Monday, April 25, 2011

Marsh Harbor...

In Marsh Harbor we had SO much to celebrate!

We met up with friends from West Wind and Finn MacCool who we hadn't seen since we left Florida. They had spent their seasons in the Abacos and it was great to get together once again. Eric and I shaked some booty on the dance floor as did Eric's grandson Ben (Photo 2).

We also celebrated Lynn, from Iolar's, birthday (Photo 3) - more reason to boogie!

As if spending time with friends wasn't enough, the weather remained great and a group of us went over to snorkel Mermaid Reef. What a great spot! Lots of fish, beautiful water and accessible from the beach. The parrotfish were amazing. They were in all sorts of colors - purples, greens, yellows and my favorite - blues (Photo 5).

But perhaps the biggest celebration was from the Captain. Our arrival in Marsh Harbor included access to the largest supermarket we'd seen since leaving the US. While there the Captain found ice cream on sale and not just a 2 quart tub it was a 1 gallon tub!! The price $10.99. I know this sounds high, but after cruising the islands for 3 months where the going price for 2 quarts of ice cream is $9-$11, this tub of Breyers was both a treat and a bargain.

More to come.

The Admiral

Sunday, April 24, 2011


At Man-O-War we were greeted by our friend Vince on Fin Macool. Vince, like several of our friends, had spent the winter season in the Abacos using Man-O-War as a base. As always, it is great to see good friends.

In town, we bummed around and rediscovered the Albury Sail Shop. The Captain and I had been here once before - about 15 years ago. Back then we purchased several canvas bags which have served as our toiletry bags ever since. The shop is still going strong and has expanded its selection from what we remember.

Next stop - Marsh Harbor.

The Admiral

Friday, April 22, 2011


We left the Eleuthera's and traveled 50+ miles north to the Abacos. Our first stop Hopetown.

Many of you may recognize Hopetown from its distinctive candy striped lighthouse. Here we would be meeting someone new, Jean, the Aunt of a friend of ours. We didn't know what to expect when meeting her, but we were delighted to find an experienced sailor with whom we could trade stories and thoroughly enjoy spending time with. Jean introduced us to Captain Jacks where we played Jacks (local bingo), enjoyed cocktails and just had a wonderful time with Jean and her friends Betty and Ann.

We enjoyed strolling the streets of the small community and climbing the 101 steps to the lighthouse where we were able to get some extraordinary views of the harbor.

We had a wonderful time. Thank you Jean for your wonderful hospitality. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

The Admiral

PS. Yes, I have gotten another haircut. This time....even shorter than the last.

Photo 1: Jean and the Admiral

Photo 2: Hopetown Lighthouse

Photo 3: Harbor view from the lighthouse

Photo 4: The Captain and the Admiral with Tropical Breeze in the background

Friday, April 15, 2011

More Drama...

Our journey to Spanish Wells started well enough. We left Governors Harbor on a light wind day anticipating we'd be able to sail 4 knots to Current Island. The wind continued to fill in nicely and by mid-day we found ourselves doing 6.5 -7 knots. Despite a reef in the jib to slow ourselves down, we arrived at Current Cut early and dropped the anchor for a while awaiting a tidal change as the force of water through the Cut can be quite brisk if you catch it at the wrong time. Our journey through the Cut was fine and we dropped the hook for the evening behind Meeks Patch in plenty of time to enjoy a splendid sunset.

The next morning we hoisted the anchor and headed for Spanish Wells. The community is the major fishing town in the Bahamas exporting about 75% of the fish exported in the Bahamas from this small town. We anticipated that we would pick up a mooring ball early and have the bulk of the day to play ashore. We would be wrong.

As we left our anchorage, a large ferry boat was coming in. Moving slower than the ferry he entered the channel first stirring up the sand below. We followed, with poor visibility, and neglected to see the rock ledge that jutted into the channel. With the tide being almost low Tropical Breeze's 4 foot + draft was not sufficient to clear the rock ledge and the starboard hull went aground. We tried to get off - a mistake we would regret later - but no, we were stuck in the channel until the tide came up blocking large boat traffic into the channel for a time.

So instead of a full day ashore exploring we spent 3 hours lounging around aboard warning channel traffic of our presence as they approached. Fishermen would stop by occassionally to see if they could help, but unfortunately all we could do was wait for the tide. At one point a man in a small skiff approached us saying we had to move because the supply freighter was approaching. Fortunately we were able to hail the approaching freighter on the radio and he detoured to the eastern channel entrance avoiding us in the western channel.

The tide rose high enough and by about 1pm we were away from the rock ledge and headed to our mooring assignment. The Captain snorkeled around the boat to assess the damage. We were fortunate that the rudder, saildrive and prop were undamaged. Unfortunately, the back corner of the keel was not so lucky and is now about 3 inches shorter than it once had been. (This damage was not done by hitting the rock but instead by us as we tried to maneuver away from the rock.) Yet that is one of the functions of a keel, to protect the more vital steering and propulsion systems behind them. The damage does not impede our travels it just creates a new project for the Captain once Tropical Breeze is hauled out for the season. Nonetheless, ugh.

We finally made it ashore and found that the fishing industry created an affluence to the community we had not seen elsewhere in the Bahamas. The cemetery was beautiful with its array of floral wreaths covering many of the gravesites. The transportation was unique also. This is the first community we've seen branch out of the typical use of cars and trucks into bicycles, motor scooters and golf carts. Some other interesting things - no bars or liquor stores in Spanish Wells.

The Admiral

Governors Harbor...

Another beautiful day in the Bahamas. En route from Rock Sound to Governors Harbor we managed to hook a yellowtail snapper. He was small (16 inches) but sufficient enough to be dinner.

All was going along great when the Captain noticed that the port bilge pump light was on. Water - uh oh. The Captain started madly checking the bilges from the stern forward and finally found that we had water running in the bilge under our bunk. The water was fresh water not salt. At first he thought the port side water tank had ruptured. On further inspection he realized that the hose on the water pump had come loose and that all the water from both the port and starboard water tanks had just gone into the bilge. While this sounds devastating, the reality is that the problem was not bad at all. The Captain reattached the hose and we turned on the watermaker to again begin refilling the tanks. The biggest mess is that the space underneath our bunk is our dry goods pantry. Fortunately, we keep all our paper products in Ziploc big bags which kept everything dry except the bag itself. A bit of clean up and we were back in action.

The Admiral

Rock Sound...

One of the first things that we noticed about Rock Sound on approach was that it appeared to be a town of substance. By substance we mean that it appeared to be many buildings, even many streets which is more than we had seen at previous stops. Once ashore, we discovered that the community by land was not as large as it appeared by sea, but still large enough to have one of the best grocery stores that we'd seen in months! While our provisions continue to hold us well there were some things that we no longer had available on board. The biggie being potato chips. It was great to walk into a store with a great selection and a price tag that didn't make you cringe (too much).

The big attraction in Rock Sound is the Ocean Hole. It is a big salt water pond that has an unknown outlet to the sea. The locals use it as a swimming hole as the fresh water run off accumulates and sits on top of the salt water making for a more pleasant swimming experience.

Next stop Governor's Harbor.

The Admiral

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little San Salvador...

We found a great weather window to head north and away we went. Sailing across the Exuma Sound we hooked our second mahi mahi of the season. A bit bigger than the last - measuring in at 42 inches. A bit more challenging than the last as well as the reel began to give way and we weren't sure we would be able to reel the fish in but we managed. The Captain donned gloves and pulled the line in while I managed to get the line back onto the reel. Nonetheless, well worth the additional effort.

Little San Salvador was easy to spot on approach. It had a huge Carnival cruise ship anchored off of it. No surprise as the island is Carnival's private island. What was a surprise, however, is our second day there we had no cruise ship in. This gave the Captain and I the opportunity to go ashore and explore. The beach was great. We even found a hammock to swing in for a while.

But weather has been good which means we should continue to move rather than lazy away our time on the beach. So onward we continue.

The Admiral

Emerald Bay Marina...

We haven't stayed in a marina since our arrival in Bimini. It has been two months since we last had showers on land. Laundry has been getting done at the occasional laundramat we would find (and find acceptable) - otherwise we were resorting to doing laundry in a bucket and hanging it out on the life lines to dry. You might call it roughing it, but given the surroundings we enjoy on a daily basis, you might not.

What I am getting at is.... it was time. Time to pamper ourselves a bit and find a dock with some facilities to get a few necessary chores done. The destination....Emerald Bay Marina..... about 10 miles north of Georgetown but once we pulled in and sampled the land based accomodations it felt like a world away.

The showers are phenomenal with a wonderfully unlimited source of hot water and toiletries to boot. The laundry room even better. Equipped with fairly new big front loading machines - we did six big loads and it is so wonderful to have everything on board clean again.

For dinner we decided to treat ourselves and walked over to the restaurant at a local resort. Dinner was splendid and the poolside atmosphere relaxing.

It was a great last stop before we begin the journey north. But just because we are headed north doesn't mean there aren't new and exciting destinations in store. Stay tuned for more fun!

The Admiral

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Jumentos...

Finally - a weather window. So off we went towards Man of War Cay in the Jumentos. The journey was fast as we were pushed easily 6.5+ knots.

As always while in deep water, the lines were out in hopes of catching dinner. Fortunately, as the sun began to fall in the late afternoon one of the lines took off. You could easily see the brillant green and yellow coloring of a mahi on the end as it zipped through the waves attempting to free itself from the hook. But no, today the mahi would be ours - a new first!

We cleared Man of War Cut after sunrise and found our way to Flamingo Cay where we dropped the hook. Once rested, we opted to check out the fishing opprtunities and managed to snag a few conch for supper.

From Flamingo we moved onto Water Cay where the spearfishing ensued. Each day for days we went out trying to snag a fish and after three days of trying our only reward was a triggerfish that the Admiral managed to spear. It was a challenge to fillet, but was a fine meal.

The Captain and I have decided that if spearfishing was the only option that we would starve. More practice is definitely required. For now we will depend more on rod and reel in hopes that a second mahi may be in our future.

The Admiral

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Acklins...

Well after a great adventure, we have returned to the world of internet accessibility. There is much to share....

When we last left you we were leaving Georgetown and headed south towards the Acklins Islands. We awaited high tide and off we went through Hogs Cay Cut with full sail up zipping along to the tip of Long Island where we dropped the hook for the night. Day two of our sailing would be a bit more challenging as the winds shifted and began to really kick up as we approached the Acklins. We would spend our first night in the Acklins in a bouncy anchorage as the winds whipped around and water splashed along the hulls.

Yet the next day would prove to be well worth the struggle. The winds quit and we hoisted the hook and sailed to North Cay (part of the Acklins chain). There we would stay for two nights enjoying the calm waters and the sealife. We took in our first spearfishing lesson from our friends on Phoenix and would come home with two lobster. Unfortunately, we speared neither of them (Karen did) but Dave found the larger of the two so we took home the prize. From the photo, I know it is difficult to determine size, but know that the smaller lobster yielded a 6 1/2 inch tail so the larger - oh my!

Despite the fun, weather would continue to be our nemisis. We headed inland to the protection of the islands as more wind came. In fact we would spend several days aboard, just waiting for the weather to break. Our highlight throughout it all was that the Captain and I would see our first green flash! About a week into our journey, we received an invitation from two other boats in the area to do a land tour of Acklins Island. After several days aboard it sounded like the perfect getaway. So off we went, with Bernice as our guide, we discovered every bonefishing lodge and bar on the northern part of the island. We also met Auntie Maude one of the young at heart senior residents who has no fear of speaking her mind.

Finally the weather would calm and the fishing would once again proceed. We'd find four more lobster for the freezer - the Captain three, the Admiral one. The key difference this time is that the Captain and I without aid from others would harvest them - SUCCESS!

With the wind from the north returning to Georgetown would not be possible so instead we turned west and headed to the Jumentos.

The Admiral