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May 31st, 2014:

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