Onward’s Cruise Journal 2012
Cruise in the Bahamas

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

Updated: 28 Feb 2012

February 2012

1 Feb 12; Wednesday; George Town, Great Exuma; off Sand Dollar Beach

  • Wow, January gone! Time flies when you're having fun in the Bahamas in the winter!
  • I went into St. Francis Resort with JoAnne to attend the seminar on SSB and weather. We stayed for lunch that turned into an extended interlude as we chatted with other cruisers who joined our table. We got to watch Nancy and Arnon as they moved Vision Quest to a mooring in Hole 2 for a bit. I then returned JoAnne to Walkabout before going back aboard Onward where I worked a bit and rested up for the beach cocktail hour. At 1700 we Ventured in to Sand Dollar Beach and had a great time meeting a lot of other cruisers.

Gathering Storm Clouds Do Not Daunt Cruisers!

2 Feb 12; Thursday

  • I Ventured in with JoAnne to the 0845 yoga class on the beach. It has been a long time since I last did yoga and I got a pretty good idea of those muscles I don't stretch or use enough. But, given the long interval, I was reasonably flexible. This exercises that involved balancing on one foot in the sand I found most challenging. I think this has something to do with me living on Onward for so long. I find that I tend to move slightly off balance to start and my brain seems to be waiting a few milliseconds for Onward to move in some way and then my body reacts to the movement. When on land where there is no constant movement I tend to wobble a bit. Now don't make any smart comments about alcohol levels! Not a factor!
  • Before lunch I Ventured into George Town with JoAnne as I wanted to fill a water jerrycan before the winds came up again tomorrow. We met Mike, Nancy and Arnon and I took them to the Driftwood Cafe where we had really tasty sandwiches for lunch. I had intended to use my foray into town to take pictures of new businesses for the BCG. But I discovered that my camera battery somehow discharged itself overnight so I had to be content with just stopping and talking to the business. I was again struck with the pleasant, friendly, and open nature of the Bahamian people - one of the attractions that keeps bringing me back.

3 Feb 12; Friday
  • At 0845 I headed ashore to participate in a beach bocce tournament. A lot of fun. I will have to work on my lobs - forget about a roll on the soft sand at Volleyball Beach. The game done (don't ask the score as the other team was lead by a French Canadian who could lob with pinpoint accuracy), I went over and joined the watercolor group at the picnic tables. I haven't touched my watercolors since last year at Hope Town and that only for a few minutes. Working with watercolors has been on my roundtoit list since the summer of 2008. My plan was to start today with others around to take encouragement from. It was a lot of fun. See, MaryAnn and Susan, your encouragement is having its effect!

Watercolor Experiment 1

  • At 1700 I headed back to Chat 'n' Chill for dinner and Rock 'n' Roll Dance Night. I had a delicious grilled chicken dinner that KB's folks put together. Then dance night started. JoAnne arrived and we had a great evening on the dance floor. It was a wet ride back to our boats for JoAnne who followed Venture in her dinghy which is a bit small for the conditions in Elizabeth Harbour when the winds are up. But she was undaunted if a bit damp.

Dancers in Motion.

4 Feb 12; Saturday

  • In spite of the exertions on the dance floor last evening both JoAnne and I were committed to doing yoga this morning. The waves and seas were up so I picked up JoAnne in Venture and we headed in. Along the way we stopped at the sailing cat, Viento, where I was given a baggie of sourdough starter. So I will be propagating the starter and making some bread tonight. We did the yoga session taught by a lovely young woman, Gabrielle, who is from Baltimore. I was surprised my old bod felt as well as it did.

Beach Yoga

  • I had a relaxing afternoon trying to organize my photos so I can put more in this journal. I also fed my sourdough starter and after it had grown a bit, I made a batch of bread dough and added the "healthy dollop" as I was advised by Venito.
  • The winds did not die down much so I didn't feel like heading N to Monument Beach for a sundowner. As I was about to call Walkabout to invite JoAnne for dinner, she called and invited me. So, I made a salad and Ventured over/ JoAnne cooked a delicious chicken dinner with a lemon & wine sauce. After dinner, I initiated her into the Cult of Farkle - and of course she won the game.

5 Feb 12; Sunday

  • I started the morning by baking baguettes with the sourdough I made yesterday. This time I closed the edges of the parchment paper using office clam clips. These were very effective and easily removed after the first half hour. The resulting baguettes looked beautiful. I took 2 our before they were fully baked to freeze for later use.
  • At 0900 I Ventured ashore to attend Beach Church on Volleyball Beach picking up JoAnn along the way. The service was quite beautiful and moving. It was followed by a nice social hour. A nice way to start the day.
  • Upon returning to Onward I made a sandwich using the sourdough rosemary olive oil baguettes. Delish.
  • I took a short nap in the sun to get ready for the Super Bowl. Then I got out my watercolors and played with them a bit. On the beach, one of the woman painters after looking at the paper I was using, had given me a sheet of 140# watercolor paper. She told me to cut it in quarters and use these to get the experience of painting with really good paper. Wow! What a difference.

Playing with Watercolor Paper.

  • At 1600, I went into St. Francis Resort with JoAnne where we were joined by the Vision Quests, Fraulines, Mimosas to enjoy each other and the game. I had mixed feelings abut who to root for as the NY Giants had been my team while I was living in RI.

6 Feb 12; Monday

  • At 1000 I Ventured into Hole 1 on Stocking Island and joined the Frauleins and Mimosas for a hike to the monument. I had done this last year and taken some great photos only to have them mysteriously disappear from my camera. Along the way, we came across a large, 6' - 8' snake sunning itself on the rocks. It was't in any hurry to leave and hung around to watch us pass once we'd urged him of the trail. Again, the view from the monument was fantastic - well worth the hike up - with all of Elizabeth Harbour and Stocking Island laid out below. We returned to the dinghies which we'd left on the W shore of Hole 1. This journey along the ocean beach was again spectacular. At the St. Francis Resort, we contacted JoAnne who was visiting Vision Quest and she ferried Bob and I to our dinghies. After collecting everyone, we headed over to Chat 'n' Chill where the ice cold Kaliks tasted wonderful after the hike.
  • I headed back to Onward after lunch where I worked in a nap in the sun and a bit of work (a very little bit). Then, suddenly, it was time to go to Vision Quest for cocktails as Bob and Jean were heading back to America on Tuesday. I ferried JoAnne to the fete and we all had a grand time. We had considered going across the harbor to the Rake 'n' Scrape music session at Eddie's Edgewater but gave up on the idea as the temperature dropped a bit and the wind came up.

7 Feb 12; Tuesday
  • At 0845 it was off to yoga on the beach. Another enjoyable session after which I felt good but could clearly feel that my muscles throughout my body had received a good workout. I again was challenged by those positions that required me to balance on one leg in the sand.
  • Yoga done, I was off to Art on the Beach. Coming a few minutes late, I found the group already engaged in an effort to paint one of 3 scenes that an accomplished watercolor artist put together with guidance for use as a skill building exercise. i started in and for the first time worked out a technique to mix watercolors to get variations in hue -- in the past I'd just used the colors available in the set. I had a lot of fun and came out with a recognizable copy of the exercise figure. As the only guy in the class I got lots of help (or perhaps it was because I need it most). One of the things that baffled me was how to mix colors to get the unique aqua-blue color of the water here. When I finally had the guts to ask I found the technique was: buy it in the tube!

My First Watercolor Mixing Attempt.

The Lesson...

  • Art done, I headed over to Vision Quest with my carburetor cleaning brushes to assist Arnon who has the misfortune to have both his 9.9 hp Honda 4-cycle and his 4 hp 2-cycle outboards not working. He'd done a great job already. We used the brushes on a few ports and then I left him to the joy of reassembling the carburetor and trying it out.
  • I returned to Onward and after showering I picked up JoAnne and we Ventured in to town. It was an afternoon of errands: gas for the outboard, water, groceries, library. In addition we got to have farewell drinks with Bob and Cindy who were heading back to America after spending reveal weeks aboard Frauline. I also visited the local office of the Ministry of Tourism to enlist their help in feeding information to the Bahamas Cruisers Guide.
  • Back aboard Onward, it was time for a nice nap / air bath in the sun. I was woken up from my nap by the VHF and decided not to go in to play Texas Hold'em. JoAnne had also had enough adventure for the day but accepted my invitation aboard Onward for cocktail hour. We had a delightful time sitting in the cockpit enjoying sunset - what my son-in-law, Kurlen, has aptly named: " The Purple Hour". The continuous change in colors was amazing: pinks, purples, grey-blues. The fact that I spent the morning trying to capture similar colors with watercolors brought a whole new dimension to the observation and I was much more aware of the subtitles - Neat! JoAnne and I had a pleasant time chatting while I made us some angle hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and capers. We also enjoyed listening to my iPods "Alphabetic Eclectic Mix" on the Bose sound system. I let JoAnne choose the letter of the alphabet and the first song starting with that letter and then the iPod goes down the list and provides an amazingly pleasant and interesting mix.

The Purple Hour...

8 Feb 12; Wednesday

  • Today was propane day. After supervising the Steward as he cleaned up the boat, I headed off to town with my propane tank which was just about empty and took along two water jugs. JoAnne came along for the ride. However when we go to the propane truck parked on the S shore of Lake Victoria, there was quite a line. So, JoAnne kindly volunteered to stay with the propane tank while I filled the water jugs. By the time I got back, the propane tank had been filled so we headed off to the library were we had forgotten to pick up the books we were going to take yesterday. We got there to find that our books had been mistaken for donations by today's staff and put back on the shelf. We were able to find them along with a couple of books for me to wake up my bridge skills. After a nice lunch at Pet's Place, we met the Vision Quests as they arrived. We did a bit of food shopping before heading back to the Anchorage.

Clarence Brings the Propane Truck to Lake Victoria.

  • We attended the Meet & Greet at the St. Francis and had a nice dinner with friends. Most of the other cruisers were watching a video of previous Cruising Regattas so there wasn't a lot of meet & greet. I took my iPad on line to show someone the National Geographic article about Blue Holes in the Bahamas and then could not log off. So, I got a bit captured by trying to use the internet connect time to download books and apps that I'd been putting off. JoAnne left the purple LED lights on in Walkabout's cockpit and we found as we returned the effect of their glistening off the quiet ripples along with that of the full moon to be magical.

9 Feb 12; Thursday

  • Yoga day. All my muscles make me aware that they are working more than they are used to -- but not in an unpleasant fashion. I was prepared to stay to paint -- but I forgot to read my own Guide and realized when I got to yoga that painting was tomorrow. So it was back to Onward and a bit of misc things aboard. Then it was a late lunch and some time reading a bridge book. That turned into a nap in the sun. As I was just waking up, JoAnne came by in her dink to say hello and we chatted awhile.
  • I decided not to play Texas Hold'em tonight. JoAnne invited me over for cocktails and I took along the left over pasta from the other night. After watching the beautiful colors of the sunset, we collaborated on dinner with JoAnne sautéing some chicken and then tossing in the pasta. We were just starting to enjoy the delicious product of our collaboration when we heard a call for distress on the VHF.
  • A small sailboat, Patience, with 2 young guys aboard had attempted to enter S Elizabeth Harbour through the cut between Guana and Fowl Cays. This is a Visual Piloting Route where you need local knowledge. They grounded on the rocky bottom and while a bit panicked had put out anchors to keep things from getting worse. I tuned in and copied down the coordinates given. It seemed a number of dinghies were about to head S so I didn't plan on going. Charlie from Voyager was leading the charge. However, when a count of dinghies responding was made, it was evident that a very few were going and none were as close as JoAnne and I were. JoAnne gamely said let's go. Now, I don't think I would have gone by myself but having JoAnne along made it sensible. Se we were off to make the 2.1+ nm trip S. We were first on scene. Patience, a full keeled boat, had grounded on the keel in the center of the inlet and there was no threat of hull damage. They had lost the line on one of their anchors and were focused on retrieving it. I finally had to get the captain's attention and tell him his first priority was moving to safe water now while there were 4 dinghies to help him and he could come back and retrieve his anchor later. We finally got his crew aboard and with 3 dinghies pushing managed to move him into deeper water. However at this time, the painter of their dinghy got wrapped in the prop so everything stopped while one of the 2 young guys dived t cut the line off. By that time Patience had reground. So the tugs pushed it to starboard and deeper water. Patience had a Raymarine A80 chart plotter aboard but apparently they had no waypoints loaded for the area and no Explorer paper charts! One of the rescuers, Andy, climbed aboard and had one of the anchored cruises give him waypoints to take Patience in through the good cut at the S end of the harbor. While this was going on, the captain had no idea where he was steering so, using dead reckoning, I kept calling out steering instructions to keep him from going back on the rocks. We eventually got him to deep water and while Charlie stayed to go aboard and help pilot them safely in, JoAnne and I led the 2 other dinghies back home. Once back aboard Walkabout, we sat down and did an after-action-review as we realized we had forgotten a lot of important things like donning PFDs, a gps, charts, extra batteries, etc.

10 Feb 12; Friday
  • Today was a Watercolor Day. I joined fellow painters (I'm being a bit presumptuous, I know, applying this to me, but I am actually painting!) on the picnic tables at Volleyball Beach. Today Toby from Puff, whom I've dubbed the "Driving Force" of the group -- much to her shy delight, decided we were all going to work on a scene of the sea at sunset with the magical colors in the clouds and reflected in the sea. She kindly brought along a number of photos for us to work from, all showing phases of the "Purple Hour". Now, I'm fascinated by this subject: the shades of dark blue -grays in the waters and clouds and the bright yellows to oranges to reds in the clouds. I've spent some ineffectual moments trying to capture just the blue-grays to purple blues in the water. So, today I started with a whole scene as a goal and taking some simple cues from Toby, I had a grand time and came away with something recognizable.

  • My watercolor complete, I headed N along Stocking Island to a relatively secluded section of beach where I took a nice skinsuit swim and then dried off in the sun. I'd really missed the ability to do this over the last several weeks.
  • Af 1400, I ferried JoAnne into town to meet her sister and brother-in-law who had flown in from NJ. Her sister, Pam, had kindly agreed to ferry over my mail and a replacement part for my forward head. She was also gong to bring over a new Canon D10 underwater camera I ordered from Amazon - but I managed to screw up the shipping and it got sent to my billing address. When we got in town, I checked my fuel tank and found that I'd used about half of it during the rescue of Patience. I got in the cue for the gas while JoAnne went over to wait for her guests. My timing was not good as I had to wait for the fuel delivery truck to unload 5500 gal of gas before I could put 3 gal of it in my tank. I learned a lot about fuel distribution in the Bahamas in the meantime.
  • JoAnne's guests arrived early so they headed back to Walkabout while I finished filling water and fuel tanks. After meeting aboard Walkabout we all went in to Chat 'n' Chill for ambiance, drinks and dinner.

11 Feb 12; Saturday

  • I did yoga on the beach. Today my body was not quite in the groove and I still find positions involving balancing on one leg a problem. The coming weather front brought increased winds and Venture was found to be 1/4 full with water from the wave splash. Mike kindly waded in and helped me get it off the beach so I could pump more water out than got splashed in. I finally gave up on pumping and once up to speed, I just pulled the drain plug and it drained quite nicely.
  • I was invited over to Polar Pacer where I had a great meal with Tom and Chris while they related their experiences traveling to Cuba last year. They spent a good part of their stay touring Cuba by car. Cuba is not quite open to cruising boats just wandering about as in the Bahamas and tends to channelize them into well equipped and guarded marinas. If the US ever gets its head out of its fundament on this issue, I'd like to do a visit to Cuba.

12 Feb 12; Sunday
  • JoAnne and I went into Beach Church again. One of the cruisers made the remarks for the day and it was a better message better delivered than I have experienced from most ministers and priests.
  • We had intended to play Trivial Pursuit at the St. Francis tonight but the cold caught up with the front and we decided that it was too cold for the dinghy ride. Instead, Pam cooked a delicious dinner aboard Walkabout. Sautéed fresh vegetables, baked potatoes, and filets done in the oven. Delish. She also made some amazing ruben rolls for appetizers. Wow. She is an amazing cook so we spent a good bit of time talking about cooking on boats. I hope to get her to work with me so I can learn to make some simple appetizers - one of the things I find I have limited creativity for.

13 Feb 12; Monday;

14 Feb 12; Tuesday; George Town to Thompson Bay, Long I
  • Anchors aweigh was at 0830. To avoid the issues with my SeaTalk network crashing when I use the windlass, I brought up the anchor with all the navigation equipment off - then switched it on. Everything worked normally. However as I approached the waypoint for the narrow pass between two shoals in southern Elizabeth Harbour, the autopilot decided to make a crazy-Ivan 90º turn to port. Of course I was on the VHF with Band Boy at the time so there was a few seconds of excitement while I got it corrected. Why? …probably an IWOB issue. The exit from the harbor at N Channel Rock was uneventful with some swells from the E at about 6'+ but at a long interval.
  • Walkabout had gotten advice about buying frozen pre-rigged Ballyhoo bait from Exuma Market. They did so and within an hour of departing the cut JoAnne's sister, Pam, had caught two nice size Wahoo. By common acclaim from the 4 boats, a fish dinner was declared and I volunteered to grill and host aboard Onward.
  • It was a motorsail SE to Thompson Bay with the easy transit ending with anchor down at 1430. I found Anania in the harbor and after a bit Tom came over to say hello. Grahm and Valerie Bonnie from Lass came by to say hello and asked me to pass on their best to Harriet and Skip Hardy.
  • Walkabout was in need of ice for cocktails, so I ran JoAnne over to the pier from which we walked to Hillside Grocery. Meanwhile Dwight cleaned and filleted the fish. Pam marinated the Wahoo a bit and then I grilled them on a piece of aluminum foil. A Quinoa salad, wine, etc. made for a delicious dinner.

15 Feb 12; Wednesday; Thompson Bay

  • The steward got all the dishes done early and this enabled me to go in to Island Breeze at 0900 to do a load of laundry and use the internet. When I finished, I learned that two cars had been rented for a day and we were going to explore the Island.
  • We dinghied in to the pier near Fox Auto and picked up the cars. I was taken aboard as navigator in the car with Chuck driving. We headed N to explore and find a place for lunch. We ended up at Stella Maris resort and went to the pool bar for drinks and lunch. The beauty of this place is breathtaking and you can't ask for more in ambiance. The beers were ice cold, the frozen drinks tasty, but the kitchen a bit slow so it was a lazier lunch than the folks from NJ were used to. But it was good and we were soon on our way again.
  • While holding the dinghy in place while someone boarded it on the trip in to the pier, I did something to my lower left back. By the time we got to the resort, I could barely put weight on my left leg. JoAnne suggested checking the resort shop for some anti-inflammatory and I was able to find something to take to nip the injury response early.
  • We drove to the end of the road but decided against the hike to the Columbus Monument. Along the return trip S, we took a side road just S of Stella Maris to the ruins of the Adderley Plantation. We gave up before the end because the road deteriorated too much. Later I found that we could have continued on a short walk to see the remains of 7 buildings fairly intact but for roofs.

Moonshine Beach Bar, Stella Maris.

  • JoAnne, Nancy and Arnon, had gotten a recommendation to have dinner at Chez Pierre - a French restaurant N of Salt Ponds. In all my previous visits, I'd heard about it but not found anyone who knew where it was or how to get there. Along the drive, I called the place and the owner said he could accommodate a party of 9 so we pressed on. At the end of a long and rutted dirt road, we ended up at a beach and the restaurant. What followed was one of the 2 best dining experiences I've had in the Bahamas. The chef / owner, Pierre, was without staff tonight but he said virtually the entire French / Italian, Continental / Caribbean menu was available. The bar was a make-your-own drink bar; just write down the number of drinks at $6 each. The menu include 4 veal dishes. When I saw that, I asked Pierre if this was for real. He said yes. He only put things on the menu for which he could get fresh ingredients and which he considered fun to cook. i, of course, had to try the veal so I asked him to recommend one for me as they all looked to be wonderful. After a few questions he said I should have the Veal Lombardo. This was with olives, capers in a light brown wine sauce. JoAnne had the Veal Limone which came with a light creamy lemon sauce. Outstanding! We shared one of his Margarita pizzas around the table - another wonderful experience. And then there was the fresh baguettes… All this in a relaxing beach-front atmosphere for ~ $44 / person. Pierre operates the restaurant and 6 beachfront guest cottages. I am astounded that I had not heard more about this place. In the future I will try to plan my trips to and or from Thompson Bay with a stop at Millers Bay where Chez Pierre is located. This should be possible any time the winds from the E to SSE are light so I can anchor offshore for the night and dinghy in to dinner.

Chez Pierre.

16 Feb 12; Thursday; Thompson Bay to Calabash Bay

  • We picked up the rental car by 0900 and headers S. First stop was a Dean's Blue Hole which was clear and several folks went swimming.

Deans Blue Hole; World's Deepest at > 600'.

  • The rocks of the grotto gave a good example of Rhizomorphs -- where a harder crystalline form of CaCO3 formed around the roots of ancient plants. When the softer CaC03 surrounding them was eroded away, a filigree of the root system was left behind. One of the larger strands had its end broken off and the hollow center where the root was can be seen in the photo. Neat.

A Rhizomorph.
  • We Next headed to Clarence Town for a quick visit to the Flying Fish Marina and the view from the steps of St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. Unfortunately, its twin Anglican church had its roof torn off by Irene and is still in disrepair.

The Flying Fish.

Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church.
  • We retuned the rental car and half the group went to Long Island Breeze for lunch. While there, I chatted with Chuck who really want to go to Conception I while his guest, Heather, was aboard. I told him that it was doable if we left for Cape Santa Maria before 1500. So we returned to the boats and the Frauleins recruited the Walkabouts for the Conception I trip. The Vision Quests decided to stay at Thompson Bay so at ~1430 I led the other 2 boats on a quick transit to Calabash Bay.
  • The sun set just as Onward approached the outer waypoint for the anchorage and we were all comfortably anchored before dark. We had a quiet night aboard.

17 Feb 12; Friday; Calabash Bay to Conception Island

  • At 1200, we headed S along the shore in 3 dinghies for a picnic lunch on a southern ocean beach and then an exploration of the lagoon. We landed on the beach just N of the inlet to the lagoon. From here it is possible to walk a very short distance E to one of the arms of the lagoon where a lot of turtles hang out. By ~1430 after lunch and some swimming along the shore, the tide had risen enough to attempt crossing the bar into the lagoon. I was at first a bit disappointed once getting inside. The mangrove stands seem a bit thinner and the water was not as clear as in previous visits. When we got to the deep hole were one branches off to the W to go to the turtle area, the water in the hole was a very murky green. We passed it by and made an attempt to go towards the turtles but the tide had not risen enough so we turned around. When we got back to the hole we found it transformed. The murky green was gone and the clear blue was beginning to deepen. We all went snorkeling and enjoyed the large amount of fish life visible along the edges of the mangrove stands. This year I found a lot of live conch for the first time - in a variety of sizes. In the past I'd only found empty shells. Perhaps the poachers have been kept at bay.
  • We returned to the boats and the all met on Walkabout at 1830 for another of Pam's creations: a stuffed pork loin roast. Faulein brought delicious sweet potatoes to add to the feast while Onward contributed a bottle of Merlot.

18 Feb 12; Saturday; Conception I
  • This morning I decided the dough I'd made for pizza several days ago and had been keeping in the cooler needed to be baked. So I made a spinach, tomato, and ham calzone along with a loaf of bread and a focaccia. Delish. I also whipped up another batch of dough for a pizza party tonight.
  • I Ventured in to the NE corner beach and then walked over the 100 m of the isthmus to get to the beautiful crescent beach on the N coast. I walked along the beach to its E limit where I had a nice COB. I spread my towel, had lunch, napped in the sun. Then I took a cooling swim before waling back along the beach to dry off in the sun. Delightful.
  • At 1730 I was joined by the Walkabouts and the Frauleins and we enjoyed an Onward pizza dinner. This time, I did a good job of time planning and had the pizzas all ready to go in the oven by 1700 when I took a shower. So finally I got to enjoy talking with my guests instead of working on pizza making. After dinner, I introduced the group to Farkle. As usually happens, the guests were at first a bit befuddled with the rules but soon got the drift and then were delighted when Jean came from behind to beat me as I'd moved from middle of the pack to leader on my last turn. So now I've created more Farkle adherents!

19 Feb 12; Sunday; Conception I to George Town
  • Onward & Walkabout weighed anchor at 0800 and headed SE to George Town. Chuck decided to take Fraulein N to Hawks Nest on Cat I so we chatted a bit about his cruise.
  • During the night, the winds had clocked around to the S so we had ~ 10 - 12 kts on a close reach for a sail. This lasted until we were just N of Cape Santa Maria on Long Island when the wind having continued its clocking as part of the approaching cold front reduced our speed to the point it was necessary to motorsail. At the S cut to Elizabeth Harbour, we met Anania sailing in from Thompson Bay. I throttled back to allow her to stately pass by. Tom made the crossing of the reef much further N than I have ever had the guts to try -- so I need to learn from Tom about this. By 1545, Onward was anchored back off Black Point while Walkabout put into Exuma Yacht Club (the former Exuma Docking Services) for the night. I spent a quiet evening reading.

20 Feb 12; Monday; George Town
  • I ran into town in the morning to get water and gas for the outboard. It was a miracle that I found no one in line at either the water point or the gas pump. Completing the mission by dropping off trash at the dumpster, I headed back to Onward to offload the jerrycans. I went over to Hole 2 to visit Vision Quest but found the dinghy gone so I headed to St. Francis where Chris Parker was giving a weather seminar. I was looking at the pier and failed to notice I was getting too close to the underwater reef just offshore of the pier. I heard a loud bang and felt a slight bump. Puzzled, I tied up at the pier and then checked Venture. I was startled to see two cracks on the top edge of the transom a both 4 - 6" in from the sides. Apparently the skeg on the outboard had clipped the reef causing the transom to flex inward and generating the cracks. I was bit startled and bummed out. But I was relieved that there was no evidence of trauma on the outboard and Venture was otherwise still intact. So, I went in to talk to Chris and stayed for the seminar.

21 Feb 12; Tuesday
  • A busy day. First it was Yoga on the beach. I felt good today however my brain still will not allow me to balance on one leg so I just worked around those positions. Well limbered, I then headed over to St. Francis to join the Art on the Beach group who had already begun work on an underwater scene. As I was late and the room was crowed with women painting, I just sat in the back and did my own thing. I was struck by the fact that just sitting down with the paints has become natural to me. Good progress. I have a number of photos that I've taken of scenes that would make good painting subjects and I intend to put these on the iPad so i can view them when painting. As i haven't gotten around to loading these yet, i was forced to paint from memory. While at Stella Maris, there was was scene I'd photographed that I remembered so i worked on this. After an hour and a half, I had gotten to a place where I didn't have anything to add. Not great but recognizable - an adaptation of Grandma Moses' technique. ;} Maybe its just the poor memory….

Coast at Stella Maris.

Grandma Joe's Primitive Watercolor.

  • I returned to Onward with the intention of working on the repair of Venture's transom. But, JoAnne called and invited me along to go to lunch at Fish Fry. Pam drove over their rented whaler with JoAnne, Dwight, Nancy and Arnon aboard and soon we were flying across the harbor. Fish Fry is about 1 nm N of George Town / Lake Victoria. Apparently next to the site of old a WW II US Navy base. Since I first sailed into Elizabeth Harbour, I'd seen a tug and barges there and assumed there was some type of port operation still there. However as we got close in the whaler, the supposed port operation turned into a derelict tug and two barges beached. The tug, Arctic Circle, has an icebreaker bow and its superstructure seems in good shape although the stern third is sunken along with the engines.

Arctic Circle and Barges at Fish Fry.
  • I have driven by Fish Fry on several occasions and seen a number of brightly painted small buildings without much evidence of life. After anchoring the whaler offshore in the extended shallows, we waded ashore to find that the buildings, > 6 - 8, were all restaurants and bars. We went to the Honey Dew Restaurant that had been recommend by the Elvis the water taxi operator. Typical Bahamian foods were on offer: conch, grouper, etc. I ordered grouper fingers and then went to the bar next-door with Dwight to get beers. We ate our lunch in the little gazebo on the beach behind the restaurant. Delicious.

Honey Dew Restaurant at Fish Fry.
  • After lunch, I visited several of the restaurants and bars telling them of the Bahamas Cruisers Guide and telling them to send me information for a free advertisement. I asked about the origins of Fish Fry and was told that it had grown up many years ago as a place where locals could get good inexpensive food and drink and gather for parties. There was a constant stream of locals stopping for lunch even though there was never many cars at one time - they zip in and out. It's my guess that the place livens up on nights and weekends. One of the last stands I came across was "Chillin & Gtrillin with Chef Bowe". I found the chef all decked out in his toque and grilling "the best ribs in Exuma". So I got him and a customer to pose for a photo before I bought a $1 sample and headed back to the whaler which was preparing to depart. The ribs were tasted by Arnon, Dwight, and me and were delish!

Chef Bowe and His Grill Stand at Fish Fry.
  • After returning to Onward, I sat down and made a list of all the materials and tools I'd need to fix Venture's transom and move the stern u-bolts used to haul it up with the davits. After carefully going over the list a couple of times, I assembled all the items in a big canvas bag and headed to Hole 1. I had been surprised with how quickly and easily I located everything I needed -- that is, all except the c-clamps I have on board and which I "organized" recently -- apparently into a parallel universe. Once ashore I unloaded Venture, took off the outboard, propped up the stern and began work. Besides the two small cracks, the top part of the transom's inner and outer layers had delaminated from each other. I mixed up a batch of epoxy and using a plastic syringe I was able to inject it in the cracks and between laminations until it was full. I only had one small clamp and really could have used the others that are onboard somewhere. While the epoxy hardened, I worked on moving the u-bolts lower so the dinghy could be raised higher to snuggle into the arm of the davit. Of course, the 14V NiCd battery of my drill only had enough power to drill one hole and start the other three before being depleted. So, once he epoxy had hardened, I packed up everything and slowly went back to Onward. After the lunch I'd eaten, I didn't need dinner so it was an early exhausted sleep I fell into.

22 Feb 12; Wednesday

  • I went in to attend the HAM / SSB seminar this morning and picked up some ideas on troubleshooting from the group. On a rainy day a couple of years ago, I sat down with the manual for my ICOM M802 SSB radio which is one of the poorest tech manuals I've ever come across. Between it and playing "monkey and the control panel" I found out there are actually 7 different ways to tune the radio to a frequency. I created a cheat sheet documenting these. At the seminar, I found all the other M802 owners there had no idea of many of these tuning options so I promised to email them a copy.
  • Arnon came by to sign up to take the FCC license exam tomorrow so we decided to have lunch together at St. Francis. When our liesurly lunch was done I took Venture over to the beach in Hole 1 to complete installation of the u-bolts in the transom. My epoxy job from yesterday seemed to have taken as the transom is solid again. When I get back to America I'll haul it out of the water and add a few of layers of fiberglass over the transom to strengthen it. After hauling Venture stern-first onto the beach, I got out my recharged drill only to find that the battery was depleted after finishing one hole. So with 2 holes completed and 2 started, I gave Arnon a call and he brought over his electric drill which didn't have enough power either. So I packed up and headed back to Onward. There I got out my 3/4" 28V Milwaukee portable drill and headed in to Sand Dollar beach. After hauling Venture's stern ashore, it took me less than a minute to complete the other 2 holes. I forget how much power it takes to drill through fiberglass. I could have easily completed the task yesterday if I'd taken the right tool ashore. In any case, the 14V NiCd batteries for my multitool portable is worn out and needs to be replaced.
  • I got back to Onward and immediately took a skinsuit swim to wash offf all the sand I'd accumulated and to cool down as today was a very warm day with light wind. JoAnne woke me up from the following nap to see if I needed a ride in to the Sundowner. Her sister Pam and Dwight flew him yesterday evening so she is anchored now off Volleyball Beach and getting used to how quiet one's boat is after guests depart. Her call got me moving again and I soon had a drink and a snack packed before heading off to Sand Dollar Beach. There was a very large gathering of cruisers and the nosh table was overflowing. I had a nice time greeting old friends and meeting new ones. I had a delightful time chatting with two French-Canadian couples who were standing off to the side. When the women leaned that I was sailing alone, they told me a women friend who is a good sailor had just left that morning and they'd joked about castling her back as they'd like me to meet her. Such is the way it goes. When I got back aboard Onward, I had just enough energy to shower before crashing as my body was exhausted from all the dinghy hauling over the last 2 days.

23 Feb 12; Thursday
  • I managed to get going and in to yoga on the beach. For some reason I didn't have much energy today. As a result there was a lot of nap time and not much productivity.

24 Feb 12; Friday
  • I joined the Art on the Beach group under the trees on Volleyball beach. One of the women gave a demonstration on how to use a fan brush to do such things as palm trees, evergreen trees, wavers, clouds, shrubbery. Wow. I had seen one of those at the art store and passed it up thinking what good is that? Ah well, it is now on my shopping list. We then went on to paint a scene of palm trees on the beach. I've gotten to the point where I actually feel like I know what I'm doing when I prepare to paint. Neat. If nothing else, these sessions have gotten me to a useful level of experience. We were following a set of instructions prepared by another painter that called for the use of masking fluid to start with. Now, MaryAnn had advised me to buy some and I had it in my kit but had never used it as I was clueless on how to use it. So, today I came to the rescue of several other painters and learned how to use it. One useful hint was to dip the brush to be used into liquid soap to wet the bristles before putting it into the masking fluid. This allows you to clean the brush easily afterwards. I had a lot of fun working for a couple of hours and produced something that looked like the example. Toby actually showed it around the table -- perhaps to demonstrate the statistical probability that if you give a monkey a brush and paint it will eventually produce art.

Palm Trees...

  • I had lunch at the St. Francis with Chris Parker and others from his seminar. Then I was off for a quick trip to town to take on water and go through the grocery store. Didn't need much but I wanted to take advantage of the last calm day before winds started to pick up. Rita Kay and Clay from hosted a cocktail party aboard Carleigh and a very good time was had by all.

25 Feb 12; Saturday

  • Last evening JoAnne made me feel badly when I said I was too sore to go to yoga. Since I managed to get the problematic disc I have in my lower left spine to go walkabout a week or so ago, I've had persistent soreness in my lower left back and in the nerve running down to my left leg when I walk. Perhaps as a result my left hip joint has started bothering me -- just not to be ignored I guess. So this morning I got the 'ol bod moving and got ashore for the class. I actually felt a bit better after.
  • Today was Registration Day for the Cruising Regatta and I hung around and signed up for a bunch of events scheduled over the next couple of weeks, pairing with friends on other boats.
  • I spent a quiet afternoon aboard - not very effectively in terms of boat tasks but enjoyable. In the evening I joined the Frauleins, Walkabouts, and Mimosas aboard Vision Quest for an extended cocktail hours.

28 Feb 12; Sunday
  • I started baking some almond biscotti when I got up and the batch was ready by the time I left for Beach Church. I've really come to enjoy this non-denominational Christian service held on Volleyball Beach under the trees. Today there was a good turnout and all the benches and any other available seats were filled. The opening prayer and message are presented by cruisers who want to share a simple message with their fellows. This morning's opening prayer was a simple prayer used by one woman cruiser to greet each day. I found it quite a good, positive statement to put oneself in the right frame of mind for the day. I will have to track down a copy. The message of the day was composed and presented by Ala, a fourteen-year old girl aboard Three at Sea. She is an amazingly poised, personable, and talented young woman. Her message which tied together a reading used in the message from 2 weeks ago and an address by Nelson Mandella was inspiring. All in all it was quite an uplifting way to start the day. And the biscotti went well with coffee during the social following the service.
  • Today was the first day of the 32nd George Town Cruising Regatta's events. At 1300, Mike from Mimosa and I traipsed around the anchorage following the line of other crazy cruisers some of whom really got into the swing of things with the costumes they made or the decorations of their dinghies. I brought along some water balloons to enliven the activities. We used a hand pump to fill them and did not get them very big. This made them easy to throw. However it also made them so resilient they bounced around the target boat or dinghy and many came back! Got to work on that technology.
  • I played Trivial Pursuit with JoAnne, Nancy, and Arnon. The theme was all western-related. We managed to score 23.5 / 49. The winners scored 30.

27 Feb 12; Monday
  • I finally got the boat boy motivated enough to stow most of the tools I'd taken out to work on the repair of Venture's transom. After lunch, I met the gang ashore at Hole 1 where we beached the dinghies and hiked the short distance across Stocking Island to the ocean beach. We spent an hour or so hiking along the beach S to the first small headland. My left leg was bothering me walking in the sand so I was happy when it was time to turn around.
  • After a short nap, I Ventured into Volleyball Beach for the Cruising Regatta Opening Night activities. First came the "No Talent Show" where there was quiet a bit of talent on show. Ala, the 14 yr-old young lady that does skywatching VHF broadcasts each week, led and narrated a skit involving all the other boat kids doing a demonstration of stars and planets in the night sky. It was really well done. A number of the senior denizens of Regatta led by Doug from Bad Boy, were the comedy highlight with their skit of Olympic synchronized swimming -- very creative and well done.

Stars and Planets Aligning for Entrance on Stage.

Olympic Synchronized Swimmers.

Cowgirls on Stage.

  • The Regatta organizers invited some of the local Bahamian VIPs. These included the Deputy Administrator for the Exumas, Mr Ivan Ferguson, Mr. Gordy Gray and, later in the evening, the director of immigration for the Bahamas. The later was called in by Mr. Ferguson to deal with the many complaints cruisers have about the rather arbitrary and capricious way that visas are handed out by the various ports of entry. I got to say hello to Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Gray who invited me to visit them to talk about the Bahamas Cruisers Guide with them.
  • A sponsor provided a free hot dog or hamburger; the serving line was very long but nowhere as chaotic as it was last year. Perhaps the free rum punch last year had something to do with the conditions. I hung around for the dance night but called it an early night because my back and leg were aching too much to stand around longer.

28 Feb 12; Tuesday
  • Today was Bocce Day! I was teamed with John from Insatiable and we won the first two rounds but were put in our place in the third by George "Puff Daddy" from Puff -- much to Toby's delight. I told her that I'd put a "Retrospective" page on this website of "all" my watercolors and she got a real kick out of that. It's funny, but I did feel that something wasn't right because I didn't go to painting this morning. I'll have to develop the habit of having a watercolor period aboard Onward.

29 Feb 12; Wednesday;
  • After breakfast and a shower, I headed into town to get water and fill the dinghy fuel tank. I spent time walking around town visiting businesses to tell them about the Bahamas Cruisers Guide and getting information. I also stopped by the Deputy Administrator's Office to leave a card. The response I get from the Bahamian small business people is interesting. The older, less sophisticated owners are simply grateful. The middle-aged and business-savvy are happy to have an opportunity to get more exposure. The 20-somethings who are more sophisticated (read world-aware) always ask: What's in if for you? Why do you do this for free? Interesting. When I tell them the accept it and then start thinking of all their friends and family who might benefit. Interesting.
  • After a lunch at the great Driftwood Cafe restaurant, I did some food shopping. The return trip across the harbor was the wettest trip I've ever made here. I had set up my spray shield canvas and was hiding behind it but there was so much water flying that I still got damp. Back at Onward I stowed the food and decided it was time for a nice nap / air bath in the sunny cockpit to dry out.
  • While shopping today, I saw an interesting jar of curry sauce in the extensive selection that Exuma Market carries. So I bought some along with some frozen chicken breasts. For dinner, I grilled the three chicken breasts while I made some Zartarains black beans with rice. Then I cut up two of the chicken breasts and simmered them with the Dopiaza curry sauce (with tomatoes, onions, roasted cumin, spices) then added the rice. Delish. It made enough for 2 meals to freeze.