Thursday, May 01, 2008

Good Bye Abaco - See you in the winter!

Wink and Wilma are back in the USA. This is a long posting, but then we'll be back up to date.
West Palm Beach, FL is only 54.1 Nautical Miles from West End, Bahama's.
Feel free to Save Picture As for the charts so you can download them to your computer. They may help you with some of the Navigation should you not be familiar with the Abaco's.
On April 19th, Wink and Wilma met up with Semper-Fi (the charter couple had borrowed the skiff for a few days). John Henry met them at the end of Don't Rock (the west side of the Whale Cay).
After we retrieved the skiff, John Henry and Salty Dawg enter THE WHALE on the east side. It was a smooth crossing with 2-4 ft swells. Surf pounded Whale Key from the east.
John Henry and Salty Dawg anchored at Manjack Cay not only because it was beautiful, but because they have free WiFi for cruisers. Both crews anchored and boarded Wink's Water Taxi service and went to Green Turtle Cay for exploring, gas, and a coke. Unfortunately, Green Turtle resturaunt was closed and the staff at both the gas pump and the resturant were not very friendly. We did run into Whimsy and crew as we were getting ready to leave and suggested that they join us at our anchorage. When we returned to the anchorage, Roving Seas with Jan and Brian were anchored right between us.
While having heavy h'orderves on board Roving Seas, Wink swears that he will walk with all three crews to the beach on the other side of Manjack Cay.
Wink and crews walk the 3-4 mile hike to the other side of the island.
There are little arrows that point the way. Wilma and Brian on the left, Jan, Pat and Wink on the right and Patty behind the camera.
Wink made a statement, "We use to be Captains of Industry, now we're Captains of Ships - playing in the sand". Wink finding sea shells at Manjack Cay.
Meanwhile, Wilma enjoys Beach Combing and the water. Nice drift wood here.
Pat, Brian and Wink do a little show and tell. They became fast friends.
One of the other boaters met us on shore and invited us to a full moon party being hosted by the owners of the island. What great island owners, apparently they were previous cruisers and really enjoy their company. The moon was beautiful, but the commoradery and food was awesome.
As the weather was completely perfect on Sunday, the three crews decided that it would be too hectic to catch the weather window for Monday/Tuesday to cross the Gulf Stream. We were all too willing to stay just one more week in the Bahamas.
Monday, the three crews picked up anchors and moved to Powell Cay. After John Henry and Salty Dawg dropped anchor at Powell Cay, Wilma, Pat and Patty boarded Roving Seas and headed for Coopers Town. Roving Seas needed Diesel and rest of us just wanted to tour. Wink stayed with Sara and also worked on a few chores. Besides, we needed Wink to be the Taxi driver to and from Roving Seas.
Everyone enjoyed Coopers Town. It's mostly a native town with has not been exploited. We walked the shores and collected conch shells, giant snail shell (?) that's not their real name of course, and sea glass. We had a light lunch beside the ocean with our meals to go from M&M's resturant who were official closed for remodel, but had hot meals available.
Tuesday, all the crews worked on cleaning their treasures. Wilma discovers utilizing her sand collection that the sand at Treasure Cay is the softest and the finest while the sand at Spanish Cay is more corse but amply soft.
Roving Seas made reservations for dinner at Spanish Cay. Our friend Richard is the chef there and we surprised him with a visit. On the way there, we took the long way around, but on the way back with high tide, we cut through the middle in the dark. Scarry, but Brian did a great job.
The next day, we all decided to head over to Great Sale Cay and anchor there out of the wind. It was still windy when we arrived and anchored. Everyone was tired after that long day and decided that if the winds persisted, we'd move the next day to the other west side of the land.
We all raised anchor about 10 am to move to the west side of Great Sale Cay and somewhere in the middle of all the moving, we just decided to head toward Mangrove Cay and see where we were with the day when we got there.
It's amazing, three boats - three captains - three admirals (the women) all unanamously decided to continue on to the Lacayan Waterway and anchor there. John Henry being the shallowest draft boat intered the waterway and discovered that it would be too tight for the other two boats to enter at that time so everyone anchored and we would approach the entrance on the next day at mid-tide to continue inside.
The Lacayan Waterway - above
Wink, Wilma and Pat all boarded the skiff and headed inside the canal to make sure of the channel. We also spoke with persons of local knowledge to determine that we be careful at the 4th piling and steer to port as there are rocks in the water.
The enterance by all boats went well. Here are a few pictures of the waterway. John Henry is the tallest boat and was able to take pictures beyond the waterway which possibly none of the other boats could see.
Beyond the canal are many waterways which are marsh looking and very shallow.
John Henry anchored in the first anchorage passed the only bridge across the waterway. Roving Seas and Salty Dawg are rafted together to our starboard.

Roving Seas (Brian and Jan) above hailed a Marina via VHF and the marina called us a Taxi and we were picked up just east of the bridge we were anchored next to. Neville the Taxi Driver was convinced by the crews to give us a tour of Freeport and then allow us to go shopping for 4 hours and then return to pick us up and take us back to our boats. Once again, Wink remained with Sara the sea dog, he played security guard for the boats and he was our water taxi again from the boats to the wall near the road. He deserves something special.
Patty shopping at Freeport, Bahamas.
Wilma liked the beads, but only bought a few hemitite necklaces.

Salty Dawg and Roving Seas convinced the taxi driver to stop and they bought Wink a Chocolate Cake which he has been craving for weeks. He has been a great water taxi guy and they wanted him to know they appreciated him.
Sara the sea dog has been great on this trip. She has a good life. On Sunday morning, all boats got up early and we left the Lacayan Waterway at before day break. Salty Dawg and Roving Seas are headed north to Lake Worth, FL. John Henry headed south west toward Bimini.
The ride going northwest toward Lake Worth was relatively smooth. The waters heading south east were bumby to say the least. The weather was suppose to be 2-4 with rolling seas. It really was 4-6 ft with head seas only a second or two apart. Sara ran and hide. She didn't like it at all. Wink didn't like it at all. Wilma didn't like it at all. Wink and Wilma looked at each other and made a simultanious decision to head north after only 20 minutes.

John Henry hailed Salty Dawg and Roving Seas and offered his Water Taxi Services and they were immediately accepted. They slowed down a little and we speed up a little and within an hour, the group was all happy and enjoying each others company again.
This tanker was drifting around doing not much waiting for their turn at the refinery. Salty Dawg and John Henry passed to the stern, while Roving Seas went forward.
We had a very comfortable crossing. John Henry and crew cleared customs via telephone using the Local Boaters Option. It was a breeze.
Wink transporting Roving Seas on the second trip of Groceries. The first trip was for John Henry and Salty Dawg. He did a great job in 25 knot winds and seas about 1-2 ft.
All three boats anchored south of Peanut Island. On Saturday, all crews did shopping, shopping and more shopping. Wink was again our taxi driver from the boats to shore and again back to the boats. He again stayed behind and watched Sara and all the boats. However, he was extremely surprised when he came to fetch us back to our boats and realized that he was going to have to make two trips. Yes, there was that much shopping.

John Henry hosted the final party to say Good-Bye to the two crews. Yes, it's true, we're heading south in the morning.
Pat at peace with Wink.
Patty treating Sara to a gentle rub.
Brian and Jan inspiring us all to be all we can be.

Wilma enjoys socializing and hates to see it slow down. Ya'll come back and see us now, ya'll here.

Monday morning, we say goodbye and Wilma finally gets the picture she's wanted for months of the stern of Salty Dawg. Having Pat and Pat in the picture is a plus.
We left Lake Worth, FL and went about 3-5 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean and turned south. The weather was great. 5-10 mph winds, just a ripple on the water and no problems for the day. We entered Miami's Biscayne Bay through Government Cut with excellent conditions. As we rounded the corner heading for the bridge near our chosen achorage, this big fellow blowing the conch horn seems fitting as if to say, "Time to take a break".
After the bridge, we anchored in front this yacht club and had a good night. (below)
The next morning, we aweighed anchor and went further south to Key Largo, FL
Our plow dragged within a couple of hours and we had to reset the anchor. There is alot of grass here so we now decided to deploy the Danforth Anchor. We've never used it. It hold, Yeah!
We met a couple of nice guys Vincent and Trick (sail boaters) who came over for happy hour. We took this sunset picture while they were visiting with us.
This morning, we arise early to aweighed anchor with no wind as Wink is concerned with the Chain Stripper. He was right, the chain jammed and the chair stripper bent in half. Remember, we've never used this anchor. Wink determines that the chain stripper is on backward. Luckily he has a spare (the last one). After a completed repair, we aweighed anchor and headed even further south, we passed Jew Fish Bridge nestled away in a mangrove pawned area with the nicest bridge tending operator we've ever came across. She gave this little port a feeling at all are welcome and that she personally is the gatekeeper to happiness. (Ya'll should go there).
It's official - we have finally entered the Florida Keys at 0945 this morning (May 1)
As we continue south (yes that's the way we like to go - south). The bunches of Mangroves line our waterway and lots of birds can be seen. We have had long stretches of shallow areas(but not for a Great Harbour by Mirage). The water is beginning to look a lot like the Bahamas. It's getting clearer and greener.
As we read along in the Skipper Bob travel guide, we determine that the free mooring balls mentioned at Statue Mile 1161.7 sounds like a good idea. We have strong winds and our boat pole is frozen tight not allowing full extension so Wilma goes in with the skiff and connects the bridle to the pennant of the mooring ball. Wink brings in the big boat and Wilma throws him a line and he connects the first side of the bridle. Then Wilma boards John Henry and heads to the bow where she catches the line and attaches the second bridle when Wink gives her slack on the line. We hold our breath that we're not too heavy for the mooring, but all seems well after an hour.
Wilma has spent the entire afternoon working on this update to the blog and Wink has had a nap. Stay tune for more adventures. Our internet connections on the west coast of Florida are pretty good. Wilma promises to update often and make them shorter to read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed every word. Sounds like you tied up in the Lucayan Canal the same place we did. We walked across the bridge and met Adian & Norma. We, along with Double JJ have gone back to visit them twice.
Double JJ tied up in front of their home this year.
Enjoy the Keys and keep those blogs coming.