N 23 32.05
W 75 45.53
We are anchored off Volleyball Beach after cruise through the Exumas with stops at Allen’s Cay, Norman’s Cay, Shroud Cay, Black Point, Staniel Cay Farmers Cay and Galliots Cut. The Exumas exceed our expectations and must be one of the more lovely cruising areas of the world. Pretty anchorages, friendly towns, crystal clear water, good snorkeling… the only thing missing was a good Internet connection, necessary for me to continue to work.
Here in Georgetown we join about three hundred other cruising boats. For most this is the final stop on their journey south before they start heading North again for the northern summer. For others, like us, Georgetown is the last place to resupply and recover for quite some time. We will stay here until our mail comes which will include some parts including a marine head (toilet) rebuild kit (yippee), some replacement running rigging and some zinc anodes not available here in the Bahamas.
It is time to catch up on our affairs. But first, tonight our friends Blair and Edith on “It’s a Kind of Magic” have kindly offered to watch Franklin while we have a small night out.
N 25 04.50
W 77 18.77
Left Bimini yesterday just before lunch in light conditions. Nice beam reach to Triangle Rocks then east across the bank. Wind died early in the afternoon and we motored in calm conditions across the bank to the Northwest channel. Went passed the Northwest Channel light just before midnight and continued motored at about 5kts into light headwinds to Nassau. Beautiful clear starry night in good company (Alice Mae, Cay Pariaso and Solas.). Arrived about 0930 and staying one night at Nassau Harbor Club Marina before heading to the Exumas tomorrow.
N 25 43.39′
W 79 17.86′
Got into Bimini after a beautiful overnight sail from Marathon at midday today. Winds were on the beam most of the trip, up to 20kts from the northwest, dying down from midnight to dawn then piping up again at dawn to about 15kts from the west. Apparently you can comfortably cross the gulf stream in breeze with a northerly component we were not expecting it but made the most of it. I think our angle from Marathon made it possible. We the current gave a 1-3 knot boost most of the passage. It was a good trip in the good company of Alice Mae, Solas and Cay Paraiso. Will wait out the next front here before moving onto Nassau.
N 24 42.332′
W 81 5.727′
Heading to the Bahamas mid-afternoon today. Four other boats crossing from Marathon today including Dave and Alice on Alice Mae. Hope to be there well before sunset on Monday.
N 24 42.332′
W 81 5.727′
Left Rodriguez Key at dawn as the winds built from the ENE. Nice run to Marathon, initially under full sail and then ending the sail under a single reefed main. We chased down an English boat at the beginning of the day and then it pulled ahead of us and we reduced sail and were unable to maintain good sail shape dead down wind. The English boat poled out their genoa and was able to maintain good sail shape in the rolly conditions. The English boat is moored next to us in the Marathon mooring field and I hope to go and beg a look at their set up today. Arrived in Marathon around four and are now settled on ball T8.
N 25 2.456′
W 80 27.387′
Left No Name Harbor to the Hawk Channel via the Biscayne Channel. There were a few heavy rain showers as we left so we waited until they cleared before transiting the Biscayne Channel. As we sailed down the Hawk Channel the rain cleared and we enjoyed a beautiful broad reach down to Rodriguez Key, arriving around sunset. We anchored on the south of the island. There was little protection from the ENE breeze, but the anchorage is protected by an outer reef so it was not too rough.
N 25 40.591′
W 80 09.753′
Note to self: avoid Coconut Grove Sailing Club during “bird season”. Within a few days of arriving in Miami our boat was covered in purple dyed bird poop and seeds. Apparently at this time of the year migrating birds eat a local fruit and then digest while sitting in the safety of the sailboat rigging at Coconut Groove Sailing club. The purple color poop stains decks and is difficult to remove with water. Local boaters try everything to keep the birds off (Mark assured me CDs are the most effective method). We saw the writing on the wall and rather than spending two weeks battling with the birds we moved to a mooring ball in the Dinner Key mooring field.
Mooring ball #147 is way out there. No birds but it is almost a mile from the dinghy dock and unprotected from the chop that builds during predominantly easterly breezes of December. There are many better places to anchor in Miami but since Mary was to be gone to Australia for most off our stay we favored the security of a well maintained mooring ball. During the ten days we stayed on the mooring ball Frankie and I primarily took a shuttle bat that runs every hour between the mooring field and the land form 8am to 5pm. If the weather was relatively calm we took a wet dinghy ride.
Mary arrived back from Australia late on Friday night. A 15-20kt north easterly breeze was blowing through the mooring field so we slept over night at a picnic table before taking the shuttle back out to our mooring ball. Mary slept all day Saturday and until mid-morning on Sunday.
We were so eager to leave the remote mooring ball by Sunday morning that I decided to take a shortcut through Biscayne Bay to Cesear Creek where the chart showed a channel with enough water to carry us through to the Hawk Channel. The Hawk Channel is a stretch of relatively protected water along the east side Florida Keys protected by a barrier reef.
As we traveled south through the skinny water of Biscayne Bay I started to doubt the decision. We were the only deep draft vessel travelling along the route and the only other sailboats we saw were shallow draft catamarans. We arrived at Cesear Creak at the perfect time, high tide, and felt like we were in good shape to cross from Biscayne Bay into the deep channel of Cesar Creek. We circled a little and talked about the best way to approach the creek (umm… rocky entrance or mud-sand entrance… mud-sand…) and then promptly ran aground twice. Not willing to risk a third attempt we headed back to Miami and anchored on the west side of Key Biscayne.
This morning we moved to the No Name Harbor, a perfectly protected harbor in Key Biscayne just northwest of Cape Florida. We plan to stay here until Ruby and Darla join us on Saturday before heading down the Hawk Channel to Key Largo.