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I’m On A Boat–Downsizing Your Sailboat

Before Motu Iti, Amelia’s parents had cruised and sailed two other bigger 40 foot sailboats.  One cruise was to the Bahamas for a year with a young family, the others summer cruises as a couple and with a young family.

Tiny Motu Iti

They chose Motu Iti because her smaller size makes her easier to handle and take care of.  Here is a video discussing the best aspects of downsizing to a smaller sailboat!!  And, see Motu Iti’s blog on the topic here.

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I’m On A Boat–Using a Nature’s Head

The Nature’s Head Composting Toilet has been a great solution to rid ourselves of stinky holding tanks, repairing valves and finding pump-outs.  Even better, being ecologically friendly on the boat has become effortless for us.

In Georgetown, Bahamas, the pump-out boat went through Elizabeth Harbor every morning, $5 for a pump out.  We thought, I hope he doesn’t notice we don’t need one, because we have the Nature’s Head.  The pump-out guy would get angry on the VHF radio when he wasn’t getting a lot of business, saying outrageous things like “you cruiser’s must like to swim in your own discharge” and various such proclamations.  We thought, how rude, I hope he realizes people have composting heads  now and are considerate to others.

Then, we were blown away when we met two other cruising boats openly proud of their complete disregard for proper discharge, in a crowded cruiser’s harbor too!  Like it was an inside joke they were letting us in on and they were such rebels.

But really it was disgusting and inconsiderate, and there is no excuse, none, especially with a Nature’s Head.  Part of the reason we love to cruise is to be outside and enjoy nature, so even if it’s just something small like our discharge,  we take pride in doing what we can to protect the sea!

Here’s a video from Motu Iti about using a Nature’s Head:

Happy Birthday to Grant!!–and other adventures

Sometimes we wonder why so many people, us included, live in places that are so dreary and cold a good chunk of the year. We are reminded of this every time we use Grant’s birthday as an excuse to visit a tropical locale. Three years running. Last year was on Velocir in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera.

by Velocir

We made a delicious turtle cake, making do with whatever baking pans were available.

by Velocir

For dinner, we skipped the sunset cruiser’s raft-up to enjoy some fine dining. We watched the sunset and the moonrise about 30 minutes apart.

Besides birthday celebrations, we’ve been reading, knitting, snorkeling and walking the beach.  Relaxing in the Caribbean!

by Velocirby Velocirby Velocir

We stopped our lazy ways and got to work, taking Motu Iti out for a sail!  The forecast was 10-15 kts with light chop.  Sailing the Sea of Abaco, Motu Iti did a fine job gliding through the water, not wanting to heel too much even with some puffs.

by Velocir

At the end of our sail, Amelia got in the dinghy and anchored it, while Motu Iti sailed back and forth to get some great photos.

by Velocir

It’s hard to have good sailing pictures of your boat when you’re always on it!

Here’s some fun video of the sail:

Good bye snowy Annapolis, hello Bahamas!!

We awoke at 0230 to drive to the airport. Three inches of snow on the ground…..great. We drove with one highway lane cleared and little salt on the road. We were almost to the airport parking lot when we slid sideways to a stop inches in front of a pole. Luckily, it was all very slow motion because we were not driving fast. Definitely the right time to get out of Annapolis, leaving Velocir in the snow, and head for the Bahamas to visit Amelia’s parents on their cruising sailboat, Motu Iti. (www.sailmotuiti.com)

Motu Iti by Velocir

Goldwin and Nancy have been relaxing in the Abacos this last month, and we are very happy to join them. Our first day was a bit breezy, but we headed over to a favorite of ours, Tahiti Beach, for some low tide nature viewing. The beach is a long sand bar that appears at low tide. The area is full of starfish, sand dollars, juvenile conch and other creatures.

Starfish by Velocir

Even though we have explored these waters before we always find something new, like this green starfish.

Conch by Velocir

A rare sighting, this juvenile conch came out of its shell for us (trying to turn over).

Conch eyes by Velocir

The eyes always get us, they are oddly adorable making them extremely hard to turn into a meal.  Luckily this one is not legally large enough to eat.

Runabout by Velocir

We zoomed around to a few good snorkeling spots. When Grant goes spearfishing he uses a pole spear with an elastic loop at the end (making it a homemade Hawaiian sling), dive weights to help him get down to look under crevices, a knife for safety and gloves to protect his hands from sharp lobster etc.

Snorkeling by Velocir

He found a spiny lobster in a grassy bank offshore, and speared it for dinner.

Lobster by Velocir

We also speared a few Lion Fish, an invasive species with no natural predators and dangerous spines.  It is very much encouraged to spear them.

Lion fish by Velocir

To finish our great day, Amelia made some conch fritters out of fresh-caught conch and a local batter Nancy had gotten.

Conch Fritters by Velocir

A Singlehander’s Cruising Costs

cruising costs

Our friend recently shared his cruising costs and trip statistics with us aboard his beautiful 37 foot sailboat.  He is a singlehander, which means he cruises by himself.  Below are his costs for 257 days cruising along the East Coast of the US and throughout the Bahamas. These costs were incurred after leaving and do not include- $15,000 or more spent on the boat or $1,100 on food provisions before leaving.

Singlehander Cruising Costs

Food = any food purchased except restaurants
Restaurant = food someone prepared for me
Tips = given to dock help,  tips at restaurants etc not in this number
Boat = maintenance along the way, insurance for Bahamas $1,400
Laundry = just fun tracking
MISC = did not fit anywhere, ex. T-shirts
Total = divided by 257 = $78/day or 30 x 78 = $2,340/mo

Bigger boats cost more, but it is the marinas that get you.

 

Trip Statistics:
257 days
70 days at marinas, 29 different marinas, avg. marina $60/night, avg. marina depth 10.6 ft.
123 days at anchor, 51 different anchorages, avg. anchor depth 10.7 ft.
31 days at Free docks, 15 days on moorings, 18 days on hard

531.9 Engine hrs., $1,768 diesel fuel, avg. $4.43 gal, diesel engine 4JHE Yanmar 44 hp, .73 gph
This trip makes 6 Gulf Stream crossings and thus far all uneventful.
Water prices per gal ranged from .20 to .40 per gal and some offered daily, week or monthly rates.  For the combination purchased $228.90 between December 26 and April 16.

Back to the USA: Good & Then Really Bad

To get a sense of the first two days of our voyage please watch this video:

It was our “watch activity” to record a little something about how everything was going.  To summarize the video: everything was going GREAT.  Beautiful weather, a fresh caught Snapper for dinner, doing a little sailing (only used 6 gallons fuel the whole way), boosted speed by the Gulf Stream.  It was so great, and the weather predictions continued to be so good (wind 10 knots, calm seas) that we decided to be ambitious and continue for St. Augustine.

P3300166

Then it all went downhill and ended very badly for us.  The boat is healthy and we are healthy.  But the whole ordeal was so traumatic we couldn’t bring ourselves to take any video or photos so we will just describe what happened.

At about 6 pm Amelia was preparing dinner and we changed watches.  Everything was great.  The weather was calling for calm wind and seas, with a slight chance of thunderstorms inland and south of our location, near Lake Okeechobee.  We were sailing along at 7 knots in the Gulf Stream 30 miles NE of Fort Pierce, FL, and we were going to push another day for St. Augustine.

After about 15 minutes on watch Grant spotted thunderstorms forming on the horizon.  Dinner was finished.  We immediately took down the main and reefing leaving a little genoa out for stability, got out our hatch boards to protect the main cabin, putting on our safety gear.  Boat check, cockpit check.

The first storm was south of us, and was going to miss us, but we turned the motor on to get closer to shore and closer to Fort Pierce.  Given the drastic change in weather our destination was now Fort Pierce.  We were north of the inlet, and the Gulf Stream and swell was continuing to push us north, but we motored through the swell.  It tossed Velocir every which way being so close to the wind and swell.  The wind picked up to 30-35 knots and the swell increased.  Amelia wedged herself in the v-berth while Grant steered.

Amelia closed her eyes to try and relax and let the time pass, knowing it was only hours before Velocir would be safely inland.  She looked up too see how Grant was doing and noticed smoke coming from the engine.  She immediately leapt up and started screaming to turn it off.  We turned the engine off.

The thunderstorms were all around us now, and one was approaching.  The weather reports had changed– now thunderstorms/squalls with winds reaching 55 mph were being predicted, with squalls continuing throughout the night and into the next day. Velocir calmed down immediately as we turned north again with the swell astern (behind us).  Waves, peaking at about 10 feet, still crashed over Velocir, soaking the cockpit, but the movement was not as violent.

A hard downpour and winds came with the storm, but it was only the edge of it and lasted about ten minutes.  Amelia sat in the cockpit steering and having a mild panic attack, while Grant tried to fix the engine.  A water intake hose was kinked, so he quickly replaced it.  Amelia never wanted to sail Velocir offshore again, wanted to stop cruising.  What was so bad about living in a house and turning up the volume on your TV when the thunder got loud? Closing a window when it rained?  What was wrong with us?  Grant fully agreed but told Amelia to get it together.

Amelia quickly composed herself and the rain stopped.  She started pumping the manual bilge pump.  There was A LOT of water in Velocir.  The engine cooled down and we started it up again, went a little ways and it overheated again.  Amelia pumped out Velocir again—more water.  We tried again to let the engine cool, thinking maybe the oil pressure was just having a hard time recovering.  More water came into Velocir.

Every time we turned the engine on not only was it overheating, but more water was coming into Velocir.  Was it pumping raw water or exhaust water into Velocir?  How could that be related to the overheating, if at all?  The only way to know for sure was to unscrew and remove the cockpit floor (a fair weather option only).  The water could be coming in from other places too:  the cockpit drains, a thru hull, the water tanks etc.  More storms were coming and it was now dark.

The moon was half-full, but we could see lightening nearby.  And without an engine we did not have enough speed to get 30 miles to Fort Pierce because the Gulf Stream continued to push us north.  We called the Coast Guard to keep them advised of our location and situation in case things deteriorated.  We asked for an updated detailed weather report.  She replied it was, and we quote: “nasty.”  A few minutes later Grant started to feel physically ill, exhausted and had to lay down.  Thirty hours of 3-hour watch rotations were catching up to him.

After another storm passed the wind shifted from SW to N.  It was freaky.  Now we could not sail.  We tried to sail West, closer to shore.  But with the swell and Gulf Stream we couldn’t make any progress.  The wind pushed against the prevailing swell, causing steeper chop.

It was time to call it quits, our safety is priority one.  We hailed a tow boat to come get us.  It was now 1930 and it would take them 2.5 hours to reach us—okay.  It felt like forever before they arrived.  The Captain kept hailing us, asking if we could see his blue flashing light.  He was ten miles out, could we see it?  No.  Six miles?  No.  Four? No.  Amelia tried to explain Velocir is only a few feet off the water and that we would probably not spot him for a while in this swell.

Finally he got near Velocir and threw us a tow line.  Grant went up on deck and wrapped it around our bollard that has a ridiculously reinforced backing plate.  Thank goodness for that!! ..because he was towing us almost directly into the swell.  Velocir was bucking and hammering, literally being pulled through the waves.  The tow boat slowed down a little in some parts because it was just too rough.

28 miles before we were inside the cut.  Amelia had been steering, still in warm weather clothes.  She was freezing in the night, so she went down to change while Grant took the helm.  He steered Velocir behind the Tow Boat for a long time while Amelia huddled under a blanket.

Then, Grant started not feeling well again, and Amelia came up to relieve him.  We sat in the cockpit together for a few moments while Grant realized the NAVIK did not look right.  The lower paddle that helps steer the boat (when in use) was horizontal in the water, not vertical as it should be.  Grant was able to grab it before it completely detached from the upper unit.  (The cast aluminum frame it is pinned into had shattered).  Due to the force of the waves and speed?  Not sure, we were not going faster than usual but we were getting thrown a bit.

Grant headed down below.  Amelia sat down on the starboard side of the cockpit and saw a jerry can full of diesel fuel perched, all alone, on the deck.  What?!?  She calmly yelled down below, “take the tiller for a minute,” then grabbed the can before it went overboard.  With a harness and life jacket on, she quickly went forward to put extra lashings on the other three jerry cans still on deck.  The amount of water pouring over Velocir was immense.

8.5 hours later, at 4 AM Velocir was at a marina in Fort Pierce.  It cost us $1400 to be towed in.  Quite a bit to swallow, but we would do it again.  In the long run, I think we got off easy.  He told us he didn’t charge us the full rate and we believe him.

We are now members of Tow Boat US, which we hadn’t joined before because we didn’t think we were coming back to the States so soon and then forgot. For us:  If Velocir runs aground we can get her off, and if Velocir has an engine problem inland we can anchor for a few hours and fix it.  But unfortunately this one unlikely situation where we would need a tow happened to us.

As soon as the Tow Boat left we called family, started the customs clearing-in process, and checked email .  Amelia read this blog comment aloud as Grant changed our water soaked sheets so that we could collapse in bed:

WOW!! So, my Hubby and I sat down last Sunday evening…. found your blog and enjoyed EVERY picture, video and comment. We’re just learning to sail and you have sparked a dream in us!!! You make it look like so much fun! I know we have MUCH to learn, but you have taken the fear out of it for me!! Thank you for sharing all that you have! It’s a lot of work!! We have a Flying Scot which we’re removing old paint and repainting ourselves!! It’s a blast!

Thanks again and have a safe and fun trip back to the US!!!

Amelia, exhausted, could not help but laugh.  We are still laughing at the comedic timing, it was so perfect.  This is one of the first comments we’ve ever gotten from someone that’s not close family or friends.  Thank you, we hope this experience does not dissuade you.  Despite this event, every bit of preparation we did has paid off and we have had almost zero problems overall.  It’s been extremely rewarding, all the time we’ve spent together and all the amazing experiences we’ve shared.  With the ups must come the downs.

24 hours of retrospect: everything is okay, we made the right decision, these things happen, thankfully it happened within the USA, cruising is fun, this is the only bad thing that has happened in one year of being on the boat and it turned out fine, we still like cruising and will continue for a while, a house one day will be nice.

The engine is now fine….we think.  It was a series of little mishaps that resulted in the overheating.  The hose kinked starving the engine of water.  This caused the coolant to overflow.  Without the coolant it wasn’t cooling down.  The exhaust hose had come loose and was gushing most of the exhaust water into the bilge.  After repair and test runs we think we are good now.

There was a Publix grocery store near the marina we were towed to.  Being around so many people and a large developed area, we just stared at everything.  Inside the grocery store we grinned like idiots at all the nice and inexpensive food.  Grant bought beer and ice and now he is happy.  Amelia bought strawberries and now she is happy.

UPDATE: THE GULF STREAM DILEMMA

We have had several people ask us about the squalls we ran into off the coast of Florida and why we made the decision we did; so we decided we would take a moment and review the situation, our potential options and the factors leading to our decision. These are excellent questions to ask and lessons can always be learned.

So, lets recap: “Nasty” squalls predicted for the next 36 hours, large (peaking 10ft) steep confused swell, shifty heavy breeze, no engine, taking on water from an unknown source.  Our position: 30 miles offshore in heavy shipping traffic unable to make ground, Gulf Stream pushing us NE 3+ knots

Options:

1. Heave-to:

We heard this a lot from people, the classic salty thing to do. Heave-to, lash down the tiller and strap in, go below and take a nap, let mother nature rage, the boat can handle it. When the weather lightens up try to fix the engine or sail on in to St. Augustine.

Why we didn’t: Well we did, for a little while. Vegas do heave to well; however, from that point on North, the Gulf Stream begins to head NE and the coast of Florida goes West a bit, so if problems worsened we would be a lot farther than 30 miles off the coast. (If you are 30+ miles offshore it is extremely unlikely a towboat will come to get you, the Coast Guard will come and rescue your person, not your boat).  Also, we could not in good conscience have no one on watch; many freighters use the Gulf Stream to save on fuel and bright lights or no, like the race boat heading down to Mexico last month, freighters do from time to time run things down.

Let’s not forget a big one, exhaustion. It is near impossible to sleep on Velocir when she is pitching every which way. We had been underway for over 36 hours and 3 on 3 off was beginning to wear on us physically and mentally. We would not have slept that night and if conditions had worsened we would have an even harder time with it.

2. Get Towed

While we were in touch with the Coast Guard we also got in touch with TowBoat US to find out if they would even come out to get us and what that might cost. There is a $150 insurance you can buy, but this is about the only scenario we could think of we wouldn’t just want to handle ourselves. So, to add on to all the reasons listed above not to continue on is the idea that the tow services are not as likely to come any farther than 30 miles out to get us, especially if conditions worsened. That assumed we would be even near a navigable inlet. We had our EPIRB and a life raft, but if had more problems we could lose the boat and that would cost us a LOT more than a tow.

So, all of these reasons and a few more combined to paint a pretty clear picture of the most reasonable thing to do. When reviewing all these options the #1 motivation was to keep us safe, while the tow was certainly expensive and not at all glamorous, it was the safest thing to do.

In the end it was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. We broke our wind vane, got numerous cuts a bruises, and were really glad we put a huge backing plate on the bollard on our foredeck we were towed through that mess on. The engine problems and water coming in were what we suspected but could not confirm, a series of minor problems that took about 20 minutes to repair. The predicted 36 of squally Hell that was predicted never materialized.

Hindsight, we should have hove-to and continued for another pleasant day of sailing. However, with water coming in from an unknown source and an easy exit  quickly slipping from our grasp I would make the same decision a hundred times over.

Amelia makes Androsia in Andros Town

Androsia Factory by Velocir

Steps from our marina is the Androsia Factory in Andros Town (not really a town).  It is a Batik that has been made here in the Bahamas since 1973, and is the top export of Andros island.  At our wedding we used Androsia fabric on our tables.  So, Amelia was very excited to see more of the beautiful fabric in person.

Here is the official website on how the fabric is made: http://www.androsia.com/Factory.html

Androsia Factory by Velocir

The factory is a long warehouse divided into different rooms.  The first room is for waxing, the second for dying followed by sewing rooms.Androsia Factory by Velocir

In the waxing room, hundreds of different designs hang on the walls and line the floors.  They are hand-carved foam with wire and very intricate.

Androsia Factory by Velocir

A lot of them are custom for different resorts, companies and restaurants all over the world.

Androsia Factory by Velocir

The floor and everything around was covered in wax.  While we stood there looking at all the designs, a couple came in with an employee and he started a demonstration.  Soon, they were creating their own Batik.  We asked if we cold join in.  Even though we weren’t from a certain hotel he let Amelia make two panels of Batik.

Androsia Factory by Velocir

The stamps are dipped in melted wax and then held down on the fabric for three seconds.  It is hard not to get drops of wax everywhere!

Androsia Factory by Velocir

There is also a writing utensil that holds wax.  Amelia used it to draw and write on the fabric.  Cursive came in really handy.  (Still hard not to drip wax everywhere!)

Androsia Factory by Velocir

When the designs were complete we headed to the dye room and picked out Periwinkle on the color chart.  (Amelia had to compromise on a color and the other woman referenced this as her children’s favorite color so really Amelia had no choice.  But the color turned out really nice!)Androsia Factory by Velocir

The fabric is dyed in these bins for about two hours, then they are washed many times at a high temperature to get rid of the wax.

Androsia Factory by Velocir

Finally, the beautiful fabric is hung out to dry in the back of the factory!!

Androsia Factory by Velocir

At the store, you can see the results of the various patterns and colors.

Androsia Factory by Velocir

The next day, we picked up our Androsia that Amelia had created.  What a great keepsake from our trip to Fresh Creek, Andros.

Fresh Creek Andros by Velocir

Fresh Creek has been a nice place to spend time.  We walked a path out to an old lighthouse and climbed the rickety ladder to the top.

Fresh Creek Andros by Velocir

We also took our dinghy Raptor for a ride up Fresh Creek and came across a large mangrove stand on the South shore about thirty feet high.  As we approached, we noticed someone had strung up parachutes and a cargo net to make it a play fort.  What a comfortable hammock cargo netting makes!

Fresh Creek Andros by Velocir

Despite the lack of anchorages, Andros has been a nice surprise for us.  It may have been different if we hadn’t stumbled upon the Batik lesson and Mangrove Fort, but Fresh Creek was by far our favorite stop in Andros, and you can see why.

Our current Velocir plan is to sail north tomorrow to Morgan’s Bluff, located on the north end of Andros.  Then a calm weather window is coming and we plan to make it back to the States.  It took us 80 days to get down here, and we want to get back to Annapolis in 45 days.  Here we go!

We’re Going the Distance- Hello Andros

But we’re not going for speed.  In a little less than 24 hours nonstop we transited from Georgetown, Exumas 99 miles to Green Cay, a small island in the middle of nowhere.  After a few hours on the beach and snorkeling we continued 28 miles to the South Bight of Andros island.

Sailing Albin Vega Velocir

We departed Georgetown at 0715 after listening to the weather report on our SSB receiver.  The wind was still blowing a steady 15 knots from the SE, but it was the first weather window we’d seen in weeks.  And it was forecasted even lighter over the following days.  We headed out of the harbor with four large catamarans and one monohull.

Sailing Albin Vega Velocir

Our route was conservative:  Travel 15 miles offshore (3 hours) from Georgetown, Exumas to Square Cay Cut and then stay in the protected waters inside the banks and “south-side” Barreterre of the Exumas.  This led us through some shallow areas on our chart, but it was high tide and we never saw less than 6 feet.

Sailing Albin Vega Velocir

One “shallow” area on the chart through Pudding Cut by Brigantine Cays was actually 12 ft deep and we passed a local cargo ship using the route.  Inside the banks the weather was much calmer.   It was less physically exhausting to have Velocir’s motion decreased.

Sailing Albin Vega Velocir

Still too much motion to sleep through.  We took 3 hour watches and used the NAVIK windvane to steer the entire way (except the shallows of Pudding Cut).  This gave us the ability to adjust sails, do navigation and get snacks down below without calling up one another for help.

Sailing Albin Vega Velocir

We sailed through the night, using jack-lines (heavy duty webbing that runs around the deck) clipped in to our harnesses and life jackets for safety.  At 0537 the next day we arrived at Green Cay.  The westward anchorage (protected from the weather) is navigable at dark with no hazards according to the chart.  We had never seen it ourselves though, so we were hoping it was as good as it seemed.  Using our spotlight at night, Grant stood on the bow and did a peripheral search on our way in.  Amelia watched the GPS and depth sounder to make sure they matched up.  Everything seemed right so we dropped the anchor and went to sleep.

The next morning we awoke to a little more swell coming around the island and tossing Velocir about.  Velocir was anchored in a fine spot- the GPS, paper charts, depth sounder and spotlight had served us well.  We got the dinghy, Raptor, in the water and headed over to the island to explore.

Green Cay Bahamas by Velocir

Ashore, the only signs of life were some goats making sounds in the distance.  We walked the rocky beach and then went snorkeling. 

Green Cay Bahamas by Velocir

There were yellow sea fans called “Venus Sea Fan” that we had not seen before and many many fish. 

After about 20 minutes in the water, Amelia looked out into the deeper water and spotted a reef shark swimming towards her.  Grant was about 20 feet away so she yelled to him and swam towards the dinghy (which was close-by).  The shark was curious about Grant and got within 15 feet of him, so Grant waved his spear at it, and it started to swim away.  That was a clear wrap-up to snorkeling, so we hauled up the anchor and set our course for the South Bight of Andros Island (29 miles).

South Bight Andros by Velocir

Andros is three islands with large rivers running through them.  It has one of the largest barrier reefs in the world (good fishing!) and bone fishing in the bights.  It also runs along the Tongue of the Ocean, where just outside the reef there is literally a wall that plunges down thousands of feet, but inside the reef is very shallow.  This shallow wide-open landscape makes it only navigable in fair weather for cruising boats.  When entering South Bight, it was much larger and open to the weather than we realized.

South Bight Andros AUTEC by Velocir

Because of this ocean wall is so close to shore, Andros is home to AUTEC.  AUTEC is a US military establishment that had about four bases on the island (now only two).  As we have learned, they test submarines and sonar.  South Bight, our first stop in Andros is home to one of the abandoned sights.  It is located on Golding Island at the entrance to South Bight.

South Bight Andros AUTEC by Velocir

(Note to Cruisers:  (pictured above) There is an extremely well-marked deep water entrance to their deserted basin and concrete pier, protected from E-S.  We did not try it but would recommend and spoke with a former employee who said it would be a great spot.)

South Bight Andros AUTEC by Velocir

Now, the AUTEC site is home to sheep (that should be sheared) and the buildings have been gutted.  Such a large facility abandoned last year.  There were still horse shoes in the sand pit.

Sono Bouy by Velocir

One item we saw was this sono-bouy.  According to its writing it contains a lithium battery and other chemicals.  We found a few of these on the island and have seen many washed up on beaches throughout our trip.  Nice to finally figure out what they are.

Driggs Hill Settlement Andros by Velocir

Next, we visited the small settlement of Driggs Hill.  It had seen better days.  We saw about four men walking around and three children playing outside.  There was a huge gas station and government dock with no activity.  Homes looked abandoned.  We didn’t linger.  (The three islands of Andros are not connected and the North side is more inhabited.)

After such a long journey we are very exhausted.  We didn’t catch any fish and are not anywhere protected enough to spend much time, so we will continue north up the island.

And, if this blog post isn’t long enough for you, here is a video about baking pizza on the boat:

Hiking Stocking Island + Projects

It has been over a month since we arrived in Georgetown and we are ready for some new adventures.  But the weather has not been cooperating.  Staying here another week, we spotted a sailboat with an OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) flag and went over to talk with them.  They were a great resource telling us about a trail map of the island and where to find it!

We procured this map from a couple on Eleanor M.  He keeps the trails maintained, made this map and builds new trails every so often.  It was very exciting to have this guide to explore Stocking Island with.Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

He said we were free to share the map.  One of the things about Georgetown is that even though there is a community net every morning on the radio, you will not find out about most things that go on unless you socialize a lot. (a struggle for us)Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

The back side of our map alerts us to conservation pointers.  We didn’t know starfish could get sunburned and die so easily!

Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

We started out by the Casuarinas, a non-native species that is now plentiful in the Bahamas.  They are known by their sharp acorn-like seeds that people (especially kids), enjoy throwing at each other.  Today they are an important part of many islands, staving off erosion because de-foresting in the early years of settlement caused many native trees to become extinct (according to a local and the internet).

Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

Palm trees are another large tree we see a lot.  The path to the ocean-side took us a little bit to find but was a nice trail.

Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

After we reached the ocean the paths became over-grown. Using the map we could just make out the way down to the rocks below.  The waves were crashing in and we were glad Velocir was not out there today!Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

A sand treasure.

Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

Interesting geology of the rocks towering above us.Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

Instead of the usual sharp coral formations, this coastline was covered in Pleistocene and Holocene Rhizomorphs (meaning root structures), which as far as we can tell means calcified root systems ten-thousand years ago.Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

It looked like someone made a very intricate drip sand castle!Hiking Stocking Island by Velocir

Isolated beauty in the sand.Outboard Motor Repair by Velocir

Later that afternoon we went to work on the outboard motor.  I has been quitting lately.  Starting up again fine and then after a little ways stopping again.  We cleaned the spark plug (looked great).Outboard Motor Repair by Velocir

Then we took off the carburetor but that looked great too.  Finally we decided that there may be too much oil in the fuel mixture.  See, we usually keep a mixture in a small tank and fill the motor with it.  We think maybe too much oil has been mixed in because we don’t always empty it all the way before adding a new mixture.  It’s all we can come up with for now and will wait and see if it helps.  Meanwhile, it is still dependable enough and always starts up again.Cruising Albin Vega Velocir

Grant staying handsome with his clippers plugged into the inverter.

Cruising Albin Vega Velocir

We ended the evening with some steak, adding potatoes with spinach and onions.  Garnished with some Minneolas.  Canned food will come again as soon as we leave this area. 

And another achievement: after two weeks of waiting for propane it was finally available again in Georgetown.  Grant waited two hours and was at the front of the line this morning when the propane truck came.  Over 50 propane tanks were sitting in a neat little row, waiting.  Now we can continue to enjoy warm meals!

By this weekend the weather should clear and we will head north to Andros and the Berrys (weather permitting) on our way back to the United States.  After much agonizing about wanting to go farther south we chose the safer option for hurricane season.  It was clear in the end- Velocir is our home, so she comes first.  Don’t worry, we’ve planned a fun summer for ourselves sailing tall ships, visiting family and camping throughout CA before we head south again next fall!  And with the weather being so unusual this winter, staying out of hurricane territory is probably for the best.

Some videos to enjoy:

Cruising Georgetown in 1996

The last time Amelia was in Georgetown, Exumas was 1996.  Cruising felt like a vacation every day and playing with friends on volleyball beach took up most of her time.  Here are some glimpses of how things looked back then, and now 16 years later in 2012.

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Still lush and sandy, Amelia’s family brought home a bag from the straw market.  Later, we tried our talent at making baskets for Easter.

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

The market is still there today, only with different designs than her mom’s decorative cloth lady—more colored straw and animal print and many knick knacks for sale too.  Amelia picked out a small basket laced with two colors of Androsia fabric (from the Bahamian island of Andros).

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

The dinghy dock was always soooo crowded! Sometimes it was hard to find a spot.  It was fun to climb over dinghies to get to the dock, passing groceries or clean clothes to one another.  Sometimes we would count then just to see how many people were in town!

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

2012-  The dock is not as crowded.  Instead people spend their time at Stocking Island on the other side of the harbor and just come into town for a few hours to run errands.  It has free water so you can fill your jerry cans without even lifting them from your dinghy.  Of course, now I have to worry about things like water!Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Ice cream and a popular ring game were among my priorities (let’s be honest, ice cream is still up there).  My parents would get the groceries from Exuma Market while we played and ate coconut ice cream—my favorite.

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

2012- no ring game.  Now we sit on the benches with a free wifi connection and eat our ice cream.  Then we get the groceries ourselves!

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Lots of snorkeling from the dinghy!!  Tons of beautiful fish everywhere.

2012-  There are still some good snorkeling spots inside the harbor, but some places people say not to swim due to years of pollution from boats in the harbor.

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

A hike through palm trees and scrub to the monument on top of the tallest hill was a fun day activity.  Then down the hill to the beach on the ocean-side.

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

2012-  Still a beautiful hike with a breathtaking view of the harbor (if you know where the path starts)!  Now, notice my friend on the left wearing a pink regatta t-shirt?  Well, cruisers design and vote on the shirts every year.  I remember in 1996 your design could only have three colors.  Here was the 2012 t-shirt, in pink of course!

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Winning or chairing a regatta event earns you a flag.  There are many events to be a part of over the two weeks of festivities.  It is all organized by the cruisers, mostly those who return year after year.  Think of it as a summer camp (or student counci).

2012- The flags are still much coveted.  We didn’t get any though!

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Sitting in town with our straw purses.

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Cruising Regatta Kid’s Game: finding change in the sand.  This year I’m not sure what the kid games were like.  We competed in the Adult Coconut Challenge (see previous post).

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

Regatta games.  What a fun place to be a kid.  Today there are many more resorts and bars built where cruisers used to play.  This new atmosphere has slowly grown on us, and just being around so many cruisers you feel part of a community is fun and unique.

Cruising Georgetown by Velocir

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