Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 15, 2010.

We were the only boat anchored in Spanish Wells Bay on the west side of Raccoon Cay. That meant that we had plenty of privacy for some scantily clad sun bathing, so we did enjoy some of that, but the bulk of our day was once again spent in the water. The bay immediately to our south had 5 boats in it after several arrived today.

After 1 ½ hours in the morning and were able to take a small Hogfish, a lobster and a 9 ½ freaking pound Mutton Snapper. It was another lucky shot as the spear angled through his body and severed his spinal chord rendering him instantly cooperative. We ran across several Nurse sharks today. Nurse sharks are very docile unless provoked, so there was none of that.
It’s amazing to see these huge sharks just resting on the bottom as we approached individual coral heads. Usually, they meander away after a short time while leaving the coral for us to explore.

After a lunch of “fish sandwiches” we headed out once again and were rewarded with another lobster and three Margates. We had Margate for lunch today and I admit to having tunnel vision toward Margate’s this afternoon. The third Margate of the day was a 7 ½ pounder. Quite a glorious day in the water.

Once we were back to the boat we had to hustle to clean our catch before heading in to the beach to burn garbage and have sundowners with the crews of several boats that showed up today. We have a bit of a blow headed this way, so I’m sure all of us will be here for a few days. The bright side is that we’re in the Jumentos and fishing will be available in spite of the wind.
January 14, 2010.

Happy Birthday to my brother Mike!

After turning in at 2030 we both got a great night’s sleep. We were anxious to get the fishing season into full swing. The water is a little chilly at 76 degrees, but the lobsters aren’t going to jump in the boat by themselves, are they?

We spent about 6 hours in the water. We were able to take a pair of lobster, a Grouper and a 4 ½ pound Margate. There was an entire school of Margate doing circles around a small patch or coral. There were 4 or 5 big ones among the other smaller fish, plus a single 3 foot Barracuda on the coral as well. I tried to wait the Barracuda out, but an opportunity to shoot one of the larger Margates presented itself. As soon as I speared him he went into his death throws and the Barracuda immediately came for him. The fish was flailing all over, I was trying to keep him away from the Cuda’ whose interest was “peaked” to say the least. I pulled the Margate to the surface and waved Christy over. She came blasting up in the dink which drove the Barracuda off. I handed the Margate up to her and switched spears. The Barracuda was now on high alert and more than a bit curious so I had to leave that patch of coral behind without an attempt at another Margate. It was still a great day!
January 12, 2010.

The weather forecast turned out to be more like a wild guess in the dark. Christ, was he off. We were supposed to have 15 to 17 out of the north northeast for our trip to Flamingo Cay from Long Island. We had about 4 knots out of the northwest. As the day went on, our route gradually turned southward and the wind built a bit. With about 6 miles to go on our 55 mile day we were finally able to sail.

We arrived at the 3 palms anchorage on Flamingo with Far Niente and Kokomo. 3 palms is actually a misnomer since one of the 3 palm trees “blowed away” since the anchorage was named. So now we will call it 2 palms.

The wind built to 15 knots and then slowly moved around to the northeast and died away. This left us a small swell rolling through the anchorage. It would have been doable until the wind decided to come back out of the north and build to 20 knots. We were all protected from the wind but the swell was vicious and wrapping around the headland to the north. This left us all rolling side to side for hours. I’m talking about rail to rail in the water. Shit was flying everywhere as we tried in vain to catch a few winks. FYI, no winks caught.

We had planned to stay at Flamingo for a few days but there was no way we were going to risk another night without sleep. So the next morning we were up and underway at first light. As soon as we cleared the anchorage the engine was off as we headed south. It was very rough for the first few hours but the wind and seas abated as the day went on. It ended up being a very lovely sail to Raccoon Cay.
January 10, 2010.

Everybody who knew that there were bats in the Bahamas….raise your hand. Yesterday, I wouldn’t have raised my hand.

We were settled into a secure anchorage with a 30 knot blow forecast to arrive tonight. Christy and I decided to watch a borrowed movie on our laptop. The movie had just started and we were getting comfortable in the glow of the computer screen when Christy cried out “What the F#%k was that?”. She scared the shit outta me because her exclamation was so sudden and so loud.

I had no idea what she was talking about. The movie had just started, all of a sudden she’s jumping around like a monkey with BenGay on its ass. Finally, in the glow of the computer screen I see a large insect flying across the ceiling of the cabin. Then I catch a second glimpse and realize that it’s not an insect, it’s a freaking bat fluttering around inside the boat. I’m trying to find the light switch and then I’m not sure if I should turn it on or not. It’s something like “red sky at night, bats fly towards the light?” I dunno, wtf? Should I eat one of the garlic cloves and rub some behind my ears, what?

The companionway hatch was closed but the board was out for ventilation and the little bastard flew right in but couldn’t seem to find his way back out. I thought they had radar. Christy was right below the hatch so she stood up and threw back the hatch and flopped down beside me again. After about 10 of the longest seconds ever the little bastard flew back outside. We quickly snapped the bug screen into place across the opening to make sure there wasn’t a return engagement. We hope the dogs will be alive in the morning…………..

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 9, 2010.

Hey all. The islands and cays of the Bahamas are composed of limestone. There’s really very little soil on the islands and what soil there they have is mostly used for agriculture; and there’s not a whole lot of agriculture goin’ on. This lack of soil becomes really apparent in 2 major areas. Burying & building.

We’ve been watching a backhoe literally scratch at the surface of a building lot now for 2 days. The poor machine shudders, squeals and shakes as the operator drags the bucket across the surface of the limestone over and over again. Talk about a slow tedious process and its gotta be hell on the machine.

When it comes to burying people here there’s no way to dig a grave in most places. They pound, drill and scratch out a shallow grave, deposit the departed and cover them up with some island concrete. It makes for an interesting cemetery.

Yesterday we went out and did a little fishing and were rewarded with a pair of nice Cuban Snappers. The visibility was fairly crappy and I didn’t see the school of fish until they were right on top of me. They startled me as much as I did them. It was a large school with several fish in the 20 pound range but once the element of surprise was gone I had to settle for what I could catch. Generally, smaller fish are stupid fish. You don’t get to be a 20 pounder by taking chances so the big ones fled at first sight. The smaller ones were a little more lax so I put a pair of them in the bucket, the biggest of which was 4 pounds.

Speaking of fish. Last night our friends on Sapphire and Fine Lion showed up.

They left Galliot Cut and took the deep water route directly here. It was a windless day so they had to motor the entire day but on the upside that left them with good enough speed to do some trolling in the deep water. As a result, between the 2 of them they were able to take 4 Mahi Mahi and a 20 pound Tuna. They’ll be eatin’ fish for a while.

We may be weathered in for a few days and then its off to the Jumentos. So it will be a while before we have any internet to do any updating. Take care.....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 7, 2010.

First off, Happy Birthday Chris. Yeah, I know it’s the fifth but internet has been sketchy.

On Monday we were blessed by a lack of wind so we jumped in the dink for the 1 mile trip into town to battle with immigration. The trip across the harbor can be a pretty wet ride so since we “had’ to go into town today we considered ourselves very lucky to find ourselves with very little wind.

We walked a couple of blocks to the Immigration office. It turned out to be a spotless, very modern office. The officer at the window heard our tale of woe and gave us both a form to fill out. After turning the completed forms in to at the window she asked us to please be seated and await our interview with Mrs. Burroughs.

In a couple of minutes we were led to an inner office where we met with the head of immigration in Georgetown. Mrs. Burroughs was the picture of professionalism and a delight to deal with as well. She asked questions about our intentions and gathered her required information in a personable manner. We learned as much about her as she did about us and in 20 minutes we were out of there with our extended visas. This woman should be teaching a class at Immigration about dealing with the public, it was a very positive experience.

We had planned to leave for Long Island on Tuesday but the wind was up and the seas were huge. We never even left the boat and spent the day reading and looking forward to Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning we were on the fence about heading out. The wind was about 15 knots but promised to be straight over the stern for most of the day and the seas were still running in the 6 foot range. Thursdays forecast called for 2 foot seas but possibly not enough wind to sail in. So we’re goin’ on Wednesday.

We headed out with our friends Roland & Leta on Kokomo. We had the mainsail up and once clear of the harbor we set our course, killed the engine and rolled out the genoa.

That’s where the fun, or lack of, began. We had a bit more than 15 knots which was good but the sea was very confused with a rolling choppy 6 foot swell. We tied the main out with a preventer and it still wanted to backwind in the rolling sea. Setting the genoa proved impossible as well, as it just filled, flogged and the exploded full once again as the boat wallowed from side to side. I had to furl the genoa rather than take the chance of it being destroyed.

I ended up tying a preventer from the booms end all the way to the bow cleat. I pulled the boom out almost perpendicular to the boat and used another line to pull the booms end down towards the toerail.

Just under mainsail alone we were making between 5.5 and 7 knots as we surfed along. After just and hour or so the seas abated a bit but it was still 17 miles before we could unroll some of the genoa. Once again the new and improved (newly repaired) Boat Pole of Speed™ did wonders for us as we sailed the last 18 miles “wing and wing”.

Even though the first hour of the day was pretty miserable the day turned out to be a very nice day of sailing. We sailed into Thompson Bay in Long Island at about 1600 hours. As we hooked into the protected bay we were able to come onto port tack and sliced nicely into the harbor. As we approached our friends on Far Niente we furled the genoa and picked our spot under mainsail alone.

Once we were satisfied with our location Christy rounded us up. I had the anchor ready to drop and as the boat came to a halt dead on the breeze, I dropped the hook while Christy eased the mainsheet allowing the mainsail to flog. With no power in the sail to drive the boat forward we were blown back as I paid out chain. Once settled on the hook I dropped the sail while Christy started the engine just to make sure we had a good anchor set.

It’s beautiful here but we’ll be here through the weekend until yet another nasty front blows through. We don't have internet on the boat while here but we can dinghy into a resort called Long Island Breeze to do laundry and take care of internet at the same time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

January 3, 2010.

Welcome to 2010 everybody. We’re still here at Sand Dollar Beach and the anchorage is starting to fill in around us. We will be heading in to see the people at immigration on Monday in an effort to extend our visas. If you’ve been reading along than you must remember my whining about only getting our visas approved for 90 days. As it stands our visas will expire while we’re down in the Jumentos. For us to renew our visas at that time would mean us having to make the 150 mile trip back up here to Georgetown, smack dab in the middle of lobster season. Regardless of what happens at immigration we’ll be headed for long Island on the next available weather window as soon as that’s done.

The wind has been cranking here as several small fronts have come through. As a result the water is holding a lot of suspended sand so the visibility is pretty crappy. This area is hunted very heavily, combine that with the reduced visibility and it’s just not worth the effort. But that doesn’t mean we still don’t put in some effort. We were able to take a 3 pound lobster just this morning that ended up in a pot of lobster risotto.

We’ve spent a good bit of time hiking and shelling. The island here is interlaced with several really nice trails. You can make the transition from a sweltering inland trail to a trek on a seemingly air conditioned ridge along the ocean in a matter of a few paces.
We spent hours just wandering and exploring various nooks and crannies of the island.

We should be heading out to long Island on Wednesday. We "should" have internet while there, we'll see.