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MARCH--George Town (South Exuma) in the Bahamas to Vero Beach, FL

Sailing:

Sailed from George Town to Lee Stocking Island. No speed records broken---wind from the southeast veering south at 12 to 13 knots. DISCOVERY was almost run over by several sailboats motoring out of George Town. Once Regatta ends there is often a large exodus! A very slow downwind run/broad reach. A nice quiet sail. The following day, sailed from Lee Stocking Island to Musha Cay. Early on, almost gave up on sailing ....turned on the engine for about a half hour before deciding we did not have to be in a hurry! Another slow but pleasant sail.

Turned on the engine for the run from Musha Cay to Black Point. A front had passed through the night before---behind the front wind moderate velocity from the north. The distance was a little less than 14 nautical miles so did not have to listen to the iron jenny for too long! A couple days later, motored up to Fowl Cay (A.K.A. Chicken Cay) to have a better wind angle for the run to Rock Sound.

At Fowl Cay, raised the mainsail at anchor. When I turned the boat to run with the wind (Carl was walking from the bow to the stern), all the main sheet lines ran out of the line clutch---no knot at the end of the line to stop it. Turned around to fix it. Dropped anchor in the same spot we left 15 minutes earlier.....Carl was worried because this task has taken him a half day to fix. Managed to get it done in 30 minutes! Wind south at 15 knots becoming southwest at 18 knots. Motorsailed most of the way from Fowl Cay until to Rock Sound. Finally killed the engine in the Davis Channel on a close reach. Inside the harbor, lowered the sail down and motored over to west side to wait for the front to pass.

Sailed all the way from Rock Sound to Royal Island. Wind from the east at 15 knots. Put a reef in the mainsail about 5 hours after leaving Rock Sound to slow us down so we had either slack water or a favorable current to pass from east to west through Current Cut. Traveling with SCOTCH MIST who showed us a different route to use at Current Cut (had the engine on just in case it was needed). Had a favorable current pushing us through.

A fast close reach sail from Royal Island to the Abacos. Passed the three boats that were ahead of us when we left the anchorage then did a "horizon job" on the rest of the fleet. Put in a reef in the main to slow us down---wanted slack water or a flooding current at North Bar Cut. SCOTCH MIST caught up with us after we reefed the main and pulled in our headsail. Headed over to Bucaroon Bay for protection from strong southwest and west winds ahead of another nasty squally cold front.

Motored from Bucaroon Bay to the Sugar Loaves Cay 5 minutes after the cold front passed through. Bucaroon doesn't offer any protection from the north and northeast. The following day we motored to Man O War Cay for fuel. Oh my, that is a tight harbor when boats come in for fuel and water. Had to maneuver while one boat was taking on water and then play Chicken with a 50 foot catamaran who also wanted fuel but apparently hasn't learned the rule of "wait your turn". Had to chase him off twice even verbally telling him that he was AFTER us. Carl says I have an evil eye and my evil eye had no affect on this guy.

Motorsailed from Man O War through the Loggerhead Channel and through Whale Cay Cut headed for Allens Pensacola Cay. No wind but a good size northeasterly ocean swell in these two cuts (6 foot swell with 4-5 second interval). This was the biggest swell I have experienced in this particular cut. Up and down, up and down. By the time I passed through Loggerhead and turned south for the Whale, met a tug pulling a barge. The tug needed the entire channel so I went off the rhomb line. Took me a while to get into place to go through the cut. Just a little excitement for me. Motorsailed all the way to Allens Pensacola Cay.

Left Allens Pensacola with very little wind so motorsailed across the banks. At 5:30 PM turned the engine off and started to sail. Sailed all the way to Vero Beach. Put one reef in the main when we came off the banks in the Bahamas. Great sailing conditions .....a broad reach. Around 4:00 AM put a second reef in the main .....slowing down so that we aren't going into Fort Pierce Inlet at maximum flood (wind against current). Did not wait for slack water or ebb current but at least it wasn't at maximum current so "not too bad, it has been much worse."

Anchorages:

The Georgetown Regatta ended on March 2. When Regatta is over--it is time to leave George Town. Cathy and Fred on SCOTCH MIST were also ready to leave George Town so we traveled together all the way to Vero Beach.

One of the last Regatta events is "Fun Volleyball". Top photos are Ron (SeaDancer) and CAMELOT (Rose and Keith) watching the game. Notice the smiles .Amazing how hard the teams work when there are prizes: 1st--Rum, 2nd--Wine and 3rd--Kalik Beer.

Our friend, Steve (SOL MATE) is playing in all white (did he think it was tennis?). Fun Volleyball--you can hit the ball as many times as you like---no spiking.

 

Stopped at Lee Stocking Island for the first time. Thought it would be a good place to sit out the next cold front. However, when we arrived the best spot for protection was full so stayed one night. Lee Stocking Island was home to the Perry Institute for Marine Science or the Caribbean Marine Research Center. The Center is closed down. So sad.....it was here that scientist studied changes in the ocean environment and how these changes affect Queen conch, spiny lobster, red tilapia, Nassau Grouper and coral. The scientist also studied the Lion Fish, a spiny venomous fish that is native to the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Lion Fish were introduced to the Atlantic by accident. During Hurricane Andrew a fish aquarium tank in Florida was smashed and about a half dozen Lion Fish escaped. Those 6 Lion Fish have spawned an invasion that is threatening to kill the local fish industry. I hope this important research is being done at another facility. Additionally, some 'bad cruisers" were on shore by the deserted research center sometime this winter to burn their trash. The "bad cruisers" did not separate the cans and glass before burning resulting in a pile of unburned trash. Now, there are dozens of "NO TRESPASSING" signs on the shore. Must receive permission from the caretaker to come to shore. Just a few cruisers can ruin it for the entire cruising community. Fred and Cathy came over for appetizers and Sequence.

Anchored off David Copperfield's resort to ride out the cold front. While there, a small group arrived to stay at the resort. Two planes landed over on Rudder Cut Cay where they were met by resort employees. Watched them get into the skiff to motor over to the resort--those guys are going to need sunscreen because they are pale. Look up this resort on the internet at www.mushacay.com and if you decide to stay there---you and 19 other people can have the entire island for $350,000 for one week. A smaller group.....only $39,000 per day for up to 12 people. Not covered are special events like ocean fishing and some special party the resort can arrange .....covered is the food, drink, lodging and use of personal watercraft and a small catamaran. While at anchor, Cathy, Fred and I found some sand dollars and seabiscuits in the shallow sandy area. Dinner and Mexican Train Dominos with SCOTCH MIST.

Musha Cay Resort. This photo shows only a few of the buildings. On shore there was a water trampoline, a couple sailboats, and personal watercraft. It is quite impressive......go look at the website (www.mushacay.com)

 

Moved up to Black Point when the front passed through. Time to wash clothes at the best laundromat in the Bahamas (Branke south of George Town is second best). Beers and popcorn one afternoon at Scorpios. Black Point is also a place to pick up seaglass. The tides were in my favor so had two great days of glass picking. Also found a helmet conch. Resisted the temptation of ordering coconut bread from Lorraine's Mom. Did not even go into Lorraine's Cafe this trip. Appetizers and Sequence with SCOTCH MIST.

Another new anchorage.....Fowl Cay (A.K.A. Chicken Cay) which is located just west of Compass Cay and south of Cambridge Cay. Has a horseshoe-shaped beach on the north side. Very lovely. Privately owned with its own runway and a plane that must have had a bad landing day on the beach leaning to one side.

Stayed in Rock Sound just a couple nights to set out another nasty squally cold front. Anchored on the west side of the harbor until the cold front passed. Here we met David and Cyndi on SWELL HORIZON who are friends of Chris and Karen (SYNERGY). Had drinks and snacks on their boat. Most of the squalls with this front passed around us .....watched on radar. Shortly after the front passed, picked up the anchor and moved to the east side of the harbor. Picked up a few fresh provisions and had a great lunch at Sammy's before heading off the following day.

Dropped our hook at Rock Sound Harbor where the anchor shows on the chart. Sat here for the front. When the wind switched to the north went over to the east side of the harbor. Did not spend much time on land during this visit.

 

Royal Island......the first year we cruised this was my favorite spot. In the 1930's this island was purchased by W.P. Stewart from Florida. Stewart built an extensive plantation. The remaining ruins of stone and beautiful tile work show how beautiful this plantation was back in its time. Our first year cruising, we explored the island visiting all the ruins, walked the rock walls and found a pretty harbor with a dock on the northeast side of the island. Several years ago, The Staubach Company, a real estate firm founded by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, purchased Royal Island. "The Plan" was to develop an ultra-luxury resort and private club residential community. In addition to private residences and homesites, a golf club, a 200-slip marina and a boutique hotel and spa was in the plan. The Developer started wrecking the island, at least from my perspective. Cruisers could not go ashore but were allowed to anchor in the harbor. It is now possible to go ashore. Did not have the opportunity to do so but at least it was possible.

No time to go to shore. Great opportunity to head to the Abacos before the next front. Anchor, eat, sleep and go!

 

Above is a satellite image of Abaco. When cruisers talk about "The Abacos", they are talking about the numerous cays on the eastern side of Great Abaco Island. Some cruisers only go to the Abacos just like some cruisers only go to the Exuma Cays. As they say, "different strokes for different folks." There are advantages to cruising the Abacos such as semi-protected waters for easy sailing but disadvantages--too developed for us.

Bucaroon Bay was a great place to sit out another nasty squally cold front. It was windy the entire time we were there. Watched the front approach on radar. Took two days for the wind to clock from the south to the southwest to the west and only minutes for the front to come through. Moved up to "The Sugar Loaves" which are between Matt Lowe's and Sugar Loaf Cay (northeast of Marsh Harbor). Anchored on the west side of the "The Sugar Loaves" for protection from the north wind.

Dropped our hook in the 2 meter spot just south of the anchor on the chart for the westerly winds. Moved up to The Sugar Loaves after the front passed and the north wind started to blow. Anchored on the east side (side opposite the anchor on the chart).

 

SCOTCH MIST at anchor by The Sugar Loaves and a photo of The Sugar Loaves.

 

Anchored at Man O War at The Narrows. Saw our friends, Klaus and Karin on LUCKY TOUCH. LUCKY TOUCH had just picked up their guests and planned to head back to the US the following day. Only one night at MAN O WAR because we too are staging for a crossing to Vero Beach.

I am telling you.....it is tight in Man O War harbor. Enter through a narrow cut (bottom right hand corner of photo) and move to the west in fairly skinny water to a harbor full of boats at anchor, boat rentals and boats wanting to take on fuel and/or water!

 

First time anchored at Allens Pensacola Cay. Twenty years ago, Allens Cay was separated from Pensacola Cay. The cays were joined together as a result of a hurricane---the connection continues to remain. The US had a missile tracking station here---there are ruins on the beach. Celebrated Fred's birthday with gingerbread cake. Next morning......off to Vero Beach.

Vero Beach was hopping......at least two boats per mooring and often three. Boats starting to arrive from the Bahamas. Met up with our friends, Tom and Rose on SOJOURN, who we haven't seen for years. Met Tom and Rose back in 2006 in Vero Beach and briefly in the Bahamas. Hung around with them for a while down in Trinidad. Great to see them again.

First night in Vero Beach......out to eat at Riverside. Below is Cathy and I enjoying a cold one while waiting for a table.

 

Townhouse project is underway. The crown molding has been installed. Corner desk units set in place. Shelf bottom units in place just need to build a second upper shelf and install the one sitting on the base unit. Cap rail for stairway not done yet. Can't wait to see the completed work this fall.

 

Special Events:

Izzie and Len (NOCTURNE) always thank their crew (and spouses) for a successful race by taking the group out for dinner. The races were held in February. Dr. Bill picked the gang up (borrowed a King Cab Pick-up Truck from a friend)---girls in the front while the guys ride in the pick-up bed. Out to Houseman's for dinner which is north of George Town on the beach. Great food especially if you like fried food. Both Carl and I had cracked lobster.

 

When you leave Rock Sound and head to Royal Island, you pass through a cut between the northwestern tip of Eleuthera and Current Island. The cut is fairly narrow and the current flows at speeds of over 5 knots at times. Ideally, you want to transit the cut at slack water or when the current is running in the direction you are going. The first photo from the chartbook shows the cut. The way to transit the cut is shown on the second photo (Explorer Chart) on the right. Going from east to west.....set a waypoint about 1 mile south/southeast of the cut. Heading northward you stay close to shore (about 50-150 yards off) and follow the coastline (nasty looking rocks) until you round the last offlying rock to port (giving it a wide berth). Your instincts tell you to favor the starboard side but don't go there----grassy bars that are shallow). Then you head straight into the cut.

 

This year, we entered the cut east of 76 degrees 46 minutes west and went straight in. It is easy to see the deep water and you don't get near any rocks. Too bad it took 8 years to discover this route.

A major highlight for the cruising season was seeing two humpback whales breaching out of the water just outside of North Bar Cut (Abacos). They were close to us but even closer to SCOTCH MIST. What a sight. Camera did not catch them.

Weather:

During the month of March, cold fronts seemed to determine where we went and how long we stayed. This month's cold fronts had clocking winds plus squalls. A really nasty squally cold front passed through Vero Beach. Prior to the cold front, we were under a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning which was even extended. As usual, when squalls are approaching, I am watching the sky and using radar to track the cells. Where is Carl? He is often relaxing and under the impression the storm will miss us.

Carl waiting for the front! The other two photos show the dark clouds roll in ......seconds later it started to blow and then rain.

 

Sorry this log is so late but we have been on the move!!!

Submitted by:

Marilyn Thoreson
April 08 2014