Onward’s Cruise Journal 2015

Updated: 31 January 2015

January 2015

1 Jan 15; Thursday; Cape Eleuthera to Warderick Wells

  • The new year began with a beautiful sunny morning. We topped off the water tanks and went over to check out of the marina. Today was VAT day — the day the Bahamas implemented its new 7.5% VAT tax system. The marina staff was in early to see now their computer system was going to deal with it. I got to be the test case. It all seemed to work OK. Now to see if the government can become more accountable for finances and keep from ratcheting the VAT rate out of sight.
  • We departed the marina at 0830 on light ESE winds and set course directly to Warderick Cut. We motorsailed under genoa as the wind speed slowly increased as we got closer to the Exumas. It was an easy transit, the best kind. We headed in through the cut at ~ 1200 and were ensconced on mooring #9 by 1230. Time for a deep sigh of relaxation. We lounged and napped in the cockpit and watched a rain squall come up from the SE and wash us down.
  • We were invited over for cocktails by Bob on Carrie May. I has met him here at Warderick Wells a few years back. We met three other couples from Peregrine, Summer Breeze and Providence, and had a nice evening chatting about cruising.

2 Jan 15; Friday; Warderick Wells
  • We went ashore only to find the Park office was closed for the day. We then made the annual pilgrimage to Boo Boo Hill. The denuding of the island's vegetation continues and it appears to be worse than last year. Only a few species of shrubs seem to escape the voracious appetites of the Hutia. When I came to Warderick Wells the first time, the foliage was thick and lush. Now it is sparse and the while island has a dried-out look because of the denuded shrub vegetation trunks and branches give it a gray hue. Boo Boo Hill and its pile of driftwood signs is now clearly visible from the anchorage where once the apex was hidden in vegetation.

3 Jan 15; Saturday; Warderick Wells
  • We spent a lazy day reading and relaxing after visiting the Park Office. On our return to Onward, we stopped by our neighbor on mooring 8, Africa Queen from Matapoissette MA. The vessel is owned by an Italian couple from Milan who cruise it in the Bahamas during the winter. We had a nice chat about cruising and things Italian.
  • We went ashore to Skeleton Beach at 1600 where there was a pretty good turnout of fellow cruisers. We had planned to invite the Carrie Mays and the Peregrines over for dinner — but then learned about the beach party so we went with that. Peggy and I had a delightful time talking with the folks. We had another long talk with the Africa Queens. It was a delightful way to finish up a relaxing day.

4 Jan 15; Sunday; Warderick Wells to Shroud Cay
  • I was able to connect to the BTC internet from the boat and download gribs [using the Wilson cell signal amplifier]. They were consistent with those for 2 and 3 days ago; winds slowly ramping down from 20 to <10 kts by Wednesday then a rapid increase back to 20 kts on Thursday — all from the E to NE. So we decided to head N to show Peggy some of the quite N Exuma cays that haven't been eaten up by Hutia.
  • We dropped the mooring at 0930 and once we exited the mooring field and headed W, we popped the genoa and sailed the rest of the trip N. We cut the SW corner of the sand bore at Wide Opening and just touched the crest of a sand wave as it had moved a bit further SW. We sailed the channel just W of Pigeon Cay and got a good look at the home and protected boat basin someone has built there. We anchored under sail off the center of Shroud Cay. Once settled it was nice to find that we were able to get on the BTC cellular internet from the Highbourne tower.
  • We spent the afternoon reading in the cockpit as we planned to explore Shroud Cay in the morning on the high tide. We capped off a strenuous day by cooking some pasta with olive oil, sausage, garlic and pine nuts. We dined while watching an episode of The Roosevelts.

5 Jan 15; Monday; Shroud Cay
  • Dawn brought a sunny day with light E winds. After weather and breakfast, we headed off in Venture to explore the salinas of the island. First we headed around the small cays to the N of the anchorage and into the salina channel just beyond. It was about an hour after high tide so we had good water to explore. We were easily able to travel all the way to the E side of the island where we left Venture at anchor and walked over the ~ 100 m of land to the ocean beach. While walking the beach we found a 8 - 10' high and wide structure of stainless steel tubing with floats and a number of electronic modules apparently it was some type of oceanographic device that had gotten lost. There were device names on it but no indication of who had been using it.
  • We headed back out the salina and then N along the coast to the N tip of the cay. We peeked out through the cut and saw another lovely ocean beach at the NE tip of the cay. We headed back and put into a lovely beach. How wonderful it is here to have a beautiful beach all to ones selves with no evidence of other humans about. We enjoyed swimming and sunning for a good bit before we Ventured off to explore further. We found the mouth of another salina about 0.25 nm N of the first one and we were able to explore it almost to the NE ocean coast. We then headed back to the anchorage and poked Onward into the mouths of two other salinas. All these connect with the huge interior salina of Shroud Cay. Here the mangroves look very healthy but we saw few fish. Perhaps they were all hiding further in the interior. We headed toward the SW tip of the island until we ran out of water in the shallows between Shroud and Pigeon Cays.
  • We headed back to Onward for lunch and then spent a relaxing afternoon reading. Cocktail hour was followed by dinner and we watched The Secret Life of Bees.

6 Jan 15; Tuesday; Shroud Cay to Normans Cay
  • Another great day! We found ourselves alone in the anchorage as the other cruisers headed out. I decided that I could no longer put off the job of running wires from the stern to the nav station — an unpleasant job. The good news was I had messenger line in place back to the stern locker. I needed to run power line for the davit electric winches as well as the cable for the GPS antenna of AIS 650 which I wanted to mount on the arch. I also wanted to run a wire to the controller box for the AirX so I can install the digital ammeter to monitor it.
  • The fun started with a bout in the starboard stern locker for me to get the messenger line straightened out. The the fun of trying to run the TNC connector of the GPS antenna through the wire trough on the arch. This didn't work because the connector was too large. So I had to run it externally. Ah Well. Then it was necessary to enlarge the hole in the deck to accommodate the same *&^% TNC fitting. Thankfully the portable dremel made this easy.
  • Then the fun of trying to pull the wires through. Of course, this did not go easily. At the bulkhead between the stern stateroom and the head, the *&^%$ TNC connector got hung up on some edge in spite of me working hard to make the wire package tapered and as smooth as I could with tape. Finally, there was no alternative but to empty the cabinets in the head and take them off the starboard bulkhead so I could reach the wires at the bulkhead passage. With Peggy's assistance I was able to do this albeit with a lot of cursing. It was then possible to run the wire by also removing the cabinet in the shower so I could "help" the wire bundle through the other two bulkheads.
  • When that was done, I was fed up, beat up, cut up, sweated up, and dirtied up. I could not deal with the aftermath then. So, I took a salt water bath to cool off and clean up. Then, we weighted anchor and headed N to Normans Cay. While underway, Peggy made me a bit of lunch - some boneless chicken wings. They really hit the spot.
  • We anchored off the SW shore of Normans off the old Mac Duff's beach cottages. As soon as we were anchored, we jumped into Venture and headed off to explore the E side of the Cay. I took Peggy around to what I think is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas where small offshore cays break up the ocean waves and create a large E-facing bay with beautiful beaches — a gigantic ocean swimming pool. We were at low tide so we could not go further N due to sand bars so we returned to Onward after checking out the much-reduced skeleton of the old crashed druggie plane in the lagoon.
  • A bit over a year ago, the Bahamian government signed a development agreement with a Florida company, Fort Capital a company involved in high-end resort development around the world for deep-pocket investors. Last year when I visited they had just begun to work on the island. Since, they have worked on extending the runway, have demolished the remnants of the old hotel, built a pier where the old derelict one was falling apart, fixed up the two bungalows on the beach, and according to some folks I met, have hogged out a basin for a new marina in the low spot between the old hotel and the runway. As we passed by, it was apparent that they had prepared to cut a channel from the SE tip of the island out to the deep water of the cut. They have named the new resort White Tail Resort — after the white-tailed sea birds that can be seen in this area. Other boaters were able to go to the old Mac Duff building where they were able to buy expensive cheese burgers. We saw no evidence of activity and heard no traffic on VHF. I was too tired to go ashore to explore and put this on the list for later.
  • I took a shower on the stern then Peggy and I ate fettuccini and shrimp for dinner and watched the Johnny Depp film Blow, were Normans Cay has a short cameo role in the druggie saga.

7 Jan 15; Wednesday; Normans Cay to Cambridge Cay
  • A cloudy day with almost no wind presented itself with the dawn. After listening to the weather, we weighed anchor and headed S toward Cambridge Cay. There was a parade of other boats leaving Normans as some high winds from the N to E were forecast for Thursday. I planned to work on cleaning up after the wire running exercise but somehow I got a severe case of the lazies and just sat back and read amidst the chaos. Peggy is remarkably tolerant because she knows how unpleasant the clean up will be.
  • We motored S as the wind died and by the time we were abreast of Warderick Wells, it had become calm. Onward moved on through still water that made us feel like we were flying over the bottom. We arrived at Bell Island at 1130 and I decided to take Peggy on the route around the island so she could see the Aga Khan's place close up. It appears they have completed the construction work at the SW corner were the support complex of staff residences and infrastructure is. There is now a small boat basin and beach protected by a sea wall. Newly installed palm tree dot the beach in front of the residences. As we continued our clockwise passage, we passed the beach at the NW corner which has been expanded. We completed the transit and from the NE, there is not much evidence of human activity.
  • We found only one boat on a mooring in the Cambridge field. We anchored outside the S end of the mooring field in 12' of water. Having worked so hard to get us here, I had lunch and took a nap. When I awoke, I was at a disadvantages and couldn't think up any more reasons to avoid cleaning up the mess from yesterday. The area behind the cabinets between the inner side bulkhead and the outer hull liner/hull was filthy due to mold building up in the humid area over the last 11 years. Just working back there to get the wires through had resulted in me getting both the shower and head compartments filthy. I just couldn't put things back with that filth in place — hence my lack of ambition in attacking this mess. I finally waded in with bleach cleaner and in about 2 hours had the entire area clean and bleach-sprayed. Next it was time to scrub the head cabinets and then put them back into place. By this time things almost looked normal. I was beat from dealing with the filth and working in the hot tight areas so I called it quits.
  • I took a refreshing swim wearing just my fins and inspected the anchor. The current was so strong, I don't think I could have swam up to the anchor without the fins. Cooler and cleaner, I finished my recuperation with a shower on the swim platform. I got this just in time for cocktail hour. Peggy and I read in the cockpit, sipped our drinks, nibbled the delicious bruschetta toasts she made, and watched a spectacular color show as the sun set behind layers of clouds to the W. We completed the day by grilling chicken breasts that Peggy served with rice and a ratatouille she had whipped up while I was playing in the water. While we ate dinner we watched episode 4 of the Roosevelts. I learned a lot about FDR's battle with polio For much of my life, that aspect of his life had been totally glossed over by the medial.

8 Jan 15; Thursday; Cambridge Cay
  • Thanks be to God! I'm here to experience another birthday!
  • As forecast, the winds picked up to 20 kts from the N in the early morning hours and a sunny day dawned. I spent the morning working on the cleanup from the wire running exercise. Laura sent a happy birthday email with a picture of Elena and Kian dressed for the cold so I could better appreciate being in the Bahamas.In late morning, Joseph called to wish me happy birthday and reminded me to be nice to myself today. So I quit work and spent the afternoon reading an excellent history of Sicily.
  • I had noticed two large tenders hanging around the cut to the N of us and this alerted me to the passage of a very large motor yacht that came in and went up the channel to the N side of Bell Island. As there isn't much else there and no channel the banks, my guess this was one of the Aga Khan's buds coming by to say Hi.
  • Throughout the day I got birthday messages from friends and family. Neat!
  • In spite of Peggy's protests, I felt like cooking dinner so I made some focaccia, baked some breaded chicken cutlets, and made angel hair pasta with tomato basil sauce. Peggy gave me a couple of DVD for my birthday and we enjoyed a Chevy Chase classic together. A nice relaxing birthday that I got to spend with a wonderful person. God and Life are good.

9 Jan 15; Friday; Cambridge Cay
  • The strong E winds abated and we had a lovely sunny day. The other boat in the area departed and we had the area to ourselves. I got my energy back and was soon working on wiring tasks until my patience ran out after noon. So, we packed some lunch and Ventured off to shore to hike over to the ocean beach. Just before we headed in two other boats came in and picked up moorings so we were no longer alone. We walked the short trail over to the beach by Bell Rock and then S to a nice place to sit and eat lunch. After lunch Peggy and I waded out onto the low-lying rocks that had been exposed by the tide where I was able to show her the crustaceans that were merrily eating away the rocks. It still amazes me that these little guys are responsible for the highly eroded and pockmarked rock structures through out the Bahamas — prime examples of the dominant weathering process: biological.
  • We then decided to head N and climb the escarpment N of Bell Rock. But first we stared in disbelief at what appeared to be a continuous waterfall coming out of Bell Rock at its SE corner about 6 - 8' above the sea level. At first I thought it was an optical illusion but then with binoculars it was clearly a continuos waterfall - above sea level! As we walked along shore to the W of Bell Rock, we theorized that the waves from the ENE were hitting the narrow spot between the rock and he mainland causing the water level to rise and get pushed up the seaward sloping rock face to what appeared to be a porous level in the rock strata. The water apparently flows S in the rock and emerges on the SE corner as the waterfall. Neat.
  • Some time ago, I came across the website of an avid beach runner in N CA who invented men's running kilts that he sold on his website (http://runningkilts.com/free-pattern.shtml). Made of medium weight textured nylon they looked like a good thing to have aboard so I bought a kilt to wear in the cockpit. I found it very comfortable and cool in hot weather when just a skinsuit wouldn't do. Today, because it was so warm, I decided to wear the kilt to wear ashore for the first time to go hiking. It was very enjoyable and cool for rambling along the beach. However, when it was time to climb the steep slopes, I realized how clever those Scotsmen and Irishmen were in wearing kilts. I have found climbing in shorts even those with a short inseams to be a pain in the *&^ as they bind to the legs in the heat and humidity. I find myself constantly having to adjust them to reduce the binding. On a humid day, they are very tiring. But with the kilt, no leg motion restriction and binding — just freedom of movement. And they are cool. And the Boys love that. Way to go Brave Heart!
  • By the time we returned to Venture, the tide had left it dry and I had to pull it out to deeper water — just like Bogart in the African Queen. We headed off S to a good swimming hole and enjoyed cooling off with a swim. We celebrated our return to Onward with showers and then reading in the cockpit. Peggy took the remains of the fantastic ratatouille she had whipped up, sautéed some boneless pork chop pieces, and added them to the remnants of the pasta from my birthday dinner. FANTASTIC! I accused her of having an old family recipe that she had been holding out but she assured me it was totally de novo.

10 Jan 15; Saturday; Cambridge Cay
  • Well as I could no longer find excuses, it was time to work on snaking the power cables from the starboard stern locker out on deck and then through the arch to the electric winches. I worked slowly and methodically to drill the access holes in the aluminum struts and tubing so that I could run the wires. Unfortunately, I neglected to get drills or reaming tools that were greater than 1/2" OD. To easily run 2 10 AWG -2 cables, that was a tight fit. I did manage to enlarge the holes a bit but not what would be optimum. With the holes drilled, I snaked messenger lines and that went well. Next it was time to snake the power cables. The first run through the stiffening strut went reasonably well. Then came the vertical run through the arch tubing. This too went reasonably well and I fairly quickly had the cables out through the upper hole. All that was needed was getting about 18" more of one and 6' more of the second. This is where things went south.
  • Apparently the electrical tape that I used to hold the cable bundle together and to fare the end to be lead through the exit hole was the source of the problem. The last bit of tape apparently got hung up on the edge of the exit hole. In trying to pull it through, the tape was so well stuck to the cable covering that it tore the cover. As a result, a bolus of covering formed inside of the hole and prevented one of the cable from being pulled through. I was able to free the other cable and pull out the 6' I needed for the port winch. I was just ~3" shy of having enough wire to reach the starboard winch with the stuck cable. Try as I might, no luck.
  • The catamaran that had been sharing the anchorage departed early in the morning. The folks in the sloop wander by in the afternoon and we chatted for a while. The sloop was Skylark from NC with Ed and Melissa aboard. They had spent a couple of years in the Caribbean and were visiting the Bahamas for the first time this year. They were on their way to George Town and departed shortly after their visit with Onward.
  • By late afternoon, I was beat, sore, smelly and fed up with the wire running. Peggy came to my rescue with a vodka tonic. That got me mellow enough to shower and take some ibuprofen. We spent a quiet evening reading.
  • Peggy is quite amazing in her ability to put up with the disorder that becomes the interior of the boat while tasks like this are done. Today she spent the day working on a couple of tasks of her own and was available for the many times when I needed another pair of hands for a task.

11 Jan 15; Sunday; Cambridge Cay
  • A glorious morning with sun, blue skies, low humidity, a few clouds greeted Peggy as she enjoyed morning tea in the sunroom. I went back to work on running the power cable to the arch. After snaking the non-problematic cable to the port winch, I attached a messenger line to the other cable and extracted it from the arch tubing. When out, the problem was as I expected: the covering of the 10/2 cable had gotten torn when the remainder of the electrical tape got hung up at the exit hole. The, as I tried to extract the 3" of additional wire needed to complete the connection to the starboard winch, the cable cover bunched up making it impossible to go through the exit hole. I cut off all of the damaged covering and then pulled the two wires through. They came out of the exit hole easily and I had more than enough wire to connect to the winch. I tested the power connection so I could verify how the polarity of the connections to each winch should be (because of the way they are mounted, polarity of the connections need to be reversed from one to the other. Next I worked on mounting the controller boxes that will be located in the stern locker near the starboard helm. I needed binding posts but did not have any in my spares so I had to make 4-post and a 2-post units using starboard and 12/24 SS machine screws.
  • While I was doing this, Peggy decided to make macaroni and cheese for lunch only to find out the old cheese in the package had gone off. So she went to plan B and turned it into a pasta salad by adding sautéed ham, peas and salsa. We decided to go on a picnic. So we packed up lunch and beach stuff and headed forth in Venture to the hiking trail at the SW corner of the cay. We hiked over to the cove at the S end of the island and had the whole gorgeous area to ourselves. We had lunch of pasta salad, focaccia, and beers on the rim of the beach. I took a short nap in the sun while Peggy explored and collected shells. When the clouds took away the sun, I got up and we waded out to cool off in the gentle surf.
  • After our afternoon of hiking, picnicking, swimming and sunning, we returned to Onward and spent the afternoon and evening reading. I had planned to complete the davit winch powering task but decided it was a job best left until the morning when I have my energy. We were so relaxed, that cocktail hour went by without notice. The sun set with a colorful display in the partially cloudy skies. As we were both playing with our iPads, we didn't even notice it had gotten dark. The skies had begun to develop more clouds as evening wore on. About 2000, the winds began to increase and a squall front moved in. Torrential rains and winds to 35 kts ensued. It was pitch black around us allowing no visual assessment of our position. I powered up the iPhone Anchor Alert and the A90 chartplotter to keep an eye on our position. The Manson was well set and had been through many swings of the strong current — but it is disconcerting to me not to be able to have visual references to double check our status. We had some pepper biscotti but forwent dinner and went to bed after the worst of the squalls seemed to pass. The squall continued for much of the night but I could see via the iPhone we were holding position.

12 Jan 15; Monday; Cambridge Cay
  • Winds were still blowing from the NE at 17 - 20 kts as the sun came up — but Onward was right where it should have been. Nice!
  • I spent the morning fabricating the mounting board for the electric winch wireless remote controller boxes, mounting the boxes, and putting connectors on the wires. Then it was into the stern locker for the joyful experience of mounting the controllers and making all the wire connections with my boat-made terminal strips. With that done, I made a recheck of all the wiring to be sure I'd done as intended. Then I re-rigged the blocks switching from a 6:1 to a 2:1 and from the rope to the dynema line on the winches. When that was done it was time to test. I was quite pleased and relieved that the wireless controllers and electric winches worked exactly as intended. Nice! I found that the dedicated electric winches are not a fast as when I was able to use the bigger electric winch on the bridge deck — but, as Peggy pointed out when I started to kvetch, my rotator cuffs had no pain while my thumbs were raising the dinghy by pushing the remote control buttons.
  • I'd had enough of boat tasks for the day and decided to work on some financial tasks. In the process, I found out the US Treasury Department had mailed a PIN I needed to Laura's former address in Baltimore and there was no way for me to get access to the PIN by the time I needed to use it. Bummer. Then we discovered that we had missed filling one of the main water tanks when we were at Cape Eleuthera. Bummer, again.
  • Whatever the combination of factors / Bummers, I went into a deep funk for the rest of the day. I explained to Peggy that I just needed to be quiet for a while to get my psychological battery recharged and properly functioning. She was amazingly understanding. So we spent a quiet evening reading.

13 Jan 15; Tuesday; Cambridge Cay
  • By 0600 when I got up, all my energy was back — I was completely recharged. Also, during the night, my subconscious had worked out two strategies for getting around the problem that had popped my balloon yesterday. After breakfast, I completed the davit winch wiring by applying cable ties.
  • By 1400, I had worked out the fix for my financial transaction problem and begun to implement it.
  • For dinner, Peggy decided it was time to use some of the individually vacuum bagged salmon fillets we have in the freezer. We have kept putting these aside because neither of us had a good idea what to do with them and were not sure what to expect as an outcome. So tonight she decided to use a technique her mom used: make a hobo dinner.
  • Delish! We enjoyed our dinner while we watched another episode of The Roosevelts.

14 Jan 15; Wednesday; Cambridge Cay
  • I spent the morning hours dividing my attention between working on income tax and social security issues. Then I looked up and instead of being frustrated at the complexity of issues involved, I was suddenly in wonder at the fact that I was doing this while anchored in such a spectacularly beautiful marine environment. Ain't technology grand!
  • I the got busy with the, for me, psychologically painful task of sorting out and re-stowing all the tools I'd been using. Peggy decided to try out the sewing machine to work on a project. After working for a while she announced I'd done a good job of tuning it up.
  • We both took a break for lunch and since I couldn't resist having a beer, I followed mine with a nap. An hour later, I realized I wasn't going to get more done unless I perked up. So I decided to fix that using the Nespresso machine. Well, the delicious Lungo did its thing and I was ready to go. So I took on the task of removing the external SS support plate I had installed on the starboard transom to strengthen it when the davits were in use. I also wanted to replace the 30A receptacle that had some overheating damage with a new design that has larger contact prongs, better waterproofing, and physically locks the cord in place. By the time that was done it was time for cocktail hour. We then ate dinner while we watched a movie. A quiet end to a nice day.

15 Jan 15; Thursday; Cambridge Cay
  • Guess what? Another gorgeous day presented itself to us with sunrise. As I looked W to the hilltop palazzo of the Aga Khan, the thought came to me that hanging out here as we have done for the last week is exactly like his living experience sans the operating overhead of an entire island. Nice!
  • I whipped up a batch of pepper biscotti dough and a batch of bread / pizza dough
  • After lunch we Ventured off to show Peggy the area. We headed N across the cut and up the inside channel W of O'Briens Cay to the Aquarium where we found our neighbors snorkeling. We just buzzed by into the coves at the N tip of O'Briens Cay and then around the S and W coasts of Soldiers Cay. This island has a number of dwelling units on it that can easily be seen from the Sound or Banks due to their white roofs. I found that there was a dredged basin at the NW tip of this island that could accommodate a 40'+ powerboat. We then traveled along he SE coast of Little Halls Pond Cay where Johnny Depp's home is hidden in the trees and dunes. As we headed back toward Bell Island we found the large motor yacht that I had seen come in several days ago was still at anchor off the N coast of the island. We then headed back by Onward and over to Rocky Dundas where the caves were covered as it was just after high tide. I then took Peggy to the NW tip of Compass Cay

16 Jan 15; Friday; Cambridge Cay
  • It was a very still night. By sunrise, the winds began to pick up and, for the first time since we arrived in the Exumas, the wind moved into the W for 3 to 6 hrs before clocking to the N. It was a good morning to bake the pepper biscotti.
  • It is rather amazing to me that we have been able to stay at anchor in this beautiful area that seems so remote for over a week and we have been able to have good 3G internet connectivity. I was told that there is a BTC repeater system installed on Bell Island. It appears this and the Wilson cellular signal amplifier that I use with the mifi cellular modem make it happen. The cellphones, which are not using the amplifier get weak and intermittent signals. But there is iMessage! This morning I had a nice dialog with Laura and made plans with Elena to bake pepper biscotti when I visit in the Spring.
  • Well it was back into the stern locker to complete the installation of the new 30 A AC receptacle. How nice to feel tied up like a pretzel while in there! For the first time the thought occurred to me about the number of years I will still be able to climb in and out and work in there are getting limited.
  • To add to the joys, the genset is not behaving itself. Its dedicated starter battery is either at the end of its life cycle or is not being charged properly by the genset alternator. If I don't run the genset for a while, something common given the sunny and windy days, I have had to jump start it from the bow thruster battery. So, today I had to do a jump start. However, after an hour or so, while I was taking my post-prandial nap, it shut down. Peggy alerted me and I discovered we had run the starboard fuel tank dry. It took quiet a bit of doing but we finally got it restarted — an amazing feat as running the fuel line dry usually requires the injectors to be bled. I attempted to Mcgyver a transfer switch for use when a jump start is needed using a spare 30A double breaker but, as I expected, the starting current draw was too high and the breaker tripped. So I will start looking for both a new genset battery and a double pole transfer switch as Fischer-Panda requires that the genset be totally isolated from other elements of the 12-V power system. They don't recommend jump starting because if the second battery is not disconnected immediately, their poorly designed alternator control circuit will self-distruct (shame on those German engineers!).
  • About the time the genset was back in operation, I looked out and saw a 80' powerboat come in through the cut and head into the mooring field. I pointed it out to Peggy and told her it would attempt to pick up one of the large-vessel moorings at the S end of the field near where we were anchored. A bet later, she called me out and tole me the folks on the bow couldn't reach the water with their boat pole to get the mooring pennant. When I had seen it heading in and looked at the high bow, I thought of Miles and Laureen and the new large motor yacht they are having built and the new challenges they would find in picking up moorings. So I called over to Two Thumbs Up and said I would come over to help. I ran over in Venture and the captain handed me a bow line to thread through the pennant eye and then back aboard to him, a challenge given the height of the bow. I then headed home. Later, the captain launched his dinghy to add a second line then he came over to Onward to thank me again. It turns out he was the only crew aboard so he had a challenge with guests that had little boating experience!
  • I was worn out from my hours in the stern locker and wrestling with the genset so we spent the afternoon reading in the cockpit. Just before sunset, the front came through with some rain squalls and cooler air but it didn't interfere with cocktail hour. We baked some Tyson breaded chicken cutlets and the enjoyed dinner while we watched Downton Abbey.

17 Jan 15; Saturday; Cambridge Cay
  • A gorgeous day — ah, well, I guess we just have to deal with it. I was quite industrious this morning. I finally had the patience and energy to complete the reinstallation of the cabinet in the stern head, scrub it out again, and restow it; a real PITA job. The genset battery doesn't seem to want to hold a charge so I will have to find a replacement. Having been constantly on-task all morning, I decided we needed an afternoon to play ashore.
  • We packed a picnic lunch of spinach calzone, pepperoni roll, pepper biscotti and beers and headed out to our swimming hole. We had a nice lunch sitting on the beach in the shade of a tree. After lunch Peggy walked off to explore the beach while I took a nap in the sun. That energized me enough to tackle some dinghy tasks that I'd brought along. First I put new spark plugs in the outboard. That done, with Peggy's help we applied the lettering for the boat register number on both bow sections. I also decided to add "TT Onward" on both sides. For years I've had a debate with myself over whether it was better to allow folks ashore to know what vessel the dinghy was from or to be anonymous. I finally decided having as many markings on the new dinghy as possible was the better cause of action.
  • As we were finishing up the lettering, a couple stopped by in their dinghy as they were concerned we were having problems. I thanked them and explained were were just doing maintenance. I then helped them locate some good places to snorkel and they were off. This left Peggy and I with the entire swimming hole to ourselves — so we spent a good while playing in the water and enjoying the spectacular beauty of the place. What wonders our waterfront home in Paradise affords.
  • We returned to Onward for showers and then a late afternoon of reading in the cockpit. With sunset it got chilly and we headed below. Peggy decided to make her signature chicken Marsala while I read and enjoyed the amazing aromas coming from the galley. We enjoyed a fantastic meal while we watched the classic "Lion in Winter".

18 Jan 15; Sunday; Cambridge Cay
  • It was a still morning that greeted us. Peggy and I were doing internet things when we were hailed. I went out and found a dinghy with 4 people aboard; the Double Diamonds, Andy and Judy from East Greenwich Yacht Club. They had run into me in George Town a couple of years back and this summer we passed in New England without being able to contact. I spent some time with Andy showing him the cellular data hardware.
  • Later, another couple for another catamaran, Bob and Becky, stopped by to say hello as they passed. A nice social morning.
  • This afternoon, I found myself in a bit of a funk. Probably because I found none of the boat tasks on the list had any interest for me so I couldn't get motivated to do anything. So, I just threw in the towel and read, had lunch, and napped. In late afternoon, I forgot I'd left the cellular modem on so I decided to check email. What greeted me was a message from Dick Woods a past Master of the Corinthians:

Joe ....

At Friday night's Corinthian Awards Dinner at the New York Yacht Club you were awarded the Keel Bolt Award (one of the Corinthian's principal recognitions for members who have performed some outstanding service).

You were nominated last summer by a couple of members who you had helped over the years and, if I recall correctly, a few who found your blog and its ICW observations helpful. Since you weren't there to hear the applause (there was quite a bit) and to receive the award, I plan to bring the "keeper" to the annual cruise, hoping to have the opportunity to give it to you there in front of an appreciative audience.

In the meanwhile, congratulations (you appear to have many admirers) and Happy New Year.

Dick Woods
Awards Committee co-Chair

  • Neat! Needless to say, I was quite surprised and touched by this. I have a good idea that my Corinthian buddies on Beckoning had something to do with it. In any case, I felt my funk dissipate.

19 Jan 15; Monday; Cambridge Cay
  • After listening to the weather, I received a VHF call from Andy on Double Diamond. It seems his 8D AGM batteries have decided they are too tired to work well. He wanted to come over and use the cellular amplifier to check on getting replacements. He has an iPhone 6 and uses Verizon in the US so it was interesting to learn that he had no problem simply swapping out the Verizon SIM for a BTC SIM. He was able to call the US and then Isles General Store where he found out they could order in batteries for him from Nassau. When he and Bruce went back to Double Diamond, they weren't sure what their plan was. However about 30 min later, we heard them call as they passed by having made the decision to got to Staniel and arrange for the batteries.
  • I was working on the computer when I received a FaceTime call from Laura and Kian. It seems Kian was looking at a picture hanging on the wall of the dining area that shows a sail boat and he started saying "Papa Boast!" So they decided to try FaceTime. Wait a wonderful surprise! We chatted, I took the laptop into the cockpit so he could see the other sailboats, then we sang together. What a delightful interlude. He is fascinated by whales. Laura had sent me a short video of him saying whale as Dad played with him in the bath tub. However I learned that he and Dad had take the whale on one of their morning walks and it didn't survive. So I said I thought I could fix that.
  • Once we had completed our FaceTime, I immediately went on line and soon Amazon was wending a new bath toy whale and a model blue whale to Kian. Ain't technology grand!?
  • I got really energized by the FaceTime call and spent the rest of the day re-stowing all the stuff I had to take out to accomplish the wiring of the davit winches. It is amazing to me how Peggy has been able to deal with the chaos that has reigned for the last week while all this was going on. But, she has had the experience with her own C470 and knows well what is involved. She keeps telling me how much she enjoys just knowing that I can fix all the stuff that has needed to be fixed.
  • In late afternoon, I whipped up a batch of bread dough to make fresh hamburger rolls. We decided to celebrate the ordered environment by grilling burgers to be served on freshly baked rolls with Bush's beans. Dinner was Delish! We were again enthralled watching another episode of The Roosevelts.

20 Jan 15; Tuesday; Cambridge Cay to Staniel Cay
  • The morning's weather review revealed that the quiet weather of the last month is being replaced with a new trend that will bring more cold fronts with west winds strong enough to need to hide from. The first of these fronts looks like it will be coming in on Saturday. So, after checking the tide, we decided to depart for Staniel Cay and maybe Black Point until it was time to hide. Having put Onward back together yesterday, departure was easy. I got to enjoy the use of the new electric davit winches in "departure mode". While the electric winches raise the dinghy at a slower rate than using the electric winch on the bridge deck, there is no rigging, unrigging, and stowing of lines involved so I was pleasantly surprised at how much more rapid the process had become. Nice.
  • We had ~3.8' of tide to make departure through the S exit of the Cambridge anchorage easy. However I got too carried away with the extra water and did not go far enough E to avoid a shallow bar that is not shown on the Navionics charts so we bumped a couple of small coral heads before getting back to deeper water. We were moving very slowly and just caught the edge so there was no problem. Once back in good water we set sail under genoa for Staniel Cay moving at a decent 4 -5 kts in the ESE wind.
  • We had lovely sail and motored only the last bit into Staniel Cay Yacht Club fuel pier. We were in luck and did not have to wait in line. Bernie was there to greet us - like old home week. We filled the now empty starboard fuel tank and all of the water tanks. I took the by now large bag of trash to the dump trailer as I went in to pay the bill. I was astounded to see that since my last visit, the SCYC had done a major renovation. The totally nondescript N side of the building overlooking the small protected tender basin, had been expanded and transformed into a beautiful dining room with high beamed dealings, large opening windows now overlooking the water, tile floors, and air-conditioning. This new dining room occupied the addition and the former kitchen area. The old rear dining room area had been transformed to a slightly larger but much better equipped and efficiently laid out kitchen. Wow!
  • I had a very difficult time climbing onto the fuel pier from Onward's deck because we were there at dead low tide. I needed Berkie's one-armed bear hug to make the final ascent. While I was paying the bill, Berkie and Peggy had cleverly slipped Onward back just enough for me to be able to use the one remaining ladder. So, by 1330 we were dieseled, gasolined, watered, de-trashed, and on our way. We popped into my favorite hole W of Thunderball Grotto and found enough room and a patch of sand to anchor in. Nice.
  • After cleaning up the boat a bit, we launched Venture (I'm really starting to like those electric davit winches), and headed in to check out Isles General Store. Along the way we discovered Double Diamond was anchored nearby and we stopped to say hi. Andy related that his AGMs started to come back to life so he decided to delay a decision until George Town. Peggy and I continued in to Isles General Store. We were able to find a few things but learned there would be no mailboat this week. Ah well
  • As I was showering before going ashore for dinner, I heard a loud engine and I thought a freight boat had arrived at Staniel. However when we looked out we found that Liberty Cipper, our schooner friend from Eleuthera, had come in to try to anchor nearby. As there really wasn't enough room for a boat of that size, he turned around (using the dinghy for a bow thruster) and departed. Then, a small sloop anchored nearby called and said it would reanchor to provide more room. This didn't make me happy because there still wan't really enough room to for a boat that big in the squirrelly currents here. But back the schooner came and anchored 120' away. The captain came over in the tender and said they would maintain a 6-man anchor watch. I guess you can do this if you have a schooner full of college students from Drake University on a sail training / leadership cruise. I told him I was comfortable now but given the crazy way the currents moved here, after slack tide, it might be problematic.
  • Peggy and I ventured off to SCYC where we sat at the bar for drinks and dinner. Judy & Andy and Tina & Bruce stopped by as they had made reservations in the new dining room. Peggy and I enjoyed a great dinner of grouper fingers appetizers and blacked Mahi sandwiches. Delish. When we returned to the anchorage, Liberty Clipper was gone! I had been checking and right up to slack tide, the two boats had been anchored side by side. I guess that squirrelly current must have become a problem. In any case, there were no green paint marks along Onward's hull

21 Jan 15; Wednesday; Staniel Cay
  • It's nice to be a real hero… Grandson, Kian, is pleased with his new whale!
  • While working on the BCG website, I picked up a very weak mayday for a very small sailboat that had overturned and appeared to be drifting from Bitter Guana Cay S to Dothan Cut with a young woman on the overturned hull. I relayed the call and numerous boats in the area effected the rescue. Nice!
  • At mid-day, we Ventured in to the pier at Serenity Cottage - the octagonal home overlooking the grotto, where we picked up a rental golf card from Coral Lowe. Coral and I had talked several times by VHF about their rental business to update the BCG. She was in the midst of home schooling her children and one ore two others. A delightful and energetic person Peggy and I enjoyed a good chat with her before heading off. Our first stop was Taste and Sea where we were to pick up Judy and Andy. We learned that Tina and Bruce had gotten to the airport on time for their Emerald morning flight only to find out they had missed the fine print: the plane had landed early and their seats had been sold to people wanting to leave early, and the plane had departed before its scheduled time. So they were waiting, hopefully, for the afternoon flight. We arrived just as the kitchen shut down but they were very gracious and served up a couple of cheeseburgers for Peggy and I.
  • We hauled Tina and Bruce's bags to the airstrip while they and Judy walked. After wishing them good luck, the four of us headed off to explore the cay. I had never ventured S of the bridge at Isles General Store and we drove the loop around the low-lying S end of the Cay. At one place we stopped to walk along the SW beach. Andy wondered why there were some pipes just going out into the water. I pointed out the power pole further up on shore to which those "pipes" - underwater power cables" brought in power from the generators at Black Point.
  • We next explored the NW corner of the cay where there are several new houses being built and we discovered just how beautiful this hidden area is. Some new rental cottages now overlook the area. We also stopped at Club Thunderball and found it even more derelict than it was a couple of years ago. As new homes are being built close by, I expect that will be its fate. We then explored the NE ocean beach where I got to see another part of the cay that I'd never seen before. We then headed around the S end of the airport and then S around the finger-like inlet. Above us to the E on the crest was a whole string of huge homes overlooking the ocean from the bluff. The W side where we were along the inlet is just their service area. Apparently there is enough water in this inlet to accommodate large vessels from the looks of the substantial piers built there.
  • Next we headed back to check out the new laundromat that had just opened offering 4 washers and 4 driers 2 of each being commercial size. A nice new addition for the area! We dropped the Double Diamonds off at the BTC office and then headed to the Pink and Blue stores. Peggy got a good idea now about how shopping in the out islands is very much like a combination treasure and snipe hunt. We dropped off the golf cart and headed back to Onward. On the way, I dropped off Peggy at Double Diamond figuring she could use some no-Joe time. I delivered and stowed the groceries aboard Onward and decided to make spaghetti with sausage, olive oil, pine nuts, etc. After getting the meal ready to cook, I fetched Peggy and Andy and Judy followed. We had a delightful evening, somehow, a lot of wine and all of the batch of pasta disappeared. Now how did that happen?

22 Jan 15; Thursday; Staniel Cay to Big Majors Spot
  • A gorgeous morning — ah well, we'll just have to deal with it.
  • I learned from Joseph when we talked on the phone this morning that he and Erin had their offer on a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo accepted and they will be closing in a few days. They are one-block off the N edge of Balboa Park. Neat!
  • I went to Staniel Cay Yacht Club to take some photos of the new dinging room for the BCG and after returning to Onward, we weighed anchor and moved around to re-anchor off Fowl Cay where I had made dinner reservations for Peggy and I for this evening. Once anchored, we quickly launched Venture and headed over to Pig Beach for Peggy to feed the pigs with celery and lettuce I'd saved. Well, Peg was more interested in taking videos of the pigs so I had to feed and video at the same time.
  • We headed off to tour the area and were pleased to find the First Loves anchored between the Majors so we stopped for a chat. We then went off to explore the small cays and cuts further to the N before retuning to Onward to rest for the evening.
  • Kian now says he has a whale for walking and a whale for bathing. Neat!

  • While I was napping in the cockpit I heard a call for help from SV Dolphin Leap. The captain was single handing and the engine was not operable so he was sailing into the Big Majors Spot anchorage under genoa alone To make it a challenge, the genoa furler was jammed. He was seeking help from someone who could come aboard and assist as he had no windlass. Another vessel, Constance, replied that he could come out but had only a 3 hp engine on his dinghy. So, there was no way I could leave a singlehander without assistance. We talked on VHF and I agreed to go out when he got close enough. About 1500 I ran out in Venture which we tied off to Dolphin Leap and then i climbed aboard. In retrospect, I learned this is not the trivial feat it once was fore me; noted for future reference. As we tacked in under genoa, we worked out the plan. Then I went up on the bow to check the furler and found that the outer drum fairing had fallen off. I was able to get it back in place and check the line to see that it wasn't fouled. Keith then went up on the foredeck as we approached the anchor spot and got the anchor ready to deploy. I rounded up, he dropped the anchor, Bob's your uncle. Keith went back to work the furler line while I made sure it didn't get fouled on the basket cover. Piece of cake. We chatted about the engine problem which may have been due to a clogged filter initially. Then I headed back to Onward for a shower.
  • At 1830 Peggy and I Ventured off to Fowl Cay Resort where we were met by the bartender at the pier. He led us off to the bar and we were soon in possession of what we needed to celebrate cocktail hour. I last had dinner here in 2012 and found it a very special place that I wanted to share with a very special person in my life. So drinks in hand, I took Peggy on an exploration trip of the clubouse and all the different venues we could enjoy our drinks in. A group of 6 women from Memphis were the only other guests. They were celebrating a birthday so there was a good deal of laughter. Peggy and I enjoyed our special time together. Somehow we managed to make it back to the boat without incident. A great day. An even better evening.

23 Jan 15; Friday; Big Majors Spot to Black Point
  • I don't have very many mornings when I get up and question myself about how much I partied the night before — but this was one of them. But by 0830 I'd checked the weather and decided that we had today and maybe tomorrow morning to do what we needed to do at Black Point. So, in a few minutes, we were underway.
  • On the way S, we passed by Dolphin Leap but there was no sign of Keith stirring about. Later in the morning, he radioed to say that he checked the full line and found it fine. He refiled the fuel bowl of the Racor and the engine started and ran fine. He is now stuck with the mystery of how the empty fuel bowl came to be.
  • We anchored at off Government Pier and by 1030 were at the Rockside Laundry pier. In the last year, they have doubled the size of the pier and added more ladders. They have also built a large gazebo with seats overlooking the water. Very nice! Ida arrived as we did and soon Peggy and I had 3 loads going. I then took her for a walk around the settlement before returning to load the driers. Ida whipped us up a batch of conch fritters — she makes hers as light as a feather. Delish. Then it was time for me to get my ears lifted on the rear patio.
  • I also got to have a FaceTime with Laura and Kian. We got to talk about his whale and sing a bit of Eh Cumpari together. What fun! How wonderful to be able to maintain a relationship with my toddler grandson via technology!
  • Haircut done, clothes dry and folded, we were off to Lorraine's Cafe. There we found a new addition to the rear of the former computer room was in the completion stage and will become a new and larger kitchen. Lorraine is now doing buffet lunches for tour groups that come up from Great Exuma. Peggy got to meet another member of my Black Point family. We both enjoyed a delicious grilled fresh fish sandwich. Sated, we headed off to do some shopping at Adderley's Friendly Store before packing all our stuff back to Onward. Where once aboard, I quickly fell asleep in the cockpit. Peggy somehow had the energy to make the bed (a nurse - thing?) before she crashed on the settee. We spent a relaxing evening reading and neither of us wanted any dinner.

24 Jan 15; Saturday; Black Point to Compass Cay
  • I was up at 0615 to check on the weather for the coming week. The synoptics and gribs have been very consistent over the last week in predicting a clocking of the wind to the W today and then a continuation through the N tomorrow and back around to the W again on Monday morning where it is to hold for 2 + days! Wow that will be the longest period of west winds I've seen in some time. So, by 0715, Onward was underway S to Compass Cay. I'm really enjoying the electric davit winches now.
  • Off Harvey Cay we called First Love who were ashore fetching guests at the airport and asked them to check on our mail with Watermakers Air. We arrived at the entrance channel to Compass Cay just before hight tied at 1000 so we had plenty of water in the channel. We anchored in our usual spot to the S of the marina basin. I was expecting a lot other boats and was surprised to be by ourselves. We spent a relaxing day reading and being happy that we had moved when we did because the forecast 10 kts of wind from the W went by at 20 kts. In early afternoon a sportsfish and a sloop came in to anchor nearby.
  • Neither of us were very hungry and settled for some stumphy soup — Progresso soup augmented with fresh celery bits and orzo. Delish. We watched the last episode of The Roosevelts, enjoyed it as much as the others, and were sad to find it an an end.

25 Jan 15; Sunday; Cambridge Cay
  • A gray morning greeted us — an unusual occurrence. Today is a calm between cold fronts. The forecast is now calling for about 72 hrs of W winds @ 20 - 25 starting tonight. We can't complain as the weather has been wonderful since we departed Stuart.
  • I made a large Onward English Muffin for breakfast. Then I went out to move the anchor further from the shoal to the E and add more scope in order to better deal with the coming front. Peggy and I then started organizing the cockpit and while we were at it, one of our neighbors came by in their dinghy. I noticed it had a RI registration. They live in NC but the boat was from Wickford Ri, a sportsfish. We started talking about internet and they invited us over for dinner.
  • Ed Burke iMessaged about snow in MD and reminded us to have stuff we need them to bring shipped to them. So, Peg and I both got busy on Amazon.
  • The sun came out by mid day. We spent the afternoon reading after lunch. I took a late nap and woke up just in time to climb in the shower before heading over to Ki Ki, the sportsfish. We were greeted by Jim at the swim platform and were soon seated in the salon where the openness and visibility from the large side windows and stern sliding doors was impressive. Jim is a fisherman who makes good use of the boat for that purpose. He has a good harvest of Wahoo as he traversed from Bimini to the Exumas. This was their first cruise in the Bahamas and he was enjoying the drop in diesel costs.

26 Jan 15; Monday; Cambridge Cay
  • Heavy cloud cover and winds 15 kts + from the W. In the morning we just messed about doing this and thats. However about mid day, I got energized and decided to have a pizza party for the anchorage. Soon I'd invited the First Loves, Bucket Lists, and the Ki Kis over at 1700. With a focus, I got busy. First it was pizza dough making. This was followed by a batch of almond biscotti dough. Peggy decided to try out a new crab dip appetizer recipe AND bake a pineapple upside down cake. This required us to work out an oven usage plan so we could share the galley and the oven.
  • That done, I was energized to clean up & organize the cockpit, and then the salon. It is amazing what the threat of guests coming can do. It's really my Mom whispering in my ear. While I dd this, Peggy did the dip and cake preparation. Next came almond biscotti baking that require the empty propane tank to be switched out. Then it was the cake's turn followed by the dip. I did the pizza prep and at 1650 all was ready and I could lean up the host.
  • Our guests arrived and the 10 of us got settled in the cockpit for a pleasant cocktail hour while the pizza baked. Gill and Sharlene had Gil's son and girlfriend with them and they all got to meet Joe and Catherine from Bucket List and Jim and Weezie from Ki Ki. Good food, good drinks, common interests soon made for a very pleasant social atmosphere. Then the pizza came out and focus turned to eating. I'm always a bit surprised though by now I really shouldn't be that everyone loved the pizza. I guess it is the rosemary-olive oil dough that gives is something special. In any event, there wasn't much left of the two sheep pizzas when we were done.
  • It turns out all of our guests were Farkle virgins! Soooo, we soon had a 10-player Farkle game going. All our guests soon got into the game and were having a rollicking time. Fun! Weezie turned out to be the winner. By the time folks were departing the wind had picked up to 20 ksts and it continued to rise during the night. I slept with the anchor alarm running on my iPhone 4 so I could monitor our movement. Other than the wind noise all was peaceful.

27 Jan 15; Tuesday; Cambridge Cay
  • A gorgeous sunny and windy morning with winds ~ 20 kts. I got a good idea of how much fun I had last night when I got up and tried to get my day going. My clutch was slipping. I decided we needed exercise so we made plans to go ashore at 1100.
  • It was good to see old friends when we pulled into the marina. We were greeted on arrival by Jamal, Tucker's son and after chatting a bit, Peggy and I headed out for a short hike of the S end of the island before returning for the famous burgers on the pier. We hiked out along the N end of the salina that is dry at low tide and is used for an airstrip. We went on to the SE tip of the crescent beach. It is impressive that there is still a huge segment of the cay S of the salina that is pristine.
  • When we returned to the marina, we found the grill going and the Ki Kis and Bucket Lists also there to have lunch. Preston, Tucker's brother, was there and we had a good catch-up with him. Peggy and I both enjoyed a great cheeseburger and a beer while we got to meet some other boaters. After lunch we headed N along the crescent beach and continued to hike about half way up to the N end of the island. Along the way we stopped to visit the ruins of Hester's house at the point. As in my previous visits, I am always saddened to see what must have been a spectacular house with a spectacular location in ruins. This year as I walked along the beach to the N, I noticed that the rock promontory that the house is perched atop is badly crumbling away in large chunks from the NE. Large vertical fissures with inverted conical sections are evident and these seem to be the focus of the fracture process. I don't recall having seen this extensive a fracture process anywhere else in my wandering of the Bahamas.
  • Exercised and tired from the hike, we returned to the marina where we got to say hello to all our pizza party guests before we headed back to Onward. Very shortly after getting onboard, both Peggy and I were naming in the sunny cockpit.
  • Neither Peggy or I was very hungry so I made some toast for her and warmed a bowl of soup for me as we spent a quiet evening reading. Following low tide, Onward became very restless as the wind moved to the NW and the strong current caused very squirrely movement.

28 Jan 15; Wednesday; Cambridge Cay
  • Guess what? Another beautiful day with winds down to 15 kts from the W. I worked on a computer project most of the morning. For years I've lacked the tools (and skills) to be able to draw good looking maps of the various places I visit in the Bahamas. In the US, of course, this isn't an issue as there are so many good sources. But not the case here as Google, Bing, Open Street Maps, all have primitive data for the out-islands where I'd like to have a map. Bill Kimbell sent me some info on Open Street Maps and I looked into adapting these but found it didn't meet my needs for incorporation into the BCG and making easy modifications. So, I relooked at the drawing software available for the Mac. Years ago, I had used Canvas. This was an amazing piece of software the first came out on the Mac. It did everything and became my universal tool to work with any type of file with graphic content. Then the developers started in the PC market and dropped the Mac (those *&^%$*!!); of course now they are coming back and want a lot of $ for their product. I happened on EasyDraw and found for $5 a package that will do everything I need! So today I worked out how to create a map starting with a screen shot of the area from a satellite photo. Neat!
  • About noon, we packed up a picnic lunch and headed out in Venture to explore. We travelled clockwise around the area to the S of the anchorage: along the E shore of Pipe Cay then S to Little Pipe Cay, Thomas Cay, Joe Cay, and back to Pipe Cay where we landed at a deserted beach. Our route took us by a number of private islands with the personal paradises of a number of fortunate people. But we had all of Pipe Cay as our personal paradise. So we found a place where Peggy could have some shade at the edge of the beach and enjoyed our lunch. The air was on the crisp side but the sun was wonderfully warm so I decided to go for a swim. Very pleasant but brisk! After the short dip, I went for a walk along the beach to dry off in the sun and found the entrance to a trail. So, I checked that Venture was secure and Peggy and I went for a hike. We headed E and walked across the narrow waist of the island toward the small bay where the USN had a DECCA control station years ago. We didn't get all the way there because it was high tide and the creek we needed to cross was too muddy. But it was a very pleasant hike with the warm sun and cool dry air. We headed back to Compass Cay Marina where I got to say hello to Tucker who I had missed yesterday. We spent a pleasant time chatting and Tucker filled me in on the correct version of Hester's House - whose ruins on the E coast show what a spectacular house it was.
  • We returned to the boat for a nap and a relaxing afternoon reading. We had dinner while we watched Australia with Nicole Kidman.

29 Jan 15; Thursday; Cambridge Cay to Staniel Cay.
  • The winds picked up to ~ 20 kts during the very early morning with scattered clouds following a clear night with amazing visibility of the stars. By dawn the clouds were dissipating and the winds decreasing. I drew up a map of the piers at Compass Cay and uploaded it.
  • At 1030, we weighted anchor and made a slow departure with the rising tided. With 1' of tide at the Wide Opening tide station, I say a minimum of 7.2' at the corner of the island; the controlling depth was right at the entrance to the Banks where a sand bump is building up: 6.8'.
  • We had a great sail with just the genoa with NE winds gusting to 20+ apparent. We moved along at 6 to 7 kts to the outer edge of the channel into Staniel. I anchored in the hole W of the grotto and once settled we headed into SCYC to get our mail. We found the Ki Kis and Bucket Lists just finishing lunch so while Peggy talked to them, I tracked down our mail packets. After lunch in the beautiful dining room, we Ventured over to Isles General Store but found it closed. So we walked to the Pink Store and then the Blue Store and picked up what new treasures there were to be had. Peggy now has the concept: grocery shopping in the Bahamas is like being on a treasure hunt where you're not quite sure what the treasure will be.
  • We spent a quiet evening reading.

30 Jan 15; Friday; Staniel Cay to Black Point
  • I spent the morning working on life-business stuff. At 1000, Peggy and I Ventured off to Isles General Store to get the 10-lb propane tank filled and to see what they might have left in stock.
  • As noon approached, I got hungry. So I whipped up a batch of sausages, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. When that was cooked, I used the remaining bread dough I had in the freezer to make a calzone. While the calzone was baking, I made a big salad of cucumber, onion, lettuce, tomato, and mushroom. Peggy and I enjoyed eating the salad while we both relaxed and read.
  • At 1400 I headed in to pick up the propane tank. I got halfway there and found out that I'd run the fuel tank dry and did not have the emergency supply aboard. Yet again, I'd managed to come up with a new stupid. I did managed to suck up the last bit of fuel into the fuel bowl which enabled me to get almost up to Grand Cru, an IP anchored nearby. Bob was out in the cockpit and came over in his dinghy to where I'd tossed out my anchor. He had a gallon of spare fuel and told me to take it. Since Staniel Cay Yacht Club was out of gasoline, I only took about a quart. This was enough to get me to Isles and then back to Onward.
  • We weighed anchor as soon as the dinghy was raised and headed out to Black Point. The wind became light so we ended up motoring the short distance. I anchored closed to the N shore of the bay to get better protection from the forecast N - NE winds. Persistence was anchored nearby and Tom stopped by to say hello. He is going to help Smashie get Smashie in shape to race at New Farmers Cay next weekend. Peggy and I spent a quiet afternoon reading. We enjoyed some of the calzone for dinner. Delish!

31 Jan 15; Saturday; Black Point
  • A bit of a rolly night as the winds were N but in the early morning they calmed. I got busy doing computer stuff and didn't realize I'd not had breakfast until 1000.