Sunday, June 26, 2016

Normans Cay and "the weeble wobble crossing"!

We didn't really think about the other two "crossings" we had to make to get to the Exumas, but we should have!  Besides crossing the Gulf Stream from the states - about 77 miles, we then had to cross the Great Bahama Bank to get over to the Berry Islands - another 74 miles!  But wait, then we had to cross over to the Exuma Island chain, passing through Nassau - the final 78 miles!  Getting to Nassau via the NE Providence Channel was, by far, the most challenging.  Our life is governed by the weather, we had been watching it and hoping for a window to go across.  The seas were supposed to subside from 3-5 feet, down to 2-3 feet on Wednesday.  Well, not so much - they were more like 4 -6 feet with some 8'ers thrown in for fun - NOT!!!  Remember the weeble wobble toys, they wobbled, but never fell down?  Or you could think of a washing machine - either scenario - that was us.  It was a nail biting, prayer saying, very stressful and uncomfortable ride for 5 hours!  It's curious, dolphins are said to bring good luck.  As we were leaving the channel to start this crossing, the only dolphin we've seen since we arrived in the Bahamas followed us out the inlet. We're glad he did, because we arrived safely!

Needless to say, we needed a rest.  So, we spent 3 full days at Normans Cay, lounging on the rafts behind the boat, dinking around exploring, snorkeling, trying to fish, and just having fun!  The weather has finally calmed and is more like what we expected to find, a nice breeze and beautiful calm "gin clear" water!

This guy was a character - he was a courier delivering goods to homes and boats - he passed our anchorage several times and always had something to say as he motored by!

Too fun - love the beautiful water

Notice the RTIC (thanks to Scott and Debbie), red ball with line holding me on to the Christina Sea - just chillin'!

Found this little open air stone cottage in a beautiful cove

The resort is called MacDuff's - good burger, rum drink, and of course Kalik - it was expensive, but really no more so than Vegas, NYC, or some other fancy resort.  

Our dink is our car - I love this pic!

Normans Cay Sunset

Today, we move on to Staniel Cay area - not sure how good the internet will be, so we may not be able to post for a week or so.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Ultimate Sand Bar!

We spent a couple of days at Hoffman's Cay because of weather.  In between squalls and storms, we went kayaking to see the "Blue Hole" which is a 120 foot natural hole in the middle of the island.  George slipped and almost fell in.  He would have jumped in to cool off but we heard from another cruiser that there was a bull shark in the hole - not sure how he got in, maybe an underground tunnel!

Water is "gin" clear!

We also took the dink to go exploring - we said, let's go check out those islands over there, it looks like there's a nice beach.  Well, little did we know, we had found the ultimate sand bar!!!  As far as you could see, there was beautiful white sand with little ripples and ridges from the tide coming in and out.  There were a couple of small patches of island or rock, but most of it was just sand - AWESOME!

Even with the storms, always a beautiful sunset!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hoffman's Cay - will be here for a few days...

We left Great Harbour Cay Marina yesterday morning and anchored at Hoffman's Cay in the afternoon.  We picked this spot because it is good protection for the bad easterly weather we will have for the next several days - like 'til Friday or more - ugh!  But at least we're in the Bahamas - right?!?

As we were traveling, we saw huge starfish everywhere! 

As soon as we anchored, we dropped the dink and went exploring - it's so beautiful!

This is the entrance to the Blue Hole which we will explore later.

This is what we are seeing today and probably will for a few days - wind gauge show over 20 knot winds - poor little Bahamian flag is flapping like crazy!

Rescued a fellow boater and cleared customs!

Day 8 - crossed 80 miles over to Bimini, Bahamas!!!  We had a south westerly following sea (about 3 foot) the entire day which made for an okay ride.  It took us about 9 hours because we averaged 10 knots (usually 7) with the Gulf Stream!  We caught a Mahi on the way and a wicked storm closed in just as we anchored off North Bimini.  We saw depths of over 2000 feet - I always find that kind of eery!

Day 9 - We pulled anchor this morning to go into Bimini and check in with customs.  We rounded the corner tip of the island and got back out into the westerly winds with 3 - 5 foot seas.  About 20 minutes in, we decided to turn back.  We stayed anchored on the east side of North Bimini another night, enjoyed a peaceful afternoon with storms.

Day 10 - We decided to go another 75 miles across to Great Harbour Cay and check in with customs there.  Again, the westerly winds made for a following sea, but the 3 foot waves still make it kinda rolly - imagine going up over the wave, then surfing down the backside!  About half way across, we get hailed on the VHF radio - a 24" Grady White boat in distress!  They see us in the distance, can we town them in?!?  Turns out they had engine trouble the day before and were anchored out over night in those bad storms with no protection.  Because we took a more southerly route across, they were able to see us, thank goodness - (I'm glad we stayed an extra day in Bimini)!  We towed them 5 hours into Great Harbour Cay Marina which is where they were headed.  We were very happy to help and they were VERY HAPPY to be rescued!

We arrived at the marina to cheers!  Our rescued boaters' friends and family were overjoyed at their arrival!!!  I soooo wanted to get a picture, but we were busy docking our boat and I missed it.  Everyone was appreciative - but we only did what we would have wanted someone do to for us.  We did get some homemade conch salad though as a thank you!

Later, customs came on board Christina Sea, searched our boat and cleared us in.  When a boater arrives in the Bahamas, they must fly their yellow quarantine flag until cleared, then we can fly the Bahamian flag - we're official!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Getting ready to cross to the Bahamas

Several long days out in the gulf (traveling 8 - 10 hours a day) made for a hot, storm dodging, beautiful week!  Today, we are going to cross over.  We're currently anchored at Tavanier Key off Key Largo.  We have about 80 miles to get over to Bimini, Bahamas and that should take us about 10 hours.  Hopefully it will go quicker because once we hit the Gulf Stream (which travels north) we will pick up a knot or two in speed.  The anxiety lays in the weather.  It can change quickly, especially in the stream.  The winds are out of the south, southwest forecasted at 10 - 15 knots with 1 - 3 foot seas.  What that means is that we should have a following sea which will make for a comfortable ride north.  But you never know until you get out there.  For example, our first couple of days on our trip, the seas were supposed to calm.  But in actuality we spent a lot of time dodging storms and rockin' and rollin' because there were three foot seas and they were off our beam - not a comfortable ride!

If it's going to happen it's going to happen out there!

Leaving Riviera Dunes Marina - great year and a half - met wonderful people!

Dodged lots of storms the first two days 

Day 1 - 10 hours to Cayo Costa, Day 2 - 9 hours to Marco Island

We are loving our new dink and Ally had a great time too!

We have seen so many sea turtles, but they are very shy and dive down before I can get a picture!

Day 3 took us to the Mangroves in Shark River, Everglades.  We'll definitely come back to this beautiful spot, but in the winter when there aren't as many bugs!

Day 4 - another 9 hours down to Key Largo.  We had some beautiful sunsets with our dear friends the Yocums who were vacationing in the Keys.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

We are sooooo excited to leave tomorrow!

Maryann and Gary reminded us of a couple of sayings:  If it's going to happen boss, it's going to happen out there - from the movie, Captain Ron.  And the other one from Lats and Atts - You'll never be ready, just go!

New sit on top kayak to catch more fish!

Christy's Dad came down to say goodbye!

Provisioning - everybody says coke is REALLY expensive in the Bahamas.  Some not so good beer for trading and some good beer for drinking!

Need to get used to powdered milk...and going to make our own bread.

If we don't catch fish, we will have PB&J!

Lots of wine

Ask any of our friends - our frig is always empty.

New freezer on the flybridge...

...chocked full!

We've been provisioning for what seems like a long time.  George has done so much work to Christina Sea, all that little stuff that will make our trip and life on board so much nicer out there in the wild blue yonder.  It's been great here at Riviera Dunes Marina for the last year and a half, but we are pulling out tomorrow morning at sunrise.  We'll stop in Marco Island for a day to see family, then head to Everglades for a little fishing, then over to Key Largo to visit some friends for a couple of days.  The goal, depending on a weather window, is to cross over to Bimini, Bahamas middle of June - fingers crossed!