Onward’s Cruise Journal 2019
Bahamas


Updated: 3 May 2019


April 2019


1 April 2019; Monday; Conception Island

  • It was very quite night with gentle rocking in the small swell refracting around the NW reef.
  • About 1000, I decided to snorkel around the boat to clean the bottom in some of the places the diver missed. As I got in the water a 6-8' shark swam buy. Miles and Dan told me on the radio it was the nurse shark that had been hanging around their boats so I went back in. After cleaning some barnacles off the rudder, the shark reappeared. I kicked my fins at it to shoo it away, but it was unimpressed. As it rounded the bow, I got a good look at it in profile and I discovered this was NOT a nurse shark. My exit from the water was rapid. Once aboard, I remembered Peggy had been preparing the chicken in the sink and of course this gave off a plume that had attracted the shark. It eventually left when no chickens were to be found (this chicken was safely in the cockpit).

2 April 2019; Tuesday;
  • Rain squalls moved in at ~0630 and gave us a thorough washing until ~1030 when I apparently turned them off by hanging my "soused" polo shirt out to get washed. I got soaked doing this but as soon as I was inside the enclosure the rain stopped for the rest of the day.
  • About 1300, Peggy and I Ventured in to hike the island. I had restowed the forward locker to put the anchor and reel of line right on top so they could be easily applied. I had done this before going ashore to Chez Pierre. Now, anchoring bow-out to shore is very easy. I still need to dream up an easier way to transfer the load to the bow-eye.
  • Once ashore, we discovered we had the island to ourselves. I got to indulge in the German / northern European penchant for hiking in the buff. Delightful. Cool, free, comfortable, no sweat, no chafe. Try it you'll like it.
  • As we followed the trail E along the N shore, we discovered that a storm or storms had eroded the shore since out last visit in 2016. Sections of the trail are so close to the rim that we crept along. As we looked ahead to the last ~0.25 mi before the trail cuts across the small NE peninsula to the NE crescent beach, the trail was so badly damage we decided it was too much of a risk. In this section the cliff had been lower and it was possible to hike along the layered rocks just below the rim. The cliff face apparently has been eroded away and there is no path along the rocks. No inland trail was apparent. In the future it will be necessary for hikers to carry a machete to cut a new trail farther back from the cliff face.
  • We backtracked to a beautiful small cove that was formed when the sea side of a cave had collapsed leaving a small sandy cove. I had a very enjoyable time just cooling off in the shallow water beyond the gentle surf. Occasionally a ray or a large reef fish would wander by about 100' further out. We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch. Peggy was clever to take some of her quinoa salad and I took a ploughmans lunch in a bag (celery, broccoli, snap peas, cheese, radishes, and grilled chicken strips tossed on a quart ziplock with garlic powder, basil and pepper. Delish. While I was sunbathing, Peggy had fun photo documenting the smily face she had drawn on my butt last night without me being aware.
  • Back aboard, I baked dinner rolls and then we headed over to Ariel for a chicken curry dinner. Miles was happy because he prevailed at Farkle.

3 April 2019; Wednesday;
  • I was up at 0530 to prepare for our watering. At 0630 I weighed anchor and moved to the starboard rear quarter of Sandana. There Peggy through Dan one of my long 3/8" lines and he tethered us about 30' off. Miles came over in his tender and ferried the hose from Sandana to Onward. Peggy filled the forward 3 water tanks while I stayed at the helm to keep us separated. Winds were ~ 5 kts from the NE and the waters were very calm. Only occasional adjustments with idle reverse or bow thrusters were needed. By 0715, watering was complete and we cast off from the water hoy and put to sea (a la Captain Aubrey and Patrick Obrien).
  • We motored N over calm seas with a gentle long-period swell from the NW. I guess this was the source of the crashing waves I'd heard during the night and early this morning. The swells were so low and gentle that they were not obvious on the boat but gave a pleasant crash of waves on the shore at the S end of the anchorage.
  • Onward set anchor in New Bight after using the newly discovered sonar charting feature to run swaths along the shore that showed a nice long basin about 8.5' to 9' at low tide about 100 m off shore near the cell tower.
  • Dan's fishing dry spell broke and he caught to Mahi on the trip over. So, of course, we went aboard Sandana for a delicious grilled Mahi dinner. Dan started the festivities with Mahi sashimi — the most tender I've ever had. Laureen stormed through a Farkle game to become the day's Farkle Queen with 11650 points. The game was the most unusual I have ever played: Both Dan and I thru 8 consecutive Farkles on the first 8 throws; I went on to throw a total of 11 Farkles in13 turns and got the lowest total score I've ever gotten, 800. Fagetaboudit!

4 April 2019; Thursday;
  • At 1100 we headed ashore. I again employed my bow-out mooring skills. We hiked to the Hermitage in the sunny but cool and dry air. Even though I've visited this site several times, it still fools me as to its size and i am still aware of the devotion of its builder.
  • The idea of hiking to the grocery store proved to be a hike too far as Laureen and I had foot sores from out sandals. We also had to help Miles push his tender off the sand where it had drifted in the falling tide. I could only use my legs due to fear of damaging my shoulders again. The difficulty of getting a heavy tender off the beach is the reason I've switched to bow-out anchoring with a stern anchor at the shoreline.
  • With the Ariels we had a delicious lunch of baked chicken peas & rice, and spicy potato salad at the Blue Bird. I was happy to see it still going strong and the 3 sisters doing well.
  • After a recovery nap I spent the evening trying to solve a webpage editor software problem. And Peggy got to beat me 2 games straight at backgammon. She again mesmerized the dice to do her biddin

5 April 2019; Friday; New Bight to Fernandez Bay
  • I awoke at ~0300 from dreams about the website problem I was working on. I decided to get up and put the drams to work for a couple of hours before going back to sleep.
  • The wind was E @ 12-15 kts so I decided it would be nice to just sail for a change (Peggy checked the regulations to confirm that this was OK. We were underway by 0715 and had a pleasant but short sail under genoa to Fernandez Bay. Tonight we will celebrate Laureen's birthday with dinner at the resort. Sandy snuck birthday balloons aboard Ariel before Laureen woke up to start the day. Then the Onwards followed by the Sandanas gave "Happy Birthday" renditions over VHF.
  • After getting settled, Peggy and I Ventured off to Smiths Bay about a mile N. This is a small enclosed harbor where freight and ferry boats dock. On Friday's they hold a Farmers Market that we learned about yesterday when we visited Olive's for bread. It turns out that today they were hosting the 2nd Annual Cat Island Fishing Tournament. We shopped at the farmers market and got some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. We also visited the well-stocked food store across the street to buy vegetables and stuff we didn't know we needed.
  • We had a birthday dinner party at the Fernandez Bay Resort. This is always a fun spot because we get t meet visitors from all over. We lucked out as it was the lobster and filet night! Yum! We retired to Sandana. Both the Ariel and Sandanas had their challenges with anchoring off and sharing anchors - one for bow one for stern. It made me happy that Peggy and I have worked out the drill using two anchors so that Peg can usually get in dry. Sandy had baked a chocolate cake with coffee flavor in both the cake and the icing — it has to go down to one of the best I've ever had. I had two healthy pieces. Somehow everyone got back to the right boat safely.

6 April 2019; Saturday;
  • The Sandanas announced they had changed their plans and were no longer going to move N quickly to position for a cruise to Bermuda. Instead they will remain in the Bahamas longer. So this morning they headed off to the Exumas to meet up with other friends. Bliss: Sandy sent over another piece of cake as a farewell gift.
  • I used the day to complete and file my income taxes. Then I lazed about and worked on websites.
  • The Ariels came over for dinner. I made angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, fresh cherry tomatoes, green beans, snap peas, yellow squash, shallot, a bit of broccoli flowers, and pine nuts, chicken sausage with spinach, and white wine. There was little left… The Ariels again prevailed over the Onwards in Farkle. I had another amazingly bad series of rounds like I was trying to better my recent record for sequential and total Farkles. Fagetaboudit!

7 April 2019; Sunday; Fernandez Bay to Bennett's Harbour
  • We decided to move to Bennett's Harbour and Onward was underway by ~0715. The wind was E @ 10 - 12 so we had a pleasant sail with just the genoa. How peaceful!
  • Ariel started later and motored past us. We anchored off the cresent beach to the E of the creek around 1130. I packed a nosh bag of veggies and cheese sticks in a ziplock bag with spices and we Ventured off to explore the creek. The first mile or so is very wide and deep with crystal clear water over sparkling white sand. The area drains is huge so there was a good bit of ebb current. We drifted back while I noshed and got to see > 12 turtles come by and peek at us. The current was too strong to try to land in the narrow place available and there was no place to tie and climb up on the freight pier. So we gave up on taking a walk ashore.
  • We ended the day with grilled chicken aboard Ariel and a game of Farkle that Miles won after I had another disastrous night with the dice!

8 April 2019; Monday; Bennett's Harbour to Current Cut
  • Onward was underway at 0615. With the wind ESE at ~12 to 14 kts, we motorsailed with just the genoa and averaged speeds of 7 to 8 kts SOG. The initial leg of heading WNW to pass Little San Slavador was a bit rolly. Once we turned the corner at the very SE tip of Eleuthera, it was smooth going for the balance of the trip.
  • We passed the cruise port at Little San Salvadore as the Holland America Line New Statendam was coming in to anchor. When I first saw the ship, I couldn't be sure where it was going. My calls on VHF 13 and 16 went unanswered. Not a warm feeling. I guess they were too busy dealing with the shore operations.
  • I have never before sailed close to the SE tip of Eleuthera. The set of rocks projecting far off shore were impressive. Just NW of LIghthouse Point is the cruise port for Princess Cruise lines. They have built quite a shore operation. We got to watch ships boats as well as catamaran ferries from the shore schlep folks back and forth.
  • At Cape Eleuthera marina we passed by and saw a 160' and 105' motor yachts at the W bulkhead. They are also building more condo units now. Ariel had caught up with us and bade us farewell as they put into the marina to hide our from the projected poor weather on Tuesday and Wednesday.

9 April 2019; Tuesday; Current Cut to Meeks Patch
  • I called Foster Neilly again to verify he wasn't coming out to visit. He told me his wife calls the Bahamas Met agency to check on the tide state at Current Cut for him.
  • We were underway by 0800 and decided to sail with just the genoa using the ESE wind at 12-14 kts. I decided to check out anchoring on the E side of Meeks Place. The new Navionics charts show detailed depth data which indicated a good anchorage in ~ 9' MLT in the area. When I arrived, I found depths of ~11' and I used the newly discovered sonar mapping technique to run a grid over the anchorage area. I saved a screenshot of this.
  • We anchored in 11' off the center of the E shore of the Cay in good sand at ~ 1015. I started to record the tide to try to figure out what tide station or tide-offset from Nassau to use. I then took a look at the Devil's Backbone — the route between Spanish Wells and Harbor Island. I was pleasantly surprised to see the new Navionics charts showing detailed depth data for the whole route. It also shows a magenta dashed line for the recommended route. I then noticed the AIS of a large MY and a sailing vessel following the route. I followed them on AIS and laid down waypoints for their route which closely adhered to the dashed line. Over the course of the day I watched a freight RORO and a sailing vessel do the end closest to Spanish Wells — the part Peggy and I inspected in Venture the last time we visited here.

10 April 2019; Wednesday; Meeks Patch
  • We woke to an overcast sky. As the morning went on there were some light rain squalls and the wind clocked from ~180º to ~270º by 1100. As I worked on my laptop, I kept an eye on the AIS and watched two large MY depart Harbor Isalnd following the route I'd built and then exiting to the ocean by the E of the 2 cuts through the reef. I watched a RoRo make the passage over the W half of the route. Neat, sailing and navigating vicariously. I have watched several 100' motor yachts and RoRo ships and ferries run it with drafts to 8'. I now have a complete set of waypoints for the route.
  • I volunteered to assist the Corinthians Annual Cruise 2019 Committee with a website to support the Maine Cruise. George Hallenbeck accepted the proposal so I worked on building a Beta version.
  • We had a rather lazy day aboard. The wind went West for only a few hours at 10 kts or less. This anchorage is really fine. I like it better than the previous anchorage I used off the S coast of Spanish Wells. It is hard to get away from the noise of the power plant there. Meeks Patch is very quiet. The dinghy ride into town is only ~0.5 nm longer. I continued to watch the AIS of vessels going through the Devil's Backbone and this gave me enough confidence to make the trip in the morning.
  • During cocktail hour, I actually won 2 games of Backgammon!

11 April 2019; Thursday; Meeks Patch to Harbour Island
  • I checked with Chris Parker and it looks like Saturday would be a good day to cross from Harbour Island to the Abacos. I decided that a day and a half ought to be enough time to explore there.
  • Since arriving, I had been making record of the depth every hour / half hour as I was able. I plotted these up to try to determine the tide cycle at this location.
  • At 1000, Onward weighed anchor. I had been watching a train of 3 large motor yachts being brought W through the Backbone. This again increased my confidence. I noticed they went in the E entrance of Spanish Wells harbor and out the W entrance. The charts show good water for the outside passage at the SE corner — but there is thin patch and apparently vessels opt to go through the harbor.
  • After the train exited the harbor, Onward headed in about 1015. That proved uneventful. I found the shallowest point to be 8.2' on the N edge of the exit channel just before the E end. The lighting was good and the deep passages around Gun Point and Ridley Point were right where the chart & waypoints said they should be — a good beginning. Peggy and I had surveyed this are in Venture on our previous visit and that also gove me more confidence.
  • Peggy stood lookout on the bow with our headset intercom and arms wrapped around the genoa. She gave me a description of the bottom as i watched the chart and controlled the autopilot. The water was so clear she could see rocks on the bottom as we passed over. It was difficult for her to gage depth — often thinking it was much shallower than what the depth sounder read.
  • About 1/3 of the route E, there is a passage to the ocean. Just before that point a motor yacht operated with someone with more money than brains passed a W-bound sailing yacht at one of the narrowest points in the route throwing a huge wake. As they passed Onward - without slowing in spite of a nasty comment by the sailboat captain, I was able to alter course out to sea to cut the wake. No AIS, no name visible — a sky blue picnic-boat like hull.
  • The most challenging areas were a couple of places where the route was within ~ 100 yds of the beach. Depths were fine. The shallowest was ~9-10' at one short section; the average 12-16'. Overall time at ~6 kts was 2 hrs. Not bad at all.
  • Just as we got to the W end of the route a guide brought a 120+ MY by us and we followed him the rest of the way. Once we reached the sandbar that projects W from the N-central section of Harbor Island, I steered Onward close inshore so we could slowly inspect the waterfront — in good water depths of 10 to 12'. First came the fishermen pier, then the government dock for freight and ferries, then Valentines Marine followed by Remora Resort Marina. At the old Harbour Island Marina, a new steel cofferdam has been installed to create an artificial island for a new marina. We went as far S as the sandbar at the S W tip of the island before heading back to anchor to the N of the new bulkhead. We set anchor at ~1300.
  • The threatening squall clouds that had spread across the southern horizon as we came down the Backbone decided to move off to the E leaving a beautiful day. We Ventured off to explore Harbour Island. Dinghy docks are very hard to come by here so we eventually put into Valentines Marina. They had tiny dock in the shallows where we were able to tie up while we explored the marina. We decided to stop for a couple of drinks; pricey at $55 for two rum punches and two beers.
  • We went off on a walking tour N along the waterfront — Queens Highway, of course. There were a number of up-scale restaurants we passed. At the government dock there wasn't really any place to land a dinghy as all the space is taken by commercial freight vessels and ferries. We checked out the local fishermen's pier where fresh fish can be bought when the local fishermen come in. As we walked along we came upon Briland's hotdog stand and it looked interesting enough to stop and check it out. Peggy and I each tried one — they were huge and very good. By this time it was after sunset and we walked back to get Venture along the parallel street in shore.
  • Getting away from the dinghy dock turned out to be a very trying experience. It was low tide. Venture was partly on the bottom with the bottom of the engine dug in. It was also hemmed in by other tenders some of which had their engine tilted up posing danger to the inflatable. I got quiet stressed out trying to get the engine up and Venture poled out to deeper water without accidentally using another inflatable into a can opener. That got put on my NEVER DO THIS AGAIN list. Once back aboard Onward we crashed after a long and adventurous day.

12 April 2019; Friday; Harbour Island
  • Peggy had to wrestle with some tax return issues before we could Venture into town again at 1100. We passed up Valentines marina and went looking for a dock or a beach to land Venture. At the fishermens pier, we put in and talked with one of the men cleaning fish. He said it was fine to tie up there. It took a bit to find a place where the water was deep enough and their was space to pull in. All the boats had an anchor holding them off the pier with either bow or stern near the pier. We found a spot near a ladder and offloaded Peggy and our stuff. My practice setting the bow anchor helped a lot and we soon got situated. There was a challenge making sure the bow couldn't get near the protruding underwater bolts on many of the pilings.
  • That done we went off to rent a golf cart. I found one at the 3rd place I went to and was soon driving a cart for $40 for half a day. We headed N as far as carts can go then went S along the oceanside road. We stopped at several beach access points and verified that the sand is indeed pink-tinged from the microscopic red coral pieces in it.

13 April 2019; Saturday; Harbour Island to Little Harbour, Great Abaco
  • I was up at 0445 and weighed anchor at 0600, 45 min before sunrise. Peggy encouraged me to start in the dark as high tide had been ~ 0400. She pointed out we now had the route experience and there had been no real value — other than emotional security from being able to see the waters ahead. I had recalibrated the autopilot and fluxgate compass before anchoring last night so I decided to let the autopilot run the route instead of me issuing course changes to it. The SPX30 did a fine job and I was just the supervisor. In the 3.85 nm route to the exit cut, the shallowest point was ~9.5' This was about 3 hrs after local high tide.
  • There are a couple of sections where the outer reef doesn't prevent rollers from getting in. I would not want to do this route in winds from the NE to SE at 15 kts or more. As we exited the cut, one of the pilots was about to lead a 100+' MY through.
  • Once at sea, we found long period swells coming in from the NE. We set main and genoa and motorsailed at >7.5 kts toward the Abacos. In spite of the swells, we found a smooth and easy entrance through Little Harbour cut into the Sea of Abaco. By 1400, we were anchored next to Bara with Paula and Hugh MacNeil. A wonderful surprise awaited us: an invitation to dinner!
  • The Baras have been enjoying their first cruise to the Bahamas on their own bottom in Bara and have been having a fine time exploring the nooks and crannies of the Abacos. I baked some rosemary-olive oil dinner rolls that went well with the delicious steak dinner served up. We again played Joe & Peggy Farkleseed and made new converts to the Cult of Farkle. A fine way to start our sojourn in the Abacos.

14 April 2019; Sunday; Lynyard Cay to Hope Town
  • Our plan had been to take the tenders down to Little Harbour and Pete's Pub. However the SE winds piped up to > 20 kts and by mutual agreement we put the visit off for another day. About 1200 Onward weighed anchor and sailed to Hope Town using just the genoa and doing 5 to 6.5 kts SOG.

15 April 2019; Monday; Hope Town

16 April 2019; Tuesday; Hope Town
  • We went in early to be first in line at the Coffee House so Peggy could get her fix for the day. That done we headed back to Onward for a few hours. We decided today was a day for the Hope Town Harbour Lodge beach bar. After a great lunch, Peggy found a nice spot on the beach with an umbrella and chairs for us to nap and read for a couple of hours before heading home

17 April 2019; Wednesday; Hope Town
  • I worked on getting the Corinthians Maine cruise website up and working. Then we headed ashore to have lunch at On Da Beach. It was a beautiful day for our walk there and we had a delicious lunch overlooking the ocean.

18 April 2019; Thursday; Hope Town
  • Another beautiful and sunny day. We decided to repeat our bar-hopping tour of the island from 2017. At that time, Peggy had come back from the US with a terrible case of bronchitis and we decided a day in the sun with antibiotics (rum punches) was needed. So we started at the Sea Spray resort at the S end of Elbow Cay and worked our way back to town. Great Fun — and effective as Peggy's bronchitis was cured.
  • Ashore, we found out that there are so many visitors that there are not enough golf carts so we were out of luck. Peggy suggested calling one of the resorts on our proposed tour and we found the Sea Spray ready to fetch us in their shuttle cart. The growth that we had seen good evidence of from the harbor was much more apparent as we drove S. Many new homes up and under construction and many older places being brought up to spiffiness.
  • We found the Sea Spray Marina basin to almost full with many sports fishermen. When I first visited here, it was in tough shape but has improved greatly every year since. We enjoyed a tasty dinner at the outdoor bar and restaurant including the requisite rum punches.
  • After a bit of rest we started to move on to the Abaco Inn Resort and were fortunate to hitch a ride with a cart going in that direction. We had our second round of punches at the bar. Peggy found a backgammon game and we were off. The change in board & dice brought me lunch and I won the encounter! Amazing!
  • As we headed off to the Firefly Resort, we were able to hitch a ride with a guy that is doing landscape architecture on the island. He has a business in Ft. Lauderdale but has been coming to the Bahamas for > 20 years. He owns one of the homes we walked past yesterday with really great landscaping — figures. We enjoyed our third round of drinks at the Firefly — again a place that has really improved over the years.
  • On the way back, we were able to hitch another cart ride to the town. A fine way to handle the cart shortage. We returned to Onward to rest and read. Peggy demanded a second game of Backgammon — and wonder of wonders, I beat her again!

19 April 2019; Friday; Hope Town
  • A beautiful sunny day with SE winds to >25 kts as a cold front is forecast to come through tonight. It was finally time to do some laundry so we headed ashore to use the new laundromat at the bike shop & canvas store.
  • About 1500, I was reading in the salon and Peggy was reading in the cockpit when I heard two loud bangs from the bow. I ran up asking if we had been hit by a boat — looking for a tender nearby when Peggy pointed out a Sunsail charter 444 cat had broken loose from its mooring and had been blown down on our bow. I watched as its port stern quarter spun off and it went on to hit another cat off our port quarter. While I got in the dinghy to go over and try to slow it down, Peggy cleverly started blowing 5-toot signals on the air horn. By the time I got to the cat, at least 4 other tenders had gotten to it and were starting to play tugboat. Someone finally got aboard, started the engines and powered it away. The mooring line was frayed through underwater (likely that an outboard ran it over). Amazingly little damage to the boats at first glance. I may have sustained a chip on the bow. We’ll see.
  • We finished the day with a visit to Wine Down Sip Sip where we had cleverly arrived after the rush. Peggy enjoyed one of their great flat breads and I had an amazing grilled grouper filet with fettuccini with a wonderful sauce.

20 April 2019; Saturday; Hope Town

21 April 2019; Sunday; Hope Town to Green Turtle Cay
  • We went ashore to see the St. James Methodist's Easter Egg Hunt - but we were too early. We decided to have Brunch at the Hope Town Lodge beach restaurant and bar. This was a very enjoyable way to spend our last morning of this year's Bahamas cruise in Hope Town. Next we went down to the waterfront park next to the Library and got a shady seat on the benches awaiting the priest from Marsh Harbour to arrive. Mass started about 1230 and Truman Major acted as deacon. Easter or Christmas Mass under the trees is a lovely way to celebrate these holidays.
  • It was only 1315 when we headed back to Onward and we decided there was just enough time to get out of the harbor before low tied. So Onward dropped its mooring at 1330 and made it out of the shallows with inches to spare. We had planned to go around the whale in the morning but conditions looked go so we decided to get it done. We anchored for the night off of Green Turtle Cay where planned to get fuel in the morning.

22 April 2019; Monday; Green Turtle Cay to Beaufort Day 1
  • I was awoken at 0030 by a text from Joseph that they were on their way to USD Hospital for Erin to deliver our new family member. An hour later a text introduced us to Auden Frances Rocchio, 7lb 10 oz. and confirmed she and her mom were doing fine. I woke Peggy up to share and then dissolved into tears of happiness.
  • I talked to Chris Parker via the webcast and since Saturday, the weather window for going N in the gulf stream had begun to close down as a nasty cold front would come off Hatteras by Friday afternoon and evening. The recommendation was to leave Green Turtle Cay as soon as possible and head directly N to Beaufort instead of first going W to Mantaniilla Shoal before entering the GS.
  • I then checked and found the engine oil and filter needed changing so I got right on that. Last change I made little mess. This time, doing the same procedure it was messy and I was not pleased. What a PITA.
  • Once the oil was changed and cleanup done, we weighed anchor and headed in to the Green Turtle Club where we found the fuel pier open. By 1015 we had filled water and fuel tanks and were underway again by 1030. Peggy had the con while I worked on the internet to get critical things done before we headed offshore.
  • One of the important things was to get photos of Auden Frances and Mama and Big Sister, Livia! Wonderful
  • At 1200, Peggy informed me she had taken Onward through the Whale while I was on the internet. Nice. Below, I was unaware of the passage as conditions were good.
  • We set course directly for Beaufort: ~10º True. We had to bear off to the W to use the ENE wind. As the night progressed, the wind neglected to read the NOAA memo and thus come from the NNE vs E as was forecast. We motorsailed with the engine at 1600 rpm to do about 6 kts SOG while conserving fuel. We were initially very closed hauled and this was not very comfortable. I decided this was not the way I wanted to travel to Beaufort so as the night progressed, it became a game of bearing off to the W enough to use the sails with an easy motion. It turned out to be keeping a wind angle of 40 - 50º on a starboard tack. Our heading varied toward the W as the wind failed to do its thing to the E.

23 April 2019; Tuesday; Green Turtle Cay to Beaufort Day 2
  • 2400 - 0400:
  • 0400 - 1200:
  • 1200 - 1800
  • 1800 - 2100
  • 2100 - 2400

24 April 2019; Wednesday; Green Turtle Cay to Beaufort Day 3
  • 2400-0400: Peggy saw a ship on radar and visually but with no AIS. It passed safely.
  • 0400 - 1200:
  • 1200 - 1800: Peggy made Kinoa & ground beef chili. The boat rolling motion made it a challenge. With the stove gambled and the pot holders place it worked.
  • 1800 - 2100
  • 2100 - 2400: Godspeed crossed our stern and headed a bit more W positioning for entrance to Masonboro.

25 April 2019; Thursday; Green Turtle Cay to Beaufort Day 4

  • 2400 - 0400: Wind was essentially dead astern. I managed to sleep athwart the bed with my feet braced against the stbd cabinets. The Bose noise cancelling headset really help. I got good rest.
  • 0400 - 1200: Godspeed's lights disappeared as he moved further W.
  • 1200 - 1800: I talked to Godspeed before the weather broadcast at 0630. O ,managed to talk with Stormy on 4035 in spite of poor transmission. The strong squalls are forecast tp come offshore after 1200 Friday. Also important to gett out of GS this afternoon as winds will build strongly from SW. Godspeed was partially able to hear me on SSB and we talked after on VHF. I was able to easily pick up the 0700 weather net on 8137 for the E Coast. I easily talked to Stormy and confirmed wind forecast for our approach to Beaufort around dawn Friday. Also got a confirmation of the strong squalls being forecast to come offshore at noon or later.
  • Our plan is to approach Beaufort between 0200 and wait offshore until 0800 when it is low tide. We plan to enter the inlet at slack or with the first edge of the flood.
  • After the discussion with Stormy, I tried to get Godspeed on VHF but had no luck. The boat disappeared from AIS and radar. Hopefully this was because of him picking up speed as he moved toward Masonboro.
  • Wind shifted from W to SW and increased to ~17-18 kts. We turned from the CL of the GS to a direct course for Beaufort. Peggy knitted. I napped and then did the dishes. I came up and was impressed with how big the seas had grown: 6 - 8' + growing and shifting as forecast. It remained a sunny cool and dry day.
  • 1800 - 2100
  • 2100 - 2400

26 April 2019; Friday; Green Turtle Cay to Beaufort Day 5
  • 2400 - 0300: The winds were a fairly steady 18+ kts from the SW. As we approached Beaufort, we would just have been able to make it through the inlet on the last of the flood tide for the 0215 high tide. After remembering last years horror, I decided there was no way I would do that inlet at night with strong E to SW winds. One option was to just slow down and wait offshore but even with the genoa and a 60% reef in the main and the engine at idle speed, we were going too fast. Peggy voted for anchoring for the night in Lookout Bight. We had watched via AIS a couple of vessels do this. John from Godspeed had discussed this with me on one of our chats at sea and he thought very highly of it. So, we altered course, picked up engine speed. We had to dodge a couple of fishing boats without AIS along the way.
  • 0600-0900: I awoke at my normal time - without an alarm - and got ready to get underway. I weighed anchor at 0700 and headed out. In the daylight I could fully appreciate how large this anchorage is. A good place to stop! A big sailing cat, Valkyrie, followed me out and passed me on the way to the inlet. I followed him and dealt with three tugs putting to sea. The wind was SSW at 15 - 20 kts; waves ~4 - 6'. As I headed down the channel in the daylight and with essentially slack current, last year's horror of a passage came back to me. Winds and seas were about the same. Not having the strong ebb current against the wind was a big difference. Yet, in spite of that, the wind and seas were enough to make it difficult. The fact that the channel is mot where the charts say it is — although the buoys are shown in the right place — didn't help. Even after watching the tugs make the passage, it didn't look "right". In reality, the section where I had the most fighting transit last year, really was more benign (wider & deeper) than it appeared that night in the pitch black and wildly bouncing around. We got in, found >> 65' at the Moorehead fixed bridge and went on.
  • In the Bahamas I'd gotten used to having 4G-LTE internet access up to 15-20 nm from land. Here, cell tower coverage was the pits. I never did get my Verizon service reconnected until just before we transited the FB.
  • As I was below at the navstation writing this, Peggy called me up as we were about to enter the S end of the Hobucken cut. She called because the wind was blowing >25 kts with gusts to 35+ kts — the severe winds forecast for the front that we had hurried to beat. This made entering the canal a bit spicy due to cross winds over the narrow channel. We again touched bottom about 0.5 nm S of the bridge where it has been shoaling.
  • As we entered the Pamlico R from the cut, we were hailed by a trawler who had turned around from the their planned trip to Bellehaven because of the wind and the waves on the Pamlico. We took a look and decided it was better than the conditions on our approach to Beaufort yesterday and we pressed on. Winds were 18 - 25 kts from the SSW but they pushed us along rapidly with nothing like the rollers we faced in the GS. With the winds forecast to clock to the W later today, I decided to anchor for the night in the creek to the NW of the S exit of the AR-PR canal. We passed a vessel anchored further S who told me he had several hundred feet of rode out — not sure I believed him — but a good strategy to keep other boats away in any case. Just as we got to within < 0.5 nm from the target anchor spot, we say a phenomena that I'd never seen before: clouds so black they looked like they were from a crude oil fire. They rolled across just to our W bellow the almost-as-dark cloud layer. We were concerned they might be nacent funnel clouds. As I set the anchor thees clouds blew away to the NE and strong winds with gusts to >40 kts and very heavy rain hit us. What a nice welcome home.
  • Once the front passed, the sky began to clear and we ended up with a fairly calm and peaceful night that was cool for sleeping.

27 April 2019; Saturday;
  • I weighed anchor and got underway by 0630. The ST7002+ autopilot controller decided it didn't want to work. The cool night had caused the poor electrical contact of one of the connections to fail. I used the wireless remote to get underway. Eventually I was able to wiggle the connector enough that it came back to life.
  • At the Wilkerson Bridge, I discovered that there really is a 65' mark on the height boards — in all my previous transits, I'd never seen it! There is even a 66' mark. Imagine that!
  • As we exited the canal I set the genoa to make use of the strong winds. A powerboat overtook us and we agreed that I'd keep up speed and he would slow down enough not to leave a huge wake. A good pass was accomplished. Then, I noticed the sound of the engine exhaust had lost its murmur / babble. Then the engine temperature began to climb. I shut down the engine. Peggy took over sailing with the genoa. I went below, closed the through hull valve and opened the raw water strainer. The water level was low so I poured in a half gallon of water to top it up and re-closed the strainer. Peggy started the engine and I reopened the valve. Normal operation! Nice. I called the vessel who had passed to find out what type of propulsion he had. It was a Volvo RPS system with counterrotating props. I guess there was so much air in the wake that the pump lost prime.

28 April 2019; Sunday; Pungo Ferry Bridge to Hampton VA
  • We put into the Hampton Downtown Marina at ~1330. Gene came to fetch us at ~1500 and we were off to spend the rest of the day with Peggy's grandsons Easton and Lewis. Peggy had spent the morning baking a lasagna for dinner. So a fine time was had by all. After grandma helped get the guys in bed, we were soon back aboard.

29 April 2019; Monday; Hampton VA to Ft Monroe / Pt. Comfort Anchorage
  • We had a lazy mooring aboard. With strong NE winds we decided this was not the time to head N up the Bay. After departing the marina, we put into Blue Water Marina for fuel. It was a quiet day so they invited us to tie up to the end of the fuel pier and have lunch at the restaurant. We took them up on the offer and had a nice Chesapeake Bay seafood lunch.
  • Gene had told us of the new dinghy docks and other marine improvements that Hampton has been making to the Fort Monroe property now that they control it. On his recommendation we decided to check out this anchorage — between the W causeway of the tunnel to Norfolk and Ft. Monroe. In Onward's 12 years of wandering, I'd never considered going in here. It is a great anchorage with good protection in all directions. I used the Axiom's sonar survey capability to run a traverse of the area for future reference. We spent a good quiet night.

30 April 2019; Tuesday; Ft. Monroe to Solomons
  • By daybreak, the wind had gone around to the SW and we were headed N just before sunrise. We were able to motorsail with the genoa until just before reaching the Pautuxent R. We anchored for the night. I managed to win 2 backgammon games in a row! Wooo Hooo!