Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Little Harbour, Abacos

Little Harbour is famous, it is home to Petes Pub and the Johnson gallery. We did a blog post about the gallery and it's history the last time we were here. If you are interested...look back at the archives, winter of 2013. The harbor is very well protected from wind and ocean surge and there are not many well protected anchorages in the area. We must go into the harbor at high tide because the entrance channel is only 4 ' at low tide.

We anchored off Blackpoint Cay the night before to wait for high tide to go into Little Harbour.

Rain squalls stayed north of us while anchored by Blackpoint

We even got a nice rainbow

And another great Bahamas sunset

The famous Petes Pub. It has a roof, no walls, sand floor and is run 100% from solar power. They collect rain water, exclusively. A true beach bar.

Here is Freedom on her mooring. Looking out from Petes.

The posts holding the roof and the sides of the bar are covered in graffiti. We added ours.

Next stop..Eleuthra Island...new grounds for us.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Eye Candy

Here's some of the sites of Hopetown.

The Abaco Rage is a popular Bahamian sail craft

Anchored out in the Sea of Abaco after a squall passed us.

And of course...

Another beautiful calm night.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Taking Care of Business

Marsh Harbour is a great place to take care of business. They have all sorts of shops, including Maxwells. It is a very large grocery store that would rival a Publix, Giant or Kroger food store. We picked up some fresh veggies and plantains along with other odds and ends. This is also a great place to get BTC (Betelco) sim cards for our Droid phone. We now have very limited phone and data capabilities. We also found a shop to buy a new battery for Eds hard working phone. When we popped it open to put the sim card in we found it in pretty bad shape.

Here is Freedom, anchored in Marsh Harbour

We had to stop at Maxwells to pick up a few items.

No need to stay in Marsh Harbour long. One night and we headed to a great anchorage near Tahitti Beach. We met up with friends Melissa and Anne on Moondance. We had a great lunch at Cracker P's.

No hurry, Mon. You're in the Bahamas. Cracker P's

We did have to head back to our boats. We had a bit of weather on the horizon.

Now we are in Hopetown. Time to get some laundry done.

The view from the porch outside the laundry room.

Not sure what is next on the agenda. I'm sure we will visit the town of Hopetown. From there? We'll see.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bahamas 2015

We headed to Great Guana Cay from Treasure Cay, home of Nippers. Nippers is a restaurant and bar with spectacular Atlantic Ocean beach views and two swimming pools. Last time we were here for the Barefoot Man concert and the place was packed. This year it was more sedate. We enjoyed a nice lunch and rum drink and took a nice long walk on the beach.

One of the two pools

The ocean view at Nippers

Perfect beach to walk off lunch

We stayed anchored in Fishers Bay off Guana Cay for a few days, including a great rain day. The decks on Freedom have gotten salty from some spirited sailing and the rain was a much needed wash down for us.

Time to move on so we sailed towards Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco. There have been brush fires near Marsh Harbour that we could see and smell. Marsh is THE place for shopping. We'll get our Batelco chip for Eds phone giving us a data card for internet access. We have been able to pick up open wifi hotspots here and there but the card will give us access almost anywhere...at least that is the plan.

Sailing to Marsh Harbour towards the brush fires

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ahhhhh !!!!

Yes! We are on the move again, doing what our boat was meant to do.....sail (and motor). We stayed at a new for us anchorage in Florida at Peck Lake to get a taste of beach walking to come.

Peck Lake beach

From there we headed to Lake Worth in Palm Beach to make one last provisioning run and to fuel and water up. We headed out at in the dark through the wide, well lit Lake Worth Inlet. There was a gorgeous full moon behind us and we saw the partial eclipse after sunrise! We motor sailed in light winds. The Atlantic Ocean in that area is over 2,500 feet in some areas...deep. You know when you get to the Little Bahama Bank, the depth shoots up from 800 to 50 feet in less than a quarter mile. We began to see the bottom in 50 feet. Most af the bank is about 12 feet. We motor sailed to Great Sale Cay in the dark with a full moon escort. It was an outstanding, sparkly night.

Checked in with customs at Green Turtle Cay

One of our favorite stops is Treasure Cay, it is truly the most beautiful beach. Miles of white sand and crystal clear water.

No pictures but we have been sailing! We had a spirited up wind beat fromTreasure Cay to Great Guana Cay yesterday. We are getting pretty good at this sailing thing. It wasn't a race but we did sail faster than all the boats around us!

We are heading to the Exhumas but are taking some time to do some research for an article that Ed is Writing on the top 10 beach bars in the Abacos. It's a tough life!

Normally you can follow us on spot tracker, there is a link on the top right of this blog. It seems to have bit the dust after 3 1/2 years of cruising. We'll decide if we want to replace it when we get back to the states. Let us know what you think. Do you miss it? Please let us know.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I need to make water Miss Daisy

The boat came with a desalination unit, AKA watermaker. We never used it and the previous owners hadn't used it for several years either. So it needed a complete rebuild. It was capable of making 6 gallons per hour but had the ability to make double that with a second membrane. Since it would use the same amount of electricity, why not!

It took a while but was finally installed Monday and we tested it yesterday. Took a bit of fiddling to bleed out all the air but we did get it to run at 12 GPH. This will be a great luxury in the Bahamas where water is scarce and you usually have to buy it. Of course we'll need gas for the generator so it's not 'free' water. Some refer to it as turning gasoline into water!

That's our last, final project. We've left Stuart and are staging for a crossing to the Bahamas. Yea!

The total list of projects completed while in Stuart:

Rebuilt watermaker
Regalvanized anchor chain
2 100 watt solar panels and charge controller
Rebuilt forward electric head
Replumbed forward head discharge
New SSB tuner
New backstay with SSB insulator and new chainplate
New stereo with cockpit remote
New wiring to all 4 speakers
New cockpit storage cubbies
Relocated secondary VHF antenna
New windows in bimini roof
Rebuilt dinghy outboard carburetor
New dinghy davit blocks
Removed lectrasan and painted bilge area
Relabeled power panel
Shorthauled boat; powerwash, new zincs, lubed all thru hulls, coated prop for barnacle protection
Installed Winchrite electric winch handle
Oil and filter change

The to-do list is now down to a short story from an epic novel.

And, since departing Annapolis for Stuart, I've edited 28 videos we shot there. Plus I shot 7 more in S Fl.

Time for the crystal clear Bahamian water, empty beaches, snorkeling, fishing and some drone photography!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

More Solar!

Our pair of Kyocera 140 watt solar panels do a pretty good job.

But we've still needed to supplement with the generator...until now.

I added a pair of Renogy 100 watt semi-flexible panels.

I chose the semiflex panels because they are so much thinner than the glass panels. I attached them to 3/8" Celtex PVC sheets that I finished off with PVC edge trim.

These are "flip-out" panels that are mounted to PVC pipe riding on the lifelines.

When deployed, they are propped up with a stainless steel prop rod and Bimini hardware.

When we go to a dock, they can be flipped down and tucked inside the toe rail. I also made a cover of 1/4" Celtex with the PVC trim that velcro's over the panels to protect them from protruding items on dock pilings.

I also added a second Blue Sky charge controller for these two panels.

With these additional panels, we have not come close to needing the generator; even when running my power hog video editing computer system.

We're totally power self sufficient with 480 watts of solar. Seriously thinking of selling the wind generator!

Bits and Pieces

Cocktails with starfruit garnish

We have been here in Stuart for almost five months! This is a new record for us for staying in one place. We hadn't intended to stay this long but here we are. We got some boat projects done, celebrated birthdays, Christmas and the new year. We did some beach time and lots of interesting restaurants. So, below, a smattering of our life here in Stuart.

A little beach time

Restaurants galore

Christmas on Freedom

A beautiful, hand made, card from Lynne....love it!

Beautiful sunsets here

Our power panel...before

Power panel....after. nice new labels!

The new plan is to head out next week....destination Bahamas.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Boat Project, Bimini Windows

We usually don't post details of boat projects here since many of you aren't boat owners and likely aren't interested in the minutia of this sort of thing. I'm making an exception as this is a bit of an experiment and may be of special interest to boat owners.

The issue is fast fading windows in the top of the bimini used to see the trim of the main sail. This plastic window material totally hazed up in 2 years. Not good since our bimini configuration would require a whole day of dis-assembly, then repair and then another day to reassemble.

 You can see a patch where we tried to clean but you could still not see through.
Totally hazed over by UV

My plan was to replace the thin vinyl with acrylic sheet. The acrylic is much more UV resistant and can be polished. I found a local plastic fab shop that cut the sheets to my specs and polished the edges. I then measured for hole placement several times and drilled clearance holes for #10 machine screws with a dill bit specially made for drilling plastic. Lubricating the drilling with a water and baking soda mix also helped prevent cracking the plastic.We carry a piece of plywood to serve as a portable workspace. 

 My open air workshop
Carefully drilling at very low speed so I don't have to take another 5 mile bike ride back to the plastic shop for replacements.

After drilling all the holes in the windows, I marked their location on the blue Sunbrella canvas top and "drilled" holes in the Sunbrella with a soldering gun. The gun burned through the several layers of Sunbrella and sealed the edges of the holes to prevent unraveling. Then, with help from Chris, I marked a set of 1" acrylic strips I also had made by the plastic fab shop to use as a clamp on the underside of the Sunbrella. Back to the 'workshop' to drill the clearance holes in the strips of acrylic.

We dry fit it all together to make sure everything lined up, which it did quite well. The last step before final assembly was applying "Bed It" butyl tape all around the perimeter to seal out water. Bed It butyl tape is excellent for this. Here are the results:

 A bit industrial looking, but works very well
You can see the grey Bed It butyl tape smushed between the acrylic and the Sunbrella
And a significantly improved view up at the boom. Main sail trim will be much easier now.

I might have preferred 1" aluminum or polished stainless steel strips on the inside. We'll see how this performs and perhaps make an upgrade at some point.  We have Sunbrella covers that will be velcroed to the inside, awaiting more adhesive backed velcro for that finishing touch.
Now we need to get out sailing!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Heading South....Fast.

Staying in Annapolis for the Sailboat show seems to get us to north Florida in time for Thanksgiving. Brrrrr! Northern Florida is cold in late November. We have sat huddled around our propane oven as our turkey cooks for too many years! This year we high-tailed it to southern Florida as quickly as we could. We moved almost every day and did a mix of offshore and ICW depending on the area and the weather. For the most part the weather was warm although we had to sit and wait for some strong winds to pass. We traveled from Annapolis to Stuart, Florida in less than 3 weeks. Below are some of the highlights.

Sunrise as we had Charleston, NC in sight after our offshore run from Beaufort, NC. (Pronounced "bowfort")

One of the many beautiful anchorages. This is off Bull Spit just north of Beaufort, SC. (Pronounced "byoofort")

We headed out Port Royal Sound near Hilton Head to overnight to Fernandina Beach, Florida. The Stingrays where leaping left and right. One leapt right next to us. This photo is courtesy of Google Images.

Love that we are seeing pelicans and dolphins on a regular basis again.

These White Pelicans are heading south too.

Heading out of Fernandina Beach in the twisting, narrow and sometimes shallow ICW. This Tow and Barge passed us and just plowed through the shallows.

When you get to an intersection on the ICW and there are no traffic lights, who has the right of way? This big, honking freighter does!

Titusville, Florida is known for a number of good things. You are more likely to see manatees here than anywhere, it is very close to the Kennedy Space Center and we are likely to catch up with our friends Ben and Jane as they prepare Old Rosie to head south.

Manatee getting a drink

Beautiful sunrise leaving Titusville with the space center in the distance.

We made it safe and sound. We are in Stuart, Florida on a mooring. Our neighbor took this picture of Freedom the night of the full moon. Thanks Tom!