Onward’s Cruise Journal 2010
Cruise in the Bahamas

December 2010

1 Dec 10; Wednesday; Green Turtle Cay

  • Overnight the ENE winds died down and it was almost calm - a short interlude before the next, stronger, front comes in. Margareta, the IP in this large slip ahead of Onward wanted to make a run around the Whale today so moved Onward out of the way with the help of Harriet, Skip, and Vince to work docklines.
  • I spent the morning on organization and then headed off to the pool for a swim and reading. I had lunch at the pool with Skip & Harriet and then spent the rest of the day relaxing at the pool and reading a Dick Francis novel. Harriet made pea soup for dinner which was followed by 3 games of Farkle in which Skip slammed us in the first and last.

2 Dec 10; Thursday; Green Turtle Cay
  • I spent the morning continuing my efforts at organization & triage of papers. As my reward, I took time off to go to the pool, have lunch, and read. This sojourn ended as the oncoming front moved clouds in and it got chilly. I had to go back to Onward and climb under the covers to warm up.
  • Skip & Harriet came over and gave me a hand rehanging the artwork I have on the forward bulkhead. I had resisted making holes in the bulkhead to hang it and that was compounded by trying to do it by myself. I had developed a system of suspending it using nylon fishing line. This worked good except when offshore. Of course, as soon as I was in calmer waters I forgot about this issue. It took less than half an hour to get it securely mounted with 3 finish drywall screws. Neat. We rewarded ourselves by going having dinner together at the restaurant where we were joined by Gail from the trawler Gadabaut who had lived at Hope Town when her parents had a home there.

3 Dec 10; Friday;
  • Well the winds are supposed to calm down tonight but will still be from the N to NW. With luck, we should be able to depart here and get around the Whale and then on to Treasure Cay. I was on task today doing triage on financial papers I had not been able to bring myself to deal with during this summer's cruise as I was having too much fun. I took a break and went up to the pool to have lunch, a beer, and read for a bit.
  • As the weather continued to look good for a departure tomorrow, I decided to invite the crews from Moondance, Fortnight (Linda & Vince), and Wine Down (Sherry & Wayne) over for a pasta dinner. I made the angle hair pasta with olive oil, pine nuts, and sausage that I've really come to like. We had a grand time helped along with antipasto salad from Moondance. Wayne who was a wine consultant before retiring, brought over a couple of bottles of merlot . Linda topped off the evening with Ghiradelli chocolate brownies - there was actually a bit of a contest to see who could get the last crumbs!

4 Dec 10; Saturday; Green Turtle Cay to Treasure Cay
  • This was a busy morning. I was up at 0500 to get the steward on task to clean up the dinner dishes. Then I stowed everything loose in preparation for transiting the Whale. I filled Onward's water tanks and then washed the deck & cockpit.
  • At 0800, when the marina office opened, I went in to check out. During the winter season, the marina has a "docking for $ special". The dockage is $1.25/ft/day. Anything you spend there, dinner, drinks, laundry, store items is "free" - up to the cost of dockage. Since I couldn't eat or drink (surprising!) enough to match the dockage, I went on a shopping spree and of course found things to by for my granddaughter.
  • We departed the marina on the falling tide at 0845 and it became a bit of a challenge to get around the Whale and then to Treasure Cay before the tide dropped too much for Onward to clear the channel. The Whale was well behaved with some 4-5' long-period swells rolling in and light wind chop - no bouncing out of the water this time. Once we'd gone out of the cut and then back in, I put the throttle forward to sprint to Treasure Cay to beat the falling tide. I sailed through the entrance channel at 1100 and saw a couple of 6.4' spots - as close as I'd like to cut it. We anchored in the basin and I made lunch, read, and napped (of course). In late afternoon we took a dinghy in to explore the marina and the beach. One of the great things about this place is the grocery store - one of the best stocked in the Bahamas and close to the dinghy dock.
  • Big Bird Arrived! While visiting Vero Beach, Harriet and Skip had taken me to the farmers market at Ft. Pierce. One of the many craft booths there offered a variety of puppets. With some consulting help from Harriet, I bought a gigantic Big Bird puppet. I shipped it off UPS to Elena later that morning. I must have messed up the street number of Laura's new home because UPS couldn't deliver it until Laura called Staples in Vero Beach and got them to fix the house number. It arrived Friday afternoon. I had told Laura to make sure the three of them were together when the package came and to have the video camera ready to go. Well, as soon as I got internet here in Treasure Cay, I found 3 video clips of Kurlen, dad & puppeteer, putting Big Bird through his paces for a delighted Elena who is jabbering at it and trying to grab it while, mom & videographer, Laura is laughing in the background. Neat! Video Clip (1.9 MB)
  • The Moondancers invited me aboard for a light finger-food dinner and great Mojitos made with boat-grown mint. They then introduced me to the word card game Quiddler - a lot of fun.

5 Dec 10; Sunday; Treasure Cay
  • The expected cold front arrival was delayed and it was absolutely still all night. At 0530, the winds began to pick up to 10 kts but never got into the 20s. In the afternoon, we went ashore for a walk on beautiful Cocoa Beach which we bookended with Goombay Smashes at the beach bar.
  • While there, we met Fran and Mort from the trimaran Alato that was anchored in the basin. I remember hearing this boat name on previous cruises so I invited them to join us for pizza in the evening. As always, the pizza went over well with all and we had a great time. I downloaded a driver for a new wifi receiver Alato had purchased and burned a couple of CDs of photos for Moondance. Unfortunately these tasks kept me out of the chat session so I need to remember to avoid doing tasks like this during a social visit.

6 Dec 10; Monday; Treasure Cay - Hope Town
  • A beautiful day dawned with light winds from the WNW. After listening to the weather, Skip and I decided it would be a good day to leave Treasure Cay and head to Hope Town. Harriet and I made a quick run into the great grocery store to get fresh foods so we could leave as close to high tide as possible as Onward needs some tide to get into Hope Town. When we arrived back at Moondance, Fran from Alato was there. It seems the driver I downloaded for her last night got corrupted when she attempted to unzip it so Skip was trying it again. This delayed our departure about 45 min on the falling tide.
  • We had a beautiful motorsail to Hope Town but arrived there at 1345 - about an hour before low tide so there wasn't enough water for Onward. Moondance pressed on while Onward anchored at a spot where there was 6.4' of water. They encountered a couple of 5.7' spots on the way in to pick up a mooring. I worked on updating Onward's log while the tide dropped to 6.0' before starting to rise again. At 1700 there was 7..0 to 7.2' so I weighed anchor and headed in. While I was waiting the wind had picked up from ~ 12 kts to 25 kts. It was a bit disconcerting to have 25 kts blowing on the port beam while Onward had to slowly traverse the channel ~100' off the rocky shore. Except for that and one 6.5' spot, the trip was uneventful. Skip & Harriet took their dinghy to pick up the mooring bridle for me - a great boon in the crowded mooring field with >20 kts blowing!
  • To celebrate, we went ashore to Jack's to play bingo, meet up with folks from Margareta and , drink beer and eat a great ruben sandwich. To top it all, Skip won one of the bingo rounds and even after having to split the pot, he reaped >$90.
  • On the way back in the dinghy, we were entranced by the Hope Town lighthouse that was decorated with lights to look like a Christmas Tree. Neat!

7 Dec 10; Tuesday; Hope Town
  • The winds began to lie down during the night and another beautiful day dawned. I talked to Chris Parker this morning after reviewing synoptic and wind grib charts and it looks like we have a good window for moving from the Abacos to the Exumas via Eleuthera over the next 4 days before the next cold front will arrive. That means the first order of business today is getting ashore to by some of Vernon's key lime pies!

8 Dec 10; Wednesday; Hope Town to Lynyard Cay
  • We took a quick trip into town before departure. I'd picked up a mooring from "Lucky Strike" and had not been able to run down the owner, Truman. A sailboat from Annapolis, Antares, who are staying there for a long time volunteered to hold the fee for him. We departed just before high tide and I enjoyed not worrying about the depths on the way out! It was an easy motorsail in light NW winds under genoa S to the anchorage at Lynyard Cay. There Skip & Harriet picked me up for a hike on the beach where we walked, played ball with Bailey, and hunted sea glass for Harriet to turn into jewelry. I had an early night to rest up for the crossing tomorrow as the weather window continued to look good.

9 Dec 10; Thursday; Lynyard Cay to Current I, Eleuthera
  • Anchor aweigh at 0600 in the pre-dawn light. Winds NW at < 10 kts. There were easy swells at the Little Harbor Cut and the transit was calm and peaceful - the way I like to transit cuts. Once offshore we motorsailed a direct course for Egg I at the NW tip of Eleuthera. Gadabaut left just before us and I got to talk with Denis about getting into Spanish Wells - a place I've not considered going to date because the depths shown on the charts are off-putting. He has a lot of experience and gave me enough local knowledge that I would now consider visiting there in the future. The winds continued to lighten up over the course of the day and it was in an almost calm that we rounded Egg I and headed for current cut. We got there at 1530 and were headed by a current that reached 4.2 kts as we transited the cut. We anchored off Current I - the conclusion of a very peaceful crossing.

10 Dec 10; Friday; Current I to Powell Pt
  • Today was a lazy morning today with an 0700 departure. Wind remained calm all night and began picking up to 10-12 kts at 0430. By dawn there was enough wind for a nice sail to the S to the E waypoint for the channel W to Powell Pt. We put into Cape Eleuthera Marina and Onward kept station in the basin while Moondance topped off diesel then I put in to take on diesel also. We then took slips for the night. I celebrated with a wonderful shower and then piped happy hour. While I was Deputy Director for Joint Experimentation at the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, one of the Navy officers on my staff, an SSBN Captain, gave me a bosuns pipe when I returned to ARL. I spent part of the transit this morning working on learning how to play it. I now plan to use it daily to "Pipe Cocktail Hour".
  • Skip and I took our "to-go" cups and took a walk about the marina. The developers have really done a nice job on the basin, marina, and the first phase of condos. At this time of year it is a bit deserted though; we were the only visiting cruisers. As we expect to spend the next 2 weeks at Exuma Land and Sea Park, we decided to have dinner ashore at the small restaurant and had a really nice time.

11 Dec 10; Saturday; Powell Pt. to Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park, Warderick Wells
  • There were a number of short rain squalls during the night but by sunrise they had passed. We topped of our water tanks and then treated ourselves to breakfast at the Bahamas Coffee Company. I got a mocha fix - the last for quiet a spell I expect. We checked out of the marina where they charge US rates; $2.50/ft plus electricity & water. No attempt to attract cruisers on price in spite of the marina being empty.
  • We headed across Exuma Sound in very calm seas. Within an hour or so the winds began to increase from the ENE to 10-12 kts which made it nice for motorsailing. However as we approached the Exumas the seas became confused from the port quarter and that made for a bit of bouncing. The passage through Warderick Cut was just a bit bouncy - but better than I expected from offshore conditions. I put into the N anchorage and picked up mooring 9. I was a bit lucky and snagged it on the first try in spite of 13-15 kts wind and healthy current. This process works much better when, like today, I remember to rig the line to Onward's mooring bridle ring which allows me to quickly loop it through the mooring float pennant.
  • The immediate reaction to getting settled on the mooring was: "it feels like home" - the park is a special place and it really feels good to reach here. Now the trekking is over and the rest of the Bahamas cruise are simply what has now become minor relocations.
  • We arrived in time for the weekly cocktail hour for cruisers on the beach. The anchorage was full so there were a lot of cruisers on the beach. I got to reconnect with folks I met here last year as well as some new folks.

12 Dec 10; Sunday
  • I spent the morning organizing and then beginning to do some sewing repairs to the canvas of the enclosure. As there was a strong cold front due to arrive in the night, I wanted to get these repairs done before problems got worse.
  • At 1300 I picked up Harriet to go for a walk as Skip injured a toe while picking up their mooring. We hiked to BooBoo Hill where Onward's signboard was still in evidence. We then discovered that the signboard Harriet had made last year with all 3 boat names was missing - then we discovered it had fallen on the backside of the hill. I managed to rescue it. Now we will have to come back with kit to add this year to the signs.
  • I returned to complete my sewing repairs. This was a bit of a challenge as the plastic windows of the enclosure panels made then very difficult for me to handle; its another job where another pair of hand would be great.
  • Harriet made delicious lemon pasta for dinner and we had another go at Quiddler aboard Moondance. Harriet & Skip had purchased a wine aerator at a kitchen store we visited on the way down. I had though this "interesting and nice to have" but didn't think it would make much of a difference. Tonight I tried a Black Box Malbec with and without use of the aerator. Wow, was I wrong! It made a noticeable difference to the smoothness of the wine. Now I gotta get me one.
  • As I was preparing to leave Moondance, the wind which had been quiet all day, began to pick up and was at 20 kts by the time I was back aboard Onward.
13 Dec 10; Monday
  • The wind continued to pick up all night and was SW at 20-30 kts at 0300 when the rain squalls accompanying the cold front arrived and then the wind shifted to NW at 20 -35. It felt good to be on one of the park's well maintained moorings.
  • At 0530, I heard a nearby boat making a distress call. It was from what I believe to be a French Canadian boat that I had listened to yesterday talking with the park. The captain had had difficulty locating the S, Emerald Rock, mooring field. Then, when approaching it, decided to anchor just outside. Well, this morning, his anchor broke or broke free and he was using his engine and broadcast a call for help because he was alone. I was apparently one of the very few people awake at the time so I responded to his call on Ch 16 and told him that while I couldn't come to assist him, I would rebroadcast his weak call. I managed to raise Chris at the park and he immediately said he would go to the boat's aid. I got to hear bits and pieces of the saga and occasionally used my more powerful VHF to clear up communications caused in large part by the accent of the captain.
  • The wind stayed in the 25-30 kt range for the rest of the day. I was really pleased with myself for having gotten the sewing repairs on the enclosure done in time. I'd hate to think of what it would have been like otherwise; the minor restitching made necessary by UV damage to the original thread would have turned into much more major repairs.
  • I took advantage of my enforced presence inside to work on an albatross. It has been my intention to begin to make the ~1000 hrs of my time that has gone into the www.bahamascruisersguide.com website start to make a return on the investment. While my prime motivation for building it has been to help the many great Bahamian small business that help us cruisers, I would like to at least to defray my operating costs. I had considered making a linked .pdf version that I could sell for downloading on the site. I couldn't find a reasonable way to do this so I worked out how to create a complete .html version that can be compressed into a .zip format for easier downloading. Today I found a third-party service that will handle the purchase transaction and provide the download service so I established an account and set it up.
  • The new Google book store is up and running. I had downloaded the Google eBook reader ap for my iPad and was waiting for them to start selling books. Today I did a quick browse of what was available and purchased Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol as it was on sale. We'll see how this ereader compares to the others I have (10 at last count including iBooks) one of great things about the iPad is access to such variety of ebook sources.
  • The iPad ranks as the best gift I've ever been given. I'd be lost without it because it has become such and integral part of my daily life. As an example, I operate on the solar circadian rhythm, up at 0500 and ready for sleep at around 2000, I will occasionally wake up at 0200 to 0300 and be too awake to immediately fall back asleep. I now just grab the iPad and read and or do different puzzles or crosswords until I feel ready to sleep again. This really cuts down the tossing and turning.
14 Dec 10; Tuesday
  • The wind continued to blow last night but began to ease up after midnight. One good thing is it allowed my wind generator to pump > 200 AHrs into the batteries in the last 36 hrs. It actually shut itself down because the batteries were full.
  • This morning, before my fellow cruisers were up, there was great internet bandwidth so I set up merchant accounts with PayPal and Google Checkout. I guess this officially makes me an ebusinessman ;) It will be a fun experiment to see what happens.
  • I discovered my pepper biscotti stash was low! I immediately mixed up a batch of dough to bake some tomorrow. While at it, I decided to try an experiment and made up another batch of dough with just 3/4 cup of olive oil vs the normal 1 cup. My plan is to turn this dough into a calzone and pepperoni rolls - we'll see how this works.
  • I've been running a psychological experiment with myself. There are many miscellaneous cleaning and organizing tasks for me to do along with many different types of other boat repair and improvement tasks. They are not much fun or intellectually challenging so I find it hard to overcome inertia to get started on them. I realized one of the reasons I don't start is because I don't feel like spending a significant block of time working on them and thus never get started. So I began my experiment. First I select 2 - 3 of the hanging tasks. Then I set a digital kitchen timer for 15 minutes. I work on the first task for 15 min. Then I move on to the 2nd for the next 15 min., and so on. I have been finding that I don't get bored and that I can keep at this for several hours at a time and really get some things done. It is still early in the experiment, but I intend to keep using this technique to see if it really continues to help me.
  • The winds remained in the area of 15 kts which made a dinghy ride for the Moondancers to join Onward for dinner too wet an option so we postponed it to tomorrow night.

15 Dec 10; Wednesday;
  • The winds began to die down during the night - nice! I got up this morning and began baking pepper biscotti while I listened to the weather report on the SSB and worked on organizing an email list of family and friends. When it was time to take the biscotti out of the oven, I did as always and sampled them for quality control ;). After a couple of small bites I found myself thinking that learning how to bake these has been one of my most rewarding accomplishments. I then put together a calzone (with prosciutto and provolone), some focaccia, and 3 pepperoni rolls. I had 2 of the pepperoni rolls for lunch. Mmmm, good!
  • While poking about in the freezer to get the prosciutto, I came across a box of filo dough that I had purchased more than a year ago. At the time, my intention was to learn how to use it to make appetizers for cocktail hours. Well, I never got around to doing that and the box has been a pain to stow whenever I load the freezer. Today I got fed up and decided that while the oven was hot I should find out what to do with it. I took out the filo sheets which weren't too bad off considering how long I've had them aboard. I decided to make pastries. I took a can of raspberries, drain off the syrup, cut 3 filo sheets into quarters, put a teaspoon of berries in the center of each quarter, and brushed water on the surfaces to make them stick together when I folded them over to make little turnovers. I did the same thing with some chopped pieces of apple but added cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar to the filling. After placing them on a baking sheet, I brushed the tops with melted butter and added a dash of cinnamon and brown sugar. I baked them at 375º for 20 min and then at 300º for 40 min. The experiment was delicious! Next time I will work out how to put more layers on the bottom so the juice doesn't leak out as much.
  • This morning all the other boats but Moondance and Onward departed. So we had the anchorage to ourselves. We went ashore for a hike and a visit to the park offices. Harriet & skip came over for dinner of Jack Daniels pulled chicken and Bush's grilling beans topped off with the filo-based desert. Delish!

16 Dec 10; Thursday
  • Joseph recommended I build the Bahamas Cruisers Guide into an iPad ap. This sounds like a neat idea so this morning I joined the Apple Developer program. As soon as I download the iOS SDK I will begin playing with this idea. I worked on may various task lists all morning and at noon I took the dinghy and with the Moondancers went over to the remote Paradise beach we had discovered last year. We had a great lunch on the beach for which Harriet provided a cob salad and I provided focaccia and pastries for desert. We had great time watching Bailey enjoy the beach. After Skip and Harriet left, I spent a couple of hours on the deserted CFBZ beach reading, napping, swimming and just lolling around in my skin-suit.
  • Harriet whipped up a close approximation of "Chicago dogs" - hotdogs with all sorts of stuff on them. Delish! We then played a new card game that I had beginners luck with and won!

17 Dec 10; Friday;
  • I spent the first part of the morning making a Christmas Card to send to family and friends. I finally took the time to organize my email addresses because this has gotten in the way of me doing this in the past. On Monday, I had taken a photo of Onward sitting in the anchorage at Warderick Wells all by itself as all the other cruisers but Moondance had departed. I decided to use this photo as the centerpiece of the card because it shows off the raw beauty of the area.
  • Over the last week, I had misplaced a couple of important things: the key to the companionway lock and the kitchen scissors I was using the other night while preparing dinner - they just disappeared in the midst of using them. Harriet called to say she was going to come over to help me find them. An unstated part of her agenda was to better train the Steward in cleaning. She began by searching galley drawers which led to a thorough cleaning of them. We took a break while I showed her how to slice and grill the scones she had baked and brought over yesterday. We then had a very civilized tea with toasted buttered scones with jam and whipped cream. A nice reward for our cleaning efforts. I eventually found the scissors (at the bottom of the trash bin - fun sorting through that!) and the keys (in the pocket of a jacket i'd forgotten I'd worn. I also located the missing ship's ensign - torn during a squall along the ICW and misfiled for sewing repair. On that high note, Harriet went back to check on Skip.
  • I took time off in the afternoon to nap and work on crosswords in the cockpit. This period was punctuated by a large catamaran that arrived and couldn't seem to tie up to the mooring next door. They were getting rather close to Onward and I was about to suggest they use a shorter line to attach them to the mooring's pennant. But they moved to another location. I later learned that they were at the end of a bad day that had begun with the pennant on a mooring at Little Farmers Cay broke during the front passage and their bows had hit the rocks. They had done emergency repairs and were trying to get back to Eleuthera where they could get fiberglass work done. This is a good example of needing to be reticent about jumping to conclusions about other cruisers before learning more about their experiences.
  • However, that said I do sometimes wonder about how some cruisers actually make it this far. The boat that I helped a few days ago by relaying its call for help is good example of people not having their act together before heading out to cruise. The guy was a singlehander. He had paid no attention at all to the weather and so had been oblivious to the strong cold front that was coming. He improperly tied up to a Park mooring just using the mooring's pennant and put it on the bow in a way that caused the >1" line to chafe through. His boat had then grounded on the sand and he was using his engine to keep the bow into the waves when I heard his call. When the rescue boat from the Park arrived, he threw a line in the water after being told not to do that. The line immediately got sucked int the props of the rescue boat and then that boat got swamped in the surf. The Park sent a second boat that rescued the Park staff and the sailboat. The Park was able to salvage the boat with the engines still in good shape but the electronics damaged.
  • We met Heather and Chris, a couple on SV Legacy, a boat they had been cruising on for several years all the way from Alaska. I invited them and the Moondancers over for pasta and meatballs. We had a wonderful time exchanging cruising stories.

18Dec 10; Saturday;
  • While listening to Chris Parker, I prepared my Christmas Cards to email when I got internet access later in the day. At the end of the weather, I tried to reach Lady of Lorien on SSB to no avail. However, another boat, Memory, came back and we chatted. I turned out this was someone I met while at Boothbay Harbor Regional Boatyard. Bruce is a friend of Kelly Gregg and had been aboard Onward enjoying a beer when he and Kelly had to take off in my dinghy to help a boat that went aground on the rocks. Memory was on the way to the Park. It's a small cruising world.
  • I went back to my timer-based task execution. It seems to really help me. I got two canvas sewing projects ready to sew: a bag for the companionway hatch boards and a cover for the seat in the dinghy.
  • I connected to the Park's wifi to pick up mail and begin to send my Christmas greetings. It is a satellite based system that costs $10 for a 24 hr continuous period or 100 MB of throughput. In the past I've seldom used up that 100 MB. Today, like the previous session, the 100 MB disappeared in less than an hours. I'm not sure why. The only likely candidate I can come up with is that I OK'd a number of ap updates for my iPad forgetting about the bandwidth issue.
  • After lunch, I decided to return to Paradise beach. As I departed Onward, Memory arrived and took up the mooring next to Onward so I went over to say hello to Bruce and Maureen on my way to the beach. At the beach, I swam, sunned, napped, and read until the clouds from the coming front moved in.
  • When I returned from my beach expedition, I got back to sewing my projects. Things went very well at first until I again ran up against one of the great mysteries of he universe. It seems that whenever I have a task in which there are two ways of putting something together - one right and one wrong - almost 100% of the time, I will choose the wrong way of doing it. How can this be? I think it's because having gotten the task ?> 80% organized, my mind wanders off to think about the next task leaving execution unsupervised. Even so, random selection should lead to at least a 50:50 distribution of rights and wrongs. How do I always seem to choose the wrong? The only way I've found to beat this is to try to discipline myself to ask the question: what is the wrong way to do this? This brings me back to focus on the task at hand and if I can remember to do this, I can then pick the right way. The problem is training myself to ask the question. It's gotten to the point that I don't even loose my temper but simply say: did it again - laugh.
  • Pre-frontal squalls moved in and eliminated the cruisers' cocktail hour that had been planed for the beach tonight and postponed my getting together with the crew of Memory. I did take advantage of the rain to go out on deck and use the deck brush to scrub so the rain could rinse off.
  • The squalls were really strong with gusts to 35 kts and sustained periods of > 30 kts. Last weekend's front and this one of been two of the strongest I've experienced - but at least there was a week between them.

19 Dec 10; Sunday
  • Strong pre-fontal squalls arrived periodically through the night until about 0200 when the cold front arrived and things calmed down to a relatively mild 18-22 kts. I experience more rain tonight than at any other time in the Bahamas. It was really great to have Onward rinsed off in fresh water.
  • I spent the morning working on sewing projects and then went ashore where I met up with the crew of Carrie May, Moondance, and Horos for a hike around the cay. After getting back aboard Onward, the winds picked up to over 20 kts again. I had lunch, read and napped - essentially took the afternoon off. At 1700 I decided to brave the wet ride in the dinghy to go in to the beach for cruisers' cocktail hour. A good number of folks braved the wet to come ashore so we had a good group. Melanie from Carrie May and I organized a contest for the brightest LED flashlight. It was a bit unfair as I knew I'd win and that proved to be the case with the TK 20.
  • I was having such a good time, I didn't notice that the wind was causing the small waves to splash over the transom of the dinghy. When I walked over to check on it, I discovered that it was half-full of water. With the help of a couple of the guys on shore I was able to bail and pump it out and head back to Onward. When I got back aboard, I was drenched. I went right into the shower fully clothed, turned on the water and stripped so my salty clothes got washed off as I washed myself. Important lesson learned here: I will rig the dinghy's Fortress anchor to be ready to deploy to keep the bow into the wind and waves instead of beaching the bow the next time I face similar wind and surf conditions.

20 Dec 10; Monday
  • I used my timer technique to keep me engaged in my various tasks until noon. Somehow I missed the fact that I needed to buy a new American flag before I left the states as I thought I had a spare on board. As I worked to see if the last one which was damaged in a squall could be repaired, I realized the only way to do this was by using parts of its predecessor to repair the damaged stripes. At noon, I took off in the dinghy to join the Moondancers for a picnic on the beach by Emerald Rock. Harriet made a pasta salad from a kit she bought at Trader Joes. This was the absolute best pasta salad I've ever eaten! Must get some of these when I'm back in the states. It was a very pleasant afternoon and I got to hike before finding another secluded CFBZ beach to swim and work on my tan.
  • We later gathered for a steak cookout on Moondance where Harriet proceeded to clean Skip's and my clock playing Quiddler.

21 Dec 10; Tuesday
  • Some piece of software has been eating my 100 MB / $10 budget. I'm not sure what but perhaps it was some iPad updates that were "in the pipe". The demon finally ate its fill and I was able to send off my Christmas cards.
  • I discovered that two people have already purchased downloads of the Bahamas Cruisers Guide and another boat has asked for a direct purchase. Neat.

22 Dec 10; Wednesday;
  • I used my timer technique to stay on task through midmorning. Then I rewarded myself by preparing a picnic lunch and heading over to Paradise Beach CFBZ to swim, read, and sun.
  • Moondance returned in the afternoon from the re-provisioning trip to Staniel and Onward Marine Mooring Services was on hand to assist with their mooring pickup. I spent the rest of the afternoon updating the Bahamas Cruisers Guide.
  • Legacy invited us over for dinner and another great meal and convivial time was had by all.

23 Dec 10; Thursday
  • I spent the morning continuing to work on the BCG while taking breaks to do other tasks again using the timer technique. By then it was time for a nice lunch spent reading in the sunny cockpit followed by a nap. Such exhausting days...

24 Dec 10; Friday; Christmas Eve
  • Well, my efforts to consolidate my disorganized email addresses into an easily accessed file payed off nicely. Since I started cruising, I've wanted to get back into the habit of sending Christmas Cards to friends and family. Of course, most of the time the period for doing this has coincided with moving Onward down the ICW or to and thru the Bahamas. As I usually don't have a lot of spare energy at these times, the Christmas Card idea never got implemented. The neat thing about getting to the Bahamas more than a month earlier than in the past is that I've had the time to really relax and work on some projects that never get attention. My email address organization and then creating and sending the Christmas Card were beneficial outcomes of my early arrival. This in turn has put me back in touch with many family members and friends - what fun!
  • I've invited the crews from Moondance and Legacy over to celebrate Christmas Eve aboard Onward. My cousin Diane responded to my Christmas Card with a note about how Christmas Eve celebrations at my home when we were children was so magical. Our huge extended family would come to our home for the celebration. What wonderful warm memories I have of those years. I am really missing my children and perhaps I will rework my approach to the holidays in the future.
  • I decided to bake some rosemary olive oil bread for the holidays along with a batch of pepper biscotti. The other night, I woke up from a sound sleep with a brilliant idea about how to bake long loaves of bread instead of the large round boule I usually make. The problem is that the loaf must be baked in a closed vessel of some type for the first 30 min. This is to keep the humidity high so the outer layers will be chewy and crunchy. I usually use a large covered pot for this. My new middle-of-the-night idea, was to form a long loaf on the silicone baking sheets I use; roll the baking sheet loosely around the loaf so that it can't slump during the first 15 min.; then wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil to create the closed vessel. Harriet came over to kibitz and help me implement the new technique. The extra pair of hands was really nice to have. It worked like a charm and made two beautiful loves. I think I will bake all my bread this way in the future. We both had a slice and decided I needed to put it away quickly before we ate the whole thing.
  • While the bread was baking, I whipped up a batch of Mom's almond biscotti (augmented with rum, walnut and blueberries) again with Harriet kibitzing. While they were baking, Harriet repaired flags. Both our Bahamian courtesy flags had already become frayed at the outer edge due to the high winds we've had. She also undertook to complete sewing the patches to my ensign. Funny how she can sew with much less swearing (none) than when I'm sitting at the machine!
  • The almond biscotti looked beautiful. While in the midst of baking, I heard Tom and Sandy from Anania talking to the Park. I've been trying to get together with them since we shared a mooring in Vero Beach in Dec 07 when I was still a cruising neophyte. They were undecided if they were going to move S from Norman's Cay. I got them on VHF and enticed Sandy with the list of things I was baking. She said she was ready to swim S but would work on Tom. A few minutes later, they called the Park for a mooring and were rewarded by a good one due to a cancellation. A bit later in the morning, the boat they had been waiting for, Bad Boy, called in. They were assigned one of the outer moorings where Onward berthed last Spring. I extended the invitation to the new arrivals.
25 Dec 10; Saturday; Christmas
  • The day dawned with an unusual amount of cloud cover but by midmorning the skies had cleared for another beautiful day. I spent the morning calling family on the Globalstar phone and working on my boat tasks. I grilled a couple of turkey tenderloins, made up a random rum drink, and headed over to the Park Administrator's residence where most of the crews from the anchorage had gathered for a Christmas potluck dinner. Henry, the Bahamian Park Warden, grilled a turkey and a ham. It was a great time; the next best thing after all the delicious foods was meeting so many new folks. A nice way to spend Christmas - short of being with my children.
  • I got to pay back Tom from Anania a bit for all the good advice he provided when I was a neophyte by having him call his 94-yr old mother using the Globalstar.

26 Dec 10; Sunday
  • The wind began to pick up in the wee hours with gusts to 20 kts by 0700. I took a look at the coming cold front on the Sirius weather display. The front was well defined by a narrow band of intense squalls moving fast from just off the coast of FL and for an early afternoon arrival. It was not a day to loll on the beach. I spent a productive morning using my timer technique to get a lot of albatrosses cleaned up. I took off for a sandwich lunch and reading. A short nap was truncated by the arrival of the pre-frontal squalls. Onward got a good washdown. The winds built and they hung in the 25 kt + range for the night.
27 Dec 10; Monday
  • The winds continued to howl all day with sustained periods of 30+ kts. This year, I've experienced stronger winds than on any of the previous 3 Bahamas cruises. I'm not sure why that is the case. But, overall, the weather has been much better: fewer fronts, farther apart, and warmer.
  • Anania planned to head S to George Town as soon as the winds died off so I invited them, the Legacys and the Moondances over for pizza. The winds didn't die down much by dinner time and the Moondances opted out. But we hardy few had a great time - and most of all I was finally able to have Sandy and Tom aboard for dinner as I've "owed them one" since they had me over to dinner when we were rafted together in Vero Beach in Dec 2007. There was enough pizza and wine to make the challenging dinghy ride worth it.

28 Dec 10; Tuesday;
  • The wind finally died down but, strangest of strange, the skies were overcast -- a rare occurrence in the Bahamas. I again spent the day chewing through my boat organization tasks using my 15-min timer technique. The psychology of this is truly amazing as I find that I will start boring and uninteresting task using this technique because I know I will only have to work on them for 15 min before I can move on to a different task. With 3 to 5 different tasks in rotation, I have no problem going back to a boring task as part of the rotation. I find I can work like this for 6 hrs or more without getting tired or bored. Very interesting.
  • The Moondances came over and we had a cookout to wrap up our stay at the Park.

29 Dec 10; Wednesday; Warderick Wells Cay to Staniel Cay
  • We departed Warderick Wells at 0830 and headed S to Staniel Cay to spend the New Years holidays. I finally have a good process for getting Onward off of a mooring in tight quarters like here today where the wind and current had Onward's stern close to a sandbank. I attach Onward's anchor / mooring bridle to the mooring pennant using a 25' length of braided dock line. I loop the braided loop of the dock line around the heavy 4" diameter SS ring that is shackled to the mooring bridle's eye. I then run the line through the mooring pennant eye, back through the SS eye, and repeat again before leading the running end back to a bow cleat. This provides a secure non-slip connection to the mooring pennant. When it is time to release, one of the problems I have to deal with singlehanded is the need to be able to keep Onward attached to the mooring as long as possible, then quickly release it and get back to the helm to power away from the hazard astern. My new approach is to use the electric windlass to pull the SS ring close to the bow using the braided attachment line. I then shorten a bridle line to keep the SS ring close aboard. I then weave the braided line back through the SS ring and the mooring pennant eye and use the power of the windlass to overcome the friction that has been built up from days of attachment under high loads. When I'm down to just the single loop of the braided line through the pennant's eye, I get the foredeck all organized and everything stowed for travel, and then wait a bit for a good time depending on wind and oscillation of Onward. I then let the running end of the braided line loose, pull the end attached to the SS ring aboard as I carefully but quickly walk back to the helm. This takes 5 to 10 sec and then I'm at the helm and underway. A bit of an involved process but it works!
  • As Onward departed the anchorage, I had a flashback to Jan 2007 and my first visit here. Heading S to Staniel Cay was an exotic adventure as I had never traversed this part of the Banks and it was challenging in its unfamiliarity. Now, on Onward's 4th "rotation", I've done this enough that it is like sailing from Annapolis to St. Michaels. The trip S was a motorsail as the winds are light from the SE. When we arrive near Staniel Cay, we are astonished to see that there are no boats anchored in the spot we discovered last year just SW of Thunderball Grotto. This was great because we could now anchor close to Staniel Cay Yacht Club where a lot of the New Years holiday festivities will be centered.
  • Chris Parker, our weather guru whom I'm up every morning at 0630 to listen to on SSB, announced the other day that he was thinking of flying in to Staniel Cay for New Years and was looking for a boat to stay on. I offered Onward's guest quarters and today I got an email confirming that Chris and Michael will be flying in on Friday in Michael's plane. Now to remember all those nitty-gritty weather questions I always wanted to ask...
  • After anchoring, I quickly cleaned up enough to hitch a ride with Skip & Harriet in to SCYC for a bacon cheeseburger fix. While there we met the Ancient Mariners, Bob & Deb Lacy, who hale from Chatham MA. Melanie Cookson, who we first met on a hike at the Park, was with them. We had a nice lunch before going to visit their Gemini catamaran which was in a slip and their two dogs. At 1600 it was time for the cocktail party at SCYC to kick off the holiday festivities. After an hour or so of that, I was beat and gladly went back to Onward where I immediately fell asleep. I awoke at 2300 to the sound of music from the annual SCYC Pirate Party. I briefly considered the idea of going ashore again but then thought better of it and went back to sleep.

30 Dec 10; Thursday
  • I spent most of the morning working on my sewing projects. Around noon, I whipped up a batch of chicken salad and took time off to read and eat. I designed and sewed canvas holders for all my electronic remotes; one for the audio systems and one for the video - now I will be able to find them! I also designed and sewed canvas holders for my various wrenches: metric, us, ratchet. These will make it easier to stow in my tool bag and find the one I need.
  • The Moondances came over to get me and we went in to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for the pre-race party. As part of the New Years celebrations, they are holding races of the A and C class sloops. These are traditional Bahamian sloops with huge masts and sails. They are a local analog to the Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes. They are plank over frame built by eye and have beautiful lines. Their huge sail area requires the crew to hike out on "prys" - narrow and long hiking boards. As they race a triangular course, the tacking process causes lots of excitement. Tonight the C Class Race Committee held an auction of items donated by boaters. This coincided with a free cookout and bar where the fare consisted of conch fritters, conch stew, lobster salad, fried fish, and macaroni and cheese. Delish!
  • I ended up bidding on some 1.5" nylon strapping (5 rolls for $1) and a roll of hypalon ($10) - just what I need to put chafe guards on several areas of the dinghy.

31 Dec 10; Friday
  • I completed my sewing projects and I now have nice canvas rollups for all of my wrenches. The amount of cursing aboard Onward will go down quite a bit as I can now easily locate any wrench I want. Betsy Ross AKA Harriet came over to assist me with repairs to Onward's "house flag" which had its tip frayed during the close call with the tornado squall system that hit NYC last October when I was in Manhasset Bay. Betsy helped design the flag last season and did all the sewing so it was good to have her aboard to affect the repair. We reinforced the outer 1/3 of the flag and shortened it to a swallowtail design. It looks good!
  • I spent the rest of the day cleaning up and preparing to have guests aboard for the holidays. About 1530, a light plane passed close by before landing and I soon got a call to meet my guests at SCYC for drinks and snacks. I took the dinghy in and met Chris and Michael in the bar where we proceeded to have a great time. We found that the SCYC New Year's Eve dinner was going to begin in couple of hours so we decided to just keep our prime table and enjoy ourselves. The Moondances joined us and we had a grand time. I employed the skills honed as a starving graduate student in being able to scope out when a buffet was just about to start to serve so we could be at the beginning of the line.
  • We returned to Onward where our conversations continued over 8-yr old sipping rum. I succumbed to cruisers midnight before the dawn of the new year but did wake up to the SCYC's fireworks.