Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Try Try Again

After postponing the Dinghy and Sunfish races due to inclement weather a week ago, the race committee thought the conditions would be okay for this past Sunday's competition. A cold front was expected to arrive later in the day with rain and the usual gusty northwest wind. Races begin at 1 PM, but by the time the 11:30 AM skippers meeting was held, the wind had already started to increase. The decision was made not to have the Abaco Dinghies go out, but the Sunfish could handle it. By 12:30 the cold front gods decided to descend upon the race course earlier than expected. Winds gusted to over 20 mph and the races were cancelled after a couple of boats bowed out and others flipped over. Dave and another racer were in complete control and decided to quickly round the makers that had been set on the course before they were picked up, and everyone headed back to the dock. The mark boat helpers were totally drenched and although the race committee was prepared with foul weather gear, they said they had never been that cold before. You can imagine how the sailors felt.

Dave however had a blast, and not only did he have a rollicking sail to windward out of the harbor, but he flew downwind back in. Once he got back home he jumped into the hot shower, still in his wetsuit and hat.

I was so glad I decided not to go out on the course to take photos that day. We'll try again next Sunday!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Other Way To Launch

We are so lucky to have the boatyard to launch and haul out Dandy. We pay for it, but it sure is easier. This is the way that all the other Abaco Dinghies get launched and retrieved...all by help of other cruisers carrying the boats to the water.

Scully was launched this morning and immediately started filling with water from sitting on land all summer. Once the wood swells up, it hopefully won't need to bailed out too often.

We were lucky with that too, as Dandy is very tight and only took on a few cups of water after it was launched. Even after us sailing yesterday, it has no water in the bottom at all. Too bad no one got any photos of us sailing in the harbor, because we sure looked good! Perhaps next time.

Friday, January 27, 2017


On the way back from Little Harbour we went out the cut to get a closer view of a barge and loader hard aground near Lynyard Cay.

It has been here since we arrived in November, so it must have gone aground during Hurricane Matthew. This is a very dynamic area in bad weather, and you can imagine the waves crashing up on the barge. It will be difficult to tow it off, which will make it a very expensive loss!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Memorable Trip South, Part 2

Apparently not too many people venture up to the old abandoned Little Harbour Lighthouse. The trail was so overgrown that we had to duck down at times.

Once we got to the top of the cliff and saw what was left of the house, smokehouse, and cistern, so many memories came flooding back. We had been here in 1986 when it was still intact and there was a second floor. A few years later when we came back with Rick (Mr. Manager 😊), there was graffiti all over the inside. After a series of hurricanes, this is all that remains (even the metal automated light is no longer in service and was lying on the ground).

However, the view from this vantage point is still spectacular and certainly dynamic in heavy seas!  Today was mellow though and I made it close to the edge.

 Isn't it nice that Dave had the camera during this part of the trip? What a day for past memories and making new ones!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Memorable Trip South

Before the stormy weather arrived, we took our annual trek down to Little Harbour, complete with kayaks. 

It's great seeing Walkabout's new hailing port...

Even though it was calm out, the tide was high enough that the undercut rocky cliffs were blowing when the waves hit.

There were even blow holes at the entrance to the harbor.

The pounding waves must be so hard on the rock and you would think that more pieces would break off and fall into the water. You can see the light color area where this must have recently happened:
We decided to take a hike on land and stopped in to see the Johnston Foundry and Gallery. The foundry was closed but the gallery gift shop was open. There were gorgeous bronze items for sale, but way out of our price range. If we ever win the lottery, I am going back to get the spectacular combination turtle and sea ray coffee table for $35,000 (I reminded Dave that our 40th anniversary was coming up in another year 😉)! Statues made on the premises are everywhere. Someday we would like to be here to witness one of their pourings.

As we hiked around, it was fun being on the beach and up on the cliffs that we had just kayaked under.

The pond that used to dry out at low tide many years ago is now dredged and a perfect hurricane hole for boats.
We couldn't resist taking the overgrown path up to the abandoned lighthouse, but I'm going to keep you in suspense about that for another day! Stay tuned for part 2 of our trip...it was definitely memorable.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Where'd It Go?

Our dynamic cold front luckily didn't arrive until just after dawn this morning. However, it was a bit unnerving hearing there were tornado warnings in Daytona last night, but they were rotating clouds with no touch downs. As the front progressed southward and the squalls hit here, the harbor disappeared! Where did all the boats go?

It was wild for about half an hour and it rained so hard that the rain went over the gutters. I think the cisterns still accumulated quite a bit of water though.

After the storm passed, Dave went to check on our boats to make sure the bilge pumps when on and found the boatyard's little skiff floating out of the harbor. Their was so much water run-off into the harbor that it looked like a creek flowing out to the Sea of Abaco. Dave and marina manager Craig jumped in Craig's boat and they rescued the skiff. At least they didn't have to go far. If Dave hadn't noticed it, everyone would have really wondered where'd it go?

This afternoon the skies cleared up, but the wind was blowing about 30+ mph from the west causing the Sea of Abaco to be a maelstrom. Even tonight as I write this, there is another round of thunderstorms passing by. Yup, it's still winter!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Big Wind

Unlike yesterday's big win, today we are waiting for the big wind! For almost a week the prediction has been for gale force winds tomorrow, with 20-30 mph winds leading up to it today. This morning we woke up to light southerly winds and wondered if maybe the scheduled Sunfish races could actually be run, but they were postponed because all the forecasts indicated winds continuing to build all day...and they were right! By dawn we are supposed to have squalls and 40-50 mph winds. So we (and all the boats) are hunkered down and ready for whatever comes our way. Ironically this gigantic yacht came into the harbor and headed straight to the Hope Town Marina...
I guess the name Gale Winds says it all!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Big Win

Dave was crew again on Sunrise for the latest cruising sailboat race and they won! Must be Dave's tiller repair worked, because he didn't have to sit on it this time 😉. They beat the next boat by two minutes on corrected time (which just happened to be the Abaco Rage), which is quite a bit. Congratulations skipper Milton, Dave, and John, winners of the S. Yeardley Smith Trophy!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

All In One Day

Yesterday was another one of those rare calm winter days. In fact it was so calm that the cruising boat race was postponed for a day. The postponement was just what we needed, since the importation paperwork for Walkabout was finally ready. We jumped in Safari and went to Marsh Harbour to complete the transaction and get a Bahamian registration. While Dave did that, I took our little cart up to the grocery store, meeting back at the dock, amazingly within a few minutes of each other. We finished up all our business so fast, we were back in Hope Town by 11:30 AM. Dave had a great idea to take the skiff the approximately 15 miles north to Guana Cay and do a bit of land exploring there, which we haven't done for awhile. The South Man-O-War cut was flat calm so we went outside and around MOW on the ocean side (notice our 'new', aka re-purposed, grab rail on the bow of the boat which aides in getting on and off, anchoring, and docking).

The conditions were perfect for a quick stop at Fowl Cay Reef to feed the snappers, until Mr. Barracuda showed up. No energetic Bermuda Chubs came to the surface though.

Back we headed into the Sea of Abaco near private Scotland Cay and on to Great Guana. 

Guana is known for its partying and bars. Grabbers, which overlooks the Sea of Abaco, sure looks tropical!

There are two dive shops here now, one of which features these undersea scooters.

We walked up past the school that we remember from back in 1986 when we first came here. The old and the new...now there is a cell tower, and you have to love the electrical wire hook ups. That pole actually looks pretty organized compared to some.

The beach here is wide and spectacular. We walked to Nippers, which twice a year features the Barefoot Man Concert. 

The place is so picturesque, but hardly anyone is here during this time of year. During the concert, things look a whole lot different with wild drunk people everywhere. It's quite an experience.

On the way back to the dock we noticed this 'personal watercraft'. Apparently the engine must have died and they put about a 40 hp outboard on it. I sure hope Dave doesn't get any ideas for our Sea Doo at home, although then we wouldn't have to worry about it charging the battery anymore!

The sun was getting low in the sky as we headed back down the huge government dock, then back to Hope Town.

That evening we had another gorgeous sunset making it a fitting ending to a memorable day!

(Thanks Art for posting the sunset photo on Facebook.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Not A Traditional Launch

Yesterday we launched and rigged Dandy. Dave didn't want to use the traditional slings attached to the forklift, because they could mark up the new paint and compress the new tangerine rope trim. Instead, PJ picked up the boat from the trailer on the side and laid it over on two cushions. It looked precarious to me, but it worked great and Dandy floated off the forks nicely.

Dave had to paddle to our dock with his hands. 

I then saved him with the skiff and we brought the dinghy over to the front of the marina, where it will live in a high visibility spot for the remainder of the winter. Now that the mast is up, the boat looks like a museum piece sitting there for all to see as they go to the boatyard and the lighthouse!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good Decision

Dave wasn't sure he made the right decision not to launch Dandy for the Abaco Dinghy races today. When we woke this morning to 15 mph winds, he was glad he had reserved one of the Sunfish instead. Several of the dinghies went out and two of them capsized in the wind and waves. I spent most of the three race series helping Heinz pump out his boat with our electric pump, and then towing him back into the harbor. Dan tried towing the boat, aptly named Nothin's Easy, over to shore so it could be bailed out without waves washing in. It didn't work too well, so they finally took the sails, mast, and boom off.

As we were headed back to Hope Town, I saw Dave passing the windward mark and he was sailing fantastic! He later said it was one of his most fun days of racing he has ever had. He came in 5th out of 14 boats , which is extremely good.

Many thanks to Bill and Maureen from the trawler Sweet Freedom who gave me these photos to use (Dave is #2571). It was great that they were out on the course as spectators and taking pictures, since I was otherwise occupied 😉.