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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Last Port of Call For This Season

 All good things must come to an end. For now, this will be my last blog from Algonquin. It has been a year to remember in so many ways.  We feel very fortunate to have had the experience of seeing the United States and Canada from the waterways. Towns and cities that we would normally not visit and had never heard of before are now familiar and firmly etched in our minds.  Coinjock, Oriental, Campbellford, Little Current, Brit, Kimmswick, Demopolis, Carrabelle, just to name a few. Our learning curve was steep, but we did it without maiming ourselves or others. What made this trip extra special were the people we met along the way.  Boaters are special, and boaters beat to a different drummer.

How boating is different:
First off boaters live by a different clock.  Getting up at 5:30 am is par for the course. Midnight on a boat comes early, like 9 pm.  Happy hour is any time the boat is not sinking.  On that note 99 percent of the boaters we met drink. Not just as a social activity, but as a celebration of surviving another day on the water.
People lose their identity and become known by their boats name. Fellow boaters bring their own drinks and food when invited over. Rarely do they use your head. Fellow boaters grab lines of any boat docking - others just watch. Boaters are always willing to help in any way they can.  They are easy going and take things in stride. It's a boat ....
Keeping to a schedule is foolhardy as the weather dictates your movement. Waiting becomes a pastime and you make the best of it. We were fortunate enough to have great waiting spots like Cape May, Carrabelle and the Green Turtle Club in the Bahamas. It`s generally not the town or city you wait in but the people you wait with. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention just a few of the special boats we encountered on our journey.

QUEST:   Dan and Judy Querrey. The best mentors newbies could have asked for. Dan ran to our aid late one night when we were broadsided by a sailboat in Fort Dollardale. Dan, learning that we had just bought the boat, offered to take us out for a few boating lessons. Dan & Garth were in heaven and Judy taught me about lines and charts. Dan was at Captains school so Judy and I did a lot of boat shopping. I miss my shopping buddy! Their help, advice,assistance and encouragement gave us the confidence to actually leave the dock.  Most importantly they taught us how to drink, not that we needed much prodding. To this day we are forever grateful to both of them and have a “Judy” every night just to show it!

N II WISHIN:  Jerry and Joan Muhme.  We met Jerry and Joan on Quest one night while a bunch of Loopers were waiting for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas.  Everyone was reliving their boat horror stories and scaring me half to death. At the end of the night Joan came over to me and said, “Listen, if I can do this then anyone can – you’ll be fine.”
MOONSTRUCK:  Doug and Judy Jordan. While walking the dock in Jekyll Island Doug stopped by and chatted with Garth. Later Judy (aka Cupcake) spotted Zeke and needed a dog fix. They were LOOPERS and although we had heard about the loop we were going to do it later. Doug and Judy encouraged us to join the American Great Loop Cruisers Association and attend the Loopers convention in Norfolk Virginia. So, thanks to them we became Loopers!  I also need to thank Judy for the great spaghetti dinner she had for us when we returned to Jekyll after our port engine quit just a mile out.  Now, if that happened, it would just be another day on the water. Back then it was a major catastrophe. The food, wine, and great company were, and still are, appreciated! Eh Doug!

FINALLY: Richard and Jill McGee. It just occurred to me that every time the port engine fails they are around! Jekyll Island last year, and Marathon this year! Humm... coincidence, or karma? Having just finished their loop they came over to our boat one night and imparted their wisdom to us. When we left Jekyll, Jill got up to throw us our lines. I’ll never forget her saying with that southern accent: “I just love the sound of those Detroits, ya’ll stay safe now. Remember to feed those twins.”

ONCE AROUND: Frank and Carrie Vellutini. We heard about Frank and Carrie long before we actually met them. Doug and Judy told us about this couple from California that bought their boat in Florida and were starting the loop. We first met them in Norfolk, and then off and on again all year. We waved goodbye to them for the last time as they left Key West...... with the watering can in their freezer! These two have a wonderful love of life, and are genuinely wonderful people. I think they should both be voted Looper Ambassadors of the Year. If for nothing else than for risking life, limb, and boat, to give us their night vision camera in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico after losing our transmission! That was cool!! Life is good and boating is fun!  

LADY SIMCOE:  Sue Ferguson and Gord Zimmerman.  Sailors from Bobcaygeon that we met in Oriental and then again in Norfolk. They had left their boat in the south and returned home to deal with health issues. They had returned to resume their journey to Canada. I thought, why not just sell it. But no. Here they were planning to go to Washington, and then the Statue of Liberty for July 4th . After that they were continuing to Lake Simcoe. Seeing them carry on was an inspiration and made me stop and think that yes, there is something special about people on the water.

SALT’N SAND: Rich and Carol Nick. Loopers have what are called Harbor Hosts. When we arrived into Cape May, New Jersey Rich came over to the boat. He had sheets of paper with local knowledge for going up the New Jersey coast.  They invited us to their condo for appetizers and then we all went out to dinner. That was so nice.  Boaters helping boaters!  The next time we saw them was in Key West, eight months later. We just picked up where we left off and spent some wonderful time together.

THE LADY JANE:  Bob and Jayne Koehnke. These two found the charts and books for the loop at a garage sale and, in their mid seventies thought it sounded like a lot of fun so they bought a boat and took off on the loop. Jayne feel had a fall during the first few weeks and ended up breaking her shoulder. Something like this can discourage anyone except that Jayne just dusted herself off and kept on going. They are truly an inspiration to all. We stopped and saw them while passing by their place in Florida and they pulled up in their  convertible. Some people will never grow up, thank God!

CODA: Millie and Herk. Sail boaters who came over to the dark side last year. They are about to venture off in their newly commissioned old boat. I am so looking forward to following you two, and your beautiful Portie Bella on your new adventures. With your combined sense of humor I know you`ll have a blast and enjoy yourself. Don`t forget the popcorn Millie! 

SOMETHING SPECIAL: Sid and Evelyn Tilstra. These two had just taken possession of their boat the day before we met them in Cape May New Jersey. Sid asked, "Can I follow ya."  We ended up traveling together all the way to Trenton. We saw Sid and Evelyn as they continued on their loop from Midland in July. Our wakes crossed again in Key Biscayne and we ended up traveling with them over to the Bahamas. You know how they say that people resemble their dogs. Well Sid and Evelyn resemble their boats name.  They are both lovely, genuine, and down to earth super people. I am going to miss the way Evelyn says "Sid!", and then rolls her eyes. I am going to miss Sid for just being Sid, honest, kind, and one of the friendliest characters you will ever meet. Sid talks to everyone and anyone. I wish there were more Sids in the world! We will have to have a re-match on that euchre game at some point! The boys need to regain some respect!

BUSHRANGER RIDES AGAIN: Boyd and LynnAnne Robinson. They left us with good memories of Iuka, Mississippi and it was our pleasure to have met them. These folks are in the process of totally refitting their boat. BIG JOB!! They have gutted her and are now in the process of adding everything, and I mean everything, back into place. LynnAnne will be the most welcome addition to all Happy Hours with her amazing assortment of home made from scratch breads, biscotti and cakes! I really think you missed your calling LynneAnne for choosing the cockpit over the kitchen all those years ago!  

BROWN EYED GIRL: Ginny and Craig RylandSWEET PEA: Dale & Jim McGovern:  Couldn't have asked for better buddy boats, B.E.G. crossing over to Bahamas and S.P. the Gulf.  Our waiting time in Green Turtle and the lobster-steak-tipsy turtle, lobster.-steak -tipsy turtle ,lobster-steak-tipsy turtle dinners are memories etched in out minds!

"16 foot canoe, 53 foot Hatteras - they both float and it's all just water"

Blue skies and calm seas!

Kathy, Garth & Zeke

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our last run on Algonquin ...for now!

 Time travelled:        10 hours
 Nautical miles:        82
 Docked at:             River Forest Yachting Center

Locks: St Lucie Lock

West End, Grand Bahamas

We left West End Bahamas at 8:30 am and had a beautiful run right across to the St. Lucie Inlet. Speaking for myself, it was a little scary being that far away from land, by ourselves and in really deep water. The depth finder stops at 286 ft. but the charts tell you that the water was 2500 feet deep!  Very different from the Bahamas where half the time you could see the bottom of the ocean.  We both sat outside just enjoying the warmth and watching for whales. The North Atlantic Right Whale season is from December to March. No whales in sight.

About thirty miles off shore the VHF started to get busy, the first conversation we heard:

" White westbound vessel approaching West Palm Beach this is Customs"

There was no answer, about three minutes later,

"Grady White with three outboards approaching West Palm Beach this is United States Customs"

There was still no answer but it was kind of eerie that somewhere up there they were watching. With three outboards the guy probably couldn't hear anything.

Next conversation,

"Yeah, he popped up about a half mile in front of me all in yellow,scared the crap outta me"  "I am the White Viking, hes at 12'o'clock off my stern"

"He got away from the herd, he has a gun"

"Do you see him? Do you see him?"

Well- that certainly got our attention - who got away from the herd, why do they have a gun in the ocean, and where are they? Scanning the radar we could see that there were no other boats in our immediate vicinity. The only logical explanation we came up with  was that it was a diver who strayed from the others and was carrying a flare gun.....who knows!

I dislike coming into the inlets, I read the big yellow CAUTION section in the Waterway Guide saying that the St. Lucie inlet is not marked due to constant shoaling. Great!  I called Boat US for local knowledge and they were wonderful - go to the sea buoy, parallel the north side of the south jetty, at the green five turn to starboard and head to the red eight.  Sounds easy, but they failed to mention the dredger in the middle of the channel , all the red dredging buoys, and the fifty little fishing boats zooming in and out. The Inter Coastal Waterway markers intersect here with the Okeechobee so it was a little confusing but we made it through without a hitch.  I called US Customs to report our arrival and was told to call back when we were stopped. So, we decided to just keep on going instead of stopping there for the night.
We knew that we had clearance under all bridges except the Old Roosevelt Bascule Bridge. Garth called on the VHF requesting his next opening and he said he "I am having a malfunction" A few minutes later Garth called again to ask if the malfunction was going to be fixed anytime soon or should we turn back and go to a marina?  The bridge tender sounded a little panicky and explained that only one side of the bridge was working and he would open  for anyone who wanted to go through. Of course there was a line up and shortly thereafter we made it through with only one arm up.

The Okeechobee is actually quite nice, narrow and not very deep but lined with lovely homes and trees. It is a manatee zone and therefore we had to go really slow. Never did see a manatee. We arrived at the River Forest Marine Center after hours and tied up to the wall ourselves, hooked up the power and took a deep breath.

Back in fresh water, no tides, no current - a little like a big bathtub for boats. A few boats are already wrapped and strapped down.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The picture tells it all !

 Time travelled:   2 days
 Nautical miles:    lots
 Docked at:         Old Bahama Bay, West End, Grand Bahama

Wide open spaces and nothing in sight

Here is the picture that tells most of the story. 

Looking over the port side
We left Green Turtle Cay at high tide and made our way to Great Sale Anchorage with one little hitch, or is that hitchhiker.  I was enjoying the sunshine and the calm water sitting out on the bow.

No wind, no waves, no other boats!
 Garth came out and as we were sitting there he heard a splash. We both looked  back and saw a large crate bouncing around in our wake. Garth ran in and stopped the engines., I ran, grabbed a boat pole, and headed to the cockpit. Zeke, sensing imminent danger, jumped off the couch and was beside me in the cockpit shaking like a leaf ! I looked for the line attached to the crate to grab but by this time the crate had gone under. Garth threw the engines into reverse and back we went. We have cutters on our props for just this situation. Instead of the rope wrapping itself around the prop, and causing major damage, the cutters shear the rope and the pot dropped away. Then I guess the theory is that the line and the float just drift away. So, I thought. We got into the anchorage and when Garth was setting the anchor he looked back and saw the rope and the float on the port side. The rope had managed to wrap itself around the stabilizer. Garth was able to reach the rope with the boat poll and pull it up but couldn't get it to release. Options: A) Garth jump in the water with his mask, snorkel, fins and knife to cut the rope  B) lower the dingy and try to cut it off  C) secure the rope and wait until we get to a marina .

I had read about the currents in the area and the books warned you to always throw something in the water first before you jump in order to judge how fast the current is moving. It was swift, moving out to the open ocean, but doable. We talked about tying a line around Garth and securing it to a cleat .....could have gone really bad. I remember when we were at this anchorage last week a women said that she had seen sharks. Even though it was around the other side of this uninhabited island we decided to go with option C and wait.  When we left this morning and placed a fender under the rope so that it would not rub against the boat. When we pulled into the marina tonight the dock hand asked,  "Do you know you have something attached to your port side"?  I said yes and my husband is going to jump in later and get it off. Oh, he said you need to watch out for sharks - but this is a shark free marina I said.

Nop, was his reply. Rule one of boating is to always get local knowledge. So, we decide that the crab pot float and rope would continue the journey with us to Florida.  As we were walking to the marina office a dive boat came in. Garth asked if anyone would like to make a few bucks and cut the line off our stabilizer - the answer was sure. Sixty dollars and ten minutes later the deed was done!

We honestly believe that this crab pot was dropped in front of us at the last minute by Neptune just to ad to our day!

Just when we thought our troubles for the day had been taken care of  the front head decided not to flush. The pump works but the water will not go down. Draino - NO. After pulling all that he could apart, and searching the Hatteras forums for answers, we decided to wait until we get into Florida and have someone look at it.  If it's not one thing it's another on an old boat!

The good news of the day is that Zeke, after a year, finally decided that it was OK to poop on the pet grass!! When the dingy didn't go down last night or this morning he was left with no option.
Tomorrow is another day.
We are looking at Friday to make a crossing to Florida. It should take about eight hours and we have to time the tides because entering the inlet is a little sketchy due to constant shoaling.We then need  to rent a car and present ourselves to Customs in West Palm Beach within 24hrs.  On Monday we need to go back again and see a CBP Marine officer to obtain a new cruising licence. OH VEY!

A few pics from our past two days of travelling. 
Great Sale Anchorage - our neighbors

Zeke on the outside looking in

Another stunning sunset

For something to do we put on the lights and watched for sharks!!

Good night all

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Heading home.......and a tribute to our Fathers

  We are returning to Florida, docking the boat, and heading home. It is a very sad day on Algonquin. My Dad passed away today. Today would have also been Dels (Garths Dad) 84th birthday. We are trying to concentrate on all the good times we had together, and we are recalling all the wonderful memories we have of these two great men.
When Garth and I returned home in November we celebrated my Dads 85th birthday with him.  He told us at that time that if something were to happen to him to that we were to just keep going and do not come home.  My Dad loved life, he loved his family, and he loved to travel. When I was young I never wanted to leave home. My parents, but more so my Dad, made sure that I got out and about.  When I was fourteen we went on a family trip to Europe, and at fifteen my Dad thought it would be a good idea if I went to Finland to teach English for the summer - by myself! That trip got me hooked on travelling and I have never stopped. My Dad and I travelled differently. One year he asked  if anyone wanted to go to England. Of course we did. Then the kicker, he was going to walk across England and invited anyone who thought it sounded good to them to join him. None of us took him up on his offer and off he went by himself. Although a veterinarian by profession my Dad was kind of a jack of all trades. He wrote a pet column for the Toronto Star, had a radio talk show, and did several TV shows on pets. He had a garbage business, and even a restaurant at one point. After retiring for the fourth or fifth time he went into teaching. All this and he still did volunteer work,he was in the Lions Club and the Rotary Club.  Dad loved politics and so when the town decided to put a median down the highway, and block the entrance to his animal hospital, he ran successfully for city council. After that he just continued on up the ladder. When driving around the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) the traffic reports for our area would always uses the Williams Parkway as a reference. They usually don't name roads after you while you're still alive so that was pretty neat. He was a fabulous veterinarian, a good husband, and a great Dad. My Dad taught me to stand up for what I believe in, and that right is might .He will forever be missed. I called home last week, when we were heading over here, and our last words to each other were I love you.
Dad at a Meg's recital. She was the apple of his eye, granddaughter number 1.
Dad last August on Algonquin

Del would have been 84 today and we lost him in the summer. He was another wonderful man, and we loved him dearly. A banker by profession, he retired the day they put a computer on his desk.  But, it turned out, that he was the one that learned the computer in the end. It ended up interesting him, and Dad was interested in everything. He would read the paper, play games (poker), and send the occasional email. We even got him onto skype when we were in Europe. Del, had an infectious smile, and always had twinkle in his eye. Dad was was one of those people who, when he asked you how you were doing really meant it. It didn't matter who you were you got his full attention. He knew more people, and I mean really knew, than most people could ever dream of. In his later years he would say that the bank had been a perfect job for him. He got to meet a lot of people, and play a lot of golf. He was an avid golfer. How he could hit a ball so far with that corkscrew swing of his is still a mystery but boy could he sure crank a ball. After he had his stroke the girl in rehab brought him a picture of a wheelchair that allowed you to golf from it. That made him sit up a little straighter and I know he was thinking about whether it might be possible. Ever the conservative in the end he didn't think it could work and we couldn't talk him into it! If there was a man alive that knew more about baseball I haven't met him. He pitched hardball into his 30's and, even in later years playing toss, you wanted to be sure to catch his throws in the webbing. Great arm! Dad cared about people. He fought head office at the bank when they wanted to change the lending rule and apply the same requirements to the farmers he dealt with as they had in place for the city folk. Farmers plant in the spring and don't have the cash until the crop comes in. A good old time banker he got people to listen. In our hearts he will always have a special place but he left his communities better off. One of his, in my opinion, best works was being the driving force in getting a Seniors Retirement residence built in Newcastle where there was nothing. I guess the most important thing I learned from my father was that you aren't the most important person in the room. Through helping others you get much more back than you give. Love you Dad!
That impish grin and the twinkle!

Del on skype
His passion!

The Bahamas will always be here and winter will always come to the north so we will be back, hopefully next year. In the meantime the winds have started to subside and it looks like we can escape from Green Turtle Cay on Monday and cross over to Florida Thursday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Auntie Em Auntie Em

Docked at:  Green Turtle Bay, Bahamas

Wind wind go away come again another day  -- the boat is rocking and the canvas on the fly bridge is flapping non-stop. We are in the Bahamas,wearing long sleeves and sweaters.  I am not complaining just stating the facts. it is actually a very warm wind.

First thing this morning we drove back to the BTC office to see if the SIM cards were in - no such luck. We are of course on Island time.
Zeke the amazing cart guard dog!

Leaving the phone store empty handed we went down the hill into New Plymouth - about half way down this little hill our senses were assaulted with the smell of home made bread and cinnamon.

The sign says it all McIntosh bakery!!
Lets see you can not get a cinnamon bun in Tuscon, Arizona but you can on Green Turtle Cay in the Outer Bahamas!! Eat your heart out Brummer! We thought of you the whole time we indulged!

 After having that delicious cinnamon bun what better to wash it down with than World Famous Goombay Smash - the longer it sits the better it gets! This was pretty good, several different rums all mixed together with pineapple juice ......breakfast of champions .....cinnamon buns and rum!

The Atlantic today - looks down right mean and nasty.
So, here we sit. The weather is constantly changing and everyone in this marina is checking and comparing notes on the wind. It is what it is - we can't change it and will sit it out here in GTC. As I said before it is not like we are in Little Current or Carrabelle. The people are great , the scenery is beautiful and the food pretty darn good.  Going to try and get a euchre tournament going tomorrow afternoon. Would probably be better served walking into town but then we would have to try the bakery and smash again.

Waiting for the winds to subside!

Docked at: Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

Talk about an ocean view!

We arrived here Saturday and the winds have picked up, laid down and picked up since then, Sunday we had 50 mph winds and the power was out most of the afternoon. Garth retied the boat and added lines everywhere. The sailboats that were anchored in the harbor all moved in. It certainly beats waiting out the weather in Little Current or Carrabelle.
The internet is sketchy, our phones were put on suspension as soon as we left the States and we are feeling a little isolated. We rented a golf cart to get to town and to explore the island. Our first order of business yesterday morning was to get a phone. We drove to the telecom office and the lady informed us that the SIM cards she received last week were defective so she returned them to Nassau. They are still not back. We gave her our email address and asked her to call the marina when they come in. We are in the Bahamas, things move a little bit slower, life is more relaxed and it is beautiful.
We will go back to town today and see if the Sim cards have arrived.
Our excitement about being in the Bahamas has been dampened by the fact that my Dad is in the hospital. Getting an email to call home ASAP and not being able to call is the reality of being on a remote island. In this day and age one would think that we are all constantly connected but it is not true.  Green Turtle Cay is in the Outer Bahamas, there are five hundred people living here and the only way in and out is by boat. If the winds are too high like they have been since we got here then our only option is to wait. So, we are trying to make the best of  the situation but it is difficult. Being here, but wanting to be at home.
Some pics of our time here so far.

Zeke, the golf cart guard dog.

 Zeke minded the golf cart while we went to McIntosh's Bakery for lunch.

Yeah, another hour another beach!!

We drove by all these shells on the picnic table Sunday and spoke to Robertha about them, she had them all turned down because Sunday is the day of rest and she really did not want to sell any of them until Monday. So, we went back yesterday and they were turned up and she was eager to sell them. Reminds me of the Outer Hebrides where my Mom is from, on the Isle of Lewis to this day Sundays are the day of rest and you don't dare work , hanging out your laundry on a Sunday is a cardinal sin!

The old jail.

The streets are just wide enough for a golf cart or small car.

Bright colors and for the most part very neat and clean.
The main street of New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay

Another shot of the main street.

Great Sale Cay to Green Turtle Cay

OH DARK THIRTY at Great Sale Cay

Saturday March 3rd
Time travelled:      6.05 hrs.
Nautical miles       54.7 nm
Docked at:           Green Turtle Club Resort and Marina

We were up at OH DARK THIRTY, we didn't sleep very well because the flags were snapping and it was really hot. The wind had picked up significantly during the night.  Garth pulled up the anchor and it was surrounded by a huge amount of clay and weeds, while he took a break I got the boat hook and successfully knocked off the majority of the clay. We were outta there. The ride was a lot smoother than we had anticipated.  However, at one point Jim from Sweet Pea radioed to the rest of us that he was having power issues and was running his generator in order to keep his GPS going. Garth immediately checked the GPS for the closest marina and kept it in the back of his mind, John offered a few suggestions to what he thought it may be.  We plowed on through. Then - here we are in this huge ocean and what do we see but a fishing boat heading right for us - Garth got on the radio and said "there is a lot of room out here" he kept his course and we had to throttle back, he zoomed on right across our bow......some people!! The name of the boat is Free Willy and the captain has blue eyes and takes milk in his coffee - that's how close we were!!  Just kidding, but it was too close for my comfort level!


We arrived into Green Turtle Cay just after noon and the wind was really blowing. Once secured to the dock Garth rinsed all the salt off the boat and we took Zeke to the beach.
The have a special here that you pay for your dockage and the food you charge to your boat is then deducted from the dockage at the end of your stay. So at roughly 2 dollars a foot we have $106.00 to spend at the restaurant and bar- not a lot when a Caesar salad is $14.00, cracked conch dinner (a local specialty) is $18.95 - Garth has been enjoying Lobster & Crab omelets and Eggs Benedict - the wind needs to die down so we can move on otherwise they will have to roll us out of here.

Jim figured out his power issue and all is well.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

West End to Great Sale Anchorage

 Friday March 2nd

Time travelled:     5.5 hrs
 Nautical miles:    48.5 nm
 Docked at:         Great Sale Anchorage

Algonquin in the Bahamas
We left West End on Friday  following all the sail boats - sail boats have a larger draft than power boats so if they make it through the skinny water then we can make it through too.  Jim from Sweat Pea went over and talked to them earlier so we knew they were pulling out around 9 am. We all hauled in our power and water so we were ready to go.

Following the sailboats -  with Passport on your far left
Bye Bye -thanks for your help!

We had a lovely run and arrived at our anchorage about 2 o'clock . It was simply beautiful, everyone got in their dingies and we had cocktails on the beach. In Marathon they call it dinking and drinking! By the time we made it back to our boat there were 15 boats all anchored.  Sid and Evelyn dinged over for a game of euchre. Sid was looking for revenge but it wasn't meant to be. Evelyn and I beat them 4/5 games!

Captains meeting?

Craig testing the waters or maybe the beer just tastes better when you are standing in the ocean!
We even had cheese and crackers thanks to Dale!

Sweat Pea & Passport at sunset.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


 Time travelled:    7 hours
 Nautical miles:    73.5
 Docked at:         Old Bahama Bay Marina, West End, Grand Bahamas

It is hard to believe that we are here!  We keep pinching ourselves to see if we are awake and yep it is true, we made it across the Straights of Florida in our own boat. WOW!

We were up at 5:20 for our scheduled 6:15 departure. I walked Zeke and Garth started bringing in the water and electricity.  Something Special and Brown Eyed Girl were both up and at em.  When I came back with Zeke Sid said that Brandy IV was on their way back in. It was too rough for them to proceed. Passport, the other boat that left early was hanging out there waiting for the three of us to come out and assess the situation.  We all decided to go for it.  We passed Rita and John on their way back to port. Our first obstacle was a huge Carnival cruise ship coming into Port Everglades, once we got past him a container ship entered. The sun was rising over the horizon and I started to recite “red sky at night sailors know the rest of it and the red sky in the morning is not good, it was a beautiful red sky . I was envisioning us returning to Customs to explain the situation and get an extension on our cruising permit. 

OK, you can go first!

Here comes the container ship.

It was lumpy getting out of the channel. (not as bad as Lake Ontario though) The further we got away from Dollardale the better it got.  We started in three footers with a short period and ended in one footers with a longer period.   I am glad we have stabilizers on the boat! I gave Zeke a half a gravol so he just curled up on the couch and rode out the waves in la la land.  I think he comes from a line of Portuguese Land Dogs instead of Portuguese Water Dogs! 

Sid took the lead as it was more comfortable for him to run faster – he spotted land at 12 o’clock.

Something Special  Bahamas Bound

Zeke in a drug induced slumber & Garth just plain tired! 

Quarantine Flag up entering West End, Grand Bahamas

 By 1:15 we were docked. The dock hand gave us a ton of paperwork to fill out, landing cards and a marina registration. The captain is the only one allowed off the boat so Garth had to walk across the way to customs, he said that all they really did was scan the paperwork and collect the $300.00 entrance fee. They gave us a ninety day cruising permit and a fishing license.

We rinsed the salt off the boat and went for a is beautiful. The beach has white white sand and the water is a gorgeous turquoise.

The boys on the beach

We are off tomorrow to an anchorage with four other Looper boats, Something Special, Brown Eyed Girl, Passport, and Sweet Pea. From there we are heading to Green Turtle Bay Marina where we will stay put for a week. 

The stress free way to get to the Bahamas by sea.

It has been a long exhausting day but I must say we both feel a sense of accomplishment having landed here today!