Thursday, February 22, 2007 - George Town
Navionics took a beating from the crowd yesterday because apparently their latest versions for the Bahamas are even less accurate than previous ones. This inaccuracy may have contributed to the wreck of a Raymarine-equipped Beneteau 46 not far from George Town at Long Island on February 12. The boat was attempting to enter reef-strewn Little Harbor while looking into the late afternoon sun when they went up on the reef. A sportfishing boat was unable to pull them off, and by the next day the boat had been pounded into a total loss. The owner of the boat reportedly had the Explorer chartbook open in the cockpit next to him, but apparently was looking at the chartplotter instead. He was originally headed to the proper Explorer Chart waypoint to enter but did not go all the way there because he thought he saw the opening visually. Unfortunately, it was the wrong opening, with a continuous reef under the water. His wife was on the bow watching the water, but with the sun in her eyes, she didn't see the reef until it was too late.
Would this wreck have been avoided if the Raymarine chartplotter had shown the details found on the Explorer Charts? Probably, although not studying the paper charts carefully enough beforehand, shortcutting the waypoint, and trying to enter while looking into the glare of the sun seem to be the primary causes. In the Bahamas you should pilot by eye, not by chartplotter. Still, most of us need every advantage we can get, and if I were buying a chartplotter solely for the Bahamas, I would want one that uses the Explorer charts data.
Photos: (Title shot) You can always tell Laura by the red Crocs on her feet. (Above, 1) Ling family portrait on the beach at Stocking Island. (2) Laura competed in a three-legged race as part of the birthday party festivities yesterday at Volleyball beach
Friday, February 23, 2007
No doubt the public is hungry for news of our Great American Cruising Novel, Untitled. (At the George Town library we happened to find a dimestore novel, The Crossing, which I suppose means we'll have to come up with a different name.) For lack of anything better, here is an excerpt that shows the quality of work we're producing here in the Bahamas. As we join the story, secret agent Osborne has been unable to infiltrate the complex social structure which surrounds the southbound cruisers on the ICW, so he decides that perhaps he needs some kind of gimmick to make him more likeable:
A man and his faithful dog, alone against the sea, now that was a picture he liked. He considered getting a cat, still pondering the possibilities of using one as a weapon of some sort, but the effect wasn't as pleasing. He knew from listening to radio conversations that several boats were traveling with cats aboard, but otherwise you would never know it. With the possible exception of Morris and those cats that chased after the chuck wagon, felines just weren't image-makers. In a marketing sense, they made no real splash--unless they fell overboard, he thought ruefully. Felines didn't swim well, another downside to the cat enchilada. He had yet to see a cat riding into shore in the front of a dinghy, or chasing after a Frisbee on the beach. Clearly, he needed a dog.Will Osborne get a dog? Will the dog bark all night? Will Osborne unleash a CMD on the unsuspecting southbound cruisers? Stay tuned, and keep watching these pages for more exciting episodes of the book now known only as Untitled!
Photos: (1) The crossing is a train crossing, not the Gulf Stream! Who knew? Actually, I later read the book and it's not a bad story. (2) The girl loves to read. And I have to admit, getting a dog for Osborne was her idea. (3) Inside this humble structure you'll usually find a half dozen cruisers enjoying high speed Internet access for $3/day. Surfing speeds are definitely up this year. An outfit called Harbour Wi-Fi is covering most of Elizabeth Harbour (not always reliably) for the low price of $15/week.
Moday, February 26, 2007 - George Town
What a strange feeling to put the boat in gear and actually see it moving through the water. I had almost forgotten it was still possible, but yesterday Seaductress shook off her anchor and took part in the "Sail Past," a new regatta tradition in which ships and crews were dressed in their finest colors and paraded past a committee boat while Stuart of Union Jack read a short autobiographical narrative about each. For lack of anything better, here's what we gave him to read about us:
Seaductress is a 35 foot S2 center cockpit from Chattanooga, Tennessee, spending her second season in the Bahamas with crew consisting of Admiral Annie, Captain/Princess Laura, and 3rd Mate Rodger. Seven year old Captain Laura is a cat lover and travels with no less than two dozen cats--all of them, fortunately, of the stuffed toy variety. Laura is holding a sign that says, "Do Not Litter."Today at Volleyball Beach we met some very large and friendly stingrays who seemed to think we would feed them if they swam by only inches away from our feet. Jack on Dionysus has arrived en route to St. Thomas and reports that Dave Hurd will be down to join him for the next leg of the trip on Wednesday. We also finally caught up with John and Jeanie on Island Time, last seen in Annapolis. Regatta Week officially begins tomorrow, and already the action is heating up. Every morning there are reports of one or two dinghies that chafed through and have gone missing, not to mention the usual lost and found dinghy oars. Having lost an oar last year, I have safety lines tying them down and always try to have at least two lines on the dinghy if we leave it in the water overnight. Last night, with the wind blowing, I had no less than three lines on the dinghy.
We are looking forward to a four-day visit from my sister Krissy and brother-in-law Robert, who are flying into Staniel Cay on March 8th, so it won't be long before we will be looking for a good window to head that direction.
Photos: (1) Girls with tattoos at Volleyball beach. (2) Chris Parker, the man behind the radio voice who secretly controls the weather. How else can you explain his bulletproof forecasts? (3) It was standing room only to hear Chris give his weather seminar. From the looks of the crowd, he must be discussing Globalstar. (4) With everybody in town to hear Chris, the G-town dinghy dock got a bit congested.
From Laura's journal:
We are in George Town! There, I found a fort. I have seen starfishes, rays, sea cucumbers, coral, fish, birds, lizards, snails, snakes, trees that are dying (and the fort). There was a war at the fort.
Thursday, March 1, 2007 - George Town
David Hurd arrived yesterday to join Jack on Dionysus for the trip to St. Thomas. When I first saw David at Volleyball Beach yesterday, he asked me what I had learned from this trip. "You can't escape from yourself," I told him, but he wasn't satisfied with that. No doubt he wanted something more pragmatic. Later, I thought about my state of mind before and after this journey and realized what I should have told him. David still wouldn't be completely satisfied, but I don't know else to tell him.
What I've learned from this trip is that life is worth living.
Photos: (1) Looking north over Elizabeth Harbour and Hamburger Beach from near the top of the Monument. (2) Looking south from the top of the monument. (3) From the Pet Parade on Opening Night of Regatta: the kids from Snow Day show one of two large dogs that traveled down with them from Canada (that's four people and two dogs on a 30 foot boat, a dedicated cruising family if I ever saw one).
Friday, March 2, 2007 - Marina at Emerald Bay
None the less, we followed Grace about ten miles north to the beautiful Marina at Emerald Bay, where we fueled up with 17 gallons of diesel, then took a slip on "non-service" docks. The facilities are all brand new, with concrete floating docks each equipped with (gasp!) pump-out facilities. I'm not sure if they are operational, but these are the first pump-outs we have ever come across in all of the Bahamas. While the crew of Grace enjoyed the pool, we repaired our broken foil, then joined them for a delicious pizza dinner with after-dinner shopping at the grocery store next door. The marina runs a free shuttle bus to all these attractions. Annie was up late doing laundry; although the laundry at the marina is free, they have just three machines which are in great demand. As Annie was finishing up at almost midnight, another couple arrived to get started on their wash!
From Laura's journal: On Kid's Day, I met a pirate, found treasure, made crafts, made a necklace, watched a boat race, and saw old friends.
Photos: (1) Laura fell in with the likes of Capt. Jack Sparrow at Children's Day. (2) Laura doing crafts while a couple of Welsh Pirate Fiddlers play in the background. (3) The homemade model boat races were hotly contested this year. At right is Laura's friend Samantha with her precious Fairy-crewed catamaran, I Believe. Unfortunately, after the race Samantha stopped believing quite as much and was digging a hole to buy the boat after it didn't win.
Saturday, March 3, 2007 - Little Farmers Cay
We enjoyed a walk up to the famous Ocean Cabin restaurant and bar, where we enjoyed some ice cream. Laura made friends with a couple of local kids on the beach while Annie and I talked with the crew of Windfall, the Hinkley we'd last encountered (literally, thanks to my poor anchoring) in St. Augustine. Nice folks, all.
Photos: (1) Having ice cream at Ocean Cabin. (2) The wreck of the Blue Sky on Great Guana Cay
Sunday, March 4, 2007 - Pipe Creek
We went back inside against an impressive river of water ten miles later at Dotham Cut near Black Point, still fish-less. Our next challenge was finding our way into the new channel to Compass Cay and Pipe Creek. We'd failed at this task three weeks before, but now we had good weather and proper light for reading the water. Good one, this time! It appears that on our previous attempt we were about a hundred yards too far to the north in a nasty hard-bottomed area, so we had done the right thing when we aborted. This time we anchored just inside Pipe Creek within sight (and wireless range) of Compass Cay Marina and enjoyed an afternoon trip over to Joe Cay for snorkeling and sandcastle building. There are a couple of other boats around the corner to the north and a few in the distance down by Overyonder Cut, but by and large we have this beautiful place to ourselves.
Photos: (1) Exploring the salina at Joe Cay. (2) Playing on the beach nearby at the south end of Joe Cay.
Monday, March 5 - Compass Cay
Photos: (1) Walking toward Rachel's Bubblebath. (2) The pool is calm at low tide with a small wave just coming in. (3) Bubbles a'coming. (4) At the Bat Cave (click on photo to see the bat).
Wednesday, March 7 - Big Majors Spot
Photos: (1) This Haitian boat apparently sank while at anchor in Little Creek near Black Point. What happened to the people who were aboard? Click on the photo for the essay this wreck prompted. (2) Haitian boats are not the only wrecks you'll find in Little Creek.
This morning, after I picked up our bread, we motorsailed over to Big Majors to anchor next to our friends Bob and Sally on Endaxi. I dinghied over to say hello. They seemed very impressed with my boathandling skill after I handed Bob a line to tie off my dinghy, stepped aboard, and then realized that the line wasn't tied to anything at the dinghy end. The wind was quickly taking the mighty inflatable away so I leaped into space ever so gracefully and landed with my body half in and half out of the boat just before it got away.