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… 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.


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.


Captain's Log


Well…….Conception Island was a well-worth-it stop.  While we shared the anchorage with 6 other boats on Friday, we were all by our lonesome all day on Saturday.  The island is completely uninhabited, save for the flocks of birds that live here, and we enjoyed a real sense of isolation.  On Saturday morning, we took the dinghy to the south end of the bay, and anchored in 12’ of water, over sand and right next to a coral reef.  We snorkeled the reef, trying to hone our lobster and fish-finding skills.  This island is part of the Land and Sea Park, so it is a “no-take” area.  I figured that since this was the case, we’d find tons of lobster.  Nope.  I’m thinkin’ that we really need to get with a pro so we can learn the ropes, ‘cause I’m sure that there are plenty of bugs in these hidey holes.  I was just starting to feel a little chilly when I caught some movement out of the corner of my left eye.  Suz was on my right, so it got my attention.  I turned my head to see a 6’ Reef Shark swimming toward us.  He stopped, and swam a couple of tight circles about 15 feet from us.  Then, he swam past us at a distance of about 10 feet, and looped back before swimming toward shore over the coral.  Now Suz and I have swum around sharks plenty, most of the time with SCUBA, and they usually pay you no attention, nor are we bothered by their presence.  This guy just didn’t feel right.  We decided that it was time to get out of the water, and we literally swam the 50 yards to the dinghy back-to-back.  We saw no more of our pal.  After a late breakfast on “Alizann”, we headed to shore, and anchored “White Star” 10’ off the beach.  We crossed over to the windward side of the island, and were treated to a mile long, coarse sand beach.  We walked it in total solitude, with the sun high overhead, marveling at the myriad colors of the ocean over the sand and offshore reefs.  Back on our, the leeward side of the island, the sand was finer, and a lighter color.  We walked the shore of our bay from north to south.  The late afternoon was spent reading on deck.  Towards sunset, a sailboat arrived and anchored about a quarter mile away.  Our tender was already stowed on the boat deck, so we didn’t go over to say “Hi”.

By Sunday morning, the swells that had started to roll into the anchorage the day before were becoming quite pronounced.  No matter, we were up early for an 07h00 departure to Cat Island.  We fished for 4 ½ hours before one of the reels started screaming out.  We hooked up, and had a good fight for about 30 seconds, then, not much.  I could still feel a fish on, and I knew this was bad news.  Barracudas hit hard, and go fast, but have no endurance.  They’re totally passive until you get them out of the water to unhook ‘em, then they’re all muscle and teeth.  Yep, Barracuda.  What a pain in the butt.  And………in 1500’ of water.  He musta been lost or something.  After I dehooked him, he was back to the races, and I was ready to call it a day.  The Bight at Cat Island was just around the point, and shallow water was a half hour away.  The seas were predicted to be running out of the East, making the West-facing Bight a perfect anchorage.  Instead, the 3’ waves were coming out of the Southwest, rolling into the Bight, which ran several miles from north to South.  We quickly scrapped Plan A, which was to anchor in New Bight, and motored over the shallow sand to the beach which ran along the southern edge of the Bight.  There, we found that it was still windy, but 100 yards off shore, the swell was negligible.  We spent a quiet afternoon on the boat, the day made almost perfect by spaghetti and meatballs.  The wind died nearly completely, and we had a totally calm night.  Just before dawn, the waves started lapping, and we heard the wind generators start to wind up.  All of a sudden, the motion detector (burglar) alarm went off.  I went to the salon to check things out.  Nobody around, but the flag on the stern was drooping down, and, I believe, set off the alarm (note to self).  Well…..within 10 minutes (literally), the wind was blowing 22, clocking from West to Northwest.  This usually indicates the beginning of a frontal passage here, and a Cold Front had been moving through the Southeast states the day before.  The black clouds to the Northwest, and the light horizon below them told us the Front was here.  We could expect the wind to go to east within 12-18 hours.  We got the anchor up, and headed North to New Bight.  By the time that we arrived an hour later, the wind had subsided to 5 out of the Northnorthwest, so we tucked in tight to the beach and had some breakfast.

Time to explore.  We dropped the dink and headed to shore.  Ha!  No place to tie up.  Just a long beach and no docks.  I beach the dinghy and drop off the Admiral, then anchor just outside the break, and wade in.  I miscalculated the depth by about 6”.  Man, I hate starting a walk with a wet crotch!  I know, T.M.I.  First stop is the police station/post office/island administrator/driver’s license/BaTelco building.  We get the lowdown from a very pleasant officer, and find that the post office has an open internet network.  Yay! I might be able to shoot some of these blogs up.  We walk the shore road up to the North, and spy a bunch of gaily colored shacks on the beach.  None are more than 150 square feet in size.  The signs on them indicate that they’re bars and restaurants.  Most are closed.  It is a full party during Island Regatta week in August. We stop at “Hidden Treasure”, which is open, and is reported by the Cruisers Net to have great seafood.  After checking with the kitchen, we agree to go in for grub before we leave the island, depending on the weather.  Further down the road, we wander into an open door and meet Darlene, the local “bread lady”.  She’s gonna bake us loaves of coconut, cinnamon, and wheat bread that we can pick up in the morning.  A half mile down, we visit Holy Redeemer, the last Catholic church designed and built by Father Jerome before his death (more on F. J. later).  Gilbert’s Grocery (and rent-a-car) is our turning point about a mile-and-a-half down the road.  The mail boat (supplies) comes in on Thursday, but not this Thursday, so we grab a couple of $4 Mangoes, lettuce, eggs, red pepper, and celery-$40.  Yeow!  Suzanne reminds me that this Thursday is Holy Thursday, and that most business (in our experience) will be conducted on restricted hours, or not at all, during Holy Week here in the islands.  The Front arrived before we got home, but it actually felt kinda good walking in the pouring rain, just as my shorts were beginning to dry out. 

17h00.  Time for an iced coffee with rum.


Wednesday morning didn’t come quick enough.  I was excited about getting some lobsters, and had a lot of stuff to do before we could go. Low tide was at around 10h00.  That meant that our bikes, which had been idle for a while, needed to be unpacked, chains and derailleurs lubed, tires aired up, and luggage racks re-installed, then dropped to the dinghy for their ½ mile ride to the dock.  Snorkel gear needed to be unstowed, and packed in to carryable packages.  Peanut butter toast, and we were on our way by 08h30.  Due to the early low tide, we decided to head to the spot that was only a mile or so from the boat.  Since “everyone” knew about this spot, we figured that we’d maybe only get a bug or two.  After we got the bikes loaded with gear, Suz decided that mine looked like a vehicle out of “Mad Max”, with our spears sticking out over the front tire.  The road out to the beach was a challenge.  The island is comprised of rock, and any unpaved roads (and this is most of them) are surfaced with large sharp rocks, and are deeply rutted, with washed out sand in any depressions.  We had a nice swim, but that was about it.  Figured that the place was “lobstered out”.  We stashed our bikes behind Tyrone’s house, and hotfooted it back to the Girl, as the Georgetown gang had organized a beach cleanup outing for 13h00. 15 or 20 of us made a nice dent in cleaning up a 2-mile stretch of beach on the windward side.  Through our stay this year in the Exumas, we had become very familiar with items from the ill-fated “El Faro”, the freighter that went down with all hands during Hurricane Joaquin in October.  Among other flotsam, we picked up numerous syringes, jars of mayonnaise, yogurt, Axe bodywash, plastic tubes of M&M’s, and roll-on deodorant.  Many of the aerosol cans were nearly decomposed by rust, and there was virtually no glass-just PLASTIC!  It certainly makes you think twice about buying products packaged in this stuff.  There must be a better way.  Back to the boat for a quick wash up, and to shore for the “Closing Ceremonies” at Sou’ Side bar and Grill.  Busy day, so it was an early night for me and the Boss.

Thursday, St. Paddy’s day and we’re on a bug hunt again.  This time, we’re off to David’s secret spot on the windward side of the island opposite McCann settlement.  It’s about a 5 kilometer ride, but since it’s only 0900, the temperature is conducive.  On the way down, we can hear the feral goats in the underbrush next to the road, the kid’s plaintive cries sound so human, it’s eerie.  Once off the main road (and I use this term loosely), we’re confronted with a washed-out two track littered with 3” in diameter, sharp rocks and eroded gashes up to a foot deep which climbs up, angles down to a brackish pond, then climbs back up as it meanders the ¾ of a mile to end on a cliff overlooking the coral reef below.  After taking a few moments to admire the view, we unload the bikes and stash them in the undergrowth.  Next, we’ve got a half mile hike over the razor-sharp coral rocks out to the beach.  This stuff is mucho serious.  One fall, and you’re gonna end up with a cut to the bone.  We’re not really visualizing ourselves being treated for an injury in a third world country, so the going is slow.  Once down to the beach, we’re treated to a mile of desolate sand, and blue, light blue, sorta blue, green, aqua water.  (I think that the Bahamians must have as many words for the water color here as the Inuit have for snow.  The variations never fail to take your breath away).  Not a soul in sight, and no sounds indicating the presence of other humans.  Full of anticipation, we pull on our diveskins, snorkels, and fins and embark on our small game hunt on to the uncharted reef.  Two hours later, as the tide starts coming back in, we’re thinking that we pretty much suck at this lobstering thing.  There were tons of good “hidey holes” among the coral heads and rocks strewn around the bottom, but did we see a single lobster?  Nein!  The best we could do was a 4’ barracuda that followed us the whole time that we were in the water. On the way home, we stopped at the Hillside Market, as the “Mail Boat” had come in the day before, and fresh vegetables would be on the shelf.  Only problem was that when we got to the checkout, Suz didn’t have any money, and she thought that I should have some.  By the time we brought the bikes back to the boat by dinghy, and I returned to the store to pay for our stuff, she had the Girl ready to go.  The rest of the Georgetown crew had pretty much departed while we were gone.  We took the ride up to Calabash Bay on the northwest end of Long Island laying atop the pilothouse roof, catching some rays, with the autopilot remote in hand.  The anchorage there was reported to be affected by a fair bit of ocean swell, but in settled weather like we were finally experiencing, we figured that it’d be fine for an overnight.  Well……...It was pretty rolly.  We didn’t bother to take the dinghy down, and opted for sundowners on the back porch, as we planned a morning departure for Conception Island.  We were so excited about having scored fresh fruit and veggies, that we took full advantage.  Suz whipped up some slushies on this, the 50th anniversary of their invention. (‘cept hers were made with papaya, banana, coconut cream, rum, ice, and of course, soy milk and protein powder to keep things healthy).  We love our Vitamix.  For dinner, it was salad topped with, you guessed it, grilled Mahi.

We were out of the anchorage by 09h00.  Since we would be crossing deep water on our way to Conception, the rods were out, and the hooks baited.  We’d been doing so well fishing, that we figured that all it took was to wet a line.  In spite of the Admiral doing the fish dance and chanting her soon to be patented fish call, we came up with a giant goose egg for our 2 ½ hour efforts.  We’re now entering through the reef to the anchorage on the northwest end of the island.  The Bight is ringed by a shallow, rocky coral reef to the north, and a mile of pure, sandy beach to the east, and rocks to the south.  There are only 6 other boats here, and it looks like a great place to hang for a few days.


Friday, the 11th.  We’re waiting for A.J., the water taxi driver, to come and pick Andy& Jodie up for their trip to the airport.  I hate these times, the long farewells.  Typical to “island time”, he doesn’t arrive at the boat until 30 minutes past the agreed time.  Andy is fit to be tied.  In his mind, he’s already on his way home.  After A.J.  finally arrives and picks A&J up, we should be busy cleaning the boat, but are in a catatonic state, so we spend the rest of the afternoon just chillin’.  A few of the boats in the anchorage are planning a trip to Long Island on Monday, with some excursions after arrival, so we want in.  We call “Five and Dime” to get in, and are told that all of the spots for the activities there are filled.  No room at the Inn.   A half hour later, we’re called on the VHF, and are told that there’s an opening, as one of the boats hasn’t paid their dues.  Quicker than a fly on you-know-what, we’re over to “Five & Dime” with a hundred and five rockets to pay our dues.  We’re in. 

On Saturday, we spend the day makin’ water and doing laundry, as well as cleaning the Girl, post guests.  The office is reconfigured from a guest stateroom back, and our trusty little ship is returned to normal.  At 05h30, A.J. picks us up for our soiree into town for the “Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival”.  Live music, Bahamian food and drink are on the schedule.  The music is good, the food is great, and the night goes quickly.  Before we know it, we’re home.

On Sunday, the 13th, the winds had subsided to around 13 knots or so.  The seas were predicted to be running 1’-3’, so we saddled up to head over to Long Island.  I wasn’t in much of a hurry, as I had taken a quick look at the chart and figured it was about 18NM to our anchorage.  Suz looked at me kinda funny when she asked, and I told her that I wanted to leave around 12h00 or so.  We got the dinghy up and secured, and got under way at around 11h30.  We hadn’t plotted a course.  I figured that we’d do it once underway, as it would be a short hop.  NOT!  Thirty-eight miles?  I don’t know what I was smokin’ when I thought it was only 18, but we were lucky that we had switched to Daylight Savings Time, or we wouldn’t have made it before dark.  We made Thompson Bay at Long Island just before dusk, and dropped the hook in around 10’ of water at the northern end of the bay.  No time to explore as it was getting dark, so we left “White Star” on the boat deck and settled in with the 4 other boats scattered in the bay.  Today, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees, 25 minutes North latitude), the farthest south that “Alizann” has been.

Monday.  Race day.  We expected the sailors from Georgetown to start arriving just after noon.  We dropped the dink, and headed to the newly rebuilt dinghy dock for some shore recon.  We stopped at the “Sou’ Side Bar & Grill”, which would be the focal point of the upcoming shoreside activities.  There, we met Tyrone and his wife Vanessa, the owners of the 400 square foot (Maybe.  This included the 2 porches) establishment.  It was empty, save for a guy sitting outside under the shade of a Sea Grape tree.  We sidled over, and introduced ourselves to Alton, locally known as “Big Al”, as there were 2 other men by the name Alton on the Island.  We trolled for some local knowledge, including good snorkel spots, the location of the market, if there was a place to “top off” our cell phone, where we could drop off our well-traveled packages of post-hurricane relief supplies, and etc.  (Later, we would find out that he, and his partner, Sue, were former Georgetown liveaboards who had recently sold their boat and were now living on the island.  They were also the local organizers of the soon-to-arrive Georgetown to Long Island rally.)  We checked out the local scene, which didn’t take long, topped off our data plan on the IPad, found that the “mail boat”, which brought fresh produce to the market, would arrive in 2 days, and headed back to Sou’ Side for lunch and a brew.  The Hogfish was tasty.  Right about then, the first boats of the rally were appearing on the horizon-no sails (no wind).  We beat a hasty retreat back to the Girl, as we had decided that our late evening choice for anchoring was too far from the lone dinghy dock.  We re-anchored a half mile or so from the dock in 6’ of water, and watched as the 30 or so boats in the rally streamed in, motoring all the way.  In the evening, we all convened at Sou’ Side for a potluck of shared heavy hors doeuvres, supplied by our fellow cruisers, and 2/$5 Sand’s beer, supplied by the bar.  Team “Alizann” was smoked in the Conch races.  We didn’t even make it out of the first round.  I’m pretty sure that there were some professionals in the mix.

Tuesday was a big day.  The big yellow schoolbus from St Peters Anglican parish school was at the dock and loaded by 08h30 for our grand tour of the south end.  David, our driver (and Harbormaster for the commercial harbor, and lumberyard owner, and former grocery store owner, and jack of all trades), gave us a running commentary on the history of the island as we headed “up south”.  Like Canadians in the Maritimes, South is referred to as “up”, and North, “down”.  For our tour, I had the best seat in the house.  Since the bus was full, I sat on an upturned 5 gallon bucket next to David.  We all witnessed firsthand the devastation that “Joaquin” had visited on the people here that were hanging on by their fingernails, even before the storm.  We hit a Blue Hole, where a couple of us climbed and dove off a 50’ cliff into the 630 foot deep water below.  (The Admiral and I did it twice, with 4 other folks taking a shot each).  Next, it was off to “Rowdy Boys” for lunch and sips.  After our bus tour, the crew headed back to their respective boats to “get pretty” for the night’s trip to the cave at Stella Maris for dinner and sips.  Suz and I stayed behind.  David had promised to show us his “secret spot” for bagging lobster (known locally as crawfish).  We took the bus up to his house, where we transferred to his wife’s car for our expedition to the windward side of the island.  There, he showed us the “spot”.  At 18h00, and we were all back on the busses for our trip down north for the nights’ festivities.  On the way, we stopped at a roadside bar for a few roadies ($3 beers, as negotiated by Big Al).  Dinner was literally in a cave.  We sat on the rocks, and supped on grilled Mahi, chicken, peas and rice, cole slaw, and, what?  Hot dogs.  David got us back to the dock safely, and we motored home.


Hey, Mon.  You Okay?

Nighttime at Emerald Bay Marina.  Tomorrow evening, Andy and Jody come in, and it’s Sayonara to bloggin’ for a week while we play with our old cruisin’ pals.

We ended up staying at Cambridge until Saturday the 27th.  Friday was windy but sunny, and we ended up spending the day on the Girl doing boatchores.  Suz worked on income tax jazz-what a laff, we got no income, while I spent the day in the bilges tightening up hose clamps everywhere I could find them.  We had Lynn and Larry over for blackened Mahi, Beet rosti, and Acorn squash with cranberries.  Lynn supplied the Key Lime pie.  Their stint as hosts for the anchorage was ending on the 29th, and they were thinkin’ thoughts of starting to head back north for the summer season of, can I say   it? -work.  He captains a tour boat in Tobermory, Ontario, and she serves as Mate.  Although we wanted to stay, it was time to move on, and as Saturday morning dawned bright, warm, and almost windless, we dropped the mooring and headed to Staniel Cay, only 12 miles away.  Along the way, we spotted the motoryacht “Rushmore” holding station on the Bank, waiting to enter the marina at Compass cay.  She belongs to some “friends friends” from East Lansing, and we had been instructed to look for them while in the Exumas.  Well, we hailed them on the VHF several times to no avail (they must not have had their radio on).  Oh well.  We anchored off Big Majors Spot Cay (no typo) by noon, and dinghied in to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  We did a recon walk, hitting a couple of markets for future reprovs, and checked out Staniel Cay international airport.  The bar at SCYC called us, and we sat on the porch in rocking chairs, and watched a small part of the world go by.  We figured we’d eat as long as we were there, so had an unremarkable late lunch, (early dinner) there.  Blindsided by a severe case of “dumb#ss”, we returned to the tender landing only to find our seven hundred pound dinghy sitting high and dry on the beach at low tide.  By the time that we had the boat floating again, we had run out of daylight, so the following morning we ran over to the beach where the famous “swimming pigs” resided, checked them out (and got rid of some garbage), then went back into the channel by the Yacht Club to check out “Thunderball Grotto” (so named for the James Bond movie sequence shot there).  We didn’t get into the water, but it didn’t look nearly as cool as the grottos back at Rocky Dundas.By 1026, we had the anchor up, and were headed to Black Point, on Great Guana Cay.  Since we had been delayed at Cambridge by unfavorable wind direction, we opted for a quick “drive by” to check things out prior to our guests arriving.  We arrived at the anchorage outside black Point by 1200, and got the hook down in 26 knot winds under sunny skies.  We checked out Lorraine’s Bakery and Restaurant, and had lunch, while availing ourselves of her very good Internet connection.  On our way back to the Girl, we ran into Bob & Peggy (Knot 2 Fast), who had been here for a couple of days since leaving Warderick Wells.  When we got back to “Alizann”, there was another Krogen, “Morse Code III” anchored next to us.  We had been told a month earlier by some other Krogen pals that the folks on “MC” wanted to get in touch with us, as they wanted to head to the Panama Canal with us next year.  After the hook was up at 1445, The Admiral called them on the VHF, and had a nice chat.  Hopefully, we’ll see them again this season.  By 1635, we were anchor down (for the last time) on the lee side of Little Farmer’s Cay.  Our plan was to head out into the Exuma Sound (Atlantic Ocean) through Little Farmer’s Cut in the morning, as the water on the Bank (and out of the wind) was pretty shallow from here south to Great Exuma (and Georgetown, where we were picking Andy and Jody up).  Our charts told us that there would be a fair amount of current exiting Little Farmer’s Cut.  On the ebb tide in the morning, with the wind out of the northeast, (opposing the outgoing tide), the conditions would be just right for a “rage” in the narrow cut.  The good news was that we figured that slack current would be just an hour or so after daybreak, so if we got off by first light, we’d be at the Cut at just about the right time (I keep sayin’, “better to be lucky than good”).  Once out, we hoped that the seas would be calm enough to fish in the deep bluewater on our way to Lee Stocking Cay, where we’d spend the night before heading to Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.

Well……we were anchor up at Little Farmer’s just after daybreak, and out of the Cut with no problem. Seas were 2-4’ on 5 second intervals, but on our port quarter, so not too bad.  No sooner did I get a line wet than we reeled in a 12 kilo, 40” Wahoo (that’d be 26 ½ pounds, folks).  Next came a 30” Mahi.  We got another Mahi that absolutely dwarfed the thirty incher up to the side of the boat, but couldn’t get a gaff in him before he straightened out the hook and swam away.  Dude, this was our kinda fishin’!  We lost 7 Ballyhoo baits on hits that spun the reels out, but didn’t hook up well.  We also lost one of my favorite cedar plugs that I had skirted with a yellow and Chartreuse silicone squid to something BIG.  This guy hooked up, and was zzzzzzzzzzzingin’ the reel out bigtime.  He was close to spooling out 400 yards of eighty-pound test Spectra line, when I had to dial up the drag to keep him from emptying the reel.  The 5-foot rod was bent to nearly 90 degrees.  I couldn’t even get it out of the rod holder for fear of losing the whole shootin’ match.  All of sudden-nuthin’.  I reeled in a couple hundred yards of line with nothing to show but the bitter end.  I’m tellin’ ya, I can’t break this line by hand, and this dude just laughed at it.  Needless to say, we skipped right past Lee Stocking and kept ripping them up.  We ended the day with the Wahoo, the Mahi, and a couple of small Tunas.  The Admiral made me stop fishing, ‘cause she said the freezers were full already.  This was all in about 5 hours time.  We arrived at Emerald Bay Marina at 1428, and tied up in the “cheap seats”-no water, no electricity.  At $.40/ gal, we can make water cheaper (at today’s fuel prices, around $.10/gal.).  We’ve also found that at marinas with metered electricity, the usage billed to us on their meters seems awfully high (in fact, when we do the math, their consumption figures far exceed what the Girl could possibly use when all of her systems are go, go, go).  This offseason, we’re installing a kilowatt meter (lotsa $$$, but we think that the return will be worth it).  We spent the rest of the afternoon fileting and vacuum bagging fish (I’m REALLY slow at this stuff).  We ditched the ice, and some nonessential stuff, so there was room in the freezers.  At 1730, I was all set to go up to the clubhouse for the marina-sponsored “Happier Hour” (‘cause your already happy) featuring food and drinks, but the Admiral insisted that I take a shower.  I thought that the odor of fish blood ‘n guts was kinda manly, but she didn’t see it that way.  Well………we almost missed out on the goodies.  The marina here is dominated by a gang of Quebecois sailors, and let’s just say that they put piranhas to shame.  Two stacked plates at a time is the norm for a trip to the sparse buffet.  Later, Suz would hear stories about their behavior at the Superbowl party that weren’t pretty.  Oh well, we had food back at the boat.

Tuesday morning, I washed and started waxing our trusty little ship, while Suz did laundry at the FREE laundry room (replete with state-of the-art washers and dryers).  In the afternoon, we rented a car and headed into Georgetown to reprovision our fresh veggies and fruit.  I’m just sayin’, but picture a guy that drives 4 or 5 times a year getting into a car with a right-hand steering wheel and driving on the left side of the road.  A couple of Xanax would have served Suzanne well.  Okay, back to the matter at hand.  The supply boat leaves Nassau on Monday, arriving here at night, and stuff is on the shelves by Tuesday afternoon.  By Wednesday, it’s slim pickin’s until the following week.  Sooo……. Ya gotta get there.  We learned last year that you just CANNOT look at prices here.  If you need/want it, get it.  No matter that things are 2 1/2 to 4 times the price of the same item in the States.  Next, a trip to BaTelCo.  Suz had re-upped the data on our Ipad and phone, only to have them quit working altogether.  The nice lady there got things sorted out, and us up and running again (until next time).  Satellite phones are on the list for next year.  On the way home, we stopped at the butcher shop to pick up some lamb chops, as A & J love ‘em.

This morning, we did some more waxing and cleaning rust off of our stainless steel stanchions (a never-ending job) and office work after another trip to Georgetown.  (Yeah, we had to go back-yesterday we got to the post office to mail some stuff home, only to find a handwritten note on the door, informing all that “Until further notice, the post office would be closing at 1:00 P.M. daily”.)  That’s island life.  After turning in the rental, we walked over to a nearby resort, Grand Isle, and treated ourselves to lunch by their pool.  Having taken many vacations like that in our former life, we marveled at how much our lives had changed.  The wind has died, and the flying teeth are now out in full force.  We had been surprised by the lack of no see ‘ums this year-guess it’s because it’s been so windy.  I’ll take the wind over these voracious little buggers anytime.  A & J will be here tomorrow, so I’ll probably talk at ya in a week.  In the meantime, we think we’ll head back north and revisit some cool spots with our old playmates.


Good Morning.

It’s the beginning of day 4 at Cambridge Cay.  We’ll be hanging here until tomorrow (Friday), when the wind moves from its’ current west component.  It’s been interesting for the last couple of days, listening to the VHF radio, as cruisers scramble to find spots to anchor/moor in the west wind, as there are very few of these locations in the Bahamas.  Warderick Wells went from about 30% to fully occupied with 20 on the waiting list.  Our anchorage, Cambridge, went from 4 boats to 17, with half a dozen anchored up north of us.  After checking to the weather a few days ago, we opted to stay put.  It’s not like we’re stuck, however.  We might stay for a week even in settled weather, it’s so pretty here.

The day before yesterday, a 120 footer, “Carte Blanche” came in, she’s moored about a half mile south of us.  They have all the toys-jetskis, a 27’ center console, and a 16’ bonefishing skiff, as well as a couple of R.I.B. tenders.  Yesterday, they were dwarfed when the 160’, “Mustang Sally” crept in.  Both are charters-I wonder what the nickel is on one of these for a week of fun in the sun.  I guess if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

So let’s back up.  Tuesday was another absolutely gorgeous day.  The seas were favorable, so we dinghied over to Rocky Dundas, and the grottos at low tide.  It was a fun snork.  The waves washed in and out of the caves, so it was kinda surgey, and once in, it was like a wash machine on the “heavy soil” setting.  Inside, it was shallow enough to stand and check out the stalactites hanging from the roof, as the hole overhead admitted shafts of sunlight.  There were two such caves with some pretty nice corals and fish to visit on the swim between.  We’ll be back with our guests.  Next, we motored over to Compass Cay, where we anchored on a sand spit and hiked overland to “Rachel’s Bubble”.  This is a large pool separated from the sea by a low dam of dead coral, bordered on both sides by high outcroppings.  When big waves hit the ocean side of this dam, the water comes frothing and jetting over the top and into the pool.  Standing in the pool, you get the bubbles, and once in a while, the top of a really big wave.  The water color is a milky blue due to all of the bubbles, and has a strange odor, much like the bubbles coming out of an ozonator in a hot tub.  We giggled there for 45 minutes.  Back home, it was Cuban coffee and hammock time.  We had an early dinner, then went over to Lynn and Larry’s with Ken and Grace for our first foray into the complex world of “Mexican Train Dominoes”.  Well, it wasn’t exactly complex, we learned quickly, but I still managed to get my butt handed to me by the more experienced players (and Suzanne).  After fun ‘n games, we peered into the water off of “Seaquel’s” stern, where the underwater lights had been on since sundown.  There, we spotted a 4’ barracuda swimming amongst the schooling Mullet.  An ominous shadow was visible from time to time, swimming just out of the lights’ halo.  Then it wasn’t in the shadows.  An 8’ (Bull Shark?) swam right through the light and under the boat.  For the next 10 minutes or so, we all watched in fascination as he crisscrossed through the light.  Time to go home, we all got into the tender very carefully.

Wednesday morning, Ken and Grace left for their sail up to Eleuthera, while we headed up to Pasture Cay to do some beach cleanup with Lynn & Larry.   Three hours, and 4 huge trash bags later, the protected iguana sanctuary looked molto bene.  There, we saw what must have been the father of all iguanas, only to be surpassed 20 minutes later by one who must have been the grandfather.  Mission accomplished, we headed back to The Girl for lunch, with plans to do a drift dive out on the coral heads southwest of the anchorage in the afternoon.  When we got out to the reef, it was slack tide, so there was no current.  We found a sand patch, and tossed the hook over the side.  Until the rising current made the snorkin’ too tough, we were treated to the sights that go hand in hand with a healthy coral reef.  Too bad we were still in the boundaries of the park (a no-take zone), as we saw many, many potential Grouper sandwiches swimming along, begging to be speared.  We then pulled up anchor and let the tender drift, holding on to lines trailing from its’ stern, viewing the scenery rolling beneath us.  On the way home, we diverted to an Elkhorn coral garden, where, among other things, we spotted a Nurse Shark under a rocky overhang.  Nearing the boats, Lynn, Larry and Suzanne just had to get wet one more time, and went over the side near a little coral islet.  Their reward came in the shape of a small Hawksbill Turtle swimming lazily along the weed line.  That kinda brings us full circle back to the morning of the 25th.  Still hoping for enough “bars” to shoot this into space.