Long time…no blog

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Wow! A lot has been happening! Since my last blog over a month ago, we have made significant progress on the house, have been settling in to a “dirt dweller” mode of living, and made a short run to Ohio to get our lake house ready to sell, and move all of our crap in storage to a storage facility in Southport. As a part of all of that, we realized we needed a more practical vehicle than our 1994 Jeep Wrangler and bought a new pick up truck. We also rented a 26 foot U-haul truck and drove it from Ohio to North Carolina…that was a trip I never want to repeat! Many thanks to Pete and Sarah for helping us load up in Ohio, and to our friends Larry and Dianne, and Matt, for helping us unload in Southport. I think I am getting too old for this crap!!!!

As for the house…..
Around mid June, they finished the foundation:
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Then a few days later they laid the trusses for the first floor:
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From there, it didn’t take long to frame the rest of the house:
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This week, they got the exterior doors and windows in, and Matt is working on the front porch:
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We selected Marvin Integrity windows and mahogany wood doors, and we are very happy with the quality of both!

This week, the heating and air, plumbing, and electrical guys will be here to do their thing. The bad news is…we need to have our plumbing and lighting selections completed, and decisions made for where everything is going to go…yikes! In the past month we have visited several showrooms and spent countless hours on-line looking at all of this stuff, trying to narrow down our options. Matt and Shirley have been a tremendous help, and have great taste and ideas, which has made the process less stressful.

I have had 3 other homes built in the past, but I have never seen anything close to this level of quality of construction. Matt and his crews have done an excellent job. The construction is tight and solid, and they have used top notch materials.

In addition to all of the house activity, we had visits from our good friends from Ohio, Jim and Laura, and also our youngest daughter Jessica, her husband Eric, and four of our grand kids. It was really great to see them, and show them around Southport. We weren’t able to get them out on the big boat, but they really had fun riding in the dinghy:
Over the 4th of July, our good friends and traveling partners from Byrd Ketcher, Kurt and Sharon, along with Kurt’s sister Kim, and husband Mark, all came to visit. A good time was had by all!!!! There was a lot of activity associated with the 4th, as the North Carolina 4th of July festival is held here every year. As you can see…we have had a busy month and a half!!!

312 N Lord Street – Footer


Last year we bought an old house…a turd…and had it demolished. It is in an area of Southport NC the locals call “Old Town”, and is on one of the first 100 lots in Southport. We were lucky to get it as they are in very high demand. I’ll attempt to document the construction process in a series of dedicated posts.

Background: When we left Ohio on our boat, one of the goals of our adventures was to evaluate places along the east coast to settle back down after our cruising was done. We wanted the following: Walk or short drive to the beach, walking distance to our boat slip, not too cold in the winter, walking distance to shops/bars/restaurants, not a big city but close to big town amenities. Southport was in the sweet spot. We also wanted a house with very little yard, small square footage, but big enough to entertain and to accommodate visitors. The preference was a new build versus existing house. Having scored a prime spot in historic Southport, we are building a house that will have the same architecture as the homes that were built here 100 years ago. We are fortunate to have two of our closest friends building for us, MW Custom Homes. Matt and Shirley have their own construction business and are a great team. Matt has built hundreds of homes over the years and done many restoration projects. Over the last three years, I have watched him, and occasionally helped him, build three homes in Southport, and let me tell you…these guys are GOOD! If you need a house built in this area, you need to talk to them.

Here is a sketch of what we are building:
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Front porches are a big thing in Old Town, and we really wanted a second story porch in addition to the first story one, but the second story floor plan would be compromised, so we opted for a first story porch only. A couple of days ago, Tricia, Matt and I cleaned up the lot. We cut the grass, pulled weeds, cut down vines and saplings along the fence line, and raked the debris into yard bags. It has been YEARS since Tricia and I have done that kind of work (no yard work living on a boat…lol), and we were worn out! Then we helped Matt lay out the house in preparation for the footer. I have never done this before, and found it fascinating. Measuring from the lot line pins, we used re-bar stakes and string to lay out the outline of the footer, and then painted orange lines on the ground. When finished it looked like this:
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Then the next day they dug the footer trenches:
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The next day they tamped the trenches down and then poured the footer the following day:
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Next week they will lay the foundation.

Settled back in Southport

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

It has been nice not having to drive the boat almost every day! We got settled back in to our summer home on D Dock at Southport Marina. The boat got a good washing for the first time in months, we have been working on deep cleaning both the inside and outside. The stainless steel on the outside was looking particularly bad, and I have been working on it a little each day. The first week back we also had to make several decisions about the house we are building…roof pitch, finalizing floor plans, exterior colors, exterior doors and windows, width of the porch, second story porch or not, brick column bases for the porch…and we spent lots of time walking around town looking at what looks good in the historic area of Southport and in the building materials stores. It has been wonderful having Matt and Shirley building for us. They are so good at what they do, have good taste, and an eye for what looks good as well as what saves cost when building. They have been a tremendous help as we struggled with all of the options we had to consider so far. I am going to make separate posts for the house construction project as most readers may not be interested in that.

It has also been awesome reconnecting with our friends in Southport. We had the usual dock parties over the holiday weekend, which are a blast:
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We have also had a visit from a resident alligator:
Needless to say, we are going to give him a wide berth! It has been nice having a car again, and we made our first run to Myrtle Beach yesterday to Costco and Sams club for general provisions and liquor. It is only about an hour away, and the liquor prices are 35% less than here. We are looking forward to visitors from Ohio in the next few weeks. Jim and Laura, good friends from Columbus are going to stop by for a couple of days on their way home from vacation, and our youngest daughter Jessica, her husband Eric, and 4 of our grandchildren are coming for a week at the beach after that! We are excited to see them all! Then we are planning a trip to Ohio to see family and friends and put our Lake Erie house on the market. We sold our house in Powell (Columbus) before we left on the boat, but kept the lake house thinking the family would use it, but everyone is too busy to enjoy it. We are tired of dealing with it, so we are going to sell. If anyone is looking for a great summer house, let us know!

It’s a wrap

Southport NC
Position 33 55.087N, 078 01.717W
Posted by Bill

The last post was from Beaufort SC, and we left on 5/15, anchoring half way to Charleston in Steamboat Creek. It is a great anchorage…very picturesque, but a little buggy. We got good news on the way there, we were able to get slips in Charleston! We left the next day with a beautiful sunrise:
We tied up at Charleston City Marina at position 32 46.796N, 079 57.285W. We planned to stay in Charleston for 3 nights, but the really nice weather window we had was coming to a close, and we wanted to be in Southport before the next front came through. The other factor in the decision was related to a broken engine part. In Beaufort, I had to adjust the prop shaft packing gland, as we were getting too much water leaking into the bilge. While I was in that part of the engine compartment, I checked the oil level in the transmission, and when I replaced the dip stick that screws down into the transmission, the plastic top broke off, leaving the threaded part stuck in the transmission, and an open hole down the tube…not good. We made several calls and found that the marina we were going to be in at Charleston had a parts dealer office and could get the part to us while we were there. I was able to remove the threaded piece and retrieve the dipstick, and after trying several unsuccessful attempts to glue the parts back together for a temporary fix, I settled on using 3M 5200 gooped on the top of the threaded piece. With Matt’s help doing research, we found that the transmission would be fine if we closed the hole in the top of the tube, inserted the tube with only a few threads screwed in, and leaving a pin hole in the 5200 patch to allow air to move in and out of the transmission case with the changes in temperature. If you don’t leave a hole, you can blow the seals in the transmission when it heats up. I was up all night worrying about the work-around, but it held and worked great. The new part was $25, and it should be at the marina the second or third day we were there. So, the arrival of the part was the other factor in how long we stayed. It did arrive the second day, but the price was double what they quoted, which pissed me off royally. Since the work-around was doing fine, I opted to wait until we got back to Southport to order another.

As always, we enjoyed Charleston a lot, hitting some of our favorite bars and restaurants, and getting the boats ready for the final leg of our trip home. Here is a picture of our 2 boats docked together:IMG_1934 cmp
There are some huge boats docked here. Here was a view of the marina as we approached, with some of the big ones docked right along the river:IMG_1933
I saw this power boat along the long walk we had from our slip to land, and the name made me laugh:
Along those lines, there are 2 pump out boats at the marina that will come and pump out your toilet waste right at your slip. The names cracked me up:
I also really liked this T-shirt we saw in one of the shops:IMG_1939 cmp
With weather moving in, we decided to move on after 2 nights.

You need to arrive at and depart Charleston around slack tide because of the strong tidal currents. That was a major factor in how many days it would take to get home. We left on 5/19 at about 7:54, and in spite of a later start, we still made it to Georgetown SC before dusk. We anchored in position 33 21.981N, 079 17.383W. We were starting to get pretty weary of long ICW days behind the wheel, so instead of staying in Georgetown for 2 nights and pushing on to Myrtle Beach, we broke it into 2 shorter days. And we were glad we did. We left Georgetown the next day and tied up at Bucksport Marina in Bucksport SC, position 33 39.064N, 079 05.690W. It is a bit rustic there, but dockage is $.75 a foot (a great bargain!), and there is a really good restaurant right at the marina that was having a band. We were docked right next to the stage, so after having some really good food, we went back to the boats, sat on the bow, made some drinks, and watched the band. They were outstanding, and we really enjoyed the evening. The next day we finished the run to Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, position 33 48.070N, 078 44.750W. It was bike week, and Barefoot Landing was ground zero for the bike related vendors and the temporary “longest biker bar” from Sturgis. The parking lots were packed with vendors, and it was great people watching. We tried a new place for happy hour/dinner, Greg Normans, and it will be a definite “go to” spot when visiting there again. Great food and drinks.

On 5/21 we made the trip to Southport. We all had mixed emotions, anxious to get home, but sad that our trip was ending. Matt and I were so glad to be getting a break from navigating and driving the boat. Since we arrived back in the US, the couple of days that we stopped for more than one night were filled mostly by boat maintenance required to make the next leg. Just after we passed Lockwoods Folley Inlet, we saw a familiar boat coming the other way. It was our good friend John in his sport fishing boat, along with another D-dock friend Mark. They came to give us a welcome home escort:
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That was cool!

Our trip has taken us 2,798 statute miles since we left last November 1st. It was great fun. This was our 3rd year of cruising, and since we left our marina in Lake Erie we have traveled 9,419 miles. We will take the summer to build a house here in Southport, get the boat back in order (with many maintenance projects), and sell our house on Lake Erie (it is only getting used 1 month per year). Then we may head south again in the fall, or we may take a year off, enjoy our house, spend more time with our family, and do some shorter trips along the coast. I want to do some blog posts to share information about our travels that would benefit people that are going to take off on their boat. We have met several who are just starting. Otherwise, the blog will likely focus on our house building project. We are very excited about it. Thanks for following along!

Back in South Carolina

Beaufort, SC
Position: 32 25.742N, 080 40.757W

Sorry I have not been keeping up with the blog. We are in travel mode along the ICW, and it seems like after a couple of years of posting of the same places in both spring and fall, it is hard to come up with something new, unless something crazy happens. On top of that, we have been putting in some very long days of travel, and it is more difficult to find the time it takes to keep up the posts. Here is a recap of our travels since New Smyrna Beach.

We left New Smyrna on 5/5 at pre-dawn. We had slip reservations at Marineland Marina which was a 10-11 hour trip. We were getting hit with high winds again (again!!!!), and they were forecasting gale force winds out of the west for just about the time we were going to arrive…not good for docking, especially at Marineland. We decided to make a short run up to Daytona Beach and stay at the Halifax Harbor Marina, and leave the next day for St Augustine since the forecast was showing light winds the next day. It was a really nice marina, and we tied up at position 29 12.221N, 081 00.834W. We got there before noon, so we decided to explore Daytona Beach. It was Cinco de Mayo, so we went to a really good authentic Mexican restaurant for lunch and celebrated! We walked to get some provisions and then went to happy hour at the Chart House right next to the marina. It was really windy, and we were glad we held up.

On 5/6 we headed out pre-dawn and made our way to St Augustine, one of our favorite stops. The forecast was wrong, as usual, and we had strong winds all the way until we arrived and picked up a mooring next to the Bridge of Lions in downtown St Augustine, position 29 53.671N, 081 18.536W. Here is a picture of this cool bridge opening for some sail boats:
We took a long walk and hit some of our usual stops for drinks, music and dinner. The architecture in the city is very cool. Here are a couple of pictures of Flagler College, that are typical of other buildings. In the early 1900’s Henry Flagler had the vision to build the first railroad through Florida all the way to Key West. They would build a section of railway for about 50 miles and then he would build a resort for all of the rich people of the time. It is pretty cool history if you haven’t checked it out. The Flagler College building pictured was the resort hotel he constructed for St Augustine.
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We spent 2 days in St Augustine and then started the tough part of the trip…going through Georgia. If you have followed the blog, you may remember that there are 3 major shoal areas along the Georgia ICW, a couple in northern Florida, and several in South Carolina. You must time the tide for adequate depth, and also work out how the substantial tidal currents will affect your arrival at these spots. There are 8 and 9 foot tides, and currents greater than 2 knots. You may also remember that we have named Georgia “the horsefly state”. We left St Augustine at pre-dawn and made it all the way to Fernandina Beach, where we grabbed a mooring ball at position 30 40.267N, 081 28.145W, a 61 mile trip, which is pretty long day for us. We had fantastic weather finally, except it was record heat in the 90s. We were going to stay for 2 days, but the timing for the shoal areas restricted us to a 1 night stay.

We departed on 5/8 at pre-dawn (you see the pattern here?) and worked our way into Georgia. Just over the Florida border we encountered smoke from a wild fire in north central Florida. They have been having a drought, and nasty wild fires. The smoke was moving east. Much like fog, It was so thick we could not see 100 feet in front of us, and it was not fun to breathe. This lasted for more than an hour, and thank goodness we didn’t go aground or hit anyone. This is a picture of us first getting to the smoke bank:
We timed the tides perfectly for the first 2 shoal areas, and anchored in the Crescent River close to sunset at position 31 29.397N, 081 19.786W…another long day. We also started to encounter the horseflies, this year starting south of Fernandina Beach Florida. They come, many dozens at a time, and land on the underside of the bimini and dodger canvas. They they dive bomb you in the face, and bite exposed skin, leaving welts. We swatted them all day, leaving a cockpit full of carcasses. Not fun a bit! We tried several things to ward them off, including spraying the canvas with deet, which worked for short periods of time. This onslaught lasted all the way through Georgia and into South Carolina.

The next day we departed at pre-dawn, destined for Turner Creek in the Thunderbolt, Georgia area. We weren’t moving fast enough to transit the next shoal area (Hell Gate) and make it to the anchorage before dark, so we held back and anchored in Kilkenny Creek at position 31 47.521N, 081 11.945W.

On 5/11 we departed at pre-dawn again. We didn’t have to go very far to get to Turner Creek, but we needed to make a bridge opening so we were up and going early again. We arrived in Turner Creek and anchored in position 32 00.851N, 080 59.363W. We could have kept going, but we really like the anchorage. It is quiet, and has a Publix grocery store and a really cool dive bar right next to where we anchor. We wanted to provision for the final leg home, and also take advantage of the really cheap and strong drinks at the dive bar, so we made a shorter run for the day. This part of the Georgia ICW is one of my favorites, with very picturesque estates along the river system.

On 5/12 we departed at pre-dawn and made the push into South Carolina, through 2 shoal areas, past Hilton Head, and up to Beaufort. We got a mooring ball at the downtown marina at position 32 25.742N, 080 40.757W. It was a long and tiring run through Georgia, which we are glad is done. On a positive note, the landscape of the Georgia ICW is very beautiful, mostly marsh land and wide open sounds (which can be nasty in bad weather). We had great weather finally, and we saw tons of dolphins every day. We didn’t go more than 30 minutes without seeing pods of them swimming and feeding, and we saw many mothers swimming with their babies. We are staying in Beaufort for 3 nights to wait out the weather system we are getting today, and to relax a few days. Normally we would push to get to Charleston, our favorite stop along the coast, and spend the extra days there, but the marinas are booked solid with waiting lists, and we couldn’t get a slip. In addition, the anchorages are not very good ones, with holding issues and debris on the river bottoms, and really strong currents. So, we are taking an extra day in Beaufort.

For now, I leave you with some pictures Tricia took along the way, one of a cool sailing vessel in St Augustine, and several good sunsets:

Checking out New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach, FL
Position: 29 01.635N, 080 55.233W
Posted by Bill

We spent a few days in Vero Beach and after some high winds blew through we left on 5/2. We stopped in Cocoa/Cocoa Beach and anchored at position 28 21.118N, 080 43.219W, really close to where we have anchored in the past. This is a standard stop going both north and south. There is not much to do there, at least for us, and the restaurants are not the best, so Tricia made homemade gnocchi, Matt made jalapeno popper dip, and Shirley made a salad. We had an outstanding dinner on the boats!!! The next day we made our way north to New Smyrna Beach, just south of Daytona Beach. We have never stopped here before but have heard so much about how nice of an area that it is, so we planned it as a stop this time. Motoring in the ICW can be boring at times, but it was nice to have calm seas for once, but not so fast. We got hit by a nasty squall that lasted around 40 minutes, with 35+ knot winds, blinding rain and 4 foot seas in the ICW!!! It was crazy! Fortunately, waves were on the bow and not on the beam. We saw tons of dolphin and manatees along the way. Here is one of several dolphin that swam beside the boat for about 20 minutes…something we always get excited about:IMG_1899 cmp

We pulled into New Smyrna Beach City Marina and went ashore for happy hour. There are some really good places to eat here. Today we hit a great place for breakfast, and great place for happy hour, and a great place for dinner. All were in a short walk from the marina in the downtown area. Another round of storm fronts moved in, or we would have walked to the beach, where we hear there are some really good places to go as well. We’ll save it for next time. The downtown area reminded us a lot of Fernandina Beach, with many shops and restaurants. We will stop here again for sure. It looks like we have a couple of days of high winds again, and we would stay here if we could for another day, but the marina is booked and we have to move on, so we will take a whopping perhaps. The next stop is Marineland and then on to St Augustine for a few days.

Here is a picture of the marina, and of the downtown area:
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We can’t seem to get a decent break from the weather this year, but next week is looking really good! We are excited!!

Back in the USA

Manatee Pocket, Port Salerno, FL
Position:27 09.267N, 080 11.703W
Posted by Bill

Well…we made it back safely.

Our good friends and traveling partners, Kurt and Sharon on Byrd Ketcher, joined us in South Bimini the day before we left. It was a great reunion and a good time was had by all!! We had a 2 day window of good weather and sea state, and we picked the best sea state forecast. It was supposed to be seas around 2 feet and light winds until the last 1/4th of the trip, and then just over 2 feet with winds in the low teens. We left on 4/26 at first light and had a great passage for 3/4ths of the way…just as forecasted. However, the last three hours sucked bad. For that period we were in the Gulf Stream, which is a 3-4 knot current that runs north. Our one rule that we will never break, “don’t travel the Gulf Stream with any kind of wind with a north component (N, NW, NE)”. The reason is that a wind opposing that strong of a current creates steep, tightly spaced, waves that kick your ass. Winds were supposed to be SE so we thought we were good to go, but they ended up being NE when we got there. We also had a N to NE swell running which was amplified by the NE winds, which were 15-20 knots, and whipped up by the stream. So….once again we had 6 foot BEAM SEAS, short wave period, and steep! You guessed it…ass kicking. It amazes me that we have not be able to count on any forecast data this year. We use 5 different sources and interpolate, but they have all been wrong when we have counted on them.

Needless to say, we made it to the Lake Worth Inlet and ended up anchoring in North Palm Beach at position 26 50.268N, 080 03.326W. We were so beat up and exhausted that we just collapsed on the boat and crashed early. If you are a blog follower, this is the same anchorage that we pulled up the remnants of a house boat with our anchor a few years ago. I was a little nervous this time, but we stayed away from the spot that we anchored before. Yesterday, we went ashore, had a great breakfast and hit the local grocery store. It is always a culture shock coming back to the US from the Bahamas, especially at the grocery store with all of the options available, and fresh produce. Just to give you a general idea, you go from this:DSC_0439 cmp

To this:DSC_0241 cmp

Yesterday we motored the ICW to Port Salerno, and Manatee Pocket. We enjoyed dinner and drinks at the Twisted Tuna. It was fun, and nice to have the options and prices that the US offers at its restaurants. Here is a shot of the anchorage:DSC_0053

We are starting the trek back up to Southport, and expect to be there before Memorial Day weekend.

Eight bells for Linda Hilty

Port Salerno, FL
Posted by Bill

“The sounding of ship’s bell is well rooted in the history and tradition of the maritime industry. The bell marked time onboard and divided the day into shifts or “watches” for the crew. At the end of the last shift, the end of the last watch, eight bells rang out – Eight Bells and All is Well. A sailor’s time for rest.” – Source: Boat US web site.

It is with great sadness that I write this post. We arrived back in the US 2 days ago to the news that our dear friend and “family” member Linda Hilty passed away. Linda, her husband Jim, and their sons, Neal and Shawn, have been lifelong friends and have always been considered part of the immediate family. We have enjoyed more than 12 years of family vacations, and many good times together. She was one of the nicest and most helpful people I have ever met, always very giving, and there to lend a hand. We will always be grateful to have spent the time we did together, and also for the many times they helped my Mom. Our hearts go out to the family. We feel terrible that we could not make arrangements to leave our boat and travel in time to PA for the services. One of the last times we were together was when they came to see us in the Keys and we went to Key West together. It was great fun. Here we were at the Green Parrot bar:

Linda will surely be missed, but never forgotten!

Another round of ass kicking

South Bimini, Bahamas
Posted by Bill

We really love cruising in the Bahamas. Our favorite place to be so far is the Exumas. When we originally set sail 3 years ago, we thought we would do the Bahamas and the Keys and then work our way through the Caribbean. We have chartered boats in the Virgin Islands several times and also flown to many other places in the Caribbean for vacations over the years, so we had a pretty good idea of what we were getting into. Once we got to the Bahamas, we realized that there is no need for us to go further, and we may not…we shall see. The Exumas are beautiful and you can find seclusion. You can also find food, trash disposal, fuel, and visit some small towns to eat out and/or check out the culture. The biggest problem we have dealt with is the weather. The first year was not as bad as the last 2, which have really made it difficult to see and do all of the things we wanted. We get pinned down by weather for 5-10 days, have a couple of days to move to another place, only to prepare for another 5-10 days of bad weather. By bad weather, I am talking mostly winds and the resulting sea state. We are not fans of getting rocked and rolled for days at a time, and unfortunately, you find you are getting your ass kicked while underway and at anchor. After awhile, it just gets to us. This year my new cruising goal was “not to get my ass kicked”. Sometimes that means you have to sit somewhere for a long time. I know that this is just part of the deal, and I would not trade our experiences if I had it to do over again. We feel so fortunate to have seen the world like this. If you are thinking about going cruising, just know that this is a major pain in the butt, and some people go back to dirt dwelling because of it.

There seems to be more mega-yachts, boats in the 150-250 foot range, in the Exumas. Most of them appear to be chartered. The typical passengers are not cruising savvy, which means, they don’t understand common courtesy or respect, for other boaters or for nature. They congregate in certain spots that have become tourist attractions, and are essentially ruining the experience for everyone else. The Bahamians naturally cater to this crowd because most of their livelihood is dependent on tourism. Passengers are rude, arrogant, with a “we own the Exumas” mentality. We will not go back to some of these places because of it. The mega-rich are also buying cays or islands, and making them private. Fortunately, the law through all of the Bahamas is that 50 feet above the high tide line on all beaches are public property, so you can still enjoy the beach and water. From what we have read and heard, the privatization of the cays is changing the culture and feel of the area, and not for the better. One of the cool things that we noticed at some of the settlements like Blackpoint, is that you see the children outside playing…swimming, riding bikes, and having the same kind of fun we did as kids. You don’t see them consumed in the world of electronics like kids in the States are. They are out interacting with everyone in the streets. There is also no need to worry about their safety besides drowning or something like that. There is no crime. It was an interesting contrast. Traveling with Matt and Shirley, Grady (their white lab) is always an attraction wherever we go, especially with the kids. You don’t see many large dogs in the islands, and all of the kids want to pet him and walk him. They all asked “does he bite?” first thing upon seeing him!

Back to the weather….we got pinned down in Spanish Wells for 16 days, and for most of the time we had winds over 20 knots and open water seas to 9 feet. Spanish Wells is one of our favorite towns in the Bahamas, so there could be worse places to get stuck. We ate at Budda’s often and also wallowed at the beach on the west end of town. We also read a lot. Several times it looked like a weather window was opening up, only to slam shut. Some of the locals made comments about how bad the weather was, how long it was lasting, and how abnormal this was. We chose to abandon our plans to go through the Abacos and started looking at windows to cross the Gulf Stream back to the States, figuring we would take our time going back up the coast to Southport and enjoy some of our favorite spots along the east coast. This approach led to a plan to make passage to South Bimini, and cross to West Palm Beach. A couple of crossing weather windows came and went in the course of a week, and finally we saw one for April 25th through the 27th. Unfortunately, most routes from Spanish Wells to Bimini were 2 day hops, and we settled in on a direct route in an overnight passage. Even with an overnighter, we had to get to Bimini before the 25th and there wasn’t a very comfortable passage in the forecast to get us there. We opted to leave at dawn on the 21st and arrived in South Bimini 24 hours later, 6 hours ahead of schedule. The reason we were so far ahead of schedule is because the winds were higher than forecasted and we had good sailing. The bad part is that the sea state was not anywhere close to the forecast. After weeks of high winds, the seas didn’t have much time to settle, and to top it off, we had to go across an area where 3 oceanic bodies of water meet: the open Atlantic, the Tongue of The Ocean, and the Northwest Passage. To make matters worse, this area is thousands of feet deep, and the water goes from thousands of feet to 20 feet in ¼ mile of where it meets any land. You might be able to imagine the sea state that this creates even when there is no wind. In the middle of where all of these waters meet, we encountered very steep 6 foot seas coming from almost every direction at once, lasting for hours. It was miserable at best. Matt and Shirley had waves breaking into the dinghy hanging on the back of the boat. The bottom line is that we made it…yay…and nothing broke, and no one was injured. When we arrived in South Bimini, we slept, took a walk on the beach, and sat by the pool for the afternoon. Everyone was exhausted. Today it is raining and we are chilling on the boats. As of today, it looks like the best crossing weather is going to be Wednesday, so we are planning to depart then. These weather windows are usually very short, and they change more often than not, so you have to take the first good day you get, or you could be sitting for weeks at a time again.

We had hoped to spend more time in the Bahamas, but we are anxious to get back to the States as well, especially with tropical storm systems starting to develop in the Atlantic already. We certainly don’t want to weather those out here in the Bahamas.

Enjoying Spanish Wells

Spanish Wells, Bahamas
Position: 25 32.465N, 076 45.384W
Posted by Bill

Our last day in Rock Sound was productive. They have a decent grocery store and liquor store, and we bought a few things we needed. We then went to dinner at Rose’s. Rose has a small resort and restaurant on the Atlantic Ocean side of Eluethera, and has a great reputation for good food at a reasonable price. It was too far to walk, but Rose comes and picks you up at the dinghy dock. She fixed a fantastic dinner in her own kitchen, and we ate overlooking the ocean. Then we all crammed into her little car (Grady included) and she took us back. If you ever get to Rock Sound, don’t miss going to Rose’s.

We departed at dawn on the 4th with about 6 other boats, everyone trying to work the weather windows to get where they want to be. We were going to head to the protected anchorage at Hatchet Bay, but we made a change of plans as we were sailing, and opted to try to get through the cut at Current Island on the north side of Eleuthera. The seas were following and the wind was around 15 knots, so the motion of the boat was not too bad. That, plus the fact that we really didn’t care much for Hatchet Bay the last time we were there, so we turned further north and skipped it. We needed to get through the cut at Current Island close to slack tide, as the current can really rip through the cut, enough that smaller boats may have a hard time making forward motion. We were making such good time with the wind and following seas, and arrived at the cut more than an hour before slack, in spite of us slowing way down for the last couple of hours on the way there. When we went through, we had a current against us of almost 3 miles per hour, which wasn’t a problem, and we opted to drop anchor on the north side of the cut at position: 25 24.857N, 076 47.299W. Tricia made home made pizza dough, and Sofia Jeanne brought salad and toppings, and we enjoyed a real treat. Actually, now would be a great time to comment on how well we eat on board. Traveling with Matt and Shirley, we (for us, it is Tricia…not me…lol) have been taking turns making a main course, and everyone brings sides. Sometimes it is Mexican food, Chinese food, shrimp and grits, fish, etc…and then we have days where we just bring our individual meals to one of the boats and cook everything together. Most of the time we eat together. The people cooking make some really good food! After that, we play cards or just hang out and shoot the shit. It is really nice traveling with such good friends.

Being at Current Island put us closer to Spanish Wells, so our trip there on the 5th was only a couple of hours. With the winds we expected, we couldn’t comfortably use any of the nearby anchorages, so we tried to get a mooring ball in the mooring field, to no avail. There was a waiting list. Sometimes this happens, especially when a weather front is moving in, like it is right now! We opted to take a slip in the yacht haven marina. They just finished renovating it last year, complete with swimming pool, guest houses and a restaurant/bar. It is really nice! Unfortunately, it is $2.50 a foot per night….yuk! We figured we can stay a few days until a mooring frees up, or until a weather window allows us to move on. We thought that we had a window on the 8th and 9th, but it is looking mighty uncomfortable for a 10 hour ocean crossing to the Abacos. We are still debating, but it is looking like we will hunker down here, especially if we can get a mooring ball…only $25/day. The next week is around 20 knot winds out of the north/northeast for an entire week…not good weather to try and travel through the Abacos, so that is a factor as well…might as well stay here. It is easy to want to stay. Spanish Wells is one of our favorite places to visit when looking for a town/settlement atmosphere. The people here are extremely friendly. There is no trash laying around, houses are kept up, yards are tidy and mowed, there aren’t dogs and roosters running around all over the place, all which is prevalent in towns/settelements throughout the Bahamas. There are good grocery stores, marine parts, and a few good restaurants. There are also nice beaches. We haven’t quite figured out why this place is so different, but it is a good different. We have been enjoying the pool, real showers (also nice and clean facilities), and being able to just walk off of the boat to shore. We also hit our favorite restaurant and happy hour several times at Budda’s. If we get weathered in here longer than a week, we may have to skip the Abacos and start to work our way back home.

Here is a picture of the pool area and our slip:
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