DECEMBER: Daytona, Fl to Lucaya on the Grand Bahama Island

Woke up to a beautiful morning on December 1.Anchored south of New Smyrna Beach, Fl with Mike and Kathy on Sapphire. Lots of dolphins swimming around the anchorage early in the morning. Off to Titusville. The run down Mosquito Lagoon was long, straight and boring. Did see an eagle standing on a pile of sand enjoying a fish for lunch. The interesting part was a turkey vulture was standing next to the eagle---apparently wanting to share the fish. When the vulture tried to snatch the fish, the eagle would attack the vulture--the vulture would then back off.  The eagle had complete control over who was going to eat the fish and who was going to watch! Saw a couple manatee when we passed through the Halover Canal. The manatee moves so slow.

Stayed in Titusville one night. Next destination was Cocoa Beach where we could watch the shuttle launch with Linda and Rick on Sojourner. Mike and Kathy decided to go with us to Cocoa Beach. Not too far out of  Titusville, Sapphire was dropping back so we called them on the VHF radio. Sapphire's engine was overheating. Mike and Kathy slowly made their way to Cocoa Beach. Anchored close to Sojourner and went to shore with Rick and Linda to walk around a arts and craft show. Mike and Kathy arrived later--they decided to stay on board to work on the overheating problem. The next day, Linda and I walked to the grocery store while Rick and Carl caught the bus to meet us there. Bought some salmon and invited Linda, Rick, Mike and Kathy over for dinner. Dinner was salmon with Thia Peanut Sauce with rice and oriental cole slaw.

Left for Vero Beach four days before the shuttle launch. Concerned that we would wait in Cocoa Beach and then the shuttle launch would be delayed due to weather or a mechanical problem. The new plan was to rent a car in Vero Beach to drive up to Titusville on the day of the shuttle launch. Also, we were anxious to get to Vero Beach to start on some of our projects that needed to be completed before we could go to the Bahamas. It was a cold run to Vero Beach--a cold front had passed through during the night. It was overcast and the wind was behind us. Hardly any traffic on the ICW until we reached the Sebastian Inlet.

Quickly fell into the Vero Beach routine. Attended the Cruiser's Breakfast on Wednesday. Rode the free bus to Wal-Mart and Publix for provisioning DISCOVERY for the Bahamas. Reserved a rental car for the shuttle launch only to cancel our reservation when NASA scrubbed the launch. Reserved a car for the next day and cancelled the reservation when the launch was delayed again. Attended the CLOD (Cruisers Living On Dirt) Christmas Party. Went out for pizza at Nino's with Gary and Mary on Packet Inn, Kris and Craig on Tilt and Pat and Mac on Wind-Borne.

The following two pictures were taken at Nino's Pizza.  Carl and Craig are missing from the first picture because they were picking up the PT Cruiser for our drive to Orlando the next morning. I don't remember what the topic of discussion was when I took the second picture but Kris sure looks serious doesn't she!

Carl rented a car (PT Cruiser) to drive me to the airport in Orlando where I caught a flight to Grand Rapids on December 12. Drove my rental car down to Kalamazoo where I stayed with Mark, Laura, Sam and Ben Eiler for two nights. While in Kalamazoo I had a mammogram and did some Christmas shopping. Enjoyed the evenings at the Eilers. Helped Sam with his homework, listened to piano practice and read books to Sam and Ben.

The next two pictures were taken while visiting the Eilers. The first picture is Sam and Ben watching cartoons while I make their breakfast. The second picture is Sam at school (I walked him to school one morning).

I drove up to Grand Rapids for the weekend. Stayed with Pam and Brian. Pam and I did some shopping on Friday afternoon and then went for a pedicure (salt water and sandals are hard on the feet). Pam and I watched "HAIRSPRAY"--what a great movie. Brian thought it was a stupid movie so he watched TV in another room. Saturday I ran errands with Pam before I drove over to Al, Laurie and Jamie Forte's for the evening. Al, Laurie, Jamie and I went to a movie and then out for dinner. The movie wasn't very good but the dinner at a Mexican restaurant was excellent. It snowed that night and continued into the next day.

That darn snow. The following picture was taken Sunday before I headed for Kalamazoo (the second time). Jamie and Laurie had to push me out of the parking space!

Left Grand Rapids around 3:00 PM headed for Ron and Jackie Baden's. The snow stopped around 1:00 so the main roads were cleared before I set off from Grand Rapids. Ron and Jackie invited Sue and Jack Johnston over for dinner while I was there. Dinner was great and it was fun catching up with what was going on with Ron, Jackie, Jack and Sue.

Monday, I had a dental appointment---not good news at all. One of my fillings is loose so it needs to be replaced with a crown. Plus I have a cavity on a different tooth. The dental work will be done when we return later May/early June. I was really bummed. Next was my appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Rafi. Good results from this appointment except I was running a temperature of 102. Left the office with a prescription for an antibiotic and a desire to go home to bed. Drove back to Grand Rapids to Pam and Brian's. Went to bed early with a bunch of covers piled on topof me---I had the chills and a splitting headache.

Up early the next morning to return my rental car and catch my flight to Grand Rapids. I slept most all the way from Grand Rapids to Minneapolis and then from Minneapolis to Orlando. The flight was on time. Carl was pulling up to the curb just as I was walking out the "arrival door". Drove to Cocoa where we stopped at Wal-Mart to fill my prescription.Shared a Subway Pizza with Carl while we waited for the Pharmacy to do its work. Then off to Vero Beach where I went to bed as soon as we returned to DISCOVERY and slept all night.

Carl attended the Cruiser's Breakfast the next day while I slept in. I stayed on the boat until my temperature was "normal". It was almost Christmas by the time I was feeling better so we decided to stay in Vero Beach for Christmas. Kris and Craig had a group over for Happy Hour Christmas Eve---Pat and Mac from Wind-Borne, Carl and I plus Keith from Camelot. Kris prepared some steamed shrimp and a plate of sliced ham and cheese for sandwiches. Pat brought buffalo wings and I made pizza meatballs. Keith brought some pepperoni and cheese with crackers. It was a good time and nobody went home hungry. Christmas Day, Carl and I exchanged gifts. I gave him a portable DVD player and he gave me a digital camera. I purchased a few DVDs with money my parents sent  plus Al lent me a few so we have DVDs to watch. We joined other cruisers for a potluck dinner. This year's Christmas Potluck was organized a little different than past years. Each person attending paid $1 for turkey and ham. Then we were assigned categories and asked to make the dish festive for the holiday.

The following pictures are from the Christmas potluck. The first picture is Kris and Craig (TILT), Carl and Dave (ZING) getting ready for appetizers. The second picture is of the buffet line--yes the laundry room.

When the potluck was over, I did some last minute laundry because the plan was to leave Vero Beach on the 26th for Fort Pierce. Woke up early on the 26th--anxious to get moving. It was very foggy--the fog cleared by 8:00. We dropped away from the mooring and went to the fuel dock to take on diesel and fill the water tanks. Left for Fort Pierce around 9:30. Anchored near the US Coast Guard Station close to TILT. Invited Kris and Craig over for pizzas. The next morning we headed for the Lake Worth Inlet (Palm Beach) at 7:00 AM. Light winds so we motorsailed all the way. Dragged our fishing line without so much as a bite. Anchored near the inlet to wait for good weather to cross the gulfstream. Jon and Jill on SIRIUS were anchored near us. They were planning to head to the Bahamas with us. However, Jon damaged a couple stanchions when he was leaving the fuel dock. Jon had the stanchions fixed by Saturday so he was once again ready to go.

Shortly after we anchored in Lake Worth, Carl found a leak in the strainer for the engine so he spent a couple hours taking care of that problem. Next day, he donned his scuba gear and jumped in to clean the bottom of the boat. He borrowed a hooka system so he didn't have to have an air tank strapped to his back. Completed the starboatd--started on the port side of the boat but then our generator that was running the hooka air compressor died so Carl did not have any air to complete the job. So up and out of the water with a quick shower to rinse off the salt. Carl went over to consult with Craig (TILT) before starting to work on the generator. Kris and Craig came over---Kris and I to visit while Craig helped Carl. Jon on SIRIUS also stopped by for moral support. Jon went over to get Jill so she could join in the party. Carl found the problem---the wire for the fuel pump had come loose.

Once the fuel pump was fixed we all decided we should do something. Took our dinghies over to Peanut Island. There is a bomb shelter built for John F Kennedy. Kennedy spent quite a bit of time in West Palm Beach. You can take a tour of the bomb shelter but we choose not to. Walked around Peanut Island which is a huge recreational area for local residents. It was good to be off the boat and using our leg muscles.

As I mentioned earlier, Jon managed to get the stanchions fixed only to discover battery problems which would keep him in Lake Worth for quite a long time. So, we crossed on December 31 without SIRIUS. Raised our anchors at midnight on December 31 along with TILT, PENDRAGON, CHOICES, HIGH STEPPER and KISMET. Just outside the inlet, the waves were more like swells but it looked like a good night to cross. The strategy was to get across the gulfstream as quickly as we could. We put up our main and rolled out the small jenny to assist the engine. Had some light from the moon and a south wind around 12 knots. The further out we got, the smoother it was. In fact, surprised to find the gulfstream was the smoothest area. Lots of shipping traffic in the stream. The stream is moving north, we were moving south so had to steer at least 20 degrees south of the rumb line. It was confusing for me to look at a ship that was in front of us (2 miles) and yet our bow was pointed 20 degrees away from the ship.

We were across the gulfstream around 5 AM. Shortly after sunrise, a huge group of dolphins joined DISCOVERY dance off the waves. Some of the dolphins were leaping in the air just like the trained ones at Sea World.  Lots of shipping traffic by Freeport. Carl noticed that we would pass in front of a freighter by 500 yards so he contacted the freighter (our new AIS system gives us the name of the boat, its course and speed)  to ask if it was ok. The freighter said it was ok but I turned to Carl to say "It might be too close for me!" Continued to the Bell Channel where we enter Port Lucaya. Arrived at the dock at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club by 11:30 AM, December 31.

The next two pictures were taken as we approached Port Lucaya. The first picture is the beach and the second picture is the non-functioning Port Lucaya Lighthouse.

Completed our paperwork and cleared Customs and Immigration by 2:00 PM. Carl took down the quarantine flag and raised the Bahamian Courtesy Flag around 2:30 PM. At the dock, there is a daily charge for water so I decided I might as well use it to wash all the salt off the boat. We stayed up all afternoon but went to bed around 7:00 PM. Too tired to stay up to celebrate the New Year of 2008! The marina people were encouraging everyone to attend their all inclusive party--$150 per person. I don't think so and besides the guys would have to wear shirts with collars which is too much to ask a tired sailor to do.

The following picture is Doug and Connie on HIGH STEPPER completing their Custom and Immigration Paperwork. There are at least 6 forms to complete. The second picture is Carl getting ready to raise the Bahamian Courtesy Flag!

It is so good to be in the Bahamas.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Thoreson
January 2, 2007