Sunday, July 05, 2009

Our Last Blog from Our Exumas Trip



We arrived back at our home in Cary, NC on Sunday, June 14. While still in Morehead City, we rented a car, did last minute boat chores and arrived home about 4:00 in the afternoon. We really had fun driving 70+ mph. You get used to cruising at 8 mph! One of the first things we both did was get haircuts. Neither of us has had one in about 5 months and it showed. Wish we had taken a 'before' picture. Here is the 'after' picture.

We had called our friends, Jim and Nell, who have been watching our house, to let them know we would be home in about a week. Jim laughed and said that at least he had time to get the tenants out of the house and the goat out of the guest bathroom. He did ask, however, how to say "Please remove the goat from the bathroom" in Spanish. When we drove into the driveway, we noticed a ‘For Rent’ sign in the yard with a sign below it saying that no goats were allowed! We had a big hoot about that. They also left us a bag of chips and a couple of dips, the makings for sangria and a beautiful vase of flowers. With their help (starting cars, watering plants, walking through the house and yard to make sure things were OK, and a myriad of other things) we were able to sleep peacefully and not worry about our home. Thanks again, Jim and Nell!!


Trip Statistics:

Departure: 12/4/08 from Morehead City, NC
Return: 6/12/09 to Morehead City, NC

All mileage figures are shown in statute miles
Fuel consumption figures include the 2 main engines and the 2 generators

Trip Days .......................................................... 190
Travel Days ....................................................... 86
Lay Days, Staying Put .....................................104
Nights in Marinas .............................................114
Nights on the Hook or Mooring Ball ................76
Miles Traveled ...............................................3345
Gallons of Diesel Used ...................................1818
Total Fuel Cost ......................................$4,003.01
Total Main Engine Hours ................................432
Gal/Hr Diesel Consumed ................................4.21
Miles/Gallon .....................................................1.84
Average Fuel Cost/Mile ...............................$1.20
Average Miles/Day .......................................38.90
Number of Chap Sticks used ...............................9
Number of Books Read ................................Many
Gallons of Wine Consumed ..............Many, Many

Funnest things:
The amazing clarity of the water
The number of stars at night
Bon Fires
Finding Rickshaw at night in the dingy after the bon fires
First time anchoring in the Cays
Getting to know the boat
Looking for conch shells
Snorkeling
Pig BeachHappy Hours and dinners on each other's boats
The beaches
Dinging across Shroud Key to the Atlantic side
The settlements:
- The People
- Bahamian Coconut Bread
- Finding a working Internet

Things we will miss:
All the fun we had with our buddy boating friends that we met along the way
Bon fires, laughter and more laughter
New adventures at each new Cay
Playing Dominos and always losing to the Domino-Whip-ass-woman (Vicki)

Things we will not miss much:
Big winds and thunderstorms


In the meantime, we have been sorting through mountains of mail and doing the things around the house that need attention. One more thank you to Nora, who helped us tremendously with our mail. We have also been relaxing and catching up with family and friends.


We don't have any plans in place yet for our next adventure. We do know that we have some mostly cosmetic things that we want to do on Rickshaw, but that is never ending, I think.

We both hope that you all have a wonderful summer. Thanks for all the kind words about the blog, we had fun putting it together.


We end with some videos that we took along the way and were not able to post because of their size as well as some of our favorite pictures. Enjoy!

video



You may remember that cruisers in the Bahamas blow a Conch shell in the evenings to give thanks for a wonderful day. Here is our group's attempt at such. Melodious, isn't it?

video

This was the dingy ride we took across Shroud Cay. It was a really gorgeous trip and the pristine beach that was on the Atlantic side of the island was gorgeous. It was pretty shallow in places so Rick was hand signaling to Norm the depth of the water.



video


This is downtown Nassau. We weren't used to the hussle and bussle!! The Straw Market is where you can buy all kinds of things like a Rolex watch for $25.

And lastly, some of our favorite pictures of the Exumas.

Below is the whole gang: Todd and Brenda (Lifes2Short), Vicki and Norm (Tide Hiker), Stephanie and Bob (September Song) and most of the Gypsies (Gypsies in the Palace) - Colleen, Tammy and Doug, John was home in NH working!












The water was fabulous...









...as were the sunsets. The first two were taken at Little Farmer's Cay and the last two were taken at Sampson. I could have put lots of beautiful sunset pictures here but I guess you get the picture!
















And lastly, a little Bahamian attitude.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away...

We are sorry that we have been derelict about updating the blog. We left Nassau on May 25 and we have been running very long 8-10 hour days. So we are pretty exhausted when we arrive to our days destination. In addition we have been traveling with the rain and thunderstorms most of the way. We did have two days off but on one of them Rick worked on replacing the fuel pump with our friend Steve and on the other Rick changed the oil in both engines and both generators which is about a 6 hour job...so we haven't had much down time.

We have stayed in marinas every night except two because of the thunderstorms. Normally, we anchor out more than we do stay in marinas but the thunderstorms have been coming up usually in the late afternoons and during the nights and we don't enjoy anchoring out in those conditions. Three or four times we have just hooked up in the marina before the thunderstorms hit, and some of them have been doosies.

The good news (GREAT news) is that we are now in a marina just 3 miles south of the North Carolina border. We expect to stay in Wrightsville Beach tomorrow night then we will be in Morehead City, our home port, late Friday afternoon. We will rent a car on Saturday, do boat chores then leave for our home in Cary on Sunday. After that we will do a lot of nothing for several days to catch our breaths. We have been so lucky to have our friends, Nell and Jim, watch our house while we were gone. What gems they have been. Of course, Jim tells us that he has to get the tenants out of the house before Sunday and the goat out of the guest bathroom but I'm sure he will get that done!

The bad news is that tonight is the last night that we were able to have dinner aboard Tide Hiker, our buddy boat. Vicki and Norm will be anchoring out tomorrow night then we will part company on Friday as they will head towards their home port in Delaware. What would we have done without our buddy friends? To say that the trip would have been vastly different is an understatement. We all relied on each other for technical issues, swapping cooking questions (and ingredients), advice on any number of things, laughter and most of all friendship. We will miss them terribly but we look forward to more adventures on our boats together in the future.

In the meantime, we have many boat projects to take care of. Six months in Rickshaw is showing some wear and tear so we will need to put her in order.

We will update the blog when we get home and get settled. It has been fun to share our adventures with all of you and we are glad that you enjoyed them and the pictures.

Love to you all. Rick and Lynnie

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We're Baaaaaaack!


Click here to see where Rickshaw is currently

Since our last blog we have finally arrived home, well, to Florida at least. We planned to get to Bimini on Tuesday and cross the Gulf Stream on Wednesday. On the way to Bimini Rickshaw started having a problem with her port engine. Rick was fairly certain it was a fuel problem so we headed to the marina at Bimini expecting to try to find a mechanic the next day.

But did we have a stroke of luck! As we turned the corner into the marina there were 2 DeFever boats and a SOB (some other boat) traveling together on their way to the Bahamas. We knew the DeFever owners and, in fact, one of them is probably the best mechanic around. He has helped us out on several occasions. Turns out that the lousy weather that was keeping us in Nassau was also keeping them in Florida. It was pure luck that we were in the same marina on the same day. Steve came over the next day and determined that we needed to replace the fuel pump. Rick had several spares aboard so they installed a new one in about 2 hours. Thank goodness for friends!


Since it was our last night in the Bahamas and the first night of their 2 month trip, we all took the little school bus (really) to the restaurant and bar which was located a few miles down the road. Of course, we took advantage of their Happy Hour and did some dancing to the tunes of a local band and all of us had great fun.

We started the crossing at 8:00 am on Thursday and it was a great trip. Well, at least it was until we were about 12 miles south of Lake Worth when 'it' hit the fan around 3:30. We ran into a terrible thunder and lightning storm. We had 30-35 knot winds on occasion with some 7-9 foot seas. We couldn't see very far which was a bit nerve-wracking because there are a lot of big container ships that run north and south there. We wouldn't have seen them until we were on top of them not only because of low visability but also because the storm took over our entire radar screen. We felt like a cork bobbing in the ocean. It lasted about 45 minutes but Capt. Rick did a grand job of keeping us safe and sound, if a bit wet! We went into the Lake Worth anchorage and decided that it was Miller time. Phew, that was no fun.

Yesterday, Friday we left Lake Worth and have started our trek north. We are currently about 35 miles south of Cape Canaveral. We are all anxious to get home and get off the boat for a bit. Right now we are thinking that it will take us about 2 weeks to get home, arriving around the 12-14th of June.

Monday, May 25, 2009

YIPPEEEE!!!!!!!

Rickshaw, along with Tide Hiker have left Nassau! After spending 12 very soggy days in the Nassau Harbor Club Marina we were more than ready to get on our way. We have been anxiously watching the calendar as insurance dictates that we be at or north of Savannah, Georgia (32 degrees north) by June 15. The next two days look great weather-wise so we will be back in Florida late afternoon on Wednesday hopefully. It will probably take us 5 or so days to get up the coast of Florida so we should be in good shape. After that, we will be making a bee-line back home.

We have had such a great trip but it has been long and we both look forward to seeing our friends and family again. It will also be nice to be on land and leave behind the rocking and rolling that we have experienced for the last few weeks. It is funny that sometimes when we are sitting at a restaurant or shopping at the grocery we have moments when feel we are still rocking. Guess it takes a while for the brain to catch up...or maybe it is the rum punches!

As a matter of fact we are currently rolling pretty well where we are. We arrived at Chub Key in the Berry Islands, about 40 miles NW of Nassau, today at 2:30.

To see Rickshaw's location at Chub Key click here. The little "A" in the exclamation point is where we are anchored. At the zoom level Rick selected, you can see Andros Island to the SE and the apex of the Tongue of the Ocean near the top left. That is where we will head tomorrow morning to get back onto the Bahama Banks heading for Bimini. You can zoom in or out to get a perspective of the Berry Islands in relation to the rest of the Bahamas.

As we were heading NW today a large thunderstorm developed SE of us and we were hopeful we'd get into the anchorage before it hit. It turned out that the storm passed south of us, but the wave and surge action is making the anchorage quite rolly at the moment. Perhaps we'll have another rum drink. Rick is making water here as we found the tap water quality pretty poor at Nassau Harbor Club. They say they drink it all the time, but Rick uses his water meter to test the quality before putting it in the tanks, and at that marina it showed the dissolved solid content to be about 3 times what normal city water contains. He made water there instead of using the tap, and the quality was much better. Anyway, thank goodness for the water maker, as it has performed well while in the islands. Tomorrow we'll leave for Bimini, about 10 hours to the west across the Bahama Banks. Then Wednesday we plan to cross the Gulf Stream, and let the north-bound current carry us up to Stuart, FL. That will be a very long day as well.

At any rate, we will continue to blog as we make our way home. We hope to see you all soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hanging out in Nassau

We left the Exumas last Wednesday, 5/13. The high winds were coming in again and we wanted to make it to Nassau where we would be more protected in a marina. Today is Wednesday, 5/20 and we are still waiting for the winds to die down before we can leave. We need 3 good weather days to get back to Florida. When we leave here we will travel about 5 hours to the Berry Islands and Frasier’s Hog Cay. Then we will travel from there to Bimini which will be a very long 10 hour day. Then we have another 10 hour day to somewhere in Florida, we hope to Lake Worth at West Palm Beach. Right now we are hoping to leave tomorrow and if we are very lucky, we will be back in Florida late on Saturday. We are keeping toes and fingers crossed.

Yesterday we have had thunderstorms off and on. We saw winds of over 50 knots. Good thing we doubled all our lines. So, we have been rocking and rolling on the boat all week. We all decided that we needed to get off the boats and have some fun so on Saturday we went to Atlantis for a water park day. Atlantis is a combination of a Las Vegas-like casino and Disney World. There are several huge hotels and lots of condos, restaurants and shops. They have 3 magnificent aquariums. We walked around and saw the hotel and aquariums then it was off to the water park for lots of laughs. Some of those rides were pretty thrilling.

Pictures of the Atlantis Hotel

One of the three aquariums

Manta Ray

Vicki and Lynnie

Look down fish

Moon Jellies

Goliath Grouper and friend

Stopped for lunch and this sign was next to our table

Lynnie and Rick in front of a cool flying fish sculpture

Yesterday we went ‘downtown’ to the Straw Market where they sell everything you can think of.
At the Straw Market

A very cool mural on the wall downtown.

While we have enjoyed Nassau we are ready to gooooooo. Hope to be in the US on Saturday. We’ll update the blog when we get there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saying Good-bye to the Exumas

We left the Exumas last Wednesday, 5/13. The high winds were coming in again and we wanted to make it to Nassau where we would be more protected in a marina. Before we left we visited three more Cay’s. Here are some additional pictures of the anchorage at Black Point Settlement.

The water is so clear that the dingy looks like it is floating above the water !
This is the local mail boat which also brings provisions to the local stores. It comes to each settlement once a week. Sometimes it brings mail, sometimes not. Sometimes it brings lettuce and tomatoes, sometimes not!

We anchored next to a very tiny island called Rat Cay. The even smaller islands around it are called the Mice. We took our dingies into a larger place called Sampson Cay and had a great lunch, played horse shoes and consumed numerous Kaliks and Rum Punches waiting for the tide to come back in enough for us to get the dingies into the water. What a fun day that was.

Stranded dingies
Lunch and doing a blog at the picnic tables
The gang trying their hands at horse shoes (when was the last time you played that!)
Rick relaxing…horse shoes must have worn him out

Local character

Rocky coast

Another gorgeous sunset

Our last stop was at Shroud Cay. Vicki and Norm and Rick tried to do some snorkeling but the current was pretty strong so they didn’t get to do much. That fact that Vicki saw a shark in the water may have had something to do with the shortened snorkeling time. We were anchored, as we always were in the Exumas on the ‘bank’ or western side of the islands which provided us protection from the east winds. On the eastern side of the islands is the Exumas Sound or the Atlantic Ocean.

We were told of a creek that went through Shroud from the west to the east and ended at a beautiful beach. So, we dingied into the creek and headed over to the beach. It was a really beautiful mile long ride and, as advertised the beach was beautiful.

The ride over to the beach
The beach and Lynnie and Vicki making new tracks in the sand

This is a carin which is a collection of rocks in a shape of a pyramid that someone put there to mark a trail. You find them all over the Exumas and we have learned all over the world. S0me of them are several feet tall, this one was about a foot tall. In this instance it marked the place where, if you climbed up a hill, you would find the remains of Camp Driftwood, a place where a sailor lived for 40 years!! Very remote. Someone also left an empty Kalik beer bottle at this one.
Carin and the view from the top of the hill to the creek that we had just come in on.

More on where we are on tomorrow's blog.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Catching Up (We possted 2 blogs today)

Click here to see Rickshaw's location at Black Point Settlement



Click here to see Rickshaw's location at Little Farmer's Key


Since leaving Staniel Cay Marina, we went over to the Big Major Spot anchorage, about a mile from the marina, where our friends were. They have what is called the ‘Pig Beach’ over in that anchorage. Apparently, there are about 5 pigs that live on the beach and they wait for people to bring over their food scraps for them. We took the dingy over with all kinds of goodies; old lettuce, a few carrots, a few onions and some celery. They swam out to the boat and I threw them what I had, but they much preferred for us to get closer to shore and throw the stuff on the beach. Understandable!! We didn’t get a chance to snorkel the Thunderball Cave, because I can’t get in the water with this bad finger and so Rick stayed on the boat with me. That night we all dingied over to another small beach at the anchorage. We all brought appetizers and the plan was to have a bon fire and roast hot dogs. The fire was great fun but we were all so full that we passed on the hot dogs that night but had them for lunch the next day. Neither of us could remember the last time we hung around a camp fire but it was very cool.
We left the anchorage to make our way south to the Black Point settlement. What we call towns are called settlements here. Staniel Cay was one of the more populated settlements and Black Point was less so. We enjoyed the Black Point settlement. There is a popular local restaurant called Lorraine’s who is known for, among other great food, their wonderful coconut bread, which is made by Lorraine’s mother…and it is wonderful! We helped Todd and Brenda (on Life’s 2 Short) celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary with dinner at Lorraine’s. Below are pictures of Black Point.







Above, a craft fair and below Rick asked this little one if he could take her picture and she struck this pose for him. Cute.











The 'Laundermat'.
The local Post Office.




The next night we had another bon fire on one of the small beaches at Black Point. It was a little bitter sweet as the next day Gypsies in the Palace, Life’s 2 Short and September Song were leaving to go south to the biggest settlement in the Exumas called Georgetown. Neither Tide Hiker nor we wanted to go that far south. Vicki had all the makings for s’mores so we had a great evening telling stories and eating the gooey dessert.


We left with Tide Hiker the next day for a very small settlement called Farmer’s Cay about 10 miles south. It was an exciting trip into the little harbor. We may not have said this before, but there are absolutely no navigation marks in the Bahamas … the familiar red and white marks ubiquitous on U.S. waterways. You have to navigate carefully using the charts and “reading” the water color, to avoid the coral heads and rocky areas. For example, as we approached Farmer’s Cay from the west, the chart simply said to keep the “… white house on the summit of Dabba Hill on a bearing of 090 degrees, and take a 30 degree turn to starboard 150 feet from the rocks …” Not to be taken lightly.

Below Farmer's Cay restaurant sign and the local convenience store.

Anyway, Farmers Cay is a tiny speck of an island. It has a population of only 50 people. One of he main commercial establishments is Ocean Cabin, which is a combination bar, restaurant, convenience store, and keeper of a couple of mooring balls in the harbor. Rick and I stayed there 2 nights on one of the mooring balls then returned to Black Point to wait for Vicki and Norm on Tide Hiker. They decided to go further south to do some more snorkeling and seeing the sights. Rick and I wanted a few days to just kick back and do a lot of nothing!

We thoroughly enjoyed being lazy and doing a lot of reading. Yesterday we dingied into the town where I’m doing laundry at the “Laundermat”. You wouldn’t believe this laundry…they have at least 28 washers and dryers. This is better than most of the places we have stopped at in the states. It is interesting to try to get two big black trash bags full of laundry from the dingy onto the docks at low tide!

This morning we got rain!! We haven’t seen rain since March 1st in Florida. Since you have to pay for water down here that also means that the boat is covered with salt and pretty grimy. So, we got the boat washed thanks to Mother Nature.

Norm and Vicki returned to the anchorage about an hour ago so we are going to dingy in to dump our trash (another challenge here) and to try to see if the internet is working at Lorraines. Tomorrow, we will start heading back north and given good weather we hope to be able to leave for the US late next week. More on that later.



Below, Rick cleaning our conch shell.