16 Mar 2016

15/3/2016 : Back in Fernandina, Florida

It seems no time at all since we left Key West for the Bahamas but just over 4 weeks after arriving in the Berry Islands, we departed New Providence for the sail back to Florida feeling a bit sad that this season's sailing was winding down.  We had hoped to break the 3 day passage with a stopover in West Palm Beach but looking at the forecast we realised a direct run would be more sensible and so 66 hours after departing we arrived in Fernandina in the middle of the night. Having been here before last November, we knew where to go and so picked up a mooring, had a very early breakfast and went to bed, shattered but glad to have made it safely.

The trip up was good: only 13.5 hours of motoring when the wind died, a smooth sea (unlike the crossing over to the Bahamas in mid - February the wind and current were in the same direction), warm and sunny weather and visits from dolphins along the way.  We didn't see many other boats but did witness an amazing lightning storm to the east of us over the Gulf Stream which lasted for hours.

After clearing back into the States yesterday we spent several hours at the laundry .... not all glamour! ..... so now everything is clean on board.  The marina has a very pleasant members lounge so at least we were able to wait in comfort whilst the machines did their thing.  Paul also got to sample his long-awaited BBQ aligator ribs, postponed from last year when the restaurant was closed.  Apparently they were very tender and tasted a bit like veal .... I waived the chance to sample them!

We'll be heading to the marina where we'll be leaving Tumi on Friday so have a couple of days R&R before the jobs of taking off the sails, packing, polishing the hull and wiping things over with white vinegar solution to detract mould from forming whilst we're away.  We won't be back out until the end of October which feels an awful long time to be not sailing but it will be lovely to be back on terra firma and spend time with friends and family .... not to mention closing Easton Court and overseeing its conversion into two houses.  It's going to be a busy few months for us but hopefully time well spent in terms of being able to finally sell the property and free ourselves up longer term for our ongoing sailing adventures.

We've travelled 2950 miles since we splashed Tumi back into the water in late September and have really enjoyed exploring the east coast of the USA from Annapolis down to Key West, and revisiting the Bahamas.  The friendly welcome of the people we have met, friends we have made along the way and interesting American Civil War and War of Independence history, together with the natural beauty of the Bahamas, has all made for a great trip.  Thanks for following us this season and we'll be back blogging around Halloween!

11 Mar 2016

11/3/2016 : New Providence Island, Bahamas

We're all feeling a little glum today, Jon and Hannah because they're flying home tonight and Paul & me because we've got to head north now to Florida to ready Tumi to be left for the hurricane season.   We can't believe the time has passed so quickly but we have to get back to the UK to oversee our conversion project.

We had a good sail over from Shroud Cay yesterday after spending our final night in the Exumas there on Wednesday.  Shroud has large mangroves to explore in the dinghy and so that's what we did, pumping it up three times during the excursion .... the slow leak is certainly speeding up!  We also built our own cairn, a permanent reminder of our visit given we never got to Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells to place the piece of driftwood with all of our names on it.

New Providence island, home of Nassau, has a bit of a bad reputation for safety so we've never visited it before but that is where the international airport is so here we are.  We were lucky enough to be told about a retired sailor with a private dock alongside his home and so we're moored up there.  It's on the quieter side of the island but there's not much in the vicinity so we're killing time a bit today. We did venture out for lunch at the one neighbourhood beach bar. The view was good ..... we'll leave it at that!

Tomorrow morning Paul & I will leave for Florida.  We had hoped to spend a couple of days in the Berrys again on the way through but there's a good weather window over the next few days before the winds die so we're going to be sensible and go when the conditions allow.  Our next entry will be from the US in a few days time so it's goodbye from the Bahamas for now.

9 Mar 2016

9/3/2016 : Hawksbill Cay

We've had a busy few days, hence the lack of blog entry, visiting Big Major Spot to see the swimming pigs (photos to follow), snorkeling in Thunderball grotto and also visiting Cambridge Cay, a first for us too.  The weather was very calm for the first few days but returned with a vengeance overnight whilst we were at Cambridge Cay, far exceeding the forecasts and making it a bit of an hairy exit.

Cambridge Cay is simply beautiful being surrounded on all sides by pristine white beaches and turquoise seas ... what's not to like?  It is however one of those places a
where are deep draft means we have to leave the Bahama bank and re - enter the Atlantic side of the Exumas before cutting into it.  After our reasonably successful fishing endeavours of last week, we cast out the line again and almost immediately Paul reeled in a yellow - fin snapper, a 5 out of 5 in our eating guide.  He was only around 12" long though,  not really enough to feed 4, and so we threw him back to live another day.  Almost straight away another bite revealed an Amber Jack (a 3 out of 5 eater) but this was smaller still and so went back overboard.  Paul's still after the big Mahi Mahi that got away on the sail to Great Inagua .....

And now back to our departure from Cambridge Cay!  Despite being a sheltered anchorage, there was a bit of a roll and Hannah was feeling a bit head - achy so we decided to leave and hopefully find a calmer spot back on the Bahama Bank side of the island chain.  That meant exiting via the Atlantic and boy what an exit!  With a strong current flowing out and very strong  winds blowing in over shallow waters, the waves did cut up a bit and we were heading straight into them so it made for a rough ride to say the least. Fortunately we only had a couple of miles to do before we could cut back in to the Bank and much calmer waters.  After that it was a great sail and we nearly caught something big on the end of the fishing line but it broke the 50lb line and got away, lure and all.

So now we've been at Hawksbill Cay, part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park as is Cambridge Cay, for the last two nights with the clearest turquoise waters imaginable as far as the eye can see.  We had a great day yesterday hiking on the island for a couple of hours in the morning before enjoying an afternoon BBQ on the beach, this time without iguanas sizing us up. The only downside has been the continuing roll making sleeping not easy so we'll probably move on again today, hopefully to Warderick Wells if they have a mooring for us.

Only two more days left of Jon and Hannah's holiday now so we'll be Nassau bound tomorrow to make sure we get them back in time for their flight.

3 Mar 2016

3/3/2016 : Barbecued iguana anyone?

With a little bit more wind this morning we decided to continue our journey north and decided to sail on the Atlantic side of the cays in the hope we would a catch another fish.  Imagine our excitement when a huge Mahi Mahi hooked on the line and Jon started to reel it in.  Quite what happened we don't know but it leapt out of the water, giving us a fantastic  view of it, only to fall off the line and be lost to us.  It really dampened our mood.  Sadly we didn't get another bite so arrived at Bitter Guana Cay for a BBQ with only a nice fillet of Mahi the couple from last night had caught and given to us.

We'd hoped to BBQ last night on our sand bar at dusk but low water didn't come soon enough.  We saved all the food we'd prepared for lunchtime today and headed over to a deserted beach on Bitter Guana Cay to enjoy it, which we duly did under the watchful eye of an half dozen residents .... iguanas who were very interested in what we were up to!

2/3/2016 : Paradise on earth

We had a slow old sail up from Georgetown yesterday in lighter winds than forecast and consequently didn't make our planned for destination.  The highlight of the trip was catching a Bigeye tuna .... All 4 lb or so of him!  It was an exciting moment hauling it on board and then Paul and Jon swiftly despatched it whilst Hannah acted as official photographer.  I was conspicuous by my absence!

We anchored overnight at Galliot Cay and had delicious seared tuna and also sashimi  making for a memorable meal.  We woke up this morning with a view to sailing on but spied a sand bar in the distance which was exposed being low water.  We decided to investigate and are all so glad we did .... It was our little piece of paradise.

We managed to get Tumi to within a mile of the bar and then headed off in the dinghy across the beautiful shallow waters to  be the first people that day to walk on the sand.  It was truly stunning and the colours were incredible.  Some hour and a half later the sand was rapidly disappearing as the waters rose and we beat a retreat back to Tumi.

With no breath of breeze we decided to stay put for the day and the peace and quiet was complete, that is until another yacht invaded our haven!  They motored over to say hello and  came back later for sundowners, a lot of fun.  All in all the perfect day.

1 Mar 2016

1/3/2016 : Goodbye Georgetown

We had a good sail down to Georgetown on Thursday, especially the half outside the island chain when the wind got up and we averaged over 7 knots.  Despite that we still arrived at dusk and as we motored towards the anchorage were greeted by myriad anchor lights, several hundred so pretty busy to say the least.  We were sensible with it being dark by now and anchored away from the other boats but nearly 3 miles from town which with a leaking dinghy wasn't ideal!  It's nice to be back.

Jon and Hannah arrived on Saturday night, delayed once again by local airlines .... they don't have much luck on that front ... ready for two weeks exploring the Exumas.  The weather hasn't completely played ball their first two days with Sunday being sunny but rather windy and yesterday a bit overcast until mid-afternoon but it's not stopped us getting out and about.  We hired a car yesterday and drive down to neighbouring Little Exuma and, after an excellent lunch at a local restaurant, to Tropic of Cancer beach,  so named (you've guessed it ) because the Tropic of Cancer runs through it.  Whilst Paul, J & H strolled along the beach, I enjoyed forty winks in the sunshine!

Today we're sailing north back to Big Major Spot, a 60 mile sail which we had planned to do over two days later this week but the weather has dictated otherwise.  After today we have 5 days of next to no wind which will hopefully also be accompanied by clear blue skies.  Nothing wrong with dreaming .......