Onward’s Cruise Journal 2014
Bahamas Cruise

Updated: 1 February 2014

Note: stay tuned for updates of past dates.

January 2014

1 January 14; Wednesday; Nettles Island

2 January 14; Thursday; Nettles Island

3 January 14; Friday; Nettles Island

4January 14; Saturday; Nettles Island

5 January 14; Sunday; Nettles Island

6 January 14; Monday; Nettles Island

7 January 14; Tuesday; Nettles Island
7 Jan Tues - 4
Clean & inventory cooler & freezer
Shop Publix for fesh veg
Merlins arrive at PBI

8 Jan Wed - 3
Service Yanmar

9 Jan Thu -2
Repairs to masthead
LBO update

8 January 14; Wednesday; Nettles Island
  • Well I made it through another year and have a new year to look forward to on my birthday. It was great to get phone calls from my 3 children and my sister to really make the day.
  • Tom & Dana Talkington called and said they were coming over to Hutchinson Island to have dinner with friends who had come to visit. I accepted their invitation to join them for dinner. I turned into a bit of a birthday party topped off with a birthday cannoli. It was a true gift to be able to spend the night of my birthday with good friends.

9 January 14; Thursday; Nettles Island
  • Today it was time to do engine maintenance. I donned my standard engine service outfit and set out nice and slow and easy to do the job. I managed to change the oil and filter in less than an hour without spilling a drop of oil! Wow! That doesn't happen often. I then got out the belt tensioner and tensioned the fan belt. With that done quickly, I was on a roll and ready to tackle the really fun job on the C470's Yanmar: changing the raw water impeller.
  • First it was necessary to clear enough counter space to empty the liquor stores from the cabinet next to the cooler so I could get at the raw water pump access panel. Then that space really needed a cleaning before I could work in it. I have a Quick Seal cover on the raw water pump and I have replaced the knurled screws with hex-socket screws so I can use an allen wrench to loosen the screws. This time I was careful to remember there were two slots in the cover to aid repositioning it and I carefuly checked it so I wouldn't put back incorrectly as I did last time. That was the easy part. In the past, the impeller has come off easily. This time, it was a bear. Due to the location and the attachments of the raw water hoses It is impossible to work on the pump with more than one hand. In fact, to reach inside, I have to hang from the edge of the counter with my left hand and kinda swing myself into the cabinet to use my right hand. So I couldn't get the pliers into position to grab the impeller to pull it. After more than an hour of frustration, I managed to use a small screwdriver to pry it out enough to grab parts of it with pliers. It took another 15 min to wiggle it off the final bit. That done I found the end of the sprocket shaft had developed a rough lip that was likely the cause of the difficulty in getting the old impeller off. I used fine emery cloth to polish the end of the shaft. With a plastic wire tie around the new impeller to compress the blades and with the impeller and interior of the pump coated with polypropylene oxide (aka KY lubricant ;) ) the new impeller went on quickly. I then used the trick I developed of coating the new cover seal o-ring with electrical quality silicone grease. This holds the o-ring in the groove long enough to get the cover on, That went on without issue. I opened the though-hull valve and restarted the engine. I was greeted with the burble of raw water in the exhaust. Nice.

10 January 14; Friday; Nettles Island
  • Peggy D'Alessandro called to say she was leaving Marco Island in her rental car and would arrive in early afternoon. I told her I would pick her up at the Enterprise office in Stuart. I spent the rest of the morning cleaning up all the liquor cabinet contents. Each of the many bottles needed to be cleaned with a bleach solution before being stowed. The interior of Onward was a wreck from the bow to the stern due to all the stores that still needed to be put away and all the tools and components I had out to do tasks. I realized there was no way I was going to get the foreword berth cleaned out enough to have a guest use it. So, I started in the stern cabin as it was in better shape. While the sheets and clothes were being washed and dried, I managed to get all the stuff I had allowed to accumulate out -- and even threw some away! By late morning, the master stateroom was presentable and I began moving the "island of neatness" forward toward the bow.
  • I talked with Ed Burke as we had been watching the possibility of making a crossing on Saturday night. However the gribs this morning indicated the winds were going to be running 15+ kts from the S with 5 to 8' + waves in the Gulf Stream -- not the conditions we wanted for a night crossing. Another window seemed to be opening on Monday and we opted to shoot for that. So, I decided to keep the rental car until the morning.
  • At 1300, I headed into Stuart to pick up some components for the davit falls at West. Peggy arrived at the nearby Enterprise office and I picked her up and set off to run errands. We grabbed a quick lunch as we went to Home Depot where Peggy found some indoor-outdoor carpet to use on the arch to prevent chafe on the dinghy. Next we found a Publix and did the majority of the fresh food shopping. I had intended to go to one of their really big stores but inadvertently ended up at one of the smaller ones. But we got almost everything we needed. We moved on to the liquor store to top up on beer before heading back toward Nettles Island. We stopped at the Publix there which I had avoided because I thought it was one of the smaller stores -- but it turned out to be much larger than the one we visited ashore. We managed to pick up a few thing before heading back to the Marina where we moved Peggy's gear and the other "stuff" onto Onward.
  • With things aboard and the stuffed that required refrigeration put away, we declared cocktail hour and recuperated a bit before heading over to the Landing for dinner. After dinner I told Peggy to relax while I continued in my effort to expand the "island of neatness" forward. By 2100 there was still no hope for the forward berth so I assigned Peggy to the owners stateroom and I eventually fell asleep on the settee hoping to recharge batteries to further the attack tomorrow.

11 January 14; Saturday; Nettles Island
  • I was up and cleaning at 0500. At 1000 we went into Stuart to bring Onward's now unneeded Martek 600 davits to a consignment shop. Peggy had spent the morning polishing them and the SS gleamed. We dropped them off and signed a contract. That done, I felt like a tremendous weight had been removed as that "problem" was take care of.
  • After dropping off the rental car and being driven back to the marina I got the cockpit organized enough for a morning departure. Then headed below to attack the clutter and continue moving the island of order forward. By evening, I had gotten rid of the greater majority of clutter and resurrected the forward berth. Peggy and I had a quiet dinner aboard on one of frozen stews I had to remove from the freezer to make room for fresh meats. We switched staterooms and called it a night. If I was tired last night, I was much more tired tonight.

12 January 14; Sunday; Nettles Island to Lake Workth
  • Onward departed its berth at Nettles Island Marina at 0745. It was great to have the help of able crew and the effort was "uneventful" -- good. I will have to work on getting used to having the dinghy on the arch although it really is in the same physical location as it was on the davits. The morning was sunny with a N wind at ~ 10 kts helping us head S. The Jensen Causeway bridge had 64.5' of clearance and it was an easy passage. Of course, not having anything at the masthead made it less of an issue. We were on our way to Lake Worth and Merlin was departing from Hobe Sound ahead of us. On the way, we needed to put into the Marriott resort marina just SE of the Sewell Point bridge to take on diesel as there was on 20% fuel left in the port tank and the other 2 were empty.
  • Shortly after the bridge passage, Merlin called on VHF and I chatted with Ed while Peggy had the con. After a bit she tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a very large sportsfish coming up on the starboard quarter. I signed off and took the helm to steer into its wake which was extremely bubbly and frosty. Even though he had slowed down and come in close - a good pass, it was quite a surf ride. Not long after, I noticed steam coming out of the exhaust and could not hear the burble of cooling water. The engine temperature continued to rise until I had to shut it down. I was about to anchor on the side of the channel when I realized there was a favorable wind to sail on. Of course, the bridge deck and lines were not ready for us to sail so it was ugly. The fact that Peggy has great experience sailing a C470 as an owner made it nice to have a knowledgeable assistant so we got the main working and continued on while I tried to figure out what had happened.
  • I had just changed the impeller at Nettles Island and had run the engine to assure that the pump was working normally. It had been running normally up to the passage of the sportsfish. Needless to say, I was now suffering cognitive dissonance because this cooling water failure made no sense. I called the marina and told them I was sailing in and luckily the fuel pier was empty this early on a Sunday. As we turned E after making the Sewell Bridge transit without incident, we were surprised by the speed of the cross current that began to sweep us out of the channel. I had to sail at a 45º angle to the channel. As we approached the fuel pier I turned N into the wind and eased the mainsheet. I started the engine just to move us into position. Not a bad approach at all.
  • The first order of business was to take on diesel and I started with the stern tanks first. Unfortunately their pumps had the large diameter high-speed nozzles which will not fit down into Onward's fuel intake port. I had been concerned that the bottom brace strut of the new arch would interfere with fueling and had picked up a flexible fueling funnel at West before we left. That did the trick - but it emphasized the need to engineer some type of "adaptor" because high-speed diesel nozzles just don't work well with Onward's fuel intake ports.
  • By this time I had calmed down enough to go back to solving the raw water circulation problem. I called Bill Kimbell and Tom Talkington to see if they had any experience with this type of problem and got some ideas that it might have something to do with an airlock in the intake line. Then the process of elimination started:
    • Removed the raw water strainer and cleaned it. I closed the intake through- hull valve to do this.
    • Replaced the strainer and opened the through-hull valve to see if there was any water flow in - but there was no flow.
    • Used a water hose from the dock to attempt to make sure the lines were full of water.
    • Closed top of the strainer and restarted the engine. Still no burbling.
    • Ran a snake down the intake line from the strainer until it broke through to outside to eliminate the possibility of a plastic bag having blocked the intake.
    • Took off the cover to the raw water pump and checked that all the blades were there and that they were moving when the engine turned.
    • Called Ed Burke and he suggested checking that the strainer top was well sealed. I then realized the top of the water strainer was above the water line and I might not have had the strainer top closed tight enough after I cleaned the basket.
    • Cleaned the strainer lid seal surface and lubricated metal and rubber sides with silicone grease (electrical).
    • Filled the water lines using he hose again and then sealed up the lid.
    • Restarted the engine: Success!!
  • With the newly resurrected engine, we headed S down the ICW for Lake Worth. Merlin had arrived earlier and we anchored near them about 1700. They invited us over to grill dinner with them but there was still too much preparation to do aboard Onward for us to accept. Peggy and I then ran a longer piece of rope though the davit falls at the bow end of the dinghy. If I had recorded a video, it would have been a comic success. I was so tired I just couldn't get it right until Peggy came over and supervised the operation. We then made sure the dinghy, cockpit, and decks were ready to head offshore. That done we had another pre-prepared dinner and headed to our berths for an early night. I decided to sample some of the new port-wine-cask-cured Glenmorganie scotch I just bought. Exhaustion and scotch helped me get a good night of sleep.

13 January 14; Monday; Lake Worth to Mangrove Cay
  • Onward and Merlin weighed anchor and were off in the dark at 0400. There were no other boats moving and the exit from the Lake Worth Inlet went smoothly. We started out on a course of about 120º and found the W wall of the gulf stream where predicted -- about 3-4 mi off the coast. The wind was 14-18 kts apparent from the E so we had it on the nose with too close a wind angle to sail. Seas were 3 - 4' and conditions were not bad if not really comfortable due to the need to head into the oncoming chop. Our original intent was to go into West End. However as we continued the shorter distance to Memory Rock channel became more attractive and we eventually changed course for this with the intention of anchoring off Mangrove Cay.
  • As the day went on, the wind and seas eased and once we got on the Little Banks at about 1430 it was a very easy motor trip. We anchored off Mangrove Cay at sunset: 1745 and called it an easy night. Peggy and I had dinner based on the last frozen meals I'd prepared on the ICW cruise that we had to take out of the freezer to make room for meats.

14 January 14; Tuesday; Green Turtle Cay
  • It was a calm and easy night at anchor. The possibility of squalls and increased winds from the S never materialized. I awoke at 0415 to find two other boats had come in during the night and anchored nearby. We weighed anchor at 0500 and headed for Great Sale Cay and then the turn SE into the sea of Abaco.
  • We were motoring in the calm and with Peggy supervising the navigation, I went below to prepare some breakfast. Peggy called me up when we were approaching another boat with confusing lights. We had originally determined it was anchored. As we got closer I asked Peggy to turn to port in order to go across what I though was the stern of the vessel. After a fraction of a minute, I realized we were converging on its port bow as I could now see a red bow light. We turned sharply to port and also had to steer abound Merlin. It took a while to see that we were now on a parallel course almost 180º away from our turning waypoint. So I came about and this time was able to actually go across the other vessel's stern and back to our intended course. I'm not sure why the lights were so confusing but the fact that the vessel's steaming and stern lights were about the same height and the red bow light was close to the steaming light made for a confusing picture in the pitch dark. On retrospect, I should have been on deck to track our approach for a longer period of time to better assess the relationship between the two vessels. Also a sharp turn to starboard when the red bow light became visible would have handled the situation much better. A lesson for the future.
  • The SE wind came up with the dawn and we began to motorsail to the turning waypoint at Great Sale. Once we made the turn the wind had risen to the point where we could sail at > 7 kts on a close starboard reach. The sun came out a gave us a sparkling day - a nice present for Peggy to experience sailing in the Bahamas. The wind also continued to cooperate by slowly clocking toward the S enabling us to sail the entire leg from Great Sale to Green Turtle Cay at 7 to 9 kts.
  • Our ETA at Green Turtle was about 1600 and we began to consider slowing down so we would arrive closer to the high tide at 1845 because the entrance to White Sound has required a tide of 2' to get over the bump at the outer edge of the channel. The wind continued to pick up to ~ 15+ kts and Peggy suggested we reef the main because in her experience of racking her C470 "Reality" we would get an easier ride without much sacrifice in speed. As I am usually lazy about reefing, I agreed and it worked nicely. Nice to have someone knowledgeable aboard to prod me.
  • As we approached Green Turtle, Margarita came up and I got to talk to Bill Sinnett who had left from Ft. Pierce. He said he had heard that they had dredged the channel into White Sound. As the wind began to fall off, Onward and Merlin continued under reefed mains and Margarita went ahead to enter White Sound first. He called Bluff House on VHF and they confirmed the entrance "bump" had been dredged.
  • Onward entered White Sound at 1600 when the Navionics tide station for Green Turtle Cay indicated a tide of +1.5'. We saw a minimum of 7.1' at the location of the former bump -- between the two entrance markers. The rest of the channel had been dredged also and was well marked. We actually encounter a minimum of 6.9' in the approach area when I went across a shallow spot shown on the charts.
  • We tied up in slip 11 at the Green Turtle Club Marina and were greeted by tow dockhands who did a superb job of tying us up. I've never had this happen before where I had to do almost nothing. Nice. It was also great to have Peggy rig the lines as we approached the marina instead of the usual frenetic activity I have to engage in. Merlin joined us in the next slip and we exulted in a great crossing and a great sailing day.
  • After checking in, we freshened up and the Merlins came over to share a bottle of champagne in celebration before we went off to a fantastic dinner at the restaurant. That evening we enjoyed a well-earned rest.

15 January 14; Wednesday; Green Turtle Cay
  • We all enjoyed a lazy morning with a well-deserved lie-in. About 1000 we got ourselves going and led by the Trek-Myster, Tina, when off on a walk of exploration to the W part of the cay. We ended up at the Bluff House where we had a very enjoyable lunch on the pool deck. We then hiked back E and stopped at the ocean beach where we found the ocean very well behaved.

16 January 14; Thursday; Green Turtle Cay
  • About 1000 we set off to walk into New Providence for BTC day to get our cell phones and cellular modems going. The office here is now only open on Thursdays. About an hour into the walk we began to worry about finding the office closed. Along came a big utility golf cart with two women and they managed to give the 4 of us rides to the BTC office for the last 1/3 of the way. It turned out the SIM cards I had from last year expired due to no use and I had to buy new SIMs. Their computer system was down so the only way to get $ on them was to buy $5 phone cards.
  • We spent the next several hours touring town, having lunch, and shopping before we headed back to the boats with a stop along the way to look at another ocean beach.

17 January 14; Friday; Green Turtle Cay
  • Another relaxing morning. After breakfast, I began rooting around for things in preparation for going up the mast to repair the VHF, anchor light, and wind transducer. About 1000, Beckoning and Heeling Time came in from Spanish Cay and we spent the rest of the morning visiting and catching up. We had lunch together at the GTC. I invited all over for a pizza party on Saturday night.
  • I returned to Onward to load my tool bag and prep the bosons chair for me to go to work. Ed Burke came over and with Peggy to run the safety line, they hauled me up the mast.
  • I managed to get the damaged VHF antenna off its mount and was pleased to see that the SS bracket could be reused. I installed the new VHF antenna on it. We had take the sheared-off end of the antenna cable and put a solderless splice connector on it. When I went to install it I found that it was a bit too short but I managed to get it done.
  • I found the mounting screws for the wind transducer corroded in place as were the screws for the access plate to the mast interior. The meant there was no easy way to install the wind transducer or the anchor light without having to drill and tap holes on the mast plate. Then I noticed the big SS loops in place for adding additional spinnaker blocks. I decided to try to use these to fasten new brackets for the anchor light and wind transduce want to the masthead. With that, I called it quits at the masthead.
  • On returning to the deck, I did some VHF radio checks and was disappointed to find its performance was well below what it had been before the bridge damage. BAAAH!

18 January 14; Saturday; Green Turtle Cay
  • The cold front came through in the morning and it was overcast and cold. I spent the morning making pizza dough, bread dough, and then baking almond biscotti. Then it was back to engineering the brackets I will need to mount the anchor light and wind transducer at the masthead. The salon was again a mess due to the masthead work so I cleaned that up before taking a short nap as a reward. A bit refreshed I made the pizzas and had them ready for the oven when guests arrived.
  • Peggy prepared what I now have dubbed "Peggy's Punch" -- a delicious rum punch. We had a nice cocktail hour while the pizzas baked. Tina wasn't feeling up to eating so we were graced by just Ed for dinner. For some reason we managed to eat only one of the 2 pizzas. The Heeling Times brought a fresh banana creme pie with a fantastic meringue topping for desert. Tina felt well enough to join us for the first Farkle game in he Bahamas this year. Newbie, Dana, managed to walk away with the game.

19 January 14; Sunday; Green Turtle Cay
  • The Steward slept in and when prodded got the galley cleaned up. Ed Burke called on the phone this AM sounding pretty bad as he had been sick all night. I brought him over some anti-nausea meds. Later Tina said she is suspicious that her illness yesterday and Ed's today was due to food poisoning from the chicken deli meat they had for lunch yesterday.
  • Peggy and I went into the GTC for breakfast where we met up with the Beckonings and the Heeling Times.
  • Chef Michael put on a pig roast at the ocean beach today. So, about 1500 we all headed over and found ourselves the first ones there. We then took a long walk along the beach. On return, we broke out rum punch and began a game of beach bocce with the bocce set I bought at Wrightsville Beach. The beach was sloping and varied from very soft to very hard. The Heeling Times had not played bocce before so I figured we'd have to go gentle on them. However, I forgot that Tom was a golf pro and knows how to read terrain and play balls in the sand. It was great fun but the Onwards and Merlins and Beckonings were no match for the Heeling Times. Lesson learned: handicap golf pros when playing bocce with them.
  • The pig roast proved to be very tasty and enjoyable. It was a fitting end to our sojourn on Green Turtle Cay. We returned to the boats for a quite night as a prelude to our departure in the morning.

20 January 14; Monday; Green Turtle Cay to Hope Town
  • A beautiful sunny morning with winds SW @ ~ 10 kts greeted us. I topped off the water tanks, settled up the marina bill and then with Peggy's able help made an easy exit of the slip to follow Merlin. Heeling Time left just before us to head to Treasure Cay and Beckoning departed just after us to head to Great Guana Cay.
  • We were underway at 0900 with high tide at ~1045 and the White Sound channel carried good depths all the way out. We motorsailed for the W Whale passage channel and had gentle swells for the peaceful transit. We entered the E passage and headed for Hope Town. It was a beautiful motorsail under genoa all the way to the Hope Town channel. We arrived at 1245, about 2 hrs after high tide, and still had about 1.5' of tide with us. We saw a minimum of 6.9' during the passage - likely a couple of small sand waves. I had called Hope Town Marina to check that moor ins were available, and on entering the harbor I looked for the double red or double blue moorings. I couldn't find any! The harbor was quite full. But I did see two sets of double green moorings available and I took the one closest to the E shore of the harbor. It was an uneventful pickup with Peggy at the helm and me on the foredeck.
  • Once settled, I took a short nap and then we launched the dinghy and headed into town. As I was giving Peggy a short walking tour, we went by Vernon's Grocery and were able to snag a key lime pie. Ed and Tina had gotten there before us but they were kind enough to leave one for us. We continued our walking tour and stopped for a beer at Wine Down Sip Sip before heading back to Onward.
  • The Merlins joined us for dinner. I made a big salad and Ed grilled the chicken breasts they brought over. We topped off dinner with Vernon's key lime pie. Then finished off the evening with a Farkle game. It was an unusual game in the number of Farkles suffered by the players; I don't keep records but this game certainly set a new one. I led most of the game and went over 10000 first. Then each of the other players, all of whom had been well behind, passed my score in succession to take the lead with the last player, Ed, winning.

21 January 14; Tuesday; Hope Town
  • A beautiful sunny morning. However a front was on the way for arrival later in the day. I talked to Chris Parker and it looks like we should be able to make a dash for the central Exumas on Friday - Sunday.
  • We met the Merlins ashore about 0900 and rented bikes. We set off to tour the S half of Elbow Cay. It wasn't a bad ride with only a couple of hills that required walking the bikes. We went S past the Sea Spray Resort to the end of the public road and found a number of lovely homes at this end of the cay. We returned and had drinks on the patio of Abaco Inn before heading back N to the "On Da Beach" restaurant for lunch. We enjoyed great grilled sandwiches on the deck perched above the dunes on a sparkling day. We could see the front to the NW and it seemed to be almost stationary. The multiple shades of blue in the water was spectacular. We returned to town and turned in the bikes before heading over to the Humming Bird Art Center. This is a new community art center that was in the finishing stages of construction last year. They took two small cottages on a beautiful piece of waterfront property and turned them into beautiful galleries with all natural wood interior walls and floors.
  • We returned to Onward and I immediately flaked out for a nap. Merlin called and we agreed to meet at Captain Jacks for Taco Tuesday. However, just as we were getting ready to leave, the squall front came in and Peggy and I decided to be whimps and stay aboard for the night. The Merlins were made of hardier stuff and enjoyed dinner ashore. A dinner of pizza reheated in the iron skillet served as a nice light dinner. We finished off the evening with a movie, Oh Brother Where Art Thou.

22 January 14; Wednesday; Hope Town
  • The morning was bright and sunny with a lot of W wind. Conditions were still looking good for our departure to the Little Harbour area in the morning in preparation for crossing to Eleuthera on Friday.
  • We headed over to the lighthouse and climbed to the light to take pictures. The wind from the W was spectacular as was the panoramic view of the NE corner of the Abacos! We next headed over to Hope Town Marina where we had drinks and appetizers for lunch. They have done a spectacular job of turning what was once a derelict marinas into a beautiful marina / resort. Some day I will have to go back on a warm day to enjoy the beautiful pool.
  • We next headed over to town to make a run through the grocery stores in preparation for departure tomorrow. I also managed to snag another of Vernon's key lime pies. We were back aboard by 1330 and I set about cleaning up the dinghy and working on the davit falls.

23 January 14; Thursday; Hope Town to Bridges Cay

24 January 14; Friday; Bridges Cay to Current Island

25 January 14; Saturday; Current Island to Cape Eleuthera

26 January 14; Sunday; Cape Eleuthera to Warderick Wells
  • It was an easy morning. We all took on water and Merlin used jerrycans to top of its fuel tanks. We headed out at 0900 with a clear sunny day and light winds. It was a very easy crossing. I found that I was able to maintain 3G service from Cape Eleuthera some 16 nm offshore.
  • The entrance to Warderick Cut was calm and well behaved. Unfortunately there were no mooring available in the N field so we continued the trek around Warderick Bore to the Emerald Rock mooring field. As I came in, I was getting ready to pick up the mooring when a dinghy came up and asked if I needed help. I was a bit brain-dead from the heat and had my mind working on the pickup so while the person looked familiar I just couldn't make the connection. I thanked him and said I'd make a try first and see how it went. Luckily the pickup went flawlessly. As I got back to the cockpit and began winding things down, I realized it had been Rick from Calypso who had offered his help! Duh!
  • Rick and Eva invited the Merlins and I over and we had a nice cocktail hour catching up on things since Thanksgiving in Vero Beach at Skip and Harriet Hardy's.
  • 27 January 14; Monday; Warderick Wells

28 January 14; Tuesday; Warderick Wells

29 January 14; Wednesday; Warderick Wells
  • A bit of a lazy morning aboard. The prime activity of the morning was for Peggy to give me pie dough making and pie making instructions. She made a crust for an apple pie and I got to watch and ask questions -- stealing with my eyes and ears. We then used a can of Comstock apple pie filling and I added craisins and walnuts. It looked beautiful when done. I will have to try my hand at this while Peggy is back in the US.
  • I prepared a picnic lunch of skillet-warmed calzone and packed it along with water, a beer, and some almond biscotti. We then Ventured off to show Peggy some of the small private beaches I've discovered in the area. It was a beautiful day with only a few clouds and SE winds @ ~10 kts.
  • We landed over at the first beach and had lunch. By that time we were warm enough where a swim was in order. Peggy is not enamored of snorkeling - something I will have to work on. So while she cooled in the shallows, I snorkeled out to check the corals. This area had been torn up by a hurricane in 2012 and was just coming back last year. This year the corals and fish populations seemed to be much better. It was wonderful to be snorkeling in the Bahamas again!
  • When we were cool enough, we Ventured forth again to visit a second private beach where we went for a short hike to where we could oversee the anchorage. It is an amazing contrast between the density and diversity of the foliage on this small outlying cay and Warderick Wells which has been >60% denuded by the Hutia. Our short exploration done, it was time to head back to Onward for a nap and to prepare for dinner guests.
  • This was to be Peggy's farewell dinner party and it was an all-Peggy show. She had brought aboard with her some frozen chicken marsala with vegetables. This and the pie were to be dinner with an appetizer of warmed brie with walnut-whisky sauce. I napped for a bit while Peggy packed for tomorrows departure. Then we baked the pie and when it was done put in the chicken to reheat. I even managed to get showered well before guests arrived.
  • We started off with the last of "Peggy's Punch" . The brie appetizer was fantastic! The came the chicken -- wonderful. I must steal this recipe for future use aboard Onward. Merlin contributed a salad - wonderful as always. Heeling Time contributed fresh healthy oatmeal cookies so we enjoyed a double desert! We spent a grand time just talking in the cockpit until it was well after cruisers midnight.

30 January 14; Thursday; Warderick Wells to Staniel Cay
  • A sad day dawned as Peggy's flight was at 1530. We got underway at 0800. The mooring departure was a challenge as one of the bridle lines had wrapped around the buoy and in the ~ 2 kt current is was a bear to release it and then release the mooring. The wind was SSE and on the nose and it was a slow trip at < 6 kts down to Staniel Cay. Along the way I tried the VHF and its reception and output are still way below par.
  • At Staniel, I found my close-in anchor spot available and Onward was at anchor by 1200. I then got to spend time on the cell phone because one of my Visa cards had been turned off by the credit union when they say a $1 charge by BTC Bahamas that I had to make to set up my new phone numbers for on-line top-up. BAAAH! Of course, this then screwed up my automatic payment for boat insurance which I then needed to fix.
  • I cooled down by taking a shower. I then had the sad job of helping Peggy move her bags to Venture for the trip in. We managed to get us and the garbage-bag wrapped bags safely into the dinghy and headed ashore.
  • We had a relaxing and delicious lunch at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club - blackened Mahi. I then took Peggy on a short walk around the cay to give her a flavor of a small Bahamian settlement. We returned to SCYC in time for our ride out to the airport. Peggy was impressed by the gazebo that serves as the terminal. We had a good time talking with the Watermakers pilot, John. At boarding time, Peggy asked to sit in the copilot seat. I was impressed that she was comfortable there. The plane started its engine and began to taxi when it was stopped by the Customs officer. There were a number of Bahamian government officials on the island today -- including 2 different customs officers who needed to inspect the plane at different times and then disagreed about what papers were / were not available. After a short delay the plane was released and off they went.
  • By the time the wheels were in the air, I was already missing Peggy. We had a wonderful time together. Life aboard Onward was certainly different, more enjoyable, richer, more interesting with Peggy. Her sailing experience and easy going, unflappable presence made for very relaxed interaction. I am already looking forward to having her aboard again in late March. In the meantime I hope the 3-week skiing sojourn she has planed with her children in Vermont goes well -- but I won't miss sharing the cold.
  • Once Peggy was in the air, I walked to visit each of the 3 stores.   The mailboat isn't due to Friday this week so all I managed to get was a very tired head of ice burg lettuce and a almost as tired bunch of celery. Then, as there is always a surprise to found, I pounced on a package of tortilla wraps!  All that for $12.50 and 3 stores.
  • I got back to Onward and immediately napped. I spoke with Merlin at Shroud Cay where they and Heeling Time had a great day exploring the streams that got through the cay. The N stream I explored last year now took them all the way to the ocean on the E shore. I spent a restful evening reading.

31 January 14; Friday; Staniel Cay
  • It was a bit different waking up without Peggy about the boat. However not having someone about to interact with removed all my excuses for getting so little done in fixing, maintaining, and running Onward. I talked with Merlin again by SSB and they are heading this way for Black Point for the weekend. I decided to just hang here and move on when they approach.
  • I managed to get my boat insurance issues fixed. Then I spent a couple of hours trying to work out why my FTP won't work to update my websites. This has been the most frustrating IT issue I've ever had to deal with. The detective work I've been able to do using my FTP application indicates that the BTC Bahamas internet server used for cellular data connections is talking to the FTP server of my website host using its public IP address. But then it pass on the "Private" IP address it assigns to my cellular modem for the FTP server to connect to. The FTP server then says "I won't connect to that private IP address -- only a BTC public address" and ends the process. When I use the FTP process within my website authoring software, it hangs up when I use an "Active" FTP process (which works just fine with my Verizon cellular modem in the US). When I switch to a "Passive" FTP mode, the software says the upload went normally but when I go to access the file it isn't on the server where it should be and I can't find out where it actually went. Neat Eh?
  • Around 1130 I headed in to Staniel Cay to shop for fresh produce as the mailboat, Captain C, came in last night. I had "orders" from Merlin and Heeling Time so I did quite a bit of veggy shopping; $57 worth -- for not a lot by US standards. But that's the price of beautiful weather, water, and islands. I made a quick stop at SCYC to pick up a bottle of rum for Heeling Time and then headed back to Onward where I weighed anchor immediately.
  • I have come to really love Onward's new arch. When it was first completed, I wasn't sure how I was going to interface Venture to it. One of the key issues was how high to carry it and another was how to securely keep it in place so it would not be able to swing/move during rough seas. I have been carrying it so the top of the tubes is just above the stern rail so I can see over it. This puts the starboard tube's stern end at a level where it will nestle into the corner formed where the outer arch is welded to the middle arch. I then have a short line that firmly holds it using its handle/cleat into this nook. This does a great job of keeping Venture from swinging. This was one of the biggest problems I had with the davits.
  • I plan to use 12V ATV winches to lift the dinghy but I didn't have time to engineer the electrical setup before leaving the US so I have been using the original falls with longer lines. These reach to the halyard winches. I have been using my Milwaukee winch driver on the port winch so that I don't have to do any manual hauling -- good for my rotator cuffs. I've been using a couple of turning blocks tethered to the stern rail to bring the line down from the arch and give a flat lead angle to the winches. I sill haven't figured how to put cam cleats in this temporary system. Now I manually keep tension on the lines once the dinghy has been raised and I use the cleats I initially installed on the sides of the arch to cleat off the lines. I cut some wedges of 1/2" starboard and use them to jam the lift line as it exits the center sheave in the upper blocks while I am doing the cleating; this obviates me having to keep tension on the lift lines. Its a bit of a Rube Goldberg -- but a lot easier that with the original davits.
  • Now that I've been using the arch, I have become aware of the extensive deformation of the stern rail, particularly on the starboard side, caused by the attachment load of the davits. And this in spite of the two diagonal and one vertical SS bracing struts I had installed. All this SS bracing is gone and the stern looks much cleaner and unobstructed.
  • As Onward departed Staniel Cay, Merlin and Heeling Time had just passed by and I motored after them into the SSE wind toward Black Point. It was an easy transit and I got to soak up some sun along the way. Once anchored at Black Point, I launched Venture and opened the "Onward Fresh Veggies Store" . The Merlins and Heeling Times came over and we divided up the goods.
  • I've been carrying some canned roast beef for some time and have never figured out what to do with it. Today I decided to try to make some roast beef salad -- similar to the chicken salad I make with canned chicken breast. There was a bit of gelled fat that I separated out. I then broke up the beef which was much like pot roast. I added celery chunks, onion pieces, garlic, basil, and then some "HP" sauce. It turned out to be quite good.
  • Samvaro III, a C470, was in the harbor so I invited Paulo and Sylvia over for cocktails. Unfortunately Sylvia wasn't feeling well so only Paulo was able to come over. The Heeling Times and Merlins joined the party and we had a delightful evening talking about a wide variety of topics. Paulo is Brazilian-American and i found it interesting hearing his experiences and learning a bit about Brazil. He is a member of a group of my friends who are much cleverer than I because they've managed to make friends who have waterfront homes with piers that can berth their vessels. Paulo's friend is in Nassau and he often leaves Samvaro there when he has to return tot he US for business. I must work on that skill.
  • It was a very pleasant end to the day and I missed having Peggy aboard to share it.