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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Our Eleutheran Adventure (18 – 26 Jan)

When we started our boating travels two-plus years ago, every day was an adventure. We hadn’t been anyplace on our boat and everything we did was new. Once we had been somewhere, though, while we could still have a great time there, returning wasn’t exactly an adventure. For the past year or so, we have been having a great time but we haven’t really adventured. Yes, we went new places and did new things on the ICW – but we had been down the ICW before; yes, we loved taking the kids to see some of our favorite places in the Abacos but we had also been there before. Well, on 18 January of this year we started adventuring again. After visiting Little Harbor and Spanish Wells, we began exploring, we started, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no man has gone before. And we started with Eleuthera.

Eleuthera is an odd little island. It is 110 miles long and, except for its northwestern corner which resembles a hummingbird’s head and its southern tip which looks like a whale’s tail, it is 2.5 miles at its widest point. The island is very hilly with steep cliffs rising out of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Exuma Sound on the other. Its highest point is 168 feet and it has a population of 11,165. That population, however, must grow in the spring and summer when vacationers occupy some of the magnificent mansions along the coast and fill some of the many mini-resorts (that consist of maybe a half-dozen cabins and a possibly a restaurant) along the beaches and in the towns.

Eleuthera’s modern history began in 1648 when a group of Englishmen, seeking an end to religious oppression in Bermuda (of all places) left one island paradise for another. They called themselves the “Eleutheran Adventurers” (“Eleuthera” being ancient Greek for “freedom”) and originally settled close to Harbour Island, near current day Spanish Wells, where their ship had wrecked and all their provisions were lost. Later, after a division occurred among the Adventurers, a group of them departed and went to a location half-way down the island which is now called Governor’s Harbour (about which, more later).

[A little side note: After they had lost all their provisions, the leader of the Adventurers, one William Sayle, went to Boston to ask the churches there for assistance. They responded affirmatively and sent over 700 British pounds worth of provisions. The assistance was a godsend for the Adventurers who later repaid the debt by sending a load of brazilwood to a new school just getting underway in Massachusetts – a school called Harvard. At the time it was received, the contribution by the adventurers was the third largest in the school’s history. Even today, Eleutherans are proud of the contribution they made to Harvard.]

Though we weren’t among the original 100 hardy souls, our particular Eleutheran adventure began at a place called “Current Cut.” The Cut is a narrow waterway that separates the Northeast Providence Chanel from the Exuma Sound. Based on the tidal currents, water can flow through the cut at amazing speeds – potentially up to 6-8 MPH. Now if you have a medium-sized engine on your sailboat and are normally capable of moving at only five or six miles per hour, you can see the challenge of moving against 6-8 MPH current – you don’t. It could be even more dangerous, however, if you had following seas and the flow pushed you through the Cut. About halfway through you have to make a sharp turn. If the water is behind your boat and pushing hard, you can imagine what might happen when your boat turns broadside to the moving water – it could push you past the turn and into the shallows where you don’t want to be. The trick, therefore, is to traverse the Cut when the tide has slowed and is between moving in and out – it is called “slack tide.”

Technically, slack tide does not necessarily occur at moments of the highest and the lowest tide, but most of the time it is very close. We planned on moving thorough at 1030, just minutes after high tide. As we were on our way we saw a sailboat that would probably arrive at the Cut about the same time we would. Because I am so courteous (and because on my first time through, I would prefer to follow than lead) I told him we would fall in right behind him. In the event, we passed through the Cut just a little after high tide and, though there was a little more current than I thought there would be, it wasn’t that bad – maybe 2-3 MPH.
Homer Winslow's 1895 painting of the GlassWindow -- before a hurricane took it out.

After Current Cut we headed to a place only a few miles away called “Glass Window.” As late as 1885 Glass Window was a natural bridge connecting Eleuthera’s “head” to its “body. The structure was exactly like the natural bridges you see in National Parks where you can look through the arch (hence the term “window”) from one side to the other. At the Glass Window you can see from the Exuma Sound on one side to the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Winslow Homer, a well-known 19th Century American artist painted a famous picture of the Window in 1895. Sometime afterwards (we don’t know the exact date) Eleuthera suffered a hurricane that brought down the arch. As a result, the government re-connected the two parts of the island with a man-made bridge. In 1991, a rogue wave slammed into THAT bridge – which looks to have been about 100 feet above sea level – shifting it eleven feet to the west – and making the road impassable. The government rebuilt the bridge, which is the structure we saw when we visited. It is part of the Queen’s Highway which runs down the 110 mile backbone of the island. Man that must have been a large and powerful wave!

We had anchored about half of a mile away and dinghied over to the Window. We debarked, climbed the hillside and took all sorts of pictures.

Our next stop was Hatchett Pond, which was right next to Hatchett Bay. The Pond has a small man-made opening – maybe 60 feet across – that opens into a huge pond-like anchorage that has a diameter of around ½ mile. Most of the pond is about ten feet deep and, although it has 10-15 mooring balls, it could easily hold 100+ boats. It is termed “the safest harbor in the Bahamas.” I am certain it would protect you from just about any weather you might find. Although we didn’t need it, we entered it as a waypoint in our GPS – just in case.

We stayed on one of the mooring balls for two days. The local settlement is called Alicetown and we visited it a couple of times.  A few things struck us about the town. Most importantly, we were reminded that the Bahamas is definitely a Third World country. Although there were a few large vacation homes, most of the houses were run-down cinderblock structures with plywood covering the windows. There is no such thing as a zoning law in the Out Islands and most of the shops and “variety stores” are one room of a house that has been dedicated to commerce. Typically, the shops carry a few canned goods, a few touristy mementoes and hair products for the locals. Yep, that’s what I said, hair products. Lots of hair products.

We never did find a decent sized grocery store, but we did find a great restaurant called the Front Porch. Other cruisers had praised it in Active Captain and/or some of the other cruising guides we had read so we decided we had to give it a try. We had a pretty expensive lunch of fresh fish fingers (me) and cracked conch (Ann) that was very, very good. In addition, the Front Porch had a great internet connection. In fact, everything about the place was so good that we decided we would have dinner ashore the following day. Then, we made a mistake. Dinner at the Front Porch was very expensive, so, after checking out menus, we decided to eat at one of the newer restaurants in town. It was Twin Brothers, which is kind of a local chain out of Nassau that has been featured in the New York Times, on CBS, NBC and on Top Chef (or so the signs outside tell you – ad nauseum). In case you were wondering, the music was too loud, there were too many no-see-ums, the drinks were bad and the food was terrible. Oh, and the internet was out all evening. In short, we won’t be back to Twin Brothers in either Alicetown or Nassau. And I hope they lost on Top Chef!

The next day we made up for our disappointment of the night before. We went to Alabaster Bay, a beautiful, nearly deserted beach a few miles south of Alicetown. I am guessing the beach was a mile long with twenty or thirty yards of fresh, white sand between the low tide mark and the tree line. There was a mini-resort on the south side of the beach, Casa di Mama, that looked like a very nice place (and is rumored to be very kind to cruisers), but it was closed for the season. There was one vacation home in the middle of the beach, but other than that, it was pretty deserted. We saw a total of three couples there the entire time we were anchored. We went ashore, strolled the beach, and picked up all sorts of seashells.

We knew that the next day a cold front was coming through that would have some pretty strong westerly winds. (See our previous entry on the impact of cold fronts on cruisers in the Bahamas.) Eleuthera is a very long island running north-south, that has very few places that offer protection from westerly winds. We studied the charts and saw three places near Governor’s Harbor that might offer blocking at least some of the wind. The problem was that the charts said all three have “Poor Holding.” I had noticed, however, that some of the other locations where we had stuck our anchor up to its shank had also been listed as having poor holding. Besides, other than going back to Hatchett Pond we didn’t have much of a choice. As we passed the first location we had identified as a possible anchorage we got a radio call from a boat called Lutra. Its captain pointed out that she was in a pretty good location and that there was room for several more boats in the anchorage.  We went on forward to check out the other two locations we had identified as possibilities before turning around and heading back to join Lutra behind Levi Island.

Levi is a small island, about 400 meters long and about ¼ mile due west of Eleuthera proper. We hoped Levi would block the worst winds from the west and that Eleuthera would block as they clocked around to come from the east. Together the two islands formed a north-south channel that allowed some swells from the south, but because of a sandbar to the north, the swells were diminished (though not stopped) from that direction. We checked our anchor with our glass-bottomed bucket and decided it was as good as were going to get it. Then we went to visit our anchorage-mate, the captain of Lutra.

Patti is the captain of Lutra and her first mate is her dog, Myriah. She invited us aboard and, like all good captains, offered us a beer! As we talked we learned that she has been single-handling her boat for the past seven years working during the summer as a marine biologist and spending winters in the Caribbean. She is a very nice, very sweet young lady but if I were a novelist I know exactly what I would do … Patti would be a pirate … AARGH! Eh Patti? And Myria could be her vicious eye-patched mate. It would really be a good story.

Later in the afternoon winds started coming from the southwest. We knew they were going to clock around to the west so we hunkered down. All night the winds were constant at 20-25 MPH except when they gusted to the mid-30’s. The winds weren’t as much of an issue as were the swells; they rolled the boat back and forth all night and part of the following day. Ann slept through it, but with the sound of the winds and the roll of the boat, I spent most of the time from 0300 forwards on anchor watch. I know, I know, we could have split the watch. But, to be honest, I am not going to sleep until and unless I know the anchor is doing what it is supposed to do, so why should Ann have to stay awake too?

After “The Blow,” we went to Governor’s Harbor. It was only a mile or so away from Levi Island and, once again the Charts indicated “poor holding.” I will only point out that ships have been anchoring in this harbor for nearly 400 years and I am not sure they would have done so had holding really been THAT poor.  Governor’s Harbor was the first capital of the Bahamas in the 1700’s and is now the best developed city in the interior of Eleuthera. It has a substantial government presence and a wonderful library. It only has a few hundred residents and was the center of the island’s pineapple trade until the US started subsidizing Hawaiian and Cuban pineapples. We visited Governor’s Harbor a couple of times and even walked across the island to see the Atlantic Coast’s pink sand beaches.

Two days later we headed out to Powell Point and Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina. We kind of wish we had moved a little more slowly down the island and stopped at a couple other settlements. We also bought a book that discusses Eleuthera’s history that it would have been nice to have read before we embarked. Oh well. Now we have an excuse to come back next year! But for now, we move on from our Eleutheran Adventure to our Exuman Adventure!!


Sunset from Point Eleuthera
Ann’s Notes:  As Michael has explained we have been to many new places and it has been an adventure. We have met some cruisers traveling with their children. One family cruises through the winter. They are from Maine and she home schools the two girls on the boat. Another family has two boys, they also home school. I was thinking what an adventure it must be for those children, to be so young and see how other people live and to e able to draw on that experience when they grow into adulthood. I remember what it was like growing up with my grandparents in France and then also our children spending time in Berlin and Belgium. I really do feel it makes for a much more well-rounded person.

Meeting Patti was so good for me. There are times when I miss the sound of a female voice. Patti really is a free spirit and I admire her in many ways. She is one of those physically strong women who is also very female. When the wind was blowing at 20 to 30 miles per hour she was in her dinghy ROWING ashore to walk her dog. I am not sure I could do that…first of all I row in circles…never did get the hang of rowing even at Girl Scout camp. In my own defense I do handle Big Bertha…all 110 pounds of her…yes…I do have the windlass but I need to strong arm her on deck since she won’t fit through the bowsprit hole. Patti does everything the old fashion way and I love that about her. We had her and her puppy over for dinner on the boat and just really enjoyed her company. If you read this Patti…please keep in touch.

Eleuthera is really a beautiful island, we have done a lot of walking…almost hiking up and down hills. I wish I could say the beaches are pristine but, sadly, they show signs of civilization. “Take out” boxes, plastic bottles, glass containers and such. In my utopian island there would be no bugs or trash…just FYI.

I am amazed at seeing the contrast of colors difference between the blue of the Atlantic Ocean and the calm blue/azure water of the Exuma Sound … and at the Glass Window only a few feet separated the two.

So…dear readers…I need to go start dinner…

Thanks for keeping track of us…

Wild Life Count… we have seen a few turtles, a very large sting ray, a small pod of dolphins, small fish with larger fish trying to get them. Today I saw a small wren-type bird with a bright yellow chest.

Traveling Soul….OUT



Thursday, January 23, 2014

On to Eleuthra

The kids left on 4 January, my birthday. Although we loved having them visit, after they departed Ann and I needed a day or two to decompress. So for the next two days, other than a visit to the Jib Room’s streak night, we did very little. One thing we did do, however, was to invite our generator guru and friend Martin (from August Sun), over for dinner. His wife Kathy had gone back to the States for work (yes, she still does that four-letter word).

After our two days of rest, though, we had three tasks to accomplish. Each takes the better part of a day.

·         We had to clean the boat. No matter how careful they are, seven people can track a lot of sand and sea grass on board. Besides, it had been nearly three weeks since we had given her a good scrubbing. We did that on Monday.

·         We had to re-provision. Seven people, especially when three of them are growing teenagers and one is a hard-charging Marine, can eat quite a bit. Moreover, we were used to handling two people for dinner, not seven. We re-provisioned on Tuesday.

·         We had to change the oil in each of our main engines. We try to change it about every 150-200 hours. This, of course, is Ann’s favorite job. I have described it before, but sucking 5 gallons of oil out of the dipstick tube of each engine is a time-consuming chore. We changed the oil on Wednesday.

Then we started waiting. At first it was for the weather. It seemed we couldn’t get a break. There were two back-to-back cold fronts that came through the Bahamas and they both postponed our departure. I guess I should explain why cold fronts are such a pain in the neck even when they don’t bring seriously cold weather and that white-stuff-whose-name-will-never-be-mentioned-on-this-boat.

A cold front has three effects. The first, as you might expect, is that it gets a cooler. What amazes me is that the cooler temperatures don’t come over a few hours or a day, the come literally in a “front.” At Marsh Harbor, for example, I was outside working on the boat and a gust of wind came through. It was probably 75 degrees. Another gust came through seconds later and – I swear – it was ten to fifteen degrees colder. The coolness will often pass within a day or two unless the cold front stalls. In Marsh Harbor for the first week in January the first cold front stalled and a second cold front came right behind it. You know this because it was the same set of cold fronts that caused such terrible weather in the eastern US early this year.

What happens when a colder air mass meets warm, moisture-laden tropical air? You got it – rain. Sometimes it comes down in buckets and sometimes it’s just kind of a long-duration heavy mist. At any rate, cold fronts generally mean rain.

The third effect of a cold front is the wind that comes with it. In the Bahamas the trade winds are generally from the northeast. Before a cold front they change and start tracking in a clockwise pattern from NE-E-SE-S-SW. These winds can get kind of nasty and in moderately bad circumstances can have gusts over 30 MPH. With a really strong front they can be even more. Now, sail boaters like some wind, but not the kind that comes with a strong cold front. We power boaters prefer just enough wind to cool off on a warm day – not the kind that can capsize your boat! Wind, of course, can generate waves and waves can be really nasty. One of the worst effects is to have current going in one direction and wind moving in another; that makes it choppy. It can get choppy to the point the waves are many feet high – something no self-respecting boater, sailor, seaman, captain, admiral or anyone else wants to see.

So, back to Marsh Harbor. We saw one relatively weak cold front come through – with the accompanying rain, wind and cooler weather – just as the kids were leaving. It was followed by a stronger front two days later. The effect was to make miserable weather for nearly a week. Now if we had been planning on cruising within the Sea of Abaco we might have gone anyway. The Sea of Abaco is protected by numerous islands that cut the wind and waves substantially. But our plan was to spend a day cruising south through the Abaco, spend the night at Little Harbor, then head into the big ocean for the 50 miles trip to Royal Island. So we needed a couple of nice days in a row that we could predict a day ahead of time. So, we waited.

Just as the weather started to improve, I was checking the batteries to make sure they would be ready the next day when we started south. Ooops! One of the engine starting Batteries had literally blown up. I know. You hear that batteries can blow up, but I am not sure any of us have ever seen one. Well, I am now one of the few humans alive who has seen it – though I will say that I wish I weren’t. As I started thinking about it, I remembered a day a week or so earlier – while the kids were here – when we all heard a big BANG – like a door slamming. Well, we checked out the boat and could find nothing. We decided that it must have been just that – a door slamming – though we couldn’t determine which door it might have been or what might have caused it. It was no big thing. Fast forward one week. I just realized that I had solved the mystery. The engine cranking batteries are located under the floorboards. Apparently, one of the batteries blew up, lifting the floor board and allowing it to slam down – and it all sounded like a door slamming.  

One of these days we are going to publish a blog consisting
solely of Ann's pictures of flowers. This is one of them.
We disconnected the battery, cleaned out the battery compartment with baking soda and water and found that the engines would start just fine on two batteries. At first we were going to go ahead and leave the following as we had planned, but as I thought about it, I realized we would not be anywhere we could buy a new battery for several weeks, so I figured that maybe we should go ahead and get one in Marsh Harbor. We did.

At this point all I am willing to say is that the installation process did not go well and we had to hire an electrician to finish the job. Since all this happened on a Saturday, of course, we had to wait until Monday for the electrician. (To keep you gear heads interested let me just say that the battery saga is not over. Read on.)

On Tuesday we took off. The weather reports were a bit sketchy for later in the week, but it looked like we might be able to cross the Northeast Providence Channel on either Wednesday or Friday. We figured that even if these reports were wrong, we would be able to wait at Little Harbor until we could go. Finally, we were out of Marsh Harbor.

The cemetery at Spanish Wells
After we arrived at Little Harbor, I started looking at the weather reports in earnest. We had pretty much decided that we should stay at Little Harbor and wait for the front to pass – which would mean we wouldn’t leave until Friday. However, we figured we could wait until the following morning (Wednesday) to make the final decision. On Wednesday morning the weather reports were just as “iffy” as they had been all week. Just as we were ready to decide to postpone our departure we heard two boats on the radio, a sail boat that had just crossed into the ocean and a trawler that was just about to do so. At that point we figured “what the hell,” if they can do it we could too. So, off we went. We also decided that, since Wednesday night and Thursday were supposed to be such terrible days weather-wise that we would go to a marina in Spanish Wells rather than anchor at Royal Island as we had initially planned.

Yes, it was “lumpy,” much lumpier than I like it. Still, it wasn’t a terrible ocean crossing – except for one thing. Shortly after we started the trip I went down to the engine room to check the engines. While there, I noticed that the fuel system wasn’t behaving like I thought it should, so I made some adjustments that I would need to check every hour or so throughout the day. Although I don’t usually get seasick, I have just learned that when I have to go down into the engine room where it is hot and stuffy AND I have to stay there for any length of time AND the boat is rocking and rolling, apparently I can get very queasy. Moreover, when I have to go back several times throughout the day – every time, as a matter of fact, when I started to feel a little bit better – I can continue to feel queasy all day. In short, this was not one of my favorite ocean journeys.

Bonefishing on the sand flats at Spanish Wells
Finally, though, we passed through the Egg Island Cut and were on our way to Spanish Wells. We had been here last year and had stayed for several days so we knew it fairly well. Still, we discovered two things. First, we discovered a new restaurant, the “Shipyard.” I am here to tell you that it is somewhere between very good and excellent. Unlike any of the other restaurants in Spanish Wells, it is on the water (which automatically gains my favor) and it overlooks some shallow sand flats. It just so happens that shallow sand flats are where people fish for bonefish – with fly rods, no less. The food was good, the service surprisingly fast and the entertainment (watching bonefishermen ply their craft) was great!

As I said, though, we discovered a second thing. Remember the battery saga? The “old” battery in the new bank was heating up. I mean it was really heating up. While the other Batteries were about 80 degrees, this one was 130+. Okay, so we turned off the charger and it didn’t help. So we disconnected it, waited until it cooled off and took it outside. We reconnected the other batteries and decided that we would go with two batteries in the port engine bank. So far, so good.

I know that many of you aren’t going to have much sympathy with our battery story. “Everyone” knows that when you replace one battery in a bank you should replace all of them. Ok. But the batteries are $300 each, and I know that I am going to have some electrical work done this summer that will probably result in new batteries anyway. Can you blame me for trying to save a buck – or nine hundred?


ANN’S NOTES:    OK….I have been told that I only have a limited amount of time to get my two cents worth in…we have to take the computer into town to one of the local Wi-Fi hot spots and send this edition on its  way.

I do want everyone to know that the Christmas visit with Lisa, Dave, Nik, Trent and Maddy was wonderful. Yes, we did need some time to regroup   but we have earned that right as parents and grandparents of a very active family.

Changing the oil, when we did it the first few times was a pain in the a**, but now we are much more organized and patient. We know how long it will take, how many rolls of oil sucking rags we need and as long as we have ten, one gallon empty jugs, we are good to go. We also need two very large oil filters, that Michael has figured out how to take off with minimal amount of mess. I think one of the things we are going to do this summer is hook up a pump on both engines that will suck out the oil; we have the set up, just not the pump part.

Does anyone have any questions about batteries, that I may be able to answer for you? Remember Radar from MASH? He could hear helicopters before anyone could see them? I have very good hearing and I was the one that heard a faint sound coming from under the battery compartment. It sounded like my pressure cooker before it starts to choo-choo and begins cooking the meal. Anyway…I pulled the hatch cover and went to get my stethoscope to listen to the battery making the noise. I found five, silent batteries and one that was boiling. You know…once a CNA....always a CNA. I never thought I would use my stethoscope to listen to batteries but it sure did come in handy and confirm it was boiling and that was NOT GOOD.

As far as the cold fronts go…I LOVE them. As most of you know I am not really a hot and humid kinda girl so any type of cool/cold breeze is more than fine with me. I can even wear a little make up when it is cooler and I don’t look like a zombie with big round red circles around my eyes.

The one day we spend in Little Harbor was nice, we saw more than a few turtles. They looked like big dinner plates floating in the water and then you would see them come up for air.

Well…I think my time is about up…

Thank you for reading our blog and following us on this adventure….Blessing to each and every one of you…

Traveling Soul…OUT







Monday, January 13, 2014

Our Final Letter from the Abacos (22 Dec - 4 Jan)

From 22 December until 4 January we had our first set of visitors for the year!!!! Our visitors were the West Coast members of our clan. They were:

·         Daughter - Lisa,

·         Her husband - Dave,

·         14 YO Grandson - Trent,

·         18 YO Granddaughter Maddy and

·         18 YO Grandson Nik

(Collectively, they will henceforth be referred to as “the kids”). The kids arrived at Marsh Harbor on Sunday 22 December after about 20 hours of time in airports and on airplanes. Dave is a Marine stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA so they started the trip at the nearest airport – Las Vegas – then they flew to Houston and Fort Lauderdale, and finally to Marsh Harbor. That’s what happens when you start from the Left Coast!
Dave and Maddy I told you
we let them rest
Nik and Trent: I didn't know we let them
rest THAT much, thugh

Mom - Lisa.
As you can see, it is true that mothers never sleep.
 (They take pictures of people taking pictures)

We let them rest on the 22d, but were on the way to Treasure Cay shortly thereafter. Treasure Cay, as you will remember, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – azure waters half-surrounded by clean, cool sand. Just as the beach was beautiful, the trip from Marsh Harbor to Treasure was picture perfect. The water was like glass and you could look through the ten to fifteen feet of water and see the bottom of the sea. You could see starfish as well as finned fish swimming away. It was really great.

We arrived at Treasure and anchored. We could choose anyplace we wanted because, for the first time ever, we were the ONLY boat in the anchorage. A sailboat came in shortly after we arrived and anchored … well … a little bit closer than we would have preferred, but it was okay. The next boat was even closer. Now look, the anchorage is about 1000m x 500m; and everybody wanted to anchor near us! Actually, in boating they have a term for it – snuggling. Why people want to snuggle is beyond me, but they do. Oh well, no one was so close we had to move. We just gave them dirty looks and drove on.

We went ashore and the kids seemed to enjoy the restaurant (Coco’s), the beach, and the swimming. The swells were about six inches and everyone could get wet and stay cool. I do love beaches so … .Plus, Maddy turned into a serious shell collector and found some pretty ones over the next several days.  Ann made sure that we washed them and kept them outside long enough to ensure there were no little creatures growing inside them. We have made that mistake before.

We couldn’t stay at Treasure very long and had to leave the next day. Anybody? Does anybody know why we had to leave? You might be thinking we had to be somewhere else – Nope. Maybe someone got sick – Nope. Maybe we ran out of food, drink or soda – Nope. Nope. And Nope. It was the generator … The friggin’ generator went on the fritz … AGAIN! I wanted to get back to Marsh Harbor so our friend, diesel guru and generator savior, Martin, from August Sun could take another look at the *$%^&*thing.

In the event, it took two more “looks” by Martin before we finally got it fixed. It turned out to be the same solenoid that failed last summer and that we had Rudi (another generator guru) replace. We did, however, discover a work-around that makes the system work without hunting for a new solenoid in the Bahamas; if we jump two of its external terminals it starts right up. To make sure we weren’t damaging the system, we e-mailed Rudi, told him what we were going to do and asked him if he thought it was okay. He told us, “yep,” just to make sure we used 10-12 gauge wire for the bridge. We are going to order a new one (actually, we’ll probably order two), but not until we get someplace where we trust the delivery system (which we don’t here in Marsh Harbor).

Christmas Festivities.

Santa at the anchorage at Treasure Cay ... He goes EVERYWHERE!
Ever since I was a kid we have had pizza for Christmas Eve dinner. I know, I know that sounds crazy to some of you, but listen to the logic. My family opened its presents on Christmas Eve. (Don’t ask me why, we just did.) So, it stands to “kid reason” that we should eat Christmas Eve dinner as early and as quickly as possible. Moreover, since we had to have the dishes washed and put away before we could open presents, we wanted to use paper plates for the meal itself (there could be certainly be no utensils) and we wanted to keep the serving and cooking dishes as few as possible. The answer? Pizza, of course. Now that we are grown-ups we do the same thing. Why? Because it is a tradition, of course!

Anyway, our daughter, with moral support from her father, insisted that we have pizza for dinner. Ann made individual pizzas so each person could craft his or her own. They were scrumptious! The next day we headed back to Marsh Harbor so we could be at the marina for Christmas dinner where the owners hosted a Christmas dinner. They furnished ham and turkey while the boaters provided side dishes. I convinced Ann to make her patented macaroni and cheese. (Actually, I had a great deal of help in this from Maddy who is also a mac and cheese fan.)

Great Guana

After Christmas we headed to Great Guana. There, we visited the “world famous” Nipper’s Bar and Grill as well as some lesser known establishments. Nipper’s overlooks a nice, clean beach on the Atlantic side of the island. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the beach on the Atlantic side which had some relatively serious waves that could knock you down and were (almost) big enough for body-surfing.

The soon-to-be, kinda-semi-official SCUBA divers.
The only problem was that Dave has more muscle
 than fat -- which means he sinks to the bottom.
However, we hadn’t gone to Guana for Nipper’s, for the eating, the drinking or even for getting knocked down by waves. We went to Guana because Ann and I had arranged for the kids to take a “resort” SCUBA dive. (Actually four of them had to take the resort course; Lisa was already a certified diver.) That means they spent an hour or two in the pool with SCUBA gear and an instructor, then an hour or so in the water actually SCUBA diving. It is not a replacement for a serious SCUBA course, but allows you to get into a wet suit, strap on an air tank and try it out. Anyhow, our plan was for them to leave from Great Guana and go with a company called Dive Guana. The weather of course, did not agree so we had to wait a day. Now Great Guana is a nice island and has two great restaurants/bars, and a nice beach, but not that much else. So, while we easily kept everyone busy for the first two bad weather days, we were not sure we would have enough to do for the third, so we headed back to Treasure Cay. There, we arranged for Treasure Divers to take the kids out the following day. It worked perfectly. They got extra time in the pool and plenty of time on the reef. While in the water they saw turtles, lobsters, sharks and a whole bunch of other kinds of fish. I think the dive was a success.


After Treasure Cay and the dive, we went to Marsh Harbor for a day or so to catch our collective breaths and then headed out to Hope Town. Hope Town was kind of fun for everyone. It was more decorated than Marsh Harbor with the Lighthouse – as well as many of the boats – still adorned with Christmas lights. We ate twice at Captain Jacks and had a drink or two at the marina bar. (The kids over 18 and under 30 were allowed to drink, but preferred to take a sip or two from mom or dad’s cocktail and let it go at that – a very mature approach. I just hope they can keep the same attitude at college next year.) Everyone went up to the lighthouse, into Hopetown and over to the Atlantic beach on the other side Elbow Cay.

After Hope Town it was back to Marsh to prepare for departure. Everyone got out of Marsh Harbor easily enough, but if you will recall, there was a cold snap in the States and all the airlines were cancelling flights. The kids had their flight cancelled, too, but they were lucky in that they were only delayed a day or two. Anyway, everyone is now back in Twentynine Palms, wishing, I suspect, they were still in the Bahamas!

 ANN`S NOTES:   It has been a busy couple of weeks and Michael and I have had time to re-group and talk about how much fun we had with the `kids`

I must say that Traveling Soul did rather well with an extra five people on board, even with generator problems. I must thank the kids for being so accommodating when it came to taking showers; whenever possible they went to the marina bath house and took their showers. I know that does not sound very important but when our boat only carries two hundred gallons of water and seven people want to take showers, the fresh water tank can empty very quickly. We also had to share Wi-Fi time and we worked that out rather well also.

The Christmas holiday was different and wonderful. The pizza on paper plates continues and our tradition of having family to share the holiday is also safe.  We all enjoyed the small table top Christmas tree decorated with my hand-made sea shell ornaments. We also had a Skype session with Tim, Carrie, Caylin and Gavin which we all enjoyed. A few phone calls to and from Dave and Joan, Michael`s mom, and my mom and sister made the day complete.

We have become very good friends with Martin and Kathy on Autumn Sun. Martin has been so very helpful with solving generator problem and Kathy and I just became instant friends. She and I can just sit and girl-talk for hours. Martin is about ready to retire and Kathy is still working via computer and a few trips every once in a while. They plan on staying in Marsh Harbor for a year and see what happens next. It turns out they are good friends with Lee-Ann and Jerry from Bella. Jerry was the Ortho surgeon that we meet last year in the Exumas and advised Michael on the Achilles tendon surgery he had done at Walter Reed. We plan on seeing them later this session in the Exumas.

We did not send out a Christmas newsletter this year but we want you to know that you are in our thoughts. We wish you a very Happy 2014, full of health, happiness and new adventures. Blessings to each and every one of you…

Traveling Soul….OUT