pressure port and we could hear the difference in the electric fuel pump. The genset started and now ran smoothly.
  • Ed departed. I cleaned up the boat and me. At 1700 we headed over to the Hope Town Inn & Marina for a meet & greet with folks from the Lighthouse Society who were working on the replacement of its glass panes. We learned that small rust blooms on the cast iron support structure were putting stress on the glass panes where it came in contact thus causing cracks to form. They are working on new embedding techniques in the bronze frames as they replace the panes.
  • We were all still hungry so I invited my dinghy taxi drivers over and whipped up some chicken Italian sausage sautéed with onions and peppers. Delish.
  • Just before going to bed, I was able to restart the genset. Hooray!
  • Peggy couldn't get a flight from WPB to here on Friday as the flight was apparently cancelled to the storm forecast. Her plan was to depart JFK early Saturday to beat the snowstorm.

21 Jan 16; Thursday; Hope Town
  • A quiet night. I saw from a spot report that Heeling Time was approaching Coopers Town so I sent a text. Tom called and we talked about places they could hide out for the next couple of days of high winds.
  • I was feeling good so I decided to give the genset a try to verify that out leak fix did the job yesterday. No joy. Problem is back again. Baaahhhh!
  • It was low tide when Heeling Time got to Green Turtle Cay so they decided not to wait for enough tide to get in but headed around the Whale instead. They called me and I looked out and saw two boats had left moorings; the one I had previously been on included. In the time it took me to get the marker float and get back to the dinghy someone had snatched up the float near me. I managed to put a marker buoy on a mooring next to Merlin so Heeling Time would have a place for the night. They had to go into Marsh Harbour at Boat Harbour Marina to check in with Customs & Immigration. But they got that done in time to make it to Hope Town just before dark. The Merlins assisted with the pickup and I went over to say Hi and invite them to the cruisers pot-luck cocktail hour organized by Deb on Mandalay.
  • I found out that if I started the Yanmar and ran the engine for ~10 min with the battery combiner engaged, I was able to start the genset. So there is a low voltage problem involved. Likely due to the forward battery being weak as I had noticed when trying to use the bow thruster.
  • I had just enough time to whip up some pepperoni, cheese, and olive appetizers. The cocktail party was a fine way to end the crossing & reunion. But somehow the party was not quiet as much fun without Peggy there.

22 Jan 16; Friday;
  • I spent the day working on the genset, servicing the forward battery, and then replacing the gears in the forward Jabsco electric head (yet again!).
  • I took a break by making a batch of rosemary-olive oil bread dough for tomorrow.
  • Just before dark I Ventured over to Heeling Time to fetch the electronics components they had for me only to discover that the outboard was suddenly having problems running at low rpm — just what I needed.
  • Lee and Sherry from Alesto invited me over for dinner. Unfortunately I was beat up physically and mentally without the energy to clean up and be social so I had to decline. So I had a quiet night with shepherds pie made from the leftover stew in the freezer. I was in bed by 2000.
  • As I climbed into bed I got a text from Peggy that her 0630 flight out of JFK had been cancelled due to the coming blizzard. Boo.

23 Jan 16; Saturday;
  • The wind had quieted down during the night but began to pick up from the W as the morning developed. The rosemary-olive oil dough was ready to be dealt with so I divided it in half and put one half in a ZLB for the freezer. The other half I put on a floured surface, spread out into a long log, and then cut it into 8 segments. I placed 6 of these in snack ZLB for the cooler and made Onward Muffins with the other two - one for breakfast and one for lunch. This was a nice and tasty way to start the day.
  • I found the newly repaired forward head had a water leak in one of the raw water flush lines. I was very upset to hear that it sounded no better after the gear replacement than it had before!
  • The Heeling Times invited the Merlins and I over for cocktails. I decided to try an experiment. I took 3 of the dough pieces I had placed in snack bags and stretched and rolled them out on a flowered surface to make a ~ 10" x 8" rectangle. I then placed a layer of filling starting along one long edge and rolled them up to make mini stromboli. I baked these at 350º for about 25 min until they were just brown. I bought them to Heeling time where they declared the experiment a success.

24 Jan 16; Sunday;
  • I was up at 0600 and found out the temperature had dropped overnight! It was back to wearing sox wth fleece long sleeve shirt and pants. Boo. But Peggy has it worse in NY.
  • I spent the whole day working on Onward's communication electronics. The challenge was to correctly program the new NetGear router and the Ubiquiti Bullet M2 Titanium wifi radio. None of the instructions on how to correctly set up the myriad functions were adequate to our needs. I was finally able to piece together a way from several different sources. It really helped to take a long series of computer screen shots at every step of the way along with making a color coded device functions list to work from. There were a lot of false starts and I had to reset the Ubiquiti unit to its factory settings at least 6 times before getting it right at last. The successful result was a much more powerful connection to external WiFi access points that I can access by simply connecting to the new router with computer, iPads or iPhones wifi. All this was necessitated when I discovered my existing wifi boosters were no longer workable with the latest OS X because the manufacturers dropped software support. As MacBook sales continue to grow while PC sales shrink, maybe that will change.

25 Jan 16; Monday; Hope Town
  • I had bought a see-thru filter to put in the line in case the on-engine filter was clogged. But I found it pristine so clogged fuel filters weren't the problem.
  • I had bled the air out of the system several times but there still seemed to be more. So I checked every hose clamp in the genset fuel line and found no problems. Then Ed came over and we spent a good deal of time trying to assess the genset starting problem. He moved the see-thru filter along the fuel line starting at the hose connection to the high pressure pump. We found copious small air bubbles moving through the line as I vented fuel into a container. We then moved it to the back=flow valve where we found the same. Next Ed moved it to the feed to the electric lift pump; again bubbles were found. So we decided to next check at the tee where fuel for the genset is taken off of the Yanmar feed line. As I was checking to be sure we had the feed and not the return line, I noticed two hose clamps on the Yanmar final fuel filer that I had missed in the tightening exercise. Ed tightened the one on the input side and then as he worked on the output side the clamp proved to be broken — and the corrosion indicated it had been there for a while. So this was prima facia evidence that we had found and fixed the leak with the installation of a new hose clamp.
  • I vented the fuel line now finding almost no bubbles. AND the genset started.

26 Jan 16; Tuesday; Hope Town
  • After breakfast, I gave the genset a try — no joy! Now what???
  • Peggy's 0630 Jet Blue flight from JFK to WPB got off on schedule. I took the 0945 Ferry to Marsh Harbour and taxied to Maxwells to do last minute shopping. When I got in the store, I went to send a text to Peggy and realized I had left my iPhone in the taxi. The security officer was able to raise the taxi on VHF and I was quickly reunited. Shopping result: two shopping bags, $195. Hmm.
  • Peter, the taxi driver, was still in the parking lot so I was soon off to the airport. Peggy arrived on time and we were quickly on our way back to the Ferry with a stop along the way at AID / NAAPA where I bought a 12-V golf cart battery to use as a starting battery for the genset.
  • By 1300 we were back in Hope Town and I had all the goods and luggage stowed aboard Onward while Peggy waited ashore. The Merlins and Heeling Times met us at the Abaco Inn's beach bar where we had a great reunion lunch.
  • Once back aboard, we both crashed and had a quiet evening aboard. I wasn't about to destroy my equanimity by working on the genset.

27 Jan 16; Wednesday; Hope Town
  • After breakfast, I connected up the new battery to the genset. Lo and behold! It started quickly. It seems that most of the trauma of the last several days was due to the Trojan T1275 battery of the forward bank not being healthy and thus unable put out the cranking amps needed by the genset starter. It will have to be replaced as soon as I can get one. Now I was left with the challenge of mounting the new battery that is larger than the previous genset starting battery.
  • There was still the nagging suspicion that there might yet be something else crawling around contributing to the problem. The only way to tell is to see if the genset continued to start over the next several days.
  • With the help of Tina and Ed, we took Onward over to take on fuel and water. The wind built up from the SE making getting off the fuel dock a challenge due to shallows at both ends. With Tina and Peggy managing lines, I edged Onward back on the pier until it could pivot on the outer piling. Ed took a line from the bow and pulled it to starboard away from the pier. I then accelerated forward to gain rudder control. It was necessary to do a quick port - starboard jink to get the gas grill around the piling and then we were free! I will now call Ed Captain Tugboat Willie.
  • Ed brought over gifts, 2 short pieces of 4 AWG battery cable and crimp terminals that were just long enough to use to replace the existing 6 AWG starter cables. I decided to use the old cables as backup charging cables for the new battery for use if the genset alternator did not work well. I managed to get terminals put on the new starter cables and ran out of time and energy. It was time for a shower.
  • The Merlins and Heeling Times joined us for cocktail hour. I made another batch of mini-stnomboli. Peggy collaborated on the fillings. The base was chopped broccoli sauted in olive oil and garlic. Then we put strips of provolone cheese along with prosciutto. They came out even better than my first experiential batch. Sated and mellow, we headed over to the Methodist Church to attend a concert being given by the Princeton a cappella group Shere Khan. This is a totally student run group that does its own song arrangements. They were very good.

28 Jan 16; Thursday; Hope Town
  • I managed to get the new battery, starter cables and charging cables connected in place. And the genset started right away. I was now able to finally put the sound cover on the genset and then stow all the stuff normally kept under the forward berth back in place. With the forward berth now usable my "workshop" surface was available to put all the tools and parts there until I had time to put them away. It was nice seeing the salon fairly neat again.
  • Peggy has been quietly adjusting to being back aboard — maybe still thawing out. She has begun a daily series of therapy exercises and is very focused.
  • I was ready to play a bit. We headed off to Cap'n Jack's for trivia night and dinner and drinks. The trivia session was one of the most difficult that I have encountered. We divided ourselves into 2 teams of 3 with Peggy and I on different teams. I think there may have been one question whose answer I was sure of while the others were guesses - some close, most wild. As it turns out the Heeling Times and I scored 5 right (out of 20) and the Merlins + Peggy scored 7 — putting us in 3rd and 2nd places! Wow!

29 Jan 16; Friday; Hope Town to Bridge Cay
  • It was nice to get up this morning without the boat being torn apart! This morning, I got most of the tools put back in their proper places. What a difference!
  • At 0900 Peggy and I headed ashore to do last minute things before our 1200 departure. We met Truman Major at the town pier and were able to settle up our mooring fees with him and thank him again for saving a couple of moorings for us on the 12th. Peggy got off at the town pier and went for a walk to exercise her leg. I offloaded trash and then moved the dinghy to the Sailing Club pier. Peggy and I then stopped for a morning coffee and while there met a couple from catamaran Toucan whom we encountered last year in the Exumas. They are spending the winter in the Abacos this year. I'm always impressed by people who remember me and the boat — maybe having Onward embroidered on my polo shirts has some benefit.
  • We did some food shopping and bought one of Vernon's key lime pies to go with the chili stew I plan to make for the fleet this evening. Peggy also wanted to thank Vernon for the help he provided when she was first looking for medical help.
  • It was nice to get back to Onward and find it not torn apart. I actually had time to work on cleaning some of the rubber smudges from dock bumpers off the hull. At 1145 we headed out in what was supposed to be a dropping N wind.
  • While we were sailing, Peggy whipped up a batch of beer bread dough and had it ready to bake for this evening when we invited the Fleet over for Onward chili stew. As soon as the anchor was set I got busy with making the chili with the able assistance of Peggy.
  • The fleet had its pre-crossing dinner and the chills and beer bread were both hits. Of course a piece of Vernon's key lime pie put everyone in a good mood. Then it was time to introduce Dana and Tom to Quirkle. Peggy led most of the way and I caught up near the end and won by 1 point!
  • We reviewed out crossing plans and our guests went off into the night in their dinghy. I was physically tired but not mentally tired but ended up going to bed.

30 Jan 16; Saturday; Bridges Cay to Current Cut
  • At 0400 I realized I wasn't going to sleep any more — likely the consequence of having gone to bed shortly after 2000 last night. Well it was a good time to get the dishes done before weighing anchor for the crossing to Eleuthera.
  • We weighed anchor at 0615, an hour before sunrise, and by the time we reached the cut there was good light. The wind was < 10 kts from the N with ~3' swells. We had a little ebbing current with us. It was a very peaceful transit by ~ 0730 the wind clocked to the E and picked up to ~ 10 kts enabling us to motorsail under genoa and make > 7 kts.
  • We were at Big Egg Island at ~ 1300. We lost the use of the wind as we headed for Current Cut. A beautiful and uneventful crossing with usable wind for a brisk motorsail without any pesky swells to speak of. We anchored just NE of Current Cut to be in the lee of the mainland in the E wind for the night. Once the anchor was down, I immediately crashed for a nap. My sleep cycle got really messed up last night. The Merlins and Heeling Times headed ashore but I was not quite awake and Peggy decided to cook some veggies to go with the pork loin Tom was planning to grill.
  • We had a fine dinner aboard Heeling Time.

31 Jan 16; Sunday; Current Cut to Powell Point
  • Before going to bed last night, we had decided to weigh anchor at 0630, about an hour after our estimate of low tide. Ed set me a text at 0500 to say then would delay their departure until they had enough light to see. We bantered back and forth because originally I hadn't been in a hurry to depart this time and had chose 0630 to provide the lower current the Merlins had wanted. The local tides is about an hour ahead of that in Nassau (the reference datum that all Bahamians use). It turns out that local knowledge says that slack current in the cut occurs 2.5 hrs before the high / low in Nassau. Go figure…
  • We entered the marina basin at 1500 and went directly to the fuel pier where I quickly took on 27 gal of diesel and then moved off the pier immediately so Heeling Time could come in. The wind was nice enough to blow me off the pier and as I was backing nicely across the basin to my assigned slip, I decided to back into the slip. It was more of a challenge than I expected because there was a cross current as well as the wind acting on the bow. It wasn't the prettiest docking maneuver but by 1515 we were in the slip.
  • Peggy had laundry ready to go so we headed off to the laundry room as Heeling Time tied up at its slip and Merlin headed for the fuel pier. After checking in and getting the laundry moved to the dryer, Peggy and I walked over to the beautiful pool that had just been finished for our visit last year. Now it had sun tents and lounge chairs. In spite of the overcast skies and cool water, I needed to have my first swim of the year. It turned out to be cool enough to make the swim very short.
  • The building next to the pool is nearing completion to become the restaurant. It will have a wrap-around deck on the upper level. It should be quite nice. We looked forward to returning to the restaurant that is still open in one of the resort buildings because Peggy and I thought it provided the best meal we had had along our entire cruise down the East Coast in 2014. We learned some sad news that the woman who operated it was tragically killed in a auto accident last year! The person who was preparing to open the restaurant before her was also killed in an auto accident before it could open!
  • Tragedy aside, we had a very nice dinner together before we all returned to our vessels and crashed after a long day.