Going West…(Dec 2019)

ALWAYS is sitting in Brunswick, GA as hurricane season finishes on the east coast of the US. Since life events have brought us to the west coast, we’ve decided to bring ALWAYS west also.

We could make time available to sail through the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, then north up Central America and the Mexican coast…but we know we’d be tempted to delay because there are so many wonderful places that deserve a more in-depth exploration. We weigh the expense in outfitting food stocks, checking in/out of countries, crossing through the Canal, wear and tear on the boat and time versus the expense of putting ALWAYS on a container ship and they come out nearly equal. Due to time constraints, mainly in getting the boat to an accessible location for warranty repairs, we opt to ship ALWAYS.

Brunswick, GA

We contract with Seven Seas Yacht Transport. Our shipping date was delayed multiple times making it difficult to plan travel from the west coast to GA with sufficient time to move the boat to Port Everglades, a two day transit. The date moved from early November (hurricane season complete-insurance coverage available for the transit) to the second week of Dec. With an assigned ship and date, we arrive in GA, do a mini-outfit of food, get a quick night’s sleep and leave early the next morning.

The GOLDEN RAY trapped in the sands by the strong tides in St Simeon Sound.

We usually use Navionics on an iPad to back up our B&G displays. Through extensive comparison during our time in the Bahamas, we’ve come to trust the charts pretty well. We continue to verify position with lights and buoys, but the Navionics allowed for a full dark, uneventful departure from Brunswick Landing Marina so we arrived at the Atlantic Ocean inlet as dawn approached.

Sunrise

The most eventful occurrence was the whispering provided by my wonderful husband. As we had properly prepared for hurricane season, every sail had been removed from topsides. Part of his argument FOR shipping the boat was that it couldn’t be better prepared for getting lifted onto a cargo ship. The screecher and jib were bagged and on the bunk in the guest stateroom while the main was a bagged footrest in the salon. The battens were rolled into the lazy jack canvas and stretched nearly the full length of the starboard hull (making work in the galley an interesting ballet of foot placement). Then we hit the ocean, the breeze filled and he began advocating for the sails.

An easy, comfortable transit (even without sails…)

First, he was suggesting just the screecher. “We would go so much faster…”, then as the wind rose to above screecher limits, “the main would balance the motion of the boat and we’d be a lot more comfortable”. Don’t get me wrong; I love to sail, but our timeline was pretty tight and hadn’t included washing the salt off the sails again and drying them (in muggy FL) prior to wrapping, removing, rebagging and storing them for the two week journey around to Ensenada, Mexico. We ended up motoring all the way despite the mutinous looks sent my way.

Moon set
I love the early watch and seeing sunrise.

We arrived on time, offloaded trash, buttoned everything up and headed alongside our assigned ship. We really appreciated the time spent by the crew to ensure that all the straps underneath were appropriately placed. We were also allowed to go onboard the ship after ALWAYS was placed on deck to re-tention halyards and stays that were eased out of the way of the crane. Seven Seas provided a launch ride back to shore, we changed clothes and caught our flights back to CA that same day.

Loading onboard in Port Everglades, FL

Transit time from Port Everglades to Ensenada, Mexico was estimated to be 2 weeks. We plan for a Dec. 20th arrival but delays happen and our ship carrying ALWAYS arrives on Dec 26th. Because of the holiday and because we need to do the Mexican import paperwork, we travel to San Diego on the 23rd, catch a shuttle to Ensenada’s Coral Hotel and Marina early on the 24th, complete our paperwork and wait, mostly patiently and mostly in the hotel bar with new friends, for the ship’s arrival and offload.

Lots of rain flood Tijuana

We are a later offload, again are allowed onboard to ease halyards and stays for the crane, and finally ALWAYS touches the Pacific Ocean. We spend a night in the marina because the harbor master closed the harbor due to high winds and sea state. We leave early the next morning for the 10 hour drive to San Diego. More mutinous looks and mutters from the skipper occur as we drive north under a bare mast.

I feel Seven Seas Yacht Transport did a really good job bringing our boat around. The boat was clean (either a pressure wash by the crew before we arrived or a good rain on the way into Ensenada) and was carefully handled. The crane did tap and damage the Windex at the top of the mast but a replacement was reimbursed eventually. We were initially flexible on the transit date but finally had to be persistent about being scheduled because we had arranged for the warranty work to begin January 2020. In hindsight, we were so fortunate to get the boat delivered when we did prior to the virus shutdowns between countries.

Message in a Bottle

Found on Hawksbill Cay, The Bahamas

5/26/2019 – Found!

Washed up with literally TONS of trash on the windward side of the island was the above bottle with a rolled piece of paper inside. We hoped for a long lost love letter or even just a “here I am, where did this end up?”, message but the writing was gone.

I will post more detailed pictures of the bottle. If anyone recognizes this, let us know!

Enjoy the adventure! And safe travels,

J

Codax wine – Spain
Albariño bottle
1 of 2 legible script
2 of 2 legible script

From the Codax wine website:

“Martin Codax, the character who gave name to our Albariño was one of the most important medieval Galician troubadours. Parchment Vindel houses his ballads, the oldest in the Galician-Portuguese, extolling love and passion for the sea.”

Talk about a “passion for the sea”! It would be amazing if this actually was carried to The Bahamas from Spain. It almost makes me wish there had been a tiny camera attached.

Windward side of Hawksbill Cay
No “trash day” pickup

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