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May 21, 2011

Back from the Bahamas and headed north

Our crossing back from the Bahamas was the roughest one we have ever had! We joined two other Krogens, Wanderers Rest and Sequel for the trip and they both have stabilizers so the nasty waves didn’t bother them like it did Courage.
We left from Green Turtle Cay on April 27th with the prospects for a good weather window for the next 2 days. We stopped at Great Sales Cay for a couple of hours rest and dinner and then left there at 7 PM for the overnight crossing to Fort Pierce. The weather was clear but as we got out towards the edge of the Bahamas Bank and entered the Gulf Stream, the combination of wind direction and strength produced just enough waves (3-5 feet) for Courage to rock and roll! Not dangerous but certainly uncomfortable. Of course it didn’t help that it was night.
By daybreak we were well into the Gulf Stream and making slow progress because we were headed across it rather than with it at a slight angle. I decided to tack back into the stream for a while to get a better lay line for Ft Pierce and this was a better ride and once we turned towards Ft Pierce, we were OK. The entire trip took 32 hours and we finally arrived at the Ft Pierce City marina at 2 PM!
That is too long for this old man to go without sleep and I was bushed. After getting the boat settled and checking in I was ready to crash when Bob and Dianne Lund stopped by. They knew we were on the way and just wanted to see if we had arrived. After about a half hour, and agreeing to meet them the next day to visit, I excused myself and hit the sack – for 12 straight hours. The next morning< felt good again and ready to go!
We spent 2 days at Ft Pierce and had a nice visit with the Lunds who were kind enough to drive us to the Ft Pierce airport to check in with Homeland Security and to do some shopping. We also got to be at the weekly farmer’s market that is held at the parking lot by the marina and got fresh bread, local honey, and veggies.
From Ft Pierce we wandered north stopping first at Coco where we went ashore so I could go the Travis and Co – the world’s most interesting hardware store – and have lunch at a nice local restaurant. Our next stops were Titusville, Daytona Beach, and then St Augustine where we got on one of the new moorings the City has installed.
Our X GE friends Jeff and Sharon Pruner met us there and we took Courage a couple of miles north to Caps restaurant for a great lunch on a perfect day. As always, it was good to see them and it was a nice visit. We also did a walk around the City, got ice cream and I got my bi-annual supply of Kilwin’s peanut brittle.
Our next stop was at Fernandina where we had good boating friends Ginny and Jerry aboard for dinner. They had just returned from a weekend trip to Cumberland Island on their boat Chessel. We went up to Cumberland Island the next day and went ashore to walk around the island. We had not been there for a few years and as always it was a nice experience. The weather had been calm so there were not many shells on the beach for Sue to add to her collection.
On the way north from Fernandina, we were greeted by an escort of Coast Guard vessels and a US Navy nuclear missile sub headed out to sea. They made us (and other boaters) move out of the channel to stay at least 300 yards away from the sub but I got some good pictures of it going by. It is quite a sight.
We anchored in Brickhill River on the west side of Cumberland Island that night. It is a great anchorage but the river has shoaled in quite a bit and at low tide, Courage is too close to the bottom for comfort – read that as we were pushing mud out of the way to get through!
Our next stop was Ocean Petroleum in Brunswick where we took on 400 gallons of diesel at $3.62 per gallon (yes, that is $1,454!!!) which should hopefully last us through the summer, and then moved to the Brunswick Landing Marina for the night. The local boaters were having a happy hour get together so I made deviled eggs as our contribution to the feast and we met two other Krogenites and many other boaters there for a nice get together.
Just north of Brunswick, we left the ICW and went into the Frederica River and anchored by the old fort for the night. The Frederica River is nice and deep and this anchorage is protected and beautiful. The fort was originally built by the British as the southernmost outpost of the Colonies to protect them from the Spanish who then held the land south of there through what is now Florida.
From there we worked our way north to Charleston anchoring at Kilkenney Creek, New River, Beaufort, SC, and Toogoodoo Creek before checking in at the Charleston Maritime Center marina run by the City. It is the least expensive marina in the area, has nice facilities, and is just a short walk from the Harris Teeter Supermarket and downtown Charleston. Our good friend Terry Temperly on Island Time with his crew of Don and Vickie aboard had just arrived after going outside from Stuart. We joined them for dinner at Hymans Seafood restaurant the first night and had them aboard Courage for dinner the next night. They left yesterday as we did but they went off shore again direct to Morehead City, NC and them on to New Bern where Terry will leave Island time while he returns home to Midland Michigan for a while. We are anchored at Harbor River in another remote spot surrounded by the beautiful salt marsh and the sun has just come up for what promises to be another gorgeous day on the water.

Posted by Dick at 03:00 PM

May 06, 2011

Bahamas April 22. 2011

Today is both my daughter Katherine’s birthday and Good Friday. This morning we moved from Marsh Harbor to an anchorage at the west end of Man-O-War cay where we were sheltered from the easterly wind that is a brisk 15-20 mph. Once again it is a beautiful sunny Bahamian day. This afternoon we will probably go ashore in the dinghy to the beach and take a walk and just mess around.
Since my son Rich and his friend and neighbor Chris left us on March 21st, we have been busy with both fun and not so fun activities. From Treasure Cay where they left for the airport, we returned to Marsh Harbor to provision, do laundry and other like stuff and just hang out for the next week. We did a round robin to Man-O-War where we got reacquainted with serious sailing friends Scott and Kitty Kulner who have circumnavigated twice! The first time on a 28’ sailboat when they were in their late 20’s and again on their current boat Tamure, a Valiant 40. Needless to say they are very interesting folks to talk to and have lots of seafaring stories to tell.
We then bounced back to Marsh Harbor but the smoke from the local brush fires was bothering both of us so we left and returned to Treasure Cay where we got a slip and waited out the strong easterly winds. We then went to Guana Cay and anchored so we could go to Nippers for the “Barefoot man” concert. He is an interesting and talented entertainer – somewhat like Jimmy Buffett - and has composed over 3,000 songs. Many of the songs are about the Bahamas and the Abacos and Nippers specifically. They have funny lyrics and the crowd knows the words to many of the more popular ones and sing along with him. I bought his latest CD and got him to autograph it for me.
The next day we started to leave and the engine went KAPUT with a broken fan belt pulley! This is not something that one would normally carry as a spare part and the engine cannot be run without it or it will overheat after a few minutes. So we re anchored and I went ashore to talk with Troy at Dive Guana and he agreed to tow (for $300) Courage to Man-O-War where Jerry Tubbs, local expert mechanic lives. Monday Jerry came by Courage and agreed with me that the pulley needed to be replaced so, thanks to the great help from Edwin’s Boatyard, the new pulley ($395) was ordered from American Diesel in Virginia and shipped FedEx priority overnight ($130) to the Marsh Harbor FedEx office. The pulley mad it to Freeport Bahamas by Tuesday but the flight from Freeport to Marsh harbor didn’t fly due to bad weather. It did get to Marsh Harbor Wednesday but didn’t get cleared through Bahamian customs (the part was duty free because it was a “ships repair part. I also spent $27 on the ferry and $20 for a taxi to go to the FedEx office Thursday where I was told that it was still at customs and that they would put it on the ferry to Man-O-War as soon as it cleared. It finally arrived at Man-O-War on the last ferry Friday afternoon at 6 PM!
Since Jerry doesn’t work on the weekends, it was the following Monday before he could start the actual process of removing the old broken pulley and installing the new one. It proved more difficult that we thought since my engine has a hydraulic bow thruster and the hydraulic pump is driven by the ending through a coupling mounted on the front of the engine ahead of the pulley! Although Jerry is a very good and experienced mechanic, he had never seen a set up like this one and it took extra time to get it apart.
In the mean time, I had to leave to return to the US for a Fresh Creek meeting and left Tuesday morning with Sue at the Man-O-War marina babysitting Courage and the repair work! When I got back Friday afternoon, the work was complete and done right. Jerry stopped by to collect his $1260 for labor (cash – Sue had emailed me the amount so I could go to the bank and withdraw the cash) and we started up the engine to check it all out. Everything was fine and has continued to run perfectly. I’m just $2480 lighter in the pocket! Ah yes, the joys of owning a boat!
We made yet another stop in Marsh Harbor for provisions and laundry and then went “around the corner south towards Little Harbor. We anchored near sailing friends Jack and Linda on Silver Girl and snorkeled the Sandy Cay Park reef. The water was reasonably calm, very clear and pleasantly warm. There was a nice variety of smaller tropical fish, and the reef coral, sea fans and gorgons, etc. were very nice. We had been here a few years ago the winter after a hurricane came through this part of the Bahamas. At that time, the reef was pretty badly torn up and covered with sand. It is amazing how quickly nature recovers.
We moved over to the west side of Lynyard Cay to get out of the surge that comes through the cuts from the Atlantic. We were invited for sundowners on Silver Girl and after a nice visit with them and their guests, spent a calm restful night on the hook.
We started towards Little Harbor but the swell was not pleasant (rock and roll) so we turned back and went north to Tahiti Beach where we anchored and went to the beach at dead low (full moon) tide. There were live sea biscuits on the exposed sand and it is the first up close look we have gotten of them. They are covered with short hairy bristles top and bottom and are a dark brown/black color. The shells we have collected are all virtually pure white without the bristles and after sitting the sun.
We have done our last March Harbor provisioning and filled the water tanks prior to our crossing back the US. We will move slowly west towards Green Turtle Cay and Manjack to wait for the right weather window for the Gulf Stream crossing. The current thinking is to cross and re enter the US at Ft Pierce rather than Stuart since Terry will not be joining us and it puts us one day closer to Daytona Beach where we want to be May 13th. It is always sad to err our visits to the Bahamas come to an end. It is such a beautiful country and the Bahamian people are universally friendly and helpful and we always make new boating friends and reconnect with old ones.

Posted by Dick at 05:49 AM