Family (Dec), Boat Maintenance (Jan), and The Bahamas (Jan 23-Feb 3)

December 2006 – February 3, 2007


December was a month to reconnect with family and friends in Toronto and St. Louis.  We left Pilgrim at Cocoa Village Marina in Florida near Cape Canaveral and flew to Toronto.  It was great to see friends from 3 of our Toronto church homes and former business associates.  Christmas with daughter Amelia, her friend Neil, and former nanny and friend for always, Darlene made the holiday season a great celebration. 


NEIL, AMELIA, DARLENE … all smiles … must be Christmas


After Christmas we spent 4 days in St. Louis with Jane’s dad, brother and sister-in-law. 


Jane, William, Jim and Darcie … Post Christmas dinner at the Athletic Club


We were back in Florida to celebrate New Year’s and haul Pilgrim out of the water for fresh paint on her hull.  We were delighted that the hull was quite clean after a power wash (no further sanding required), but were distressed to see the barnacles on the propeller and Dynoplate (lightning ground).  The fiberglass work done on the rudder last March in Whitby left a bit to be desired (3 large pieces have flaked off the leading edge of the rudder). 


So much for professional work … notice the chips out of the rudder and the growth on the propeller


We spent the next 10 days on land, smoothing (fairing) imperfections in the hull, painting the hull, polishing the propeller and Dynoplate and installing new zincs on the propeller shaft and engine. 


 A Clean PROPELLER WITH NEW ZINCS with mounting bolts painted red to reduce corrosion at those points


We provisioned the boat for 3 months of cruising in The Bahamas, launched, and sailed to Lake Worth (Palm Beach) outside (in the Atlantic).


That takes care of the liquids now what about the food?


The passage to Lake Worth began well, but by 10:00 PM the wind increased, rather than decreased as was forecasted.  The waves began breaking and salt water began dripping through the cockpit enclosure zippers on our food, charts, our equipment and us.  Then we were deluged with a couple of rain showers, which caused changes to the wind patterns, but no flattening of the waves.  We put a reef, then the double reef in the mainsail, which became all but ineffectual.  We partially furled the Genoa, then let it back out several times.  Water was regularly pouring over our decks and around the cockpit.  As usual, Pilgrim handled the challenge better than we did.  Sleep was fitful and in short spurts.  The only other "crazies" who were out in the ocean were about 4 different casino boats that cruise beyond the 3-mile limit.  (Do they strap their patrons into padded slot machines, or do they have a huge gimbaled gaming room?  We cannot imagine how people could enjoy themselves on a boat in such seas)

The Lake Worth Inlet is very short; no jetties or piers, just one buoy outside the channel.  Although we had the electronic chart with our position clearly shown, it was still hard to find the entrance, with 8-10 foot waves with foaming crests keeping us from steering a straight course.  Suddenly there was a large school of dolphins at our bow.  We think they were trying to steer us further south to the entrance that we could not discern.  As soon as we were on track for the channel, they disappeared!  Guardian Angles.


Guardian Angles of the aquatic kind


We anchored in North Lake Worth for a week, waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream, which runs northward between Florida and The Bahamas at a speed of 2-4 knots.  Crossing the Stream with a north wind is hazardous since the wind is opposite the current and causes huge waves.  North Lake Worth was a great place to wait for good weather.  There were about 40 other boats at anchor with mansion-cottages as backdrop.  The week gave us time to do repairs, maintenance, laundry, and go ashore for last-minute items at the grocery store and pharmacy.


Dwelling places of the common folk in Palm Springs, Florida

And we all sit at anchor waiting for the weather window


On January 23 the weather was almost perfect for the crossing.  We left Lake Worth Inlet at 11:00 PM and sailed the 60 miles across the Gulf Stream to The Bahamas.  We followed the “rule of thumb” in the cruising guides to steer a course well south of our destination, since the Gulf Stream would sweep us northward.  We should have steered the Rhumb line to Memory Rock; we ended up about 10 miles too far south. 


Sunrise over The Bahamas was spectacular.

On our first day in the Bahamas, there was morning …


The sunset at Mangrove Cay wasn’t shabby.


  … and evening … and it was very good. (red sky in morning … we never learn)


Having spent most of our sailing life on the Great Lakes, where seeing the bottom means you are about to go aground, and then sailing in the Bahamas where the seawater is so clear that you can see the bottom clearly in 20 feet of water has required a fair bit of adjustment.   Peering into the water is like looking into an aquarium.  Fish, coral, seaweed, sand are all clearly visible.  The colours of the water are spectacular and vary according to the bottom or the sunlight reflected off the clouds or both.  The water is a feast for the eyes.


On the beach … not the movie


We cleared customs and immigration at Spanish Cay, and had a great sail to Green Turtle Cay.  We were at anchor in White Sound, a well-protected anchorage, for 5 days waiting out a gale.  This gave us an opportunity to walk the Atlantic beach with its spectacular breakers.


The Atlantic side of Green Turtle Cay


We also visited the settlement, New Plymouth.  Loyalists settled this town; they were Brits who sided with the British during the US Revolutionary War, and fled to the Bahamas.  The town has paved streets and colourfully-painted houses. 


HOUSES IN NEW PLYMOUTH … the hardware store never stocks enough paint of the same colour for a complete job


BANK HOURS … You got a problem with that  mon?


Dogs, cats and chickens freely roam the streets, and the roosters crow all day, from sun-up to sun-down. 


Where are the folks from KFC when you really need them


Although there are some cars and trucks, golf carts are the major transportation for adults.




Children are transported in strollers throughout the world.


And big brothers are all the same everywhere …


The Fire Department is on constant alert


I wonder if the logo is a reflection of their response time?


The Methodist Church is … open?

Check the spelling


Close up of Island security


The island is lush with colourful flowers and dense foliage.


Just a few feet from the high water mark


To get from Green Turtle Cay to the Sea of Abaco, most boats need to go through Whale Cay Passage which is exposed to the Atlantic Ocean.  In many wind / sea conditions, there is “sea rage” which is breaking seas that are dangerous for any sized boat.  When the window finally arrived, there were 10 sailboats that rode the high tide out of White Sound at Green Turtle Cay and passed through the 5-mile ocean passage. 


10-boat flotilla leaving GTC


Since we were in deep Atlantic water, a line and lure went off the stern as soon as we were in the passage.  Within 10 minutes a fish was on the line.


BRIAN BRINGING IN A FISH …or so he thinks … problem was the shark that had lunch ideas


The fish put up a good fight, both to Brian and a larger fish (shark?) that attacked it on the line.  Once Brian got it close enough to the boat to identify, we found a medium-sized Barracuda.


Notice the shark slash on the tail … I gave it back to the shark for lunch


It was released, but was probably too injured by the fish attack to survive.


We anchored in Baker’s Bay on the NW side of Great Guana Cay.  This site was developed in the 1990’s by a cruise line as a cruise destination.  However, because the cruise boats had to get through Whale Cay Passage and it was often impassible, even to large cruise ships, they sold their rights to a property development company that is currently developing the site as an upscale resort / golf course / marina. 




We have decided this is not a good investment.  Recently it has been reported that an “ice island” has split off Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic and is slowly drifting south.  In a couple of years it will be in shipping lanes.  This is MUCH larger than an iceberg, and an indication that the Polar Regions are melting.  The Bahamas are such low islands, they will probably be underwater if the Polar Caps keep melting and the ocean levels rise.  Al Gore has just been nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work on this topic.


We enjoyed a walk along the resort-beach (no one was there to stop us).  We were delighted with Periwinkles on branches at high tide level




A little lizard with a curly trail

There is even a local restaurant named after this fella …” Curly Tails”


And the coral outcropping along the beach


The contrast of dark coral, white sand and the blue sea was mind blowing


The moon is full and rose just at sunset.


Moon rise with high-high tides


We are enjoying the few secluded anchorages and doing chores, such as laundry, cleaning and water-making.  Most of the harbours seem to be in settlements with restaurants as intent on selling pizza and fries as truly local fare.  We would prefer to find the “quiet centres” when weather permits us to explore the undocumented anchorages.