Wednesday 30th March 30, 2005
We had a fun Easter hunting for eggs all around the boat. Unfortunately the Easter Bunny does not have his sea legs and lost his balance when a boat made a big wake in the harbor so he dropped, and cracked, all the eggs! Oops! We colored so many eggs the day before Easter and ate some on Easter day. The day after Easter however a really bad boiled egg hum had developed inside the boat and we sent the rest of the eggs swimming. Today we remembered that boiled eggs float so who knows where our pretty rainbow colored eggs will wash up! We did not go to church – I really wanted to but in the end it was easier to have Easter on the boat than dragging the kids to a church where they know nobody and trying to make them behave etc, etc, etc. So, we had a little home church and took the rest of the day off. We went to eat at Roaster’s for supper – an average chicken joint owned by Kenny Rogers apparently. I would guess it has been a while since he has dined there though because the place wasn’t superstar quality! (Side note – Justin got a curry chicken from a Bahamian restaurant that served him from behind bullet proof glass! Crime is a bit of an issue here but we are relatively safe in our marina and don’t venture out after dark.)
We took a bus to the mall. More like a roller coaster ride. I actually felt seasick on the bus! The driver was a speedy one and the kids thought it was great to be tossed around the back seat. Mine and Justin’s eyes were as wide as saucers at all the near misses we had. One of those was a man carrying his Rum moving as quickly as he could on crutches to get across the road before we flattened him!
I enjoyed the shopping mall – it has been awhile since I have been to one! Abigail and Aaron both got new sandals and underwear – they had birthdays and outgrew those things, strange. I found some great home school supplies for the kids and stocked a few things. The Bahamas tends to be on the expensive side because they have to import just about everything from the States. So, we didn’t buy much else but enjoyed browsing and then made our way back to the bus stop. Low and behold – the same bus and driver where there! We couldn’t believe our luck (or lack of it). We had a very “quick” trip back to the marina at least!
We are waiting for our membrane for the water maker to arrive from the USA. The UPS man never showed today so we wait some more. We are also considering replacing our SSB which is not working, has never worked and probably never will work. It is costly but we will feel better on passages to have it not only from a communication standpoint but also for the weather faxes.
We have settled into a bit of a routine. Abigail has pre-k in the mornings and Aaron pesters us but I try to keep him busy with his little workbook or crayons and puzzles. Afternoons are spent relaxing, exploring or maintaining the boat. The bedtimes are back in place – yea! Nobody likes it when the kids go to bed late because they fuss all the evening and then are cranky the next day because they still wake up at 6.30am! I am happy to have the routine – Justin isn’t sure who needs it more the kids or me! It does make things run smoothly though and the kids know what to expect.
We saw a really cool fish called a sea pigeon – the locals call it the “batman fish”. I think it is actually a squid. It was black and looks just like a pigeon swimming in the water – if it gets alarmed it inks purple and disappears through the discolored water! I wish I had my camera for that one.
Hello from the Bahamas! We left Marathon and headed East 40nm to Indian Key Anchorage just off Lower Matecumbe. We anchored there for 6 nights awaiting a nice weather window to cross the Stream. After 2 false starts due to the fluxgate compass aka "Albert" the autopilot not working we left Indian Key Anchorage Monday 14th March 10am. The wind was on our nose until we rounded Alligator Reef and then was over our starboard beam. We tried to put up the mainsail but winds were too light. Instead we put up some genoa and mizzen. These seemed to hold us steady and gained a little speed. We crossed the Gulf Stream with southerly winds and 2-3 seas. In the stream we gained even more speed and set our personal record of 9.1 knots! The sun set 6.30pm and we crossed over to the Grand Bahama Bank in darkness south of Riding Rock (which by the way is unlit) and anchored 9.30pm about 1 1/2 nm inside the bank. We covered 102 nautical miles that day with no problems. We were tired but quite proud of our achievements and having the Gulf Stream behind us was a big relief. Little did we know what was ahead...
The next day (March 15th) we headed for Russell Light (also unlit) and anchored 4.5 nm SW of the Light - a nice short easy day of 42nm. The water was turquoise blue and flat as a pancake - we had 7knot winds and all sail up. A beautiful day in paradise.
Next morning (16th) we pulled the hook around 10am and set off for North West Channel Light (NWCL) planning to round the light and anchor at Chub Key. Winds were 10-15 and from the south. We had a breezy morning with genoa and mizzen up. We took in the sails around 2pm as we neared the NWCL. This is a tricky area with reefs to the north and south. There is a 1/2 mile gap to pass between the two. Justin went to the bow to watch for reefs and I had been happily helming up until this point. The marker for the light was not where it was supposed to be. We knew there had been several markers destroyed and were uncertain of the marker that seemed to be there now and too far south according to our chart. We watched a mega yacht and mailboat go through and tried to keep to their course. We rounded the NWCL and encountered 9-10 foot seas. We never saw it coming. From the bank it looked a little choppy and the guidebook mentioned it may be a little choppy because of oceans meeting at this particular point and going from 500ft water to the Bank of 17ft water. Now Justin at the bow and me at the helm autopilot going cookoo. I noticed to my starboard side some really yellow brown reef looking thing and I took over from "Albert" for a time. I managed to steer us onto our course with much muscle power. Our walkie talkies packed up about this time and I notice Jus is still talking to me through his but mine isn't working - typical at such a crucial time. I shouted to let him know it wasn't working but we just couldn't hear each other. Justin held on for dear life as he was drenched and took each wave head on! I watched my darling husband sail high into the sky and crash down into the troughs! It was unsafe for him to try and return to the cockpit. (Lesson learned - always tether on even in calm weather). We could see the deeper water color about a mile ahead and we held out until then and Jus could return to the cockpit. Now, the forward hatch was open because things had been sooooooo calm on the Bank. Abigail pipes up "Mommy, there's water coming in the boat!" I assure her it is nooo problem and we will close her hatch as soon as possible - then I continue to pray. It got better but never calm enough for us to make a landfall in Chubb Key. We pushed on all night to Nassau (with no nav lights to boot) We ran our anchor and deck lights. Got a call from a Big Boy Mail Boat on the VHF as to our course as to avoid collision - Jus apologized profusely and we got out of his way - a little to close to the Chubb Key reefs for my liking. Seas continued to be 5-6 and very choppy with 20 -25 knot winds throughout the night. I helmed for 12 hours that day. We took turns sleeping in the cockpit - 1 hour at a time. Arrived in Nassau at 11am and entered Nassau Harbour. Wow! What a beatiful place - busy too. They compare it to an International Airport because of all the traffic here - not to mention the seaplanes - which boaters must yield right of way to. One landed right next to us as we were passing under the bridges - Jus couldn't move to avoid him as we only had 1 ft clearance at this highest point of the bridge. By this point we had inspected the water damage below in the forward cabin. Not good - everything was soaked and it had gone right through the cabinets and drenched every item of clothing the kids own. Mildew, I have learned, sets in very quickly on a boat. We needed a laundry mat, we needed fresh water (water maker making icky water now), we needed a good night's sleep! I hailed every marina in the harbour to no avail - all were full. We were forced to exit the harbour and anchor off Atol Island. A terrible anchorage with lots of rocks around it. We have been v. impressed with our Delta anchor but it can't avoid a 360 degree swing onto coral, so we took anchor watches. Next morning Jus got us into Nassau Yacht Haven (commerical side) and we pulled the anchor up and entered the crazy harbour again. This time busier with 4 cruiseships, the usual seaplanes, haitian boaters, charter boats, jet skis and megayachts. 17 not winds 3knots of current and shallow banks to avoid we came into the wrong slip very nearly because of lack of communication with harbour master (VHF on the blink too now!) - However, Jus very skillfully maneuvered us to where they wanted us to be. Dare I say we half looked professional it went so smoothly! I threw the ropes, they caught them, we tied up. We now reside next to the Glass Bottom Tour Boat, Sea Island Adventures Tour Boat and the Booze & Cruise Boat is opposite us.
10 loads of laundry later and a day of washing decks and cleaning the boat we took a walk around the harbour. Jus noticed another Bruce Roberts 53' that he had seen on the internet and we meandered over to it and introduced ourselves. Turns out it is owned now by a S. African couple from Jo'burg. We spent a couple of hours chatting and sharing sailing stories and invited them over to our boat for a braai (barbeque) the next night. That was last night and we had a lovely evening with Merle and Nick from the s/v "Integrity". Whilst we were braaing another S. African couple came over. They had seen our SA Flag flying and introduced themselves. Very nice couple who are working on a charter boat for some extra money and have a small vessel with 10 Mexicans for their first crew!
Today we are off to visit Atlantis on Paradise Island! (Owned by a S. African of course) It should be a day of fun for us and the kids!