Friday, January 30, 2015

Video: Episode #2 - Bimini to Norman's Cay

Holy shit, we got internet good enough to upload our next video thanks to Bahamian Wifi (its a service that we pay for down here either by the week or by the month, and its pretty fast at times.)  On this video, we leave the fast times at Bimini and head to Gun Cay so we could be that much closer to Chub.  

After Chub, we head to Rose Island to chill out for a couple of days - which is where we discovered Bahamian Wifi to begin with.  From there we head down to Allan's Cay to feed the iguanas and ended up getting caught in a horrible current in a tight anchorage with 5 other boats.  It ended up pulling our anchor loose and dragging it as we quickly made the decision to pull it up and re-anchor.  

The thing about knowing when to do this is a little harder than it seems.  You see, we set up the chartplotter the best we can and put a waypoint right on top of where we think the anchor is so we can see if we've moved further from the anchor as the day and nights go on.  We were getting whipped around so much, that it was hard to tell if we were dragging or not, but when the difference became over 40 feet, we had a good indication that we were getting pulled by the current.  It was a long night needless to say and that's why we hauled ass to Norman's the next day - we wanted a little more room to breathe.  As you can see in the video, there isn't a whole lot of space to anchor between the island to begin with and stack on top of it that we were being swallowed be a 5 knot current that had a death grip on my boat....anyway, that night sucked.  

Then we end with arriving at Norman's Cay - where we spent a few days messing around.
As always, stay tuned to the end for fun stuff and a tribute to our family dog Daisy that died in Nassau.

Just out Catchin' Rays

We've just docked here in Georgetown, Exuma after motor-sailing from Lee Stocking Island today.  Before that we were at Big Majors/Stanial Cay for a couple of days waiting out the heavy winds.  We didn't hardly get out of the boat because there was a constant 20 knot wind blowing almost the entire time we were there.  Prior to Big Majors, we were at Norman's Cay where Brandon snagged his first kill with the Hawaiian Sling - a Lion Fish - the most ecologically destructing fish out there right now and he did his part to rid one small piece of coral from this bully.  And it made two nice fish nuggets to boot.
Tami & Me at our Big Majors anchorage - it was a busy place
He was also able to find this beautiful lobster hiding under the only piece of coral within 400 yards of our anchorage at Lee Stocking Island.  There was a nice Nassau Grouper in there too, but left after he pulled the trigger.

Brandon's first Lobster using a Hawaiian Sling @ Lee Stocking
Other than that, we've just been wastin' the days away, hoping to find warmer weather (I know, we're bitchin' about 77 degrees - deal with it) so that jumping into the water would actually be refreshing.  But from here, we don't know where we're going - maybe onto Long Island and beyond...but we don't know yet - maybe we'll just hang out here along with the 500 other sailboats at anchor behind us.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We Lost a Beloved Crew member today

Last night, as we were anchored quietly off Norman Cay, our dog of 18 years took a turn for the worse.  Her turn actually started a few days ago, but last night she started to seize and was obviously in pain.  We gave her medication to help with the pain, but years of congestive heart failure, and what seemed to be her kidneys beginning to fail was more than we wanted to put her through.  So today we made a run back up to Nassau to get her to a vet's office to make it as peaceful and humane as possible.  She was comfortable for the most part on today's sail as we made really good speed hauling ass and motor-sailing.  We got in a cab as soon as we docked and headed for the nearest vet's office - soon after that, our 18 year relationship was over.  She will be sadly missed by everybody in this family - and that's an understatement.

Daisy having a good time at Gun Cay just 2 weeks ago

Monday, January 12, 2015

Video: Key West to Bimini has been uploaded

See the crew set sail for Bimini, Bahamas with an unexpected stop in Key Largo for repairs.  I've actually been working extremely hard to get this video uploaded as we only arrived into Bimini less than a week ago.  But the free internet is so good here, I've been trying to finish this first leg of our adventure and get it uploaded because I have no idea when the next time I'll get these fast speeds again.  

Also, I first uploaded the wrong version to YouTube that had an audio error in it...and I could've left it, but it would have driven me crazy, so I've uploaded the corrected version - so, sorry if that messed anybody up.

Next stop: Chub Cay, and we actually head back to Gun Cay tomorrow as we prepare to make the haul to Chub on Wednesday.....stay tuned.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Day and Night spent at Gun Cay, Bahamas

The Crew at Gun Cay, Bahamas
Yesterday we set sail for Gun Cay.  Its a small island about 10 miles south of Bimini.  The winds looked good and so did the weather.  We were also tired of getting slammed into the dock at Weech's Boat dock by the waves caused by the passing water taxi service that runs to South Bimini and back.  They have no problem coming within about 20 feet of our boat while at cruising speed on their way to shore to pick up and drop off passengers - and that happens about 100 times per day.  So it was time to settle up with the dockmaster and untie the lines and head south.

The biggest excitement early on was just getting out of the channel and into open ocean.  For some reason there were Hawaii 5-0 type waves crashing right through the marked channel - and I mean these waves were big, about 10 feet or so with a big enough pipe for a small surfer to fit.  It was the weirdest thing.  Justin had the helm and Brandon and I were sitting next to the mast to keep a watch.  And although the boat handled them well, it was the most she'd been sloshed around since we've put her in the water.

The trip down to Gun Cay was pretty uneventful and we decided to keep the motors running to charge up our batteries, but we also put the jib out to help with speed.  We went right by the Sapona - which is the shipwreck that Brandon, Tami, and I snorkeled for a bit while en route to Nassau aboard s/v Stray Cat back in 2011.  

When we got to Gun Cay, there were two other sailboats anchored down the coast, so we picked our spot and set the hook.  The wind was a little higher than I would have like it, and it was coming out of the East - the same side we have to anchor on because the West side is too deep.  We went ashore, did some snorkeling and met our neighbors.  

We also got a chance to feed the sting-rays that prowl the shoreline - at least Justin did anyway.  We're told that they're pretty tame and must be used to people feeding them because they come right up to you and expect food.  This little guy was about 2 foot across.

Mr. Stingray was looking for lunch

A couple of dolphins came over to check us out, but just for a second
Today, with the winds increasing, and the waves pounding, we decided to head back to Bimini and try and find a free anchorage that we had previously done reconnaissance on before we left.  But we decided to sail back against the wind since the breezes were blowing about 15 - 18 knots on our nose.  We'd turn out of the wind until it was about 60 degrees off our stern and we'd actually be making pretty good speed, sometimes as fast as 7 knots.  We tacked a couple of times before we got close to South Bimini.  But now, we sit here at anchor and are getting nice, fast, and free internet off our little wifi hotspot we installed many months ago.  And while the anchorage seems ok for now, it is a little too small of an area to be too relaxed.  But we'll see how it goes - Justin is nervous and doesn't think he'll sleep too much tonight.  But right now, we're trying to figure out when will be a good time to head towards Chub Cay and then on to Nassau.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Key Largo to Bimini

We pulled in the anchor at Key Largo about 1:30pm and set sail for Bimini.  The winds were supposed to be light and the waves were forecasted to be no more than 3 feet all the way there. was right on the money and the boat performed awesome.  Although we didn't get a chance to sail due to the wind being right on the nose, motoring with the current proved to be a fast haul.  We pulled in at 3:30am to the Weech's Bimini Boat Dock after navigating through the channel between North and South Bimini - and having never really done this before, doing it at night at an unfamiliar place was a challenge.  We located the power, plugged in, and cranked up the air conditioning - in only 15 minuets all of our cabins were cold and we were feeling pretty good about what we'd just done.

Pulling in the Monster

Holy shit she's pretty!!

Let the carving begin

Tami doing a great job at filleting our Monster

Tied up at Weech's Bimini Dock

Monday, January 5, 2015

Our Unexpected Stop in Key Largo

We set sail on December 30th from Stock Island Marina Village en route to Bimini as this is the first major sail in this boat other than a few day sails in and around Key West.  We were slightly nervous to say the least, but once we got outside the reef, we hoisted the sails and cut the engines.  Heading east, we were going along at around 5 to 6 knots, but just as the sun was setting, the wind died down and started coming straight on our nose.  With the wind so weak, even if we had tacked we wouldn't have been making much progress.  We started the engines and dropped the sails and were quickly making about 6.5 knots with seas around 3 feet.

Our first sunrise
We all took turns on watch, and I'm not sure anybody got over 2 hours of sleep the whole night - except for Tami who seemed to get the best sleep of her entire life as the constant motion of the boat kept the voices in her head at check.  I'd try and lay down, but you hear every slap of the waves and every rpm engine change - and you worry.  

The boat handled great, and before too long the sun was starting to peak up above the horizon and we had successfully completed our first night sail.  We decided to raise the sails since the wind direction indicated that we'd be able to make a little progress at least until the engines got a break and we could do a morning inspection and oil level check.  The port engine looked great - no oil leaks and the level was exactly the same.  The starboard engine was a different story.  Although the oil level was perfect, there was a small fuel leak - Justin quickly had the part removed and was replacing a small o-ring on a fuel nipple and had it back together.  The boat-crippling problem happened during start-up - the starter began to make a horrible grinding noise.  The puzzling thing was that this was our brand new starter we installed only 2 months ago.  After removal, the bell crank housing was completely broken off.

That's when we decided to head for shore instead of jumping over the Gulf Stream.  Key Largo was now the unexpected destination and we soon found ourselves frantically looking for a marina in which to dock.  We did find one that could accommodate our needs while we found a replacement starter but with our draft about 3.5 feet, we were instructed to anchor on the back of Rodriquez Key until the high tide at 4:00pm.  But with the favorable weather and a boat fully stocked we decided to stay at anchor instead.  

En route to our unexpected visit to Key Largo
But what has kept us hear for 6 days now is the unbelievably difficult time we've had at finding a replacement OEM starter coupled with the New Year's holiday.  What we've discovered the replacement starter that broke is known for it - multiple forum posting revealed numerous people having the exact same problem with their replacement starter made in China.  So we sit.  And for the first 5 days, it was ok.  But now we're ready to move on.  

But a few things we've learned so far:

1. Our anchor holds pretty good
2. We can sail our boat with only 6 inches under her keels - although this one happened accidentally (all around Rodriguez Key has only depths of about 4 to 6 feet
3. We can entertain ourselves well - but we're not sure how long that will last
4. That walking to your destinations can be done, but these short distances we've been walking may not count.

Rodriguez Key in the distance
Today our OEM starter is supposed to arrive - finally, and then we should be out of here tomorrow and on our way to Bimini with a great weather window starting today and lasting until Thursday.  We have another night sail ahead of us and maybe that's why I'm feeling a little sick to my stomach.