Onward’s Cruise Journal 2010
Cruise in the Bahamas

January 2010

1-11 Jan 2010; Orchid Bay, Guana Cay, Abacos
1Jan 2010; Friday

  • It dawned a nice sunny day with light winds as we awaited the approach of a major cold front tonight. The switch for the main bilge pump has been sticking in the on position. I inspected the pump and reinstalled the switch and could find no reason for the problem. After replacing them they seem to be working normally.
  • Daniel and Brian invited me to have dinner with them at Pirate's Cove. I enjoyed the great ribs prepared by Jerry. The cold front moved through in the night with wind gusts to 30 kts.
  • 2 Jan 10; Saturday
  • I put out the SailRite sewing machine and installed the new LED work light I bought at the Annapolis Boat Show. What a difference it made as it provides bright direct light right where I need it. Harriet came over and played seamstress for Moondance, Lady of Lorien, and Naiad by repairing various bits of canvas. I then did some repairs myself. I reinforced the seams of my new U.S. flag and repaired the frayed corner of my Corinthians burgee.
  • 3 Jan 10; Sunday
  • Another day of NW winds at >20 kts. We took a long walk W along the ocean beach which was beautiful but empty of people. The trip terminated at Nippers where we celebrated with a frozen Nipper rum drink.

4 Jan 10; Monday

  • Today was Onward Pennant Day! Harriet volunteered to come over and help me design and sew a pennant. I wanted a pennant that I can fly when Onward is anchored and I go ashore. I'm always trying to find the white sailboat in the anchorages filled with white sailboats. I figured a large pennant would catch the eye and be easy to see so I bought ripstop nylon in white red and blue to make one. It has been on my round-tuit list for a while. We collaborated on the design and Harriet did most of the sewing as she really enjoys doing it. The result was fantastic - something I would not have attempted on my own.

  • I invited folks over for a pasta with squash and sausage sautéed in olive oil. Delish

5 Jan 10; Tuesday

  • A cold, windy, day. We went for a walk around the Orchid Bay residential development. It was really nicely done - the nicest area I've seen yet in the Bahamas. It included a nice beach pavilion. We started asking ourselves what we would do with our days if we had a house here: read, drink, ... I'm not sure I could fill my days and keep myself busy in the same way I can do cruising.

6 Jan 10; Wednesday

  • Another cold and clear day. Jeans, long sleeve shirt, sweater, sox - this in the Bahamas? I looked at the GRIB wind files this morning and was shocked to see that the formation of a Low was predicted for the 10th-11th NE of the Bahamas. As a result, winds to 50 kts from the NW were now predicted for near where Onward is berthed. All the dock lines need to be re-rigged and chafe protection added. A few days ago, it looked like we might have a 3-day window this weekend but it has disappeared. It looks like there will not be a good chance to move on until after next Tuesday.
  • At the urging of Mike, I finally got around to another one of my round-tuits - I hooked the audio output from my DVD player into the stereo so that we can hear the sound from movies better. I also baked some focaccia bread to go with dinner hosted by Moondance.
7 Jan 10; Thursday
  • I re-rigged all the dock lines in preparation for the next front. Wind speed predictions have dropped 5 to 10 kts -- good! I also ran the wire from the starboard stern locker to the DC power panel for the deck spot lights. Mike was working on his AC power system and one of his 30A circuit breakers broke while he was tightening a connection. Onward, the fleet spare parts depot, had a spare aboard for him to use.
8 Jan 10; Friday
  • Today the sun came out for my birthday and I was able to switch back to shorts & t-shirt for the day. I celebrated by taking to my children. We had another cookout ashore and I gave myself the present of a great steak. I invited everyone back to Onward for nightcaps. As we were breaking up, James from Mojito, a new Beneteau 50, was talking about his battery being hot. That didn't sound good so I took my IR gun over and we found one of his 8D gel cell batteries was > 190ºF. We disconnected it from the other batteries. James and Patricia then put their computes and valuable papers aboard Onward and they slept in their cockpit. It appears the battery formed an internal short and was heating up and boiling away the water in the gel.
9 Jan 10; Saturday
  • Mojito's battery cooled enough for James to remove it from the boat and begin the challenge of getting a replacement. The morning was sunny and warm and I enjoyed the short walk to the grocery where fresh produce had come in. Luckily Angie and Harriet had left enough behind for me. As soon as I got back to Onward, the cold front came through with wind > 20 kts. and rain. The temperature dropped ~15º. I did some work connecting the power line for the new spot lights into the DC panel and rerouting audio lines from the DVD player and Sirius-XM radio to the stereo. It had gotten cold enough that I went into hibernation mode after lunch: climb into bed with a good book. We met in the evening at the marina restaurant for dinner to celebrate my birthday.
10 Jan 10; Sunday
  • After a fairly quite night, the winds picked up to 20-25 kts at dawn but it was mostly sunny. We walked to the Art Cafe for lunch and I wore shorts - not bad except for when the 30 kt gusts came. Juliet makes soused chicken - a boiled chicken stew that we had heard great things about and were looking forward to. We arrived to find that the run on the soused chicken had started at 0630 - so we were out of luck. Juliet gently persuaded us to try the boild fish or fish stew; the former is a fish version of the soused chicken, the latter is similar but with a brown sauce. Four of the 5 chose the boiled fish and I played odd man out and tried the fish stew. These were served with a bowl of fantastic grits. My meal was fantastic and the others enjoyed their meals just as well.
  • I returned to Onward to complete the wiring for the spot lights. Harriet came over to do some sewing and ended up helping me by sewing bags for my power cord and hose reels to protect them from the mud from the anchor chain - not really a problem here in the Bahamas where the water is so clear and the sand is fine and white. I defrosted the freezer in preparation for our expected departure about mid-day tomorrow.
  • 11 Jan 10; Monday
  • Winds were still out of the NNW at 15+ kts but promised to become lighter during the day. Last night, the winds got up to 30 kts steady from the NW with higher gusts. Now I've gotten used to being able to sleep through stern slap - where waves get under Onward's sugar scoop stern and slap up against the hull - but when these are small waves driven by > 30 kt gusts they are NOISY. A few lifted me off of my mattress. I thought of going to sleep in a forward berth - but was too stubborn to allow those damn waves to drive me out of MY bed. As a consequence, my sleep tank was not quite full in the morning. We spent the morning making final preparations for departure - all those things that should have been done in the last 14 days but didn't/. With ~ 15 kts from the stern, it was a bit of a challenge to get Onward out of its slip. I had to use almost 1500 rpm just to start moving - I actually looked around to see if I was still tied up when it wouldn't move at 800, 1000, or 1200 rpm. But the exit was uneventful and we set off for Lynyard Cay where we anchored about 1630. I had a good meal and then a good night's rest.
  • 12 Jan 10; Tuesday; Lynyard Cay to Current Island.
  • Anchor up at 0600. The Little Harbor cut was peaceful with just moderate rollers with a long period. The trip to Eleuthera was great, a sunny day with ~10 kt winds from the N to NE. We were able to sail and motor sail making ~ 7 kts most of the day. The swells were from the NE and long so there was no repeat of the stuttering washing machine we experienced last spring on the trip N. We made it through Current Cut riding on a 3+ kt current. I again touched bottom just after making the sharp turn to the W - some day I'll find the sweet spot. We anchored for the night just off the headland of a small bight in Current I about a mile W of the cut. I had some of the chicken stew I made while coming down the ICW - it was absolutely one of the most tasty meals I've ever prepared. Delish! Now if I can only remember how I made it....
  • A lazy morning as anchor weighed at 0700. Winds were light and from the port quarter most of the day so I sailed and motorsailed on and off. I got to take some nice pictures of Lady of Lorien and Moondance while they were flying their cruising spinnakers. Unfortunately I missed an opportunity to video Moondance as a sudden strong gust rounded them up - spectacular. We put into Cape Eleuthera Marina for the night. A good day!
  • 13 Jan 10; Wednesday; Current Island to Cape Eleuthera
  • A lazy morning departure at 0700 after a very peaceful and restful night. The crossing to Cape Eleuthera was easy with variable winds so I sailed and motorsailed as needed. We put into the Cape Eleuthera Marina at about 1600. I enjoyed dinner aboard Lady of Lorien where we got to eat the fish Mike caught during the passage.
  • 14 Jan 10; Thursday; Cape Eleuthera to Warderick Wells.
  • We had a great breakfast at the marina coffee shop and then departed the marina at 0900 on a sunny day with scattered crowds. Winds were light on departure and it was a motorsail with just the genoa for most of the passage from Cape Eleuthera to Warderick Cut. Along the way I decided that I needed pizza so I whipped up a batch of dough to rise during the crossing. The wind began picking up a bit from the SE @ ~10 kts so I raised the main. The passage through Warderick Cut was uneventful. We were lucky enough to get moorings in the north anchorage at Warderick Wells Cay. I managed to pick up the mooring on the first go - to applause from the boat ahead. I went ashore to sign in and meet the new staff for Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. I then returned to Onward to bake the pizza. Unfortunately Brian and Daniel ran into some ship's problems and could not join the rest of the fleet for the pizza party. Delish!
  • The Park feels like home. It is good to finally get here as I now feel I'm just kicked back and relaxing. Now the only need to move is for a whim or provisions. It has been a long time getting here - starting 19 October! But I enjoyed every day of the journey - it's just nice not feeling I HAVE to journey now or be hanging waiting for the pesky weather window.
  • 15 Jan 10; Friday
  • It was great to wake up to sunshine and warmth. Brian, Daniel, and Mike came over for a visit, coffee, and biscotti. After lunch, we went ashore for a short hike. Onward's sign on Boo-Boo Hill survived - I will have to update it to reflect the current season. The hike reminded me that I haven't had much chance for exercise but now will do fairly regular hikes. I returned to Onward and raised my new ship's pennant on the upper reach of the topping lift. It looks great. We finished off the day with a social around a bonfire on the shore where I got to meet many cruisers from around the world.
  • 16 Jan 10;Saturday
  • A bit overcast this morning with winds ESE @ 17. A good time to work on the BCG. Harriet produced a chicken souse - based on the lunch we had at the Art Cafe, Great Guana. Delish! I had the desert assignment - not one of my culinary strong points. I had a flash of creativity as I remembered I had some chocolate cake and some banana bread in the freezer. I sliced the cake a put a layer in a flat container, added rum followed by tart cherries (canned) and repeated for 3 layers. Then I topped it off with chocolate bits. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was and the others ate it up.
  • 17 Jan 10; Sunday
  • The weather was great today. I spent a good deal of the day working on the BCG. In the afternoon, we took a long hike ashore to the Pirate's Lair.
  • 18 Jan 10; Monday
  • A beautiful, sunny day. I went into the office with Mike and Angie to talk to Andrew, the Park Administrator about ways that cruisers in general and the Bahamas Cruisers Guide in particular could help the park. After returning to Onward, Brian and Daniel came over and used my satphone to order replacement parts for their macerator pump that had died. After lunch we took an easy hike ashore. I haven't been able to do any walking that exercises my climbing muscles since I started my trip down the ICW. So now I'm slowly reconditioning my legs. The evening ended with a great lamb dinner aboard Lady of Lorien. As a finale, I was exposed for the first time to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" on DVD.
  • 19 Jan 10; Tuesday
  • Today we went for a picnic lunch on a nearby small Cay. Delish! After we hiked around the cay a bit, we explored in our dinghies. I came back aboard and sat down to finish the suspense mystery "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" the first of a trilogy by Sweedish author Stieg Larsson. A great book!
  • 20 Jan 10; Wednesday
  • I baked pepper biscotti and attempted to make pepperoni rolls. I didn't have small closed containers for the rolls and I tried to use AL foil only to find that the bread stuck to the foil. The results were great tasting.
  • Today was the first time I've gone snorkeling since last season. We visited a small cay N of Warderick Cay that has a lovely hidden beach with nice small coral heads off shore. After a nice picnic lunch ashore Harriet and I went snorkeling. The corals did not look as healthy as they were last year but they were still full of fish. I made some more recordings of the "music of the rocks" as the sea has almost eaten a cavern through the cay at this point. There are many holes each singing its own song with the waves. We had a lobster grill night aboard Onward with Mike & Angie supplying a lobster tail for me.
  • 21 Jan 10;Thursday
  • I spent another morning working on the BCG site - I'm almost done with getting the information of all the cruising grounds in the Bahamas entered. After lunch we went on a long hike. At the halfway point, my right knee began to feel "loose" due to my old ACL injury so I was concerned about re-injuring it. I put out a VHF call and Skip an Bailey came to rescue me from Emerald Bay. I spent a quiet evening polishing off another Dick Francis novel.
  • 22 Jan 10; Friday
  • A sunny day with a lot of haze on the N horizon as a front approaches. I spent the morning on the BCG and then went ashore to meet with the ECLSP Administrator, Andrew, about an idea for a support organization we had talked about last week. While ashore he introduced me to Natasha Wright, Director of Development and Tamica Rahming, Director of Parks & Science from the Bahamian National Trust who were visiting the Park for a few days. We had a good discussion of the support group idea and how the BCG could assist the BNT in its goals.
  • After lunch, we took another short hike to Boo Boo Hill and the beach. My right knee is feeling well although still a bit "loose". My leg muscles seem to be shaping up a bit more slowly. I had a nice nap to recover from the hike and then retired to Moondance for a delicious turkey dinner. All agreed that my pepper biscotti seem to be getting better. It looks like I'll need to bake a batch a week. Good thing I now have a larger propane backup tank.
  • 23 Jan 10; Saturday
  • I spent the morning cleaning up and working on the BCG. After lunch I went over to Moondance to check on the painting of a new sign for BooBoo Hill. Harriet did an amazing job of hand drawing the names of the 3 boats in distinctive fonts; then Skip used his dremel router attachment to engrave the letters. Today with Mike they mixed pigments with epoxy resin to color the letters. Wow! It looks great.
  • Skip and Harriet and I took my dinghy over to our secluded beach on a cay W of the anchorage to swim. It was delightful. In the evening, there was a cocktail hour ashore and I got to meet a number of new cruisers.
  • 24 Jan 10; Sunday
  • I spent most of the day trying to finish populating the BCG. I took time off to hike to BooBoo Hill with the fleet to conduct the sign installation ceremony. We celebrated with a tot of champagne I brought along. In the evening, winds picked up to 20+ kts from the SW.
  • This was a big day as I now have all the cruising areas in the Bahamas that offer services or facilities for cruisers built into the Bahamas Cruisers Guide with available information populated. Now I can turn to data updates and enriching the data for locations as I glean it from various sources as I encounter them.
  • 25 Jan 10; Monday
  • Winds were up today as the result of a prefrontal trough (something I'm still not good a picking out from s synoptic weather chart). We settled up at the Park office for our stay then took a short hike. I spent the afternoon reading and getting the interior of Onward ready to sail again. Andrew, the Park Administrator, stopped by at the end of the day and we discussed the "Friends of Exuma Land and Sea Park" charter I'd drafted based on our discussions last week.
  • 26 Jan 10; Tuesday; Warderick Wells Cay to Staniel Cay
  • A couple of heavy squalls came through during the night but the weather settled down in the morning. The wind was blowing ~15 kts and had Onward pointed transverse to the channel so the W sandbar was less than a boat length off my stern. This made dropping the mooring a challenge. Also, the strain on my quick release system was so high the line would not run free. I had to use the windlass to haul it aboard and rig a secondary line to take the strain while I released the primary line. Once Onward was hanging on the secondary line alone, I went back to the helm and put the transmission into idle forward and used the autopilot to set steer down the channel. I then went back to the bow, waited until the forward motion of the boat took the strain off the mooring, then released the secondary line before scampering back to the helm. Just a typical morning challenge for sailing singlehanded. After rounding Warderick Bore, I had a nice sail S to Staniel Cay.
  • Before leaving Baltimore, I had bought a big Milwaukee 1/2" 28-V portable drill with winch bit to use in trimming my big 66/2 genoa winches. I have now gotten into the habit of using it regularly. It's great. Not only does it save my shoulders but the best part is I no longer have to put up with the enclosure interfering with the winch handle - the only drawback of my practice of leaving the side enclosures in place at all times.
  • After anchoring off the beach at Big Majors, I launched the dinghy and cleaned up all the "stuff" I carry aboard it. I then had a nice shower and set off to pick up Harriet and Skip to go into Staniel Cay Yacht Club to do a check on their cheeseburgers - and have a cold Kalick or two. The cheeseburger was great - the bacon is critical - as were the onion rings. We then took a walk around the island and did a bit of shopping before I returned to Onward for a nice nap in the sun followed by a relaxing evening of reading.
  • 27 Jan 10; Wednesday; Staniel Cay to Black Point, Great Guana Cay.
  • A beautiful sunny day with winds NE at 10-15 kts. I decided to scrub Onward's waterline in the 79º water. I had Onward hauled in May and the old ablative paint removed and a new hard epoxy paint by Petit applied. When I got to the Bahamas I found a halo of long weed growing all along the waterline from water level to ~ 4" down. On top of that there are small barnacles on the hull that can be brushed off. I never had this with the ablative paint. After I dived to clean the bottom I'd planned to contact the folks who did the bottom because it seems the paint while adhering well is not being very effective. So I put on fins, mask and snorkel and began to scrub with a new scrubber pad I bought before leaving the states. After a few minutes it looked like I would be able to get all the stuff off with some elbow grease. As I attempted to move my vacuum handle further along the hull, the scrub pad came off of the handle without me seeing it. It got swept away in the current and wind. I climbed out and took the dinghy to try to hunt it down but was unsuccessful. BAAAH!
  • I gave up, showered and went into town because today was mailboat day and the stores had fresh vegetables. I hit the 3 stores on the island and returned to Onward. The tide had come up enough for me to approach the fuel pier so I weighed anchor and took Onward in. I took on diesel, gas, and water - and a Kalick then headed off to Black Point. I had a nice sail under genoa alone and anchored about 1700.
  • 28 Jan 10; Thursday
  • We went ashore before noon and took a hike up the ocean shore. Harriet is now collecting sea glass. I've told her that we have a contract that she will find me "hamburger" sea beans when we visit the out islands. She seems to have a knack for finding them while I've only found 2 in the last 2 years. So now when I see a piece of sea glass, I give it to her as a down payment on our sea bean contract. While the rest of the folks returned to the boats for lunch, I went over to Lorraine's Cafe where I was greeted as an old friend. Lorraine had a baby boy last fall. While she made me a fish sandwich, I talked with her husband about one of the 2 cottages they have. The one that was completed and for rent suffered smoke damage when a TV set caught on fire with no one around. So he has gutted the structure and we talked about its refurbishment. The windows needed to finish the 2nd cabin are on their way from the US by mailboat - a good example of the challenges of building in the Bahamas.
  • After lunch, I returned to Onward to pick up my laundry and then went aboard Lady of Lorien where we discussed options for the next few days. We want to get as far S as we can and then work our way N. I've set about 15 March as my target for beginning the transit to the US where I will put Onward in marina in Stuart and then fly out to LA to be with Laura. We both are getting excited about this. As a result of our chart talk, we've decided to move down to Galliot Cay tomorrow and then use the shift in winds with a coming front to cross over to Cat I for a few day before heading S to Long I and Thompson Bay.
  • That done, I returned to shore and went to the laundromat where Ida also greeted me with a smile and a hug. While my clothes were being washed she gave me a haircut on her back porch overlooking the bay. The thought occurred to me that when I was working, I could not have imagined such a thing. I then returned to Lorraine's to use the internet. Unfortunately someone had done a huge download and used up the day's bandwidth allotment and we were now relegated to 1-2 kb/s speeds. So it took me several hours to get my mail and to upload the most recent updates to the BCG.
  • 29 Jan 10; Friday; Black Point to Galliot Cay
  • I made a quick trip ashore to deliver some pens that Moondance had aboard for the local school. I also did some shopping at Adderley's Friendly Store. As I tell local Bahamians with businesses that support cruisers about the BCG website that I created to give them wider exposures, it brings a smile to their face. On Staniel Cay, a couple of the store operators are elderly women and they both thought it was a neat idea. As I was heading back to the dinghy, Ida stopped me to say that she now has a website for her laundromat and asked me to add it to the BCG. This is the kind of response I was hoping for when I started the BCG last year - something to help the small business people.
  • I drained the sediment bowl of the port Raycor fuel filter that was in use. As I was in the process of bringing in the anchor, the engine stalled a couple of times as I increased above idle speed. It took me a minute before I remembered that I had tightened and checked everything but the T-screw at the top of the filter that I had loosened to drain the bowl. When I began to rev up the engine, air got sucked in. That fixed, I was underway. It was a lovely day with ~15 kt winds from the E - ESE. I sailed on a close reach to just S of the entrance to Galliot Cut and then tacked back until the channel narrowed. I anchored just off the S end of Big Farmers Cay in about 12' where I could see the ocean through the gap between Big Farmers and Big Galliot Cays.
  • After anchoring I made bread dough and biscotti dough then spent a relaxing afternoon reading in the sun. I decided to make beef stew to use the vegetables I still had on board from the Abacos. I also baked bread. The Lady of Loriens and Moondancers joined me for dinner and the stew and fresh bread were hits. Proves the point that you can always makes something taste good by adding some wine. Delish!
  • 30 Jan 10; Saturday; Galliot Cay to New Bight, Cat I.
  • I baked the pepper biscotti as soon as I got up. Chris Parker's weather report sounded good so we decided to depart for Cat I even though the wind was still ~15 kts and had more E in it that we had hoped for. It was just after high tide so we rode the ebb out of the Cut. Galliot Cut is wide and deep. I saw a minimum of 15' in the channel between Little and Big Galliot Cays. The cut was deeper with an 18' spot right at the entrance. Once we got through the interaction zone with the ebb, the waves were ~ 4' with an occasional larger and sharper wave but they were all from the same direction so it was not hard to deal with even though their period was short. We sailed / motor sailed on a close reach with 15-20 kt ESE winds to New Bight. The expected clocking to the SSE never happened. We anchored around 1600.
  • Unfortunately the Blue Bird Inn was not serving dinner tonight but Mike had caught a fish and Angie did a superb job of baking it with tomato pesto and cheese topping. Delish!
  • 31 Jan 10; Sunday
  • A weak cold front came through during the night and early morning and the winds clocked around from the E to the W and on to the NNW at ~10 kts. As the winds were on shore and there is no dinghy landing here other than the beach, today was a day to stay aboard - besides it was Sunday and most places were shut down. I started mining the BTC phone book for more input to the BCG. I took the afternoon off to sun and read.