Back to STX (30 May – 11 June 2019)

I ride JetBlue to FL then the American Airlines flight to St. Croix. I’m back on island to fly for Seaborne for another week. First I need to complete annual training and another check ride.

Oddly (for a pilot), I love check rides. Don’t take that wrong, I study like crazy, obsess over small points that will never be on the check ride, have anxiety and don’t sleep well, but when I finally get in the plane, I feel awesome. This time the check ride is 2.5 hours. The only maneuver we don’t perform is the high rate of descent which is fun in the Twin Otter but not really a maneuver you need much since we rarely fly over 4000 feet. I pass and I get a day off then fly the line for 5 days. Great fun.

Flying the Twin Otter in the USVI

When I am not flying, I reacquainted myself with some friends over tacos and at Castaways, catch a movie, go to the Seaside Markets Wine Night, see my lizard friends and the beautiful flowers that are every where.

Twin Otter First Officer
Airline float plane-harbor to harbor
Outside my hotel room

Island iguana

It was great to be flying again but I knew I was missing out on the boat transit back to FL. Steve buddy-boated (kind of) with another Seawind then made the jump across the Gulf Stream. When I finished my flying week, the boat was already back to FL and I did not get to make one last trip to Nassau.

Like all things in life, one choice means that you miss out on some other things. So “make good choices”!

Safe travels,

J

Rose Island (9-14 May 2019)

(Note: I apologize-I thought this note had already been published!)

After a brief off-island trip, we returned to Palm Cay Marina. We highly recommend the marina for friendly staff, clean facilities and security. (Marina details elsewhere but $1.50 to wash/$1.00 to dry).

We had a wonderful visit from CA friends that allowed us to visit Rose Island and the two small cays to the north.

Jim with Steve
Leslie and Bryson

Sandy Cay was a little rough; Steve and Leslie stayed on the boat while Jim, Bryson and I took the paddle board onto the Cay. There were some interesting ruined buildings and one lone blue chair.

It was delightful to see the islands and boat through the eyes of a 6 yr old.

After watching numerous boats visit Green Cay, we moved across the channel and anchored. With Leslie and Bryson on the beach, Jim and I snorkeled and immediately saw the “why”-several large sea turtles were grazing on the grass bottom. We saw 7 turtles in our 20 minute drift along with beautiful reef fish. When we returned to the boat, Steve did a snorkel/drift at the western end of the Cay, and we were surprised when Bryson decided he wanted to do that too. It was a privilege to watch him try things for the first time!

Bryson snorkels in deep water

All too soon it was time to say goodbye. In addition to the gift of their friendship, they brought us the best boat gifts! I hope they know that we will use these daily!

Best. Gift. Ever!

Staniel Cay to New Providence (22-30 May 2019)

As I start this update, my heart is heavy for the wonderful residents of The Bahamas that we met during our travels. I hope they were all able to evacuate or stayed safe during Dorian. I also know it will take awhile for the people and islands to heal and I wish you all the best on that journey.

Next, my apologies for being so long between posts. We’ve had a lot going on and I hope to catch up a bit here now!

Steve and I share a photo stream with our family and some friends. This allows them to see where we are and share a bit of our journey. It also encouraged Steve’s sister and neice to brave the small airplane ride from FL to Staniel Cay in order to come join us on Always!

Plane ride = 2 rum drinks before the dinghy ride

We travel north, nearly on the same track we came to Staniel Cay. We shared the Land and Sea Park on Warderick Wells Cay, Hawksbill Cay and Rat and the Mice cays near Overyonder Cay with them on our way to New Providence.

We had a great time sailing, looking for creatures and sharing tasty, simple food.

Nurse shark near the boat
Trying to overcome my shark-phobia
Afternoon snack-rice cakes, almond butter and apple slices (I do actually have pants on!!!)
My pot for flattening masa into tortillas, then hold and keep warm the cooked tortillas
Breakfast of egg and avocado toast
The dessert tortilla-sautéed apple slices with sauce made from coconut oil, agave syrup and unsweetened cocoa powder. The masa is sweetened with agave and cinnamon.
Looking for another hammerhead shark or some turtles!
Watching sea life never gets tiring!
At Warderick Wells on a mooring
Low tide claiming an island for Lesley!
Sometimes there’s too much sun but still so much to see!

We had a great visit with family and looking forward to many more trips like this!

Getting to know the boat (15-21 May 2019)

Steve and I finally leave New Providence. It was great having friends onboard but now we get to sail, check rigging and figure out how this Always sails best.

We set up for the approximately 30 mile transit to Highbourne Cay. The winds were perfect for the full main and the screecher (code 0).

Full main and screecher sailing

It is taking awhile to get used to screeching at 8 knots with only 6-10′ of water indicated on the depth sounder. By the owners’ manual, the Seawind 1260 only draws 3′ 8″ but…we have no idea whether that’s fully loaded to the waterline or empty; does the depth read from the transducer at the bottom of the hull or is there an offset already in the B&G instruments? We were finally able to answer that question when we anchored at Thomas Cay but that’s a few nights away.

On our trip south, we anchored or sailed through progressively shallower water. Our first night, we anchored off Oyster Cay across from Highbourne Cay. We had about 12′ on the depth sounder. We also had a big lightning storm that night; the next morning had us on the way to Shroud Cay. The anchorage was a perfect 8′ for the predicted wind, but that wind didn’t arrive. We rolled a bit but the extra width between the hulls meant it was still a great night’s sleep. We moved to the next cay south and loved Hawksbill so much that we stayed two nights (6′ on depth sounder).

Sunset in the Exumas

We still had daily storms blowing through. We made a quick sprint to Little Cistern but the current going to low tide caused us to drag too close to the rocky shore so during a break in the weather, we pulled up the anchor then went outside the bank towards Warderick Wells Cay. We rejoined our friends on SeaQuester that we had met through Bryson at Palm Cay Marina (Hi, Mike!) and had two easy nights on the moorings.

By this time, our family photo stream has convinced Steve’s sister and niece to join us and plans are made to meet at Staniel Cay.

We continue south towards Staniel but Mike (SeaQuester) has suggested a few anchorages. We have a great night between Rat Cay and The Mice, then move over to Thomas Cay for a break from the currents.

This is where we find out what the depth sounder is reading! We anchor in 5′ on a sand bottom with an outgoing tide. At the lowest indication, Steve is standing on the bottom with a hand width of water under the keels. Evidently the B&G reads from the transducer and we need to add about 2′ to get to the waterline.

2.9’ on the B&G. A hand width under the keels

We are still trying to figure out how to adjust the offset so we know depth at the waterline so we can match the charts. We will get there but for now it’s one more thing on the list.

Until next time, safe travels,

J&S

Headed to The Bahamas

We finally left Florida, just not the way we planned.

Underway

Steve left on an airplane headed to Seattle and I left a few days later on the boat with a skipper. There were a lot of compromises that went into that decision but in the end, even though it wasn’t how we planned, the end result was the boat was safely delivered to New Providence Island, and Steve and I rejoined on the boat.

The skipper’s experience showed. He picked a good weather window for crossing and our immigration check in was done at Chub Cay; the marina provided me with immigration forms, reminded me to have everyone’s signature and provided a golf cart ride to the airport to meet with Customs and Immigration. The office was a small building near the mostly empty runway. Both men were friendly, the process was quick and I was headed back to the boat with a 90 days cruising permit and a fishing license. Total cost $320, bring cash.

Approach to Chub Cay Marina

Sunset at anchor Chub Cay

Chub Cay has a nice, friendly marina. The trip to Customs is free if you buy gas/diesel. It was a bargain for us as we topped off the dinghy with 3 gallons and the fuel dock was full with fishing boats as we left so they waved us out. We anchored in a nice area off Whale Cay and used some of that gas to dinghy/snorkel around the area.

We were off the hook early the next day headed towards Nassau on New Providence. We were under the bridges to Paradise Island about 3 pm and tied up in Palm Cay Marina by 4:30. After a quick drink and snack at the restaurant, everyone cleaned up and explored the marina.

Marina entrance to right, swimming lagoon to left
Swimming pool at Palm Cay Marina

The next day the crew flew out and Steve arrived. This was not Plan A, or B or out to at least Plan F but in the end we were finally aboard our home.

Safe travels,

J