Sunday, March 27, 2011

GTC Webcam

Click HERE to view the Green Turtle Club's view of White Sound. We are anchored quite a bit further out in the harbor on the left side. If you look past the boats at the marina, in line with the Bahamas flag, you may get a glimpse of New Horizon, or perhaps even see us kayaking, dinghy sailing, or Dave windsurfing!

Don't Rock Passage

We did it! We have made it to the other side of Whale Cay and are now anchored in White Sound at Green Turtle Cay. Yesterday's weather was predicted to be calm, but there was a south wind that steadily increased, the further north we went.

We approached Don't Rock itself, which is off of Treasure Cay, and we always wonder why this lone rock is out there in the middle of the sandbanks.

Getting around Whale Cay, either out in the ocean, or through these shallow waters, is such a love-hate relationship, because the water has such gorgeous and varied colors of blue. However, the waves can pile up and break on the shallowest spots, which we have to watch out for. The deeper the water, the deeper the color. Looking back from the sandbanks, you can see that the fuel barge is in the deepest water, heading out to sea.
There are two extremely shallow spots we have to cross, one at the beginning, and one at the end. It is bit hard to see in this picture, but the water almost looks white in the distance, which naturally means there is very little water there at all. That is Whale Cay way in the background.
We had choppy seas from the south and 2 foot ocean swells from the east that seem to collide together and lift us up. Of course what goes up, must come down, and it is in those low troughs that we have to worry about hitting bottom. At 2 hours before high tide we only had one and a half feet of water below our keel at one point. In this picture there is a big demarcation line between the shallow and deeper water.
Then we were past the last bank and shot out into deeper water (about 10ft.), as we tow our marina entourage towards Green Turtle Cay.
That added to our long distance travelling challenge also!We have named the skiff SAFARI because we compare it to our GMC van at home. That turned our original dinghy into my PT Cruiser Convertible, which fits it (and ME) perfectly.

Now it's time to put everything back where it normally goes. We always tie down and secure everything in our floating condo, just in case there are rough seas that displace items. It would be awful to go down below in the main cabin and find books, computers, DVDs, etc. flung all over the place. Or even worse, to find the refrigerator door open and the contents all over the galley. Yikes!

At least until next season 'The Whale' is history!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Tide Waits For No Man

However, sometimes 'MAN' has to wait for the tide to come back in!

Dave and our friend Sam tried to get this small boat out from under the sailing club dock, since it was sitting on the cross braces. The dinghy was just too heavy and needed assistance from the rising tide. The people that left the boat unattended without having a stern anchor down to keep it from blowing under the dock, arrived just as we were leaving. They were so shocked to see their predicament, and insisted that THEY hadn't put the boat there, and that someone had moved it! We explained what happens with the wind and tide, and although they claimed there was no anchor given to them by the resort where it was loaned to them, it was clearly visible to us (they just didn't notice it). Dave gave them a ride back to the resort and they were really nice people, but just didn't know the proper docking procedure here in the Abacos. Luckily no one, boats, or the dock were damaged. It just added even more excitement to another typical day in Hope Town Harbour.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bonus Day

What do you get when you wake up to no wind and there is a sailboat regatta scheduled? You get a race postponement and a bonus day on, in, and under the water! Don't you love my outfit? It was only 9 A.M. with a chill still in the air, so I dressed appropriately for anything that could happen...swimsuit, wetsuit, rashguard, shorts, and sweatshirt!

The ocean and Fowl Cay Reef were calling us and I bet you know what that means. That's right, more fish pictures! Here are just a few. As always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them for details.

Small Trumpetfish. A huge school of Doctorfish.
A Bermuda Chub, who seemed to like me so much he kept swimming up to my mask.
This sea fan was the biggest we have ever seen.
This green Parrotfish really blended in with the coral that he munches on with his hard 'beak'. Did you know that sand is actually Parrotfish poop?
Beautiful brain coral.
This 4 foot mean looking Barracuda followed us around 'HIS' reef. I learned back in the Florida Keys, where there are tons of them, that if you feel threatened by them, just swim right at them and it scares them (well, a bit anyway) and they keep their distance.
Last, but certainly not least, here is a crazy upside down Husbandfish!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Race to the Finish

Our time here in Hope Town is almost over. It has been quite a winter of sailing and racing. Dave sailed several times on the Abaco Rage, once on a sailboat named Sundog, and he has also participated in every Sunfish/Abaco Dinghy race.
Being on the race committee, Dave has filled in when not crewing on boats, and I have assisted with almost every race on either the committee or mark set boat. This is also a great way to view the races. When on the committee boat, which is stationed at the start/finish line, we get to see how close the competition is, especially at the start.
Being on the mark set boat, we get to follow the race closer, and have seen some awesome mark roundings and maneuvers.

Now, as the season draws to a close, we only have one more sailboat race, and we will both help on the committee boat. Then we will be doing a race of our own towards our boat storage yard in Green Turtle Cay.
In order to get there though, we have to plan according to the calmest weather possible, to get past the challenge of Whale Cay Passage. We will most likely take the inside route, called the Don't Rock Passage, which we have to travel at high tide, in order to get over the shallow sandbars. It is quicker than the outside ocean route, but conditions have to be perfect to attempt it. Once we get over this hurdle in our race to the finish, we can complete our boat projects, clean and polish everything inside and out to help prevent rust and mildew, and be ready for New Horizon to be hauled out on land for the summer, on April 5th.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness

Since we returned to Hope Town, we have been going non-stop with sailing club events. There have been meetings, luncheons, dinners, a BIC (brief informal cruise), and numerous races followed by awards stand-up parties. Every day there has been something different to be involved in.

That is until today, when we had a break with nothing scheduled on our calendar. Amazingly, it was even sunny, warm, and CALM out! We quickly came up with a plan to do as much as possible in one day. We loaded up our skiff with the kayak, the water skis, our snorkel gear, and a picnic lunch, so we were ready for anything and everything. Yippee!

We headed south and the first order of business was to take Dave slalom skiing, which is always a rush for him to go skimming over the clear water.

Our ultimate goal was to go snorkeling at the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, but since the currents can run quite strong there, it is best to go as close to a tide change as possible. We had a bit of time to kill, so we stopped to go kayaking in Tilloo Pond, which reportedly has many turtles living in it. Sure enough, we saw quite a few of them in the shallow water of this lagoon.

With even more time on our hands, we continued on south past the ocean passes and islands to Little Harbour for lunch and more kayaking.We visited this area and Pete's Pub and Gallery last year by land, on a road trip to Cherokee (click HERE to see that post about Little Harbour). The Johnston Family settled here many years ago and started a foundry, but when they first arrived, they actually lived in the caves in the background of this picture. "Let me sell you a nice piece of land in the Abacos"...that's a for sale sign in the cave!

Finally the tide was slack, so we snorkeled at two different spots in the Land and Sea Park.

After another quick kayak trip in the area, we had one more stop to make before heading back to Hope Town Harbour. The tide was rising and we anchored off the beach at Tilloo sandbank to dry up and take a walk.

It's a good thing the days are longer now, since it worked out perfectly for our extended water safari! We accomplished our goals, and are ready to get back to the remainder of our March madness commitments in Hope Town.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Heritage Day

First of all, in my last post about the dolphins, I neglected to tell you that we are now back on a mooring in Hope Town. Instead of being smack dab in the middle of the harbor this time, we are at the beginning of Back Creek.
The two dolphins were up and down the protected creek almost all day yesterday and even came back for awhile today.
Enough said about the dolphins though...

March is a busy month for us with lots of meetings, sailing races, plus other club and community events. Today was Hope Town Heritage Day which was a fundraiser for the local Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. Besides the usual food, shirt, and art vendors, silent auctions, and some historical displays, they had a couple of novel ways to raise money. This included tours of the local homes, and the always popular prettiest knees contest.

One of the interactive displays really drew our attention, when several of the local residents went out in wood Abaco Dinghies to have a sculling race.
Sculling, with this long single oar off the stern, is a fine art that takes time and patience to learn. Of course the people who grew up here have been using this form of rowing since they were children.
It was fun to see how fast they could go to the finish line.
THEN, it was the Americans' turn to try their hand at it (literally!), and Dave was one of the volunteers to go out and scull around the course.
It took much concentration, but he finally got the knack of it.
Afterwards, the guys all received sculling shirts for their efforts and entertaining the onlookers.
Learning this almost lost art form, in these beautiful Hope Town hand-made boats, was an excellent way to experience some of the nautical history of the Abacos.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Early Morning Visitors

All morning long we have had a very feisty dolphin calf and its mellow mother swimming around the boats in the harbor. At one point they were so close to our swim platform that we could have reached out and touched them.
The baby was 'spy-hopping', jumping out of the water, doing brief speed runs (in the opposite direction of Mom), and swimming upside down.
Meanwhile, Mom slowly swam nearby and occasionally pushed the calf around with her rostrum. Amazingly, they were both even sneaking up on people in their dinghies and we would yell, "Look behind you!" followed by lots of "oohs and ahs". What a fun playground for the dolphins, and great entertainment for us all!