Onward’s Cruise Journal 2010
Cruise in the Bahamas

March 2010

1 Mar 2010; Compass Cay, Exumas
1 Mar 2010; Monday

  • Amazing. The weather forecast actually calls for no cold fronts for almost a week following the one that will come through tomorrow!
  • I spent most of the day organizing and cleaning in preparation for Ed & Tina to arrive tomorrow. In the process I discovered a great cleaning tool. While in a Publix supermarket, I saw a gadget - a Sonic Cleaner. This is essentially a battery operated electric toothbrush that comes with a round 3/8" brush but there are many other brushes and cleaning pads available. I bought this thing and I have been wondering what to do with it. Today I finally used it to clean the bottom edges of my paneled teak doors - all the places that are hard to really clean well. This thing did a great job and now I will buy other tools. I may get into this boat cleaning thing yet!
  • John and Jim made a dinghy run to Sampson Cay's store. They said there was a huge crowd there as all the boats hiding out from the next low where trying to get provisions.
  • Nyiad came in and anchored nearby and I talked to Brian and Daniel on VHF. They invited me to a beach bonfire but I had already been invited to a chili dinner on Leprechaun. The chili was great but we finished up dinner after the fire was out.
2 Mar 2010; Tuesday
  • I spent another morning cleaning Onward. At 1330 Jamal called to say he was taking people to Staniel Cay at 1400. I wasn't ready to go so I gave up the idea of riding in to greet Ed & Tina. I called to verify their flight was in the air and due to arrive around 1600. About 1700 the launch pulled up with Tina, Ed, their baggage and the groceries they shopped for arrived. Just in time for cocktail hour!. I cooked angle hair pasta with olive oil, spices and sausage for dinner. We had a grand time until everyone became sleepy from a busy day.
3 Mar 2010; Wednesday
  • The front came through in the night but Onward rode quietly in the anchorage. There were gusts to >35 kts in the morning. By noon it had dropped down to the 20s so we ventured out in the dinghy to visit the marina. We had great huge hot dogs cooked by Jamal. We then went for a hike along the NE shore of the island. At the NE end of the crescent beach we explored the ruins of what had clearly been a really nice octagonal house perched on the rocks high above the water. It would be interesting to know the story behind it. We then pressed on to about 2/3 of the way to the N tip of the island before doubling back. The island is huge with a central mangrove area with another large section of the island on the W. We got off the trail and had to make our way back through the brush suffering a lot of scratches along the way. But a good marinated turkey breast cooked on the grill made us perk up enough to play Farkel. Here my victory streak crashed :( .
4 Mar 2010; Thursday
  • A bit of drama this morning as Greg, a former Navy EOD diver, on Rebel Son had a medical problem. He had an ear infection that he saw a doctor for in George Town but they did not have the optimal antibiotic. He had used what he was given and it had not done the trick and he was now in a good deal of pain. Nyiad called me to see if I knew of any local doctors. As there are none in this area of the Exumas, I suggested trying on VHF. That resulted in a suggestion to make an announcement on Cruzheimers Net. That led us to help from who was in the Jumentos. I made the contact because I had better reception and access to more SSB frequencies. It turned out I had a back up prescription of just the antibiotic recommended for this problem.
  • Ed and I delivered the antibiotic to Rebel Son and then went on to do diagnostics on Just Limin's VHF radio. We eventually swapped in my back up ship's station VHF and this indicated Jim had lost an amplifier stage on his receive side as he can transmit and be heard but can't hear the responses.
  • We took a long hike on the E shore of Pipe Cay and had lunch along the way. It is a great place to hike along the beach and there are large sections of open, flat sandy areas.
  • In the evening I invited Just Limin, Leprechaun, Nyiad, and Rebel Son to come over for cocktails. We had a grand time.

5 Mar 2010; Friday Compass Cay to Warderick Wells; Emerald Rock.
  • Greg came over from Rebel Son to go talk me through the maintenance and cleaning of the heat exchanger on my 4JH3TE diesel.
  • We weighed anchor at 0930 and followed my bread crumbs out of the anchorage. At about 1.5 hrs before high tide, I saw a minimum of ~ 8.2 feet in the area where I touched on the way in. The passage was uneventful - Good!. The anchorage at Compass Cay is great and I plan to return to it in the future - on a rising tide!
  • I turned cruise planning over to Tina and Ed for their visit. So today they decided to go N to visit Warderick Wells, then Shroud and Norman's Cays before turning about to visit Cambridge Cay and ending up back at Staniel for them to catch their flight out.
  • Winds were light NW @~10 kt and a nice sunny, cool day. We decided to have a lazy sailing day and play with sail trimming. After a bit, Ed and Tina agreed with me that I have a lot of sail trim controls and choosing the best approach is not straightforward. But we played around and I learned a better process to use when deploying and trimming the main. With Ed's help, I mounted my color TV camera at the base of the mast looking up at the head of the genoa. This proved to be very useful as I can now look at the trim of the genoa on a video page of my E120 display. Neat! Due to sail and enclosure configuration it is virtually impossible for me to see the trim of the genoa without hanging overboard to a dangerous extent or walking down into the forward stateroom to look up through the deck hatch.
  • We were able to get a mooring reservation in the S Anchorage at Warderick. After lunch we decided to change our mooring to Emerald Rock due to the light winds and slow sailing. After sailing up within a boat length of the mooring, we quickly picked it up. We then went ashore for a quick hike by the Davis Plantation ruins. It is still amazing to me that someone actually attempted agriculture on this land given how lacking in topsoil it is. It was again apparent that a great deal of the foliage on the S end of the island is gone. We saw a good deal of evidence of the leaves being eaten well up in the tops of shrubs and small trees. Andrew has told us that he has seen Hutia climbing up into the small trees. When we encountered Hutia here, they simply ignored us and went on with their business - they have gotten much bolder since my first visit in 2008.
6 Mar 2010; Saturday
  • Ed made fantastic french toast for breakfast. After doing the dishes I made some pizza dough before we went ashore for a hike and a picnic lunch. A nap in the sun prepared me to make pizzas before going ashore for the Saturday night cocktail party on the beach. As usual, I met a number of interesting cruisers. Andrew joined us aboard Onward for pizza and we learned a lot about the Exumas.

7 Mar 2010; Sunday; Warderick Wells to Hawksbill and Norman Cays.
  • I have been sleeping later so as not to disturb my guests in the morning. Today I popped out of bed at 0615 because I remembered that Nyiad had set up an SSB call with me at that time. After chatting with Daniel, I was sitting listening to 4045 for Chris Parker when a Chris Parker impersonator came on and did a good parody. I was still a bit sleepy and it didn't quite sink in that it was Sunday and of course - no Chris Parker today.
  • The Fischer-Panda genset stopped due to a over-temperature condition. Ed checked the coolant reservoir and the level was low. As the batteries were full, I decided to wait to service it.
  • We departed Emerald Rock and sailed N to Hawksbill Cay where we anchored. We took the dinghy ashore to explore some of the interior creeks and mangrove areas. There were a lot of clouds with intermittent sun.
  • After our exploration we raised anchor and headed off to Normans Cay where I anchored off the beach from MacDuff's. The wind was NNE so I was a bit concerned that we wouldn't get much protection from the swell in the Achorage. We went ashore for a great dinner. I got talking to Roxy who does much of the cooking about the Nan bread she makes. She gave me the recipe and I plan to experiment with it in the near future. We returned to Onward where we had a very quiet night in the anchorage.

8 Mar 2010; Monday; Normans Cay to Cambridge Cay.
  • We made an early departure from Normans and as we sailed down the banks to Cambridge Cay, Ed placed a call to Watermakers Air using the satphone to verify their flight out on the 10th. He discovered that the agent in FL had not properly completed the transaction for their return flight and they were now stand-by. A bummer.
  • Ed played around with the portable VHF that got deep-sixed at Black Point in 2008. After retrieving it I had immediately removed the battery, washed it with fresh water, and dried it our in the hot sun. Even though it was a "submersable" radio, it had worked for a while and then stopped. Ed managed to get it working again with just a hard-to-activate transmit switch.
  • We entered Cambridge by the Bell Island route. After mooring we went ashore of a nice hike. This was followed by a good cocktail hour to assuage the angst over the flight problem.

9 Mar 2010; Tuesday; Cambridge Cay to Staniel Cay.
  • This morning, Ed and I decided to service the genset by adding coolant only to find that the fanbelt had shredded. We replaced the fanbelt, topped up the coolant and all was well. [955 hrs].
  • While Ed continued to call about their flight back, Tina went for a swim around the boat. The cold air temperatures and windy conditions have inhibited our going swimming and snorkeling.
  • Tina came along as I made another traverse of the S exit to the Cambridge mooring field in the dinghy with GPS and depth sounder. At an hour before high tide it looks like I could just sneak through with Onward's 6.2' draft with perhaps a touch or two. As Ed and Tina were apprehensive about making their flight tomorrow and as conditions on the Sound were benign, we exited out the cut and down the Sound to Staniel Cay where I anchored in the hole I used on the last visit.
  • We got a VHF call from Lady of Lorien as they came in Dothan Cut. They decided to come up to Staniel. I invited them aboard for a reunion dinner and Angie brought fresh Mahi that they had caught on the sail over. My food inventory came through and I was able to provide the pesto sauce Angie used along with grated cheese to season the fish while it is baked or grilled. Delish. We had a grand time catching up.

10 Mar 2010; Wednesday; Staniel Cay to Warderick Wells.
  • I downloaded synoptic charts for the next week and noticed that a new low would be forming in the Gulf next Wednesday following the cold front that will come through here on Saturday. I became concerned that the new low might interfere with my return to FL and that I might have to depart for Nassau tomorrow to get ahead of it. I discussed this with Chris Parker on SSB who advised that a departure from Warderick Wells for Nassau on Monday should allow me to be back in FL before the next front.
  • We again enjoyed scones for breakfast. Ed & Tina got all packed up for me to take them ashore in the dinghy. Then I noticed the two large yachts that had spent the night at the SCYC pier were now gone. So we decided to bring Onward in to the pier to get water and fuel as well as allow them to disembark. I rode along with them to the airport and then walked back by the stores to do a bit of shopping. I took on water and fuel and then waited to hear if Ed & Tina got on the flight. Things worked out and they made the flight so I departed SCYC and headed off to Warderick Wells. There was a nice 10-15 kt wind from the SE and I had a nice sail N to the Emerald Rock mooring area where I picked up E5. It was fairly sunny and warm so I spent time lying out in the sun.
  • Sandy and Jack Noble invited me over to Sandy Lee in the N anchorage for dinner. We had been trying to get together on this cruise since we departed Marthas Vineyard this summer and finally managed it! After a great dinner I departed in the dinghy for Onward - there was no moon so I left my masthead light in strobe mode. This proved to be a great beacon to guide me home.

11 Mar 2010; Thursday Warderick Wells
  • I caught a cold somewhere and it hit me this morning. Actually I had been tired yesterday and needed to sleep in the sun during the afternoon. This morning, after listening to Chris Parker, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed - and I did. I woke up in the early afternoon and saw the sun was shining so I spent the rest of the day sleeping in the sun and eating oranges. I woke up in the night craving a grapefruit - so I peeled and ate one and went back to sleep.
  • Sometime today the fluxgate compass did a 180º flip. I noticed this during the night when I woke to check the wind speed and heading on the remote display I keep next to my bed. I was trying to figure out what kind of weather conditions would account for the wind shifting from S to N before the cold front came through. I then assumed the compass had flipped and got up to reset it. I wonder if it has anything to do with SSB transmissions?
12 Mar 2010; Friday
  • I felt human this morning and I had enough energy to get out the Sail Rite and sew some modifications into the spray shield for the dinghy I've been messing with. I used the piece of 1/2" plastic pipe I bought just before leaving FL to make a U-shaped support strut to hold it to the bow of the dinghy. I added shock cord tie-downs to the stern corners of the fabric to hold them down and protect my sides from spray.
  • About noon I took Jack and Sandy up on an invite to visit Sandy Lee for brunch and an opportunity for them to ask me questions about cruising in the Exumas. I brought them a care package of wine, beer, crackers and chips as Onward still has enough stores aboard for several months of cruising. After a great meal and a couple of hours of discussion, I visited the Park office to arrange for payment and get internet UID/PW. Then it was off into the wind and spray back to Onward. The spray shield worked great!. I stayed dry - except for my face. I may need to put a face shield in!
13 Mar 2010; Saturday
  • The cold front came through in the early morning with the squall line directly over Onward while I was trying to listen to Chris Parker. The static was so great I didn't even bother to attempt to talk with him. By 1100, it was just partly cloudy and I was able to talk to Chris on the satphone. He advised staying where I am on Monday and then making the trip to Nassau on Tuesday so I changed my plans.
  • The conditions on E5 at Emerald Rock were fairly benign during the front passage. The Malebar keys to the SW and Warderick Wells Bar to the NW do a pretty good job of keeping the wave height down. Also, the waves tend to be regular while the mooring allows Onward to weathervane into the wind and waves so the overall effect is mild. It was much much more mild than at Black Point where I think the funnel nature of the bay and the shoaling bottom just E of where i was tucked in made for larger and steeper waves which were very irregular. I also think being on the outer mooring was better than on those nearer the shore as there was no wave reflection when the winds and waves have W component.
  • I baked more pepper biscotti this morning as the double batch I made before Ed and Tina arrived took quite a hit during their visit. Funny about that.
  • I began to feel almost normal and was able to begin restoring the interior of Onward to the pre-guest conditions and to pickup after feeling too poorly to do anything the last few days. I invited Jack and Sandy over for an early dinner and by the time they arrived things were almost back to normal.
  • For dinner, I decided to cook the frozen packaged beef brisket I had bought at Sams Club. Upon taking it out of the freezer, I discovered it as pre-sliced and precooked so all I needed to do was put it on the grill wrapped in foil for a bit. I made red beans and rice which I've developed a real liking for. I also sauteed french cut string beans with mushrooms, pine nuts, garlic, bacon, cayenne and olive oil. Jack, who doesn't like vegetables, gave was telling me not to bother cooking them but they were ready to go so I did. He then surprised himself and Sandy by eating 3 helpings! The brisket was wonderful and the thee of us ate less than a third of the package. I vacuum bagged and refroze the balance for lunch and dinners. Jack discovered how wet it gets taking a dinghy back into 15-20 kts of wind.
14 Mar 2010; Sunday
  • Wow, daylight savings time already! I still had some time on my 24-hr internet account to download weather. It looks like I will be able to leave early (0500) from here on Tuesday, anchor overnight in Nassau, leave early Wednesday and spend the night on the Banks, and cross to Lake Worth on Thursday ahead of another front. I'll check that out with Chris again tomorrow.
  • I felt well enough to work on leaning and other boat chores today. Then Jack and Sandy called on VHF to invite me to go hiking with them. The winds had calmed down and they came over in their dinghy and we went ashore to hike to the Davis ruins and then the E shore of the cay. We met a team of students from SUNY Oswego who just arrived for a week of archaeological study of the ruins. When we got to the E heights, I called Lady of Lorien on VHF but got no response only to see Mike and Angie walking the shore just ahead. So we hiked down and chatted for a while.
  • We returned to Onward and got underway to move to the N anchorage. The outer mooring, 1, was available, and I decided to see how conditions there were. I made lunch for us on the trip. As we were picking up the mooring painter, a couple came out in their dinghy to say that they had been scheduled to take mooring 2 but had decided against it so I moved Onward to there. There is pretty good protection except from the NNE where it is open to the Sound through the cut.
  • We finally were able to talk to Deb and Kelly Gregg on the satphone and chat about missing them on this cruise. Sandy invited me over to Sandy Lee for a great linguini with clam sauce dinner.
15 Mar 2010; Monday
  • I talked to Chris Parker this morning and the winds forecast for Tuesday are stronger and right on the nose for the leg to Nassau. Also the winds on Wednesday night on the banks are forecast to be 20 kts with 6' swells - not good conditions to overnight there. So I now plan to leave here on Wednesday morning for Nassau and deport there on Friday or Sat as the weekend weather is forecast to be good for a crossing to FL.
  • I was offered an inner mooring, 9, but I turned it down because the conditions on 2 were benign and I thought that a vessel more tender than Onward would need the protection more. A large yacht, Serque', came in to take mooring 1 and I got to watch the theater of tender and shore party launch and recovery. I got to help out when the shore party couldn't raise them on VHF so I used my loud hailer to pass on the message - I didn't get a bottle of champagne or an invite to cocktail hour or even "thanks" for my effort though.
  • Adagio, a boat that had sent me an email about Emerald Bay is in the anchorage and called to talk with me about the Bahamas Cruisers Guide. George and Kim were complementary and provided some additional details about the marina at Emerald Bay. I caught up on my reading in the sun and then went over to Sandy Lee for cocktails where I got to harass Jack about his belief that Fox News is really news ;).
16 Mar 2010; Tuesday
  • Chris Parker's forecast today was consistent with our discussion yesterday so today I will prepare Onward to leave Warderick Wells for Nassau. Leprechaun talked with me yesterday and plans to move up to Warderick Wells today and accompany Onward on the trip to Nassau. Apparently Nyiad and Just Limin are in Nassau and intend to wait for us there. So, there may be a flotilla returning with Onward to the states!
  • The moving weather window for the trip to FL is another example of why it is hard for me to schedule friends to make these passages with me as it requires a great deal of flexibility for me to be able to decide not to move when conditions are poor - decisions that shouldn't be driven by the calendar.

17 Mar 2010; Wednesday; Warderick Wells to Nassau
  • Onward and Leprechaun departed Warderick Wells at 0630 and headed for Nassau. The day was a bit cloudy and we were tracking a front with a lot of rain in it that was heading E from the Florida Keys. I followed the same course I used in 2008 to jog around the white and yellow banks and made it to Nassau by 1600. We took slips at Nassau Harbor Club where Just Limin was awaiting us.
  • It was John and Cheryl's anniversary as well as St. Patrick's Day so we walked down the street to Outback Steakhouse as we were all craving a good steak after so much time without. We had a wonderful waitress who arranged for an anniversary celebration complete with singers and drums - great fun!

18 Mar 2010; Thursday; Nassau
  • The cold front and secondary fronts came through with little impact and the day was partly sunny. I stopped by Leprechaun to chat with John and took a look at the anchor windlass that he had not been able to use for the last several weeks. I was puzzled by his description of the problem and after disassembling it we discovered that the problem was dirt, corrosion and lack of lubricant in the fiction clutch. This accounted for being able to raise the chain but not allowing it to run out as this required release of the friction clutch.
  • I took a walk over to Paradise Island and stopped at the Ministry of Fisheries along the way to get the real poop on fishing regulations in the Bahamas which are amazingly hard to find.
  • I visited the Atlantis Marina - pricy but beautiful. Valiant Lady, a striking superyacht from Delaware was the largest yacht there. This might be a nice place to keep Onward for a couple of days with guests so the amenities of t he resort could be used. I walked around the Atlantis hotel-casino complex - very well done. I traded in the little I had in Bahamian $ for US $. I won at a slot with the 2nd $1 I put in so I quit then and used my winnings to buy a present for my grandchild to be.
  • In the evening, Just Limin, Leprechaun along with a boat I met at Warderick Wells, Mac Guffin, came over to for a cocktails and a captain's meeting to discuss our trip back to the states. While we were talking, a young couple from boat at another marina came over as someone had told them Onward was heading back to the states in the morning. They wanted to join me so I invited them to come aboard and join the party. They were both nurses who had taken a break to cruise for several months and were now on the way home. We all had a great time as everyone brought some food to share. To top it off, Leslie made shortcake and we had strawberry shortcake for desert.

19 Mar 2010; Friday; Nassau to Frazer's Hog Cay, Berries
  • I departed Nassau Harbour Club at about 0930 along with Just Limin, Leprechaun and we picked up Besame and Kindred Spirit along the way out. The later departure was to allow the winds to settle down a bit but they never did. We made the crossing with 10-15 kts on the nose and that made to slow going although the seas were no problem. When we approached Chub Cay we decided to put into the anchorage off Frazer's Hog Cay after talking to Nyiad and Rebel Son on the VHF as they were still at anchor there. The entrance was easy although at the narrowest part of the channel I wandered too near the E side of the channel and caught the starboard wing of the keel in the sand. But, I just easily backed off and headed toward the green channel maker. The anchorage is large and I found good holding. The island provided good shelter and I slept soundly.

20 Mar 2010; Saturday; Frazer's Hog Cay to Great Issac Cay
  • At first light, I dropped off my two jerry cans of diesel to Leprechaun and then headed out. I followed the new waypoints I put in and the transit was easy. We then headed off across the banks with 10-15 from the ESE - E and made it to the W edge of the banks before sunset. We anchored about 0.25 nm W of Great Issac Cay. During the night, the winds increased from the E ESE to 18 - 20 kts so it was a bouncy night. I usually have no problem sleeping through such motion but not this time. Just after dozing off I was awakened by a full-bladder alarm. I took a while to doze again only to be quickly awakened by a group of cruisers passing on an overnight crossing to FL and making calls on the VHF. After that the motion had increased to the point where I moved out to the salon where the motion was less and I finally got a couple of hours sleep.

21 Mar 2010; Sunday;' Great Issac Cay to Lake Worth
  • As soon as I could see I began to bring up the anchor only to find that the rhode had gotten so twisted it had the anchor bridle lines wrapped around it. It took me a bit to get that straightened out. Once underway we had the wind almost behind us on the port quarter at ~15 kts apparent with us making ~ 7+ kts SOG. At first I motorsailed with just the genoa until I was far ahead of the others. I then just sailed with the genoa until they caught up. The current in the Gulf Stream again seemed to be less than usual. The rumbline course to Lake Worth was 321º M and I sailed 305 - 315º M and that brought me right into Lake Worth. The seas weren't bad 4 - 6' in general but very broken so there was an occasional 8 - 10' peak. This made boat motion interesting as Onward surfed at > 10 kts SOG down these hills. We arrived at Lake Worth Inlet at almost max ebb current. At the same time the true wind speed increased to 28+ kts. The combination of on-shore wind and ebb current resulted in large breakers making their way about a third of the way into the inlet. Onward did some interesting surfing on these as we came in - the most nerve-wracking passage I've ever made into an inlet.
  • Onward was anchored in the S anchorage by 1700 more than an hour before the pre-frontal squalls from the cold front arrived. Winds and current were so strong, the Manson was getting pulled over the ground so fast it was hard to set in that silty clay bottom - but when it did, it stopped Onward dead. I discovered under those conditions it was necessary to use ~ 1000 rpm forward to slow down the boat to leave just enough slow rearward movement for the anchor to set quickly. I set it 4 times before being satisfied I was well positioned should the coming squalls be strong.

22 Mar 2010; Monday; Lake Worth to Stuart FL
  • I slept the sleep of the exhausted and awoke to a cool overcast day as the remnants of the cold front passed through. After many queries from other cruisers about US customs and immigration checkin procedures, I mined my notes and put a new section on the BCG for checking in in S. Florida and the Local Boaters Option. It turns out most of the folks I traveled with could have signed up for the LBO but were unaware of its benefits. This morning, after updating the BCG site, I called CPB and it took me less than a minute on the phone to get checked in via the LBO. Great!
  • I spent a bit of time on the VHF saying farewells. It will be much different now not being surrounded by friends after so many months. I departed the anchorage at 0930 to make it to Sewell Point on the St. Lucie R while the tide was high. I encountered a slight delay at the Parker Bridge because they are doing inspections and cable work but the rest of the trip was without incident. I made this transit through the marked channel at Swell's Point without incident.
  • I put Onward into slip D14 at the Harborage Marina in Stuart. After getting settled, a fellow cruiser on the pier let me borrow his bike to make the LONG trip from the floating piers to the dock office. I won't be making that trip many times. I treated myself to a great dinner at Mangos restaurant in the marina: blackened Mahi with crab and spinach sauteed in olive oil - Delish!

23 Mar 2010; Harborage Marina, Stuart FL
  • Time to get on the stick and get ready to depart for LA!

25 Mar 2010; Off to LA
  • I flew from Ft. Lauderdale to LA and was met at the airport by Laura who looked very pregnant. I read a book while mom and dad-to-be went to their last birthing class. Then we picked up a pizza and went home to their home near Beverly Hills.

26 Mar 2010. LA
  • I got to LA just in time as Laura's contractions began at 3AM!

27 Mar 2010. Birthday!
  • Elena Adele arrived at 2350 hrs at 7 lb 11 oz and 21.5 in. after giving her mom (and dad) quite a workout. All is right and beautiful with the world!.

Elena Adele Payton