BuiltWithNOF

Live Aboard Log from the first year on Millennium Dragon including a 5 month cruise to the Bahamas.

On an ancient wall in China
Where a brooding Buddha blinks,
Deeply graven is the message
It is later than you think.

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop,
At late or early hour.

Now is all the time you own,
The past a golden link,
Go cruising now my brother
It's later than you think.

<;((((><

MD_Screecher1

Introduction

 

“You’ve got to be ready to die”.

 

Our dream of living aboard our own boat and cruising the Intracoastal Waterway and Bahamas has been alive for the past thirty years.  The timetable and choice of boat has changed as circumstances have altered our course over the years.  Our boat, the “Millennium Dragon” was actually named in the late 1970’s after seeing Star Wars for the first time.  We were sailing “Magic Dragon”, a Formosa Boat Company 41’, thirty thousand pound water pressing ketch at the time.  The retirement boat was to be named “Millennium Dragon”, a logical progression from “Magic Dragon” with the influence of Hans Solo’s space ship in Star Wars, the “Millennium Falcon”.  She was to be a 65’ steel ketch.  I did not realize it would take us almost 25 years to achieve the dream or that the boat would be launched in time to start our new life in the year 2000.  No one could have predicted we would be achieving our dream on a 49’ fiberglass cruising catamaran.  I did know that in order to leave a lifetime of friends and relatives in Milwaukee for a new life on the Ocean Sea one had to be, metaphorically, ready to die.  At least a person must be ready to be “reincarnated” into a location, life style and group of people that are totally foreign to Wisconsin and most of my friends and relatives that continue to live there.

Unfortunately we did not manage to rid ourselves of all our worldly possessions as a small number of people that live the same dream do.  We still had the home in Miami, Florida (Kathy wanted to keep the land base) and the warehouse in Kendal (I needed a place to keep my tools and “museum of unfinished projects”).  We kept the ’92 Buick at the home for use during our limited time in Florida.  We are slowly, actually painfully slowly, trying to uncomplicated our lives.  I don’t think we will ever be minimalists but we are trying to reduce the complexity.

Kathy and I have lived aboard the cruising catamaran Millennium Dragon since May of 2000.  After our two year cruise we moved from Miami to Punta Gorda Florida.  This document presents a minimally edited compilation of our communications back to friends and family during the year following the move aboard.  It does present a good picture of the cruising life and many of the adventures we had over the past several years.  I have also included a section of communications sent back during the short trip for Regatta Time In Abaco during July, 2001.  Kathy put together a summary of expenses for living aboard, as many people want to know what extended cruising costs.  We have found that most cruisers spend what is available in the cruising kitty.  Some spend too much and have to go back to the real world for a time.  Very few have more resources than they will ever use.  We are hoping to be just right.  Like my father, one of my goals in life is to draw my last breath and spend my last dollar at the same time.  If we are lucky, this may happen.

 

Chapter One

Leaving the Lima Life Behind

May 8, 2000

My last real job was as Medical Director for a small Physician-Hospital Organization (PHO) in north central Ohio.  I had hung on just long enough to avoid submitting my resignation prior to my position being eliminated.  As a result I tearfully accepted a six month severance package.  We wanted to leave Lima, Ohio Friday afternoon, April 21.  Boxing and packing was not complete.  Mark, the mechanic from “True Service” next to the lumber yard/boat works, helped me pack the workshop then came over Saturday to help box the apartment and load the trailer.  If he hadn’t helped we could still be in Lima.  After donations of two vans full of furniture to Project Impact, we still had several major pieces that would not fit on the two trailers.  Mark was the beneficiary of our overage.  He loaded a wicker desk, several wicker end tables, lawn furniture and the color TV into his pickup.  We were able to take off at about 9:00PM Saturday night.

We made it about two hours down the road and stopped for the night in a hotel just north of the Cincinnati by pass.  The next day (Easter Sunday) Kathy drove the Suburban/U-Haul and I drove the Buick/BBT (Big Box Trailer) 14 hours to Columbia, SC.  We passed through the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  I had a very wild ride towing the long, heavy box trailer with the 3.8 liter Buick LeSabre.  Dr. David Imler had lined up some kids to help load the trailers.  I gave instructions to the oldest and took off to pick up the U-Haul.  The trailer was packed when I got back.  I had asked for about 70 to 90 pounds of tongue weight, but when towing, a lighter tongue weight and windage actually made for negative tongue weight.  As a result, driving over 55 made the trailer fishtail wildly.  Uphill was OK as pull kept the trailer behind the car.  Downhill, through the mountains was a real treat.  People were afraid to pass me.  I thought the problem was just a light car and a heavy load on a long trailer.  This problem kept the speed way down and the travel time way up.

Monday we were in the low country, cruising flat land toward Beaufort.  I could actually hit 60MPH before my rig started to fishtail.  Three hours after starting out, we were in Hardeeville, SC.  We dropped off the trailers at a friends boat building shop and drove to Beaufort to unload the boat stuff from Suburban and onto Millennium Dragon.  Tuesday, April 25, I moved some heavy tools from the box trailer to the Suburban and gave our friends several heavy workbenches and shelving units.  I put the heavy tools in the Suburban and redistributed the load in the box trailer so I had about 90 pounds of tongue weight.  Wednesday we drove to Miami, at about 70 to 75 MPH, in about 10 hours.  All our “good stuff” was unloaded at the Miami condo or warehouse and the U-Haul was returned.  We still had some boxes to unload but we are about 80% completed.

We visited friends in Key Largo on the weekend.  Sunday evening, April 30, I flew to Albany NY for a HCFA site review.  The review was completed Thursday.  More box unloading Friday and Saturday.  Saturday evening we drove to Key Largo for the Change of Watch party at the Upper Keys Sailing Club.  Made contact with some old friends and had a great fish dinner but since we have not been at the club for 2 ½ years, the awards and election were somewhat boring.  We stayed with our friends on Key Largo Saturday night and helped them with a gazebo project and recovering a damaged boat from the brush yesterday.  Today we are back to unboxing.  I completed writing the report on the HCFA gig.  We needed to get our stuff put away so we may take off for Beaufort and start the great sailing adventure.  I placed the Suburban for sale in the Miami Herald over the weekend.  No calls.  I listed it on e-bay.  The only calls were from people who wanted several hundred dollars to help me sell it.  The Buick (great tow vehicle) will be left in Miami for my daughter to use.  We headed north in the Nissan Maxima and Suburban hoping to sell both there.

We moved more “good stuff” to Port Royal and aboard the Dragon the middle of May.  Luckily one of our friends needed a small car for his family.  David Willis met us in Beaufort, the deal was closed and Kathy bid a tearful goodbye to her 1987 Nissan Maxima.  After a week of so of miscellaneous stainless steel nut and bolt additions we were ready to go.  By a stroke of good fortune a buyer saw the sign in the window of the Suburban and offered to pay the low end of the blue book range. We took the money and sailed away two days later.  We haven’t looked back since.

Chapter Two

Monday, June 26, 2000

Final Preparations

Yes, I know it’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us, but we have been busy.  At least, Roger has been busy.  He’s been installing all kinds of goodies on the boat and I’ve been trying to keep things semi-organized.  It’s amazing how much “stuff” can be stowed on a 48” cat.  I wonder if all this is necessary, but as long as there is space, why not carry it around for a while and see if we need it.  Of course, the waterline now needs to be painted a few inches higher.  This may not be a good thing.

Our refrigerator/freezer is still an icebox at this point, but the new unit should be delivered today. Port Supply will replace the whole thing for us.  Roger spent most of yesterday uninstalling the rest of the original unit so that a complete swap can be made.  He had the copper tubing and wires going through a PVC pipe that he foamed so that it wouldn’t move, so he had some fun getting it out.  He installed 2 indoor/outdoor thermometers (one in the freezer compartment, and one in the refrigerator compartment) so that we can see if everything is operating well.  He’s also in the process of constructing a warning device that will wake the neighbors and give Goldie (our 19 y/o house cat) a heart attack if the temp falls below required levels.  We currently have all the remaining refrigerated items in cooler bags and since that isn’t much, we are eating out a lot.  Now tell me, why am I in such a hurry to get the refrigerator working?

Roger figured out the water pump system, so we have running water, and he fixed the water heater, so we have hot, running water.  Now it’s not only possible, but also easy to take on-board showers.  As long as we are at a dock, refilling the water tanks is a simple matter.  It’s amazing, the things one takes for granted.

Another of Roger’s installations has been a car kit for the cell phone.  It turns our phone into a “hand’s off” speakerphone operation, which makes it ideal when talking to friends and family since we don’t have extension phones.

The satellite dish and radar have been mounted so we can watch all the stations with great reception.  Since the settee seats are now cleared of “projects”, I can fall asleep watching movies again.  Just like home.

We are still at the same marina and we are thoroughly enjoying the cast of characters.  There are usually a few folks at the marina table during the day, and more gather around 5:30PM each afternoon for cocktail “hour”.  Every Thursday is “the Dinner Club” night.  Someone volunteers for the main course and everyone else brings something.  We’ve had some wonderful meals.  Last Thursday, one of the women brought stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon to grill and the Thursday before, one of the fishermen fried his catch of the previous days:  whiting and flounder. It’s going to be hard leaving this port. Luckily the marina is about ¼ mile from the boat, so we get a chance to walk off a few of the extra calories.  The walk is actually great except during the sunny 90+ degree-afternoons.

That walk is usually the reason that we don’t get on-line as often as we’d like.  Using the marina’s fax line at the counter with our laptop is not exactly the most comfortable way to stay in touch.  We’ve been doing flash sessions, then going to the boat to read and answer the mail.  Because of all the crazy viruses going around, please don’t send anything that needs to be downloaded.  We also bought a new little Pocket Mail device.  It will be easier to get mail on that little thing by just dialing an 800# and holding it up to the receiver.  The capacity is limited, so no jokes, please, but shorter messages will get answered easier.  I guess there is a way to transfer the messages to our laptop, so we can use a larger keyboard to do our typing, but we haven’t gotten that far in our manual.

Roger will be doing an HCFA review for ES, Inc. in Birmingham, AL July 10-14.  This will help offset some of the West Marine and Radio Shack bills that have been accumulating. (And we thought we had it all covered.)  This seems to be working well.  As long as he can get to an airport, it doesn’t matter that we are on a boat.  The last one he did was in May from Miami to Albany NY.  Every other month is about the right kind of spacing between “jobs”. 

Our original plan was to be in New York City for the 4th of July, but that just isn’t going to happen this year.  We’re now hoping to get the Chesapeake by the end of August, or September and then start heading back to Miami, then the Bahamas for the winter.  In the meantime, as long as we still have the Suburban, we are taking a few day trips to Savannah (West Marine) and Hilton Head (Home Depot, Boater’s World).  We still want to get back to Savannah and do the real touristy things.  It’s only about a 50 minute drive from here and there really isn’t a good place to tie a boat in the heart of the city, so going by boat would put us out in the boonies.

We’re about ready to do our local hardware/Wal-Mart trek, so will finish this for now and send it on our way.

Chapter Three

Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Tying Up Loose Ends and Burnishing Bottoms

What started out as a planned 3 week final refit prior to heading north to join the tall ships for OPSail 2000 and watch fourth of July fireworks over the Statue of Liberty has turned into a 3 month stay in “Tar Pit Creek”.  We are actually in the Beaufort River at the Port Royal Landing Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway.  It looks like we will be here another month.  We have been stuck in the tar pit partially because of the time needed to do the fitting out but also because this is a really great marina and location.  It looks like we will be doing some low country cruising prior to jumping off for the extended voyaging.  The problem with being semi-retired is that every day is Saturday and there are no real deadlines.  What doesn’t get done today can wait until tomorrow or even next week.  We have very little incentive to leave this place other than the desire to live the dream.  I think we are actually doing this now.  At some point we may simply decide to leave to get out of the heat and humidity.  For now, this marina, with its cast of characters, is just simply too much fun.

We now have the cleanest bottoms in the marina.  I just spent 3 hours scraping and burnishing the antifouling paint.  As usual, I got out of the water bleeding.  The odd hidden carnivorous barnacle managed to bite me on the back of the hand while I was cleaning one of the folding props.  Yesterday I purchased 100 feet of polypropylene line and, using figure 8 knots, tied 6” sections of garden hose forming handles every 4’.  The resulting floating horizontal ladder was tied to the bow.  The outgoing tide floated the “ladder” along the waterline.  With one hand on the hose handle and the other on the scraper or brush, the job was much easier then it has been when I was swimming against the tide.  The 3 to 4 knot tide carries the crud away and helps with the minimal visibility.  Although the water looks dirty, it is really the stuff of life.  It is like swimming in seafood bisque prior to the cooking.  When I got out of the river I was covered with the krill (tiny shrimp like organisms) that live in the mat that grows on our bottoms.  Sometimes I think the antifouling bottom paint just provides extra texture for the critters to hold onto.  Other outside projects are difficult at any other time than early morning due to the temperature (mid to high nineties) and humidity (80%).  They weren’t kidding about the Steamy South.  I am missing the more balanced heat and humidity (and Trade Winds) of Miami.

I have finished mounting the hardware for the sail controls including Mainsail tack, Cunningham and reef lines.  We are actually ready to go sailing but the wind has been very light and the high temp and humidity would make sailing uncomfortable.  A couple we met here went sailing off shore on their unimaran (half cat / monohull) yesterday.  They found some wind but the temp was still in the 90’s several miles off shore.  They broke a steering cable and had to come in using the emergency tiller.  This is not like Milwaukee where a sail to the other side of the breakwater usually gets you a 20-degree temperature drop.  We will be doing some tune up sailing now that the running rigging is in place.  I want to make sure everything works before we go off shore.  The engines also need some exercise and the movement will keep the bottoms a little cleaner.

With the heat limiting outdoor projects I am able to concentrate on inside work.  All the clothes hooks and handrails are mounted.  The refrigeration has been fixed but we are still unable to keep frozen food.  I have ordered a second (small) Adler/Barbour 12 volt Cold Machine with a flat evaporator.  I will be mounting the evaporator in the refrigerator side of the “ice box” along the forward wall.  Hopefully, the large Cold Machine with the evaporator in the freezer side will then be able to freeze food.  We need to be able to freeze any excess fish and conch we catch once we get to the islands.  This second machine is a special order and will not be here for 3 weeks.  By the time it arrives, I should have all the other projects completed.  We will head for the Chesapeake (crab season) as soon as I install the unit.

The “semi” part of the semi-retirement is the work I do for a small HCFA contractor (ESI) responsible for doing Medicare Risk HMO site visits.  I am the lead physician for the consulting team that provides the health plan evaluation for HCFA.  The delay in my consulting gig at the Birmingham health plan from July 10 to August 7 worked well.  The lull in this part-time action has given me the time needed to complete the fitting out.  The long-term plan is to be available (through email & cell phone) for these reviews when HCFA has the need and ESI gives me a call.  The ESI travel agent will arrange flights from any airport I designate.  I usually get the call 3 or 4 weeks prior to the gig.  Kathy and I will sail to a major port with a major airport in time for the flight.  This should work well until we are anchored the harbor in Georgetown, Exuma next winter.  Flights in and out of Georgetown are somewhat irregular and may be fully booked.  Passage for one should be available at reasonably short notice.  If not, we will sail back to Nassau for a flight (two day sail).  By the time we reach Georgetown Kathy will be very self sufficient and able to manage the big cat without me for a week or two.

We have acquired a Pocket Mail device and plan to use this to keep in touch.  It looks like a Casio calculator/day planner.  One of those mini computers with a very small keyboard.  The back has a flip out earpiece.  The unit is held to any pay phone after dialing an 800 number.  The unit sends and receives text-based messages (limited to 4000 characters.  There is no Internet access.  This really keeps the Spam down.  We will be checking our AOL email when we can get to a landline but otherwise using Pocket Mail and pay phones.  Attachments will not work and large messages are cut off.  It is just for essential, meaningful information.  If you need to contact us, and would phone if you could, use the AOL mail address.

The phone bill at the marina has gone up since we arrived due to access charges for the AOL number in Hilton Head.  Beaufort has no direct local call access.  As a result, I have been quickly screening my mail, deleting all SPAM and any message that looks like a joke or “list” and any message with an attachment.  I then do a flash session (“Automatic AOL”) to down load the rest.  This will hopefully eliminate any problems with viruses and most of the foolishness that happens over email.  Please take us off any of your general information mailing lists.  No jokes, lists or other “noise”, signal only.

Hopefully our next update will be from some location on or near the Chesapeake.  We will keep you posted.

 

Chapter Four

Tar Pit Creek - North

Saturday, September 2, 2000

 

We have ended August still stuck in “Tar Pit Creek” (a.k.a., Port Royal Landing Marina – Beaufort River, SC).  We spent a week in Miami to unload some stuff and celebrate my 37th birthday (August 27) but came back to Beaufort for our 37th wedding anniversary.  What a coincidence.  We will spend the next week completing the final outfitting of Millennium Dragon.  I leave for a consult in Kingston NY on September 11 and return the 15th.  We will leave Port Royal Landing after I complete the report.  The plan is to leave early morning on the 19th.  I hope we will be with the tide.

The ProSine inverter (the electronic box that changes 12volt DC to 120volt AC) failed just before we left for Miami.  When we got back customer service said they had a software problem with the units built during 98 and offered to replace it with a new unit.  The old one was shipped out last week.  The new one should be here this week.  If all mounting points on the new unit are the same, it will only take an hour to install.  One of the Lewmar electric winches (OP2) is leaking oil and not functioning up to Lewmar specifications.  The Lewmar sales rep offered to replace them with electric Lewmar 44s.  This is quite an upgrade.  I don’t know if I will be charged the difference in cost or if Lewmar is just doing the exchange because of the trouble I have gone through.  I have the replacements on millennium Dragon.  This will be a 2-day project and I will need to cut through some aluminum back-up plates and thick glass.  Once the winches are replaced and I return from the consult, we will be ready to leave Tar Pit Creek.

Most of the little projects are done.  I have ordered some port of call flags, additional safety equipment and a Heart battery monitor from West Marine.  These items will be in by the end of the week but installation will not delay our departure.  The plan is to leave September 19 and travel up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW, a.k.a., “The Ditch”) to Charleston, SC.  We will tour Charleston for about a week and then head south before the end of September.  We have a week’s reservation at the Charleston City Marina starting September 20.  Randy and Dale Ann Crenshaw (Randy was the Chief Medical Officer at PHP in Knoxville) will be meeting us there and know the area very well.  I hope to keep my weight gain to less than 5 pounds for the week.  Walking tours of Charleston and Fort Sumter should help keep the weight down.

We will take our time heading south stopping for several days in places like St. Augustine and the Space Center.  If we are lucky, we will be there for a launch.  I want to be in Miami by the end of November for Thanksgiving and provisioning prior to heading to the Bahamas for the winter.  We will probably sail to Key Largo and anchor off the Upper Keys Sailing Club for a week prior to heading across the Stream.

The builder, Henry Lucke, hopes to have his Ocean Catamaran 48 (Hull #6) completed and launched by Thanksgiving.  If this happens, he and his wife, Karen will be in Stanley Cay in the Exumas for Christmas.  Henry said the owners of Hulls #2 & #5 may be there for a rendezvous.  Four of these boats in one anchorage will be a very impressive sight.  There is a regatta there over New Year’s so we may be in for some fun racing.

 

Chapter Five

“All who wander are not lost” -- JRR Tolkien

Fernandina Beach

Wednesday, October 18, 2000

The Dragon is now in Fernandina Beach, the first port south of Georgia. This is a historic little town with buildings dating back to the War of Northern Aggression (a.k.a., The Civil War). The town is about 50 blocks square on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).  The town has a 400-foot dock for transient boat people but the dock has been under construction all summer and fall.  The City Fathers (and mothas) are feuding with the contractors.  We have been at anchor for three days waiting for Barney Fife and his cousins to sign off on the construction so we are able to tie to the dock for easier access to the town.

All systems seem to be finally working.  I finished re-plumbing the vent system for the holding tanks.  What was projected to be a one-day project turned into 3 with several trips to the local hardware store and one trip to Home Depot to replace the Dremel Tools the project consumed.  The original system did not work so Henry (the boat builder) performed bypass surgery on the vent.  This promptly clotted off causing the holding tanks to pressurize. I tore all this out and rebuilt the system. It has worked now for one week.

We will be in Fernandina Beach (Amelia Island) for another 2 nights and then head to St. Augustine.  We will travel "outside" to avoid the bridges on the ICW. The 60 + miles outside should be doable in 8 to 9 hours.  We will leave Fernandina early Friday morning and arrive in St. Augustine Friday night.  I plan to anchor just north of the historic "Bridge of Lions" in the center of town.  We will be there 5 to 7 days. Lots of places to see and restaurants to evaluate.

After St. Augustine, we will spend a week at Titusville to tour the Space Coast.  Several days in Stuart to look for property (eventually we would like to get out of Miami and move the land base to Stuart, Vero or Punta Gorda).  The next stop will be Miami and then onto Key Largo to prepare for the jump across the stream to the Bahamas.

This computer (my business lap top) has been acting up.  The screen connections may not like the humidity.  I have just pulled it out after several weeks of rest and dryness and it is working again.  Since I can't rely on this machine for regular communication, if you need to contact us, use the pocket mail address.  No joke forwarding please.  This little device will not accept attachments and only holds 4K characters so please do not add this address to any of your mailing lists for jokes or other SPAM.

Chapter Six

Snake Creek

Saturday, December 23, 2000

I am beginning to understand how our friends of long ago, Terry and Terry Malcolm, spent the year they planned to cruise the Bahama Islands in the Florida Keys.  They never did get out of Marathon (Key Vaca) Florida.  If any of you have their email address, please forward this to them.

We departed the dock at the Upper Keys Sailing Club (Florida Bay side - Key Largo) before sunrise yesterday (12/19) hoping to clear the Snake Creek Bridge early morning and head across the Stream.  The wind was west southwest at 15 and predicted to go to northwest at 20 by mid afternoon.  This would have made the passage to Riding Rock (just south of Bimini) a down wind sleigh ride in 4 to 6 foot seas.  I, of course, was up for the passage but Kathy didn't like the forecast regarding the afternoon wind shift with high winds out of the NW and late afternoon cold front.  The cold front was to pass late afternoon with the wind shifting to NE 30 to 35 knots.  For the non-sailors, the "pressure" of the wind is the square of the velocity.  When the wind doubles, the pressure increases by 4.  A 15-knot wind is 4 times as strong as a 7.5-knot breeze.  A 30-knot wind is 4 times as strong as one at 15.  Long story made short, we made it all the way to Snake Creek by 9:00am yesterday, dropped anchor in a very sheltered spot across from some million dollar homes beautifully landscaped with tropical plants.  We passed the day improving the readiness of the Dragon for the crossing in warm sunshine and a breeze out of the West.

It probably was a good decision to stay in Snake Creek (between Plantation and Upper Matecumbe/Islamorada) Keys, as when the front passed at about 5:00pm, we were at a sandy-bottomed anchorage in 5 feet of water well protected from the wind by the mangroves.  The front came through with 35 knots wind out of the N and a temperature drop to 64 degrees.  That may not sound cold to our friends in the North but when one is conditioned to Tees, Tevas & Thongs (actually swimming trunks but "thongs" sounded better) 64 is damn cold.  NOAA had gale warnings posted north of Latitude 26 (we are anchored at 24degrees, 57minutes, 35seconds N).  Had we crossed the Stream, we would have been at Riding Rocks by 3:00pm and at anchor on the Bahama Bank, about half way between Riding Rocks and Chub Cay by 6:00pm as one does not travel across the banks or enter harbors at night.  The Banks are shallow water (9 to 12 feet) with sandy bottom (very good anchor holding) and lots of coral heads and sand bores.  The tops of these structures usually do not get shallower than 5 feet but it is still best to travel during daylight.  All the harbors have banks, bores, shoals, reefs and coral heads that reach the surface.  The bottom line is that we would have been at anchor in the middle of nowhere (out of the sight of land) when the front reached us at about midnight.  The anchor would have probably held but we would have been in 3 to 5 foot seas all night and getting underway in the morning would have been a real chore.

If we had anchored at Snake Creek the night before and started out at 4:00am yesterday, we could have made it to Chub Cay for check in (about 140 miles) by sunset.  "Woulda, coulda, shoulda."  It is now Wednesday, it is 64 degrees and the wind is howling out of the N.  It is predicted to go lighter and shift to the NE for Thursday but any wind out of the N, NE, E, or SE would whip up the Stream or be in our face and as all gentleman sailors know, "One does not sail to weather."

Another cold front (high pressure system) is predicted for Thursday night with more wind out of the North.  It looks like we will be here a while waiting for a weather window to make the crossing. I am hoping for any small opening in the weather window - Kathy wants a patio door. We may not get out of the Keys before Christmas.

 

Chapter Seven

Across The Stream

Friday, December 29, 2000

We made it.  Left Rodriguez Key at 4:00am.  Pitch black dark thirty.  Used GPS to clear the Molasses Reef.  First light at 7 miles from the reef.  Wind out of the south at 10 to 15.  Shook the reef out of the main at about 8:00am.  Put up the screecher at about 9:00am.  Mother nature took it down at about 10:30.  The fair lead slid up and out of the track at the top of the spar.  The halyard then sawed through against the sharp edges at the masthead.  The sail came down like a lace curtain and laid out in the water along the side of the boat.  The down pressure bent the 2" SS bowsprit like a plastic straw.  Kathy steered the boat into the wind and then backward so the sail laid out in front of us.  I went to the bow and pulled it on board.  I got the bent pipe out of the keeper and onto the trampoline.  From the helm, the seas appeared to be 2 to 3 feet.  From the forward crossbeam, which was periodically awash, I could see the waves were 3 to 5 and building.  Once the sail and sprit were lashed to the port tramp, I came back to the cockpit and changed clothes.  The wind, as predicted, was building to 15 with gusts to 20 and the seas were increasing.  We sailed up to Cat Cay in 20 to 25 knot winds, at a steady 8.5 knots boat speed surfing down waves at over 10.  The entrance is tricky.  You need to run straight east at the south light house on Gun Cay and make a sharp right turn within 75 yards of shore.  Then hug the point until rounding to the backside of Gun Cay.  Then turn south again, lining up the Gun lighthouse to the north with the Cat Cay light to the south.  Once behind Gun & Cat the water was  flat but the wind was howling.  A 75-foot ($3M) stink boat had attempted the cut last night.  She was hard aground on the rocky reef on the north point of Cat.  She will be a total loss as the wind has now gone NW at 25 to 30.  We are at a protected dock at Cat Cay Marina Club.  At $108 per night a little pricey but our next run will be to Chub Cay at about 75 miles.  That's an all day trip and we don't want to come into Chub at night.  Nassau is only about 36 miles from Chub. We may need to go through Nassau depending on weather.

For those of you who haven't a clue what Roger was talking about ½ the time, it was an exciting, eventful ride.  We arrived around 3:30, tied up the boat, Roger went to clear customs, we then were able to take a walk, had dinner at 6pm, and were in bed by 7:30.

We're going to spend the day here trying to figure out the communication choices, watch the weather(presently cool and windy), then get another good night's sleep, and continue on tomorrow.

Hope you are all staying warm, happy, and healthy.

Happy New Year,

Kathy and Roger

Chapter Eight

“Bond….James Bond”

Sunday, January 28, 2001

We finally got out of Tar Pit Creek (Georgetown, Exuma) about a week ago. GT is like adult camp, without child supervision.  It seemed a little over organized for us.  Pushing 300 boats in the harbor, morning yoga or Christian bible studies on the beach, volleyball at 2:30 every day, men's and woman's softball, etc., etc., etc.  We went cruising to get away from this much organization.  We left about a week ago to meet friends in Pipe Creek.  Spent a week there hunting the wily conch, langouste, & grouper.  Also learned to stalk the elusive whelk.  A British couple introduced us to these large snails.  Walk the shallow water on the ocean side at low tide and pick them out of their holes.  They look like small turbans.  Cooked like snails (garlic, butter an onions will make shoe leather taste good).  Come to think of it, shoe leather may have actually been more tender and tasty.

After a week in this paradise, we moved to Stanial Cay, the home of the Thunder ball Grotto, for a day.  We had watched the 1965 James Bond movie on the boat (we have a VCR, TV and DVD-Computer) several days ago.

The movie did not do justice to the grotto.  We did the grotto at high tide.  Most of the fudgies (Mackinaw Island term for tourist-AKA "Fudgemon" in The Islands) do the Grotto at low tide.  Usually about 6 dinghies on the moorings.  We were alone in the grotto at high tide at 10:00am with the tame fish (they like Cheerios out of a zip lock or aerosol cheese out of the can).

We left Stanial and sailed south to Black Point, Great Guana, at noon.  Sailed at 8.5 to 9.5 Knots up wind for about 8 miles.  Super bowl party tonight at Lorraine’s Restaurant.  I really don't care who wins (who is playing?).

By the way, who won the presidential election?

Heading to Little Farmers next for the 5Fs (First Friday in Feb Farmers Festival). Should be a good time.

 

Chapter Nine

“One Coconut Gin Short”

(First Friday in February Farmer’s Festival)

Monday, February 5, 2001

FINAL LEG 5Fs

The 5Fs (First Friday in February Farmers Festival) was a good time.  The "Cruise Ship", a 100-foot Island freighter with passenger space, arrived in the anchorage on early Friday morning playing very loud Bahamian rap and “Who Let the Dogs Out?” to off load passengers and 4 of the Class C Island racing sailboats.  The 5Fs party actually starts the Thursday before the first Friday.  Those who partied the night before did not find this wake up amusing.  The boats carry moveable ballast (lead pigs, 2"x3"x3') & and a crew of 5 or 6.  The crew slides moveable planks (“pries” - 2) from side to side with each tack.  The crew then climbs out on the boards to hold the boat upright in the wind.  In the old days, to lighten the boat for the down wind legs, crew would jump overboard.  This is not allowed any more.  During one race, we saw crew tying an oar to several ballast bars, signaling a chase boat and then pitching the bars into the water.  The Farmer's Cay boat (Irene Goodnight) won the regatta with 4 first place finishes.  The owner and crew were challenged, at the party after the race, to a sail off in Nassau after the Family Islands Regatta in April.  The challenger is betting $5K he will win.

The festival was held on the sloping lawn between the Ocean Cabin Resort (term used very loosely) and little Harbor on Little Farmers Cay.  We were anchored in crystal clear turquoise and blue water about 1/2 mile from the dinghy dock in Little Harbor.  When we arrived the fishermen were preparing conch salad on the fish cleaning station.  One man was cleaning conch while the other chopped the tomatoes, onions and green peppers.  The conch was diced and mixed with the vegetables and covered with real limejuice.  I always thought you got Real Lime Juice at Publix but these people actually squeeze the stuff out of lumpy green fruit.  I had them cut up a small hot pepper for my order.  On the other side of the dock was a guy with two chest coolers, a lovely bunch of coconuts, and a stack of Styrofoam tall cups.  He was selling coconut gin but warned it was not a good idea to drink these and stay out in the sun too long.

Walking from the dock to Ocean Cabin, the sloping lawn was surrounded by local vendors selling their stuff.  Actually, there was one local wood carver, one conch fritter stand, one plastic junk stand, one hoop toss and 4 bars.  Sort of like your typical USA church bazaar, except for the conch fritter stand.  Oh yes, and the "best buns" and "wet tee shirt" contest.  These contests were a cruiser, not a local’s thing.  I was about to sign up for the buns contest until Kathy told me it was a "Best Buns" not the "Biggest Buns" contest.  Some skinny flasher won.  The guy who came in second was wearing a thong that covered up most of the naughty bits but left them swinging as he presented his posterior for judgment by the crowd.  He seemed to get the most reaction but the skinny guy with the bare buns won in the end.  The women in the crowd liked male cleavage.  I think I have the winning formula for next year. Picture this….I lose 80 pounds and pack a large red jock strap, two medium potatoes and a summer sausage.

Kathy was about one coconut gin short of entering the wet tee shirt contest.  Eight cruising ladies entered.  Age ranged from about 35 to 68.  Come to think of it, so did the measurements of the contestants.  This was won by a rather proper English lady of about 68 years old.  I think if church bazaars in the USA had (armature only) best buns and wet tee shirt contests, they could raise a lot more for the building fund, conch fritter stand optional, of course.

Chapter Ten

Sunday, February 25, 2001

Of Blue Holes, Green Flash, Dolphins, & Gray Suits

Last anchorage in the Exumas was Allen’s Cay, near the top of the chain.  Snorkeled in a beautiful little patch reef between the Cay and the Exuma Sound.  If you swim fast, you begin to catch up with the larger reef fish that are trying to stay just out of sight.  I was chasing a school of yellow tail (had my eye on a 20”er) over the top of a slightly deeper section of reef between two large coral heads that reached the surface.  About the time I cleared the top of the reef swimming into the shallower water toward the Cay, a 7 foot pointy nosed gray suit (pointy nosed shark) swam around the other side of the large coral head, about 20 feet from me.  I backed up to the coral head and he kept swimming off to my left (toward Kathy).  I surfaced and signaled her to get into the dinghy.  She never saw the shark.  I went back to stalking the yellow tail and when I swam over the reef in the other direction, I saw the little brother of the first shark, about a 5 footer, swimming on that side of the reef.  I lost my appetite for yellow tail and decided to get out of the water.  4:00 in the afternoon isn’t the best time to go spear fishing unless you are looking for sharks.

We sailed to Nassau on Sunday, Feb 11 and anchored off BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association).  Did Nassau for ten days.  Walked into town for sight seeing most days.  High points were the Pirates of Nassau, Graystone Cigar Factory, changing of the guard at Government House and Shelley’s Conch Stand on Potter’s Cay.  In the old days (height of the Bahama drug smuggling) visitors were warned to stay away from Potter’s because the bad guys running the marijuana didn’t consider themselves a tourist attraction.  Now Potter’s (under the new Paradise Island Bridge) is the place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and have a conch salad for lunch.  We stopped at Shelley’s Conch Stand for several lunches.  Shelley selects a conch shell from a stringer kept in salt water (live, in the shell).  Removes the conch then cleans and dices it as you watch.  He has already diced the tomatoes, onions, and green peppers.  A scotch bonnet hot pepper is added if you want.  All this is mixed and placed in a salad bowl.  He then cuts a lime and sour orange and hand squeezes them over the salad.  The salad is washed down with a $3 Kalik (beer) from the stand next door.

Left Nassau for Hoffman’s Cay in the Berry Islands, running south and west from Great Stirrup to Chub Cay on Wednesday, Feb 21.  Heard there was a “blue hole” on the cay.  We anchored off a small beach in total seclusion.  Quite a contrast to Nassau Harbor.  We walked the path to the blue hole.  This was a spectacular sight.  We came out of a very narrow path through the brush onto a rock ledge suspended about 30 feet above a 3 acre blue hole.  This rocky bluff on 3 sides surrounded the hole.  The opposite side appeared much lower but was at least of 5 foot ledge of sharp stone.  Even if we had walked the path that lead around the hole I didn’t think we could climb out if we went swimming.  It was pushing 4:30 (mosquito & no-see-um feeding time) so we returned to the Dragon for Dinner.  Sunset gave us our first “green flash”.  I always though people were just hallucinating when they saw the flash.  The conditions must be perfect but it actually happens.  As the sun sets slowly in the west over the Bahama Bank, it turns orange.  As the last rim is visible, the edges begin to turn green and then, as the last top of the arc goes out of sight, a small green flash is visible.

Sailed from Hoffman to Great Stirrup the next day.  As this was a short distance (15 miles) we sailed.  As we were doing 5 to 6 knots, I set several fishing lines. Near high tide, off on of the cuts between cays, we hooked into several fish.  I reeled in a 36” dolphin on my stand up rod (40lb mono) using a cedar plug with a green and yellow skirt.  A second fish hit my Cuban Reel also with yellow and green, but on 120lb monofilament.  I got the fish in using the rod but by the time I could get to the Cuban Reel, the fish and lure were gone.  Probably had another Dolphin that, once hooked up, got taken by a much larger fish.  The ½ inch shock cord holding the reel parted. Good thing I had the reel tied on with 3/8-yacht braid.

No Cruise ship at anchor in Great Stirrup so no free beach party/lunch to crash.  One other boat in the anchorage.  We had fresh Dolphin for dinner.  Left for Lucaya, Grand Bahama, early the next morning.  Powered all the way at 9.5 knots (too fast to fish) and had a Dolphin sandwich for lunch.  Arrived Lucaya at 1330hrs (1:30 for you land lubbers).  Will be here 10 days and attend a medical conference.  Expecting visitors in two weeks.

Chapter Eleven

Georgetown – Miami Soon Come

Friday, April 27, 2001

THE EXUMAS!

Sail her down, sail her down,

            Sail her down to George Town.

            Highborne Cay the first we see,

            Yellow bank is by the lee.

 

            Harvey Cay is in the moon,

            Farmers Cay is coming soon.

            Now we come to Galliot,

            Out in the sound we must go,

 

            Children's Bay is passing fast,

            Stocking Island came at last.

            Nassau gal is all behind,

            George Town gal is on my mind.

 

            A wiggle and a Giggle and a jamboree,

            Great Exuma is the place for me!- From the 48th National Family Island Regatta

 

We are in Georgetown for the second time.  Came down for the Family Island Regatta.  A real blast.  The road by the bay past the Government Dock is lined with plywood stands - mostly bars with a few "restaurants".  We have had conch salad and a Kalik beer for lunch for the past several days.  There are several thousand Bahamian racer chasers and several hundred racers in town.  The hundred or so "Conchy Joes" (Bahamian for white tourists) stand out in the crowd but all are having a good time together.

The races are very interesting to watch.  Boats are at anchor at the starting line.  The gun goes off and anchor crews raise the anchor while sail crews hoist the mainsail.  Anchor up, the crew hoists the small jib.  The "A" class is 28' x 10' with a mast of 55' to 60' and boom of 30'.  The crew is usually 15 and hold the boat upright using "pries" (2"x12"x12' planks shifted from side to side).  There are no racing rules - the windward make is like a game of chicken.  The racing will end today and a concert by the Royal Bahamian Police Force band is scheduled for 5:30.  Cash awards to be given out at 7:30pm.

We will be leaving for Long, Cat & Eleuthra Islands with the next weather window.  As Kathy has lost her Mal de Mar we now look for weather windows rather than patio doors.

Back to the States by the first of June.

Chapter Twelve

Leaving George Town

Monday, April 30, 2001

Leaving George Town tomorrow (050201) for Cat Island.  Will see Fr. Jerome's Hermitage.  Then to Eleuthra to explore the western shore.  Possibly over the Devil's Back Bone to Dunmore Town and back to Spanish Wells.  Then to Nassau for several days over the last weekend of the month.  Hopefully "High Tea" (usually on the final Saturday of the month) will be on when we are there.  I think it costs $50 to $80 per head but worth the price.  It is held at the Governor’s house.  I will need to break out my blazer and Kathy her dress.  They have only been out of the locker once.  Marko's (our professional sailor son) Star Racing cocktail party at Government House the last time we were in Nassau.  I guess the Governor will have to tolerate us in the same outfits twice.  From Nassau to Fresh Creek and a tour of the Androsia Factory.  Androsia is the brightly colored cotton cloth and clothes with the island prints.  From Fresh Creek, Andros to Morgan’s Bluff at the north end of the island.  That will make the run to Bimini only 70 miles.  Every time I think of Bimini I think of the words to several Kingston Trio songs - "Oh, when I go down to Bimini. Never got a lickin' 'til I go down to Bimini." and - "We come on the sloop John B."

We will wait for a weather window in Bimini and attempt to cross by June 4th. We have a wedding to attend and Kathy has jury duty. After a short (I hope) refit, we will head up the ditch to Washington, DC to tour the town in late spring.

Chapter Thirteen

Mt. Alvernia – Father Jerome’s Retreat

Sunday, May 06, 2001

We have spent several days in New Bight, Cat Island at the foot of Mt.  Alverna, the highest point in the Bahamas, waiting for friends and nursing a cold.  The Mt is the sight of the Hermitage, built by Fr. Jerome in the 1930s.  From the anchorage it looks like a small castle on top of the hill.

Fr Jerome lived there after retirement and died in the early 50s.  He was an architect, Anglican Priest, Catholic Priest, hermit - in that order.  He constructed several stone churches (first Anglican, then Catholic) throughout the Bahamas that are now landmarks.  These are small indestructible stone structures that have withstood hurricanes and will probably last many hundreds of years - until global warming puts them under water.

The Hermitage is all stone with 2 foot thick walls.  It is modeled after European monasteries, but built for one hermit.  It has a bell tower, 6x8 foot chapel, 6x6 foot sitting room, 6x6 foot dining room and a 6x8 foot bedroom - but what a location!  There are views of the entire island, the Atlantic Ocean, the Cat island Bight and the Exuma Sound.  Unbelievable colors!  There is a water collection area that drains into a stone covered well.  The kitchen (5x6) is an out building about 25 meters from the Hermitage.  There is a steep climb up a narrow path for the last 20 meters of elevation.  Fr. Jerome built and carved into stone the 14 Stations of the Cross up this path.  Because of the design (walls that slope inward as they raise and small openings) the building appears much further away and much larger as you climb until you reach the summit and are able to touch it.  The doors are only 5' high by 2' wide an the windows (shutters only) are about 2x2.

I will be posting pictures on www.snapfish.com when I return.  I will send out a notice to the list for viewing information for anyone interested in pictures of the Hermitage and some of the other places we have visited.

We attended a steak cook out fund raiser (for the Cat Island Family Regatta) at the local yacht club.  Big speakers, loud Bahamian music and the slamming of dominos.  Dominos are big in the islands.

Next stop will be Arthur's Town,  Cat Island to find a drug store and some cough medicine for Kathy.  She is coming down with my cold.

Arthur's Town: not much here.  Took a dinghy ride to Orange Creek and found a food store with a small drug section.  Robitussin and Contac should do the trick.  To Little San Salvador tomorrow.

Chapter Fourteen

Sail to Little San Salvador and Eleuthra

Friday, May 11, 2001

We sailed from Cat Island to Little San Salvador on Thursday, May 10.  A short 25-mile sail to a small island with a large lee shore beach.  This had been a quiet little corner of the world for short stop-overs between Cat Island & Eleuthra until a cruise line bought the island.  The beach is now lined with lounge chairs and there are swimming to keep swimmers from being run down by jet skis and Hobie Waves.  Up from the beach is what appears to be a mini Disney village to maximize the dollars extracted from tourists.  We left at about 0830 on Friday, May 11.  There is open, deep blue water between Little San Salvador and the southern tip of Eleuthra.  The wind was 15 knots out of the northeast with seas up to 8 feet.  I had the full main up and was flying the screecher.  This is a cross between a reaching spinnaker and genoa jib with a roller furler attached to the end of our 8 foot bow sprit.  We hit 11 knots coming down some of the larger swells.  Once we got under the lee of the southern tip of Eleuthra, we needed to roll up the screecher and deploy the roller furling jib.  Kathy steered as I eased the sheet and powered up the electric winch to take in the furling line.  The winch slowed and Kathy told me the furling drum was not turning.  A quick trip to the bows (life jacket on, of course) revealed the furling line had slipped off the drum and was securely fouled around the base.  Keep in mind this drum is on the end of the bow sprit, 8' in front of the boat, over fast moving blue water.  There was no way to get to the drum to fix the problem.  And yes, it is the same sail that found it's way into the Golf Stream during our original crossing when the halyard parted.  The sail had to come down the old fashion way.  I had to do it alone while traveling down wind at 8 knots in a 15 knot breeze and 3 foot seas.  I was very glad the Dragon is a catamaran with two large trampolines (nets) forward.

Kathy sailed down wind as I unrolled about 2/3 of the jib and sheeted it in tight.  The tight jib and eased main created a (relative) dead air space over the port trampoline.  I then went forward and released the screecher halyard at the mast. Kathy played the halyard out from the cockpit.  I then used the screecher sheet to pull the sail down onto the trampoline and pulled the rest of the sail down.  The halyard was sticky for a time and I began to wonder about something fouled aloft but it finally came down.  This sail has a 50' luff and 22' foot for an area of about 480 sq ft.  The wind was trying to lift the sail and me off the tramp.  I was laying on the sail lacing it down to the net using the sheet and rationalizing what good fortune it was that I have only lost a few pounds during this trip.

Fortunately Kathy was able to keep the boat down wind and we won the battle, trimmed the main and sailed north along the whale tail that is the southern end of Eleuthra.  As the Davis Channel is narrow and the wind was on the nose after the turn toward Rock Sound, we turned on the engines and motored the last 2 hours of the passage through minimal sea and 15 knots wind.  We are now in Rock Sound Eleuthra swatting mosquitoes.

I was thinking how helpful it would have been to have any one of many people on this distribution list on board to lend a hand with the sail take down.  I imagine my descriptions of some of the challenges we have faced have not been great motivators for ya'll to take us up on our invitations.  You know you are all invited to come to the islands for a pleasure sail.  Just book early.  Unfortunately, at this point, we are headed back and have only about 3 weeks of life in paradise left and several full spray cans of Deep Woods Off.  Well, maybe next year.

Chapter Fifteen

Letters Home

Tuesday, January 2, 2001

How to Contact Us

Hi Jill,

Now that I know (from Mark) that you made is home OK, I'll expect a note or 2 from you as well.

While we are in Georgetown, the Exuma Markets (owned by Michael & Sandy Minns) offers services to boaters.  They will collect mail, faxes, and phone calls, then inform the boaters by VHF radio if a message has come in.  Their phone #:  242-336-2033,

fax:  242-336-2645

If you send mail, address it to us, Millennium Dragon, c/o Exuma Markets LTD, Queen's Highway, P.O. Box EX-29031, George Town, Exuma, Bahamas

Their e-mail: exumamarket@batelnet.bs

Will fill you in on George Town after we've been here a few more days.

Love you,

Mom

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Dear Carl,

Please thank Medee for taping the movie (Mr. Holland’s Opus) for us.  We finally watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it!  We had our dinner and movie while we're waiting for the weather to change so we can start back north to get to Lucaya by the end of Feb.  We want to visit all the islands we missed on our way down to be here in time to meet Mark.  We did make it in time, had a good visit even though the weather was rather COOL.  We did manage to get a sail in with him that was supposed to be a fishing trip.  The day started out to be quite beautiful, but by the time we got through the cut, the winds had picked up a lot, seas were high, and we decided to just have a little sail instead.  We took a few waves over the cabin house and Mark was having a great time.  The next morning, we took a tour of Georgetown, and Little Exuma with Mary, taxi 22.  She grew up here and gave us quite a bit of history along with the sights - good tour.  She later gave us 3 jars of her salsa.  How come everyone always wants to feed us, Carl?  Will write more later.  Give Medee a BIG HUG from us.  Miss you two.

Love, Kathy and Roger

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the info.  The boat is getting lighter!  We've gone through a couple of cases of beer, soda, and tuna.  We're still in no danger of starving, but the waterline may not need to be raised as much as originally planned.

Did you finish Jill's present?  Was she thrilled?

We've been at anchor between Pipe Cay and Thomas Cay for almost a week during some very nasty weather.  We had a full day of heavy rain and wind, followed by a few days of just stiff winds.  That howling sound gets very unnerving after a while.  Tonight, the winds are up again, but not as bad.   There are NO signs of civilization here except for a few other boats at anchor, which is fine, except that it's hard to stay "connected".  Saturday, weather permitting, we will be going to Black Point for the Super Bowl Party.  I hope they have a grocery store - need eggs, fresh produce, etc.  After that, we'll be going to Little Farmer's Cay for the 5F'S celebration.  (First Friday in  February Farmer's Festival.)  It's supposed to be a big time here in the islands.  We'll let you know. 

Take care of yourself and give Jill a big hug from us.

Love, Kathy & Roger

Friday, January 26, 2001

Hi Jill,

How is your eye?  Hope it's all better now so you can get on with other things.

We're doing fine at anchor, but no way to communicate until we get to a town.

We've done a little snorkeling here - we each found a conch that is of legal size and have them trailing in a mesh bag over our stern until we find a few more to make a meal.  Dad went snorkeling with Rick (remember him - we spent an afternoon finding his parts in Miami) looking for lobster and other fish to spear.  Rick came back with 2 lobsters, and dad had his spear bounce off a grouper, so we had canned something for dinner that night.  I went "conching" with Joyce and 2 other cruisers while the guys went spearing.  (We don't like to be in the same area that they are potentially drawing blood.)  We found a whole nursery of conch.  The grassy patch was just covered with them, but they were all too small to collect.  In a few years, that will be a prime spot.

The weather has been way too windy lately.  We've had as many as 5 anchors out - probably over-kill, but would rather not bump into anything or anybody.

I'll send a check to the UKSC and mail it when we find a place where the mail boat makes a stop.

If sending in the form means that we do NOT get the exemption, do not send it back.  That is still our primary address anyway.

Let me know what other mail/bills come in, especially the MCI bill and the Quicken bill (that should be from "Citibank USA").  They may be sending you a sympathy card thinking that we've died.  We haven't been able to use the card for weeks!  I think that the only place that you will be able to send our mail will be to Lucaya.  We will be staying at the Marina Feb. 26 - Mar. 5.  I'll have to get back to you with an address.  By the way, Dad wants me to remind you to include our boat cards with the mail.

I don't want this to get over 4K characters, so.....

Love ya, and more later,

Mom and Dad

Sunday, January 28, 2001

Happy Super Bowl Sunday.

We came back to civilization for the game.  We were anchored off Pipe Cay for over a week - nothing there but beautiful waters, great beaches, conch, lobster, fish, and about 15 other cruisers.  We had a good time!  Now it's back to "grocery stores", bars/restaurants for the Super Bowl Party and phone lines.

Our weather, on a scale of 1-10 has been 1-10.  We had a really bad day with howling winds, LOTS of rain, and generally miserable, but we have had some very nice weather also.  The water temp. is still too low, but thank goodness for wet suits.  We've been in the water as much as we can.  On our way to Black Point, we stopped in Stanial Cay and swam in the grotto that was in the film "Thunderball".  Really a neat place - the fish are used to people and treats and just swarm around you when you enter.  Turns out the just love Cheerios.

What are your plans when you come to visit Marie?  Will you have any time to spend with us?  We will be in Lucaya at the marina from Feb.23-Mar.5.  How does that fit into your plans?  We are still not sure whether Charl and Dave will be coming down or not, but would love to see all of you. Let us know how you are and when we can see you. Our schedule is pretty flexible, you know.

We'll be going into "town" shortly, so need to wrap this up so it can be sent.

Give Ralph a big hug from us.

Love, Kathy and Roger

Saturday, February 17, 2001

Vacation Invite

Ed & Barb,

Tired of the frozen north and the gray skies and cold wind of Chicago?  Come join us in the Bahamas to thaw out.  As I write this I am in the sun in tee shirt and trunks.  It is about 76 degrees, warmer in the sun.  The seaplane from Paradise Island just took off down the channel.  I saw a manta ray jump out of the water near shore this morning.  Does any of this sound like Chicago?

We will be in the Bahamas until early June when our cruising permit runs out and Hurricane season starts.  There are major commercial airports at Nassau & Freeport/Lucaya and minor ones at Georgetown, Exuma & Eleuthra.  Many smaller cays have airstrips for charter and private aircraft.  Stanial Cay, middle of the Exumas, has a strip for charter planes.  This is the location of the Grotto where the James Bond movie "Thunderball" underwater shots were filmed.  We can swim through the grotto at slack tide.

I am sending out direct invitations to several special friends so you understand the conversational invite to come on down from years ago was not just idle polite conversation.  Kathy and I would really like to spend some time with you if you are able to break away from the grind.

We will be in Nassau through the 21st then sailing to Harbor Cay and on to Lucaya by the 23rd.  If you hop a flight to Miami tomorrow (cheap stand by, of course) you could take the charter seaplane to Paradise Island.  Take a cab to BASRA (next to Crocodiles Restraint) and give us a holler.  We are anchored about 150 yards from their docks.  We will sail up to Harbor Cay and swim the blue hole.  Then on to Great Stirrup so we may walk over the island to crash the cruise ship beach party on Thursday.  We will sail to Lucaya the next day (02/23/01).  I have a meeting there for a week.  When you get tired of relaxing, you can catch a flight back to Miami.  Stay at our condo if you can't get on a flight immediately.  This will be more fun than a night at Chi Chi’s in Appleton and last a lot longer.  If this doesn't work for you, get some dates together in the next several months and we will let you know what airport to use.

Life is short.  Can you think of any really good reason why you wouldn't come tomorrow?  Send an email with your arrival time ASAP if you are coming.

Roger & Kathy

Monday, March 5, 2001

Delivery of Parts and Projects

Ralph,

I have a small project going to cut off long SS bolts and cap them with acorn nuts.  I burned up my last Dremel cut off wheel a month ago.  The light duty cut off wheels (I have 3 tubes of 36 per) just fracture after a few seconds and create a lot of black dust.  I need several packs of the "Fiberglass Reinforced" cut off wheels (5 per pack, No. 426 in my catalog).  I need 4 packs as these are the disks I use to cut off all SS hardware.

We also need a new Queen Size air mattress.  These are available at K-Mart or Wal-Mart in the camping section.  Get the best one you can find.  We have a hole in our premium air mattress that I can't find (another project for when you are here) and are sleeping an a cheaper version that is not as comfortable.  We need a back up.

If this weather ever breaks, we will be heading to the Abacos.  It is mid 60's, blowing 20 with a wind chill to 57 and there are crazy tourists in the pool and sun bathing in the lounge chairs.  Kathy and I are in long pants and sweatshirts and it is too cold to sit outside.  I hope it warms up by the time you get here.

Kathy just proof read this and said I should let you know we will give you the money for the stuff when you get here and you don't have to bring the stuff if it is too much trouble.  I told her you were the originator of the "No fucking way, Roger" response so if you didn't get to it there would be "no problem, mon".

See you soon,

Roger

Friday, March 9, 2001

Hiya Marko,

Are you still in Miami racing or are you back in Seattle?  How did you do in the races?  How is life after an earthquake?  Jill forwarded your message to her so we knew you were fine.  Did you have any travel problems because of the earthquake?

Give us a few details, please.

We're in the Abacos for a week or so, then back to Lucaya to see Ralph and Cheryl.  We're still planning to be in Nassau in April and looking forward to seeing you.

Kathy and Marty Misiewicz just lost their 40-year-old son to a wild cancer.  They are living somewhere in Seattle.  I don't know if you ever met Mark on one of our trips but I would like you to contact them and give them our condolences.  You may be able to have lunch with Kathy and Marty.  I have known them about as long as I have known your mother.  I will ask Carol Hoffman to send you their address and phone number.

Mom & Dad

Monday, March 19, 2001

The Cat’s on the Roof

Hi Mom & Ray,

We're at a very nice marina near Ralph's sister's condo.  They are staying there with some friends of theirs and we've been having a good time with them.  The weather hasn't been very nice for the last couple of days, so being tied to the dock instead of at anchor has been great.  We'll be here at least until the weekend (depending on the weather), then we'll be going to the Eleuthra Islands, then back to Nassau to meet Mark and watch his Star boat races April 6-10.  After that, we don't know.

Goldie isn't going to be with us much longer.  She decided to stop eating several days ago, and is getting weaker by the day.  I'm surprised each morning that she is still alive.  We're going to take her to a vet and have her put to sleep.  I'm going to miss her.

Will keep in touch.

Love,

Kathy

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Goldie Stays in Grand Bahama

Hi Jill,

We took Goldie to the vet Wed. and had her put to sleep.  She was getting so weak, it was just not good for her anymore.  She wouldn't even lift her nose when I tried to give her tuna.  Nothing else was interesting to her either.  It was such a hard thing to do.  Don't worry about me, I'll be ok, but I do miss her.

Love,

Mom

Thursday, April 12, 2001

Star Races in Nassau

Hi Al,

Where were you?  You missed a VERY good time.

We're in Nassau and the races are over.  Mark and his skipper took 7th (out of 27), so they weren't too excited about the results, but all had a good time.  There were some very heavy hitters out there, including the 3 time Olympic medalist, Mark Reynolds, and  Paul Cayard, Amer. Cup skipper.  (We even had Paul's wife and his crewmates fiancée aboard spectating with us.  You would have enjoyed meeting them.)

We will be heading to the Exumas this morning after getting the boat cleaned up and the messages out, so won't be near civilization and phones for about a week.

Hope you had a good excuse for not coming to Nassau with us.

Will get back to you later.

Kathy

Friday, April 20, 2001

Tropical Dance Barbie Doll with Crabs

Hi all,

We're back to "civilization" again.  We're about to go to town to find a working phone.

After leaving Nassau, we went to Allen's Cay with our friends from Traveler, and another boat, "Tropical Dance".  The first day was great, very restful.  We did a little cleaning of the waterline and swimming around the reef near our boat, small, but lovely.  The second day, we went to a reef further away and had a great swim with the fishes.  Roger and ReyLynn (from Trop. Dance) caught a large spider crab and kept the whole thing.  It was delicious.  The 6 of us had it for an appetizer that evening.  We were also swimming with millions of tiny jellyfish no bigger than a baby fingernail that weren't supposed to sting until June.  Unfortunately for me, they didn't have their calendar handy.  They got into my suit and didn't like to be confined.  I never felt them sting, but the next day, I was covered with welts where my swimsuit had been.  Luckily, only a few on my back, so I could sleep, but they were really painful.  Today, one week later, is the 1st day that I feel fine.  The welts are still there, but fading. I still don't know why I was the only one stung.

The next day was Easter, and Bill and Nancy roasted a leg of lamb that was wonderful!  I roasted potatoes on our boat, cooked some fresh green beans, and make a spinach salad.  The 6 of us enjoyed all of it in our cockpit.

Next was Norman's Cay and McDuff’s cheeseburgers.  We spent a few days there, then left for Warderick Wells, Exuma Park a few days later.  Beautiful place - lots of small beaches, lots of trails, a Pirate’s Lair, neat stuff.  (I'm relating what Roger told me because by this time, I was spending a lot of time sleeping.)

Will collect mail, then answer what we can before leaving here.  We're going back to Georgetown for the Family Regatta.  Should be fun.

Will catch up more soon.

Love to all,

Kathy/Mom

Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Gin & Peanuts

Hi Nancy,

Yes, it's been one of THOSE days!  We left G.Town this AM with Outrageous and Prairie Dream and are the only survivor.  They both turned back.  I've been thinking of you cuddling up to Semi, and wishing I were there.  We're almost to Cat Island and I am very anxious to set that anchor!

We talked to Bill yesterday, but don't know if he left this AM or not.  ( They would have had a lumpy ride as well.)  We invited them for dinner last night, but Doug, apparently, doesn't want too much to do with your dinghy.  We told them that if Dumpling could do it, he sure should be able to, but we weren't very convincing.

We'll be going to Father Jerome's "Heritage" tomorrow, so will let you know how it is.

Keep in touch,

Love, Kathy

Friday, May 5, 2001

Baking Bread

Hiya Carly and Medee,

Looking forward to seeing you soon, but what makes you think we need "fattening up.  We've been "maintaining" just fine (unfortunately).

We came across some "lively waters" from Georgetown to Cat Island last Thursday (Medee would have opted to fly), and Friday was a rainy day.  I decided I needed to bake something to get the dampness out of the boat, so I found a recipe for Sour Cream Bread.  Since I had a excess of sour cream, that seemed like a good idea.  Of course, the yeast wasn't good anymore, which meant a trip to town to get some active yeast (and I do mean trip).  To make a long story short, the baking didn't happen until 11:30 that night.  It did turn out well.  Anyway, the point is that we are eating too well out here what with real butter and all...

Saturday, May 5, 2001

Climbing Mountains (Mount Alvernia)

Hi Mom and Ray

We're at anchor in Cat Island just south of Eleuthra and spent the afternoon climbing around "The Hermitage" which is a miniature replica of a European Franciscan Monastery.  Fr. Jerome started building his retirement home in 1940 at the top of the highest hill on the island.  It's quite an impressive place.  Being in the out-islands is like going back in time about 50 years.  Except for the electric lines and the Batelco (Bahama Telephone Co.) towers, this place looks much like it must have in Fr. Jerome's time.

Will be working our way back to Miami, and will keep in touch.

Love, Kathy and Rog

Chapter Sixteen

Old Bahama Bay Race

Thursday, June 28, 2001

THE RACE:
Great start.  Good wind all the way (10 -12 knots but out of the NE all the way.  We are not able to stretch the luff on the jib, as it is too long.  Will have Calvert take 12" off the bottom when we get back.  A beat all the way tacking between 35 & 125 degrees.  Lost the out haul car control mid Gulf Stream.  Jury-rigged but lost over an hour.  Third boat to finish, second catamaran.  Beat the time limit by 30 min.  We were also the last boat to finish.  All others dropped out or over the limit.  Start at 1900.  Finished at 1330.  18.5 hours.  Won a bottle of Mt Gay.

THE CRUISE:
Left West End Saturday AM.  Arrived Grand Cays 3:00pm.  Jack & Lisa to town.  Played pool with Rosie's son & got a tour.  The fishermen provided a large bag of conch for $6.00.
Next AM to Double Breasted Cays (3 miles).  Snorkeling the anchorage.  Jack speared an Amberjack.  They took a second dinghy ride in the afternoon.  Got into the current and were being swept onto the Bank.  Jack broke an oar but got the anchor out and got to a small rock.  I had stayed on the boat to work on some projects and enter waypoints into the new Garmin so I didn't miss them.  I took a look around at about 5:30 but didn't see them.  They were on a rock about 1/3 mile from the Dragon on the other side of the Cay.  Finally a flats fisherman saw Jack waving a life jacket and picked them up.  Jack will have to tell you the story when we get back.  Ran out of water today.  I don’t think Lisa understands the concept of limited water.  Powered to Allans-Pensicola for lunch and a swim.  On our way to Green Turtle to find some oars and go to the skipper's meeting for Race Week (Regatta Time In Abaco – RTIA).

MEALS:
I miss you and Kathy’s cooking but Jack is a great cook.  Had conch prepared like abalone.  Much better flavor than deep-fried.  The Amberjack was wonderful but Lisa lost her appetite for fish.  I gave her the "Infections of Leisure" book to read.  The section on ciguatera got her attention.  Jack & I are now the official "Queen's Tasters". As I've always told our nieces, "more for me".

 

Chapter Seventeen

Regatta Time In Abaco (RTIA)

July 3rd  “Cheeseburger in Paradise”   11:00 a.m. Party

July 4th  Green Turtle Cay Regatta   11:00 a.m. Start

July 5th  Lay Day – Cruise to Great Guana Cay Party at Nippers

July 6th  Great Guana Cay Race   11:00 a.m. Start

July 7th  Man-O-War Cay Race   11:00 a.m. Start

July 8th  Lay Day     Who let the dogs out!

July 9th  Hope Town Race    11:00 a.m. Start

July 10th Lay Day     Party at Jib Room

July 11th Marsh Harbour Race    11:00 a.m. Start

Final awards at Jib Room   Marsh Harbour

July 4th – Race 1

Race One

We are anchored off New Plymouth.  There was a Junkanoo party that started at 6:00.  We got in after dinner at about 6:30.  The awards presentation was at 7:00.  We took 4th out of 10.  We were beaten by the three F-31s.  Tom Mestrits sailed with us.  With 3 sailors and a princess on board we were very busy on deck.  We were 3 min 20 sec out of 3rd.

With several thousand people in town the line at the phone at the post office was 20 deep.  We are going into the marina to use the laundry this morning.  I will try to send this out and call you.

Many of the cruisers are heading south to Great Guana Cay (Nippers) for the lay day.  The 2nd race is tomorrow.  I will try to find a phone on Great Guana if I cant get through today at the marina on Green Turtle.

July 6th & 7th – Race 2 & 3

Races two and three were carbon copies of the first race.  The F31s finished 1, 2, and 3, in both races, well ahead of the all cats.  We finished 4th in both races.  About the only way we will finish in the top three is if they don’t race.

July 9th – Race 4

We are in Marsh Harbor after spending the lay after the 4th race in Hope Town, Elbow Cay.  We climbed the Hope Town lighthouse and took some pictures.  Motored back to Marsh Harbor to get Lisa on a plane to Miami.  Had to be here by 11:00am yesterday, July 10 (Bahamian Independence Day).  Nothing open in town.  Peter (Henry's old Manta partner) came to the boat for dinner.  Marinated pork tenderloin, potatoes, veggies and red wine.  Great meal.  Fireworks over the harbor that night.

Race 4 (July 9) was a navigational from Marsh Harbor to Hope Town.  As 2 of the 3 F31s did not start, we may have placed.  The day started with a thunderstorm, lightening, wind and rain (1.7 inches).  The committee postponed the race 1/2 hour. 2 F31s did not come out.  By the start the wind was down to 5K.  Wind picked up to 10 to 12 for the rest of the race.  Jack had me chasing mythical wind shifts and the wrong mark.  If we had gone where I originally wanted to go (central sea of Abaco rather than the right side of the course near the cuts) we probably would have finished 1st ad won 1st place.  As it was, we were held by the out going tide before the 2nd mark.  The Main Cat passed us on the inside.  We passed him on the 3rd leg but will not save our time.  The F31 was close (finished 1st) but we may have them beat on time.  They also sailed to the cuts.  We will have 2nd or third in Race 4 depending on how close we finished to the F31.

Race 5 is today.  We will be sailing with Peter, "King John" (ask Lisa about the nudist on the Privilege 47) and Peggy (one of King John's hard bodied women).  This is another course race off Marsh Harbor.  If all F31s show, we may take 4th again.  We will get the results of race 3, 4 & 5 tonight at the final party.

We came back from the party early.  We took a fourth in Race three and third places in races four and five.  Nice trophies.  Lisa boarded a plane at the Marsh Harbour International Airport and returned to Miami.  She has a conference to attend over the weekend.  Jack and I will be on our own for the rest of the cruise.  We will be sailing to Little Harbor, Great Abaco and visit the bronze foundry/art gallery where the castings for the trophies are made.

The Cruise Home

(Captain Ron sails again.)

We will leave for Little Harbor to the south tomorrow.  It is about a 30 mile run but sets us up for the big hop from the southeast end of the Abacos (past Hole in the wall) to points south and east.  Depending on wind, we will make Eleuthra, Nassau or Little Harbor (Berries) by Friday night.  Hope to be anchored at South Riding Rocks by Saturday night.  Sail back to Miami on Sunday for check in.  Down to the Keys on Monday.  If we are able to hold to this time frame, we could clean up the boat, get the sails to Calvert and go to Tennessee for the weekend.  Could be in Milwaukee by early the following week.

Little Harbor at the south end of the Abacos is a wonderful spot to unwind and prepare for the sail home.  I used to have a 6 foot Barracuda on patrol but I didn’t like him camping under my back porch while we were fishing for snapper off the stern.  I put a $25 dollar pole spear just behind his gills rather than through his head.  I was left with a short piece of rubber tubing in a stinging hand.  3 seconds later he came out of the water 10 yards off my port stern with my yellow fiberglass pole spear stuck in his side.  That’s the last we saw of the Barracuda or spear.  Jack Hildreth said, “Shoulda’ tied a line to the spear, Boss.”  Shortly after this excitement we hooked a mutton snapper that Jack turned into a gourmet dinner.

The next day we sailed to Nassau and the following day on to Cat Cay.  We came into the anchorage at Cat at 10PM having crossed the last thirty miles of the Banks on a moonless night.  I picked up the anchor lights of the boats behind Gun Cay and came into Cat anchorage using the depth sounder and radar.  We dropped anchor about a eighth of a mile off the beach on the east side of Cat, just south of the cut.  The next morning we sailed back to Miami.  We had watched the Kurt Russell movie, “Captain Ron” earlier in the trip.  The rest of the cruise seemed like out-takes from the movie.  Jack even started using the phrase “OK, boss” frequently.  Our laugh muscles were getting a lot of exercise.  The return to Miami was a scene right out of the movie:

“Now follow me with this.  You know how I know we are close to Miami?  When we left the Abacos, we had just enough fuel to get to Miami.  And we are out of fuel!”

We entered Miami through Stilts Ville cut in a heavy blinding rain with about 100 feet of visibility at just above idle on the port engine.  The starboard engine had run dry about 10 miles off shore.  I was coming in under radar in the late afternoon.  Several small fishing boats (lost I assume) began following us assuming we knew where we were going.  We got through the cut and turned north along the west shore of Key Biscayne.  We ran out of fuel in the port engine before we cleared the inner channel marks.  I said to Jack, “Well, it is a sailboat.”  Fortunately the wind was right so we sailed into Biscayne Bay.  I had hoped to get to Dinner Key to check in but the channel in is too long and too shallow on the sides.  The wind was also not right for the attempt.  We sailed north up the channel to the north end of Key Biscayne toward Cranden Park and the Marina.  We dropped anchor just off the channel south of the entrance and I rowed the dingy in for fuel and check in.  Do you believe the marina will not sell fuel if it has to be put into jerry jugs?  There are no fuel stations on Key Biscayne that sell diesel fuel.  Kathy picked me up and we found diesel fuel on south US1 in Miami.  Back to the boat with fuel.  By this time I had become an expert on bleeding the injectors having tested the capacity of the tanks several times.  Millennium Dragon holds 43.7 gallons per side and will travel about 400 miles on a fill up.  I bleed the injectors, started the engines and motored into the marina.  They were closed by this time.  We stayed on the fuel dock over night and filled up in the morning.  We rented a mooring ball for several days and unwound on shore.

If you want to cruise the Abacos, RTIA is a great time to do it.  The weather is warm and the trades keep the bugs down.  The racing and parties are wonderful.  Mount Gay Rum sponsors the official parties and one of the unofficial beach parties (with free hamburgers) was sponsored by a swim ware company.  Their models were there on the beach and on a very large power boat but I don’t know what their line of suits looks like, if you know what I mean.

I didn’t worry about Hurricanes cruise/racing in the Bahamas in July.  We live in South Florida.  What are you going to do if a hurricane comes here?  The same thing you would do in the islands.  With the weather notices available we have many days lead time before any serious weather hits.  Just plan ahead, watch the weather and get out if anything develops.  Oh, yes, and keep you fuel tanks topped off.

Want to get a real feel for being “out there”?  Sign onto Eileen Quinn’s web site http://www.eileenquinn.com/ and buy her albums.  The songs are right on target and cover all aspects of cruising.  Jimmy Buffet has one or two good cruising songs and covers the bar-fly seen very well but Eileen’s stuff really gets into the guts of cruising. Try to catch her at your next local boat show.  Help support her cruising life style!

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