Saturday, June 21, 2014
Irish Eyes is anchored off the beach in Governor’s Harbour with the sun awning up.
My seashell guidebook says Atlantic cowries are rare. We found eight on a beach in the Abacos.
Everyone has a picture of the lighthouse in Hopetown, so I’ll put one in this posting too. The light is still kerosene powered and rotates with clockwork driven by falling weights. It is 150 years old.
In St Augustine someone tried to steal this Morgan 50 sailboat, but they did not know how to sail it. The boat ran into the Bridge of Lions, and the thieves jumped overboard.
This ocean going tug is towing a huge barge while a smaller tug helps to guide it down the Cape Fear River. We passed three similar tugs pulling their barges at sea. On the open ocean there is no helper tug and the barge is maybe a quarter mile behind the tug on a long cable. You don’t want to try and go between them.
We post our position as we travel using our single sideband radio. The red balloon at the top is in New Bern where we started and ended the trip. You can see where we went south in the ICW, crossed from Miami to Bimini, cruised the Exumas, went back north through Eleuthera and the Abacos, sailed to St Augustine, and returned to Beaufort offshore with a stop in the Cape Fear River.
Hello from New Bern, NC. Irish Eyes is safely tied in her slip with the air conditioner running. Yesterday afternoon it was 97 degrees. We need the air conditioner. It’s hotter here than it was down south.
On our last night in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera, Bill and I went to the local Fish Fry. We had fried fish, conch salad, and rum bubbas. The food was not really very good, but the drinks and entertainment were great. In the area around Governor’s Harbour were lots of upscale rental houses. A local disc jockey with computer music and huge speakers put on a dance and limbo contest to attract and entertain the tourists staying there. We were ourselves greatly entertained by the (rum soaked) vacationing young people. Governor’s Harbour had its own Junkanoo band, The Harbour Boys, who paraded up and down the street playing their drums. Bill bought a Harbour Boys T-shirt.
We left Governor’s Harbour on the morning of May 24th. Between the previous night’s Rum Bubbas and our late night out, we did not get away at Captain Bill’s usual “O Dark Thirty”. We motored sailed north through Current Cut with its four knot current. Once out of the cut, we anchored for the first night off the Current Cut settlement and the second off Meek’s Patch. The next day we took the dinghy into Spanish Wells.
Spanish Wells had lots of traffic. Granted the vehicles were golf carts, but the drivers of the fast gasoline powered ones roared past the slower electric ones passing them on the narrow streets. For a pedestrian forced to walk in the road, it was a little unnerving. Bill had a map of the settlement, so we took a circle tour with a stop first for lunch and then for a little grocery shopping. We were back on Irish Eyes in the early afternoon and motored over to Royal Island. In preparation for the 60 mile sail across the ocean to the Abacos, we deflated the dinghy and packed it away on deck. It took us just 36 minutes; a best ever record for us.
We left Royal Island in the early morning, motored to Egg Island, raised our sails, and sailed across the Northeast Providence Channel to the Abacos. Ron and Dee on Ursa Minor, who had earlier treated us to a driving tour of Eleuthera, were ahead of us. We kept them in sight until they raised their spinnaker, then they disappeared over the horizon. Bill, jealous, started lobbying for a spinnaker for Irish Eyes. My standard question when Bill talks about buying large things for the boat is “Where are you going to put it?” There is just not enough room on a 34 foot boat for all the things he “needs”. We made it to the Abacos and through the Little Harbour Cut before dark. We were welcomed to the Lynyard Cay anchorage by Ursa Minor who had been anchored there for some time.
Next morning we inflated our dinghy and took the mile and a half dinghy ride into Little Harbour. It was lunch time. We had delicious blue cheese cheeseburgers at Pete’s Pub and enjoyed the great sport of people watching. There is a bronze sculpture foundry and art gallery in Little Harbour. We browsed in the gallery, but we didn’t find anything that would fit on the boat (or that we could afford). On the way back to Irish Eyes we took a short beach walk. We found 8 Atlantic cowrie shells on the beach. Our shell book says they are rare.
The weather forecast said we were to have showers every day for the next several days. We moved the boat north and anchored off Tahiti Beach on May 30th. Tahiti Beach was full of people. It was a lively place with both cruising sailboats and cruising motorboats anchored off the beach and small runabouts run up on the sand. We had a sailboat full of Boy Scouts anchored near us. It was fun to watch the Scouts learning about sailing a large boat while at the same time just being teenage boys away from home and in the Bahamas. I’m glad I was not in charge of them.
While we were anchored at Tahiti Beach, we took the 2 mile dingy trip to the pretty village of Hopetown. The rental houses were well kept and the flowers that were blooming the yards were lovely. Bill and I walked around town, had lunch at the Harbour Inn Restaurant, and bought a loaf of bread and a half dozen Key Lime cupcakes.
On Tuesday June 3rd the rain showers were gone, so we motored then sailed over to Marsh Harbour. It was time to think about the long trip back to the states. Bill got fuel and water. I bought a few groceries at Maxwell’s Supermarket. Maxwell’s really was a supermarket – sort of like a small Publix. The last real supermarket we had seen was in Miami way back in February. The wide selection at Maxwell’s was a little overwhelming.
Marsh Harbour is usually a crowded anchorage, but not this time. The morning we left I could only count 15 boats. It was easy to tell it was June and almost all the boats had gone back to the US or Canada. On June 5th it was time for us to head north as well. Once again we brought the dinghy onboard and headed to Green Turtle Cay. It took us about 5 hours to go around Whale Cay and anchor off the settlement at Green Turtle Cay. We launched the dinghy and went ashore looking for fresh bread. I can make bread, and most of the time I do, but it was too hot to turn on our little oven and heat up the boat.
After we had had our supper, I looked out a port and saw a boat sailing in among the anchored boats. The boat sailed over near us, dropped the anchor, then dropped the sails. It was rather impressive. The crew came over later to chat. They were three young males and one female from Florida who had come over to the Abacos for a ten days. On their way over the boat’s engine had failed and they had torn the luff from their roller furling genoa sail. The engine did not run and the sail was held to the forestay with a dozen wire ties. They were having fun in spite of all their problems.
Early on Friday, June 6th we picked up and deflated the dinghy still again. We said good bye to our young friends from Florida and headed north. We motor-sailed most of the day in the light to nonexistent wind. When the sun set we turned on our running lights and continued on. Bill went below to have a nap, and I settled down in the cockpit with my Kindle Paperwhite and a Diet Coke. The Kindle fills the time and the caffeine in the Diet Coke keeps me awake as the nighttime hours go past.
While Bill was still sleeping, I noticed the red and green sidelights were not working. Not too good. I was keeping track of several ships by eye and radar. They were miles away, but we still needed our lights shining so they could see us. I hated to do it, but I woke Bill. He is not only the Captain but also the fix-it man. Hanging over the bow in the dark and getting a little wet, he found that the wires to the lamp had corroded away. He rigged up some temporary wiring and got the lights working again.
During the next day we sailed along in light wind making good progress north in the Gulf Stream. The seas were nearly calm, so Bill moved some fuel from the jugs on deck to the fuel tank. We saw dolphins, birds, container ships, tankers, and a cruise ship. The wind filled in from the north and picked up making the Gulf Stream a little rough. We turned west towards St. Augustine. As we got closer to Florida, the seas settled down again. We went through the Bridge of Lions at 2:30pm on Sunday, June 8th 54 hours after leaving Green Turtle Cay. We picked up a mooring at the St Augustine City Marina, cleared in to the US by telephone, and went to sleep.
It was hot in Florida during the day but very comfortable at night. Thunderstorms were forecast for every day; sometimes they were isolated, sometimes scattered, and sometimes likely. In St Augustine I did laundry, Bill shopped for boat things that we could not get in the Bahamas, and we walked around town and ate in restaurants. The occasional rain washed the salt off the boat. After three days it was time to continue toward home. The thunderstorms were ‘likely’, so we planned to go north in the ICW to Fernandina Beach in the morning.
When I went out into the cockpit just before sunrise, the west end of the Bridge of Lions was filled with flashing red and blue lights and with men walking around in reflective vests. Puzzled, Bill hailed the bridge tender on the VHF radio and was told that the bridge could not open until 7:30. We had a leisurely breakfast, released the mooring at 7:20, and started toward the bridge. We could then see what was causing all the excitement. A large, well-kept red sailboat was leaning against the bridge with its jib sail up and a slack line hanging from its bow into the water. The current was holding the boat against the bridge. The boat appeared to be unoccupied. The bridge opened and we went through very puzzled about the pretty sailboat up against the bridge. Later, I googled the St. Augustine newspaper and found out that somebody tried to steal the boat! Apparently, whoever it was did not know how to sail, got into trouble, and jumped off into the water.
Just as we got to Fernandina Beach, the ‘likely’ thunderstorms arrived with wind, rain, thunder, and lightning. We tied up (in the rain) at the Fernandina Harbor Marina. Bill called his cousin Joe. He and his wife Carol came by the boat, then we all went to the La Mancha Restaurant where we had a wonderful meal and even better conservation.
In the morning the possibility of thunderstorms was down to ‘isolated’ and the wind was to come from the south, southeast, or southwest. It was time to pop out into the Atlantic and head north. We left Fernandina Beach about 9:30 and sailed out the St Mary’s River into the Atlantic.
There’s not much to say about sailing in the ocean. You can see water, sky, and the occasional ship. The sun comes up and the sun goes down. Bill had attached an earphone jack to our Sirius radio with a long cord so I could listen to the radio from the cockpit on my watches. I was fine relaxing in the cockpit with my Kindle and my radio when it was my watch.
Our intention was to head straight to Beaufort, NC. The trip up the coast past Brunswick, Savannah, and Charleston was fairly uneventful. We reached Frying Pan Shoals two days later in the late afternoon. The wind shifted direction and the wind speed increased. It was now coming out of the north and blowing about 15-20 knots. With the sails up and the motor running we could only go 2.8 knots with water and spray coming over the deck. Not good. We did the smart thing, turned left, put the wind on our beam, and sailed into the Cape Fear River. We anchored for the night in the river, out of the channel near the Ft Macon ferry terminal. After two nights at sea standing watches, it was nice to sleep all night in a boat that was not moving.
On Monday the wind was forecast to be southerly at 5-10 knots dropping to 5 knots overnight. Bill did the calculations, and with that wind we would be in Beaufort at 10:00 Tuesday morning. We headed up the ICW to Wrightsville Beach and out Masonboro Inlet. The wind was southerly, but instead of 5-10 knots it was 15-20knots. We were flying along. Trying to slow down, we furled the genoa and were sailing with the mainsail only. We were still making about 6.5 knots. Bill recalculated. We were going to arrive at the Beaufort inlet at midnight. There were two choices; go in the well-lighted inlet at midnight or sail repeatedly out to sea and back towards the inlet until daylight. We decided to be brave and go in through the inlet in the dark. It was a little harrowing; actually I was terrified! But, by 2:00am we were anchored behind Fort Macon and very relieved. I truly hope we never have to sail in an inlet in the dark again.
In the morning (Tuesday June 17th) we motored up the ICW and into the Neuse River. Our dock lines were secured by 3pm, and we put the air conditioner in and turned it on. Whew, we made it!
We had dinner both with Robert Banks (Susan was visiting her grandchildren) and with Phyllis and Bill from ‘Oh My’. It was been fun catching up. Captain and fixit man Bill has been doing boat repairs: rewiring the running lights, repairing the dinghy, and other small jobs. I am ready to hop in the trusty, rusty Blazer and head home. I’m hoping to see all my Tennessee friends soon.
P.S. Since I wrote this, Bill and I survived the 8 hour drive in our old Blazer from New Bern to Kingsport on Sunday, June 23. For the last couple of days we’re at home and working on getting our house in order.