May 30, 2014

Exit Through The Abacos

"I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except that I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea.  And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears.  We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

My exit through the Abaco Islands was a bitter sweet experience.... While I loved the ten days of island hopping before sailing over to Florida, there was still a part of me that wanted to linger longer.... 

I suppose I should be satisfied with the previous three months I enjoyed exploring the chain of Bahama islands called the Exumas and the Berry Islands here ....and I am content and broadened from all of those experiences... Yes, I would've liked to take more time savoring the Abacos, ... but when all the elments of responsibility, neccessities, and the perfect weather window came into alignment, it was an opportunity not to be denied.  Besides, there's always next year, eh?  

So here's a taste of how it went...

I love the hours.
They never move too slow for me.

Even when I'm moving at a snails pace on a broad reach with no land in sight, and no one to know of my whereabouts, I'm glad to move so ever slowly...

6 hours out here flies by like the blink of an eye.

Any destination, situation, obligation, or fascination will be there when the time is right, and no amount of rushing, pushing, or shoving, (metaphorically, mind you) will ever improve the scenario.  

In other words, Take what you get and leave the rest behind.

With that in mind, for me, it is easy to enjoy the perpetual passing of time, with its minutes and seconds, perfectly predicating the next surprise around the next corner... 
Over the next hill and beyond the next uncluttered horizon.

Sail on you shiny chunk of fiberglass!
I'll be humming a tune until we get there… not too soon I hope."

Ok, here's my confession…. Sometimes, even after a long day of sailing, I make an adjustment to spill the wind from the sails, on purpose, just to slow me down and delay me so I don't have to get there so soon… because the motion of the wind over water is just never enough sometimes, and I feel the need to drag it out … just because… it's the journey, not the destination…. always.

Getting her ready for the next string of islands on the way home to Florida… she's such a fine vessel.

May 21

You don't cross paths with many single handed women sailors in this line of work... But evidently, there are just a few of them out there, here and there.   Diny Van De Loo, a Dutch woman,  is one such solo sailor whom I met in Hopetown...She has piloted her little 26' sloop, aptly titled Adventure Quest, all through both coasts of Florida and now through the Bahamas. (Google her to see a long line of adventures she has achieved)

Since we were both headed west to Great Guyana Cay, we decided to buddy boat, which means we would sail the same course in separate boats May 21.   One advantage to buddy boating is that it allows each person to take some nice photos of each other's boat while under sail... These are the first pics I've ever had of Glory Days under full sail at sea... Thanks Diny!  
Glory Days under full sail… Damn!

And here's a few pics of Diny and her vessel, Adventure Quest.

 Diny's boat is a 26' Balboa that she bought for $3000 before outfitting it… It doesn't take a ton of money to get into cruising if you want it bad enough and replace any fear with chutzpa .
Nice beam reach all the way to Great Guyana Cay….

On Great Guyana Cay you will find the world famous "Nippers" bar… Like the song says, "If you're drunk enough to get thrown out of Nippers, you must be pretty drunk…" …  sort of like these folks… I love this pic! Each person was making a statement in a millisecond…. believe it not they were on a chartered catamaran sail boat… thank God the captain stayed on board.

Was there alcohol involved here?

Nippers has a rather great view to the Atlantic.
While leaving Nippers, I just couldn't resist being bad … living dangerously again… hee hee. (Why am I itching so much now?)
The next day, I parted company with Adventure Quest, and made my solo passage from Great Guyana Cay to Green Turtle Cay … Here, I would rendezvous with my brother, Mike, who was working on on a film project there. 

Just before crossing through the inlet, which is known as The Whale, I passed this sweet mega-yacht sailboat…

Some folks just go all out...
What a FAT boat!  I like it.

Mike was pretty busy working on his film project here, so he couldn't slip away for an ocean outing with me,…. but we did enjoy a great dinner and brotherly love at the Green Turtle club that Thursday evening….Here we are dangling a brew... I anchored in the harbor that night… nice quiet anchorage… as usual, it was so sweet just to look up to the galaxies and know all is well.

My brother Mike and me flirting with a Kalik…  See TV chef in background…
Mike was filming a promo commercial for The Egg smoker grill

This is Mike posing with world famous television fishing show host, Oneil Williams…. What no fish? He likes burgers too.

Before heading further south that same day to  Manjack Cay, I enjoyed a walking tour of  the little community called New Plymouth on that Friday morning... See photos below ... It is located on the south end of Green Turtle Island at Black Sound… It was a sleepy day in the town of New Plymouth as I strolled through the streets… Here's what I saw...

Little Pink Houses for you and me…

All of the houses weren't pink tho...

New Plymouth has a nice view to the sea… oh, if this pier could talk, wat stories she could tell..

Little Andre and his granny here have a tent set up selling Bahama T-shirts… business was a bit slow today.

Coconuts anyone?

After leaving New Plymouth, it was only a 5 mile hop to my next stop, Manjack Cay… 

I was the first boat to anchor here this evening, but I counted 8 other boats here before the sun set.... And boy did it set.... I guess I'll never get tired of photographing sunsets... No two are ever the same

Another nice feature of Manjack Cay was exploring the little mangrove creek seen below here.... I counted about 10 sea turtles darting through the crystal clear water on this little dinghy ride.... The old saying "slow as a turtle" just doesn't apply here... Under water, these dudes are fast... So fast I could never get one on camera, the little buggers

Motoring back to my anchorage was just another chapter in how good life is.

No Thank You… this is not for me… but was fun to watch...
Altho my photography of sea turtles did not happen, I did manage to get this tasty lobster on camera.... He was a great dinner guest... All he asked for was a hot bath... In lemon and butter...

Huge sting rays like this are pretty common to see…. gorgeous creatures they are.

The following day, I attempted to leave Manjack Cay and sail west… but it was not to be.

You see, I'm still trying to stage my position for a crossing of the Gulf Stream back to Florida in the next few days... But as the wind gods would have it, any breeze for today would be very light, and from the wrong direction.

What little wind there was was blowing right on the nose... So I opted to linger at Manjack Cay for another day and night, finding a nice anchorage just about a mile west of where I stayed last night... 

This turned out to be a good move as I stumbled upon some of the best snorkeling waters I've experienced thus far... It was like swimming in an aquarium but literally thousands of fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors.... Unfortunately my underwater GoPro camera had a dead battery so was unable to capture the beauty of the event...

MEMORIAL DAY.... I saw a great post that said, "it's Remembrance Day, not National BBQ Day... So true, and I thank all those who have served… I really do.  I have no idea what you went through in military service.  I can only imagine,..... So thank you again, soldier men and women everywhere.

My Memorial day was a good one.... I departed at 6:30 am, sailing right off the anchor... Winds were light and I poked along for the next 25 miles doing my best to not fall too far south below by course line... 

There's times when you must take the slower route in order to stay on course for your destination.... I could've hauled ass going due south, but with this East wind,it was not to be

My west bound destination called for using a spinnaker pole and running down wind pretty much all day. I don't mind the slow pace either, cause it gives me more time to savor the day and just more time to BE in pristine solitude… man, I love that phrase, "pristine solitude"… 

On my way to Great Sale Cay, I stopped in the remote village called Cooperstown… but this barracuda jumped onto my line just before I dropped my anchor there… I call this shot the American Barrcuda… I set him free, of course.

A very quiet Sunday morning in Cooperstown where I anchored briefly to replenish my drinking water.

There's not a lot to report about Cooperstown on a Sunday morning… Everybody in town was in church except for Denario…. and I was looking for more drinking water… and so this local teenager, Denario, helped me out… he took my jug and got me 7 gallons of H2O from his neighbor's facet… He got a tip!

So after a brief stop in Cooperstown, its back to sailing on this fine day…. At 3:30 and after 9 hours of sailing, I was within 2 miles of my destination, Great Sale Cay… 

Great Sale (yes, that's the correct spelling) is a very remote uninhabited Island that is mainly a stopping point for vessels coming or going from the US and Bahamas.... When I pointed her north to approach Great Sale, I suddenly realized there was much more wind out there than I had realized.... 

When you sail downwind the force of the wind can be deceiving as opposed to when you are catching it on your beam.... But with wind on the beam now, suddenly (there's that word again!) I'm heeled over making 6 knots, as the wind speed had also seems to have increased...

At that point I made an executive decision at 4 pm that I was not DONE with sailing for this day….So, by positioning my boat just 2 miles north, I was now able to sail, or "run" downwind at a far greater speed than earlier this morning... "What the heck, this ship is going to bite off another 20 miles to Mangrove Cay!" ONWARD SHE GOES! Straight west into the sunset!

Suddenly Great Sale Cay was rapidly fading in the distance as I hung on for the next 20 miles which turned out to be a real sleigh ride... I was there in 3 hours and anchored with 3 other cruisers to get some much needed rest... It had been 12 hours continuous sailing....52 miles... It always amuses me how days start out with a whimper of wind and end with blast of glory... Nuff said.

My final day in the Bahamas was making the short 24 mile hop over to the settlement called West End.  This is THE closest point west to the US mainland.  It is where many sailors stage their crossing back to the US, which is exactly what I did.
My final anchorage in the Bahamas … for this year.

You can see in the photo below just how close West End appears to the US.  The blue dot is my anchorage at West End…. It's actually 60 miles, which may not seem like much.  However, it involves crossing the Atlantic open water ocean, and more importantly the Gulf Stream in order to get back to the mainland… Stay tuned for the next post coming up titled THE CROSSING.

In the next episode…. Will he make it?  Will he survive? Will he be ravaged by the Gulf Stream?  

Find out all this and MORE in a couple of days as I prepare the next post!  Coming real soon!
So long Bahamian flag… you served me well… now it's time to fly Old Glory for a while

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.


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  2. Beautumis Joe - but careful lest you cast a spell on your readers and single-handedly cause a huge wave of cruisers to invade the islands ... ok an even more huge wave -

  3. LOL. Did you just cause 10.000 people to Google me? Are there any rewards for that? Thanks for the flattering pics. You're stimulating me to write a blog again. Maybe one of these days, when I am not so busy sailing, snorkeling, exploring, meeting people, maintaining my boat and, on occasion, doing nothing at all except looking at my navel and the amazing color scheme around me. I am waiting with bated breath for the next chapter.
    Loved your story and fascinating pics, especially the ones from Adventure Quest!!