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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.