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Back to the USA

May 30, 2014

Squalls and lightening remained around us, but not over us, throughout the night. We were convinced the correct decision was made to seek the marina’s refuge for the night.

Rarely do we set an alarm, but for our return trip to the U.S. we awakened to a pleasant tune from our cell phone. By 6:10 AM we were motoring out of Old Bahama Bay Marina, leaving a “red” sunrise in our wake. The forecast indicated there was a chance of rain and thunderstorms. Towering clouds billowed on the northern horizon, also indicating the possibility of rain. Time would tell.

"Red sky at morning..." Leaving Old Bahama Bay Marina at 6:10 AM

“Red sky at morning…”
Leaving Old Bahama Bay Marina at 6:10 AM

Towering clouds on the horizon

Towering clouds on the horizon

The wind remained SE at 7-10 MPH for the first 3-4 hours of our crossing. The swells and light chop made for a slightly bumpy ride, but not bad. During the rest of the 10 hour trip, the wind speed dropped to four. The seas calmed down and we just had rolling from the swells. All in all, it was a good trip. No rain or thunderstorms made it a great trip. We saw storms here and there on the horizon, but thankfully, we got none.




Bradley's Restaurant, across the street from the waterfront

Bradley’s Restaurant in West Palm Beach, FL, across the street from the waterfront

When we arrived safely back to West Palm Beach, we called to get our phone service reconnected and then called the Customs Office to get registered back in the U.S. We felt satisfied that we made the trip there and back uneventfully all by ourselves. To celebrate we went to Bradley’s Restaurant, near the waterfront, for a nice dinner. We felt the American flag welcomed us home as it fluttered on it’s pole at Bradley’s, and the live music with the island rhythm reminded us of what a small assimilated world this part of the world really is.

Though we left the islands of the Bahamas behind us, the memories of all the great times we had there and the new friends that we made will always be with us. Until we’re too old and can’t remember squat!

Sailing Naked


Why not??? It was hot! We were out on the Little Bahama Bank, with no other boats around. I figured even if a boat came within five miles of us, they probably wouldn’t be able to see the stretch marks on my hips, even if they used binoculars. This old wrinkled body would probably look pretty good from that distance. Gary wouldn’t take his clothes off. But then again, he doesn’t have the HOT bod that I have (literally).

The wind was from the SSE, 10 – 13 nautical mph. During the first half of our journey to West End, Gary motor-sailed an easy 5 – 5.3 SOG (speed over ground). The fair wind and following seas provided a smooth ride (that is why the phrase, “…fair winds and following seas…” is included in the sailor’s prayer).


In the salt life world of sailors, power boaters, and fishermen, a commonly heard poem is:
“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.
Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.”

Sunrise at Great Sale Cay

Sunrise at Great Sale Cay

Every sailor knows this is not always true. Meteorology is much more complicated than that. However, while enjoying the beautiful red sky as the sun had risen this day, the aforementioned poem came to my mind and I wondered if it would hold true.

Storm on the horizon

Around 10:00 AM, while motor-sailing toward Mangrove Cay, Gary noticed storm clouds and rain, once again, to the west of us. Not knowing if the ominous clouds would bring the storm our way, the captain watched them, and Sirius, until the threat dissipated. I, in the meantime, brought out life jackets, and our ditch-bag…just in case. We needed to get the items out for our Gulf Stream crossing anyway. Now the only other preparation would be for Gary to attach jack lines, running from bow to stern, in case he would need to attach himself to them to go to the bow, for some reason, during our crossing. We have these things as precautionary items, with the hope of never needing to use them.

The rain stayed everywhere but over us until we started to go over the shallow bank to get to West End. Though there was lightening and thunder in the distance, we just got rain, until we anchored in the anchorage outside the marina. We anchored in shallow water and dropped the anchor in what appeared to be sand, which is good holding ground. However, the anchor skipped a few times, but fortunately settled in and held tight. We no more than got anchored when the wind picked up and we saw 30 MPH on our wind meter. We started the motor and got everything ready in case the anchor started dragging. It held tight during the short squall. We knew we would not get a good night’s sleep, worrying about another squall coming upon us during the night, so we called Old Bahama Bay Marina on the VHF radio and made arrangements to stay one night.

Safely in a boat slip, Gary went to the office to check us in and pay for the boat slip and 5 gallons of fuel he had put in a jerry jug. After a short rest and a cool drink, we went to the swimming pool and swam a few laps before going to the shower house. We had dinner on the boat. I prepared for grilling: grouper fillets (purchased in Green Turtle Cay), Mac ‘n Cheese (from Sea Spray Marina and Restaurant), and broccoli. Gary tended to the grilling, and as usual did a great job. Team work. We are so blessed in that we work well together and play well together, and we got to play a lot during our 35 days in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas.

At Old Bahama Bay Marina

At Old Bahama Bay Marina

The Center of the World

May 28, 2014

And we have a picture of the rock there to prove it, The Center of the World Rock. I think the person who named the rock must have had a really good sense of humor to have thought of that name.

Center of the World Rock What a hoot!

Center of the World Rock
What a hoot!

Early in the morning, while the wind was calm, we motored the short distance across the Sea of Abaco, to go to Coopers Town. This time the tide was high and we had no difficulty reaching the ladder to the public dock. At the public dock we met a young local man who was sitting on the bench of the dock when we came up to it, and he promptly came over and took our dinghy painter (the rope attached to the dinghy, used to tow it or tie to a dock), and held it for us while we climbed the ladder. Michael was beginning his day off work by sitting on the dock in the quiet of the morning. He was a delightful gentleman who lived at Coopers Town but worked on Greater Guana Cay. He told us he had to take the ferry to work everyday. We’ve found in talking to other local people, this is a common thing to do in the islands. A lot of people travel via ferry from different islands to go to work at businesses where tourists frequent- restaurants, resorts, marinas, etc. Some of the children we talked to also take the ferry everyday to go to school.

We found out, in talking to Michael, there is no longer a museum in Coopers Town. We had wanted to go to the museum, so we had asked him about it. Thus, our time in Coopers Town was short live.

When we got back to White Swan, Gary pulled up the Sirius radio to check the Gulf Stream weather. It is a good thing he did. He found out the wind was going to be from the East and Southeast, and light, for three days, and then turn and have a Northern component to the direction. We don’t like the wind to be from any northerly direction when we cross the Gulf Stream because opposing wind going south hitting the Gulf Stream, which flows north, makes for a rough crossing. So, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and boogie on up the Sea of Abaco and get into position to cross the Stream before the wind clocks to the north, not knowing when the next opportunity to make a crossing might present itself.

Sailing past a Fish Mud (lighter water), where hundreds of bonefish stir up the sand on the bottom.

Sailing past a Fish Mud (lighter water), where hundreds of bonefish stir up the sand on the bottom.

Gary really wanted to sail, since our time to sail in the Bahamas was quickly coming to an end. He put both sails up soon after we left Coopers Town, but the wind lessened, and he had to drop them and start the motor. A few hours later, the wind picked up enough for him to put the sails back up. We got to sail most of the afternoon. Around 3:00 PM, I was at the helm, while Gary took a short break, when I saw a strike of lightening and dark clouds off to the west of us. Gary promptly went on deck and dropped the sails, just in case the storm were to come our way. Fortunately, it did not, and we safely got to our anchorage at Great Sale Cay around 6:30 PM. It took us about a half an hour to find a place to anchor for the night. The anchor kept skipping on the bottom. The first two spots where we tried to drop anchor must have had marl for the bottom. At the third spot, we finally had success in getting the anchor to hold.

At 10:00 PM that evening, I saw lightening off to the west again, as I was reading in the salon. Gary had already gone to bed, tired from a very long day of piloting White Swan many miles up the Sea of Abaco.

May 29, 2014 AM

What a bouncy ride we had during the night at Great Sale Cay! The wind shifted more to the south when the storm passed to the west of us, positioning White Swan more vulnerably into agitated water. Gary can sleep through anything, but not I. By 6:00 AM, we were both wide awake. I went to the cockpit to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise and listened to the songbirds on the small uninhabited island while Gary made our morning lattes. He soon joined me in a brief quiet time before we started the motor and left the anchorage behind us.

Green Turtle Cay to Powell Cay

Big Purple Fan and other Soft Corals

Beautiful Big Purple Fan and other Soft Corals at reef, oceanside Manjack Cay

May 27, 2014

By dinner time Captain Gary said he was worn out. Rarely, have I heard those words come out of his mouth. However, he said it was a good fatigue, because it was such a good day:

We wanted to go to the reef on the ocean side of Manjack Cay to snorkel. It would be our last opportunity to snorkel in the Abacos. Manjack, pronounced Munjack or Nanjack by the locals, was only about four miles north of Green Turtle. We left Donny’s mooring field before breakfast, anchored at Manjack, and was on the reef around 9:30 AM. Gary said he enjoyed the first 20 minutes, of the one hour snorkel, better than any of the other times we had on the reefs in the Abacos. During those first 20 minutes, or so, we were at a great reef, with lots of live coral and many fishes, and it had a deep ridge going down to the ocean’s floor, maybe 30 feet deep. That is why Gary really liked it. That reef would have been a good one to scuba because it had life on it all the way to the bottom.

The water was more silty than previous times on the other reefs, so we did not get good pictures. However, we could have spent hours out there, but we were both tired of pulling the dinghy with us and trying to find more good reefs. To give you an idea of what it was like trying to find reefs in silty water, I’ll give you a description: after you come to the end of one reef, you swim toward where you think there should be another one after taking your head up out of the water and looking at the surface of the water around you for darker colored water. Then you snorkel in that direction and you either see a towering dark shadow in front of you, which you find to be a reef when you get close enough to actually see it clearly, or, that darker water ends up just being a grassy bottom, or, it could turn out to be nothing but sand because there was a dark cloud overhead when you checked out the color of the water around you and it made the water just look dark. If it were a reef, then it is either a healthy reef with a lot of live coral and numerous fishes, or it could be a dead reef with nothing to see. This is what we call exploring the reefs. When we find good ones, we document the location on our navigational chart so we can find them easier the next visit.

After leaving the marvelous reefs, we dinghied past Crab Cay on our way to the boat, and saw wild pigs at the shore. We had to get pictures of them:

Two wild pigs came out to greet us, surely expecting us to feed them.

Two wild pigs came out to greet us, surely expecting us to feed them.

Hey people, where 's my food?

Hey people, where ‘s my food?

Dang! No grub from them! *#!!_*+!#*!!!

Dang! No grub from them!

After we returned to White Swan, I went aboard to get a piece of paper I had written a couple’s name and phone number on who had tried to make contact with a couple who lives on Manjack last year via our website and us. Unfortunately, I had not read their request they had posted in the comments section of our website until we had left the Bahamas. They wanted us to give their info to their friends, Leslie and Bill, because they had lost Leslie and Bill’s contact information. Fortuitously, Leslie and Bill were home and we gave them their friends’ phone number. They seemed grateful that we relayed the info. That’s just the kind of thing the boating community does for each other.

Thatch umbrella at Bill and Leslie's cool!

Thatch umbrella at Bill and Leslie’s beach…so cool!

During the short time we visited Leslie and Bill, whom we had previously met another time while we were in the Abacos, we actually learned some interesting facts from them. Bill told us no-see-ums are attracted to black clothing. I was wearing a black swimsuit. No-see-ums usually come out at dusk, but before Gary and I left their island, the little buggers were attacking me. I believe Bill knew what he was talking about.

Also, Leslie and Bill have a breadfruit tree in their yard and she told us they prepare them like one would prepare potatoes. She said the immature breadfruit would make you sick if you ate it, and she showed us what a mature one looked like.


Leslie with ripe breadfruit in right hand, and fresh egg from the hen house in left hand

Leslie with ripe breadfruit in right hand, and fresh egg from the hen house in left hand


Leslie and Bill’s Breadfruit Tree provides a fruit, to be prepared like a potato.






I also learned a lot about chicks and hens since Leslie had a hen incubating eggs in a big plastic tub in their indoor shower. Five chicks had already hatched. Gary already knew everything she told us because he grew up on a farm and gathered eggs everyday from the time he was 12 years old until he went to college, but I found it all to be very interesting.

Leslie's hen,chicks, and two eggs still to hatch, kept under her care in a bin in her shower.

Leslie’s hen,chicks, and two eggs still to hatch, kept under her care in a bin in her shower.

Traveling further north up the chain of islands, we sailed up to Coopers Town, on Great Abaco Island. The 15 nautical MPR winds made for a great sail, but it made the windward side of the Sea of Abaco too rough to manage getting into the dinghy to go into Coopers Town. The biggest deterrent was the low tide making the bottom rung of the ladders on the town dock too high to step up onto from the dinghy. Note to self: Don’t go to Coopers Town during a low tide. To reach the ladders, we need a high tide.

Our night’s anchorage was just across the Sea of Abaco from Coopers Town. We anchored in the lee of Powell Cay, protecting us from the wind and the rough sea. Soon after anchoring we went to shore to walk the long beach and look for shells. Gary found a pretty milk conch shell, which we kept, and another beautiful conch shell, of which we don’t know the name, but it had a live conch in it, so we didn’t keep it. I had never seen this genre of conch before we saw their shells displayed at Pete Johnston’s Gallery. I asked the lady who worked at the gallery about them and she said they were from the Abacos. Gary said he had found one last year when we were in the Abacos, but it too had a live conch in it. I don’t want the beautiful creatures to die, but if we ever find one of their empty shells, I’ll be thrilled to keep it.

We also found three baby sea-biscuits that were no bigger than a nickel. The first two I found, and they soon broke, they were so fragile. Gary found the third one and I asked him to hold it since I’d already broke two of them. Low and behold he got it back to the boat in one piece. We’ll see if it makes the trip home without crumbling like it’s counterparts.

Gary cleaned some more on the bottom of the boat. I started dinner preparations and before we knew it, another fully wonderful day had slipped by into the evening’s sunset.


Back to Green Turtle Cay

May 26, 2014

We skipped the “most important meal of the day”, but with lattes in hand, we motored out of the beautiful Fisher’s Bay of Great Guana Cay. We wanted to go through the Whale Cay Passage while the wind was light. This particular passage, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Sea of Abaco, is always of great concern to cruisers who want to go from the upper Abaco Islands to the lower islands, or vice versa. The water can get quite rough, and sometimes dangerously impossible to navigate when the weather conditions are adverse. All the literature warns all boaters, “Do not go through the Whale Cay Passage during a rage.” (…during high winds with an opposing strong current, which makes huge waves and a choppy, confused sea – like water in a washing machine). So, cruisers take advantage of calm seas to go through the Whale Cay shallow draft passage down the Sea of Abaco (which we took when we went south from Green Turtle Cay to the lower Abacos), or the deep water passage at Whale Cay which goes out into the ocean (which we took to go back north to Green Turtle Cay).

While in the lower Abacos, we listened to the Cruisers’ Net every morning at 8:15 on the VHF radio, channel 68. The C.N. gives weather reports, and sea-to-ocean passage conditions, as well as promote VHF message handling, answer queries from cruisers, allow restaurants and dive shops to advertise, and, they encourage new arrivals to the Abacos and boaters departing the Abacos to give an announcement. It is a very useful service, provided solely by volunteers who do a fabulous job. This explanation of what the Cruisers’ Net is was written to preface what will be written next:

Every morning we heard from the Cruisers’ Net about a large barge being used to put the remains of a ship wreck on it, while a large crane on another barge retrieved huge pieces of the wreck from the bottom of the ocean. (Apparently, this wreck was interfering with the navigation of large ships using the channel.) These two barges were anchored in the deep channel of the Whale Cay passage, with 3 large red buoys indicating where their anchors were dropped. They announced repeatedly their presence, and asked all boaters to navigate slowly outside the perimeter of their anchor lines indicated by their buoys. We got to see these barges when we went through the deep channel of the Whale Cay Passage. From what we saw, it must have been a huge ship that had wrecked at this spot. Gary loves to scuba dive at wrecks, but I get a sense of melancholy thinking about the turmoil, peril, and possible loss of lives. I’d much rather scuba, or snorkel, at live coral reefs and see lots of pretty fish, but NO sharks, thank you very much.

Barge at Whale Cay Channel with remains of ship wreck

Barge at Whale Cay Channel with remains of ship wreck

Barge at Whale Cay Channel with crane used to bring up pieces of ship wreck

Barge at Whale Cay Channel with crane used to bring up pieces of ship wreck

My brave white fisherman trolled, once again, through the passage. Again, no “Fish on!” I think if he ever does catch a big fish, we are going to have to have the blasted thing mounted as a trophy rather than see it prepared for dinner and on a platter.

Once we successfully navigated through Whale Cay Passage, Gary decided to do what he does best – sail. Using our screecher (a sail for light wind) and the mainsail, we sailed on in to New Plymouth Harbour at Green Turtle Cay and dropped the hook (anchor, not fishhook) in the anchorage. Gary called our friend, Donny, on the VHF radio, to see if he still wanted to have the aforementioned dinner with us when we came back to Green Turtle Cay. If that plan didn’t work out, we were going to go on further north before anchoring for the night. Fortunately, Donny was available. We took the dinghy to the public dock at New Plymouth and then walked to the Wrecking Tree one last time, this trip, so I could have cracked conch and Gary could have a conch salad (diced fresh conch marinated in lemon and lime juices, tossed with diced tomatoes, onion, and green peppers). He loves it. I don’t eat it. I don’t like the chewy texture of the conch. It reminds me of chewy calamari, which is unpleasant, in my opinion. ( The best calamari ever, it’s ALWAYS TENDER, is at Kona Jack’s, across the street from our old office on Meridian Street in Indianapolis, IN… in my opinion).

We walked around the settlement so I could get pictures for this blog. We occasionally stopped to visit one of the little shops, enjoying their air conditioning mostly, but also making a small purchase here and there. Though extremely hot that day, we enjoyed the leisurely tour of the small community.

A small village

A small village

New Plymouth Settlement on  Green Turtle Cay

New Plymouth Settlement on
Green Turtle Cay

Outdoor dining

Outdoor dining

The Customs Office

The Customs Office

The Museum

The Museum

One of the local grocery stores

One of the local grocery stores

An old abandoned church - 2 newer ones serve the community

An old abandoned church – 2 newer ones serve the community

The Wrecking Tree Restaurant-  Serves the best cracked conch in the Abacos (in our opinion)

The Wrecking Tree Restaurant-
Serves the best cracked conch in the Abacos
(in our opinion)

McIntosh Restaurant and Bakery has the best homemade baked goods (in our opinion)

McIntosh Restaurant and Bakery
has the best homemade baked goods
(in our opinion)

Memorial Sculpture Garden

Memorial Sculpture Garden

Next we motored into Black Sound, mooring White Swan at Donny’s Dock and Moorings. Gary changed the oil in White Swan’s engine while I posted seven previously written blogs, using Donny’s internet. That evening we went up to Donny’s house for dinner. We’d forgotten what a marvelous view he has of Black Sound’s harbor, from his house on the hilltop. Gary and Donny rode on a golf cart into the settlement to pick up our carry-out meals from Shorty’s. I stayed at the house and watched TV. We don’t have a TV on the boat, so it was a treat to get to watch the U.S. news. (I always make a big deal out of not having a TV on White Swan just to tease Gary. He won’t allow one on the boat. See, girl friends, I don’t always get my way!)

Donny's new T-dock

Donny’s new T-dock

We sat on Donny’s screened in wrap-around porch and ate our meals, catching up on what’s happening in our lives, the lives of mutual acquaintances in the boating world, and the local scuttlebutt. It was a blessed evening, ending all too soon.

Hard to say goodbye to our friend Donny

Hard to say goodbye
to our friend Donny

Gary on Donny's porch with White Swan moored in Black Sound in the background

Gary on Donny’s porch with White Swan moored in Black Sound in the background


Back to Fowl Cay and then on to Grabbers

Picture taken at Man-O-War Cay for friends, Susan and George, where they wanted to renew their wedding vows for their 10th anniversary. Unfortunately, they were unable to make the trip. Here's to many more happy anniversaries, Susan and George

Picture taken at Man-O-War Cay for friends, Susan and George, where they wanted to renew their wedding vows for their 10th anniversary. Unfortunately, they were unable to make the trip. Here’s to many more happy anniversaries, Susan and George.

May 25, 2014

It was to have been another miserably hot day. We discussed two options: 1. Go to Marsh Harbour and suffer through a walk to the grocery store, or 2. Go to Fowl Cay Preserve and spend the hottest part of the day snorkeling. No contest!

Gary also wanted to take advantage of the almost windless day, making the ocean as flat as pancake, to troll for fish on the ocean side of Man-O-War Cay. We slowly motored (like we could go fast motoring a sailboat), the length and back of Man-O-War Cay. He REALLY wanted to catch a good sized fish. Unfortunately, he never had to yell, “Fish on!” and I don’t know which of us was more disappointed. I wanted him to catch one because I knew he would have been SO excited.

With no fish willing to be our dinner, Gary reeled in his fishing line and we motored into the Fowl Cay Preserve. ( I bet you thought I wouldn’t get back in the water again after seeing the bull shark yesterday. My love of seeing God’s amazing world under the sea far outweighs my fear of sharks.)

We found an awesome reef with a lot of live coral and numerous fishes. We did not visit this reef the other two times we were at Fowl Cay as Fowl Cay Preserve has a lot of territory to explore. We were thrilled to get to see another nice-sized leopard ray and also a turtle. No shark sightings today. I know they were out there, but as long as I didn’t see them I could deal with my anxiety. Taking underwater pictures of the beautiful things we see helps keep my mind from being overcome with the worst that could happen.

Angel Fish at Fowl Cay reef

Angel Fish at Fowl Cay reef


Rainbow Parrot Fish smiling for his picture

Rainbow Parrot Fish
smiling for his picture

Top of the reef at High Tide, at Low Tide the reef is right at the surface of the water.

Top of the reef at High Tide, at Low Tide the reef is right at the surface of the water.


A big beautiful Purple Fan hanging on the ledge of the reef

A big beautiful Purple Fan hanging on the ledge of the reef


This was Gary's favorite reef with a ledge around it falling into water 20-30 feet deep.

This was Gary’s favorite reef with a ledge around it falling into water 20-30 feet deep.


This guy loved smiling for his picture also.

This guy loved smiling for his picture also.

Beautiful Blue Tang

We spent approximately four hours on the reefs, taking a short break to eat lunch, and then we immediately got right back in the water. (Remember when our mothers told us we had to wait at least a half hour after we ate, to swim, or we’d get cramps? Not true. But if you have Acid Reflux, you might end up feeding the fishes.)

What a great time we had. And the day wasn’t over…

After leaving the coral and fish preserve, we motored up to Fishers Bay on Great Guana Cay. One of the restaurants, Nippers, on G.G.C., has a huge hog roast every Sunday. We’d been to Nippers twice, so we were not interested in going again this year. Instead, we wanted to go to Grabbers, which is a restaurant right at the shore in Fishers Bay. The anchorage was packed with boats, we assumed from the Nippers crowd. However, the hog roast would have been over by the time we got to Fishers Bay. We anchored White Swan in the shallow water, nearer to shore than the other boats, and when we saw Grabbers we decided everyone who had previously gone to Nippers had to have ended up at Grabbers. To say the place was packed would be an understatement. A party was goin’ on! And we joined them.

Click on link to see video: trim.BDCCA126-4739-4E21-9428-A0379696A155


Grabbers in Fishers Bay on Great Guana Cay

Grabbers in Fishers Bay on
Great Guana Cay


In spite of the chaos, we were able to secure a table, and a waiter. We ordered a Hawaiian pizza, a lobster crostini, and two diet cokes. There was a live band, a crowd of young people gyrating to the beat of the Bahamian music, a swimming pool of on-lookers, as well as diners (like us and other old people), young people playing various games at the beach, a conch salad booth/bar, the busy Grabbers house bar, and a few servers doing what they could to take care of the food orders. Everyone seemed to be in party mode and “people watching” was good entertainment. Interestingly, Gary and I both observed the demographics were young adults and old adults, no middle-agers. Our guess was, the old adults were mostly the cruisers from the sailboats in the harbor. We had seen a few power boats filled with young adults go by us when we were coming into the anchorage, so we figured a lot of the younger generation at Grabbers would be occupying the majority of the power boats dotting the anchorage after they left the island party, but maybe not. It would have been better for all concerned if the partied out young adults had been staying somewhere on the island within walking distance.

Swimming pool, dining, games, and entertainment at Grabbers

Swimming pool, dining, games, and entertainment at Grabbers

Entertainers at Grabbers

Entertainers at Grabbers

We had a good time at Grabbers. It would not be our kind of place to visit every night of the week, but for a change, it was good. Leaving the party behind, we old folks relished going back to the solitude of our White Swan. With the fan on in our master berth, we heard nothing from the shore, and we had a restful night after experiencing an awesome day.

Sunset at Fishers Bay, Great Guana Cay

Sunset at Fishers Bay,
Great Guana Cay




May 24, 2014

God knew I had been working on my fear of sharks this trip. I had pushed myself to do things in the water that I’d never done before, like free-diving (sharks are attracted to the sound of thrashing water, and boy do I thrash when I try to free-dive), and letting Gary tow me from the dinghy like a big lure on his fishing rod (the larger the lure, the larger the fish). I’d silently told myself, “If I do see a shark, I’ll just calmly swim the other way. He’s not interested in us. He is just curious and will go away.”, trying to emulate a self-fulfilled prophecy.

Today, was the BIG day for my prophecy to come to fruition. We had motored up to the north end of Man-O-War and anchored in a designated anchorage. The day was miserably hot and a lot of people were enjoying swimming and playing in the sandy bottomed water near the beach.

Gary and I wanted to cool off in the water as well, but first we took the dinghy into the small village to go to the sailmaker’s store, Albury’s Sail Shop. We both needed new shower bags for our toiletries and we purchased nice ones from the local ladies that make all kinds of bags right in the sailmaker’s shop. Next we went to the freshly stocked grocery store (Saturday is the best day to shop at this store because their supplies come in on Thursday and Friday), and were please to find fresh fruits, vegetables, locally caught grouper and mahi mahi, and small cans of pigeon peas (just the right size for two people). Still curious about this non-U.S. commodity, Gary asked the storekeeper where pigeon peas were grown. She said they were grown on New Providence Island and canned in Nassau.

Albury's Sail Shop, Waterfront

Albury’s Sail Shop,

Albury's Sail Shop, Street entrance

Albury’s Sail Shop,
Street entrance

Grocery store at Man-O-War Cay

Grocery store at
Man-O-War Cay

After our marvelous groceries (such a luxury to have purchased nice fresh fruits) were put away, we snorkeled in the anchorage. We didn’t particularly want to go to the swimming area at the beach because there was still a crowd there. So we snorkeled the grassy area around and near our boat. I tried to free-dive down to take pictures of starfish, and to pick up sea biscuits, but I didn’t have the weight belt on so all I accomplished was a lot of thrashing, and amusement for Gary.

Gary free-diving for sea biscuits

Gary free-diving for sea biscuits

Got it!

Got it!

Gary easily dove to the bottom to do what I couldn’t. After a while I wasn’t content watching him have all the fun of free-diving, so I swam back to the boat and put on the weight belt. I swam to where Gary was and right as I got to him I saw IT! Gary was looking down at the bottom and didn’t realize there was a shark, bigger than he, a short distance past him. I didn’t want to panic everyone in the area, by yelling, “Shark!”. It obviously had already swum right by both of us and was headed out of the anchorage. So…I yelled out, “Gary!” When he looked up and saw me, I waved toward the boat, turned and flipped my big long legs as fast as they would go, back to the boat. Gary had no idea what was going on but he was smart enough to follow me. When we were both safely back near White Swan, and I had looked all around us through my snorkel mask to make sure we had not been followed, I told Gary what I saw. Of course, I could not honestly say how big the shark was, but I know it was bigger than Gary because they were close enough to each other that I could easily see the difference of size between the two. I was so thankful the shark, obviously, was not interested in us. Had he been, we would have been no match for the big guy. Later, Gary made the comment, “You didn’t have to swim that fast. You just had to swim faster than me.”

So…did I panic or remain calm as I had practiced in my mind, anticipating such an encounter? I would report the latter. However, Gary said my fins thrashing in the water as I hurriedly swam back to the boat, indicated an altogether different answer.

Pirates too!?!?

Pirates too!?!?

Gary’s recollection of the shark encounter:

Gary dove down to get a close-up photo of this starfish.

Gary dove down to get a close-up photo of this starfish.

“After returning to White Swan we both got in the water to snorkel. We saw starfish and lots of sea-biscuits. Then Jean pointed to the boat and just took off. I figured she saw something really cool and was chasing it, but I couldn’t figure out why she was going so fast. I looked for something ahead of us but didn’t see anything. It never occurred to me she could have been trying to get away from something. When we reached the swim ladder Jean said, ‘Did you see the big shark? He was large! Bigger than you are.’ We both stayed near the boat and looked all around but no shark sighting. Jean said it looked exactly like the bull shark in our fish guide, and I missed it!!!”

After fighting off pirates and sharks all day, we went into Man-O-War to the  Dock and Dine Restaurant for a relaxing dinner.

After fighting off pirates and sharks all day,
we went into
Man-O-War to the
Dock and Dine Restaurant
for a relaxing dinner.


From Gary’s captain’s log:
As we motored north, we spotted another Gemini catamaran with a storm tri-sail, also headed north. Jean maneuvered White Swan near the other Gemini so I could talk to the two sailors. The captain was from Halifax, Nova Scotia. His boat was a 2009 Gemini, and they came down mostly offshore and partially on the ICW. They planned to sail back via Bermuda. That’s quite a trip. After a brief visit with the two men, we continued on to North Man-O-War Cay, arriving at 2:15 PM. It’s hot, and Jean goes down to her birthday suit.

Two sailors from Nova Scotia,aboard 2009 Gemini

Two sailors from Nova Scotia,aboard 2009 Gemini

Best Day Yet!

May 23, 2014

Awakening to a mill pond calm anchorage at Lynyard Cay, we drank our lattes during our devotional time, and headed straight to Sandy Cay to snorkel. It was the day we’d been waiting for and we wanted to spend as much time at the reef as we could physically endure.

We arrived at the anchorage on the back side of Sandy Cay around 9:00 AM and we wasted no time taking a dinghy ride around the island to the reef. There were 3 red mooring balls for small boats/dinghies to tie up to, and three white moorings for the dive boats. We were the first ones to arrive, so we had our pick. We chose the first mooring because we could see by the way the mooring ball line was lying in the water which way the current was running, and we like to snorkel against the current when we first get in, making for an easy swim going with the current to get back to our dinghy. It’s easier to swim against the current when you are not exhausted. We’ve had to do that before and it is not fun. Lesson learned.

We had an easy time snorkeling that morning, as the swells from the ocean were minimal, the wind was light, and we didn’t have to fight a strong current. Perfect snorkeling conditions, other than the water was more silty than preferred. Regardless, we throughly enjoyed our time on the reef. The reef had a plethora of living hard and soft corals, beautiful purple fans, and numerous fishes. We saw a large leopard ray, which made Gary’s day. He said it swam right underneath him. By the time Gary got my attention, it had gone past me into the deeper silty water but I managed to get a picture of it, though poor in quality. What fun, fun, fun. If you could imagine swimming in a huge salt water aquarium, that was what our experience felt like.

Fire Coral, Don't stings you!

Fire Coral,
Don’t touch…it stings you!

Elk horn corals were amazing

Elk horn corals were amazing

After snorkeling for an hour, we went back to White Swan and had brunch. We waited an hour for our food to digest before we ventured back to the reef. We decided to go to the other end of the reef to explore there. Unlike our earlier time that day on the reef, the second time we had to share a mooring ball with another boat. Everybody, it seemed, was taking advantage of the calm weather by snorkeling or scuba diving Sandy Cay. No worries, it’s a large enough reef that no one gets in anyone else’s way.

Gorgonians, Soft Corals

Soft Corals

A healthy reef in the foreground, with a dead reef that looks like rock,in the background

A healthy reef in the foreground,
with a dead reef that looks like rock,in the background

We explored the southern tip of the reef and then decided to go to the other end, because the southern tip is not as healthy as the northern end. We got back in the dinghy and motored to the first mooring ball again, tying up with another boat. When we got back in the water, we tried to swim against the current like we usually do, but by that time we were just too tired, and the current was taking us the opposite direction from where we intended to go. We swam together and made it back to our dinghy, counting the day of snorkeling as the best day yet.

Scuba diver at Sandy Cay,  beneath us

Scuba diver at Sandy Cay,
beneath us

School of Blue Tang

School of Blue Tang

Brain coral, Hard and soft corals

Brain coral,
Hard and soft corals

From Sandy Cay, we motored north to the southern tip of Tilloo Cay, on a mission to look for more sea biscuits. After anchoring White Swan in the shallow water, we got in the dinghy and checked out the sandbar. Finding no sea biscuits there, we went to the beach to look for athem. Gary walked the beach and I snorkeled the shallow water near the beach, neither of us finding what we were looking for. I snorkeled as Gary towed me with the dinghy on the way back to the boat, so I could look for the elusive sea biscuits. Eureka! I started finding them in the turtle grass. I dove down and picked up the ones I wanted until the water got too deep for me to make it down. Gary laughed and took pictures of my floundering attempts to get my buoyant bottom down. He finally jumped in the water and dove for them himself, while I pulled the dinghy along with us. What fun. Two old kids at play.

Gary towing me behind the dinghy...shark bait!

Gary towing me behind the dinghy…shark bait!

Gary took this picture of me flipping water in the air but not going down...

Gary took this picture of me flipping water in the air but not going down…

When we got back to the boat, Gary decided to help me with my free-diving technique. LOL!
First, he suggested I take off my wetsuit because wetsuits make you more buoyant. I tried that, and much to my angst and his amusement, I still couldn’t get down the eight feet of water to the bottom. Then he put a three pound weight in his dive belt and I put it on. Still no luck. He added another three pound weight in the dive belt. With that amount of weight, I easily dove down and came up with a hand full of sand to prove to him I made it to the bottom. I practiced free-diving until I was too tired to do it anymore. Who knew this grandma still isn’t too old to learn new tricks!

Sea Cucumber, it looks like a big yucky slug.

Sea Cucumber, it looks like a big yucky slug.

Showers felt wonderful after a full day of play in the sea water. A tall glass of iced tea refreshed us as we motored further north to the anchorage at Tahiti Beach. Having had no lunch, we looked forward to having dinner at Cracker P’s or Lubbers Landing on Lubbers Quarter Cay, which was across a narrow section of the Sea of Abaco from where we anchored for the night. As soon as White Swan was anchored, we took off in the dinghy to explore dinner options.

Much to our dismay, Cracker P’s only served dinner twice a week, Thursdays and Saturdays. (We should have paid closer attention to their broadcast on the morning Cruisers Net, or we could have called them on the VHF radio… That would have been too easy.)


Beach at Cracker P's

Beach at Cracker P’s

We walked next door to Lubbers Landing, only to find out they were having the opening night for their new outdoor pizza oven and no reservations were left. However, we found the owner of the restaurant, Austin, to be delightfully enthusiastic as he presented his new grouper shaped pizza oven to us. He generously told us all about it, and his excitement was evident as he made pizza dough rounds as he talked.

Owner of Lubbers Landing, Austin, and his new pizza oven

Owner of Lubbers Landing,
Austin, and his new pizza oven

Austin had suggested we try the new restaurant, Firefly, which was back across the Sea of Abaco and north of where we had anchored. We knew the location of the Firefly restaurant, getting there by land, as we had gone to it when we rented the golf cart to explore Elbow Cay. However, approaching anything by land looks totally different than approaching the same “anything” by water. So, we hugged the shoreline in the dinghy, until we happened upon it, 1.30 nautical miles north of Tahiti Beach. That wouldn’t seem very far to a non-boater, but in a small dinghy with a six horsepower, four stroke, outboard motor, that’s not a short jaunt. We would not have even done it, if the water had not been dead calm.

There remained two hours of daylight when we first left White Swan to look for a place to have dinner. By the time we found Firefly, we had an hour of daylight left. Our delicious and so-o welcomed meals arrived in front of very hungry tummies right as the sun was setting, which meant a dinghy ride back to our night’s anchorage in the dark. No problem, mon. We had taken stern and bow lights for the dinghy and it was not a pitch black night, thus our return ride was quite nice.


Firefly Restaurant at Firefly Resort on Green Turtle Cay

Firefly Restaurant
at Firefly Resort
on Green Turtle Cay


We first heard of the new Firefly Resort on Elbow Cay from our new friend, Viani. We checked it out via the golf cart. We had noticed the resort’s restaurant was down by the water but we had no need, at that time, to inquire about it. We assumed it was for the patrons of the lovely resort. Viani had told us a brief history of the place. The owner has a vodka distillery in South Carolina. Upon listening to Viani, we realized we had been to that very distillery when we went down the ICW for the first time in 2009, when we had to be towed in to Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina (20 miles south of Charleston) for engine repair. What a small world. In fact, we have a bottle of Firefly Lemonade Vodka at home. Interestingly, the outdoor bar at Firefly, where we sat for dinner because no tables were available, had mason jars lined up on the bar of various flavors of Firefly “moonshine”. We remembered tasting some of the different flavored vodkas when we visited the distillery in South Carolina. None of it compared to the real moonshine of the Appalachians in Kentucky, that my cousin coaxed us into trying one time. The phrase “Yee Haw” had to have been coined after such an experience.

We enjoyed the ambience, as well as the food, of the packed Firefly Restaurant. Tubular copper lights, with the design of a firefly nail-punched into them, decorated the outdoor bar. imagePalm trees, with white lights wrapping the trunks, added to the appeal of the outdoor dining area. Gary and I shared our meals of Fish Piccata and Veggie Stack. Both entrees were amazingly scrumptious to us, famished patrons that we were. We viewed the restaurant to be an American gourmet restaurant with a Bahamian twist, 5 stars in our opinion. I wonder if the owner will ever establish another one in Charleston.


FYI: Mooring White Swan 101

Mooring White Swan 101

White Swan on mooring ball in Little Harbour

White Swan on mooring ball in
Little Harbour

Headsets on, Gary at the bow, Jean at the helm. (Headsets are considered a necessity on White Swan – NO YELLING! We use hand signals occasionally, just to practice them in case we have to use them in an emergency. But, our preference is to use the headsets. Costing only $60, they are a marriage saver…priceless.)

Gary attaches two lines, one on each side of the bow, to cleats. From the cleat he puts each line under the bowsprit at the front of each hull and brings them up onto the deck, laying them within easy reach on which ever side we plan on approaching the mooring ball.

After he has his lines ready, with boat hook extended and in hand, he gives Jean verbal directions to motor White Swan into position for him to pick up the line that is attached to the mooring ball. Sometimes there is a float on the mooring line, which makes the job easier, but sometimes the mooring line is just laying in the water. In the clear waters of the Bahamas, it can easily be seen. In murky water, if the mooring line doesn’t have a float, it is more challenging to find it.

Approaching the mooring ball, going directly into the wind, when White Swan is close enough for Gary to reach the mooring line with the boat hook, he picks up the line with the boat hook, grabs the mooring line with one hand, lays the boat hook down on the deck with the other hand, and proceeds to put the lines he previously readied, one at a time, through the large grommet at the end of the mooring line, cleating each line off on their respective side of the boat, thus making a bridle (the lines make a V) attached to the mooring line.

The construction of a mooring: On the bottom is a huge square of cement. (I’ve no idea how many pounds/tons one might weigh…a lot!) Attached to the cement is a line that is attached to a mooring ball. Attached to the mooring ball is the aforementioned mooring line. Mooring fields are commonly found in harbors. (However, there is no mooring field for cruisers to use in Marsh Harbor, one of the most visited harbors in the Abacos.


Cement block on bottom anchors mooring ball

Cement block on bottom anchors mooring ball

When moorings are properly maintained, they are as safe to use, if not safer, as an anchor. The main advantage of moorings is more boats can safely be moored in a harbor because boaters don’t have to be concerned with the rode/scope rule ( generally 5 – 7 feet of rode, i.e., the line or chain attached to an anchor, times the depth of the water plus height of the boat from where the anchor deploys). Example: White Swan is being anchored in 8 feet of water at low tide. At high tide the water level will rise 3 more feet, for a total of 11 feet. Where the anchor deploys, the height from the water line to the deck is 3 feet, plus 11 feet of water equals 14 feet. 14 X 5 = 70 feet of rode, minimum. When we attach to a mooring ball, we are using approximately 10 feet of rode. One can easily see from this example how more boats can moor in a harbor that has a mooring field versus the amount of boats that could anchor in the same harbor.

There are varied guidelines for anchoring, depending on the circumstances. Mooring White Swan 201 is N/A. Questions? Google it. JG out.

Gary Wrote Two Blogs

May 21, 2014

We had our usual coffee and devotions in the cockpit. The Cruiser’s Net gave wind speed at 10 – 20 Northeast that day, 5 – 10 East the next day, so we planned on going to Sandy Cay the next day.

Pete's Pub, managed by his son and daughter-in-law

Pete’s Pub,
managed by his son
and daughter-in-law

After walking the beach at Little Harbour at low tide, we decided to stay until lunch because Jean wanted conch fritters. “The best in the Abacos.”

Bench at the beach at Little Harbour

Bench at the beach
at Little Harbour

Pete’s Pub didn’t have conch fritters but they did have coconut cracked conch with walnut pineapple slaw plus rice and corn. All were delicious, and we saved the homemade bread for a sandwich. After lunch, where Jean gets Pete’s permission to post his picture, we exited Little Harbour and anchored in the lee of Lynyard Cay.

We could see the spray and hear the Atlantic hitting the other side of the island. We relaxed and then went to shore to go beach-combing. We also walked across the dune and saw the swells of the Atlantic crash against the dead coral shore.

Beautiful ocean, jagged, sharp limestone shore

Beautiful ocean,
jagged, sharp limestone shore

Urchin, before it dies and becomes the beautiful white "sea biscuit" shell. We wish it life, but it will probably be part of next year's collection...bittersweet.

Urchin, before it dies and becomes the beautiful white “sea biscuit” shell. We wish it life, but it will probably be part of next year’s collection…bittersweet.

Small starfish on beach...Gary picked it up and placed it back in the water.

Small starfish on beach…Gary picked it up and placed it back in the water.









We had a light dinner of a bacon, turkey, club sandwich made on our homemade bread left from lunch. The sun set at 7:50, over a Sunsail Cat next to us at anchor.



May 22, 2014

Winds were light that morning as predicted. We enjoyed coffee and got ready to sail for Sandy Cay. We arrived there about 10:15. The holding ground behind Sandy Cay is poor, and we felt the anchor skip along the bottom. It finally held. We sat for fifteen minutes to make sure the anchor would hold. It did hold, so we got in the dinghy and motored around to one of the mooring balls.

Large school of Blue Tang

Large school of
Blue Tang

Parrot Fish feeding on the  Elkhorn Coral

Parrot Fish
feeding on the
Elkhorn Coral


The reef was beautiful, with an amazing amount of elk horn coral, lots of juvenile fish and plenty of parrot fish. Jean nudged me to look at a small two foot leopard ray as it swam by us. We also saw a small turtle. After a 40 minute snorkel we went back to White Swan and ate lunch, after which we returned to the mooring buoys for a second snorkel. The tide was coming in and there was a good current coming over the reef, which caused us to swim into it while returning to the dinghy. This was another fine snorkel and we were both worn out from the swim.

Lots of juvenile fishes

Lots of juvenile fishes

Then we motored back to the northern anchorage at Lynyard Cay. I promptly fell asleep for a one hour nap. I could get used to this schedule!