Onward’s Cruise Journal 2017

Updated: 2 February 2017

January 2017

1 Jan 17; Sunday; Marco Island

2 Jan 17; Monday; Marco Island

3 Jan 17; Tuesday; Marco Island

4 Jan 17; Wednesday; Marco Island

5 Jan 17; Thursday; Marco Island

6 Jan 17; Friday; Marco Island to Stuart
  • This morning we closed up Peggy's condo and headed back to Onward. It was a very pleasant interlude. Unfortunately I spent most of the time recovering from the chest cold and really did not take advantage of the stay. Ah well.
  • Back at Stuart, we were lucky and found a dock cart available so we quickly moved back aboard. We celebrated by going out for a steak dinner. When we returned, we found they had changed the gate security code so we were locked out. By extraordinary good luck, another boat owner came up while I was trying to contact someone from Loggerheads. So we didn't have to sleep in the car!

7 Jan 17; Saturday; Stuart

8 Jan 17; Sunday; Stuart

9 Jan 17; Monday; Stuart

10 Jan 17; Tuesday; Stuart

11 Jan 17; Wednesday; Stuart

12 Jan 17; Thursday; Stuart

13 Jan 17; Friday; Stuart

14 Jan 17; Saturday; Stuart

15 Jan 17; Sunday; Stuart

16 Jan 17; Monday; Stuart to Lake Worth Anchorage
  • After running a last few errands and returning the rental car, we departed the marina at 1010. It felt very good to be underway again! Our timing was good and we had 65' clearance at the A1A bridge. At Sewell Point we hugged the green side and saw one 7.8' bump just after the E green buoy.
  • The trip down the ICW was uneventful and our timing of the bridges went well. We arrived at Lake Worth Anchorage at ~ 1600. I was surprised to see few vessels at anchor awaiting the weather window on Wednesday.

17 Jan 17; Tuesday; Lake Worth Anchorage
  • In the morning I re-anchored to get more space with some of the moored boats. I spent most of the day doing the last tasks before heading offshore. We got to watch a SeaTow crew of divers attempt to raise the sunken vessel. After raising the stern with airbags, they attempted to pump out the sealed interior. They made some progress and got the forward part of the cabin trunk visible but then the could make no further gains and gave up at ~1700.
  • We had a relaxing dinner and slept the sleep of the exhausted.

18 Jan 17; Wednesday; Lake Worth Inlet to Mangrove Cay, Bahamas
  • I was up at 0400. We weighed anchor at 0445. Somehow every previous early-morning departure from this anchorage has been under pitch-blackness conditions and this with the many shore lights has made the short exit passage much more of a challenge than one would expect. This year it was somehow not as dark. I had expected a gaggle of boats to clog the anchorage and make the exit a challenge. This year we were alone? A surprise as this was the first good crossing opportunity in a long time. We found the inlet very settled and the exit easy.
  • The seas were quite calm and the crossing was much like one across the Chesapeake.
  • The sunset at Mangrove Cay was one of the most spectacular I have seen in the Bahamas. I managed to catch a bit using the iPhone time lapse video.

19 Jan 17; Thursday; Mangrove Cay to Green Turtle Cay
  • Another 0400 wakeup; and underway by 0445. After getting underway in the dark and setting course for the waypoint to turn E into the Sea of Abaco, I went out to squeegee dew from the dodger windows. As I stepped forward, I was startled to see the dark outline of a sailboat at anchor about 200 yards to starboard. I was so startled, I lost my balance and in reaching out with by hand as I fell toward the dodger, I managed to cause a !8" vertical fracture in the port dodger bow window. BAAAAH. On recovering, I saw that the anchored boat had an extremely dim anchor light hanging from the topping lift. It was so dim it had been eclipsed by the mast. A good warning for bright unobstructed anchor lights.
  • The rest of the trip was peacefully uneventful. We passed several sailboats that had left Great Sale Cay. We were soon on our own in the Sea of Abaco and I took advantage of it to have another wonderful sunbath on the foredeck.
  • As we approached Little Abaco, I got a BTC cell signal on my iPhone and took the opportunity to call Green Turtle Cay. They said they had plenty of room in the marina. This also demonstrated that the Bahamas service extension I added to my Verizon account worked as I was able to use my Verizon SIM card on the BTC network.

20 Jan 17; Friday; Green Turtle Cay
  • In the morning, I decided to put my BTC SIM card from last year into my iPhone 5. We had forgotten to keep it "alive" this summer. I was surprised to find it still worked and had $ in the account. I then added $ to both the iPhone and to the SIM for the hotspot. We also got Peggy's iPhone working. Nice! Bahamas telecommunications reestablished!
  • The marina checked with Customs and learned that we needed to dinghy into New Plymouth to check in. So about 1030 we Ventured into town and while we were being cleared in, crew from three other vessels came in as everyone is getting ready to hide from the coming cold front.
  • I found a barbershop / hair salon: Huberts Cuts and Curls and managed to get a much needed haircut. We then walked around town before stoping for lunch. We both felt very relaxed for the first time in a good while having made it safely to the Bahamas, gotten checked in, and having established telecommunications.

21 Jan 17; Saturday; Green Turtle Cay
  • The job of the day was for me to go up the mast to troubleshoot the masthead light. At the masthead all looked OK when I looked at the wire splice bundles for the light. There are two splice bundles: one from the original Orca light installation and a newer one from when I replaced it last year. Due to the shortness of wires coming up the mast I'd been afraid to try a resplice to them so I left the original splice in tact and spliced the new light cable to a section of the cable from the original light.
  • I decided to inspect the original splice and remove the waterproof tape covering. All splices looked fine. I wiggled the wire and suddenly all functions of the light started working normally. Go figure. I could not find any damaged area or locate a particular wire that was problematic. Perhaps some moisture had creeped in and now was gone? I carefully secured the splices and over wrapped with electrical tape and then waterproof tape.
  • I tried to replace the Al plate covering the hole in the masthead plate but found I needed to drill a new hole. A job for the next journey to the masthead. As Peggy began to lower me, a slack loop of the safety line got pulled into the lift line block at the base of the mast. Of course there was no human on the docks to help her. She called the office and one of the dockhands came and helped her. She had to use the electric winch to pull the snag free. Meanwhile I was holding on to the mast and shrouds just in case.
  • Once down, I was spent for the afternoon and crashed. Peggy managed to go for a walk and this tired her out. We never got around to dinner.

22 Jan 17; Sunday; Green Turtle Cay
  • GRIBs are still forecasting 30 kts from the SW to W on Monday and Tuesday with ramping up starting at midday today. I fished out one of the 3/4" genoa sheets I just replaced and ran it behind the sailboat on the starboard side to a dock piling to help keep us away from the port side pilings.
  • Peggy doesn't sound any better today with her cold — just like I did when at Marco. I made her a Kaluha hot toddy this morning to sooth her.

23 Jan 17; Monday; Green Turtle Cay

24 Jan 17; Tuesday; Green Turtle Cay

25 Jan 17; Wednesday; Green Turtle Cay to Hope Town, Elbow Cay
  • I was up early to get ready to depart the marina. I removed the 3/4' line on the starboard bow and re-rigged the chain on the windlass. We were still on the mid-starboard water tank so I refilled it before stowing the hose and two power cables. By this time the office was open so I went up to complete the checkout only to discover that I had apparently left my Visa card at the Tranquil Turtle beach bar last night. I called Bluff House and they checked and located it. So after checking out of GTC Marina I launched Venture and headed across the harbor to get the Visa card.
  • We departed the slip at about 0915 and ended up leading a gaggle of other boats. As we made our way toward Whale Cut, I went to make sure everything in the bow locker was secure. I discovered that I'd put the chain on the windlass the wrong way. So before reversing it, I secured the anchor with the new SS chain hook. As I was working on the chain, I must have bumped the chain hook and it popped off the chain because it was so nice and new and shiny and slippery! Soon the entire 300' of chain was deployed even though I'd called back to Peggy to put the engine in neutral. BAAAH! I've been here before and again demonstrated that 300' of chain rode on a Manson Supreme anchor will really stop you. After picking up all the chain, I secured the locker and returned to the cockpit. It was hard not to have the stiff drink I really wanted.
  • Thankfully the Whale Cut was very well behaved with long swells 3.5 to 4'. I took the opportunity to pump out the holding tank on the outgoing tide. I also treated the rear head waste hose and tank with HCL to get rid of carbonate buildup.
  • We arrived at the entrance to Hope Town at Low Tide so I anchored just outside while we waited for an hour of tide rise. On anchoring I discovered that I had not distributed the anchor chain equally between the two sections of the starboard chain locker. The rode in the stern section needs to be limited to ~150' of the 300' in order for the chain to be able to fall far enough to enable twists and kinks to fall off as it is deployed. So my anchor hook screwup will now require fixing this before we head offshore.
  • There were two other boats anchored outside the harbor so as soon as the anchor was down I launched Venture and hightailed it into the harbor to look for an open mooring. The effort was worth it as I found one of Truman's moorings with double green buoys open. So I put my red marker buoy on it and returned to Onward to have lunch and wail for the tide to rise.
  • With an hour of tide rise to > 1' above datum, Onward made its way into the harbor and picked up the mooring without incident. That done, Peggy and I just vegged until after sunset when we decided to have dinner at the Harborside Restaurant. As I climbed onto the pier and began to look around the deck for a table, I noticed one other couple who seemed a bit familiar. As I took a step closer, both Tom and I recognized each other at the same time. Peggy and I joined Tom and Sandy who had arrived just before us. Anania is usually in the Bahamas well before us so I was very surprised to see them. Last year Anania had been mauled by another boat that dragged by during the derecho that hit George Town forcing them to depart early to get back to the US for repairs. That got done but then they ran into strange Yanmar problems where it would not develop more than 1000 rpm. A supposedly good mechanic had diagnosed it a needed turbocharger replacement. However after ~$6K the new turbocharger was found not to fix the problem. An injection pump rebuild followed during the holidays when they had been nearby in Hobe Sound. They were now hoping that this did the trick. They are both salty sailors and so they are much less reliant on the engine than most cruisers.
  • Needless to say we had a wonderful evening catching up with a wonderful dinner to go with it. As they were departing in the morning we said our farewells until we meet again in George Town.

26 Jan 17; Thursday; Hope Town
  • A large Nordhaven was berthed across the dock from Onward's bow. I noticed the name was Bluewater hailing from Hampton VA. So I started talking ton one of the guests aboard and learned that the vessel was owned by Chris who owns Bluewater Marina (and a number of other marine businesses).
  • Peggy wanted to explore Elbow Cay by golf cart today so we Ventured in to the Dinghy Club dock then called Island Cart Rental. Within 15 min they had delivered a cart to us on the back of a little flatbed truck. We headed south and went all the way to the private enclave at the southern tip. Peggy wanted to see Tahiti Beach but we couldn't figure out how to get there without using the private roads. So, we headed back to the Seaspray Marina & Resort where we drowned our sorrows in the first drink of the day. Actually Peggy planned to drown the chest cold I gave her. We watched as the were putting the finishing touches on a huge new deck bar & pavilion. It will be a fine place to come to in a month.
  • We move back to Abaco Inn where we enjoyed rum drinks and an appetizer snack while overlooking the beautiful pool and beach.
  • Then it was on to Firefly Resort. I had only made a quick visit once before and didn't really explore it. We had a seashore side table and enjoyed or next set of rum drinks. This plan of Peggy's has real merit.
  • Then we moved on to On da Beach where we, guess what??? — enjoyed rum drinks with our fish sandwich.
  • Not done yet, we made our way to the Abaco Inn in town where we sat on the deck overlooking the beach and enjoyed yet another rum punch.
  • We parked our cart for the night and moved on to finished off our Rum Punch Crawl at Wine Down Sip Sip where we switched to red wine to go with their wonderful flatbread pizza.
  • Needless to say neither of us had any problem sleeping.

27 Jan 17; Friday; Hope Town
  • Peggy seemed to think the Rum Punch Crawl had knocked down the cold a bit — Good.
  • The first part of the front was supposed to begin later today. But, since we still had a few hours on our cart rental, we fetched it and headed to the S end of Elbow Cay where, armed with local knowledge, we made our way down to the SW tip where we could walk out on Tahiti Beach. We arrived there just before high tide and Peggy found her beach disappearing as she walked out on the spit. That done we headed back to town stopping at the Sweet Shop along the way for coffees and pastries. Delish.
  • I spent the remainder of the afternoon preparing for the blow. I took the two 3/4" genoa sheets the I'd just replaced with 5/8" lines and rigged them on the starboard bow and stern to the pier, going around bow and stern of the smaller sail boat that shared the berth with us. While on the pier I got to have a delightful chat with Chris owner of Bluewater.

28 Jan 17; Saturday; Hope Town
  • We took the 1115 ferry to Marsh Harbour to see the BNT art show fundraiser and run errands. I put a duct tape lift under the outside of my right heel of the Keens so my right hip joint was feeling fine. I also brought along my improvised sling and must have presented quite a sight as I walked about with both arms supported at the wrist with the sling — but it really helped.
  • We walked from the ferry building to Abaco Beach Resort. In all of the years I'd visited Marsh Harbour, I had never walked to visit this marina resort. I was pleasantly impressed with it: marina, facilities, grounds, living quarters. I think we will come back to spend a couple of days in the future. They had a large marquee set up with many Bahamian artists showing their wares — very nice. Again the problem of too little wall space in a sailboat!
  • We then walked into town to run some errands but discovered that almost everything shut by noon — so we got no errands done. We did a bit of food shopping at Maxwells and then walked to Wally's for lunch. By this time I was done with walking. After a nice lunch we took a cab back to the ferry terminal just in time to catch the ferry back to Hope Town.

29 Jan 17; Sunday; Hope Town
  • A windy and rainy day. I saw one gust of 38 kts and many in the mid- 30's.
  • Peggy and I just hunkered down and read the entire day. The 3/4" long lines did a great job of holding Onward off the pier on the lee / port bow.

30 Jan 17; Monday; Hope Town
  • The front blew itself out in the morning and a pleasant day resulted. I removed the stern 3/4" line that had done its job holding us off during the NW winds. In late morning Peggy and I walked over to the Bluff House and had lunch at the Tranquil Turtle beach bar. While there we found the crew from Bluewater and spent a nice time chatting with them.

31 Jan 17; Tuesday; Hope Town to Lynyard Cay
  • Last night for the first time in months I had a normal night with no pains or aches in my shoulders to wake me up. Amazing, I said to myself when I awoke, maybe it is still possible to be able to live without the almost constant ache and pains I've had since December — I had been in real despair over this. If only this formalness would last!
  • Peggy had made a hairstyling appointment for 0900 so I delivered her to the Harborside Grocery's pier and went back to work. On my way back to pick her up at 1030, I managed to track down Truman and pay him the mooring fee. After a brief shopping stop at the Harborside Grocery, we were back aboard. Somehow I was 2 hrs late in my recollection of when high tide was so we needed to get moving. We were on our way out of the harbor by 1115 and thankfully had no problem in the channel.
  • I anchored Onward just S of a good looking blue sloop only to find that it was Comocean - the Sabre 42 formally owned by Bob Como. I had seen this boat for the last few winters in Hope Town Inn and Marina.
  • I took advantage of the location and conditions to go up on foredeck to reposition the anchor chain in the locker. I had to first dump out ~200' of chain then reload all but 150' in the forward section of the starboard chain locker. The 150' in the stern section allows the chain to fall off the windlass nicely and also shake out twists and kinks as the rode is deployed.
  • We had a quiet night and I slept fairly well for a pre-passage night. Unfortunately, while my arms felt normal all day, I may have overworked the shoulders when I had to reposition the anchor chain.