Throwback Thursday: Exuma Land & Sea Park

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Once all the fun of the Family Regatta was finished in George Town, it was already time for us to begin our trek, slowly, back to the US.  We’d come down as far as we had time for, and with an Atlantic crossing still pending this season, we had to set our sights on getting back to Florida.  It wasn’t a race to the finish line though, and our plan was to hit a few islands of the Exumas we had missed the previous year.

Just a short jump up from George Town was Lee Stocking Island.  Known for it’s great reefs full of fish, we were extremely excited to get to an area where we could don our snorkeling gear to actually glimpse a few fish, but the few days we were there had us rained out, and even pinned against a lee shore with 42 knot winds for one afternoon.

Before you can begin to feel too bad for us though, we just had to sneak in one more visit to Staniel Cay and Big Majors.  I mean, how can you pass by attractions like the Thunderball Grotto and swimming pigs and not make a stop there?  We also had the weather on our side once more and spent a beautiful few days there before it was once again time to move ourselves a little further north.

Our final stop in the Exumas was Warderick Wells, one place we had sadly skipped the year before and knew we couldn’t do a second time.

You can find the original post here.

Monday May 5, 2014

Exuma Land & Sea Park

Keeping as true to my Exuma wish list as possible, since we’ve now already skipped the sunken sculptures at Musha Cay, when Matt asked what our next stop was, I told him ‘Warderick Wells!’.  This is one spot I’m actually very sad we missed out on last year, and as soon as we pulled into the anchorage and then brought the dinghy out by the park headquarters, Matt was as well.  This place is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!  As well it should be, too.  That’s because Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Land & Sea Park, a 22 mile stretch of sea and cays that are protected under the Bahamas National Trust where they like to promote the saying ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’.  Meaning you take no fish, plants, flowers, ect, and do not leave any trash behind.  It’s a great concept and the island has definitely benefited from it.

Warderick Wells hosts two big claims to fame among the cays that make up the Land & Sea park.  Not only does it contain the park headquarters (ok, that’s not actually one of them), but it has a stunning horseshoe anchorage filled with mooring balls to preserve the seabed below, and just a few hundred meters away from this is Boo Boo Hill.  The lore of Boo Boo Hill is that many years ago, a schooner sank off the shores of Warderick Wells on a stormy night and that every soul on board perished.  They still like to haunt the area though, and legend has it that if you climb the crest of the hill at the bloom of a full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns.  We weren’t up for night hiking, and I don’t think we were even anywhere near a full moon, but a hike up the hill sounded fun enough.

anchorage at Warderick Wells

The term hike should be used very lightly though, and after a few minute uphill climb in which I never even had the chance to become short of breath, we were at the top.  The views up there were spectacular, but that wasn’t the only thing we had come to behold.  For you see, there’s been a tradition going on here between cruisers for quite a few years now.  Keeping with the theme of the natural reserve, cruisers have been leaving their mark at the top of this hill in the form of driftwood with their boat name painted or burned into it.  We didn’t have anything to leave as a memento, nor were we planning to, but the stunning views we were afforded at the top was well worth the trip in.  Through the mass of driftwood we tried to search out friends that we knew left pieces behind, but the crowd of 2014 was exceedingly strong and we would have had to do a lot of digging to unearth anything older.

Boo Boo Hill, Warderick Wells

Jessica on top of Boo Boo Hill

looking down Boo Boo Hill

 There was one sight we spotted at the top of Boo Boo Hill that we weren’t expecting too see but extremely happy we did.  Sitting on a mooring ball was s/v Laho, belonging to our friends Kim and Jereme that we hadn’t seen or talked to after spending a night out in the Bahama Banks, something we still hope they don’t hold against us.  (‘Oh, this uncontrollably rolly anchorage out in the middle of nowhere?  We’ll be fiiiiine.’)  Getting back in the dinghy we planned on doing a ride-by stalking to see if anyone was aboard, whilst trying to pretend that we were just checking out the mooring field.  Coming up on Laho we saw that in was in fact their boat, but it didn’t appear as if anyone was home.  There were however a group of dinghies gathered in the center of the anchorage where low tide had provided a couple of lavish sandbars that would be the perfect spot to enjoy a sundowner, and we cut the dinghy over to see if they were among the crowd.

The crowd however, completely dispersed as we came up on it, and we think we saw Kim, Jereme, and Oliver riding off in a direction back toward their boat.  Not wanting to actually stalk them by immediately turning ourselves back around, we landed the dinghy at the sandbar and walked around for a few minutes before trying Laho a second time, where we were eagerly invited aboard and offered cold beers while the four of us filled each other in on lost time.  With both boats being stuck for at least one more day due to a front coming through, I made sure that Kim didn’t mind me stopping back over once more so that I could return her favorite hair clip that I borrowed during our casino night and forgot to give back in the excitement of Jereme falling out of our dinghy on the way back to the boats.  That was just a cover story though.  What I was really after was Photoshop lessons so my photos can begin to look anywhere near as amazing as hers.*

Matt on sand bar

Warderick Wells at low tide

 The promised storm did come howling through in the middle of the night, waking us up at 2 am while 35-40 knot winds straightened out all our anchor chain and left Matt in the cabin to sleep in case any quick action needed to be taken.  None did, and 30 minutes later everything calmed back down to the peaceful 15-20 knots we’re used to.  What the storm did leave in it’s wake though were larger than normal seas on the Banks side of the island, the one we were exposed to.  We have not been doing well so far this year in trying to hide ourselves from west winds, and the result has been us rocking back and forth, familiar to those dreaded swells we experienced back in Grand Cayman.  This now being our second day of experiencing them, I could not handle it anymore.  Calling up Kim on the VHF, I begged her to let me take refuge on Laho for a few hours. I think the phrase ‘I’m going to burn this boat down’ was starting to make it’s way back into my vocabulary.

Knowing that I couldn’t show up empty handed again, I made a quick batch of Johnny Bread after following a recipe on my friend Brittany’s blog.  For being a first time attempt I think it came out pretty good, albeit a little more burned than I would have liked, but coupled with a side of strawberry jam I figured it was a very presentable gift for my gracious host, who in turn, handed me a cold Bud Light upon my arrival.  You gotta love how these trades work on the high seas.  Plus all the valuable lessons and tools I picked up from Kim to use on my CS6, well, let’s just say I think I ended up in the black for the day.  (Or week)

storms over Warderick Wells

storms over Warderick Wells

Georgie watching fish

Today we got off the boat to do a little more exploration of the island in the form of snorkeling and hiking.  There are a few patches of coral marked off in the anchorage we’re in at Emerald Bay, and taking the dinghy over we dropped hook in sandy patches next to the reefs and devoured every colorful fish and piece of brain coral we could take in.  I’ll be honest, it didn’t compare to the diving we did in the Ragged Islands last year, but it was our first chance to see anything underwater this year and we were soaking it all in.  Once we had finished on the three pieced of coral in the bay we took to diving Emerald Rock itself and found much more life there.  Matt spent tons of time in the water sneaking into every little crevice he could find, but the 5 ft barracuda that kept eyeing me, even though I knew it wouldn’t do anything, sent be back to the dinghy to soak up some sun and get warm instead.

After lunch we took to the shore and let Georgie join us.  We’ve decided that even though she loathes dinghy rides, we want to get her off the boat when possible so she can add a few new sights and smells to her world.  As soon as she was dropped off on the beach she began rolling around in the sand and chasing Matt as he ran near the waters edge.  In short, she was acting kind of like…a dog.  We were even able to get her to walk on her leash and we hiked up one of the trails to some ruins, and as long as one of us was in the front leading the way, she was completely content to follow.  It wasn’t until we were back on the beach that we remembered all the signs posted asking you not to bring your pets on the trails and to keep them on the beaches.  Ohhh, right.  She is a ‘pet’.  I forgot.  Cats walking on leashes tend to do that to you.

beach at Warderick Wells

Davis Plantation Trail marker

Matt walking Georgie

Jessica at Warderick Wells

We could have spent all afternoon resting on that beach, and Matt had even picked out a little cove where he would love to anchor Serendipity for a month straight if we had the time, but true to the Bahamian nature we’ve been experiencing so far this year, the sun was quickly overtaken by approaching clouds and sending us running back to the boat to close all the hatches before something really nasty blew in.  With two and a half days here though, I think we still managed to get the full experience in. Verdict of Warderick Wells:  Exquisitely beautiful and well worth the stop.

5.4.14 (14)

 *Now that we’re back in Miami we are hunting down deals for me to buy a new DSLR body so I can stop shooting with my Cyber Shot.  I am so over the moon about the prospect of being able to shoot great photos again.  Thank you mom for the gift, you’re the best!!

 

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Throwback Thursday: La-Ho!

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

We knew we would be leaving Fort Lauderdale shortly and most likely not visiting again for a very long time.  This meant a night of sad good byes with the good friends we had made during our time there.  One part of cruising that I never enjoy.

When we thought we were ready to up anchor and become Bahamas bound, we found out that we’d be stuck at anchor for at least one more day when our running lights wouldn’t come on and we came to the realization this would be a much easier fix in the US than in the islands.  Plus, we didn’t want to be out in the dark until that fix could be made. The next night though, the anchor was properly up and we were on our way out of the US. It was a long and hard fight this time across the Gulf Stream, which was running very wide and a good speed, which drastically diminished our pointing and speed.

After a much longer passage than we’d anticipated, we pulled into Bimini with enough time to still check ourselves in and make our way to the beach for a little relaxing.  Plus an extra bonus for us, we had new friends, Kim and Jereme of Lahowind, that had arrived the same day we did!

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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Laho!; Virgin Islands

Sunday January 25, 2015

Laho Virgin Islands

“btw, where do you think you’ll be in the Carib in Jan/Feb? Maybe we’ll be seeing you……”

“how the heck might you be seeing us in Jan??? We will be somewhere in the eastern carib for sure. I’m flying to Florida next week for a week (photo sessions) and then when I get back we are going to start moving again. We think we’ll be in the Virgin Islands by the end of the month. Who knows after that. What the heck are your guys’ plans???”

“I was hoping to see you in the Eastern Carib this winter…because we’re going to be back there! We just bought a new boat in FL, we’re crossing back across the Atlantic!”

“shut the hell up!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what did you buy and why?????????????? :))))

I am dying over here.

but excited you guys are going to be in the carib!”

 

still dying. hurry up and message me back. lol.”

 

It’s really fun to mess with your friends when you send them a message like that when they’re expecting you to spend the next two years in the Mediterranean.  This is this exchange I had with my good friend Kim from Lahowind when I let the news spill to her that we were in fact turning around and eventually making our way back to Florida.  As you can see, we were both excited at the prospect of seeing each other again so soon.

I won’t lie when I say that part of our schedule lately has been based on when we could meet up with our friends Kim and Jereme.  They were already entertaining family, but I was going to be damned if we were so close to each other and I missed out on a meeting.  With Matt’s “We need to get back to Florida to begin work on the new boat ASAP” mind frame, I knew that any chance I was given with Kim and Jereme, I had to snatch it.  So when they told us they’d be in Virgin Gorda on Sunday, we said “We’ll be there”.

Leaving St. Martin yesterday after making yet one more quick stop to Island Water World, we were on our way to the Virgin Islands in perfect conditions.  15-20 knot winds on the back quarter, sun shinning.  I’m not going to hide it from you….it was a perfect day to lay out on deck while getting rid of tan lines and sipping on the cheap gin we had just purchased at one of the mega marts in St.Maarten.

The evening and night went quite smoothly as far as sailing goes although it was quite nice except for the fact that there were actually boats to watch out for which we hadn’t seen since our sail from Lanzarote to Gran Canaria.  Moving along quite swiftly we actually had to slow ourselves down so we wouldn’t arrive before sunrise, and Matt woke me even a few hours early for my 8 am shift since he could barley keep his eyes open once it became light out.  Part of his vampire syndrome where he can only be active when it’s dark out.

Having stayed up to date on Kim’s blog with the little internet we were eventually pulling in Simpson Bay, I knew that Prickly Pear had spots to anchor, and even though Laho was going to try and take a spot near Saba Rock that night, we should still be in dinghy distance from each other.  Pulling into Gorda Sound just after 9 am, we dropped anchor in a near empty spot and fell heavily back into sleep until the early afternoon.  From there we tidy’d up a bit and swam in the beautiful teal waters until we were able to reach Kim and Jereme on the radio.  They had been coming from another spot in the BVI’s and we weren’t always in easy connection.

When I did finally reach Kim she told me they were running a little behind schedule and should be getting to Virgin Gorda around 5:30.  Since they had planned on making a delicious dinner for us on their boat but were apparently a sweaty mess and needed to clean up before we visited, we had no trouble pushing back our original 6:00 dinner reservation to 7 while they cleaned up and prepped the boat for us.

Virgin Gorda Sound

Laho in Virgin Gorda Sound

sunset in Virgin Gorda Sound

When we got the call on the VHF that everything was ready, we loaded ourselves into the dink along with a full cooler and a gin & tonic in my hands as we went to greet our long lost friends.  After getting easily lost in the dark anchorage but finding them surprisingly easily considering all the anchor lights shinning against the black sky, we climbed aboard to lots of hugs and excited chatter.  Kim led me below to watch as she prepped our baby back ribs and fed me a Laho dark & stormy that I admittedly hadn’t stopped bugging her aobut since she first blogged about it on her site.  Those liquids mixed in that cute glass?  How should I have been able to resist?

When dinner was served it was nothing short of amazing and the buffet style Kim had set up below deck worked out perfect for the six of us to grab plates and fill them with food at our leisure.  Oh that’s right, I forgot to mention the cousins!  Jereme’s cousin Lindsay and her husband Keith were visiting at the same time as us.  I do remember that they were extremely cool people that had extremely cool stories to tell, but I can’t remember all of it and I’ll tell you why in just a sec.

Jessica with margarita

Kim

cousins

I have a condtion and it seems to be that I’ve become a bit of a lightweight lately.  The gin & tonic I brought over with me?  One drink down.  The margarita that Kim made me with the tasty tequila she first let me sample in Bimini?  Two drinks down.  (Or should I say three by the strength Kim mixed it at, haha).  The delicious Dark & Stormy?  I was O-U-T.

Ok, maybe not like, passed out right away, but I definitely wasn’t completely with it.  I think I snapped a few photos of everyone enjoying themselves in the cockpit and may have commandeered one of our Canary Island beers from Matt.  I was still enough with it to pose for a few photos with Kim which I looked surprisingly sober for.  I am a little ashamed that my first day back with one of my good friends and I was not quite myself 60 minutes in….but I blame that on Matt for not drinking with me enough in the Canary Islands or having nightly sundowners on our passage.  Like that would have been a possibility anyway in the not-so-great conditions we suffered in for 2,200 miles.

Kim & Jessica

Photo courtesy of Lahowind

dark & stormies

laughs on Laho

So, even if I don’t remember every detail that happened, I do remember enough to know that I had a great time that night.  And the pictures prove that as well.  I had a least a little time to connect with Kim again while her margarita was working it’s way through my system and catch up on our last 10 months apart.

We’ve both traveled so far and experienced so much.  Yet the universe found a way in it’s heart to bring us back together.  A set of friends who’s bond was immediate and strong and has continued over moths apart and thousands of miles in distance.  I can easily say that I love this couple with all my heart and visiting them again, especially after the loneliness that followed me through the Atlantic Island of Europe, was enough to fill my soul and last me for months to come.  Plus these are the few people I know that would let fall asleep in a temporary tequila/rum coma on their coach roof, wake up with enough energy to make one joke about boobs before getting shoved into a dinghy to say good-bye, and still want to talk to me the next day.

Jessica & tequila bottle

laughs on Laho

Jessica & Jereme

 

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Exuma Land & Sea Park

Monday May 5, 2014

Exuma Land & Sea Park

Keeping as true to my Exuma wish list as possible, since we’ve now already skipped the sunken sculptures at Musha Cay, when Matt asked what our next stop was, I told him ‘Warderick Wells!’.  This is one spot I’m actually very sad we missed out on last year, and as soon as we pulled into the anchorage and then brought the dinghy out by the park headquarters, Matt was as well.  This place is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!  As well it should be, too.  That’s because Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Land & Sea Park, a 22 mile stretch of sea and cays that are protected under the Bahamas National Trust where they like to promote the saying ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’.  Meaning you take no fish, plants, flowers, ect, and do not leave any trash behind.  It’s a great concept and the island has definitely benefited from it.

Warderick Wells hosts two big claims to fame among the cays that make up the Land & Sea park.  Not only does it contain the park headquarters (ok, that’s not actually one of them), but it has a stunning horseshoe anchorage filled with mooring balls to preserve the seabed below, and just a few hundred meters away from this is Boo Boo Hill.  The lore of Boo Boo Hill is that many years ago, a schooner sank off the shores of Warderick Wells on a stormy night and that every soul on board perished.  They still like to haunt the area though, and legend has it that if you climb the crest of the hill at the bloom of a full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns.  We weren’t up for night hiking, and I don’t think we were even anywhere near a full moon, but a hike up the hill sounded fun enough.

anchorage at Warderick Wells

The term hike should be used very lightly though, and after a few minute uphill climb in which I never even had the chance to become short of breath, we were at the top.  The views up there were spectacular, but that wasn’t the only thing we had come to behold.  For you see, there’s been a tradition going on here between cruisers for quite a few years now.  Keeping with the theme of the natural reserve, cruisers have been leaving their mark at the top of this hill in the form of driftwood with their boat name painted or burned into it.  We didn’t have anything to leave as a memento, nor were we planning to, but the stunning views we were afforded at the top was well worth the trip in.  Through the mass of driftwood we tried to search out friends that we knew left pieces behind, but the crowd of 2014 was exceedingly strong and we would have had to do a lot of digging to unearth anything older.

Boo Boo Hill, Warderick Wells

Jessica on top of Boo Boo Hill

looking down Boo Boo Hill

 There was one sight we spotted at the top of Boo Boo Hill that we weren’t expecting too see but extremely happy we did.  Sitting on a mooring ball was s/v Laho, belonging to our friends Kim and Jereme that we hadn’t seen or talked to after spending a night out in the Bahama Banks, something we still hope they don’t hold against us.  (‘Oh, this uncontrollably rolly anchorage out in the middle of nowhere?  We’ll be fiiiiine.’)  Getting back in the dinghy we planned on doing a ride-by stalking to see if anyone was aboard, whilst trying to pretend that we were just checking out the mooring field.  Coming up on Laho we saw that in was in fact their boat, but it didn’t appear as if anyone was home.  There were however a group of dinghies gathered in the center of the anchorage where low tide had provided a couple of lavish sandbars that would be the perfect spot to enjoy a sundowner, and we cut the dinghy over to see if they were among the crowd.

The crowd however, completely dispersed as we came up on it, and we think we saw Kim, Jereme, and Oliver riding off in a direction back toward their boat.  Not wanting to actually stalk them by immediately turning ourselves back around, we landed the dinghy at the sandbar and walked around for a few minutes before trying Laho a second time, where we were eagerly invited aboard and offered cold beers while the four of us filled each other in on lost time.  With both boats being stuck for at least one more day due to a front coming through, I made sure that Kim didn’t mind me stopping back over once more so that I could return her favorite hair clip that I borrowed during our casino night and forgot to give back in the excitement of Jereme falling out of our dinghy on the way back to the boats.  That was just a cover story though.  What I was really after was Photoshop lessons so my photos can begin to look anywhere near as amazing as hers.*

Matt on sand bar

Warderick Wells at low tide

 The promised storm did come howling through in the middle of the night, waking us up at 2 am while 35-40 knot winds straightened out all our anchor chain and left Matt in the cabin to sleep in case any quick action needed to be taken.  None did, and 30 minutes later everything calmed back down to the peaceful 15-20 knots we’re used to.  What the storm did leave in it’s wake though were larger than normal seas on the Banks side of the island, the one we were exposed to.  We have not been doing well so far this year in trying to hide ourselves from west winds, and the result has been us rocking back and forth, familiar to those dreaded swells we experienced back in Grand Cayman.  This now being our second day of experiencing them, I could not handle it anymore.  Calling up Kim on the VHF, I begged her to let me take refuge on Laho for a few hours. I think the phrase ‘I’m going to burn this boat down’ was starting to make it’s way back into my vocabulary.

Knowing that I couldn’t show up empty handed again, I made a quick batch of Johnny Bread after following a recipe on my friend Brittany’s blog.  For being a first time attempt I think it came out pretty good, albeit a little more burned than I would have liked, but coupled with a side of strawberry jam I figured it was a very presentable gift for my gracious host, who in turn, handed me a cold Bud Light upon my arrival.  You gotta love how these trades work on the high seas.  Plus all the valuable lessons and tools I picked up from Kim to use on my CS6, well, let’s just say I think I ended up in the black for the day.  (Or week)

storms over Warderick Wells

storms over Warderick Wells

Georgie watching fish

Today we got off the boat to do a little more exploration of the island in the form of snorkeling and hiking.  There are a few patches of coral marked off in the anchorage we’re in at Emerald Bay, and taking the dinghy over we dropped hook in sandy patches next to the reefs and devoured every colorful fish and piece of brain coral we could take in.  I’ll be honest, it didn’t compare to the diving we did in the Ragged Islands last year, but it was our first chance to see anything underwater this year and we were soaking it all in.  Once we had finished on the three pieced of coral in the bay we took to diving Emerald Rock itself and found much more life there.  Matt spent tons of time in the water sneaking into every little crevice he could find, but the 5 ft barracuda that kept eyeing me, even though I knew it wouldn’t do anything, sent be back to the dinghy to soak up some sun and get warm instead.

After lunch we took to the shore and let Georgie join us.  We’ve decided that even though she loathes dinghy rides, we want to get her off the boat when possible so she can add a few new sights and smells to her world.  As soon as she was dropped off on the beach she began rolling around in the sand and chasing Matt as he ran near the waters edge.  In short, she was acting kind of like…a dog.  We were even able to get her to walk on her leash and we hiked up one of the trails to some ruins, and as long as one of us was in the front leading the way, she was completely content to follow.  It wasn’t until we were back on the beach that we remembered all the signs posted asking you not to bring your pets on the trails and to keep them on the beaches.  Ohhh, right.  She is a ‘pet’.  I forgot.  Cats walking on leashes tend to do that to you.

beach at Warderick Wells

Davis Plantation Trail marker

Matt walking Georgie

Jessica at Warderick Wells

We could have spent all afternoon resting on that beach, and Matt had even picked out a little cove where he would love to anchor Serendipity for a month straight if we had the time, but true to the Bahamian nature we’ve been experiencing so far this year, the sun was quickly overtaken by approaching clouds and sending us running back to the boat to close all the hatches before something really nasty blew in.  With two and a half days here though, I think we still managed to get the full experience in. Verdict of Warderick Wells:  Exquisitely beautiful and well worth the stop.

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 *Now that we’re back in Miami we are hunting down deals for me to buy a new DSLR body so I can stop shooting with my Cyber Shot.  I am so over the moon about the prospect of being able to shoot great photos again.  Thank you mom for the gift, you’re the best!!

 

 

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Casino Royale

Saturday April 12, 2014

Resort World Bimini Casino

While we were enjoying some sundowners and double checking charts over on Laho last night, Kim and Jereme said they wanted to spend the day today exploring town and then maybe hit the casino in the evening and asked if we were up for joining them.  It didn’t even take me two seconds to agree because I knew I’d be able to turn this into a Fancy Cocktail Hour, a reason to pull out a dress, style my hair, and even put on eyeliner.  Chances like that don’t come up in our life too often any more.  Also, a chance to hang out with Kim and Jereme is always a good time since we’ve enjoyed ourselves on each other’s boat’s the past two nights in a row.

Starting my beauty routine early in the afternoon, I put rollers in my hair and ironed out my best dress, barely saving time to eat diner which I was actually taking bites of while putting on makeup.  Swinging by to get our friends, we pulled up to the docks just a few hundred feet from us at Resort World Bimini and tried our best to act like we belonged there once we stepped into the compound.  Is it a rule you have to be staying here to actually visit the grounds?  We weren’t sure, but gauging the dollar amount that Jerme wanted to split between poker and roulette, we didn’t think they’d turn us away.

Kim & Jessica

marina at Resort World Bimini

laho casino photo

(Photo courtesy of Lahowind)

slots at casino

As soon as we entered the casino we made our way to the roulette table where I watched with wonder as Jereme split chips out between the range of numbers.  You mean there’s more to it than just picking red or black?  This is why I stick with the slot machines, although honestly, I’m not even usually sure what I’m trying to match up there.  I just wait for the bells and whistles to go off and let me know I’ve done something right.

One of the benefits of going to a casino to gamble is that they usually give you free drinks in return.  We were going to be damned if we dropped all of our money here and didn’t get anything out of it, so one of the first things we did was try to hail a cocktail waitress to start serving cold Kaliks.  At the moment only Jereme would have been able to get one since he was the only one gambling, but they did not feel like making their way to us on their own.  I literally had to hunt one down, tap her on the shoulder, and tell her that my friend was gambling at the roulette table and would like something to drink.  It was another ten minutes after that when she eventually made her way over to take his order.  Finally getting his first drink dropped off just as the last of his chips were being placed on the table I turned to Jereme and cracked, “How does that hundred dollar beer taste?”.  So far, it was his only prize of the evening.

Jereme & Kim in casino

The other game that Jereme was planning on dropping some money on for the evening was three card poker, although no one would be working the table for at least an hour.  Situating ourselves at the penny slots right next to the roulette table we’d just come from, each of us slid a $20 in our machine and starting pressing buttons, winning fifteen to fifty cents here and there.  Hailing down a cocktail waitress again, Kim had the bright idea of handing her a large tip the first time to make sure she kept coming back.  And boy did she.  I was only half way through my first Kalik when my second one was handed to me. We happily sat here and enjoyed our beers until the poker table opened up and we all sat down at the table to see how long Jerme’s money could hold out.

laho poker photo

 Can you tell we went a little drink crazy?  The margaritas were getting too sugary, and I even ended up switching to straight shots of tequila. (To sip, not to shoot)

(Photo courtesy of Lahowind)

Jereme playing poker

The money did last a good long time and it was already getting quite late when we decided to pack in in and head back to the boats.  Stepping on to the shuttle though, we (I) asked to be dropped off at one of the resorts restaurants where a wedding was being held.  Our first shuttle driver told us we should check it out, and after our entertaining night at the casino, crashing a wedding seemed like the next logical step.

Getting dropped off it looked as if most of the guests had already left and it was just a few members of the wedding party left.  There was a photo shoot of the bride and groom going on in front of the pool, so of course I grabbed my camera out and began shooting as well, acting like I was doing them a monumental service by popping up at their wedding and photographing their special moments.  (Remember, tequila.)  Being quite brazen at that point, literally dragging Kim behind me, I walked up to a member of the party that was taking photos and claimed that we were world travelers and would love to have our photo taken with the bride and groom.  I was quickly brushed off.  Probably understandably.

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 In my mind at the time I was doing a better job than the wedding photographer…..not quite.

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 Finally a little defeated that they wanted nothing to do with us, we left the wedding party to walk back to the dinghy, where we found a playground along the way.  Who could resist climbing the monkey bars and tumbling down the slide?  Definitely not us!  For anywhere between five and forty-five minutes (time was kind of getting away from me at that point), we reverted back to our six year old selves where we had a ball running and playing and stumbling on the astroturf as we fell out of slides and off the monkey bars.

Matt on playground

 With quite a fantastic night under our belts we arrived back at the dinghy, ready to take this party to Laho since we weren’t ready to call it quits.  I don’t quite know how it happened since it happened so quickly, but all I know is that I was so happy to have my camera out at the moment, because one second I’m looking at three people sitting in the dinghy, and the next thing I know is there’s only two in there because Jereme had somehow gone in the water.  It took a second to fish him out, but we did spend the rest of the ride back pondering how he ended up in the water in the first place.  Even he couldn’t tell you how he got there.  One moment he was there, the next he was gone.  We got back to Laho and decided it might be best to disband the party since Jereme’s phone was now a casualty of the night and we didn’t know who or what might be next.

Jereme in water

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La-Ho!

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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Stories From Other Cruisers: There Goes the Dink

Monday March 25, 2014

Lahowind

Jereme, Kim, & Oliver of s/v Laho

 

That’s right, it’s that time again where instead of telling funny stories or mishaps that have occurred to us, I’m sharing them from the other cruisers that are out sailing these seas with us.  You may ask why there was a two month lapse since the last one, and that’s because none of you are voulenteering up your stories.  Come on guys, I’m tired of hunting you down!  Plus I don’t have the Internet access for it anymore. I know you all have some good dinner table stories, I want to hear them!

Luckily one of my friends Kim on Laho Wind had quite the entertaining situation happen to them recently and I was ready to swoop in on it.  I’m glad that she shared, because having this happen your first week out can be a little embarrassing, but I think we’ve all assured her that we’ve done it at one point or another.  Keep reading for Kim’s account of what happened when she looked outside one morning and saw that their dinghy wasn’t there.  Here’s how it went down, according to Kim.  This story appears as it does on their blog post.  *All photos have been taken from LaHo Wind.

 

So, we’ve been using the dinghy davit lines to secure the dinghy behind the boat while still in the water (during the day).

But yesterday, it was starting to get pretty rough with high winds so we switched the dinghy being hooked up to the davits and instead cleated the painter line to the boat so the dinghy wouldn’t constantly bang against the boat.

Turns out, we didn’t check the pre existing knot attaching the painter line TO the dinghy, and it somehow came loose. :((((

The painter was still cleated on the boat while the dinghy & engine were long gone! The weird thing is we’ve been relying on that knot and have used that painter line to launch and stow the dinghy from the foredeck using winches — and it always held.

So what the heck do you do when you realize that your car has basically gone missing?

You freak out. Duh.

Oh wait, that’s just what I do. …a few tears were definitely involved. Lol.

No really, first things first, we called the marina to see if anyone had found/saved/returned it. (If you’re familiar with Boot Key Harbor, then you know that’s definitely a possibility — especially since our mooring isn’t too far from the end of the harbor and luckily the direction the wind was blowing).

The marina informed us that they had heard a report of a rouge dinghy and someone was possibly towing it in. Phew!!! That’s at least semi positive news.

We waited as patiently as possible while the marina staff went and checked for our dinghy at the dinghy docks. The whole time, I’m just thinking about how much our cruising budget is being blown from all these crazy issues. And now we might have to buy a new dinghy and engine? Not cool.

The marina finally called us back to say our dinghy WASN’T there! :(((

Oh no! Back to the drawing board. What now?

Jereme hopped on channel 68 on the VHF radio and was about to ask everyone in range if they had seen a loose dinghy. But just as we tuned in, there was someone talking about “our” missing dinghy!!!

Someone really had it!

Jer immediately chimed in that it was ours and the kind folks that saved it were nice enough to tow it back to our boat (they were only a few balls down from us). Phew!!!!!!!

Needless to say, we have retied that one knot and are being “extra” careful tying her up.

After telling our story to several other cruisers…many have said they’ve lost theirs before too. It happens. And if everything went smoothly, then we wouldn’t have any fun stories to share. Very true! …I’m sure we will always remember this day.

lost the dinghy

 

 

*If you would like to submit a story to be published in Stories From Other Cruisers, please email us at admin@mjsailing.com, or message us on Facebook at MJ Sailing, with the subject titles Stories From Other Cruisers. Please include your name, boat name, story, and a photo of your boat and/or the crew. Please do not send any lewd or profane stories as they will not be published.

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