The Route South

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Postcard from the Bahamas #8

Hope Town is a prosperous little community.  Clearly, tourism is its main industry and there must be hundreds of rental houses and a couple of small hotels.  Some are new and modern but the real plums are the old cottages which have been rehabbed.
We are enjoying our stay in Hope Town.  Its fun to revisit our old haunts and see what’s new in town, but we will be moving again soon.

Best Regards,
Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Hope Town,Abaco, Bahamas

Hummingbird Cottage is a rehabbed old cottage which does double duty as an art gallery.  It is beautiful inside!
Hopetown Harbour Lodge has been here since before we started coming to the Abacos almost 40 years ago.  25 rooms in a wonderful setting.  The pool and outdoor bar/restaurant sit on top of the bluff overlooking the beach and ocean reef.
Another rental overlooking the harbor.
The view from the public park.  A beautiful, tranquil setting.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Postcard from the Bahamas #7

Easter Sunday in Hope Town!
The place was buzzing with activity.
There was an open-air Catholic Mass under the trees at the water’s edge by the Town Dock.
The whole town came out for the Easter Egg Hunt, held after Sunday School let out, on “The Grassy Hill” next to the Fire Station.  What great fun!

Now remember, this is an island and space is limited and can’t be wasted. The Grassy Hill does double duty as a public park complete with a memorial to those lost at sea in a ship wreck in 1942.  But its original use was as a burial ground for 100 victims of the cholera epidemic back in the 1800’s.  

We hope you had as nice an Easter Sunday as the crew of Morning Star.  
It was a beautiful day!

Best Regards,
Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Hope Town,Abaco, Bahamas

The view from the top of the hill.
On your mark, get set, GO!!

We’re all kids in Hope Town!

Dinghy dock - Hope Town Sailing Club-Easter Sunday morning.

Postcard from the Bahamas #6

After almost a week, we left GTC, headed to Hope Town.  
There is a shallow area between Whale Cay and Treasure Cay which prevents passing through the area and requiring you to run through the notorious Whale Cay Passage, out into the Atlantic and back inside by Guana Cay.  It is normally no big deal unless there is a “Rage” on…a condition caused by strong NE winds.  While we didn’t have a rage, the wind has been blowing pretty good for over a week and there was a large swell to contend with.  Fortunately not enough to be dangerous, just a bit uncomfortable.
Hope Town was the prize at the end of the trip and we picked up a mooring shortly after lunch.

Best Regards,
Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Hope Town,Abaco, Bahamas

The view out our back door.  You can’t come to Hope Town without the obligatory lighthouse photo.
Summer Magic.  There plenty of cottages for rent in Hope Town.
Darkness and Chaos?  Not in my life!

Postcard from the Bahamas #5

We first visited Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar in 1974 and were the only white folks there that night.
Miss Emily claims to have “invented” the Goombay Smash - a claim that I’ve never heard disputed.

Miss Emily passed away a few years ago but her granddaughter served me a cold beer.
Kalik claims to be the national beer of the Bahamas - I don’t know if that’s true but it sure hit the spot on a hot afternoon.
The ceiling is covered with autographed tee shirts and the walls a covered with business cards and dollar bills.
The bar is also a restaurant now and about three or four times bigger than it was in ’74.
Business is good.  Miss Emily would be proud.

Tomorrow we leave for Hope Town.

Best Regards,
Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Hope Town,Abaco, Bahamas

Postcard from the Bahamas #4

Enjoying our time in Green Turtle Cay.  We haven’t been here in over 25 years! 
Its been fun to poke around town and see the changes…and see what has remained the same.
Some of the older folks have passed on and some of the kids are running their family businesses, with kids of their own.
Saturday night we went to the benefit barbecue at the town basketball court.  The weather held off and it was a great benefit for the elementary school.  
Lots of cruisers mixed in with the town folks.

Best Regards,
Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Hope Town,Abaco, Bahamas

Nordhavn 46 “Emily Grace”.  Tom, Kim and daughter Emily have just completed
a 6 year circumnavigation.  Emily was 8 years old when they left home!
Nice moorings in Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay.

Postcard from the Bahamas #3

The wind let up a bit…at least it shifted to a more favorable direction.  This allowed us to leave Grand Cay and head down island toward the more central part of the Abacos.  Our first stop was an overnight at Allens-Pensacola Cay.  We had a quiet night after a small rain squall blew through.
Next stop, Green Turtle Cay.

Best Regards,
Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

Rain squall at Allens-Pensacola Cay

Postcard from the Bahamas #2

Its a good thing we moved up to Grand Cay for a couple days.  A weather front blew through one night and our neighbor clocked gusts to over 40 mph.  But even though it was windy, it was still beautiful.

The color of the water is as vibrant as the rich pastels of the houses.  Even the dock pilings are painted.

And then, there is the hooch on top of the dock house.  Not much of a tiki bar, but, Oh boy, what a view!
The wind finally calmed down and it was time to move on.  Next stop…a night at Allens-Pensocola Cay and then on to Green Turtle Cay for a few days.

Best Regards,
Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

Postcard from the Bahamas

Saturday 4/5/14
When all was said and done, the trip across to West End, Grand Bahama Island was uneventful.  It was a touch rolly at the beginning but not enough to rearrange the furniture.  We got in at 1630, early enough to clear into customs, and tied up in our slip for the night.  Took a walk, ordered a pizza (!) for dinner and went home.  

Sunday 4/6/14
Up early the next day and under way, across the Little Bahama Bank to Great Sale Cay where we anchored for the night.  Actually we anchored twice because the wind was wouldn’t settle down from the right direction.  The upshot of this was that we 0.0 hours of sleep.  Actually, shortly after we went to bed we became concerned enough to abandon our bed and went upstairs to sleep in the pilot house so we would be ready to leave in a moments notice in case the anchor dragged or the wind shifted.  Ugh!  Long night!

Monday 4/7/14
Hoped to make our way toward Allens-Pensacola Cay but the wind was uncooperative.  Turned around after and hour and headed toward Grand Cay where we tied up at Rosie’s Marina by 1100.  Grand Cay is the next island S of the famous Walkers Cay.  Since Walkers’ resort has closed, unemployment on Grand is very high but the people were all smiling and friendly and it was an interesting few days stopover.  Grand Cay is much like the Bahamas we remember from the 1970’s.
Rosie has a monopoly on much of Grand Cay.  He is said to have been a childhood friend of the Prime Minister and not much happens in the upper Abacos that Rosie doesn’t have an inside track on.

Randy & Cindy
Morning Star
lying Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

Grand Cay.  We hid from the wind for three days behind a 70’ custom Buddy Davis sport fisherman.  It blew 40 knots one night!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Men and ships rot in port (Women likely do too!)

It’s an old sailor’s saying and I think its true!  We have been in Stuart four months...far longer than we ever intended and certainly longer than we wanted to be.  But between the RV thing, eye doctor appointments, doctor-doctor appointments, dental appointments – well - you get the idea.  

Don't take this the wrong way.  We really love Stuart, but we haven't spent four months in one place for several years.  Its way past time to get outta' town.

Monday, March 31, 2014
Somehow April Fools” Day doesn’t seem like the right time to begin a trip so we left the day before.  Hope we remember how everything works.  Our plan is to head down to Lake Worth and Palm Beach to anchor for the night.  Tomorrow we will make our decision on when to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.

Tuesday April 1, 2014
Under way by 0730.  We poked our nose out into the Atlantic to see if the weatherman’s forecast is right.  Oh yeah, it’s April Fool Day.  Ha-ha…he got us. After testing the waters for a half-hour we turned back, ran in through the inlet and started making our way south through the concrete canyons and bridges that make up the ICW to Ft. Lauderdale.  This is likely the stretch of the ICW that I dislike the most.  By 1700 we have the anchor down in Ft. Lauderdale’s Lake Sylvia.

Wednesday April 2, 2014
The forecast doesn’t look good for crossing.  The weather isn’t bad…it’s just not right for going to the Bahamas.  So we are invoking “Plan B” and heading south toward the Keys.  Makes more sense than just hanging out here for several days.  The anchor is up early and  by 0800 we are passing the commercial hustle and bustle of Port Everglades.  The channel has shoaled badly near Baker’s Haulover, just north of Miami.  At 1000 we wiggle past the dredge working there and continue on, passing through the busy port and highrise office and condos of Miami.  By noon we are heading down Biscayne Bay toward today’s destination, Boca Chita Key, where we will lay over for a couple of days and wait for Bahamas-crossing weather.

Container ship busily loading and unloading in Port Everglades.

The view from the Boca Chita lighthouse.  Morning Star shares the harbor with a few other boats.

Friday April 4, 2014
It looks like Saturday’s weather is going to be acceptable for going across to West End, on Grand Bahama Island.  We retrace our route back to Ft. Lauderdale and stage in Lake Sylvia after topping our water and fuel tanks in Hollywood.

Saturday April 5, 2014
The Gulf Stream is a warm, river-like current of water that begins in the Caribbean Sea and flows northward along the coast between Florida and the Bahamas, continuing up the east coast of the US before curving east toward Europe.  This river flows fast…up to 4 miles per hour.  If the wind is out of the north, opposing the current, the seas build up to a dangerous and nasty state…something we desperately want to avoid.  But when the wind is right, the Stream actually makes the trip shorter.  Today is forecast to be one of the good days.  We are up early with pre-trip jitters and have the engine started by 0615.  Sunrise finds us well out in the Atlantic.  We watch the water temperature rise, as does our boat speed over the bottom…a clear signal that we are in the Stream and on our way to the Bahamas!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Whatever have we done?!

I'm not saying we were bored, but after being on the boat mostly full-time since 2006 and since we have traveled the Intracoastal Waterway ten times, we wanted to spice up our lives. So we visited the huge RV show in Tampa. There must be thousands of RVs there, from small pop-ups to multimillion dollar monster buses. Surely there is something there for everyone. Even for us.

Our discussion took place over a year.  It started out as a small pop-up camper that we could use to explore Maine for a month in the summer.  That was vetoed by Cindy but she thought a travel trailer would give us more amenities (think shiny aluminum Airstream).  That was voted down by Randy...couldn't even imagine towing that through the mountains.  We thought a small Class C (van chassis) might fill the bill.  But the more we talked about it the more we realized that we wanted to do more than a month in Maine.  Our criteria was:
  1. A comfortable place to sit at the end of the day.
  2. A comfortable queen bed with access on three sides for those late-night trips to the head.
  3. A decent shower.
  4. Adequate storage.
  5. We don't think we are cut out to be RV resort people.  We want to "anchor out".  That means adequate fuel, water, battery(with an inverter), propane, black and gray water tankage.
  6. Most importantly, we want access to as many of the State and National Parks and forests as possible.  Get too big means getting shut out.  A 30 footer will fit in a 40' site.  A 40 footer in a 30' site...not so much.
When we visited the Winnebago display we hit pay dirt.  We found a 30' Class A that met all of our needs...the Winnebago Sightseer 30A.  Purpose-built chassis (Ford F53) with a 362HP V-10 gas engine.  But we didn't want to buy a new model.  Like cars and boats, RVs take a huge depreciation hit the first we weren't willing to pay.  The problem is that this particular model has only been made for two years.  People just aren't trading them in yet - too new.  We only found two 2012 models in the country.  One was in upstate NY.  The other was just outside of Boston.  After some discussion with Camping World in Cocoa, FL, and with assurance from their counterparts in Mass that the coach was "mint", we gave them a deposit.  They drove it to Florida in the middle of the worst blizzard is recent history!  It arrived on the Friday before the SuperBowl and we drove up to take a look on Saturday.  It was everything we had hoped it would be and we closed immediately!
We bought an RV!

On our "shake-down cruise" to Ocala National Forest.
We aren't giving up on Morning Star.  Our plan is to spend a few months in the Bahamas and then store the boat for the summer.  We will be heading to Maine, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island for the summer, then drift back south in the fall.

But as we like to say, "Our plans are written in water!"