Onward’s Cruise Journal 2021
Marco Island to the Bahamas

Updated: 31 May 2021.

May 2021

1 May 2021 Bimini to Northwest Light
  • We got underway about 0730 from our anchorage in the middle of nowhere and headed for Chub Cay. We motorsailed at low rpm with the plan to stope for the night in the vicinity of Northwest Channel Light. We arrived at the waypoint just before sunset. I had originally planned to anchor to the SE of the area but I noticed that the sandbar streaming WSW from Chub Cay provided a nice barrier to anchor behind so I wouldn't be worried about the dolts traveling the route to Bimini in the dark while not paying attention. We followed the Explorer route from NW Channel Waypoint N toward Great Harbor Cay and turned E parallel to the sandbar. We anchored in ~13' in calm waters for the night.

2 May 2021 Chub Cay
  • At 1000 we weighed anchor and headed to the Chub Cay entrance channel and anchored just W of it to await a slip assignment. I have never been in this channel before. The visual placement of the mark at the entrance of the channel into the basin was ambiguous. Further it wasn't clear if it was a green or red mark! About halfway in from the outer marks, moving slowly, I realized it was a GREEN mark. Note to self: always observe other vessels as the enter / exit a strange narrow! Once that was cleared up, the entry was easy and we pulled into the fuel pier to top up: 36 gal of diesel from Marco Island to Chub Cay — not bad at all.
  • We were put into a nice 60' slip on the floating docks. The Chub Cay Marina is a very nice facility at $3/ft. We were glad that we decided to check in here. We checked in with the office and then had a relaxing late lunch on the patio overlooking the pool, bar, and beach. Lovely.
  • The marina provided transportation to the airport where we checked in with Customs and Immigration. With the on-line process for applying for and paying for the cruising permits and health visas, all we had to do was show our receipts with QR codes and we were quickly checked in. Only our immigration visa cards needed to be filled out on site.

3 May 2021 Chub Cay
  • We had a relaxing day luxuriating at the beach and pool. About 1000, Peggy found us a shady spot by a palm tree and we spent a relaxing time moving our chairs with the shade as the day progressed. We took a break to go to the pool bar where we had some delicious conch fritters along with our drinks. I finished up the day at the beach with a refreshing interlude in the pool. We returned after sunset for a lovely dinner on the patio.

4 May 2021 Chub Cay to Normans Stake
  • While topping up our water tanks, I got to chat with the captain of the Nordhaven 68 Grace of Tides. Over the years we have encountered each other in many anchorage and marinas. He is another wandered doing the same route as Onward and Ariel. I'm sure we will see each other more as he spend the summers in Maine.
  • We departed Chub Cay Marina at ~0900. Our intention had been to move around to the N side of the Cay and wait for the SE winds to drop tomorrow before crossing to New Providence. Conditions looked better than expected so I called ahead to Grace of Tides who was halfway to West Bay and he confirmed it. So we gritted our teeth and motored toward West Bay as it appeared the conditions would not be much different tomorrow. Waves were <4'. As we approached West Bay, there was more S in the wind and we were able to motorsail. We arrived at West Bay so early, we decided to push on towards Normans Stake. I planned to drop the anchor on the banks when we got tired and continue on to Staniel Cay in the morning.
  • About midnight we were a couple nm from Normans Stake and I decided it was as good a place to anchor as any. Winds were 10-12 from the SE with easy seas and we quickly fell asleep.

5 May 2021 Normans Cay to Staniel Cay
  • I was preparing to get underway at 0700 when I received a VHF call from Ocean Energy, one to the tankers that supply the Family Islands. The captain had seen Onward anchored in the middle of nowhere so he called to check if we were OK. I thanked him and we chatted a bit. We were able to motorsail at low rpm directly tto Staniel.
  • As we headed S, I was able to talk with Cherry at ECLSP. She was about to head home for a weeks leave and we hopefully would be able to catch up with her on our way N in a week or so.
  • We set anchor in our place near Thunderball Grotto and settled in for a quiet evening of recovery from our sprint from Marco Island to the central Exumas.

6 May 2021 Thursday; Staniel Cay
  • We had a lazy morning — well deserved after our journey. First item on the agenda was to have our lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. I couldn't resist getting one of my favorites there - a club sandwich with onion rings. It became apparent how much I have shrunk my appetite and stomach since starting on my diet focus. Having lost >22 lbs, I realized how much I'd become used to "larger than necessary" meal sizes. Well I didn't let that stop my enjoyment of the club sandwich — but I put it on the list of things not to repeat (size wise).
  • I asked our waitress if there was an ALIV office on the island or a 3rd party reseller as I needed a new SIM card for the MiFi cellular modem. She told us that one of their reps had been there and suggested we look around. Well, Peggy managed to find the rep sitting at the bar. Within a few minutes I was able to buy a new SIM and get the MiFi up and operating. The price has gone up a bit: $90 / mo for 125 GB vis 300 GB. Still a good deal.
  • We next went to Isles General Store to see Burkie. Again wonderful to see a good Bahamian friend still doing well.

7 May 2021 Friday; Staniel Cay to Black Point
  • Today was our day for having the required Covid antibody test 5 days after arrival. Peggy had called yesterday to set up an appointment for 0920. There were a number of other visitors with appointments but they were very well organized. The QR codes from our health visas were scanned and the swabs quickly taken. By 0930 we were off to shop at the Pink Pearl market and Burk's - the Blue Store. Burk's is building an addition. We found a lot of building ongoing on the Cay including a new dive shop and home on the beach next to the Taste & Sea which closed but is scheduled to reopen.
  • Our shopping done, we headed back to Onward and got underway. We anchored off of Rockside Laundry and went in ~ 1500 to look around. We ended up at Scorpio's Restaurant and Bar where Peggy got to have her rum punch fix (I HAD to join, of course)

8 May 2021 Saturday; Black Point
  • I finally found the equanimity and energy to reactivated our cruising website: www,onward.ws
  • I discovered that I hadn't had the energy, motivation, or interest to touch it for exactly a year: Covid-itis!
  • Now to slowly bring it up to date…

9 May 2021 Sunday; Black Point
  • I discovered that my internet connection through ALIV will not do FTP uploads of my websites. So, it looks like I have to reestablish my VPN.
  • Today is Mothers Day and Ida Patton's church was having a big celebration. We Ventured in to the Rockside dock and walked to the church. Women, dressed in their finest conducted the ceremonies with lots of singing and calling out. A group of teenage girls all dressed in white gave a dance presentation. I started to take a short video clip and as I watched I was overcome by the beauty and my eyes filled with tears. So while I watched and wondered what was going on with me, I ended up taking video of the entire performance. All the Mothers of the congregation received beautiful gifts — it was impressive.

10 May 2021 Monday; Black Point to Little Bay
  • A beautiful day! Peggy and I went ashore at 1100 for our hair salon appointment with Ida Patton. I took a video of the venue that I plan to show whenever I get a future haircut. Our draft cruising itinerary / calendar has us looking to depart the Abacos for the US about 28 May.
  • With our hair styling done, we paid a farewell visit to the store. We weighed anchor and moved around the headland to anchor off of one of our favorite beaches (we have so many here) with only one other boat in the area.
  • Peggy decided to make her chicken, artichokes and orzo. I will never get tired of it.

11 May 2021 Tuesday; Little Bay
  • I downloaded the statement for the credit card I use for internet transactions. I was astounded to find that a charge for $2133.73 had been made by Sichuan Airlines on 4 May! This card never leaves my wallet. So the card info was sniffed. All other transactions were from secure US sites that I use regularly. However, the Bahamas required me to pay for my cruising permit and health visa fees via their selected 3rd party sites [outdoorsbahamas.com; kazoo.com]. It was right after using these sites that my card was compromised. I reported the fraudulent charge immediately which shut down that card. Now the hostel of doing without the card until I get back to the US and to reprogram auto-payments that come from that card. While I figure out how to report to the Bahamas government, I sent an email to one of the major Nassau newspapers with the report. BAAAAH!
  • Almost every year now I've had a credit card compromised soon after getting into the Bahamas!
  • Tried to reestablish my VPN but ran into problems.

12 May 2021 Wednesday; Little Bay to Big Majors Spot
  • Another gorgeous morning! At 0930 we Ventured ashore to visit one of our favorite beaches which we had all to ourselves. After landing Peggy went for a walk on the beach and I enjoyed a swim. The area is unchanged from our last visit. The lone house built as part of a grand plan for a marina and housing development is all closed up. The last time we were here we talked with the woman who along with her husband had sold everything to build this house and retire. Unfortunately he had just died from cancer and she was struggling.
  • After a walk in the sun to dry off, we headed back to Onward and weight anchor at 1030. We sailed under genoa on the SE winds as we headed N to go see the pigs at Big Majors Spot. We have been amazed at the number of large catamarans we encounter - they are everywhere. The number of 100'+ yachts has also increased - they are everywhere!
  • We set anchor off Pig Beach at 1330 and settled back to watch the Theater of the Pigs. T-tops, some huge, bring in people from all over. Five years ago it may have bin 2-3 / day. Now it seems to be 2-3 / hr. The pigs have a nice pavilion, fresh water supply, and an expanded herd to support the industry it has become.
  • I decided to reward myself for the hard work (???) with a sandwich wrap and a beer for lunch. Well, the combination of lunch + beer lead to a sound nap — somethings apparently don't change in the cruising life — I didn't forget how.
  • StrongVPN support fixed my billing problem and reestablished my VPN.
  • Peggy was in the cooking mode and the result was beef stroganoff made with shrink-wrapped frozen meatballs. Delish!

13 May 2021 Thursday; Big Majors Spot to Sampson Cay
  • Tested VPN by attempting to publish updates to this website. It worked fine. Now I need to catch up on the Journal and work out improved techniques for publishing photos on videos on this site.
  • Peggy has been saving galley scraps for the morning visit the pigs! As we approached the beach, two large pigs swam out to greet us and Peggy rewarded them. Soon a local boat with the apparent caretakers aboard arrived. They brought large bags of food for the pigs and the excited herd was happy to see them. The pigs are good swimmers and chased the dinghy. Lots of birds competing with the pigs for scraps. Some used the pigs heads for perches. Our scrap supply distributed, we headed back to Onward.
  • We could see the approaching remnants of a cold front promising rain. We decided to move to Sampson Cay and retrieved Venture and the anchor and headed N. The marina is still closed and the approach we found littered with an 79' sailing catamaran and 5 >100' motor yachts. We anchored in our usual spot for a quiet afternoon.
  • Peggy again managed to take 2 / 3 Backgammon games. My two losses were very close. As usual she resorted to her usual black magic and manipulated the dice. How does she do that?
  • To restore my loss of blood from Backgammon, Peggy made Michigainers for dinner: These are an upstate NY thing: hotdogs, with ground beef topped with chopped onions. We forwent the rolls so we could feel healthy.
  • After dinner, the wind died. I ended up falling asleep on the settee to be awoken by a rain squall in the wee hours. Unfortunately I was unaware Peggy had opened the port salon hatch so the rain came in until it was heavy enough to wake up Peggy.

14 May 2021 Friday; Sampson Cay
  • A sunny morning. I texted with Chris Parker and it looks like we are tethered to this area until next Thursday or Friday 20-21 May when a window looks to open up to travel to Eleuthera and then on to the Abacos.
  • Goal today: be productive and straighten out my inventories and storage of miscellaneous boat stuff. Well, I made progress until the temperature climbed to 95º in the salon as the wind died and a front moved in with lots of humidity. We got to watch the theater of large motor yachts: two left, two came in.
  • Strong squalls with torrential rains hit in late afternoon. The boat got a good washdown and it cooled off substantially. Unfortunately I found that the two salon hatches need new gaskets on the support strut attachment point. I had cleaned, lubed and reassembled them at Black Point but it does not have appeared to have worked. The hatches in the forward head and forward stateroom where I put in the new MacGyvered gaskets did not appear to leak.
  • A beautiful sunset closed out the day. Peggy pulled her Backgammon shenanigans again as she conjured up double sixes in the end game to beat me by one in a game I'd lead to that point.

15 May 2021 Saturday; Sampson Cay
  • A beautiful, sunny morning; 8 kts wind from E. A bit of concern: the gribs now show that the window of reduced E winds we looking for next Thursday or Friday to move to Eleuthera and the Abacos seems to be moving further away. We had a quiet day reading. I managed to replace the lines and shock cords used for Venture to "hold to" at the stern. I also refilled the dinghy fuel tank with the siphon hose from the jerrycan.

16 May 2021 Sunday; Sampson Cay to Cambridge Cay
  • Another beautiful morning; winds E @ 10-12. After breakfast we climbed into Venture and headed off to take a closer look at Sampson Cay. The nice marina there was shut down several years ago when the US billionaire owner got tired of being bothered by shareholders when he visited - at least that is one of the stories. He also claimed he was loosing too much money to the staff. In any case, the marina looks like it could be reopened with a snap of the fingers. The entire facility is well maintained and beautiful. It is a bit ironic that since it closed, the number of >100' yachts visiting the area has grown >10X. They would have provided a ready source of $ for Sampson's restaurant and bar.
  • We continued to circle around the island to the NE corner. It looks like the billionaire owner of Over Yonder Cay has finally stopped building and its 3 wind turbines are turning away. I also got to see the lair of Amazing Grace, the big salvage vessel operated by Overseas Salvage. We have seen this vessel in action in several rescue operations over the year. The company owner apparently owns the larger part of Sampson Cay. I was surprised to see that the operations base was just a pier - but one located in the lee of a rock projection giving it good protection from Exuma Sound.
  • On the way back to Onward, we stopped off of a nice COB where I had a swim and a short walk to dry off. One of the things I will miss most about the Bahamas in the future is the ready access to private COBs to swim and enjoy the sun.
  • Once back aboard Onward, we quickly got underway at 1100 and headed to Cambridge Cay while the tide was high enough to be able to use the SW entrance. We passed the small cays where developers had begun to build a facility for visiting super yachts to play. The bags of sand and cement and the cement mixer truck are still on the cay. A couple of small cabanas have been built along with two small piers for tenders and now two large piers with >100' T-heads in deeper water. Several years ago I had met and talked with the construction manager about the facility that was going to be operational in 6 mos. A typical Bahamas story of great promise, initial progress — then it muddles off. I had heard a rumor that Steven Spielberg was one of the investors as he liked to bring in his 260' yacht, Seven Seas, nearby. I've recently learned his is now having a 300'+ yacht built as a replacement.
  • We arrived at the entrance channel at 1245 with still ~ 2' of tide. I found following my marked route through the narrows and around rock bars a bit more uncomfortable that in the past. I guess this is a mark of having take a year off. At the narrowest and shallowest point I saw a fleeting 7.1' on the depth sounder. We quickly anchored at our "usual" spot by the sandy spit. We found the >160' Man of Steel anchored just ~200 m N of us at the very S end of the main mooring basin. This is the largest motor yacht that I've seen here. A number of years ago, with the vessel anchored at Big Majors Spot, its captain and crew had gone in to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a birthday bash. On the way home, the tender, apparently with the captain at the helm, missed the SW corner of Big Majors Spot and plowed into the rocks. When I saw the tender there was blood all over. Several had to be airlifted to the US for medical attention. A stark reminder of the danger of booze, high speed tenders, and stupidity at play.
  • We enjoyed a quiet afternoon of reading. I managed to win two games of Backgammon! Not that I played well or had great dice — just that Peggy did not use here black magic with the dice and just had normal throws.
  • We were pleasantly surprised to find that we had strong internet signal. Cherry had told me that Bell Island now had an ALIV cell tower. So now I don't need to hoist the cellular modem up the mast so it could "see" the tower at Staniel Cay. Now if they would only put a tower at Warderick! Both Peggy and I were able to do FaceTime calls. Amazing.
  • Since I've been able to maintain my weight loss and maybe even improve on it, I gave in to my craving to make angel hair pasta with a sauce of olive oil, garlic, onions, green peppers, and pine nuts. Delish. Wonderful comfort food. And I limited myself to only one helping (perhaps the most important key to weight loss).

17 May 2021 Monday; Cambridge Cay
  • Yet another beautiful morning. Chris Parker confirmed the story the gribs have been telling me. A ridge of high pressure has become stationary in the mid-E coast and it will keep the winds >20 kts from the E until next Saturday or Sunday. So it looks like we will have to hang out in Exuma Park for the next week. We will likely move N to Warderick Wells later in the week.
  • High tide was at 1150 so at 1145 we Ventured forth across Conch Cut to visit Rachel's Bath at the NE tip of Compass Cay. We anchored Venture off the sandbar on the W side and followed the stream from the baths. We found the baths more active than at any other visit due to high tide and E winds > 15 kts. One burst of foam after another. Folks from a sailing cat anchored near Venture were there and then a group of people from Man of Steel came in. Peggy and I outlasted them quite a while enjoying the bubble bath with almost a continuous flow of foamy water.
  • We headed back to the anchorage and found the crossing not too bad if a bit sporty with the wind and following swells. I put into the blue swimming hole, another favorite COB, for a swim and a bit of sun. Peggy expired the shore and found that someone has cached a nice set of beach chairs at the edge of the beach.
  • Today I won 2 backgammon games in a row! Peggy seems to have sworn off her use of black magic. Great fun when the dice treat us equally.
  • Peggy made her lemon chicken. A meal to die for and she does it seemingly so effortlessly. Delish!

18 May 2021 Tuesday; Cambridge Cay
  • A cloudy morning gave way to sun by 1000 so we Ventured ashore to hike to Bell Rock and environs. Three motor yachts all >100', 4 sailing catamarans - 2 > 50', 1 sloop about Onward's size. The area is being taken over by catamarans and giants.
  • In the last deluge, I found that just cleaning the support bracket gaskets for the salon hatches had not been sufficient and they had leaked a bit. Today I added larger silicone sheet gaskets like I'd MacGyvered for the other hatches. I also installed heavy rubber spacers on the inside to make it easier to torque down on the new gaskets.
  • We hiked across to the Exuma Sound beach (an easy walk). Bell Rock seems to be more eroded. There used to be a hint of a path to the top bunt now there are a couple of eroded swaths. We were the only hardies that came ashore so we had the cay to ourselves. We went N and hiked up to the first 2-3 summits without much of a problem. Our year of condo living effect was evident; our hiking sticks were a necessary tool instead of nice to have as in the past. Once we climbed clouds moved in and began to spit at us. After a careful decent, we headed back to Venture and on to Onward. It was interesting to find one of the large cats had elevators for 2 skidoos. As we passed Man of Steel, it was evident they were beginning to store their flotilla of boat toys.
  • We made up for our strenuous activity with a lazy afternoon of reading in the cockpit. We were started from our peacefulness by a charter catamaran crossing our stern < 4' from Venture at close to full speed. The assholes of the world seem to have multiplied.
  • We were hit by another torrential rain squall that lasted ~30 min. The new salon hatch gaskets did not leak. Nice.
  • Wonder of wonders! As I sipped my G&T, we played backgammon and my winning streak continued; now 4 games in a row. I can't see Peggy continuing to forswear use of her black magic with the dice — so I really enjoyed my streak in the moment!

19 May 2021 Wednesday; Cambridge Cay
  • Today's weather review followed the trend we saw starting yesterday. It looks like the E winds will begin to die down starting Saturday morning and we should have several days then to travel across Exuma Sound, N along Elethera and then on to Abaco. Fingers crossed…
  • Our big neighbor, Man of Steel, took off this morning. I have to say I'm impressed with moving that huge vessel through the fairly narrow exit channel where it is easy to ground on the bar just on the W edge.
  • Peggy focused on finishing the knitted blanket she is making for Grandson Ethan to take to college. She found that knitting the ~12" squares was easy. The sewing of them together into the blanket was a long chore. I told her the storage of the "magic" kitted quilt my mother made for me when I was in college. It was part of my life until I moved aboard Onward where there just wasn't enough room to store its bulk. It was magic because for 30 years, whenever I felt ill, I would wrap myself in that blanket and I could feel its special healing powers. A sweet memory.
  • Well, I knew Peggy could not forswear giving up her black magic powers over the backgammon dice for long. Today she used it unmercifully. Every poor dice throw I got was turned into a disaster for me. She won both games — not close.
  • The wind continued to pick up and blew ~25 kts most of the night.

20 May 2021 Thursday; Cambridge Cay
  • The weather forecasts continue to call for the winds to begin to abate starting tomorrow and we may be able to escape across Exuma Sound Sunday. However the wind continues to be in the mid 20s today.
  • I had trouble being heard by Exuma Park HQ on vhf. It looks like I've got a poor antenna connection somewhere.
  • Peggy made sausage rolls and pepperoni rolls but the flour behaved strangely and did not rise much. However the results somehow got eaten anyway.
  • Not a shred of mercy — Peggy used her backgammon dice juju to thwart and punish me on every turn.

21 May 2021 Friday; Cambridge Cay to Warderick Wells
  • Talked with Chris Parker. Looks like the first good opportunity to move to Eleuthera and on to Abacos will be Sunday. He also observed that starting next week there should be continuing opportunities to sail from the Abacos to Beaufort. So our plan today is to move to Warderick Wells until our departure on Sunday.

22 May 2021 Saturday; Warderick Wells
  • We went ashore after 0900 to check in and meet Peter, the current Park Warden. We learned Cherry will no be able to return until Monday when she will fly in. We invited Peter to a pizza party aboard at 1800 and asked him to extend the invitation to other members on his staff. That done, we headed off for a hike to Boo Boo Hill. The tide was lower than I can remember seeing it. The great sand shallows along the E side at the beginning of the mooring field was huge with the channel reduced to a narrow stream. The center area of the mooring field was almost all dry or covered with just a thin layer. The salina was totally dry. It would be interesting to compare Landsat photos as it is my perception that the mooring area channels have narrows substantially since I first came here.
  • The canopy looked fairly green but we found a huge amount of dead wood and underbrush — a real fire hazard. The amount of Hutia skat seems reduced. I wonder how their overpopulation is managing itself.
  • I was surprised to find a huge number of boat signs on Boo Boo Hill. In the past, passing hurricanes have wiped the top fairly clean but either there have been a huge number of visitors in the last 2 years or a lot of the old signs were retrieved from the W side of the hill. We sat and enjoyed a rest on the bench. I had hoped to update weather files but was unable to connect with the ALIV hotspot. Later, on the porch of the office, I was able to update GRIB files on my iPhone.
  • I baked two pizzas. Peter joined us at 1800. The other staff had made a commitment to a beach gathering organized by some of the younger folks on catamarans.

23 May 2021 Sunday; Warderick Wells to Current Cut
  • For some reason this was one of those pre-passage nights where I could not fall asleep. I was up several times and was gratified that the wind had dropped below 15 kts. We dropped the mooring at 0630 and headed out of the mooring field. We paused in the outer area to deploy the mainsail - furled at the upper spreaders. It was near high tide so the current- wind interaction in the cut were not too bad. It was a bit lumpy and of course we took one wave over the bow sluicing the dodger windows I had just cleaned. The wind had too much N in it to get a good boost from the sail but the main does a great job of stabilizing the boat and maintaining drive through the waves. Most of the waves were 3' or less — then a couple of larger ones would come along and slow us down a bit. About half way across Exuma Sound we started to feel the calming effects of being in the wind shadow of Eleuthera.
  • As we approached Powell Point we were able to deploy the genoa. And once we turned the 2nd corner and were headed NE Peggy took over and sailed us to Current Cut while I caught up on my missed rest. The wind picked up and we sailed at 7+ kts for a good bit of the time. We approached the spot we usually anchor at SW of Current Cut and anchored in 15' just as twilight faded. I decided it was time for comfort food so I whipped up a pot of angel hair pasta with marinara sauce. A bit of red wine, pasta, we were in a good spot.

24 May 2021 Monday; Current Cut to Hope Town
  • We had a fairly quiet night with a bit of pitching due to winds E @ 10-12. We weighed anchor at 0630 and got Chris Parker's weather update as we passed through the Cut with a 2.4 kt current against us. Conditions were great with calm seas and 10-15 kts from the E as we set course for Little Harbor Cut in the Abacos. Seas were <3' with an added long swell making for a smooth passage — a far cry from the washing machine effect we have suffered through on previous passaged caused by the interaction by two converging wave trains.
  • We entered the cut at 1600 and continued N toward Hope Town mostly under sail alone. We approached Hope Town near high tide at 1900 — great planning! I called Lucky Strike on 16 and Truman Major's wife said there were open moorings. There was little evidence of the effect of Dorian until we got to the turn for the channel. There I was a bit disoriented and realized it was because the beautiful home that had occupied its private island along the N side of the channel was completely gone. There was just a bit of rubble apparent where the multi-building compound had been. As we began to make the sharp starboard turn into the harbor we also realized that the row of picture-postcard homes lining the shore were all badly damaged.
  • In the harbor, we had our pick of moorings and Peggy showed she hasn't lost her touch deftly talking me through the floats and nabbing the one of choice. All in all a great passage: Current Cut to Hope Town in 13 hrs. The harbor was fairly empty with many open moorings. It was also very quiet with no evidence of nighttime activity. However, the Hope Town Inn and Marina on the W side of the harbor appeared untouched. Their slips were almost full and for the first time I saw a lot of sports fishing boats there. We decided to have a quiet night aboard and go exploring in the morning.

25 May 2021 Tuesday; Hope Town
  • After listening to the weather, I took the binoculars and did a look around the harbor in the daylight. It had changed considerably. The building for Captain Jack's was there but was in the process of rebuilding. The building for the Harbour's Edge restaurant was gone. The blue market building was there but with damaged equipment in front. As I looked to the SE it appeared a big new building had been put up — then I realized it was the school now clearly visible because all the surrounding vegetation was gone — but it looked like it had been nicely refurbished. Government Dock looked strange — then I became aware at the blank place on the E horizon — The Hopetown Lodge, an area icon, was completely gone! Peggy and I have had many great meals there and at its beach bar across the street. A sad loss.
  • We Ventured ashore and tied up at the Hope Town Sailing Club pier which was in good shape. Just to the S the pier for the Harbour's Edge was mostly gone. As we walked E, we found the home at the V in the road where the German artist couple lived was still there but boarded up. The volunteer firehouse was in good shape and we walked up to the crest of the dunes to the N of it and found the E beaches to be in very good shape with little evidence of damage to the dunes I expected. It seems Elbow Cay was affected by the NW quadrant winds of Dorian so the E side of the area fared better.
  • Wine Down Sip Sip a lovely wine bar and restaurant we have many good memories of was still there but all boarded up with no evidence of refurbishment. Further on, we found Vernon's Market open and went in to say hello. The store fared well, but his home close to shore at the channel was destroyed but is in the process of being rebuilt. His son had his home damaged with a tall and poorly built new addition next door blow over on it.
  • The lovely spot to sit in the shade at the end of the road that lines up with the entrance channel was badly damaged. The string of homes along the shore to the S of this spot each of which was a little gem, have been badly damaged and only one of ~6 looks habitable. From the shore side, the damage to the two pink jewels at the corner of the harbor entrance was clearly apparent. Every time we had passed these in the past we would say "we have to come stay here".
  • We found the Crazy Crab boutique open — one of Peggy's favorite places to shop for grand children. The building lost its E wall but was now in great shape. We helped out the local economy. Further on down the shore road, something seemed different. I later realized it was the Iggy Biggie Boutique building was gone!
  • As we went back to the Post Office Dock, I realized all the building on the shore were gone: no more dive shop, liquor store, cart rental office. The blue Police building was a complete wreck. The clinic building and the public restroom building were both in good shape — we later learned they had been refurbished via a contractor.
  • St. James Church where we experienced a magical Christmas Eve service survived with only damage to the roof of the bell tower and carillons which have now been replaced.
  • We walked up the hill to the little park on the waterfront. It had largely survived with little apparent damage. The house across the street overlooking the harbor was in the process of being rebuilt after apparently suffering major damage. This is the home owned by the couple from London whom I had met. She was the landscape architect who designed the park. The irony of the park surviving while her house was destroyed is too much.
  • Further on, we got to see the floor slabs of the Abaco Lodge — all that remains. Apparently the building was badly damage to the point it made sense only to tear the remainder down. Apparently the property is for sale. Across the street, a few of the cottage in the beach bar & pool compound appear to be in good shape and in use. However the great bar and dining patio are gone and the pool has been partly filled with sand. On Monday night we had considered going ashore to have a drink here — good that we didn't try.
  • We headed back to Venture and then to Onward for a short stop before we went off to have Linner at the Hope Town Inn and Marina. The pool bar and dinning area look beautiful - just as we left them in 2019. The office wing of the complex to the S is being expanded and more rooms added. We had a fantastic meal. My GI has not been well behaved as of late so I decided enough with the carb-free diet. I had their fish & chips and it was wonderful — a great way to sin.
  • Got an email from Defender Industries that the e-commerce software they use had been compromised with malware and credit card info was sniffed. This may be the way my Visa card info was compromised.
  • We had a quiet evening aboard recovering from our exploits.

26 May 2021 Wednesday; Hope Town
  • Today we checked in with the Chris Parker (Marine Weather Center) and the Tuesday departure for US still looks viable.
  • We decided to explore to the S. I was unable to find a golf cart that we could rent for the day so we set out on foot. We walked to the Turtle Hill Resort with its On Da Beach bar and restaurant. There we again had great meals; mine was a seafood kabob. Delish! This whole area was largely spared from damage except for the gazebo roofs on the upper levels of a couple of the cottages.
  • In spite of the heat, we took a slow hike along the unimproved road S following the shore. Many new and improved large homes have been built here. Some quite amazing in size and design. We were rewarded for our efforts by coming to Macky's Takeout where we found they had ice cream — which Bahamian Cruisers Law required us to sample. That done, we continued on. We found that the road along the E shore that had been largely destroyed several years ago had been rebuilt robustly. We found the large home and compound I call the Mansion on the Point was looking as good as ever. Its multi-roof system had fared well despite Dorian's efforts.
  • The Abaco Inn we found looking better than ever. This is one of the places I expected to be quite destroyed. However, being on the E side, it survived although one cottage ended up with a boat inside and another a cargo container. But the pool and bar were as beautiful as ever. We did some shopping the gift shop and I chatted with Tom the manager who related the effort needed to get back in shape.
  • Across the way, the Sea Spray Marina was complexly destroyed. Apparently the NW winds drove a wall of water into White Sound and this destroyed everything at its S end. Sad.
  • After a drink and a rest, we were able to catch a ride on a golf card back into town. We found Hope Town Canvas open so we went in to buy some gifts. The building had survived well because it was new construction with substantial cross bracing using sailboat rigging wire and tangs. It also helped that Harbours Edge across the street acted as a shock absorber.
  • We took Venture home to a quiet evening of recovery from out hiking in the sun. Peggy had made her simple bread dough leaving it to rise while we were ashore. Tonight she divided it into two loaves and baked them using the baguette pan. We had a simple dinner of fresh bread & butter.

Peggy's Loaves

27 May 2021 Thursday; Hope Town

  • We went into town to exchange a shirt Peggy had bought, shop, explore, and visit Vernon's grocery. One of our favorite places to shop in the Bahamas had been a boutique on the waterfront here: the Iggy Biggie Boutique. We realized today that the entire building is gone with no rebuilding activity apparent. Vernon will be baking his key lime pies this afternoon so a task for tomorrow will be to go fetch one.
  • We considered departing on the tide to go to Green Turtle Cay Club so I called to check their status. They were out of diesel until at least Saturday and the marina did not have a slip deep enough for Onward. So we decided to have a lazy day here.

28 May 2021 Friday; Hope Town
  • Worked with Chris Parker this morning. The weather picture has changed. We have been looking to depart for Beaufort on Tuesday 1 Jun. Now, a lingering front along the US E coast will be the source of a good deal of squalls along our intended route. Not the kind of conditions we want to deal with. So it looks like our earliest departure will have to be pushed back until the squally conditions dissipate which translates into a departure in the Thurs - Sat range. We will have to wait until next week for the picture to get clearer. Chris also recommended departing from Whale Cay directly vice moving W on the Little Banks toward Middle Shoal because we would have both squalls and the wind on the stern for the trip. So we will adapt.
  • This delay throws a hammer into our plans once we get back to the US. Peggy looked into flying to NY for Ethan's graduation from Baltimore. Reduced schedules has made this a long and arduous route. Renting a car, if we can find one may be the option. Still too far out to really be able to deal with.
  • Bummed out by weather, I spent most of the day reading. I did motivate myself to MacGyver a fix to the Canon stabilized binoculars. They are powered by two AA batteries. The plastic hinge and catch for the battery compartment door broke as we sailed S in Fall 2019 and I had patched with duct tape. I cleaned up the tape mess and fabricated a SS strap that I screwed to the body to hold the door closed. Neat, clean, functional but not elegant.
  • I also MacGyvered a solution to another long-time pain. I installed a slide-out "cocktail table" for the starboard settee to hold my drinks and snacks. I hadn't been able to come up with a way to prevent it from sliding all the way out (and off) from it's location under the bookshelf. So periodically it would come off. Today I decided enough was finally enough. I finally spent time to think about options and came up with a simple and effective safety stop. So now I can stop worrying about my Rum & Tonic ending up on my lap.

MacGyver'd Canon Image Stabilized Binocs

  • We had considered going down to the Firefly Resort but laziness prevailed. Instead at 1800 we went over to the Hope Town Inn & Marina again for an early dinner. It was surprisingly quiet. Our service was excellent and our server related the difficulties she and her family had gone through due to Dorian. Their dinner specials included a "Drunken Center Cut" steak — marinated in dark rum. We got no further and we both ordered it. Peggy, as usual gave cooking instructions: "I want it to be walking". The meal was amazing; everything beef, roasted veggies, garlic potatoes ware excellent.
  • Peggy brought along her iPad so we could play backgammon while we enjoyed our wine before dinner. It was my first time using the iPad to play her. Even here she worked her juju — somehow I "lost" a great throw and lost a turn. Hmmm. But Justice and Right prevailed: I won two games before dinner!

29 May 2021 Saturday; Hope Town

  • This morning I looked at NOAA synoptic charts for days 3-7 (https://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/medr/5dayfcst_wbg_conus.gif) and it got my hopes up as the messy lingering fronts along the E Coast seemed to have gone beyond Tuesday. Unfortunately, as I worked with Chris Parker, This doesn't give the picture regarding squalls along the Abacos to Beaufort route. There is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere - a river above the Gulf Stream. Gradient winds would be fine but Peggy and I do not want to have to deal with a constant procession of localized squalls with winds in 30s. So today it again looks like Thursday-Monday may be viable as the atmosphere dries out. So we will stay put and chill and get ready to depart next week.
  • We went ashore about noon for a walk to the N end of Elbow Cay. We talked to a woman who had come over from Marsh Harbour to do dog grooming as the VFD station. She and her mother talked about how difficult life was at Marsh Harbour. She had her house destroyed and could not get any assistance in getting it rebuilt. Both women were very upset at the lack of effective Bahamian Government assistance for ordinary folks. They recommended donations to local community groups, like the VFD here and churches because they would see that the help went to those who needed it.
  • As we walked along the road past the entrance channel, we found that most of the homes along this stretch were destroyed or heavily damaged. Further on we found the homes along the ocean beach had fared well with little damage except for one that had its W facing roof torn off. It was so hot that we scrapped our idea of walking to the very N of the cay. The satellite map showed a big area of construction and we set that as our limit. The site was occupied by two huge modern homes of all masonry construction. The larger on the ridge overlooking the ocean. One slightly smaller on the bay side that appeared to be occupied. A massive landscaping program was ongoing around both buildings as evidenced by four 40' trailers loaded with coconut palms. Very impressive. We later learned from talking with Vernon that the compound was being built by the owners of the Sands Brewing company. So now I know my beer money is being put to good use!
  • I got to talk with Captain Jack. His waterfront restaurant had lost its roof and been badly water damaged. He was planning to reopen by October. In the meantime he was operating a liquor store out of his home. He told me the Iggy Biggie Boutique across the road lost its roof and was so damaged the building was torn down. We stopped at Vernon's Grocery and I waited while he put the finishing touches on a key lime pie.
  • Our wanderings done, we returned to Onward for a quiet evening.

30 May 2021 Sunday; Hope Town
  • A review of the synoptic charts for the coming week held promise that we will be able to head N about Wed or Thursday. We will see what Chris has to say in the morning.
  • A quiet day of boat chores and reading. With rain squalls on the horizon, I went out to put waterproofing on areas of the enclosure overhead where water had seeped through during the last deluge. I have been searching for a tool and method to be able to apply a coat of waterproofing. The best method is using a sprayer so a large area can be given a heavy enough application to soak through the fabric. This can only be done when the canvas is off the boat because the silicone / teflon waterproofing overspray will damage the windows. I found a 2" foam roller and cut off the top of a squarish plastic bottle to hold the liquid. I put the roller in this and then sprayed it with the waterproofing agent. This proved to be a good way to carefully apply waterproofing to a limited area. As I was stepping into the cockpit, I decided to put a bit of waterproofing on the edge of the dodger. The edge caught the roller and popped it off the handle and into the water. I eventually had to use th dinghy to retrieve it. Before I could complete the job the rain squall hit and showed a lot more work was needed.
  • Late in the afternoon after the sun had dried the sunbrella, I tried a different technique. I cut the top section off of an empty gallon bottle making a large mouth funnel. I then put the large part of the funnel down over a section of sunbrella and sprayed into the narrow top 2 or 3 times. This allowed a good coating of waterproofing to be applied by sprayer without any overspray. I then just slid the inverted funnel about to be able to coat a larger area. This seems to work better and faster than the roller.

31 May 2021 Monday
  • According to Chris and the global models, the area along the US E Coast and Gulf Stream area continue to have a lot of excess moisture — read squall generation. This starts to dry out about Thursday. So Thursday / Friday are tentative departure dates. We will continue to watch, discuss and adapt.
  • Our plan now is to stay here in Hope Town today and move to Abaco Beach Resort - Boat Harbour Marina tomorrow. Perhaps for a day then move on to be at Green Turtle Cay to depart when the weather window opens.