Friday, December 28, 2012

Bahamas bound......

No Name Harbor is once again our jumping off point to head east.  We enjoyed a Hog Grouper dinner at the Boaters Grill which is right on the water and headed for an early night.  5:30am was going to come quick.

Nati in No Name Harbor
We pulled up the anchor at 0630 and was the fourth boat out heading towards the Gulf Stream.  Winds were light as we headed out but the forecast was for the breeze to pick up so we put a reef in the main and took off towards the Bahamas.  We had a number of boats with us......Kismet, Mutual Fun and Passages were traveling with us and there were more all around.  Maybe we picked a good window!

The "stream" was a bit choppy but Nati was liking the  wind and we soon caught up with everyone.  Still we were all having fun but.....wait there is another cat closing on us!  Ah.....they made the mistake of having their port engine on when they went by.....that is cheating!!

We crossed over on to the Bahamian Bank around 1330 and reported to Kismet that the "magic water" was still there!  Yes, it was beautiful.  We went from over 1,500 feet deep water to 20 in less than 5 minutes!!

We are on the "bank".

The bank crossing went smooth.  The seas were a little choppy but we continued to fly!  Later we actually slowed Nati down so we wouldn't get to Nassau too early.  The harbor is supposed to be busy and we didn't have a clue where we were going.  By 6am we could see the lights and we pulled into the harbor by 0930.  You have to actually call Nassau Harbor Control to get permission to enter.  Very interesting to do that for the first time.

We got a slip at the Nassau Harbor Club and got checked into Immigrations & Customs by early afternoon.  We gave Nati & ourselves a good washing down and had an early dinner via Domino's Pizza.  I fell asleep by 630pm.  Anne followed 45 minutes later.  

The crossing was great.  178 miles and we used less than 6 gallons of fuel, mostly coming into the harbor and the last 8 miles which were DDW (dead downwind).  Our top speed was over 9.5kts and we could have had our first 200 miles, 24 hour day if we didn't slow the girl down.  She was handling all the conditions without a fight.  

Later today we will head south towards the north end of the Exumas.  Who knows where we will spend New Years Eve??!!  No worries will be in the BAHAMAS!!

Going through the Nassau entrance

Kismet going past Atlantis

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

OK, this is more like it!

Christmas Eve was very nice down here in No Name Harbor.  We had a beautiful sunset, ahi for dinner and then Jim O and his son Jamie came over for desert......lots of laughs and a quiet night on the anchor.  We have a early dinner planned and then tomorrow we plan on heading across the gulf stream and into Bahamian waters....



Saturday, December 22, 2012

and now the waiting game begins

All is set to cross..........that is except for "mother nature".  Right now we are hanging out in the upper Keys to get away from Miami for a few days.  Yesterdays cold front took us down to Tarpon Basin (47miles) in about 6.5 hours.  We saw 30+ knots of wind but it was behind us so Nati just took us south.

Besides us, Kismet, Passages and Mutual Fun are hanging out waiting for a window to open up.  Maybe Wednesday??!!

Come on "Ma Nature"!!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stuff to do

On the way north we decide to pull into Dinner Key for a night on the mooring to do laundry and make a run to West Marine.  The traveler line I bought last spring is really lousy so Nati gets a new line.  Also we have tons of laundry so the machines at the marina make it easy.......that is as easy as it can get.

Sunrise over Key Biscayne
We have slowly begun to replace our old light bulbs with new and efficient LED bulbs.  They are not hot to the touch and use virtually no power.  The new bulb in the cockpit used to use more that one amp and the new bulb uses one tenth of an amp!

old bulb

new LED vs the old one

LED light

One other job is now done also......WE ARE MAKING WATER!!  Yep, the Cape Horn Extreme from Spectra is up and running.  JT, the area rep for Spectra came out to check things out and gave us his blessing for a completed drink up!!

In the meantime......all that south wind has disappeared and we have another front coming through.  Chris Parker says we have a 1 day window to cross.  None of us think a one day window, which has northeast to east winds in the forecast is a window. we sit in Miami.  Maybe another run to Alabama Jacks is in order.

We are almost to Miami......

Since the winds continued to be out of the south (yes, when we don't want it to be...) we decide to make our way down to Ft Lauderdale and pull into Lake Sylvia for the night.  The next day's forecast is for west winds going NW so it should provide a good sail.  Into the lake we go and it is pretty full.  Of the 18 boats inside, 8 are catamarans!  The most we've seen all the way down so it was fun to have them all around us.  On top of that, one of the new Leopards ended up to be our friends on the new "Darius", a Leopard 39.  Last year they were on "old Darius", a beautiful Chatham 45.  Now that is a change!!

Lake Sylvia

So, the next day both Darius and Nati head out of Ft Lauderdale and had a good sail down to Miami.  It felt good to be back on the ocean.  Clean water, warm water and NO bridges to go under!

Going through Government Cut into Port Miami

Since it was time to make sure we are provisioned for the crossing we pulled into our favorite anchorage in South Beach......near Star Island.  Look who is there!  Kismet, Passages and Mutual Fun..... now we have neighbors!

Since the window to cross isn't anytime soon we decided to go down to Alabama Jacks for the "best conch fritters in the world"!  We had 3 days of good sailing .......... no engine noise for most of the trip.

our evening anchorage

heading to Alabama Jacks

now we are was great
Time to head back north.....things to do and places to visit.............

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peck Lake to Lake Boca

The first day out of Stuart was a short one since we said our goodbyes, added diesel, water and got rid of the stuff we didn't want on board anymore (you know, pump out!).  So it was a short motor down to Peck Lake, a nice place to stop and if we had the ambition, a pretty beach to visit.  But, this was only going to be a one night affair so Dingh-go stay on the platform.

We didn't have the place to ourselves and one interesting vessel to come in was Dyad, a Crowther 48' Expedition motor yacht.  Wow!  We actually think we saw this boat at Main Duck Island, up on Lake Ontario a couple of times.......

Dyad at anchor
Now we come to what is not so pretty on the Florida waterways.......

It is sad to see half sunken boats, anchorage areas taken up by dilapidated vessels of all types just laying around waiting for the next hurricane.  And this is in a state that is the most tropical of all our states.  One would think the state and local governments would appropriate funding to make Florida the most pristine of all 50!  These pictures were taken in Jupiter, the same city that has a beautiful lighthouse just around the bend from this!

But onwards.........enough soapbox preaching........nobody listens anyways and Christmas is just around the corner!

We decided to keep moving to Lake Boca yesterday after we made it to Lake Worth so fast and as the wind increased against us, the bridge tenders kept us bottled up longer that we wanted I kept thinking of the old war movie......"A Bridge too far".  Yep, the last 4-5 miles to Lake Boca ended up in the dark and we did the final two bridges in no light.  That was a first and trust us, it is more fun to motor up the ICW with light.  But Nati has "eagle eye" Anne on board so we made it into the anchorage and dropped the hook in 9 feet of water for a long 48nm trip.

Tomorrow we will be in Ft Lauderdale.

Warm weather & warm waters!

We said our goodbyes to all in Melbourne and stayed inside to make our way further south.  In a last minute decision we called the Chief & Mom to see if they could make it over to Stuart for a couple of days to make it an early Christmas "get-together".  No problem.........they were some of the original road warriors, they are in the car heading east.  So we turned right at the St Lucie river and diverted up to one of the nicer marinas on the east coast, Sunset Bay Marina for 3 nights on a mooring.

Little did we know that when we pulled into the mooring field that it was going to be "old home week"!  To name a few of the folks that were there......

 - Tropical Breeze (our sister ship Maxim380)
 - Gone with the Wind
 - Valkyrie
 - Refuge
 - Carolina

Seems like everyone wants to be at Sunset Bay this time of the year!!!

Tropical Breeze

But for us......time to hit the road again.    Goodbye Stuart, we'll be back when we can stay longer.....

Through the bridge and down the St Lucie River

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cocoa to Melbourne

From Canaveral we moved to Cocoa for two nights and were able to walk around town one afternoon. The downtown area is very pretty, we caught a small farmers market for some veggies and ended up picking up some new olive oil and vinegar from a specialty shop.


All set for the holiday season

So.......after Cocoa we made our way down to Melbourne for a week  of fun and work with Jean and Tom.  In addition we were able to do a lot in the way of cleanup and maintenance on Nati.  We now have a fresh water wash down connection in the anchor locker to wash the salt spray off Nati when needed, Anne has the inside spic & span, ready for some warm water sailing and we have two new LED lights in the heads after one broke during the rough weather on the outside.  The water tanks are full and it's time to move again!

Goodbye Melbourne.......hello to our next stop..........

Fernandina to Melbourne

After a good sleep in Fernandina we were ready for some more so we once again went out the Fernandina channel to make time south on the "outside".  The day was calm but the current didn't hurt us and pleasant conditions make it much more fun than dealing with shoals and bridges on the ICW.  Windward and Maluka decided to make a day of it and turned west into St. Augustine but because the conditions were too nice and we elected to do another night and head to Cape Canaveral.

The evening motor was much more comfortable than the other night and we were given a nice sunrise as a present.  This passage was 164 miles and we finally began to feel warmth........NICE!!

Not too bad!

We made it through the lock with no issues and decided to hang for the day just to the west of it along with some really nice looking foreign boats.  There were boats anchored from France, Germany along with a French Canadian boat.

Kennedy Space center

A nice quiet morning

Sorry for the delay, but........

We apologize for the time we have spent loafing around central Florida for the last few days but to recap:

 - We did our last overnight going down the coast to Cape Canaveral and  pulled in past the lock and crashed for the afternoon and evening.

 - From there we did a short motor over to Cocoa for a couple of nights to check out the town since we have never stopped there in the past.

 - Then, onward further south and we eventually ended up in Waterline Marina for a week to harass Jean and Tom along with getting mail and some good ole fashion cleanup on Nati.

Earlier today we pulled away from the marina and continued out trek south.  The wind was supposed to be 5-10kts from the NE and we actually are sailing a little today!

So to go back and talk about some of our events over the last couple of weeks.........

From Osprey Marina where we topped off the diesel tanks we continued our southward movement.  As always the Waccamaw River was very pretty and the moving was pleasant, still cold all the time but not terrible.  Eventually we caught up to Windward and Maluka at South Santee.  We met Windward last year on the way south and it was good to see them again.  Like us both boats are heading to the Bahamas this winter.

This area of the ICW has a ton of wildlife in the lowlands.  During one day of going through SC we saw a Golden Eagle, 4 Bald Eagles, dozens of Oyster Catchers and many other!
In the South Santee River

Charleston  - A lovely town.  Too bad we never got a chance to see it this time as it was still cold and the "Charleston Shuffle" made leaving your boat for any length of time a little scary.  The current and wind made the anchorage crazy and boats of all types were sailing on their anchors and it didn't make for a very comfortable scenario during the day.  Towards evening the winds and current were less so sleeping wasn't too bad but we were happy to leave when we did.
Maluka & Windward in Charleston

Note our wanderings at anchor!

Just before dawn on November 23 we weighed anchor and headed out of Charleston Harbor with Windward and Maluka for a sail (we hoped) on the outside.  This would enable us to make good time and save the Georgia portion of the ICW for another time.  Light winds were the word at the start but the sunrise was hard to beat!
Heading east

Maluka & Windward lead the way
The sail/motor to Fernandina was not the best time we've had.  Overall it was OK but the winds didn't not cooperate as all of us thought and we spent the better part of the first afternoon and night beating into 20kts of wind from the SW.  It wasn't until the later part of night that the winds did as expected and turned to the NW and cranked up.  Then.....nice!  Headsail sailing in 20-27kts and doing 6-7kts in beautiful water.  Nati just loved it and so did we!!
downwind sailing

Northern Gannet

We pulled into Fernandina before noon and after a little grub the bed took hold of me and it wasn't until the next day did I move.......slept really good!  We did 174 NM in a little over 28 hours.  Not too bad for the conditions.

Fort Clinch at Fernandina Beach