Adventures of Adirondack

Adventures of Adirondack

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Boys and Snakes on the Boat!

We have been having an exciting time on Adirondack with visitors of various sorts. We spent almost all of March exploring Eleuthera, an area of the Bahamas that we had not seen before. We crossed over from the Abacos to Spanish Wells, a town dedicated to catching crawfish – the lobster of the Caribbean. We took a pilot to help us navigate the Devil's Backbone over to Harbour Island and picked up David who had flown directly from Minnesota to Nassau then to North and a water taxi to the dock at Harbour Island (our dinghy motor was being fixed). We then made our way back through the Devil's Backbone, following the track on our iPad Garmin Bluecharts - wonderful technology. You can pilot the boat like a video game, though we are always careful to also use VPR (visual piloting recognition). We cruised down the west coast of Eleuthera, which was beautiful.

We got down to Governor's Harbor where we rented a car and drove to the south end to pick up Adam, who had bused from Northfield to MSP, then flown from Minnesota to Houston, spent the night in the airport and then had flown to Nassau and on to Rock Sound airport on Pineapple Air. It was a l o o o n g day for the dear boy. We kept the car the next day and took Adam up to Harbour Island to see all the fancy, famous people there along with all the bikinied spring breakers. We actually didn't see any of the reportedly famous people, but did see all the old houses, expensive stores, and big boats. We stopped also to show the boys Preacher's Cave and the Glass Window rock formation, then back to Governor's Harbour and the boat.

We had great weather as we cruised south. We checked out Davis Harbour on the south shore of Eleuthera where there is a scuba diving operation, Ocean Fox Diving. The boys signed on for a "Shark Dive" - using gear to sit on the bottom while they lower a frozen "chumsicle" of fish to feed the sharks. The dive master gave a very good talk about shark behavior before they went and they had a great time, with a second dive along some of the reef in the area.

After David had to return to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, we had some good snorkeling times and went into Cape Eleuthera Marina for laundry, an elegant swimming pool, and a tour of the Island School. The Island School is a program for high school sophomores and juniors that has them come for a term to learn scuba, marine biology, oceanography, and lots of sustainable programs for their food, etc. There is associated with it the Cape Eleuthera Institute which is a graduate school level research program looking at lots of different aspects of marine biology - sharks, lion fish, deep water invertebrates. It was a nifty place.

We headed back up to Rock Sound to get in place for delivering Adam to the airport. We were able to shop at a well stocked grocery store, eat ice cream, and have a cruisers get together one evening. We then moved up to the very northern end of the bay, right by the airport so we would have a short dinghy ride in the early morning. The weather report was predicting a squall coming through a dawn, but it luckily hit at 3 AM - lots of lightning, rain, strong winds and waves. By 6 AM, it had calmed down a bit and we had a brief lull and were able to scamper over in the dinghy to drop Adam off for a short walk to the terminal. He got to Nassau and was able to throw himself on the mercy of the airlines and change his overnight in Newark NJ ticket for one with a stop back in Houston but home to MN by 10 PM. It was great to have both boys with us and overlapping for part of their times.

We were able to make the jump to the Exumas on a beautiful calm day, crossing over to the Exuma Land and Sea Park at Warderick Wells. It is a magical place with great hiking and snorkeling. We saw a 5 foot shark, eagle rays, huge lobsters (who know they are protected and can't be caught and eaten), colorful fish, and coral in a bay of sand bars and blue water. The morning we left, we came out on deck and found an 18 inch thin snake on the back deck! Jeff photographed him then tossed him back in the water. We were told he was most likely a brown racer - a non-venomous snake that will climb up the mooring lines and onto boats. Since he was a park animal, we had to leave him in the there as it is a no take zone for all animals.

Now we are working our way south, visiting the swimming pigs at Staniel Cay, the iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay, and the wonderful laundry at Black Point (along with Lorainne's mother's delicious coconut bread). We are trying to get down to George Town to check it out, then will start heading north and back to Florida by the middle of May. The waters are still blue, the skies sunny, and the boat is running perfectly. Life is good. Sally

Sunday, March 22, 2015

More new crew onboard!

                                            Iron shore and pink sand beach


                                                                   Banyan tree

Beautiful beach and "Devil's Backbone" passage. This doesn't really look quite so fearsome with a wide angle lens and from ashore, but it scares many a mariner who wants to cross the top of Eleuthera Island to Harbour Island. Every cruising source told us to use a pilot to get through here and we did. For a mere $100, "Woody" came alongside, tied his skiff to Adirondack and expertly threaded our way through these reefs to get into the bay frequented by many a movie star, although we didn't recognize anyone. We got his services AND two loaves of excellent bread. This is where David joined us by air.

We spent some time there and went back that way without a pilot this time leading a couple other boats who are deeper than we are, as we had an electronic track and remembered the route pretty well. This photo was taken pretty close to the spot where a group of folks who were seeking religious freedom fled Bermuda in 1648 and wrecked their boat. Imagine wrecking your boat in a place like this about a million miles from England, Ireland or wherever? They came ashore and found Preacher's Cave where they lived for quite some time before moving on to the rest of Eleuthera. We have photos.

We continued south along the coast to Governor's Harbour where we rented quite the car to get to Rock Sound and pick up Adam. We then all went back up to Harbour Island so he could visit this very interesting place. I'm not sure I have to go there again.

We continued south to Davis Harbour where we spent a few days in a tired looking, but very friendly (and cheap) marina. Adirondack got waxed, which in and of itself is worth a blog entry! The boys got to go out scuba diving with a crew that lowered a "chumcicle" a frozen bucket of fish that attracts sharks. The divers sit on the bottom and watch the sharks circle about and eat. It sounded pretty cool, and when I figure out how, I'll add some photos.

This morning David had to fly home. We had made arrangements for a ride for him to the airport, confirmed multiple times. What could go wrong, right? At the appointed time, 0545, no ride. He was supposed to be at the airport at 0600. Some sportfisher guy drove by and parked at the end of the dock at 0600. I asked him for a ride and he took him there. David's original driver showed up at 0648, only 48 minutes late. Too close for comfort.  We just got a text from him and he reports being home safe.

He also reports that the water damage in our bedroom wall is fixed. Last month one of our sprinklers located behind a tall bookshelf leaked down into the condo below us, making a real mess down there and wrecking our wall. Our bill just came in at $800; I can't imagine what the bill for downstairs will be.

Tonight we are in a fancier spot called Cape Eleuthera, where we have real laundry and interesting things to do. And a really nice swimming pool, which we haven't seen in quite a while. And we still have Adam, who is a great help on the anchoring/docking/dishes crew.

Capt. Jeff

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New Crew Onboard!

        Jeff at the end of the dredged canal on Spanish Wells. He's not a famous person. What a beach!

 Pink Sand beach on Harbour Island, home of very rich and famous, right out in front of "Sip-Sip," where everyone in the know meets for lunch.  It's said you can't walk around here without bumping into a famous person. It was full of spring breakers and we couldn't even get on the waiting list. We probably did run into a famous person, but didn't know it......

                               "Pigly Wigly" grocery store with a surprisingly good selection. We rode a golf cart around for a day with friends. Better to ride than drive, as it' a bit hectic. I'm sure that's a famous person in that cart.

                                   Locals (but probably not famous) performing at our dock.
Another issue with our outboard. This is the Outboard Hospital that was recommended to us, the only facility on the Island. The famous ER outboard doctor rushed out all gowned up and fixed it. I couldn't understand anything but the price. But he fixed it!

We crossed from Little Harbour at the south end of the Abacos to the Eleuthera set of islands, kind of a different state in the Bahamas. We had never been here before which isn't a big deal, but the crossing was. The ocean is mostly 12,000 feet deep, compared to the banks which are around 6 - 10' deep and there are wind and waves out there, so we get frightened easily. Our jump was only about 50 miles, but it wasn't as flat as it could have been.

We pulled into a perfect anchorage called Royal Island where I explored some old ruins while Sally knit. (This happens a lot.) We moved down towards Spanish Wells and anchored there a few days and explored the town. It's very different than other locations. First, it's quite prosperous, contributing half of the Bahamian lobster output. And it has a very interesting economic model, quite socialistic in its own way, a product of religion and tradition that keeps young people gainfully employed, respected and on the island. We're impressed.

Then we moved to over to Harbour Island, playground for the rich and famous. Pretty cool, but I don't think we have to come back. Our outboard got filled up with junk again and had to be cleaned out again so we weren't able to go get David at the ferry dock as planned.

David came aboard on the 12th after flying to Nassau and then aboard a hopper to North Eleuthera. A short ferry ride brought him right to the dock! We checked out the town, walked the beaches and had a fabulous lunch where the locals dine. We know that folks here can easily spend over $100 for lunch and hotels are $500. Wow, time to hit the road!

Weather has been super, 80's in the daytime with too much sun, and then it drops into the 70's after dark. No bugs, yet, although we have heard stories.

Capt. Jeff

Monday, March 2, 2015

Minnesota Visitors - Escaping the Cold

We have had a wonderful time with visits from Jeff's sister, Cyndi, and her husband, Bill, and our neighbor Joanne. Today the poor things flew back to frigid MN to wait for Spring - the season in Minnesota when the cars go through the ice.

Cyndi and Bill flew to Nassau and on to Marsh Harbor after a harrowing morning drive through the icy Twin Cities roadways. They sure seemed glad to find us tied up at the dock on the north side of the harbor at the Marsh Harbor Marina, better known by its restaurant name, the Jib Room. We had arrived there early in the week to wait for them and ride out a weather low. Just as we came into the dock, one of the stern thruster hydraulic hoses blew, spewing pink oil into the water. We cleaned it up and found a wonderful boat electrician/mechanic, Andrew (the brother of the Jib Room cook), who helped get us all put back together again. He was able to do the repair without needing the boat hauled out, though we went through a lot of ATF flushing the water from the system.

We had a windy day on the dock and spent it exploring Marsh Harbor. That evening, there was a Junkanoo parade - a traditional Bahamian celebration with floats, wild costumes, and music provided by drums, cow bells, whistles, and a variety of brass instruments. There were only three groups participating, so it was a   v  e  r  y    s  l  o  w   parade, but the groups were loud and enthusiastic and the people watching was great.

The wind died down the next day and we cruised over to Hope Town, picked up the same mooring ball we had the week before, and showed them the cute town, beautiful red striped lighthouse which still lights its Fresnel lens every night, and lovely beach (and even some sea glass).

Next it was on to Man-O-War Cay to anchor out. We went snorkeling the next day with the local dive shop and two other couples. We went out to the site of the "Adirondack" (not our boat, but a Civil War ship that sank on the reef) to mostly see the canons still visible on the floor of the reef. We then went to Fowl Cay, which is now a national protected area, for some lovely coral and fish. We saw a large ray buried under the sand. It was a good morning and fun to explore and use the snorkel gear.

The wind was predicted to swing to the south, so we headed over to Treasure Cay and a harbor with good protection from south winds. It is a fancy resort with a pool which you can use if anchored outside for a small fee. We spent time on the beach, reported to be one of the 10 best in the world by National Geographic, and attended the Office of Tourism party for winter visitors, complete with dinner, a fashion show, and another Junkanoo performance. The next day was windy and we stayed at anchor and were met by Joanne, our Dry Dock neighbor, who had been at a trade show in Nassau and then flew to Marsh Harbor to check up on us.

When the wind abated and swung to the north, we headed over to Great Guana Cay and the dockage deal of 50 cents a foot at Orchid Bay Marina. We had a great snorkel off the beach at Nipper's, the local bar. Joanne ferried over from Marsh Harbor and met us there for lunch and beach time. We were able to show her the boat and Jeff happily gave her a dinghy ride before she caught her ferry back.

We headed back to Marsh Harbor the next day and finally found a place to dock to be in position to get Cyndi and Bill a taxi and back to the airport. Joanne joined us for drinks on the boat and then dinner. Then early Sunday morning, it was time for hugs and goodbyes as we sent them back to the frozen tundra. It was great fun to share our boat and time with them all, now we start to head south to Eleuthera and to see David and Adam by the middle of the month - Hurrah!!  Sally

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Treasure, Green Turtle and Guana Cays

                                                        Sally meeting a new friend

The best "signing tree" we've ever seen, anywhere. People hang all sorts of flotsam and jetsam on the tree and sign it. This is on Great Guana Cay, out in front of Baker's Bay Resort and Marina, a place so expensive that no one can afford to stay there. We weren't able to even ride our bikes in there.

          Fancy breakfast in Treasure Cay

 Poolside at Treasure Cay. This is quite the spot. We can anchor in the bay right outside the resort complex and use all the resort facilities, including pool, wifi, showers, restaurant for $10/day,

Oceanside at Treasure Cay
 Famous boat builder in Green Turtle Cay
 View from the top of the famous lighthouse in Hope Town. It actually operates with the original fresnel lens. Cool.
Ocean view at Elbow Cay, where Hope Town is located. Touristy, but beautiful.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Abaco Adventures

 WE caught a FISH!! We have yet to figure out what kind it is, though.
 We are standing next to the "Honeyfitz," JFK's presidential yacht.
 Where Adirondack is parked today. Neat spot on Spanish Cay
Knitting, knitting, always knitting.

So we waited almost a week for a weather window to cross the Gulf stream, and found one on Friday morning. This is such a stressful event, because we in small boats don't want any waves at all, but have to realize that isn't going to happen, so sometimes we have to just go for it. We did, at 0300. And we always look back and say, "if we had only waited..." or worse, "why didn't we wait?" Now we look back and say we are glad we went when we did, as it was a pretty decent crossing. It was calm enough that we went farther than we usually do, and ended up in Great Sale Cay, where we anchored for the night. We were so tired we slept for 13 hours, and almost missed the single sideband radio weather forecast at 0630.

And did I mention that we caught a fish? A nice one, trolling across the Bahama Banks. And he was delicious, baked with a tartar sauce and other spices at 425 for 25 minutes, and just a little more than enough for two of us. We're guessing some sort of mackerel or snapper. Anyways it wasn't poisonous.

Aaand there's always a little boat repair drama. Before we left we changed the location of our washdown pump switch to the bow of the boat where the hose is so we can turn it on and off from where we use it instead of inside the boat. The washdown pump pulls up water from the sea for use to rinse off the anchor rode and chain and to wash dishes, saving precious freshwater. ($0.25 to $1/gallon, very precious to some). It worked perfectly, not always the way things work out when I'm doing boat electricity; I should have known... After we caught the fish and I cleaned it there was a big bloody, fishy mess on the deck that needed to be cleaned up, but, not to worry, we have our washdown pump, right? Well, it didn't work.

I knew right away it must have been one of those new connections associated with the new switch location, so I went through and pulled on everyone one of them. I was successful in jerking one of them apart, so after rewiring that one it should work, right? Wrong, still no pumping. So the next step was to change out the pump, the switch and do some continuity testing, just how I wanted to spend the afternoon. Do we really need that pump?

As a side note, a boat repair guy of some credibility at the Rybovich marina we had stayed at previously had mentioned that the cause of the holding tank odor that we have been chasing may be our use of saltwater, not some plumbing issue, and that we should try using some of our precious freshwater to flush with to see if that eliminated the problem, so I closed both of the through-hull valves to the toilets, and we started pouring fresh water from a jug into the heads, instead of pumping in seawater.

Oh gentle reader, the suspense must be almost too much to bear, so I'm solving it for you. It turns out that the valve for the front head also controls the washdown water inlet, so our valiant pump never had any water to pump until I switched it back on. Now we're back in business. Whew!

Tonight the marina is going a special Super Bowl event, with chili, wings and more. I can't wait. We are really getting into the Bahamas mode already. We weren't able to decide whether to stay here or move on down to Green Turtle Cay, Staying here seemed the path of least resistance.

And the next blog I do will feature one of my favorite Bahamian topics, IRONSHORE! Stay posted.

Capt. Jeff

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jekyll Island and Mr. Hyde

We had a lovely time back in Minnesota for the holidays. It was great to spend time with family and friends. David got Adam a job at Target over his long break - David was on the crew unloading the trucks and Adam took things into the store in Stillwater and put them on the shelves. They started at 6 AM and we were impressed how they got up and out the door all the days they were working. David is enjoying his 3 D Printing certificate program and Adam did a great job on his senior "comps" talk about illustrated manuscripts.

We flew back to the boat on January 7, leaving a temperature of -9 degrees. It was only 19 in Charleston. It was warmer, but felt a lot colder in an uninsulated boat! Luckily we are hardy Minnesotan and for the first few days were plugged into power to run electric heaters. I'm glad we have flannel sheets, bunting blankets, a cozy quilt and comforter from our times on Lake Superior. Once we headed south and were on the hook most of the time, we would read under the covers once the boat started to cool down after the warmth of the stove and oven for supper.

It was a good trip down the ICW. The north winds made any thoughts of doing an outside passage very unappealing, so we stuck to the ditch and made good time. As we were passing Jekyll Island, we heard a thump, looked behind us up on the fly bridge to see a brown pelican had landed on the railing. He then hopped to the deck right behind the seats and spent quite a long time with us. Jeff even was able to pet him. At the end of the island he had rested up, walked to the edge of the upper deck and took off. We waved goodbye to Mr. Hyde and hope he fills up with fish. 

The temperature slowly increased, but Jeff didn't get on shorts until after we made it to Florida. We attended the Trawler Fest in Riviera Beach over the past few days, mostly to attend a talk on going to Cuba - Jeff's new passion. We helped out at the MTOA (Marine Trawler Owners Assoc) booth and were able to crawl the piers to look at all the boats for sale. None of them were as nice as Adirondack, though almost all were a lot bigger. 

Now we are sitting at a dock in Riviera Beach waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. The single side band radio receiver has new batteries and I'm having coffee every morning out on deck at 6:30 listening to the weather report from Chris Parker, who provides information about weather in the Bahamas. It is good to hear his voice again, as we listened every morning when we were in the Exumas two years ago. It looks like Friday may be a good day to go east to West End in the Abacos. Meanwhile we are doing boat jobs: new chain and line on the anchor,  rebuilding the front head (toilet in boat speak - a really shitty job), cleaning, provisioning, laundry - there's always something to do. Sally