Ode to Windsong II…

Bob reflects in words…I reflect in pictures…but we both feel the same way!

Yes, Windsong II does take us away from the cold winter and she does provide a comfortable home in warm southern climates, but she is so much more than our winter home. She connects us to mother nature. With her we can see, hear and feel the wind, the waves, the tide changing, and wonder at the number of stars so bright from our bed at night.We watch the sunrise and the sunset from her cockpit. On her you can feel very small and full of awe. The wind can move her along so quietly — you can tell she loves it when the engine stops and the sails are full.  She takes care of us in bad weather. She is our mother ship — she allows us to swim in the clearest water, explore and photograph remote beaches, shorelines and settlements in her tender. She is just big enough we can have friends visit to share these experiences with us — what could be better than that? And those are just a few of the reasons we love her…

 

windsong II in HT with LH
On a mooring ball in Hopetown Harbour, Elbow Cay
going to green turtlelr
Heading for Green Turtle Cay.
ben and lynnae leaving treasure cay
With our friends as we leave Treasure Cay. The boat is running on autopilot.
bob and charts on way to Great Sale Cay
Bob studies the charts on the way to Great Sale Cay.
windsong following overdraught
We follow Overdraught across the Gulf Stream.
2-anchored outside manowar horiz copy
At anchor at Man-o-war Cay. Flying the flag of the Bahamas as a courtesy.
anchoring image
You can even see the anchor chain in this crystal clear water.
cruise to nowhere2
Sometimes you just sail for the joy of it — you aren’t trying to go anywhere!
Windsong II in the slip. Slipped with some wonderful cruisers.
In a slip at Green Turtle Cay.
breakfast on the boat HT
Breakfast in the cockpit at Hopetown.
going through the whalelr
Going through the most dangerous cut in the Abacos — Whale Cay passage.
windsong at tc
On a mooring ball at Treasure Cay.

 

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Those were the days, my friend…Part 1

A selection of favourites from our recent sailing adventure in the Bahamas…in no particular order…

good one of Bob
Being on Windsong II with his crew and some good friends makes this captain very happy!
clouds  crab cay
Even when the weather is frightful, it can still be beautiful…taken at anchor at  Manjack/Crab Cay
wild pink sky at manowar
I have a weakness for a wild pink sky…taken at anchor at Man-o-war Cay
double rainbow over great sale cay2
Double rainbow…taken at anchor at Great Sale Cay…
clouds reflections april 2
You don’t often think of the sea as being calm and still, but it can be…taken under way from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour
overdraft off great sale
Our buddy boat Overdraught at anchor at Great Sale Cay  backed by beautiful light…
marsh H sunset
No, I never ever get tired of sunrises and sunsets! Taken at anchor at Marsh Harbour…
two cats at Tahiti
Taken from Tahiti Beach

Back from the Bahamas…

title for post   We crossed the Gulf Stream on Wednesday, April 15, in an effort to beat the bad weather that was forecast. It was not the calm pond it was last year — we had 11 to 13 knot winds so we motorsailed. The middle of the 11-hour journey was quite smooth and pleasant, with the beginning and end being bumpy and a bit uncomfortable. Once again we were travelling with our buddy boat Overdraught, and it was reassuring to see them and talk to them throughout the long day on the water.

We timed our departure from West End to arrive with high tide at the St. Lucie Inlet (and Stuart) and we achieved that, although as we approached Stuart from offshore we could see squalls over the city. We confirmed this using Sirius Satellite weather radar as well as our own radar. When we got within cell phone range we called Leo, Bob’s brother, before attempting to motor in the inlet.

We were concerned that if it were raining hard we would not have good visibility, which you need to navigate the tricky inlet. Leo confirmed that the storm was moving south and that with a slow approach we could come in after the rain stopped.

And lo and behold, as we waited, we watched as the gray clouds parted right where we needed to go in off the ocean, and the sun’s rays shone down, allowing us to make a safe entrance.

We’re back in Mariner Cay Marina now and we’ll spend some time packing up and getting the boat ready to put on the guard before we make our way home.

I have to catch up with all the photographs I made since I last posted and hopefully will have some ready to post soon.

Sailing on the Sea of Abaco…

zunset tc
Sunset at Treasure Cay beach
tc pano fin
Ten-photo panorama of Treasure Cay beach…

flying the flag sails upSailing on the Sea of Abaco is a real delight. The water depth averages 10 feet and there are many different ports of call within a days sail. The water is gin clear and on calm days it is easy to see the bottom. The eastern trade winds dominate this area and average 15 to 25 knots — perfect winds for salty sailors. It’s always heart-warming to see a boat flying a Canadian flag — we proudly fly ours — and we’ll often stop by to say hi and exchange a boat card. Today we met a boat from Ottawa in Treasure Cay which has been down here for months with young parents and two young kids on board, all having a blast.

Sailing with sailors rocks…

bob ben and lynnae
Bob, Ben and Lynnae having morning coffee under way.

We just said a sad goodbye to our dear friends Ben and Lynnae after they spent a week with us on Windsong II cruising the Abacos (Bahamas). Both have busy lives, demanding work schedules and they really needed to relax and thaw out from the deep freeze Canada has been under these past few months. We were only too happy to give them a place to get away from it all.

They sail a sister ship to Windsong  II — a Hunter 36 — out of a club on Lake Ontario. A few years ago, we had enjoyed a cruise with them in the North Channel of Lake Huron on our respective 26-footers at the time and had gotten along super well.

So we did not hesitate to invite them to join us for a week in the Abacos this spring. We knew they would completely understand that we could not even promise to be in Marsh Harbour on a specific date because of the weather. Not everyone would get that or be OK with it.

We are so grateful to them since as they passed through Fort Lauderdale they picked up a water pump that Windsong II desperately needed for her auxiliary engine. (Ours had a bad seal and we couldn’t find a replacement in the Bahamas.)

The first order of business upon arrival was to install the pump, which Bob did quickly while Ben recorded the details on his new mini cam. I was coveting this cute little waterproof Go Pro-like camera the whole time he was here ;-). He got some fantastic footage of our cruising experience.

Little time was needed to orient these sailors on the boat. A quick chat about where we keep our safety equipment and we were ready to untie the lines and leave the dock. For the whole week, they were considerate, helpful, fun, easy-going and really into learning the particularities of cruising in the Abacos. They would like to cruise here themselves in the future. Bob and Ben spent hours comparing notes about sailing and sailboats and picking each other’s brains. And  they both know a lot! Lynnae and I spent time talking about what it’s like to hang out with these kind of characters and how to keep them on the right course!

For our part we were so happy to show off the Abacos. Our first day was a cruise to nowhere! The winds where light and we decided to just sail around on the Sea of Abaco and return to anchor for the night in Marsh Harbour.

The next day we set out for Treasure Cay which boasts one of the best beaches in the Bahamas, and which we had not been to before. This proved to be a cruiser’s paradise. For the small fee of $10 a day for anchoring or $20 a day for mooring, you are entitled to use the amenities of the beautiful resort attached to the marina (like the pool and showers) as well as get free water (wow!) and great wifi (super wow!) There was also a convenient (meaning walking distance) well-stocked supermarket, great coffee shop and bakery (with Bob’s favourite pineapple upside down cake!) and laundromat. Heaven on a stick!

That night, Lynnae taught us how to make Ben’s favourite recipe and a typical North African chicken dish (a sauce called dursa made with paprika and garlic) and we invited our friend Stuart over to share it — he was batching it at Treasure Cay because his wife had to fly back to Canada on business for a week.

After two days of bliss on the beach, we wanted to show our friends a different side of the Abacos. Our next port of call was Hopetown on Elbow Cay. We slipped in at high tide with two feet under our keel and were lucky enough to nab a mooring ball  — anchoring is not allowed in the small harbour. We did a quick tour of the village of Hopetown and they had their first swim in the Atlantic Ocean. On this tiny strip of land, the ocean is only steps away from the calmer, shallower Sea of Abaco.

The next day they decided to rent bicycles (since all the golf carts were reserved and no cars are allowed) to explore the cay. They pedalled out to the famous Tahiti Beach, which they thoroughly enjoyed. We also climbed the 100 steps to the iconic lighthouse once again and I took more shots from the bottom and the top.

This lighthouse is one of the last operational kerosene-fueled lighthouses in the world and one of three manual lighthouses in existence. It has a spring mechanism that has to be hand- cranked every few hours to maintain the sequence of five white flashes every 15 seconds. It can be seen for 23 nautical miles. Lynnae did a wonderful sketch of the lighthouse.

Before heading back to Marsh Harbour for the plane, we stopped at Man-O-War Cay for a swim off the back of the boat. Each cay was a different experience and the perfect weather made it all so enjoyable. We had wonderful meals to enjoy in the cockpit, lots of swimming in the warm aqua-blue Sea of Abaco, some sailing and some wandering around in the charming settlements like Hopetown.

It was the first time we cruised with another couple on our own sailboat and we were all delighted at how easy and fun the whole experience was. These two are very special people and we hope to be cruising with them again in the future.

A cruise to nowhere…

Sailing on the Sea of Abaco

Treasure Cay

We were privileged to watch dolphins playing while we had morning coffee in the cockpit.
A truly stunning beach with aqua water and a soft sandy bottom.
Ben and Lynnae walked the three-mile long beach both ways.
Ben enjoys a refreshing swim.
As official weather person I must check the weather before each departure. What a nice place to do it!

Hopetown, Elbow Cay

Coming into Hopetown Harbour on a high tide. Ben has his first look at the lighthouse.
Ben and Lynnae at the top of the lighthouse. The glass lens above them is shrouded during the day. The covers come off at night.
We loved the sketch Lynnae did of the lighthouse in her artist journal. She is so talented!
A view of the entrance to the Hopetown Harbour from the lighthouse.
bob on top of LH
Follow Bob’s finger to see our sailboat moored in Hopetown Harbour.

Man-o-war

A cool dip on a hot day just offshore of Man-o-war Cay.

From place to place…

A view of the well-known Whale Cay from our boat as we leave Treasure Cay.
The Sea of Abaco was unusually calm on our way to Elbow Cay. Almost like glass.
Bob had such a good time talking about sailing and sailboats this week to someone who could really appreciate all the details…!

Life on board

Our Good Friday breakfast at Hopetown featured the famous Bahamian coconut bread made into french toast. Yum, yum, yum!
Yet another great meal in the cockpit on Windsong II!

Marsh Harbour and beyond…with friends

Here we are in Hopetown Harbour on a mooring ball. We just said a fond farewell to our friends who left to return to Marsh Harbour and then Ottawa and reality tomorrow! We will stay here in paradise 😉

I have so many pictures I have no hope of catching up with everything we did in the last week but here is a brief taste. And I’m in a coffeeshop on a battery so I will do my best!

dandh-waving
This is our rendez-vous at Man-o-war Cay with our friends. They had just been swimming and snorkelling around Fowl Cay. We anchored out with them that night just outside the Cay. It’s fun to have a long lens. We were really not very close!
tahiti beach2
Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay
turtle pond
Going in search of turtles in Turtle Pond on Tilloo Cay. And we saw some! I think this family are really fish — they hardly ever left the water the whole week!
long family
Our friends chartered a catamaran called Spontaneity with a Captain (Sarah Gilmer). Here you see their boat to the left and ours to the right. The two dinghies are behind. The cat is shallow drafted so it is on a sandbar. We are a bit further out. We had dinner on their boat that night and a calm, beautiful sleep far from everybody!
bbqing on the boat in HT
Their cat was 42 feet and very spacious — here we are in Hopetown Harbour on a ball getting ready for a BBQ supper.
bob on boat
Bob and I sometimes took different routes than our friends because we had to go where the water was deep enough for our 5 foot draft. This is on the way to Hopetown on Elbow Cay
sunrise hopetown
This morning’s sunrise in Hopetown Harbour.
group-sim
Taken of all of us saying goodbye by Captain Sarah (who is 28 BTW and newly pregnant). You can see the lighthouse in the background — one of the only ones still lit every night. We are so happy that our friends had perfect weather and got to do everything they wanted. They sure crammed a lot into a week. I will have to do another post to supplement this one.

Green Turtle Cay to Marsh Harbour…

March 11 to 17, 2015

We arrived from Crab Cay to Green Turtle Cay on March 11. Last year we had taken a slip at the Green Turtle Club Marina and really liked it so decided to do that again. Our slip neighbours were October Moon, Osprey and Happy Chance. Overdraught took a mooring ball close by.

We left Green Turtle for Marsh Harbour on March 15. We had a supremely smooth crossing of Whale Cay passage and arrived in the harbour in time for sundowners and a dinner of fresh mahi that we bought from a fisherman in Green Turtle. More to come…

Overdraught as the sun goes down...
We’re now in Marsh Harbour. Here is our buddy boat, Overdraught, as the sun goes down
green turtle 10 pic handheld pano2-2500
This is Green Turtle Club Marina. Windsong II is second mast from the left. I stitched this panorama together from 10 handheld shots. You can click to enlarge.

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Video of our Gulf Stream Crossing (short!)

Let’s try this again.;-) My last attempt to post this video didn’t work too well…

This video goes back a few days (March 6), so I hope it doesn’t mix you up. It takes a while to process videos and post to Vimeo.

It goes with this post. 

There’s nothing like a video to really show what it was like on our Gulf Stream crossing. This one was so pleasant and stress-free, I could hardly believe it. Grateful!

Gulf Stream Crossing from Palm Beach to West End, Bahamas from Sherry Galey on Vimeo.