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Jean’s Birthday

April 26, 2014 – Jean’s Birthday  (PICTURES TO BE ADDED AT LATER DATE)

Yes, I am thankful for another year of life. And, the Bahamas are a great place to celebrate life! Sailing onclear blue water is the best, unless you are in the clear blue water, swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.  We do it all and we love it. One of Gary’s friends once asked me if I loved the water as much as Gary does. Such a relative question, but I didn’t hesitate with my reply, “Yes!”.  I grew up in the lake region of northern Indiana, and we lived in Sylvan Lake in the summer, and on Sylvan Lake as soon as it was safely frozen in the winter. To be able to live aboard White Swan and see and do the things we get to experience is a blessing I never dreamed of ever happening. Life is good. Salt life is even better.

Before leaving Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End, Grand Bahama Island, Gary cleaned the outside of the boat, filled the water tanks, and put the water hose and electrical shore power chord away, while I did a couple loads of laundry (Happy Birthday to me…). I’ve done no laundry since we left our home port on April 9th, so I really had no reason to complain. (But, it was my Birthday…). My big “treat” was taking time to take some photos and get in the beautiful swimming pool at the Old Bahama Bay Resort. Check out time at the marina was 11:00, but they were lenient with us because we had laundry in their machines.  As soon as the laundry was finished, we left the marina in good form, i.e., no problem getting out of the boat slip.

After navigating through a shallow passage we got to deeper open water and then we put up the main sail and the jib sail (one of two of the sails forward of the main sail).  We sailed at least three hours and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the bottom of the Sea of Abaco through the crystal clear aqua water as we sailed merrily along.

We anchored at Mangrove Cay (Cay is pronounced “Key” in the Bahamas), staying on the leeward side, so the island blocked most of the wind, providing calmer water for a comfortable night’s sleep on the boat. ( As opposed to the windward side of the island which would have provided a rocky, bouncy night on a boat.)

After we got White Swan securely anchored, Gary and I got in the water and cooled off before showering. Then we had a cool drink in the cockpit of the boat while we enjoyed the comfortable breeze and watched the anhingas as they flew into the mangrove trees on the small island to spend the night.  Next, came dinner and watching the sunset. It was a great day, full of experiences celebrating life, love, and pure joy.

Gulf Stream Crossing to the Bahamas 2014

April 25, 2014                  (PICTURES TO BE ADDED AT A LATER DATE)

Our friends, Ed and Cheryl, had planned on making the journey across the Gulf Stream with us.  However, ten minutes before our departure time, a phone call from them informing us something came up that needed their attention at home, prohibited them from making the trip. We had originally planned on navigating across the “Stream” by ourselves, so their absence gave us the opportunity go back to plan A, though we were sorely disappointed we would not have their company.

The weather was perfect to make the crossing.  We were greeted by a gorgeous sunrise as we passed through the Palm Beach Inlet. The warmth that came with the sunrise, the baby blue skies, and the calm water of the royal blue Atlantic Ocean, encouraged our passage making. We had only traveled a few miles when we saw dolphins playing in the water not far from our boat.  Half way across the Gulf Stream, we had a guest fly in to visit for a while. The little bird apparently felt at ease with us; and, in line with our custom, we offered our guest food and drink.

It took us 9 3/4 hours to make the crossing.  Thankfully, it was uneventful, i.e, no problems. We wanted to stop at the fuel dock on our way to our designated boat slip and we were asked to wait in the turning basin ( a large area of water designated for boats to maneuver or turn to another direction, usually for large ships when the turning basin is at an inlet). We were reminded of “island time”, as it took an hour wait before we were able to get to the dock for fuel.  And then it took another hour to get our fuel, pay the attendant (we felt sorry for the poor guy who was doing the work of three persons), clear customs, and get into our boat slip. Those last two hours were the most tiring part of the trip.

Gary got White Swan hooked up to shore power (electricity) so we could have air conditioning for the night.  We enjoyed the cool air and a cold drink before showering. We had a twofold reason for a celebratory dinner at the marina’s restaurant – celebrating my birthday (which really is tomorrow), and, our first time to cross the Gulf Stream by ourselves. Hooray for the Glenns.

West Palm Beach, Florida

April 18 – 22, 2014

Municipal docks for boaters, a lovely waterfront park offering live concerts and a weekly green market, many nearby restaurants, free trolleys that go to the supermarket and shopping mall, a nearby church with the friendliest congregation we’ve ever known… West Palm Beach, Florida offered it all. One could hang out there forever!

W.P.B. Municipal Docks

W.P.B. Municipal Docks

Peggy and Paul coming to the dock, with their boat, S/V Quiet Place in the background.

Peggy and Paul coming to the dock, with their boat, S/V Quiet Place in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor amphitheater at Sunfest Park

Outdoor amphitheater at Sunfest Park

 

Waterfront park

Waterfront park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our first visit to W.P.B. in 2013, we were hooked. It was exciting to go back and experience the area with our friends, Peggy and Paul. For all the aforementioned reasons, they too became hooked; but, what really reeled them in was the Easter church service the four of us went to at the First Presbyterian Church. While enjoying brunch at our favorite French restaurant in W.P.B., the four of us decided we would like to go to church the next day for Easter. There was a church on the next corner from where we were, so Peggy and I went there to check the time for the Easter service. There was a sign on the sidewalk providing the information we needed, and it also stated, “All welcome”. That was invitation enough for us.

"All Welcome"

“All Welcome”

Frankly, we didn’t have great expectations for the experience. However, we were “blown away” by the outpouring of love from the small congregation. The Easter message, given by the female pastor, was one of the best Easter messages we have ever heard. After the service we were invited and welcomed to a luncheon held in their fellowship hall. It felt like we were having Easter dinner with family, not strangers.

As we were leaving the church, the Korean church congregation, who uses the upstairs part of the church for their Sunday School, was coming down the stairs. A gentleman stood at the bottom of the stairs and gave empty Easter baskets to each child. Regarding what was about to take place, we followed the group to a nearby park, and watched as the children had a wonderful time collecting eggs.

Easter egg hunt

Easter egg hunt

Children getting Easter basket

Children getting Easter basket

Though we were strangers, we enjoyed every aspect of the traditional Easter celebration, with a community of believers who embraced us like family: we experienced a great Easter worship service, an amazing Easter meal, and to top it all off, we watched happy children excitedly enjoying an Easter egg hunt. God is Good.

Happy girl showing us her Easter eggs.

Happy girl showing us her Easter eggs.

The four of us, Peggy, Paul, Gary, and I, returned to the church to help with dinner served to the homeless/needy on Monday evening. Other local churches unite with the First Presbyterian Church to prepare food and serve the guests who come to the weekly event. The church also provided clothing and toiletries to those who needed those items. Gary nor I had participated in such a ministry before, and we were blessed to be able to help in a small way.

After we left the church that evening, we walked to a trolley stop to board a trolley that took us to the area of W.P.B. known as City Place. City Place is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment. We had previously been to City Place during daylight hours; however, the ambience of the area at night was magical. Strands of clear lights illuminated the trunks of the tall palm trees. The fountains were lit up as well, some with clear lights and some with colored.

Fountains in Daylight

Fountain in W.P.B.

Fountain in W.P.B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fountain in W.P.B.

Children playing in fountain

Children playing in fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fountains at Night

Fountain at nightFountain with colored lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fountain at City Place

Round fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life at City Place

City Place

The Harriet Himmel Theater

The Harriet Himmel Theater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image

 

Being able to enjoy the beauty of City Place, where we had our dinner the same evening we served the less fortunate at the church, gave us an acute sense of gratitude for our blessed lives and lifestyles.

Paul and Peggy had stayed in W.P.B. to spend time with us before they went on their way to the West Coast of Florida. We had a great time with them; however, time came for them to continue their journey, and early the next morning they left the anchorage.

The same day Peggy and Paul left W.P.B., friends from Melbourne arrived at the Lake Worth anchorage. So after having lunch with Stu in W.P.B., a trip to Lowes for another cylinder of propane, and another trip to the supermarket, Gary pulled up White Swan’s anchor and we went back to Lake Worth to be with Ed, Cheryl, and their doggie Molly. Ed and Cheryl had a long day traveling on the waterway, so we invited them to White Swan for a light dinner. Ed and Gary caught up on all the boater’s world news, while Cheryl and I caught up on personal/ local news. Molly was right at home on our boat, because Ed and Cheryl had a boat the same model as White Swan before they bought their new boat.

 

Cheryl, Ed, and Molly aboard S/V Lady Bug V, an Island Packet 40' Cutter

Cheryl, Ed, and Molly aboard S/V Lady Bug V, an Island Packet 40′ Cutter

We are going to cross the Gulf Stream following Ed and Cheryl, as they take their S/V Lady Bug V across to the Bahamas. We accompanied them on our first trip to the Bahamas two years ago. It will be fun traveling with them again. According to all weather forecasts, we should be able to make our crossing on Friday, April 25th. We will celebrate my birthday in West End, Grand Bahama Island… Not too shabby for a galley slave…

Four Days at Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, FL

April 18, 2014

Upon leaving the St. Lucie River waterfront community of Stuart, Florida, we traveled south on the ICW until we came to Lake Worth at North Palm Beach. The forecast offered no good weather window providing a safe crossing of the Gulf Stream to go to the Bahamas, so we found various ways to entertain ourselves while we anchored in the lake for four days.
The first evening we were in the Lake Worth anchorage, we went to dinner on our friend Stu’s boat. We, along with another couple, Paul and Peggy, with whom we were in a flotilla that went to the Bahamas last year, were invited to Stu’s sailboat for a pot luck meal. Stu had also been in the same flotilla last year, so we had a good time reminiscing. Joan, Stu’s friend, was a gracious co-host to the event.

On the second day, we borrowed Stu’s car and drove back home to Melbourne to pick up a few items we had forgotten. On our dinghy ride back to our boat, we stopped by Peggy and Paul’s boat to inform them of our return, and ended up staying to enjoy a drink with them. Peggy and Paul are not going to the Bahamas this year because their son will be getting married in June; so they decided to stay in Florida and cruise the Okeechobee water route to the West Coast of Florida. Gary and I want to make that trip someday as well, but this time, we desire to go back to the Bahamas.

Taking advantage of still having Stu’s car, Peggy and Paul joined us on an excursion to the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach, and also the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida.

Gary, volunteer, Peggy, Paul, volunteer at Nature Center

Gary, volunteer, Peggy, Paul, volunteer at Nature Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the J.D.M. Beach State Park we enjoyed the informative Nature Center.

These beautiful Lion Fish have invaded  US waters and threaten the environment. They will eat any native fish, and their spines are poisonous.

These beautiful Lion Fish have invaded
US waters and threaten the environment. They will eat any native fish, and their spines are poisonous.

A docent at the Nature Center teaches a group of young children about turtles.

A docent at the Nature Center teaches a group of young children about turtles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon leaving the Nature Center, we boarded the complimentary tram to traverse the board walk that goes from the nature center to the other side of Lake Worth Cove.

Board walk across Lake Worth Cove

Board walk across Lake Worth Cove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 mile long beach

3 mile long beach

From there, we walked the remainder of the board walk, ending at the ocean. The overcast sky and comfortable ocean breeze offered a perfect day for our picnic on the beach.

 

Trail through hammock

Trail through hammock

On our return trip to the car, we walked a trail through a dense hammock.  The Nature Center provided a brochure with a numbered, descriptive list of native trees and bushes, and along the trail were markers with the corresponding number for each tree or bush. Fortunately, Paul and Peggy are nature lovers as well, so they were not bored with our stopping to read each entry in the brochure as we observed the flora.

 

 

 

Display of turtles found in Florida

Display of turtles found in Florida

We learned a lot about various species of turtles at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. All four of us were impressed at the extensive rehab area for injured turtles. Each turtle had it’s own little pool, and individual medical care.

Each turtle had their own pool.

Each turtle had their own pool.

Each turtle had a sign with their name and info.

Each turtle had a sign with their name and info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each turtle had an informational sign at their pool, informing guests of their name, where they were found, their diagnoses, treatment received, and what their present physical condition is.

One of the injured turtles, a Ridley turtle, had washed up onto one of the local beaches having come all the way from South America. The volunteer stated after the turtle recuperates, they will transport it back to it’s native waters of South America. These people are serious about taking care of the injured endangered sea turtles, with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat as soon as they have recovered.

Before leaving the Loggerhead Park, we walked one of the nature trails through the dunes. I expected sand dunes, but the dunes were lush with vegetation of varied indigenous plants, protecting them from the ravage of the ocean. The board walk led us to a lookout shelter where we could see out over the dunes to the ocean. We rested for awhile as we savored the view, before walking back to the car.

View from shelter at the top of the dunes.

View from shelter at the top of the dunes.

On our way back to our boats, we made one last stop to have dinner at a local restaurant, the Juno Beach Fish House. Good conversation flowed as the four of us enjoyed our delicious meals. The restaurant, with the comfortable bench seats, was a great venue to relax and unwind after a physically tiring, but delightful, day.
Stu had left his car for us to use while he was at his home, rather than on his boat. He still had not returned on the fourth day we were anchored at Lake Worth, so Peggy and Paul accompanied us on another excursion.

Our first stop was a prop shop to pick up Paul’s new propeller he had ordered after “they” (not Peggy specifically) bent their prop by getting out of the channel near one of the ICW bridges. Upon hearing of their dilemma, Stu recommended the prop shop to Paul, and fortunately they were able to order what Paul needed. Also fortunately, we had Stu’s car to go pick it up.

 

 

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Next stop: Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Florida. This sanctuary rescues and rehabs thousands of sick, injured, or orphaned wild animals each year. Their goal is to return recovered animals to their natural habitat. However, in some cases, it is not possible to do so. As is the case for two Florida panthers who had been declawed as pets but grew too large for the owners to keep them.

 

Two Florida panthers, declawed as pets so they will never be released to their natural habitat.

Two Florida panthers, declawed as pets so they will never be released to their natural habitat.

Injured wood stork, white pelican, brown pelican.

Injured wood stork, white pelican, brown pelican.

Pictorial of an enjoyable time in Stuart, FL

Sailfish Capital of the World Stuart, FL

Sailfish Capital of the World
Stuart, FL

 

The river walk  goes by 3 waterfront restaurants, and leads to an outdoor amphitheater.

The river walk goes by 3 waterfront restaurants.

 

We enjoyed the outdoor green market and the street festival.

We enjoyed the outdoor green market and the street festival.

 

The Stuart Museum was very interesting.

The Stuart Museum was very interesting.

 

Display inside the museum.  Stuart, FL will celebrate their centennial in May.

Display inside the museum. Stuart, FL will celebrate their centennial in May.

 

Bicycles are available at the marina.  Also, the marina is pet friendly.

Bicycles are available at the marina. Also, the marina is pet friendly.

 

After walking around town, we relaxed and refreshed with a cold drink while sitting in the marina's outdoor common area.

After walking around town, we relaxed and refreshed with a cold drink while sitting in the marina’s outdoor common area.

 

Even the marina's sidewalk is lovely.

Even the marina’s sidewalk is lovely.

CRUISING ABOARD S/V WHITE SWAN 2014

April 9-11, 2014

Jean and Gary  April, 2014

Jean and Gary
April, 2014

 

Wow, has it really been almost five years since we retired and began cruising down the ICW for the first time??? How the years have flown by! Well, once again we are living aboard our sailing vessel (s/v) White Swan; and, our goal is to go to the Abacos, Bahamas.

Gary worked for months on the boat, doing repairs and preparing the boat for an off-shore passage. For non-nautical readers, an off-shore passage is one in which you are on the ocean, versus traveling on inland waterways.
The last week of being a land-lubber was spent provisioning the boat with enough paper goods, toiletries, canned goods, dried goods, etc. to last two months, the length of our trip. Also, for such an absence from home, one must make arrangements for mail, medicines, yard care, bill paying, etc., etc., etc., as well as close up the house.

With all the preparations behind us, we left Telemar Bay Marina in Indian Harbor Beach at 3:35 PM on April 9, 2014. Knowing we would not travel far before dusk approached, was of no concern to us. We believe the hardest part of the whole trip is getting away from the dock. There seems to always be one more thing to do before any departure. So, though it was late in the day, we left the marina and traveled down the ICW for two hours before we dropped the anchor to spend our first night on the water. Heaven!!!

Info sign about manatees Posted at Sunset Bay Marina

As we prepared and ate dinner that first night, we were entertained by a pod of manatees swimming all around our boat. The water was murky, not allowing us to see the bodies of the manatees; but when they came up for air we could see their large snouts. When they descended back into the darkness of the water, they left the tell-tale sign of their presence, a circle on the water’s surface. Living on a boat is truly ”like eating a box of chocolates”, if I may quote Forrest Gump, “you never know what you are going to get.” The key is to stay in tune with nature and be observant.

We traveled 8 ½ hours on the second day, arriving at an anchorage across the waterway from Jensen Beach. Nature’s gift that evening was a gorgeous sunset, spanning at least 180 degrees. Pink and mauve filled the sky in glorious wonder.

Sunset at Jensen Beach 4-9-14

Sunset at Jensen Beach 4-9-14

Coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, ominous clouds greeted us the next morning. Trying to get back into our normal cruising routine, we had our coffee in bed while having our morning devotional time. Up and at’um sent us to the foredeck with yoga mats for our morning stretches and exercise. I think maybe we will leave “Up” and “At’um” at home the next time we cruise.

We wanted to go to the port of Stuart, FL to spend a few days, and fortunately, midway there we had the good sense to call the marina to see if we could get a mooring ball. There were none available at that time so we decided to go to Manatee Pocket and anchor there until a mooring ball was available at Stuart. After anchoring in the cove, we called the marina again and told them what we were doing and asked if they would call us when a mooring ball was open. Surprisingly, they agreed to call us, and they did a short time later.

Traversing the St Lucie River to get to Stuart is an interesting cruise. One must remain diligent in paying attention to the markers provided to stay in the channel. There is a lot of shoaling in this area because of the inlet from the ocean. Also, right before arriving at Stuart, there is a 65’ fixed bridge and then just a short distance from it, is a railroad bridge and then a bascule bridge. The railroad bridge’s bascule is always up unless there is a train coming, but one must hail the bridge tender of the Roosevelt Bascule Bridge for an opening. We chose to wait for the third bridge’s opening, in the river before going under the first of the three bridges, the 65’ fixed bridge. We couldn’t remember if there was enough room once we passed the fixed bridge to maneuver the boat in circles or whatever might be needed to wait for the opening of the third bridge. If you think reading about these bridges is confusing, then you are in the same boat as we were when we were going through them. This was the third time we managed to go through them. The second time we did it, we also had to wait on a train using the railroad bridge. Challenges such as this, make a nice break in an uneventful day on the water.

3 bridges at Stuart,FL

3 bridges at Stuart,FL

After picking up our designated mooring ball, we got in our dinghy and went to the dinghy dock at the Sunset Bay Marina; and, went to the restaurant beside the marina office. This was our first excursion to shore since we left our homeport two days prior. We treated ourselves to a nice lunch before we went to the marina office to check in and pay the mooring fees. The marina staff was in the process of setting up a nice BBQ buffet as a farewell to all the mariners who had spent the winter there. In our opinion, Stuart would be a great place to spend the winter months. Twice a week, the marina offers a shuttle to nearby shopping areas. They have bicycles for guests to use, at no charge. There is a nice lounge and laundry. About the only thing we would miss if we were to stay here for an extended length of time, would be a swimming pool. There is a lovely river walk adjacent to the marina, leading to the old historic part of town. Actually, the small town of Stuart has become one of our favorite cruising destinations. We plan on enjoying this waterfront town for a few days before cruising further south.

 

 

Sailor's Return Restaurant beside Sunset Bay Marina

Sailor’s Return Restaurant beside Sunset Bay Marina

 

Sunset Bay Marina's office in Stuart, FL

Sunset Bay Marina’s office in Stuart, FL

Dinghy dock at Sunset Bay Marina

Dinghy dock at Sunset Bay Marina

White Swan moored at Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, FL

White Swan moored at Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, FL

Abacos 2013

Gary and Jean are at it again and are enjoying more Bahamian adventures. They are not buying internet this time so updates here will be few. Here is a note from Jean with a link to a great blog written by one of their cruising companion boats. I’ll add a link in the Cool Stuff section on the right side of the page. Enjoy.

Hello all. We have been having a great time cruising with the group of other Gemini owners. Our camera is sick so I’m not taking many pictures; but, you can go to the website of the leader of our group and see lots of pictures and read his blog: jfaughn.com
Jim Faughn does a good job as a leader of a group such as this; and also writes a very good blog and posts lots of pictures.
So far we have had no major issues with White Swan. Typically, Gary can fix about anything that happens, and thus far, that has been the case. We are thrilled our watermaker has been working properly. This is the first time we’ve really been able to use it since it’s installation.

Gary and I have been well the whole trip thus far, thank God. This destination is worth a three week wait to get a good weather window to get here. The beautiful clear blue water and gorgeous beaches make it all worth while. Thus far I have found a “boat load” of sea biscuits, conch shells, sea glass, and numerous kinds of seashells; of which I plan to make arrangements when we return home.

Saturday, we will start moving south to other islands. Please forgive me when I forget to turn on Spot. If you were following us on Tuesday, you probably realized I forgot to turn on Spot when we made the passage from Cooper Town to Green Turtle Cay. (FYI, Cay is pronounced “Key” in the Bahamas.) So if you see no tracking between islands, that is what has happened.

We have decided not to purchase internet while we are here, so the only time we’ll be checking our email will be when we can pick it up at marinas or public hotspots. Since that is the case, you can use either Gary’s or my email addresses.

We hope you enjoy keeping up with us through Jim Faughn’s blog.

Fondly,
Jean and Gary
S/V White Swan
Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay

Green Turtle Cay, Abaco / Turn of Events

3-30-11

Another setback regarding my health necessitates a return trip home. Gary talked to Ed about the situation and it was decided we would go to Green Turtle Cay, a short distance from Angel Fish Point, to make arrangements to leave our boat and fly out of the nearby island of Treasure Cay to go back to Florida.

At Green Turtle Cay, we went through the narrow channel leading to White Sound and anchored in the more shallow water at the edge of the busy anchorage. The shallow draft on White Swan allowed us the freedom to anchor away from the crowded part of anchorage. Though some boats were having trouble getting their anchors set, our anchor caught the first time down and held tight. We have found the cost of our anchor has been well worth it. So far in our cruising, we have yet to drag.

We were disappointed to find we could not pick up an internet signal from the anchorage. Gary had to take our laptop to Bluff House Marina and while he and Ed had a drink, after Ed got the Password and Code from the bartender, Gary browsed for airlines flying from Treasure Cay to the nearest cities to our home. While Gary was on the computer, Ed talked to the harbor master about renting a mooring ball for a month. The Bluff House Marina only has boat slip rentals (good specials for day rentals but too expensive for a month) and no mooring balls. After leaving the Bluff House the guys checked out a little private dock that had a couple of mooring balls, unavailable for rent. Then they went to the other marina in the sound, Green Turtle Club & Marina, only to find they don’t rent to unattended boat owners.

Giving up on making arrangements to keep White Swan at White Sound while we go home, Gary and Ed decided tomorrow they will check out Black Sound, the next anchorage on the island.

The rest of the evening ( 5 frustrating hours) Gary worked on flight arrangements by going to Green Turtle Club and having dinner while working on the computer using the club’s internet. The internet did not offer some of the information he needed so he ended up using the club’s phone to call Continental Airlines and he finally was able to make the (expensive!!!) flight arrangements. In the meantime, I e-mailed our friends, Pat and Tom Dennis to see if they could drive to Ft. Lauderdale to pick us up at the airport. Pat’s delightful answer was, “Of course we will come to get you.”

So, that was our first day at the lovely island of Green Turtle Cay.

3-31-11

Ed dinghied Gary over to Black Sound to check out a place to leave White Swan. The marinas had nothing to offer, however, a referral for Donny’s Boat Rentals brought the men success. For $200 a month we can leave White Swan on a mooring ball in a very protected anchorage. Gary and Ed returned to White Sound and their respective boats with the laborious task completed, a major accomplishment.

With the stress of making the arrangements for our return trip home complete, we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day in the Green Turtle Cay paradise. Feeling a little better, I was able to leave the boat and we decided to rent a golf cart for four hours so we could easily tour the island with Ed and Cheryl. We used D&P Cart Rentals near the Green Turtle Club and then Gary and I rode over to Bluff House Marina, where Ed and Cheryl were staying in a rented boat slip. From there, the four of us (Molly didn’t get to go) ventured to the other side of the island via mostly dirt roads, often rutted, to New Plymouth Settlement. Needless to say, the trip itself was an experience. There are few cars on the Green Turtle Cay and most people use golf carts to travel around the small island. The dirt roads, as well as the less numerous paved roads, are wide enough for a single vehicle or two golf carts to slowly pass each other. Gary was the driver of our cart and for once he didn’t mind the back seat drivers reminding him to “stay left” as that is the side driven on in the Bahamas.

New Plymouth Settlement is the oldest settlement on Green Turtle Cay. There we found the Customs Office, the old PINK jail, a museum that was closed, a sculpture garden, three grocery stores, hardware, and numerous gift shops and restaurants. After going to a couple of the grocery stores for various sundries, Cheryl and I ventured on our own for awhile while the guys went to the Wrecking Tree restaurant for cracked conch. Cheryl and I went to the sculpture garden since we found none of the gift shops open for business. New Plymouth Settlement has picturesque small homes, some with white picket fences and gingerbread trim, and painted in traditional pastel colors that is so befitting the tropical islands. There is bougainvillea galore, adding brilliant contrasting color next to the pastel backdrops. The small town is easily walked (with good health), but the golf cart made it even easier to tour in a short time. There are also golf cart rentals as well as bicycle rentals at Government Dock at the settlement.

I don’t know why some of the towns in the Bahamas are called settlements. We first noticed the term used by Kenneth and Alvin when they took us to Port Lucaya and Freeport. When we would ride through an area where there were a number of homes and possibly a business or more, one of our guides would refer to the area as such and such settlement. At that time I thought possibly the term was used when an area was not legally a town. But after visiting New Plymouth Settlement, that is obviously not the case. So assumption leads me to believe it’s just another word for town.

After Cheryl and I reunited with our captains, we traveled down a paved road beside the waterfront, that looked like a sidewalk instead of a road. This route led us to Pineapples Bar and Grill, a hangout for many boaters who anchor in the Settlement Creek harbor, and one of Ed’s favorites.

Our next stop was Alton Lowe’s art studio at his beautiful pink with white trim home that adorns a hilltop near the New Plymouth Settlement. One of the locals had told us “if his driveway gate is open, visitors are welcome”. We were fortunate the opened gates welcomed us in to his paradisiacal treasure. He and his cousin, fourth generation white Bahamians, greeted us as we came into his lovely studio. His paintings of Bahamian scenes, people and flowers were beyond superb and we so complimented him. He told us one of the best compliments he ever received was one time a hummingbird came into the studio and kept trying to feed from one of his floral masterpieces (my word, not his). The justifiable prices of $5000 to $12,000 was a deterrent to purchase one of his original painted beauties, however, to meet the artist and view his work was priceless to us.

Safely making our way back to Bluff House Marina was a feat in and of itself. Our driver’s reward was a relaxing cold drink with Ed and Cheryl before taking the golf cart back within our allotted time.

With enough stamina left from the day’s excursion, I made homemade noodles for a chicken and noodle dinner. Our invitation was declined by Ed and Cheryl to join us, as they took advantage of the special deal they had going with their slip rental and ate at the Bluff House restaurant. Their regrets turned out to be a blessing because by the time I finished cooking, I was ready to just relax after a wonderful fun- filled day.

 

4-1-11

Today was spent preparing to go home. It rained last night and rained off and on throughout the morning, so we had to time our trip to shore to do the laundry in between the rains. Yesterday we checked out the laundry at Green Turtle Club, finding it to be very nice and clean with six washers and six dryers, so we chose to do the task there. We had heard from other cruisers that the laundries are expensive in the Bahamas and unfortunately we found out they are correct. Two loads cost us $21.25. I don’t know if it is the same everywhere in the Bahamas, but at the marinas at Green Turtle Cay, you buy tokens to run the machines. Where we did our laundry, the tokens were $4.25 each. Cheryl told me they are $4.00 at Bluff House Marina, plus the dryers there provided plenty of heat to dry the cloths in good time. We had to use another cycle to get some of our heavier items dry. Lessons learned during our Bahamian learning curve.

Gary had a lot to do to prepare the boat for our absence: he took off the screecher (sail for light air), took off the lines to the jib, locked the outboard onto the dinghy and locked the dinghy onto the boat, filled the fuel tanks, put covers on all the windows, closed thru-hulls and treated the head. I cleaned out the refrigerator, giving food to Ed and Cheryl and last minute items to Donny (Donny’s Boat Rentals), cleaned the inside of the boat and packed for our trip home.

We took a break from our chores and went to the Bluff House Marina to visit one more time with Ed, Cheryl and Molly. We found them relaxing at the swimming pool and it was a pleasure to visit with them in such a lovely setting.

 

4-2-11

Our last morning at White Sound, Green Turtle Cay was spent with final preparations to go home. Our mooring ball in Black Sound was not going to be available to us until late afternoon, so we decided to revisit New Plymouth Settlement. Gary wanted some more cracked conch at the Wrecking Tree and I wanted to take some pictures since I forgot to take my phone/camera when we went there with Ed and Cheryl.

The water was dead calm providing a perfect day to anchor in the exposed anchorage at Settlement Creek. There were a lot of boats anchored there today and as we dinghied past Pineapples Bar and Grill, it looked like most of the boaters were there enjoying the ambience of the local haunt.

A short dinghy ride to Government Dock, brought us to the life of this quaint old settlement. We walked around taking pictures and Gary got to go to the sculpture garden (he was with Ed at the restaurant when I went there with Cheryl).

A short distance from the sculpture garden is the Albert Lowe Museum and today it was open so we went in for a tour. Our lovely native docent, Mrs. Ivy Roberts, was informative and personable, and became a new friend in short order. At the end of the tour, conversation led her to ask if we were Christians, and our affirmative answer was rewarded with hugs.

Albert Lowe was the father of Alton Lowe, the local artist. Some of Alton’s painting were on display in the museum, which was in a house built in the 1800‘s. The craftsmanship of Albert Lowe was prominently displayed with large models of ships, designed and built by himself. On display were numerous historical pictures of the settlement, many taken after hurricanes ravaged the old waterfront town. A peek into the kitchen that was in a building separate from the house, common in that day, was the finale of our tour.

We bid Mrs. Roberts farewell with the hopes of seeing her again someday at her church, Miracle Church of God in New Plymouth Settlement.

We resumed our walk through the small town, taking pictures along the way to the Wrecking Tree where Gary once again enjoyed (beyond measure) a full order of cracked conch. Cracked conch is fresh conch thinly sliced, beaten until it is lacey, thereby tenderized, lightly breaded and deep fried. Gary said it was the best he’d ever eaten. The flavor is similar to calamari, but much lighter in texture. I couldn’t resist and tried a bite of it, and then I understood the look of satisfaction on Gary’s face. It was fabulous. I’m sure the Wrecking Tree will be on Gary’s list of places to revisit when we come back to New Plymouth Settlement.

On the way to the dinghy, Gary stopped at a conch salad stand on Government Dock. A gentleman, assisted by a lady, made fresh conch salad while we watched. He kept his fresh conch on a string in the water which he pulled up as he needed a conch. He sliced it and diced it like a master chef, mixed it with tomatoes, green peppers and onions. The final step is adding lots of freshly squeezed lime juice, which actually cooks the conch, “Immediately”, he said. The “can’t get any fresher than that” conch salad was going to be Gary’s dinner; however, after we got White Swan moored for her extended stay at Black Sound, Donny invited us to his home for dinner and we ended up taking the salad to share with Donny and his other guests.

At first Gary declined the invitation to go to Donny’s dinner, because of my health issues, but I interjected my opinion that it would be rude to decline his offer. The evening proved to be a blessing and once again new friends were made as we shared the evening with Donny, Janis and Rick (Canadians who are here until the end of May) and “Fred”, as he prefers to be called. Donny prepared a fabulous meal, per Gary, of marinated flank steak, rice, red skin potatoes sautéed with onion and bacon. All of this was accompanied by a salad donated by Fred made with homegrown vegetables given to him by one of the locals and our donation of Gary’s conch salad, grapes, cheese and crackers. Any one who knows Gary Glenn knows he has to finish dinner with dessert and Donny surprised him with pineapple upside down cake and ice cream. To top off the evening, Gary was able to watch the ending of the Final Four basketball tourney and see our Indianapolis Butler Bulldogs win their entitlement to play in the championship game.

Spending our last evening in the Bahamas with new friends, having a secure place to leave our boat, and preparations made for our trip home tomorrow gave us a sense of gratefulness. We are so blessed.

4-3-11

We feel confident that White Swan will be watched over by our new friends at Black Sound. After last minute details of preparing the boat for our absence, we hailed the ferry via VHF, which came to our boat to pick us up. We had a pleasant ride talking to the young ferry captain while we were transported to Treasure Cay.  A short taxi ride brought us to the very small airport of Treasure Cay.  Continental Airlines presented a 19 seat plane which took us to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.

Pat and Tom Dennis drove down from Telemar Bay Marina (3 hour drive) to pick us up to take us the rest of the way to Melbourne.  If Gary had not had such a hard time making all the other arrangements to get us home, we would have also made plans to rent a car at Ft. Lauderdale.  It was a long day for Pat and Tom and they will be well rewarded with a lovely dinner, their choice of restaurants, when I’m feeling better.

Plan A:  Seek medical treatment to get me well and go back to the Bahamas as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Angel Fish Point in the Great Abacos

3-28-11

 

A short motor-sail brought us to Angel Fish Point where we anchored for our stay here. After anchoring in the designated anchorage shown south of Angel Fish Point and Crab Cay on the GPS, Ed and Gary got in the dinghy and took depth soundings with a handheld depth meter, to see if we could safely tuck in a little closer to the rocky islands surrounding us, offering us more protection if the storm that is showing on the radar happens to come our way. Finding success with their exploration, we weighed anchor and moved the boats to the newly charted more protected area. Gary and Ed both got in the water and checked their anchors wearing their snorkel gear. Ed taught Gary how to bury the anchor if it’s not well dug in. Our anchor was dug in well, but if need be Gary knows to free-dive down to the anchor and jiggle the flanges on the butt of the anchor causing it to dig deeper. Ed said sometimes it takes a few dives down to accomplish a good hold, but this tactic works well when needed. “…there’s always one more thing to learn about being a sailor…”

 

This anchorage is one of Ed’s favorites. For one reason, he often catches Caribbean lobsters in the caves near the shorelines of the rocky islands. During lobster season, which it is now, he uses a Hawaiian sling to shoot them. A Hawaiian sling is like a sling-shot with a spear. Gary has never used one before and is anxious to master the skill. The overcast sky today made it not a good day to hunt lobster. The visibility of the water is lower on cloudy days than it is when the sun is providing light into the water.

 

In lieu of hunting for lobster, the guys and Molly explored the shore. Gary said they found the road that connects Little Abaco Island with Great Abaco Island, the same road that goes through Fox Town. They explored creeks and channels and found a good hurricane hole. It’s always good to know where the most protected places are when cruising.

 

3-29-11

 

Personal note: Last night Gary and I were in tears thinking we might have to fly back home because of my illness. I’d been sick for 3 ½ days and was showing slight signs of dehydration even though I’ve been drinking Pedialyte. However, what a difference a day can make, because today I’m better in everyway, except stamina. Once again, we are optimistic that we can continue our journey.

 

The highlight of today was the four (sorry Molly) five of us taking our dinghies to the rocky caves at the tip of Angle Fish Point and watching Gary snorkel and hunt for lobster. With Hawaiian sling in hand he scanned the caves with great expectations. Though he had a blast doing it, he came back empty handed. He reported having seen only one lobster, lying perfectly still on the bottom, only to realize upon closer inspection it was dead, much to his dismay.

 

We motored the dinghies over to the cut between Angel Fish Point and Crab Cay where Gary got back in the water and did a drift-snorkel. Through the cut, the water is only about six feet and at the edge of the cut the terrain progresses deeper. Gary said it was rather neat to see the change in depth but other than seeing a couple mutton snappers, there wasn’t much else to see. From our dinghies, Cheryl and I used our glass bottom buckets to look under the water. I saw a pretty star fish and a few small brain coral heads. This area is really not a great area for snorkeling, but apparently at times the lobsters can be plentiful, so we’ve been told (ED).

 

On the way back to White Swan, our outboard motor on the dinghy quit working (again). Gary was in the process of rowing us back to the boat when Ed and Cheryl saw us and came back to give us a tow. Upon mentally trouble shooting what could be causing the outboard to stall, Gary wondered if there was condensation in the gas tank. He used an extra gas can and his gas filter funnel that we use whenever we fill up the boat and filtered the gas, finding it did indeed have about ¼ cup water in it. Hopefully, the problem is solved. Brilliant!!! He’s not just a pretty face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox Town on Little Abaco Island

3-27-11
 

Before we left Great Sale Cay this morning, Gary accompanied Ed and Molly to shore and came back having been attacked by no-see-ums. Gary calls me his “fly trap” because usually the insects eat me up and never bother him. When hairy Gary gets bitten by any insect, you know it’s a bad place to be. As appealing as the opportunity to go ashore originally was, I was glad I did not go with them.

 

Today was the first day we’ve been able to turn off the motor and sail with full sails. Gary was in his height of his glory. The wind was 14 knts out of the SW providing a close-reach point of sail. We sailed most of the 28 miles to Fox Town, taking the sails down right before we got to the line of rocks indicating we were near the entrance to go into the Little Abaco Island harbor.

 

While Ed took Molly for a walk, Gary had an interesting conversation with a man at a nearby Anglican church. The gentleman told Gary that the priest who presides over the church, serves two churches and presents sermons at each church every other week. During the priest’s absence, the nice gentlemen with whom Gary spoke does the preaching. Later in the evening, we could hear religious music resounding from the little church as the parishioners sang familiar songs.

 

Gary and I took a quick dinghy ride and cruised part of the shoreline with it’s small houses and businesses along the water’s edge. It looked like someone is in the process of building a gas station. We wondered if they will offer fuel to boaters. There is a small fuel dock already on the shore, apparently operational, because we saw a big power boat go to it.

 

Ed told us about a restaurant called the Boom Boom Room at Fox Town that offers fresh seafood dinners prepared by the locals. Cheryl, as well as myself, were not feeling well today so it was decided we’d wait until our return trip to go there. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do so because from Ed’s description it sounds like an interesting place, though it is not mentioned in any of the cruising guides.