It has been exactly a month since we flew back to Florida after Christmas with the family. Every day since then has brought amazing challenges and beauty. One day we had to look really hard to find the beauty, but it came through in the end. I’ll break this down into weeks so anyone reading can take a break with another cocktail before going on. Advance apologies if post resembles an annoying holiday missive…..
Week one. Flew into punta and drove across florida to daytona with grandma and grandpa to Radiance who was safely hanging in daytona at a little marina. So glad we did the stove installation on front end in december so we could just go. Whirlwind provisioning, cast lines same day. Grandma and Grandpa great boat guests, and really enjoyed the nostalgia tour of the ICW from back in their cruising days. Did some sailing, some bridges, lots of drinking. Coca to Melbourne to Vero. Bizarre cold front in Melbourne and I was glad I brought a parka. Mom and dad had all their clothes and everything resembing a blanket on them at night. Saddest quote was coming out to see wool blanket on floor beside my mother and her saying she couldnt waste the BTUs of reaching her hand out of covers to grab blanket. Vero was terrific, is fondly known as velcro beach by cruisers because they arrive and never leave. Free water, cheap ice, bus to beach, Publix and West Marine, practically paradise. Saw mom and dad off to drive back to Punta Gorda and met up with rally friends on Our Log to start journey to Exumas, Bahamas.
Week two. Vero to Peck Lake where you anchor in ICW, dinghy to shore and 100 yards later are on the Atlantic Ocean. Lots of beach combing, found a grappling hook and fishing lure in surf. Peck Lake to North Lake Worth and great reunion dinner with two other couples from rally. Love the uber concept, took them everywhere. Contemplated going outside into atlantic for next leg to south miami, but too much wind and swell. Bridge hell day from Lake Worth with goal of Ft Lauderdale. Lost count at 19 bridges, opening at limited times, jerky motor boats, one bridge broken, only mcmansions, many with very entertaing statuary (roman god kind of guys, an upside down mermaid with her wet hair being the base, gingerbread houses left over from Christmas (I hope), some all at the same place. Got some bad family news and day really sucked. Dropped anchor in little alcove in Pompano Beach, and solace was beautiful double rainbow. Next day to Fort Lauderdale, last provisioning, then out of ICW, finally, over 1000 miles at about 5 mph from Annapolis to Lauderdale. In ocean and south of Miami to Dinner Key. In huge mooring ball field with really truly rude large motor yachts, one narrowly missing a little pleasure sailboater and doing ‘sea trials’ was his response to coast guard about why he was speeding through channel. 3 am departure in the dark in shallow water, no lit chanel markers, a little hairy crossing biscayne bay skirted by a boat anchored in dark with no lights, almost hit it. Then magic, part of a 4 am parade of about 15 boats leaving Biscayne Bayb in the dark, Miami all lit up, setting off across the ocean to Bimini. Most magic sunrise ever. We saw a whale during the crossing.
Week three. Arrive Bimini, pretty amazing to go from 1500 feet of deep deep blue water of ocean to gin clear water of bahama bank in about 4 minutes. Bimini a charming little town with small marinas, restaurants, beautiful beach and huge almost deserted resort at far end. Cleared customs with very efficient bahmanian government folks who apparently prepare for the hordes when the weather is good. 40 knot winds forecast 2 days later, so we decided to hunker down at marina. We were warned about pulsing music from local party place, so not a shock when some sleep was interrupted. Used our fold up bikes all over bimini, saw dolphin house- a tribute to sea life all mosaics from shells and other beach finds, natural and not. Guys came to docks selling fresh lobster tail for grilling, 6 for $20.00, 7 if you gave him a beer! Wind came as predicted, was very thankful to be safely tied up in lee of storm at marina, and blessedly shut down music for 2 nights. Once weather cleared, mass exodous of 20 or so boats at 7 am to the east. Buddy boated with 2 other boats, motor sailed 60 miles (very long day for a sailboat) and dropped hook completely out of sight of land in 11 feet of water on bahama bank. Grilled chicken on grill on back of boat. Surreal. One of buddy boats has no anchor chain and drug about a mile on bank during night, could barely see his boat in morning, impressive! Next day back i to ocean to west side of new providence island, best known for town of naussau.
Week four. Left West Bay and sailed 35 miles and happily, finally made it to the Exumas. First night in Allen Cay, famous for native igunas. Scared the crap out of me as one chased me down the beach, apparently iguanas are used to being fed by boaters. Decided to leave them their dance space, and back to dinghy. We motored around the harbor chatting with other boats. Next day off to Norman Cay where drug runners used to reign. Snorkeled a downed twin engine airplane. Rumor has it that Pablo Escobar’s son was on board but survived. They missed the runway by a 1/4 mile. Not an every day occurrence! Next couple of days at idyllic anchorage off Hog Cay, lots of hiking and the beginning of our up cycling adventure of using beach trash to make boat improvements. So far have hanging fruit baset out of fishing net, soap holder out of broken conch shell, and working on a hammock out of huskier fish net we had to cut up on beach. Will post photos when we get wifi. On to civilization, beach bars in Staniel Cay where the wild pigs run free on the beach.. Big tourist attraction, but they bite and may have been able to tell I had bacon for breakfast? Currently in Little Farmers Cay for First Friday in February, a local local sailing regatta waiting for races to start. Island has about 100 residents and there are at least that many boats in large anchorages around island. Island very prepared for and welcoming of all of us, presume it is a big boon to their economy. Waiting for race to start now.
After three long days of sailing/motor ailing we are now in the Exumas. The boat and her crew held up well and we had favorable conditions for sailing. The wifi is pretty hit or miss here. We are exploring to find places for my daughter and son-in-law to visit when the join us in February.