Onward’s Cruise Journal 2012
Cruise South on the Atlantic ICW to the Bahamas

A Note to First-Time Visitors to Onward's Journals

Updated: 1 Jan 13

December 2012

1 Dec 12; Saturday; Vero Beach

  • I woke up during the early morning and I had the immediate thought: "Is this what it feels like to feel normal?" It seems the antibiotic is helping. In fact I found myself craving for it to be 0600 so I could take the next dose.
  • I was up at 0530 and felt strong and energetic. Ed and I consulted with Don about the problem he was having installing a new pump for the forward shower sump. Ed went over to help and I got busy doing preparation and planning. About 1030 I was tired again so I crawled into bed for a 2 hour nap.
  • By 1220, I was feeling good again so I got a shower and then headed out with the others to do some shopping. First we went to the beach and had a fantastic fish & chips lunch that Don & Mary Kay instead on treating us for out consulting efforts. Then it was off to Home Depot, West Marine, Radio Shack, Staples before coming back aboard.
  • My energy level was down again so it was an early night decorated by a wind and rain squall that passed through.

2 Dec 12; Sunday; Vero Beach
  • I had a bit more energy this morning. After breakfast I decided to take on the messy job of removing the damaged exhaust elbow from the F-P generator. I got 3 of 4 nuts off the mounting studs but the 3rd needs a special tool I made the last time -- a cut-off 13 mm thin crescent wrench. By this time I was beat.
  • Tom came over from Polar Pacer and began working with Don to go up the mast and remove the problematic antennas from Beckoning's mast. While they did this, I went out and lay on the deck in the sun.
  • My nap revived me enough to search for the spacial tool I needed which I found where it belonged! Wow! I then started to work on the last nut only to immediately drop the tool which went into hiding in the bottom of the generator box. I had wonders why I'd drilled a hole in the end of the cut-off wrench handle -- it was to put a tether on it to prevent loss when it was dropped! A half-hour of fishing for the lost tool proved very frustrating and useless. I took a short break and tried again and was successfully able to snag the tool. With a tether attached, I was able to get the last nut off and the elbow off.
  • It was time to clean up and go ashore to pick up Tom and head over to have lunch and do some shopping. Both tasks accomplished, we took our swag back to Onward. I was in need of a nap -- I seem to be getting better but still loose energy after a period of activity. We got a call from Mary Kay about a gathering of cruisers at the Rivrerside Cafe. I didn't have the energy so Ed went. I then got a bust of energy and was able to clean up the mess we'd made working on the genset. When Ed returned I sautéed a couple of chicken breasts and we enjoyed them with a bottle of Chianti Classico.

3 Dec 12; Monday; Vero Beach
  • I got up feeling "almost normal". I learned that the new exhaust elbow did not get shipped on Friday and was now expected Tuesday. While I worked on updating the inventories in preparation for final provisioning runs, Ed drove the Beckonings to the Ft. Pierce airport to get their C&BP Local Boaters Option papers submitted. By the time they got back there wan't enough time to make a shopping trip so that went on the schedule for Tuesday.
  • At 1630, the Beckonings, Silhouettes, and Tom & Silvia Dilenscheider joined Ed and I as we headed over to Helen & Keith Drewett's home in Vero Beach for dinner. The Drewetts bought a beautiful condo in an oceanfront development last year and have done a beautiful job of settling in. A good deal of wine, a scrumptious gumbo dinner, and lots of bonhomie made for a memorable evening.
  • This was the first day in more than a month that I felt close to normal. I did little coughing during the day -- Good! However, I found that whenever I walked into Hellen's kitchen, I had an uncontrollable need to cough due to a tickle in my throat. As soon as I walked out of the room it went away. Based on this and some other evidence I'm beginning to believe I have developed some type of an allergy that I will need to track down.

4 Dec 12; Tuesday; Vero Beach
  • Ed and I were off to the West Palm Beach Airport at 0430 for his flight back to Philadelphia. It was great to have Ed aboard for the trip down from St. Augustine. My enjoyment was marred by my not feeling well and having Ed's help was a godsend. The need to replace the exhaust elbow on the genset coupled with an elusive weather window for a crossing necessitated him heading home to family commitments.
  • On return to Vero, I picked up the Beckonings and we headed off to provision. We managed to fill up the SUV and needed both our dinghies to ferry the goodies back to the boats. That done, we headed over to Silhouette for an extended cocktail hour. As I had felt good all day, I stuck to water for my beverage to allow the remnants of the antibiotic to do its job well. After returning to our boats Don & Mary Kay invited me over for a light dinner to cap off a good day.

5 Dec 12; Wednesday; Vero Beach
  • I was up at 0530 and worked on inventorying and stowing yesterday's shopping. That done, I tackled the installation of the new exhaust elbow. This went reasonably well and even the pesky hard to reach nut went on without too much cursing. After checking everything, I started the generator and it ran well - then I discovered that I'd managed to close rather than open the raw water supply valve. That corrected it ran well. I made plans with the Beckonings for another shopping trip. As I returned to check the genset, I saw an electrical connector was smoking. I shut down the genset and found that the connector had gotten so hot it had melted the plastic. It turned out this connected the genet's alternator controller to the wiring harness. I pulled the connectors for three wires apart where their plastic support had melted. The I restarted the genset and it ran normally and charged the batteries and heated water for an hour. Tomorrow I will have to troubleshoot the wiring problem!
  • At 1400 we headed over for another lunch at Two Jay's Deli then another shopping spree. We were back aboard with the swag by 1830. Once I got things stowed, I crashed for the night.

6 Dec 12; Thursday; Vero Beach
  • Early morning rain squalls while trying to listen to Chris Parker started the day. I talked to Chis and it looks like Sunday will provide a good crossing opportunity. The big if is the generator!
  • I patiently cleaned up the remnants of the melted connector to the battery charge controller using the Dremmel too. Then I reconnected the leads and started the genset. The leads to the controller began heating up again! So, I assumed that somehow I'd fried the controller module. I called Ace Marine and Terry said she would have a new module tomorrow. So it looks like the Sunday crossing won't happen.
  • We made another afternoon foray into town to have lunch and do more shopping. This was the day for the last big grocery shopping at Walmart and we did a good job of loading up the SUV.

7 Dec 12; Friday; Vero Beach
  • I changed the engine oil and filter and did the same for the genset. Then I cleaned up and headed in to Ace Marine to pick up the charger module. We had a great Mexican food lunch before going to Publix to to the last food shopping. I managed to get all the provisions ferried back to Onward, stowed and inventoried. I used my Rival vacuum bagger to repackage all the meats I'd purchased. This was a great purchase.
  • Then, I worked on the genset. I put heat-shrink tubing on the female connectors after polishing them with the Dremmel wire brush. Then I connected up the new module and started the generator. Whola! The new module did the same thing as the old -- the wire leads began to really heat up. So i quickly checked to see if it was putting out a charging voltage. It was, so I disconnected it after making a quick measurement of the temperature of the leads with my IR thermometer. The leads to the alternator and the + and - 12 V leads were the ones heating up. Then I disconnected the module and connected the leads to the old module that I thought was fried. It performed the same way: it output a charging voltage and the same leads heated up reaching ~ 200º F. I continued to run the genset and monitor the temperature and they slowly decreased as the starting battery got charged. What a colossal bad design from Fischer-Panda! I apparently spent ~$100 for the new module for no good reason!

8 Dec 12; Saturday; Vero Beach
  • I was up early and worked on the genset. I reinstalled the old charge control module and added a second layer of heat-shrink tubing to the leads and reassembled the connections. The generator started and ran normally; the charge module put out a charging voltage to the generator; and the wire leads heated up.
  • After more stowing of gear I headed off to return the rental car. On return I ran the genset again and monitored the temperatures of the charger control module with the IR thermometer. The temperatures still climbed to > 150º F but didn't climb much further. As the charge of the starer battery has increased the heating of the leads has decreased. Some research on the internet turned up comments from several cruisers about this problematic charge control module. This made me feel better that I could live with it until I can come up with a better solution.
  • I decided this was as good as it was going to get and I would go ahead with plans to make a Gulf Stream crossing as soon as there was a weather window. As Chris Parker wasn't broadcasting this morning I took a look at the current GFS gribs
  • I spent the rest of the day putting all the stuff away that had been taken out to work on the generator and service the engine. It is amazing how a totally chaotic mess can slowly be reduced to order as items are put back in their special place. Don & Mary Kay invited me to take a walk to dinner with them but I didn't have the energy. So it was an early night.

9 Dec 12; Sunday; Vero Beach to Lake Worth
  • As soon as the fuel pier cleared, Onward put in to take on diesel and water. The latter was complicated by the office being flooded by a faulty water heater resulting in the dock water being shut off while they cleaned up and searched for a shutoff valve for the water heater. Beckoning pulled in behind Onward and fueled while I filled the water tanks.
  • At 0930 on a beautiful sunny day with light SE winds we headed S to the Lake Worth anchorage to stage for a crossing of the Gulf Stream. Offshore conditions were mild so we opted to exit the Ft. Pierce Inlet and go down the coast to the Lake Worth Inlet. All went well with the two fixed bridges we needed to pass under. Beckoning's new shorn masthead took the angst out of the passages for Don & Mary Kay.
  • The current was with us as we exited the inlet. At the outer edge there were some standing waves where the on-shore wind driven swells met the outgoing current. Onward easily took the swells then all of a sudden, I heard a strange noise and realized the main anchor was deploying!. The full 300' of chain was pulled out. I had put the engine in neutral and the pull of the anchor turned Onward around in a heartbeat and it came to a halt. The new high-tensile line I had installed in Baltimore to make fast the end of the anchor rides to the cleat in the anchor locker held the load. I installed these lines instead of a shackle to allow me to cut them in an emergency. I was glad that I'd done a good job because they held!
  • Somehow the anchor chain had come off of the windlass capstan and the shock and change in momentum of hitting the standing waves at the mouth of the inlet had caused the Manson anchor to pitch forward and overboard. Anyone who doubts the ability of a Manson to set and hold quickly should have been aboard!
  • There was nothing to do but go out on the foredeck to get the chain back on the windlass and pull it in. I got out my PFD and harness and began to put it on -- only to find that the lanyard for the emergency whistle I attached to the harness had managed to tangle itself so that it took me more than 5 minutes under stress to get it loose so I could put on the PFD and harness. Once clipped on the jackline, I went out to the bow. Onward was sailing forward on the anchor in the strong outflowing current and the rode was under so much tension I could not pull it in by hand. I took one of the chain hooks with its line and after hooking the rode I used the rope capstan of the windlass to bring in enough slack so I could get the chain around the chain gypsy. Somehow I got that done and headed back to the helm to use the engine to take slack off the rode while I remotely raised the anchor. I had raised > 100' of the chain when I heard the strange noise of more chain running. I though it was the chain I'd just hauled in falling down into the locker -- but then I realized the secondary Bruce anchor had disappeared off the bow roller!
  • I again clipped on and went up to the foredeck to find that the SS lanyard I use to keep the secondary anchor in place had broken! The main rode must have gotten caught up on the Bruce due the Onward sailing forward and this must have caused the lanyard to break allowing the Bruce to tip overboard while I was hauling in the main.
  • I put my secondary anchor hook on the main rode and then took that chain off the windlass. I then used the primary chain hook and line to get enough slack in the secondary rode to allow me to get it on the chain gypsy. I then slowly got the secondary rode and anchor aboard.
  • The retrieval of the rest of the main rode and anchor went relatively easily. Onward was soon underway down the coast while the Captain sat and recovered from the stress and effort. The Manson was not completely aboard on the bow roller because it was fouled on the Bruce. However it was secure and safe and I decided to proceed in the calm seas for a while until I had the energy and equanimity to yet again go on the foredeck to fix the problem. After an hour, I cut back the engine to neutral and went out to quickly fix the problem and soon had the Manson secure in its normal conditions with security chain hooks on both anchors.
  • What went wrong? Why after > 25000 miles of cruising did something happen? I don't really know. I'm sure it was another stickup of minor errors. I know one thing, I had failed to do a security check of the anchors -- something I always do before heading in or out of an inlet. While in Vero Beach, I had had problems getting Onward secured to the mooring ball with my mooring bridle and I may have taken the main rode off the gypsy so I could use the rope capstan to bring in the line that I used to attach the bridle ring to the mooring. When I cast off the mooring I neglected to check that all was normal with the anchors.
  • What am I going to do about this in the future? Several things. First, I've got religion about checking anchor security before moving! Second I will make sure the backup anchor hooks are set on the chains. Third I will develop better fail-safe devices to keep the anchors on the bow roller. The existing locking pins and holes are not compatible with the geometry of the Bruce and Manson so I will have to devise something. Last, remember the lesson that even a easy transit of a great inlet under benign conditions on a beautiful calm day cannot be take for granted. I was really lucky that there was no large vessel that needed to use the inlet while I was fighting the problem. God does protect fools to some extent...
  • The time lost with my anchor "issue" resulted in us getting to the Lake Worth Inlet after dark. Entrance was easy and using the waypoints I left behind from previous visits I was soon anchored for the night. First order of business was a shower. Then I warmed up some beef stew and had a delicious dinner before crashing.

10 Dec 12; Monday; Lake Worth to Mangrove Cay
  • I was up at 0500 checking over Onward to see that stuff was stowed sufficiently well to take on the Gulf Stream and to check closure of hatches, ports and through-hull valves.
  • The gribs had been consistently showing for several days that Monday and Tuesday would have winds out of the SSE to S at about 15 kts with seas of about 3'. I talked to Chris Parker at about 0700 and he agreed that conditions for a course to West End would be a close reach in ~ 15kts + -- very doable for the C470. I talked with the Beckonings who had tuned into the SSB chat and we agreed to head out at 0730.
  • The exit from the Lake Worth Inlet was uneventful -- the best kind. Once clear I set a course to allow Onward to track 106º over the ground heading for West End. Then I noticed a freighter that had been anchored offshore as we came in last night seemed to be getting closer faster than I'd expect. So I took a closer look and saw that it had weighed anchor and was heading in on a parallel course just S of mine -- so I decided to head further N just to give greater clearance.
  • As we proceeded the winds picked up and soon we were seeing > 20 kts apparent. Waves were about 3' with an occasional larger peak but with short intervals of about 4 sec. Onward handled it well but it made for an "energetic" crossing. After about an hour I looked at the option of heading for the Memory Rock passage onto the banks and thence to Mangrove Cay for the night. This provided an almost broad reach and a shorter distance to get into more benign waters. I discussed this with the Beckonings and they opted to make the change so we headed off in the new direction. This eased conditions a good deal. However there were still those pesky seventh or ninth waves which were peaky and tended to cause the boat to yaw a bit. Onward and I did fine as did Beckoning but Don and to a lesser extent Mary Kay had discomfort. But we hardy souls persisted and at about 1430 we crossed onto the Little Baks and into calm waters. We continued on and anchored in the lee of Mangrove Cay at about 1800.
  • I awarded myself for making the 6th eastward crossing of the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas by cooking myself a great meatballs and spaghetti diner. Delish! Then I crashed.

11 Dec 12; Tuesday; Mangrove Cay to Green Turtle Cay
  • I was awake at 0515. I have to adjust for not having my trusty iPhone to provide my alarm backup because I won't be using it here in the Bahamas. The early morning sky was lit by lightning to the far N. Chris Parker described strong squalls happening up there but said today would be great for moving into the Sea of Abaco with continued SSE to S winds. We were underway by 0730 motorsailing under both genoa and main. I laid out a route and it indicated we could get to Green Turtle Cay by the end of the day. Mary Kay and Don wanted to visit the Green Turtle Club because they have a connection to the owner through friends back in Maryland. So we decided to motorsail instead of sail and as a consequence averaged between 8 and 9 kts SOG.
  • I decided to bake almond biscotti while underway. The challenge turned out to be keeping the biscotti on the cookie sheets lined with slippery parchment paper while trying to put them on the counter top which was sloping down hill. A bit of blue language there. But, with just a bit more mess than usual, I got it done. Delish.
  • As Onward approached Little Abaco and the first BTC cell tower came into view, I tried to make a call only to get a recording that "there was a problem with my account" and that I needed to call BTC from another phone. I had been afraid of this. I learned that as of 1 Dec, BTC was requiring all cell phone accounts to be registered at a local office with a photo ID. The fact that I'd originally done this in 2007 apparently didn't count. I had been trying to check on the availability of the customs and immigration service at Green Turtle as I knew there might be a problem. i eventually found where I and carefully stored my satphone and was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked. The Globalstar satellite constellation must have improved substantially since April because I was able to get a link immediately. I got through to the Green Turtle Club and made reservations for us. Then I talked to the C&I officer a bit later. Apparently the GTC had contacted her and she said she would be in Marsh Harbour in the morning but would be back at her office at 1400 when we could come in.
  • We finished the sleighride down the Sea of Abaco at Green Turtle Cay where we had almost high tide to make the entrance into White Sound. We were soon tied up at the T-head at the Green Turtle Club. Wow. What a great crossing!
  • We checked in. Next came a much needed and enjoyed shower before heading over to the restaurant for a delicious dinner. I had the crispy grouper with Thai noodles. Delish! They are still running their "docking for dollars" deal: $1.50 / ft but any restaurant / bar charges are offset to that limit. Not hard to do.

12 Dec 12; Wednesday; Green Turtle Cay
  • A beautiful, sunny, Bahamas day greeted me. Good to be back here!
  • I joined the Beckonings and headed off for breakfast. There we joined the Mandalays for a friendly breakfast chat over the delicious food.
  • I asked the manager, Michael, to help me to see if my BTC cell phone could be reactivated. He called the BTC office at Treasure Cay and the representative said her computer system had no record of my two Bahamian cell phone numbers nor of the serial numbers for my two SIM cards. There was also no record of what happened to the $50 I had in my pre-paid account. Bizarre as I had put $5 on the card in Nov to assure that it was still active. The representative said she put in a query to BTC technical staff to find out what is going on and would call back later.
  • At 1230 we walked into the settlement of New Providence to meet with the Customs & Immigration officer at 1400. It was a long and warm walk and we arrived to learn that the C&I officer was delayed. While waiting, I met the owner of Solitaire I whom I'd heard on the VHF yesterday. It turned out to be the same boat I'd met at West End several years ago. He and his wife Catherine are also friends of Skip and Harriet -- it just took a while for the bit to drop for me to remember Harriet mentioning she had seen them at Isle of Hope.
  • The C&I officer arrived on a late ferry at 1600. There had been some rumors about her being in a bad mood so when I saw her, I led the group in a chorus of "She's a Jolly Good Fellow". That got her smiling and she promised to take care of all of the line of about 10 cruisers. I was the first in line and she was very pleasant but could only give out 90-day visas -- bummer. As she hadn't had time to have lunch I went out and bought her some apple juice to say thanks and help keep her in a good mood for my fellow cruisers. One very obnoxious guy had come barging in the office pushing ahead of Don and Mary Kay as I finished up. I made sure the officer knew that Don and Mary Kay were next and the belligerent SOB stayed out of the way.
  • Now that we were legal we stopped for beers and an introduction of the Beckonings to conch salad and conch fritters. Then we started the long walk home. About a third of the way there, I decided I'd done enough walking and stuck out my thumb at the next golf cart that passed by. A very nice young man who was delivering a cart to Bluff House gave us a ride and we had a great chat about living in the Abacos and FL. Once back at the boat, I was beat and decided to make it an early night.

13 Dec 12; Thursday; Green Turtle Cay
  • I joined the Beckonings for another delicious breakfast at the GTC where we met a couple from Seattle who were on an island-hopping vacation in the Bahamas. We needed to get into New Providence to the BTC office which is open only one day a week now. When I went to launch Venture I found its forward compartment had somehow filled with water! Not sure how this happened; it must have been during the torrential rains we had in FL and I had failed to detect it. Once Venture was launched I set off with Don & Mary Kay. A S wind produced enough chop that I had to stop to get out the spray shield. Once in Black Sound, we tied up at the public pier and walked to the BTC office. A Canadian cruising couple, Norman and Jeanette, whom we had met yesterday at the C&I Office were at the window. They were having the same problem with their phone that I was having with mine. It turns out the fix was rather simple -- and the BTC rep was kind of learning it with us. It seems on 1 Dec 2012, BTC put all the phone numbers and associated SIM cards that had not made a phone call on the network in 30-90 days in an inactive file. Actually it appears they just erased them from the system because the rep here and at Treasure Cay could not find any record of them. However, there is a simple way to resurrect them. BTC came out with a special new $5 top up card with a scratch-off hidden 12-digit code number. When the non-working SIM / phone is turned on and the instructions on the card are followed to enter the code number, the SIM / phone is brought back to life with $5 in pre-paid service on it. It sounds simple but it took about 2 hours to get this done. After Norman had gotten his phone fixed, we let some local residence jump ahead to just pay their phone bills. Then she tackled my phone. The rep quickly reactivated my voice phone. Then we put the new SIM I'd bought for the Novatel MiFi 2372 I bought for data service in my voice phone, entered a magic 12-digit code, and Whola, I had a second working SIM. Mary Kay was quickly able to buy a new cell phone and SIM card and we were done! The BTC rep was so helpful that I went out and bought her a can of cold juice to say thanks.
  • Next we were off to the Blue Bee Bar where I introduced Don & Mary Kay to Goombay Smashes. That ritual done we went on a walking tour until we felt like lunch. We had a delicious lunch -- I had a blackened Mahi wrap. Unfortunately, we enjoyed ourselves so much we didn't pay attention to the cold front moving in and we found ourselves confronted by a rain squall. I had neglected to pack a rain jacket and a short walk had me damp enough we stopped to have a coffee in the dry. The owner gave me a trash bag that I made into a poncho and we headed back to Venture. Along the way, Mary Kay ran into a woman she had met who was staying at the GTC who offered us a ride back. Mary Kay took the golf cart and Don and I, hardy souls (fools?), took Venture back. It was a very fast trip and we were soon back at the GTC. I left my soaking wet clothes in the cockpit and went below for a nice dry towel. How sweet it was!
  • The GTS's internet was still not functioning so I got a week's service on Bahamas WiMax which works quite well. I was able to put more $ on my phone. I will have to track down where the ~ $40 that was on my number on 30 Nov went to on 1 Dec. I tried to add more $ to the data SIM but ran into the Catch 22: I need to register with customer service to be able to do this! Baaah! I spent a couple of hours working out how to set up the MiFi 2372 so, when I do get enough $ on the SIM card I can activate the data mode. A windmill to take on tomorrow.

14 Dec 12; Friday; Green Turtle Cay
  • The morning brought sun with partly cloudy skies and brief rain squalls. I had breakfast aboard but wandered over to the restaurant to join the Beckonings as they finished breakfast. Next I went to the marina office and called BTC at Treasure Island and found out I had to physically take the data SIM card and a photo ID to a BTC office to "register" it for the EZTopUp service via the internet. They tried again to find out where my missing $40 - 50 went to but could not find a record and suggested I come in to the office for that too. Then I tried to get $ put on my BTC data SIM card by the marina office. They had a problem with their EZTopUp access code and could only add $13 - less than the $30 I needed to get a month of data service. They promised to add more when BTC fixed their problem. We'll see.
  • I had to put epoxy in the screw holes for the forward hinge on the freezer lid as they had worked loose from the fiberglass countertop from al the use it gets. Then I decided to work on varnishing the plywood panels I'd managed to cut before leaving Vero Beach. These include: a new seat top for the dinghy, fiddles for the dry storage locker in my stateroom, and floor panels to put in the #1 and #3 bilge compartments for additional storage.
  • With the first coat done, I joined the Beckonings for lunch and enjoyed the great club sandwich they do here. After lunch I moved on to the second coat of varnish. This went well until, nearing the end, I decided to walk down the old boat ramp on shore where I had been working to wash off the mud I'd gotten on my left Croc. I didn't see the slippery ooze covering the ramp and fell on my butt -- luckily without hurting myself but covered with slime on my left side. I managed to clean myself up enough at the fish cleaning station to then gather up my newly varnished panels and head back to Onward.
  • Back aboard, I decided to rest and checked the news on the iPad. A mistake. The first thing I encountered was the slaughter of children at the Newtown CT elementary school. How sick I am of this country's crazy attitude that allows automatic and semi-automatic weapons to get into the hands of crazy people. God comfort all those devastated parents.
  • Don't give me any that crazy NRA BS! I've handled guns all my life; served in the Army; spent > 25 years as a "ballistician" at the US Army Ballistics Research Laboratory handling more weapons than most people in the world -- and I am firmly convinced that rampant availability of automatic and semi-automatic weapons has no place in ANY civil society.
  • I installed the new nicely varnished top on Venture's cooler/seat. Nice.
  • I joined the Beckonings for dinner and couldn't bring myself to ruin their day by informing them of the massacre at Newtown CT.

15 Dec 12; Saturday; Green Turtle Cay
  • A nice sunny morning came with the dawn.
  • Today was dinghy cleaning day. I brought it over to the beach to work on it. First item of the day was to use my new portable angle grinder with a cut off blade to trim off the excess treads of the new U-bolts I had installed on the transom this summer. That went well. What a neat tool to have aboard. My thanks to Polar Pacer for showing me the utility of it.
  • I then scrubbed out the inside of the dinghy -- it really looks nice when it is clean! Harriet Hardy told me how well that spray shower cleaner with mold cleaner worked on the dinghy. I bought some and sprayed the exterior of Venture while I was at Vero. Today I used what was left to do the inside. Nice.
  • While there, one of the club's guests came over and we talked for a while while I worked. He was from Chicago and was in the area looking for a home to buy. He had retired recently as CEO of a family corporation and was enjoying life.
  • In the afternoon the Beckonings joined me and we Ventured into New Providence to do some shopping. Rain squalls moved in but this time I was prepared. After a bit of time in the sleepy town, we headed back to clean up for dinner.
  • Tonight the Green Turtle Club had a program of Christmas Carols at 1830. Singers from two local churches sang with a keyboardist and electric guitarist. We all joined in a singalong of carols. Don & Mary Kay put on a bit of a dance exhibit to top it off. Great Fun!
  • Adam, the owner of the GTC, invited us to join him for dinner. What ensued was a wonderful evening. Onward, the Beckonings and the Mandalays were joined by a couple who have had a home on the island since the 70s. Adam regaled us with stories about the early days of Ocean City Maryland where his family had been pioneers. A great evening of good food, good wine and camaraderie!

16 Dec 12; Sunday; Green Turtle Cay to Hope Town
  • After the morning ritual of looking at weather data, I read a couple of news summaries of the Newtown massacre -- and broke out into uncontrollable sobbing as I thought of the loss of all those beautiful little children and the adults who tried to protect them. Not a good way to start a day.
  • I was out early getting Onward ready to depart and by 0900 had taken on water, settled up the accounts and departed the pier. Beckoning followed shortly. On the Sea of Abaco, we found winds E at ~ 15 kts. The wind had been calming down and clocking from the N overnight and we had hopes conditions at the Whale would allow a passage. We needed a high tide to get out of White Sound and at least a mid-tide to get into Hope Town. We had hoped to leave close to 0800 but even with the delay it looked like we would get to Hope Town by 1330 and have ~ 1.5' of tide.
  • Another boat, Papa Jovial, had departed earlier than us and they radioed back that the conditions were good for the Whale so we pressed on. With the winds E at 15 + kts and increasing, I had been concerned that conditions might be too rough. However there were just long period ocean swells and ~ 4 - 5' which made for a very comfortable transit. As always the swells breaking on Whale Cay lend a bit of drama to the passage. A huge roll-on roll-off barge is up on the reef on the E end of Loggerhead Channel.
  • While out in the ocean, I turned on the macerator pump to empty my holding tank only to have the breaker flip off. I thought it might just be a startup issue but several attempts to get it running didn't work. The system has worked flawlessly and now there is a problem. Oh joy!
  • Once around the Whale we made > 7 kts motorsailing with just the main. Onward arrived at the Hope Town channel at 1330 with Beckoning following along behind. Just before reaching the final turn into the harbor, a ferry came out. I stayed in the center of the channel and let him go around me. Then I got focused on finding a mooring. Just as I was about to pick up the mooring I got a VHF call from Beckoning that they had grounded. As they had been right behind me, I thought they had grounded on the small shoal just inside the harbor and I turned to see but they weren't there. It turned out they had grounded on the outer end of the entrance channel. Don had gone toward the red side to allow that same ferry to pass and this had caused Beckoning to ground on the bump on that side of the channel.
  • There was drama aboard Onward as I went to pick up the mooring. The > 15 kt wind made it a challenge to get close enough to the mooring and not drift away in the time it took me to walk forward to the bow. I just missed the first try. On the second, I snagged the pennant but couldn't get the hook of the boat pole to get a good grab on the loop. A second try was successful but in the interval the wind got the bow and I couldn't pull it in with the boat hook. The boat behind me came out in his dinghy to help. I gave him my mooring hook to just put on the pennant but when the boat pole fell in and he started fishing it out instead of clipping me on. Then he drooped the hook. Meanwhile the wind was carrying me down on his boat so I had to rush back to the helm to do an emergency backdown to get clear. In the meantime the line for the mooring hook had come loose and went overboard! The third time was the charm and with the help of the samaritan in the dingy, Onward got moored.
  • Then I raced back to launch Venture to go help Beckoning. They were hard aground and Venture had no luck in pushing them off. So, we gave up, put down the anchor and some chain, and headed off to have a drink in Hope Town. After a tour around the harbor we went over to the new pool bar and restaurant at Hope Town Marina where we had a nice lunch .
  • I brought Don & Mary Kay back to Beckoning. I fetched my camera to take pictures and took soundings so they would know how to move off the shoal as the tide came in. Then I returned to Onward for a nap. At 2015, I headed back out in Venture to find Beckoning just getting off the shoal. I led the way down the channel and to the mooring we had reserved with a fender earlier. The mooring process was uneventful and we bid each other a tired good night.

17 Dec 12; Monday; Hope Town
  • I'm still in the catch-up mode. My efficiency in getting tasks done has been about 50% since St. Augustine but it is slowly coming back. I'm looking forward to just hanging out in this beautiful place until after Christmas before moving S.
  • I was reasonably productive this morning: updated my website, updated the Bahamas Cruisers Guide website; finished writing and emailed off Catalina Tech Note 4 for December. I also spent a bit of time trying to get my new Novatel MiFi 2372 to connect to the BTC cellular data service -- no joy. I guess I'll have to go to a BTC office to try to work it out. In the midst of this, I happened to look out and saw a tanker come into the harbor. At >100' length and 20' beam, it was impressive to see it make the sharp turns to get through the narrow harbor entrance and then make a 180º turn to dock at the Lighthouse Marina's fuel pier.
  • I discovered the motor of the macerator pump is making no effort to turn. There could be a bad jam (unlikely) or it's given up the ghost. I'll have to build up the energy to deal with this.
  • In late morning I decided to go look for the Grab N Go Hook that got carried away when I was picking up the mooring. I got out my looky-bucket and made a number of passes with the wind carrying Venture across the mooring field. My friend who was trying to help at the time the hook went walkabout came out with his looky-bucket and assisted. We thought we had it and he began to grapple for it when we realized we'd snagged a cable of some kind. I had to run a trip line from Venture to get it unhooked. I eventually found what appeared to be the line attached to the hook and I marked it with a weight and float on a line. Then I was beat and headed back to Onward.
  • I took a refreshing shower and then road in to Captain Jack's with the Beckonings for lunch. After a nice lunch, we took a long walk around Hope Town to orient Don & Mary Kay. We found that the BTC office was only open on Tuesdays -- so that set our task for tomorrow. We returned to the boats with the intention of returning to Captain Jacks for Tuesday night bingo.
  • Sometime in late afternoon, Mandalay came in and picked up a mooring nearby.
  • A long nap put paid to the plan to go in to Bingo with the Beckonings and we decided to have a quiet night aboard. I enjoyed the quiet time reading.

18 Dec 12; Tuesday; Hope Town
  • Mary Kay and I headed in to the BTC office at ~1000 while Don caught up on his email. When we got there, the sign on the door said Closed and I was about to go away when I decided to peek in the door. I saw someone cleaning and knocked on the door. It turns out the office was open! Mary Kay and I managed to get our SIM cards registered so we could set up the EZ-Top Up service via the internet. Then we worked on getting my Novatel MiFi 2372 to connect to the network. I made some changes to the connect profile -- totally different from available guidance; but it still did not work. So the BTC rep gave me the number for the help desk in Nassau. She also tried to find out what happened to the ~$50 that disappeared from my prepaid account on 1 December. No joy so it went on the list to talk to the Nassau help desk about.
  • We then headed over to the Hope Town Marina to pay for the moorings. That done, they allowed me to use the phone line to talk to the BTC Nassau help desk. They told me to remove the battery and SIM from the unit for 5 minutes and then reinstall and restart. I did and Voila I was able to connect to the internet! As for the missing $, I was given the email address of a manager who would look into it.
  • While in the office, we got to meet a chocolate lab, Samantha, that dives for conch! Her owner, Alice, took us on on a pier to watch a demo. It was marvelous to see this dog dive down > 6' to bring up a huge conch and swim it in to the beach. Neat!
  • After saying hello to the Mandalays, we picked up Don and went into town for lunch. Once aboard I decided it was nap time. For some reason I seem to need naps more than usual -- maybe I'm still catching up from the trip S. In late afternoon I went out in Venture to attempt to locate my lost Grab N Go hook and line. No joy. I think I'm going to have to don my wetsuit and snorkel in order to do a better job of covering the large area where it could have ended up.
  • I joined the Beckonings and the Mandalays at Captain Jack's for dinner. At dinner we got to meet Lorraine and Bob on Scaramouche who are staying at Hope Town Marina. I had a great opportunity to take some photos of the Christmas lights on the lighthouse from Captain Jack's pier before heading back to the boat.

19 Dec 12; Wednesday; Hope Town
  • I spent the morning cleaning and organizing.
  • Then I discovered that my Novatel MiFi 2372 which had been successfully connected to the BTC cellular internet yesterday would not connect today. There is still something strange crawling around that I'll have to get to the bottom of.
  • After lunch I donned my wetsuit and spent a couple of hours snorkeling around Onward trying to find my missing Grab N Go hook and lanyard. I found all sorts of other stuff but not the hook. I expanded the search area beyond the path traveled by Onward when the hook was lost as I worked to pick up the mooring. So, I've given up and will add it to my very long list of very stupid mistakes I've made in spite of knowing what I should have done to prevent them (a list too long to contemplate). I immediately took a hot shower and climbed into bed for a 2 hour nap.
  • At 1730 the Beckonings fetched me and we went into town and joined the annual Christmas caroling. I did this last year and had a good deal of fun. The pick-up group is a mixture of locals, vacation renters, and boaters. Many of the carols sung have a set of words that are substantially different from the traditional. I took the opportunity to take photos of the many nice Christmas light displays. The fun was capped off by a treat of chicken souse and Johnny cake. Delish. To top it off we went back to Wine Down Sip Sip, a nice bar / wine bar that we had sung a carol at and enjoyed a pleasant couple of beers and a chat.

20 Dec 12; Thursday; Hope Town
  • I phoned the Moondancers in Vero and learned that Skip's hand is making progress. They are preparing for the crossing once Skip fixes his paw. I then called West Marine and ordered replacements for my lost Grab N Go hook and the sick macerator pump.
  • At 0930 the Mandalays led a dinghy expedition S along the W shore of of Elbow Cay down to Tahiti Beach and then to Lubbers Quarters for lunch. Along the way, we passed a small point that has a delightful bronze statue of a young girl doing a somersault.
  • We spent some time combing Tahiti beach, a beautiful stretch of sand and palms at the very SW tip of Elbow Cay on Tiloo Cut. The Beckonings got one of their first good chances to comb a Bahamian beach. There are some lovely homes along this area of the cay.
  • We then headed over to Lubbers Quarters and made out first stop at the pier of Cracker P's. There we found Linda an artist who owns the restaurant & bar with her husband Patrick as she was on the pier repainting their sign. They reopen on Saturday 22 December.
  • Next we moved on to the next pier only ~ 100 yds to the S for Lubbers Landing where we found the restaurant & bar open. This is a beautifully laid out and decorated place. "D" who ran the bar & grill, was delightful and it didn't take her much to convince me I had to have a margarita made with fresh lime juice -- the best margarita I've had in a long time. I ordered an Island Burger made from ground yellowfin tuna and spices and grilled. While waiting for the lunch to be cooked we toured their small Eco Resort. This was composed of three cabanas built into the greenery and interconnected with a raised wooden walkway. Each unit is a nicely decorated efficiency. Lunch was served and it was delicious -- well worth the trip S.
  • I had taken care to put the battery for my camera in the charger this morning. But I must have not seated it properly because it died before I could take all the photos I wanted at Lubbers Landing.
  • The three dinghies next headed back N and made a side trip into White Sound where we tied up at the Abaco Inn pier and went up to the pool deck to have some desert. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and just lying out on one of the beach recliners was calling me. But that had to be delayed until after the dinghy ride back to the harbor.
  • Back aboard Onward, I found the cockpit nice and sunny so I took a nice nap in the sun and worked on updating my tan. When I came back to the real world, I went to check my email and found that my week's subscription to Bahamas WiMax had expired -- wow time flies. I then decided to use my new MiFi 2372 only to find that the network wouldn't let me connect. Baah!
  • I cooked myself dinner aboard to help make room in the freezer and then read myself to sleep with the new book on the chemistry of cooking I bought in Fernandina Beach.

21 Dec 12; Friday; Hope Town
  • This morning, while the coffee was brewing, I turned on the MiFi 2372 figuring I'd struggle with it for awhile. But, to my great surprise, it connected immediately! All I know is there must be something squirrelly with the BTC network. But I was able to use it to get email, check the news, upload website changes, and top up my voice cell phone. And it continued to work well all day with a couple of restarts needed. To improve reception, I put the MiFi into a waterproof plastic box once it was charged and connected to the network. I then hung the box from the dodger in the cockpit. We'll see…
  • At mid day the promised strong cold front came roaring through and it went from warm, sunny skies with winds < 15 kts from the S to cold, rainy, squally with winds > 25 kts from the NW. In late afternoon, I went ashore with the Beckonings once the skies were again sunny. We wanted to check out the framers maker that gathers on the Post Office pier on Fridays. There we purchased some local bake goods. I got a small triple chocolate cake.
  • We then decided to go over to the Hope Town Lodge because we heard they were hosting a Christmas party tonight with free tapas. As we are early we went down to the Reef Bar for a couple of POBs - another tasty rum drink. We watched the waves building and crashing down on the outer reefs. Once the sun went below the rooflines the cold wind dominated and we headed in to the lounge at the Lodge. A charming room with comfortable chairs greeted us and we sat down to await the arrival of the Mandalays and the start of the festivities. I had dressed in shorts and shirtsleeve shirt with my fleece -- fine for when the sun was out but now I was cold. I actually used one of the chair cushions to put over my legs. Then Debra arrived and was nice enough to lend me her jacket for a leg blanket. The Lodge served wonderful tapas and inexpensive beers so people were soon having a fine time. Once the band started to play, Don & Mary Kay headed off to the dance floor. Mary Kay pointed out to me that behind me at the bar there was an amazing number of really long-legged women. Must be something in the water. Once they had sated their dance craving, we headed outside where the wind was still > 20 kts but not quite as cold and made the wet dinghy ride back to the boats. I was soon back aboard Onward in bed wrapped up in a fleece blanket and toasty warm. Nice.

22 Dec 12; Saturday; Hope Town
  • A nice sunny day if a bit windy as the tail end of the cold front moved through. I worked assiduously all morning updating my websites. Around 1130, I headed into town to visit the shops and boutiques. I met up with the Beckonings and we had lunch at the Sugar Shack. There I discovered they sold their ice-cream by weight! So I was able to buy 3 very small scoops of different flavors -- and shared them with my friends. Delish!
  • I had a long chat with daughter Joahna newly returned from Hawaii where she successfully defended her research proposal and completed all other requirements. She is now ABD for her PhD in sociology.
  • I walked over to the ocean side and stopped to visit the new memorial garden and I met Cleona Bacon who is a garden designer in the UK and the force behind it as she was working there. They had made tremendous progress since last year. She told me they are now facing the challenge of raising ~ $15000 to repair the sea wall. The wall which is > 100 years old was severely undermined by hurricane Sandy.
  • After heading back to Onward I enjoyed a bit of a rest and was energized enough to spend 90 min cleaning up the salon and the cockpit as I had invited the Beckonings over for cocktails. Gee looked nice when I was done.
  • We enjoyed a nice cocktail hour just chatting. Then I decided to make us some dinner. During my last foray through Publix, a package of creamy wild rice soup had caught my eye. So I made this and sautéed some thinly sliced chicken sausage and added it. The result was Delish!

23 Dec 12; Sunday; Hope Town
  • This morning I received a video of granddaughter Elena dancing to "We Saw Three Ships" in front of the decorated Christmas tree. How wonderful it is that technology can bring loved ones close even though we are thousands of miles apart. The video wasn't as good as being in LA with Elena but it was close.
  • I spent the afternoon composing my annual photo Christmas card from photos I gathered as I wandered about before the holiday. The BTC 3G network decided to stop working so I couldn't send it out.

24 Dec 12; Monday; Hope Town; Christmas Eve
  • Another beautiful Bahamas day dawned. I went ashore for a walk and to do some shopping in the morning.
  • Today was Mary Kay's birthday so we went to Hope Town Lodge for dinner. We were joined by the Mandalays and by Hank and Trisha from Aventura. A fine dinner and revelry ensued.

25 Dec 12; Tuesday; Hope Town; Christmas
  • Today was a picture-perfect Bahamas day. I invited the Beckonings and the Lucias (Cathy & Paul who crossed with Onward from here to the Exumas last January). So I spent the morning cleaning up and preparing. I baked calzones and pepperoni rolls and experimented with making apple/walnut/cranberry filled bread. The experiment was tasty!
  • From my earliest memories as a child, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have always been filled with lots of people. In RI as a child, my mom's entire family - ten sibs and their families - would come to our house on Christmas Eve as a continuation of a tradition started by my grandfather. So going through the preparations to entertain is very enjoyable for me as it evokes these memories.
  • After noon I Ventured into town where Christmas Mass was held on the waterfront in Jarret Park under the banyan tree. Nice.
  • The Beckonings brought an apple pie, dinner rolls, and carrots. The Lucias brought grilled cornish hens. I made an eye round roast, roast potatoes & onions, and sautéed french style green beans. Prosecco and cabernet helped make the feast more festive. It was a grand time.
  • It was a great day here in paradise. However I miss the days of being with my family…

26 Dec 12; Wednesday; Hope Town; Boxing Day
  • I spent most of the day doing this and thats aboard. I found that the new One+ angle grinder with cutting blade I bought before leaving the US makes cutting 1" SS tubing easy. However cutting exactly square to the length is a trick. I'll have to find a way to hold the cutter fixed and use my hands to move the tubing to do it right.
  • At 1630 we headed into the settlement to watch the annual Christmas golf cart parade. And wonder of wonders in the Bahamas - it started on time. We wander up to Wine Down Sip Sip and stood on the porch with drinks to watch the parade return to the park for the judging. Some of the decorations were really creative. The winner was a cart with 4 women in it who had turned it into a spa and they were all sitting in a bubble bath. We finished the evening with dinner at the Harbour's Edge. On the way back, I paused at Beckoning to help get their wifi booster and router back in operation.

27 Dec 12; Thursday; Hope Town
  • I caught the 0800 ferry to Marsh Harbour with the Beckonings. We spent the day roving around visiting shops and shopping. One of our first stops was at the Living Easy Coffee Shop where we met the owner, Margo Albury. Margo is an entrepreneur who is following in the family tradition for entrepreneurship. Besides the coffee shop she operates a real estate sales and management company. As we got to talk with her we learned she is a talented writer and Mary Kay and I advised her to look into publishing her book of historical stories as an eBook.
  • We stopped for lunch at Wally's and then finished up the day at Maxwells to grocery shop before taking a taxi back to the ferry landing. We had great luck because the 1600 Hope Town ferry was just about to leave. Once back in the harbor and the shopping was aboard, I declared cocktail hour and spent a pleasant evening watching the sunset and catching up with news on my iPad.

28 Dec 12; Friday; Hope Town
  • I spent the morning working on a long-standing round-to-it: putting new hinges on the toilet seat for the forward head. Broken hinges have been a problem from the beginning with this unit. The problems comes from the toilet seat being a handy place to put one's hand on if you've been working on the floor of the head or shower. Because of the geometry, as you push down on your arm to help get up from a kneeling position, the force is at an angle causing the seat to slip off the side of the bowl and over stressing the hinges. The head requires a special size seat and the hinges are very hard to find. On one of my last forays shopping in Baltimore, I had picked up a set of hinges to try and I had recently found them and discovered I could use some of the new components with some of the existing components to fix the problem. Oh joy!
  • That done, I Ventured over to get the Beckonings and we went in to the fundraiser lunch for the local racing boat, the Abaco Rage. There we had a delicious jerk chicken lunch and of course their signature rum drinks. While I got to meet several volunteers and asked for their help in finding someone local to help feed community information to me for the Bahamas Cruisers Guide. We also met a retired Marine, Andy Weddington, who was awaiting the arrival of his wife who is on deployment to Afghanistan to arrive for a short period of leave. He is a painter and we talked a bit about my dabbling. He has a website: .www.weddingtonartgallery.com.
  • After lunch I returned to Onward to get frustrated over network problems. It seems that when I am using the BTC 3G cellular network and it gets busy, the FTP uploads of my websites to not work correctly. I get a message from the software I use that the upload has gone normally. However, when I try to access one of the newly uploaded pages via the internet it comes up blank - none of the data has been transferred. This is not good and very frustrating.
  • After a nap and a shower, I headed in with the Beckonings to Post Office dock where we were picked up by the Seaspray Resort van and taken down to the S end of Elbow Cay where the resort was putting on its 2nd annual Junkanoo festival. The last time I visited here was in 2009 and they have done a lot of work to improve the facility and grounds. We arrived at ~ 1715 and met the Lucias as they were heading back to Hope Town. We were some of the first guests to arrive for the festivities so we had drinks and walked around and then found a comfortable table to sit at. At ~1840 the food service became available and the buffet offered typical Bahamian fare: grilled chicken, grilled fish, or barbecued ribs with sides. Having had chicken for dinner, I opted for the ribs and they were incredible: tender and tasty. About 1830 we took our $15 VIP seats in the viewing area for the Junkanoo "rush" and had a good time chatting with our neighbors. While waiting, I got to meet an talk to the gentleman who was in charge of invigorating

29 Dec 12; Saturday; Hope Town
  • This morning as I was waking up and messing with the computer, the Lucias called to say they had to leave the harbor and go to Marsh Harbour because they were having electoral problems. I volunteered to take a look at the issue to help them work out the best way to handle it before they had to move. Unfortunately, when they bought their Beneteau, the former owner gave them no schematics for their electrical system. It was not clear what their set of battery switched did. It took a bit of experimenting with settings, tracing wires, and probing with my DVM but I finally worked out the basic set up and was able to account for some the strange behavior they had observed. It became clear that while the starter battery showed normal voltage of 12.6 V and appeared to hold its charge over time -- it just couldn't deliver the amps to start. But when the house battery bank was connected with it the engine readily started. For a bit, it looked like the problem might have been due to a loose (-) terminal connection so I cleaned and tightened both cable connections but this did not cure the problem. So there was nothing else to do but try to find a store in Marsh Harbour that had a gel starter battery for sale.
  • As I was about to leave, I remembered Cathy saying their charger wasn't working when they ran their 2 kw Honda generator. So, I decided to take a quick look at this problem and I entered the world of bizarro electronics. Again it was a long session of experimenting with settings, tracing wires, and probing with my DVM. The really bizarre thing was that while the Honda was putting out 128 V AC at its receptacle and this was getting to the plug that went into the boat's shore power inlet, I was only able to find 48 V AC at the big AC breaker panel where the wire from the shore power inlet terminated and also at the input to the charger. I could find nowhere that the "missing" 80 V AC was going! Then while making measurements and tracking wires behind the electrical distribution panels I moved a wire -- and the 128 V appeared! Talk about bizarre. I could find no reason why moving the wire slightly could have had such an effect as there was no evidence of broken insulation or shorting. At no time did any of the breakers in the circuits flip out when the 80 V was missing. So we closed up the panels and then tested that the generator could still get the charger to work. Then I departed so Cathy and Paul could go into Marsh Harbour to get a new starter battery.
  • Back aboard, I ran into problems with the MiFi 2372 and the BTC GSM network not working. I gave up trying to do anything productive and read and ate lunch. The beer with lunch called for a nap.
  • The Lucias came by after their trip to Marsh Harbour with their new battery and invited me over for dinner. The Beckonings invited me over for cocktails so I had a nice social evening. While aboard Lucia, we again verified that the Honda generator would run the charger and all was good. I am still very puzzled and troubled by the bizarre behavior of the "missing AC voltage". I recommended to Paul that he replace the existing panel where the cable to the inlet terminates to get a simpler set up with a good AC D VM / AM.

30 Dec 12; Sunday; Hope Town
  • The forecast cold front came through at about 0200 this morning with rain, squalls, and a shift to the NW. It blew out of the NW in the 20s most of the day. The gods must have aligned the planets because this morning the BTC 3G cellular network was working well. I managed to get myself out of my funk and get some tasks done using my 15-min timer technique for attacking projects that are boring or I just don't feel like doing. That worked well until I sat down to updated end-of-year finances. After a bit, I tried to sync my iPad and for some reason it wouldn't take. Then the cellular network died. That ended my spate of productivity and I just had lunch and read. In mid-afternoon, I backed up my laptop and then the iPad synch took. I was able to load some new eBooks I bought.
  • Cathy texted me that Lucia's power situation was happily stable and they were planning to head S with us. As of this morning there promises to be a light weather period fro Wednesday through Saturday that should allow us to move from Abaco to Current Cut to Cape Eleuthera, to Warderick Wells. Unfortunately Chris Parker is still on vacation until the 2nd. I always like to chat over my crossing plans just to be sure there's nothing hiding in the data that I'm missing.
  • Don and Mary Kay came by and invited me over for a chili diner so that brightened up the evening. I had a delicious meal with them and then we watched the movie "Margin Call" -- a take on the 2008 financial network melt down beginning. The message: the financial market today is a house of cards - a big game - with people making incredible salaries without really knowing much about what it is they are doing and in the process letting their faulty system get out of control and destroy them. A real confidence builder….
  • There was to be fireworks from a barge off Lubbers Quarters tonight but with the winds howling in the 15 + kt range, I'm not sure it happened.

31 Dec 12; Monday; Hope Town
  • A gray overcast morning greeted me. I managed to talk to Ed Beliki about the crossing weather for Wednesday and he agreed it should be good. Unfortunately the BTC cellular network was not working this morning and I couldn't download updated GRIBs.
  • The network eventually came up and the GRIBs and synoptics all looked good for a crossing to Eleuthera and then the Exuma Wednesday.
  • The morning became busy. First I whipped up a batch of pepper biscotti dough. Then Don & Mary Kay came aboard and we moved Onward over to the fuel pier to take on water and diesel. That went fairly easily and I basked in the luxury of having two experienced people to help me do these chores that I normally handle alone --- Nice.
  • We put Onward back on its mooring and then movers Beckoning over to the fuel pier. They closed down for lunch and to do their annual audit so several small boats that beat us in to the pier left because they could get no service. This left he pier open for Beckoning to make a nice smooth approach. We then filled the water tanks and when they reopened they took on diesel. As we were departing the pier which required Beckoning to back up into a gap between the T-head and the shore one of the most stupid power boater I've ever met decides to cut in front of Beckoning's bow to get to the fuel pier. This inspire of us yelling and waving him off and telling him to keep clear as we were maneuvering out of the thight spent. He just missed the bow. But avoiding his stupidity made Don have to turn just enough to starboard that Bekoning grounded on the edge of the sand bar we were trying to avoid. We got off without trauma and soon had Beckoning back on its mooring. I was beat from all this and took a nap in preparation for New Years Eve.
  • We went over to the Hope Town Inn & Marina for dinner. They have only their outdoor patio for dining and the windbreak was not yet in place where our table was. So it was a chilly evening made tolerable when they were able to get a gas heater going. We had a nice time with the Mandalays Bob from Scaramouche, David from a motor cat, and Ted and Dina on a sloop from Annapolis. The dinner was delicious but the service was slow as they are newly in operation and learning how to handle large crowds.
  • We returned to the boats before midnight. I was chilled and tired so I climbed in bed -- forgetting about the fireworks display I was to watch. I ended up listening to it. Nice.