JANUARY--Celebrate New Years on DISCOVERY, Completed Provisioning, Left Vero Beach and Made it to the Bahamas!

Five Saga 43 owners (HANANIAH--Dick and Pat Peebles, CAMELOT--Rose Miles and Keith Reynolds, CLOUDSPLITTER--Doug and Marianne Taylor, NO SE--Duane and Pat Marshall, and DISCOVERY--Us) celebrated New Years together. Started with appetizers on board CLOUDSPLITTER. Marianne purchased hats and noise makers---everyone put their garb on for appetizers. The main course was on board DISCOVERY with dessert on CAMELOT. It was a beautiful night for being on boats.

Below are pictures taken on New Years Eve.

New Years Day, Carl and I took the dinghy to shore to clean the bottom. Suspected that we might have accumulated some crud while at the mooring at Vero Beach. Well, we were shocked when we pulled on dinghy on dry land and flipped it over---hundreds of barnacles on the bottom of the dinghy and the blades on the motor. The dinghy bottom cleaning job that we thought would take us an hour ended up taking three hours. The barnacles are disgusting---there are creatures inside a hard shell that can only be scraped off! While on shore, we heard the bad news about one of the boats we met this summer while on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)----WIND-BORNE hit a freighter around 5:30 AM on New Years Day on their way to the Bahamas. WIND-BORNE (Pat and Mac) had a visual on the freighter, made contact via VHF radio and made agreement to pass each other port side to port side. All of a sudden, the freighter made a sharp turn to port and hit WIND-BORNE. WIND-BORNE called a Mayday and asked the freighter to launch a liferaft. However, the freighter would not respond on the radio. WIND-BORNE was not taking on water so it limped into Nassau for repairs. Pat and Mac have found witnesses who heard the radio conversation regarding a port to port pass. They also did some detective work on their own and found the freighter in Nassau (paint chips). Insurance adjusters flew to Nassau from the States and repairs are currently underway.

Starting January 2, Marianne and I became serious provisioners. Almost every cruiser we met told us to bring enough provisions to last the entire time we are in the Bahamas. This means...paper and dry goods to last 3 to 4 months. I had no idea how much food it would take to feed Carl and I for 3 to 4 months so I compared notes with other boaters and started buying stuff and stowing it on board. Marianne and I made three trips to Wal-Mart. Also bought enough meat to fill our freezer. At this point, I don't know how good my provisioning is. I wrote down every item I stowed along with its location. This way, I will have a better handle on provisioning next year plus I will know what food I can buy locally at a reasonable cost. While I did the food and beverage provisioning, Carl made sure the fuel and propane tanks were full. He also had DISCOVERY's bottom cleaned by a diver. Carl also picked up fishing equipment....hope to supplement our meat with fresh fish.

Pictured below is packages after ONE trip to Wal-Mart!

Left Vero Beach on January 6 along with CLOUDSPLITTER. NO SE left Vero Beach on January 2 with plans to join us in Fort Lauderdale. HANANIAH also left Vero Beach on January 2 venturing down to Fort Pierce where they .had their boat pulled out of the water to paint the bottom . CAMELOT made plans to join us in Fort Lauderdale around the 11th.

Boy did it feel good to be moving. Oh, we weren't going far that first day...only 14 miles down to Fort Pierce where we anchored in a great cove with HANANIAH and CLOUDSPLITTER. Motored down the ICW from Fort Pierce to Lake Worth in West Palm. Anchored in Lake Worth with HANANIAH and CLOUDSPLITTER surrounded by expensive homes and high rise condominiums. Think we saw Tiger Woods' yacht, PRIVACY docked in Lake Worth. Stayed at Lake Worth for 2 nights before sailing to Fort Lauderdale via the Atlantic Ocean with HANANIAH and CLOUDSPLITTER. At Fort Lauderdale we anchored in Lake Sylvia.....very small lake with many shallow spots and an ordinance that limits anchoring there to one 24-hour period a calendar year. Stayed in Lake Sylvia for 3 days.....the marine police never bothered us (the police told 4 boats to get out within 24 hours but then one of the boats let their dogs "go" on an empty lot and the other boat had a loud party that disturbed someone on the lake).

The Saga Fleet (HANANIAH, CAMELOT, NO SE, CLOUDSPLITTER and DISCOVERY) left Fort Lauderdale at 3 AM on January 13 heading to Port Lucaya on the Grand Bahamas. Our weather window for crossing the Gulfstream was ok...the skies were overcast and winds were such that we had to motor sail most of the way. Arrived in Port Lucaya (about 7 miles east of Freeport) at 3:30 in the afternoon. Lucaya is a residential and resort. Had to go into the marina to check-in. Filled out 4 or 5 forms for Customs (the forms asked for most of the same information and two forms for Immigration). Of the 5 Sagas going through Customs and Immigration, DISCOVERY was the only boat that was cleared without any problems. Working all those years in the Pharmaceutical Industry paid off....attention to detail and completing government forms!

The cruising guides talk cold fronts that come down from Canada and bring with them north winds of 20 to 25 knots or greater. We experienced our first cold front about 8 hours after arriving in Port Lucaya. The wind blew for 2-1/2 days at 25 knots with higher gusts. Our expectations were we would be in bathing suits and sipping cool rum drinks. Instead, we had our fleece clothing on and sipped coffee to stay warm. Stayed in Lucaya three nights. Marianne and I are adventuresome....took the public bus from the marina to downtown Freeport. Downtown Freeport is very depressed and not exactly a safe place to walk around. Took the same bus system back to Port Lucaya down to the tourist area....huge casinos, bars, restaurants and shops.

Pictured below are shots from the Port Lucaya Village Marina.

From Port Lucaya we sailed to the Berry Islands. Put out our fishing line with hopes of catching a fish. Just when the water depth changes from 500 feet to 30 feet, something was on the hook. Carl reeled it in.....thought he lost it but then felt something again. As the lure came up to the boat we had a 5 foot shark biting the lure.....the shark let go and we were happy. We think we had a fish on the line and the shark at the fish before we got it on board! Anchored in between Great Harbour Cay and Goat Cay. Nice spot with only one problem.....a serious surge that caused the boat to rock and roll all night.

From Great Harbour we motorsailed to Devils Cay. It was a rough day to motorsail into 5 foot rolling swells. About 30 minutes out of Great Harbour, CLOUDSPLITTER called on the VHF radio to inform us that they lost either their prop or the transmission. As a result, Doug and Marion had to sail about 40 nautical miles to Devils Cay which was only 18 miles away. CLOUDSPLITTER had a rough sail into the anchorage.....lost their stainless steel grill that was clamped to the rail. They did finally sail into the anchorage with huge waves breaking over rocks with the assistance of Keith from CAMELOT and Carl. All 5 Sagas stayed in the anchorage at Devils Cay for 2 nights where we experienced our second cold front. Some Bahamian fishermen came to the boats selling fresh fish or conch. I bought conch with no idea how I was going to prepare it. Soaked it in lime juice for 3 hours, beat the crap out of it with Carl's hammer, cut the meat into thin strips and grilled them YUMMY. DISCOVERY encountered difficulties with the alternator......thank goodness we had a spare.

From Devils Cay, the Saga Fleet sailed to Nassau. It looked like it would be a rough day because the winds were still blowing pretty hard from the cold front and we were sailing in deep, deep water (Tongue of the Ocean) so the waves 5 to 7 feet. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well DISCOVERY handled the wind and seas. CLOUDSPLITTER called for a towing service just outside of Nassau harbor.....the service wanted $750 with a 3-4 hour wait. This was waterway robbery so DISCOVERY towed them in.

Nassau is the capital of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the largest city on the island of New Providence. Nassau's history is rich with adventure. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, some of the Bahamas were inhabited by Lucayan Indians. The Spaniard discovered there was no gold so they left the Bahamas. English Puritans came to Eleuthera seeking a new life. For many years, pirates and swashbucklers dominated the Bahamian waters. Blackbeard was among the most famous of these. The whole of Bay Street that follows the shoreline was a nest of pirates who ran the place pretty much as they like and they liked it filthy. Dispatches of the day say the stench of Nassau could be detected far out to sea. Civilization was restored in 1717 when Cap Woodes Rogers, once a pirate himself, was enlisted as governor by King George I and started to clear the pirates out. He offered full amnesty to all pirates who lowered their flags.....those that refused were destroyed. Many Loyalist fled the United States for Nassau after the Revolutionary War. Gun running became the main event during the US Civil War and finally rum-running when US prohibition was in effect. The first casinos opened in 1929 and Pan Am began service from Miami to Nassau. Today, Nassau is a busy shipping harbor....cargo, cruise ships and cruisers like us.

We stayed in Nassau for 12 days. Experienced our third cold front and have to say it was the strongest and longest so far. I did not want to go to Nassau but my plans were changed when the alternator went on the fritz. Much to my surprise, I had a great time in Nassau. One Sunday, Doug, Marianne, Carl and I went over to Atlantis which is a huge theme resort/casino. Walked around the grounds, through the casino (which has several Chuhuly glass works) tried to get into the aquarium but were too cheap to shell out $60 for the two of us and had a great lunch. Carl worked on the alternator for about 5 days.....taking it to a shop after we cooked it two or three times. He finally found out what the problem was....this alternator was rebuilt in Vero Beach and again in Nassau using standard parts. The alternator is a Powerline which uses special parts so the only way to get it fixed is to take it to a authorized dealer when we return to the States. Meanwhile, a third brand new alternator will be hand carried from the States to Georgetown for us by friends of HANANIAH. Marianne and I went shopping in downtown Nassau while the guys were dealing with boat repairs. Downtown Nassau is a shopper's paradise......duty free shops for the Cruise Ships, jewelry, designer clothes and the usual shit shops. One day, Doug and Carl joined Marianne and I to visit some of the historic sites.

Below are pictures from Atlantis and Fincastle Fort (highest point in Nassau)


While we were In Nassau, the Saga fleet broke least for awhile. CAMELOT and HANANIAH headed for Georgetown with plans to stop at a couple anchorages on the way after being in Nassau about a week. . NO SE stayed in Nassau after we left to have their transmission repaired (same repair as CLOUDSPLITTER).

From Nassau, CLOUDSPLITTER and DISCOVERY crossed the Yellow Banks on the way to Norman's Cay. There are numerous uncharted coral heads in the water of the Yellow Banks. Other cruisers and the cruising guides warn you to keep a sharp lookout......someone should stand high at the bow with polarized sunglasses with the sun high over your head. Well, we crossed in 2-3 foot seas with the sun in our eyes. I tried to look for coral heads but it was useless. We did not hit any on our way to Norman's Cay.

Norman's Cay is best known for its history of drug smuggling. Carlos (Joe) Lehder, a unfriendly Columbian Drug Lord once owned the entire island. From our anchorage, we could see the shot up remains of a building and a crashed airplane. Carl and I dinked over to the airplane wreck to investigate. Also found a beautiful sandy beach. We reached Norman's on January 30th. It really was a lovely spot and our first night in the Exuma Islands.

From Norman's Cay we went through a cut to the ocean.....Exuma Sound. Sailed all the way to Warderick Wells Cay where we picked up a mooring at the Exuma Land and Sea Park. From the deck of our boat we could see a huge manta ray swimming around. Went snorkeling.....finally! Saw lots of fish.


Pictured below is DISCOVERY making way from Norman's Cay to Waderick Wells Cay. The best sailing day of the trip so far......perfect waves and wind.

Pictured below is DISCOVERY finding its way through the dark blue water to a mooring at Exuma Land and Sea Park.

We are so excited to be in the Exuma Islands. I wish I could describe how beautiful the water is. Traveled 3,240 nautical miles from Pentwater to the Exuma Land and Sea Park which has to be one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.

Marilyn Thoreson
February 3, 2006