Monday, 28 January 2013

No 4/13 Still in Georgetown

Hi from Clare, Sunday 27th January 2013
A few weeks ago we were looking forward to returning to George Town. We passed through here pretty quickly last June on our way to Maine. Now after being stuck here for three week waiting, waiting, we are now looking forward to leaving. We received our Navionics chart on Wednesday. It actually arrived early Tuesday morning but it took all day to travel the five miles from the airport into George Town. As you can imagine Andrew was not impressed.
So we missed the weather window for leaving and since Wednesday we have experienced strong wind, heaps of white caps and a large swell. We are well protected inside the bay but since the wind has picked up, traveling across the bay to town in the dinghy is a wash out.
We have spent most of our time socializing. Steve and Carol on "Innamorata" have caught up with us and also a Swiss couple Thierry and Claudia on "Vanupieds" who we shared the Hurricane Sandy experience with in Portsmouth. We have also met many other cruisers who like ourselves are waiting on the weather. There are approximately two hundred boats here now.
Yesterday we had a very social Australia Day. There are three Aussie boats here at present and so we gathered for morning coffee and vegemite sandwiches. Dave and Martha on "Antigone" were the hosts. Another Dave, a delivery skipper, from "Mist" and American Ed from "Imagine" also attended. Andrew and I were the only ones drinking coffee; the others in true Aussie style were drinking beer at 10am. We all brought multiple Aussie flags and decorated "Antigone" for the occasion.
We got back to our boat in the afternoon and received an invitation to drinks by an English couple Geoff and Bunkie on "Party of Two" at 5pm. They spent a year in Australia and loved every minute of the experience. For Australia Day they dressed in their Aussie T-shirts and we shared an enjoyable evening with them and four of their friends from the anchorage. We have never done this much celebrating for Australia Day; I think we better come home - it's much easier.
I guess this afternoon we will walk across the island and frighten ourselves looking out to sea. It's very good therapy, in no time we agree we don't want to be out there.

Love Candy xx

At 3:04 PM6/01/2013 (utc) our position was 23°31.46'N 075°45.86'W

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Monday, 21 January 2013

No 3/13 More Georgetown

Hi from Clare, Sunday 20th January 2013
We have spent another week enjoying the beaches of George Town. It is an easy walk across the headland from the bay to the ocean beach. Most days we walk the length of the beach and swim in the surf before returning to the boat. It is about a 4k trip and it is great to get some exercise.
Thankfully the wind has dropped and so the dinghy ride into Georgetown is not the wet experience it was last week. This week it has been quite pleasant traveling in the dinghy to various functions. There are a lot of social activities here like yoga on the beach each morning and volley ball every afternoon. There is also a weekly non denominational church service on the beach, a softball game, a beach dance, BBQs and lessons in basket weaving and jewelry making. There is a local radio net every morning and a 'meet and greet' for new comers every afternoon on volley ball beach. As you can imagine it doesn't take long to become part of the community. We can fully understand why some boats return here every year for annual holidays.
With the calm conditions a large number of boats have left the anchorage to travel south. These boats have been replaced by boats arriving every day from the north.
We had a final farewell supper on 'Full Monty' Sunday night along with the crew from 'What If' and 'Good Trade'. Since then we have kept in touch with 'Full Monty' by radio and they are now in Jamaica enjoying Reggae music and good provisioning for their next adventure.
Blair our Scottish Piper on 'Strathspey' left Tuesday morning but returned later in the day as the seas were too big. Bad luck for Blair and Mary but we were pleased that our evening concerts were not completely over. They left again on Thursday and this time didn't return; looks like we are back to the Ipod for music.
We have met new people and had a terrific night with American friends Kathy and Kurt on 'Five n Dime' along with crews from 'Echo' and 'Why Not'. The four guys are Engineers and so it was hard work keeping them out of the engine room and off the technical stuff. Not to worry all the more drinks and nibbles and interesting conversations for the girls in the cockpit.
Our pump for the Water Maker arrived last Tuesday and the Navionics Chart Chip is due in this Tuesday. At this stage, it looks like both items will make the journey in eight days. Not bad considering that the chart has traveled from Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, Tampa, Cincinnati, Miami (30ks from Fort Lauderdale) Nassau and then to George Town; who can figure it?
Weather permitting we will be out of here by Wednesday and heading east then south. We are still not sure where we are going as there is a Cholera outbreak in Cuba. We consider we are not in any danger as we have our own water and plenty of food on board. In addition we are in touch with other cruisers who are either in Cuba or have been there recently. Nobody has experienced any problem. However, our concern is more around how well we will be received at our next destination when leaving Cuba. When checking into Jamaica 'Full Monty' reported that they were asked if they had been to Cuba. Fortunately for them they had come straight from George Town, Bahamas. So we have a few things to consider.
Love Candy xx

At 3:04 PM6/01/2013 (utc) our position was 23°31.46'N 075°45.86'W

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

No 2/13 Georgetown, Exumas

Hi from Clare,                                Sunday 13th January 2013

For the past week we have experienced both the joy of relaxing with friends and the frustration of the unexpected.

We caught up with American friends Jeff and Mary on "Echo" who we sheltered with while hurricane Sandy passed over our safe harbor in Virginia last year. We had a very pleasant evening on Eye Candy and we provided them with a concert as the Scottish piper (anchored directly behind us) heralded in the passing of another perfect day. Each evening he stands on his foredeck and plays a selection of Scottish tunes to the setting sun for about 15 minutes, good stuff.

The Piper on Strathspey

We also had the pleasure of Will and Jenny's company from "Full Monty" for a drink one evening after dinner. Their children Colin and Justine stayed at home glued to their computers. Mum and Dad managed to get a break but were back on board "Full Monty" in time for lights out. I often think we are busy on Eye Candy, I don't know how Will and Jenny cope with a large catamaran to run plus home schooling the children. They seem to have endless energy and they are doing a great job.

Crews from Eye Candy, Full Monty, What if and Good Trade

We also had a pot luck dinner on "Full Monty" along with two other boats "What If" and "Good Trade". All in all there were eight adults and four children. We all provided dinner and brought our own plates and glasses to lessen the workload for Will and Jenny. It is just lovely to have a suitable venue for such a terrific social evening. Full Monty is leaving tomorrow morning and we will miss them. Andrew has managed to enlist Jenny as Thursday's Net Controller on our daily radio net, so we will keep in touch with them and follow their progress down to the Panama.

View from the Monument at our anchorage

Our frustration for the week is accepting that we are not moving on shortly as planned. The pump on our water maker has dropped in its water making capacity. It can only deteriorate from here and ultimately fail. We decided not to run the risk of being out of water and so we have ordered a new pump to be flown from Florida via Fed Ex into the Bahamas. It is due tomorrow but anyone who understands Bahamian time will be having a bit of chuckle. Andrew has been tracking its progress online. On day one it was sent to the wrong location and needed to be redirected. Oh well all will be revealed tomorrow - keep your fingers crossed for us.
Cruiser kids having fun on the sand hills

So with the hope of departing when the pump arrives, Andrew checked our Navionics Electronic Chart for the Caribbean. As you have probably guessed, it came up with an error message and no charts. So now we will have to order another Electronic Chart and run the gauntlet again Fed-Exing into the Bahamas; talk about pushing our luck. Maybe one day we will actually get to leave with all systems operating.

We are anchored about 1 mile across the bay opposite George Town. Most of the boats are anchored over this side of the bay as the social activities are held here on the beaches and the shelter is better from the persistent easterly breeze. However, if you want to go into George Town for shopping, crossing the bay is ugly. Due to strong wind and current, no matter how big or fast the dinghy is, you are going to get wet, or drowned may be a better description. You can spot the cruisers in town; they are ones with wet clothes and hair.

We have been here for a week and I have been into George Town twice. The second time we made the mistake of bringing back two 20 L drums of fuel which weighed the dingy down. By the time we got back to the boat not only were we soaking wet, we were bucketing water out of the dinghy. We have to laugh, what else can we do?

Waiting, waiting and more waiting; we are on Bahamian time.
Love Candy xx

At 3:04 PM6/01/2013 (utc) our position was 23°31.46'N 075°45.86'W

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Monday, 7 January 2013

1/2013 Welcome to 2013

Hi from Clare,                                                           Sunday 6th January 2013

This is our first newsletter for 2013 and I am wondering if we will beat last year's effort of 43 newsletters for the year. We will certainly try but life on the boat can get busy at times, not because we achieve a lot, it's just those routine jobs take longer and we keep moving the house. We did twice the miles in 2012 from the previous year in the Med. We thoroughly enjoyed the East Coast of America and Maine. This year we hope to explore some of the NW Caribbean.

The weather is very pleasant at present with daily temperatures in the high twenties and water temperature in the low twenties. However this year there has been a lot more moisture in the air than the Med. It is a constant battle against mould, mildew and musty smells. We now have food, clothes, linen, electronics, leather goods and books sealed in zip lock bags and that's just to name a few. Whenever we motor we open the engine room and turn the fans on to circulate warm air throughout the boat. So far this seems to be working well, but then again we haven't been in the wetter areas yet. Our friends Mark and Amanda on 'Balvanie' spent summer in the Panama and called it the Green House Effect. Mark said he could sit and watch the mould grow - Oh what fun!

Jenny's birthday and New Years Eve
This last week we moved some 50 miles along the Exuma Chain from Staniel Cay to George Town. The scenery of aqua water and white sandy beaches is picture perfect and the calm conditions made for a very pleasant week. We travelled in company with Jenny, Will and children Justine and Colin on the American catamaran 'Full Monty'. The best part of the week was celebrating New Years Eve and Jenny's birthday with them. We watched the count down in Time Square on TV. We looked for Matt and Mim but they were sensible enough not to attend in such freezing conditions. Sitting comfortably on 'Full Monty' and celebrating the New Year with a glass of champagne, we couldn't help but remember that our previous New Year's Eve was celebrated nervously in the Cape Verdes before setting off across the Atlantic the following day.

Bahamian anchorages

This week we have learnt a new skill - spear fishing. Will and Colin had provided us with Lobster and Lion fish for dinner. It was so delicious we decided we better go out with them on the next hunt. In no time we had enough Lion fish for another delicious meal. The Lion Fish is an introduced species and has flourished so well it is now considered a pest; so we are doing the environment a favour by catching them. Andrew bought a spear when we arrived in George Town. Apparently Lion Fish and Lobster are plentiful in the NW Caribbean so we have high hopes. All we have caught with a fishing line recently is Barracouta which we throw back.

We are now in George Town which is a very popular cruising destination for the American and Canadian cruising community who spend their winter here. It is a large waterway between two island protected from the NE and the SW. It has three or four good size anchorages. There are currently around 150 boats here and there are social activities every day. The other night we gathered for drinks and a bonfire. The cruisers brought their musical instruments and a sing along soon happened. Tonight we have a beach dance.

A few boats over from us a Scot plays his bagpipes at sunset on the bow of his yacht each evening. Just before sunset the cruisers from the surrounding boats are all sitting out with a drink in hand waiting in eager anticipation. The piper plays well and this coupled with a glorious sunset is a wonderful end to the day. It beats the chorus of Conch shell horns that precede and applaud his recital.

Our anchorage is very peaceful and a friendly dolphin visits us daily. The kids from the surrounding boats have been snorkelling with the dolphin. It is not at all shy and stays swimming around in circles with the kids until they run out of energy. I wonder where it comes from and why it comes alone.

We now have a SW North Atlantic chart permanently displayed on the saloon table. We found that when discussing passage routes we just couldn't picture where half the countries were. It has helped put things in perspective and we have learnt that passage making is dominated by the prevailing NE to SE winds and rolling Atlantic swells. If we want to visit the popular places we will need to do a few laps of the Caribbean Sea and go with the wind. More importantly we have to be patient and wait for the right weather windows.

We will be in George Town for a good week or more waiting for a southeasterly to pass through. If we have to wait, this is a good place to be.
Love Candy xx

At 3:04 PM6/01/2013 (utc) our position was 23°31.46'N 075°45.86'W

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