Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cultural Experience

What a surprise to see this unusual sight in Hope Town Harbour a couple of days ago.

The Haitian boat 'Message' docked at the freight dock and proceeded to load up many items in both the forward hold and on deck. Everything is loaded by hand, as there are no cranes or mechanical means of lifting.

We've seen these motor freight boats up the Miami River, overloaded with old mattresses, 5 gallon white buckets, rusty bicycles, and all sorts of items needed in Haiti. They are also capable of carrying many passengers in cabins above deck.

Even though there is a large group of Haitian immigrants here in the Bahamas, Hope Town seemed like a strange place to load up with supplies, both new and used. I wouldn't think there would be that much to choose from on this small island.

It was interesting to see this wooden boat up close, with its unique lines and dhow shaped bow. I've been told that these types of boats are actually built right on the beaches of Haiti.

Plus it looked like every Haitian on the island was there to greet it and watch what was being loaded up. Many of the women were in their Sunday finest clothes with pretty head scarves on.

The boat spent the night at the dock, since it was aground at low tide, but come morning it had disappeared. It is approximately 700 miles from Abaco back to Port-au-Prince.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Normally, it is the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) that comes to the rescue here in the Bahamas. However yesterday afternoon, it was the Pahls that went on a rescue mission.

We had tried to go out and wakeboard, but returned when we saw how the sky was turning dark and could see rain heading our way. Just as we got back on board New Horizon, a call came over the VHF radio from Ann and Paul on their Camano 31, Horizons. They too had started heading back to the harbor, but then completely lost their steering. Naturally the skies also chose this inopportune time to open up and pour rain. Being the adventurous souls that we are, we donned our foul weather gear, jumped in the skiff and 'flew' out to tow them back to their mooring. 'PASRA'

They were only about a mile away and we arrived to find them safely anchored, although on a lee shore. The rain had let up some and luckily the wind had not picked up much, as it sometimes does when these cold fronts arrive.

Paul explained what had happened and how he at first tried to continue by just using his bow thruster. Then that cut out and overheated, so he was definitely in trouble.

We hooked up a bridle and towed them on a long line back to the harbor entrance. Horizons towed so straight that I drove almost all the way back. Maybe I should get a Coast Guard Captain's License with a towing endorsement like Dave has!

In order to maneuver in the close quarters of the harbor, we shortened the tow line, but that made Horizons wander back and forth. That's when Ben (Belinda B), who is a Maine lobsterman, took a stern line to help pull and steer from the back. This is exactly what the tugs do with the freighters, especially when transiting the Miami River.

Secured on their mooring once again, the problem was easily found to be a 'T' junction in the hydraulic line that had failed. Paul keeps spares on board and ace mechanic Will (Antares), who had seen our entourage arrive and came over to investigate, helped to repair the damage.

That's the great thing about the Harbour Rats. They're always willing to help, and ready for a challenge. Perhaps this local chapter should be called 'HASRA'.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Rush

Dave bought a used wakeboard at the Friends of Abaco Animals rummage sale recently. He was so excited to start mastering this new endeavor, but it proved to be more of a challenge than he thought. Thanks to an internet instructional video and perseverance, he is making great strides and flying right along.

I just wish someone was in another boat taking pictures of me steering the boat, running the throttle, keeping an eye on Dave behind me (no spotter on board), watching out for other boats, not running into land, AND taking pictures of him. All this at the same time and at 15-20 mph. I guess my boat handling skills are reaching new heights and making me more coordinated!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Who Needs Television?

Welcome to the new reality show, Anchor Wars, affectionately known as Anchor Chuckin’. In this first (and only) episode, contestants will try to throw their stern anchors out as far as possible, before their dinghies get stuck under the dock. The anchor travelling the furthest distance wins!

Today’s (once again, only) competitors are Bill from Interim, and Dave from New Horizon. You can tell by the look on their faces that this is serious business, and concentration is a must in this event.


Wow, Dave gets points for form and splash, but Bill really chucked that anchor and won by a ‘water’slide!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shades Of Yesteryear

During the past few years the cruising boat races have lacked participation. On an average, we would get anywhere between 4 and 8 sailboats racing. All that changed yesterday for the first point to point race of the season, when 15 boats showed up to race! Conditions were perfect and there appears to be more boats around Abaco right now. It was awesome seeing the competition, especially with that many boats approaching the starting line at once.

We had such diverse types of vessels entered in the race. Monohulls, multihulls, wood, fiberglass, and even carbon fiber.

This picture shows the two extremes. The wooden sloop, Abaco Rage, and a huge carbon fiber catamaran.

Even the boat we went sailing on the other day was out on the course.

Dave was running the mainsheet on the Rage during this race (aided by Interim Bill who helped tail). It is a very physical job controlling that huge sail. I was amazed at the wake that this legend produced as it sailed by.

I wasn't needed on the committee boat this time, so I went out in our 16ft. skiff to watch and take pictures. Cindy, our official club photographer, hopped on board so we could follow the fleet as they raced north around Sandy and Garden Cays off Man-O-War.

Trying to stay out of the racers' paths proved to be a challenge, and we were yelled at a couple of times. I didn't realize that the water was quite that deep close to shore and naturally the sailors were trying to cut corners for faster times. It made for great pictures though! As Cindy and I were right up against the rocks, I noticed a dolphin pushing fish right onto the same rocks. It was only about two feet deep, so we had a blast watching both the dolphin hunting and the fish fleeing. Unfortunately they were both way too fast for photo shots.

I know I keep saying this, but it was another great day out on the water.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Getting High On The Abaco Rage

By HTSC Rear Commodore, Dave Pahl

I have to admit, I was always a little envious of those ''macho'' crewmembers who got to sail on the ABACO RAGE. When the opportunity presented itself to me, I jumped at the chance. WOW! Here was an '' outsider'', given a chance by none other than ''Superman'' Stafford Patterson himself!! After 2 days of crewing in the Hope Town Cup, my lust remains strong; I hope I've done my crewmates proud. The Rage is a true dinosaur. Magnificent, yet obsolete. A time capsule, even if only 31 years. Hopelessly overpowered and labor intensive, yet majestic and awe inspiring. There is a saying that there is no substitute for cubic inches and the Rage wrote the book. The boom is 37 feet long, overhanging the transom by 17 feet, on a boat just 28 feet long! Absurdly slow compared to a modern racing sailboat, the Rage begs for compassion and forgiveness, although she'll be the last to reciprocate. No winches and the only electronics are to keep the bilge pumped. She is sailed by the seat of your pants, she demands your full attention, and you will pay if you don't comply. I loved every minute. I don't know what the future holds for this magnificent beast, but I hope others get to check-off another experience on their bucket list, with an invitation to sail on the Abaco Rage.

However, these pictures give the "getting high" part a whole new meaning! Yes, that's definitely Dave rising to the top!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Opportunity Knocked

We recently had a unique opportunity to go sailing on this 2012 Jeanneau 43 sailboat.

Our friends needed to get a certification in order to charter a sailboat in Croatia next fall. Being the excellent boat handlers that we are, we were invited to join them to help sail this large boat during their check-out.

It has been a long time since we have sailed a boat of this size, and boy, is it fast! The wind was perfect, and it felt good to steer and feel its power.

We were going so fast (about 8 knots in a 13 knot breeze), that my hat flew off...now you know why I wear one all the time. LOL

When a gust hit, our rocket ship just heeled over a little more and charged through the water.

However, we did have to take into consideration that we were covering ground faster than we're used to (even in our trawler), because it took us awhile to get the huge roller furling mainsail and jib in, since we were unfamiliar with the boat...at first. We became old hands at it, since part of the check-out was to tack, jibe, and handle all points of sail.

Downwind 'wing on wing'.

Ann contemplates the enormity of the rig.

"Wind's Will" even had dual steering wheels, which proved to be advantageous in a boat this size with a very wide stern.

We also had to motor in and out of tight spaces, dock the boat, show we could pick up a mooring, and even anchor and come off the anchor under sail alone.

Anchoring strategies being discussed at the bow.

Of course all of us have done these things before in our own boats, but Captain Mark from Cruise Abaco, was there to observe, help, teach, and assist if needed. I keep saying 'we', but it was really Paul that was in the hot seat and being tested. We kidded him about how we helped him to look good though! He passed with flying colors, even when we first left the dock and immediately confronted the challenge of having a barge coming at us in the narrow channel.

Thank you Paul, Ann, and Captain Mark for an exciting experience!

Great minds at work during orientation.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hanging Out With Friends

How we spend our time "on the net!"

Left to right...Bill, Dave, Sharon, 'New' Carol, 'Classic' Carol, and Jim took the picture.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Sea Giveth, and the Sea Taketh Away

During Hurricane Irene, the waves were so high that it started washing away the road to White Sound. This road has always been rather precarious on top of the sand dune, but now it has become dangerous travelling to and from the south end of Elbow Cay.

In these pictures, the ocean was at a normal high tide level, so you can imagine what would happen in any kind of storm or rage conditions that were experienced last year. The road is now undermined, so chunks of blacktop keep falling away.

This small bulldozer is moving sand around on the beach in an attempt to build up the dune again.

Further south, the road completely washed out in White Sound in Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The island was breached when the ocean flowed into the sound, separating Elbow Cay into two different islands. The dune was filled in to reconnect the island, but once again breached during Irene.

So, will these repairs be successful? Your guess is as good as mine.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

WEEEEE, Pure Adrenaline!

The Sunfish races were off to a roaring start today. 15 knots of wind brought out 9 Sunfish sailors for the first race of the season. Dave was in his element and in the groove for each of the three races of the series and ended up third overall!

He finished right behind the two best sailors in Abaco who sail in the Sunfish World Competition.

At the start of this race, Dave was first, leading the pack.

Congratulations Dave. You did an awesome job and didn't even get wet. Just don't tell anyone that I did the race scoring on the committee boat. Ha!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The View

My favorite place in Hope Town is at the top of the lighthouse. The 360 degree views are spectacular.

Officially called the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, it was built in 1864 and is one of only a few lighthouses in the world that are still hand wound and run on kerosene. For an extremely interesting article on the history of the lighthouse and its workings click HERE.

The kerosene is delivered to the lighthouse in these plastic jerrycans.

That's because the lighthouse keeper has to bring them up, almost to the top. Then the light has to be wound every two hours.

Unfortunately, for the past couple of years I haven't been able to go up the 101 steps to the top, due to my knee problem.

Thankfully this year my knee has improved, and it was even more enjoyable looking around and taking pictures...oh yes, and helping the guys take down the Christmas lights.

Look, there's New Horizon, a.k.a. the floating marina (center of picture).

Looking straight down from the top can make you dizzy!

It doesn't get more picturesque than this.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Race Of The Season

Yesterday was the first cruising boat race of the season for the Hope Town Sailing Club. Dave and I were on the mark boat, which was a very comfortable Rosborough 24, provided by members Colin and Jan.

Out on the triangular course, race committee member John checks the wind direction, so we have the marks set in the right places.

Ann hands us the last mark from Doug and Betsy's Surf Song, used as the day's committee boat.

The start was a bit slow, with several boats trailing behind, but these three were first over the start line. They certainly show the different types of sailboats that participate in the club's regattas.

The Abaco Rage is always amazing to watch.

The Abaco Rage Sailing Syndicate is offering positions to race each time now, and during this race there were many smiling 'newbies' included in the 14 member crew.

Richard, one of the key experienced crew members had to go out and make adjustments to the sail. Talk about a precarious position!

Unfortunately the Rage had a halyard issue and that huge mainsail came down. This caused the crew out on the prys to get doused in the Sea of Abaco.

What a way to 'baptize' the newbies! Everyone was okay, but the Rage could not complete the race. What an experience they won't forget though.

This Sunday will be the first Sunfish regatta. Dave will be racing and I will be helping run the races on the committee boat. Hopefully the weather will cooperate as well as it did for the first cruising boat race.