Tuesday, April 17, 2012


After sitting in Marathon for over a week it looked like we were going to be getting a break in the weather. A very short window that many boats were going to take advantage of.  Anyone familiar with Boot Key harbor knows about the bridge span that has been removed but I’m guessing not everyone knows that there are still lines and cables that span that bridge at 65 feet.  Apparently from what we heard on the rumor mill, a boat with a 70 foot mast decided to attempt to go under them. Hummm, Anyone knowing me knows I’m not very good with numbers and math but I do know that 70 feet isn’t going under a 65 foot clearance. Apparently he hit the cable pretty hard and brought the front of his boat out of the water. Bet that got his attention….Well the cable is wrapped with another steel cable to keep it from breaking but it doesn’t keep it from stretching and that’s what it did. So for several days we all wait for the city to come out and repair the cable. Unless you had a mast height of about 55 or less you probably wouldn’t make it. No biggie, the weather is bad and no one is moving anyway. Days go by and the window is getting closer and no attempt to repair the cable has happened. People are starting to get anxious as we know that if we don’t make this window there may not be another for over a week. Preparations we followed through with, laundry was done and Butters had his visit to the vet for his clearance papers into the Bahamas. We also made a couple runs to re provision and do last minute stocking up on fresh items. Thanks go out to Lynda and Harry on s/v Cool Change allowing us the use of their vehicle while there in Marathon. It saved us several Taxi rides and much walking. Too bad things aren’t a bit closer to the marina there.The night before we were due to take off many boaters were planning on staging right outside of Boot Key Harbor and take off early the next morning. There was one boat in the harbor that had a mast height of 63 feet. He had climbed his mast and removed his antennas and instruments in order to squeeze under at the lowest of tides. Since we were the last boat in the field we had a good view of the bridge and Dirk was on the radio with him looking through binoculars with everyone holding their breath. If he could get under we all could. He managed to make it along with one other boat behind him, than a third slid under catching his antenna but since they are flexible it bounced back. Great, we should have no problem and set about getting the boat ready for travel again. The next morning at first light we let the mooring ball go and headed up Hawks Channel with our sights set on Rodriquez Key. Lots of people anchor here on the way to the Bahamas as it is easy to navigate the reef system in the dark when leaving the next morning. It was a long day, but we pulled in and anchored along with about 20 other boats that evening, got a quick bite and called it an early night as we had a 5 am departure set. At about 4:30 am we turned the radio on and a few boaters were already talking but I think we and two other boats were the first to leave that morning. It was actually a bit rough as we were getting through the reef system before hitting the Gulf Stream. Both of us were hoping it wasn’t gonna be like this the entire trip. We heard that our friends on s/v Mini Pearl actually took flight there for a second. They told us we were rocking and rolling pretty good for a while with a few waves crashing across the front. It seemed once we hit the deeper water of the Gulf Stream that it calmed down a lot. Dawn broke and that’s always a nice thing as things are always scarier in the dark.

We were getting a decent push from the current in the Gulf Stream. 8.3 knots

Capt Butters as snug as a bug in a rug in his carrier
It was so calm that Dirk decided to throw in a line and do some trolling. In the past we have never had success in the stream but we always try. Before long we had a hit and after reeling it in he realized that he had his first Wahoo ever.

Dirk with his Wahoo
He filleted it on the fish cleaning station and before long he had another which we released.  About an hour later we had two lines go at the same time which usually mean we have Mahi on the line. Heck, s/v Mini Pearl had just radioed us not long ago and said he got two at the same time, maybe these were ours. I pulled the throttle back as Dirk took one line and I took the other. After just a moment we knew we didn’t have Mahi on as they didn’t do the normal jump they do when caught and they were fighting way, way too much. A couple times I felt as if the pole was going to be ripped from my hands, thank goodness Dirk keeps them tied to the top life line for just this reason. Just when I would make some ground this thing would take off once again. I was actually beginning to get fatigued.  Dirk and I were asking what they could be. Tuna? Tuna would be fabulous and yes tuna put up a hard fight. Suddenly my line went limp as mine out maneuvered me and found freedom for himself. So I went to help out Dirk by getting the drop cloth laid out to dump him in and the gaff and fish whacker in case he needed help into the afterlife. Well you can imagine our disappointment when we got it up to the boat and saw that it was a Bonito. A Bonito is a member of the tuna family and thus that is why they put up such a fight. Unfortunately this is a very dark meated fish and doesn’t taste very good. Just as well mine got free and Dirk set his free also.  After that there were no more fish caught for the day. Oh well, we have a nice Wahoo in the fridge.  Our idea was to hit south Bimini and try out the Bimini Sands marina so many boaters go into. After looking at our charts we realized we would be arriving in Bimini at dead low tide and the entrance states it is 5 feet at low tide. Getting on the radio we called other boats around us we knew was going there and they said they heard some dredging was done. Hummm. I tend to believe my charts more and so the decision was made to go on into North Bimini. Customs check in seems is so much easier there as it is just a short walk from the dock.

Q flag going up
Dirk went up front hoisted the quarantine flag and we continued in before he contacted the Sea Crest Marina and asked if they had a tee dock we could have for the night. Last time we came in we stayed in Bluewater marina and they put us in between two large power vessels that we barely squeezed in between. They had no available tee dock and no way are we squeezing this one in. Sea Crest had the dock master waiting out front ready to welcome us and take our lines.  Once we got settled he also gave us the necessary paperwork we would need to carry to the customs and immigrations office. When Dirk left to check us in I stayed on board and began the task of picking up and putting stuff away. Once he came back I hoisted the Bahamian courtesy flag then we took showers and headed out looking for a bite to eat as both of us were a bit tired and I didn't feel like cooking.

Me hoisting the Bahamian courtesy flag
The first place we hit was closed for repairs, the second and third decided they weren’t  serving food today so we ended up at CJ’s, a bit of a hole in the wall right on the beach and had cheeseburgers and fries along with a cold Kalik beer. 

As we ate we sat and watched our first Bahamian sunset of the season being thankful that once again we were here. 
First Bahama sunset of the season
Later that evening back at the boat we discussed the possibility of staying one extra day or heading out east further.  After looking at weather, we decided it was probably better to leave the next day and head to Morgans Bluff on Andros Island which would have been 80 miles and a good part of 13 to 14 hours to get there.  Our thought was, if we get close and not too tired we would keep going onto the Exumas. That would be a total of 155 miles and about 26 hours of travel time. The weather was predicting a few squalls ahead of the front that was coming and we already had 2 rain showers pass over while still in the marina, they weren’t bad so we took off about 11:30 and headed out the channel. We were going to be travelling the Bahama Banks most of the day which is water really no more than 15 to 25 feet all around, sometimes less than 10. The winds were a bit more than they predicted but no worries, how bad can it get in water so shallow? We have never had bad waves on the sound in the past, not until today. I can’t say they were bad but they were uncomfortable.  As daylight faded we could see the lighting in the distance and it looked like a strobe light. We couldn’t hear the thunder so we knew it was miles away. Darkness fell and we noticed off to our right there was lighting beginning to show. According to the wind direction and speed, it would probably hit us. So we decided to slow the engine down some and drop back behind the storm in hopes it would pass us up ahead. We managed to dodge that one till there were about 4 more surrounding us. We did a bit of backtracking but we did manage to stay out of their way through out the night. There was a boat some miles ahead of us that was planning on heading onto the Exumas also but decided to turn back to Nassau after getting beat up by the storms. We continued on into the tongue of the ocean which we have not travelled in during the night. I don’t know what it is about deep water but I prefer to travel it when I can see.  In the tongue the water depth is 9500 feet marked in a couple places, average I think is about 1500 to 3000 feet, that’s a long way down and we had to be in it until early morning. Dirk and I took shifts with one person relaxing in the cockpit while the other stood watch. I can’t sleep while we are travelling so I basically lay there with my eyes closed. Dawn broke as Nassau came into view and before long we were in the company of other boats once again. The day trudged on and finally we saw Highborne Cay come into view starting as a small speck on the horizon. By 4pm we finally had our anchor down and ready to clean things up and settle in. We were both so very tired but I knew if I fell asleep now I would wake sometime in the early morning hours and wanted to sleep straight through. So I first cleaned up the boat a bit, it’s amazing how unorganized it can get when you travel. I had me a nice shower and washed away 27 hours of grime, climbed in bed and tried to read before my brain just could not comprehend the words any longer which for the record was very early on. Into a blissful sleep and 12 hours later we awoke nice and refreshed. Of course Dirk was chomping at the bit to go find some lobster as there were only a couple days left in the season and he wanted to bag a couple. In three days at Highborne he got 3 decent sized lobsters and 6 conch.
Dirk with the first lobster
While he was chasing lobster I was watching where the Bahamians were getting conch from and I trolled with Dirk till he got his limit.
The locals transferring conch from one boat to the next

Dirk made a heap of conch salad, two on the left are his and mine minus the conch on the right. I like the salad, just not the conch.
On the 31st we decided 4 days in Highborne was enough and headed down to Normans Cay. As soon as Dirk set the hook he spotted a boat we had radio contact with during the night crossing from Bimini. Dirk headed over to talk to him and before I knew it they were off conching.  That evening we met several new boaters when we were invited over to s/v Lime N for happy hour. Our plan was to stay another day there but the wind had changed direction during the night and it turned out to be a very rolly night. I even went to sleep in the salon in hopes that since it was more in the center of the boat it would have less motion. Not to be, so I ended up laying awake in bed reading till the sun came up.  Since we had no clue about winds and weather due to no internet we decided to head to Warderick Wells where we could pay for internet and at least get some weather.  No one really has been able to catch the weather guru, Chris Parker on the single side band lately. The propagation has been horrible so we have all basically been in the dark. We ended up getting the last ball available in the park and happily connected to our first internet in a week. That evening we had our first gathering on Renegade and had 9 people on board down below very comfortably. We are making new friends but are surprised we have not run into anyone we know yet. After a very calm, peaceful night on the mooring ball, the next morning we hiked up to Boo Boo Hill in hopes of finding our old Tybee Time sign that has been there 2 years in a row now.

Me at Boo Boo Hill looking for our sign
I didn’t have high hopes as there was a considerable hurricane that came through last summer and I figured if it wasn’t tied down it was gone. So as were digging around I tell Dirk that I’m afraid it has blown away when he pulls a board out from under several others, tosses it over to me and says “blew away huh”?
A little worn and faded but still there
 So we now have our old sign on board and will remake it with Renegade. 
Renegade from atop Boo Boo Hill
We took a few new pics of the girl sitting on her mooring and headed back to the boat, dropping the mooring before noon check out time with Cambridge Cay in mind. We had never been here so it seemed like the place to go. After setting the hook right outside of the mooring field we hopped in the dinghy and headed off to snorkel the aquarium. Being still inside the park boundaries it is abundant with fish and as soon as we tied up our dinghy to the moorings available the fish were swarming under the boat ready for food. Sorry guys, not today. I forgot to boil rice and they will just have to get over it but it doesn’t seem to stop them from looking. It’s almost a bit eerie being surrounded by so many at one time all eyeing you. The sergeant majors  are the worst as there are so many of them. Then you have the yellow tail snapper, a few parrot fish and the rest pretty much mind their own business such as the groupers and gray snappers. The queen angel fish are always so bashful and its difficult to get close to them to get a good photo. We snorkeled for about a half hour before heading back to the boat, happy for the exercise but both pooped.

Beautiful sunset in Cambridge Cay
Tomorrow the 3rd we will head into Staniel Cay where we will stay for several days. We have friends flying in on the 6th and it will give us time to do last minute stuff in anticipation of their arrival.

laundry day on board
We will have them on board until the 15th so you probably won’t hear from me again until a bit after that to catch you up on all our activities.

Butters checking out the fish swimming in the clear water