Onward's Cruise Journal

Cruise from Maryland to Bahamas via ICW & Return 2008-2009
February 2009

1-3 Feb 09 Warderick Wells
Sunday, 1 Feb 09

  • Sunday was a nice sunny day. I started in again on my effort to run wires between the starboard stern locker and the nav station electrical panels. I had run the AC wire for the stern receptacle yesterday along with a return messenger line. This morning's effort was to untangle the messenger line from the bunch of electrical cables that go through the sophet cable run. The problem is at the bulkhead between the MSR and the rear head that is the most difficult to reach area on the boat. When I had previously used a electrical snake to run a wire, it and the messenger managed to get wrapped around other cables and this made pulling new cables with the messenger difficult. I find that in the morning I am more relaxed and patient and can undertake hard jobs without losing my cool. My efforts were rewarded and I managed to untangle the messenger and complete the running of the AC wire and the signal cable for the solar panel remote monitor.
  • I next mounted the display panels for the solar panels and a bilge counter on the right side of the DC panel. The next task was to run a new GTO cable from the AT140 antenna tuner to the backstay antenna because the existing cable had gotten corroded at the attachment point. I ran the new GTO cable through a plastic conduit and cut 4" lengths of rigid plastic tubing as stand-offs. I used wire ties through the stand-offs to hold the new cable in place. I took a lot of care to waterproof the connection of the GTO cable to the antenna.
  • Tonight was game night aboard Moondance and I got to play a new dice game: farkle. We then wrapped up the day with round of Mexican Train dominos – and learned that there are as many versions of rules as there are boats with dominos!
Monday, 2 Feb 09
  • Another sunny day with moderate NE – E wind. Having completed the tasks in the port stern locker, I then focused on the starboard stern locker where I installed an AC receptacle using the new cable. Now I can plug into AC from the stern without having to run an extension line up the companionway stairs. It is nice to turn on the LED rope light I've mounted in the cockpit by just flipping a switch on the AC panel.
  • All this crawling in and out of the stern lockers really requires me to twist my body in unusual ways so I was really sore from head to toe at the end of the day and in need for some comfort. This called for pasta! So, I invited the flotilla over for dinner. By vote, the group selected a non-tomato sauce: olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, capers, and sauted sausage slices over angel hair pasta. There were no leftovers. We finished off the day by watching a DVD: Groundhog Day – appropriate for both the date and my experiences in the stern locker!
Tuesday, 3 Feb 09
  • I spent a good part of the day carving the Onward logo into a piece of driftwood and then painting the letters and varnishing the sign. The new sign looks good. This is something I'd been wanting to do since my first visit to Exuma Park last year and seeing the record left by former cruisers on Boo Boo Hill.
4-5 Feb 09 Staniel Cay
4 Feb 09, Wednesday
  • I went ashore at 0815 with Ed and Tina and hiked up BooBoo Hill to place the sign I created yesterday. I took a couple of photos of Ed and Tina placing Merlin's sign. Then I had problems taking pictures of mine as unknown to me my 2 GB memory card had become disengaged.

  • I dropped anchor at 0930 – a real trick in the strong winds, high current, and narrow anchorage channel. The mooring bridle with SS ring that I use a 25' braided line to hold to the mooring pennant loop worked just great. I was able to uncleat the braided line to let it run free. This gave me time to walk back to the helm station before Onward moved very far from the mooring. I then trailed the braided line in the water until it was safe to go to autopilot and move forward to retrieve it. I then deployed the mainsail in the 15 kt+ winds and had a comfortable sail to Staniel Cay / Big Majors Spot at over 6.5 kts. For this short trip, using just the mainsail vice just the genoa is physically easier for me as I can use the electric winch to deploy, trim, and furl the sail – no genoa winch grinding – at what seemed to be a small reduction in speed.
  • I anchored at Big Majors spot and had lunch. I fell asleep while reading and the sun went in. When I awoke I was very chilled so I had to forego the cocktail party being held on the beach and in stead went to bed early feeling very chilled and aching all over – strange.
6-10 Feb 09 Black Point
6 Feb 09, Friday
  • I got up feeling good and in late morning I took Onward in to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to fill my water tanks. Even though it was near low tide I was able to make it in to the pier. After leaving the SCYC, I again put out just the main in NE winds of 18 – 27 apparent and comfortably sailed down wind at near hull speed to Black Point. Knowing the harbor from several visits last year, I was able to tuck up in the NE corner to wait out the continuing 20 kt+ winds we have been having.
7 Feb 09, Saturday
  • More wind and clouds today. I went ashore early to do laundry in the great Rockside Laundry. It was time for another haircut too – but unlike last year it was too cold and windy to do it on the walkway overlooking the harbor so I sat in side. I then got in a bit of food shopping before returning to Onward. In the evening we went ashore for dinner at Lorain's Café – it was like old home week.
8 Feb 09, Sunday
  • I took the dinghy in with Tina and Angie to attend services at the Gethsemane Baptist Church. The service was conducted by three women from the community and the singing was great.
  • Photo
  • We took advantage of the sun for a good hike around Black Point but failed in our attempt to find a road that took us to the S side of the point. I returned to Onward to bake a loaf of rosemary-olive oil bread to go with the chili prepared aboard Merlin for dinner.
  • Tuesday, 11 Feb 09
  • I downloaded google satellite photos of Black Point and scanned that section of the chart and the flotilla set out for a long hike to Little Bay – just S of Black Point. This is a beautiful sandy cove with a great beach. A large development of home sites and a marina had been under construction but, like most such developments in the Bahamas it has come to a halt. Only one home is finished – a castle-like building. I believe this is the home of the gentleman that made a VHF power meter available to help me fix my VHF problems last year.
  • We rewarded out hiking efforts by ending up at Deshamons for fresh pizza and cold beer!
12 Feb 09, Little Farmers Cay
  • The flotilla moved south today for the short trip to Little Farmers Cay. I had hoped to be there last weekend for the 5Fs Festival: Farmers First Friday in February Festival that I enjoyed last year – but the strong NE winds made the anchorage unattractive. Today we sailed in and anchored on the W shore of the cay just off the S end of the airstrip.
13-14 Feb 09, Georgetown
  • We departed Little Farmers early in the morning to catch the tide near high slack. In departing the cut, I was following another boat that really went slowly through the cut – so I had to hang back until it was safe to rev up and go through with good momentum against the building current. Conditions were mild and there were no big swells at the cut – unlike my exit from Dothan Cut last year where there were ~10’ waves breaking over the bow. It was a quiet motorsail to Georgetown where we had to wait for a ship to exit the cut before entering. Moondance & Onward anchored near town off Peace & Plenty resort. Merlin anchored at Monument Beach and then invited us aboard to share in the Mahi Mahi they had caught on the trip down. Delish!
  • Saturday was shopping day where I replenished, cash, fresh foods, water and my rum supply.
15-21 Feb 09 Thompson Bay, Long Island
Sunday, 15 Feb 09
  • An early start for the trip to Long Island got exciting as Moondance lost both drive belts for its auxiliary alternator. After a bit of evaluation, Skip & Harriet decided to continue on to Long Island where we believe they could get replacement belts. The winds were light out of the ESE and slowly clocked around to the S so we were able to sail and motor sail. We took the S course to Thompson Bay and anchored around 1430 inside the bight of Indianhead Point.
Monday, 16 Feb 09
  • Ed and I took the dinghy in to the N landing and explored the stores before taking it S to the fuel pier. There we discovered the others had landed and walked N so we followed on foot and had lunch at the Sou Side.
  • Skip found that a piece of the shredded fanbelt had damaged the oil seal on the main shaft and it was now leaking slightly but spraying that slight oil leak widely.
Tuesday, 17 Feb 09
  • We went in to the Ocean Breeze Resort for beers and internet and lunch. Skip got the last burger available. In late afternoon, the front came through and we had a great downpour that washed off the boat.
Wednesday, 18 Feb 09
  • Skip and Mike spent the morning attempting to put a spray shield around the leaking seal with only minor success. The seal will need to be replaced before Moondance can move far.
  • At 1530 we got the rental car that was supposed to be ready at 1200. We met Stanley who operates 7 rental cars from his home. He told us the previous renters had taken the van out to the Columbus Monument on the rough road and damaged one of the tires. The spare was now on the right front wheel and the damaged rim was cracked so the tire lost pressure slowly. We decided to take the vehicle anyway and just refill the spare with air periodically.
Thursday, 19 Feb 09
  • We set off early in the rental car for Clarence Town looking for repair parts for Moondance as we went. We managed to find a gear puller at a parts store. Skip was able to get advice from his mechanic in the US and then order the oil seal to be shipped here.
  • Clarence Town harbor is beautiful. We watched SW swells breaking over the reefs flanking the entrance and decided it was no place to transit when they were more from the NE or E. There is a nice small marina, the Flying Fish Marina there and what looked to be a nice anchorage, too.
  • Again an example of contrasts: finishing touches being placed on a large masonry home with curvilinear walls while, 200 yds away at the spectacular point, a large frame home appears abandoned after having been closed in and half the finished roof installed – a shame.
  • We explored the ruins of Dunmore Castle / Plantation. It must have been spectacular at one point – now all in ruins and overgrown. Much of the land along the E shore looked like it was being prepared for estate home development with nice roads and utilities – but like most things in the Bahamas it is apparently on hold. There is a spectacular coastline with several stretches of beach. Mike, Tina and Ed braved the thick brush to explore the ruins while the rest took the car around via road to explore the cave complex under the hill the manor was built on.
  • I found a great piece of lemon meringue pie at a small bakery along the way and took it along to go with lunch at the Forest Restaurant where I had a great burger where they added barbecue rib meat to the patty and topped it with fried onions – Delish!
  • On the return trip, we found Dean’s blue hole – on an unmarked road. This was the original motivation for renting the car. When we got to the beach we were disappointed to find that the SW wind had piled a thick mat of floating seaweed over the blue hole – so there was no chance to swim. I climbed the rock wall on its W side for a spectacular view of the waves breaking over the outlying reefs.
Friday & Saturday 20-21 Feb 09
  • I decided to give my right knee a rest so I stayed aboard and worked on boat tasks – plus a little reading. On Saturday night cruisers organized a cocktail hour on the beach.
22 Feb 09 Georgetown
Sunday, 22 Feb 09
  • Onward & Merlin weighed anchor at 0700 for the trip back to Georgetown where Merlin will await the arrival of guests on Wednesday. Light S-SW winds made for a motorsail in calm conditions and we set anchor at ~ 1300 off Sand Dollar Beach. In the evening Tina, Ed and I went ashore to the St. Francis for the Sunday night Trivial Pursuit game – where we came within 1 answer of 3rd place!
Monday, 23 Feb 09