Friday, January 21, 2011


We’ve covered a lot of ground since we left Bimini and the water is getting warmer each day. We made a few stops before crossing the Great Bahama Bank and made the crossing on day so calm the water looked like glass. The bank is a pretty consistent 12 to 20 feet deep and we could clearly see big starfish on the sandy bottom as we passed over them.

After the sail across the bank we spent a few nights anchored in various spots around Fraziers Hog Cay. From there we sailed to Rose Island to be close to Nassau, where picked up Eliza for a week long visit. I’ll have to revisit our time in Nassau in a later blog because Eliza got some great shots that have to be in the blog!

We took off from Nassau and went to Allens Cay where iguanas rule the island. They’re not shy, mostly because boatloads of tourists blast over on crowded speedboats from Nassau a few times a day to feed them – in front of the sign that says “please do not feed the iguanas”. Nice. 

We snorkeled here and saw a few rays and barracuda along with tons of conch. At a street market in Nassau we watched a vendor make our conch salad and got a little tutorial on how to get the conch out of it’s shell. She made it look so simple. Cut a hole here… stick the knife in and release it from the shell…. trim off the eyes and the foot (so it can’t see you or run away from you?) and voila…. conch. The one time Skip and I tried to open a conch, we ended up with shards of conch shell and pulverized conch. We’ll have to try again.

Look closely and you'll see his little eyes!
Saralane at Allens Cay
We went on to Normans Cay and swam in clear warm water at the most beautiful beach we’ve seen so far. I have a feeling I’ll be saying that over and over as we visit more of the islands. We moved on to Warderick Wells, the site of Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, and site of more beautiful beaches. We hiked the trails and were rewarded with great views of both sides of the island. 

We climbed Boo Boo Hill where the sound of the waves forcing air up through blow holes in the rocks at high tide will make you run for cover. It’s LOUD. Little bananaquits were everywhere and were always checking to see if we might have anything edible on us. Cute! 

We added Saralane's name to the pile of boat names left by sailors over the years. (See it? It's a small sign on the rock in the lower left corner.)

We're off to Farmer's Cay today and will have a chance to catch up with Skip's long time friends Steve and Cindy who live there. Oh... and there are more beautiful beaches to see too.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Still Blue

I couldn’t resist starting with another shot of the beautiful water…

We’ve been in Bimini for a few days and had a chance to walk around the island. It’s certainly small enough for everyone to know everyone. We came across a funeral procession on Saturday and it seemed the whole island turned out to honor and bury a local priest. It was pretty somber procession on the way to the graveyard… even the few tourists that were here stopped and stood along the road to show respect. On the way back from the cemetery, it was a whole different story. There was dancing and singing and happy music… I didn’t feel right photographing the first procession, but it seemed fitting to photograph the celebratory part of the day.

The down side of stopping to enjoy a place for a few days is that this is what happens to the inside of the boat.... 

Skip started installing the single side band radio and everything that needed to be connected was under something else that needed to be moved etc etc... There are tools, many tools. And wires, and connectors and assorted odd other things….  and then one project turns into another. We’re moving on from here today – but the radio isn't quite connected yet. When we stop again for a few days I can just repost these same photos because it’ll look just like this again.

This morning before we left Bimini to head for Gun Cay, we took the dinghy over to check out the mangroves across the bay. The New Hampshire kids (see previous post) had been over there and had seen some sharks in the shallows. No sharks out today but we did see several large rays gliding over the sand. 

The view heading back to the boat from the mangroves
We've met a great mix of people at the anchorage in Bimini, some have been out sailing for years and some for just a few months. We're all taking this weather window to go across the Great Bahama Bank and we'll be keeping each other company on the way. The winds are forecast to be calm and we anticipate that our exit from Bimini will be a little less hair raising than our entrance. We are, however, stowing everything carefully on both sides of the boat.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bahamian Blues

Not blues as in sad songs, but blues as in incredibly beautiful hues. We had a fast sail through the gulf stream with a reef in the main and the jib out. The wind was steady from the south at just under 20 knots. We left Key Biscayne early in the morning and watched the water temp rise from 64 degrees to 74 degrees in just a few hours as we traveled into the stream. 

Cape Florida lighthouse at the tip of Key Biscayne 
Gulf Stream clouds
There were flying fish everywhere (‘flocks’ of flying fish?) and man-o-war jellyfish floating by with their bubble top sails visible on the surface.

The waves got bigger when we reached the channel into North Bimini and we rocked and rolled pretty hard as we turned into the wind to take down the main. Apparently we haven’t learned our lesson yet about stowing things well on both sides of the boat even though we’re on one tack for the entire passage. In the big rolling waves at the channel entrance, my computer, safely stowed for day long starboard tack, came loose and hit the floor. Aside from a few dings it seems to be OK. Lesson learned…hopefully.

We tied up at a local marina and ran our yellow quarantine flag part way up the mast, signaling that we'd arrived but hadn't gone through customs and immigration yet. Skip got us checked in and Saralane is now flying the Bahamian flag part way up the mast as is customary for vessels visiting other countries. (In answer to an email question… yes, we still fly our country flag off our stern.) We have 180 days to enjoy these islands before they kick us out. 

Captain Skip raising the Bahamain flag
Just across the dock from us were some more ‘kids’ – Tyler and Michelle are from New Hampshire and seeing our home port of Newport, they struck up a conversation with us as soon as we arrived. They invited us to their boat ‘Alida’ for dinner that night and we were happy to go. It looks like these hot spots would have been our only other options…

It was really rough on the ocean side, where the first photo was taken, but we walked around the island and found a calm little cove that was just right for a swim. We’re not sure if we’ll move on today… a big cold front went through last night and the water is pretty wild looking out there. If it calms down we’ll head south to Gun Cay so we’ll be in a good position to cross the Great Bahama Bank and head over to the Berry Islands.

A big sleek sport fishing boat came in yesterday afternoon and tied up behind us… blocking our nice view, but also giving us an under water light show in the dark last night! We watched a few barracuda swim around and snack on the smaller fish in the light.

If we sit in just the right spot on the concrete steps by the showers here at the marina, we can get online through their wifi. We were able to catch up with family and friends on Skype after we arrived and will try to connect again before we leave. (Get some cameras on those computers so we can see you too!) 

Sounds like there's another snowstorm heading for the northeast. Yep... we're pretty happy to be here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bahama bound

After two weeks in Coconut Grove trying to sort out things back home we finally got going again. We still haven’t sorted things out at home…. but we also realize that we could stay stuck in one place endlessly trying to wrap things up.
Passion Flowers... we walked past this wall of them on our errands

We did lots of chores and made a few pilgrimages to Home Depot and West Marine – both easy to get to on foot. We almost found some new crew – but sadly they were too young for us to take along to the Bahamas. No kitties under 6 months old allowed….. these two are only 7 weeks old.

Yesterday afternoon we moved from Dinner Key (Coconut Grove) just across Biscayne Bay and anchored off Key Biscayne for the night. Dolphins, who wisely avoided swimming around the mooring field, are all around us here and it’s good to see them again. We can see Stiltsville out in Biscayne Bay… deserted now and sort of spooky looking. 

We left Miami in our wake and are finally heading across to the Bahamas....