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Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome Home to Compass Cay

 Docked at: Compass Cay Marina

Well, as I posted yesterday we arrived here before noon. The wind really picked up so I am sure the boats that had to leave where none too happy. But, people do actually make reservations for this time of year. Dan pulled in first and with the wind and the current he put on a bit of a show.  Remember - SOMETIMES YOU'RE THE SHOW AND SOMETIMES YOU'RE THE AUDIENCE!!  We had to continue waiting as Mucho Mas, the big yacht from Hawksbill Cay, came in and they wanted to get him docked.  Finally they called "the other hatteras" - Dan radioed to Garth where we were going to dock and we figured that the wind would actually help us, we just needed to be cognizant of the current. Notice the royal WE . Anyhow, we just seemed to follow the Canadian Flags that were blowing in the wind. In front of us is a sail boat from Montreal and beside us are two large boats - Retired Sailor III from Toronto and Iridescence a 65 foot Marquis, also from Toronto. So, as Dan said, we feel right at home.
We did a walk about and we are, compared to the rest of the boats out in the boonies. It's a hike over to the main section by foot, by water very close. Once there we noticed all the sharks, they are just waiting there for someone to feed them or to swim with them.

Not in this life!

 Well, there are a few people I would like to feed to the sharks- enough said!!! It truly is a small boating world. We meet several boaters in Highbourne Cay that are also here. The other thing about it is that there are only a handful of marinas in the Exumas so in all likelihood we will keep bumping into the same yachts over and over again. Garth & Zeke went exploring while I did some much needed laundry.

Boaters make a sign and leave it somewhere on the island.

 Fresh water is at a premium all throughout the Exumas so we either pay fifty cents a gallon or do our laundry in their machine for ten dollars a load. Well, they have industrial size machines so I choose to do it there and stuff the machine to capacity! I think the laundry I had done in Singapore in 1995 was about 50 dollars for two loads, so it is not the worst I have ever seen.

A view of the docks from the hill

We strolled over to Quest for a delicious dinner and stopped at the "office" on our way for docktails. Thank goodness Judy gave us a flashlight to find our way back to the boat !

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Week that Was Dec 25th - Dec 30th,2012

Time travelled:  5 hours, give or take
 Nautical miles: 30.7
 Docked at:  Compass Cay Marina

No connections are available.
That’s the message. You know there is absolutely no sense in wasting time with the Troubleshoot because is just is not going to help!  Been there and wasted the time trying. It is just an exercise in frustration.
While in Bimini we did get cell phones and a data package. We made a few phone calls on Christmas Day from Highbourne Cay but once we left there the signal has been non-existent.  As a matter of fact we have never been able to get the data working – not just us but everyone else too. No connections are available!!

Christmas day was lovely. It started aboard Quest with the Moore family tradition of egg nog and brandy. Del would have been a bit disappointed that we chose to buy it pre mixed and without nutmeg but hey we did the best we could. In hindsight our only error was the fact that we only bought one bottle.  Judy made the Querrey family traditional breakfast of “strada”.  It is a delicious layered combination of bread, egg, cheese and sausage. It was very tasty by itself but Dan and Garth added Vermont maple syrup just to top it up. A winner recipe I will have to get.
After breakfast we all jumped into Con – Quest and went exploring.  We went all the way up to Allan’s Cay and as we approached one the beaches all of these iguanas started coming towards the shore. They are looking for handouts.
Allan Cay Iguanas

We did not venture onto land and moved along our merry way. We came across a dive/bar outpost. There were two dogs and a few people but basically it was deserted and looked to be a place where day trips out of Nassau would stop.  The scenery was magnificent, the water so clear that you can see the bottom and pretty shallow at times! We stopped back over towards Highbourne and walked the beach, gathering a few shells. Zeke had a blast as usual.
If she can't see my right ear then she can't put the medicine on it!
Speaking of Zeke, he is currently in sick bay. He has something going on just under his right ear – looks like a dog bite – we took him to a dog park a few days before we left Stuart so it could have happened there or he got stung by something in the water in Bimini.  So, we started him on amoxicillin and are doing our best to keep it clean and dressed. Hopefully the salt water is helping as it does appear to be getting better. I tell ya he is a high maintenance dawg!
Once back on land we all got ready for Christmas Dinner at the marina restaurant, it was served buffet style and it was tasty but the scenery, the sunset, and the company where better than the food.  All in all it was a simply wonderful day.

December 26th Boxing Day
Up at the crack of dawn and in the car to hit the malls and stores for the after Christmas bargains.  Fur coats, leather coats, sweaters, shoes, everything is on sale at a fraction of the before Christmas price.  If nothing else you would always come home with a ton of Christmas wrapping paper ready to go for next year.  Well, at Highbourne Cay there was nothing happening, when there is only one store there really is not much sense in having a sale. We tried and tried to get an internet connection but no luck. Around eleven we went up to pay our bill, and took our computers to see if we could get a signal closer to the tower. Low and behold we were connected – not for long but we did get a connection just long enough to see if anyone had sent us Christmas greetings or bills.
We departed Highbourne Cay around noon and slowly made our way south. We traveled eighteen nautical miles to a mooring ball at Hawksbill Cay.  We had arrived in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The Bahamian government set aside 176 square miles as a land and marine protected area. It is a “no take zone" so we can look at the shells and the lobster but the spear and the shell bag can’t come out. Zeke is allowed on the beach area but not on the paths. That’s cool , it is not his territory and it is probably safer that way for all creatures, including his majesty.
Our first mooring ball!

This is our first ever experience of being connected to a mooring ball. We have read about them and seen them but never actually had the opportunity to use one. Before we left Stuart Judy and I went to West Marine and I bought a super extension boat pole just for this occasion. Before we left Highbourne Marina Dan came over and went through the process of setting up lines and what to we were prepared! Garth gingerly brought Algonquin up to the port side of the ball while I reached over with the boat pole and grabbed the float. Then hand over hand I hauled up the line looking for an eye. Humm ...nobody told me just how heavy this line was going to be, nobody mentioned the years of growth and slime on the line and nobody told me that there would be creatures living on the line!!! AHHHHH, a huge crab jumped from the line and sea life was everywhere. The other thing was that the line I had decided to use for attaching to the ball did not fit the cleat so I used our usual docking line which was too long and too heavy. So, I got the line up and decided half way through the process to switch lines – Garth came out once he saw I had the mooring line and helped.  It was not the most graceful or well executed landing but nobody was videotaping it for a “how to” show.  We will get lots more practice down the road! By the way the big crab that landed on the deck when the sea scrum encrusted line came up ....Garth got his miniature Maple Leafs hockey stick and with a gentle wrist shot he hurled him off the boat and back into the ocean.

Hawksbill Cay Mooring Field

We dinked to the beach, went for a walk then had cocktails and burgers aboard Algonquin. All in all just another beautiful day in paradise.
And you wonder why we have to vacuum every day!

December 27th, 2012-
We woke up to a blowing wind and very dark clouds on the horizon. You could see where the rain was and where it was heading. It was like a snow day ...hunker down, sit by the fire, and enjoy a good book or a movie.  Well, on a boat, it is the same thing, hunker down, grab a good book and watch the weather move around you.  Only difference is the degrees.  By 11 o’clock the bad weather had moved on and the sun was shining.
 Idyllic begins to describe this little bit of paradise. There are only four mooring balls here and a huge beach. We went over to the beach and walked the length of it, had lunch, played in the water and read our books.  That was the extent of our day. We went over to Quest for cocktails then back to Algonquin for a BBQ dinner. Our evening was spent watching an old James Bond movie – Die Another Day ( I think) Just your average day in paradise!!

December 28th 2012-

Hawksbill Cay 911
Garth called Quest first thing this morning to see what the plan was as we had kind of thought we would like to spend another day here. Dan and Judy were on the same wave length.  As we were starting to cook breakfast Dan called over to say that they had had an exciting half hour – Judy was cooking breakfast and smelled wires burning. Dan ran down, confirmed the smell and then ran back up to the pilot house and turned everything off. After looking and smelling throughout the galley and generator room it turned out to be the thermostat for the air conditioning unit in the crew quarters! Scary, it’s a boat and it is just one more thing added to the list of things to do. Garth cooked a big breakfast of bacon and eggs and we headed for the beach.  When we arrived Dan and Judy were snorkeling over on the reef so we set up our chairs. Shortly after Dan and Judy came back to the beach we were all sitting there and noticed the couple from one of the sailboats paddling their way around the corner. The wind was against them and they are our age so paddling like that for a long time probably was not the morning exercise they had planned. Dan and Garth jumped into Con and sped off to see if they needed help or were indeed trying to get some exercise. Turned out they needed help and Con towed them back to their boat.   The day wasn't even half over and already a fire had been adverted and a rescue at sea had occurred!

Towing the dingy past Algonquin
Just another rescue!

Around four o’clock Judy called to say that they were getting a signal with their phones.

The lengths we go to just to stay connected!

  Garth quickly plugged in our Bahamas phone and charged it enough to make a birthday call to Brumer all know Brumer...she lives in Tucson, loves cinnamon buns but can’t get them there so we send her pictures every chance we get.  
Dan and Judy came over and we indulged in the last dozen of our Bimini lobster tails. Yummy sums up the feast.

December 29th

24 nautical miles
Moored at: Cambridge Cay AKA Little Bell Island

Ha, well getting off a mooring ball is certainly a piece of cake – you untie one line, let it go and pull back on the side attached to the cleat then move over to the other side and repeat! Does not get any easier!!
As we pulled away from Hawksbill we passed the two big yachts that were anchored near us. The first one was Mucho Mas, not too shabby, and the big boy was Pegasus – the 75th largest yacht in the world. Note the blow up slide coming down from the second level! Different snack bracket I’d say.

Pegasus,our neighbors for the night! 

We only travelled a short distance but had to go through a cut and it was a little rough on his majesty. We arrived at Cambridge Cay just before noon and got onto the mooring ball with no problem. There was very little growth on the upper part so it was not as heavy. I picked up the eye first time and had the lines all red ready and set up. Piece of cake!

Sunset at Cambridge

Mustang Sally - our neighbors!

 Shortly after we arrived at the mooring Garth, Dan and Judy went snorkelling. Zeke's ear is getting a little better but it is still weepy and wet. The salt water seems to sting it a bit so we decided to try and keep him out of the water altogether for a few days. Tomorrow we will go to a marina for New Years and hopefully by the time we leave he will be healed up. I on the other hand have broken out in a rash and think it is from the sun so am staying under cover for a few days. Zeke and I will hold down the fort while Garth the only healthy one takes off and explores this little piece of paradise.

December 30th

6.5 nautical miles today

The wind picked up around 6:30 am and we decided to leave and make our way out of the cut and towards Compass Cay - it was literally just around the corner. We waited longer in the bay for boats to leave than it took us to get here. It is a very small marina but a very popular place. The docks are packed. We are paying for wifi by the meagabyte so I will hold off posting pictures until later. Right now I am off to do a load of laundry! 

Posted a few pics as it does not seem to eat up many megs?? 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve at Highbourne

 It's December 24th, no rushing , no stores, no baking, no worries.

Could be snow & ice but its salt water & sand.

Perfect boy in the tender.
I think his early canoe training has paid off, Zeke literally jumps in the tender and stays in one place unless told to move.
Another beautiful sunset!
It is hard to believe that it is Christmas Eve, not because we are in the Bahamas, but because there is just no commotion. Everyone is just chillin and taking in the peacefulness of this relaxing island.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Highbourne Cay

 WOW, you be the judge of this islands beauty!

The fanciest stop sign I have ever seen.

The Highbourne Lemonade Gang!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Highbourne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

Time travelled:  20.5 hours
 Nautical miles:  120
 Docked at:       Highbourne Cay Marina

Sherri's Beach Bar. Judy is always prepared -our take out bags await.

Well I left you hanging in regards to a few things from Bimini! First of all the fishing, Garth lost his favorite lure to a huge barracuda – they had lots of bites, nibbles and tugs. If you ever look at the spot and see that Algonquin appears to be very close to a land mass and going every which way but straight it is Garth and Dan out in Con, Quests tender. Kind of a big tender, but I am told it is needed for fishing.

Sherry herself, cook extraordinaire!

Luckily we had prearranged dinner from Sherris cause the only thing they came home with was the rays they had caught from the sun.  Sherri made us fried chicken, plantain, coleslaw and rice with peas. We took it all back to Quest and had a feast.  We may have to stop back into Bimini on our way home in the spring. Bimini is truly a wonderful little island.
We took Zeke for a one last walk and swim around noon but only made it as far as the trunk feast.

Doesn't matter how you spell it, Sherris Beach Bar was the best until we got to the trunk!

The trunk feast!

 So, in the back of her car she had, spare ribs, lamb chops, fried conch, baked chicken, fried chicken, mac & cheese, potato salad, corn on the cob and green beans.......the hot food was in the trunk and the cold food in the back window. We all got lunch and proceed quickly back to the dock to eat it. There was enough left over for a midnight snack.  At that point Garth and Dan thought they had better sleep to prepare for the 20 hour run to Highbourne Cay.  Judy and I took Zeke for a walk along the beach.  He sat in the pools on the coral heads as if he were in his own private pool and chased the ball for a long time. However, when we got back to the boat he was sick – I think he had taken in too much salt water. Boy guy, not only was he feeling under the weather but now he was about to embark on a twenty hour journey across to the Bahama Bank!

 Quest at the beginning of our night run

The only other time I was involved in a night run was across the Gulf of Mexico last December. It was dark, deep and scary.  This time the depth gage hovered between 10 and 20 feet. It was dark but at that depth I figured when the boat sank we would all just put on our life-jackets and go upstairs. I had other escape plans conquered up but that made the most sense at the time as I was assuming the boat would sink straight down no listing, no tipping. A tired mind and no lights.

Zeke did not sleep all night.

Garth and I took turns but actually Garth did most of the time at the helm. I spent a great deal of time on the floor with Zeke. Eventually we gave him half a gravol and that seemed to ease his stress a bit.
Of course on my watch the GPS alarm went off and the screen below says - A DANGEROUS TARGET WAS DETECTED. The target turned out to be a big tanker /barge carrying propane. When I woke the captain he sat up on the couch and said " unless it is right in front of us don't worry about it"!! Great, the snoring started again and Zeke and I were left to save the boat from impending dangerous targets!

A dangerous target was detected.
UK at Sea
 Do you recall the most famous that 's not it .... do you recall Garth driving around North Palm Beach in the Aston Martin? Well, the owner Archie, who is our friend Linda's brother, also has this yacht. As we were settling in to Highbourne I looked out and saw him coming into the marina. Unfortunately, Archie is back in Canada and the boat is here. What's wrong with that picture!

Although the 20 hour run from Bimini to Highbourne was exhausting, in hindsight I am glad we did it as the weather has changed. Although Bimini was great we wanted to spend Christmas in Stuart - I mean the Exumas!

We will be staying here until Boxing Day then heading out. Will try to post some pics before we leave. We were told the internet was not working but it doesn't seem to be a problem right now at 4 am.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Deep Sea Fishing Rules and Rum Flows

Time travelled:  11 hours
 Nautical miles:  79.6 NM
 Docked:          Bimini Blue Water Resort
Manatee Pocket  fuel stop. 

Lake Worth Anchorage - nice spot

We left lake Worth at O dark thirty. Our anchor set into some really sticky mud and was so well set that it took us (Garth) over a half hour to set it free. Dan on the other hand woke up and found Quest sitting in four and a half feet of water after turning through the night, so they did the hurry up and got out of there fast. Finally were all on our way through the Lake Worth inlet and out onto the deep blue ocean about 5:30. The beautiful sunrise we sailed into left us feeling that all was right in the world, and we are very fortunate to be having this wonderful experience.

The seas were relatively calm until we hit the western wall of the Gulf stream about 8nm out. For about an hour we got tossed around pretty good. While it wasn't all that bad for us poor Zeke was a little panicked. The last time we had seen him so disconcerted was while crossing Lake Ontario, poor guy. He jumped on the couch, drooled, and there was no calming him. Considering his heritage goes back to a working breed dog on the Portuguese fishing boats we now think that he should thank his lucky stars he wasn't born during those days or....... Anyway, once we were fully into the stream all was well and things calmed down again so  Zeke and I sat out on the bow for awhile. Then at around one o'clock we hit the eastern wall of the Gulf Stream and, like the western wall, things again got bumpy. The water never really did settle again until we arrived in Bimini. Dan and Judy aren't stabilized and didn't want to change their tack into the wave trains we were heading straight into but Garth decided to change it up quartered the waves so it was not so bad for Zeke which made a little difference albeit for a short while.
Following Quest into Bimini

Algonquin and Quest at Bimini Blue Water Resort

 We arrived into the Bimini channel about 4 pm.  Dan and Judy have been here three times before so for Dan it was old hat.  We passed Browns Marina and then saw Bimini Blue Water Resort, Home of the Hemingway Tournament. Well we really did not see it but we did see the man on the dock waving madly at us. I am not sure if they do not have radios or if they lost them but I do believe this is the first place we have ever arrived where the dock hands did not have radio communication with us. Dan got on the radio and told Garth just to pull in beside him. So, it is my job to put out the lines and have the fenders ready. Garth wasn't sure if he was going to bow in or stern in until he could get a feel for the the water. Our arrival time meant the current was ripping pretty good and the tight quarters made him decide to stern in. It was not the prettiest job of docking he has ever done but we got in. The tender did gently kiss the dock a couple of times but with no harm done.

After all the entry paper work was filled out Dan and Garth got changed into their Sunday best and headed over to the customs office. Customs was open and the boat is now allowed to stay in the Bahamas until June. Immigration on the other hand had already closed for the evening.  Zeke was very happy to get off the boat and Judy and I walked him around a bit.  After a much needed shower we all headed off to the Bimini Big Game Club for dinner. Conch, conch and more conch...burgers tacos and salad !! It was a long long day. Once back at the boat we literally brushed our teeth and crashed.

December 18th
How do you say, HAPPY DOG!

What can you say!


Did someone say bakery? As we were all having our morning coffee on the dock a man mentioned he had been to the bakery and ordered coconut bread . Sounds like a plan! While Garth and Dan started washing their respective boats Judy and I walked to the bakery, ordered bread, and then proceeded to walk Zeke along the beach. Talk about a dog in heaven.  Zeke had a blast! There were conch shells everywhere and even a shipwreck. While the boys were washing the boats Carson, who works here, came by to see if they wanted to buy lobster and so we had a dozen tails waiting in the fridge on our arrival back at the boat.

The one thing you notice right away about Bimini is just how friendly the people are. Everyone is obliging and happy.  I tried out the marina showers, at 60 cents a gallon for water we are into conservation.

The four of us rented a golf cart and our first stop was the Famous Stuart Conch Shack where we had lobster salad, conch salad, a few ice cold beers along with a few rum punches. Life is good and boating is fun! (wish you were here Frank!) The last time Dan and Judy were at Stuarts they were filming the series Hook, Line, and Dinner there so if you ever see the show look for Dan and Judy's tender to Quest in the background. Last week they filmed The Housewives of Miami there, humm. We all left full and happy.
Never seen Garth down a beer so quickly, check out the difference!

Fabreeze aka The Boss Lady is bringing the rum punch! Yumm

Conch Hill

 Moving on to Bimini Bay Resort we toured the facility and even stopped at the sales center. A cool million buys you an ocean front property and then you build the house. HOA fees run around about a thousand a month. After getting a bit of a laugh about that we tootled along to the drugstore and then over to Bahama tel office. Bahamian phones and internet are in the works and we were told to come back tomorrow as a new bunch of phones might be on the plane. We hope it isn't like last year experience where we ended up having to wait a week or so for the deed to get done. The women said, "they forget about us out here on the little islands". They being the people from Nassau she means.  On the way back through town we stopped to get Zeke who had been left on the boat and headed up to the end of the island to catch the sunset. We were merrily walking the beach when the golf cart nazi came looking for us. Apparently we had gone over our time so we all jumped back in and returned the cart.
Dan, 4x4 ing on the beach!


Not to be dismayed we walked up the hill for sunset. We were accosted by screams of "come here for the view", "the drinks are great"... so twist our arms and off we went to Sherri's Beach Bar. She made a pretty good rum punch. So good in fact we are going back for fried chicken and punch at sunset tomorrow!!

When we got back to the boat Dan BBQ' ed the lobster tails and they were amazing!!! As he was bbq-ing Carson came over and asked Dan to BBQ his dinner for him, a piece of fish. He also made sure to ask Dan to season it well for him before he cooked it, and then asked if he had anything cold to drink. So, Dan bbq-ed his dinner, added salad. rice and peas and then threw in a cold beer!  It's Bimini!! Isn't it wonderful?

December 19th

Does it get any better? This morning we woke up to fresh hot cinnamon buns, and coconut bread. Unfortunately the baker did not come in yesterday to make the bread we had ordered but he must have shown up pretty darn early today! Dan and Garth took off fishing, Judy cleaned and blogged, and Zeke and I cleaned, blogged, and went for a beach walk. Yesterday when we were walking on the beach I lost a ten dollar bill. Now this is a large beach where it was lost so I just chalked it up to gone and hoped that someone deserving sole would find it. This morning when Zeke and I were walking I found a ten dollar bill!!! Is there a casino in the hood!!! My luck may not last!
 Brumer this ones for you!


Off to get the big one!

Life is good and Boating is FUN!!!
From the Waterway guide book - The pictures of Hemingway and earlier times tell it all ...."This is a special place where the only laws were "anything goes. deep sea fishing rules and rum flows". Today it is tamed and much more family orientated. but the ghosts of that enchanted era still roam the narrow streets of this historic settlement"

We are heading out for bluer water, like greener pasture, tomorrow. Luckily we were able to catch a signal here but who knows when it will happen again. So I am just going to post some random pics below!

Fresh conch!

Ice Cream truck! Same music as the trucks in Toronto!

Sand from the entrance channel.
Closed up tight.

The original lunch truck

Sherris - dinner tonight!

The Grizwalds of Bimini!