April 10-May 5, 2014
On April 10 we left Man-O-War Cay for Marsh Harbour. We had wanted to go to the Jib Room Marina but they continued to have no room so we decided we would go and anchor for one night and move on. We needed to find line for our roller furler on genoa as the current one frayed popped. We had to settle for dock line until we return to the states as neither the local marine store nor hardware store had what we needed. We were lucky they had 3/8" line to get us by until we return to the good ole USA. We also reprovisioned at a wonderful grocery store much like we have in the states however more expensive. We did not take time to tour any parts of the island as we needed to move north. We tried to meet up with friends Rodney and Linda from the yacht basin in Galveston but our schedules didn't match.
We moved on to Treasure Cay on April 11. It is boasted to have one of the most wonderful beaches in the Bahamas and has been in many travel magazines and on TV. It is true, the beaches are beautiful. We found some nice shells and sand dollars. We only walked south on the beach but if we had stayed another day we could have walked the north beach. We only stayed one night here in the anchorage that was rather small but did accommodate us as well as the mooring balls.
Today, April 12, we went around the Whale. This is actually Whale Cay and the water through the Sea of Abaco is too shallow so we had to go out into the Atlantic to go around Whale Cay. It is only a 2 ½ mile journey around the Whale but the conditions have to be perfect to go through the inlet. It was a perfect crossing and we had no problems.
We arrived at Green Turtle Cay just before lunch and anchored. As we were eating lunch, a storm came through with 30 knot winds and we drug anchor. This was our first time to drag. The bottom was really grassy and we thought we were well secured in place but evidently we were not. We quickly started the engine and re-anchored but we decided with the conditions that we would look for a marina. We had a choice of two in White Sound so I referred to Active Captain to read the reviews. We called the Bluff House Resort & Marina because Active Captain showed they were the most reasonable and they had excellent rates so we decided to take a slip. By the time we called to secure a slip it was blowing hard and raining just as hard. The dock is a little bit different than conventional marinas and the slips are at an angle like a parking lot. We couldn't figure it out at first, but we were lucky there was a dock hand that could catch our bow line to secure us and he hopped on board to help with the rest of the lines. We felt much better being at a dock.
Since today is my birthday we celebrated with friends on Painkiller, Beth and Scott, and had dinner at the Jolly Roger Bar and Bistro. We had a wonderful dinner and Beth made me a birthday cake. We plan on staying here a few nights for the window to cross back to the states.
This morning, April 13, we decided to explore the grounds of the resort and walk over to the other marina. We ended up renting a golf cart to explore the island. The island is quite big however, there is not much on it. Since today is a Sunday, there was nothing open in the little town, New Plymouth, so we checked it out and decided we would come back tomorrow to browse the few shops since we have the golf cart for a 24-hour period. We headed back to the marina by way of the Lizard Grill for lunch and then we walked on the Atlantic side of the island beach to hunt for shells. We didn't find a whole lot. Some small shells and that is about it. We returned to the marina and there were 2 boats from Lakewood Yacht Club in Houston. Hannah was right next to us. They had been in Marsh Harbour with the group our friends Rodney and Linda were with. It's always fun to meet new people who hail from your own home port. We also met True North, Dennis Mills at the marina. He let us use his slip last year in Panama City for a month so it was great to meet him and thank him in person for the use of his slip. Then we watched the Masters Golf Tournament.
April 14, we went back to New Plymouth to do more exploring with the golf cart. We went to Simms grocery store to check it out, then to the hardware store and walked the streets. We went to a bronze statue park that celebrated the individuals, with bronze busts, who took part in making New Plymouth what it is today (which isn't much). We finished up and returned to the marina so we could turn in the golf cart.
Today is tax day in the states, April 15. We enjoyed the day walking on Coco Beach. We found lots of sea biscuits and star fish. The sea biscuits are brown not white like you see them in the stores. They also are covered in little spikes for protection. I kept two that looked dead. We put most of them we saw back in the water to hopefully live and reproduce. We kept a dead starfish. They were a beautiful orange. We also walked the marina beach and found lots of dead sea urchins that had washed up on shore. They are green and white and stay green and white when dried.
This morning, April 16, the boats for Lakewood Yacht Club left to go to Great Sale and then on to West End. The weather forecast was not good, thunderstorms, but they left anyway. They were on a schedule they wanted to keep. We hung out today and taught Beth and Scott on Painkiller how to play the domino game fives to 150. They loved it.
April 17 we listened to Chris Parker Weather and he said there was a small window for sailboats to get across the Gulf Stream, so we decided we would leave and take it. We didn't want to wait another week for the window with no wind. So we left the marina at about 9 AM. We had a wonderful sail and were almost to Great Sale Cay when the winds got too high to sail so we had to reef in twice and we turned around. We knew there was no coverage for the anchorage at Great Sale, so we went back to Foxtown for the night.
It was decided today, April 18, by the guys that we would go all the way back to Green Turtle Cay due to the forecasted weather. Beth and I had a hard time with that decision. We didn't want to have to turn around and then turn around and come back again. Both guys wanted to be able to sit at the marina instead of being at anchor, so that's what we did.
We were at Bluff House Marina from April 18-April 22 this time. A total of 10 days all together. It's not a bad place to be stuck that's for sure. With the rate we paid it was about as much as a mooring ball. We played a lot of dominoes with Scott and Beth. We also met Hot Chocolate one afternoon up at the bar and bistro. We walked the beaches when weather permitted, but did do much but hang out and play dominoes.
On April 23 the weather finally cooperated and we got our window. We headed out to Great Sale Cay. We got there about 3:30 pm along with 45 other boats. All of us making the crossing back to the states. We anchored, had dinner, and went to bed.
This morning, April 24, we listened to the Chris Parker Weather report at 6:30 to confirm we still had the weather window and all was a go. We left at about 7:30 am with the Ponce De Leon inlet in Florida our destination. The water on the Little Bahama Bank was very calm. It was almost like glass and its depth is only about 15 feet deep so we could see the bottom very clearly. It was calm all the way to the deep Atlantic. We could see sunken debris, marine life, and some starfish. I saw what I think was a big wahoo jump out of the water. That was pretty cool.
The crossing was a bit rolly in the Gulf Stream and the rest of the way but the morning of April 25, we made it to about ten miles out of the Ponce De Leon inlet when Painkiller hailed us that they had an engine problem. Both of us had changed fuel filters back at Green Turtle Cay to prevent that problem on the return trip so we didn't think that was the problem. Since we were standing by waiting on Painkiller, we took the time to fill our fuel up. Painkiller also filled their tank and Scott changed the fuel filter again. He got the engine started and we were on our way. We made it through the inlet and then on to Daytona and Halifax River where we were going to anchor for the night. We got anchored and then we called customs to clear in. This was supposed to have been an easy task but unbeknownst to me I selected the wrong option and was told we would have to come into the office within 24 hours to clear in. I called another two numbers and was told the same thing. Mark and I were really irritated at this point and decided we needed to pull anchor and head to St. Augustine so we could make it to the customs office there by 3:00 PM the next day. Painkiller was going with us. We pulled anchors and headed north. We got to the second bascule bridge and Painkiller lost their engine again going through the bridge and had to pull out the jib to make it through. They anchored under sail and we continued on. They were going to see if they could figure out the problem. We continued on to the Palm Coast Marina. We got there about 7:00 PM, docked and went to a group of restaurants a 7 minute walk from the marina. How convenient. We had sticker shock coming from the Bahamas. It certainly is nice to be home to more favorable pricing. We had dinner at an Irish Pub and ordered a pizza while we were eating dinner to put in the fridge for later.
Since we were within 20 miles of St. Augustine it was an easy motor there Saturday morning of April 26. We got fueled-up, watered up and moored by 11:00 am. We dinghied into the dock and called Enterprise to come pick us up. We got our car and went to the customs office. While there we spoke with the customs agent and in the end we had done everything properly but the wording that customs uses for the reporting system and the wording on the telephone to check in are two different things. For next time, we know what to do so all we have to do is call in to check in. There was another couple there that had an issue too and we gave them a ride back to the marina. They were from New Hampshire on Leela. Since we had a rental car we went to the grocery store and we stopped at the Mellow Mushroom for lunch on Anastasia Island.
Painkiller was able to get a tow from Daytona to St. Augustine and went to the Camanchee Marina and was told to be at the Yacht Service at 7:30 am when they opened so they could get serviced. We rescued them for dinner and went to O'Steen's on Anastasia Island. It is a wonderful very small, well known place to eat as we had to wait an hour for a table. Mark's aunt had referred this place to us on an earlier visit to St. Augustine so we waited the hour. It was great. We would definitely go back. We all had scallops and shrimp.
On April 26 we got up to get Mark a skinny mocha at Starbucks. His favorite morning vice that he doesn't get very often because we do not have a close Starbucks to us anymore. After we got his Starbucks, we went to Dunkin' Donuts and got my favorite toasted coconut donuts. We bought extra so we could have more on the boat. They were yummy!
After we had the breakfast of champions (haha), we headed to visit Mark's aunt and uncle since we had a rental car. We had a great visit. Ron had a mechanic working on his boat, so we went to visit him there and he came back to the house later.
We returned to the marina to meet with Painkiller, Beth and Scott to bid them farewell and safe travels as we were leaving in the morning and they were having the mechanic check out their boat.
We didn't get to leave as early as we had hoped on Monday, April 28 because Enterprise Rentals was not open on Sundays and didn't open until 7:30 AM Monday to return our rental car. So while I returned the car, Mark checked out the systems on the boat to make sure everything was in order to make our crossing to Charleston this morning. We made the 9:00 AM Bridge of Lions opening out of St. Augustine and headed out to the Atlantic for our crossing.
The crossing was long, another 27 hours, and we made it into Charleston at noon. We didn't do anything today, Tuesday, April 29 but recuperate from the crossing.
We spent April 30 and May 1 in Charleston waiting for another front to move through. We took the City Marina shuttle to King Street and Market Street area and to the West Marine Shopping Center to get our genoa line.
On Friday, May 2, we headed out of Charleston north on the ICW because there was no wind and we couldn't sail and we also wanted to stop for the night along the way. We stopped and anchored in a nice quiet creek, Sandhole Creek, SC.
Saturday, May 3 we stopped in Carolina Beach, NC and stayed on a mooring ball. Being a Saturday night we were shocked to be one of two boats in the mooring field. The ranger said it wasn't quite the season yet. I guess after Memorial Day they get busier. We couldn't believe how noisy it was. We felt like we were on land in a resort. We had noisy cruise boats go by too. One even woke us up sometime after we had gone to bed.
Sunday morning, May 4, we headed up the ICW to the Masonboro Inlet and headed out into the Atlantic. We wanted a relaxing day on the water instead of having to constantly watch our depths, other boats, and wait on bridge openings. We made it into Beaufort, NC at 5:00 PM. We had a great day on the water even though we had to motor-sail. We had dinner at the Sanitary Seafood Restaurant in Beaufort then headed back to the boat to try and get some sleep. The marina we chose was very rocky due to the direction of the wind. The wind finally settled down and changed direction in the middle of the night so we got at least 6 hours of good sleep.
This morning, May 5 we waited on the tide to change to head up the ICW and creeks to the Neuse River and home. We didn't get off until about 8:00 AM but we knew we would be home today. We docked at our home dock at 2:00 PM and in time for Travis' graduation from Duke on Saturday.
This will be my last entry in our blog until we make the trip again. We hope you have enjoyed our travels as much as we did!