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April 2nd, 2010:

Going to the Bahamas-Day Two


Captain Ed Byers, the leader of this flotilla, and Captain Gary decided departure from our overnight anchorage would be at 7:30 AM. I meant to set our alarm for 6:30 AM and inadvertently set it for 6:00 AM instead. Since we were still tired from the previous day’s hectic activities, the alarm was reset to the appropriate time and we snoozed for another half hour before Gary arose to make our morning latte and java. Our morning ritual of enjoying lattes, followed by coffee, while having a devotional time in bed, has remained constant during our cruising journey. When we were in Indiana, we enjoyed our morning java in the hot tub. Unfortunately, this boat isn’t big enough to have a hot tub on it.

7:30 AM is a little too early for these retired cruisers to have breakfast, so we pulled anchor and were well underway before we ate. “Eating” really seems to be a theme with us, doesn’t it? We’ve all heard it said, “Some people eat to live, others live to eat.” Gary and I enjoy both philosophies. I think there might have been more to my forgetting to bring the bathroom scales with us this trip, than just plain forgetfulness. I think I’ll coin a new phrase and call it a “physiological Freudian slip”.

Little islands decorating both shores of the Intracoastal Waterway, appeared just north of Sebastian, Florida and continued to add ambiance to our day’s southbound journey. These islands are “spoil islands” that are manmade with bottom soil dredged from the waterway.  Frequently, we saw the island’s shorelines dotted with the salt and pepper look of snowy egrets and great blue herons. Brown pelicans have been the mainstay of the airway as they skim so close to the water, it looks like there is only a millimeter of clearance between the tips of their wing feathers and the water‘s surface.

The water on the ICW became a beautiful emerald green as we went by Ft. Pierce Inlet. The color was short lived as we got further down the waterway. While traveling past the inlet, I was at the helm and realized there was a definite advantage in following the Byers. I’d read on the chart plotter the current was very strong where the inlet meets the ICW, so when Lady Bug began a quick skid to starboard I was not surprised. A sudden push of the throttle forward sped White Swan up enough to only experience a minor skid and we were soon free from the current‘s push starboard. If White Swan had been in the lead, this entry would have offered more excitement.

Sunrise at Hobe Sound 4-3-10, picture taken out the hatch of our berth

We motored approximately 56 miles today and anchored for the night in Hobe Sound. Hobe Sound was named after the Jobe Indians by the Spaniards, who pronounced Jobe “Ho-bay”.  The Byers told us the locals adamantly pronounce it ” Hob” with a long “o” sound.  Regardless of how it should be pronounced,  Hobe Sound offers a beautiful little anchorage with a wildlife refuge on the western shore. 

After dinner,Ed and Cheryl came to visit us aboard White Swan and let me use their internet air card to post our blogs.  Thank you, Ed and Cheryl Byers.

And We’re Off…To the Bahamas 4-1-10 (No Foolin’)

April 1, 2010 provided a sunny day and calm waters to resume our trip down the ICW. After readying the boat, and a last minute trip for a few items at the grocery, we left our boat slip at Telemar Bay Marina around 11:00 AM. Pat Dennis was there to take pictures and wish us Bon Voyage. Her husband, Tom, stopped by to bid his farewell earlier, before going for his morning walk. We had dinner with the Dennis’s last evening before they came to pick us up at our home to take us to the marina. They offered to take us to the marina so we could leave our car in the garage while we’re gone. Pat and Tom have taken their boat, Swan, to the Bahamas and during our time together at dinner, they had a lot of experiential knowledge to share with us, that was insightful and should prove to be helpful. We plan on seeing them again next month when we go to Annapolis for a friend’s wedding, as they plan on leaving mid-April in their boat, to make the track back up the ICW to Annapolis. They have been spending the summers in Annapolis, and winters in Indian Harbour Beach, living aboard Swan, for the past ten years. They love the “live aboard” lifestyle. They are generous and kind to all boaters and are quickly available to lend a hand, or their car, or whatever a fellow boater might need. It was easy to fall in friendship with them.

Ed, Cheryl and Molly (their doggy) leaving port

After leaving the marina, we motored a short distance on the Banana River and met up with Ed and Cheryl just as they were leaving the dock where they kept Lady Bug the past month. We followed them out the Banana River and onto Indian River Lagoon where we began down the ICW.

We planned on a short traveling day, and four hours later we arrived at our anchorage at the small town of Sebastian. At Sebastian, the ICW is dotted with small islands, some of which are national wildlife refuges for pelicans. These small islands lining the ICW shores in this particular area are quite picturesque, as well as home to the many pelicans residing on them.

We were all tired from the exertion of preparing for this trip, so after anchoring, we just relaxed for awhile; after which, Gary grilled steaks while the galley slave returned from retirement and prepared garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli and a tart for dessert. Throughout the early evening, we were serenaded by the sound of nearby trains transiting through Sebastian. We wondered it they would quit running before bedtime, and to our appreciation, they did. After dinner and clean-up duty, we called it a day. The water remained calm throughout the night hours and we slept well.

Sunrise at Sebastian, FL 4-2-10


Preparing for Our Trip to the Bahamas

When we began our journey in November, five months ago, Gary stated, “It’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey…” Destinations can really be unknown, as they can change from moment to moment. The “journey” is infinite. Plan A is always to have Plan B and sometimes expect to need Plan C. When we stopped in Portsmouth, VA to fill up the boat with fuel, we had no clue we would end up staying there for almost one month, due to Hurricane Ida. When we stopped by to see our friends on Hilton Head Island for a couple of days, we had no intentions of still being there for Christmas, due to our propeller falling off the boat. When we were towed into Rockville, South Carolina to have the engine worked on, we had no idea we would enjoy the area so much, we’d stay an extra day just to go to America’s only tea plantation. When we got to Telemar Bay Marina at Indian Beach Harbour on January 5, 2010, we definitely had no intentions of buying a house in West Melbourne, Florida on February 26,2010. We are excited to see what wonderful experiences our journey to the Bahamas has in store for us. If Gary and I have learned anything during our cruising aboard White Swan, it is to live everyday to the fullest and don‘t be afraid to experience whatever God has in store for us as any given moment.

Gary has continually done the necessary upkeep on White Swan. However, there were still numerous little projects requiring his attention, keeping him terribly busy clear up to the time of our departure from Telemar Bay Marina.

Two days before our departure, Cheryl Byers and I spent the day shopping for provisions. Since we only plan on being in the Bahamas for a month, I tried to think of everything we would possibly need during that time, other than fresh fish, which Gary will catch. He purchased a fishing spear (I told him I am NOT getting in the water with him when he’s using that thing) as well as special lines and lures that he will use as trolling lines off the boat as we travel from place to place. I’ve never gutted and cleaned a fish before. If he will kill it and gut it, I think I will be able to manage skinning and filleting it. Buying fish in the store already prepared to cook is one thing; looking it in it’s eyes while alive, knowing you have at take it’s life to feed yourself, is something all together different. Now that I have to seriously address this situation, I can see why some people are adamantly opposed to eating meat and become vegans. For now, I’ll just insist he do the dauntless deed of killing the fish, and I’ll do the dastardly deed of preparing it for our inhumane consumption.

In the previous paragraph, I mentioned Cheryl Byers accompanied me while shopping for provisions for our month stay in the Bahamas. Cheryl, and her husband, Ed, are also going to the Bahamas aboard their boat, Lady Bug, a sister-ship to White Swan. They plan on cruising there for three months. They have been to the Bahamas at least thirty times, so they obviously have a plethora of “local knowledge”. We are going to follow them down the ICW to West Palm, Florida, and make our crossing of the Gulf Stream out of Lake Worth Inlet. There is another Gemini owner awaiting our arrival at West Palm, who is going to cross over with us. So, there will be three Gemini catamarans making the crossing at the same time. I’m trusting there will be “safety in numbers”. We will wait for a good weather window to go across the Gulf Stream, which is the number one guarantee of a safe passage. Waiting for the good weather window may take days, or it may be good as soon as we get to West Palm. Traveling across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas is a ten hour passage. Plan A is to leave at daybreak and arrive at Grand Bahama Island by evening. We are anticipating not needing Plan B or C. Just in case, remember to follow our trip on “Spot” and call the United States Coast Guard if you see we are traveling way past the north end of Grand Bahama Island.

Back to preparing for this journey: the day before we left, Gary remained busy paying last minute bills, banking, making sure the accountant had all she needed from us to complete the filing of our income taxes, as well as finishing projects on the boat, preparing it for our departure. I cleaned the house, did last minute laundry (YEAH!!!, by the way, the REAL reason we bought a house in Florida is so I don’t have to schlep laundry to a laundromat. NOT!!!), and I completed the inventory list for the boat and stowed everything away. Fresh meat was divided up into single meal portions, wrapped, labeled and put in our very small freezer. Vegetables and fruits, such as onions, potatoes, garlic, grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes were hung in mesh bags in an aft berth. The more fragile vegetables and fruits are kept in baskets in the galley. The canned and dry goods are in bins and put in both the starboard and port aft berths, dispersing the weight so the boat doesn’t list to one side. A lesson learned is the next time we provision the boat for an extended cruise, I will use bins with lids for the canned goods as well as the dry goods, as all the cans in the bins with no lids quickly rusted from all the humidity on the boat.

We’ve been told, doing laundry in the Bahamas is very expensive, up to $12.00 to do one load. With that in mind, I’ve brought enough bedding, towels and outerwear to last us the month. I plan on doing very little laundry while on this trip. YEAH!!!

We had a water maker installed on White Swan in the fall of last year, so we can make our own water after we get into clear sea water. Using it while cruising on the Chesapeake Bay or the ICW would have been futile as we would have had to continually change the filters. Our system will take the sea water into it and make approximately a gallon of potable water per hour. Our water tanks hold 60 gallons of water and the solar panel on our boat will power the water maker enough to keep us in good supply while in the Bahamas. By the time we get to the islands, our meat supply in the freezer will be down enough, I can start using our Tupperware ice trays and make ice for drinks. We should be pretty self-sufficient and not be in need for much of anything, other than fuel for the boat and propane for the galley stove and refrigerator.

We also had an inverter installed last fall, which has been invaluable. An inverter converts DC current (batteries are DC current) to AC current (house current). When we use the motor on the boat, it sends power to the inverter. The inverter is large enough to power small items like a coffee grinder, cell phones, laptop computer and even our microwave if used for just a few minutes. When we are motoring, we can use it for power to the refrigerator. Some boaters use generators to help power the aforementioned items. We chose not to use a generator because we would have to carry more fuel to run a generator.

White Swan does not have all the amenities of a lot of boats. But on the other hand, she is quipped with more than the average. What we have chosen to equip her with, offers us a fair level of comfort. We’ve known cruisers who have cruised for years without a lot of the features of White Swan. And the owners of those boats are perfectly happy with what their particular boat offers. It really doesn’t matter how big or how small our boats are as long as they enable us to be on the water and enjoy the cruising lifestyle.

After Gary and I have had the opportunity to cruise in the Bahamas for a month, our friends from Bonita Springs, Florida, Dale and Phyllis Lentz, are going to fly over to Marsh Harbor, and cruise with us in the Abacos for a few days or how ever long it takes to get a good weather window to cross the Gulf Stream; and then they’ll make the passage back to the states with us. Dale and Phyd have chartered sailboats all over the world and are seasoned sailors. Their company, especially when we come back across the Gulf Stream, will be much appreciated.

Gary and I are so very excited about this trip. Taking our own boat to the islands will be a dream come true for us. Some people have been surprised that we are still going after buying our new house in Florida. Those who REALLY know us, would be surprised if we DIDN’T continue on to the Bahamas.