Friday, November 30, 2012

Go While You Can

We've learned that when the wind dies, you don't wait for a better day. We try and do as much as we can while it's calm. That's exactly what we did the the day of the gorgeous sunrise in the last post. We loaded up the kayak and water skis in the skiff and headed south to Tilloo Cay. We anchored off the beach, put the kayak in the water and headed south along the shore.

Anyone missing a dock or two? What power mother nature has to throw all this up on the rocks!

Then we moved to Pelican Cays. It's not very often you can kayak here because of the ocean swells, but today was an exception.

The beach is gorgeous, but most of the island is iron coral that is very unforgiving.

The first time we came here back in the late 1980's, there used to be a house up on the hill, surrounded by hammocks hanging in palm trees. Then one year we came and the roof was gone, the next the house was caving in, and now you can't even get near what's left of the foundation. Nature has reclaimed it all.

I started collecting a few shells along the high tide line. It sure is great beachcombing at this time of year, before it gets overrun with boaters.

While taking my photos, surprise! Part of my display started crawling away. You can see it in the upper right hand corner above.

I followed my little live display and it led me to all of his friends crawling over the beach, racing to their very own Crabfest! There were piles of them every few feet!

I left the rest of my display back on the beach because this is a no-take zone as part of the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park...not to mention I don't have room for anymore shells anyway!

Next stop was Tilloo Pond where we anchored and kayaked, looking for the many turtles that seem to like this harbor.

That's when the wind started picking up and we headed back to find a protected cove so Dave could do a bit of water skiing. Sorry, no photos this time..he was going way too fast!

We just couldn't resist hitting one more beach before heading back to New Horizon, especially when it's popular Tahiti Beach, with not a soul to be found on it. Or at least no humans on it. This was our greeting party...two live immature conchs, called rollers (because they roll in the surf).

Then Dave found this gorgeous horse conch.

We threw all three of our finds into deep water so no one else would find them. Some collectors wouldn't hesitate to take them home and boil the inside out. Worse yet are the unsuspecting tourists who take them home and then realize they WERE alive and are now stinking. Case in shell display that crawled away.

This part of Tahiti Beach is really just a sandbank and only walkable at low tide. Every year the sand shifts with the storms and sometimes (like last year) there's hardly anything there, and other times (like now) it is huge.

We timed our trip just perfect, both with tides and weather. Remember the saying "nothing is certain but death and taxes?" Add wind to that list too. It's for sure it's going to start blowing again...and right now it's back to near gale force!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good Morning!

"...Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning." This may be true since we are expecting high winds for the rest of the week. You would never know it right now though. There isn't a breath of wind, as seen by the reflections of this spectacular sunrise on the water. What a great way to start the day!

Monday, November 26, 2012


No, I don't mean life on board New Horizon is going downhill, I'm referring to the 2012 Box Cart Derby!  This downhill event is held every year on Big Hill, outside Hope Town, and it is such a big hit that people come from all over the Abacos to participate or be spectators. All proceeds from the sale of food, drink and shirts, goes to local community organizations. This year I volunteered to help serve the burgers and hot dogs, while Dave worked serving drinks. That's right, I said drinks...alcoholic drinks! Where else can you go to a fundraiser for a good cause such as a school, and find alcohol served?

The variety of the box carts are what we like seeing, and this year did not disappoint. Dave still wants to be a participant one of these years, and he is trying to come up with a way to get a cart here. Below are some examples of the Bahamas version of the Box Car Derby.

Down Deep Island Seafood cart

Hope Town School's cart

This cart crashed and the wheels aren't quite this straight anymore (no injuries to the driver thankfully)

This was one of my favorites, but it didn't roll too fast. Those are bicycle tires around the drum.

Conch Wars. The driver was dressed in pink camouflage. 

 Stealth cart. No one could see the driver inside.

This was more of a skateboard and should have been called "No fear". The driver wasn't even wearing elbow or knee pads.

Shake 'N' Bake

This is Chloe, aka Dorothy, with her Wizard of Oz cart. She did awesome and looked good too!

 No Wizard of Oz theme would be complete without Toto and the Wicked Witch of the West.

I believe this was the Second Place downhill winner and may have won the Slalom Course (we left before the awards were given).

 And the downhill winner was...

However, the Showmanship award must have gone to "The Chicken Meets Colonel Sanders." There were even KFC boxes on their cart which was made out of a kayak!
Both the downhill and slalom races were fun to watch, but even more impressive was the enthusiasm and generosity of the crowd, especially after dealing with the hurricane only a month ago.

Friday, November 23, 2012


New Horizon now sits blissfully moored in the middle of  famous Hope Town Harbour. So far there haven't been too many other boats arriving, although that will soon change.

 At first glance you wouldn't know that there had been a hurricane just about a month ago. There are some brown trees and barren spots, but that happened because there was no rain to wash the salt away after the storm. It is really amazing how quickly the island has been picked up, especially getting rid of all the sand that came in. Streets in the settlement had to be shoveled off and we have even found sand stuck to the eaves of the sailing club.

There were a couple of boats that broke their mooring lines and washed ashore in the harbour. 

This sailboat even lost its wing keel (sitting at the water's edge next to it).

The biggest issue though, is the beach erosion. Dunes were eroded back. Protective walls were washed away.

Decks have been exposed.

Some decks are just hanging over the beach .

This stairway even had the sand washed away past its concrete footings.

This jacuzzi was left precariously balancing on the edge.
The relentless pounding of the surf during these storms continues to wear away the beach and dunes. Let's just hope that there won't be any more hurricanes for many years to come!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roller Coaster Ride

Let's go ride The Whale! It was a stormy looking morning, but the Hope Town pot of gold at the end of this rainbow enticed us to try the Whale Cay Passage today.

It was either now or never...well at least a week, because the winds were supposed to get even higher. We secured everything (or so I thought) and headed out into the Sea of Abaco towing our two skiffs. This time we had them on the same length line, so that hopefully their wakes wouldn't interfere with each other. It worked great and they never ran into each other either.

As we headed south, Green Turtle Cay faded into the distance, and as we approached the sandbanks, the rain showers started catching up to us and the seas started to kick up.

That's when the rolling started from the 5-7 ft. swells making their way in from the ocean. While Dave was driving the boat, I sat backwards on the flybridge steps, watching to make sure the two little boats were behaving. Suddenly I heard all sorts of clinking glass from down below. I carefully (but quickly!) made my way down to the galley to discover that the bottles in the liquor cabinet were crashing back and forth. I shoved as many towels as I could find around the bottles, but I still heard glass hitting. Then I found another problem with a large glass jar that WAS filled with shells and sea glass had fallen over and the top had come off. That got thrown in the sink for safety, and I timed the boat roll to get back outside....just in time to catch Dave's tool boxes as they came unhooked from the sundeck's chairs and slid across the floor. Whew!

We originally thought we might do the inside 'Don't Rock' Passage, but there were too many breaking waves on our beam. It was much safer and a bit more comfortable to go straight into the roller coaster waves and out into deeper water. The breaking waves in this photo are where you DON'T want to go.

Nor do you want to veer off course in these waves.

Whale Cay is very unforgiving, especially today!

Once we made it through to the south part of the passage, the channel is deeper and we didn't have to worry about breaking waves. However, the waves were closer together and some of them, like this one on the right, looked like it might go right over the two skiffs. Not a problem as the boats skimmed right over the wave and then surfed down them.

On the north side of Guana Cay we saw this sand barge aground on the rocks, a victim of Hurricane Sandy. The weather hasn't been calm enough to salvage or pull it off the rocks.

The boat ran almost flawless, except for the starboard engine running a bit hot. Dave's steering fix worked perfect and the exhaust repair from last season was a success also. We had minimal fumes inside the boat.We knew that New Horizon was up for the challenge, but we're the ones that have the hard time in these conditions.

Going downwind and passing by Guana, Scotland, and Man 'O' War Cays, we had a light chop on the Sea of Abaco , but it rained on us several times. With the autopilot on, Dave took advantage of the freshwater rinse and cleaned the decks as we motored along at about 8 m.p.h. We stopped just outside of Hope Town Harbour to pull the little boats along side (one on each side) and our floating marina made our grand entrance into the harbor. Many greetings were called out to us as we found and picked up our mooring. It's great to be back!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

Make that "back on water skis again!" Dave had no problem getting up on his slalom ski and getting a good work out on the Sea of Abaco. I had a good work out too, trying to drive the boat, figure out which side of the boat Dave was on in case he fell (not likely!), and take a few photos.

After this morning's exercise, we stopped for a bit of beachcombing.

Here are the treasures found today:

This is the south end of Green Turtle Cay looking out towards the ocean and No Name Cay.

We had run the bow of the skiff up on the beach, knowing that the tide was rising (the tides have been quite extreme the past few days).

As I turned around at the end of the island, I saw that the tide had come up so high that the bow had floated off. Thankfully I had insisted that Dave throw out a stern anchor before we left the boat. At the time I thought it would keep the stern from getting beached from a wake. Little did I know we would almost be swimming back from the beach.

In the distance we could see a barge and crane anchored off of No Name Cay. We went to investigate and found that the tug next to the barge had sunk.

Several people were on board and it looked like they were attempting to raise it with large airbags.

With the tide so high, we ventured into the natural harbor on uninhabited No Name Cay. This must be what Black Sound looked like to the Loyalists who discovered Green Turtle Cay.

Exploring the mangrove shoreline, we found one tiny spot where we could actually see through the mangroves to the ocean.

We couldn't resist securing the skiff and winding our way through the mangroves to the small ocean beach.

This is such a rugged island. No wonder it has never been developed. Note the huge piles of seaweed left from the hurricane.

What a perfect way to start our winter explorations! We're "back in the saddle" in more ways than one.