DECEMBER---Miami, FL to George Town (Great Exuma Island), Bahamas
In South Beach (Miami) with SYNERGY, BLUE HEAVEN and FIRST EDITION on the south side of the Venetian Causeway between Rivo Alta and DiLido Island waiting for a weather window to get to the Bahamas. A short dinghy ride from the anchorage to the canal on Dade Blvd where we leave the dinghy (by the old Publix) when we go to shore. There is always something to do---daily stop at Publix, a walk on the beach or stroll Lincoln Mall. Usually get together with the group in the evening for cocktails, appetizers or dinner and sometimes a game of Sequence.
Farmers' Market on Lincoln Mall. Loved the lemon and lime display. One of the vendors sold fresh spices and her own special tea blends. Her booth was a work of art.
Photos taken during a walk along South Beach with Karen and Chris. A few topless sunbathers on the beach that day.
Met up with Wendy & John (WINDEMERE) and Miles & Lorraine (ARIEL) one day for lunch followed by the movie "LINCOLN". Did not realize how much wheeling and dealing President Lincoln needed to free the slaves. This aspect of history was not mentioned in school. Daniel Day Lewis was excellent and he deserves all the "Oscar Hype" he is getting. Looked so much like the Lincoln we see on the US $5.00 bill. When I look at Daniel Day Lewis---I still see him as Hawkeye in "Last of the Mohicans" which is the first movie I saw him in. He made such a great Hawkeye. Saw the 007 movie "SKYFALL" with Chris and Karen. Which movie was better? Can't say---they are very different movies. Enjoyed both of them. Looking forward to the next 007 movie--like the new characters set up in SKYFALL.
Oh so many restaurants in the South Beach area. Went to an upscale Mexican restaurant with Wendy, John, Lorraine and Miles before the movie. Had lunch at a great Cuban place with Chris and Karen Picked this place because Chris and Karen noticed how many Miami Police were having lunch there one afternoon. Good food at a reasonable price.
Stayed on the boat one entire day. The forecast was for rain and thunderstorms so decided it was a good day for some cleaning, relaxing and reading . No significant weather materialized but the boat did get a good interior cleaning.
Lynn and Peter invited SYNERGY, BLUE HEAVEN and DISCOVERY to celebrate Hanukkah on board FIRST EDITION. Lynn prepared the entire meal. She said the only traditional part of dinner was the appetizers. Kosher or not the food was delicious. Best of all----Lynn's apple pie with ice cream.
Photos taken during Hanukkah onboard FIRST EDITION.
One afternoon, Karen and I did the self guided audio tour of the Art Deco District. Good way to learn about art deco and get our exercise at the same time.Two styles dominate the architectural district--Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival. Mediterranean Revival is old world with decorative columns, arched windows, tile roofs, stucco and wrought iron gates with courtyards. The Art Deco style is less decorative----a reflection of the Great Depression. Tropical Deco is the predominate style in South Beach---whimsical with tropical and ocean-liner perspectives with cantilevered window shades called eyebrows and rounded corners. Buildings use aluminum, chrome, neon lighting, glass block and colored glass tile known as vitrolite. The hotels were built for industrial workers up north who vacationed in Miami in the winter to escape the cold of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc.
Versace's mansion is typical of the Mediterranean Revival.
The Carlyle Hotel has exceptional examples of eyebrows. The eyebrow is practical (blocks the sun) and interesting creating light and shadow on the building.
Hotel Cardoza had dyed keystone which is coral rock quarried in the upper Florida Keys. When the keystone is polished it looks like marble from a distance but is a porous limestone. When you get up close to the keystone you can see tiny seashells and impressions of sea life.
Hollow glass brick is a popular feature in Art Deco. The design of the US Post Office on Washington Avenue in the Art Deco District includes glass block over the main entrance. I also included a photo of the mural on the ceiling.
Another typical feature of Art Deco is the finial spire--a structure surmounting a building. The spire atop the Tiffany Hotel is "reminiscent of the skyscraping tower of King Kong!!! Whoops I didn't get all of the spire in the photo. Sorry.
Lynn and I did our laundry in Miami. Must have looked strange with our hand carts wheeling the dirty laundry down Alton Street. Lynn's cart was not set-up correctly when we left the dinghy. The wheels turned in so it looked pigeon-toed . She could not get the handle to extend so in addition to the pigeon-toed cart, Lynn was stooped low to the ground pulling it along the crowded street. Funny sight but not easy for her. We were probably the only customers in the laundry who did not speak Spanish.......good thing some of the customers did speak some English. The place was hopping ......people lined up to use the dryers. While our laundry was going, figured out how to set-up Lynn's cart for the return trip!!! With Lynn's cart in working order.....the return trip was quick and easy.
By December 10.......decided to relocate to Dinner Key down in Biscayne Bay. The reason .....a change of scenery and a better angle when leave for the Bahamas. Took a mooring for two nights hoping the weather window would open on up for us on Wednesday. Used the launch to get to shore. Walked around Coconut Grove which is filled with boutiques and restaurants. Good grocery stores including a Fresh Market where I picked up good stuff to eat during the crossing.
Sitting in the Dinner Key Marina launch ready for a ride out to the boat.
While anchored in Miami---the burning question is when to cross to the Bahamas??? A brisk northerly wind is a no brainer---do not go. Looked seriously at leaving on December 8 or 9 but decided to stay in Miami a little longer. Listened to Chris Parker the morning of December 12. Chris told cruisers the weather would be good to cross to the Bahamas later on Wednesday----wait until the Fowey Rock buoy reported winds at 10 knots or less before leaving. Winds forecasted to diminish by late afternoon. Squalls for the north route but the south route should be squall free. BLUE HEAVEN, SYNERGY and DISCOVERY decided to leave shortly after sunrise (not wait for the 10 knots at Fowey Rock). FIRST EDITION decided to wait until the winds dropped more. Smooth ride across Biscayne Bay. Seas were fairly flat as we entered the inlet channel. Did not take long before the swells started rolling in (part of the wave action was wind against current but mostly just swells). Fowey Rock reporting 15-18 knots gusting to 20 from the southeast when we were outside the inlet. The bow of all three boats dipped into the sea throwing green water down the deck. Looks like it might be a fun day??? Yes, the wind was a little brisk but comfortable continuing on to the Bahamas. The forecast was for winds to clock during the afternoon from the south to southwest to west and slowly diminish. If the forecast was right then the conditions would improve.
Arrived at North Rock at 3:30 PM (just north of Bimini). Here the seas finally laid down. The winds continued to clock and decrease in velocity. By the time we reached the Northwest Channel (Tongue of the Ocean) the winds were 10 knots but still on the nose. .Departure time from Dinner Key was 7:15 AM on December 12. Pulled into the slip at Nassau Harbor Club at 8:50 AM on December 13. The boat is covered with salt but all-in-all a good crossing. Both of us were able to sleep when we were off watch so pretty rested upon our arrival.
North Rock just north of Bimini where we get on the banks on the left. On the right--Nassau off in the distance.
Nassau, New Providence and Shroud Cay
Cleared Customs and Immigration in Nassau. How many days do we request from Immigration???? Decided to ask for 180 days and received it! The number of days Immigration grants to individual cruisers is a hot topic. You want to get cruisers excited---just bring up this topic and you will get an ear full. In past years, it was not an issue......that is most cruisers were given the number of days they requested. Two to three years ago.....this changed. Some officers would only give 30 or 60 or 90 days which can be renewed when the given number of days has expired. We want 180 days because we like to spend time in the more remote outer islands where there are no Immigration Offices.
Nassau Harbor Club. Immigration and Customs onboard DISCOVERY clearing us in. DISCOVERY at the dock after being scrubbed down.
Once BLUE HEAVEN and SYNERGY cleared Customs and Immigration, Carl, Arlene, and Chris headed to BaTelCo to get their internet communications in working order. Carl purchased a smartphone last spring that is open and quad band. He needed a SIM card so that the smartphone could be used to pick up cellphone signals in the Bahamas. I stayed to scrub the boat down ......caked with salt. FIRST EDITION arrived in the afternoon---Lynn invited the three boats over for Happy Hour. Enjoyed a well-deserved night's sleep tied to a dock in the Bahamas. We are finally here.
In the morning, SYNERGY and DISCOVERY left Nassau for Shroud Cay. The other two boats decided to spend another day in Nassau. Winds from the northeast at 16 -18 knots with gusts to 20. It was a beautiful sail. KOKOMO (Roland and Leda) arrived in Shroud---invited us over for Happy Hour. The winds were from the northeast so a few wrap around waves rolled the boat from side to side rocking us to sleep. Those waves eventually went away when the winds clocked more to the east.
Sailed from Nassau to Shroud with one reef in the main and the small jenny. Made good time.
In the morning, winds were 15 to 18 knots at 070 degrees. A few showers moved in from the east missing us but provided temporary increases in wind velocity. It was a beautiful sail to Black Point.
Three nights in Black Point. Twice, Barb (KUMBAYA), Karen and I went searching for treasures from the sea with fairly good results. Jerry (KUMBAYA) organized a Happy Hour at Lorraine's. Jerry checked first at Scorpio's but the owner was in Nassau so Jerry checked with Lorraine. Lorraine provided a platter of conch fritters but no drink specials. Jerry, Barb, Chris, Karen, Carl and I met at Lorraine's for cracked conch for lunch on afternoon. Did not order coconut bread (no self control so why provide the temptation????).
First Kalik at Lorraine's Cafe.
Karen, Barb and I went to the blow hole to look for sea glass. It was high tide and the waves on Exuma Sound were big pushing lots of water through the hole. Poor Karen was too close to the hole when a wave came in......she was doused with sea water.
George Town, Great Exuma Island
No wind for sailing to George Town so motored all the way. Carl so excited to fish----had two lines out before we were out of Dotham Cut. Dragged those two fishing lines over 50 nautical miles with the following results: one quick bite, one barracuda, another bigger bite that bent the hook and a lot of sea weed. Carl asked me "Is a person skunked if the only fish they caught was a barracuda?" Take my word for it .....catching nothing is better than catching a barracuda. They stink badly and I am afraid those teeth might find a leg or hand to bite when Carl is working to get it off the hook.
Anchored at Volleyball Beach. George Town has less than a hundred boats. Most of the cruisers who spend the winter in George Town arrive after the holidays. There are only a few organized activities---Beach Church, Texas Hold 'Um and the morning net. Most of the time, there isn't enough cruisers to get a game of volleyball going on a regular basis.
Karen and I go hiking as often as we can. Found some terrific trails. One day we had to alter our route because we were ambushed by mosquitoes. It has been fairly wet in the Bahamas so there is a large population of mosquitoes. Now I carry repellant in my backpack so I am always prepared.
ELEANOR M (Skip and Cherylle) invited us over along with ANANIA to play Sequence. Cherylle made brownies and placed a can of whipped cream on the table to put on top of the brownie. The girls won two games.....the guys won two games and the cold front arrived before the tie-breaking game. Carl and I decided we should leave before the winds picked up too much. It picked up quickly. Glad we left when we did.
There are many good hiking trails on Stocking Island. These three pictures were taken when Karen and I walked the Crabzilla trail near Sand Dollar Beach up to Hamburger Beach one day. Concentrate on the exercise but stop once in awhile to look for seashells.
Leda (KOKOMO) cut my hair over by the Queen's Dock at Monument Beach. Leda told me it is a challenge to cut hair without a big mirror to constantly check that everything is even. Of course my hair is wavy enough to hide most mistakes. Appreciate the cut Leda....it looks good.
Eating out in George Town. Late one morning, Chris, Karen, Carl and I caught a ride to Baranki laundry. When laundry was finished we walked to Cheaters for lunch--photo on left. Had lunch at St. Francis one afternoon after hiking--good cracked conch.
Made a Christmas tree for the boat. When Karen and I were hiking we looked for branches. Thought of using branches from a casuarina tree (an evergreen) but the branches were very limp to stand. Karen pulled some dead twigs from some low laying bush that looked like it would do the job. I gathered some shells from the beach. Karen gave me a string of small red beads and some gold Baby's Breathe. Glued the Baby's Breath to the branches. Added the red beads, my shells and some green sea glass. Karen let me borrow a glass pitcher that I filled with pieces of coral to help hold the branches in place. Added some small Christmas lights and wow .....a Christmas tree! This next summer I will buy some supplies from Michael's to make another tree.
Attended the Ladies Christmas Lunch at St. Francis Resort. Each person brought a wrapped gift. There was an exchange game where someone can take away the gift that you selected. Some people loved this game---I am not crazy about it. I personally think it isn't in the Christmas Spirit. Christmas is about giving. You should be appreciate whatever gift you are given not look at someone else's gift with an eye to take it away???
On the left....my place at the table. On the right a group shot. Last photo is Barb on the left who kept a hold of the bottle of wine plus a huge lobster tail. Barb was the last person to select a gift and the person who selected first was happy with her gift so she did not take Barb's gift away. On the right is Jo (SERENITY) who received the sea glass earrings I made with stick pearls.
Christmas Eve invited SYNERGY, PUDDLE JUMPER (Mara and Bill) and SEA BISCUIT (Michael and Robin) over for heavy appetizers. Had a variety of appetizers. Sat around eating, drinking and talking. Christmas Day joined KOKOMO (Roland and Leda), SAM THE SKULL (John and Barbara),. IMAGINE (Sharon and Ed), OPTIONS THREE (Brian and Yvonne), CARPE DIEM (Sylvan and Cecile), SYNERGY (Karen and Chris) and TAMAKI (Gary and Ingrid) on Volleyball beach for dinner. Lots of good food and cheer.
When I woke up Christmas morning---Carl asked me if I thought Santa Claus had been here. Very unusual question. He actually purchased a gift for me (only the third time in 35 years). Very beautiful. It will always remind me of the beautiful waters of the Bahamas. Thanks Carl, what a wonderful surprise.
Photos from Christmas Dinner on Volleyball Beach ....people.
Photos from Christmas Dinner......the food. The individual plate is mine!
New Years Eve invited FIRST EDITION, SEA BISCUIT and BLUE HEAVEN over for heavy appetizers. Karen and Chris were invited but Karen is in the process of recovering from a cold while Chris is just getting the cold. Karen and Chris choose not to share the virus with the rest of us. Had a good time.
Photos New Years Eve.
Bought this dress for my 60th birthday here in George Town. Don't be confused....that birthday was in October. Found this dress here so I bought it. Made a pendant to go with my dress and earrings.
January 02, 2013