Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Miami To George Town

1 - Stuart, 2 - Miami, 3 - Cat Cay, 4 - Chub Cay, 5 - Nassau, 6 - Warderick Wells Cay,
7 - Little Farmer's Cay, 8 - George Town
Miami to Cat Cay
November 18, 2013

A beautiful full moon shines down on us before
we leave Florida.

Jon gets stopped by the police in downtown Miami.
What a beautiful day for crossing!  Our anchors were up at 7 AM.  The sun was shining as we made our way past downtown Miami and under the last few bridges.  We're headed for open water!  The first few hours, two foot waves slapped us around.  Gotta Smile felt right at home, but I headed for the bow bench seat and took a nap in the sun.  When I awoke, I was feeling great.  I think this was my first open water experience without a bucket in my lap!  About half way across the Gulf Stream, the water flattened.  I knew we were going the right direction when the water was finally blue -- a rich deep sapphire blue.  I have missed that color in our travels along the U.S. coasts.  Those beautiful blue waters are a primary reason for returning to this part of the world.

Cat Cay Yacht Club
We arrived at the Cat Cay Yacht Club around 4 -- just in time to clear Bahama Customs.  Only the captain of the boat is allowed to get off until we are OK'ed by the custom's agent.  When Brian and Jon were done, we all scrambled onto the dock and did the happy dance.  
The quarantine flag is up while we wait to
clear customs.

We're legal!

The yellow quarantine flag was taken down and the Bahama flag was raised.  

When a boat enters another country's water and hasn't checked in with the customs agent a yellow flag is flown.  After checking in, the flag of the country must be prominently displayed.  Time to celebrate with dinner at the club's restaurant.  All of the people we met were charming and friendly.  We did see first hand what the guide books had warned us about.  Eating in restaurants down here is

expensive.  An occasional splurge will be fun.  Our plan is to anchor out and eat most of our meals on board.  

Cat Cay to Chub Cay
November 19, 2013

Gail & John on the upper deck as we travel south.
We are now in that beautiful light blue water that is so clear we can see the bottom most of the time.  Coral, sea grass, sand and starfish are easily seen.  It is hard to decide which is a prettier shade of blue:  the sky or the water.  We have been blessed with a day of flat water -- not even a ripple.  How can we be in water this flat with no land in sight?  We keep reminding ourselves, not every day will be as beautiful as these two.

The first of four barracudas….
The guys decided that the fishing lines would get wet today.  They both snagged barracudas.  Two got away and two were released.  It was exciting just to hear the lines clicking their warning that something had gone for the bait.

Gail and I tried a new recipe for Mexican chicken soup.  It smelled delicious as it simmered all afternoon.  We ate by the light of a full moon in the cockpit with a beautiful breeze.  It was so perfect! 
Ready for dinner in the cockpit.
No land in sight.  No sounds other than our voices.  And, no bugs!  Wow, this is what we were hoping to find……

Sun setting -- 
Dinner is served!

Chub Cay to Nassau
November 20, 2013

Bonnie and Jon rafted on us last night.  It was fun to wake up this morning and have them snugged against our hull.  Once again the water is flat, the sky is blue and there is very little wind.  How lucky can we be?  And, how long will our luck hold out?  

Our path today took us through several deep water channels on our way to Nassau.  For a short time, we saw a depth of 10,025 feet.  

Cruise ship alley
To get a closer view of the cruise ships, big boats and life on land we took the inner channel around Nassau.  Of course, Nassau is noted for it's high energy, big city atmosphere.  It has been that way since the 17th century, when pirates came here for women and wine.  In the 1940's the disgraced Duke and Duchess of Windsor escaped from Britain for this 
Where the rich and famous play, Atlantis.
retreat.  The six of us prefer to boogie through here and visit some of the smaller towns we come across later in the trip.
I guess I should have explained our agenda before this.  We are traveling as fast as we can to Puerto  Rico.  Friends advised us to speed through the Caribbean before the Trade Winds start blowing.  We'll spend the winter in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  A leisurely trip north will begin the
And the big yachts that bring them to town. 
middle of March taking time to explore the Caribbean islands in depth. 

Anchored tonight beside Athol Island.  Don't say that too fast….. you might be embarrassed.  

Pulling into the Exuma Cays Park
Nassau to Warderick Wells Cay (Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park)  
November 21, 2013

The sky is still blue, the wind is minimal, but we have a little chop on the water.  Still thankful.  We have been so spoiled with the unbelievable water of the past couple days.  We passed lots of small islands and saw more pleasure craft -- mostly really big yachts.  Civilization must be close.
We have already traveled 279 miles in our first four days.  
How many shades of blue can you count?  Oh, it looks a little green in the photo. Still, a pretty spot.
Tonight we are on a mooring ball in the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park which is part of Warderick Wells Cay.  It is one of 25 National Parks that are protected by the Bahamas Trust.  The guide books rank this area as one of the most pristine and beautiful in the Exumas.  It is sheltered on three sides with great views everywhere we look.  As the mooring ball was being connected two manta rays swam past the side of the boat.  The dingy was dropped in and we did a quick tour of the bay before the sun dropped behind the islands.  
Chumming the water with lettuce.  Who would
think it would be such a hit?

While we prepared dinner, Gail threw some lettuce leaves into the water which caused a feeding frenzy by greater amber jacks (probably eight two foot fish).  After dinner, Brian and John were preparing to lift the dingy.  A seven foot shark started circling the dingy with Brian still in it.  He was extremely cautious as he stepped  to the boat.  
Every night we eat dinner in the cockpit enjoying the tropical breezes and the quiet of the area.  The moon is just beyond full.  It still throws enough light to eat by.  And, you can imagine how bright the stars are with no lights for a hundred miles or more.   

Warderick Wells Cay to Little Farmer's Cay 
November 22, 2013

This looks like a fashion citation.
Still beautiful weather today, but oh, what happened to our water.  Five foot swells and two to three foot chop greeted us as we left our protected bay.  It was enough to make all of us wear our man overboard wrist devices and for me to take two naps on the bow settee.  The good news is -- we had a short day that brought us to another beautiful anchorage around 3:00.  This visit doesn't allow time to visit Little Farmer's Cay, but we will return.  It is supposed to be the perfect Bahamian village.  Bon Voyage is once again rafted to us for the night and Bonnie is making dinner.  We'll eat in our cockpit and toast another successful day of travel.    
Jon manning the grill and enjoying some liquid refreshment.

Our water maker has been working like a charm.  It made enough for me to do two loads of laundry yesterday and for us to give Bonnie and Jon 100 gallons tonight, although the last 20 accidentally went back into the ocean.

Little Farmer's Cay to Little Farmer's Cay 
November 23, 2013 

What appears to be a volcano exploding, is
something I prefer to sleep through -- sunrise!

Everyone was up at 6:00 this morning so we could get an early start.  After two hours of discussion about weather and wave height among the captains, we pulled the anchor and took off.  

The treacherous inlet.
To get out of this peaceful bay we have to go through a narrow inlet that is bubbling like a boiling pot of water.  The currents, tidal movement, wind, surf and narrow space to maneuver all combine to make it a nail biter.  That turned out to be a piece of cake, compared to what was waiting outside!  Seven to nine foot seas greeted us as they broke over our bow pulpit.  I hadn't secured everything as well as I should have, so there was a
The sea that was waiting for us
constant clanking as dishes and food shifted in the cupboards.  Nothing broke, except a small ramekin that I dropped as I tried to pad the cupboards with pillows.  The route was tested for about two miles, when those in charge, voted to turn around and go back to the anchorage.  No arguments here.  Of course, that meant going through the inlet again.  Once we were safely anchored, we looked out at the sea.  It looked almost calm.  Perspective is everything.  Seeing how well the boat  takes the waves was reassuring.  I'm handling the waves better, too, thanks to a new potion.  Motion eaze is an oil that is applied behind the ears.  So far, no face in the bucket time.

Bob and Linda on Veda L (a 48' Krogen that was docked next to us at the Bayport Marina, MN for many years) heard us call on the radio.  They are at Compass Cay.  We passed that location about 30 miles back.  They invited us to spend time with them as we wait for calm seas.  It would be fun to see them, but 60 miles round trip is about a day's travel. Think we'll have to meet up somewhere down the path.

JR carving an owl out of wild tamarind wood.
Yesterday I commented that we would come back to see the town on Little Farmer's Cay.  I sure didn't think that it would be this soon.  It is a very tidy village with friendly people.  JR met us as we walked the hilly streets looking for a grocery store.  JR was a great find, the groceries weren't.  Once again we have learned what the guide books mean when they say supplies are limited in the stores. 
It is hard to believe that anything would grow in
this rocky soil.  JR hand plants and waters his
crops.  It was pretty amazing.
No refrigeration, small stacks of canned goods, no fresh produce.  JR is the government representative for the community, unofficial mayor, wood carver and very nice man.  He gave us a short tour of the town, his wood carving studio, garden and  answered all of our questions as we walked.          

Bonnie and Jon are dealing with a major problem.  Their refrigerator is not holding it's temperature.  I would be frantic, but Bonnie seems to be handling it pretty well.  She made a great chicken dish with brandied apples in the sauce and brought it over for a potluck tonight.  We're making ice to help with the cooling and have offered freezer space.  This is not what we anticipated.  

Still In Farmer's Cay
November 24, 2013

Stuck in paradise!  We are here for at least a couple more days.  A weather front is coming through with nine foot waves expected.  After our experience in seven foot waves, we aren't even discussing the option of leaving until it calms down.  No one is too disappointed -- it is beautiful and today we found WiFi. 
Drinks, snacks and WiFI at Ty's!

When we landed at the dingy dock we met some of the locals.  They told us to walk to the airport and we would find a nice restaurant/bar.  Sitting down with a drink and snack sounded like a good idea.  So, off we went.  Then the manager told me they had free WiFi.  I grabbed him and gave him a full body hug.  I did apologize saying I should have asked first.  All of the people we have met have been very friendly and this group was no exception.  Only 60 people live on the island.  We figure we are on a first name basis with at least seven.  By the end of our visit we may know a good percentage.
Walking back to the dingy.

Little Farmer's Cay was settled by a freed slave named Christina.  She moved here with her two sons and daughter.  Most of the current residents are direct descendants.  The island is only 3/4 of a mile long.  It does have a 2500 foot airstrip.   
Bonnie and Jon continue to have trouble with their refrigerator.  A discussion of options is ongoing between them:  to continue and get a repair in Georgetown (only 40 miles from here) or to turn around and head north.  We will be so sad if they decide to go back.  No matter what -- we are committed to continue.  

For the third night, Bonnie made the main course and brought it to the dining deck.  (She's trying to empty some of the more perishable items from the refrigerator.)  Gail and I are busy coming up with side dishes.  Good times and good food with good friends! 

It's been another two days in Farmer's Cay.  The bay is too rough and the wind too strong to put the dingy in the water.  The real bummer is that we can't connect to the WiFi at Ty's restaurant.  We were so hopeful that we would be able to connect to it from the boat.  Books, sudoku games and assorted tasks have kept us from going stir crazy.  Brian continues to work on projects.  I think he has almost exhausted his list.  Bonnie and Jon have decided to go back to the Abacos.  The trip certainly won't be the same without our boat buddies.

Little Farmer's Cay to George Town
November 27,2013 
Bonnie and Jon head north while we go south.
The weather and wave reports sounded iffy for today, but when we got up we could see that the water had calmed down considerably.  The boat had been prepared for departure the night before -- just in case:  pillows stuffed in the cabinets, cabinet doors locked, fragile items put where they won't fall.  We were ready for semi-rough water.  Brian and I were up at 6.  In checking the engine room he discovered a leak in one of the water lines.  45 minutes later, it was repaired and after a brief farewell to Bonnie and Jon we were off.  Four - five foot swells tapered off to one foot by the end of the day.  I learned another valuable lesson -- no reading in rough water…….  I thought I was doing so well that I could finish my book.  No, no, no!  Once that feeling of seasickness begins, it is here to stay.  

We arrived in George Town at 3:00.  Plenty of time to check out the facilities.  A real grocery store was across the street with fresh produce and almost everything we needed.  The refrigerator is full again.  Tomorrow morning we are off to find a produce stand and bakery.  No doubt in my mind that Brian will sniff out the bakery!    
The ambiance was lacking (folding chairs and table),
but the food was exceptional.

Big treat tonight, dinner in town.  Eddie's Edgewater restaurant was recommended.  As we walked up the front steps we were skeptical, but we went in and ordered grouper dinners.  It was delicious!  And, what nice people in this town.  Everywhere we go, the people are so friendly and polite.

Tonight we have real WiFi!  I can finally post this blog.                       
Gotta smile -- we're loving the ride!


  1. Jackie: Great to read your blog - I have been checking every day. So sorry to hear about Jon & Bonnie - what a bummer. Bob

  2. Stumbled across your blog while researching boats I saw during our cruise and I'm pretty sure I caught y'all in Fort Lauderdale.

    Wishing you fair skies and following seas!