APRIL--Marsh Harbour to Norfolk, Virginia
Left Treasure Cay on 3/31 headed for Marsh Harbour to meet Cheryl and Bryan Davenport who own CECIL--another Saga 43. Bryan and Cheryl had not associated with other Saga owners until now! CECIL was at a marina so Carl and I walked over to their boat with the usual cocktails and an appetizer in our canvas bag. It was fun getting to know Bryan and Cheryl and we enjoyed looking at another Saga to see upgrades or modifications. The next day, Cheryl and Bryan came over to look at DISCOVERY's upgrades and modifications. That evening, we went over to PEGASUS (Nancy and Dean) for dinner along with SOJOURNER (Rick and Linda). We first met PEGASUS and SOJOURNER in Rock Sound, Eleuthera---went to the Northside Cafe for a Bahamian-sytle dinner with them and IRISH FEVER (Wayne and Millie). Nancy prepared a corned beef in her pressure cooker; Linda made a rice with broccoli dish; and I baked some killer brownies (dark chocolate with walnuts and chocolate chips). After dinner we played cards---learned how to play two new games--Golf and Box.
Left Marsh Harbour in very light winds---motored south to Lynard Cay. Joined a large group of boats at anchor. Attended a cocktail party on the beach. Friends, Bonnie and Roger, on KOKOMO arrived from points south (we were with KOKOMO in Long Island and the Jimentos). The following day, we took the dinghy over to Little Harbour to have lunch at Pete's Pub along with KOKOMO and MORNING GLORY (Helen and Doug). There is some interesting history to Little Harbour. It is where Randolph Johnston and his family decided to live their dream of island living. Randolph was a sculptor/artist--he built a foundry in the 50's which is still producing bronze castings. The highlight of our visit was Pete's Pub (owned and operated by Randolph's son)---an open air restaurant/bar with great food (delicious but expensive). After lunch, we checked out the gift shop and foundry. When we peaked our noses into the foundry, there was a guy working on a casting. We asked him several questions before he finally stopped what he was doing to give us a tour. Took us through each step in the process of making brass casting. He mentioned that some of the people in the foundry were artists while others were artisans. Asked him which one he was. The guy was surprised by the question but came back with "I don't know which one I am. I just like to smoke dope, drink and work on castings." From the foundry we walked out to the lighthouse and along the beach. Made it back to Lynard anchorage just in time for another Beach Cocktail Party!
The following 9 pictures are from our afternoon trip to Little Harbour . The first picture is Carl and I standing at the sign welcoming visitors to Little Harbour. The second and third picture show the menus (first the food menu and second the drink menu). Next is a picture of the gang from KOKOMO, MORNING GLORY and DISCOVERY enjoying a beverage while waiting for their food. Picture 5 and 6 are finished bronze castings of a Ray and a Hammerhead Shark. Picture 7 is of the foundry guide who is either an artist or an artisan. Picture 8 and 9 are in-process bronze casting of a Ray and a Marlin. .
The next morning, the guys went spearfishing (Doug, Roger and Carl) while the girls (Helen, Bonnie and I) went beachcombing. Found lots of small sea glass. The guys shot two fish for dinner. In the afternoon, we took the dinghies up to Sandy Cay to snorkel. Sandy Cay is a protected area (no anchoring--also a "no take zone") so the reef was beautiful and filled with fish (Angelfish, Puffer, Rays, and an assortment of aquarium fish). Later had dinner on MORNING GLORY---Bonnie preparedthe fish that were speared in the morning. A fourth couple joined us (Mike and Susan on TABBY CAT). It was Mike's birthday so Susan baked a cake--was that cake good or what. Another great evening with food, drink and conversation.
Below is a picture of the girls standing in a pool looking for sea glass. Each waves would bring in new treasures for us to grab.
The following picture is of Carl and I on MORNING GLORY having appetizers before dinner.
From Lynard, KOKOMO, MORNING GLORY, TABBY CAT and DISCOVERY sailed over to Bucaroon Bay to get protection from west winds. In the afternoon we hopped in our dinghies to explore the area. Organized a dinghy float the first evening. While floating in our dinghies enjoying cocktails and appetizers--- friends, Sally and Conrad on IT's ABOUT TIME, arrived from points south. The following day it rained cats and dogs. Heard Dick and Pat (HANANIAH); Pat and Duane (NO SE); and Lois and George (SCOT FREE) on the VHF radio. They had spent the night at anchor in Lynard Cay and were headed to Treasure Cay in the rain. The rain was a blessing---it rinsed the boat removing all the salt. Also, while it rained, Carl and I sat around the boat reading all afternoon---a good excuse to do nothing. The rain stopped and the skies cleared just in time for cocktails on TABBY CAT!
Below is a picture from the dinghy float.
Sailed from Bucaroon Bay to Tilloo Cay when the winds piped up to 20 knots from the north. DISCOVERY stayed at anchor just west of Tilloo while the cats (KOKOMO, MORNING GLORY and TABBY CAT) moved into more protected but shallow water. We were fine with the waves (our boat is heavier so it doesn't bounce around as much). Quiet evening. Listened to our favorite radio programs (Superman, Dragnet and The Shadow) on Sirius radio.
From Tilloo we headed back to Marsh Harbour on Easter Sunday. Absolutely no wind so the Sea of Abaco was like glass. Could see the bottom--starfish, coral and some fish. Had Easter dinner on ITS ABOUT TIME with Sally and Conrad. Sally prepared ham, corn and potatoes. I brought a pork tenderloin and made my killer brownies again.
More boats arrived from Georgetown including PASSE PORT III our gulfstream buddy boat from last January!. Did laundry and shopping for the usual--bread, milk and fresh vegetables. Still living off the dry goods we purchased in Vero Beach last December.
On Thursday, April 12th, we were sitting in Marsh Harbour having DISCOVERY's bottom cleaned by Brown Tip. We initially decided to sail over to Treasure Cay for the week-end. NO SE and HANANIAH were anchored at Treasure Cay--we wanted to spend some time with them. Also, Treasure Cay is a very protected harbour for the nasty cold front that would pass through on Sunday with possible gale force winds. After listening to the weather we started to consider taking the 24-36 hour weather window that was available starting Friday to cross the gulfstream and head to either Cape Canaveral or Fort Pierce rather than go to Treasure Cay. Our weather forecaster, Chris Parker, did not think there would not be another opportunity to head east and north for at least a week after Friday. Tough decision----we decided to head back to the US.
Pictured below is Brown Tip who cleaned DISCOVERY's bottom.
Sailed over to Manjack Cay where we joined three other boats that were going to Fort Pierce (interesting point--we crossed the gulfstream from Miami with 2 of them....BRASS DRAGON and INTO THE MYSTIC). The third boat, SCOT FREE, we met in 2005 in Vero Beach. The four boats took off Friday morning at 8 AM traveling with friends!. Sailors are superstitious---Friday is not a good day to start a journey (Christ was crucified on a Friday so it is bad luck to start a journey that day) and Friday the13th isn't a good day for anyone! We rationalized our departure--technically we were NOT starting a journey--just continuing the cruise. Also, later that morning, we were surrounded by dolphins....a good omen. Hoped that one good omen ld outweighed two bad omens!?!?
Below is a picture of our Bahamian courtesy flag. It was shredding inspite of my efforts to keep the fray in check.
Around noon on Friday , started to hear the routine calls from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) which we haven't heard since January. Hearing the USCG stirred the emotional feelings of "being home". Also started picking up NOAA weathe on the VHF radior. Winds were light and the seas flat as we motored or motor sailed across the Bahama Banks. Around 4 PM, INTO THE MYSTIC did a relay for the M/V Black Pearl. Black Pearl was underway to Stuart with a shark bite victim on board. Black Pearl could not raise USCG on the VHF radio so INTO THE MYSTIC did a relay for them. Before doing anything, the Coast Guard asks 101 questions about the boat, point of departure and destination, passengers and the victim. Eventually, all questions were answered and a helicopter was sent out to pick the victim up. Seems like it took 45 minutes for the Coast Guard to get all the information.
Into deep water by dark -- Carl was on watch while I was asleep. The winds were light (8 to 10 knots) and directly behind us. Did not have enough wind to fill the sails to power us through or over waves. As a result, the ride was sort of like riding in a wash machine! Lots of cruise ships out Friday night into Saturday morning. Cruise ships are so easy to spot--a floating city! On my watch, I saw several freighters but nothing came close (within 6 miles). Arrived at Fort Pierce at sunrise with a favorable current to push us through the inlet.
Zipped up to Vero Beach where to tied to a mooring with BONNIE LASS (also crossed Friday night but from Great Sale Cay). Called to clear the Custom section of Homeland Security. Cleared with them but needed to appear in person within 24 hours for the Immigration part (Homeland Security claims they are one organization but there are two steps carried out by people who focus on the custom aspect and the immigration aspect). SCOT FREE has a condo in Vero Beach and a van so George and Lois drove us out to the Fort Pierce International Airport for final clearance on Sunday. Big help and very much appreciated.
Sunday, the dreaded cold front came through. I watched the storm cells on my computer (we have WiFi). Winds blew at 30-40 knots. Just south of us, a cell pushed through with 60 knots of wind. After the storm passed, the four boats that crossed from the Bahamas together plus BONNIE LASS went to a local bar for Happy Hour and appetizers.
Started to consider our next move. Chris (our weather forecaster) forecast said the weather pattern will change next weekend creating great conditions for sailing north. Our options---stay in VeroBeach for at least 5 days and then go out at Fort Pierce to catch the gulfstream for a sleigh ride north to Beaufort OR just head up the ICW which means motoring and traveling in daylight only. I knew that Carl wanted to go directly to Beaufort--riding the gulfstream. I, on the other hand, was reluctant. I know people who have tried it and were "beat up" in the process. I also know people who have done it several times without any problems. Once I was comfortable with the forecast--I told Carl that I was willing to try it with the agreement that we would bail out of the stream if conditions were bad (bail out plan would be Charleston for example). Chris's latest forecast was for the weather window to open on Monday and we had until Thursday noon to get in to Beaufort before the weather would change.
Moved from Vero Beach down to Fort Pierce Sunday afternoon. There were two boats at anchored at Fort Pierce, RESTLESS and FLICKA. Both boats planned to leave for Beaufort on Monday. RESTLESS and FLICKA both sail single handed. The captains are married to one another but sail alone on separate boats. I don't understand why people sail single handed---it seems like it would be so lonely. Our plan was to leave at first light. RESTLESS and FLICKA were leaving around 10 or 11 AM---waiting for slack water so it would be easier to get through the inlet.
Woke up early Monday morning---disappointed to find the winds were still 15 knots. The winds were supposed to decrease after midnight but they did not so the seas did not settle down as forecasted. Listened to Chris' forecast at 6:30 AM---no change in the overall forecast so it was a go (we knew the seas would settle down later in the day and seas would also decrease as we moved further north). Going out the inlet was definitely the hardest part of the trip. We left at maximum ebb tide so we had 3.5 knots of current pushing us out to sea. That same current was pushing against 6-7 foot seas coming into the inlet from the east. When the current is in the opposite direction as the waves, the current forces the waves to slow down and stack up. A freighter was leaving the inlet right in front of us. At first, the freighter helped break the waves for us. I knew the waves were huge because I could see the spray breaking over the freighter's bow. When the freighter gained distance on us so we had to break the waves ourselves. Waves were 6-8 feet with an occasional 10 foot wave. One of the bigger waves slowed our boat speed down from 5 knots to just over 1 knot. The water rolled down the deck the bow....the dorades were facing the bow. The water rushing from the bow to the cockpit was high enough that the open dorade scooped up water which then dumped down in the main salon on my newly made bed. Grrr....wet sheet, wet blanket , wet pillow and wet settee cushion. Now I understood why RESTLESS and FLICKA waited for slack water!
For the first 8 hours of the journey we had 6-7 foot seas with an occasional 9- 10 foot wave. I stayed in the cockpit not wanting to risk getting sea sick. For meals.....we ate dry Honey Nut Cheerio's. Oh, Carl did make himself a sandwich but I stuck with the dry cereal. By evening, it settled down and we were flying along---our boat speed plus 4-5 knots of favorable current resulting in 10-12 knot speed over ground. Split the day and night into 3 hour shifts. In radio contact with other cruisers via the single side band at set times. RESTLESS and FLICKA told us we could check in with them every 3 hours in the single side band which we did. Also checked in with the Cruiseheimer Net at 8:30 AM and the Do Da Net at 5:00 PM. Additionally, Carl filed a position report at 6 AM and 6 PM. Being in contact with the various nets helped pass time and gave us a sense of security.
When underway for 24 hours or more, we use 3 hour watches. I usually stay in the cockpit during the daylight hours but go down to sleep when off shift during the night. Two years ago, I would go below but could not fall asleep---no longer true When I go below and it is dark---I fall asleep and need to be told to get up! During the passage I enjoyed some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Dolphins join the boat for a chase when the sun is rising or setting. The last morning of this passage, the wind and waves were behind us so we were surfing down waves. This action attracted the dolphins and they started jumping out of the water every time our bow came up over the waves. It was like being at Sea World! Two or three dolphins would jump across the bow. I loved it.
We arrived at the Beaufort Sea Buoy at 12:40 PM on Wednesday and were at anchor by 2:10 PM traveling a little over 500 nautical miles. I thought we would both be exhausted---not so. Stayed up for the remainder of the day but went to bed early that night and slept like a rock.
From Beaufort we headed to Oriental, NC. Oriental is a small town that is very boater friendly. The town has a dinghy dock with trash cans located at the end of the dock. There is also a free dock that has room for two boats with a limit of a 48 hour stay every 30 days (we used the dock one night). The local hardware store provides bikes with baskets free for cruisers to use. The grocery store and post office are a bit of a hike from the harbor so having access to the bikes is great. We did not need the bikes because we have cruising friends (Saga owners---Bill and Sandy) that live in Oriental. Bill and Sandy picked us up late afternoon to give us a tour of the place and then we went to their house for dinner.
Left Oriental on Saturday to hook up with Deb and Fred on EARLY OUT. We met Deb and Fred about 6 years ago through Mike and Jan Enzinger. Traveled up the ICW with Deb and Fred for two days until we reached Norfolk. The ICW really is pretty this time of the year but it is a long drive full of twists and turns. Found a new anchorage that we shared with EARLY OUT and two other boats. One of the "other" boats was a catamaran named SEVEN @ SEA---parents with 5 small children (between 3 and 10). Can't imagine what it takes to cruise with that many people on board let alone children that you need to home school!
The ride through Norfolk is always interesting. So much traffic. Our destination was Mill Creek at Old Point Comfort (Hampton) so we shared the Hampton Road Channel with two cargo ships and four tugs with barges. Dropped anchor in Mill Creek to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Below is a picture of two aircraft carriers in Norfolk.
And so April came to a close. What a month it has been. Found new places to explore in the Abacos. It was hard to leave the Bahamas but necessary (don't want to even get close to a hurricane). I also stepped outside my comfort zone taking on the challenge of a 3 day passage.
May 4, 2007