Monday, January 27, 2014

Exploring around Marsh Harbor

Sunset from the dinghy

Matt has been baking bread a lot

PiƱa Colada

 Look familiar to any Ravens fans?

Secluded beach exploring

Another amazing sunset

Using power tools to get some coconut water

We are still here in Marsh Harbor. I haven't been posting because we really haven't been up to much. Walking around town looking at shops, exploring by dinghy, snorkeling, fishing from the boat, just general relaxing. 

The weather has been pretty nice. The last week has been a mix of 70s and 80 degree weather. When the fronts blow through it gets pretty windy but is still nice. It did rain the other day and we had a small emergency: our laptop died. We found a place in town that sells brand new, still in theaters, illegal burned DVDs and were stoked to have new entertainment for crappy weather. Although maybe a bit unethical, the selection is amazing. We were watching The Wolf of Wallstreet when the screen started freaking out. Somehow rain water got in and fried the thing. We don't have a tv or anything so the laptop is the only way to watch DVDs. Luckily, we have an old laptop that works, it just doesn't have a charger. We knew it was gonna rain again and wanted to be able to watch movies if we are gonna be stuck inside. 

Well, we walked around this damn place for like 7 hours (ok, maybe that is an exaggeration but we went everywhere!) looking for a 5 year old toshiba charger. We ended up buying one from a computer repair place that is like 5 miles away. They had an old one they use for repairs. Only $25. Rip off. Just kidding. We were happy to find one and knowing places around here a new charger woulda cost us almost $80. Victory! 

Anyway, not much else new. Time to start thinking about our next move pretty soon. Not sure what the plan is as of just yet. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crossing to the Abacos

Safe harbor

Once we got the weather window to leave the Berrys, we headed back up to the Abaco Islands. We are at Marsh Harbor now and probably going to stay here for a couple weeks. It is a protected harbor from all sides with lots and lots of short day sails to islands near by. The hardest part of being in the Berry's was that there wasn't anywhere to escape. We just had to wait because all of the anchorages near us were in less than 5 feet of water. Arg. 

We had a pretty gnarly crossing from the Berry Islands to the Abacos. If you are friends with Matt on Facebook then you already know that a lot of things went wrong on the passage. It was about 100 miles at the end of the day and felt like an eternity. Something is wrong with our steering gear which is making turning left very difficult. This caused our autopilot to stop working which meant hand steering the whole time. Also our stern bearing housing separated from boat where it meets the packing box. This caused water to stream into the bilge at a steady pace. Our automatical bilge pump decided not to work automatically sometime in the middle of the trip and our floor boards started floating ever two hours or so. We arrived to the reef outside Marsh Harbor in the middle of the night and couldn't enter until day break. Many of the inlets around here are not properly charted and they say "VPR" on the chart (visual pilotage rules) which basically means don't f-ing try to come in here at night unless you are stupid and wanna hit the reef. Which we did not. So we heaved-to to wait for day break. While we were waiting outside the reef our main sail ripped from leach to luff. We drifted another 12 miles offshore waiting for the sun. Then the squalls came. There was biblical rainfall. It was like buckets of water being thrown at our faces for hours. Once the sun came up we had to motor directly upwind into huge waves for another 4 hours. It was not fun. Long story short, I'm happy to be here in a cruiser's hub. 

 Marsh Harbor is easy. There are a lot of boats and other cruisers here. A bunch of tiki bars and good holding in the anchorage. Gonna stay here for a bit to get repairs done and restock. 

Hoffman's Cay

Rum drinks (no ice)

Nothing around

Storm in the anchorage

Looking down from the top of the cliff

Blue hole from inside a cave

Beautiful abanded beach

We left Lucaya and headed south towards the Berrys. We anchored near Hoffman's Cay in what we thought was a protected anchorage. Well it turns out that it wasn't that protected. There were much better anchorages just around the corner but our draft was too deep to get to them. We spent 5 days in that anchorage waiting out the strong weather. The wind was 25-30 knots out of the North sustained for days. It wasn't a very comfortable place to be anchored but we were safe. We put out two anchors and dove on them to make sure they were buried well. Our fortress was in a grassy patch so Matt had to pick it up and swim it over to a sandy patch. Once both anchors were in sand we felt pretty good about our position. We worried about dragging anchor a bit but we didn't budge. 
Even though the anchorage was less than ideal, it was paradise there. There was amazing deserted beaches around us on both sides. We hiked up Hoffman's Cay to a blue hole in the middle of the mangrove forest. We jumped off a cliff into the blue hole. We explored in the dinghy and dove in the water for Conch. It was a pretty amazing experience just to be so isolated from development.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Leaving today

Bounty of the sea. Good dinner. 

We are planning on leaving Lucaya today headed for Hoffman's Cay in the Berrys. Weather has been less than perfect for another long passage but tonight looks ok. It is about 75 miles over open ocean into the wind but the wind should be light enough for a safe passage. Maybe not a comfortable passage, but a safe one. 

There won't be internet in the Berrys because where we are going doesn't have any development on shore. It has cliff jumping and blue holes but no internet. Follow us on SPOT until we get to Nassau in a week probably. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

NYE: West End to Lucaya

Old Bahama Bay at West End is basically just a spot to check into customs. It is a very high end hotel and marina. It appeared to be the sorta place people go on honeymoons. Walking paths, pool, tiki bar, gym, beaches. It is a nice place to visit but seems a bit inauthentic. There is nothing outside the marina within walking distance and cost us $60 to stay there. 

We decided to head to Lucaya on the South coast of Grand Bahama Island. Lucaya sits about 25 miles from West End. The winds were forecasted to be 20-25 out of the North. Although it was more wind than ideal we left anyway. 60 bucks is 60 bucks. We headed out around 9:30 and put up sails right away. We had a good angle on the wind reaching for about an hour when things changed. The wind wasn't supposed to shift to the East for another day. Well, it shifted to the east and was right on our nose. We sailed close hauled for the rest of the passage. 

The boat handled perfectly. Our windvane functioned pretty well and drove the boat to the wind. We sailed for at least twenty miles of the twenty-five. It felt amazing to be using our sailboat as a sailboat instead of a powerboat with a mast. 

We spent New Years Eve at the local tourist area which had a Motown band and fireworks. We will propably stay here until Saturday or Sunday waiting for the next weather window. Next stop is Chub Cay in the Berry Islands. Until then we will be doing maintaince, swimming, walking on the beach, and taking it easy.