Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bimini to Eleuthera

Alicetown, Eleuthera
Hatchet Bay
25 21.01 N 76 29.61 W

We left Bimini in mid afternoon under light winds and motored across the shallow Bahama Banks overnight. At 2:30 am - about 12 hours & 65 nm later we turned about a mile off the rhumb line course (so no other boats would run into us) and anchored for a few hours of sleep. We were back underway by 5:30 am. The shallow banks gave way to mile+ depths as we crossed the Tongue of the Ocean. Here we are arriving in West Bay on the extreme west end of New Providence Island (the same island that Nassau is on).

The shadow of Carina's mast and radar arch with all our antennas casts a shadow over the clear water we are anchored in.

The beach around the perimeter of West Bay is part of the exclusive Lyford Cay community. We could dinghy to the beach to walk (as long as we stayed below the high tide mark). Here Kathy is holding a Sea Star.

With no land visible on the western horizon we were able to view some spectacular sunsets every night – including a green flash sunset. We stayed at West Bay for 5 days before moving on. The boat that looks like ours is another Manta sail cat Side by Side.

Rather than head directly to the Exumas we decided to head to Eleuthera for a change of pace this year. We had a wonderful sail across the north side of New Providence island, to the north end of Eleuthera about 55 nm distance, to the settlement of Spanish Wells. Here we are moored once again alongside Side by Side

Spanish Wells has a thriving seafood industry with a strong industrial base that does not rely on tourism for its economy. The fisherman of Spanish Wells proudly produce close to 75 percent of the nation's annual production of spiny lobster that is exported to markets worldwide.

The inhabitants of Spanish Wells trace their roots back to descendants of Loyalists who fled during the American revolution and others from English puritans shipwrecked off the reefs of the Devil's Backbone on the northern coast in 1648. The people are very proud of their town which is neat as a pin. Attractive houses, some dating back 150 years, are well kept and almost all are nicely landscaped. 

Kathy with Rich and Linda Kallerud from Side by Side along the dock discussing what errands to do next.

Stone crabs are also in season and these men are busy sorting through the catch of the day. 

The delectable claw of the crabs are harvested in the sallow sandy banks of Eleuthera. The large claw is broken off and the crabs put back in the ocean to regenerate the missing appendage.

We left Spanish Wells and anchored overnight at nearby Royal Island before continuing south along the western coast of Eleuthera the following day. Here we are approaching "The Glass Window" an interesting geographical feature.

The site was originally called the Narrow Passage until a huge wave washed over the natural limestone arch and carried it away in 1872. The island's narrowest part is now bridged by a road to connect North Eleuthera. The bridge frames this view looking east to the cobalt blue water of the open Atlantic Ocean. 

Mark's fishing luck finally changed. Unfortunately we did not dare land this 3-1/2'  Barracuda aboard Carina. Considering those razor sharp teeth we decided to let him keep our lure. 

Hatchet Bay is one of our favorite places to visit in Eleuthera. The bay was actually a fresh water pond before a man made channel was cut though the limestone cliffs. The bay was supposed to assure success for the Hatchet Bay cattle raising project. Cattle raising failed but left a very protected harbor. 

The bay is protected from all wind directions and the dinghy access shown here provides easy access to the settlement of Alicetown. The town is very small but has a small grocery store for obtaining fresh produce as well as several churches. We attended Christmas service at St. Mark's Methodist Church and were made to feel very welcome by the local parishioners.

There is a very nice restaurant called the Front Porch that overlooks the harbor....

.... Francis and Gina the owners served up these delicious Stone Crabs for Mark.

From the dinghy dock it is about a mile walk across the island to the Atlantic Ocean side where we picked a different stretch of beach each day to do a little beachcombing.

This is our beach comber's booty for one day. Heart and Hamburg Beans, a kaleidoscope of colorful sea glass, some shells and a piece of Fire Coral.

As the sun sets on 2012 we wish our family and friends a happy and healthy New Year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ft Lauderdale to Bimini

South Bimini, Bahamas
Bimini Sands Marina
25 42.6 N 79 17.95 W

After a rather bumpy sail down the coast from Fort Lauderdale to Miami we entered Biscayne Bay through very busy Government Cut and left the busy Miami skyline behind us.

We anchored in No Name Harbor on Biscayne Bay waiting for good weather to cross the Gulf Stream. No Name Harbor is a popular anchorage for cruisers waiting to make the crossing. It is located in a state park which offers nice walking trails and the Cape Florida lighthouse. We climbed the 109 steps to the top to capture this photo looking north up Key Biscayne with Miami Beach in the background.

No Name Harbor on a very busy Saturday afternoon. Carina is anchored just to left of Kathy. Our very good friend (and former Manta Powercat owner), Ted Bowen lives in Hollywood, FL and is always more than willing to help us out with our cruising needs. We met with Ted and his friend Wendy a few times while anchored at Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale the previous week. Here, he has met us at No Name for one last provisioning of groceries, liquor, mail delivery, dinghy gas, bank withdrawl, etc. before we depart at daybreak the next morning.

We crossed the Gulf Stream on Sunday, 12/9 and are once again in paradise. The picture says it all from the beach on North Bimini.
We stayed at the Bimini Sands Resort & Marina with only two other transiting cruising boats. Very quiet indeed. Although this is considered the off-season period (spring & summer bring the sport fishing boaters from Florida), there were noticeably fewer cruising boats as compared to our visit to Bimini two years ago

As we took a walk on North Bimini we came across pallets of boxes of empty Kalik beer bottles along the roadside. 

Taking a break from exploring and beachcombing. Behind Kathy, looking west over the Florida Straits note the low scudding clouds out over the Gulf Stream.

This wrecked cargo ship washed up against the west shore of North Bimini decades ago during a storm. We took this same picture during our last visit in Jan 2011 and more of the structure has been claimed by the sea since then. 

So until next time we wish you all peace and love from Bimini and beyond...

...and a very happy and blessed holiday season to all.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Brunswick, GA to Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Ft Lauderdale, FL
Lake Sylvia
26 6.18 N 080 6.70 W

We finally dropped the dock lines and departed Brunswick Landing Marina on Nov. 2 to begin our third "season" of cruising. On our first night out we anchored off Sea Camp on Cumberland Island, GA. Cumberland Island is Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island and a protected national seashore. There are numerous trails that crisscross the island. We took the beach trail and walked for miles along a beautiful beach that was littered with dead horseshoe crabs. Not sure if it was due to high surf from Hurricane Sandy the week before or just a seasonal phenomena. 

The island is home to 100's of wild horses that seem to love to walk the beach as much as we do. They are really beautiful and don't seem to be to bothered by humans. The horses are descendants of horses from Spanish galleons that were shipwrecked off the coast in the mid-1500's and some left by the Carnegie family after they donated the island property to the National Park Foundation in 1971.

The Dungeness ruins at the south end of Cumberland Island. Catherine Greene, the widow of Revolutionary war hero, Nathanael Greene purchased the land and built a 4 story tabby home in 1783.The property remained in the family and in 1884 Thomas Carnegie, brother and partner of the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, began building an impressive mansion, with his wife Lucy, on Dungeness's foundation. The ruins of the mansion are all that is left after a fire destroyed the home in the late 1970's.

As we continued south into Florida Mark took advantage of a calm day while anchored in Kitching Cove in Stuart to do some maintenance at the masthead. Quite a view from the top!! Notice the little gray spot next to the green kayak? That's Sinbad supervising the work.

One of our favorite anchorages along the ICW in Florida is Faber Cove in Fort Pierce. While anchored there this year we kept hearing some rather loud music at night (it was the weekend). On Sunday we decided to do some exploring to see if we could find the source and came across Archie's Bar and Grill on A1A. We had a pitcher of beer and an unexpected delicious lunch of barbecued ribs with baked beans and mac & cheese. It was a great spot - excellent food, casual atmosphere and live music on weekend nights.

Carina got her Christmas present early this year...we decided it was finally time to replace our house batteries. After almost seven years of faithful service our AGM batteries were getting "tired". Mark was able to order new Trojan wet cell batteries from a company in Fort Lauderdale which were delivered to us in Delray Beach. For the third year we were graciously invited to spend Thanksgiving with our good friends Skye and Peg and we took advantage of their condo guest dock to remove the old and load on the new batteries - about 800 lbs worth lead!   
The Friday after Thanksgiving we motored a few miles back up the ICW, still in Delray to spend some time visiting our friends and fellow Manta owners Mattie and Ed Sears. Carina is anchored just off the ICW and below their condo. 

While there we took a walk to the beach which was quite different from previous visits. Much of the beach has been eroded away since Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent strong easterly winds with above average high tides.

Mattie (front right) and Ed (back left) treated us and two other friends Chris & Elizabeth (back right) to lunch after we helped them move some furniture in their condo. All Mark wanted was a burger and a beer.

Oh my goodness!!!! How do you eat this?
Yep - he ate it all!!!

Carina is the catamaran at the far right side of the photo. We have been anchored here at Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale for the past seven nights sitting out strong easterly winds and seas. Lake Sylvia is not really a lake but an almost fully enclosed cove right off the intercoastal waterway surrounded by beautiful homes. It is really the only "legal" anchorage within the city limits and very protected. All 16 of the boats anchored here are cruisers like ourselves waiting for good weather to cross to the Bahamas or continue south into the Keys. 

The protected waters of Lake Sylvia also attracts locals and tourists. This boat brought some folks who were trying out the hottest new toy here called a JetLev. It's a water powered jet pack that looked like lots of fun. 

Fort Lauderdale, Annapolis, MD and Newport, RI  each tout themselves as the yacht capital of the world. Ft. Lauderdale wins it hands down with (arguably) more yachts per mile of water than anywhere else. Steven Spielberg's $200 million mega-yacht Seven Seas is the 3rd on the left here. 

Local wildlife - we saw this 2'+ Iguana along the banks of one of the side canals during a dinghy trip.