Trent-Severn Waterway

 

Built in stages between 1833-1920, the Trent-Severn Waterway provides a link between Georgian Bay( part of Lake Huron) and Lake Ontario. The Trent and Severn River along with numerous lakes form the backbone of the waterway. Historically, this route was utilized for travel by the Hurons, to the north and the Iroquois, to the south, in upper New York State, where it was known as the “Iroquois Trail.”  The waterway also provided a venue for continual conflict between these First Nation groups.   Samuel Champlain utilized this route by paddling and portaging through the rivers and lakes.  The waterway as we know it now was begun in 1833 with the first lock built in Bobecaygeon. The concept for building the system was controversial and water rights were fought for vigorously by the farmers, mill owners and the lumber industry. All depended on the waters for their livelihood. Originally, the concept was designed to promote local development and aid movement of timber, grain and other goods from west to east. The path was complicated by the many timber slides, dams and mills along the way. During the early stages of the Waterway’s construction, water was the main transport of goods as there were no steamships or railways. That was about to change. Railways were expanding and steamships were carrying goods.  The waterway was too narrow and shallow for the larger ships. The economic boom did not occur and the timber industry was in a decline. The waterway was an economic bust. It was almost abandoned. After 87 years, it was finally completed but obsolete for commerce.  Instead, it became a mecca for tourism and recreation. The Trent-Severn is 240 miles long, with 45 locks, (36 conventional, 2 hydraulic lift-Peterborough and Kirkfield, a marine railway Big Chute) and 160 dams. The rise from Georgian Bay to height at Balsam Lake is 262ft and then the decline to Lake Ontario comprises the total drop of 597ft. from west to east.  It is an engineering marvel.

In modern times, the Trent-Severn Waterway has become one of the recreational gems of Ontario. The waterway is now dotted with cottages, the old railway beds have become bicycle trails and is a paradise for fisherman. It also provides many homes with hydroelectricity. 

To put things in prospective, the Erie Canal which connects the Atlantic via the Hudson River to Lake Erie was built from 1817-1825. The building launched New York City ahead of Philadelphia as a shipping center and was an economic boom to the small villages along the canal.

-The Admiral-

Hello, Friends,

Well…..got the cell phone issues ironed out in Orillia, so we bid this fair marina adieu at 0830 on the 2nd.  It’s clear and 65 degrees as we toodle out into Lake Simcoe, one of the pearls strung together by the T/S waterway.  Two hours across mid-lake brings us to the entrance to the Trent Canal.  The guys from Parcs Canada are in the narrow, windy entrance with the barge and claw, picking up trees, roots, and such.  They pull this stuff up on deck, then go to work with the chainsaws (I could so do this stuff).  Had to let them know that we’ve already done a lot of work for them, chipping up flotsam with our propeller.  Such is life on a Spring transit.  The next few hours takes us through a straight, man-made ditch which is sometimes above the surrounding terrain.  Where we parallel a road, it’s somewhat disconcerting to look down at the wheeled vehicles passing by.  The guys that operate the next four locks travel ahead of us in their golf cart to get to the next lock (maybe a mile or so) and ready it for our arrival.  Along the way, cows are coming down to the ditch for a sip.  Canal Lake is a narrow, man-made lake which has a narrow, 6 foot deep channel down the middle of the otherwise 2 foot deep lake.  The Parcs dudes haven’t been here yet, so we hit stumps and such on the bottom every couple hundred yards.  What new bottom paint?  Entering the canal again, we slow to a crawl.  Engine temperature up, and it feels like we’re aground, although the depth gauge says 6’.  Aaahhh-been there, done that.  Put the Gal into reverse (kinda freaky in shallow, narrow channels), and a hunk of weeds and bottom the size of a mini Cooper floats up in front of us.  Much better-de boat she don’ run so good wit’ de weeds and gunk on the prop and rudder.  Weather radar shows a nasty thunderstorm on its way, we hope to make it to the top of Kirkfield (second highest lift lock in the world-highest is in a couple more days).  So….we’re racing at breakneck speed (3 knots), and doing semi Crazy Ivan’s (aforementioned) to get rid of weeds every couple hundred yards and make to the lower reach of the lock a few minutes before closing time, and as it turns out, about 15 minutes before the STORM.  Up we go.  On the way up, The Captain decides that we will be better off pointing the opposite way, against the downbound wall to weather the storm.  Lockmaster says it’s no problem; the width of the upper reach is 100 feet or so-cool.  Rain starting, turn initiated, MDO calling out distances from stern.  What? 4 feet from the wall?-Can’t be...the bow is only 10 feet from the wall.  Long story short, tie up and the skies open.  After the storm passes Yours Truly shoots the width of the channel with the rangefinder-66 feet (we’re 53 feet overall).  Depart wall at Kirkfield at 0800, barometer falling, 66 degrees and drizzly.  More shallow, narrow channels and weeds.  At midmorning, coming out of Mitchell Lake, we announce ourselves on the VHF radio as entering the narrow waterway.  300 yards in, a sailboat with its mast lashed to the deck comes around the bend, balls out (excuse me), and immediately runs aground HARD!  We stand by, ready to lend assistance, and not willing to try to get past until they get their boat floating again.  Could have been avoided (Am I the only one that notices the lack of radio usage among sailboaters?).  Bobcaygeon is our wall for the night.  Before we leave the Girl, for our trek around town, she is assaulted by a delightful family in their rental houseboat.  With 100 yards in front of her on the wall, and me there to catch their lines, the intrepid captain decides to ignore me and all modicum of common sense, and attempts to take off our bow pulpit with his cabin.  Bow pulpit is still there; sure glad I brought the Milwaukee polisher and some heavy compound.  She’ll be like new in a couple of hours.  After our stroll, which revealed one incredible shoe store, Bigley’s (no Kidding-it’s huge!), we settled down on the back porch to watch the high jinx of other rental houseboat captains while having a sip.  The 4th dawns sunny and 59 degrees.  An uneventful morning of weedy travel brings us to Lovesick lock, so named because of an Indian (not PC) fable of a lovelorn brave who spent time here.  The spot was recommended by a friendly couple that we chatted with in “The Bob” the day before.  It’s totally inaccessible by road, so is very quiet and remote.  The lock staff arrives every morning by boat, leaving every evening in the same manner.  It was so pretty there that we stayed for 2 nights, getting to know Derrick, the lockmaster, and Amy, his assistant who attends college at Trent University.  They suffered through all of the Admiral’s and my questions.  I think that they may even have warmed up to us by the end of our stay, letting Y.T. operate the lock (under close supervision).  While there, our houseboating friends who recommended this place, arrived.  We spent a couple of great days with them, chattin’ it up, and learning new skills.  You see, Mike and Donna are fishin’ magicians, while we just go to the hardware store and buy “pretty hooks”-most of which have years of dust on them.  They imparted quite a bit of their knowledge on us, and Mike even pronounced that our tackle box and its contents were “not that bad”.  We had cocktails on our back porch, and were invited to their campfire that night, joined by their son, Justin.  We were sorry to leave them, but they were headed back to work, while we had to write the next paragraph in The Life.  The trip to Peterborough Lock (the world’s highest lift lock) was uneventful, although shallow, narrow and weedy with multiple bottom touches and semi Crazy Ivan’s.  Is there a recurring theme here?  The Peterborough Lock is truly spectacular.  When you pull into the upper chamber, it’s like you’re driving to the edge of the world.  The Girls’ bow is 8 feet above the water, and the front gate on the lock is about 4 feet, so you’re looking 73 feet straight down to the lower reach from the bow of the boat.  Google it-it’s pretty cool, and was built over 100 years ago.  So we’re pullin’ out of the chamber into the lower reach and the lockmaster comes over the P.A. and announces that we could teach the other boaters a thing or two about boat handling!  (Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  I could fill a small stadium with people who had witnessed some of the bonehead moves that I’ve pulled (just on the water)).  Stayed at the wall, Lock 20, in Peterborough.  Our bike ride took us into town for dinner at Ashburnham Ale House, thanks to Lockmaster Wendy at 20 (she really should work for the Chamber of Commerce), a storehouse of local knowledge.  I really have to take a minute to tell you about the Lockmasters and assistants on the T/S Waterway.  It is truly a family business, with multiple generations of families working the Locks, dams and water control systems.  The Lockmasters (and Mistresses (?)) have to be the most gracious and cordial group of folks you could meet.  Much of The Waterway’s charm and personality is due to these amazing characters who really take ownership in the enterprise.  Anyhoo, we slept like rocks after deciding to spend a couple of days here.  Our coffee stroll in the morning took us back to the Peterborough lock, where the Lockmaster, Ed, recognized us and dragged us into his office, offering us juice, hot chocolate or milk (they don’t drink coffee).  Well……we had to meet Rob, the mechanic at the lock, and Ed’s childhood friend.  Together, they took the Admiral and I across the upper chamber to the control tower.  There, they had me bring the level up in the lower chamber and raise the upper chamber to ready them for the days’ transits-I’ve always loved to be the one pushing the buttons.  Got to see some of the inner workings-Shhhh!, and an hour or so later, they had to work, and we had to go play.  Back at Lock 20, Wendy let me open the manual lock gate, which involves walking around in circles around a capstan until the gate is open (something Tom Sawyeresque about this picture).  Off to the farmers market for fruit and veggies, and I’m sure some more yakkin’ with the locals.  We scoped out an internet coffee shop this afternoon, so will attempt to shoot this off into space from there.  Later.

Ciao a Tutti,

Travel day today.  Anchor up at 0517.  Spraying off the anchor chain in 42 degree weather gets the blood flowing, coming back into the toastywarm pilothouse slows it right back down.  Today (Friday), we’ll make a beeline down Georgian Bay to Victoria Cove Marina on Hog Bay to get ready for tomorrows’ entrance to the Trent Severn.  Had to brave some 6” seas on the way down, but the trip seemed quick, as we both occupied ourselves with chores (MJT with things mechanical, MDO with techie stuff).  Ran all the way down the bay with stabilizers off, gaining a little better than .1 knots of speed. (when you live Life at 7 knots, .1 is significant)  Note:  The Girl is equipped with active stabilization-This system consists of a couple of fins that project from the sides of the hull below the waterline.  The fins are interfaced with an inclinometer coupled to the brains, telling the fins to tilt thiswayandthat, decreasing the roll of the vessel for a smoother ride.-cool stuff.  Who says we don’t get a return from the space program?  1430 arrived in a heartbeat, and we were greeted at the dock by a gang of gregarious Canadian marina dwellers getting primed for the upcoming weekend.  Didn’t have the last line cleated before the Admiral had one of the gals onboard Ooohing and Aaahing over the custom made pilothouse door screens, snappin’ away with her mobile (puhlease!... we don’t call ‘em telephones here eh!  Spent the rest of the afternoon making the boat shorter, as the fixed bridges on the Trent are as low as 22 feet.  That meant taking off the boom, dropping the mast, and lashing everything down all tight and tidy.  It’s good to have a strong wife (and smart too!).  After work was done, we took our usual stroll around the marina to look at the pretty boats.  Didn’t make it 100 yards before we met Doug and Ian, owners of a 30 something foot SeaRay.  Ten minutes led to a half hour, and before we knew it we were all at the marina restaurant, having dinner where, it seems, Ian is a fixture, right down to the waitress knowing what he would order (day of the week), and what he would have to drink (time of day).  Well…….woke up before dawn with a case of pregame jitters (used to feel this way before every swim meet).  Read and heard about the wicked currents in the narrow, twisty, shallow spot under the highway bridge at the entrance to Port Severn.  It lived up to it’s billing.  Slalom course between buoys barely wide enough for the Girl’s righteous butt.  Kissed the rock bottom in the guaranteed 6 foot channel depth (yeah, right!), but squirted through.  Locking was a breeze, and tied up afterword to buy our passesandpermitsetc.  Gave us a chance to chat it up with the lock tenders, and for Yours Truly to change his undergarments.  Off to the Big Chute-the second most photographed spot in Canada behind Niagra Falls (how do they figure this stuff out).  It’s called a lock, but in actuality it’s a rail car that you pull your boat onto.  The dudes strap you into place, then the car rolls up an inclined track, lifting you 58 feet to the next pool.  Very awesome, but over in around 7 minutes after the loading is done.  Gave us a chance to look over the Girls’ bottom-no damage couldn’t even find a scratch although I KNOW we hit.  Okay, on to Swift Rapids Lock, where we spent the night at the top, tied to the wall.  Oh, by the way, the temperatures are now in the 70’s, as opposed to the high 30’s and low 40’s that we saw over open water.  Sunny, beautiful.  We used to get a little jittery when the depth guage read 10 feet.  The T/S will cure us of that.  Ran through quite a few areas of 7 and 8 feet.  Of course, where the water shallows, it has to speed up to get through.  My new theorem:  Shallow water + fast current = need for Xanax.  What do you think?  Can anyone write me an Rx?  Off to Orillia, Ontario to spend the night at their megamarina-no kidding….HUGE, but empty except us and a few other craft.  We needed to get some cellphone issues ironed out where we had interweb access, and access to mobile (see, I’m getting’ it) stores.  That done, we’ll be heading out today for whoknowshowfar, and get tied up to a wall somewhere to wait out the predicted thunderstorms this afternoon.  The next paragraph in The Life.

…….Ciao!

May 29, 2014

Hola Amigos,

Quick overnight in Straits State Marina, Mackinaw city.  The folks that staff this location are always so pleasant and accommodating.  It is adjacent to the older, admittedly quainter City Marina, but always seems to have vacancies, and is very modern.  Facilities are supported by a small “farm” of wind generators onsite-very cool.  Unfortunately, the state of Michigan has instituted a new fee structure which has not resulted in lower costs to boaters.  The other marina in the area, Mackinac Island State Harbor is gorgeous, but reservations are usually necessary during busy summer months.  Of course, a little shopping was in order-a stop for a smoked herring, and to Shepler’s marine supply for a boat doodad.  Next day, the trip to Presque Isle harbor was uneventful.  Flat seas, and 50 degree, sunny weather made the 8 hour trip an absolute pleasure.  The past few days have taken us through a massive hatch of the “dammit” bugs.  They are the size of mosquitoes, but don’t bite.  Instead, they stick all over the boat by the hundreds of thousands, turning the white hull and decks black, and fill the air in dense clouds, making breathing an exercise in protein inhalation. Presque Isle is the only natural harbor on the west shore of Lake Huron.  There is a marina there, but too small for the Big Girl.  We opted to stay on Alizann rather than dropping the tender in the water for our traditional sippy sippy at cocktail time.  Filets off the grill, and fresh Michigan asparagus were washed down with a little red pop.  Anchor up at O’dark-thirty, crossing the lake today.  Pea souper.  Can’t see the water over the bow.  Oh well, fire the radar up honey, we’re goin’ across.  Twenty minutes out, the AIS chirps.  Upbound and downbound freighters will cross our path within minutes of us.  A quick chat with both captains assures them that we are not interested in a close quarters situation in reduced visibility either.  We’ll hold to the west for 20 minutes while they pass.  They’re gone and we didn’t get a glimpse of either-I love this flippin’ technology stuff.  Pea soup for the next 10 hours until Otto (our autopilot) puts us on Cove Island light, an Imperial design tower, by prolific lighthouse builder John Brown in 1858.  The village of Tobermory provided our next safe harbor, and a beautiful little town it is.  Tied to the wall in downtown(?) gave us a constant stream of nice folks to chat with.  We met up with 3 guys on a boat that was tied to a wall behind the Coast Guard surf boat.  Seems that they had an engine failure last night in the middle of Georgian Bay, which is sometimes referred to as the sixth Great Lake.  After several hours, the Coast Guard went out to find them, and eventually tow them here, depositing the boat on the dock.  Fortunately, one of the crew on the pleasure boat was a mechanic, and after overnighting a fuel pump, our new crazy Canadian friends were off again.  Around 8 AM, we heard the loudspeaker of the Chi-Cheemaun(Big Canoe in Ojibway), a car ferry that makes the 30 mile, 1:45  trip from Tobermory  to South Baymouth, 2- 4 times a day! The Big Canoe is the largest car ferry in Ontario.  It is 365 ft long and can carry 143 cars and 638 people. Take a peek at the map of the area and you will see why it is busy. LOOONG way around Georgian Bay by car.  After a brunch of whitefish(healthy) and poutine(not) at Craigie’s,  we decided that we oughta’ take a little hike, so out to the Bruce trail for a couple hour stroll in the woods along the lake.  Note:  Poutine(poo-teen)- a decidedly Canadian concoction of French fries and gravy, covered with cheese curds-a DELICIOUS, high cal fuel for those hoary Canadian nights.  Bruce Trail-the longest trail in southern Ontario, traversing along the Niagara escarpment from the falls to Tobermory.  Thursday saw us take a short hop to Wingfield Harbor, on Cabot Head.  This all-weather anchorage is the former location of the Meneray family commercial fishery, and a floating sawmill, all long gone.  What remains is a great little anchorage, with a trail to the Cabot Head light which has been restored by volunteers, The Friends of Cabot Head.  Suzanne and I toured the lighthouse/museum, imagining what it must have been like living here in the late 1800’s.  During that period, the house was accessible only by boat or cart path, and sat in the middle of absolute desolation provided by the logging industry’s clear-cutting the entire Bruce peninsula.  64 degree temperatures put us into bathing suits on our trusty little craft.  On my hands and knees, scrubbin’ off the carcasses of the #@&!! Bugs (at least I got some sun).  A couple of hours of scrubbin’ later, I got my reward-sips on the tender while circumnavigating our solitary anchorage and snappin’ a few shots of the GARGANTUA-a wooden freighter burned and scuttled on shore early in the last century.  Long trip tomorrow, so traditional summer dinner on the grill tonight.  MDO’s secret burger recipe coupled with corn on the cob and tater tots.  I AM a cheap date!

Hasta Luego…….

Addendum:  If you don’t want preachin’ stop here.  Got 2 (NOT GOOD) calls within 12 hours this weekend.  First call-a friend was in an auto/motorcycle accident hours before.  His wife and daughter were on their way to the hospital that he was airlifted to with the intention of removing his life support.  Second call-one of our closest pals was involved in an auto accident the night before.  Eight broken ribs, fractured sternum, and a punctured lung.  He will live, but won’t be laffin’ for awhile.  Further affirmation of the “DO IT NOW” theme.  …..tick, tick, tick.   

P.S. Hopefully, we'll have the utility to add pictures to the log up and running soon.

May 25, 2014

Wow!  Hard to believe that we’re finally on our way.  We have a beautiful day to depart Charlevoix, Michigan.  Temperature at 1000 is 65 degrees, skies are sunny, and the glass is rising.  Out on Lake Michigan, the seas are less than one foot, and the air temperature is 47 degrees.  Water temperature is 35 degrees, but we’re not planning on a swim today.  Instead, we be smilin’ in our toasty pilothouse.  We’ll cover some familiar territory today, up the west coast of Michigan, with a planned overnight in Mackinaw city.  From there, we’ll veer south from our usual summer course to head down the east coast of Michigan to Presque Isle, before jumping across Lake Huron to Tobermory, Ontario on Tuesday.  Weather and seas look very promising for those runs.

It’s been quite a winter.  One of the coldest and snowiest(?) in recent history.  Besides moving a shitton (lots) of snow from the driveway with my trusty John Deere all-wheel drive tractor, MDO (my darlin’ One, the Admiral, Suzanne) and I spent a lot of hours sprucing our plus-sized girl up for The Life.  If you have a dream, pursue it.  Don’t make excuses about why you can’t, do it now.  Tick, Tick, Tick.  But I digress.  The girl got her bottom painted, as well as 5 coats of varnish on her brightwork.  100 or so hours (but who’s counting?) of wheeling, polishing and waxing, and she’s feelin’ like a natural woman.  Some woodworking projects by MJT (yours truly)  will make her galley a lot more user friendly  We made some additions that will make her feel a lot more sure of herself on the big water too.  She got a brand new, P.C. based navigation system (Rose Point), and a secondary radar (Koden) to back up her primary (Furuno) systems.  Positive engine room ventilation will help her digest her fuel more efficiently on cooler air.  Some other cool (I think) modifications, but we’ll talk later.  The constant supervision, cool heads, and strong hands of the boys at Boat Works of Charlevoix helped make it all happen.  Alas, or Friday departure date was not meant to be.  After I moved one of the 3 computers onboard, I got the Blue Screen of Death on the monitor.  Not just the usual BSOD, but one replete with an olive branch and a white dove.  Repair disc-no joy.  2 hours on the interweb, lotsa forums-still no soap.  #@!&***.  Call to the Computer Center, Inc., in East Jordan, Michigan.  No easy fix available over the phone.  Yes, we’re super busy, maybe get to it next week.  Extra Benjamins will move us to the front of the line (those pesky dead presidents do come in handy sometimes).  2 hours later the emergency room calls with the verdict-hard drive cacked.  No, they don’t have one, but can disassemble an external and use that- Ca-ching$!  After 31 hours, 2 terabytes of files are loaded.  Reboot.  Voila!  Back to hacienda.  Moral of the story:  Don’t ever start a voyage on Friday-REAL bad luck.  Positive side, we were still at home, and could fix it.  We got to go out to dinner with our good buds from Scottsdale, Andy and Jody (who will meet us in 3 weeks for a few days of rappin’ and libations on the St. Lawrence Seaway).  Also gave us a chance to further spruce up la casa for our friends Dick and Jan ( yes, we do have fun with Dick and Jan) who will use the joint as theirs while we are gone.

So…We’re about to round the abandoned lighthouse at Waugoshance Point.  The breeze has picked up, 15 knots out of the S.W., and the waves are piling up as the water shoals up to 16 feet or so.  Air temperature is 46 degrees, and MDO is fast asleep on the back porch, which is a balmy 72 degrees.  Mackinaw bridge is in sight, although 15 miles away.  We’ll be under it in 2 hours, such is Life at 8 knots.  …..Later

We woke up to grey skies and rain. The weather service was calling for winds and seas to increase as the day went on. We decided that we should de

part early and head for Battle Island. Battle Island gets its name from the skirmish in 1885 between troops and the Ojibwe. The Battle Island light is perched on a high bluff of 118 feet. Battle Island light was built in 1877 and its last lighthouse keeper resided until the 1991. Seas were building but as we rounded the point to make our way into Battle Island harbor, it was calm. The small harbor was empty.  The mooring balls stated in Bonnie Dahl’s Cruising guide were not present. There was the stripped out hull of a runabout on shore and a dock with lines. No sign of any activity. We dropped anchor and waited for the rain to stop before going ashore to explore. Once ashore, there was an old tractor that appeared to be in working order. The dirt track we followed toward the lighthouse had tire tracks. There was evidence of man in the woods, an lichen covered Chevy truck, and various drums and metal pieces. The lighthouse keeper’s residence looked as though they just walk out and locked the door. Old Electrolux vacuum, box tv, kitchen utensils hanging on the walls, etc. The house appeared to be a duplex. The lighthouse area was spectacular in that it was situated on a tall craggy, bluff looking West through East over Lake Superior. The west waves were crashing below. Definitely, worth the stop.  Back at the boat we decided that we would continue on 5 miles north and spend the night in the village of Rossport. Since this will be the last town that is close to us we decided to gas up , White Star, the tender. We use the tender constantly when at anchor. We splash White Star in the water first thing after the anchor is set.

After 2 days in Loon Harbour, we were itching to get moving on to explore the next harbor. Woke up to fog so thick we were unable to see our anchor ball 100 ft away.  The way out of Loon has no tricky points, but after that we had to navigate through some waters that it would be nice to see.  The radar works great in the fog but is a bit disconcerting when the charts do not line up with the radar imagine. We waited a few hours and the ceiling lifted enough to see the water and the shores of the numerous islands that we would snake through. We spoke to Day Dreams and Waterford who were anchored in Otter Cove and contemplating departing.  We left and less than an hour later the fog descended.  Visiblity was less than a quarter of a mile, but we were committed. We snaked through the passage and lamented on the fact that we were unable to see the beautiful scenery. We were keeping our fingers crossed that once we were closer to land the fog would lift once again.  The entrance into Otter Cove could be tough in the fog as the navigation is based on line of site through a narrows. It is doable but prone to anxious moments when using only radar and the depth finder. The fog cooperated and we successfully transited the narrows into a beautiful harbor with high wooded bluffs surrounding all sides.  Day Dreams and Waterford decided not to leave as a Grand Banks “Ceildih of Washburn, WI ( that was anchored in the Eastern slot at Loon Harbour) has recently arrived an reported thick fog in the lake. As there were 3 boats in the inner cove, we decided to anchor in the East end of the bay in 20 ft of water. We beat the rain. They decided to stay as their next destinations was Woodbine Harbour which is 4 hours away.  Lucky us, they stayed.  We had a nice 2 hour cocktail party aboard Day Dreams catching up and celebrating Gary’s 64 th birthday.  The morning of the 7th we woke up to clouds and 54 degrees. But… we did see clearing to the west. It had the potential to be a beautiful day. Day Dreams, Waterford and Ceildih departed.  We were all alone and the sun was coming out.  We decided to relocate Alizann into the inner harbor, hoping to see the Mythical Moose!! At the end of the harbor is a stream that’s shores are lined with tasty moose grasses All settled in the harbor, tender down, time to take a hike to the waterfall. Up the stream White Star went. We could hear the falls. A short walk and you were at the base of the falls. Boy, was the water flowing over the falls. Not surprising since we have had much rain in the past month. We stopped an took many pictures and decided to continue on the adventurous hike which led to a large lake. The hike was varied in terrain. Climbing over logs, walking through water, climbing up rocks.  The trail was well marked by orange tags and many of the trees that blocked the trail had been cut away. Who are these people who clear these trails in the middle of nowhere? The hike was very pretty. Many mosses, mushrooms, lichens and moose tracks and scat! Needless to say, “It was Wet.” We arrived at the lake which was approximately 3 miles long. More moose tracks! Back at the boat we decided to take advantage of the sunny skies and above 50 degree weather and lay on the boat deck and read. It was beautiful. All alone in the anchorage? How lucky. Of course late in the day, a small sailboat arrived but was determined to be a lone and anchored in the outer harbor out of site. We loaded up White Star for our evening cocktail cruise/fishing trip. We fished but no luck. It was clouding over and getting late so we decided to explore the stream in the large bay looking for “What Else?” MOOSE! No luck, maybe tonight. Stayed up searching the shore for wildlife and listening to the song of the Loons.

Woke up today with beautiful sunshine, up anchor and on our way to Woodbine harbor 28 nm away. The course that Captain Marty laid in was a pretty weave past LaMB Island, Fluor and Agate Islands. Sheer cliffs many shoals on both sides. Lamb Island looked like Marina Cay in the BVI’s from far away. Many red roof buildings.  Lamb island was a favorite stop for boaters prior to the 1980’s. Boaters would stop and chat with the lighthouse keeper and his wife. In the early 80’s Ontario automated most of the lighthouses. According to Archie of Archie’s Fish Charters in Thunder Bay, Ontario was going to let the buildings at the lighthouses decay. Private individuals have decided that these building need to be maintained and or restored for history. The group wants the Ontario government to designate them as historical landmarks and assist in helping with the maintenance. They are going out to the buildings and repairing them. Some are living on the islands and maintaining the houses. Woodbine Harbour is surrounded by tall towering bluffs covered in a mix of hardwoods and conifers. We rounded the corner and to our surprise we were the only one in this popular anchorage. We were greeted by the resident Loons. We spent the first part of the day exploring the Moose area looking for a trail that went to Kenny Lake. We located the trail but could only travel 1/8 mile in. We surmise that few, if any have traversed the trail this year. We aborted our hike in the bush and decided to cruise the anchorage and explore the shores.  On the northwest shore of the harbor there was a primitive campsite with a picnic table. This was not noted in Bonnie Dahl or GLCC.  As we were eating a lovely dinner of steak, baked potatoes and salad, Marty noticed some excited baitfish and then a large fish jump. He suited up with his gear and went off to fish. Mart’s trip was very productive. He caught a 24 inch Brook Trout. Once again with his favorite lure, The Fat Free Guppy. The weather was calling for rain and high winds, seas building 3-5.  We expected a possible rocky night. This did occur.  The evening was dead calm.

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Captain's Log

Hey There-

On Sunday morning, it was so pleasant and sunny that inertia threatened to take hold, but we had decided to push on down the Exuma chain.  To paraphrase Jimmy- “There’s so much to see waiting in front of me”-or somethin’ like that.  Cambridge Cay was calling.  Halfway there, I discovered that the charging cord for one of the laptops was nowhere to be found.  A quick call revealed its’ whereabouts-in Andrew’s office.  Well…. we could keep on headin’ down-he’d find a way to get it to us.  Right on.  After a verrrrrrrrry relaxed 2 ½ hour ride, we rounded into the anchorage at Cambridge Cay.  Four other boats were already in the huge, sheltered anchorage, leaving plenty of room for us.  While tying to the mooring, I dropped a pin for a large stainless steel shackle (translate expensive) into the water.  After we were secured, it took about a half hour of searching to find the pin on the bottom, which, by the way, now has a bright yellow lanyard attached to it.  Later in the afternoon, the anchorage hosts, Lynn & Larry dinghied over to welcome us, and collect the rent.  We asked them where they were from.  The following conversation ensued: “Canada”.  “Where in Canada”?  “Oh, a small town on the Great Lakes”.  “Where”?  “You probably haven’t heard of it-Tobermory”.  “Really.  You probably ran a dive operation there, which you sold in the Spring of 2014”.  “Are you serious”?  “Yeah, we met you on the dock at Tobermory when we were headed to the Trent/Severn Canal in May of ’14”.  (This was all Suzanne, none of us remembered our first meeting until she described it in detail).  After we got that out of the way, we arranged to go snorkeling with them the following day to a site by Rocky Dundas Cay.  They told us that there was a grotto there, whose mouth was exposed at low tide, allowing you to swim in to a cavern “large enough to hold this boat”.  Cool.  75 degrees and sunny.  Hammocks out, books in hand.  You get the picture.  After dinner, we dusted off the cribbage board, got out the Hoyle’s, and relearned the game.  As good hosts, it was our duty to get our skills up to a level that we’d pass for players so that when Andy and Jody (avid card players) got here and trounced us, it would be a more satisfying experience for them.

Oh man, this is what it’s all about.  The sun came blazing up over the edge of Cambridge Cay, the wind had stayed steady in the low teens all night, which made for perfect sleeping.  We were excited about our upcoming snorkel expedition in the afternoon, so we broke out our new diveskins to get our weights “dialed in”.  (Diveskins are worn for protection against scrapes and sunburn, and also provide a little bit of warmth.  Ours cover our bodies from ankle to neck to wrist, their thickness is somewhere between long underwear and a light wetsuit) Anyway, they’re slightly buoyant, so if you want to dive below the surface, you need to wear a weight belt to compensate.  We got this accomplished in a few minutes, then headed over to the Cay to do some exploring on land.  There, against a backdrop of crashing aquamarine seas and glaring sunshine on the windward side, we did our eco-thing and picked up beachtrash for an hour or so.  While we were on the beach, a couple of new boats joined us in the anchorage, and one left.  We expected that more would arrive during the day, as another front was expected to roll through the following day.  We had a spot o’ lunch (peanut butter on homemade wheat bread), and were ready to go when Lynn and Larry rolled over in their tender to let us know that they thought it was too rough to go to the caves.  Bummer!  Not to worry, Larry asked if we had been to the “Aquarium”, or the “Plane wreck” sites.  Since we hadn’t snorkeled anywhere around here, the alternates would work just fine.  Off we went in the tenders, joined by Ken and Grace (S/V “Pisces”) to the site some 2 miles away, just off Johnny Depp’s private island.  “The Aquarium” was a pleasant surprise, the water clarity was very good, in spite of the windy conditions, and the diversity of small aquatic life there made the trip a success.  Next, we went to the plane wreck, a drug running Cessna which had crashed and sunk upside down in about 20’ of water back in the eighties.  It was kinda cool, but beside a couple of coral heads rising up from the sandy bottom, there wasn’t much to see.  We had just piled back into the dinghy when up drives….guess who?  Andrew, and he’s got our power cord-Yea!

Back at the ranch, Suz made Cuban coffee while I hung the hammocks up on the boat deck so that we could lay out in the sun and warm up (what a couple of dive weenies!).  Through the rest of the day more boats came rolling in, keeping Lynn and Larry busy with their host duties.  By days’ end, there were a dozen other boats either moored or anchored in our cozy little bay, including a hundred footer.  By 1730, L&L, K&G, The Admiral and Yours Truly were sippin’ and rappin’ on “Alizann’s” back porch.  The full moon rose over the scrub on Cambridge Cay, changing the dark water back to a subtle blue-green hue.  It was so bright that you could see the shadows of The Girl and the trailing tenders on the bottom in 13’ of water.  By 1030, we decided that we should either break it up for the evening or move in together.  We opted for the former after making plans to try the grotto snorkeling on the ‘morrow.

One of these days, we’ll get enough cell coverage to post some blogs/pics.  Until then,

-Later

 

 

 

 

Helloooo…….

First thing in the morning, we hopped into the dinghy and motored a mile or so north to Allen’s Cay, where we hoped to see the marine iguanas that lived on the shore there.  We threw the hook out near the beach and snapped a few pics of the many iguanas perched on the rocks surrounding the sandy beach.  Later, we were out of Highbourne, anchor up at 1220.  On our way out, Suz spotted another Krogen in the distance.  We loitered around for a few minutes, thinking that she may be “Sweet Ride”.  As they neared, it was clearly a 42’, not a 44’.  Passing close abeam was “Knot 2 Fast” crewed by Bob and Peggy, friends from the Rendezvous.  We had a quick chat over the rail.  They told us that they had been travelling with a couple of sailboats, and were heading south as well.  We figured that we’d see them down the line.  As we pulled into the Shroud Cay mooring field, the sun was out, and the line of clouds had moved on.  The seas were as calm as could be, so we dropped “White Star”, and headed to the north end of the island where there was a shallow waterway to the other side of the Cay.  This passage, accessible only at high tide, wound through mangrove lowlands (Swamp Girl be smiling’) for a mile or so, terminating at a deserted beach on the windward side.  High above the beach on a rocky outcropping was the ruins of “Camp Driftwood”, the island base of an American sailinghippie back in the sixties.  Later, the spot was used by D.E.A. agents, surreptitiously keeping tabs on the air traffic in and out of Norman’s Cay to the north.  We walked to the top, and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the mangrove lowlands extending west all of the way back to the other side of the island, the Exuma Sound to the east, and Norman’s Cay to the north.  The next morning, we were awakened as the wind shifted to the north at 20 knots.  Dropping the mooring at 0700, we motored to the south side of Elbow Cay and dropped anchor.  The spot proved to be untenable, so we decided to head to Warderick Wells Cay, hoping that the anchorage there would be mo’ betta.  We called Exuma Land and Sea Park’s headquarters there, and were informed that all of the moorings in the northern mooring field were occupied (except for the 3 in the cut, which we figured would be pretty exposed to wind and current), but that there were plenty available in the Emerald Rock anchorage south of HQ.  By then, the wind had clocked to the northeast at 20-23 knots, so we figured that the slight swell in the anchorage would subside as the winds continued to clock around.  We deployed the flopperstopper nonetheless, riding nicely on the ball, a mile or so south of the Park HQ and northern mooring field.  Just an aside here regarding mooring balls vs anchoring.  Although it is often quite possible to anchor rather than pick up a ball, therefore staying for free, we try to take a ball and pay, encouraging the government to continue to put in balls (which are kinder to the environment than anchor chains dragging across the bottom, ruining potentially fragile ecosystems).

At the park HQ, we met Andrew, an American who had been managing affairs here for the past 9 years.  It seems that he came on a boat, started helping out, and ended up running the place.  Besides the National Defense Force guys who run their boats out of the base here, the island is uninhabited.  Suz and I are members of the Park Support Fleet (we donate $ to the park), so we had a “care package” of supplies from the Park “wish list”, which is posted online that we dropped off while we were at the office.  We asked Andrew if there were any chores that the park needed volunteers for, and he told us that he would check with Dave, the maintenance guy, and let us know.  We spent the rest of the day on The Girl, and buzzing around the anchorage on the tender.  Friday was to be an allday hike around the island, but when we checked in with Andrew before starting our walk, he told us that he had to go “down south” unexpectedly, and could we man the VHF, take care of the mooring fields, and run the store while he was gone.  No problemo!  He gave us a quick primer on how to do the stuff we needed to do to assign moorings according to boat length/draft, how to collect fees, and sell stuff out of the store.  Being super organized, he had a “how to” cookbook with all procedures outlined, right down to radio scripts with instructions for boats entering the various fields. We took a 2 hour walk in the morning, then came back to the office and assumed the position, while Andrew headed south to repair a mooring.  The afternoon went smoothly and as we were closing up at 1600, Andrew returned and we handed over the keys.  Good fun, and we had the use of his computer and satellite internet, so that we could check our emails and get weather reports.  We didn’t want to abuse the privilege, so the blogs already written were piling up.  Still no cell coverage, but Andrew told us that it was usually marginal here even on the best of days.

It was still beautiful on Saturday, the 20th, with the temperature climbing into the high 70’s, so we motored back to HQ and the trailhead to Boo Boo Hill.  Supposedly, the hill is so-named due to the ghostly apparitions that inhabit its’ environs during the full moon.  In years past, a schooner had gone down off the coast here, with the loss of all hands.  None of the bodies were recovered, so none were given a proper Christian burial, the result being that these lost souls were destined to roam here forever.  The view was nothing short of spectacular.  Along the way, we checked out the “blow holes”, openings to the surface from the tops of underground caves, where, at high tide, wave action causes water to spurt out like a geyser.  Down on Boo Boo Beach, we picked up a garbage bag full of plastic products, Styrofoam, discarded fishing nets, and etc. which had washed up on the shore.  As we visit these beautiful places, it’s sickening to see all of this pollution left by human hands.  We can’t help but think about all of the marine creatures whose lives are destroyed by entanglements from, and ingestion of this detritus.  Sorry about the downer, but this stuff makes me cranky.  We decided to hang out at Rendezvous Beach, a deserted patch of sand near the Girl, and catch some rays that afternoon.  No sooner did we get our towels down, we heard of trouble in the northern anchorage on our handheld VHF.  A trawler had come in, and lost control in the wind and current, causing it to back down and get hung up on a mooring ball.  I called Andrew, and yes, he did want some help.  By the time I raced out to the Girl, got my dive gear, and got to the scene, he was just about finished removing the trashed mooring ball and pendant from the running gear of the snagged boat.  Chatting afterward, I complimented him on his quick response.  He said: “Yep, been there and done that-many times”.  I returned and picked up the stranded Admiral off the beach, and we headed in to the beach at HQ where an impromptu gathering of cruisers was taking place for happy hour.  The snacks and drinks were good, the conversations better.  Bob & Peggy had come in during the day, and we had a chance to catch up with them as well.  As soon as the sun went down, the Hutias came out in full force.  These guys are the only mammal native to the Bahamas.  They are about the size of a large softball, and look kinda like fat rats with a short tail.  They’re nocturnal, and don’t seem to be the least bit fazed by humans.  From the number of them that were literally dodging between our feet, it’s hard to believe that they are an endangered species.  We motored back to “Alizann” under a nearly full moon, and planned our departure for the following day.

-Later

 

Hola Muchachos!

The next few days at New Providence were quite windy.  Surprise!  Saturday night and Sunday, the surge out of the north continued, wrapping around the point, and hitting us directly on the beam (as the wind out of the east had us pointed in that direction).  First thing Sunday morning, we deployed the flopperstopper, which decreased our roll considerably.  I’ll try to describe the flopperstopper.  On one side of the Girl, we have a padeye fixed to the hull just below the caprail, about 3’ off the water.  Into this padeye, we fix a 10’ long whiskerpole (basically a boom for a spinnaker on a sailboat).  This boom extends perpendicular to the long axis of the boat.  At its outboard end, 3 lines are attached which come back to the boat; one to the top of the mast, to keep the pole level, and one each to the bow and stern, to keep the pole perpendicular to the boat.  From the bottom of the outboard end of the pole is a line which extends around 6’ below the surface of the water.  At the underwater end of this line, a hinged stainless steel panel is attached, which offers resistance to being pulled through the water.  The overall effect is that the rolling motion of the boat is damped.  The system works quite well, and would work even better if there was a pole on the opposite side of the boat.  In fact, we think that we’ll buy another “fish” and hang it off the boom, cranked out on the port side.  (When we built “Alizann”, we weren’t sure about our crazy idea, so thought we’d just do one side in case it was a total bust.)  I’m not sure how that explanation worked out, but I’ll throw a couple of pictures up when we get decent Interweb.  I tore up the outboard motor again, pulled the old fuel pump, and replaced it with the new.  I’ll run carburetor cleaner through the old one, vacuum bag it, and keep it as a spare.  We dropped “White Star” into the water, and made some test runs around the anchorage.  he afternoon was spent chillaxin’ in the sun up on the boat deck in the lee of the bridge, out of the 18 knot winds , and bein’ warm and toasty.  I was smilin’-between the winderators and the solar panels, we were puttin’ money in the bank.  Our battery charge rose as the day wore on, in spite of our constant energy consumption-“Yeah, Baby”!  Holy Mahi Tacos!  ‘Em shur made a great dinner paired with a vinegar-based coleslaw and fresh veggies.  By evening, the swell subsided and the Girl rode well in the gusty (up to 22 knots) conditions.  The sunset as viewed off our back porch was awesome.

 

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The seas were predicted to subside by Tuesday, making it a good travel day, so we spent most of the day on Monday doing-you it, guessed it-boatchores.  Suz grabbed her preptools and varnish brush, touching up areas in the galley, and portlights over our bed.  Meanwhile, I washed and waxed small areas outside.  This is an ongoing deal.  We just work our way around the boat.  When we’re done, we start over again.  Not real rewarding, but necessary to protect the fiberglass, and keep the rust at bay on the stainless.  During the early evening, the wind shifted to the southeast, and the swell was back.  It rained off and on, but no thunderstorms, even though they had been predicted.  During the early hours, the flopperstoppers’ block at the top of the mast started squeaking LOUDLY, inducing that half-sleep, restless mode.  We were both more than ready for sunup, so that we could get up and go.  We ran down the Tongue of the Ocean so that we could wet a few lines in the deep water, but after an hour or so with no bites, we abandoned that course.  A beeline to Highborne Cay would get us there by 1500 or so, as opposed to arriving around dusk, so we plotted a new course across the shallow banks.  We weren’t sure where we were going to anchor at Highborne, as there looked like several possibilities, so we wanted to get there when the sun was still fairly high.  All the while, we were watching a line of thunderstorms moving east across Florida at 20 mph, and wondering if they’d peter out before they reached us.  We were rolling along with the watermaker crankin’ out some fresh water, when I noticed that the water tank gauges are droppin’notrisin’.  What?  No sinks running.  Suz opens the midship machinery compartment, only to find that water is gushing in from somewhere up under the sole on the port side.  I jump down, and shut off the valves on the tanks while Suz turned off the water pump.  Of course, the leak stopped, but not before we lost 100 gallons of precious water.  It took a while to find it, but a hose clamp on a barbed nipple had failed, allowing the hose to pop off (it was double-clamped, but apparently the second clamp wasn’t placed correctly).  The good news was that the wine cellar got a good cleanout as I wiped and shopvac’d out the water that the bilge pump missed.  (Note to self-Maybe I should install a high water alarm in that compartment too).

After a seven hour cruise on this 71 degree, windy, overcast day, we pulled into the lee of Highborne Cay, and dropped anchor in 13 feet of water.  We dinghied into the small manmade harbor to check out the boats there, a couple of hundred footers, and a few sportfishers.  They’re pretty proud of their dock, wanting $10 to land the tender, so we satisfied ourselves with a “from the water” tour, as there was nothing on land to attract us.  We were itching to get south, and hopefully, to better weather.  It looked like Shroud Cay would be a nice next stop for us on our way down the chain, so we planned to head there the next day.

Sorry about the wierd page layout, but we're working on some format changes.  Finally got a good cell signal, so we'll get some blogs up.

Hasta la Vista

Goood Morning!

It’s a dreary, windy day here in West Bay on New Providence Island.  Oops, a little late for a spoiler alert.  Now that you know that we got off the dock, let’s fill in the blanks.

Thursday, the 11th dawned bright and sunny, but still very windy with the temperatures promised to move in to the high 60-low 70 area.  We got off a Happy Birthday email (voicemail on the phone call) to our son, Jeremy, then took the water taxi over to Port Lucaya.  Over in the Market Square, we perused the goods at several of the shops before walking a couple miles down the beach.  With no one in sight for a half mile in either direction, we found a spot in the lee of a small dune(let), where, out of the wind, it was actually warm.  There, we luxuriated in the sun for a couple of hours, enjoying the noboatchores.  On the way home, we stopped at “Agave” (which Aaron the Dockmaster had recommended) for a late lunch/early dinner.  The Conch fritters, Mahi tacos, and Jerk chicken with peas and rice were washed down nicely with a cold Kalik (in the Admiral’s case, iced tea).  Returning home, I called the marine supplier, who informed me that yes, the fuel pump was on its’ way, and no, they couldn’t be sure it would arrive tomorrow, but if it did, it wouldn’t be until after 1600.  Okay……. the weather window looked fantastic for tomorrow, but still reasonable for Saturday.  Suzanne’s turn to pick the movie, but she allowed me some input.  “Magic Mike” could’ve/should’ve stayed unwatched in our humble opinions.

As promised, Friday morning dawned warm and bright with a few puffs of breeze.  Man, did we have the urge to go.  We kept telling ourselves that we were on “Island Time” and to relax.  We had some nice “Face Time” with Jeremy, as he was taking the day off for his birthday.  Afterwards, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I ripped into the outboard engine.  I got the high pressure reservoir off, disassembled it, and removed the fuel pump.  Lotsa dirty screens and filters.  When I got the pump out, I hotwired it to a 12 volt source, and it popped on.  What?  I cleaned all of the components, installed new “O” rings, and put it back in the engine.   Crank, crank, crank-nothin’.  The motor was getting fuel, now what?  I checked-no spark.  Okay, so when I was cleaning up the wiring mess the other day, I bypassed the “Kill switch”.  I undid my “fix”, cranked again, and Eureka!  Eric, Rhonda & his girlfriend Sara stood on the dock and gave us a standing “O”.  I called the marine supplier and Jamie, the boss, gave me the answer that I expected.  It was a special order part, and I still needed to pay for it.  He also assured me that once a fuel pump bound up once, it would most assuredly do it again.  The good news was that the pump was on-island.  The bad news was that it was hung up in Customs.  It seems that the day before, a cache of guns was discovered in a shipment of “consumer goods”, and the guys were inspecting every box individually today.  We kept the positive attitude, and called Queenie to drive us to the grocery store and OBS marine supply.  When she picked us up 10 minutes later, 2 other folks were in the van, headed to the port to board “Balaeria”, a ferry headed to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.  They had taken it several times in the past, and reported that the 3-hour trip could get kinda sloppy if the weather was bad.  The price was right, however, at $200/per, and the schedule was fairly reliable, with a trip over and back on most weekdays.  (we made a mental note).  Now, it was getting late-1645, and OBS closed at 1700.  “No worry” says Queenie.  As we roll through the gate at 1657, she says “That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!”  Jamie says every part in his shipment has arrived but ours.  He’d sent a guy back to the airport to look for it, but everyone would be headed home for the weekend soon.  What a letdown.  As I was walking out to the taxi to give Suz the update, Jamie’s truck rolled in, and a guy jumps out with a box in his hand.  “You the guy waiting for a fuel pump”?  Music to my ears.  Jamie gave us some love on the price, foregoing his profit, it came through on our cruising permit (so no 30% duty) and, all in all we didn’t have to pay a lot more than we would’ve in the States.  We dropped Suz off at the grocery store, and I went home to move the Girl over to the fuel dock to diesel up before the 1800 closing time.  Back at the ranch, Eric and his crew were gone, so I pulled out of the slip and over to the fuel dock alone (a first for me-singlehanders do it all the time. ) She only took 75 gallons, but OCD me likes to start with full tanks.  After filling, I hung at the fuel dock until Queenie got the Admiral back, then we moved back to the slip to fill the water tanks, stow groceries, and get dinner (homemade pizza) ready.  Suz also fixed lunch and cut up veggies for our trip the next day.  The pizza was almost done when Rhonda popped in, ordering us over for Shepherd’s pie, one of Eric’s specialties.  Suz set the timer, and we were off to “Sweet Serenity” for comfort food and good company.  We watched an episode of the TV show, “Wicked Tuna”, which we had never heard of, and got our fishin’ juices flowing.  We excused ourselves at 2100, as we were planning an 0330 departure.

0315 came mighty quickly, but we were pumped.  We got off the dock by 0336.  As we passed the seabuoy outside Bell’s Channel, the seas and winds were higher than predicted, but no big deal (1’-3’ and 12 knots), as they were on our quarter.  Breakfast of champions, pizza and coffee for me as I settled in for the first watch.  Suz drifted off to bed, while I waited for sunrise.  It did not disappoint.  After sunup, I rigged a couple of lines, one with frozen Ballyhoo, one with a skirted cedar plug, and let ‘em out about 200 yards.  No sooner than Suzanne took the wheel, one of the reels was screamin’ off line.  Ran back to the cockpit as Suz slowed the Girl, and hooked up.  A gorgeous Mahi leapt out of the water about 400 yards back, furiously trying to shake that hook.  The bull jumped two more times, with me reeling in like a man possessed with each breach.  With our little ship idling along on autopilot, Suz brought in the other line so that it wouldn’t get fouled.  We got our prize alongside, where Suz deftly gaffed him on the first try-Yeah, Baby!  Bled him out, snapped a pic and gotim on ice.  Rebait and wait.  Well……we got nothing else until I laid down for a nap a few hours later.  I jumped up and hustled to the cockpit where one of the reels was winding out.  I wasn’t patient enough, and started reeling in before he was hooked- my reward was a Ballyhooless hook-Oh well.  As we neared Chubb Cay, our proposed destination, we rechecked the weather.  Looked like we were in for a couple days of heavy winds, so we reevaluated our plans, and decided that West Bay, on New Providence Island might be a better place to hole up, so we altered course.  Coming on to the shallow waters of the Bank, we hauled in our lines, and traded bait for bathing suits.  With the Girl on autopilot, we basked in the sun on the bow, cruising over the aquamarine water listening to “The 60’s on Six”, courtesy of Sirius Radio.  After an hour or so of subtropical sun, we had had enough, and our prize needed filleting.  My new collapsible workbench provided a perfect platform for fish work, which yielded some gorgeous filets . As the sun dropped, it was evident that we were headed toward another “boating don’t”, entering a strange harbor after dark.  We had no alternative, and the entry was very straightforward, so in we went, as the wind started to roar.  By the time the anchor was down, we were too pooped for Mahi tacos, so we ate our lunch (Tunafish sammies and veggies) instead.

-Later 

Goood Morning Baahaamaas!

The pouring rain subsides, and we peek out of the pilothouse to see Aaron, the Dockmaster, standing in the shelter of the eaves in his office door, 10 feet away.  After exchanging the usual morning pleasantries, he lets us know that Customs and Immigration is just around the corner, but still within the harbor.  We’ll need to take the Girl over, but no need to rush, as the officers don’t arrive until 0930 (or so).  A guy walking the dock says “Hey, is that a Krogen?”  Conversation ensues, he tells us that he’s gettin’ a Krogen soon, as he’s tired of motoring about in his sailboat.  (Little known trivia-cruising sailboats motor about 70% of the time).  Anyway, he also asks us if we know the folks on the other Krogen, “Sweet Ride”, that is docked here.  We sure do, but are flabbergasted that they’re here.  They had left Sunset Bay in Stuart, heading south for a crossing to Bimini a week or so earlier, accompanied by our good friends, Jeff and Susie aboard “Idyll Time”, who were headed to the Keys.  How’d they get this far north?

At 0930, we head over to Port Lucaya to clear customs, and arrive at the dock just as the water taxi is coming in.  Christopher and Alexandra (“Sweet Ride”) are on board, and tell us that they did indeed go to South Bimini, but after a few days, had the urge to move.  Their destination, the Berry Islands was a two (daylight hours) day trip from Bimini, involving anchoring out on the Bank (recall our trip last year, anchoring with nothing but water to the horizon for 360 degrees). Basically, the weather was so unsettled that they decided to head way northeast to Grand Bahama, stay here for a few days, then head southeast to Great Harbour Cay, in the Berry’s.  That’s cruising-plans always written in sand.  We cleared Customs, plunked down our $300 (cash) for our cruising permit, and tooled back to the G.B. Yacht Club to wash our salt-encrusted little ship and get some rest.  The rest part didn’t happen.  We had some trouble getting our Bahamian SIM cards to function properly in our phone and IPad, so a trip to BaTelCo was in order.  Our new neighbor, Erick on his 65’ Hatteras, informed us that he had lived here for 6 years or so, and that he’d call his favorite taxi driver, Queenie, to drive us over.  She was a stitch, and entertained us both to and from the telephone office.  (She came in with us and waited while we took care of business-everybody that came in to the store knew her, it seemed).  That pretty much killed the day.  Saturday was bright and sunny, albeit very windy.  We took the water taxi over to Port Lucaya, cruised the market square (cruise ships take their passengers here, and there is a Ritz Hotel as well), then walked the deserted beach for a couple miles.  When we returned to the Girl, we dropped the tender in the water to explore the man-made waterways that twisted and turned for a couple of miles past the marina.  The depths through this maze of canals ran around 10’, the shores were bordered with seawalls, and the land about 40% developed with some pretty nice homes.  I’m sure there’s a story about its’ development-guess we’ll find out later.  At the other end of the canals, there was a narrow, shallow channel exiting to the sea.  It wasn’t big enough for “Alizann”, but no problem for small motor or sailboats at high tide.  Earlier in the day, we had arranged with Rochelle, (touted by Erick’s friend, Rhonda, as the best cook on the island) to cook a traditional Bahamian dinner for Christopher and Alexandra and us that evening.  We were running short on time, so I suggested running outside back to Bell’s Channel, and the marina.  Due to the high wind and seas, the Admiral nixed the idea, and said that if we were late for dinner, so be it.  How fortuitous that decision was!  About a mile from the marina, the motor in the dinghy just quit.  No warning, no sputtering, no nothing-just quit, like someone had flipped a switch.  The starter turned her over, but nothing.  About the same time as the motor quit, a small motor boat appeared coming toward us from the other direction (we hadn’t seen another boat underway the whole trip).  We hailed them, they grabbed our line, turned around and towed us back to the Girl.  We were only 15 minutes late for supper.  It was wonderful.  Over dinner, we learned that it was C & A’s second anniversary of their first date.  Wow!  From first date to owning a boat together in two years.  Christopher is quite the talker, and regaled us with story after story, much to our delight.

Most of Sunday was spent dinking around with the motor.  First, I went through the fuel system from the tank to the fuel pump.  Everything looked good.  Next, I pulled apart and cleaned all of the wiring harnesses, and checked continuity of switches from the helm to the motor.  Again, everything looked good to me.  This problem was above my pay grade, so I tossed in the towel for the day and got cleaned up to join Erick, his son Ian, and their friend Rhonda for dinner and Super Bowl on his boat.  A good time was had by all.  Erick cooked, and we all ate.  Salmon, black beans & rice, and sushi.  3-2-1, provided by Suz, topped off this eclectic menu as we all vegged in front of his hugescreen TV.

Monday morning, and we’re up before dawn to get “Sweet Ride” off the dock.  They’ll go to Great Harbour, and use the slip that we had reserved, as they were unable to get one at the full marina there.  We tell them to make sure and hook up with Bill & Lauren (our Canadian cruising buddies) on “Sea Star”, as they are already moored there.  At 0800, a call to OBS Marine in Freeport got a mechanic out by 1000.  Took him about a half hour to decide that a bad fuel pump was the problem.  A call to the shop revealed that there wasn’t a pump anywhere in the Bahamas.  One had to be ordered from the States.  ChaCh$ng!  The part that wholesaled out of the factory for $400, would run around $900 here.  Time to do some callin’.  Found it online for around $550, but nobody wanted to deliver to the Bahamas.  I took a flyer, and called several dealers in Miami and Lauderdale to see if they knew of any customers heading out. -A long shot, but hey, ya gotta try.  No Go.  Erick said that he had a buddy in Lauderdale who MIGHT be headed out in a few days, and would be happy to bring the pump.  Okay, so the pump MIGHT get to him before he leaves, and he MIGHT have good weather.  We checked with Customs.  Since we had paid for a cruising permit, if the part was sent to our boat, no 40% duty.  Talked with Jamie at OBS.  Yes, he could do that, but they would still have to add their markup.  If we didn’t have to get down to Georgetown by the first week in March for arriving company, we probably would have gone another route, but we had OBS order the pump and have it “emergency shipped” to Miami, where a freight expediter would pick it up and run it out to Freeport by Friday at the earliest.  Okay, here’s our credit card number……….No, they want cash.  Great, I hop on my bike and ride the 9.6 klicks to the shop so that we can get the order placed ASAP.  All good fun. I think that it may be the national sport here to get the passenger side mirror as close as you can to the bike rider as you pass.  Moving over a tad is not in the program.  Having dodged death (or at least severe impairment), I took the rest of the day off.  Suz and I broke out our newest crew member, “Little Scout”, a Phantom 3 drone, for her maiden flights.  She is equipped with GPS, and is gyro stabilized, making her super easy to fly.  Her underbelly camera pans and tilts, is capable of taking still or video images, and has a continuous feed back to our smartphone, which is attached to the control station.  I had to pry the stick out of the Admiral’s (I guess that now, as a flyer, she’ll have to be a part-time General as well) hands to get a little flight time in.  When we get a little more confidence, and when the wind isn’t blowing 20, we should be able to send L.S. up and out for some long-range recon.  (as always, major expenditures aboard are made in the name of SAFETY).

Tuesday was cleaning day.  The Admiral (now back on the boat) said that the place “looked like the bottom of a birdcage”.  We washed walls, ceilings, and floors.  Carpets and screens were taken out on the dock and scrubbed-you get the picture.  All the while, it was cloudy, cold, and blowing 20, a perfect day for cleaning.  When the Girl was standing tall and proud, we called it a day, had dinner, and settled in for “Movie Night”, featuring “The Bourne Legacy”.

It was still blowing this morning, but the sun was out.  Around 1030, when the thermometer cracked 60 degrees, we grabbed the backpack and power walked over to Taino Beach, a few miles away.  There, we walked the beach, then had lunch at “Sandbar”, the restaurant at the Taino Beach Club.  Erick, Rhonda, and Ian are coming over for dinner this evening.  Suzanne is cooking up some chili and cornbread-appropriate for this chilly, breezy weather.

-Later

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