Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Northern Exumas - Bahamas

We just got back from a weeks sail in the Bahamas. Trip started on New Providence with the Nav Tours company. We sailed from New Providence over the Northern Exumas and stayed over at Highborne Cay, Shroud Cay, Warderick Wells, Norman's Island and Allen's Cay. The wind was pretty strong all week with 20 to 28 knots the first day for our 30 nm crossing across the yellow banks. The coral heads were pretty easy to spot and as long as you are vigilant, the crossing shouldn't present too many problems. Ruth and I went with our good friends Karen and Bruce.


Bruce relaxing


Beautiful water

It took us about 6 hours to cover the trip across the yellow banks. With 5' seas at 6 second intervals the trip was a little bouncy and we had to sail a close hauled course to get there. Nothing like a good salt bath to start the trip. After an overnight at Highborne Cay we headed down to Shroud Cay with nice 20 to 25 knots of wind on a beam reach. Part of our tour was the northern river on Shroud Cay where you can motor from the banks to the sound at a slow speed.

On the ball at Shroud Cay

Sitting on the ball, not many boats around

Motoring down the river

We did hit a little storm

Captain and Admiral

Sound side

From Shroud Cay we sailed down to Waderick Wells and the Exuma Park. We decided to stay in the southern mooring field and ended up right next to Emerald Rock. There was only one other boat that night and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We explored the park and hiked up to the famous Boo Boo Hill. Legend has it that you hear the howls of ghosts on top of the hill. Ruth and I also had an interested experience with a 4' barracuda following us back to the boat on our snorkel trip. I've heard that barracuda think we're larger predators and follow snorkelers hoping to grab a morsel from our catch. Never really concerned but I did keep an eye on toothy the whole swim back.

Karen on the SUP

Ruth relaxing

Happy at the helm

Karen at the helm

Boo Boo Hill, short hike

Tree growing out of the rock

Small creek to cross up to Boo Boo Hill

Top of the hill

Our boat in the distance

Beautiful sunset

Next stop was Norman's Cay. We anchored off the western shore and had dinner at the Norman's Bay Beach Club (aka McDuff's). I thought it would be nice to have a manhattan but they had no idea how to make one. They seemed to think they had bourbon and sweet vermouth and offered to let me behind the bar to teach them how to make a good manhattan. Unfortunately, there was no sweet vermouth so it was back to run. Next time through I'm bringing sweet vermouth and bitters and we'll redo the manhattan making class. Dinner was great at McDuff's with a casual relaxed island atmosphere.
Being passed by a cat

McDuff's is behind these cottages

Harbor at Allen's Cay
After another overnight at Highborne Cay, it was 30 nm back from the Exumas back to New Providence. Someone we managed to have to go close hauled on the trip back also with winds piping up again to 20 to 25 knots. The sail back was pretty fast and in 5 hours we were back at the Palm Cay Marina and Nav Tours base. The trip included sailing from Sunday through Friday and we totaled over 135 nm for the week with two 30 plus nm crossings of the Yellow Banks.

Nav Tours was a great company to charter with and included a pick up at the airport, provisioning trip, and the first and last night docked at the marina. We'd highly recommend them as a company to charter with. The rest of the sailing season will be pretty quite for us until it's time to launch the Turtle again in the spring.

Happy to be back?

38' boat for the week

Sitting on a conch by the bay

The dark spots are sharks in the water

Friday, October 13, 2017

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2017

It's been four years since we last attended the sailboat show in Annapolis, so it seemed like a good year to go again and see what has changed. All the boats there are beautiful but seem more oriented to looking good at the dock versus offshore sailing. We toured some of the Beneteau's and they don't even have any handholds in the saloon. Great for the bay or coastal waters, but not for rough conditions in my opinion.

Catalinas all lined up

The Admiral, she always gets compliments on her look

Can't wait to take Ruth away

Lots of flags, very festive
Our approach to checking out the boats was to start at their 34-35 footer, move up in size until we got onto the 40 plus footers and then move on to a different manufacturer. Friday wasn't too crowded and we got to tour quite a few boats. I think our favorite production boats are the Catalinas and Jeanneaus. On Saturday we moved onto the catamarans.

Lagoon 38

Looking comfortable at the helm

Get those boats out of my way

It was a great trip and Annapolis is always a fun town to hang out in. I don't think anything has changed for us and we will be looking into a used sailboat that can handle offshore sailing. We're developing our short list so when we start boat shopping we'll know what to look for.

Next stop, Bahamas and the Exuma Islands.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Catamaran Certification (ASA 114)

Ruth and I recently completed our ASA 114 Certification with Bay Sail out of Havre de Grace Maryland. Ruth also completed her ASA 104 Certification at the same time. Joining us were our friends Bruce & Karen who've been with us on most of our bareboat charters. Bay Sail is a nice little operation and works out of the Tidewater Marina.

The catamaran class was completed on a 35 foot Gemini Legacy. We choose the Legacy as it has two motors so we'd get good practice maneuvering the boat with the twin screws. The first day consisted of provisioning, practice figure eights and pulling around mooring buoys. After practicing out front of  Bay Sail, it was motor sailing down to Still Pond where we spent the night on the hook.

Ruth with Captain Bill

Saloon on the Gemini 35

Sunset on Still Pond

Still Pond at anchor

Still Pond

Picking up the crab pots

Lots of crab pots going into Still Pond but it was a nice night on the hook with a little swimming and a great dinner. The next day we headed down the Sassafras River where we spent the night at a Marina. We had a little wind on Saturday so we did a little tacking and gybing but we really needed more wind to really test the catamaran. Once we got into Georgetown on the Sassafras, it was docking practice and working the catamaran into the slip. We all did pretty well but I'd say Karen did the best and just worked us right into the slip. 

Ruth at the helm

Chart work needed for the ASA 104

Ruth, Karen & Captain Bill

Bruce is always happy on a sailboat

Sassafras River

Sunset on the Sassafras

Granary Marina

Relaxing during the long motor sail

We all took the ASA 114 test on Saturday and everyone passed. After a nice dinner at the Granary we wrapped things up and headed back to Havre de Grace the next day. This trip was not enough to tell me if we are going to prefer a catamaran or monohull so we'll need a longer period on a catamaran to decide what's best for us. It certainly didn't tack nearly as well as a monohull but the living quarters are a little more comfortable. I also liked the shallow draft. 

Due to Hurricane Irma, our BVI trip has been postponed until 2018. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of the islands and we've sent our support through several BVI & Irma relief efforts. Still trying to figure out how to get a sailing trip in this fall, but nothing has been decided yet.