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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where has the time gone?

Well, it has been quite a while since I have visited these pages.

Since returning from the Bahamas last year a lot has happened but perhaps the most significant thing for us is the absence of  Zeke. We returned to Ontario and took Zeke to the University of Guelph for a check up. We had noticed a lump on his leg and asked them to check it out.  Well, they did and it was confirmed he had Hemangiosarcoma, a very aggressive cancer. We spoiled him while trying several  therapies, conventional and alternative.  We were lucky to have him until the end of January. Needless to say we miss him terribly and once we get a bit of travelling out of our systems and settle down again we will get another Portie!

Speaking of travels - for the past seventeen months we have been planning another Loop. Not the AGL - America'a Great Loop but the FGL - France's Great Loop!  It all started one night over docktails with Gene and Ginny from Free to B. Before we knew it Doug and Judy on Moonstruck 11, Frank and Carrie from Once Around, Sid and Evelyn from Something Special and Terri & George from Simcoe were all aboard.

We will be spending a month, mid August to mid September discovering the Burgundy Region of France while navigating the Canal du Nivernais.

We will be starting and ending in Decize.  It is at the bottom of the map just above the word Loire.

I will be making an effort to blog this trip. We will not have wifi on the boat but will do our best to try and find a signal a few times a week!!

I tried to put a link here to the Europe blog but you may have to cut and paste it?

I hope this finds everyone healthy and happy - live for today cause who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Bons amis, le bon vin, une belle campagne, que demander de plus!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bye Bahamas, the end of the season.

 After tying up at Browns marina we went for a walk about and found the trunk lady. She didn't have much left but Garth managed to get a meal. From there we went in hunt of a red Bimini long sleeved Tshirt. Easier said than done!! We did manage to find one for a decent price. The wind and waves kept us in Bimini one more day so that meant we had one more day on the beach. I went by myself in the morning. Zeke does not understand that everything you pick up is not for him and he barks thinking you are going to throw him something to retrieve. I had a lovely walk and came back loaded with sea glass and a few beans. (Stop laughing Frank and Peggy) Actually I got two hamburgers and two sea hearts!! When you two see my collection you will be so envious!!
That evening Garth, Dan, Judy and I went up to see the sunset. We left early enough and took the beach route instead of the road. People must wonder when they see these four adults walking along the beach with their heads down. Like maybe we lost a ring or something valuable! Anyhow, we all managed to get some nice glass and some beautiful shells.
Dan is looking up so he must have found something good!

Along the way Garth stopped these two crabs playing chicken with the waves!

Our last Bimini sunset.

Beautiful even though there was no green flash!

Dan & Judy threw us the lines at seven am and we were off.  As we were heading to our first way point  Garth looked back and caught a beautiful picture of the sun rising over Bimini.

Around 11 we saw a sailboat on the radar and thought it may be "BEANS" , not sea beans but a boat named Beans. Garth called them and sure enough there they were.  They had left Bimini at 3 am and were hoping to get into West Palm in time to check in at immigration before they closed at 6 pm. And I thought we had a long day! It was neat to talk to someone out in the middle of the ocean.  Getting closer to the Florida coast the boat traffic picked up considerably. Garth looked through the binoculars at one point and said - "It is either the Police or Homeland Security".  Within two minutes they were speeding and I mean speeding towards us, they circled around the back of the boat and pulled up on our starboard side. Always comforting to see the ray bans, the bullet proof vests and the guns just meters away! NOT. They asked a few important questions like where are you coming from and how long have you been gone, then they got down to the nitty gritty. "Do you have any vegetables on board?" "Do you have any fish on board"? "Where are you going?" "Are you US citizens?"  As one of them was running the information through the computer the other one carried on a conversation with Garth about how "pretty" the boat was and then asked him all kind of technical questions. The computer guy shook his head to the other one and he told us he was not going to board the boat and have a great day!!  I make fun of it but in all honesty they have a job to do.

I called Tow Boat US for local knowledge coming into the St. Lucie inlet. It is not marked because the shoals are constantly changing. Last year we took a strange route in but this year he said just come straight in! I hate inlets as the water can sometimes be confused and generally there are a ton of small boats zipping here and there. The small boats were there, but it was all good. The marina is about an hours journey up the St. Lucie River. As we were rounding a bend we saw a sail boat off to our side, the women was frantically waving her arms and yelling. Garth slowed down and I went outside to see what was happening. She yelled "we have run aground" Humm, let's see, you are in a sail boat that drafts probably 6 feet and you are on the wrong side of the marked channel? I asked if they had  the number for Tow Boat US, at this point she was srcraming to her husband and literally standing on the edge of the boat looking like she was about to jump off. We watched for a few minutes.As he was gunning it the silt was stirring up and they managed to free themselves. I yelled to her that they should be on this side of the marker and she looked at me as if to say" you stupid blonde I know that now"  Sometimes you're the show and sometimes you're the audience! We made it the marina at 6:02 and thankfully Jason had stayed late to help us dock. The predicted wind had arrived just in time but thankfully we were being blown onto the dock. After getting the water and electric hooked up we had long hot showers and went for dinner. As we were walking down the dock a bunch of boaters we doing what boaters do best - having dock tails. We saw Gene, Ginny and Skipper who we last saw almost three years ago in Norfolk Virginia.
 Our next task was  to, get the car and then  check in with immigration to get a new cruising permit.  Staring tomorrow we will clean the boat and begin to get it ready to put away for hurricane season. It will be going back to River Forest Yachting Centre.
Gee, where does the time go. We have been here a week, we have accomplished a few major tasks but still have a lot of organizing and cleaning to do. We had a huge storm here on Sunday, everyone was running around securing their lines. We got some fender boards from a cat on B dock and they saved us. I think Sunday was worse than when we were here for Sandy. It made us question our location and as of April first we will be moving back to B dock for the security of a slip rather than being on the wall.

Another ending to a great boating experience in the Exumas.

Over and out until we are back aboard Algonquin.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pictures from the past few weeks, relaxing in Bimini

Jeans Sandcastle in Little Bay.

The beaners guide, you can see that we think we have everything except the black one and the red one on the bottom row. In reality, the only one we  probably have from that row is the yellow nickerbean.

Zeke relaxing on the way to Bimini, keeping one eye on Garths piloting 
We left Nassau around 9 am Sunday and stopped in the middle of the Mackie Shoal about 7pm. It was a little weird because there was no one else around,just miles and miles of beautiful blue water. Usually when we are at anchor we pick a land mark as a reference point, that was the weird thing not being able to see land anywhere. We were in bed at 8:30 and had a great sleep. Pulled up anchor around 8:45 and arrived at Browns Marina in Bimini shortly after 1. We went for a trunk lunch then a walk about.  Our original plan of leaving here tomorrow has changed thanks to Mother Nature, she has made Wednesday the better day.

Who has more fun on the beach than a Portuguese Water Dog!

Junkanoo's catch for the afternoon!! 

Dan and Judy in the Steventon Jail

AHH - the grey nickerbean caper, note the glove!
All the locals coming to see what these crazy tourists were after.

Tropic of Cancer Beach

Three Sisters Beach, Great Exuma

Nassau, Harbour -cruise ships

Atlantis,  pretty impressive site

Boardwalk., every yacht needs a helicopter on the fly bridge don't you think?

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Just chillin on the corner!

This yacht was anchored near us at Hawksbill and we never could figure out what the thing on the front is?

Next and last blog for this year will be from Florida!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

1 in 16,964 they say and it's anchors away!

 Docked at: Nassau Harbour Club and Marina

We finally made it off the dock in Georgetown on Tuesday March 5th.  We had a beautiful ride all the way to Lee Stocking Island. Stayed on a mooring ball there for a few nights. During the day we walked over to the ocean side and went beaning!! What a haul - actually the haul came from the Adderly Cut but none the less it was an impressive haul. Garth found his first purse bean!  Lee Stocking was home to the Perry Institute for Marine Studies. It stopped operating about a year ago and since then everything has just been left. We watched a barge pull up and load four boats, tables, chairs, mattresses  etc etc - no such thing as island time when this was happening. They had the barge loaded to the gills and off the dock within forty minutes. Garth was taking pics the whole time and I half expected one of them to come over to the boat and ask for the camera at gunpoint. Did not happen!  Pictures to follow.
From here we moved up to Black Point and dropped the anchor in Little Bay. It had yet another beautiful beach to our starboard and a castle to port.  The second day we were there we walked two miles into Black Point. Thanks to Dan and Judy our days are filled with walking the wrack looking for sea beans and we are now full time beaners. On the list of "Desirable Sea Beans of Florida" the probability of finding a Yellow Nickerbean is 1 in 16,964. So, as we are walking along the dirt road - aka the Kings Highway, Garth found a yellow nickerbean. Seriously, NO SERIOUSLY - it was on the road. Within 50 meters he had pocketed  fifteen yellow nickerbeans and you should have seen the smile on his face. We were both in shock!
Now, lets backtrack to GeorgeTown - we were talking to the dock master, Clevon,  about sea-beans. We showed him the grey nickerbean, (1 in 6 ) and he said " these are from a bush down by the Fish Fry", "I'll stop on my way home and see if there are any on it" Well, he did and the bush was gone. Apparently what they are commonly used for is torture - boys rub them really hard against concrete for several minutes, they become hot and then they burn each other with them....sounds like fun to me!!   The last weekend we were there we rented a car with Dan and Judy, while driving around we spotted a tree with pods hanging down and stopped the car. Some locals came to see what we were doing and I asked them about the beans that they used to burn each other with. "Reverse the car" - so back we went , he went into the bushes and came out with green nickerbeans. So, we think the green ones become the grey ones after being in the sun and salt water. The plant was nowhere near the water. But, we now know what the plant and pod look like. So, back to my story. Finding yellow nickerbeans, on the road must mean that there is a yellow nickerbean plant nearby. We continue to town. Once there I showed them to some young boys and they all said " Oh, those are fun - "we get them really hot and burn each other"!  "Do you want us to show you where the bush is?"  We did not want to walk all the way back at that point so said maybe if you are here on our way back. We walked around Black Point and were stopped by Jean. She had seen Zeke that morning and commented on how he walked off the tender and right onto the big boat. Turns out Jean lives in the castle and as we sometimes do, she looks out through her binoculars every morning to see whats new. Jean invited us to a cook out at the school but we wanted to try the infamous Lorraines Cafe and also buy some of Lorraines Moms coconut bread so we declined the invitation.  The coconut bread was the best we have had the whole time in the Bahamas. We walked over to the town beach and found a few sea hearts then started the trek back to Little Bay. Sure enough we found the yellow nickerbean bush and the brown nickerbean bush!!! What a haul, we must have fifty of them. Can't wait to get back to Florida and drop a few on the beach then wait for the first beaner to go by! They are probably so rare because the bushes are no where near the water and it would take a hurricane to blow a few into the ocean.  It was an exciting bean day to say the least. After all it's the small things in life !
We stayed in Little Bay for three nights and then moved up to Hawksbill Cay. We both really like it there, it is an uninhabited island with beautiful beaches on both sides and these unbelievable sand dune flats at the south end. Hawksbill is in the Exuma Land and Sea park so it is a no take zone. As we walked around the flats we saw several large live conch and several beautiful shells. The shells were huge and had been totally bleached white by the sun. Mangroves surrounded the banks and there were little streams, about a  foot deep running through it. Strange sight - we walked around it for about forty five minutes just in awe. We now have over a hundred sea hearts, about 35 hamburgers, four purses and well you know about the nickers!! After five days and  a huge blow through two nights we decided to move on to Nassau. The seas coming here were a little rougher than planned,actually we had planned on going to an anchorage on the west side of Nassau but plans change and we entered the Nassau Harbour about 3:30. Dan had called earlier in the day, just as we had changed course and Garth asked him to check and see if there was room at the inn for us! So, although Dan & Judy were last seen headed east they arrived in Nassau the night before and their plans have totally changed from when we all left George Town two weeks ago.  We went to the Poop Deck for dinner and I am sure all slept well knowing we were tied securely to a dock.
This morning we all walked down to the Straw Market, Dan & Judy decided to leave today for Bimini and we decided to spend the day in Nassau. We walked back to the boat after touring the cruise ship area and then did the Kathy and Garth local bus tour of the island. We had asked a local guide how much his tour of the island would be for three hours and the quoted, non negotiable price was $275.00  A little steep for the area we thought, the local bus tour cost us $1.25 each and it was fun. The ladies who were our guides could not believe that we did not want to get off and see the shopping mall!
After spending an hour at Starbucks on the internet we got a pizza and returned to the boat. Some boaters we meet in George Town stopped by and we all shot the breeze for a few hours. They are moving "Getaway" up to the Abaco.
So, the plan tomorrow is to get up at OH DARK THIRTY, get permission to leave the Harbour from Harbour Control and run eight hours to the middle of the Bahama Banks, drop the anchor and spend the night. No land in sight but the good news is if the anchor lets go we just drift and drift and drift.  The next day head to Bimini, drop the anchor and Tuesday make the big run across the Gulf Stream to Florida! You know what they say about the best laid plans ..... you can always check the "Where are we know" link on the blog to watch us on Spot and see exactly where the boat is.
Our small camera has decided that it no longer wants to work so we really do not have very many pictures but we do have some and as soon as I get a decent connection I will post some pics. If we end up staying here longer I will go over to Starbucks, yes Starbucks, and use the internet there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Well, its seems like a long time since I have been back here to update the blog! Stacy left, then Dan and Judy left with their company and the three of us were all alone.  We spent the first week touring around in the dingy. We went over to Lee Stocking Island just about every day. We did not do much, but we did walk over to the ocean side to search the beach for treasures. One day Garth found SEVEN hamburger beans!! That is amazing! We listened in on the planning meeting for the regatta and almost volunteered for the scavenger hunt but then thought better of having an agenda or having a commitment. Last week the winds picked up which meant that if we had to go anywhere in the dingy we would have gotten soaked and it would not have been a pleasant ride, so we rented a car. We went to a different part of the island, a different beach and a different restaurant every day.  Garth found seventeen - yes, 17 beans in one day!!! We had a very pleasant time and shared the last few days with Roger and Anna aboard Free & Br Easy!

The boys relaxing on the beach!

So many beaches, so little time!

View from the Exuma Yacht Club bar.

Sunrise ..yes do see it occasionally.

Thanks to Garth our bean collection is growing 
The beaches here are amazing and empty. I do not think we saw another person the whole week.

However, walking the beaches does have its drawbacks, both Garth and Zeke got sticky burrs stuck in their paws....soles!  Both had to soak in epsom salts and both were attended to by Nurse Crachit, I mean Florence Nightingale.

Zeke's now wearing socks to keep the medicine on. Garth is doing well at keeping his bandages on!
We had thought we would leave here this Saturday and take our time getting back to Florida. However, the marina is out of diesel for starters and the wind is supposed to really pick up Saturday night into Monday! So, we may still be a fixture at the dock come Saturday morning.

Garth and Dan went out fishing this morning and we are waiting to see what they haul back in!! Will definitely take some pics if they catch anything!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A few more pictures from the past week.

Green Flash night at Farmers

Yep, he went in for the BBQ part first thing in the morning!

Santanas Grill, best lobster in Exuma

Zeke, Stacy and a local at Santanas beach

How do you walk in these things?

Zeke and Stacy snorkeling!

Catch a Fire Grill for sunset.

1967 totally restored Riva - a real beauty!

Can you see the bird on the flower!

WOW - a full rainbow!

Only three boats sank this time at the Five F Festival!

We had a really nice day at Compass Cay walking the beach. We introduced Stacy to trashing - walking the wrack line and looking for trash and sea beans. It is amazing what falls off peoples boats! We departed Compass and two hours later were tied up to the dock at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Stacy, Judy and I went for a walk and managed to scoop the last two loaves of bread on the island.  We had dinner at the bar and all left happy campers. We decided to spend another night there before heading down to the festival. Zeke's paw is better but still not one hundred per cent so we wanted to keep him out of the salt water.
We arrived at Little Farmers Yacht Club just after two pm. We heard people on the radio asking about OUR slips and we quickly radioed Rosie to tell him we were on our way and do not give away our spots! There are only two slips here and we reserved them a few weeks back.

Let the party begin!
The Five F Festival  (FIRST FRIDAY IN FEBRUARY FARMERS FESTIVAL) started twenty four years ago and the Regatta started fifteen years ago. It is a huge deal here and every year they rent the mail boat to bring people from Nassau. We heard the boat coming long before we saw it. The population of the island quadrupled and it took over three hours to unload all the supplies. Several Regatta boats also came on the barge.

Big news in Nassau & Adien doing the race planning!

Didn't see them come in on the mail boat?

On Friday the 11 o'clock race got underway about 1:30. Even the announcer was asking that someone let him know what is going on. The music was blaring, people were milling about eating and drinking. There was supposed to be events going on downtown but because of the delay they just cancelled them. The day before we had gone for a walk and walked into the Ocean Club, they thought we were there to help organize the events. So, the day before they still hadn't figured it out. I guess with enough rum they hoped people would not notice the disorganization!
We saw two boats sink during the races - the water is shallow and the crew can literally stand in the boat. They have to dive down and take out lead, then the boat floats back to the surface. The third boat had a faulty pump and got towed into the harbour. It was gone the next day. It's always something on a boat

First they pull in the anchor 
Then they put up the sail and the race in on!
A little dangerous??
Whitty K and Thunderbird - neck and neck!
Rounding the first buoy.

Whitty K took home the hardware!

Golden Girl, the second boat to sink - note the dog coming to the rescue!

Third boat of the weekend!!

They loaded up the empties and quietly departed - the party is over for another year.
We stayed at Farmers until Monday as the wind really picked up. We thought of leaving on Sunday and going to Musha (David Cooperfields Island) but Garth read on the internet that he has unfriendly dogs loose on the island, On Monday the three of us walked across the runway and sat in our coral pit to watch the sunset. We saw a green flash at sunset - cool!

Tuesday we left early but not before Garth jumped in the water and retrieved the BBQ part that feel in last night. We went out  Farmers Cut all the way to George Town. Zeke had a gravol and Stacy spent time on the floor, in the chair staring at the horizon or on the deck catching the breeze.

Garth trying to get the part without having to get in - the current was really moving!
We rented a car for Wednesday and drove from one end of the island to the other. We stopped in Baraterre, the place that Dan picked Stacy and Steven up from. We had lunch at Santanas Bar and Grill, this was the first time Zeke had been back in the water for almost ten days - he was sooo happy. We had lightly battered lobster - yummy. We drove through Sandals and another resort Grand Isles and then drove around Emerald Bay Marina. It is very nice but it is literally in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing to do or see up there. At least here we can see people all day, go shopping, eat out and walk around.  We stopped at  the sandals beach, Garth and Stacy did a little bit of snorkeling  We all had a swim and I found a beautiful cowrie shell on the beach. It is still sitting on the dock waiting for the conch to evacuate.  Our last stop was Catch a Fire Bar and Grill, it is the best place to see the sunset and it was a great ending to our day.
Garth and I drove Stacy and Steven to the airport early Thursday. We were a little concerned about them getting out of Miami. Steven was heading to Boston and Stacy Toronto - the snow was due to start and they both needed to get home. Thankfully they both made it home safe and sound.
Garth and I have been taking in the local activities of chatn'chillin. We took the dingy over to Sandollar Beach, walked over to the ocean side and went for a walk. We have been over to the ocean side form another area - there is a beautiful three mile long beach. Garth found six hamburger seabeans and two heart seabeans - a good beaner!!  We plan on spending the next few weeks here taking in the scenery and relaxing.

Zeke is doing well, he is once again going to the beach and running through the waves like a puppy!

I have been trying to upload pictures for days with no luck, the internet connection is terrible.  I will post this now and try to upload some more  pictures later.