Onward’s Cruise Journal 2013
Cruise in the Bahamas

Updated: 31 Jan 2013

January 2013

1 Jan 13; Tuesday; Hope Town to Lynard Cay

  • Happy New Year to All!
  • The plan is to depart Hope Town on the rising tide at 0900 and head down to Lynyard Cay for the night in preparation for crossing to Eleuthera tomorrow and thence to the Exumas.
  • The plan went well, we exited Hope Town without incident and headed S. The wind actually allowed us to sail and I had to figure out how to do that again. Along the way, Lucia called to say they were not getting raw water into their engine water strainer and might have to put into Marsh Harbour for repairs. Don observed that it might be able to blow out an obstruction from the strainer end. Paul tried using a small compressor and then ended up using his latent skills as a trumpeter to just blow out the hose by mouth. It worked!
  • We were able to sail most of the way to Lynyard Cay where we anchored in the "usual spot". I invited the Beckonings and Lucias over for tacos and to talk about the crossing plans. A grand time was had by all and we called it an early night. The winds which were 15 kts SSE when we anchored died away overnight.
  • Interesting: I found that I was getting great BTC 3G cellular data service from the anchorage -- apparently from the cell tower in Little Harbour.

2 Jan 13; Wednesday; Lynyard Cay to Current Cut
  • Anchors aweigh at 0600. Beckoning was a bit delayed due to a slipping clutch on the windlass. We got to the cut just before sunrise and found it calm in the pre-dawn light. It was the easiest transit of this cut that I've ever made. Nice. Soon after exiting the cut Beckoning had a fresh water coolant loss to deal with so I throttled back to keep station. This was soon fixed and we headed off with the seas getting calmer as we went.
  • We were at Egg I at 1400 and at Current Cut at 1530. Since it was just before low slack with light winds predicted for the night, we went through the cut. Even so the current was ~3 kts max against us at the center! The transit was uneventful and we anchored for the night just SE of the cut in the "usual place".
  • From just off Royal I across the small bight to the Current Cut anchorage, I had good 3G cellular data service -- much better than in Hope Town. Go figure.

3 Jan 13; Thursday; Current Cut to Cape Eleuthera
  • We were off at 0700 across a flat clam sea lit by an amazing sunrise on the bow. Winds were < 10 kts from the SE - just off the bow so it was a motor trip across calm waters. Onward led the 3 boat flotilla. It was so peaceful and calm, I felt secure enough to spend about 45-60 min lying out on the cabin top just forward of the traveler soaking up the sun to help get rid of the final vestiges of my chest congestion and begin the task of erasing the tan line that had begun to develop over the last couple of months sailing in civilization.
  • I was able to surf the internet with my iPad almost the entire trip across the bight -- except for the central segment which is > 5 nm from shore.
  • We put into Cape Eleuthera Marina at 1400. Once settled, I decided to take advantage of the laundry to wash sheets. While this was ongoing, I prepared for the pizza party I'd invited folks to this evening. I met Mark and Liz on the only other sailboat in the marina, E2 Motion, and invited them to join me.
  • By 1845, I'd managed to make the 2 pizzas, clean up the boat and clean up me. I was soon joined by my guests from Beckoning, Lucia, and E2 Motion. I guess everyone liked the pizza as there wasn't much in the way of leftovers! We made a good dent in the Back Box Malbec I opened so a fine time was had by all.
  • I was so beat at the end of the day that I didn't have the energy to fit the bottom sheet on the mattress -- I just "put it on" and slept.

4 Jan 13; Friday; Cape Eleuthera to Warderick Wells.
  • A beautiful day dawned for the next leg of the journey across Exuma Sound to Warderick Cut.
  • The BTC 3G cellular data service worked just great. This was a good thing because the marina's wifi continues to be up and down -- a problem they had last year.
  • We had to delay our departure until after the marina office opened up at 0800. I topped off my water tanks then went in to settle up.
  • They were having a T-shirt sale and I bought one - a light tan, I like Tees but somehow they are much bigger spot magnets compared to my polo shirts. White Tees have a spot-free time measured in minutes once I put one on -- so I've stopped buying white Tees in spite of liking their look The exception is when I get given one. However being free doesn't improve their spot-free time. I will have to look at some type of a spray for spot prophylaxis -- I'm sure one of my friends must have a good suggestion. One of my chores while recharging my personal batteries here will be to do triage on my overstock of Tees -- and other clothes.
  • I learned that the coffee bar / restaurant at the marina is gone and the resort / hotel has ceased operation and the units are being put up for sale as condos. The marina will continue operation as a separate entity.
  • We were off about 0930 with light SE winds. I found myself a bit tired and achy. I had helped other boats docking yesterday and then getting away from the pier today; while usually handling Onward by myself. I need to learn to be much more reticent in doing this. In the past, it has been while helping another boat with its dock lines that I have managed to dislocate a susceptible disc in my lower back and then been laid up in pain for weeks. Then again, I need to remember I'm not 25 or even 60 any more. But I'm moving well!
  • About 30 min out, the wind picked up to make sailing on a reach possible. What a nice present! Onward, Beckoning, Lucia, and E2 Motion all head a pleasant sail in ~ 15 kts apparent with easy swells < 3 '. Nice.
  • The crossing was blissful and at ~ 1400 Onward as at Warderick Cut for a very peaceful entrance. Andrew had assigned Onward mooring 15 near the park office. As I came up against the wind and supposedly against the current, I violated two of my singlehanded mooring pickup rules: first I didn't rig the line for securing the mooring eye once I picked it up; second, I didn't stop Onward dead in the water just before getting to the mooring so I could see how it really would react to the wind and current. I got a bit overconfident or rather impatient and decided I could do it on the first go. Well, I did. I got the mooring pennant and got a line through the eye. However one end of the line got snagged around the base of the side stays and it trying to free it, I let go the wrong end of the line! On the second go, Mark and Liz from E2 Motion came by in their dinghy and Liz kindly handed up the line. When am I going to lean to have the decline to follow the methods I've worked out one the years????
  • I dropped the dingy and went in to say hello to Andrew. He told me the Park had faired well dealing with Hurricane Sandy. They had a large number of boats on the Park moorings and they all did well except for Patrol 2 which apparently got pooped and sank. It was now in Nassau awaiting new outboards to be installed.
  • Andrew related that the winds blew ~ 50+ kts from the NW for a couple of days after Sandy passed. As a result there has been significant movement of sandbars -- something to watch carefully.
  • The cost of the Park's internet service had been increased so they increased their charges to boaters, it is now $15 for 24 hrs / 100 MB. A bit steep so I will have to rearrange my schedule for use.
  • Everyone was a bit tired from the crossing so it was a quiet night. I still didn't have the energy to make the bed before falling asleep.

5 Jan 13; Saturday; Warderick Wells
  • In past years, I've greeted the arrival at Warderick Wells with great relief. It is essentially the culmination of a trek from NE Harbor Maine to the central Exumas -- a journey where I spend long periods being "on" most of the time. This year, my bout with lingering chest congestion has resulted in my personal batteries being much much lower than normal So my plan is to kick back yet keep myself busy and engaged by working through the long list of stuff I haven't been able to attend to due to health and operating the boat. I plan to do this in a very relaxed manner.
  • I spent this morning attending to an end-of-year review of financial matters. In doing so, I realized how much I'd let slide while I was not feeling well.
  • Lucia called to say farewell as they were heading down to Staniel Cay to meet a friend who was going to take Paul lobster fishing. Apparently their power systems are working well now.
  • At 1100 the Beckonings called to invite me to join them on their first hike in the Park. On Boo Boo Hill, I could find no evidence of the 4 Onward name plaques that I'd placed in previous years. Nor did I find any from those of friend's' vessels. Hurricanes Irene and Sandy had done a good job of blowing many out to sea. I don't think I'll make another sign unless I find a piece of wood that can't blow away!
  • I was surprised that I was able to get no cell service from the top of Boo Boo Hill where I had in the past -- and I couldn't quite see the tower at Staniel Cay???
  • The Hutia have continued their destruction of shrubs on the cay and now there is only that vegetation they don't eat that is still green. The winds and salt spray from Irene and Sandy didn't help much I'm sure. Maybe once they've eaten everything their numbers will die off. I hope.
  • By the end of the hike, my legs were telling me how long it has been since they've seen this type of exercise. By 1400, I was back aboard and I prepared a salad and a couple of pieces of pizza for lunch. Then I took a nap and air bath in the cockpit. Nice.
  • Tonight was the weekly happy hour ashore. I cut up slices of the calzone I backed last week and had vacuum sealed. I toasted these in a skillet and made bite-sized servings. Once ashore, they disappeared quite quickly. This was a nice day to start my stay in the Exumas.
  • My batteries must have gotten recharged a bit because I had the energy and the patience to take the five minutes necessary to make the bed -- finally. Clean sheets in the tropics -- hard to beat -- only thing better would be a good woman to share them with…

6 Jan 13; Sunday; Warderick Wells
  • The morning brought a spectacular sunrise.
  • I have made it a habit of leaving the companionway hatch boards out and the hatch open at night except when it is too cold. Don Andrew gave me a good suggestion: he closes up the companionway hatch but leaves one of the deck hatches in the salon or forward stateroom open. When anchored or on a mooring this gives a nice air flow into the master stateroom and out the rear hatches. I tried this last night and found it worked well. Funny how what seems like such an obvious thing to do now did not occur to me because of an entrenched habit. Another example of how one can always learn a better way of doing something.
  • I continued working on my financial stuff until 1100 then cleaned up the galley. I rewarded myself with lunch and the time off to enjoy it -- with a beer. I followed this with a nap only to wake up after about 90 minutes with a head cold and sneezing. Where did this come from? What the *&^% is going on with me and colds this year? Apparently my being able to bake a bit in the sun hasn't had its usual beneficial effect yet. There has been some kind of a cold bug - bad but not quite the flu - going around in the Bahamas lately. There was one person ill with it visiting the BTC office at Green Turtle Cay when I was there -- but that was 2 weeks ago??? Baaaaahhh.
  • I spent the afternoon and evening in sort of hibernation dealing with mild flu-like symptoms. For dinner I took some Progresso Italian wedding soup and added some tiny star pasta to it to make it "schtumfy" as my grad school apartment mate termed it. It brought back memories of my Mom's chicken soup that she made for every holiday. I started to feel a bit better as I ate it.

7 Jan 13; Monday; Warderick Wells
  • A reasonably quiet night was followed by a cloudy dawn. I felt a bit better today the flu-like malady from yesterday was almost gone. I decided to make it another quite day aboard catching up. I hadn't realized that during the trip down the ICW and to the Bahamas, the chest congestion had sapped so much of my energy I had totally ignored financial issues and just let it run on automatic. I was impressed to find out just how much provisioning and preparation consumed this year. After bringing my accounting system up to date, I confirmed that I had not been invoiced yet for the diesel service done in Baltimore. I activated internet access and found an email had just arrived - apparently their accounting software had not sent me an invoice. A nice healthy service fee to start 2013.
  • I made lunch and spent the afternoon and evening reading and napping in the cockpit. I am really enjoying "Team of Rivals" and looking forward to seeing the movie.

8 Jan 13; Tuesday; Warderick Wells
  • Praise the Lord: I've survived another year! I spent a quiet and a bit melancholy day thinking a lot about my mom and dad and my brother. I am very grateful for being able to live as I do at this time in my life so it is the lack of having family about that brought on the melancholia. That and the heavily overcast skys.
  • I checked my email before the 24 hr clock ran out and there, as the first email, was a photo of Elena, Laura and Kurlen wishing me a Happy Birthday! Neat.
  • I spent most of the morning continuing on my financial catch up. Then I rewarded myself with lunch of the last of the left-over pizza and a beer which I enjoyed while I finished reading a mystery: Portrait of a Spy -- interrupted of course by a nap. The Beckonings stopped by to say hello on their way home as they have spent the last 2 day as volunteers working on trail maintenance in the Park.
  • After completing the novel I got energy and decided to bake with the dough I'd prepared yesterday. I made some rolls with sausage for lunches and some hamburger / dinner rolls. These came out looking beautiful. I then baked some breaded chicken cutlets and had a great birthday dinner of chicken cutlets sandwiches using the fresh rolls.
  • As the sun set, I took the satphone out to the cockpit to see if I could get through to my children. I was able to have a nice conversation with all three. This really buoyed my spirits. A great way to end a quiet birthday.

9 Jan 13; Wednesday; Warderick Wells
  • We are in a period of projected E trade winds in the 15 - 20 kt range. The overcast of yesterday is gone and a beautiful sunrise greeted the day. I'm slowly getting into my "Bahamas Rhythm" : use the morning for writing, paperwork, catchup, cleanup, boat tasks; then take the afternoon "off". Today I packed a beer & some of the fresh sausage rolls, updated my "beach bag", and headed out to one of my COBs. The impact of Sandy is apparent as sand bars seem to have grown and the small bay of this beach had gotten a bit shallower. I spent a pleasant time on the beach having lunch, continuing to erase my tan line, reading and taking a dip to cool off finding the water a bit chilly. On these outings I carefully limit my time in the sun to about an hour then head home.
  • While walking along the beach to dry off in the sun, the contrast of the greenery on this small cay with Warderick Wells Cay is stark: the plant life is think and luxuriant. There is great variety and almost no evidence of dead vegetation. The low growth is so thick it is hard to see or move through it. the trails from previous years are largely grown over. By comparison, Warderick Wells Cay is mostly dead vegetation. From the perspective of this cay, it is clear the dead zone now stretches the entire length of Warderick Wells Cay -- not just limited to the S end as it was last year. If there was any more evidence needed to know that the grand "Hutia" experiment on Warderick Wells is causing a disaster, I don't know what it could be.
  • I headed back to Onward and recovered from my beach exertions with an air bath and nap in the cockpit. After a refreshing shower, I prepared for dinner as I had invited the Beckonings over for a grill night. We grilled our hamburgers and enjoyed them on the fresh rye hamburger rolls I'd baked yesterday. Some Bush's beans and fresh coleslaw by Mary Kay topped off the repast. Desert was fresh chocolate chip cookies which were also a birthday present.

10 Jan 13; Thursday; Warderick Wells
  • Guess what? A sunny day with wind > 15 kts from the E which should continue to hold into next week. The peaceful morning was marred by a change in sound from the genset indicating its inlet water line is plugged. Oh joy...
  • I was very touched today when I got internet access and found a number of emails from family and friends wishing me happy birthday. Nice!
  • I have become captured by "Team of Rivals" and the reawakening of my historical understanding of the events leading up to the Civil War. I hope the movie "Lincoln" results in more people like me deciding to reed Goodwin's book. We as a nation need to know and remember where we came from and understand better how we came to be who we are to be better able to put current events in context. Over the last couple of decades I have read a number of articles by modern apologists with the message that the Civil War wasn't about slavery. Anyone who reads Team of Rivals will "hear" the statements of the leaders of the time on both sides and the can be no misunderstanding that it was about slavery and the pernicious evils it inflicted on the society, economic and social fabric of the south and the southerners' inability to accept the intrinsic evil of their "peculiar institution".
  • While eating lunch and reading in the cockpit, a single-engine float plane landed in the anchorage and taxied up to the beach next to Onward to deliver a visitor to the Park. Then it took off again threading the channel and becoming airborne just in time to miss the sandbars and the masts of moored boats. Obviously a pilot who has done this before.
  • Not much accomplished today but I enjoyed my book.

11 Jan 13; Friday; Warderick Wells
  • I was up just after 0500 with a plan of using the ~ 3 hrs left on my internet service to take care of correspondence and business issues. I had left ~ 40 of 100 MB let to do this work. However, I forgot to log out and during the night my hardware must have done some communicating on its own because my 40 MB was gone! This is a lesson that needs to be learned each year: our computers do things in the background (like software updates) that we can ignore back in the states but these become real hazards in the Bahamas with limited throughput.
  • I managed to update my GRIB data and the next 8 days are more of the same: ~ 15+ kts from the E.
  • My big accomplishment for the day was unclogging the raw water intake for the genset. I removed a long strand of curly weed that was blocking it.
  • For the rest of the day I allowed myself to be captured by Team of Rivals. The Beckonings invited me over for cocktails and a delicious chicken casserole to end a laid back day which was capped up with a good movie.

12 Jan 13; Saturday; Warderick Wells
  • A rare overcast day with periods of rain. My personal clutch must have gotten wet and started slipping because I didn't get much done today. After getting up early, and having some breakfast, I fell asleep for most of the morning. I then managed a short trip to the Park office to get slips for a couple of days of internet access. On return I got captured again by Team of Rivals. My social circuits remain out of sorts as I didn't feel up to going in for the Saturday night happy hour on the beach. Hopefully systems will reset themselves…
  • I tried 2 satphone calls to wish my sister Kathy Happy Birthday but had to make do with leaving voicemails.

13 Jan 13; Sunday; Warderick Wells
  • The sun came back and the winds, still out of the E, have lightened up. I had a bit more energy today -- no need to just nap. Who knows what's going on.
  • I actually had enough energy to work on the task I hate the most and am least successful at: doing triage on the mass of paper I manage to collect in spite of trying to go all electronic. I got as far as getting the organizing organized. Meanwhile I let my MacBook convert a numberer of DVD into mp4 format so I could watch them on my iPad. I've bought a number of movies (all at < $5) over the last few years but I never watch them on my DVD player and TV. In fact, I never watch them at all. Anyway I plan to start actually watching my library. One disappointment: before leaving the US, I bought the first two seasons of Downton Abbey for the iPad. Due to some type of glitch, I found that they had not gotten downloaded before I left the US. Now I've got to find someplace with unlimited throughput that will allow me to finish the download. Baah.
  • The afternoon was sunny so I decided to make it a beach afternoon. I made some fresh chicken salad. I had no celery so it wasn't quite as crunchy as I like it. I packed lunch and my beach bag and headed over to my private beach to the N. There I found that Andrew's boat anchored and he was apparently hiding out away from the Park visitors. I decided to just make a brief visit ashore to see if Sandy had broken through the island yet. I was happy to find that it had not but the ocean waves have undermined a path through 90% of the width of the island. I took off to leave Andrew in peace and circumnavigated some of the other outlying islets before going back to my nearer private beach. There I spent a nice couple of hours lunching, sunning (erasing), reading, and swimming.
  • I was finally able to talk to Kathy on the satphone and that made me feel a lot better. I spent a relaxing evening continuing to be captured by Team of Rivals. Reading the segment on the Gettysburg Address, i found myself in tears from the emotional impact provided by Goodwin's context. How fortunate this country has been to have such giants of men and such great human beings as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to lead us through critical phases of our national life.
  • I like many friends was repulsed by the political environment of the last two years leading up to the recent election. However, in reading Team of Rivals, it brought home a lesson that I've often told my children and friends: as bad as politics seem at present, they were worse in the past -- and yet our nation has persevered and thrived. Government of the people, by the people, for the people is messy business -- I guess we just have to try in our individual small way to make small improvements.

14 Jan 13; Monday; Warderick Wells
  • Mostly sunny today with a bit of intermittent clouds. This season we have had a great period of freedom from cold fronts with winds steady from the E in the 15 - 20 kt range. But there have been more clouds and short showers than I've experienced on earlier visits.
  • After stopping by the office, I headed over to Beckoning to see if they wanted to go snorkeling off my northern private beach. However Mary Kay wasn't feeling well so we put it off for another day.
  • After working on boat tasks until lunch, I was going to go for a beach visit but it clouded up so I gave myself a few hours off to read in the cockpit. The Beckonings came by with their pump sprayer filled with diluted lemon juice. This amazingly simple and environmentally friendly technique does a beautiful job not removing the ICW smile from the boat. They tried to do the job stealthily but I managed to catch them after they did the first side. Nice touch! It was good to see Mary Kay feeling good again.
  • I continued to read through dinner. I must be starting to feel better because I had no need to nap today. I went to bed reading the last chapter of Team of Rivals -- but I couldn't bring myself to finish it. It seems I've come to really enjoy the last week or so I've spent with Abraham Lincoln, and I now feel that I don't want to lose him again -- interesting.

15 Jan 13; Tuesday; Warderick Wells
  • A bit of cloudiness today but the winds have died to < 15 kts from the E. I felt a bit more "normal today" - good. I have been slowly pecking away at a bunch of hanging tasks and that helps. I also made batches of dough for pepper biscotti and for pizza. Andrew and Jen are joining the Beckonings aboard Onward for dinner tonight. I gave Andrew and Jen the choice of roast beef or pizza -- pizza won clearly. I planed to work on making thin crust pizza tonight.
  • I reverted to my 15-min timer technique to catch up on hanging tasks for the balance of the day. Andrew and Jen were delayed because the lower unit of the outboard on the Carolina Skiff failed and he had to be towed home. A great evening ensued with lots of easy talk and good beverages. It turned out that Jen loves the beer I had on board so that made her an even happier camper.
  • I was able to roll out the pizza dough - my standard rosemary olive oil dough recipe -- into a nice thin sheet < 1/4" thick. I made two sheet pizzas and topped one of them with pepperoni and cheese. The other I just used fresh basil from my basil plant. Before leaving Vero, I bought a really healthy potted basil plant, the fourth one I've tried to raise aboard. This time, I've trained the Steward to water it each morning using a measured amount of water and it has thrived. It was really neat adding Onward basil leaves to the pizzas. Well the experiment worked so well that there was nothing left of the 2 pizzas. Dinner finished, we prepared to eat the nice chocolate frosted cake Mary Kay brought aboard. I went below to fetch it and serving items. I put the cake just outside the companionway where I'd had the pizzas -- Onward's "serving deck". As I went below to get the dishes, Don was putting some things in their tote bag nearby. Then I heard a universal groan from the cockpit and I looked out to find that Don had sat on the cake frosting - and now half of the frosting was on the seat of his shorts! The cleanup was hindered by the amount of laughing and photo taking. I gave Don a spare pair of shorts to change into then we settled into eating the "Beckoning Butt Cake". Delish.

16 Jan 13; Wednesday;
  • I spent the morning using my timer technique to work on tasks. I also used the half of the pizza dough left from last night to make a pizza for lunch -- again using fresh basil. I enjoyed a nice lunch while I finished reading Team of Rivals.
  • The afternoon had turned beautifully sunny so I decided to head back to my N secret beach. I was able to spend a couple of hours erasing my tan line. At one point when the sun had really warmed me up to the point I was ready for a cooling dip, a rain squall appeared and provided a gentle cooling shower. The sun was still shining full and bright and yet I was being misted with cooling drops. What a neat experience. Once I'd had my allotted dose of sun, I headed back to the anchorage. With the good sunlight and light winds, I took a circuitous route back. I found that apparently Sandy had changed the bottom profile in the NW section of the N anchorage so it was possible to get back to Onward moored next to the Park office by a route to the W of the W leg of the mooring field. It looks like the main E channel and the W channel and the far W channels have been deepened and narrowed and the big shallow between the E & W legs has filled in so much of it is dry or awash at low tide.
  • I received photos from Laura of the 1-yr old Audi station wagon they bought to replace Kurlen's car. This is the second attempt as just before Christmas they had bought a 2-yr old BMW station wagon. On the third night it was parked outside their home on Canyon Drive in LA, it was stripped by professional thieves who took all the high-value components. Laura and Kurlen had been unaware that this car did not have a factory-installed alarm system. Apparently the thieves did know. It had been parked under a streetlight at the house next door. Unfortunately their great neighbor, Jack, had just sold the house so there was no one there. The insurance company totaled the car. I hope all goes well with this new one.
  • I reheated the last serving of the angel hair pasta and meatballs I'd made last week and settled in to watch the first disc of Ken Burns' Civil War series. I bought this series a couple of years ago but had not watched it. While I was finishing the reading of Team of Rivals, I converted the series to mp4 so I could watch it on the iPad. Now, having read Goodwin's wonderful book, the series is even more alive and meaningful. Neat.

17 Jan 13; Thursday;
  • A nice sunny day. I spent most of the morning working on trying to get rid of paper stuff. I've had intermittent trouble getting my Canon LIDE210 flatbed scanner to work with the VueScan software I've used for years. Sometimes it worked perfectly others it reports that it can't find a 64-bit driver. In spite of downloading and installing the latest Canon drivers I couldn't get it to work. Then I tried the Canon software which I've never liked in the past. Well this new version worked fantastically! So, I spent a good bit of time feeding the scanner and archiving the .pdf files. My goal is to get rid of all but the paper I can by scanning documents to .pdfs keeping only those documents that I absolutely must keep. This is a goal that has eluded me since I first departed Annapolis in 2007! . The problems with the balky scanner software kept getting in the way but now that is over!
  • I gave myself time off for lunch and to read a book. I must be feeling better because I don't have the pressing need to take long naps anymore. After lunch, I worked on making new holders for the LED solar walkway lights I bought before departing FL. I cut pieces of 1" SS tubing and then drilled them to attach to nylon SS rail mounts. I made 4 of these but as I was filing the last one it slipped out of my hand because I wasn't paying enough attention, bounced 3 times on the swim platform and fell overboard as I was a fraction of a second slow in grabbing it. I completed the installation of 2 of the solar LED lights - one on each side of the dodger hand holds.
  • Some of the folks in the anchorage organized an impromptu happy hour at the gazebo. The Beckonings invited me to dinner so I stopped to say hello to this group on the way. One of the boats was Magic, a C400 that had been at Vero as we left the fuel pier to head S. A delicious dinner of angel hair pasta with shrimp and fresh bread awaited me. Over dinner we talked about how good it was to just hang out in this beautiful place while we recharged our personal batteries and got the boats organized after the long journey.

18 Jan 13; Friday; Warderick Wells
  • A rainy day in Warderick Wells. A cold front moved through in mid morning bringing a good number of rain squalls - good for washing down the deck. It was a lazy day for me. I did work on some boat tasks and computer tasks. I spent a good deal of the day reading also.

19 Jan 13; Saturday; Warderick Wells to Shroud Cay
  • The weather looked to be settled for the next few days before the next front was due on Tuesday night. This made it a good opportunity to go up to Shroud, Normans, and Highbourne Cays before heading back S to Cambridge Cay to hunker down for the front.
  • I have really benefitted from the time here at Warderick. My energy level returned to normal and the mild cloud that seemed to be hanging over me dissipated. So, personally and weather wise it was a good time to break out.
  • I went into the office to bid Jen farewell and then quickly prepared Onward to depart with Beckoning. We dropped the moorings at just after noon and headed N. Winds were very light so it was a motoring trip. We arrived at Shroud Cay about 1430 and anchored just outside of the mooring field. It was just after high tide so I immediately launched Venture and picked up the Beckonings then it was off t explore the slainas. We took a quick tour of the central salina and found the mangroves looking very lush and healthy. Since the tide was still up, I Ventured around to the creek on the NW coast. There the water was still running deep so we Ventured well into the interior of the cay. Deep water held so we were able to go almost all the way across the cay to the E coast. Due to the falling tide and long distance back to the mouth of the creek, we turned around just short of the shallow pond which was almost all dry by this time. All along we were impressed with the lush and healthy condition of the mangroves here. Again, the contrast with the Houtia-ravaged Warderick Wells is stark as all the vegetation on the land that rings the coast is lush. Of the several visits I've made to Shroud in the past this one gave me the best appreciation of the beauty of this cay. I will have to come back again in settled weather and explore the NW creek on a rising tide as there were so many inviting holes that just begged to be explored while snorkeling.
  • Aboard Onward, I found I had good cell phone service from the tower at Highbourne Cay so I was able to talk to Laura & Joseph. Joahna was attending the Sundance Film Festival with friends. I also found that I had reasonable cellular internet service so I was able do email. I watched Disc 2 of The Civil War.

20 Jan 13; Sunday; Shroud Cay to Normans Cay
  • The Beckonings spent the morning trying to bring the watermaker on line but found that the high pressure pump seals were leaking too much to build up sufficient pressure.
  • We departed Shroud Cay at about noon and made the short trip to Normans Cay. There were about 6 boats anchored in the lagoon but I decided to go back to the anchorage I used when visiting Mac Duffs. We anchored off the beach and immediately launched both dinghies to go explore the lagoon and E coast.
  • On arriving in the Exumas, I had heard from another boater that Normans Cay Beach Club & Mac Duffs restaurant & bar were no longer in operation. I was able to do some research and found that 400+ acres of the cay that the Bahamian government had taken title to were in the final stages of being sold to the Fort Capital Group of Miami. The Bahamas had take over the land when Carlos Ledher was hauled off to the US for trial and jail for his cocaine transshipment activities in the mid 80s. Since then, there have be many attempts by developers to get control of this amazing place. Fort is the latest in the line and the deal seems to have gone far enough that the government would not renew the lease of the operator of Mac Duff's -- so it is closed down. Alas what a beautiful bar -- I will miss it and the chance of my last burger & fries fix in the Bahamas before booking back to the US each spring.
  • In the lagoon, we found the wreck of the DC3 was still there but almost all of the parts that were awash have been corroded away. Don & Mary Kay didn't want to snorkel the area so we headed off to take advantage of the high but falling tide to explore the N part of the lagoon. I wanted to find the path to the N deep-water pond but we were about an hour too late and the tide had dropped too much to get across one of the shallow flats in the dinghies. We then headed off to explore the beaches on the E coast N of Boot Cay.
  • We anchored the dinghies on the S side of a small point. While the Beckonings decided to stay on that side and snorkel the outlying outcrops, I walked over crest of the sandy spit to the beach on the N side. In spite of being an E facing beach, it is relatively clean and there is a series of tiny cays about 200 m off the beach that make a nice protected lagoon. The water is waist-depth within 10 m of the waterline so it is a very nice place to swim. I think this stretch of beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. It will be interesting to see what happens if the development plans go through. I probably won't be able to find a COB this cay then.
  • Faced with such a large, beautiful, empty, sunny, sandy beach, I declared it a COB and went for a skinsuite swim. Having cooled off from the swim, I decided to walk and explore the beach in the sun to dry off. In spite of my best intentions, I can't stop myself from looking in the beach wrack for sea beans. Although this is a relatively remote E coast beach, there were no sea beans to be found -- by me anyway; I'm sure if Harriet Hardy were here she would find beans -- but then I wouldn't be exploring in my skinsuite.
  • While I was walking the beach I'd waded to in a cove hidden by a rock outcrop at the N end, the Beckonings came over to explore the beach I'd just left and found it delightful. While they swam, I retrieved my towel and dried off from my long wade down the beach. We had to depart as the tide was dropping because I was concerned with being trapped by shallows between us and the channel. The trip back was uneventful, However it was hard to see Mac Duff's and not be able to go in for a cold beer anymore.
  • I had a quiet evening and watched Disc 3 of The Civil War series.

21 Jan 13; Monday; Normans Cay to Highbourne Cay
  • The cellular data service was even better here and I was able to work on a number of intent tasks.
  • We weighed anchor at 1000 and made the next short trek to Highbourne Cay. Beckoning decided to get a slip after they took on water and diesel. Onward anchored off the W coast and, once settled, I quickly Ventured into the marina. Along the way, we had been talking about a nice lunch at the restaurant that opened a year or so ago. Unfortunately, I'd lost track of what day it was so I was disappointed to learn it was Monday - the day the restaurant is closed! Undaunted, we bought frozen hamburgers, buns, beers, and charcoal from the marina store and grilled hamburgers on one of the marina grills. We then ate our lunch at a seaside picnic table under a shady gazebo. Heaven: cold beer, delicious charcoal-grilled burgers, beautiful beachside venue.
  • After lunch we took a walk to the S tip of the cay. Here there are two points high above the water with beautiful 270º views. I would be happy to build a small home on either point. On the one to the SW there are the ruins of what had been apparently a nice house. According to the island manager, it was once a rental properly that fell into disrepair and was torn down. What a shame.
  • After returning to the marina I assisted the Beckonings in doing a survey of what Navionics chart CF chips they had and selected one older one to back up their existing waypoints.
  • Between the heat and the G&T that Don had plied me with while I looked at the CF's, I was beat -- so I headed back to Onward. Once aboard I had just enough energy to get out of my warm clothes and lay down in the cockpit in the sun and light breeze. A 2-hr nap quickly followed.
  • The cellular data service was very good here - anchored right below the large BTC tower. However the level of service seemed to bounce around : EDGE, UTMS, 3G. While I could download files, I again had difficulty uploading website files. The Island manager later told me that they have the same problem as BTC is still trying to complete the upgrade to 4G level.
  • Having eaten 2 large burgers for lunch, I didn't need any dinner. I watched Disc 4 of Ken Burns' Civl War. I was still wakeful due to the nap so I watched a movie: The Saint. One of the many delightful features of the iPad is to be able to watch a movie anywhere I decide to sit.

22 Jan 13; Tuesday; Highbourne Cay to Cambridge Cay
  • I whipped up a batch of bread dough and then a batch of almond biscotti dough.
  • I Ventured into the marina at 0800 to get some gas for the dinghy. I also transferred a copy of Onward's Bahamas waypoints to Beckoning's chart plotter. I then headed out and got Onward ready to make the trek S to Cambridge Cay.
  • Once underway, I baked the almond biscotti. Just before I put them in the oven, the wind had begun to pick up enough that I deployed the genoa. A line of squalls was passing to the SW so the winds picked up enough to make > 6 kts sailing under genoa alone. I allowed the oven to gimbal as I have found that having the boat heeled over while the oven is in use is not a problem when the oven is gimbaled. The difficulty arises when it is necessary to take the cookie sheets out of the oven to rotate between shelves or the manipulate the items being baked. The parchment paper I am using is so slippery, that trying to keep things from sliding off as I try to maneuver the trays is problematic. Today I had one loaf of biscotti slide off the tray necessitating a retrieval from the oven shelf. What I need is a third hand. In any case I persevered and a beautiful batch of biscotti emerged.
  • Since I was on a roll, I decided to bake bread. I made 4 small loaves using half of the batch of bread dough. Then I took half of the remaining dough and made a ham calzone and saving the last 1/4 of the dough for another day. The result was four small boules that looked too good to eat (almost).
  • At the S end of Warderick Wells, the house on White Bay Cay (the owners have apparently renamed it to??) that I had seen them starting construction on last year is now complete or almost so. It is quite long, running along the entire ridge of the cay.
  • Onward arrived off of Bell Cay about an hour before high tide. On that basis, I decided to take the S route into Cambridge Cay. A few years ago, Bell Island was purchased by the Aga Kahn and there has been a continuous construction program. A large marina is being built to accomodate the owner's mega yacht and a few of his friend's yachts at the SE corner. Apparently the dredging was completed last year and construction is underway. At the SW corner, the hugh island support facility built by the previous owners looks to be more than doubling in size.
  • We negotiated the channel without issue seeing minimum depths of about 8.6' at the beginning and end of the route. I managed to pickup the mooring without incident on the first try in spite of not having done an adequate job of preparing the foredeck. I don't know what's happened to me with this. I really need to get my act together. Part of the problem is I've still not decided on the one best way to do things. But I think that perhaps the major part of the problem is that I got so good at doing this, I've been reading my own press clippings instead of focusing on preparation. As a result, I give myself too many opportunities to F-up.
  • The only challenges of the day turned out to be the minor one of keeping the biscotti on the cooking sheets. But, once on he mooring, I still rewarded myself with a nap and air bath in the sun. Then I prepared some Bush'e beans with sautéed onions and grilled myself a small steak that I made into a steak sandwich with the fresh bread. Delish! I finished off the evening with Disc 5 of the Civil War.

23 Jan 13; Wednesday; Cambridge Cay
  • The winds clocked to the NE during the night and rose to the 15 to 23 kt range. The morning brought broken clouds and a continuation of the winds that will be with us for a couple of days.
  • The Civl War mystery: I watch Disc 5 of the series and it ended after Lincoln's 2nd Inauguration and ended with "To Be Continued". So I went looking for a 6th DVD and could not find it. ?????
  • It is a measure of my personal energy level being more normal that one of the first things I did this morning was to work on revising my To Do lists. Since getting to the Bahamas, I've had almost zero interest in sitting and planning. Today was nice but windy -- a good day to work on boat tasks.
  • I spent several hours updating this journal. When I get busy moving Onward, I tend not to write. But I have come to enjoy writing my journal so when a get a quite spot, I catch up. I always am a bit amazed about how things that happened in the recent past quickly disappear into the mists -- but then reemerge as I begin to write and one strand of recollection leads to another until a whole cloth is woven. Neat.
  • Once done with writing, I prepared to work on some boat tasks and having stayed on task all morning, I rewarded myself with time off for lunch: some calzone and a beer. Of course, the beer at lunch called for a nap so I obeyed and lay out in the sun. In an hour or so, I was woken up by it being relatively cold and found that clouds had moved in. This caused me to stir and I decided to go to work on a project.
  • During my first summer cruising full time back in 2007, I built a prototype "Nav Seat" which bridges the walk-through between the stern seats. I did this as a result of the after-action review my daughter Laura and I did after we had a scare missing by shear luck "Middle Rock" shoal while sailing E across Narragansett Bay. As a result we decided that I needed to sit on the centerline between the helms when the autopilot was driving Onward through unfamiliar waters so I could be "situationally aware" and see the chartplotter. I built the "prototype" Nav Seat using two lengths of 1" SS tubing that bridge the stern walk-through gap and I mounted a folding plastic seat like they use on runabouts on them. This has worked so well, that making a permanent solution hasn't been a priority. Over the years, I've designed several different versions and talked to SS fabricators about building them but none ever seemed to be worth the effort.
  • This summer, Don Andrew convinced me I should buy one of the West Marine folding seats which have padded arms and a high back to replace the plastic seat which was beginning to come apart. I agreed that was a good idea and bought one through him. I carried that seat around during my summer in New England provisionally mounting it by turning the existing seat upside down and sitting the new seat on it to get some idea how it would work. I then spent some time coming up with various designs that would allow me to use it for the Nav Seat permanently and how to build a sturdy yet easily removable mount. While in Baltimore at the Anchorage Marina, I noticed that Charm City Canvas who was building my new dodger had tools for bending SS tubing. So this got me into the design / engineering mode again. Before departing, I had a ~ 6' length of 1" SS tubing bent into a U shape where the ends of the U were as wide apart as the distance between the SS stern rail verticals on each side of the walk-through. Before bending, I had them put a 1" T fitting at the center of the tubing. Now I've carried that SS U with me since Baltimore, occasionally coming up with different methods of mounting it in a way that would allow for a quick assembly / disassembly to allow access to the walk-through.
  • Today I decided on and implemented what I hope is a final design. I put hinged tubing clamp adaptors on the base of the two stern rail verticals on each side of the walk-through. I then bolted on tabbed tubing end caps to the tubing clamp adaptors. I then drilled a 1/4" hole in each end of the U at the spot where the set screw of the end cap contacted the U tubing. The end caps use 6-mm set screws that I replaced with longer 6-mm screws. The 1/4" hole allows the 6-mm screw to pass through the tubing and thus hold the ends of the U securely to the stern rails. I had a spare piece of 1'" SS tubing that was exactly the right length to make a vertical leg that fits into the T fitting at the apex of the U. I drilled a hole in this tubing so it can be positively held into the T and then put a rubber cap on the bottom. I had another piece of SS tubing that had two end tabs on it and I mounted this to cross between the two legs of the U at about the mid point. This create a nice platform that allows the new comfortable folding seat to sit securely on the U. The level of the SS U base and the greater height of the folding seat itself result in me sitting about 6" higher than in the previous Nav Seat. I now have a more comfortable (due to padding, higher back, padded arms) seat with improved visibility. I can quickly dismount the Nav Seat by moving the folding seat and then unscrewing the locking screws to allow the U and the leg to be removed from the mounts. Neat. We'll see how it stands up to use over the next few months.
  • I invited the Beckonings over for dinner. I decided to make one of my favorites: angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, and sautéed italian sausage slices. While rooting in the freezer I came across a container I'd filled with chopped apple pieces, walnuts, cranberries, and cinnamon so I decided to experiment on a desert. I took half of the dough left over from yesterday and rolled it out as thinly as I could. I then added the apple mixture to it. Next I took some no-sugar added raspberry preserves and spooned it over the apple mixture to sort of fill in the voids. Then I wrapped the dough around it to make a fruit calzone or tart. After baking for 10 min., I took it out and rubbed the surface with butter and then sprinkled just a bit of granulated raw sugar on it before returning it to the oven.
  • While having cocktails in the cockpit, Rob from Windward, a boat moored nearby came over in the dinghy to say hello. He wanted my email address because he had taken a fantastic photo of Onward backlit by a gorgeous red-orange sunset. It turned out he has a Catalina 42 back home in Ottawa and was visiting his friends on Windward for a week. The four of us had a nice chat over cocktails.
  • Dinner was great and the desert experiment turned out to be delicious -- the addition of the berry preserves gave it just the right amount of sweetness. Neat! Something else to add to my culinary repertoire.
  • We finished off the evening with a game of Farkle. It had several amazing point runs where each of us built on the score of another. It was neck and neck approaching 10000 when I lucked out and got a 2000 point score that left only 2 die for Don to try to build on. He farkled and that left Mary Kay too big a gap to overcome. (Harriet Hardy, of course, with her ability to manipulate the dice with the fingers of one hand so quickly the human eye can't detect it, would have cleaned my clock).

24 Jan 13; Thursday; Cambridge Cay
  • The winds were fairly quiet overnight but began to pick up to > 15 kts as dawn approached. It wan't a good day for messing around ashore or in the dinghy. I spent most of the day working on this 'n thats.
  • Mary Kay and I ran an "experiment" with our iPads. We used GoodReader, the file management and display app, to transfer files between the two iPads using wifi. To do this both iPads were connected to Beckoning's router. Neat.
  • Back aboard, I ran another experiment. I took the file I'd gotten from Mary Kay, an eBook MOBI file, and after moving it to my MacBook, I used Calibre to convert if to epub format which I was then able to load into iBooks on the iPad and read!
  • I also solved the issue of the "missing" segments of "The Civil War". Some of the 5 DVDs had more than one episode on them and the software I use to convert to mpeg-4 files only did the first episode because I didn't look to see that there were more. So I converted the newly discovered episodes to mpeg-4 format.
  • It is always amazing to me how much time my personal electronics (MacBook and iPad) can occupy!
  • I started reading a new history about the Venician empire.

25 Jan 13; Friday; Cambridge Cay
  • While the winds had died only slightly, there was only light cloud cover. In the morning, I worked on getting the new floor boards I'd made for the #3 bilge compartment to fin in and out easily so I could readily access the bilge pump.
  • Then I decided to install the new smart bilge pump switch I'd purchased before leaving Vero. Once this bilge switch turns the pump on, it runs it for 45 seconds after the water level has dropped below the level that turns the float switch off. This gets an extra bit of water out of the bilge and should cure the problem I have with the existing regular float switch where it will keep cycling on and off when the boat is gently rocking about.
  • I wanted to take advantage of the sunny afternoon to get some beach time but I wouldn't allow myself to leave Onward without a functioning bilge pump. So I finished the wiring in of the new switch. It had 2 additional wires that can be run to the nav station electrical panel to provide an indicator LED for when the pump is on. Catalina happily has such an LED as part of the basic system so I figured I didn't need to connect these extra wires. Then I found that the new switch would't turn on the pump and I then thought it through: the 2 main conductors had only +12 V on them and the "smart" part of the switch needed a connection to ground in order for the timer circuit to function. So I connected up the negative "extra" wire to ground and the new switch functioned as advertised.
  • Tom from C470 Heeling Time contacted me on VHF from Warderick Wells. He had intended to move to Staniel tomorrow but I talked him into coming to Cambridge instead.
  • I granted myself the afternoon off for lunch and play so tomorrow I will adjust the mounting height of the switch for optimum performance.
  • In the process of installing the new switch, I decided to check my emergency bilge pump which is totally independent of the main pump. To my surprise, it did not come on when I manually activated its float switch. Now I have another mystery to chase down -- tomorrow.
  • I made a nice ham sandwich using the last of the rolls I baked the other day, grabbed a beer and my beach bag, and Ventured off for the remote beach on the SW corner of the Cay. There I had a nice lunch while reading on my Kindle touch and working on my all-over tan. I've really come to enjoy these adventurous but lazy afternoons of beaching and swimming. A couple of years ago, I got to share these afternoons with a woman companion for a while and that made a good experience great. It would be wonderful to be able to do so again. Being able as I am to enjoy and even prosper alone is a real gift; having a good companion to share it with is a greater gift.
  • As it turned out, the beach wasn't as remote as I'd expected because folks from one of the three other boats in the mooring field parked their dinghy down the strand and walked off on one of the trails. After a couple of hours, I suited up and headed back in Venture. As I went down the strand toward the channel, the folks I'd seen go ashore emerged from the trail. It was a family of 4 from central California who had taken a year off to cruise before the daughters started high school. We chatted about home schooling.
  • I stopped by Beckoning and found that Don, in spite of the bad right shoulder, had managed to rebuild and reinstall the watermaker high pressure pump. I got to taste a sample of the product and it was good. Their forward head pump isn't emptying the bowl so he was about to "dive" -- his words into the head to fix it. On that note I departed.

26 Jan 13; Saturday; Cambridge Cay
  • This morning was heavily overcast and squally. A major rain squall came over and I quickly went out and used the deck brush to scrub it down so the following squalls could rinse it off.
  • Heeling Time called on VHF to say they were going to stay at Warderick for the day due to the squalls.
  • I spent the rest of the morning working on computer tasks. I took off for lunch to read and then nap. I awoke when Beckoning called on the VHF to enquire about Heeling Time. I then spent a few hours organizing wiring and hoses in bilge #4. I straightened up this compartment enough that I can now stow the small shop vac I bought before departing the US. I then installed mounting screws in the new float switch in bilge #3 before calling a halt for the day.
  • I didn't feel much like cooking so I just sautéed a can of corn beef hash and then added a can of peas. It was quite good. Then I watched episode 3, newly found, of the Civil War.

27 Jan 13; Sunday; Cambridge Cay
  • There was high overcast this morning but most of it cleared off as the day progressed. I spoke with Heeling Time on VHF and they planned to be here after noon. I then heard from Jim Seemann on Pipe Dream who was at Emerald Rock so I convinced he and Sue to come to Cambridge for a C470 pizza party.
  • I solved the mystery of the inoperable emergency bilge pump -- somehow I'd managed to flip off its circuit breaker which is located under the forward berth. I like nice easy and logical solutions like that. It also stresses the need for regular checks of the emergency bilge pump to verify it is ready for an emergency.
  • I spent the next few hours continuing my working in the bilges. I organized and wire tied all the wires for the bilge pump and the new smart bilge pump switch. I decided to leave the old bilge pump float switch in place so I can just switch to it if I need to. I may put it on a platform so it would turn on at a level higher than that for the smart switch so if the latter ever failed, the old float switch would turn on the pump. Just another example of how I can dream up n+1 projects for every n I do.
  • I helped Heeling Time pick up its mooring in the ~ 20 kt winds and a couple of hours later did the same for Pipe Dream. While I was in the dinghy, I went over to say hello to the folks from Argo who had just come back from snorkeling. Argo is a 68' Nordhaven hailing Ann Arbor MI - brand new, on its first voyage. They invited me aboard for drinks but i had to get back to make pizzas so I invited them to join us.
  • The pizza party went well, Tom & Dana provided some pepperoni (I am supposed to have quite a bit aboard - but can't find it); Jim & Sue brought a salad, Don & Mary Kay brought desert, and the Argos brought a crab dip. We celebrated Don's successful repair of his forward head with Prosecco. It turned out Randy knew Tom's father in Ann Arbor MI. A great time was had by all.

28 Jan 13; Monday; Cambridge Cay
  • I went out early on the sunny morning to take photos of the "pizza fleet". I then helped Argo drop its mooring and made sure they knew where the path throughout the shallowest part of the S channel was. Argo draws just a bit under 7' and made it through with no problem.
  • I worked on tasks until after lunch. It was a sunny afternoon so I headed out for some beach time. This time I went to the little cay S of Mailbox Cay where there is a nice COB on the N shore. I spent a couple of hours sunning and resting.
  • Jim & Sue invited the fleet over for cocktails this evening. We had a grand time just talking over good drinks while we grazed the nice spread. Ah, the hardships and deprivations of the cruising life...

29 Jan 13; Tuesday; Cambridge Cay to Sampson Cay to Staniel Cay
  • At 0830, we dropped the moorings and headed out to take advantage of the rising tide with high being ~0900. The Great White Fleet sailed untroubled out of the S channel and headed S toward Sampson and Staniel Cays. As we headed S, Onward and Heeling Time put into Sampson Cay to get water and diesel. Pipe Dream and Beckoning headed off to anchor at Big Majors Spot.
  • I found the fuel pier empty so Onward glided in to fuel and water. I talked to the manager about the operations because I'd heard that the marina wasn't operating. It seems the owners is planning a visit during February and March and has asked that the marina be kept sparsely populated so he could enjoy his privacy. Eventually the marina will go back to full operation and the restaurant will reopen. The owner will not reopen the bar and the restaurant will only operate for lunch.
  • With fuel, water, and some fresh provisions from the store, Onward idled toward Staniel Cay until Heeling Time was underway. We put into the anchorage at Big Major's Spot and I immediately got ready to Venture into Staniel Cay. I stopped by to see if Tom and Dana were going to come along and they kindly invited me to have a chef's salad that they prepared with the produce they'd just got at Sampson.
  • After lunch we headed in and went directly to Isles General Store. It turns out Captain C the mailboat did not make a stop this week due to the Five F's Festival at Little Farmers Cay. So the pickings were slim. While we were there the Beckonings came in and told us dinner was to be at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. So we made reservations by phone and I jumped at the opportunity for roasted rack of lamb.
  • Once we were done with the slim pickings at Isles General, I led the group over to the Pink Store which we found closed then we headed up the hill to the Blue Store. The woman who operates it is very serious but this time I got her to smile. She amazingly does all the accounts with a pencil on a piece of scrap paper - no cash register for her. One of the fun things about shopping in these small stores is that you never know what they will have and if you look around you will usually find some treasure.
  • Our shopping done, I headed back to Onward and decided to change the Raycor fuel filter because the engine kept getting fuel starved when traveling at high rpms for awhile. That done, I cleaned up and headed in just before sundown. We gathered at the bar and I struck up a father and son who had flown over and gotten a cottage at the yacht club for a week. I gave them some pointers on places to go for snorkeling. My choice of rack of lamb proved to be a brilliant one. Delish! This is a dish I've never made so I take advantage of it when I see it on a menu.

30 Jan 13; Wednesday; Staniel Cay to Black Point
  • At 0830, I moved Onward from the anchorage at Big Majors Spot to the anchorage just SE of Thunderball Grotto.
  • After Venturing in, I stopped to talk to Jake who runs Staniel Cay Divers.
  • I found the Beckonings at the BTC office. They had no success making their Verizon XTE 890L mifi work with the BTC cellular network. It is apparently locked and would not allow the APN to be changed so the BTC network would connect it to the right service. They were able to put a BTC sim card in their iPad 3 which is unlocked and after putting in the APN (internet.btcbahamas.com) they had cellular data service and the iPad can act as a hotspot. Neat. I asked the very helpful rep about my inability to upload my website files. Apparently they are having problems with the data network and are only serving up Edge level data rates. She was going to contact the network operators to get them on it.
  • I had a coffee with the Beckonings and then headed out to Onward. I decided to tow Venture the short distance to Black Point and I put both the painter and the safety line on the port stern cleat. Then I weighted anchor and headed S. Just before passing Staniel Cay Yacht Club, I turned around to see how Venture was doing and found it gone! I stared in disbelief for a few seconds then whipped Onward into a 180 and headed back at full rpm. Venture was almost standstill in the cut between the two small cays I'd passed through. I was able to come alongside and stop. I grabbed the boathook and went out on the port side to grab the lines while both boats drifted. I quickly managed to snag the lines. I put the safety line on the stern side cleat and led the painter to the stern cleat again. The new floating painter I put on is rather slippery. I had put it on the cleat with at least 4 figure-8 wraps but I had not put on a lock wrap because I put the safety line over it with figure-8 wraps. Both were wet and had just slipped off the cleat! BAAAADDDD! I will go back to assuring there are 2 lock-wraps AND a bowline on the end of the lines that also go on the cleat. I was in my normal sailing uniform - skinsuit - and it never even occurred to me to put on shorts to go on deck -- my philosophy: it's no big thing.
  • Onward was anchored at Black Point by 1330 and I immediately headed off to the Rockside Laundry. There I did 3 loads of wash and got a badly needed haircut from Ida. Ida updated me on changes at Black Point that I should updated on the BCG. When the laundry was done, it was almost dinner time so I went for a walk and had a beer at Scorpio's. Lorraine put on a fantastic Bahamian barbecue buffet. Tom and Chris from Polar Pacer joined the Heeling Times and I at our table. As usual it ran a bit late but the food was worth it. There were families from 3 "kid boats" there. One cat was appropriately named Field Trip. Another family was composed of mom, dad and 4 daughters. Neat. One of the boats that I'd met at Warderick was also there and so we got entertained with his guitar and some good songs. A very nice night.
31 Jan 13; Thursday; Black Point
  • The winds had pipe up during the night as they shifted to the SE but then calmed down by morning. I Ventured out by 0730 to visit C470 Southerly II that I'd found in the anchorage when I arrived yesterday. I got to visit with Fred and Karen . I ran the idea of an article about C470s in the Bahamas and they liked it and wanted to participate. I now have another task to deal with. :)
  • I also stopped by to see Tom & Cathy on C380 Interlude. I'd met Tom in George Town at a poker game. Interlude and Southerly II were off to George Town at 0800 so Tom could get to tonight's poker game.
  • Yesterday when I did laundry, I managed to forget to pack 3 of my large towels in the bag as I'd left them out to air dry while I had dinner. Thankfully they were waiting where I'd left them.
  • I spent some time aboard Heeling Time helping Tom replace the bolt that holds the alternator in place to maintain belt tension. We then used my tensioner to set the belt tension. We'll see if this reduces his belt slippage.
  • I spent a couple of hours catching up on my websites. Due to problems with the BTC network, I have not been able to upload files in a while. That done, I headed off to shore to have lunch at DeShamon's Restaurant. There I met Diann who with Simon is the owner. I showed her the BCG website and she provided some updated information. I asked about her unusual last name for the Bahamas and she told me she had made it up as the concatenation of 3 names. After lunch I took a walk around and went by Sara's, a woman who is raising fresh fruits and vegetable -- but she wasn't at home.
  • It was very still and hot and I couldn't wait to get back to Onward to be able to get into my sailing suit and cool down. As soon as Venture was secure, I weighed anchor and with Heeling Time headed over to Black Point. It was a motor trip as the light wind was on the nose. We got to the anchorage off the S end of the airstrip at about 1730.
  • It was low tide so there was only a few inches of water under the keel. I anchored in ~ 7' of water and using the Maxwell chain counter put out 70' of chain. I was amazed when the anchor dragged when I backed down. I looked at the bottom and it was all sand so I motored forward to be able to look at the anchor to see if it had gotten fouled with the chain. On the foredeck, I discovered the anchor was right at the bow with only ~ 20' of chain out! I then discovered that in the shallow water and with Onward not having much stern way on when I put out the chain, there was not enough tension on the chain to pull it over the bow roller and it simply fell back into the locker. Thus I'd only had 20 of 70' actuality deployed. Once I put out the right amount of chain, all was normal.
  • We found Beckoning at anchor. Tom & Dana invited all over for a fajitas dinner but Don & Mary Kay asked for a raincheck until Friday night. Tom then invited me over for grilled chicken so I made some risotto and while that was simmering, I took a FANTASTIC shower. After dinner, I introduced the Heeling Times to Farkle so they are no longer Farkle Virgins.