Mar 20 to Mar 26 2012

March 20, 2012

The winds turned east around 0400hrs this morning. We anxiously waited for Chris Parker’s forecast at 0630hrs he predicts winds from the E to NE 15-20knts and climbing this afternoon. We quickly got the boat organized and headed out. We had just enough of an angle on the wind to sail which made for a more comfortable ride north. The waves were high, about 6 to 8 feet but we were sailing so were able to ride them all the way to the Comer Passage. However, cooking was impossible so cold stew and dry crackers were on the menu for lunch. I love this trip already ;) We made the turn east onto the Comer passage and the water didn’t seem too bad. We anticipated the waves piling up with the strong east winds. I was so excited about it not being as bad as we thought I went below to clean the cabin and get things ready for tomorrow’s visa renewals and laundry day.  About an hour into the Comer passage I felt the boat slam into a wave practically stopping the boat. I looked out and Steve was covered in salt water. The waves grew bigger and bigger as the winds picked up. They were crashing over the bow every few minutes delivering buckets of salt water into Steve’s face! The Comer Passage is very shallow – 5 feet at low water - kind of shallow. My tide watch said we were coming in on a rising tide so we were optimistic the water would get deeper as time went by. The winds kicked up over 25 kts by the afternoon building the waves at times over 4 feet which is high given the depth of the channel. The water would pick Diana up and slam her back down over and over again. There is just no other way to describe the trip other than we hung on for hours and hours hoping all our equipment holds getting doused by buckets of salt water every few minutes. It was a nerve wracking experience watching our depth sounder read from 5.2ft -5.1ft - 5 ft -6ft - 7ft – 5.1ft-4.9ft…and so on and so on. The water never got any deeper!!

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Steve drenched at the helm…I was a little more protected behind the canvas…

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Still looks pretty though doesn’t’ it? Even with all that cloud cover…

 

With Steve’s patience and excellent piloting skills we got SAFELY into Long Island around 1830hrs. The boat is tough as nails and so far we only popped a couple of lugs from the main which can be easily repaired. We were very grateful to be at anchor.

I made a quick Jambalaya with some biscuits and we happily scarfed it down with a couple of shots of rum. We got cleaned up then we were quickly asleep as we have an early morning tomorrow.

March 21, 2012

I reserved a car before we left for the Jumentos and we were happy to see it waiting for us at the car rental agency this morning. I did the driving for a change. It is fortunate Long Island has only one main road as the driving rules are the reverse here. My mantra for the day is “keep left”.

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Our little rental with very bald tires but it served us well…

We headed to Stella Maris airport, as the guide indicated an immigration office was located there which thankfully, it was!! We were in and out of the immigration office within 20 minutes with our visas extended for another 90 days. Yippee!! Our only other chore for the day was to do some laundry and stop at a liquor store. Since we have the car for th whole day we went for a little drive to the north end of the island, the only portion we haven’t seen yet. We drove until the road ended…literally ended here…

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North End of Long Island

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Steve on an old bridge near the mangroves

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Mangroves with a very strong current running through them 

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We then made our way to the Laundromat in Deadman’s Cay. We were desperate and the Long Island Breeze Resort still does not have spare water for the cruisers to do laundry. Access to water is a major issue here. Some settlements have city water piped (like Deadman’s Cay) and others have a series of cisterns and holding tanks like Salt Pond which get refilled by trucks and/or the collection of rain water. We arrived at the ‘mat with stinky laundry in hand only to be turned away as the water had been shut off for some maintenance but was supposed to be back up by 1400hrs. So, Steve and I made our way to Clarence Town for lunch stopping at a liquor store to replenish our rum stock. We are trying two new rums, Cruzon and a Bacardi spiced rum – can’t wait to get back to the boat to try them!!

 

 

We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Rowdy Brothers Bar and Grill on the Exuma Sound. The food and the service was great! The winds are still very high today – about 25kts out of the ESE. The anchorage in Clarence Town is very exposed and not one we would ever like to spend much time in especially in high winds. We were once again very happy to be safe and sound in Salt Pond.

We returned to the Laundromat promptly at 1400hrs only to discover the water was not back on. By 1500hrs, the owner’s sister made a call to find out what the hold-up was. She was assured the water would be back on by 1600hrs. We settled in, read out books, went for walks, I watched Wheel of Fortune with the sister while we waited. It finally came on around 1730hrs!! Who knew the laundry part would be the difficult part of the day.

We were back on board with clean laundry, rum, ice, drinks and sorted out by about 2030hrs. We cracked the bottle of Bacardi Spiced rum and enjoyed a nice cold drink on board for the first time since we left for the Jumentos. The Bacardi was delicious btw!!

March 22, 2012

I returned the car this morning and got out for a much needed run. When I got back to the boat, Steve was buried in charts determining what our options are for the next part of this trip based on the weather forecast we got this morning. We are expecting a little front moving in on Sunday and Monday. We were still considering going to the Crooked/Acklin Island area, we also wanted to go to Conception and Rum Island before heading to the Eleuthra. We also did not want to be stuck in Long Island for another week so the sooner we can move the better. Our options are as follows:

1.    Head South East to the Crooked/Acklins area to go to Long Cay where our friends Bruce and Jan recommended. It could also be fun to try and find Bruce; the owner of the MacGregor converted into a catamaran that we met in the Berry’s - he has a place in Crooked Island and invited us to visit. The trip is about a hundred miles or so which we would need to do an overnighter to get there before the front moves in.

2.    Stay in Long Island until the front passes until Tuesday or Wednesday then go east to Conception Island. Conception is not a safe anchorage to weather a front in.

3.    Skip Crooked/Acklins, Conception, Rum to head north to Cat Island as the winds will be in our favor making it an enjoyable cruise.

We went with option number three. As much as we would like to go on an adventure to the Crooked/Acklin Islands or Conception and Rum we do not want a long slog back or get stuck in bad weather delaying our trip north. We just can’t do it all. Besides, there is still a lot to see in the Bahamas!!

We spent the afternoon at the Long Island Breeze Resort getting caught up on emails and uploading to the site. Tomorrow, we will top up our fuel and water, get some provisions then head to Long Island Breeze for pizza a la Jared J We also need to repair the main and get the boat sorted out for departure on Saturday morning. It’s a lot to do in one day so we shall see how it goes. The plan in to go to Calabash Bay – north end of Long Island on Saturday – to stage for the 45 mile jump to Cat Island on Sunday.

We made our way back to the boat around 17030hrs for Mac’n Cheese and Spice Rum…believe it or not it’s a pretty good combination J

March 23, 2012

Chore day!

While I was out for my run, Steve repaired lugs on the main. We are back in business!!

Not much else to report – we topped up our fuel, water and groceries. We had pizza for lunch and it was equally if not better than the last time. Jared out-did himself!! Happiness is pizza!!

We sorted out the boat for departure in the morning. As I had mentioned in the previous post, we are going to Calabash Bay tomorrow then making our way to Cat Island on Sunday anchoring in New Bight to spend a few days or so. We are not sure when our next internet connection will be so stay tuned… After Cat Island we will head north to the Eleuthra’s…starting to make our way home!

March 24, 2012

We were up and underway around 0800hrs. The winds were at our backs all day from the SE around 10-15kts making it a nice easy sail to Calabash Bay. We are dying to try the spinnaker but it would require digging it out from the garage…we will put that on our to-do list. We suspect it will prove to be very useful on our trip north.

We got in around 1430hrs, showered and had a nice relaxing afternoon at anchor drinking nice cold beers.

March 25, 2012

We were underway by around 0730hrs. Calabash bay is peppered in coral reefs and it is best to navigate out of it in sunlight. We have about 40 miles or so to cover so the earlier the start the better. The winds are also at our backs today about 10 knts.

Since we will be in the deep waters of the Exuma Sound, Steve put out all the stops in hopes to catch a mahi-mahi, the final fish on his “must-catch” in the Bahamas. He added extra beads and a silver spinner to his lure to entice a great big mahi-mahi!! In an effort to increase his odds, he put out a second line - he was bound and determined to eat fish tonight. A few hours away from our intended anchorage he got a hit!! I took the helm while Steve reeled in his catch…and it was a big one!!

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Can anyone guess what it is?!!??!

That's right - it’s a freaking huge MAHI-MAHI!!! I immediately start freaking out and can barely hang on the helm as Steve muscles this big guy in. I am completely useless to help him out as it is difficult to keep the boat steady while sailing downwind and I was a little distraught. I start worrying about what we are going to do when he brings it into the cockpit. What if it starts flopping about and I have to touch it eeks!!! I screamed like a little girl!!! I tried to compose myself and keep the boat in control while Steve does all the heavy lifting. We had the camera and vodka ready – check this fish out!!

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Now THAT is a Mr. Mahi-Mahi!!!!

The colours are so pretty my inner vegetarian is screaming at me; feeling extremely bad for this big fish. I can’t eat this fish and there is going to be so much of it! I’m in crisis as I think about eating him as Steve drowns it in vodka while licking his lips thinking about all the fish sandwiches he is going to eat. The vodka proved to be an effective way to kill it humanely and it didn’t flop about at all…so I freaked out for nothing ha! Qu’elle surprise! Now that it’s dead Steve has work to do…

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Ahhh...where to begin...and I’m thinking that I’m never eating fish again…well, after this meal of course ;)

Fortunately, we do have some ice on board but there is no way we can eat all this fish. Steve is confident once we get into our anchorage someone will want the rest of it. Turns out he was right. Once we settled into our anchorage, I put out a call on the VHF to all vessels in New Bight, Calabash Bay interested in taking some mahi-mahi off our hands. Within a half an hour we had a call from a neighboring boat. Not a bit of it went to waste J

It was important to cook this fish correctly. I would have hated to go through all that trouble to have it ruined for supper. We agreed to try a Cajun-style blackened recipe with red rice and some steamed carrots. It turned out delicious – I even had seconds!!

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Happiness J 

On the anchorage and weather front; the winds are supposed to clock to the west overnight and round to the north by tomorrow night. The anchorage at this very moment is very turbulent with the SW winds…it is going to be an uncomfortable night. The good news is that by Tuesday we should be able to get off the boat and explore a little of Cat Island.

March 26, 2012

Rolly, rolly, rolly, rolly, rolly, rolly, rolly, rolly….all night long!! It’s a good thing we are getting used to it ;) There must have been three foot waves in the anchorage all night and for most of the day. Nothing would stay put on a flat surface if it didn’t have a rubber bottom. We hunkered in, read and napped all day and ate a lot of crackers and peanut butter as cooking was out of the question.

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Not impressed with the motion of the boat…it’s been going on for more than 12hrs!!

By early evening things had died down a bit but the winds were still blowing from the WNW. Steve was able to get the dinghy in the water so we are all set to head to shore in the morning. We will have wobbly legs for sure stepping out of the dinghy tomorrow. We also moved a little closer to land in an effort to find a little calm and maybe some internet…but we are still rolling and rolling…