Onward’s Cruise Journal 2016
Bahamas & Return to US

Updated: 7 April 2016

April 2016

1 Apr 16; Friday; Royal Island to Man-o-War Cay

  • Onward weighed anchor at 0615 when pre-sunrise light was enough to see the exit cut from Royal Island harbor. The wind was about 10 kts from the ESE and we set the genoa once out of the harbor. There was a parade of boats leaving including our pizza guests Loon and Oopsea. Apparently Minx had made a much earlier departure. We took the cut between Big and Little Egg Islands and had ~ 14' minimum. Once we turned the corner and headed N towards Little Harbour cut we were motorsailing at 7.5 to 8.2 kts for the entire crossing. Initially there were ~6' long-period swells from the SE. Beyond the mid point, another train of similar swells from the ENE joined to make it a not uncomfortable but "interesting" ride.
  • We entered the cut at 1330 and found the transition very peaceful and smooth - the long period swells having little impact. We continued motorsailing N and decided to put into Man-o-War cay which Peggy has not seen before. I attempted to anchor just S of the W entrance of the harbor but the holding was poor. I moved on to the bight at the narrow waist of the island where I'd anchored before in 2011. As I was about to drop the hook, I got a call from one of the homeowners warning me to move further N as there was an unmarked underwater cable in that area. I moved further in and anchored to the S of two other boats. One of them Pagan Chant — a boat I've met many times in the Bahamas over the years.
  • Peggy rewarded me for my efforts with an absolutely delicious rum and tonic. We shared a meal of leftovers: rice with chili. Delish.

2 Apr 16; Saturday; Man-o-War Cay
  • Winds picked up to 15 to 18 kts from the S starting in the early morning. After looking at weather data and listing to Chris, it was not obvious what the best course of action would be. After Peggy and I talked we decided to stay here for the day as we waited for the cold front to come in tomorrow then move around the Whale early tomorrow before we get trapped on this side by the high winds. There may be a 1 to 2 day window to cross to FL starting next Wednesday or Thursday — but that is a long way away. In any case we will be positioned to take advantage of it or hide at Green Turtle Cay.
  • Got to talk to Michael on Pagan Chant, a singlehander I've met many times over the years. He is anchored next to Onward here.
  • We decided to go into town after 1200 and so I devoted the morning to boat projects. One of the round-to-its that has been waiting is the rehanging of a small cabinet in the stern cabin. I had to move it from its original position on top of the starboard cabinets and we had decided to rehang it on the forward bulkhead just to the left of the mirror. The delay was in trying to figure out exactly where to place it. On the other side of the bulkhead is the glassware cabinet which has a mirror at the back. I was concerned that a misguided fastener could hit and shatter this mirror. Well, in a flash of insight this morning, I worked out a way to take measurements (nothing is easy on a sailboat). That done, the cabinet was quickly hung.
  • We Ventured off to town and on the way saw folks out in the cockpit of the 3rd boat in the anchorage Bob and Jo on SV Segue. We stopped to say hello and learned they wanted to move into the harbor but were afraid to give up their nice anchor position without being sure of having a mooring. We took their phone number and said we'd report back on what we found.
  • Due to the 10-15 kts of SE winds we decided to go in the W entrance to the harbor by staying inside the line of small cays streaming W. At about 1.5 hrs after low tide we found a couple of shallows we just got over. Inside we explored the NW hole and found there were some large sailboats in there making me wonder about just how they get there. We toured the length of the harbor to the SE hole. We stopped to talk to a couple of boats. Jody & Dan on SV Good Tern have kept their boat in the Abacos since 1994 storing it at Green Turtle Cay. They were back for their annual winter-spring cruise. Jody directed to a Charlie, a local homeowner, who had a mooring available so we arranged for Segue to pick it up and texted them the info. As we were heading back to the main harbor we were passed by a sailboat looking for a mooring and we talked to them and told them we had arranged for the open mooring to be taken up by .
  • We put into the Boatyard and stopped to look at the grill's menu and got no further. We had a relaxed lunch on the cool deck. They are now serving beer and we enjoyed a couple.
  • After lunch we enjoyed a walking tour of the island. We stopped at the grocery store for a few items before heading back to Onward. A combination of going downwind and reduced wind velocity made the transit easy. Once aboard I was ready for a nap. We skipped dinner and spent a quiet evening reading. I finished A Great Improvisation, by Jody. This is a biography of Benjamin Franklin from 1776 to 1785 when he was in France arranging for their financial and military support of the American Revolution.

3 Apr 16; Sunday; Man-o-War to Green Turtle Cay
  • The winds shifted to the S to SSW during the night keeping < 15 kts. We awoke to a sunny day with dark clouds in the NE from the approaching front. After breakfast, we weighed anchor ago ~ 0900 and began our trip NW with the idea of letting the front pass over us and then arrive at the Whale before the N winds behind the front had a chance to raise big waves. As we approached Scotland Cay the front passed over us with not more than a 5 kt increase in winds and some brief rain squalls — just enough to wash the deck. The passage around the Whale was a bit slow heading into the wind for most of it but it was fairly benign.
  • We anchored off New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay at ~1130. I decided to make meatball calzones. I browned some frozen meatballs and then added pasta sauce and allowed them to steep for a while. I made 4 calzones with the meatballs and provolone. After they baked and cooled, Peggy and I enjoyed a delightful lunch while we read in the cockpit. Of course lunch and liquid narcotic (a Yingling) required a nap.
  • I made some cappuccino to get me back in operation and worked on boat tasks. I also reviewed my reading list and then searched out the books by my favorite authors that I have not yet read so I have a go-to list for ebook buying. Peggy made beef fajitas for a late dinner and we watched Episode 2 of Black Sails — a series about the era of pirating in the Bahamas. An interesting series which the produces apparently thought a good vehicle for a good bit of violence, gore, vulgar language, nudity, and overt sexual activity — as I said "interesting". Having read a couple of books on this era, their history isn't too bad.

4 Apr 16; Monday; Green Turtle Cay
  • Chris Parker discussed the long term weather outlook and it appears there will be a good opportunity for heading W and NW to FL starting Sunday. So we will be hanging out here and preparing for the crossing. The long term forecast is that we will have > 48 hrs of E winds to head NW across the Gulf Stream starting Monday. That should allow us to put into Fernandina Beach. So Peggy made flight reservations for us to travel to NY from Jacksonville on the 15th.
  • Peggy and I spent the day working on boat tasks. I finally came up with a solution for a nagging pain in the butt in the galley. We keep water bottles on the narrow cabinet top next to the companionway and they are always being knocked over my us or boat motion. So today I built a holder consisting of a narrow strip of teak with a series of holes drilled in it to snake 1/8" bungy cord through to make loops that will hold 6 bottles. It will also provide for loops to hold the Soda Machine, Mr. Coffee, and Nexpresso in place. I also continued in my efforts to organize all my projects and project components. I also wrote a series of letters to the IRS to be attached to my tax returns to explain the mess.
  • The area around us in the anchorage got quite crowded as other boats took advantage of mild winds to get around the Whale as the start their trek back to US.
  • I made an eye round roast to go with the potatoes, onions, and carrots Peggy cut up. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and enjoyed a Downton Abbey session.

5 Apr 16; Tuesday; Green Turtle Cay
  • Dawn brought a Maine-like day: clear with crystal visibility, dry, sunny, cool. Nice. The weather gods are being nice to us before the next front comes through on Thursday and Friday. With that in mind we have reservations for a slip at the Green Turtle Club & Marina for Thursday and Friday. We will use that visit to get Onward ready for the crossing back to the US. According to Chirs, the weather window discussed yesterday continues to look good. The plan is to use Sunday to move W in the Sea of Abaco and then head NW as the wind goes around to the East on Monday and Tuesday. We hope the conditions continue to hold so we can sail N to the St Mary's inlet.
  • It was such a beautiful day that we decided to go into town at lunch time. I managed to stay on task all morning working on various boat projects. My efforts to organize had a payoff as I managed to get finally get some long-delayed things done like replacing the well-worn hold-to lines on the stern for the dinghy; building a removable step for the arch to allow me to climb higher to work on things like the ensign. I used this step to remove the ensign that has been hanging by its bottom eyelet since I injured my shoulder. The ensign needs a bit of sewing before it can go up. Now with the step I can reach the top of the flag pole on the arch to install a block for a flag halyard.
  • The two hold-to lines was an idea I decided to prototype almost 10 years ago. The prototype worked so well it stayed in place till now. The lines have become frayed and needed to be replaced. I decided to use long rubber hold-down straps as shock absorbers in the new lined to handle the "exciting" swells seen under some weather conditions where Onward and Venture go down different sides.
  • We Ventured into the public wharf and walked around the quiet town until we come to Harvey's Island restaurant which Peggy enjoyed on our last visit. We were the last customers for lunchtime and decided to get two of the specials: a chicken cordon-bleu wrap and a mango jerk mahi wrap. We each took a half of each wrap and were hard pressed to decide which was better.
  • After lunch we strolled about town visiting each of the open stores. Hard to believe but we actually bought a few groceries that we had run out of. I found a beautiful set of tiny silver earrings of turtles to add as Elena's birthday present.
  • On the way back to Onward, we Ventured into Black Sound — a place I had never been on all my previous visits due to shallowness issues. It was 1500, almost exactly mid-tide and we were thus about 2.0' over datum and I connected up Venture's depth sounder to check out the access to the harbor. On the entrance channel straight in from the Sea of Abaco, along the well-marked channel into the harbor, We had a minimum of 7.4'. Inside, on a line from the center of the channel to the N gable of the big house on the water at the E end of the very large harbor, there was 9 to 12'. Donny's Marine offers moorings for rent. So Onward could do this at mid-tide or better.
  • I took a lot of photos for the BCG all during this sojourn ashore because the light was so perfect.
  • After a short nap once back aboard, I managed to stay on task until almost 2000. I also started working on the color laser printer. It had gotten a paper jam the last time I used it because I'd forgotten the waterproof cover had been replaced. I had to dig it out from its berth over the forward cabinets. I removed the paper jam but then the printer started showing a major error warning light. BAAH.
  • Peggy whipped up some mixed leftovers for dinner and we closed out the evening watching Downton Abbey.

6 Apr 16; Wednesday; Green Turtle Cay
  • The day was cloudy with winds initially from the WNW then clocked to the N. Peggy and I spent the day aboard on boat stuff. For me, it was also baking day. Somehow our canisters of pepper biscotti and almond biscotti were down to the last one or two biscotti. First I whipped up a batch of pepper biscotti dough. While that sat on the under the dodger and fermented (aka "rose"), I next made a batch of almond biscotti dough and immediately baked them.
  • In between these tasks, I started checking over the income tax returns I prepared last week so they would be ready to go when we got back to the US. I also dug out the printer again and messed with the rollers. Apparently one of them had become jammed because the major fault light disappear. In its stead, the low-toner level warning lights for the color toner cartridges came on and I was not able to redistribute the toner in them to shut of the warning lights. This reminded me why the manufacturers (in this case Samsung) sell the printers so cheaply because they can charge so much for the toner cartridges and they have built in electronics checks to prevent you from printing when a cartridge signal it is too low.
  • Because the oven can runner hotter than intended, I took great care to bake this biscotti to a golden brown with nice lightly toasted sides. While I prepared the pepper biscotti for the oven, I baked some frozen breaded chicken breasts to go with the tortellini that Peggy planned to make for dinner. I baked the pepper biscotti at a lower temperature than I have before; in this case 30 min @ 325º and then the rest of the time at 225º. The result were lightly toasted yet still very crunchy biscotti. When they are baked at higher temperature for the entire 2-hr cycle, they can undergo a protein browning reaction. This make them much darker. While I like the darer biscotti, I now like this new approach that gives light golden brown crunchy pepper biscotti.
  • I stayed on task till 1930 when Peggy made the cheese tortellini with pesto sauce and served it with the breaded chicken breasts. We watched Interstellar. Unfortunately the sound quality was poor which made a good deal of the dialog which is almost at a whisper undecipherable. Our conclusion: almost not worth the effort.

7 Apr 16; Thursday; Green Turtle Cay
  • During the night the wind shifted to the SSE. The morning brought another sunny, crisp and dry day. I managed to get the printer to print some back & white pages. Good!
  • We weighed anchor at 0900 and headed into the Green Turtle Club Marina for 2 nights of cold front passage. There was a large motor yacht on the T-head where the fuel pump is so we put into our slip which was within hose reach. I backed in to make it easier to get on and off he boat. This proved to be quite a challenge as there was a 15 kt S wind blowing on the port bow as I backed up between two large motor yachts on the T-heads. As soon as I began to rotate clockwise to get into the angled slip, the wind would amplify the effort. I managed to get the stern into the slip close enough for the dockmaster to assist. But Peggy did the hard work: getting the port midship line around a piling and managing it so I could use the engine to rotate and align the boat in the slip. Impressive. Her reply to "great job!" was: "I've been at that wheel and I know how hard it is to maneuver!". Nice!

8 Apr 16; Friday; Green Turtle Cay

9 Apr 16; Saturday; Green Turtle Cay to Allens Pensacola Cay
  • We had a leisurely morning as we prepared to depart the marina and begin the passage back to the US. The Sunday, Monday, Tuesday weather window continued to hold but the front moving in on Wednesday looked to be coming a bit earlier. We filled the water tanks and then headed out of the marina at ~1030. The wind had more W in it that had earlier been forecast but the seas were manageable as it clocked to the N at ~10-12. We had considered going to Manjack Cay for the night a short trip of < 5nm and then starting the passage from there early Sunday. But it was such a nice day and it was still early in the day that we decided to move ~15 nm further W to Allens-Pensacola Cay thus being able to depart later in the day Sunday.
  • We arrived at APC at about 1400 and found 6 boats already anchored in the harbor at the SW corner of the island. The wind had clocked to the NNW and I decided we could anchor outside of the harbor if it were too crowded. As it turns out, there was plenty of room to anchor and I dropped the hook on the anchor waypoint from our 2014 visit. Once settled, I got to take a look around the harbor and found two boats I knew: Togwaddi and Spartina. The former was the boat whose mooring pennant I'd twanged at Warderick wells 2 months before. I called them on the radio and invited them both over for dinner.
  • I had been planning to make a stew anyway and I wanted to get to know these boats better as they are both from Tilghman Creek, one of my favorite anchorages on the Chesapeake. Peggy was accepting but not enthusiastic about entertaining. She readily pitched in to help while I did the food preparation. I made one of the ground-beef based stews I have in the repertoire with all kinds of vegetables and kinoa. This time I made it with a light beef gravy and wine base.
  • I had also planned to make a bunch of calzones while the stew was simmering. But common sense finally dawned that this was not a good time to have to be rushed and to make myself more tired that need be.
  • I
10 Apr 16; Sunday; Allens Pensacola Cay - Gulf Stream Crossing to US
  • I spent the early part of the morning preparing and baking 24 calzones with a variety of fillings: meatballs; breaded chicken breast; Italian chicken sausage; sausage, mushrooms and onions; onions, peppers and .

11 Apr 16; Monday; Gulf Stream Crossing to US

12 Apr 16; Tuesday; Gulf Stream Crossing to US to Fernandina / Amelia Island
  • On Peggy's 2400 - 0400 watch, the seas were calm and winds < 12 kts and we motorsailed along at 10+ kts. This continued on my 0400 - 0800 + watch. I was really hungry so after 0800 I made coffee and an egg & prosciutto wrap. Delish. The wind clocked around to the SW for a while and slowed us down. Then it back to the S from ~ 0900 on and we had a fast sail to the St. Mary's Inlet.
  • Around 0600, I had MARPA'd several radar targets and was watching them. They N & S of our NW course. Then I heard Securite" broadcasts from Warship 66 and the USCG cutter James about the firing exercises they were holding. Due to the fact that they gave their coordinates so fast during their VHF announcements, it took several iterations before I could make out the locations. Then I realized they were the radar targets N & S of us! I called Warship 66 and told them were I was. They said they were firing SSE (I could hear the large calibre weapons) and we were out of their danger zone.
  • We completed the transit of the inlet and entered Fernandina Harbor at 1400. I was a bit surprised by the number of boats on the ICW headed N. While we are fairly early, there ae a lot of snowbirds who are moving it seems. This was concerned when I phoned Tiger Point Marina to see if they had a slip for us. I was a bit stunned to hear that they didn't. Then we tried Fernandina Harbor Marina — and learned they could only provide for 2 of the 7 nights we needed. Then we tried Amelia Island Yacht Basin and learned they had only a slip without power that would accommodate Onward's draft. By this time Peggy and I were very distraught. Somehow because we were early on the trek N, I hadn't considered how busy marinas might be. I began to consider the need to go to St. Mary's or Brunswick GA. The a friend said he could accommodate us at a place that usually doesn't accept transients. So, by 1530 we were at a slip and the tension of the last several day melted away. A good rum & tonic along with pepper biscotti and good Belvitano cheddar cheese and all was good with the world.
  • Our Verizon cell phones were working as soon as we got in range of the towers. The cellular data modem was not for some reason. I eventually figured out that I had changed the APN to try using it on the BTC data network (an experiment that failed as it doesn't have the right radio frequencies). I changed the APN back to that for Verizon Wireless and we were back to normal telecommunications.

13 Apr 16; Wednesday; Fernandina

14 Apr 16; Thursday;

15 Apr 16; Friday;

16 Apr 16; Saturday;

17 Apr 16; Sunday;

18 Apr 16; Monday;

19 Apr 16; Tuesday;

20 Apr 16; Wednesday;

21 Apr 16; Thursday; Dataw I

22 Apr 16; Friday; Dataw I

23 Apr 16; Saturday; Dataw I to Elliot Cut

24 Apr 16; Sunday; Elliot Cut to Offshore

25 Apr 16; Monday; Offshore Charleston - Beaufort

26 Apr 16; Tuesday; Beaufort Inlet to at Alligator-Pungo Canal

27 Apr 16; Wednesday; Pungo R to Coinjock

28 Apr 16; Thursday; Coinjock to Hampton

29 Apr 16; Saturday; Hampton

30 Apr 16; Sunday; Hampton to Fishing Bay