Onward’s Cruise Journal 2013
Cruise in the Bahamas

Updated: 14 April 2013

March 2013

1 Mar 13; Friday; George Town

  • An extremely calm morning followed a calm night. A significant front was due to rear its head starting Saturday but I decided to stay where I'm anchored off of Black Rock. There is a tradeoff: leave a well-set anchor in place and ride out the short period of bad weather, or move somewhere with better protection but likely has more boats with unseasoned anchor sets.

2 Mar 13; Saturday; George Town
  • I tried an experiment and baked a stromboli with cheese, ham, spinach, and pepperoni. I need to work on my spiraling technique but it came out looking really nice. I was off at 0830 for Pipe Dream to crew in the Around Stocking Island Race. Don & Mary Katy had to bow out because of the high winds forecast late in the day would be a challenge for his healing R arm. So Jim, Sue and I were the crew. Since I'm used to racing Onward single handed, it was nice to be racing Pipe Dream with the three crew. Jim has a colorful star pattern on his genoa and when we unfurled it at the start of the race, it created a lot of talk as spinnakers were not allowed. But since it was just a genoa, if a large one cut for reaching and running. The winds were NE at ~ 10 to 15 kts and freshened as the race went on. After the start off of Chan n Chill, we headed S to take the cut out to the Sound and then headed N -- the opposite of the race last year where we started N. We had fun even if a fully cruising loaded C470 is not going to compete with the lighter boats under this relatively light wind conditions. We sailed a pleasant race and had just crossed the finish line then picked up the anchor chain when the promised front came through and winds jumped ~ 10 kts.
  • We headed over to St. Francis without much delay to get ahead of the bad weather and this proved to be smart. We were the first ashore and dry. The storm picked up with heavy rain and for a while it looked like they might cancel the party. The hardy folks prevailed and it went on. We were able to snag a nice warm inside table and enjoyed the festivities. Pipe Dream just missed a trophy by 1 second of corrected time but won a drawing and i got a race hat. It was a cold wet ride back to Onward.

3 Mar 13; Sunday; George Town
  • I was moving slow this morning. I discovered when I got aboard last night that I'd forgotten to turn off the fresh water pump circuit breaker when I'd filled my water bottle before heading over to the race. So, the leaky pump emptied about 20 gal of water left in the tank and then the pump died. This morning I tried to resurrect it but found the wires connecting to one of the brushes were broken and I had no way to repair that. So I dug around in my McGyver stores and located the original pump whose pressure switch had failed. I just swapped the pumps and was back in business with running water. It was a cold overcast day with intermittent rain and I just hibernated and read.

4 Mar 13; Monday; George Town
  • Today was a bit warmer and sunnier. I got energized to clean up after my pump work yesterday. Then I McGyvered a fix for the broken shift lever on the outboard. The Ariels invited me to go with them to lunch. I installed the repaired shift lever then took advantage of the working water pump to shower before heading off to get the Ariels and go in to Chat & Chill for lunch. There I found my missing blue Crock that had gone walkabout on Saturday!
  • After lunch, I dropped the Ariels off and then headed over to say hello to the Southerlys. I was rewarded by an invitation to a Nosh party on Wednesday. Then I headed over to Pipe Dream to return the LED flash light Jim had loaned me on Saturday. He took me through the use of RayTech Navigatior to convert waypoint files back and forth to Excel files. Amazing his system works -- mine doesn't. Strange.
  • At 1830 I showed up at Ariel to enjoy a shrimp curry prepared by Laureen. Then I introduced them to Downton Abbey and we enjoyed the first episode.

5 Mar 13; Tuesday; George Town
  • A sunny calm day and I took advantage of it to Venture off to town to do laundry. I called Barenki Wash that is located S of town and was picked up along with my laundry and delivered to the nice clean, bright laundry with 20 washers and 16 driers and good internet. Loads were only $2.50 each. I got a ride back with Ricardo and put my laundry, safely packaged in garbage bags. I then ran errands and had lunch before returning to Onward. I spent the rest of the day preparing for the arrival of my guests.
  • Ed and Tina managed to get out of DC before the airports got shut down by the approaching snow storm.

6 Mar 13; Wednesday; George Town
  • I planned to have until ~ 1700 to complete my boat leaning tasks. I got an early email from Ed saying they had made an early flight so they would arrive 4 hours early. Ah well. Karma is karma, Onward was clean enough.
  • I had made arrangements for the taxi and water taxi and at ~ 1530, my guests arrived. We had a fine time with our reunion. I gave Tina and Ed some time to rest and clean up before we headed over to Southerly for cocktail hour where we had another grand time.

7 Mar 13; Thursday; George Town
  • Before 0800 we headed off to town to do errands. I went to Immigration and managed to get my visa extended. It always seems to be a challenge to get the Immigration officer here to make the extension. But it got done. We then did some shopping for fresh vegetables and a few other things.
  • We Ventured over to Hamburger Beach and Big D's for lunch and then hiked up to the Monument. There has been so much rain that the trails were hard to discern so we couldn't find the alternate trail back to the beach.
  • We headed over to Chat n Chill early and managed to beat the rush to get dinner and beers. Then we enjoyed the wrap-up of the Regatta festivities before heading home to Onward.

8 Mar 13; Friday; George Town to Thompson Bay, Long Island
  • At 0700 I was underway in Venture to fill two water jerrycans in town. I also sounded the depth of the channel to the Exuma Yacht Club dock where I had planned to go in for water. I found a controlling depth of 7.3' at one point. With less than 1.5' left on a falling tide I decided that it was not a good time to take Onward in.
  • After putting the water jugs aboard, Ed & I secured Venture on the davits, raised anchor and set off for Long Island. Ariel joined us. Once out of the cut, we were able to sail most of the way to Indian Head Point although the NE wind was fluky. We anchored in Thompson Bay near Ariel which had pulled ahead using his giant drifter (and half Onward's displacement). The crew all enjoyed a nice warm shower before Venturing off to Island Breeze Resort for their Firday cocktail hour. We met many cruising friends there and had a grand time until just after sunset when we decided to head back to Onward.
  • I invited the Ariels over and we enjoyed a leisurely dinner of angel hair pasta with sausage and pine nuts in olive oil and spices. We finished that up with cookies, chocolate, and a thorough sampling of Onward's liquor cabinet.

9 Mar 13; Saturday; Thompson Bay, Long Island
  • Today my internal clutches were slipping and I couldn't seem to get much traction -- I seemed to me moving in slow motion. I was up at about 0515 and started out supervising the Steward as he cleaned up after last night's festivities. Ed joined me to listen to Chris Parker and after breakfast, we Ventured over to shore to take a walk. We went off looking for the trail N of Cub Thompson Bay that led E to the ocean beach but we could not find it. There has been a lot of rain and perhaps it has been overgrown from lack of use. Ed and Tina walked S along the road to the settlement while I took Venture around to the nearby pier. As I walked from the fisherman's pier to the road, I came by the family's home and I stopped to talk to the woman who was caring for the beautiful garden. I met Ed and Tina at the stores and we did some grocery shopping before heading back to Venture and thence Onward.
  • Once aboard, I needed a morning nap. That done, I made chicken & turkey breast salad for lunch. We enjoyed this with the dinner rolls I made yesterday. While I cleaned up the galley, Ed and Tina cleaned and polished in the cockpit. Nice.

10 Mar 13; Sunday; Thompson Bay
  • A bit of a lazy day, Island Breeze and most of Long Island is closed on Sundays. About 1100, we packed a lunch and Ventured into Island Breeze and were met by the Ariels. We were pleased to find Hardings Groceries open and went in to have a pre-lunch dessert: an ice-cream bar (very small, expensive, but tasty). We hiked E along the road next to Hardings and at the beach, we walked S. I've promised myself not to bother with the beach wrack looking for sea beans but to enjoy the surrounding beauty. This held for the walk to the first headland S where we had to venture away from the shore to a road that took us around the headland. Soon after stepping on the next beach, I found a hamburger bean! Whenever I've walked beaches with Harriet and Skip Hardy, I am always astounded that Harriet finds a hamburger bean while next to me -- and she always claims they are out in the open and not in the wrack. Well I found this one just sitting on the sand. There went my resolve about not gleaning the beach wrack. We hiked for quite a ways S along the beach and we must have been the first cruisers to come here in a long time because I found 2 more hamburger beans and two heart beans.
  • We had our lunch while seated on a rock outcrop and then started our way back to town. Once aboard, my legs had had it and called for an immediate nap. Upon revival, I made colored rotelli with squash, tomatoes, and lobster tail grilled by Ed with olive oil and spices. Delish.

11 Mar 13; Monday; Thompson Bay
  • Ed arranged for a rental car and we Ventured in to pick it up at Island Breeze. We headed S and our first stop was to find gas for the car. That done we went on to Deans Blue Hole. There we found a memorial plaque had been installed since my last visit last year. It had the names of three women aged 14, 40 and 40 who had the same date of death four years ago. There was no other information so I assume their depths were associated with the Blue Hole.
  • When we climbed the escarpment to look down on the Blue Hole we say hugh swells being swept in from the NE. They are the remnants of a big storm that had raged in the N Atlantic last week. The resultant swells, > 10', had caused us to change our original plans to go out to Conception Island. We got to watch a free diver has he prepared the platform for a dive. At the beach level, I got to talk with a young man and woman who "get out of the office" by going around the world to free dive. The young woman had just done a 50 m free dive in Egypt and was planning to do another here. Why? Because of the state of calmness one must achieve to be able to do it and the level of conditioning it is necessary to maintain.
  • We next stopped at Clarence Town where we found they were using cubes of limestone to build a sturdy sea wall around the exposed E side of the marina. Then we were off for lunch at Rowdy Boys Bar & Grill where we probably ate too much because we were starved. There were two Class C racing sloops out in the yard awaiting the Long Island Regatta.
  • After lunch we headed to the SW tip of the island where I showed Ed and Tina the beautiful beach I'd discovered last year. Unfortunately the squalls arrived with us bringing substantial rain. So, we journeyed back to Island Breeze to turn in the car.

12 Mar 13; Tuesday; Thompson Bay to George Town
  • Chris Parker confirmed that large swells and adverse winds put an end to our plan to go out to Conception. So about 0830, Onward headed back to George Town. Once out at Indian Head Point, we were able to sail at 4 to 6 kts all the way back to the cut into the harbor. There we found those large swells, > 8' here. But, they had a long period and that made the entrance across the cut uneventful. Once we turned N, it was a bit off-putting to see large breakers close to the channel has we paralleled the S reef on our way N. We sailed in to anchor at ~ 1530 a few feet away from where the anchor had been set before we departed last Friday.

13 Mar 13; Wednesday; George Town
  • After a morning doing this-n-thats, we Ventured into town to have lunch on the deck at Exuma Yacht Club. The chef here used to run the restaurant at Sampson Cay the previous two seasons.

14 Mar 13; Thursday; George Town
  • The cold front came through just before dawn and I was awoken by the wind and rain so I went out to the cockpit to check on things and found all was well. The squalls were mild and Onward enjoyed the washdown.
  • After lunch, I stayed aboard to write a Catalina Mainsheet Tech Note article while Ed & Tina Ventured off to explore the S end of Great Exuma.

15 Mar 13; Friday; George Town
  • We had planned to rent a car and explore the islands but due to the Heritage Festival, there were none to be had so we spent a quiet morning doing some boat chores. One of these was to attempt to get the SailRight sewing machine to stop fraying the thread after only a few stitches. Ed fixed the tensioning device which had never had much adjustment since I got it. Tina discovered a very rough surface on the shuttle hook. It had apparently been hit with a bent needle several times. I ground off the burrs and polished the surface. We also checked the needle bar height and found it was OK. In spite of all our best efforts, the fraying problem continued so we gave up.
  • About 1130 we loaded Venture with trash bags and headed off to town. We pulled up to the boat ramp at the S side of Lake Victoria and I took our stuff over to the dumpster for recyclables which is new this year and is being operated by Mr. Lymonette who owns the auto repair shop across the street. The trash dumpster has newly been moved here from its former location at the government pier. It had been removed from there due to abuse by the construction crews working on the new government pier. Charlie of Voyager who was the Chairman of this year's Regatta helped negotiate its new installation in this place. We were informed at the Regatta wrap-up that the town has the materials to build a new dingy dock at this location. Last year, materials were bought, delivered, and then stollen overnight. I hope it goes better this year.
  • We took a walk through town to Regatta Park where the Heritage Festival was being held. We spent some time looking at local crafts and both Tina and bought some craft jewelry. We took a long walk around Lake Victoria and before returning to the Festival where we bought food from Cheetas. Here it took more time to make change than it did to fill the food order. We sat in the sun and ate our delicious dinners - I had cracked lobster -- and drank cold beer while we chatted with other cruisers. I had my picture taken with Doc, the bartender at Peace & Plenty who is a local institution having plied his trade for > 40 yrs.
  • Sated and a bit tired from the sun, we Ventured back to Onward -- a slow and wet ride as the ESE wind had picked up a bit. On approaching Onward, I was surprised at how much water was in Venture only to discover the drain plug had some out. Once aboard, it was time for my afternoon siesta.
  • While I napped, energetic Ed went back to working on the sewing machine. He discovered I had the needle 180º out of rotation. Then I noticed the label tape message I'd put on the machine saying how it should be done. Ed watched the SailRight adjustment video but In spite of our efforts, the thread continued to be frayed after a short amount of sewing.
  • Tina whipped up a ratatouille for dinner with the remains of the vegetables we'd bought last week. Then we watched "Skyfall".

16 Mar 13; Saturday; George Town
  • Tina & Ed deserted ship this morning by water taxi. I Ventured into town right after they left with another bag of trash and two water jerrycans to fill. I was the first person at the water point and was soon joined by Tom from Anania. Once back aboard it was time to get things back to single-handed normal.
  • After working diligently all morning, I headed to St. Francis Resort at 1300 to watch the England vs Wales rugby match on TV. This was the first rugby match I'd ever seen and that made it a lot of fun trying to figure out the mysterious goings on I observed. Every once in a while, someone who knew the game would provide a snippet of the rules. In any way, a pleasant way to have lunch and a couple of beers while I worked on the computer. Wales handled England from the beginning so much so it looked like England was just there for Wales to plow through.
  • I had heard High Priority called on the VHF during the day so I made a call to see if this was the former C470 of Ingred and Ron Libitsky -- and it was! Brian and Shannon said they had been looking for me since they bought the boat and now had managed to track me down. We agreed to get together tomorrow.

17 Mar 13; Sunday; George Town
  • A nice lazy day. I was still going through the process of "withdrawal" from having guests aboard. It leaves a real hole when they depart and I need time to readjust.
  • At 1300, I went in to Volleyball Beach to listen to a local gentleman give a talk about local history and folk tales. Shannon and Brian met me there and I invited them over to Onward for dinner.
  • Once back aboard, it was time to change fuel filters. I changed into my mechanics suit and got busy. I must have learned from all the mistakes I've made in the past as I managed to change the starboard Raycor filter and the on-engine final fuel filter without spilling a drop of diesel. Wow. Perhaps this was because I was very prepared to deal with a spill.
  • The High Prioritys arrived at 1730 and I was still drying off from my shower. After cocktails, I grilled some chicken and served it with risotto. We had a relaxing evening together as they filled me in on their experience with High Priority since they purchased it from good friends Ron and Ingred Libitsky.

18 Mar 13; Monday; George Town to Musha Cay
  • I was up at 0500 readying Onward for the trip out to Cat Island. I weighed anchor at 0800 and emerged through a fairly calm Conch Cut at about 0900. The winds which the gribs had forecast giving me a nice close to broad reach had a lot more E in them and the swells while averaging ~ 3' had a number of 6' lumps traveling with them. The combination made the course to Cat Island a slog. So after ~ 30 min, I came to my senses and said "Why do this?" I then changed course for Cave Cay and had a much more pleasant time of it. I still had email access so I sent Miles an email about my changed plans. By late morning, the winds slacked off and clocked more southerly and boat speed fell off that I decided to motorsail for the rest of the trip.
  • At 1500 I began the entrance to Cave Cay Cut. It was well behaved but it doesn't look as friendly on the entry as it does on the exit -- something about coming in toward rocks in contrast to out into the open Sound. I anchored SW of the helipad on Musha Cay and immediately declared nap time. After a good nap, it was cocktail hour - well deserved. I then had a delicious dinner of stir fried beef strips with onions and peppers with a side of leftover pasta. Delish. I got captured yet again by Wolf Hall and read until I could call my children in the evening on the W coast.

19 Mar 13; Tuesday; Musha Cay
  • I slept soundly and well and dreamed a lot last night. Perhaps its because I got to talk to all three of my children before falling asleep. Laura said she won't get tired of me until late June so my plans for going back up the coast will be adjusted to a later date. Tomorrow is my day to start planning the next two months.
  • Free Disc Space!!! Yea. The growth of my iTunes media library and my iPhoto photo library had reached the point where I was out of space on my hard drive. I had previously off loaded a lot of media files to a portable drive but that helped only for a short time. I finally worked out how to best do it and between yesterday and today, I got the iPhoto library moved to the media disk and a separate backup of it made before I erased it on the laptop. The result, > 41GB of space.
  • About 1400, a helicopter showed up at the Musha Cay landing pad. Then 3 couples emerged out of a path with a couple of children. This is more people than I had ever seen on the island in all the time I've spent anchored nearby. The pilot shut down and joined the folks to walk back down the path. The couple with two children emerged on the pier of one of the homes where I'd seen no activity before. As the little children ran out on the pier without pfds, I immediately began to worry about their safety and how quickly I could launch the dinghy in an emergency.
  • A couple of hours later folks emerged again and several got into the chopper which took off and went for an apparent sightseeing tour of the surrounding islands before returning. After its landing and shutdown, there was an exchange of two people who this time had PFDs and the chopper took off apparently toward Great Exuma and the airport but later returned. Additional sightseeing rides took place until after sunset. Just about sunset > 16 people came out of the trail, donned white windbreakers, and posed for photos with the chopper (N264RB).
  • While all this was going on, I became surrounded over the two-hour period by a pack of 4 vessels, Canadian and 1 US, who apparently had just come up the Sound. There went my suntanning on deck.
  • The US vessel was a Catalina 350 and its owner, Bill, came over to say hello and talk about the cargo ship due to arrive in the AM. He hails from Tampa and has also spent a lot of time in this area.

20 Mar 13; Wednesday; Musha Cay to Rudder Cut Cay
  • At ~ 0600 a RORO ship came in to Musha Cay to deliver food and materials at the heliport / landing. I managed to spend a couple of hours over breakfast and coffee watching the operation that involved two forklifts on the ship and one on shore. I found out the ship has a hold below the RORO deck where there is a third forklift and non-perishables are stored. Two crates, likely jet skis, were part of the cargo. Mystery solved: I'd seen a similar ship unload pallet after pallet containing a single large composite fabric plastic bag at Bell Island and today learned they contain concrete for construction. All in all quite an operation; its hard work owning an island. I kept estimating the $ involved; impressive.
  • Bill from Triumph came over and showed me a huge lobster he had caught off one of the outlying small cays on the Sound side. I invited he and his wife Elaine over for pizza. We also talked about heading S across the shallow bit to Rudder Cut Cay and he agreed to lead the pack near high tide.
  • I was entertained by aircraft arrival at the Rudder Cay airstrip and more helicopter sightseeing rides. For the number of people on the island, there were none on the W beach so they were either being worked hard or were on the E beach. In late afternoon, two jet skis appeared - they mush have been the ones that had arrived in crates in the morning. Maybe they are part of a plan to harass folks like me that anchor off the island.
  • At 1400, Onward and Triumph headed S the short distances across the shallow spot from our anchorage off Musha Cay to central Rudder Cut Cay. Triumph led and radioed back depths which gave me the security to press forward when Onward polished the bottom of the keel on a few 6.1 to 6.2' spots. We anchored in 11' off the entrance to the abandoned marina dredged lagoon.
  • Bill went off at slack tide to check the corals in Rudder Cut for "bugs" as he calls Bahamian lobster and I went along for the ride. I was surprised at the extent of coral growth in the open water on the bank side of the cut. Bill did a lot of swimming but came back without any more dinner.
  • I went back aboard Onward and set about preparing the pizzas for dinner. Once everything was prepared, I took advantage of the stillness to go for a skinsuit swim and a washdown off the stern to cool down and refresh myself after the hot galley work. Delish!
  • Bill and Elaine came over at 1730, and we proceeded to have a delightful time over cocktails and then pizza. I made a cold cucumber salad with a tad of fine onion slices and dill seasoning that was a hit as well as the pizza. This time I'd used 2 cups of multigrain flour of the 6 in the dough and it was good.

21 Mar 13; Thursday; Rudder Cut Cay
  • The cold front came through at about 0100 and wind clocked to the W and ramped up from calm to 12 - 14 kts. Wave action at anchor was minor - like an average day off Black Rock on Stocking Island.
  • Yesterday morning while listening to Chris Parker, I heard a boat break in to ask about weather for a quick transit to the US to attend a memorial service for someone who died in an accident at Warderick Wells. The reception was so bad, I couldn't hear more. Then I got an email from High Priority that mentioned that a woman had died as the result of a hiking accident on Warderick Wells. No more information available.
  • Triumph came by to say farewell on their way S to Rudder Cut. I spent the morning on tasks. I heard from the Ariels at Sampson Cay and they were planing to spend this weekend's coming front at Cambridge Cay.
  • After lunch, I took a short nap and then, refreshed, set out to do some exploring. The first task was to sound the bottom from where Onward was anchored N through the shallow "bump" back to Musha Cay. I had been a bit uncomfortable with the fact that Onward had polished the keel on the way S even at a 2' tide; this is less margin than I like. While I felt confident I could get out the same way, High Priority made the transit S recently and reported no concern with the depths "following the Explorer Chart". Unfortunately they didn't record waypoints for their transit. So, I was suspicious that there was a deeper channel than the one I took following Triumph S.
  • I Ventured forth with GPS and depth sounder and discovered a route with a minimum depth of 7' at ~ 2 feet of tide. The Navionics chart for the area shows there being a shallow bar on this route - but I didn't see it as I ran cross-sections with the dinghy. So I now have waypoints for the deeper channel which is substantially E of the route I took S. Having discovered a better exit channel, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I guess I'm a bit more apprehensive about such things because of being alone. As I pointed out to Triumph, I have no one to take the helm of Onward should I need to use Venture as a tugboat to push or pull it off a shoal.
  • Relieved, I continued my exploring by circumnavigating Jimmy's Cay and then finding a nice beach on Rudder Cut Cay just ESE of Jimmy's Cay. The day had turned into an absolutely beautiful Bahamas day with clear skies and gentle N winds. So I put into the deserted and secluded beach, declared it a CFZ, and enjoyed for a while alternating walking in the sun and swimming to cool off.
  • Refreshed, I rechecked the channel I'd sounded between Jimmy's Cay and Onward. Then I headed S to explore Little Darby and Darby Cays. I went past the Darby Research Center and through the deep cut between the two cays. The research center focuses on Stromatolites, living layered structures that form from microbial mats that accrete sand. They were prominent in the seas millions of years ago. In the last few decades, they were discovered in reveal places in the Bahamas; Highbourne, Warderick Wells / Hog, Lee Stocking and Little Darby Cays, and have been the subject of numerous research studies.
  • There is an apparently abandoned house on a point of Little Darby just SE of the passage between islands. What a shame to see this throughout the Bahamas: people who created a beautiful home in a dream location -- and then years later it abandoned.
  • Unfortunately, the channel between the Darby's doesn't carry enough depth for Onward to go S toward Lignum Vitae and Goat Cays. I did get a look at the extensive newly built complex on Goat Cay for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw: a tropical plantation-style main home including a lookout tower, 3 smaller homes for manager and staff and a marina.
  • The larger Darby Cay prominently displays on the skyline an abandoned 7000 sq ft Darby Castle. Built by an Englishman Sir Baxter in 1936 it has been abandoned since the 1960s. It was his home on a working plantation that was one of the latest employers in the Exumas during WW II, raising palm oil, fruit, cotton and goats. The > 500 acre island is currently for sale at ~$50M.
  • Once back aboard Onward I fixed myself a drink and then took a leisurly and refreshing shower on the swim platform and then lay out on the foredeck to dry in the sun - one of the benefits of being anchored far from other boats. I capped off a very pleasant day by grilling a couple of hamburgers to eat on the freshly baked rolls I made. Delish.

22 Mar 13; Friday; Rudder Cut Cay
  • The morning sky was fairly well covered by clouds. A good morning to work on tasks. Since I have completely lost my ability to do productive work after 1700 while in the Bahamas (Is there a correlation with cocktail hour?), I have to rely on doing all the boat keeping, writing, email, financial, repair, planning, etc. tasks in my "sweet spot" between ! 0530 and ~ 1300. After 1300 I want to lunch, nap, play.and prepare for cocktail hour. It is a continuing challenge.
  • By noon it was another beautiful day with almost no wind. I could walk around the deck and look at the bottom as if there was no water as it was so clear and still. A boat sailed in and anchored off my COB so that forestalled a revisit today. After lunch and a short nap, I donned fins, mask, and snorkel and while enjoying a refreshing and cooling swim, I cleaned the waterline and scrubbed the forest off the hull. The port side was in good shape (is that the side I got to do earlier?) but the starboard had a lot of fuzz. I got a lot of it but will have to dive again with a scraper which works better than the brush. That done, I had another nice swim platform shower and then lay out on the foredeck to dry off. I guess in my next land-based home, I'll have to figure out how to have an outdoor shower in a sunny courtyard.
  • The pack of boats that were anchored S near the cut took off today. On VHF, I could hear a good number of boats moving up the Sound from George Town. Late in the afternoon, Gratitude, came in and anchored to the S. As they went by in their dinghy on an exploration of the NW coast of the cay, I waved them over and invited them to cocktail hour. They accepted and at 1730, Van and Lauren Schwiebert, a lovely couple from Brandon VT, came over. Gratitude is a dark-hulled ketch that I'd seen before as this is the 5th season they have been cruising the Bahamas. We had a nice time talking.
  • As often happens, they asked why I'm alone and I always reply its because all my sailing friends snapped up all the good cruising women -- and then explain the true background. However, in talking about it, it sadly reminds me of how much I miss in not having a woman sailing companion and how unlikely it is that I will find a way to meet the right person.
  • The Gratitudes were unable to stay for dinner as they were in the process of eating their way through their freezer contents. So I decided not to cook and just made do with lunch and cocktail munchies.
  • I thoroughly was captured by "Wolf Hall" and thus was a bit sad to come to the end. Mantel paints a much different portrait of Thomas More than did "A Man for All Seasons": I was unaware of his role in the torture and buying of "heretics" while he was Chancellor. She presents his high minded stand against Henry's infamous Oath in a much less flattering light. In any case, I have the sequel but I am "saving" it for later so I won't become sated. So, after finishing a book of short stories by Jeffry Archer, I started on "Jewels of Paradise" by Donna Leon -- one of my favorite authors -- that I had been "saving" because I like reading her so much I have to prevent myself from reading her too quickly.

23 Mar 13; Saturday; Rudder Cut Cay
  • Winds were up to 12 - 15 from the SE on another beautiful sunny day. The Gratidudes came by to say they were moving N to Little Farmers Cay because of the coming front. I spent the morning on various tasks catching up. After a late lunch and a short nap, I decided to give myself an afternoon off and spent it reading in the sunny cockpit. With an 18" + chop, it wasn't as enticing as yesterday to swim. Just before cocktail hour, I climbed into Venture and used a brush and soap solution to look for leaks. I found only one, as Ed had said, just under the corner of one of the wear patches on the bow. Perhaps I'll take it to a beach and try to mend it tomorrow.
  • I spent cocktail hour captured by Dona Leon. I find myself looking at the "pages to go" and dreading the eventual end of my reading pleasure. It is amazing to me that she can have dialog about quite simple interactions between character yet imbue them with such life that keeps me enthralled. I decided I will start rereading her books I've previously read.
  • I made some comfort food: angel hair pasta with olive oil, sausage, peppers, garlic, pine nuts… Delish. I finished watching "Neverland" a movie that I'd started watching with the Burkes. It was a hard slog but I achieved closure - now I can erase it from the iPad.

24 Mar 13; Sunday; Rudder Cut Cay
  • The winds had become calm during the night but picked up to ~ 14 kts by 0630 as another cold front approached. Overall it was a nice sunny day; warm with a cooling breeze. Ah, easy to get used to it.
  • Cordell Thompson whom I met in George Town when he gave a talk on folklore and folktales followed up on my offer to help a local effort that plans to improve navigation aids. So I spent some time writing formal emails from the BCG to the contacts he gave me. I am encouraging him to publish some to his collections of folktales and folklore.
  • I worked on websites for a while and in the process of making a change to the BCG to help the navigation improvement effort, I found a bug in the Rapidweaver software that just hung it up. So, bummed out because I'd not done enough saves of the work in progress, I had to kill it off. The degree of lost work unknown. By then it was lunch time. I salved my woes due to the software by allowing myself to finish "Jewels of Paradise". I all too quickly finished the novel; enjoying every minute of it -- but then sad that it was "over". I managed to do one boat chore: repairing the damaged end of the fresh water hose.
  • I rewarded myself with a nice shower on the swim platform followed by lying on the deck to dry in the sun and wind -- one of the benefits about being alone in a big anchorage.
  • At cocktail hour, I went back and began reading another old friend Dick Francis. Then I prepared Onward Shepherd's Pie. The lean ground beef I'd bought before leaving FL and had immediately repackaged in vacuum-heat-sealed bags looked like I'd just brought it home from the store. Love that vacuum bagger. Whenever I make this meal, I have pleasant flashbacks to the cafeteria at St. Matthew's School in Cranston RI where this was one of my favorite meals. I still have vivid memories of cajoling the cafeteria ladies into giving me a bit extra; then there was the slow savoring of the meal. Wow, that was a LOT of years ago!

25 Mar 13; Monday; Rudder Cut Cay
  • The winds clocked to the W but ae < 15 kts as a cold front approaches. It took me a lot of courage to reopen Rapid Weaver and see how much of my efforts yesterday had been lost. Amazingly, nothing for this website. Good. However, all the updates I'd made to the BCG website were gone. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson before -- ah well, maybe this time. I spent time updated the websites and then made and baked a batch of almond biscotti.
  • I had a delicious ham and lettuce sandwich wrap for lunch and read in the cockpit. As it was sunny and winds were < 15 kts, I decided to do take advantage of the nice weather to explore the small Dove Cay to the W and to attempt to patch the leak in Venture's bow discovered by Ed. I packed the necessary things into my beach bag and headed out. Dove Cay is actually divided into two parts linked by a sandy beach that is almost all under water at high tide. I beached Onward on the nice sandy stretch remote enough for a COB and began work on the patch. The hole appeared to be under a wear strip that I peeled back, cleaned and reglued. After a while I tested it and found that I'd probably not peeled the strip back enough and there was still a leak, much reduced. I decided just to let it be for a while and see how much of a difference it made. That done, I explored the N and S segments of the little cay for a bit - nothing much to see. Then I headed back to the beach on Rudder Cut Cay near Onward with the idea of going for a swim there. The water was too shallow for too great a distance from that segment of the beach which was protected from the W wind so I gave up on the idea of a swim. I saw another dinghy about and went to see where it had gone. I found a ~35' Catalina sloop from the Magothy anchored in the old basin of the island harbor. I said hello and left the couple as they were busy working on the boat. They told me they had seen guard dogs on the island that I learned is also owned by David Copperfiled. Once aboard Onward, I got to watch a big cesna aircraft land at Darby Cay while a helicopter hovered nearby watching it. The chopper then came by on its way N - black and silver updated model of a UH1 that I've seen before. DEA??
  • I finished reading the Dick Francis novel through cocktail hour. I warmed up some angel hair pasta for dinner and watched the video on maintenance and adjustment of the SailRight sewing machine. I've got to figure out and correct whatever mis-adjustment is causing the thread shredding problem.

26 Mar 13; Tuesday; Rudder Cut Cay
  • About 0230, I heard the wind generator begin to spool up as it had been calm during the night. I remembered I had not closed the salon hatch - something I almost always do at night in case of a sudden squall. So, I got up and closed the hatch just as a pre-frontal rain squall started. Then I got back into bed and for a couple of hours felt nice and dry and secure as a gentle rain continued until ~ 0400 when the real front arrived and the winds clocked from SSW to NNE accompanied by really strong rain squalls with lightning. When I got up at 0500, I went to start coffee and discovered that I had left the hatch over the sink open -- a hatch I seldom open. So now I had a freshly washed galley floor to clean up. The good news is that the wind-blown rain had not gotten to the biscotti on top of the shoe that I'd forgotten to put in the canister before I went to bed.
  • I had planned to depart the anchorage at ~ 0630 about an hour before high tide but with the pre-dawn light minimal due to the squall and the ongoing remnant of the frontal squalls, I decided not to move until tomorrow.
  • Today I was in a bit of a funk and got nothing done all morning and early afternoon except for eating lunch and taking 2 naps. Strange. By ~1500 I couldn't stand the lack of productivity so I decided to tackle the Sailright sewing machine adjustment. I found my pdf copy of the owners manual and reviewed it. I took off the base plate that supports the fabric under the needle and polished the edges of the hole the needle goes through so it wouldn't fray the thread. I remembered a set of small diamond files I'd bought some time ago that worked nicely then finished off with fine emery paper. I checked the needle bar height and it was right on. I replaced the needle. I polished the gib hook. When I tried it, it sewed better but was still fraying the thread and missing stitches - but it was actually sewing. I then spent a lot of time working on the thread tension and it stopped fraying the thread but was still missing stitches. I checked again the side spacing between the needle and the gib hook and the latter was just barely clearing the needle -- as it should. The fore-aft spacing of the gib hook and needle was right at 3/16" and thus in spec -- but this was the only remaining thing that could account for the skipped stitches - if it was getting to the needle a bit too late to catch the loop of thread reliably. So, I decreased the space to ~ 1/8" and voila, it sewed! Then the bobbin ran out of thread. At that note, I declared cocktail hour. Having gone through this process, I have gained tremendous appreciation for the precision of operation of the machine. How did I ever manage to use it for so long so cavalierly and not have put it out of tune earlier? Amazing.
  • I baked some frozen chicken stuffed with prosciutto and cheese that I'd bought in Georgetown, SC. Served with wild rice. Delish! And there is enough for another night. I watched the movie Borat and was impressed with how many social oxen he managed to gore.

27 Mar 13; Wednesday; Rudder Cut Cay to Black Point
  • I got the day started at 0500 to prepare Onward for the move to Black Point as the rising tide got to 2'. At 0700 it was anchors aweigh. Onward followed the course from the anchor to the W tip of Jimmys Cay. This is the route I'd scouted out in Venture using my Hawkeye depth sounder. The transit was uneventful -- Very Good! The minimum depth I saw was a single reading of 6.8' -- all others were > 7'. This is much better than I'd experienced on the more W course I'd come in on. This indicates there's a pretty wide trough that will accommodate Onward as long as there is 1.5' or more of tide.
  • As I came by Musha Cay's W beach, there were 5 jet skis tethered off shore. I'm glad they weren't around when I anchored there. As I continued N and came abreast of Cave Cay, I decided to go in to the marina and take on fresh water. I had not attempted to go in to the very protected dredged basin with Onward due to a shallow spot right at the entrance. With > 2.2' of rising tide, I thought today would be the day to try. I found a 9.8' bump on the channel centerline right at the two inner channel markers. The dredged basin was > 10'. As I came in, I was prepared to drop the anchor until they opened. To my surprise they answered the VHF. When I said I wanted water, the attendant said they didn't have metered water at the fuel pier and didn't usually sell water except to marina guests. I told him that when I'd visited before to get information for the BCG, the owner's son told me they had water available. So I asked if I went to one of the slips where there was a water meter, would it be OK and he agreed. There was a strong cross wind even down in the basin and as I pulled up to the leeward side of a floating pier, I was lucky to get a midship line around one ear of a cleat before the wind blew the bow away and thus was able to pull Onward in until the attendant arrived and we put another line on. I introduced myself and I got to meet Shark - his moniker. For the last week I'd heard VHF 16 calls for Shark! Shark! then a response of "Switchin Boss Man". I asked Shark for the story behind the name and then he smiled at me and it was obvious - he has such a big white-toothed grin. Shark told me that he wasn't going to charge me for the water because of the information I'd published about the marina. I told him I was uncomfortable with that because that wasn't my aim. He just smiled and said that's OK. So I hooked up the water hose and Shark and I chatted while the tanks filled. The owner and his wife were in residence. Due to age, he no longer flies his own plane in but has a pilot to do that. There are 4 Bahamians and 3 other Americans on the island. The former build and maintain the marina while the latter run and maintain the old Navy LST they use to haul supplies to the island from the US through Customs in Freeport. I asked if the Boss really wanted business for the marina and Shark said yes, but he won't advertise. So I guess the BCG provides him advertisement. He says the marina is chockablock when a hurricane is due. I suggested they put in some moorings so boats could be kept in the hurricane hole for long periods.
  • Once done with the water fill, I said good by to Shark and tipped him for his help with the lines. Then the wind blew me away from the pier. The trip to Black Point took about 3 hrs motoring into a 20 kts headwind. Just after getting the anchor set, I called Lorraine's Cafe to say I would be joining her barbecue tonight. A few minutes later I got a call from the woman on First Edition, a dark-hulled Hylass in the harbor. She said she kept hearing me on the radio and friends kept asking her if she'd met me so she wanted to take the opportunity to say hi. I told her I'd stop by their boat on the way in.
  • After lunch and a shower, I went ashore. I stopped by First Edition but they had gone ashore hiking. I offloaded trash and then headed for Adderley's Friendly Store where I got some veggies and replenished my flour supply. Then it was off to Rockside Laundry to get tokens to do laundry tomorrow morning. While there I asked Ida to give me a haircut and I lost a lot of weight as a result. It was then time to move over to Lorraine's Cafe before the barbecue dinner.
  • The company that hosts my website sent me a message that they were migrating my sights to a new improved server today. However, it became a challenge to reset my software to put files in the right place. I managed to get this done for www.onward.ws and upload updated files. However I could not get an updated BCG site to work properly. ???? Oh the joys…. Something to work on tomorrow.
  • Lorraine joined me to eat dinner and we talked about Black Point and she asked me for ideas of what they could do to attract more cruisers to Black Point as a destination.
  • Today is Elena Adele Rocchio Payton's birthday! Three years old! I made a video with my iPhone and emailed it to Laura so she could play it for Elena. Since they were young, I've always in person or by phone greeted my children on their birthday by singing Happy Birthday to them. They have come to expect (and I hope, enjoy) it as our little tradition, an annual right of passage. So, I decided to pass this on to Elena now she is old enough to know what's going on. This evening I got an email saying that Elena really enjoyed it. So, before going to sleep I called LA to talk to the two of them. I was really impressed with Elena's language development. She informed me that "you haven't ready the bunny book to me yet" So she's got a lot of reading for me to do when I see her in May.

28 Mar 13; Thursday; Black Point
  • I was up and off in Venture by 0800 with a load of laundry. I got to the laundry to find that Ida had not opened it up yet, so my having gotten tokens yesterday so I could get an early start were foiled. I sat and let my iPad download Downton Abbey while I worked on my laptop. Ida arrived about 0845 and I got my 3 loads going. Continuing a perfect record, I discovered I'd not put some towels that needed washing in the laundry bag. Someday, I will work out a way to actually put all the laundry that needs to be done in the bag! I also managed to loose in the few minutes before I left Onward the heavy duty garbage bag I use to protect my clean laundry while in the dinghy -- such talent. I used the time waiting for washers and driers to continue to work on the mystery of why my websites weren't being served up by the new server.
  • After noon, with laundry done and my mind boggled from too much time on the computer, I went over to Deshamon's for lunch. While there I met a German family with a 11 year-old boy. I said hello in German and we were able to communicate well enough then we switched to their excellent English. They keep their catamaran in FL and fly over for sailing holidays.
  • A good lunch of grouper fingers helped clear my head. I had to move Venture from the laundry dock because the waves had gotten too rough to load my laundry. So I moved it to the Government Dock andI then walked over to Lorraine's to continue working on the website problem. After a lot of trials and probing, I was able to find out what directory my web host was actually serving the BCG website from. A non-intuitive change from the previous. Then I uploaded a complete new copy of the site and voila -- it was back in working order!
  • While I was there, Mary from the Mary C who I met 2 years ago at Sampson Cay saw me and invited me over to talk when I was done with the sleuthing the web problem. Once the BCG was back in operation, I sat with the Mary Cs and caught up. They told me about Pipe Creek as an anchorage and I may have to try that.
  • The children of the settlement are on Easter school holiday. This has brought many teens back to the island from their high school sojourn in Nassau. Their presence makes for a more lively atmosphere.
  • With help from a plastic garbage bag given me by Lorraine, I got my clean laundry loaded onto Venture and then offloaded to Onward still in the dry state. Great! I had shepherds pie and a salad for dinner and watched The Blues Brothers, a movie I'd somehow missed in the 80's.
  • Freshly laundered bedsheets on a cruising boat! Every time it is a wonderful experience that somehow is mundane ashore. Nothing quite as good on a cruising boat -- except for freshly laundered bedsheets and a woman to share them. This is a unique perspective I have that the males of the cruising couples I know miss out on -- but they have more than adequate compensation.

29 Mar 13; Friday; Black Point
  • Got a note from the Moondances that their house in MD is sold and it closes on April 15th when they will head back to FL to buy a home there. I worked on computer "stuff" until ~ 1230 when I cleaned up and headed ashore with my laptop and iPad. I tied Venture up at the government pier and walked to the school where they were having their annual Easter tournament. They were offering lunch so I went over to buy some and discovered that I didn't have my wallet. I remembered putting new boat cards in it before leaving Onward but wasn't quite sure I'd put it back in my pock. I thought I had -- and that implied not-good-things. So I walked back to the pier and got into Venture to go back to Onward. As I turned to start the outboard, I saw my wallet lying in the space between the side of the cooler seat and the starboard tube. I had run the fuel tank dry on the way in and had to put in fuel from the 1-gal emergency tank I carry. In that process, I must have caused the wallet to come out of my pocket because I'd failed to secure it. That it hadn't gone over the side is primary evidence that God protects fools. Thank you, Lord!
  • I walked back and got lunch and then walked over to the shore behind the school. There I got to take some photos of Van's 3 Class C sloops in various stages of preparation for the Family Island Regatta. I got to talk to him yesterday and he told me he was focusing on his newest sloop, the one I'd helped launch 2 years ago.
  • As I sat at a picnic table eating lunch, John and Kathy, folks from Ithaca NY came over to eat their lunch. We had a nice chat. John is a very experienced hot air balloonist. He served as crew for a neighbor, Malcolm Forbes, and told interesting stories of the annual fete in France that Forbes used to put on. Neat.
  • We finished lunch in time to watch the little children in the egg-in-spoon races and then the sack race. Great Fun. I then spent the balance of the afternoon uploading websites at Lorraine's fueled by cold beers and finally a piece of her blueberry cheesecake. Delish. I also downloads my TurboTax so I can get my income tax filing done. While working, I got to talk with a young couple from Chicago who had taken a year off with their young son and daughter to cruise. He had owned a software development company that developed a successful product for a client and as a result was bought out. Now he had the pleasant problem of contemplating the next step in life. Neat.
  • For some reason, I have had problems with getting Season 1, Episode 5 of Downton Abbey to load on my iPad. It actually got loaded several times but then would not allow me to access it -- strange. Well I finally got it done and immediately returned to Onward just after dark. Once aboard I called it quits for the day and rewarded myself for my diligent work by watching Downton Abbey Episode 5! It was worth the struggle,

30 Mar 13; Saturday; Black Point
  • Another lazy and unremarkable day aboard as the winds picked up from the E. The propane tank ran out while heating water to clean a pan. That was quicker than usual. Either it didn't get filled fully in Vero or I've baked more than I realized. I am happy that I finally got around to getting a second 10-lb aluminum tank before heading S from Baltimore in October. I was too lazy to change it out tonight so I microwaved one of my frozen leftover meals and had a quiet night watching Seabiscuit.

31 Mar 13; Easter Sunday; Black Point
  • My Catholic upbringing wouldn't let me be a lay-about on Easter. I showered and Ventured ashore to the Gethsemene Baptist Church where I had attended a service a couple of years ago. I arrived at 1030 as they were beginning Sunday School for the 3 young children in attendance. At 1100 the service began. It was quite lovely to see the woman of the congregation attend in their nice dresses and all with Easter hats. This congregation is run by the women of the settlement and one of the women leading it is Lorraine Rolle's mother. It was a pleasant and uplifting experience and I was welcomed by the congregation. A lot of good singing; but, it is clear to me that I am rhythm-challenged.
  • After returning to Onward, I grabbed the iPad and headed over to One-Eyed Parrots to get some pointers on bridge from Ken and Lee. I had met Lee at the Peace and Plenty one afternoon in George Town and she asked me to join their bridge game. I told her I was too rusty to do it justice. I had gotten re-interested in bridge last season when Joanne Norton suggested I start playing. I had managed to get copies of some old Goren bridge books and then I bought a bridge app for the iPad. However, I'd gotten bogged down because the app while allowing me to play games to build my skills, had so many new conventions that I knew nothing about that I didn't know where to begin. Lee and Ken, brought me up to speed on the modern conventions in the US. It turned out the app I had was the one they suggested as the best to learn with, Bridge Barron. They also gave me some bridge notes to scan. So, now there is no reason I can't get tuned up...
  • In the evening, I Ventured in to have Easter dinner at Lorraine's Cafe. As I came in to the pier to tie up, another dinghy was just getting settled. I was surprised to see fellow Corinthians, Bob and Ginny Martin on the pier. They gave me a hand getting my dry-bag of electronics on the pier. They had only recently arrived in the Bahamas as Bob had some surgery on his knee that delayed them. I first met them on the 2010 Corinthian Maine Cruise. Since then, we'd encounter each other along the Atlantic Coast or Bahamas -- but only by VHF and on different sides a a major piece of land. So it was nice to finally meet up face to face. Ginny's sister was visiting for a few days and they were planning to have dinner at Lorraine's. I went in and secured a table for us while they took a walk. We then shared a nice evening together over dinner. Our return was in the dark and they had forgotten their flashlight. By a good coincidence, as I was leaving Onward I had finally remembered to put a spare flashlight and a multi-tool in a dry-bag to keep in the dinghy -- something I had been trying to remember to do all season. So I was able to give them a light to find their way home.
  • As I was going to sleep, I got a call from my son to wish me Happy Easter. He had spent the weekend snowboarding in Park City UT with friends. I was very saddened to learn that he had just broken off his relationship with a lovely young woman that he had considered his soulmate. My heart ached for him.