Throwback Thursday: From Dock to Shining Dock

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.

This throwback doesn’t leave us very far from our last one, just enough time for us to finally get ourselves off Horta (Faial) and moving to the next island.  If I haven’t mentioned yet in throwbacks, because I know it will probably be the next big one to come, one of the reasons we had been sitting for so long in this area was because we were looking at purchasing a boat back in the States.  Not the one we did end up getting, but a 48 ft aluminum boat in Rhode Island.

As you’ll probably see in a future post, things didn’t work out with that particular boat, but it was enough to keep us by an internet connection (and an airport if need be), day and night.  So until we made the decision to move on, we sat in Horta and decided where our eventual destination would be: Europe, or the US.  Still debating, and with some bad weather in the not to distant forecast, we opted to move 150 miles east to Sao Miguel.  Here’s the post on our ride over, the first sailing we had done in a month, and since crossing 3,000 miles to arrive in the Azores.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday September 6, 2014

9.6.14 (3)

Just as planned, we left Horta on late Thursday after trying to time it just right that we wouldn’t arrive to Ponta Delgada before sunrise a day and a half later. All the laundry had gotten one final wash, last minute e-mails were sent out as if two days were going to be a terribly long time to be away from civilization, and all the last of the provisions that we had purchased for a two week crossing were shoved into every little nook and cranny of Serendipity. All morning I had been watching the barometer, my new favorite hobby, and became increasingly worried as the winds sounded like they were howling outside the marina in the early afternoon. Four weeks of sailing in winds rarely over ten knots still makes me queasy to think of going out in anything over fifteen now. Forget that we cruised the whole Caribbean in 25-30, apparently it’s still taking me awhile to build back up to that.

At 5:00 we tossed off the lines and headed back into open water. Both of us were hoping for a whale spotting out in the channel since we still see tour boats take tourists there every day for just this thing, but we were only left with a slight chop and dramatic views of Pico while nearing golden hour. The pharmacy brand Dramamine I had just purchased during our stay in Portugal seemed to be doing it’s job, and as we carried swiftly along at five knots under a reefed main and partial jib, I was able to reheat some pasta for dinner without getting sick from the motion down below.

All morning I had been worried that I’d slept in too late and wouldn’t be anywhere close to sleeping when 8 pm came along, but just like Matt says, something about being on a boat instantly wants to lull you to sleep. Just after the sun went down and I had finished cleaning the dishes I was happily falling asleep in my bunk. The rocking was fairly gentle and there was no trouble falling back into old habits.

9.6.12 (1)

9.6.14 (2)

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Sometime during my four hours of sleep I heard the wind pick up and Matt roll in the headsail. From what I could tell we were still moving along at a decent pace and since there was no cursing or frantic movements I assumed whatever storm might be coming up on us wasn’t too bad and I quickly drifted back off. When I got up for my shift at midnight I found out that what felt like moving swiftly along to me was us only powering along at 2.5 knots. Our old friend. After getting a rundown from Matt he told me that while we were in the lee of Pico the wind had been a little schizophrenic and was not only constantly changing direction, but changing speed as well. He had just gone from 15 to 30 down to ten all within an hour. When I came up they were hovering around 12 and the wind was coming from our beam.

Just as Matt was settled into bed and I was left on my own the winds decided to shift yet again to begin to come more on our nose and forcing me to point closer and closer to Pico. It was fine for awhile, but we wanted to stay at least five miles offshore, if just for the katabatic winds alone, and finally I had to point us directly south just so we could put some distance between us once more. During the rest of my shift the winds finally started to back more to our port side and I was able to put on on a course toward Sao Miguel. The winds had also picked up to the 25-30 range, with wild thunderstorms off in the distance, but as it looked like they were headed away from us and we were only working under a reefed main, I didn’t put too much worry into it. The constant drizzle of rain we did get though was a bit annoying and by 4 am I was more than happy to take my place back in my bunk.

By morning the skies had cleared of storm clouds and we were just left with puffy cumulus balls and winds hanging around 20-25 knots. Our pace was pathetic, holding at just over 3 knots, and I began to wonder if instead of getting to Ponta Delgada by sunrise the next day, if we’d even get there before sunset. If there’s one thing I can not stand (ok, there’s actually a lot, but this is a major one), it’s getting within just a few miles of port when the sun sets and having to wait it out until the next morning to get in. Nope. That was not going to fly with me this time. When Matt woke up from his shift I let him know that winds had died down to 20-22 knots, and I know we’d been super cautious since our storms off Florida, but maybe we could think about putting out the headsail to gain ourselves some speed. We used to sail in this kind of weather all the time, right?

When I asked I thought we’d just be putting it partially out, I still felt like being a little cautious, but Matt was fine with letting the whole thing out. He didn’t see any more storm on the horizon and since it was day we should see any new ones coming from far away. As soon as the sail was let out and trimmed in we set off like a rocket. Our speed jumped from 3.2 knots up to 6.5 as the ‘Dip heeled over at a nice 10-15°. For a moment I sucked in my breath. We hadn’t seen speeds like this in a long time and I don’t even remember the last time we had a nice heel. But then I realized…we’re fine. This is what the ‘Dip is meant to do. This is what she used to do all the time before we became too scared to let her get into her groove after one too many squalls on our crossing.

For the rest of the day she stayed in her groove, speeding along at 6.5-7 knots, and even though we’d definitely made up the lost time we wondered if we might still get to our destination a little too early. When the sun was going down we rolled the headsail back in and went to cover the last 50 miles at a steady 4 knots. With the nights getting colder I spent my 12am-4am shift comfortably settled into the settee below while running up for checks every 15 minutes. Being less than 40 miles from the island at the time I spent my shift using my MP3 player to scan for decent radio stations, delighted when I found them although each station seemed to have quite an eclectic mix ranging from brand new Coldplay to 90’s Mariah Carey to turn of the millenium techno.

It was me who was in the cockpit once again as we approached the island just after sunrise. The last 10 miles seemed to take forever, not bringing us to the harbor until 11 am, but the sights as I watched us come in were well worth the wait. The SW side of the island is edged with sheer cliffs while rolling green hills followed, turning into the white buildings with coral colored roofs that we’ve come to know so well. For the last hour into the harbor I was treated to one of the best and longest dolphin shows I think I’ve ever had in my life. Plus this was a completely new species that we hadn’t come across before! Pods and pods of saddle back dolphins swam alongside the boat and tried to get views of it’s newest visitors. The whole thing actually went on for so long that I went from excited jumping, to snapping about a hundred photos, to peeking my head over the side while I enjoyed my coffee, to completely ignoring them. They just would not go away.

Once we were about two miles away from the entrance to the inner harbor I finally woke Matt up and we tried to find this elusive entrance in the massive bay. Eventually locating the itty bitty red marker that stood on the breakwater we fired up the engine and began to head in. It was strange when we pulled up to the fuel dock that there was no one working it, but we just tied up and headed inside the building. After talking to the local authorities that have an office inside we found out that we’d just crossed into low season and the marina is not open on Saturdays and Sundays. They told us just to grab any open slip and come back Monday morning to check in. Parking Serendipity in the new part of the marina (anchoring is banned here too, argh!!), we took a slip that’s probably meant for a 60 ft boat, but as they’re currently at about 20% capacity, we didn’t think it would matter.

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Storms over Nassau

Saturday April 19, 2014

rainbow over Atlantis

As antsy as I was this morning to finally get a move on so we could finally get to the Exumas where anything but a south wind would bring us closer to George Town and our friends, the wind whistling through the rigging before I even slid out of bed had me doubting if it would actually happen. Knowing that we would have had to time our departure with high tide or at least something close to it, we planned on leaving in the late morning and had allowed ourselves to finally sleep in for once instead of being awoken by an alarm clock at sunrise. Stepping outside though, not only were the winds as strong as they had sounded from in the salon, a constant 25 knots, but they were coming from the direction of 150 degrees. Even if we detoured north to Allen’s Cay, it would have put us on a course of 135 degrees and too far into the wind.

The chance to sit around and do nothing all day beside a few minor cleaning projects was actually welcoming, and spreading those projects out through the day so we could enjoy more important aspects such as a good book and gourmet coffee, we were both happy with the decision to stay put, even though it was putting us a day further behind in eventually meeting up with our friends. Once the sky darkened in the mid afternoon and thunder threatened on the horizon, we were especially glad we stayed. Or at least, I was. After dodging so many storms on the way to get here, I wanted to sit back and watch one come in from the safety of a harbor, watching the lightning contrast with the dark skies while not having to travel though it. Matt on the other hand, wanted to be anywhere but here for this storm. He reasoned that we could have easily dropped anchor and ridden it out in the banks, but here we had to be mindful of ourselves dragging, or worse, everyone else dragging into us. We had already spent most of the morning watching a boat crewing six young guys fiddling with their anchor after they had become much closer to us than they were when we first woke up.

Splitting my day between reading a book in the cockpit and watching a movie down below, I excitedly shut of my movie and moved myself back outside once things looked like they might actually get interesting. I had been hearing thunder for awhile and was ready for my lightning show to start. That is, as long as it didn’t pass over us. Dark looming clouds came over us as they worked their way northeast. Based on their rippling effect it looked as if we’d be in for a very good storm. Sitting patiently outside in the gentle rain that began to patter, I sat quietly waiting for my show to begin. And waited, and waited, and waited. This storm, for all it’s menacing looks, so far wasn’t packing the ferocity that I’d expected. Winds picked up to 25 knots, the rains hardened, and I watched as unfortunate power boaters were taken by surprise and hightailed it back to shelter through the rain. My doom and gloom though, eluded me.

Too hopeful to call it a day just yet, I stood on the steps to the companionway while the boards were put in place to keep out the rain that was pelting us from the west as the currents pointed our bow east. Eventually I did get some of my lightning, but with only one or two clear and jagged bolts. The rest came upon us in a blinding rain so thick that I could not even make out the cruise ships or the outline of Atlantis. Defeated, I took shelter below, drawing my computer close for a distraction while Matt slept away the rain with an afternoon nap. I want to be disappointed that I didn’t get the show I was hoping for, but I guess I should be thankful, as a mariner, that nothing more did come of it since I know I wouldn’t want to be stuck in anything like that myself if I was (traveling) on the water.

It was kind of fun to watch the mega yachts line up in the harbor to seek safety after their day of cruising had been ruined by the weather. Visibility so bad that they must have had every kind of radar and infared gadget going. Oh well, I guess that’s why their captain’s get paid the big bucks.

 

P.S. motor yacht Milk Money…this is the third time you’ve showed up in the same harbor as us.  If you’re going to keep following us, the least you could do is invite us aboard for drinks one evening.

storm clouds over cruise ships

storm clouds over Nassau

storm clouds over Atlantis

wave runner in the rain

storm clouds over Nassau

rainbow over Atlantis

Come Snail Away

Thursday April 17, 2014

Matt walking Gorgie

Tuesday evening found us in a little anchorage between Frazier’s Hog Cay and Bird Cay in the Berry’s. It took us until 6 pm to drop anchor there, having spent 11 hours at sail to make around 38 miles. This slogging and beating into the wind is starting to drive me crazy. The day that we get down to Georgetown or Long Island will be a day of joy, because at that point we’ll be turning around to head back to Miami, and should have the wind at our back, or at least on our sides, the rest of the way back. No more getting stuck for days at a time while waiting for the wind to shift off you nose. Why go back to Miami you might ask? I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it yet or not.

Miami is going to be our new jumping off point to cross the Atlantic. It was originally going to be St. Martin, but our extended stays in Isla Mujeres and Ft. Lauderdale left us without the time to get ourselves all the way down there by mid-May to prepare ourselves for a June departure. Unless we wanted to skip everything along the way. Then it was going to be from either Georgetown Exumas or Calabash Bay in Long Island, but while taking Georgie to the vet in Ft. Lauderdale for her rabies titer test, something that’s required to get her pet passport which will allow her into Europe, we were kicked in the butts with a nice little surprise. After her titer test came back, four to six weeks later, she needed to be checked out by the USDA before finally having her paperwork stamped that she was rabies free, healthy, and free to enter any EU nation. Well, by the time her results actually came back and she would be allowed to see the USDA, we’d already be long gone for the Bahamas. So now, we go back.

It’s not to bad actually. We’re having to hurry a little bit more than we anticipated, but we both think it will be good to do last minute preparations and provisioning in the states. Everything we need to get will be much easier to get in the states than in the Bahamas. I’m sure it’s not going to be until the week before we leave that we think to ourselves ‘Oh crap, we need to get x, y and z, and they can only be ordered online. Time for Amazon prime!!!’. Since that’s kind of how it worked even when we were just leaving for the Bahamas. You’d think that we’re prepping ourselves for two months at sea, or headed to a developing country, none of those being the case, but it’s now our minds work. ‘I want/need this. I can get it here. I should do that’.

So those are our near future plans. But for the moment, we’ve still been trying to slowly make our way to our friends in the Exumas. Yesterday was spent in the anchorage, waiting out SE winds that of course shifted north by 11 am. What would have been perfect sailing conditions for us to get to Nassau. So we made the most of the day and took Georgie on another shore leave. Just a little bit different than the Florida Keys, she was much more content to stick right by our side for the first 20 minutes until her interest got the better of her and she began running away. Right into a thicket where I had to hunt her down and pull her out…in my bare feet. Which, when I put her down for two seconds so I could pull thorns out of my heel, she ran right back into them. We made sure to keep a tight grasp on her leash after that.

Georgie in Berry Islands

Georgie on beach

Georgie inspecting coral

Today we made, ugh, another slog from the Berry’s to Nassau. Only 10 hours for that 35 mile haul. After a few hours of motoring the wind actually shifted enough that we were able to turn off the engine and motor sail alone. Just as I was thinking that things were finally going our way and had gone below for a late morning nap, Matt woke me up 45 minutes later to let me know a storm was coming and we had to pull in the geneoa. Which took away all of our speed and our pointing capabilities. All of a sudden we were back to pointing straight down to Andros. An hour later it passed and we were able to get the headsail back out again, but for the rest of the afternoon we watched storms off to our left and right and prayed they wouldn’t come any closer to us. Three of them off our starboard side seemed to collide with each other just behind us and form one mega cloud of nastiness that I am so thankful we were not caught anywhere near.

We pulled into the bustling harbor around 5:30 and at that point, it could have rained all night if it wanted to. I just wanted to get our anchor down before it happened. Once more we were surrounded by cruise ships and the glittering lights of Atlantis in the distance. Visiting the first island that we’d already been to last year, we’ve now come full circle. Now if only we can get out of here ASAP and check out some of the islands we flew past last year. The sunken piano on Musha Cay, Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells, Duffy’s at Norman’s Cay. I’ve already got my list going.

storms going to Nassau

storms on way to Nassau

Atlantis at night