Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Complaints about Paradise: Marsh Harbor to West Palm Beach (13 – 17 April)

Imagine this: we are in one of our favorite beach bars in the world, Coco’s, in Treasure Cay, Bahamas. Now, until the day we arrived the temperature had been, and was supposed to continue to be, a balmy 82 degrees. The day we were there – BAM – it went up to at least 85! AND, we couldn’t get our favorite seats! We had to sit further back on the patio, which meant we didn’t get the breeze that we usually get and that made it seem even hotter. AND, the beer was at least two or three degrees above the perfect temperature. AND there were at least three flies that attacked Ann’s burger and my conch when the server set it down. Now, I know all of you are sympathizing with us and don’t know how we made it through the afternoon. Don’t worry. We can be tough when we need to.  I am, however, getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning of the week.

Top Row: Guy, Mike and Ann.
Bottom Row: Ray Diane, Joy and Steve
You may recall that the day we sent the last blog entry we were planning to leave the Marsh Harbor Marina. We had already been there for three days and had accomplished most of what we had planned (like buying the ten pounds of lobster we would need for the coming year). But, the day before we were planning to leave, our friends Jim and Dianne Guy, aboard Ocean Dance, arrived at the marina. They, in turn, introduced us to their friend Ray, who single hands his huge sailboat Forty More. Moreover, we had just met Steve and Joy in their new (to them) Fleming 55, Meandering Joy, but didn’t really get a chance to know them. In short, we had done all the physical things we needed to, but had not given ourselves time to do some of the social things that we wanted to do. So, we decided to stay one more day at the marina and to ask all these folks if they wanted to go to one of my favorite restaurants in Marsh Harbor, Mangoes Café. They did, so we all went and we all had a good time. In fact, I personally, had a great time. EXCEPT, my “Grouper Special” was a bit on the dry side. Now, don’t get me wrong, I ate the whole thing, of course, and it was good – but it wasn’t great. In retrospect, this should have made me realize that this might be the beginning of a week in Paradise in which I might have something about which to complain!

We finally left Marsh Harbor Saturday morning about 10:00 and got to Treasure Cay in about 2 hours. When we got there, though, the anchorage was very crowded; I am guessing about twenty-five boats in an area about a quarter mile in diameter. (It is an artificial anchorage surrounded by a stone wall.) You see, all the sailboats planning on returning to the States in the next few days were lining up at Treasure to cut through the Whale Cay Passage the next day so they could hit a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream on Tuesday. (An explanation of all this is below; I didn’t want you to get the idea that it is always that crowded,) Anyhow, we went looking for a place to drop our anchor … and looking … and looking … and looking. We ended up dropping it about four times before we finally found a place where I was comfortable that our anchor was going to hold and that we weren’t going to disturb our neighbors (nor would they disturb us). Poor Ann. She was the one on the bow dropping the anchor and hauling it back up (okay, she wasn’t doing it by hand, we do have an electric windlass, but still, she was on the bow and like I said, it was starting to get hot).

A few of our many friends at the Treasure Cay Anchorage.
I wish I had one of those panorama cameras so you could see the rest.
The next day was our Treasure Cay day. I have already hit all the complaints we had about our day in Treasure Cay so I won’t cover them again. But all was not lost, for just as we were getting ready to weigh anchor, we saw them. I haven’t mentioned it before as I didn’t want to jinx her, but you may have noticed that Ann’s wildlife count has been pretty sparse. I think, she was going through some kind of withdrawal because she hadn’t seen any dolphins lately. In fact, she hadn’t seen any since we entered the Bahamas! Well, the morning we left Treasure she saw two of them in the anchorage. Later, on the way to Great Sale, she saw three more and one of them even played in our wake. Whew! Maybe our luck was changing.

As I discussed last year, the Whale Cay Passage is the next to last obstacle that remained between us and Florida. The Sea of Abaco gets so shallow just west of Whale Cay, that boaters are forced into the ocean for a few miles. Because of the underwater topography around Whale Cay, the ocean can be a bit unruly. In fact, “The Whale,” as it is known, can, in certain weather conditions, actually exhibit elements of a “rage” where the swells and the breaking waves on top can make it hazardous for boats of any size to cross. As a result, everyone is very careful about crossing The Whale, the smaller your boat, the more careful you are. Because we kept our eyes on the conditions, the crossing was a non-event. Indeed, it was probably the smoothest of the three we have done. From the Whale, we only had to get to Great Sale Cay, then to West End before crossing the Stream.

The trip to Great Sale was long and, actually, kind of boring. On the way we did see a few areas that might be interesting to explore the next time we come; a couple of deserted (or nearly deserted) islands that, without doubt, have pirate booty buried somewhere ashore. Anyway, Great Sale Cay is a completely deserted island with an excellent anchorage and is about halfway between Treasure and West End. We have stayed there every time we have gone to or come back from the Abacos. If you will remember, the first time we came to the Bahamas we stayed at Great Sale for a couple of days and downloaded our Whaler just to open the thing up and see what she would do. We were in more of a hurry this time and didn’t want to take the time to lower the new dinghy. Moreover, we were a little worried about weather coming over from Florida. We could see on the Garmin (which has Sirius Weather on it) that there was some really nasty stuff on its way so we got everything ready on the boat. We moved as far into the inverted “Y” of Great Sale Cay as we could (giving us some protection from westerly winds), dropped the anchor into the direction from which we thought the weather would come, double checked the set on the anchor it and let out about 150 feet of rode. We prepared the inside of the boat as well, then, well, then we went to bed. I figured that as soon as the weather hit, I would have time to get up, check the boat out and stay awake for the rest of the night to ensure that we didn’t drag. Well, as so often occurs when you are thoroughly prepared, nothing happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip. The weather that was on its way kind of dissipated over the Straits of Florida. As a result, we both slept all night and prepared for the trip to west End.

There really isn’t much to say about West End. We had hoped to stay a day or two, but the weather reports indicated that the weather would be decent to cross on Wednesday and would deteriorate after that. It might be the following Monday before we could get across – if then. So, we decided to spend only one night at the Old Bahama Bay Resort and Marina and move on. Encouraging our departure was the cost of electricity. Now they can charge anything they want for dockage. But one assumes that the water and electricity charges would relate to the costs the marina pays for water and electricity. But $30 for electric and $15 for water? We didn’t even use any of their water and still had to pay. As for electric, thirty dollars for one night of electricity is atrocious. Oh well. As the sign in our salon says, “Paradise Ain’t Cheap.”

The crossing wasn’t as good as some we have had. We had beam seas that kept us rolling back and forth pretty well. My guess is that they were about 2 – 4 feet with an occasional five footer. Again, it was nothing we couldn’t handle, but it wasn’t especially comfortable.

I don't know what to say about this one, but it was right off
the ICW as we were coming in. I simply
HAD to take the picture.
We arrived at West Palm Beach at about 2:30 on Wednesday. But before we actually arrived, Ann had un-suspended her phone, sent a text message to everyone with whom she normally texted and was basically into the “phone mode” once again. Shortly after arrival, Ann called in our arrival to Customs and Immigration so we are now legally in the country once again.

ANN’S NOTES: Michael has pretty much summed up the events of the past few weeks.

Our time in Marsh Harbor was wonderful, it was nice to see the dockhands from last year that remembered us … and of course the BLT and onions rings. We had a good time making some new friends and reconnecting with some old ones. The dinner at Mangoes was fun and full of stories and lots of laughter.

Treasure Cay is still one of the most amazing and beautiful beaches I have ever seen. We took a long walk on the white sand beach. The color of the water is turquoise and in perfect contrast to the blue sky with just a few clouds, breath taking is the only way to describe it. However, getting the boat to anchor and stay in place in that anchorage is an adventure. It may take six drops of the anchor get it to stick but eventually we get it done.

The crossing of the Whale and the Gulf Stream were fine, I guess I am getting accustomed to the waves and the rocking and rolling that comes with living on a boat. Now six or seven foot waves would be a problem, we have only experienced those once and we made it just fine … not much fun but we were safe on Traveling Soul.

We are now waiting for the 26th of April to arrive and then fly back to Virginia to keep some doctor’s appointments for Michael. His heel is still not healing and we are hoping one of the many doctors we have seen will take notice and make his incision site and open infection heal. Send positive thoughts and since I am now connected by phone and e-mail, I will send updates.
Just before we left West End we were visited by a TRi-colored Heron )At least that is what we think it was)

Wildlife Count:

Sunday 14 April 2013:   Ann 2 Turtles   Michael 3 Turtles   many curly tailed lizards    Treasure Cay

Monday 15 April 2013:  1 Dolphin (happy me)  Treasure Cay anchorage

                                           4 Dolphins…3 playing in our bow wake (happier me )   Sea of Abaco

Tuesday 16 April:    1 Spotted ray   West End Bahamas

Wednesday 17 April 2013:  1 Tricolored Heron ( he/she bade us farewell as we left the slip) West End

                                                  Lots of flying fish as we crossed over to Florida

Thanks for reading…

Traveling Soul ….OUT


Friday, April 12, 2013

Spanish Wells to Marsh Harbor (3 - 12 April)

We left Spanish wells on the third of April and headed to the anchorage at Royal Island. This particular anchorage is famous as a jumping off point to go from Eleuthera (or Spanish Wells) to the Abacos. From Royal Island to Little Harbor – the nearest safe harbor on Great Abaco – is, for sailboats, about one good days sail. Spanish Wells is another hour or hour-and-a-half that can be just a little too far. There are times, we have heard, when there are twenty or more boats waiting to cross. The night we were there, I counted only seven, some of which were dinghy-ing over to Spanish Wells during the day. Moreover, it is a cool anchorage. It is almost completely enclosed except for two small inlets, only one of which is large enough for a boat. The anchorage is almost like a lake. The night we were there the wind was blowing, probably 20 – 25 MPH. We were snug in our little harbor and didn’t feel too much of it at all.

Unfortunately, you can’t go ashore at Royal Island. Some years ago a development company (among whose investors were Jack Nicklaus and Roger Staubach) bought the island with the intention of developing it into a luxury island resort consisting of five villas which they would rent to you for the trifling sum of $12,000 per night. Let me say that again – $12,000 per night. Now, I have to admit that I have never stayed in a luxury villa that cost $12,000 per night, but I can assure you that for that much I would want the whole island (not 1/5 of it), a gourmet chef and Roger Staubach as my next door neighbor. As is the case with so many endeavors in the Bahamas, however, this one stalled a couple of years ago. That said, when we were there, there was something going on. Could it be that, with the end of the recession in sight, they think they can make money? Or could it be that the Canadians are using Royal Island as their staging base for the forthcoming invasion? (You will have to see one of last year’s blog entries for the full intelligence analysis.) There was some pretty big machinery, some men who stayed on the island and about a half dozen that commuted from Spanish wells on boats.

The temptation to spend $12,000 at Royal Island notwithstanding, on April 4 we left and crossed another portion of the Northeast Providence Channel. The seas were 3 – 5 feet with an occasional 6-footer. The problem was that there were coming abaft our starboard quarter. That means they were slightly behind on our right side. The problem that created was that the seas would tilt us over sideway s and then let us fall backwards. The boat didn’t have a problem with it – and neither did Ann – but I sure did. I didn’t get seasick or anything but I sure hate tilting sideways. I keep thinking we could tip over. (Actually, it would take a lot of water to tilt us on our side, but it sure feels like we could go over!) Anyway, we had to move about 10 MPH because we had to get to Little Harbor, our next destination, at high tide.

Little Harbor is another cool anchorage, or in this case, “mooring-ball-age.” There are about 15 or so mooring balls at $20 per night. The harbor itself is VERY protected and we decided to stay there for three nights. However getting in can be an issue. At low tide the entrance to the harbor is 4 feet deep. Now, our boat draws 4.5 feet – and we really didn’t want to leave the last six inches on the bottom of the sea., so we had to make sure we got there somewhere around high tide. And we did. We arrived right on time to scoot on in, pick up a mooring ball and recover from our crossing.

The first day we didn’t do much but get the dinghy down. We didn’t really want to go ashore as the skies were a bit threatening and we didn’t want to get caught ashore in a rainstorm. Nothing happened that day, but that night there was deluge. It was raining so hard we couldn’t see the other boats in the harbor. I mean it was a gully washer, a deluge, a tropical rainstorm, however you want to describe it, it rained like hell. I think it was the hardest and most rain we have seen since we have been on the boat. The good thing was it cleaned the boat! After the crossing of the day before, we had plenty of salt on the hull, the decks, the hatches, the windows, the portholes, on just about everything. The gully-washer took it all off. There were two bad things, however. First, the dinghy got VERY full of water, I am guessing there was six inches of water in the bottom of the little boat – all of which we would have to bail before we went anywhere. The second bad thing was that we have a leak in our salon (living room). Now usually we can get away with putting down a towel to catch the water. This time, though, we had garbage bags under the sham-wows, under the towels. Eventually, we had to put pans under the leaks to catch all the water. Man it was pouring!!
More examples of sculptures. If you look closely, you can see
a turtle and two rays.

An example of the Johnson family sculptures
In addition to being the first good harbor on Abaco after leaving Spanish Wells and heading north, Little Harbor has another claim to fame. It is the location of the home, workshop and foundry of Randolph Johnson. Johnson is one of the top American sculptors of the 20th Century. In the early fifties, Johnson had what we might today call a mid-life crisis and moved his family and his work to Little Harbor on Abaco Island, which at that time was not as popular among the vacationing crowd as it  is now. He produced some magnificent sculptures and had a Life Magazine article written about him in the sixties. Although he has passed away, his son Peter has taken up his work. The family now runs the foundry and a gallery to sell the art (yes, we bought a piece, a little turtle. I think it was the cheapest thing there for 90 bucks!). In addition, of course, there is Pete’s Pub. I can hear you now, “What?” you must be saying, “What does a pub have to do with sculpting?” I guess my only answer would be that an artist has to get drunk, too!

Anyway, Pete’s Pub is one of those places you just have to go if you are in the Abacos.  We missed it last year, but we weren’t going to this year. We went twice. The first day we went to visit the gallery and for lunch. It was okay, the conch was a little tough, but the setting was great. It is kind of a classic Tiki bar with thatched roofs, sand on the floor, rough carpentry and articles of clothing (mostly T-shirts) from previous customers. The second day we went for dinner. The food was better and we met some of our fellow boaters. On Tactical Directions we met Tony and Sarah. Tony is from Australia and, based on the name of his boat, loves to race. Sarah just joined Tony’s crew in Nassau. She had spent 20 months there in a Yoga retreat and finally decided Nassau didn’t “speak to her.”Now, she is headed back to the States (hence the ride from Tony) and headed to Micronesia. Although she seems to be a sweet girl (she is about 30, I would guess) and has an interesting story, I think Sarah is about 50 years too late; she is truly a flower child.

We had to leave Little Harbor rather early in the morning on the 7th because we needed to get out at high tide. North of Little Harbor, the island of Abaco is protected from the ocean by a chain of islands, some little, some not so little. The point is that inside this chain of islands, exists the Sea of Abaco. I know, I know, I almost made it sound like a magical place. Well, it kind of is. For the previous several days we had been in some serious ocean. The seas hadn’t been that bad, but they were 3, 4, 5 and yes some 6-footers. Inside the island chain, the wavelets were around six inches! The seas were beautiful, the weather was wonderful, the wind was just right – in short, it was one of those magnificent days that boaters live for. It was just a great day to be a cruiser!

We arrived at Great Guana Cay about 2 PM or so. Now the anchorage at Great Guana – which is inside the Sea of Abaco – is not choppy at all. Ok, maybe not a piece of glass, but it is much smoother than many of the anchorages we had been in before. However. And there is always a however. The anchorage is known for poor holding. In fact, there are two sandy patches and the guide books suggest heading for one of those. (Anchors, you will recall, work by digging into the bottom. If the bottom is sea grass it is much more difficult to penetrate the root system and grab hold of “the bottom” than if there is sand, mud, or some other great anchor-holding material. That would have been a good idea, except for the fact that there were already about 25 boats in the anchorage, all of whom had read the same advice. Yep, the sand was all taken. As a result, we followed our normal anchoring procedure; we dropped the anchor and let the wind blow us back, then, when the anchor chain was taught, we would put the boat and reverse and try to “back down” on the anchor. If it didn’t catch we would do the procedure again. We ended up dropping the anchor at least three times before it finally caught.

A few of our many neighbors at Fisher's Bay off Great Guana Cay
Typically, if I am not sure how well the anchor has caught, I stay on the boat – especially if there is any significant wind. I don’t mind it if other people go ashore, but I, personally, am staying on the boat until I am 100% confident that we are stuck. I was pretty confident that we were caught, but, since I wasn’t 100% certain, we decided to go to Grabbers Bed, Bar and Grill rather than Nippers World Famous Bar and Grill, which would otherwise be our destination of choice. From Grabbers, you see, we can observe the boat; from Nippers, we couldn’t. Anyway, we had a nice tropical drink and some fries, then headed back to the boat. The following day we did make our trip to Nippers, but Monday at a happenin’ bar ain’t the same as a Sunday at the same place. Nevertheless, Nippers does have a beautiful view.

On Tuesday the weather was almost as good as it was on Sunday and we moseyed over to Marsh Harbor. We went straight to our favorite Marina in the Bahamas, Marsh Harbor Marina and the Jibroom. We kind of lazed the rest of the day away as the weather was good and … well … we wanted to laze the day away! Oh! I almost forgot. When we pulled into the marina there was a catamaran docked by the fuel dock. Her name was Sun Cat. Hmmm we know that name. In fact we had their boat card. But before we could put everything together Bob and Shirley from the very same boat came over. Sadly, we could spend only about 15 minutes together as they were on their way to the Airport so they could fly home for a month  or so. Next time we see them we won’t let them go – appointments back home notwithstanding.

When Ann dreams about food, this is what she dreams about:
A BLT with onion rings and a Kalik beer.
We felt so badly about wasting all Tuesday that we really got to work on Wednesday. We cleaned the boat from stem to stern. Man it was dirty. While the rain in Little Harbor knocked off the salt it did not knock off the dirt. That was left to Ann and me as we worked our little touches off. You know this boat really looks good when it’s clean. Anyway, Ann’s reward for working so hard on the boat was a visit to the Jibroom. Now for those of you who don’t remember, Ann loves their BLT’s (apparently made on a particularly sinful type of bread) and their onion rings. In fact, she has waited nearly a year to savor this Jibroom delicacy. Well, she did. I had a beer (oops, okay, maybe I had two) and a few of her onion rings, but she really enjoyed lunch.

On Thursday, Jim Guy and his wife Diane pulled into the marina. We had met them last year at this very marina on their boat, Ocean Dance. We had also run into them (figuratively, not literally) late last year at Vero Beach when we were heading north and he was heading south. It was good to see them but since we are leaving tomorrow we won’t be able to. Also on Thursday we re-provisioned our boat. Yea, yea, we bought some groceries and stuff like that. But we also stopped at Skaggs Wholesale and Retail to refresh our lobster supply. Now, today I am not going to rub in the fact that these lobsters have a specially scrumptious taste, because if I did, I could only do it once. But since we now have ten pounds of lobster tails, I can rub it in every time we have one! And yes, I will!

Also on Thursday we went to the Cruiser’s Meet and Greet held weekly at the Jibroom (Happy Hour prices if you bring an appetizer to share), where we met Steven and Joy who are aboard their Fleming 55, Meandering Joy. They are as new to cruising as we were at this time last year so we gave them a tour of our boat (and they gave us one of theirs) and we both passed on some of the wealth of knowledge we had gained since we had started (he said with tongue-in-cheek).

ANN’s NOTES:  It has been a wonderful few weeks of cruising. We have seen many new places, met some new people, re-connected with some old ones and returned to a favorite harbor. What more can you ask for when you live on a boat? Ok…maybe win a million or two in the lottery…

I have to update you on the dinghy… last year the Boston Whaler and our winch was one of our main issues. I have to tell you that since we bought the inflatable dinghy it has been much better, and since we got the winch fixed and we have a new, better, stronger cable on it, I feel much safer getting it on and off the second deck of our boat. It can be a bit of a challenge at times when it is very windy and dealing with rough water. I now have learned where to tie off the dinghy on the boat in order to reduce all the things that want to push me around. It is always a learning experience when you have something new to deal with.

Ann and the sea along our walk at Little Harbor
We had a really nice time in Little Harbor, Michael and I took a nice long walk on the island. The area is not flat so we got our heart rates up on a few good size hills. We also had some very pretty views from the top of those hills. While at Pete`s Pub, I saw the ground moving, it turns out that they have a small army of hermit crabs. They were all over the place, all of them in different size and shapes of shells. The people at the table next to us picked them up and were having crab races, Michael offered to be their “bookie” and give them “odds” but they saw through the scam and passed.

Another interesting thing I saw was after the big rain storm we had. Next to us was a thirty something foot sail boat that had its dinghy out like most of us. After the rain stopped the first mate got into her dinghy, put in laundry soap and dirty clothes and washed her clothes in the fresh rain water. She rinsed them out in another bucket she had caught rain water in and then hung the clothes in the wonderful breeze. She had bed sheets, underwear, shorts, shirts…just a normal wash day on a sail boat. I think she had done this more than once since they more than likely live on the sailboat.

I am enjoying my time in Marsh Harbor, it is nice to be back in a place that you know where everything is: The bread store, the bank, hardware store, all the places that make living on a boat more normal. I also got my BLT-best-onion-rings ever fix. I had to work my buns off before lunch but it was well worth it…plus the nap that afternoon. We also saw LeeAnn and Jerry from m/v Bella. They were anchored out in the harbor and came in for dinner at the Jibroom so they stopped by for a little while. They are such nice people.

It really has been a fun time for us, remember you are welcome to join us ... we would love to share this wonderful life style with you.

Wildlife Count:

4 April 2013    Flying Fish (lots of them )   Northeast Providence Channel

5 April  2013    5 turtles spotted by Michael…I have to trust he saw that many (HEY, I resent that remark! MB)

6 April 2013     3 turtles: I saw them this time

                           5 turtles: again I trust Michel he saw two more than me

7 April 2013      1 turtle

                             Curly tail lizards (a few)

8 April 2013       1 Starfish

                             Curly tail lizards a few more

Somewhere along the line: A billion noseeums!

Traveling Soul….OUT

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spanish Wells (29 March - 3 April)

This is thr reason we had to leave Virginia.
It may be beautiful, but it sure is cold!
Aaanndd we’re off. On Friday 29 March we took off from the Harbor Club Hotel and Marina in downtown Nassau on our way to Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, then to the Abacos and eventually back to Florida. We decided to go to Spanish Wells because … well … we hadn’t been there before and it sounded kind of interesting. We decided to go to the Abacos because we HAD been there before (it’s where we spent last winter) and we decided to go back to Florida so I can go to yet another set of doctor’s appointments.  That’s right, I still have problems with my foot – or rather with the medical profession in general, the members of which cannot figure out what is wrong or how to fix it. Deep Breath, deep breath … I am not going there; I think any doctors reading this blog already know what I think about their colleague’s inability to repair me. Deep breath!

As I said, we took off on Friday into 3-5 foot seas – a little more than that with which we are comfortable, but we have been in worse. I can’t blame the weathermen as they actually predicted the 3 – 5 footers. But, it didn’t make any difference. We wanted to get out of Nassau – and its high-priced marinas – so badly that we figured we could handle whatever the Northeast Providence Channel threw at us. Other than the fact that we got bounced around quite a bit the trip was uneventful. The only thing that got seriously displaced along the way was the booze! Now, I know you are thinking that, of all things, I should have taken better care of the booze – but the reality is even worse. The reason the bottles got bounced around so much was because we didn’t have enough liquor in the liquor cabinet. My God, the shame of it all!

There are a couple of places we could have stayed while in Spanish Wells. Royal Island is a magnificent lake-like, very well protected anchorage a few miles from the settlement – but for us to get to Spanish wells proper it would have been quite a long dinghy ride. There is also an anchorage just off Russell Cay, (not too far from the town) but there weren’t that many reviews of it in Active Captain, my go-to anchorage guide, so I was a bit hesitant to drop the hook there. But all was not lost as they also have nine mooring balls. The issue was whether the mooring balls would handle a 52 foot boat. We have learned that the answer to that question isn’t always “yes,” and that it is better to call before just showing up on someone’s doorstep. To make a long story short, we called, only one of their balls would handle a 52’boat, but it would be free by the time we got there. Yesss! It seemed like things were working out for us.

We pulled in, tied up to the mooring ball and rested a while before heading to the dinghy deck to lower the boat. We got it almost halfway down and … it stopped. We managed to get it back up – though not into its cradle – and we saw the problem. As we had been lowering the dinghy it had made a few funny noises, but they weren’t THAT funny and I thought it was just because we hadn’t used the dinghy in over a month. Well, I was wrong. The cable that raises and lowers the dinghy had slipped off the pulley and had wedged itself between the pulley and the side of the crane. We started working to get the dinghy in the cradle, and the people in the boat behind us, in a sailboat named Chummy, called over to see if we needed help. We did. So, all four of them came over. Between the six of us we got the dinghy down and into its cradle. That’s when we noticed what the real problem was.

It seems the cable got tangled inside the winch and part of the cable had, in fact, torn apart. Now we needed a professional with some special tools to take the winch apart, take out the old cable and put in some new one. The chore didn’t really sound too hard, except for one little fact. This was not only Friday, it was Good Friday in a very religious community. No one would be working on Saturday either. Or on Easter Sunday. Or on the following Monday – it is a holiday in the Bahamas. So, unless we were going to stay on our boat for four days with no way to get to shore, we had to find a marina in which we could stay and spend more money. So, on Saturday morning we docked at the Spanish Wells Yacht Haven. 

The beach on the north side of Spanish Wells.
Spanish Wells is kind of an unusual community. It occupies the whole of St. George`s Cay and is laid out in kind of a grid pattern. It has two streets that run the length of the island (about two miles) and 30 streets that run cross-wise. I know there are thirty streets because they are numbered from First Street to (you guessed it) 30th street. The north side of the island is a beach, as long as the island. It isn’t as beautiful as some we have seen in the Bahamas but you can walk out at least a quarter mile and still be less than knee deep in very calm water.

Spanish Wells has an interesting history. It seems to have received its name from the 16th Century when Spanish Galleons used to stop here to top off with water from the local wells. There don’t seem to be too many records from that time and I can’t tell you too much. But some of the most interesting history begins with the Eleutheran Adventurers who came to the Bahamas in 1648.

My kayak is no longer a virgin! Paddling
around Spanish Wells
The Adventurers left Bermuda and came to the Bahamas to find that most elusive of freedoms – freedom of religion. Just south of St. George`s Cay their ship sank when it ran into what is still known as the Devil’s Backbone and they settled on the Island of Eleuthera. I am not going to go into great detail, but basically when their ship sank they lost all their provisions and for several months lived in a cave, called “Preacher’s Cave” until they could build their own huts. At some point, William Sayles, their leader and the former governor of Bermuda went to the American Colonies to find fellow religionists who might offer some support. Though not particularly well off themselves, the Pilgrims from Massachusetts Bay Colony gave Sayles 80 pounds sterling as well as a ship full of provisions. Fast forward a few years. After a split among the Adventurers, some went to an island just off Eleuthra, called Spanish Wells. This group sent a shipment of Brazeletto wood to the Pilgrims to repay them for their help. Ok, now get this. (This is where I have been going for this whole paragraph.) The Pilgrims sold the wood for a profit of 124 pounds sterling – which they used to buy the last corner of a piece of property now known as Harvard Yard.

A couple of other notes on Spanish Wells:

·         The population of Spanish wells is about 1500 –many, if not most, of whom can trace their lineage back to the original Eleuthran Adventurers.

·         Apparently, one of the families that came over with the Adventurers was named Pinder – as there are more Pinders here than you can shake a stick at.

·         After the American Revolution, a number of Loyalists came to the Bahamas (and brought their slaves with them) to start new plantations.  Because Spanish Wells started as a religious community and retained that character, the people of Spanish Wells discouraged the use of slaves. They made it clear that the people who used slaves should leave, while the people who performed their own labor or paid wages to others could remain. They disassociated themselves from the neighboring islands who dealt with slavery. So, according to many locals, the disapproval of slavery is why today the island has a predominantly white population.

·         Spanish Wells provides 70% of the lobsters shipped from the Bahamas. Their largest customer is the restaurant chain Red Lobster. (Some of you who know me well will recognize the irony of that.)

·         Many of the large houses on the “channel side” of the island have sixty to seventy foot commercial fishing boats docked in front of them. Those who own the houses also own the fishing boats. Lobster fishing is a lucrative occupation – especially if you are the captain and owner of the boat. (It is also interesting that these ships, moored as they are in front of their owners houses, are generally in ship-shape and Bristol fashion, as opposed to most of the commercial fishing boats we see elsewhere in the Bahamas AND in the States.)

While here we have also met some new cruisers. Jerry and Lee Ann are aboard the 51’sailing vessel, Bella. We had them over for cocktails on Monday, then went out to dinner with them on Tuesday. The unique thing about them is: Lee Ann was a hospice nurse and Jerry was a … well … an orthopedic surgeon. I have decided, though, that Jerry is one of those good surgeons as he is willing to serve as my consultant for dealing with my foot. I have three buzzwords that I have to fit into a conversation with an orthopedic guy: (1) the Campbell Clinic in Memphis, (2) a wound-vac, and (3) a hyperbaric  chamber. Oh! And (4) I want them to cut on the side of the heel next time, not on top of the last incision. Sadie M, a 44’ Tollycraft, also came in on Tuesday and I talked to them for a while. They, too, are heading up to Marsh Harbor so we will probably see more of them in the near future.

Contrast this with the picture of snowy Virginia. I'm just sayin'!
On Tuesday I walked over to On-Site Repairs, the company that everyone recommended for work on our winch. Although they weren’t sure they would be able to get to it right away, I begged and pleaded and they sent Mark over right away. He was a bit surly when I explained what we needed and told me that no one in town would have the cable. I told him we had been in town for a while, had asked around, and knew that Pinder’s Tune-Up, a car repair store, had the stuff.  After I told him that he kind of shut up and got to work. Lo and behold, by noon he had taken apart the winch, taken out the old twisted cable and put in the new one. All he had to do after lunch was to put the winch back in the crane and we would be set. When he was leaving he said he was going off to get something to eat and to get a set of smaller hands (to put a particular set of nuts in place). I didn’t think anything of it until he returned with … are you ready for it … a little person. Yes, Ferris was about four feet tall and, in fact, had the little hands that Mark needed to hold the nuts in place while he tightened the bolts.

It is now Wednesday morning and we are ready to leave. We are doing a batch of wash, getting some fuel then spending the night at Royal Island – it looks like a very nice anchorage, but I’ll report on it in the next entry. From there we are heading to Little Harbor and thence to Marsh Harbor. We’ll keep you posted!


I cannot tell you how happy I am to be cruising again…having Traveling Soul tied to a dock is not what she is meant to do and not what she was built to do. I am still an adventure girl at heart. The boat and I still like to see different islands and explore the land, culture and the people.

What Michael did not tell you in his part of the blog is that the people in the sailboat Chummy were all Canadian. They worked very hard to secure the dinghy back on deck and really tried to fix the crane. That cable was really stuck but we all did our part to un-stick it. We did get it un-stuck but the cable was all torn up…not a pretty sight to see. As usual when our boat needs repairs it is usually on a late Friday and in the Bahamas they take their week-end seriously… Sorry mon ... no work on weekend. Thank heaven the marina was open and we could get to it. Now we could at least walk around the island and look around. The people are so very friendly and helpful…unless it is the weekend.

We found a marine store/fish market open and we bought some lobster tails. So we may have started a new Easter tradition while in the islands, I made homemade mac and cheese with lobster chunks in it. It was so good, as good as any restaurant according to Michael.

We have met some really nice cruisers on this lay over. Lee Ann and I hit it off right away. We have so much in common, the same work in hospice… she was a trainer for the CNA`s and knows how important we are in caring for the person that is dying and for the families that at times feel helpless. We have read the same books, like the same movies and can talk to each other for hours. She also has a wonderful sense of humor and we laugh a lot. When I told her about the small set of hands and then seeing Ferris come on board, it took a few minutes to settle down. The other good part is Michael likes Jerry even if he is a doctor. He gave Michael lots of good advice and told him he could call him if needed and would even talk to the other doctors … now that is a friend.

Michael wants to get this sent out before we leave the marina, I need to go check on the last batch of clothes in the dryer so I better wrap this up…

Wildlife Report:

29 March 2013    Northeast Providence Channel             Flying fish

Thanks for following us…

Traveling Soul…..OUT