Friday, January 29, 2010

Progress, progress, progress

...on the home front! Happily, while Karyn's been recuperating with Sandra at the condo, Ron is enjoying a bit of a well-deserved break after the intensive medical immersion of the past couple of weeks. Ron is down in the Keys, visiting aboard with some cruiser friends in Marathon -- even sparking a road trip to Key West with them, as our friends hadn't been there before. Sounds like Duvall Street delivered a bit of drink and apparently, a new tattoo for one of their crew, although Ron managed to escape unscathed himself! The drive down brought back lots of memories for Ron; he's been going there for so long, for so many years, that he really enjoyed his time there.

Karyn's been improving, slowly but steadily. The fatigue is less every day, and headaches are nearly non-existent with the help of Tylenol during the day. It's only been two weeks, so we're thinking it's a good thing that things seem so normal! Lots of follow-up scans and appointments loom on the horizon, but so far, neurological issues seem to be mostly theoretical, as there's been no blasting headaches, no unusual forgetfulness, no amnesia of recent events, no speech deficits. Of course, "normal" is a matter of perspective -- who's to say what's "normal", after all?? But combining lots of rest, naps and caution along with daily walks and exercise to increase stamina all seem to be helping out. No rushing things!

In the meantime, Karyn has been gaining strength enough to show Sandra a bit of Jensen Beach or Stuart each day, either by car or by foot. They've really enjoyed each other's company, whether hanging at the condo, or at the pool in the sunshine...all good! We went out to lunch at Mulligan's yesterday, as Karyn had to introduce Sandra to their signature Mahi-Mahi Rueben, which is delicious! We walked through the little galleries and art shops along Jensen Beach Boulevard before returning to the condo for more rest and recuperation...all in a day's work, so to speak!

Other than that...we'll end with a moment for a safety broadcast! As is common on islands in the Caribbean, on many of the small Out-Islands of the Bahamas, golf carts and small scooters are typically used as vehicles. Many island roads and terrain can't accommodate vehicles much larger, let alone regular-sized cars or trucks. High-end resorts and gated communities alike use golf carts as transportation, and unfortunately, in many cases, golf cart accidents result in disabilities and/or fatalities. I made a lame attempt at humor regarding my accident (trying to diffuse the concern and worry among my family and friends) but now know I am truly one of the lucky ones to have come away from the accident without severe repercussions. This is fromThe New York Times, in June 2008:

"...The June issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that injuries from being hit by or falling off of golf carts surged 132 percent from 1990 to 2006. Nearly 150,000 people, ranging in age from 2 months to 96 years, were hurt in golf cart accidents during that time.

One reason may be that golf carts have become much faster and more powerful. Reaching speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and traveling as far as 40 miles on a single battery charge, golf carts now offer quick travel in a variety of venues. They are now routinely used at sporting events, hospitals, airports, national parks, college campuses, businesses and military bases, the study authors noted. In some gated and retirement communities, golf carts have become the primary means of transportation.

But golf carts typically aren’t subject to federal regulations, and users often don’t even need a driver’s license to operate one. They don’t have seat belts or stability mechanisms, and a common injury involves people falling off, particularly from the back. In 1990 there were an estimated 5,772 golf cart injuries, but in 2006 that number had surged to 13,411. About 70 percent occurred at a sports or recreational facility. About 15 percent of injuries happened on the street, and those injuries were most likely to result in concussions and hospitalization. Another 15 percent occurred around homes or on a farm.

Nearly one-third of injuries involved children. About half of the injuries were related to falling or jumping from a golf cart or the cart overturning. Children were at highest risk for falls, and a fall was twice as likely to cause a head or neck injury.

Rear-facing golf seats, in particular, pose a high risk for falls. One study showed that golf carts traveling as slow as 11 m.p.h. can easily eject a passenger during a turn. Another problem is that golf carts don’t have brakes on all four wheels. Rear-wheel brakes can cause carts to fishtail and the driver to lose control, particularly on hilly terrain."

Yes, Karyn can confirm that about the ejection from the rear-facing seats -- and at slower speeds than 11 mph. So, if you use a golf cart: get in, sit down, be aware and above all: BE CAREFUL!! But enough of the pontificating: hugs to you all, as usual!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On the road to recovery

While the original focus of this blog was supposed to be the boat, for the moment, guess it's gonna be Karyn, her recovery and getting back to cruising aboard the boat as soon as we're healthy. That's the "Royal We" of course; Ron is fine and dandy, although totally ready to chew his arm off, in a desperate attempt to escape from the imposed inactivity and the demands of keeping an eye on Karyn now that she's out of the hospital. For a guy who's used to being outside, active and busy doing stuff either in the water or aboard Equinox, the past two weeks of hospital tedium, imposed quiet and rest (aka lethargy) have taken its toll. I mean, between downloading songs to his computer and iPhone, Ron keeps walking around the Florida condo, rearranging the decor, for pity's sake!! The man needs a break!!

So, thankfully, Karyn's stepmom Sandra will be visiting for the next few days, helping out to ensure Karyn doesn't over-do it. (I admit, it's been hard to take it slow and rest when I get excited by the improvements of feeling energy, strength and lucidity!) But more importantly, Ron will take a few days off, head down to the Keys to visit some cruising friends aboard their boats, get a bit of R&R, enjoy guy time, and get some time off from the pressures of being 'Ron the Voice of Reason': "How are you feeling? Why don't you rest?". Truly, everyone benefits!

At the risk of really being boring, we're including an update for those that are concerned: Karyn is doing better every day, and a full recovery is anticipated. I won't dwell on the graphic or banal (discussions of bodily functions NOT permitted) but things are progressing pretty well. The biggest factor has been getting my stamina back; I'll admit I was truly surprised by the fatigue from simply being upright! (Didn't expect that, always having been fairly strong and healthy for the most part....such things we take for granted!) Every day I'm up a little longer and have been delighted to get outside walking -- talk about decadence!! Sunshine on bare skin with palm trees beside you...Yess!! Plus, the old noggin/head actually has been doing quite well, as I'm trying to be careful and take things slowly for the most part. I try not to exacerbate any headache or neck tension...just not going to rush things, and so I am appreciating the progress as it happens, certainly.

BUT...frankly...I think the rest of my body must have hit the ground just as hard as my head, because I can't believe how stiff and sore my pelvis, upper back or hips are at times!! (What's with that?? UGH!!) Clearly, strong mid-western bones, good genes and dumb luck helped with my being able to absorb the fall, but I am quite ready to stop feeling like a delicate egg shell now! Enough with the silly aches and pains, you know? Again, just a matter of building up stamina, and certainly nothing to complain about, although I just did. (Ouch.) I clearly have a lot of self-improvement to work on, eh? Guess patience will have to become a strong suit, somehow...!

In any event, every day I feel more capable and strong and I'm excited by it. Just keeping in mind: the goal being progress, not perfection!! :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sorry for the interruption...

...I'd really like to say that in light of the devastating earthquake and resulting tragedy in Haiti, that the blog took a hiatus to reflect and send thoughts to the people there during its sorrow. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected. an untimely and unfortunate accident....the reality is that Karyn herself took a hiatus by inadvertently taking a tumble from a moving golf cart and knocking herself unconscious. Through Ron's utterly amazing Rescue-Ranger-coordination of land-, sea-, and air-ambulance, Karyn was evacuated to Doctor's Hospital in Nassau. (Karyn was rather bummed she had NO recollection of that King Air flight, but probably for the best, since the focus was and is on recovery...) The care of all the nurses, doctors and assorted medical staff was incredibly appreciated; everyone was so caring and focused during a very scary time. Currently, Equinox remains safely ensconced at Romora Bay Resort Marina....a fortunate thing that we took the slip for the month, after all!

It's been a long 8-10 days spent in Nassau, as Karyn's been in recovery from the basilar skull fracture, concussion, cerebral contusions and subdural hematoma suffered from the fall. Definitely NOT anything to chuckle about, even remotely, as Ron worked to get Karyn back to the States for continuing care. Ron received amazing help from his former colleagues and friends at The Brain and Spine Institute at LifeBridgeHealth in Baltimore, getting critical information from top neurologists and other specialists. So many folks were wonderfully willing and generous with their time, deciphering the CT and MRI scans and passing on medical information to ensure that travel wasn't a hazard. Ron got Karyn back to Florida on Thursday, and after a reassuringly complete and quality examination at Martin Memorial, she is resting quietly at the Jensen Beach condo.
An image of Karyn's skull from one of the numerous scans...this one shows the
swelling from impact, I think. Glad to see there's evidence that I'm not empty-headed after all.

While Karyn and Ron take a couple weeks in FL to recover, our thanks go out to everyone who gave us prayers and passing thoughts! Truly, there are NO words to express our gratitude to all who helped out, both in the Bahamas and Stateside, during this time. Life is incredibly precious; it only takes one small miscue, misstep, or mistake to reveal how fortunate we all are to have one another. Thank you all, everyone.

And so...the blog will continue, as Karyn's prognosis is good: with rest and recuperation, all systems should be go once again in a few weeks, and we will return to our travels aboard Equinox. But in the meantime: Ron is the hero!! :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A bit of history for you...

Today was paperwork day aboard, (bills, correspondence of all shapes and sizes, etc) so it wasn't exactly an exciting morning, but it was necessary. Unfortunately, it was also rather time-consuming. Thus, we thought we'd give you a bit of background on Harbour Island and its history (culled and distilled from various internet sources), which is way more interesting than our day today!

Harbour Island, called 'Briland' by its locals, is situated a mile off the coast of North Eleuthera Island and are accessible only by water taxi or private boat. About 3 miles long and maybe a half mile across, Harbour Island has a population of over 1,500 'Brilanders', mainly made up of farmers, fishermen, resort and service workers, all with their unique Bahamian accent and warm personality. Today, most inhabitants travel around by golf cart, the island being way too small to accomodate more than a few cars or trucks. Wild roosters stroll the downtown streets, and are an emblem of the island.

Harbour Island is famous for its three-mile-long pink sand beach and the colonial-style settlement of Dunmore Town, with its pretty pastel gingerbread houses and white picket fences. Many of the island's 1700-era houses date back to post-and-beam construction without the use of nails, and many have been painstakingly kept up or restored. It's a stunningly lovely town to walk about and enjoy.

As far as its official beginnings, Harbour Island was settled about 1650 when a band of privateers and ministers fleeing religious persecution in England and Bermuda established an independent government here. Captain William Sayle (a former governor of Bermuda) obtained a charter for the colony from Britain, and was one of its leaders. Autonomy was short-lived, for in 1717, Eleuthera and Harbour Island became part of The Colony of The Bahamas, under the British Crown.

After the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776, many of the English Loyalists (Tories) fled New York, Georgia and the Carolinas either to Florida (then English-owned), or to the Bahamas. The Treaty of Versailles in 1783 restored Florida to Spain, and a great number of the recently-transplanted Florida Loyalists then had to flee again, this time to the Bahamas to remain under the British flag. One of the first Loyalist settlements in the Bahamas to be established was on Harbour Island, when the former Governor of Virginia, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, having fled America, was asked to create a settlement for American Loyalist refugees. Lord Dunmore founded the town in 1791, and laid it out into 190 lots. By 1788, about 9,300 Tories had fled to the Bahamas and more would follow, but they all had experienced life in the U.S. (Interesting how much history we share, and never knew it!)

Harbour Island was a noted shipyard and sugar refinement center in the late 1800s, and the resourceful residents have also made their way in the world as skilled shipbuilders and farmers. The island itself has little fertile soil, but residents were given land to farm on the “mainland” (Eleuthera) in 1783, and much of that original grant is still being tilled by Brilanders today. Besides shipbuilding, farming of citrus, pineapples and tomatoes made Harbour Island fairly prosperous until World War I. The first regular tourist business, which provides the bulk of the island’s livelihood today, began in 1941 with weekly flights on BahamasAir’s predecessor, Bahamas Airways.

So, enough of the history lesson for today....we'll see what tomorrow brings!! Thanks for following the blog!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"So many roosters.... few recipes!!" So the saying goes here on Harbour Island, as they have quite a large population of wild roosters and hens here on the island. I can vouch for the fact that the roosters here are large, very vocal, and have NO sense of time whatsoever. These guys crow at dawn, at 10:00, at noon, all afternoon and during the night!! They're actually rather entertaining...they run free, strutting about everywhere, from the edges of the beachfront downtown, to the middle of the roads, to the wild areas of scrub up island. Trying to get close enough to one to get a decent photo is a challenge, but I managed a couple shots today as we biked about town. The stores even sell bumper stickers, that say "Take a rooster to Eleuthera!"

In the yards.... the streets...

...and in the driveways!

Today was bright and sunny, so Ron and I took a spin in Ting-um this morning, in a vain attempt to try to find the missing flybridge cushion that flew off at some point during the intense winds of the past couple of days....while we figured we wouldn't find it, it couldn't hurt to look, and we enjoyed exploring the shoreline of the harbor. It's a gorgeous place here, truly...we are enjoying it. After a light lunch at Sunsets, the beautiful bar and grill here at Romora Bay Resort, we took the bikes into town and meandered up and down the hills before stopping in at Captain Bob's to get some stone crab claws for dinner. The claws are as big as one's fist -- makes our Maryland Blue Crabs look puny in comparison!

I took a lot of photos today, of the colonial-era houses along the waterfront on Bay Street, to smaller details like the tiles decorating the exterior walls of some homes along King Street. It's so pretty here, in so many ways, large and small!

Tile from a house front on King Street

Monday, January 11, 2010

Off the boat, onto the bikes...

...for a bit, anyway. Ron and I were going a bit stir-crazy aboard, after the NFL-fest for ourselves yesterday, along with the incessant wind and waves rocking us constantly. As the skies started to clear, we took another hilly bike ride about Dunmore Town before a light lunch up at Sip Sip, a gorgeous bistro overlooking Pink Beach near the Coral Sands Hotel. We arrived as they were's a bright and beautiful place, perfect for sipping their delicious fresh tangerine mimosas while having lunch, beach-gazing!! Their pumpkin soup was warm and wonderful, the Caesar salad freshly made. Yum!! We will definitely be back to sample their conch chili, soon!

Fun colors and festive atmosphere

The view from our table at Sip Sip

Mid-afternoon, we had a visitor, a British gentlemen who had seen Equinox in the marina here, and was most intrigued with the boat. He and his family are visiting Eleuthera for just a couple weeks, and asked if we wouldn't mind showing him the boat, being interested in learning more about trawlers. He was delighted when we agreed. Turns out he and his wife are sailors, and have sailed around England, Europe, the Med and the Adriatic, but are thinking of moving to a trawler in the future. He was most interested in our Kadey-Krogen, and I believe rather impressed with all her space, layout and seaworthiness. I'm not sure he'd been aboard many trawlers before, but we love the Equinox, so certainly don't mind showing her off! He invited us to meet him and his wife tomorrow for cocktails at the Sunset Bar here at Romora Bay, and so we shall!

Our only other concern at the moment -- now that the winds have died off somewhat and we've rearranged the boat lines to our satisfaction, yet again -- is that Ron isn't feeling too well. Whether it's a bout of diverticulitis (sort of possible), a pulled abdominal muscle (rather doubtful) or the beginnings of appendicitis (totally remote and the worst-case scenario), we're not sure, but he's not a happy camper at the moment. He has no fever, and a bit of an appetite at the moment, so let's just hope it's just the last remnants of overindulgence at Gusty's and nothing more, and he'll feel better tomorrow!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Go Ravens!!

Not much else need be said!! Yes, indeed...there is Purple Pride in the Bahamas!! We spent a raw, blustery day aboard Equinox firmly ensconced in front of the salon television today, cheering on the Baltimore Ravens in their win over the New England Patriots in the first-round wildcard NFL playoff game. Totally over-rated by all the announcers and sports analysts, the Patriots were the heavy favorite. So, we were delighted with the way the Ravens played, right from the start!!

As far as local matters go though...we're really getting pounded about in this slip by these relentless northwest winds!! This whole side of the island is exposed to winds from this direction, and the slip we're in offers no protection either. In fact, we're about in the worst possible position, with the winds and waves hitting us on the aft starboard quarter. We've spiderwebbed the boat in as best as possible amongst the pilings available, but we're still rocking and rolling. Ron says he feels like we're underway, and he's right. After going to bed tonight (in Ally's cabin, in a vain attempt to escape the noise from the forward lines) the winds picked up to 30 knots sustained, with gusts to 35 kts; the creaking of the lines got so bad, we went out at 2 a.m. to add yet another pair of lines, trying to diffuse the load on the pilings. The stern line is taut as can be....I can't imagine the load on that. These winds can stop any time now!!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Another cold front... on its way through the Bahamas, bringing in cooler and cloudy weather. But least it's warmer than Florida, which is in the low 50s today and enduring pouring rain!! And poor Ron is feeling like he's got a cold front blasting through his head today, after the revelry at Gusty's last night, so he was moving a bit ...slowly... today! We managed to get a bike ride in at noon, and after touring the residential neighborhoods south of Dunmore Town, we headed north and wound up down on Bay Street with its numerous straw market booths, conch shacks and take-away food stands.

We'd heard from our new friends Kelly and Kim that Harryo's has very good food, but that the best conch salad on the island is at the Queen Conch. we went to sample the fare! We've had conch salad many times before, and when it's fresh, it is delicious!! The Queen Conch was an adorable little building, very pink and cute, with conch shells embedded in the walls by the chairs. We met the proprietress, LeVaughn, who chatted with us as she made the salad right in front of doesn't get any fresher than this!! She said her husband gathers the conchs every day; we noted their little "conch pen" in the shallow waters directly behind the shack, keeping the conch alive and well so that the conch is always fresh. She takes your orders ahead of time and each batch is made specifically to your stated preference of spiciness. The Queen did not disappoint, as it was delicious salad!

Levaughn, the proprietress, the Queen Conch!

Ron ready to sample the freshly made conch salad.
Note the conch shells decorating the front wall!

The little "conch pen"

In the afternoon, when the weather turned nasty with high winds and rain, we went down to The Island Spa, where we pampered ourselves a bit. I got a long overdue manicure and pedicure, while Ron got a full hour massage. The owner, Karen Catalyn, was Ron's masseuse, and he said she was one of the best he's ever experienced, which is saying something! My manicurist was a young lady from Grand Bahama, who was here helping out; she was lovely to chat with and it was interesting hearing her perspective on being on one of the smaller islands: "This is real 'island life' here, especially with the golf carts!"

It was a bit daunting getting off and on the boat; with the winds whipping out of the WNW, the boat is being pushed away from its finger pier quite a bit. Despite tightening the lines, there was a good 3' gap between the pier and the boat. It wasn't too hard to jump off, as the pier was a bit lower than boat, but climbing back up was more of a challenge! Now, we're bouncing about in the slip as the wind and waves are hitting the starboard quarter pretty nastily. Kind of amazing that the harbor here can kick up so much, but, we are exposed to the northwest here, that's for certain. Kind of glad we took the slip though, since I'd hate to be stressing about the anchor dragging in these winds!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Exploring the islands of Eleuthera

A glorious day in Eleuthera. We totally enjoyed our first day here...the sun was blazing, the winds were light, and it was warm!! We took the bikes to shore after finding a place to tie up; there isn’t an obvious public dinghy dock, so getting ashore was a bit of a challenge. We later found out that most folks use the government house dock, but the Eleuthera Express was in (the ship comes in on Fridays) so the dock was crowded and full with people awaiting deliveries. We ended up tying up over at the Romora Bay Club, a beautiful, upscale resort on the south edge of Dunmore Town. From its hillside, we took photos of Equinox at anchor, framed by the palms and flowering bushes of the resort. It’s a gorgeous place!

We biked all over Dunmore Town, up to the north end and then along its main streets, checking out the little cottages, businesses, inns and guest houses. After the flats of Abaco, Harbour Island is hilly!! It’s a bit reminiscent of Bermuda, with some of its’ architecture -- I later found out that Eleuthera was settled by some folks from Bermuda, so of course the homes would be similar. After locating the local grocery store, the Pigly Wigly (which cracked me up, having grown up with the Piggly Wiggly in Wisconsin), we also biked to the far east side of the island and checked out the beach.

The one in Wisconsin doesn't play the violin

Morning at Pink Beach

I can see why Harbour Island is so popular...its beach is absolutely stunning! The sand is a pale pink, and the waters a thousand shades of blue, from cobalt to aquamarine, from teal to turquoise...hard to describe adequately! After we explored on our bikes for an hour or so, we returned to the tender and decided to explore by water. We ran out “The Devil’s Backbone” -- a reef strewn passage along the north side of the islands that requires good light to see the reefs and rocks. Familiarity is a must before taking a deep draft vessel through there -- many boats hire a pilot to take them through it, but running it in the dinghy provided us firsthand knowledge ourselves. It’s definitely tricky, and a route you would only want to make in calm conditions! The route runs quite close to shore at points, so its a bit disconcerting, but the reefs are everywhere else!

The northernmost edge of Eleuthera Island,
as seen from the Devil's Backbone

Amazing shades of turquoise

Part of the fishing fleet at Spanish Wells

We ran the tender all the way over to Royal Island, across just beautifully clear water -- again, all the amazing shades of blue that just took your breath away. We went to Royal Island with the intent to say hello to Tim aboard Pearl, but when we hailed him, a friend told us he was out on the reef snorkeling and lobstering. Royal Island is a totally protected little anchorage; there once was an elegant estate there, built in the 1950s, but is in ruins now. Supposedly, there are plans for some sort of upscale resort, but at the moment, it doesn’t look like much is going on. On our return, we stopped at Spanish Wells, where we got a spare bulb for the tender’s starboard running light, which needed replacement. The folks at the Marine store were very helpful, so we were on our way shortly after that small repair. We didn’t explore much of Spanish Wells, but instead headed out to the reefs of the Devil’s Backbone to do some snorkeling and lobstering ourselves. The reefs are GORGEOUS here...just snorkeling we saw all sorts of reef life, from a small green turtle to indigo hamlets, parrotfish, fairy basslets and juvenile yellowtail damselfish. (One of my favorites...the irridescent spots are so bright and pretty!) It was stunning.

After a week of being on the hook, Ron and I decided to be a bit decadent and take a slip at Romora Bay for the month. While it's a bit decadent to do so, it's very convenient in a lot of ways, including the security of knowing the boat, tender and bikes are being cared for when we're not around. The resort is gorgeous, very high-end, so the amenities are lovely, which we're not adverse to either! We've already met a lot of fun folks, including a pair of friends from Hawk's Cay Resort in the Keys, one of whom is a Hobart alumnus. Small world, as usual! We ended having dinner together before we went out dancing (until the wee hours) at one of the local hot spots, Gusty's -- a fun, late-starting spot, perched on a cliff with a sand dance floor. It was filled with Brilanders and visitors alike, and everyone was having a good time!!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Passage to Eleuthera!

Ron had been watching the weather last night, and said that he thought Thursday might hold a small weather window for a passage to Eleuthera, if everything held true. AND...he woke me up this morning with the news that Pearl, a boat of one of our Annapolis friends, was already out the southern cut from Little Harbor at 06:30 and "conditions were as good as he's ever seen it" on the Atlantic from the Abacos. So....anchor up, tender in tow, everything stowed, and out we went through the North Bar cut. With another northerly gale on our heels, it was now or ...wait some more.

Pearl was right...conditions were as benign as we could have hoped for, especially since we were towing the tender, Ting'um. I, of course, had my moments of stress about towing the tender, to be honest...not having done it before, and knowing that conditions have to be great to tow it, it was a major concern for me. While the towing bridle is made for tenders pulled behind megayachts at speeds of 20 knots, I was still uneasy. (Why can't I be nonchalant and unabashedly brave??) As it turned out...I needn't have worried, since Ron was accurate in his assessment of the seas and the winds.

Actually, we barely even got spray, and had a momentary dolphin escort again, too. It's so nice to be proven wrong, as I really thought we were pinned in the Abacos for a while there! As is turned out, we pulled alongside Harbour Island, Eleuthera about 3:00 this afternoon. We lined up on the Harbour Mouth cut, then paused long enough to let me jump in the Ting'um so I could then run ahead do reconnaissance for Equinox as to where the shallows were. With the tide, there was plenty of water and we were on anchor south of Valentine's Resort and Marina by 4:30. Extremely fortunate!
Equinox coming in Habour Mouth Cut at Eleuthera

After setting anchor and letting folks know we had arrived safely, (called Ally, texted Jen) Ron and I took the tender over to Valentine's Resort and Marina for dinner and a well-deserved glass of wine. It was a beautiful sunset...we are delighted to be here in such a lovely anchorage.'s warmer here!! Unfortunately, I have the feeling that it's only for the moment, as another cold front is approaching...but as long as the anchor is set well and we're protected from the winds, all is good!!
View of the sunset over dinner

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Winds whipping across Marsh Harbour

Ok, We’re about done here with the weather. I’d normally say we’re “toast”....but NO, we’re more like frozen waffles at the moment!! Along with the rest of North America, the Bahamas are having a “weather event” as they like to say...with the continued record lows and brutal northerly winds, the Bahamas are shivering in their sandals. We’re not happy, cruisers!! The Cruisers’ Net (VHF 68) was joking about “ice floes” in the Atlantic passages here today when they gave the passage reports, but....then again, thankfully we’re not in Omaha, NE with -30 below wind chill temperatures. It’s all relative!! No more whining from me, if I can help it...

Thus, today was mellow. Ron washed down the tender (my hero!) but he actually considered wearing his wet suit to do it, since the temps were so cold and the winds so cutting. The reality of getting wet while washing a boat in these winds wasn’t pretty. (I think of my dreamily warm coats that are currently just sitting in the closet at the FL condo...yep, the same ones I wondered why I even brought south. Sorry PETA, it’s time to wear FUR!!) But, no aboard...neoprene will have to suffice!

To avoid going stir-crazy, we took the tender over to Boat Harbour Marina, hugging the lee shore as much as we could. We went for a bit of late lunch and a cocktail (looking for a hot toddy, really, but no hot cider found here) before walking over to Mangoe’s to observe the winds whipping the main part of Marsh Harbour. Looking at the boats pinned to the docks by the wind and the others strung out taut on the mooring lines there, I felt very kindly towards our remote anchorage at Snake Cay. Not much around us there, but ... we are well-protected! I totally sympathized with the pair of dogs forlornly howling below decks aboard one of the boats at Mangoes Marina...they heard the winds howling in the rigging of the sailboats, and followed suit! (It was actually kind of funny, to hear the wind, and then the dogs....) :)

And, so...yet another day aboard. We’re missing Ally terribly, but Karyn will be heading back next weekend for her Senior Presentation, so that is a much-anticipated time together. Perhaps by then the “arctic airmass” will be gone from the east coast??

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bigger winds today!

“It was a dark and stormy night...” Actually, we had an amazingly beautiful sunset last night, kind of reminiscent of Maine, with the silhouette of the sea pines along the shore here -- and the extremely chilly temperatures!! The night was windy as hell, but the clear, bitterly cold night air made the stars starkly crisp and intense as I checked (at least 3 times) the anchor alarm setting. We’re tucked in tight at our anchorage here at Snake Cay and the anchor is holding well, but the winds are howling so much that I can’t help but stress about it a bit. It’s funny how the sounds of the wind and every slight groan or twang of the anchor chain makes its way into your dreams! Thus, the incessant checking of the anchor rode. But no, we’re dug in deep and not moving, despite the high winds.

Could be the coast of Maine, with the temps we've been having...!

In the morning, despite my lack of sleep during the night, we were up early as we had an 8:30 appointment over at the Marsh Harbour Boat Yard. We needed to pull the tender out on a trailer so that we could do the 20-hour service on the Honda engines: a main engine oil & filter change and lower gear case oil change for both. After a cold and very bumpy ride to the Boat Yard, it was a treat to see that they were ready and awaiting us for our haul-out...probably because no one else was out in the high winds! As we worked on the oil changes, the wind was whistling and singing rather loudly in the rigging of the various sailboats blocked on the hard around, kind of glad that we were low to the ground, in that wind! And, felt even more grateful that we weren’t the owner of the Moorings charter catamaran that was getting hauled out while we were there....someone had clearly mistreated it as its keels were definitely the worse for wear; the starboard keel was missing a good-sized chunk! Ouch! But it was being cradled and blocked with care, and soon to be tended to -- this is a decent boat yard!

Marsh Harbour Boat Yard

We finished with all the oil changes about an hour and a half later: lots of preparation helped, having the right tools, parts, and, to prevent any mess, we’d brought lots of oil rags, absorber mats and containers for the used oil. Ron was on top of it, I have to admit!! With the wind, the rags and mats were essential, as the gusts would somehow fling thin strands of oil everywhere. UGH! Once back in the water, the engines ran beautifully as we bumped our way lumpily home to the Equinox. Whitecaps and 4’ waves in the Sea of Abaco...kind of hard to believe how rough it is!

Ron being Mr. Mechanical

We showered gratefully, then relaxed in the afternoon, reading, doing crosswords and listening to the roaring of the wind as we rocked in our anchorage... there’s no sitting in the sun today, even on the aft cockpit, as there’s no escaping the wind today.’s beautiful looking out the windows, and we love where we are, love the boat we’re on, and very appreciative of what we have. Freezing or not, we’re still “living the dream!” And...loving it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Big Winds and Pete's Pub!

It was a still and quiet night on anchor. Karyn awoke at midnight to check on the anchor, to make sure it wasn’t shifting or dragging...nope, the night was still as could be, with a misting rain quietly pattering on the foredeck. It’s moments like that, looking at the palm trees on the shore with the rain making diamonds out of the moonlight on the midnight water, which makes one truly aware of how unique the moment is. It’s a fraction of time never be repeated, experienced only by the one looking out at that moment, that precise second. It was pure magic, no other words describe it.

In the morning it was blustery and cloudy....with NOAA weather forecasting an increase in winds as yet another cold front is bearing down on the Bahamas. While we’re not in northern Minnesota (-37 degrees, I believe) I shouldn’t complain, but it’s still damn cold here with the north winds. We tried to take the tender around John Cash Point to Marsh Harbour, but we turned around once we saw how exposed and rough the Sea of Abaco was to the north. Who needs to get wet when you don’t need to??? So we returned to our anchorage at Snake Cay, which is so protected and lovely...on the back deck we are in the lee, in the sunshine, and enjoying it. Going elsewhere only proves rough it really is, and how lucky we are to be tucked in here! Winds are forecast to be NW 20-25 kts, with winds of 30 knots tonight. Brr!!

Of course, the winds didn’t prevent us from taking the tender south to Little Harbour, for lunch at Pete’s Pub. All very exciting, from the crashing waves at North Bar Cut to the narrow and thin entrance of Little Harbour, when we saw a little blue boat approaching we tried to figure out what the guy wanted, we slowed down, only to spot a tiny dog in the water!! The blue boat was clearly trying to rescue the dog, some white terrier type; it was swimming as hard as it could, but was being swept out by the outgoing current. Complicating matters, every time the little blue boat got close, the dog would change course and swim away from its rescuer. Ron slowed our boat, and pulled near the dog, which promptly swam away yet again. After some jockeying around of the boats(during which time Karyn was stripping off jackets and clothing, preparing to jump in the water to get the darn dog) our two boats lined up just right for the guy in the other boat to get close enough to be able to grab the swimming little demon. Folks on the shore were waving and yelling, all happy the dog was safe, and Karyn was happy that she didn’t have to get wet....would have been brutal in these cold north wind! Still, a happy ending for the little Toto dog.

Pete's Pub, as seen from the beach

Pete’s Pub was nearly silent, this being the Monday after New Year’s. All the tourists are gone, and only the locals (happy that their dog was safe) were there. As we walked to the bar, Karyn noticed yet another Miles Aweigh sticker....they’re like little bread crumbs here in the Abacos!! We’re following their trail, how fun is that??

Another bread crumb....

Soon we will blazing our own path, but in the meantime, we keep cracking up every time we find one of their stickers. We had a delicious lunch (Karyn had grilled Queen Triggerfish -- something she’d never had before, but was a delicious mild white fish -- while Ron had a well-done Angus beef burger with bleu cheese). The only downside was that the famous Johnston gallery was clearly closed -- the padlock on the door announce that -- so we will have to return another time to peruse and appreciate the bronze sculptures and other artwork within.

In the meantime, we are hunkering down in our cozy anchorage and appreciating the warmth of the sunshine -- when it actually hits the back deck, where we are in the lee from the winds!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New anchorage...

After some discussion, indecision and lethargy on our part, we hung out at Boat Harbour Marina for one more day. The winds weren’t as bad as the Cruisers’ Net made them out to be, although it was cold and gray most of the afternoon on Saturday. We had a quiet night aboard: we enjoyed a fabulous dinner with Ron’s delicious oven-baked-and-then-grilled baby back ribs, with salad and corn on the cob (quite the find here in the Abacos!), followed by a viewing of Star Trek. Totally relaxed, and enjoyable.

This morning Ron broke down the girls’ scuba gear, rinsed and hung up the BCs to dry before stowing the other dry items. Then, we took a long bike ride into town and down the main highway out of Marsh Harbour towards the airport...pretty quiet again, as it was Sunday, and most folks were in church. On the return, we made one last stop at the Price Right for red and green peppers (after a vain attempt to find the other grocery store in town -- Maxwell’s -- which we determined must have closed, as there was only a sign for it and nothing else). We’re now well-stocked in the pantry aboard the Equinox!

Once we got back to the boat, the winds were so light and the seas so calm, that we decided to head to an anchorage farther south. We could have stayed at the marina, but the transient rates at Boat Harbour are rather steep (unless you are staying 90 days or more) so it didn’t make sense to be running the meter when we weren’t really using the facilities, now that the girls are gone. So, Karyn helped Ron cast off the lines of Equinox, then stepped off the boat and followed in the tender. She ran out to our present anchorage, checked out the depths and the bottom (mostly sand and grass) and waited for Ron to catch up. We’re now 4 miles south of Boat Harbour, tucked into the lee of Great Abaco, on anchor along a quiet, undeveloped shoreline just north of Snake Cay. No one else is here, so we have the anchorage all to ourselves. Rather nice!!

We watched the Miami-Steelers game on the satellite TV -- acquainting ourselves with our new “home” team -- although we were really waiting for the Ravens game to come on at 4:00. The Dolphins lost....but...with the Ravens winning, we are in the playoffs!!! (Too bad for Pittsburgh... but, not really....They get what they deserve, to quote ESPN: "a rare place in history as the incumbent Superbowl champions who were unable to even make the playoffs the following year." Couldn’t happen to a nicer team!)

So, under the waning gibbous moon, and the winds light and variable, the boat is lying peacefully at anchor. It’s a great start to 2010! We’re living the dream!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winds are here, girls are gone...


TODAY...Cool, dry and windy conditions this morning in Marsh Harbour. Forecast today is calling for... NW@17-20K, / Atlantic seas 9-14ft in N swells on the east side of Abaco in NW swells, 4-6ft on the west side / mix of sun and clouds through the day / high temp today 68F, low 50F . MH TIDES: Low@238am (-.6 ) / High@907am (+3.1) /Low@325pm (-0.6) / High @932pm (+2.6ft) / Under a Waning Gibbous Moon 96% illuminated.

According to Barometer Bob -- the Abaco's weather guide, we're in for some chilly NW winds all week, mostly in the 15-20 knot range, as reinforcing cold fronts make their way across Florida. If it's freezing in Florida, it isn't much warmer here!! SO, while not terrible weather by any means, it's a bit of a bummer since we aren't diving any time soon with the Atlantic seas being what they are. Even on the Sea of Abaco, waves are kicking up a bit, so few boats are venturing out. But the hardest part is the cool temps!!

But weather aside, we had to say goodbye to Ally and Kayleigh this morning. We've had SUCH a nice time together these past two weeks....I can't even begin to express how quiet and empty the boat feels without them aboard! We popped them into a cab early this morning for the 7:35am BahamasAir flight out of Marsh Harbour; unfortunately their routing wasn't the best, since we could only get tickets via Nassau, then Charlotte, before they arrive in Baltimore this evening. I'm sure that they will enjoy being back with Kayleigh's family, their friends and the routine of school, but we were all a bit melancholy this morning as they left. Kayleigh was a lovely guest aboard, helpful and easy-going, and it was a great visit. She and Ally really got along well and it was fun having them with us. We miss them both!!

Ron and I made another grocery run on the bikes this morning after the girls left; we stocked up on some of the heavier items this time like laundry detergent and assorted juices. We figure that while we are here and able to get the items easily, it's best to do so! After sorting and putting all the things away, we did other boat chores, from laundry to scrubbing the heads. Again, all in a day's work....yes, we're "living the dream", but in order to live, you need clean clothes and a clean living space! Same as on land -- those chores never disappear! But perhaps with the girls gone, the amount of laundry will diminish a bit?