The Bahamas

Copyright 1997-1998 by John and Eleanor Coulthard
Permission to copy for non-commercial purposes is granted provided the source is acknowledged

Go to The Galiander Journey Introduction


February 4, 1998 - Marathon(Florida) to Chub Cay (Bahamas)
Chub Cay - Waiting for the weather.
February 11, 1998 - Chub Cay to Nassau
February 14, 1998 - Fun in Nassau
February 16, 1998 - Waiting for the weather in Nassau
February 27, 1998 - Nassau to Georgetown
March 3, 1998 - Slowing down in Georgetown
March 10, 1998 - Georgetown - VHF Marine Radio was never like this
March 13, 1998 - Georgetown - Miscellany
March 19, 1998 - Blowing and Rolly Polly in Georgetown
March 30, 1998 - Georgetown: Weather! Didn't go! Too much fun!
April 1, 1998 - Georgetown to Staniel Cay
April 15, 1998 - Staniel Cay to Nassau
April 18, 1998 - Fun in Nassau
April 24, 1998 - Nassau to Chub Cay
April 27, 1998 - Chub Cay to Fort Lauderdale

February 4, 1998 - Marathon(Florida) to Chub Cay (Bahamas)

A lot of water has passed under our hull and a lot of wind has passed through our sails since our last message. (And our new flags already need restitching).

Thursday morning in Marathon (January 29th) dawned cold (well... for here anyhow - maybe about 60f) and breezy. In fact a little too breezy for my liking. But the forecast was still for the wind to abate during the day and Arctic Cat said all conditions looked good for a GO! So we wiggled out through Sisters Creek and headed out on the first third of our trip over to the Bahamas. Our engine started to run a little warm. This time the culprit was not the filter in the raw water intake. This was of quite a bit of concern but we were well on our way. Since the overheating was not serious (165f instead of 160f) we decided to continue and look into the problem at the end of the day. I suspected the problem was the impeller in the water pump. This is replaceable, but I had no stomach for looking into it in the seas we had at the time.

So we continued up the Hawk Channel just east of the Florida Keys and the winds slowly died away. It was a pleasant uneventful day with dolphins and powerboats for company although having to keep one wary eye on the engine temperature made it a little stressful.

About 4:00 pm we rafted up to Arctic Cat near Key Largo just behind a small island called Tavernier Key. With Dave acting as a consultant I changed the impeller on the water pump. The old one didn't look terribly bad and that concerned us. But a good hard motor around the anchorage showed that the problem had been cured. We could continue on Friday and everything looked perfect. It was a lovely calm night. We slept well on the anchor.

Friday we were up at 3:30 am and with a quick whistle and a shout of "good morning", we powered away from the anchorage. The channel through the Florida Reefs was well lit. The winds were from the northwest at 10-15 knots so we got a good lift from the wind - a nice beam reach. It soon became lumpy. Big swells running from 6-8 feet, widely spaced, surged under Galiander. Occasionally a big one of 12 feet would go by but we would just ride up one side and down the other. Eleanor watched the shooting stars and the fluorescence in the waves as they swooshed by. As dawn arrived a big gray porpoise jumped along side, we could see it swimming alongside under water. Jan on Arctic Cat called the crossing "Pukey" but in summary it was probably a moderate crossing. Anyway we didn't get sick.

About 4:30pm we anchored behind Gun Cay, tired but exhilarated by the colour of the water and our first sight of the Bahamas. (In the Bahamas the islands are spelled "Cay" but pronounced "Key", the same way they are pronounced in Florida). Celebration time - but we were too tired to do much of that. Just a beer and a short swim. Then our anchor dragged and we had to try twice to reset it. (Gun Cay is notorious for it's poor holding ground). We fell into bed at 7pm and went to sleep immediately.

Saturday morning we were up again at 3:30am and followed Arctic Cat slowly out of the anchorage and onto the Bahamas Banks. We got only a little lift from the wind. It was a nice crossing with a small flotilla of sailboats. A small boat appeared out of nowhere with three dark people aboard apparently fishing for conch. They were miles from shore. It is strange for us West Coast sailors to be scooting along for 10 hours in water that ranged from only 5 feet to 12 feet in depth with nothing to be seen on the horizon. The bottom could be easily seen at all times. We powered into the protected basin of the Chub Cay Marina at 5:00pm and took a slip.

Time to clear customs: The Marina gave us all the forms to fill out, then we settled down to wait for "de customs mon". About 9pm we gave up on "de customs mon" and went to bed. Sunday morning Eleanor went to check on when he would arrive. The Marina said he was expected to arrive about 10am. Finally, about 2pm, we were officially cleared into the Bahamas. I gather this is pretty typical for the Bahamas - very laid back.

Celebration time again! By this time we had met most of the other boats that came into the Marina (four were waiting for "de customs mon"). Many of us walked over to the Harbor Club Restaurant and had an excellent meal. Somewhat expensive but very nice surroundings and excellent service. Eleanor had Snapper. I had cracked Conch. They also had lobster. We also had some Bahamian Beer and played the piano.

A new series of weather fronts were forecast to pass through Monday through Wednesday. They sounded very severe. By Monday morning the wind was blowing 20 knots with gusts to 25 and stayed there all day. In the evening the gusts were more than 30 knots. All morning boats were moving into the Marina to take shelter. It was exciting at times. Four boats had to get into their slips with a 20 knot wind behind them. They had to head straight into the docks and tie off their sterns to a set of pilings. With such a strong trailing wind, this is a very difficult approach. Good thing there were lots of people around to help. There was shouting, pushing, heaving and much creaking of the pilings. One single hander simply refused to try it - I don't blame him. He ended up on the fuel dock.

The weather system turned out to be a major one. As I type this (Wednesday about noon) the wind is blowing at 30-35 knots with gusts to 40. Much of Florida is in a bad way. I suspect it has even made the news in Vancouver. The harbour here is very compact and protected. The docks and pilings are all new - having been destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. We are lucky to be so secure in this weather, but still, it is not much fun. On Monday night the top part of our furling jib started to unfurl (We didn't wind it up tight enough at the end of our last sail). In 35 knots winds the noise was awesome. So there I was at 2am sitting on the bow of the boat winding up the jib by hand (to solve the problem temporarily we had to "overfurl" the jib, which has to be done by hand). During a lull on Tuesday we let it out and wound it up again, much tighter. We were very lucky - the jib did not appear to be damaged.

To pass time we have been hiking around this little Island, playing some bridge and reading. On Sunday afternoon Eleanor walked along a lovely white sand beach and collected a beautiful bag of shells. This morning we walked through a small Australian Pine forest to a point overlooking the entrance to the Harbour. The colors in the ocean were brilliant. The wind howled and drove mist and fine sand over the point. We retreated back into the relative calm of the forest. Our neighbors on Windsong II (Richmond and Nancy) invited us over for raw conch. Richmond had purchased them in the morning. Some were even still moving as he cut them up and flattened them out a little before soaking them in a marinade of peppery lime juice for a few minutes. Eaten with plain white bread they were quite spicy and tasty. Not terribly tough at all. Tonight there is going to be a "Pot Luck" dinner on shore so we will meet the other boaters in the marina.

We may be here for quite a few more days. Nobody expects this weather to settle down much until Friday, perhaps not then, and a new low is predicted to surge out of the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. The Marinas in Nassau are all full. Everyone is waiting for better weather.

When we do move it will be to Nassau, a short day trip from here. From there we expect to head south to the Exumas. The general idea is that cold fronts we have been experiencing tend to stay north and the further south you go the better off you are. Then you work your way back north as the spring progresses.

For those who are wondering what happened to Brian and Kathy on board Tundra, they are safe and sound at the Highborne Cay Marina in the Exumas. We were in contact with them today via HAM radio. We heard reports that Kathy caught her first fish although we're not sure what kind it was.

The Marina office offers an email service. . .

February 8, 198 - Chub Cay - Waiting for the weather.

We would like to thank all of you who wrote expressing concern after seeing the news reports about the havoc the storm caused in Florida. As you learned from our last report, we are fine, although a little worried about some of the boats and friends we have met on our travels. I wouldn't have wanted to be in a crowded anchorage for that one.

As we wait for the next storm and better weather I thought I would record some thoughts about how it feels to wait for and experience these blows.

Our situation is about as secure as it could be in the Bahamas. Our harbour is small and completely protected. The dock and pilings are new and look very solid. All our lines are doubled to the dock and pilings. Our jib has been rewound much tighter and we have wound the spinnaker halyard around it counterclockwise as extra insurance. The Bimini cover has been removed and stored. The boom cover has been lashed down. We survived the last blow unharmed as did most of the other two dozen boats here. Two boats on the windward side of their docks suffered some cosmetic damage due to the pressure of the wind pushing them onto the docks. That was the extent of the damage.

Friday is giving us a one day "window" between the last storm and another one expected Saturday night and Sunday. Arctic Cat moved onto Andros Island - an area they are very familiar with. We hope we will see them in the Exumas later this year. About three boats left and another four arrived.

We have lots of weather forecasts to draw on. VHF marine forecasts from Florida, SSB (short-wave) forecasts and Herb the weather guru (it is amazing - *everyone* listens to Herb). So we know we are going to get slammed, when and how hard. Current predictions for next one are 30-35 knot winds tonight (Friday night) and up to 65-knot winds on Saturday. This, like the last front to pass through Florida, is a major storm. Herb tends to be more pessimistic than the other forecasters. We may get away with less. We can hope. The happy hour on shore tonight in the middle of a heavy rain (under a rain shelter) tended to be a little subdued. There is no reason we shouldn't ride through all of this just fine - yet there is a tension that seems to build even in the most seasoned sailors. Even the "old salts" do not expect to get much sleep tonight.

We know what to expect now. As the wind hits the boat will heave and toss on its lines. Inside, trying to sleep or relax, we will hear the lines creaking and squeaking. Although the harbour is very small, waves will come along and slam up under the transom with an alarming "whomp, whomp" sound. A high pitched howling sound will permeate the air from the wind passing through the rigging of all the sailboats here. Tough to sleep. Eleanor wrote the following in her diary in the middle of the night during the last storm:

"The sky lights up like a loose light bulb. The boat jumps and shudders. A bit of rain. The boom waggles, the boom vang squawks. She rolls and the flag cracks. The winds howl 45-46-47 knots. At one point it sounded like we were in the middle of a waterfall. Constant lightning flashes - almost like daylight at times. Rivers running long the decks. Distant thunder."

On the positive side we have electricity, hot showers, Laundromat, swimming pool, a small convenience store and a fine, if somewhat expensive, restaurant. Most of us have been here for a week now and sailors tend to be a congenial group. We have pot luck suppers and "happy hours" (cocktail parties) on shore. In bad weather we play bridge, read and visit. During the nice breaks we go hiking, biking and even swimming. Thursday night was wonderful. It was so calm and peaceful. We changed the linens on the bed, showered and had a wonderful sleep. Friday dawned sunny and peaceful. Ah..... this is the Bahamas we came for.

Windsong II with Richmond and Nancy are next door. Friday morning Eleanor and Nancy went to the beach to soak up the sun, swim and snorkel. Richmond and I went out on his dinghy to catch some Conch. I quickly learned what to look for. At low tide it was possible to wade around in thigh deep water pulling the dinghy and picking up the shells. We collected over a dozen. By noon, however the wind was starting to pick up (early indicators of the next storm) and we came back in. By mid afternoon the rain had started.

Now it is Sunday. The second storm did not become as intense as Herb predicted although it was still pretty windy. I understand it went a little further north than expected. Eleanor and I slept tolerably well. The winds were up in the high thirties and have tended to stay on the high side since Saturday morning. Last night and this morning they were still blowing between 30 and 35 knots. This afternoon they have tapered off to 25-30 knots and are predicted to drop further. We played bridge with "State of Mind" this morning. Brian and Liz are from Victoria, BC sailing on a Nonsuch 36 they purchased out east. At 5pm there is going to be a "Sundowner" party by the pool. One boat left for Nassau this morning using a double reefed main. More may leave Monday morning - perhaps even us if the winds drop enough. People are waiting to hear the report from Herb before making a commitment. Weather will be the main conversation topic at 5pm.

I am going to get this away this afternoon - our next report should be from Nassau. After we leave Nassau our email contacts will probably become less frequent. The Exumas is remote enough that communications from there will be poor.

February 11, 1998 - Chub Cay to Nassau

Monday dawned clear and breezy. The forecast was for 20-25 knots winds with occasional gusts to gale force. Sigh - another day at Chub Cay. However we are feeling optimistic about moderating conditions Tuesday and paid our bill. Eleanor put us on the waiting list at the Nassau Yacht Haven marina.

Although it was breezy we enjoyed a visit to the beach on the leeward side of the Cay with Richmond and Nancy. Richmond showed us how to extract Conch from their shell and clean them. Eleanor and I had a short snorkle. The area has lots of small colorful tropical fish and a few interesting large ones. We also saw some really large Manta Ray's but didn't manage to get very close to them. I'm not sure I wanted to but I gather they pose no danger. In the evening we visited Ann and Steve on Recetta, taking with us Conch Salad. It was a real treat.

(Basically conch salad is chopped raw conch in lime juice and peppers marinated for as long as it lasts.)

It was still breezy on Monday evening but overnight the wind died and the moon was full. Tuesday morning at 6am the harbour was still as a millpond. We followed Windsong II out of the harbour at about 6:30 and an hour later picked up a nice breeze and hoisted the sails. In another half hour the wind had filled even more and we turned off the engine and sailed most of the way to Nassau. Near the end of the trip the wind rotated around and finally we were forced to motor sail for the last hour. It really was almost a perfect passage. At the end the seas were pretty lumpy, waves splashed along the beaches and the entry into Nassau was quite spectacular.

"Nassau Harbour Control this is the sailboat Galiander. We would like permission to enter the harbour. We are bound from Chub Cay, destination Nassau Yacht Haven, documentation number is 812788". Nassau is a busy harbour. They track all vessel movements in the harbour.

Entering Nassau harbour was straightforward but interesting. Straight forward in that the entrance is large and deep. Big enough to accommodate the huge cruise ships that routinely dock here. Three were present in the harbour on Tuesday. I wouldn't want to meet one in the entrance, which is one good reason to call harbour control before entering the harbour. Interesting in that there was a fairly large sea at the time and the surf pounding against the breakwaters was quite impressive. I think Eleanor got three or four pictures as we popped through into the placid waters of the Harbour. A half-hour later we arrived at Yacht Haven. Getting settled into our berth took a while as we struggled with our lines. I suspect it is quite comical for the watchers.

I will try to describe the procedure. The boats are moored nose into the dock with the stern being held back by lines to two posts. We motor straight towards the dock. The idea is to throw a line over one of the posts on the way in. That holds you back from the dock. Another line gets thrown to the dockhand who ties the nose of the boat forward to the dock. Now you are about half way docked. Finally you get another stern line on the other post. In the end you have the two stern lines to hold you back and two lines to the dock from the front of the boat to hold you forward. In Chub Cay we got on and off the boat from the front. Here we have a little dock that comes along beside the boat.

It sounds easy but it seldom seems to work out that way. The posts are really high. As we eased in close to the post Eleanor attempted to use a pike pole to loop the line over the top of the post. Looked like it worked but the thing popped off. So there we were, tied at the front but not at the back, with the stern posts well behind us. Now we had to back up and try again while the dockhand controlled the position of the front of the boat. In light winds this is not dangerous but it is sure frustrating.

Eleanor called her friend Ann Lawrence and a few minutes later Ann and her host Ian arrived at the boat and we had cocktails. We all (Eleanor, myself, Ann, Ian, his wife Fruzzen, Nancy and Richmond) had supper at the Poop Deck. It was really delicious but very expensive. I hope we can find more reasonable places to eat. We shared conch chowder, grilled grouper, peas and rice, (a Bahamian specialty) steamed snapper and the local beer Kalich.

We now have good HAM communications with Brian and Kathy aboard Tundra. They are at Pipe Cay, which is near Staniel Cay, about halfway between Nassau and Georgetown. Kathy described it as "a little bit of paradise". They are visiting their friend Herby on a steel trawler and expect to stay for a while so we'll probably catch up to them before very long.

Since we have never been to Nassau before there is lots to see. We will be here until Friday at least, probably Sunday. I'll try to get the email out again just before we leave, as it may be several weeks before we find another good site to send it from (probably Georgetown).

February 14, 1998 - Fun in Nassau

Wednesday we had a great time wandering around the Atlantis Casino Complex on Paradise Island, which is on the other side of the Nassau Harbour. It is a short (half hour) walk from here. I think we spent about four hours wandering around the place. They have one of the most complex and interesting swimming pool arrangements I have ever seen. There is a very creative water slide and a little stream you can swim or float down. What is very special are the aquarium exhibits. The complex is also located right on a gorgeous beach. Pretty nice!

Thursday we attended the local Yachtsmen's Lunch at the Sugar Reef restaurant, then spent the rest of the day wandering around downtown Nassau with Eleanor's friend Ann Lawrence. The cars all drive on the left hand of the road, as in England. But the cars are mostly American so the driver is typically on the left-hand side like they are at home. So the term used is that the "cars drive in the gutter". When we go to "buckle up" in the car our Bahamian host Ian just laughs at us. He says: "Why do that? We never go faster than 5mph anyhow." (Which isn't true) Needless to say Bahamians don't have a seat belt law. Being in the passenger seat in a car driving on what seems to be the wrong side of a very narrow road is a white knuckle experience. We "buckle up".

Friday Ian dropped Eleanor, myself and Ann at a very nice apartment they are keeping an eye on for a friend. It is right next to a great snorkeling reef. Unfortunately the swell and breakers were too rough so we had to settle for a nice swim on a nearby beach followed by a swim in the pool. Then in the afternoon we provisioned at the local Super Value store. There are many familiar Canadian names here in Nassau: Safeway, Super Value, Wendy's, Burger King, Royal Bank, Scotia Bank, CIBC, etc.

The Bahamian dollar is defined to have the same value as the American Dollar. Both American and Bahamian bills circulate freely. However, Bahamian money would be difficult to use outside Bahamas so one contrives to use it all up before one leaves. Or, more typically, we find US Dollar ATM machines to withdraw money from our account. (Native Bahamians are not allowed to use those machines). Finding one that works is like playing a machine at the Casino. About one half will have an "out of order" sign on them. When you try to use the other half they typically spend a long time contemplating your request then refuse it with a message like "unable to contact your bank". VISA is accepted widely.

Nassau is an expensive place. There is no personal income tax in the Bahamas. Instead the government generates a lot of their tax revenue from taxes on imported goods. That is why we cruisers tend to stock up on food in the US. Here in the Bahamas anything imported from the US will be a lot more expensive. That includes just about everything. A notable exception is the local Rum. Beer is twice as expensive here. Restaurants are quite expensive also.

The weather has been wonderful. Cool nights and warm sunny days. We thought that Thursday was a little on the hot side but the locals just laughed at us. In the evening we have got into the habit of sitting in out cockpit drinking a copy of decaf coffee and watching the moon rise over the harbour - outstanding! Today, Saturday, a front is going through. We are experiencing heavy rain as I type this. I don't expect it to last long.

I'll be sending this message this morning. The local store I use (called ASAP) is only open from 9am to 12 on Saturdays and is closed Sundays. Our plan is, weather permitting, to head out on Sunday and see if we can't get down to join Kathy and Brian on Tundra. They are a two day cruise from here. We don't expect to be able to send email again until we reach Georgetown. We expect that to happen near the end of February or early March. We still check in on the HAM nets on a regular basis.

Happy Valentines Day!

February 16, 1998 - Waiting for the weather in Nassau.

On Saturday afternoon Herb the weather guru says: " ... and pick up tomorrow morning more easterly around 20 to 25 knots, tomorrow afternoon east to south east strengthening to near 25 to 30 knots by the afternoon. And strong south to south easterlies on Monday into Monday night I would say averaging at 25-30 knots out of the south to southeast, that would be pretty windy, I think, for contemplating a passage. Moderation should begin Tuesday into Wednesday...."

It will come as no surprise to know that our destination is approximately south east from here, so here we are in Nassau waiting for the weather.

Saturday evening we wandered down to the "Sugar Reef" restaurant for happy hour with Don and Socks on board "Sparkle Plenty" (Trivial pursuit question, "where does the name Sparkle Plenty come from?" Answer at the end of this message). Unfortunately Don and Socks could not make it as their anchor dragged as the wind increased and they wanted to stay on board to make sure they would hold well in their new location. We understand that. Also, unfortunately, we could not stay for supper, as they were completely booked up for reservations due to Valentines Day. So we had a couple of beer and went back to the boat for a nice pasta supper.

The winds were blowing at 25 knots Sunday morning and worked up to 30 to 35 knots by late Sunday afternoon. Eleanor and I had a wonderful "sleep in". Later in the day we rebuilt the toilet, which was giving us problems.

Sunday night the winds started to drop off and by morning I thought that maybe we would be able to get away. But Monday morning, "... gale centre in the Gulf of Mexico is generating strong winds over the Bahamas ... for central and south east Bahamas winds southeast to south at 20-25 knots seas 6-8 feet."

So we had another lazy day in Nassau. The winds seemed to slowly moderate during the day, although still gusting to 20 knots in the late afternoon here in the Harbour. They will be stronger outside. We did some writing, read, visited the Post Office and had lunch with Don and Elizabeth from Adriatica.

We continue to chat to other boaters. Some have had considerable experience in the Bahamas. The consistent message is that the weather patterns are very unusual this year. One boater planned to go to Georgetown but ended up spending two weeks at Allen's Cay and Norman Cay before returning to Nassau to pick up guests. (They may have got a quarter of the way to Georgetown - depending on how you count distance). This is definitely an exceptional year and there is no reason to think it may revert to a normal one quickly.

We are now planning to travel to Norman Cay. It is a days sail south east from here and has an extremely good anchorage called the "Pond". A couple we chatted to just returned from there and said they had a really good time despite the adverse wind conditions. It seems quite possible that we may not reach Georgetown this trip. I expect we can at least reach the Wardwick Wells Cay in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. That is about half way to Georgetown. If the weather really holds us up we can turn north from there towards Eleuthera and the Abaco Islands.

The weather outlook is positive. Only the timing remains uncertain. We may leave Tuesday morning, if not almost certainly on Wednesday morning.

Sparkle Plenty is the daughter of B. O. Plenty from the Dick Tracy comic strip.

February 27, 1998 - Nassau to Georgetown.

Here we are anchored off the Monument in Elizabeth Harbour next to Georgetown. The trip from Nassau was pretty good, with lots of sailing and a few adventures along the way. Tonight we will eat the Dolphin Fish (also known as Mahi Mahi) Eleanor caught as we sailed towards Elizabeth Harbour.

We left Nassau bright and early on Tuesday morning (Feb. 17) and headed for Norman Cay in the northern Exumas. The weather outlook was not great - South to South East winds at 15 knots. Norman Cay is SouthEast from Nassau. If the winds go to the South we could sail it. If the winds stay SouthEast we would have a hard slog dead. Another boater in the Marina, who had ten years experience, encouraged us. We decided to head out behind this experienced sailor.

After three hours, powering straight into the wind and seas, we realized it just wasn't working out. At the speed we were going we would not get to Norman Cay until after dark. So we turned back to anchor behind Rose Island, about an hour out of Nassau. This turned out to be a real good move. We had a wonderful downwind sail back towards Nassau and when we turned into the sheltered side of Rose Island about noon we found an uncrowded anchorage, flawless water, gorgeous beach and reefs to snorkel on. No need to set a second anchor here, no current and lots of room.

I had a real "ah ha" feeling as we looked out over this idyllic scene. I thought, "it has been a long, long trip from Vancouver but finally we are here in paradise."

We snorkeled around the coral reef for quite a while. Then later in the afternoon the boat next to us invited us to come ashore with our supper and join them around a barbecue. The beach is frequented by the local Club Med and is well equipped with picnic tables and barbecue pits. It was quiet and placid on the leeward side of the island. We walked across to the windward side and looked out in the wind towards where we had come back from. Then we watched the sun go down, had our supper with new companions and returned to Galiander late in the evening.

Up early again on Wednesday for another try. The weather report was more favourable, predicting winds more to the South this time. We joined a veritable flotilla of boats out of Nassau Harbour. Most were heading for Allan's Cay, a little north of Norman's Cay. We headed for Norman's but just couldn't point high enough so we decided to head to Allan's with the rest of the crowd. A little bit of change in direction makes a big difference in comfort. Soon we had the engine off and were surging towards Allan Cay under full sail. Wonderful! As we approached Allan Cay the wind was dying and we had to turn on the engine again. So I looked at Eleanor and noted, "it is an hour to power to Allan Cay from here or two hours to Norman's Cay. If we spend the hour now we will save three hours getting to Pipe Creek tomorrow". So that is what we did.

Norman's Cay is a splendid place. It has an interesting history from the drug running era. There is a partially sunken DC 3 in the anchorage. But we didn't have much time to explore. Time to move on.

Thursday morning we were up at the crack of dawn for the run down to join Tundra at Pipe Creek. But the fates were against us. Heading out the narrow eastern side of the anchorage (we came in from the west - a different entrance), we ran aground. This was not a serious grounding as we were on sand and a rising tide. We tried backing out using the engine but the wind was forcing us onto the sand bank. It was hopeless. So we put down an anchor in deeper water using the dinghy and waited for the tide to rise. By the time Galiander floated free it was too late to make it down south. So, somewhat deflated, we returned to the anchorage. Later in the day we explored the exit by dinghy then went over and enjoyed some of the history of Norman's Cay (Bullet holes in abandoned buildings, etc.). We also had a good visit with Almost Perfection with Sharon and Tim on board. We traveled with them down part of the Intracoastal Waterway. That sure seems like a long time ago now.

We were up again at the crack of dawn again on Friday. This time we decided to go out the larger and wider western entrance and go down on the west side of the Exumas. This is a somewhat longer route but we had no taste for retrying the narrow eastern entrance from Norman's in the poor morning light conditions. We had to power into the wind for about an hour, then as we turned more easterly, put up the sails and shortly the engine was off and we were doing well over 6 knots under full sail. We made excellent time and arrived at Pipe Creek an hour earlier than we expected. Another great Sail! Brian and Kathy came out to meet us and guide us into the anchorage.

What a delightful protected anchorage. We dropped the hook next to Tundra behind Thomas Cay. Right behind Tundra was the boat MarNel, with Pete and Lani on board. Herbie and Barbara on board the Lady Bea invited us all to Overyonder Cay on the southern side of the anchorage for a Pot Luck supper. We met Herb and Barbara years ago up on Lake Huron when we were sailing with Brian and Kathy on Tundra. The Lady Bea is moored to a private dock on Overyonder Cay. Herbie and Barbara are keeping an eye on this private Cay while the owner is away.

Saturday morning we patched a small leak on our dinghy. Then a front came through and we took the opportunity to wash the boat and collect some rain water. There are more fronts predicted to pass through over the weekend. We are, thankfully, far enough south that the main brunt of the weather is passing to the North. Later Herbie came by and we had a ride with him to the Compass Cay Marina to the north. This is an incredibly protected Marina. The proprietor, Tucker, also rents out a three bedroom house up on the ridge which has a marvelous view over a huge beach looking out over Exuma Sound. Tucker rents this place for $1250 per week. Sure looks like it would be a nice way to spend a week.

We ended up staying in Pipe Creek for five nights. We swam, snorkeled, wandered and relaxed. We also sat through another anxious night as another storm front blew through. Again the main force was north of us but we still weathered a 30 knot gust which gave us quite a scare when we thought we were dragging down on Tundra. But we weren't. It was just an overanxious imagination and the strange behaviour boats can take in an anchorage when a gust hits.

One day we all (Galiander, Tundra and MarNel) went hunting for the elusive Conch shell (pronounced "conk") in the nearby shallows. It was a great success and we enjoyed Conch salad and scorched conch on Overyonder Cay. Later we enjoyed conch fritters and look forward to more conch dishes as we still have several in our freezer. We now know how to catch conch, remove them from their shells, clean them and cook them. I even made a conch horn (you blow it like a trumpet).

The water is absolutely marvelous. Extremely clear and warm. The beaches are everywhere, uncrowded and with a fine sand. Thomas Cay is covered with dense vegetation about two to three meters high. It is impossible to penetrate the woods except where paths have been made. The islands are very dry and lack the tropical grandeur one will see in places like Hawaii where there is more rain. When the wind dies down, or in protected areas on the islands, the mosquitoes are vicious.

Tundra needed to get to Georgetown by March 1st to pick up a friend so after the last front moved through we decided to take the first decent weather window and move towards Georgetown. Wednesday morning (Feb. 25th) we powered out of Overyonder Cut into the deep waters of Exuma Sound. The passages from the protected waters of the Exuma Islands out into the deep waters of Exuma Sound to the east are all called "cuts". There are only a limited number of such openings and they vary in their difficulty. They generally have a lot of current in them except at slack water and it is not a good idea to go through them when the current opposes the wind. Norman's Cut, where we went aground, is recommended to be traversed only under good sunlight and sea conditions. Overyonder Cut has a similar warning but we had a local guide (Herbie from Lady Bea) who came out to give us advice in the early morning light conditions.

Waiting for the right weather conditions really works! We had a great sail all the way to Adderly Cut, about 20 miles short of Georgetown. Adderly Cut is a "recommended" entry to the Exumas, "wide and deep". And who should we find anchored behind Leaf Cay but Len and Angie on board Elysium. Len and Angie are old friends of Brian and Kathy's. We were last with them up at Cape Canaveral. Len came out and guided us in.

No time to linger. The wind was clocking to the southeast and would be "on the nose", if we didn't move on to Georgetown so Thursday morning at 7am we headed out on the short run to Georgetown. As it turned out the wind had already clocked to the southeast, but was light, and we were able to motor-sail the entire distance. But it was a pleasant low pressure day.

About one hour out of Adderly Cut we noticed that MarNel had stopped and was wallowing Dead in the Water. "Oh - Oh", we thought, "problems!" Suddenly, as we approached MarNel, there was a big jerk on one of Eleanor's lines. I hollered at Eleanor and cut the engine. Shortly Eleanor hauled in a beautiful Dolphin Fish, a lovely match to the one MarNel had just hauled in. We both blew our Conch Shells mightily in triumph.

We powered into Elizabeth Harbour early in the afternoon and dropped our anchor on the other side of the harbour from Georgetown at a beach near the Monument, a large tower on top of the highest hill on Stocking Island, which forms the east side of Elizabeth Harbour.

That evening we all went over to MarNel and enjoyed their fish, fried. Tonight we will have the fish that Eleanor caught, this time blackened.

March 3, 1998 - Slowing down in Georgetown.


Pipe Creek, Pipe Creek, paradise for sure,
So easy to pass by with entrances so obscure.
Seeking comfort from the winds we had grown to know so well...
We had no idea you would eliminate the swell.

Our new friends on Tundra,
were familiar with Overyondra.
They struck a plan, to show us in, with Herbie as our guide.
You'll never know how relieved we were when tucked deeply safe inside.

Three days we'll stay, perhaps a week at most...
Three days have gone, and then a week and more...
When we leave this place we're really not so sure.

What more could cruisers ask we say!
Fishing No...
It's fed us many days.
Conching No...
At first it seems the keeper conch are few and far between.
| On close examination however,
We have enough to last forever.
Friendship No...
Brian and Kathy and for sure good old Herbie,
Are friends of ours until Eternity.
And just when we knew it could not get any better,
Along came John and Eleanor.
Lobsters Yes...
For we must confess,
none do we possess.
Not to worry mon,
for great white hunters we've become,
Soon we'll have enough for each and every one.

Pipe Creek, Pipe Creek
We thank you for your treasures
They will last in us until... forever.

Author: Pete, from MarNel
(Read out to us by Pete one fine Pipe Creek morning).

Georgetown is a mighty fine place. Saturday we went for a hike to the top of Monument hill, then down to the great beach on the outside of Stocking Island and then over to a Hamburger stand run by the Peace & Plenty Hotel, for a "Cheeseburger in paradise". We will stay here for awhile, maybe even until after the Georgetown Regatta, which ends on March 20th.

There are lots of communications facilities. Our cellphone works. We had heard stories about a special procedure and big deposits being required to activate it, but I suspect they applied to local Bahamians, not people like ourselves who are covered by a "roaming" agreement. It was as simple as turning it on and dialing (gee - just like it should be). The signal is not robust enough to support an email connection here. We take our laptop computer into the local Batelco office where they let us plug into their fax line ($2.50US per minute including long distance charges). Even though there are Microwave dishes right on the Batelco building we do not get high quality connections. In Florida we would get a connection that would support speeds up to 28,800. Here we got a connection at 7200.

There are about 400 boats in Elizabeth Harbour. It is a large harbour with lots of space and good holding, although only a few spots will give excellent protection from all directions in really bad weather. We will probably move around to a few different spots inside the harbour during our stay, either to improve our protection or get easier access to town. From our current location near the Monument, if there is much wind, it is a 40 minute wet dingy ride into Georgetown. This is a harbour that separates the "big dinghy" owners from the "little dinghy" owners. People who return to Georgetown year after year have big dinghys with hard bottoms and 15 horse outboards.

Our "little dink" has a persistent slow leak. We found it and attempted to patch it in Pipe Creek but the patch didn't adhere well enough, so we will have to try again. In the meantime we have to pump it up about every two days. Just another chore. We also need to change the oil, and the fuel filter before we leave. But there is lots of time.

Tundra welcomed their friend Nancy Wood on board yesterday, for a week's visit. They are anchored right next to us, as is MarNel.

"Failure to wait patiently for a good weather window is, in my experience,
the overwhelming contributing factor to unhappy cruises."
p12, Bruce Van Sant, "The Gentleman's Guide To Passages South".

Another cold front came through Monday night. It was a weak one, generating winds only into the low 20's. A real pipsqueak. Well, actually the main force is north of us, just the way we want them to be.

We expect to be back in Vancouver on May 19th. So we figure we have March and April to play around in the Bahamas, sneaking opportunities to move North. We want to be back in Florida by the end of April so we can find a place to prepare Galiander for shipping home. We no longer plan to take her back up the Intracoastal Waterway. We would prefer to spend the extra time in the Bahamas, and given the weather patterns, that seems prudent.

March 10, 1998 - Georgetown - VHF Marine Radio was never like this

Every morning at 8:15 am we tune into Channel 68 on our Marine VHF radio and are greeted to, "GOOD MORNING GEORGETOWN!". What follows is the weather, a news summary, advertising from local Bahamian businesses, announcements from boaters about the upcoming Regatta and general announcements and requests from boaters. It is a very useful service to the boating community. For example, in preparation for trucking Galiander back to Vancouver, I asked for experiences with boat Trucking companies and Marinas in Florida and got a lot of real good feedback and advice. One of the boats in Georgetown is going back to Vancouver about three weeks before we plan to return, and their boat will be going to the Gulf Islands as well. Quite a coincidence.

At 5:30 on Channel 72 the weather report from Herb, the Canadian weather guru is summarized.

One night we listened to music from the Platters on channel 72. Sure different from the VHF Marine bands back home in Canada.

Our computer started giving me keyboard problems. I finally managed to clear a hair trigger "Enter" key. No more eating sandwiches while we compose our mail. Then a screw holding the screen hinge in place came loose and the controls for the screen brightness stopped functioning. Fixed them also, and then backed my files up onto a ZIP drive. I am a little worried about keeping this old war horse going. It is over a year old now - over the hill as computers go J . If you don't hear from me it may be due to a broken computer. I would be reduced to fax (yuck!).

Made a second attempt to get the dinghy leak fixed. Still leaking - very frustrating. It is a slow leak. We pump it up about every two days. We know exactly where it is but can't get the patch to adhere properly. I suspect the high humidity may be making it difficult to dry the affected area properly. I've been told to use a two part epoxy glue for dinghies. Will look around Georgetown for it. Eleanor had lunch with "Women Aboard". We had a pot luck with Pacific Sailors. I went to a talk on Digital E-mail. Turned out to be a talk mostly about Amateur Radio e-mail using SSB radios. It was interesting, but not something immediately useful to me. Eleanor went on a tour of Great Exuma Island by a woman named Christine. The tour was a real surprise. Billed as a tour of Great Exuma Island, it turned out to be a one woman show dramatizing the history and culture of Georgetown. Christine stopped the bus to pick fruit, vegetables and herbs explaining in humorous skits how the stuff was important to the people. Christine is a descendent of the 300 slaves brought to the island to grow cotton hundreds of years ago.

We have been anchored on the opposite side of the harbour from Georgetown, very close to Stocking Island, which forms the east side of the harbour. There is lots to do on Stocking Island. The water is beautiful. It is fun to be able to swim out and check our anchors after a good blow or wind shift. It is interesting to be able to see how the anchors handle the shift in directions. Been doing a little Kayaking. Eleanor and I hiked way up the beach on the outside of Stocking Island. It is a gorgeous beach, several kilometers long.

Brian and I hiked to the top of Monument Hill. I think it is about 200 feet high. The highest hill in the Bahamas is 268 feet - in Eleuthera somewhere I understand. In Key West there is a hill they call Mount Trashmore (think about it ... yes - right again, it is a garbage dump covered with dirt and landscaped!). They told us it was the highest point in the Florida Keys. I believe it! One of the boaters from Alaska was trying to explain to someone what Mount McKinley was like. "In order to see it properly you have to be 140 miles away from it".

The weather has been quite nice. After a cold front goes through the temperature drops and the air becomes quite dry. Then over a period of days the temperature and humidity rise until it is quite "sticky". A front came through on Monday evening. I was a little worried as I watched the lightning and thunder approach. But the wind never did build up much and we collected a lot of water. The colder, dryer air hasn't really settled in yet but we are looking forward to the change.

The wind has been blowing quite hard. It makes it very awkward to go over to Georgetown from Stocking Island in our little dinghy without getting soaked. Tuesday morning we moved into the Marina at Georgetown. It is time to make the arrangements to truck Galiander home. I need several quotes on the trucking cost and want to locate a suitable marina in Florida to prepare Galiander for shipping. Setting this all up will be much simpler right here in Georgetown where we are close to telephone and fax services. We are also looking forward to having more time to explore Georgetown itself. We had lunch in the Two Turtles Inn restaurant today with Richmond, Nancy and their daughter Mary from Windsong II. Eleanor had grilled Grouper and I had Grouper Fingers.

March 13, 1998 - Georgetown - Miscellany.

Some of you have asked whether we have considered leaving the boat down here in Florida and returning next winter? The answer is, "yes we have". Many boaters do that year after year after year. It is a variant of the very popular "Snowbird" routine for retired people. There are many places in Florida that specialize in storing boats for the summer. It is not terribly expensive either. Other boaters live on their boats year around and simply follow the seasons north and south. We could go back up the ICW and spend the summer in the Great Lakes, but neither of us is interested in that option now. We would rather spend more time down here in the Bahamas.

Eleanor may decide to go back to work - she is keeping her options open and must be back mid May in order to review the job opportunities with the Delta School Board. We would like to use the boat again this summer in the Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound. Vancouver is an extremely beautiful place in the spring and summer. I miss the Mountains.

Trivial pursuit question. Who said "The game is not over until the fat lady sings"? First one to post the correct answer back to me gets a jar of my famous home made blackberry jam this fall. Answer in my next correspondence.

The weatherman is not being terribly nice to us boaters this week. After the last front went through the wind shifted to the north - north east and has stayed there at 20-25 knots. It is predicted to stay that way until Tuesday when we may get some relief. Herb the weather guru is advising boaters not to move in any direction. A comment from a boater down south of here in the Turks and Caicos on HAM radio, "I can't believe how long the wind is staying out of the North. Seems like forever." It is cool, which is a nice change for me. Temperature this morning is about 70f (20c?). This morning (Friday) it is overcast and we are getting a little rain. The weather continues to be unusual.

A few boats are moving in and out of the Harbour but they tend to be large ones. We have helped several tie up here at the Marina. One came from the south, enroute from the Virgin Islands where they have been enjoying excellent weather. A Canadian from Maple Bay (Vancouver Island) was on board.

We are enjoying our stay here in the Georgetown Marina. We are positioned nose into the wind so we can sit in the cockpit in the shelter of the dodger and enjoy our coffee or evening cocktails. I had a marvelous long hot shower. What a luxury. In the morning we can go down to the Van where Mom is selling her fresh baked goods. When you buy a loaf of bread from her she gives you a nice big hug.

It is nice to be able to just step off the boat and go for a walk. I have been getting quotes on shipping the boat home and checking out Marinas in Florida where we could stay while we prepare the boat. Two of those are on email so I am doing the walk up to Batelco for email a little sooner than normal.

We have been taking the opportunity to socialize with other boaters over leisurely lunches at the Two Turtles Restaurant. On Thursday we had a reunion of the boats that took shelter at Chub Cay Marina with us the first week in February. About five boats from that group are here and showed up. Lots of fun to get together again and trade stories about how we got down here. I have the dinghy to fix, oil to change.

Eleanor designed a t-shirt for next year's Georgetown Regatta and entered it into the competition to choose one for next year. Gosh - if she wins we might have to return next year so she can collect her prize... yes... a free t-shirt J .

March 19, 1998 - Blowing and Rolly Polly in Georgetown

The weather has been very simple since my last report. Winds have been between 20 and 30 knots, earlier generally from the North and more recently from the East to SouthEast. The heavy overcast has ended but it is still cool for Georgetown. Our spot at the Marina was out at the end of the dock and was quite exposed to the wind and the swell. We were pointed *almost* directly into the wind. Because these are not floating docks we could only fender out from the dock where the fixed vertical posts are. We had all three of our large fenders and a fender board holding us off on one post. The "*almost* directly into the wind" was blowing us into the dock and combined with the swell and a three foot tide our fenders were getting a real torture test. Eleanor and I were being stressed as well, trying to sleep with Galiander lurching, ropes creaking and bumpers squeaking.

A Friday evening bonfire and "testing" of dated aerial flares on the other side of the harbour started the Georgetown Cruising Regatta. For those of you who are boaters the dated SkyBlazer flares were the poorest performers with 27 out of 30 flares not working. Remember these were dated flares. Some were manufactured as long ago as the late 70's. We decided to skip the wet dinghy ride and stay in Georgetown. Along with two other boats at the Marina we went over to the bar at the Peace and Plenty Hotel. Much to our surprise they were having a "Managers cocktail party" and the drinks were free for a while. Then we wandered over to the Two Turtle's Restaurant where a live band was playing great music. We stayed and danced and finally returned to our rolly polly boat at about 11pm. Great fun.

Registration for the Georgetown Cruising Regatta was on Saturday. Staying at the Marina was a real plus! No wet dinghy ride! After a leisurely walk to the Community Centre we voted for the best t-shirt and signed up for the Scavenger hunt and coconut harvest. Of course we yielded to the temptation to have another "Cheeseburger in Paradise" for lunch.

Then back to Galiander to ponder the physics of boat fenders, send a fax and change the oil. We decided to try out a new restaurant for supper before going to the Regatta Softball game. Eddie's Edgewater was serving "Jerk Chicken", or so we thought. But, alas, they were not serving it that night so I had ordinary fried chicken and Eleanor had Turtle Steak (It was rather like chicken but a bit chewier). I still don't know what "Jerk Chicken" is. Then we went and watched some of the "fun" softball game. The cold got to us about 8pm so we went home early.

We moved over to the other side of the harbour and into the lee of Stocking Island on Sunday. This is a much quieter anchorage, and closer to a lot of the Regatta activities we want to attend. It was exciting getting away from the dock. We had lots of help and needed it.

The high winds are affecting some Cruising Regatta events. On Monday Eleanor and I were up early to dinghy, in the lee of the island, over to participate in the Coconut Harvest. This fun event involves releasing a lot of coconuts into the water. The contestants are in dinghies with only a flipper for power. The idea is to collect the most coconuts. Unfortunately the event was postponed due to the high wind but we didn't hear about it until we were halfway there. So there we were, at Volleyball Beach with no event. So we decided to take a walk.

We had a wonderful walk to the south end of Stocking Island. It took about three hours for the round trip. It took us first to the east side of the island, which exposed to the prevailing winds, treated us to a wonderful display of heavy surf. Then south along this beach and across through a lovely tropical path to a lovely beach on the west side. Finally we ended up at the south end at a wonderful looking snorkeling pool with the surf pounding heavily on the far side. On another trip we will bring our snorkeling gear. It was a great outing.

On Tuesday there was a sailboat race around Elizabeth Harbour. The boats were really snorting in the fresh breeze. We watched it through our binoculars then headed over to Hamburger Beach for a talk by Bruce Van Gant to the "Women's Aboard" group. Bruce has written a very popular book called "The Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South" (or "The Thornless Path to Windward"). The book covers a lot of ground. The basic theme is how to travel from Florida to Venezuela in the most painless (thornless) way possible. There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of waiting until the correct weather conditions, (weather windows) are present before moving. We can identify with that. So can a lot of boats in Elizabeth Harbour, who are patiently awaiting a window. If you follow his advice you will never go out in winds higher than 15 knots nor seas higher than 3 feet. And you will always be in your anchorage in time to enjoy a SG&T before going to bed. (SG&T = Sundowner Gin & Tonic).

We chatted with Bruce for a while before he spoke without realizing who he was. His boat is anchored right behind us. He gave a very interesting and informative talk, which emphasized the importance of paying attention to the weather, and how to do it. He identified three important sources of information, the NWS (National Weather Service), Herb and a fellow named David Jones who provides a service similar to Herb's but only for the Caribbean.

I don't know if we have mentioned it but Eleanor has a garden on board. It is a plastic flower box filled with various herbs which she harvests carefully to garnish salads and other dishes. Her basil is blooming. It must like it here.

Wednesday I participated in the Kayak race. I came in 4th out of 6 kayaks and although that doesn't sound really great it was a real exciting race and I was pleased with my performance. I was only seconds away from the second and third place finishers who were practically in a dead heat.

Thursday (today) featured a sailboat race around Stocking Island. We had heard they had postponed it due to the high winds, but Thursday morning dawned much calmer and they went ahead. We hiked up to the top of Monument hill to watch it in the morning. About noon we moved the boat over closer to Georgetown in the lee of "Regatta Point". The wind had clocked well to the southeast. Here it is only a short dinghy ride for us to do our banking, emailing and enjoy more festivities.

We have finalized selection of a company to truck Galiander back home. The fax system really works well down here. Exuma Market announces new faxes on the morning "boaters net" so we hear about them right away. This is a really great and valuable service.

A boat count a few days ago tallied 447 boats in the harbour. A lot of them, including us, are waiting for a weather window. How many? I don't know but I bet 100 will leave at the first opportunity and another large group will hang back to avoid the crowd. Some will be going south, some northwest back up the Exumas towards Nassau and others will be going to the "out islands". We plan to head back up the Exumas and see many places we missed on the way down. If the weather patterns really slow us down we will simply retrace our steps back through Nassau, the Berries and back to Florida, re-entering at Ft. Lauderdale just north of Miami. If we have time and the weather cooperates we will go north to the Abacos and then back. In any case it may be several weeks before I reach a spot where I can do email again, so don't worry about us. Batelco has cellular coverage throughout the Bahamas but so far I have not been able to make a data connection over it.

March 30, 1998 - Georgetown: Weather! Didn't go! Too much fun!

We didn't go. Had a good weather window. Could have gone. Didn't. We were having too much fun.

Do you get tired of me talking about the weather? If so skip this and the next two paragraphs. One of the HAM's on the morning net commented that boaters are "obsessed with the weather". Lets face it, the weather has been rotten this year. The weather windows have tended to be short and far apart. If you are on the move or want to move you have to pay attention, and it can take a lot of time. The NWS forecast divides up the weather regions into big blocks. They say things like "north of 25 and east of 75". Land effects are not taken into account. Bruce Van Gant says that people like Herb apply what he calls "english" to the forecast. Herb will localize the forecast to the specific location of the boater. Bruce advises that we should listen to all the forecasters and in addition read some books and learn how to apply local land effects ourselves. We are lucky here in Georgetown. A local volunteer picks up the NWS forecast in the morning and digests out the Georgetown forecast for us during the morning boaters net. Another boater does it with Herb in the late afternoon. I tape the two digests. Then we replay the tape and depending on the circumstances may sketch the fronts on a plasticized hurricane tracking chart using erasable felt pens. (You can also get weather charts using the Short Wave Radio and print them out if you have the capability - we don't). If you really want to understand the weather you should work it out for yourself, not let it be filtered through other person's analysis.

The weather window was Thursday and Friday (Mar. 19 & 20) and a lot of boats left. Few boats have braved the elements since. The winds built up again. Had a few thunderstorms. Lost a little sleep. Collected a little water. After the front went through the winds dropped to 10-15. Then on Sunday night another front went through. This one was more exciting. Wind gusts went over 30 knots. Lost a lot of sleep. Collected a lot of water. Then the winds died down and we went back to bed and slept in until 10am. The rest of Monday was dreary, overcast, and rainy with light winds. Sounds a lot like Vancouver, right? It did remind me of home.

Wednesday night was very windy and gusty. We didn't sleep well that night. The boat behind us dragged anchor in the middle of the night but expertly re-anchored, not an easy feat in the dark and wind. He had been in that spot for 6 weeks. That is why, even when you are sure you are well hooked, it is hard to be complacent. Taking advantage of our shallow draft we anchored so close to shore nobody is in front of us who can drag down on us. But there is a whole pack of boats behind us that we could drag down on. That shouldn't happen. Our anchor is well buried. Yet it is hard to sleep peacefully on nights like that. On other days the winds have been more or less at the 20-30 knot level from the North East to East, with occasional squalls. I have been told these conditions are not normal. What is normal? South East 10-15 I gather. Finally Sunday the winds dropped to the 15 knots level from the east. About 100 boats left on Sunday. The more moderate winds are supposed to stay for several more days. We should be on our way. End of weather report.

Thursday afternoon (Mar. 19) we moved Galiander over to Regatta Point, off the Peace and Plenty Hotel. How about that? We used the weather window to move across the harbour J . This was real easy to do and made access to Georgetown very convenient. Although our little dinghy is a small for moving around in this big harbour Galiander isn't. We picked up a couple of jerry cans of Diesel fuel and gas for the dinghy. We filled up our water tanks. I got my emailing done. We did laundry. We attended the Regatta Variety show, enjoying barbecued ribs for supper. The Variety show was very interesting. There were songs, bands, skits all put on by the local boaters or Bahamians. I hope the pictures come out.

Friday I went on the same Island tour that Eleanor described several journals ago and enjoyed it a great deal. Christine, the tour conductor, puts on a great show. She is 64 but looks about 48. Says she wants a husband. But she doesn't want a single man, she wants one that is already "broken in". As part of the "show" (and it really is a show) she tries to convince the husbands on the trip how much better off they would be with her instead of their current wives. Exuma trivia: Princess Alexandra is currently staying on the Island. There are about 3000 permanent residents on Exuma. It is extremely sparsely populated.

Eleanor went on a scavenger hunt while I was touring. Afterwards we reconnoitered back on Galiander, lifted anchor, and came back over to Hamburger Beach on Stocking Island for cocktails with Brian and Kathy on Tundra and many other new friends.

Saturday Eleanor headed off to participate in the Coconut Harvest Contest while I stayed back to collect a little quiet time to read and work on my journal. And guess what? Galiander is now sporting a brand new burgee (triangular flag) celebrating the third place finish of Eleanor's team in the Coconut Harvesting contest. I'll let Eleanor tell you about that one.

(Eleanor says:)

We are still in Georgetown and are enjoying Regatta to the end. In fact we are even going to take in a fundraiser for the Georgetown Family Regatta, a unique event hosted by the Bahamians. So to recap ...

We became a bit more adventurous during the week and started to move about the harbour depending on the locale of regatta events. Brian Marsh on Tundra developed a problem with swelling in his feet. We stayed close to Tundra off Stocking Island while he was recuperating. Pete and Lani on MarNel, the "great white hunters" (experienced divers and fisher people) have been at the same spot since we all arrived together from Pipe Creek. There is comfort in belonging to a small family of friends as well as associating with the bigger community of cruisers. We have met dozens of great folks out here, all enjoying the setting, the activities which allow adults to play together and share their ups and downs.

Certainly John and I have been able to sort out our attitudes and feelings about this experience in this crucible of cruisers. John has decided that when we get back I can keep my boat and he will be my mechanic! Its been a wonderful environment for us physically and maybe we'll come back and bareboat charter in the future, particularly in the Abacos islands which we probably won't see this time.

I particularly enjoyed the Scavenger Hunt and would fly all the way back here just to be a part of that silliness. The high speed chase across the harbour the frantic search for a crab, the creative assembly of boat materials and then the last - second run up the beach left us all in hysterics. We didn't win but it didn't matter. We had a lot of laughs.

The coconut harvest on the other hand was a bit too serious, not so much hilarity although I was happy to win our first Georgetown Regatta burgee which is proudly flying up there below the Bahamian courtesy flag.

This afternoon (Sunday, March 22) our new friends from Florida are towing our dinghies to the far beach for the family regatta. John will tell you more. We look forward to seeing you all soon and sharing our adventures with you.

(John says:)

The Bahamian Family Regatta fund raiser on Sunday was really interesting. The "Rake and Scrape" band from Eddies Edgewater restaurant provided musical entertainment. There were lots of fund raising games like "throw a hoop over a bottle" or "knock down a pyramid of cans with a tennis ball". Eleanor saw a chicken get hypnotized. The most unusual game I saw was a small pen marked up into squares like a bingo card, within which was placed a chicken. You place a bet by purchasing a ticket for a particular square. The winner would be determined by which square the chicken would "relieve" itself on. Feed was scattered around the pen. Perhaps "feeding" stimulates elimination? Whenever the chicken would wander across a square the owners of the square would scream "*@#%", "*@#%". It was hilarious. The whole evening was capped by a singsong at Volleyball Beach where I played my guitar along with another guitar player, an accordionist and other musicians.

Monday, the dreary day, I changed the fuel filter. Then we went over and had supper on Tundra with Brian and Kathy.

Tuesday Eleanor and I had a nice walk to the South end of Stocking Island to do some snorkeling and have a picnic. We were accompanied by Colleen from Shady Lady. We met MarNel up there and they gave us a dinghy ride back. The snorkeling was interesting although I actually got chilled in the wind. We collected a couple more conch shells. I want to make some more conch horns.

We have hiked almost all of Stocking Island now. There is one place I like to go back to again and again during these windy periods. We are in the lee of the island and only a short walk takes us across to the other shore, which is a beautiful beach wide open to easterly winds. In some places, as the breakers curve over to break, they look like a transparent piece of glass. It is fascinating. Then the wave breaks and the transparency is consumed by foam. I can sit and watch this phenomenon over and over again.

Wednesday (March 25th) night we had a special treat. We had lamb, peas and rice on a Bahamian boat "Breathless" anchored near Tundra and MarNel. The owner, David, charters the boat. Brian, Kathy(Tundra), Peter and Lani (MarNel) had a practice dive with David the next day and then had a good snorkel. They plan to go scuba diving with him early next week.

Thursday we were pretty well confined to the boat. The wind was so strong and gusty that even a short dingy ride would be very wet. Another boat near us dragged while the owners were not on board but sailors from neighboring boats had it back in place before they returned. The community spirit is very strong in this regard.

Friday and Saturday we swam and hiked around Stocking Island. Sunday we moved over to the Peace and Plenty hotel and renewed our provisions. Then we returned to Stocking Island for an evening cookout and party ashore hosted by our Bahamian host David from the sailboat Breathless. Brian and Kathy from Tundra were there with their friends Tom and Evonne who arrived on Saturday.

Murray Allen wins a bottle of blackberry jam for correctly identifying Howard Cosell, an American sportscaster, as having said, "The game is not over until the fat lady sings." (or something close to that). He said this during the 9th inning of a baseball game

We plan to leave this morning (Monday, March 30th) after banking and email. It may be several weeks before we are in email contact again.

April 1, 1998 - Georgetown to Staniel Cay.

Told you it would be two weeks before you might get email and here we are again two days later. While I was waiting for the Georgetown Batelco office to open on Monday another "email'er" sat down beside me. (One time there were four people waiting with their pc's). She told me that the Staniel Cay Batelco office would let us do email. This email stuff is obviously catching on.

We passed through Conch Cut (the entrance to the harbour beside Georgetown) at about 11am Monday morning. The winds were somewhat over 15 knots and the seas somewhat over 3 feet. Bruce Van Gant ("The Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South") would not have been impressed by our decision to go, although we were only exceeding his guidelines by a little bit. The cuts have to be traversed with some care. On the east side of the Exuma chain of islands lies Exuma Sound - a deep tongue of the Atlantic ocean. On the west side lies the shallow banks. The tide here is around 3 feet, and as on the west coast of BC it generates a current in the cuts. Worse, if the current is going out of the cuts into an opposing wind, very difficult, even dangerous, sea conditions in the form of standing waves may be generated.

We passed through Conch cut just a little after high slack water and encountered no difficulties. The seas were a little high but the wind was on the beam so onward we went. We had a fast, although lumpy, sail down to Rudder Cut. Not my favourite kind of sail but great for making time. Originally we intended to go into a place called Adderly Cut but we got there so early that the current was still running out of the cut into the opposing wind and we would have had to wait outside the cut for conditions to settle. So we decided to go a little farther to Rudder Cut. We are currently travelling with Richmond and Nancy on Windsong II who are familiar with this area. About 3:30pm we passed through Rudder Cut at slack water. The change in sea conditions was dramatic. We went from big swells into a relatively placid anchorage on the west side of the Exumas. The area was extravagantly beautiful: long sandy beaches, huge caves cut into the cliffs and palms and low bushes blowing and waving along the shore.

Richmond and Nancy had us over for supper, then we fell into bed exhausted. I find those days traversing lumpy seas to be very tiring. (a brief comment from Eleanor; we were both a little hung over and feeling sad about leaving all our great friends in Georgetown. The "steak out" Bahamian style was a real celebration and we felt, a great send off. So we are in for a few days of readjustment as we get our sea legs again and start to lead a more disciplined life).

At 9am on Tuesday we headed north again, but this time on the west side of the Exumas. The wind was still blowing 15 knots with gusts to 20 but this time there was no significant swell and the sailing was quite good. We had to pay attention to handle the gusts however. At one time we did over 8 knots and averaged over 6 knots overall. It was another fast day. We cruised into Staniel Cay early in the afternoon and anchored across from the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and close to the Thunderball cave. Then we went into the Yacht Club for a beer and Conch Fritters before returning to prepare a visit to the cave.

Thunderball cave got it's name because it was used during the filming of the James Bond movie Thunderball. So if you want to take a look at it you can get the video. The cave can be entered only during low tide at slack water. At that time it can be entered from several directions. It is a big cavern that is open to the sky in the middle (which is where James Bond was pulled through when he was rescued from the bad guys by the helicopter). It is absolutely crowded with tropical fish. We fed them old bread and oatmeal that we had in ziplock bags. Neat! We will go back again late this afternoon.

Finally in the evening we had Richmond and Nancy over for supper and then bridge. What a nice day. (I, Eleanor, cooked up some lamb chops from Exuma Market the way David, our Bahamian friend had done, parboiled and simmered with onions and mushroom soup etc., and I thought they were just delicious. Of course we had to have our bit of rum and goombay punch beforehand. Needless to say the bridge was a bit slow).

Tomorrow we expect to go to Pipe Creek, only a couple of hours from here. Then we plan to head to Wardwick Wells (a park), Shroud Island, Allen Cay - and then?

Again - I am unsure about email opportunities.

April 15, 1998 - Staniel Cay to Nassau

Did Eleanor win the Georgetown Regatta t-shirt design contest? No, I am afraid not. There were 14 entries. The selection was done by a secret ballot vote of the people who registered for the regatta. The winning entry was quite nice, and designed on a computer. (This was a t-shirt design contest not an art contest).

Eleanor has been busy collecting shells. We have a book now, which helps us to identify the different beasties. One of her shells almost escaped the other day. It was sitting happily in on the ledge near our sitting area. Then a little later, there he was, half way down the cushions leaving a slimy trail behind. Our specimen was ALIVE! So we moved him to the garden where he still remains, seemingly content, for now.

I am learning to be patient. We have had good luck, waiting for weather windows. The traveling has been pleasant. The sailing has been good. Sometimes we end up staying in a place for longer than we would prefer. Sometimes I get frustrated and impatient.

Wednesday (April 1) we met Richmond and Nancy and two friends of theirs for lunch at the Happy People Bar and Restaurant on Staniel Cay. We feasted on "Theasziel Burgers" (Cheeseburgers). Theasziel Rolle is the proprietor. They were absolutely delicious. I am beginning to think that hamburgers are the real national food of the Bahamas. I am now ordering them in preference to goodies like grouper fingers or conch fritters.

Thursday (April 2) we traveled to Pipe Creek, a short 2 hour trip. This is where we stayed with Tundra on the way down to Georgetown. The winds were light. The trip involved some careful navigation but the sun was high and we had no problems "reading the water". The color of the water identifies where the deep channels are. It takes some experience to learn how to "read the water" and we are getting better at it now. It was a delightful little trip. When we arrived we tied up at a mooring buoy, had lunch and then a nap. I have a feeling that this is what the Exumas may be like in a "normal" weather year. Pretty nice.

The conch'ing was not as good as it was on our last visit. We collected five nice ones but it took longer than it did the previous time. They got turned into chowder. I also tried to use one for a conch horn but I don't think fresh shells work very well. It is very difficult to clean and deodorize them. So we collected a bunch from the beach. They are not as pretty but are clean. Also, by poking around, we could find some that had never been harvested by people so didn't have any holes in them - I guess they die of old age - the shells were really thick.

Friday (April 3) evening Herb and Barbara on the 43 foot steel trawler Lady Bea rafted off to us. Herb put down this mooring buoy several years ago and uses it whenever he visits. How do we come to know all these people? It is all due to HAM radio. We had Herb, and Barbara over for Chonch Chowder and then Nancy and Richmond joined us for desert (Pecan Pie). Eleanor was really busy cooking.

Another cold front came through on the weekend (April 4). These cold fronts seem to be packing less punch now. Increased cloud preceeded the front. We had a few drops of rain. Not enough to wash the salt off the boat. As the front went through the wind switched from the West (15-20 knots) to the North (10 knots) and the temperature started to drop. Sometimes we get significant squall or thunderstorm activity, but not this time. I give thanks for that. Boats with radar can track the passage of the front on their radar screens. These are still what are referred to as "winter fronts" and are very late this year.

The person relaying the forecast on VHF locally is June from the boat Blue Yonder. She lives with her husband Dave on Overyonder Cay. Ham radio operator? Of course! June took us over to see the remains of a whale that sharks were feeding on. It was a fair distance north of here. The sharks posed no danger to us. Only a little bit of the whale was left but it was possible to judge the original size of the animal because of the long backbone that remained. It was probably 50 feet long. The downwind smell was pretty remarkable. It looked vaguely like the remains of a large white life raft from a distance. This is because all that was really left was white blubber. Herbie and Dave went out the next day to see if they could catch a shark but by then the carcass had blown up on the beach and there were no shark around (Sharks do not like shallow water).

Eleanor is continuing her fishing. Saturday night she left out a hook with some conch guts on it and got a nice little Mango Snapper. We ate it on Monday evening. Monday morning she hooked something so large that it straightened out the clip that holds the hook on. We never did see what it was. Perhaps a large Barracuda?

Monday (April 6) morning Herbie left at dawn to head to Nassau and Florida. The best time to move is typically a few days after the front goes through, after the winds clock around and die down a little. We get to move around for a few days, then it is time to decide where to "hunker down" for the next cold front. This is not normal. In a normal year the fronts would be much more widely spaced and most would not even reach the Georgetown area. Lady Bea made it all the way to Florida in one long 36 hour run. Later in the day Galiander and Windsong II threaded our way out to the banks side (west) of the Exuma Cays. The wind was less than 15 knots from the East so we were on the lee side of the islands. It was a pleasant four hour sailing trip to Wardrick Well inside the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The park has installed a series of mooring buoys at the north end of the island. The moorage area is very protected and Eleanor and I had a wonderful and long sleep. We hiked the trails, visited some ancient ruins and snorkeled over nearby reefs. We saw our first lobsters. Inside the park they are protected.

Thursday (April 9) Windsong II left at the crack of dawn for a long run to Nassau. They took advantage of the last opportunity to move before yet another cold front moves through. Herb's (the weather guru) advice for Thursday night was to be "hunkered down". Wednesday evening we had Richmond and Nancy over for dinner and played bridge. They have been good companions. We will miss them. Our next destination, Shroud Cay is not a good place to stay during a front. So we decided to stay put at Warderwick Well. The park has a volunteer program and Eleanor and I decided to participate in it. We spent several interesting days working on a construction project to extend the headquarters building. Eleanor learned quite a bit about house constructions and impressed the men with her ability to wield a hammer. She is starting to dream about us building our own retirement house.

The fronts rolled through over the weekend. There were two of them spaced about two days apart. This is unusual. The complex frontal system was apparently caused by the combination of two low pressure areas up north somewhere. There was a small amount of thunderstorm and rain activity but not enough to collect any water. The winds behind the first front were very strong from the Northwest at 20-25 knots. Some boats reported seeing gusts over 30. The progression of the wind direction is generally quite predictable except for the timing. The winds will clock around to the North, then Northeast, then east. We want the wind to move around to the Northeast so we will be in the shelter of Shroud Cay after we move. We would prefer the winds to settle to 15 knots. The second front went through on Sunday and the wind was still North - Northeast at over 20 knots Monday morning. Many boats left. We decided to wait one more day.

That last system pumped down some exceptionally cool air for here. The temperature on Monday morning was 69f. Brrrr! I found it very refreshing after the exceptionally hot and humid weather that preceded the front.

We met new friends, Carlos and Marequia on Valencia. They have been volunteering up at the headquarters building as well. On Easter Sunday we hiked on the east side of Warderwick Well. The swell and surf activity from Exuma sound was exceptional. On small cays across the cut at the North end of Warderwick Well the spray would go up higher then the land and then shoot across like a cloud of dense smoke in the strong wind. We were accompanied by Banshee and Bella, two Great Dane - Rotweiller cross dogs from the Park Headquarters. They are huge gentle animals. We also had Oops along. He is a Pot Cakes dog. Pot Cakes dogs are Bahamian dogs. Fairly small, maybe a foot and a half high at the shoulder, with a very genetically mixed heritage. Oops found the nesting site for a White Tropic bird, complete with mom sitting on her nest. They nest under rocks. Oops only made one attempt to approach the bird then backed off as the bird made an incredibly raucous sound. Eleanor took a picture of mom, who seemed a little happier with a human gazing at her instead of a dog.

Tuesday (April 14) we sailed to Shroud Cay with Walkabout and Felicia. It was a good sail with winds from 15-20 knots pushing us along mostly on a beam reach. Shroud is an interesting Cay. There is a fresh water well where we got some water. The interior is a Mangrove Swamp intersected by tidal creeks. It would be fun to explore but we were anxious to move while we had the opportunity. We were out of fresh vegetables, bread and low on water. We have three bags of smelly garbage. Just about all our clothes are ready for the laundromat and Galiander is encrusted with salt water crystals. Time to visit civilization again. Wednesday we had a fairly long and uneventful motor sail in 10-15 knot winds to Nassau. We had hoped to move into the Nassau Yacht Haven with it's water, laundromat, etc. But, alas, they were full, in fact all the yacht basins were full so we put ourselves on a wait list and anchored out.

I am heading into town to dump the email. It is income tax time and there may be some communications that needs to be done before we leave this communications mecca for the run to Fort Lauderdale. I will check email again in a couple of days before we leave but after that we will visit the Berries before heading across the gulf stream and access to email may not work out.

For you Tundra followers, Brian, Kathy and their guests Tom and Evonne sailed to Conception Island on Thursday, April 2nd in the company of two other sailboats, MarNel and Shady Lady. Conception Island is a day's sail to the east from Georgetown. Tundra and MarNel returned to Georgetown on Monday. Tom and Evonne flew out on Tuesday. Tundra will stay in Georgetown until they fly back home to Ontario on April 22nd for a visit. After they return to Georgetown on May 1 they will head North to the Abacos and finally the Chesapeake where they plan to leave Tundra for the summer.

April 18, 1998 - Fun in Nassau

We are not the only boaters who send out an email journal. We receive regular reports from three other boats. It is quite interesting and also provides some useful hints about where to go and what to do as we enter new areas. Recently we had an example of how one weather system can affect two different areas very differently. I reported in our last journal that we weathered an unusual complex weather system that consisted of two separate cold fronts separated by only a couple of days. Neither front generated difficult conditions down in Warderwick Wells. The boat "I Wanda" reported the same frontal system in their journal. It passed over them while they were in the Berries, but the frontal system(s) packed far more punch up there and many boats dragged anchor. It is a caution for us - the farther north we go the worse the fronts tend to be.

I really don't like anchoring in Nassau. The holding is poor and there are far too many boats, which tends to force people to anchor closer together than I feel comfortable about. After circling the harbour we decided not to anchor in the popular and crowded central area of the harbour. We ended up dropping the hook in the extreme east side of the harbour near a Texaco station which provides a dingy dock. This proved to be an excellent move. The area, while more inconvenient in terms of access to town, is much quieter and more pastoral. Our hooks were well set. It is sure a luxury to be able to go look at your anchors through a glass bottomed bucket or swim goggles to see if they are set properly. That is something we will miss back in BC. After the sun went down we watched a fireworks display over at the Atlantis Casino on Paradise Island. As we went to sleep we were serenaded by the dance music from a party boat. Ah Nassau! How will I remember you?

On Thursday morning (April 16) we moved into the Nassau Yacht Haven. By noon we had pumped four loads of laundry through the washer and dryer and had time to attend the Yachtsmen's Lunch down at the Crocodile restaurant. I had the ultimate Cheeseburger. It was called the Mighty Crock. By the end of the afternoon we had dumped our garbage, refueled our wallets and done some provisioning. Found a great buy on rum - Ron Rickardo, 40oz for $US4.00.

We have been keeping busy doing chores as we try to determine what the course of the next cold front will be. It is currently stalled over in Florida. The winds continue to blow from the East-Southeast. Quite strong, often at 20 knots here at the dock. This is caused by a "tight gradient" caused by high and low pressure systems that are squeezed close together. We are rolling and bouncing at the dock, and from all accounts are better off then we would have been in the anchorage. Not only that we can have endless hot showers. We can use fresh water to do the dishes - what a luxury! We can step off the boat any time we want. On Friday we went to the Ardastra Gardens and Conservation Centre, a 5 acre botanical park. They are the home of the famous Marching Flamingos. Later in the day we hosted two other boats for a Pot Luck supper centred around a Grouper Eleanor purchased from a local fisherman. Their travel plans are similar to ours and we may "buddy boat" with them for part or the entire trip to Fort Lauderdale.

We are moored right next to a glass bottomed party boat called the Lucayan Queen. The big sign on the side of the boat reads "BOOZE CRUISE". I call it truth in advertising. About 1pm each day a big crowd of young and old (primarily young) get on board. Lots of bikinis. In the words of one of the crew they "... go to the beach, snorkel, dance, and above all booze!". The music begins and they are gone. About 5pm they return and totter off the boat in a variety of conditions. It is great entertainment to watch them come and go.

Now we are off and tour the Queen's Staircase and see a neighborhood Junkanoo. Whenever will we get our chores done? Then we are going to Ian and Fruzzen Bethel's house for dinner. We met them when we were coming through the other way. Eleanor's friend Ann Lawrence was staying with them.

April 24, 1998 - Nassau to Chub Cay

We had a real nice time with Ian and Fruzen Bethel, our Nassau friends, on Sunday. They have a home not far from our Marina so it was convenient. I was able to help Fruzen get her email working again. She had been unable to receive or send mail for over a month. She has an internet account with Batelco. They provide a 24 hour technical help service so we called them up and in five minutes I had her problem solved. Felt good and Fruzen let me unload my email at her place.

Monday Eleanor and I went on a last walk around Paradise Island to see the Cloisters. It was hot, real *HOT*, like *HUMID HOT*. I also managed to do some of the chores that needed to be done on the boat before we move on (like get diesel fuel - the basics). On Monday night we had pizza with Carol and Tom on Suntanner. Carlos and Marijke from Felicia were also there. It was a fun evening. Eleanor and I were in the mood to move on though and we parted sadly. We were hoping they might be Buddy Boats for the trip to Florida but they wanted to wait out the next cold front in Nassau while Eleanor and I wanted to take the opportunity to move one day closer to our destination.

On Tuesday we sailed to Chub Cay to wait out the next cold front(s). Chub Cay is where we stayed for 10 days in February. You may recall it as the period when the storms which hit Miami made the TV News, even in remote places like Vancouver. We know it is a great place to sit out the weather. The front we are waiting for seems to be one of these weather systems that is hard to predict. It started out as a weak cold. In fact it dithered, then stalled and turned into a trough. Then it got replaced by a new stronger cold front which moved quickly.

In front of the stalled front, the weather was quite benign. Tuesday, we decided to take the opportunity to move to Chub Cay. Another excellent decision. It was a great day! The seas were very flat and we had a nice beam reach in winds less than 15 knots. We sailed about 1/3rd of the way and motor sailed the rest as the wind dropped below 10 knots. Eleanor had two lines out but, alas, did not land a fish. Something devastated one line. The entire hook, leader and sinker disappeared. And it was her brand new lure! We saw whales. They were some distance off. We speculatively identified them as sperm whales, 10-20 metres in length.

Last time we visited Chub the ground was littered with debris blown from the beaches and trees by the strong wind. The swimming pools were grubby with junk. This time we got to see Chub in a different light. The harbour is full of sports fishing boats (big high speed power boats built very high off the water). In the light winds we deftly eased Galiander into a slip, then went ashore and soaked in their fresh water pool. Ahhh - luxury! And it was *HOT*. A desultory humid heat. In the light winds the noseeums were out in earnest. Despite this we barbecued a steak on shore with Ron and Julie from Bluebird. We met them on the trip over from Nassau. They were right behind us as we left the harbour. We chatted on the marine radio and discovered that we both had very similar plans to reach Florida. So we had a Buddy Boat for the trip to Chub Cay after all. After supper we had another soak in the fresh water pool then retired to bed.

Picked up the weather on Wednesday morning from the morning HAM Waterway Net. Sounds like we will not be moving until Saturday. This is another of those complex double front systems. Boats moved into the Marina from the outside anchorage during the day. We met Frank and Jolanta on the boat Sirena. They are Canadians who are going to move to Victoria. They are having their boat trucked from Florida to Vancouver late in May. They are the second boat we know of making this particular trip. (The other was Ruu, who we met in Georgetown).

The first front passed through on Wednesday. It was a non-event. The higher winds were welcome as they blew away the flies and noseeums for a while. Eleanor and I passed time by walking on the excellent beach collecting shells, eating lunch at the restaurant and reading. Had a cheeseburger - I was not impressed. We purchased 7 conch (prepared - ready to eat) for $6.00 and a can of beer from a fisherman at the back of our boat. We had conch salad Wednesday night. Thursday night Eleanor cooked up a delicious conch pasta dish. We will finish the remainder as a chowder Friday night.

The second front came through on Thursday night, I think. It was not active at all. I still can't get used to the idea of these cold fronts not trying to blow us out of the boat. The weather outlook through Tuesday looks fine so we will be on our way.

We are going to move out of the Marina today (Friday) and anchor outside for the night. Then on Saturday we will get away at 4am for the long 12 hour run to Gun Cay on the edge of the Bahamas banks. The weather forecasts a light north wind which will be a beam reach for us. From there we will either cross the gulf stream (unlikely as I do not think the winds will have clocked around to the south fast enough) or move up the banks to see Bimini (a short hop). Then we will hang out in Bimini and move across to Fort Lauderdale in the next weather window (light southerly winds would be ideal).

April 27, 1998 - Chub Cay to Fort Lauderdale

Friday afternoon we left the Chub Cay Marina and anchored just to the south of the Cay. It was a lovely spot, in the lee of the Island, and very placid. We had problems putting down our anchor. Or more accurately, getting it up and putting it back down again. We love to anchor in sand. Nice *white* *deep* sand. So when we come into an anchorage the idea is to look for a nice patch of white sand and drop the hook down into it. Sometimes the sand is not so deep and the anchor will drag. That happened to us and the anchor dragged to the end of the sand patch and then grabbed a hold of a nice big boulder. Eleanor discovered this when she snorkeled over to check the anchor. We decided to haul it up and reset it. Anchors can get stuck in rocks and be difficult to dislodge, not something that we wanted to do at 4am. And indeed our faithful bruce was firmly clamped onto this rock. We finally got it loose by dragging in the exact opposite direction - not completely straightforward as the wind was blowing the other way. The second time we dropped it perfectly into a second, deeper, patch of sand.

Leaving at 4am was a white knuckle experience for me. I got disoriented. It is important to plot the exit from the anchorage carefully when you are leaving in the dark. I knew precisely what compass course to take to reach deep water and I had also plotted a way point for the GPS (Global Positioning System). So all should have been fine except that my senses wanted me to steer in a different direction. It was very unnerving. All my senses told me to steer to the left while my compass and GPS told me to go to the right. If I took my eyes off the compass for even a few seconds we immediately wandered off to the left. Eleanor was very helpful because she had her eye on the big dipper and we got out into deep water got the autopilot working and headed for the Great Bahamas Banks, over two hours away. The experience left me a little unnerved. It was strange. ( A note about the stars: with no pollution out here the stars are brilliant. The constellations stand out clearly and the Milky Way stretches overhead. Two stars <planets?> in the East helped us check our westerly route well into daybreak.)

This was the longest run we would make. A full 77 nautical miles (a nautical mile is a little longer than an ordinary mile). The sun rose at 6:30 as we motor sailed by Northwest Light, our first turning point, and the entrance onto the shallow Great Bahamas Banks. From now on we would see no water deeper than 14 feet until we reached the Florida Strait. Then we veered slightly to the left and had a wonderful sail until almost noon. Not only that, Eleanor caught a beautiful 12 pound mutton snapper. A beautiful green, blue and yellow colored fish. The fish here are so pretty. It is difficult not to feel guilty about catching them. As the day progressed the wind slowly died and shifted towards the south. We were forced to start the engine and motor sail. About 6pm we powered through the cut between Cat Cay and Gun Cay into Florida Strait and dropped anchor behind Gun Cay. The Florida Strait was calm. The light wind only stirred up a little ripple on the surface of the water. It had been a beautiful but very long day.

Sunday morning I woke up before 4am. The wind was whistling through the rigging at over 15 knots and Galiander was rocking and rolling in the swell. This was not what was forecast. We decided to sleep in an extra hour and pick up a more recent forecast. Nothing had changed. So we headed out at 5am. This time I paid more attention to my disorientation. With the autopilot in control and my eye firmly on the star field, it was obvious that we were on the correct course. Yet my senses were telling me that we were turning slowly to the starboard. Interesting, but not very scary as I was expecting it.

It was a relatively uneventful, although sloppy, crossing until we reached Fort Lauderdale. The wind was a following one. We had to motor sail to keep our speed up. We were entertained by a large school of porpoises. Periodically we would see a flying fish skimming along the top of the water. It is amazing how far they can go. Occasionally Galiander would wallow and pitch in the following seas.

We had been told that the approach to Fort Lauderdale is easy. In a navigational sense that is very true. But little else about our entrance was easy. We reached Fort Lauderdale at about 2pm. The following seas assumed alarming proportions in the shallow waters as we traversed them into the harbour. Everything that was not secured in the cabin got scattered about. The boat traffic was incredible. There were large and small boats everywhere; Sea Doos speeding and jumping airborne off the big waves. Little open aluminum fishing boats bobbing stationary in the water. Gigantic to medium power boats zooming here and there. Big freighters. Sailboats. What a culture shock! I had forgotten it was Sunday. We had to keep constant watch on the other boats as well as for the occasional huge swell. Finally we entered the relatively calm inner waters. Then we had to contend with heavy traffic and an adverse current to reach the Cooley Landing Marina. Entering our slip with a 1-2 knot current from the beam was exciting also. Finally, we were secure. I said to Eleanor, "I think I need a vacation!"

Continue to Returning to BC

Go to The Galiander Journey Introduction

Revised: November 14, 1998