Onward’s Cruise Journal 2012
Cruise in the Bahamas

Updated: 2 Feb 2012

January 2012

1 Jan 12; Sunday; Powell Point, Eleuthera to Warderick Wells, Exumas

  • Since the marina office didn't open until 0800, I gave myself the luxury of lying abed until 0630 - maybe that bottle of Drambuie that mysteriously emptied while we were talking in the cockpit last night had something to do with my late rising too. I got organized enough to whip the steward into action and he did the dishes while I continued to wake up. That done I took advantage of the marina's RO water to top of my tanks before settling up the bill.
  • At 0830, I helped Lucia get away from the pier. My sports fisher neighbor kindly came over and managed my bow line until I had way on. Then we were off on a beautiful sunny and clear morning heading SSE to the Exumas and Warderick Wells Cut. I'm always impressed here with the way depths go from 12' to a few readings at 50' and then the bottom drops off to > 5000' - all within a few boat lengths and about a half-mile offshore.
  • The wind was light and just off the port stern quarter. I motor sailed and Lucia decided to sail a bit. Along the way they encounters a pod of small whales that followed them and played around the boat. I was a bit jealous because in all the years of cruising I've yet to spot my first whale. By 1100 the SW sky became overcast. I had pulled ahead of Lucia so I decided to sail under just the genoa to enable them to catch up which they did a few miles from the cut. The trip from there in was extremely rolly as the forward speed of Onward exacerbated the short quartering waves rolling under the port stern.
  • It was wonderful to make the easy passage through the cut and have the rolling cease. I made the well known transit into the N mooring field and picked up mooring 10. I had prepared my new "Grab N Go" mooring hook on a ~30' length of 7/16" braided line. I managed to approach the mooring perfectly then went to the bow with my boat hook and new mooring hook. Of course, the huge pennant they have on these moorings made it hard for me to snag it with the boat hook. When I finally got it, the way of the boat had carried it past the point where I could temporarily put the pennant on the bow cleat. This is the point where I've always been challenged in the past. As there is no one in the cockpit to reverse a bit to take the way off, I work hard to have Onward motionless by the time the bow is at the mooring float. But sometimes due to wind, current or operator error this doesn't work out and I've got to try to keep hold of the pennant. As when I picked up the mooring at Great Guana Cay and I'd not properly rigged the foredeck ahead of time, holding on to the pennant is a real problem. That time I managed to shave the skin off the back of the tip of my middle finger — still not quite healed. So today, with that experience in mind, I had the line of the Grab N Go hook ready on a cleat and the hook in my hand as I lifted the mooring's pennant out of the water. I was thus able to hook the pennant immediately and then just let it go. Onward eventually fetched up on the hook's line and then fell back to where I was able to bring the loop of the pennant on deck, remove the GNG hook, and rig the mooring bridle to it. Neat! No blood on the foredeck! I like this. Now why wasn't I clever enough to spend the ~$80 for one of these gems before? An old saying of Mom's comes to mind: we grow too soon old and too late smart — says it all.
  • Onward was safe on the mooring at ~ 1400 hrs. I'm really looking forward to just vegetating here for a couple of weeks — marking the true end of the trek from Narragansett Bay to the "real" Bahamas.
  • I declared an early cocktail hour and I finished reading a good mystery novel. It was a Kindle ebook. I have found that I really like the ability to read from my iPad at night because I don't need a reading light. I enjoy reading from the Kindle in the bright light of the cockpit during the day. So the combination of iPad and Kindle is great. It is also a much better book shopping experience on the iPad and the management of the books I've bought is better on it. The book done, it was nap time.
  • While I was making the trek down the ICW, Joahna advised me to buy some of the Great Courses offered by the Teaching Company to enjoy while in the Bahamas. I heeded her advise and bought courses on opera, jazz, the pharos, and probability. They had been sitting unopened in a box since I got them at Vero Beach as I just hadn't had the mental energy to get interested in them. But tonight, as a result of finally arriving at the place where I will spend a lot of the next few months and due to the effects of cocktail hour and the nap, I was ready to explore. So I began with the courses on probability and on opera; setting them up so I can peruse them from my iPad. But first I had dinner and watched an episode of Dr. Who on my iPad.

2 Jan 12; Monday; Warderick Wells; Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park
  • I allowed myself another lazy morning, arising at 0600. Chris Parker confirmed that it was a good move to get here when we did because a strong cold front is coming through tonight. This also confirmed my decision to take advantage of the very settled weather over the last 4 days to make the move out of the Abacos as they are going to be clobbered with 30-35 kts winds by this front. This is the normal pattern and one of the reasons I find it much more comfortable in the Exumas at this time of year.
  • After going in to the office to register and say hello to Darcy, I returned aboard to finish reading a book and work on the internet. I attempted to publish updates to my two websites but the connection kept dropping out.
  • I had an early dinner, enjoying a Dr. Who segment. Then I loaded one of he video lectures from the Great Courses lecture series on Probability. The iPad is a simply wonderful tool for these video lectures — far superior to the TV or even laptop!
  • My intellectual fix done, I started to read a new eBook as I turned in. The rose winds quickly clocked around to the N with essentially no time in the W.

3 Jan 12; Tuesday
  • The winds picked up to the 20s in the early hours and continued to build. During the day there were gusts exceeding 35kts.
  • I got email from several friends asking what happened to my website. I checked and found that in the troublesome upload attempt yesterday, all the content files had been erased and no updates written. My publishing software was behaving strangely so I eventually did a semi-manual ftp to get the sites back in operation until I figure out what's happening with my publishing software.
  • The winds continued to howell and did not drop off quickly as expected. It got cold enough I first crawled into bed to read and then had to don sox and long pants and long-sleeved shirt to get up and make dinner.
  • When I finally got to download my email, I discovered that Jim Wholleber had sold his C470, Beckoning, due to health reasons among others. I was stunned. Jim has been a great friend who is most responsible for me owning Onward. Back in 2002 when I first seriously considered the idea of buying a sailboat large enough for me to live aboard but capable of being sailed singlehanded, I met Jim through the C470 owners email list. After meeting him at Herrington Harbor South, I ended up being his crew aboard Beckoning on most weekends for the next year and a half until the decision to purchase Onward was made and she was delivered and commissioned. Following that we shared many anchorages and engaged in a continuous game of gadget toy buying to outfit our vessels — trying to see who could get the latest best first. He has been a pervasive contributor to the C470 owners forums, a font of information and a good friend. My sailing life will be a bit dimmer without him captaining Beckoning. My hope is that he will recover from his current health issue enough to join me in the Bahamas as crew so I can return the many favors. Get Well Jim!!!
  • While hibernating, I decided to try out my new Great Course series on opera. I loaded the first set of lectures on my iPad and then took it and my Bluetooth stereo headset to bed with me. I have always felt a bit guilty at being so ignorant of opera given my Italian heritage so the time spent on the 2010 Corinthian Cruise in Maine with Kiran and Bill Kimbell prompted me to get more interested. Bill gave me a lot of opera music to listen to as I departed RI in September and I have enjoyed it. That in turn led me to buy this course. One of my favorite arias quickly became "Nessum Dorma" from Turandot which I discovered thanks to Bill. Well, the lecture series started off with the first piece of music played being this aria — selected as it was a prime illustration of how the composer exploits music to shape the message and its emotional content. After listing to the lecturer's introduction, I was swept away by my new insights into what has become familiar music to me. Further, I found myself choked up with tears in my eyes as the music touched some buried cord — exactly why is a bit of a mystery to me. Wow. I am now hooked and will really enjoy this lecture series.
  • With my culture fix done, I went back to my mystery and could not put it down until it was done in the wee hours. And the winds howled…

4 Jan 12; Wednesday
  • The winds finally died down to < 15 kts by midmorning however the sky was overcast — a fairly unusual event here — thank God! Chris Parker said it was a result of the cold air mass that moved in with the front having a lot of moisture to condense out at middle altitudes.
  • I spent a good deal of the day on a "roundtoit" - I began organizing and cleaning up files on my laptop. With the amount of music and photos I have plus iPad backup files, it had really eaten into my hard drive. When I bought this laptop, its 160 GB drive was large and now it is considered minuscule. When I considered upgrading it, one of the Apple Store "geniuses" said that frankly I'd do better to just buy a large auxiliary drive which I've done. So today, I found and off-loaded to this 700 GB drive all the ash and trash photo, video, and music files that were not part of my iTunes or iPhoto libraries. Amazingly, >25 GB of free space on the laptop was achieved.
  • For my diligent work, I rewarded myself with lunch and then the afternoon off to read a new eBook on the history of all the major basic laws of science. Fascinating.
  • I invited Paul and Cathy over for dinner as they stopped by to say they were going to head S in the morning to get food and water. Cathy baked a loaf of fresh bread to go with the chicken breasts I grilled and the black beans and rice. Delish. We had a nice evening talking about their future plans for this cruise. I expect we will meet up again somewhere along the way.

5 Jan 12; Thursday
  • The winds finally calmed down to < 10 kts and the overcast sky began to break up and allow sunshine to begin to return. Paul came over this morning so I could give him a copy of the Bahamas Cruisers Guide for him to use. Lucia was off in midmorning to head to Sampson or Staniel Cays in search of water and provisions. Cathy related last night that stores were thin as they apparently under provisioned. This is always a challenge for first-timers. I guess I was lucky the first time as I was with Jubilee and Joanna was shopping for Pat and the 3 children too. That combined with my Italian family background resulted in me always having plenty of food aboard.
  • About 1100 I looked out at the anchorage and found that there were only 2 other boats in the mooring field — and one of them is Darcy's and Kevin's. But, a new group is on the way in.
  • I went ashore for a hike — my first since arriving here. Hurricane Irene went up Exuma Sound in September and did a bit of damage to the Park but there is little evidence of its passing except for more detritus from fallen leaves and palm fronds. Darcy has been busy manicuring the trails and the ones I traversed were in good shape. Most notable is the effect of the growing Hutia population. Their tracks which were seldom seen in the N part of the cay are now so heavy they seem to be carving out their own trails. Their effect on the shrubbery is astounding. Last year we noted they had destroyed the canopy of about 50% of the shrubs on the S half of the island — now they have extended this to the N. Darcy tells me the BNT has recognized the experiment of allowing the Hutia to reestablish a population on the cay without any natural predators has gone badly wrong. However, in typical Bahamian fashion, translating a need for action INTO action is very slow to occur. Perhaps when they've eaten everything (not far away) they will just die off.
  • A visit to Boo Boo Hill gave the first real evidence of the impact of Irene. The assemblage of signs left by previous cruisers has been decimated. All evidence of the visits by Onward and many of my friends over the last 5 years is gone! They have reestablished a group of signs but there are so many missing. I searched the area widely without finding any and I can only guess they were blown out to sea. I'm not sure if I have the heart to create a new one. We'll see.
  • Got to meet up with the "other" boat in the anchorage this morning - John from Jennie Marie out of Oxford MD whom I've met here several times.

6 Jan 12; Friday
  • The dawn brought sunshine and light winds with warmer temperatures. I spent the morning catching up on computer tasks. After lunch, I decided it was a good beach day. Last year I had set up a Beach Bag that had all the stuff I might need at the beach in it so all I had to do was and anything special for the day and then head out. Now I came across that bag several times over the last 6 months — usually as I was moving things about in the forward areas I use for storage. The last time I saw it was when I had to remove my less-than-splendid Splendide W/D. In the mean time, a worm hole to a parallel universe opened up and it has disappeared through it. I guess I will just have to wait until it tunnels back here.
  • I Ventured N of the mooring area to the little sandy beach we discovered several years ago. As I neared it, I was really looking forward to my first afternoon on a secluded beach — then I found the Park Administrator's boat anchored offshore. I went ashore and found Andrew who was perched atop one of the small outcrops keeping watch for poachers. We had a good chat. It seems that poaching is becoming a bigger problem for the Park particularly lobstering and fish trapping — then there are the big sports fishermen that creep across the Park boundary as they ply Exuma Sound. Hurricane Irene passed by as it traveled up the Sound and winds were >100 mph. Andrew's houseboat, The Owl, broke apart on its mooring and was shredded. The Park Warden, Henry, lost his boat when it sank at the pier. All the other Park boats including Darcy and Kevin's and several more from surrounding cays safely rode out the hurricane on the moorings. The plant life bounced back well due to a lot of rain in the period after the storm passed. Problems with Haitian boat people trying to escape from conditions at home are growing with more being picked up from shipwrecks each year. Plans to build the long-talked-about solar power system may be moving forward at last — but this is the Bahamas, remember. Prince Karim Aga Khan IV bought Bell Island a few years ago and has completed a major dredging operation to accommodate his several superyachts. I guess I'll get to see this when I get to Cambridge Cay.
  • After leaving Andrew on watch, I headed to secluded beach two and found it empty. I beached Venture and worked on erasing my tan lines while I gave it a good cleaning. Then came my first swim of the year — perhaps the first ocean swim since I left the Bahamas last year. Nothing like a skin suit swim followed by a walk on the beach to dry off. Next was a bit of reading on the beach to check out my Kindle Touch as a beach reading device. There's something really neat about reading of Newton and his formulation of several major laws of science as I sunbathed on a beach. After an hour in the sun, I headed back to Onward for cocktail hour.

7 Jan 12; Saturday;
  • A beautiful sunny day with quiet winds. After spending the morning on computer tasks, I then worked on some roundtoits. First on the list was fixing the basket on my genoa furler which had loosened and was sometimes spinning with the line fouling it around the base of the forestay. This required me to don my inflatable PFD and harness and go out onto the foredeck to fix the furler line. As leaving the cockpit when I am by myself is something I avoid like the plague, I finally worked out what was causing the problem and replaced the retaining bolts so it is properly fixed in stationary position.
  • I spent the afternoon doing more boat tasks. At 1700 I headed ashore for the traditional Warderick Wells Cruisers Sundowner at the beach gazebo. Darcy had asked me to make the VHF announcement in late afternoon and most of the folks from boats in the anchorage showed up. Some asked if I was the host because I made the announcement. One couple from Florida was cruising with their 8-month old daughter — neat. The Hutia population was out in force coming over and looking for snacks not even slightly disturbed when I turned my ultra-bright Fenix LED flashlight on them. I met Ella Vickers who designs and produces bags, accessories and decor made with recycled sailcloth. I got to meet Sheryl & Wes McNair aboard Merlin from Annapolis. They did not know Ed and Tina from the "real" Merlin ;)

8 Jan 12; Sunday;
  • The winds picked up in the night and a few light rain squalls came through in the early hours. Rain squalls are welcome events in the Bahamas. Onward's decks and rigging needed a good fresh water wash to remove the salt built up during the trip down from the Abacos.
  • Well, it's my birthday. I've survived another year! That statement has a lot more meaning to it after the discovery and repair of the two clogged arteries in my heart in October. Again God Bless Deborah Jones and her urging of the "one more test just to be sure you're fine"…

Survived Another Year…

  • I'm afraid I celebrated by having my favorite breakfast — the Onward omelet — the first since 15 October. Of all the changes in my eating lifestyle that I've made, giving up this breakfast has been the hardest. Somehow replacing it with "healthy" cereals with all their carbs doesn't sit right with me intellectually. And I find I get hungry earlier in the day for lunch. Ah well…
  • After working on computer stuff for a while, I actually visited my Facebook account — a place I don't get to much. But I did find it a nice way to catch up with friends and family. I still haven't worked enough with it be proficient and I'm still not sure how it fits in to my lifestyle. I guess that's a sign of ….? Now to work on my LinkedIn and Google+ accounts…
  • I took the afternoon off as a birthday present and spent it reading in the cockpit. In the evening I finally got around to watching the first of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Given that Johnny Depp owns an island in the midst of the Park, I felt a bit in the dark. Its was fun. I've gotten into the habit of watching movies and videos on my iPad so I can watch it wherever I feel like. This summer I picked up a little powered speaker (2" dia. x 2.5" tall) that provides great portable sound. I convert DVDs to mp4 format as I feel like watching one.

9 Jan 12; Monday;

  • Today was experimental baking day. As I mentioned yesterday, my effort to adhere to a new dietary lifestyle has presented challenges. Hardest has been finding an alternative breakfast for my Onward omelet (two strips of crisp precooked bacon and one egg) which served me well for years as being easy to provision for, quick and easy to prepare, and delicious while keeping my midday hunger at bay till early afternoon. Next most difficult challenge is lunch. I periodically bake calzones which I can freeze and then quickly warm up in my iron skillet and they are delicious. I've made two at a time in the past and I've found that the second stayed in the freezer too long and was subsequently not quite as good. So I've decided to make one at a time in the future. Today I decided to try baking rosemary / olive oil baguettes. I mad the dough, formed two baguette-size loafs using parchment paper, and then wrapped these in an aluminum foil package to provide the sealed environment needed for the first half of the baking. I then experiment with making chicken sausage rolls by slicing a pre-cooked chicken sausage lengthwise in 4 slices and then wrapping 2 each in some of the rosemary / olive oil dough. I also made a half a sheet of focaccia. While I was at it, it was time to bake additional pepper biscotti — the last batch went fast. I will have to stifle my urge to give them to friends. The experiments all look great. Later today comes the taste test.
  • By the way, I want to thank my sister-in-law, MaryAnn, again because she responded to a wistful comment of mine back in 2001 or so that I really missed the pepper biscotti I used to buy when visiting RI. She sent me the recipe used by a friend's mother. I experimented with it and adapted it to become the recipe I use for Onward Pepper Biscotti. Thanks again, MaryAnn, for your thoughtfulness!
  • Well the baking experiment went well. Two beautiful rosemary & olive oil baguettes resulted along with two chicken sausage rolls — and don't forget the tasty focaccia. I had one of the sausage rolls for lunch - Delish! I will experiment more with this as it is a great way to make lunches that can be made ahead of time and preserved in the cooler or freezer and then just warmed up. Too bad I should not have pepperoni in my diet any longer :(
  • I spent the afternoon working on the redesign, fabrication and installation of a new anchor chain guides for the windlass. I have been recently plague by the anchor chain piling up on the storage side of the windlass. This is caused by the chain piling up in its bow storage compartment to a height where the chain coming off the windlass no longer has enough gravity pulling it smoothly off. Instead, it can pile up at the windlass and then interfere with its operation. The new setup has heavy nylon guides that should keep the chain from falling off the low-tension side of the windlass and channelize the chain flow into the locker. We'll see how this works…
  • I rewarded my diligence by taking a nap and working on my tan on a cockpit seat. I am not visible to folks in passing dinghies when lying down. I must have dozed off and was awoken by some taps on the side of the boat. Nancy and Graham from the trawler Finisterre had stopped by when they saw the boat name. Back in the Abacos, I had responded to a request for assistance on the cruisers net by a woman who just got an iPhone and needed to know how to switch it off so as not to get roaming charges while in the Bahamas. Well, this was Nancy whom I had helped and she stopped by to say thanks and to invite me over for cocktails. So after a refreshing shower, I joined them and we had a pleasant evening.

10 Jan 12; Tuesday;
  • The morning promised another beautiful day — one of the annual 315 days of sunshine in the Bahamas - according to the Bahamas Met Office. After spending the morning working on computer stuff, I baked some breaded chicken cutlets to have aboard for lunch and dinner. Once my internet ran out (I'm getting 100 MB every 48 hrs), I made a nice sandwich using half of one of a baguette I baked yesterday and a chicken cutlet. Then I packed my beach bag and headed off to the N private beach. After getting settled, I opened the beer I'd brought along and reached for the chicken cutlet sandwich that I had been drooling for only to discover that I left it back in the galley! Since I keep a small bag of emergency rations in the beach bag, I was able to survive my time on the beach while I did some swimming and tan line erasing.
  • Hurricane Irene had a lot of impact on this little beach formed on the small cay where it is < 100' wide. It is clearly evident that waves were rolling entirely over the area changing the makeup and breadth of the bank-side beach. Just S of the beach the cay rises ~ 10' to 20' above sea level, the vegetation has been swept away on the Sound side and the waves have left behind a large and broad selection of pieces of coral. These were ripped off the bottom by the hurricane's waves and lay like bowling balls around this area. I've never seen such a variety of brain corals. Neat! The ocean waves have essentially tunneled though the rock of little cay at the narrow point and you can look down through large holes to watch the waves surge. It is only a matter of time and perhaps another hurricane or two before the breach is complete. It will be sad to lose this delightful little beach.
  • One of the cruisers newly arrived in the area organized a sundowner at the gazebo. A challenge I always face is what to bring for a snack to these events. My appetizer creativity is not strong. Pepper biscotti are always a good fallback but then this leaves less for me! Today I decided to slice up half on one of the baguettes and serve it with spiced olive oil. A quick and easy snack to prepare. Well, it hit a home run. I guess cruisers are starved for good fresh bread so they quickly devoured it. Now I'll just have to bake more baguettes! I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour to 4 cups of unbleached regular flour and the baguettes came out looking light a light rye bread. Next time I'll add caraway seeds.

11 Jan 12; Wednesday
  • Guess what? It was another beautiful, sunny, warm day with sparkling clear water over white sands. Ah well...
  • I polished stainless steel on deck in the late morning and was pleasantly interrupted by visits from Kevin & Jean from Amokura and Tom from Polar Pacer. They are on moorings in the SE mooring field and came over by dinghy. Amokura is starting its trek back to the UK so they planned to take off for the S tomorrow. I was sorry to hear this as I had hoped to spend more time with them in the Exumas.

12 Jan 12; Thursday;
  • Groundhog Day! Another day of beautiful sun, sand, sea, weather, natural beauty. I am social-website inept. Having spent so much of my life using email and then my www.onward.ws to communicate with people, I'm not sure how Facebook, Linkedin and Google+ fit into my life. Not having a computer always plugged in to high-bandwidth internet is one reason I don't follow theses sites much. Another is simply the fact I'm so busy running Onward and dealing with the other parts of my life that I don't have time for social sites. That said, I had some bandwidth available so I decided to updated my presence on these sites. Then I'll watch and try to see what use I find for them.
  • I spent the afternoon and evening reading a mystery eBook that I got free from iBooks. I've now read several of these free or $0.99 eBooks and they all have been quite good. This reinforces my prejudice of paying near-hardcover prices for eBooks. Their pricing model has to evolve to reflect the lower cost of production and distribution — and to make up for the fact that I just can't "hand" it to someone.
  • I will have to renew my effort to read through the boxes of books I still have onboard because I really prefer reading eBooks.
  • My iPad which has several eBook apps, including Kindle, is a much superior reading experience than from my Kindle Touch. The latter is better for reading in direct daylight and cheap enough that I can take it to the beach. The iPad is clearly better for reading indoors or in the evening. I'm getting my Amazon books loaded on both devices so I can choose the best for the time of day and location.

Happy Birthday Kathy

Kathy & I

13 Jan 12; Friday;

  • Another very calm day; the calmest day I've ever experienced in the Bahamas. Another morning spent on computer tasks, cleaning, boat tasks and organizing. After lunch I went off to the SW secluded beach for some skinsuit snorkeling and sunning. In late afternoon clouds moved in a harbinger of the strong winds that are going to build tomorrow.

14 Jan 12; Saturday;
  • The day was overcast and the winds built to > 15 kts. I prepared to go up the backstay to remove the pesky u-bolt and block that keep snagging the topping lift. As I got out the bosuns chair, all the painful memories of using it came back. It is a sturdy Harken chair but it has the bad habit of causing me to slide forward when I'm sitting in it so that the family jewels get mashed into the retention strap between my legs — a terribly uncomfortable position to be working from at the top of a mast. So, I spent a lot of time looking at the way the seat is assembled to determine how I could add support straps that alleviate this problem. After working out a potential solution, I decided to sleep on it and sew the new straps in tomorrow.
  • Yesterday I discovered that Amazon had Kindle eBook editions of the mystery series written by Ed McBain for $0.99 each. I had never read any of these but one of the authors I enjoy has a main character, a Russian detective, who likes to read these books. So I bought 4 to try out and after lunch I spent a nice afternoon reading the first one. It seems McBean invented the longitudinal cop show concept where there are a bunch of cops who take font & center from book to book (or TV episode to episode). After completing the book, I learned that McBain was the pen name for the author who had his Italian name, Salvatore Lambino, legally changed to Hunter to make it in the literary world of the 50's. His first book, The Blackboard Jungle made it big. I also learned that he did the screenplay for Hitchcock's "The Birds" which was just in the news. They now are fairly sure that a toxin from algae got into the small fish in the food chain which when it got to the birds in a local area in CA caused them to go crEativity. Daphne Du Maurier had seen this article and wrote a short story. It came to Hitchcock's attention and McBain / Evans / Lambino turned it into the screenplay that produced the classic. Gee, talk about connections.

15 Jan 12; Sunday;
  • Today is a sunny day with winds 15 to 20 kts. After working on my websites, I got out the sewing machine and sewed the nylon straps to the bosun chair so that it should not tip me forward as it has painfully done in the past. I asked Tom to come over from Polar Pacer which moved to the mooring next to Onward yesterday. With him running the electric winch, I climbed into the bosun chair. When he had tensioned the topping lift being used to hoist the chair, I snapped on the come-along I built yesterday out of a pair of triple blocks. The other end of the come-along was snapped to a shackle on the port backstay. I then hauled in the bosun chair so I would ride up the backstay. My modification to the bosun chair helped a lot, and for the first time since I bought it I wasn't tilted forward. Nice! The come-along worked well and when I reached the level of the u-bolt and block, I was able to unbolt it easily. Tom then lowered me and I landed in the cockpit as we had unzipped the connector canvas between dodger and bimini. Wonderful, I was able to stand and walk without being in pain! That task done, it was time for lunch and a bit of reading of another Ed McBain novel.
  • Energized by the break, I decided to tackle head issues. Back in September I had decided to replace Onward's manual heads with new all-electric heads that streamlined and clean externally. My health problems delayed my efforts until just before I departed Baltimore so I only had time to do the basic installation in the rear head. I made the decision to switch to freshwater flush so I left the old unused water hoses in place to be removed later and the new flexible freshwater tank. So today I finally started the process — to be completed tomorrow.

Hooray! A Major Milestone Achieved.

  • I finally got through on the Globalstar satphone to Joahna and found that she was back in Hawaii! She had flown back to take the oral exam portion of the comprehensive exams for her Ph.D. in Sociology having completed the written part before Christmas. She passed the oral and written exams with flying colors. A major milestone completed! Of course, it took the professor who is her advisor to say that she was a superb writer and having gone through the exams to find she was over prepared for her to believe (maybe) what Dad has been saying for months. She really is a superb writer who can clearly layout complex concepts and complicated information so that it is both readily accessible and a pleasure to read. Along the way to the comprehensives she used her skills as a website designer to build a web tool for her oral committee that displays the reading list and associated research summaries she developed for her comprehensives. Her research proposal was approved although she will probably do some tweaking. Her general focus will be on motivation of ethical behavior by businesses and consumers in todays marketplace centering on those segments which promote both a better world and the people in it. Neat!

Joahna, Beautiful & Brainy

16 Jan 12; Monday

  • The winds picked up to > 20 kts during the night and I had a restless sleep after waking up at 0100. The morning dawned on another sunny day with the promise of the winds tapering off after today. My disturbed sleep left me operating at low power all day. I managed to get a bit more done to finish the electric head installation by removing the old hoses. I also worked on a long-standing roundtoit — sorting out a lot of miscellaneous boat stuff so it could be properly stored. Of course, this reminded me how many little boat projects I have hanging. None of these are critical; they are just little projects I start, organize in a project ziploc bag, and carry forward until I run into a snag that I need to engineer around or I lose patience over. They the project bag gets stowed and I forget about it until the next time I go rummaging in the project bag box. Ah well, it assures that I will never get bored!

17 Jan 12; Tuesday; Warderick Wells to Black Point
  • A quieter night as the winds dropped to ~ 15 kts. I decided to make the break today. I spent the morning putting stuff back in place to get Onward ready for sailing. Then I went in to say farewell to the Park office and found Darcy ensconced behind her desk with beautifully revarnished floors. Bruce and John had been busy over the weekend.
  • At 1130 I dropped the mooring and headed out. The wind was ~ 15 kts from the ESE so I was able to motorsail and then sail under just the genoa for a leisurely transit to Black Point where I anchored at 1530.
  • I quickly cleaned up and launched the dinghy so I could head off to town. But first I made an appointment by VHF with Ida to have my hair cut in the morning. If truth be told, that was the real reason I departed the Park. It has been 4 months since the master, Luc, last cut my hair in Annapolis and even his work has limits.
  • I went in to Scorpios for Happy Hour, depositing several bags of trash in the trash trailer along the way. After spending an hour or so at Scorpios, I headed over to Lorain's Cafe for dinner. There I met Bruce and John and we had a pleasant dinner. Lorain had just baked some delicious chicken. It was nice to eat someone else's cooking for a change.

18 Jan 12; Wednesday; Black Point to Big Majors Spot
  • Today was haircut day. But before I could go ashore to be shorn, I needed to wash my hair. Of course, to do that, it required me putting the shower back together where I had been working on finishing up the freshwater flush to the electric head. That done, I showered and headed off to do a load of laundry and get my ears lifted. Ida was happy to see me and proudly showed off new the new extension to the store that is almost complete. It will more than double the store area and she plans to stock more marine and household items and well as boutique items for cruisers. The edition also has new showers for cruisers, two of which are in service. They are beautiful tiled shower rooms with token operated showers that give you 8 minutes. They were already busy during my visit. Ida told me two local brothers had built a small building across the street — still to be finished on the exterior — that is a new bar, the B&B.
  • While my laundry was being done, Ida worked her magic to turn this sows ear into a silk purse. Two couples who were there doing laundry approved — at least I didn't scare them away. We got talking about iPads and cruising and I made another sale for Apple. My free iPad3 should arrive in March in recognition of my impact on Apple sales (right!).
  • I stopped by Adderleys Friendly Store and picked up a few things although the mailboat, Captain C, wasn't to arrive until later in the day. That done, I headed back to Onward and weighed anchor and headed off to Staniel Cay.
  • Harriet Hardy had emailed me about her friend JoAnne Norton who had sailed her boat to the Bahamas for the winter. Another friend of JoAnne's had told her of me and my website and so through the combination of third parties we began communicating by email. As I sailed by Staniel, I saw that her boat, Walkabout, was there and we talked on the VHF. She invited me to come back to Big Major's for a beach party tonight. So I decided to take her up on the offer.
  • I first tried to anchor by the grotto in my favorite little hole but it took me a while to find enough sand to set the anchor. I guess the hurricane move some sand around here were the current is strong. Just as I was settled, I saw Walkabout leaving. JoAnne was moving to Big Majors Spot so I picked up my just-set anchor and followed. After reanchoring in the new location, I launched Venture and used my new looky bucket to the anchors of Onward and Walkabout. I went over to say a brief hello before heading off back to Staniel to get to Isles Genera Store as the mailboat came in this morning. First I had to stop to get gas and discovered that they had put a new fuel pier into operation at the beginning of January. It is located on a new T-head just N of the existing pier. I guess this will leave the original pier free for just vessel berthing. They are also building a series of cottages along the shore on the shelf they cut out a year or so ago — this was the source of limestone blocks that they used to make the dinghy landing beach sea wall. The only problem with the setup is it is a long way from the old pier and if there is one person on duty it can result in a wait as the attendant has to bicycle over.
  • My refueling complete, I headed over to Isles where I was able to get a few fresh things but cruisers had already swept through. Then it was back to Onward where I sliced and toasted the baguette I bought to serve as a snack with dipping olive oil and spices. At 1630, I headed ashore and had a great time talking with JoAnne and a number of other cruisers, some of whom I'd encountered before. The evening ended up with a bonfire and guitar music. Unfortunately, I never got around to eating lunch so I needed to leave early to get something to eat.

19 Jan 12; Thursday
  • A bit of clouds today as the wind shifted to the N. I spent the morning as usual, engaged in computer and boat tasks. I also baked a batch of almond biscotti. Since I now use half whole wheat flour and have added more dried fruit and nuts as well as reduced the amount of sugar in favor of Splenda, I now will have a couple of them for breakfast. That done I made a batch of rosemary olive oil bread dough. This time I decided to use only 1/4 cup of olive oil to add the flavor and no whole wheat flour so that the dough would be more elastic.
  • I was casting about for something to read while I ate lunch and relaxed in the cockpit and I came upon a copy of Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby that I'd downloaded for iBooks some time ago. My interest in this classic stems from watching a PBS series where they had taped the Royal Shakespeare Company performing the play based on it. It was a rather involved production where the entire theater was part of the set. The play was so involved that each rendition required 3 nights in succession. While I have retained only a hazy and pleasant memory of the plot, I have had reading the novel on my intellectual roundtoit list for some time. Well, I decided today was the day to get round to it.

20 Jan 12; Friday
  • A sunny day but a tad cool. I baked a couple of baguettes using the technique I've developed. I also made a calzone using thin slices of pre-cooked chicken italian sausages, a bit of pasta sauce, and very thin slices of fresh green pepper. The baking was complete by the end of my normal morning routine. I broke for lunch and had a piece of the fresh calzone and a cold beer. I also sampled the baguettes - Delish.
  • After reading a bit I took a nap in the sun. I was woken from a sound sleep when JoAnne came by in her dinghy to invite me over for dinner aboard Walkabout with some of her friends. The charger / inverter aboard Walkabout had given up the ghost and friends from Osprey had spent the day installing a new replacement. Now that she was back in the amps she was ready to entertain. I enjoyed a tasty taco dinner aboard Walkabout, a beautiful Taswell 44 Deck Salon. Of course, the woman's touch is evident as it looks brand new out of the box.

21 Jan 12; Saturday;
  • A sunny day a bit on the cool side. I spent the morning writing and then set about boat tasks. I re-engineered the plastic chain guide that directs the chain as it comes off the gypsy to smoothly flow into the chain chute and then into the storage locker. I had discovered that when retrieving a long length of chain it tends to pile up and not distribute itself evenly in the locker. As the pile grows, the weight of chain pulling the links off the gypsy and into the locker decreases and the links tend to bunch up at the windlass instead of flowing into the chute and locker. The chain guide I built out of 2" high strips of 3/4" plastic sheet channelizes the links so those coming off the gypsy push the others along the guide into the chute. When I first tried out this guide on anchoring at Black Point, I found that it did not work well when deploying chain from the locker. It seems that when there is not enough weight of chain keeping it taut (the effect of that piling up problem again) the links as they came out of the chute were running around the base of the windlass and tending to jam between the base and the new chain guide. So today I installed a 2" x 2.5" tapered piece of plastic sheet in the bottom of the guide so that the links are raised above the base — to the level of the gypsy. Now the links smoothly run on and off the gypsy and through the chain guide. The reason for all this effort is that the ability to set and retrieve the anchor chain from the helm station is critical to me being able to operate Onward safely especially in adverse sea and weather conditions. The trouble and cost of having to replace the windlass made me sensitive to small problems that I hadn't been aware of previously. Now to test the latest design out under operational conditions!
  • Today was a red-letter day in the roundtoit elimination derby I have been toting around a big canvas bin of miscellaneous parts and materials that needed to be sorted and then stowed in my parts, spares, and stuff bins located in the storage area behind the port salon settee. This process of sorting, organizing and deciding where to stow such a diverse bunch of stuff actually gives me headaches. This is one of the reasons I've avoided it thus far. Another is the fact that I had to come to terms with the fact that the only way to do it was to take ALL the bins of stuff out of the storage areas and then redistribute and then re-stow it all. I can only handle this type a task for about 15 min before I have no more patience. So today I interspersed doing this with the re-engineering of the anchor chain guide. Another motivation that helped was that at midday I invited the Walkabouts to come one for dinner in the evening.
  • With my windlass and stuff storage tasks done, I had lunch and then cleaned up and headed over to Fowl Cay. This is the small island resort located off the NW corner of Big Majors Spot. Yesterday, after making one of my periodic VHF announcements about the Bahamas Cruisers Guide, Yves, the manager of the resort called and invited me to come over for a tour. So today I took him up on the offer. The resort started out as the private island retreat of a family with a beautiful villa for their home. Then they built other villas for their children to use when they came to stay. As visits fell off they began to convert their retreat into a resort. A couple of years ago, Sandals purchased the resort and now operate it. It is an all-inclusive resort with 6 villas for guests; each has its own runabout for getting around the surrounding area. There is a beautiful clubhouse and dining room with a view that is magnificent in all directions. Amenities include a beautifully manicured beach, pool, tennis court, and all types of beach sports. It is rated 5-star for its dining and accommodations. When there is room, cruisers are invited for prix-fixe dinner ($100 / person, all inclusive). I had a great time with Yves as he took me on a golf-cart tour with Ruby the yellow lab island dog. I plan to go back to enjoy a dinner there when I've a companion to share it with.
  • When I got back to Onward, it was time for a bit of a nap. JoAnne came by to say she and her friend Jean would be able to come for dinner. While we were talking, Mike from Mimosa came up and I invited him over also. Without much time to prepare, I decided on the old standby of angel hair pasta. I sautéed onions and green peppers with Italian sausage slices (I really love these pre-cooked chicken sausages!). And then added some chunks of fresh tomato before adding the melange to the pasta and sauce — and of course some wine. Delish! Well, we had a grand time and the pasta was a hit. The rosemary olive oil baguette I baked yesterday was great so I think I've finally hit on the recipe that I will use to regularly make baguettes.

22 Jan 12; Sunday
  • A quiet day. At 1100 I weighed anchor and moved across the anchorage at Big Majors Spot to the S end where I could more reliably pick up the WiFi signal from Staniel Cay. The new chain guide system worked very well!
  • I then spent a frustrating several hours of trying to get email and website systems back in operation. For some unknown reason systems at my hosting service went haywire??? The ftp upload from my website authoring software to the servers that host my websites has always gone seamlessly — click a button and the upload happened. Today the ftp wouldn't work. Then I discovered the email services for the BCG had disappeared! My hosting company has been doing upgrades and I think my sites got caught in a black hole.
  • I managed to get email download and then I gave up in frustration and took the rest of the afternoon to lay out in the cockpit and read. After cocktail hour, it was a good time to make sat phone calls to family. I managed to get through to everyone but Joahna. Apparently her phone doesn't like to take my satphone calls??? Unfortunately I reached my son just after the Ravens missed their 30-yd field goal attempt so we decided to talk another day when he had recovered his equanimity.

23 Jan 12; Monday
  • I was awake at 0330 so I decided to see if I could work on my website server problem. Now I discovered that the server was serving up a version of the BCG from last April! &*^%$)!!! It took me the rest of the morning to track down the new path being used by the server to my website files. The I had to erase all the old files and then reload > 360 files for the BCG. To make it even more fun, the WiFi connection kept dropping out. What fun… Just before my wifi service timed out, I managed to get all the files reloaded and checked that the websites were serving the right files. I then rewarded myself by giving me the afternoon off.
  • I made some Onward chicken salad and then asked JoAnne to go on a picnic. I picked her up and we Ventured in to one of the beaches at Big Majors Spot. But first we stopped at Pig Beach so I could give the pigs the paring from my food preparation. I was careful to keep Venture out of their reach as the 3 adult pigs waded out to feed on the vegetable scraps. Along the way, we came across a pair of the iridescent blue striped needle fish that I often see in this area. I tried to position Venture so she could get a photo with her underwater camera. On seeing her Canon camera like the one that Harriet Hardy uses, I remembered that I had intended to buy one before leaving the states so I could do underwater photography — something I've not done much of as yet. Well, I forgot to put this on my shopping list so it didn't get done! We had a nice picnic lunch and then returned to our boats. I took a short nap and then read. I later joined JoAnne aboard Walkabout for cocktails with her friends from the Chesapeake who had just sailed in.

24 Jan 12; Tuesday
  • Guess what? Another beautiful sunny day… I had awoken around 0130 and was alert enough that I decided to read for a while. I am really enjoying Nicholas Nickleby although the 19th century literary style still takes some adjusting to. As a result of getting captured by it, I ended up sleeping in this morning until 0630. One nice thing about the later rising is that the sunrise provided light -- something I really miss during the early hours of the winter months when I get up at my normal time.
  • This morning I decided to tackle my breakfast issue: how to replace the Onward omelette that I have had to forgo. During my shopping trip to Isles General last Wednesday, I managed to grab a unique treat: a package of everything bagels. I carefully vacuum bagged and stored these treats in the freezer as soon as I got back to Onward. So this morning, being a bit more alert, I decided to work out the technique for making an omelette of sorts out of just the white of an egg. Now, in all the cooking I've done, separating an egg is not one of the skills I've developed. So I experimented using a small stainless condiment cup, a spoon, and a larger plastic dish (one of the "Compleats" containers that I find have so many uses). I actually managed to get > 95% of the white separated and made no mess! I may actually have a good technique here. The next problem was dealing with the fact that the egg white from a single egg is much smaller in volume than the whole egg (I usually buy Jumbo eggs) so I was a bit puzzled with how to make an omelette with the smaller amount of material. So, next I thinly sliced up a small red pepper, some sweet onion, and added a small can of sliced mushrooms and sautéed the mixture. I then thinly sliced one pre-cooked chicken sausage and added it to the pan. When the mixture was lightly browned, I took about 1.5 tbsp. of it and put it into my larger frying pan which I had used to toast a bagel. I then poured the egg white over the veggies to make a heart-healthy Onward omelette. This worked great! Delish! I put the rest of the veggies in a container in the freezer to use for future omelets.
  • After sunset, I Ventured over to Walkabout to pick up JoAnne and then we headed over to Fowl Cay to enjoy the prix fixe dining experience they sometimes open to cruisers. We were greeted at the pier by Yeves, the resort manager, and Ruby the island lab. A few minutes later Daniel and Elaine from a motor yacht at Sampson Cay came in by water taxi. We retired to Hilltop House where we enjoyed cocktails and tuna sushi hors d'oeuvres. We spent time talking to Elaine and Daniel who hail from Quebec and have taken a year off to cruise. We also got to meet two couples who were staying at the resort. Then JoAnne and I got to have a quiet drink and chat on the N terrace. Tables were then seated individually as the chef prepared the meals. I had a rack of lamb and JoAnne had snapper. The meals included wine and were delicious. The desert was one of my favorites, flan. The chef came out to talk with us and when we complemented her on the light dinner rolls and breadsticks, she invited us to come ashore on Thursday and she would show us how she prepares the puff pastry dough she uses for them. At the end of this delightful experience - delightful in three dimensions: ambiance, food, and conviviality of fellow diners, we headed back to our floating homes.

25 Jan 12; Wednesday
  • There were a number of heavy rain squalls during the night. I always welcome rain squalls as they wash the salt off the boat. If I was really industrious, I'd go out and use the deck brush during one of these squalls - but I'm not industrious in the dark.
  • In late morning, JoAnne came over and we talked about her plans for heading S to George Town. Then we Ventured off to town to take advantage of the newly arrived mail boat. We did a tour of the Pink, Blue, and Isles General stores picking up some fresh veggies. On the way back to the boats we stopped for lunch at the Taste & Sea beachside restaurant. All in all, just another challenging cruising day.

26 Jan 12; Thursday; Big Majors Spot to Sampson Cay
  • At 1400, I picked up JoAnne and headed back to Fowl Cay for my lesson in puff-pastry dough making. We were again greeted at the pier by Ruby and Yves. Then we headed off to the kitchen at Hilltop House where Shana put me to work making the dough -- I had expected to just be an observer!. JoAnne observed and took pictures. Chef Ben was also in the kitchen preparing for a beach barbecue and government inspectors who would visit at lunch tomorrow. JoAnne engaged Ben as he prepared a number of meat dishes and I listened in as I worked the dough. Basically a simple dough of flower, water, salt and a bit of melted butter was made and worked until it was smooth and pliable. Then it was chilled for a bit in the freezer. Nest about a 1/2 lb of butter was rolled out between sheets of plastic wrap and then chilled. The dough was rolled out into a rectangle and the rectangle of chilled butter was placed on it. The dough was then folded over the butter and rolled out making a dough covered butter sandwich and filed over. A steps of cooling in the freezer then rolling and then refolding the dough was continued until there were >1000 layers!. The dough is the stored in the freezer and when some is needed, a chunk is cut off and rolled out into a sheet from which bread sticks, rolls, etc. can be formed. With our cooking lesson compete, we prepared to depart and I was surprised when Shana handed me the package of dough I'd made to take along. What great fun this was.
  • After returning to our boats, Walkabout and Onward weighed anchor and headed off to Sampson Cay. After setting anchor, I launched Venture, picked up JoAnne and headed in to the restaurant for their 2 for 1 pizza night. We had a great time talking to folks I'd met on previous visits, enjoying ice cold beers and great pizza - only one of which were we able to eat before retuning home.

27 Jan 12; Friday; Sampson Cay to Black Point.
  • A very busy day. I was up at 0430 and the first order of business was to get the pepper biscotti formed and in the oven. That done, I prepared filling for a broccoli calzone: I chopped package of frozen broccoli stems and then sautéed them in olive oil with garlic, onion and green pepper. Next I took half of the batch of bread dough and formed two baguettes. Some of my experience from my puff-pastry dough lesson yesterday gave me the confidence to use more sprinkled flour to make the dough less sticky and thus tricky to handle when forming the baguettes. I again used parchment paper but instead of sealing that inside aluminum foil, I just folded over the edges of the parchment paper and stapled them to make a somewhat sealed environment. I wanted to see if this was enough to create the high humidity environment needed to form the nice thick crust layer on the baguettes. I then took the other half of the dough and made two sheets to make calzones. I added the sautéed broccoli mixture and sliced a pre-cooked chicken italian sausage into thin slices and put a sausage layer over the broccoli before closing the calzones. I really love these pre-cooked chicken sausages because they are so versatile and easy to use. When the biscotti were done I raised the oven temperature to 400º and put in the baguettes and calzones. In half an hour I took out the baguettes and opened the parchment paper to find that the crust layer was nicely formed. I then stuck them back in the oven for 15 min.
  • By this time it was time to weigh anchor and move into the fuel pier at Sampson. When I'd gotten Onward tied up, I checked the baguettes and they looked beautiful so I just shut off the oven. After taking on water and diesel and picking up some tomatoes at the marina store, I took Onward out and anchored. Then I Ventured over to Walkabout and joined JoAnne as she took her in to the fuel pier. Once Walkabout was fueled JoAnne went out and stopped by Onward so I could Venture back. I immediately raised anchor and headed off with Walkabout to Black Point.
  • After anchoring, I made a salad with some lettuce that needed to be used and invited JoAnne over for salad and fresh Rosemary Olive Oil baguette for lunch. The baguette as just as tasty as it was beautiful to see!
  • With the vision of freely laundered sheets in mind, we headed off to the Rockside laundry. As we approached, we saw that Smashie and her new sister ship, Seahorse had been launched. Vern was wading out to Smashie and Tom was aboard Seahorse. With no ballast they both were riding high and listing. Tom called for me to grab a line and tow Seahorse to shore. This proved to be a bit of a challenge as the rudder was not in place. Once the Seahorse was safely at the government pier, I headed back to Rockside to get the laundry started. I also asked Ida to cut my hair again - this time much shorter. JoAnne acted as consultant advising Ida on how to shorten and neaten the back. Having lost 2 lbs of hair, I put the wash in the dryer and JoAnne and I went off for a walk.
  • At the Garden of Eden, Willie Rolle gave us a personal tour of his driftwood sculpture garden. I must say that I'd seen it several times before and it had not done anything for me. But, with Willie taking us through them and shooing us where to stand to get the right perspective, the images he had in mind when he found and placed the driftwood became clearly evident. It was a fun experience. Unfortunately we learned that his wife was having vision problems and was not able to give us the tour of her amazing tropical fruit and flower garden. But we were able to see some of the uncommon plants they have caused to thrive by carefully creating good soil through composting.
  • We completed the day with some internet use at Rockside then fetching Nancy and Arnon from Vision Quest because their outboard engine fuel line was broken. After a couple of beers at Scorpios we retired to Loraine's Cafe where we had a delicious lobster dinner.
  • Other than that, I didn't do much today.

28 Jan 12; Saturday; Black Point to Musha Cay.
  • Wow, another week flown by!
  • At 1100 I weighed anchor. Then I noticed the chartplotter had lost gps so I had no navigation information; the SeaTalk network was down again. Yesterday the same thing had happened while pulling the anchor aboard. However, it magically came back to life a minute or so later.
  • As the windlass pulls the end of the chain with the swivel aboard, the anchor needs to rotate to come over the roller. Sometimes this happens smoothly at other times I needed to jiggle the windlass in and out to get it to rotate. The last bit of effort to get the swivel and anchor over the roller takes quite a bit of effort and will sometimes draw so much current that the E120 shuts down and then restarts. In the past, the autopilot has been unaffected. Since mid-December, this has caused several SeaTalk failures. I had attributed this to my ST7000+ autopilot head failing. Now it has happened for the second time with the ST7000+ out of the circuit.
  • Today, the magic didn't happen and I had to maneuver out of the anchorage by eye. Once out on the Banks and headed S toward Little Farmers Cay, I went below to troubleshoot while I used the wheel lock to keep a course. While below checking the fuses in the autopilot computer, JoAnne called me on VHF and told me I was off course so I went up and readjusted. I pulled all the fuses, found that they were all good, replaced them, then powered the autopilot on -- and everything was working normal. What is going on???
  • The wind was about 10-15 kts on the nose so it was a motoring trip to Galliot Cay and then on to Musha Cay where I anchored just off the island where I had anchored last year. The resort's beach looked as beautiful as ever but the large piers in front of the restaurant and couple of the villas had been destroyed by Irene and not yet rebuilt. Once the anchor was down, I decided it was a good time to take a nap in the sun. After an hour nap, I got busy cleaning up as I had invited the crews from Walkabout, Vision Quest, Mimosa, and The Dove over for cocktail hour. A pleasant evening ensued capped by a wonderfully clear sunset in which everyone on board was clearly able to see a distinct green flash!
  • We decided to depart at 0700 and head straight to George Town. We had considered going in to Emerald Bay but the new grubs I downloaded indicate we would get captured there for a week by strong E winds.

29 Jan 12; Sunday; Musha Cay to George Town
  • I brought up the anchor with all my electronics off. When I turned them on I again had a SeaTalk failure and no gps data for the chartplotter. As it was slack current, I let Onward drift a bit while I ran below to see if I could resurrect the network. I pulled the 5 A fuse in the ST400+ that provides power to the network. When I pulled the fuse I heard a beep from the cockpit so I think the rest of the network was no longer being pulled down by the autopilot. When I replaced the fuse and went back to the cockpit, I found everything working fine. Of course, all this threw off the course I had set to follow -- and threw off the navigator, too. As a result, Onward tried to make a couple of crazy ivans on approaching the cut as well as getting caught on the edge of a sandbar for a few seconds. I got things settled down enough to get out of the cut. However all this left me in a foul mood for a couple of hours.
  • It was a sunny morning with winds out of the SE - right on the nose. So it was a motoring day. The winds picked up over the first hour and the short shop with them. As a result boat speed was cut back by > 1kt. After complaining about it on the VHF, the wind relented and died back so that we were able to move at normal boat speed for the remainder of the trip.
  • The entrance to Elizabeth Harbour was smooth and easy and soon we were passing by the anchored cruising fleet. I anchored at one of my favorite spots just S of Volleyball Beach and around the point. This area provides better protection when the winds have any N in them and is away from the crowded gaggle but still only a short dingy ride to Chat n Chill or St. Francis.
  • Once anchored, I launched Venture and used my looky bucket to check out the anchors of Onward, Walkabout and Vision Quest. Vision Quest's outboard fuel line needed a new coupling so after showering I picked up Nancy and JoAnne and we headed over to Chat n Chill. We were too late to get any of the pork from the pig roast so we had to settle for cold beers and hamburgs. While we were there, a TV crew from Good Morning America arrived and began shooting clips around the area for a feature on the Bahamas they are going to air from the Atlantis in Nassau on 8 and 9 Feb during the Cathy Lee & Hodis segment. They ended up in the bar shooting next to us and we helped by blocking the lowering sun for a few shots. With the sunset, we called it a day and headed back to the boats.
  • 30 Jan 12; Monday; George Town
  • A beautiful, sunny day before the arrival of the winds. A busy day. After listening to the George Town Cruisers Net and reporting Onward's arrival, I headed across the harbor to George Town with Arnon from Vision Quest in search of outboard fuel line fittings. Near the dinghy dock I found a lost cell phone and turned it in to Exuma Market. We then headed over to Top II Bottom where, sure enough, they had the needed fuel line connectors. This tiny store has an amazing selection of hardware, marine and home goods and I always manage to find neat stuff I didn't know I needed. That mission completed I visited the ATM and we did a bit of shopping at Exuma Market before heading back to the anchorage. I then Ventured over to Mimosa to lend a hand to Mike as he weighed anchor and moved to a mooring in Hole 2. At its entrance, we got focused on the narrow entrance and didn't notice Mimosa being pushed onto the shallows to the E. This was easily overcome and "Little Toot" aka Wendell came out in his workboat to guide Mike to the mooring. With Mimosa safely on its new home, I headed off to get a WiFi ticket from the St. Francis before returning to Onward.
  • I made myself a healthy salad for lunch and ate in the cockpit while I finished Nicholas Nickleby. That done, I managed to work in a nap in the sun.
  • The chemistry experiment. This afternoon, I decided to tackle a problem I had discovered yesterday. As part of my effort to move to a heart-healthy diet, I bought a variety of apples before leaving FL. I have had these stored in a fine mesh bag hanging in the galley. Almost every visitor I've had aboard who has seen them has remarked how good they looked and seemed to be keeping. As I wash dishes every day, I get to have a good look at these so it was with a bit of a surprise that yesterday when I just happened to look at the bag from the other side, I found that one of the apples at the bottom had gone bad. So today I took them out f the bag, found that there was just one bad apple, and washed the others. In doing so, I saw the worth of the old saw: it only takes one bad apple to spoil the barrel. I found that 4 of the remaining 6 apples were starting to go soft and needed to be used immediately So I cored and peeled the apples and soon had a bowl full of apple that I now needed to do something with. After pondering for awhile, I decided to apply my skills recently acquired at Fowl Cay Resort's kitchen to deal with the apples. So, I cut the apples into small pieces, added dried cranberries, small pieces of walnut, a good bit of cinnamon, and some Stevia (a natural, 0 calorie, low-glycemic sugar that can be used in baking) to the mixture and then topped off with a couple of dashes of rum. A delicious mixture resulted. Next I took 4 cups of flour, a tablespoon of salt and ~ 2 tsp of Stevia and after blending the dry ingredients in my large SS bowl, I took 1/4 cup of olive oil and ~ 11/4 cups of water and whisked these a bit before adding the liquid to the flour. I blended the mixture with a spatula and added about another 1/4 cup of water a bit at a time until all the dry ingredients has been moistened. I then took my handy pastry cutter and blended the dough until it had a smooth and even texture. I then did several cycles of fattening it and folding it over with the result being a nice smooth ball of dough. I then floured one of my silicone baking mats and rolled the dough out into a quasi rectangle. As I flattened it I realized I had about twice as much dough as I needed for the amount of fruit so I divided the sheet in half and put one part aside. I continued to roll out the dough until I had two ~ 11" x 13" (the size of my baking sheet) sheets of dough. I then took each sheet of dough and put 1/2 of my apple mixture down the center lengthwise and then folded the dough over to form a strudel. I baked these at 400º for ~45 min -- until light golden brown.
  • I took one of outcomes of my chemistry experiment over to Vision Quest where I had been invited for cocktails. Everyone commented that the experiment was a success and Nancy and Arnon were happy to take me up on the offer to keep the rest of the strudel "for the boat".

  • 31 Jan 12; Tuesday;
  • I departed Vision Quest just before the cloud line from the approaching weather system approached us and was safely aboard Onward when the winds spooled up into the 20s where is stayed for most of the night -- doing a nice job of charging the batteries with the wind generator.
  • This morning I went into St. Francis Resort and participated in the Watercolor Workshop. A recently arrived cruiser gave a short lesson on a drawing technique using continuous pen strokes. This just emphasized to me how much work I need to do to overcome my scientist's urge to reduce things to straight lines and continuous curves - trying for detail. Well, one does need something to work on. (I do have SO much!). The was only one other guy there and we were surrounded by women painters. I ended up at a table with two friends: Sandy from Anania and Sherry from Bad Boy. The class usually works on watercolor techniques so I think I will come back to the next class. That way I can tell my sister-in-law MaryAnn and my niece Susan that their efforts to encourage me to work on watercolors was not in vain.
  • I ferried Sherry back to Bad Boy where I met with Doug, the Vice Chair of the George Town Cruising Regatta to talk about how I could support their efforts with the Bahamas Cruisers Guide.
  • Based on that meeting with Doug, I created two new web pages: one covering the Regatta and one covering all the activities available for cruisers at George Town.
  • I then spent a quiet afternoon reading.