2018 Cruising Plan

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We welcome Joe F. on board as our newest virtual crew member, just in time for the 2018 cruising season.

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Summary of week:

The crew has spent the week in Jacksonville at the Lamb’s Yacht Center.  The yard has looked at the boat, developed a conceptual estimate, and projected the work to start on Monday.

The skipper spent the week ordering material to arrive on Monday so he has time to install the projects in parallel with the yard work.  The largest of these projects is to increase the solar bank 300 watts so the array will be a total of 500 watts when completed.

The skipper also worked on the 2018 Cruising Plan which will be unveiled below.

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

 

2018 Cruising Plan

2018

When work is completed on the boat the crew will head north to launch their Platinum Loop Quest.  Americas Great loop Cruising Association awards a Platinum Burgee for Looper’s who complete the loop a second time.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (A-ICW)

The crew will rejoin the A-ICW about mile 740 and head north to mile 0 in Norfolk, Virginia.  Along the way, they will stop at some of their favorite places and visit a few new ones.

In Georgia, they will stop and explore Cumberland Island and revisit Jekyll Island.

In South Carolina, they will stop in Port Royal and Charleston where they will visit Fort Sumter.

In North Carolina, they will run up the Pamlico River to visit Bath before crossing the Albemarle Sound.

They have decided to take the Dismal Swamp Route rather than the Virginia Cut to enter the south side of Norfolk.

Chesapeake and Delaware Bay

After leaving Norfolk, the crew will cross the Chesapeake Bay over to the Eastern Shore where they will visit Onancock to acquire some more of those Best in Class sticky buns at the Corner Bakery. Then they will head back across the Bay to head up the Potomac River to visit Washington D.C.  On the way down the Potomac River, the crew will stop and explore St Mary’s near the mouth of the river.  Then it will be up to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal with a possible stop back in Annapolis.

The crew will then head south down to Cape May for a few days.

New Jersey

The three day run from Cape May to New York City is always dependent on the weather, wave, and wind conditions out in the Atlantic Ocean.  The crew will decide if they will run inside or out in the Ocean the first two days based on the weather conditions after they arrive in Cape May.

The third day from Manasquan to New York City has to be run outside.  The crew plans to anchor out behind the Statue of Liberty after arriving in NYC.

New York

The Hudson River is one of the hidden gems along The Loop.  The crew will take their time up the Hudson and will probably spend a day eating at the Culinary Institute.

Further north the crew will arrive at Waterford and will start the Erie Canal.  At Oneida Lake the crew will make a decision to continue west on the Erie Canal or branch north to Oswego. If the water level is agreeable and the skipper can get their air draft down less than 15.5 feet, they will head west to Lake Erie.  Then cruise Lake Erie west, then north along Lake Huron to Mackinac Island.

If they are forced to go across Lake Ontario, they will head to Clayton to explore the Thousand Islands.  Then they will cruise the Trent-Severn Waterway, Georgian Bay, and North Channel to arrive at Mackinac Island.

Michigan

The crew will head down the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to explore areas they have yet to see as they head towards Chicago.

Inland Rivers

From Chicago, the crew will take the normal route down the Illinois River to the Northern Mississippi River.  However, the crew will take a side trip up the Northern Mississippi River to Minneapolis/St Paul.

On the southern run, the crew will once again break from Looper tradition and turn south on the Mississippi River at Cairo and head all the way down to New Orleans, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn style.

Gulf Coast

After arrival on the Gulf Coast, the crew will head back east to rejoin other Loopers at Mobile Bay.  Then back around the panhandle of Florida to Ft Myers to complete the Platinum Loop.

Hope you enjoy the adventure in 2018.

Next Week –

The crew will continue to sit in Jacksonville to complete repairs on the boat.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

The Old City

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We have several new virtual crew members who came aboard while docked in St Augustine.  Welcome aboard Gayla H., Bikephilosophy, Dave M. And Shan M.

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Summary of week:

The crew took a day trip south to Marineland Adventure and back to Marker 8 in St Augustine so their guest could cruise aboard Still Waters II.  The crew also traveled north two days this past week, spending one night on the Jacksonville Free Dock and then on to the Ortega River, just southwest of downtown Jacksonville.

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Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

1- What was the nickname for the St Augustine Methodist Church when it was first built in 1883?

2- Where was the original Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum?

3- How many laps do you have to swim to equal one mile at the De Leon Springs?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II exploring St Augustine and viewing a rocket launch.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Saturday, March 31st

With David and Shan safely aboard, the gang of four set off to tour St Augustine. They walked across the Bridge of Lions and bought tickets to the Red Train Tour that makes 22 stops in the Old City.

A few of the skippers favorite stops:

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1- The Old Senator, is a Live Oak Tree that is believed to be around 600 years old. The Train Conductor reported that it is named the Old Senator because it is old, it is crooked, and it is shady. That seems a fitting analogy for some of our elected Senators for sure.

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2- The original church was built in 1883 and was nicknamed the Methodist Mud Hut. The church was a small cabin built on stilts above the muddy marsh. In 1885, Henry Flagler bought the marsh the church sat on to build his Ponce de Leon Hotel. He built the Methodist a new church north of the marsh. The elders of the church were initially split about whether to sell or not. The elders sued each other and it took two years to work the purchase thru the court system.

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3- Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, was originally the Hotel Warden. Robert Ripley stayed at the hotel while in town. He attempted to purchase the hotel in the 1940’s but the deal could not be sealed. His estate closed the deal in 1950, a year after his death, and opened the first Ripley’s Museum to house his collection of oddities he amassed during his world travels.

After making the grand tour around St Augustine, the gang hopped off the train at the Castillo de San Marcos, the old Spanish Fort that was completed in 1695. They arrived just in time to walk up to the top of the fort and watch a cannon firing demonstration. One interesting fact about the fort is that it never lost a battle in its history of defending the Old City.

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After visiting the fort, the gang wandered the Old City streets and made their way back to the boat at Marker 8.

Sunday, April 1st

The gang woke early and headed to the sunrise service on Crescent Beach. The morning was initially foggy, so there was no watching the sun rise. The gang was about a hundred yards from the stage on the beach, so hearing over the waves crashing and people talking was a bit difficult. However, it was a neat experience to see that many people out packing the beach for Easter Sunday.

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In the afternoon, the gang headed back over the Bridge of Lions to partake in the second oldest Easter Parade. The St Augustine event started back in 1956. The oldest Easter Parade you ask, well that would be in New York City. Their parade has been going strong since the 1870’s.

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Monday, April 2nd

The gang headed out to tour some of the surrounding area today. The first stop was at the De Leon Springs State Park. There is a large underground spring that provides 19 million gallons of 72 degree water every day. The pool is about 500 yards in circumference. There were a few women swimming laps around the edge of the pool. Nine laps would be just about one mile.

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The only thing our gang came to swim in though was the pancake syrup. There is a replica Sugar Mill on the edge of the pool. The specialty of the Sugar Mill is cook your own pancakes. There is a grill embedded in each table. You order up your ‘all you can eat’ pancake mix, pour and cook the pancakes at your table, and eat to your hearts desire. Very interesting business model, and unique experience.
The next stop was along the Haulover Cut to try and spy some manatees. The stop did not disappoint. The gang spotted a couple of manatees close to the overlook upon arrival. Then at one end of the overlook, they noticed two manatees just hanging out in some shallow water.

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Then it was finally south to the ultimate destination for the day, Titusville to watch a rocket launch. There were several hundred of the gangs closest friends also with the same idea. The gang found a good spot to observe the launch and waited for the countdown to reach zero. It was a good thing that ice cream truck vendor rolled by to provide a late afternoon snack.

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The clouds were moving in and rain was intermittent, but the launch did go off on schedule. This was the third launch the crew has observed. The crew was close enough this time to actually see the rocket on the launch pad, the big fire ball on the ground, and the rocket in the air. A few minutes after the launch, the crew heard the low rumble from the take off. Once again proving that the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound.

Tuesday, April 3rd

The weather has not been cooperating very well to get a cruise in due to high winds. However, today looked like the best day to go, so the gang headed south to visit Marineland Adventure by boat.
The gang arrived in time to catch the end of the dolphin interaction exhibition. After that, the gang headed back to the boat for lunch. Then it was back to Marineland for a few hours to round out the visit.

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The skipper wanted to leave at 1500 so that they would arrive at low tide and slack current to make docking easier. The plan was working well until about 30 minutes before their arrival back at Marker 8 Marina. Without much warning, the calm 10 mile per hour winds kicked it up to 18 mph with gusts over 20. It took the skipper three tries to get lined up to enter the slip because of the strong side winds.

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On the third try he finally got the stern of the boat into the slip and was backing in when a strong gust pushed the whole boat to starboard. The starboard side crashed into the pilling with enough force to break the handrail. Then the bow of the boat swung around and nearly hit the boat in the next slip.

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The two boats would have hit if it were not for the owner of the other boat. He could see that this would be a difficult dockage, so he had retrieved a large ball fender and managed to get the fender between the boats just in the nick of time. The other boats anchor then snagged the handrail and it took a few minutes to get untangled.
With David, Shan, and the other boat owner holding the two boats apart, the skipper was finally able to finish backing into the slip. Two other people came off their boats to catch lines and get Still Waters II safely secured.
Yes, that will have to go down as the worst docking experience to date. The good news is that nobody got hurt, well except the skipper’s ego. The other boat suffered no damage, and Still Waters II handrail needed to be fixed anyway.

Lastly, this is why boaters have a long tradition of dock-tails following a cruise. Someone please get the skipper a whiskey, he sure looks like he could use one about now.

On the bright side, there was a beautiful sunset to end the day.

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Wednesday, April 4th

Today, the gang decided to go over and visit the St Augustine Lighthouse. The view from the top, overlooking the bay at the historic town makes for a beautiful view and what motivates visitors to take the 219 steps to the top. The fudge in the Visitor Center gift shop is good motivation also.

Then it was time to relax and take in the view as the sun set on the Miller vacation.

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Thursday, April 5th

David and Shan disembarked about 0830. So after saying goodbye, the crew shoved off the dock and headed towards Jacksonville. Getting out of St Augustine was a bit of an issue though. Race week started today and there were many sailboats in town to take part in the three days of racing.
The sailboats were all leaving the docks about the same time as our crew. There are three locations for the races: the youth races are just off the fort, there is a course just north of the Vilano Bridge in the ICW, and a course three miles off shore for the truly adventuresome racers. The skipper checked the off shore sea conditions and took notice that winds would be 18-20 mph with seas 5-6 feet. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

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After getting under the Bridge of Lions and past the inlet, the skipper found himself surrounded by thirty sailboats getting ready to start the race on the ICW.  After a few more minutes he finally got north of the race course and things settled down for a nice cruise up to Jacksonville. The crew spent the night on Sisters Creek at the Jacksonville Free Dock.

Friday, April 6th

The crew has made arrangements to get the handrail repaired at Lambs Yacht Center which is just southwest of downtown Jacksonville. The skipper attempted a repair of the handrail and discovered that this is not the first time the rail has broken. The third stanchion has always been a weak point of the safety rail. After getting the rail apart it was obvious that somebody had southern engineered a past repair. That repair was not very good. In fact one piece of handrail is actually about an inch shorter than it should be. To compensate, somebody pushed a half inch pipe inside the hollow handrail and then riveted the pipe to the T on the stanchion.  The Admiral is looking forward to getting the handrail fixed right since she spends the most time out on deck handling lines and is the most at risk of the rail failing.
The crew made it to downtown Jacksonville and thought that they would finally make it past the RR Bridge without having to wait for a train to pass. Unfortunately, as the crew passed under the Main Street Bridge the skipper heard the RR Bridge tender sound his horn. That is the warning that the bridge is about to be lowered. Sure enough, the bridge started down. A few minutes later a train came crawling down the track. Once the train passed, the bridge was re-opened and the crew passed thru. This was the seventh time the crew has passed thru this bridge and they are batting 100 percent. Yes, they have been stopped by a train each and every time. Go figure.

Boat Name of the Week

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While the crew were in St Augustine at the Marker 8 Marina, they met a very interesting couple, Albert and sweet Sarah. They own and operate a couple of restaurants in Newport, Rhode Island along with some Inns.
They invited the crew over for dock tails one evening. They shared tales of raising their kids on a boat and once even owned a classic motor yacht that had been previously owned by Humphrey Bogart.
A special shout out goes to Albert and Sarah for helping dock Still Waters II in that nightmare cross-wind that damaged the handrail.  You just will not find many folks better than Albert and Sarah. Hope to see you again on the water!

Next Week –

The crew will sit at the Lambs Yacht Center all week. While the repair center works on the handrail the skipper and Admiral will also tackle a few other projects around the boat.
The skipper will also spend some time planning the 2018 Platinum Quest. So next weeks blog will unveil the 2018 cruising plan.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Sailabration

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Cruise Ship about to pass thru the Bridge of Lions in St Augustine

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Summary of week:

The crew traveled two days this past week to arrive in St Augustine for the Easter weekend.

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1-traveled past St Augustine to Jacksonville on Tuesday so the crew could easily re-provision
2- then turned back south on Thursday to arrive at Marker 8 Marina

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

1- How many Right Whales were born in the 2018 calving season off the Florida Coast?
2- Define apocryphal and use it in a sentence. A story of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.
3- What city holds the Guinness Book of World Record for longest ice cream sundae?

At the Box office

A short video showing someone having a bad day on the water.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The plan was to cruise up to Jacksonville and spend a few days restocking the boat because there are numerous stores in easy bicycle distance to trade at. However, the weather was not going to cooperate with this grand plan. Instead, the crew decided to sit at the marina for another day to allow the 20 mph winds and all day rain showers pass them by.
While waiting out the weather, the skipper decided to read about Right Whales, or more specifically, the North Atlantic Right Whale. The Marineland Adventure had an interesting display on the whales that had stirred his curiosity.

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Right Whales are on the endangered species list. According to researchers who study these big behemoths, there are only 451 of these whales left as of the 2016 survey. Researchers documented 17 deaths during 2017. But more alarming for the population is that not a single calf has been spotted off the Florida Coast in 2018.

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This explains why the Coast Guard makes a Right Whale warning announcement about every 30 minutes. They ask boaters to slow down and be watchful for the whales. They also ask that any spotting of a Right Whale be reported to the Coast Guard.
A popular apocryphal is the naming of Right Whales. Whalers deemed these big black whales to be the ‘right whales’ to hunt because they stayed close to shore, floated when killed, and did not shy away from boats.

Southern right whales
It will be interesting to watch and see if these whales have the right stuff to mount a comeback. The odds are against them though. The gestation period is one year, and after birth the calf takes eight months to be weaned. The female then takes a year off before continuing the cycle. However, researches have documented that the females are only calving once every 6-8 years in the recent past. Another area of concern for their comeback is the life expectancy has dropped from 60 years to 30 years.

Tuesday, March 27

With the Easter weekend fast approaching, the Admiral was having grand kid withdrawals. She had bought all the kiddos Easter goodies and was eager to get them in the mail. She also ‘needed’ to call and get some FaceTime with the grandkids. So after making the 50 mile run up to Jacksonville she was off the boat and on her way to Fedex. Well, after the crew stopped at the Shrimp Shack for the Tuesday special, 30 shrimp and two sides for $9.99.  She does have her priorities.
Later that night she called the kids and learned that the oldest, Emma, had participated in a Guinness Book of World Record ice cream sundae making event in College Station. The next morning the skipper sent Emma a text to see if he could get a pic of the event for the blog.

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Her response was classic 13 year old girl.

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Off course you do.

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A few stats on the sundae:
1 mile long
500 gallons of ice cream
2000 cans of whipped cream
20,000 cherries

Wednesday, March 28

The Admiral managed to buy a few things yesterday, but today was the day to restock the cupboards on board Still Waters II. She made her way two miles down the road to the local Wal-Mart where she did the majority of her shopping. While she was busy buying food, the skipper made a quick run to the hardware store three miles away. He managed to buy water hose fittings to repair a couple of hoses and some headlights that had burned out.
By the time the skipper returned to the boat, repaired the hoses, and replaced the lights; the Admiral called and requested ‘help’ to haul the groceries back to the boat. The skipper rode down to the store and loaded up his bike and packed the goods back to the boat. The Admiral went back inside to shop some more.
A while later, the Admiral called again and requested ‘help’. The skipper went and fetched this second wave of goods, and the Admiral went back inside to shop some more.
When the Admiral called the third time, she wanted to meet the skipper at an intersection not too far from the boat and transfer the groceries so she could go run a few more errands. The skipper had to arrange a different meeting place, not far from her original suggestion. He had just sat down to enjoy a nice cold Frosty at Wendy’s. Busted!
Once she arrived, they transferred the goods to the skipper’s bike and he returned to the boat. And yes, later the Admiral finally arrived back at the boat with the final load of goods.
The trip to Jacksonville was a success.

Thursday, March 29

The crew shoved off the dock and headed south towards St Augustine. There is one area that the crew cruised by with multi-million dollar homes.  The home owners must be a happy bunch based on this flag the crew saw flying.

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Security must be an issue though because they spotted this hamburgler on one of the docks.

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The crew arrived at the dock about an hour before low tide with the wind blowing at 17 mph and the current ripping thru the marina. The skipper tried twice to dock the boat in a slip but was unable to safely guide the boat in. He opted to go out and dock at the end of the dock where he could bow into the current. A guy on a sailboat came over and helped the crew get the boat safely on the dock.

When the skipper went to check in, the dock master said that an 85 foot boat was coming in later and would need the spot that the crew landed at, so the skipper agreed to move once the current calmed down. About an hour later the current was slack but the wind was still strong. After two more tries at getting in the slip, the skipper finally got lined up just right and managed to get into the slip. The two dock hands did an excellent job handling the lines and securing the boat.

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St Augustine has become one of the favorite stops for the crew on the whole Loop. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously occupied settlement within the United States. The ‘old town’ has Spanish, French, British, and American influences that make for an interesting mix of history.
To see past explorations of St Augustine by the crew, check out these links:

July 2015 Run to St Augustine

July 2015 Shore Excursions St Augustine

November 2015 The Reluctant Boater

Good Friday, March 30

The crew welcomed David and Shan on board, cousins of the Admiral.

David and Shan at Castillo De San Marcos in St Augustine.

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Did you know the first Mass ever conducted on American soil was at the location that the Spanish landed and named St Augustine.  The spot is commemorated by the cross on the point.

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I do not know about you but my sins put him there.

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Boat Name of the Week

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Next Week –

The crew will head back to Jacksonville on Thursday where they will sit a few weeks.  They will prep the boat for the Platinum Quest back around the Loop.

 

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

up Up and Away on the Space Coast

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
We invite you to follow our blog to become a virtual crew member. You will receive an e-mail when the weekly update posts, usually on Sunday.

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Summary of week:

The crew traveled four days this past week to arrive in Marineland on Friday. Stops along the way were:

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1- dropped anchor north of Melbourne on Monday
2- pulled into the Titusville City Marina on Tuesday where they waited out the winds on Wednesday
3- dropped anchor in Daytona Beach on Thursday
4- and pulled into Marineland Marina for the weekend on Friday.

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
1- Who was the only Mercury 7 astronaut not to fly a Mercury mission?
2- Where was the worlds first Oceanarium built and what was its name?
3- What is a Porsche Turtle?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II enjoying time at the Dolphin Adventure where humans are interacting with dolphins, and a turtle even swims by. Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The crew had an uneventful run north on the Indian River. They passed under numerous bridges and began to see many Looper boats also headed North. One interesting boat that did overtake Still Waters II was this aluminum hull boat that was flagged in Germany. They were also flying a Looper Burgee. The skipper hopes to see them again and find out more about the boat and crew.

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Tuesday, March 20

The crew took off in calm conditions today with a forecast of much the same. However, at about 1040, the Coast Guard came over the radio on Channel 16 and broadcast a weather safety message on Channel 22a. The skipper swapped over to Channel 22a and was informed by the Coast Guard that a small craft advisory was going to be put in place at 1600 due to a thunderstorm carrying high winds, lightening, and hail. This is never good, especially in a boat.

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The crew picked the pace up by adjusting the throttle to make sure that they arrived in Titusville way before the storm. By noon, the wind was already picking up near 18 mph and the waves had built to 2 feet off the port beam. The crew got docked and safely tied down for the pending storm by 1300.  The calm before the storm.

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When the storm blew thru, the rain was blowing sideways and the crew could not see the red marker in the pic above, much less the boats that were moored out just a few hundred yards away. There was a little bit of hail, but no damage to the boat. The other good news was that the lightening stayed awaaaay off in the distance and did not pose any threat to the electronics on board the boat.

Wednesday, March 21

Since winds continued to be plus 20 mph all day, the crew had chosen not to cruise today. They usually do not venture out in winds over 15 mph. With a no cruise day on the agenda, the skipper wandered over to the Space View Park near the marina.

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The Park is located about 15 miles directly across the Indian River from the launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center. The Park honors America’s astronauts as well as the people behind the scenes who helped America lead the world in space exploration.

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Mercury 7 Memorial

The Mercury 7 Missions were the start of the Space Race for the Americans.  500 applicants initially applied for the jobs as America’s first astronauts.  NASA whittled this number down to 110 using the following criteria: no taller than 5’ 11”, weigh no more than 180 pounds, age under 40, a bachelors degree, 1,500 hours of flying time, and qualified to fly jet aircraft.  I wonder what the nations human resource directors think of that job posting in light of today’s standards?

These candidates were then put thru two rounds of test which dropped the number of candidates to 18.  Then the final 7 were selected.  Of the seven, only one did not make it on a Mercury flight.  Mission number 2 was scrubbed when Donald Slayton was found to have a heart murmur prior to take off.  He eventually made it into space though in 1975 as the Docking Module Pilot on the first docking of an American and Russian spacecraft.

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Apollo Mission Memoriaal

There is even a mention of the 1865 novel, From the Earth to the Moon in the Park. Jules Verne eerily predicted many of the things that the American Space program would later put in place a hundred years later. Such as:

1- his spaceship was named Columbia
2- Columbia took off from Florida
3- Verne estimated that the mission to the moon and back would cost 12.1 billion. Apollo 8, the first manned vehicle to the moon and back to earth cost 14.4 billion
4- the crew in the book and Apollo 8 both had three astronauts
5- one of the crew members in the book is named Ardan, while Anders actually flew in Apollo 8

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Space Shuttle Memorial

Thursday, March 22

The crew headed towards Daytona Beach today. On the way, they cruised thru the Haulover Canal. This is usually a good spot to view some manatees, and the crew was not disappointed. They saw at least a dozen manatees swimming in the canal.  It is not easy getting good pics of manatees but that bump in the pic below is a manatee.

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There was also an organized bicycle ride in progress. The Canal was one of the rest stops. Many of the bicyclists were along the bank looking and spotting the manatees also.

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After the manatee spotting was complete, the crew headed north and made way to Daytona where they dropped the anchor just north of the twin bridges and enjoyed a peaceful night on the hook.

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Friday, March 23

Before the crew could get the anchor up and get started this morning, two Looper boats passed by. As the crew was weighing anchor, a couple more Looper boats went by. When the crew pulled back onto the A-ICW there was a smaller boat a few hundred yards back that looked to by flying a Looper flag.

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The small boat came up behind Still Waters II and stayed 30 yards behind her for most of the day. The skipper hailed the boat and learned that the boat was a 30 foot Sea Ray named Xanadu. This is not the smallest boat the crew has seen on the Loop but she sure comes close. The crew of Xanadu still have a dirt home in Oregon. They pulled the boat to Ft Myers, where they launched their Loop Quest.

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About the time the crew was preparing to dock, the skipper looked back and noticed that Xanadu was no where in site. After our crew got settled on the dock, Xanadu appeared and docked just behind Still Waters II. The skipper went over and talked for a few minutes and learned that they had to stop for gasoline before continuing on.

Saturday, March 24

When a boat stays at Marineland Marina for three nights, they get complimentary tickets to the Dolphin Adventure that is just across the road. The crew used their tickets today to see what the Dolphins Adventure is all about.

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The complex originally opened in 1938 under the name of Marine Studios. The facility was backed by three gentlemen with backgrounds in the motion picture industry. One of the men was Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, the great-great-grandson of the original Cornelius Vanderbilt from Staten Island Ferry fame.
The original mission for the Park was for a place that Hollywood could shoot underwater footage of the dolphins for movies.

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Spray was the first dolphin born in captivity at the facility in 1947.

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It was an interesting place to walk around and explore. There was one tank that had five young sea turtles swimming around. The volunteer working the area claimed that these were Porsche Turtles. He went on to explain that during the January freeze that people had brought 30 sea turtles to the facility that were found on local beaches and in bad health due to the cold spell.  The facility had nursed the turtles back to health and managed to return 25 of them back to the wild. However, these five are too fast to capture. When the turtles see the net coming, they are able to swim away and avoid capture.  Hence the nickname, Porsche Turtles.

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Boat Name of the Week

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9 Lives on the side of this Cat that pulled into the Titusville City Marina.

Next Week –

The crew will run up to Jacksonville where they will take on some passengers over the Easter Weekend. Have a happy Easter week.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Bahamas in the Rear View Mirror

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We get to welcome two new virtual crew members this week: loofah3 and vickeysare.  Welcome Aboard!

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Cooper’s Castle – made his fortune in Burger King’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken

Summary of Week

The skipper is mourning the slow death of his computer.  It will hardly take a charge to stay alive.  Then when it does come on, it rarely responds to the keyboard.  I will try and get this weeks blog out using the Ipad, but most of the pictures are on the non-functioning computer along with the video clips.

The skipper said that the computer would not even make a good anchor, and then muttered something about float testing the thing.  I do not think the computer is long for this world if it does not get its act together.

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The crew continued to lounge and enjoy the Ocean Reef Yacht Club while they waited for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream back to Florida. They moved to West End on Friday and then launched across the Big Pond on Saturday to Stuart.

At the Box Office

This weeks video of Still Waters II crossing back to Florida.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.

Tuesday/ Thursday

The crew managed to win a couple of more matches of Bocce Ball with the help of Gwen and Nancy.  They will be leaving the islands as the undefeated World Champions.  Gwen managed to twist the arm of the Resort, so to speak, to give all of the Bocce Ball players a toast.  The resort mixed up some Bahama Mama’s and served them in the VIP room.

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Way to go Gwen!

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Wednesday, March 14

The skipper rode his bike out and back to the Garden of the Groves this morning. While taking a quick break at the Gardens, two vehicles drove up and parked. The occupants looked like they were dressed up as aliens.

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Upon closer examination, they were protective suits to prevent bee stings. The group was in the process of relocating two swarms of bees that they had captured.

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Reminded the skipper of the time he and his Dad captured their first swarm of bees. The skipper was raising bees in the backyard of his childhood home. One of the bee hives swarmed into the neighbor’s pear tree.

The plan was for the skipper to stand on a 6-foot step ladder holding a Styrofoam ice chest a top of his head. The skipper’s Dad was to hit the limb the bees were on and the bees would fall into the ice chest.

The scene was set-up and the plan was progressing just fine. Except when the limb was knocked by Dear-ole-Dad, the bees did not fall. Dad smacked the limb twice more and the bees did not budge. Well, except a bunch of them that started flying around.

About this time the skipper lowered the ice chest to his side to see what the problem was. He was also providing some coaching to his Dad. About the time the skipper said: “Hit the limb harder.” His Dad clobbered the limb and all the bees fell atop the skipper. He was coated in bees from his head down to about his knees.

The skipper slowly made it down the ladder, then scooped the bees off of him and into the ice chest. He placed the lid on the ice chest, then cut a small hole in the side. The bees that were flying around eventually went into the ice chest thru the hole.

Later that evening the skipper moved the bees to a new brood box he had built. The whole process was accomplished without a single bee sting. And that is how you capture swarming bees in Texas my friend.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The crew made way back to the Old Bahama Bay Marina where they first entered the country.  This allowed them to take on enough fuel to get back stateside and stage for the trip back to Florida.  An added bonus to the stop was running into the crew of Hydrophilic, the first Looper friends our crew made back in 2014.  After docking, the four spent some time  over at the pool cooling off, and then enjoyed a nice dinner at the local restaurant.

Is John rocking that shirt or what?

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Saturday, March 17

The crew rose early to get off the dock at sunrise, but they were not the first to leave.  Sometime in the middle of the night, the crew of Hydrophilic slipped out into the dark on their way to Lake Worth.

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Our  crew managed to slide out of the marina just as the sun was peeking over the horizon.  Our crew then set a heading of 282 degrees magnetic on the auto pilot and started their eight hour cruise across the Gulf Stream.

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The trip across was uneventful, but when they arrived at the Stuart Inlet they were reminded why some people refuse to cruise on the weekend.  It was more than busy and crowded coming into the inlet.  They continued to get waked by both large and small fishing vessels for the first several miles.

When they got to the crossroads with the ICW, the crew headed north and the boat traffic began to thin.  They traveled north on the ICW to Jensen Beach where they anchored for the evening.

After getting settled, the skipper called Customs to check back into the USA.  The individual took tons of information and then told the skipper he would need to go to the nearest Customs Office for a face-to-face meeting within 24 hours.

While the crew mulled that bit of information over, they launched the dinghy and headed to Conchy Joe’s to celebrate a successful Gulf Crossing and Bahamas trip.

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Hope you had a good St Patrick’s Day!

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Sunday, March 18

The crew travelled a short 15 miles to Ft Pierce City Marina.  From the marina, the crew took a taxi to the Treasure Coast International Airport.  They entered the Customs Office to complete the check in process and were greeted by an empty chair.  There was a button on the counter that read ‘Push for Service.’  Since this was a government operation, the skipper was not expecting much service and he was not disappointed.

The first ring of the buzzer summoned nothing but silence.  The crew could hear people talking and joking around, but no one showed up at the counter.  Two minutes later the automatic lights turned off.  They had come on when the crew first passed thru the door.

The skipper took the lights out as a clue that it was time to push the so called service button again.  This time the skipper held the button down for a pro wrestling ten count.  Amazing enough, a person appeared around the corner and said that they would be right there.  A man then came to the counter, asked why the crew was there.  The Admiral started to answer his question, but once she mentioned the word boat, he cut her off and said: “Let me see your passport.”

He glanced at both passports and handed them back thru the opening in the glass window.  He then dismissed the crew with a: “that will be all.”  The skipper then asked the man if he needed the Arrival Number he was given yesterday because the guy on the phone said that Customs would neeeeed the number.  The man behind the glass then said: “We already have the number.” He then turned and walked away.  The whole evolution took less than five minutes, and half of that was waiting for someone to show up at the window.

I am pretty sure I heard the skipper mumble something like “that is an hour of my life I will never get back.”  I usually hear this from him when something happens that he judges to be a complete and total waste of time.

Boat Name of the Week:

. Calm

pronounced ‘dot Calm’

The skipper saw this boat while taking on fuel at Ft Pierce.

Next Week

The crew will start north back to Jacksonville where they will meet family for the Easter weekend.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins.  The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

 

Exploring the Grand Bahama Island

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

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Garden of the Groves

Summary of week:

The crew has not moved during the past week as they sit and wait for the winds to become favorable so they can cross back over the Gulf Stream and return to Florida.

But they did a few shore excursions exploring the Grand Bahama Island.  The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What is the purpose of a Labyrinth?
  2. What is the difference between a Labyrinth and a Maze?
  3. When and where was the first Christian Labyrinth created?

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The crew spent a relaxing day getting familiar with their new surroundings.  In the afternoon a woman stopped by and informed the crew that there would be a dockside party in honor of the OSCARS at 1800.  With trophies for Best Dressed and Best Guess.

59.2 Trophies

Just before 1800, the crew noticed people dressed up as their favorite actor/actress.  The crew went over to see what all the fuss was about and had an enjoyable good time.  The organizers had a red carpet out that you walked to get to the tables.  The Admiral was selected to be one of the three judges for the Best Dressed trophy.  After the contestants walked the red carpet, this guy won the trophy.

59.1 Best Dressed

The crew sat at a table with two couples from Canada.  The four folks kept the crew laughing the whole evening.

59 Oscar Night

Monday, March 5

The skipper noticed a guy cleaning conch when they came in the channel on Saturday.  The crew took a short hike to the Williams Beach today in search of conch shells that might have been left behind.  On the way, they found several piles of old conch shells.

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But the skipper was holding out for the new and fresh shells.  They found the spot where the guy was cleaning conch but there were only a few good shells.  On the return trip, the skipper found a fresh pile of conch shells.  The Admiral picked a few of the best.  The crew decided to ride their bikes back over and harvest more shells later.

Also, on the way back the skipper noticed a rope hanging from a tree branch, so he decided to take a swing out over the water.

Rope swing

On Monday evenings, the resort provides a free dinner for all the guests.  When the crew asked the OSCAR Party folks about the dinner, the party goers all laughed and made fun of the small portions.  The crew went to the dinner and noticed that the OSCAR Party crowd was in full attendance at the free dinner.  The portions were small indeed, but the draw seems to be the two free Bahama Mamas (rum and fruit juice) that each guest is given.

Gulf Stream Weather Report:

Winds 10-15 mph from NE, swells 10 feet with 10 second period, waves moving from NE which would put them on the beam.

The crew looks for Winds < 10 mph, swells less than 2 feet, and no wind component from the N.

Will continue to wait for better weather window.  Long range forecast shows a window opening on March 17th.

Tuesday, March 6

The crew played Bahama Bocce Ball with some folks at the Resort.  Bahama style is with no groomed court.  Just find a spot outside on the grass and go for it.  Makes for some interesting games as the ‘court’ was very uneven, rocky, trees in the way, and even a grill in play.

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The crew’s team made it to the finals but lost in a close match 9-11.

Gulf Stream Weather Report:

Winds 9-18 mph from S, swells 7 feet with 14 second period, waves moving from NE which would put them on the beam.

Will continue to wait for better weather window.  Long range forecast still shows a window opening on March 17th.

Wednesday, March 7

The crew decided to visit a Botanical Garden on the Island today.  It was a short and easy six-mile bicycle ride to the Garden of the Groves.  The gardens are spread out over a seven-acre area with meandering paths that wander around.

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At one end of the gardens, the crew found a Labyrinth that was a recreation of the first Christian Labyrinth built at the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres, in 1201.

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Labyrinths differ from a maze in that a Labyrinth leads to the center of the project, while a maze is more like a puzzle with many dead ends.  The Labyrinth is a Sacred Path with a purpose: a meandering path we all walk to connect to our deepest selves, to each other, and our God.

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After enjoying the Gardens of the Groves for a few hours, the crew rode their bikes back to the boat.  On the way, they did make a stop at a Wendy’s to get a burger and frosty.

Gulf Stream Weather Report:

Winds 17-24 mph from WNW, swells 6-7 feet with 14 second period, waves moving from NNE which would put them on the beam.  Winds will begin to clock around out of the south over the next few days, but will not provide an opportunity to cross back to Florida.

Will continue to wait for better weather window.  Long range forecast still shows a window opening on March 17th.  Looks like the best day to travel might be 19th.

Thursday, March 8

Kinda strange day.  The high today was only 68.  With the wind blowing it actually felt cool.  Hope that is the worst of winter here in the Bahamas.  The crew took the time to find the Port Lucaya Straw Market to browse the locals wares.  They then found the  local grocery store and did some re-provisioning since they will not be getting out of here any time soon.

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When they arrived back at the boat is was time for another round of Bahama Bocce Ball.  The crew managed to beat the Monday champs in the first game.  The team called for a rematch for a winner take all game to crown the weekly champ.  It was a close match tied at the half way point 6-6.  Then our crew’s team pulled away to win the crown, 11-7.

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Gulf Stream Weather Report:

Winds 10-14 mph from NE, swells 5-6 feet with 10 second period, waves moving from NNE which would put them on the beam.  Winds will begin to clock around out of the south over the next few days, but will not provide an opportunity to cross back to Florida.

Will continue to wait for better weather window.  Long range forecast shows a window opening on March 17th.  Looks like the best day to travel still might be the  19th.

The Admiral has been busy increasing her trove of beach treasures.  She has gathered a nice array of conch shells, sea biscuits, sand dollars, and a few star fish.

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Boat Name of the Week –

No Worries

Next Week –

The skipper continues to monitor the weather and wave heights to cross the Gulf Stream.  The winds will clock from the north to the south during the next week.  However, the wind will remain high and keep the waves in the Gulf Stream greater than 5 feet.  A window does seem to be opening starting on March 17th.  That is still a ways off but does look promising.  Late in the week it should be clear what day the crew will cross.

Weather

Some have asked what the crew’s criteria for a good weather window looks like:

1- Locals say not to cross with any North wind component because of the wind over current issue with the Gulf Stream (WNW, NW, N, NE, ENE) stacks the waves up more square than rolling and is a rough ride.

2 – look for winds less than 10 mph

3 – look for swells < 2 feet with period > 4 seconds

4- also, with the winds blowing hard out of the north, it is wise to allow the waves a day to calm down before crossing, even if the wind speed is low

Another question is how do you determine your heading to make sure you arrive where you want to:  (For starters, Assume the Gulf Stream is 2.5 knots)

1- calculate the distance from inlet you are leaving from to your destination

2- divide distance by your avg speed to calculate your passage time

3- multiply passage time by 2.5 (Gulf Stream)

4- the result is your offset distance the Gulf Stream will push you North

5- measure south of your destination by your offset distance and place a waypoint

6- make your heading the waypoint south of your actual distinction and the Gulf Stream will push you North to your inlet

For example:

Nav 1

1- Lake worth Inlet to West End is 64 miles

2- 64 mi/9 mph=  7.1 hours for a transport time

3- 7.1 hrs x 2.5 mph = 17.75 miles

4- offset distance = 17.75 south of your inlet destination

5- measure south 17.5 and place waypoint

Nav 2

6- your resulting heading you will steer should be about 262 M

Nav 3

If you steer 262 M, the Gulf Stream will push you North (17.75 miles) so that you arrive at the Lake Worth Inlet.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Treasure Cay

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We have two new virtual crew members to welcome aboard this week.  Jim R. and Hannahhal.  Glad to have you aboard, hope you enjoy the beaches of Treasure Cay.

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Summary of week:

1 – The crew took a day trip to Treasure Cay to go take in the sites of one of the top ten beaches in the world on Tuesday.

2 – On Thursday, they took the southern route back to Great Sale Cay.

3 – On Friday, they turned south around Mangrove Cay and transited the Grand Lucayan Waterway thru the Grand Bahama Island.

4 – They completed their travels at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club where they will begin their wait for the next weather window to get back state side.

To Freeport

This week’s adventure did answer the questions of:

1- Who were the next people to try and make a go of it in the Abaco’s?

2 – When did they arrive?

3 – How long did they last?

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log.  This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows the crew on a trip to Treasure Cay via bicycle, ferry, taxi, and foot.  Still Waters II is shown as she transits portions of the Grand Lucayan Waterway and eventually pulls into safe harbor at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

New Plymouth was founded in 1786.

46 New Plymouth

The new settlers to the Abaco’s were loyalist from the United States who did not want to be under the new government formed after the British surrender during the Revolutionary War.  The first 600 persons left New York in 1783.  In all, about 2000 folks migrated from the US to the Abaco’s in the 1780’s.  However, they quickly learned that the limestone islands were not easy to farm.  By 1790, only 400 of these loyalist remained in the Abaco’s, mostly those that did not have enough money to leave.

New Plymouth was the main community for those that remained.  The people made their living by farming, fishing, and wrecking.

Monday, February 26

The crew decided to go explore the Gillam Bay and walk the beach around the south end of Green Turtle Cay.

 49 Gillam Bay

 49.1 Gillam Bay Road

 49.2 Gillam Bay

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This is a well visited area so the shelling was not all that great.  However, the Admiral did manage to find several sand dollars.

Tuesday, February 27

The crew decided to take a day trip over to Treasure Cay.  The beach is supposed to be three miles of pristine white sand with great views of the turquoise waters in the bay.  The day started with a bicycle ride into New Plymouth.  Then a ferry ride over to the Treasure Cay airport ferry dock 6 miles north of town.  A taxi ride delivered the crew to the Treasure Cay Marina and then it was only a short walk to the beach.

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The crew headed north along the beach and found a nice place in the shade to take in the sights.

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In a short while, a most interesting lady showed up in the same area.  There was a broken plastic chair beside where the crew had sat down.  The woman began repairing the broken leg with duct tape.  After she got settled in her beachcombed chair, she sat about preparing to complete a painting she had been working on.  Her son was going to be sailing by later on his boat named Osprey 007.  She was going to paint his sailboat into the bay today.

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The woman, named Elizabeth, was an art teacher from Canada.  Her and her husband escape the frozen tundra every winter by visiting the Bahamas.  When in Canada, they live near the end of the Trent-Severn Waterway with a view of Beausoleil Island in the distance.  You may recall, the crew spent a few days docked at Beausoleil Island when in Canada during the summer of 2016.  This is another one of Elizabeth’s paintings.  This one shows her dock with the Island in the background, and is titled: Tea on the Dock.

Tea on the Dock

After enjoying the beach, the crew headed to the Coco Beach Bar to have lunch.

48 Coco Beach Bar

As they waited for the food to arrive, a storm began to brew on the horizon.  With the sun still shining to the southwest, the sun rays reflected the turquoise water color up onto the clouds which made for a colorful cloud cover.

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After lunch, they walked around town some more and then headed back to Green Turtle Cay by reversing their trip over: Walk, taxi, ferry, and bike ride back to Still Waters II.

Wednesday, February 28

The crew met another interesting couple the other day.  They sail on a catamaran named Sabbatique.  They have been living aboard for about two years.

But most strangely enough, Kevin and Monique grew up in a small town in Mississippi, named Picayune.  Just so happens that the Admiral has relatives that still live in Picayune.  The couple also has lived in Atlanta, same as our crew.  It is a small world.  The two couples hit it off amazingly well and decided to have dinner together.  Kevin and Monique offered to take everyone by dinghy over to White Sound and eat at the Bluff House.

It turned out to be a beautiful night for a late dinghy ride with the full moon lighting the way.  The food was good and the conversation and company were exceptional.  The crew was having so much fun they forgot to take a picture of Kevin & Monique.  The Admiral solved this problem by pulling this photo from Monique’s facebook page.  The wonders of modern technology.

50 Kevin and Monique

Thursday, March 1

Sabbatique shoved off the dock headed to Treasure Cay, followed shortly by our crew.  The two crews hope to cross paths again in the spring and summer as they cruise the east coast.

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Our crew has headed back towards Great Sale Cay where they hope to make it to Freeport before the predicted high winds this weekend.  A look at a few islands as the crew heads back.

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Then the sunset to bring the day to a close at Great Sale Cay.

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The reflection of the sun on the moon also made for a great moment as the moon came up over a few sailboats also anchored.

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Friday, March 2

The crew woke with the winds building and the waves starting to slap the hull.  The crew weighed anchor and started the 24 miles towards Mangrove Cay.  When they arrived, the crew turned south along the west side of Mangrove Cay.

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After another dozen miles, the crew approached a rare navigational aid in the Bahamas.  This aid happens to be named Cormorant Point.  Interesting enough, there were two Cormorants sitting atop the poles when the crew went by.

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Then after just a few more miles, the crew reached the north entrance to the Grand Lucayan Waterway.  This is a manmade canal thru the middle of the Grand Bahama Island.  The developers hoped to build homes along the waterway, but by the looks of things, the developers ran out of money before they finished.

But more importantly for the crew, the north entrance is only about 3 feet deep.  The crew needs 4 feet to safely navigate the entrance.  The crew arrived about two hours after low tide on a rising tide.  This gave them just enough water to float into the main canal.  The skipper was busy silencing the low level alarm because much of the marked channel was only carrying 4 feet of water.

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After transiting the waterway, the crew found a spot to drop the anchor for the evening.  The spot was well protected from the 20 mph winds that blew all night.

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Saturday, February

 With strong north winds blowing, the crew was not sure what to expect when they exited the waterway.  Luckily, they would only be travelling about a mile offshore on the leeward side of the island.  The waves turned out to only be 1 footers, so the ten mile ride to the Ocean Reef Yacht Club was fairly calm.

Next Week –

The crew will stay at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club until a weather window opens to allow them to cross back over to the states.  Looking at the long range forecast, the first weather window does not look to open till March 17th.  The wait begins.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

Brendal Lives!

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Summary of week:

The crew moved a whole two miles from the north end of Green Turtle Cay to the south end on Thursday.

The week was mostly consumed with three issues:

  1. How to pump out the holding tanks
  2. When would the rolling blackouts stop
  3. An extraordinary number of coincidences

This week’s adventure did answer the questions of:

  1. Who was Vane the Pirate?
  2. When did he get his start?
  3. Where was his home port?

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log.  This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows the crew exploring Green Turtle Cay.  Along the way, they found sharks circling a fish cleaning station, people feeding turtles squid, and a few pigs.  The skipper also took a spin around the island.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, February 20, 2018

This week’s adventure has been circulating around when the electricity is going to come back on.  Then when the power is on, the question is for how long before it trips again.  The rolling black-out of two hours with electric and four hours without electric has become somewhat predictable, until it is not.

On a lesser note, but probably a more important note, the skipper has been monitoring the rise of the holding tanks and has become concerned about how to empty the two tanks.

Per international law, you are not allowed to dump your holding tanks into the water unless you are 3 miles from shore.  Also, in the US there are many areas that prevent dumping the holding tanks into the water even if you are greater than three miles from shore.  Consequently, the marinas all have pump out stations where a large pump connected to your boat via a hose sucks the waste out of your holding tanks.

But as the crew has discovered, things are different in the Bahamas.  Here, they believe that the solution to pollution is dilution.  By law you are still expected to go out three miles from land and use your onboard systems to pump your waste into the water.

The skipper has been busy learning how the systems work and verifying that the systems will indeed pump the waste overboard.  He has traced the hose lines from the forward holding tank, thru the pump, to the seawater overboard valve.  He has tested the pump, and all is working fine.

He traced the system of the aft holding tank also but discovered that the pump is froze up and will not even turn by hand.  With no spare pump, this prevents a problem.  The skipper will monitor the tank level and will have to put the aft head (toilet) out of commission before the tank reaches capacity.

Ah, life in Paradise comes with a cost.

Lastly, the skipper is self-studying the Hebrew language while he is out on his adventure of a lifetime.  One of the tidbits that he has discovered is that there is no word in Hebrew for our English word – coincidence.  According to Jewish Rabbi’s, if a word does not exist in Hebrew there is a reason – and that reason is that the concept does not exist.

The skipper buys into this philosophy and does not believe in coincidences, but he does believe in divine intervention and FOG (Favor of God.)  See if you can identify a number of incidents this week that some might consider strange coincident, or a the skipper says, FOG.

Monday, February 19

Since the power had been coming on at 1300, the Admiral decided to cook the big meal of the day in this ‘power window’ while she could use the stove top burners and oven.  She got everything ready to make her famous chili cheese enchiladas.  At 1330 she was still waiting on the power to come back on.  At 1400 still waiting. At 1500, she scrubbed the idea of enchiladas and the crew had a late lunch of the usual, ham and cheese sandwich.

Interesting, it has now been 12 hours since the power was on, I wonder what is going on now?

A large ship showed up early in the morning on the fuel dock and began transferring fuel to three separate 10,0000-gallon tanks.  They have the emergency diesel generator secured while they move the fuel.  Consequently, the whole resort, stores, restaurants, and cottages are all without power.  Oh, and did I mention that the water plant for the island was also down this morning.  Life is certainly interesting and unpredictable in the Bahamas.  30.3

Someone remind the skipper to top off his water tanks onboard, if and when the water is restored.

With no power available and the sun poisoning diminished, the crew decided to venture out and go walk the Ocean Beach.  The white sand beach was pretty but there were no shells.  The reef is just off shore and prevents the shells from washing up on the sand.

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One interesting discovery was an old coral reef on shore that extended some 100 yards and was easily 20 feet above sea level.  It should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that at some time in the distant past that this reef was a thriving underwater community.

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If this was your only observation point you might conclude that the earth was in a cooling trend and the ocean water is lowering due to the cold and ice formation.  Oh wait, that is not the current media propaganda message.  This old coral reef I am standing on, 20 feet above the water, must not be real.  Maybe the crew should just head back to the boat.

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Upon arrival back at the boat, the crew found the electric had kicked back on and the water plant was back on line also.  The Admiral would have her desired chili enchiladas after all.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The power was down last evening and most of the night but was on when the crew awoke.  The dock scuttlebutt is that the part flew from Germany to Texas, then to Marsh Harbor and has been installed.  Maybe the area will experience some reliable power production today.

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Well, that was overly optimistic.  Yes, the power is back off.  For how long? Who knows.  On the brighter side, the crew took a walk to Cocoa Bay and found a couple of sea turtles.  There were two guys in the water feeding them squid.  It was fun to watch the turtles swim around and feed.  After the guys got out of the water a shark showed up swimming around.  That was certainly good timing.

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Wednesday, February 21

At 0700, the Admiral’s coffee maker came to life and brewed her two cups of hot coffee because the timer was still set after a night of power.  She got up and was enjoying the first cup when, well you probably guessed it, the power went back out.  She darted from the sundeck into the galley, quickly found the thermos and poured the second cup of coffee in the thermos to keep it hot.  The skipper just laughed.  You don’t normally see the Admiral move that fast in the mornings.  A second cup of hot coffee must be important.  Especially since you never know when you will get power back.

The skipper took a bike ride around the island this afternoon.  On his ride he found this sow with eight piglets.

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Thursday, February 22

The crew moved from Green Turtle Club on the south end of Green Turtle Cay to the Leeward Yacht Club on the north end of the Cay.  Adagio, last seen at the West End, was tied up on the face dock.  There was also a White Flagged Looper, The Good Life, in the marina.  The Captain of The Good Life was a retired sailor from the USN.  The skipper and Captain swapped a few good sea stories and the skipper learned that the Captain was a ‘Spook’ in the Navy.

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But more importantly, the skipper learned that the crew was from the state of Washington and they plan to cruise thru the Panama Canal and take the boat home up the west coast once they cross their wake in Hilton Head.

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The Admiral and skipper have been kicking this idea around themselves to see if they could make the San Juan Islands.  Since our crew has been to Maine, cruising thru the Panama Canal and up the west coast would complete what people refer to as the Big U.

Friday, February 23

Early in the morning, the skipper had a conversation with a boater from Vancouver that was very funny.  The woman talked about how her husband, children, and mother had come to Green Turtle Cay back in the 80’s.  While visiting they were down at the Green Turtle Club on a charter boat.  They were at anchor in White Sound.  The woman (mid 30’) and mother (mid 50’) decided to take a dinghy ride ashore to procure a spot on the Brendal dive boat to do some reef snorkeling.  While they were approaching the dinghy dock the woman noticed a man (mid 40’s) that appeared to be nude standing on the dock.  She got her mother’s attention and said, “Hey mom check out the nude guy on the dock.”  The two women admired the guy, but as they got closer they realized that he had on a bathing suite that matched his dark body.  They booked their snorkel adventure and returned to the mother ship.  To their surprise, on the day of their dive the man with the brown swim trunks was their snorkel tour guide.  Turned out, the man just happened to be Brendal, the owner of the dive shop. The women could not have been happier.  In fact, they were so enamored by this guy that they booked a few more snorkel tours.

Over the years the two have had a running joke about the ‘naked man’ on the dinghy dock.  So last week when her and her husband cruised into Green Turtle Cay, she insisted that they return to the Green Turtle Club.  To her amazement Brendal was still there running his business, looking as good as ever.  The woman snapped his picture and sent the pic to her mother with the caption – Brendal Lives!

The skipper relayed the story to the Admiral and they both got a good laugh from the story.

Later that evening, the crew got invited by the crew next slip over for a dinghy ride over to Pineapples, an outdoor bar that was to have Bohemian live music on Friday night.  The crew accepted and headed across the sound to Pineapples.  A young man named Kevin McIntosh got setup with a keyboard and mic and began to provide the live music.  About an hour into the music, a second person showed up with a guitar and joined the performance.  While the guitar player was setting up, Kevin mentioned that the man was non-other than Brendal.  That caught the skipper’s ear, so he leaned over and informed the Admiral that the guy playing the guitar was Brendal.  She looked the guy over and said that there was no way that could be the same Brendal from the women’s story.  The skipper said yes that is him.

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Between songs, the skipper went up to the guy and confirmed that he was the original owner of the dive shop Brendal.  The Admiral was still not convinced.  Her main issue was that the guy in the story would have to be in his 70’s and that there was no way that guy was 70.

The next morning, the boat on the starboard side of Still Wates II was having her hull cleaned.  The diver just happened to be Brendal’s cousin.  After the cleaning job was done, the Admiral approached the diver and asked him about Brendal.  The diver confirmed that the guitar player was indeed Brendal and that he is currently 72 years young.  While the Admiral was a bit taken back by the news the diver made a comment that the seawater keeps you young.

Saturday, February 24

The skipper was on the sundeck mid-morning when he could not believe what his eyes were seeing coming down the dock.  He took a second look, and sure enough, that was a large tank on wheels, a portable pump out station.  The marina had just acquired the device and were looking for willing participants to test the machine.  The portable pump out created a surreal excitement amongst all the boaters.  Who would have ever thought a nasty, dirty, pump out tank carrying human waste would create such a buzz.

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The owner/manager was pretty proud of his new toy.  He claimed it was the only one in the Abaco’s.  The skipper was just glad the new toy was here and not somewhere else.  Still Waters II was the third boat to use the new toy and got her aft holding tank pumped out.  That is right, the one where the pump is froze up and cannot be drained overboard.  The hose from the pump could not reach the connection for the forward tank on the boat.  But hey, one tank is empty and that is a big deal.

The skipper has learned a little bit of the history of Green Turtle Cay.  One of the more interesting story lines has a connection back to the Treasure Coast and the Treasure Coast museum the crew visited just a few weeks back.

You may recall that the Spanish Queen lost the Queen’s jewels, along with much silver and gold off the coast of Florida in a storm in 1715.  Well there was an enterprising young sailor who decided that this was just too good of an opportunity to pass by and he started his pirating career by attacking the survivors of the shipwreck.  This new Pirate, Charles Vane, stole much of the silver and gold that the survivors had managed to salvage.  Vane decided to make his home port Nassau and spent his time attacking French, Spanish, and English ships off the coast of Florida and hiding out at Nassau.

Early_18th_century_engraving_of_Charles_Vane

As usual with a successful pirate career, the countries did not take to kindly to their ships getting plundered so an all-out effort was made to find and capture Vane.  They finally discovered him holed up at Nassau, so the good guys created a Naval Blockade so that he could not get out of the harbor.  Running low on supplies Vane finally made a daring escape.  He set one of his ships on fire and set it on a course to ram one of the large ships with cannon anchored in the middle of the channel opening.  In the ensuing chaos of trying to not get rammed by the flaming ship, Vane was able to slip by the blockade in a smaller ship.  Vane moved his home port to Green Turtle Cay and continued his pirate ways.  At one point, Vane sailed all the way to Ocracoke Island in North Carolina to meet with Blackbeard.  Vane attempted to get Blackbeard to join forces with him and move down to Green Turtle Cay.

Blackbeard decided to meet his fate at Ocracoke, so Vane returned to Green Turtle Cay.  On one of his pirate excursions, his fleet was struck by a large storm that left Vane shipwrecked and alone on an island in the Bahamas.

A would be rescuer stopped at the island because of its known fresh water supply to re-provision his ship.  Vane tried to hitch a ride with this ship but the Captain recognized him and would not let him aboard due to fears that Vane would start a mutiny and take over the ship.

A second ship made a stop at Vane’s island and allowed the desperate man aboard.  Vane used a fake name and no one onboard recognized who he was.  As chance would have it, the two ships Captain’s knew each other, and they just happened to cross paths at sea.  The first Captain noticed Vane on deck and warned the second Captain of who his passenger really was.  The second Captain immediately had the man subdued and placed in the brig.

The second Captain delivered Vane to the authorities in 1719 where he waited two years for his trial and eventual hanging.  After he completed the two-legged jig from the end of the hangman’s noose, the authorities placed Vane’s body in chains and left him hanging to warn other would be pirates of their eventual fate at Gun Cay.

Though Vane was not a farmer, he did learn about the First Law of Agriculture – you reap what you sow.

Next Week –

The crew will head back north and west starting on Thursday. They plan to stop at new anchorages as they work their way to Freeport on the Grand Bahama Island.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

Oh Mon, We be in the Bahamas

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

I would like to take the time to welcome our latest virtual crew member aboard, Gary G.  Gary was friends with the skipper’s brother back in the 70’s and 80’s.  Glad to have you aboard Gary!

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Summary of week:

This week the crew left the West End and made way to Green Turtle Cay.  Along the way they anchored out three nights:

1 – Great Sale Cay, in the Little Bahama Bank

2- Angelfish Point, at the tip of the Great Abaco Island

3- Manjack Cay, at the north end of the Cay

They ended their travels at Green Turtle Club on the Green Turtle Cay.

To Green Turtle Cay

This week’s adventure did answer the questions of:

  1. What is a Bank?
  2. What is a Cay?
  3. What happened to the indigenous people of the islands?

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log.  This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II cruising east in the clear waters of the Little Bahama Bank and four dolphins swimming in the bow wake.  In addition, there are photos of the anchor spots she stopped at along the way.  The clip ends with a pic of a shark that swims by the boat every afternoon.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The first order of business to cruise the Bahamas was to find a way through the shallow waters since they do not mark the channel in these waters.  Luckily for the skipper, a boater in the West End gave him a copy of The Cruising Guide to Abaco.  In the back of the book was a Brief History of Abaco.  The history talks of Columbus’ encounters with the indigenous people, the Lucayan Indians.  He described them as gentle and kind.  The Spaniards enslaved the Lucayans to work the fields in Cuba.  By 1550, the Lucayans fell victim to this new way of life and were wiped out.  It would be another 200 years before another permanent settlement was established in the Abaco’s.

Also, in the book were waypoints, direction of travel, and a distance.  Armed with this information the skipper was able to plot a course to Green Turtle Cay thru the shallow crystal-clear water.

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The Bahama Islands are surrounded by 1-2-thousand-feet-deep Atlantic Ocean.  The deep blue color you see on the picture.  The land mass abruptly rises to the shallow waters (5-10 feet deep) that are called banks, the light turquoise color you see surrounding the land masses.  Then every so often, limestone rock surfaces above the water.  The small land masses are called cays (a low island made of sand or coral) and the larger ones are called islands.

The crew left the West End and headed out to the first waypoint on the edge of the Little Bahama Bank (the small light blue water at the top of the picture above).  They travelled 24.3 nautical miles (nm) to the Mangrove Cay, altered course and headed 22.2 nm for the Great Sale Cay where they anchored for the night.

18 Mangrove Cay

Along the way they encountered a large pod of dolphins, four of which swam in the bow wake for a little bit.  You can see them in the video.

20 Dolphins

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With the winds out of the east, the skipper pulled up on the leeward side of Great Sale Cay and got as close as possible to get out of the wind.  The crew spent a peaceful night on the hook.

19 Great Sale Cay

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The crew weighed anchor and headed back to the course that the skipper had plotted via the waypoints.  Along the way they began seeing more rocks protrude out of the Bank, until they finally got to where there was an island to starboard with cays to starboard.

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One interesting rock was named Center of the World Rock and it is a good landmark to verify your position.

24 Center of the World Rock

As the crew approached Crab Cay, they once again altered off the plotted course and found a place to anchor off Angelfish Point.  There was a nice white sand beach just off the anchorage.  The crew had another peaceful night on the hook.

26 At anchor at Angelfish Pooint

 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The crew made a short run today to try an anchor spot on the north end of Manjack Cay.  The Active Captain reviews claimed that though the anchor spot was close to an inlet, that the cove provided protection from the swells.  Well, this did not turn out to be our crews experience.

The swells were hitting a rock bank, bouncing off the rocks, and then heading towards Still Waters II.  Made for a very long night as the boat rocked in the 1-2-foot swells.

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However, the anchorage did provide for an entertaining day.  First there was a large sailboat.  The Admiral was wondering why the sailboat was not moving around because of the swells.  The answer came about ah hour later.  The crew of the sailboat had been in the water snorkeling.  When they got back on board they weighed anchor and attempted to leave.  However, the boat was aground and could not move.  The sailboat crew also had another problem to deal with.  The tide was ebbing, and the water was getting shallower by the minute.  It took the sailboat over an hour to work themselves free, but they finally made it out of the cove.

27 At anchor in Manjack Cay

 

Then there was a 20-foot fishing boat that someone had beached.  They had gotten out of the boat and gone for a walk along the beach.  When they arrived back at their boat, it was high and dry, completely out of the water.  A dive boat with about 20 folks onboard came to their rescue.  They were able to pull the boat off the sand beach and float her back in the water.

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Though the entertainment was good, the swells were uncomfortable enough that the Admiral has nixed this anchor spot from any future considerations.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The crew weighed anchor and made the last run to the Green Turtle Cay where they spent the remainder of the week at the Green Turtle Club.  Upon arrival all was well.

28 Green Turtle Cay

However, before nightfall, the local power plant suffered a trip and was offline.  The resort has an emergency diesel generator to provide power to the resort.  However, the diesel does not power the docks.  The crew has been informed that the plant has a part on order, and the estimated time of arrival is Tuesday.  The rumor is that the plant is running at reduced output due to a cooling water problem.  The part is coming from Germany.  The power plant provides power for the Great Abaco Island and surrounding Cays, so this is having a far-reaching effect.  The power plant has initiated rolling black-outs.  For four hours the marina is without power, and then has power for about an hour and a half.  The locals must be used to the reliability issues of the power plant because almost all homes and business have their own dedicated emergency diesel generators.

Unfortunately for the boats in the marina, the emergency diesel for the resort only powers the businesses and villas.  No power to the docks, except for when the plant is powering the area.

Oh well, such is life in paradise.  The crew will get back to regularly scheduled shark watching.

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29.2

Friday – Saturday

Well the crew has been bitten by some kind of strange bug.  The Admiral showed symptoms first a few days ago, and then the skipper finally caught the bug also.   The Admiral got a rash on her arms and legs.  The rash itched and had little red bumps all over.  Strangely, when she got in the sun, the UV rays made the itch and rash worse.  The skipper now has the rash around his ankles.

Turns out, the crew has sun poisoning.  Yes, you read that right, sun poisoning.  Who would have known that you can get poisoned by the sun?  The remedy is to stay out of the sun.  Not so easy when you live on a boat.  The crew is doing their best to avoid the sun. However, the rash has been slow to go away.  They will continue to stay inside and curtail explorations until the rash disappears.  Seems they are fitting in just fine with the Bahama Culture, just sitting around not doing much, but having a good time.

Next Week –

Looks as though the winds are going to pick back up next week so there may not be many opportunities to move around and explore new areas.  The skipper is thinking they may move further south down the Green Turtle Cay and hang out at another marina until conditions improve.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Bahama Bound

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Summary of week:

The long-awaited Bahama crossing finally took place.  The crew made three moves on their way to the Bahamas:  1- Left Lake Worth and proceeded to Boca Raton Lake where they anchored for the night.  2- Then repositioned to Ft Lauderdale where they finished provisioning for the six weeks in the Bahamas.  3 – An early morning start that ended with the crew safely thru customs at the West End on the Grand Bahama Island.

west end

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log.  This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II making the cross to the Bahamas.  The skipper shot short clips hourly, so folks could see the difference in the ride and the water.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The plan was to leave for Boca Raton Lake, but Still Waters II was not ready to leave the fine marina at Old Port Cove.  When the skipper went to start the starboard engine by turning the key, and then pushing the start button……. not a sound from the engine.  This was not good.

The skipper tried a few tricks to start the engine, but each time there was total silence, well except for the engine oil low pressure alarm because the engine would not crank.

The skipper spent two hours troubleshooting and finally had to call for reinforcements.  A marine electrician showed up after lunch and found a loose wire connected to the starter.  The electrician showed the wire to the skipper and gave him instructions on how to clean the terminals and re-land the wire.

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Seemed simple enough.  So how long does it take to re-land one wire?  Well, once you realize the wire is connected on the bottom side of the starter which is mounted outboard side of the engine, you quickly realize this will be no quick and easy fix.  About five hours later the skipper finally found a way to reach the screw, use a mirror to ‘see’ the screw, and finally have success in tightening the little bugger.

Another day of boat yoga.  I am pretty sure I heard the skipper mumble something about the next boat will have a stand-up engine room.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

With the repair complete and the weather window appearing to hold for a Thursday crossing, the crew headed further south for Boca Raton Lake.

This was a short 34 mile run that consists of much time spent at idle speed due to the number of bridges and homes with enough money to influence the Coast Guard for posted No Wake Zones.

43 Iguanas

The run took five hours, but this five was much better than the five spent yesterday afternoon.  At least the Iguana watching was fun.  They seemed to be on every bridge fender the boat went under.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Ft Lauderdale Marina asked that Still Waters II not show up until after 1400.  With that in mind, the crew did not weigh anchor until 1130.  It is only a short 18 miles to Ft Lauderdale.  But again, much of the 18 miles is at idle speed because of bridges and No Wake Zones.

However, one delivery captain did make the afternoon entertaining.  In one section, there are three bridges that have their openings synchronized so that if you travel at a set slow speed, you will arrive just in time for the bridge to open.  However, if you miss one of the bridge openings it will cost you a thirty-minute wait for the next opening.

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The delivery captain arrived at the first bridge on time, but the bridge was 3.5 minutes late to open.  The bridge tender was in the process of training a new employee.  By the time the bridge opened, and the delivery captain passed thru, there was not enough time to make the next bridge.

41 Commercial Brdge

He complained to the bridge tender, and even went as far to radio the next bridge and ask the bridge to delay the next opening until he arrived.  The crew could hear the delivery captain for the next hour complaining to each bridge tender about the first fiasco.

The skipper could not take the belly aching anymore, so he picked up the radio and said: “Hey delivery captain, why don’t you build a bridge and get over it.”

I’m pretty sure the delivery captain did not like to hear that, but I am also equally sure that all the bridge tenders got a good laugh.  Oh, and there was no more belly aching on the radio by the delivery captain.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The crew shoved off the dock bright and early this morning at 0451, in the dark.  When they arrived at the Port Everglades inlet there was a large container ship being pushed by a few tugs in the turning basin.  Still Waters II barely squeezed by them but did manage to pass.

Then once in the inlet, they meet another container ship coming in.  Meeting these big ships in the night is not much fun.  Also, the swells were 3-4 feet coming smack dab on the bow as the crew was trying to leave.  Makes for a rough ride, especially since you cannot see the waves and anticipate the roll of the boat.

At 0530, Still Waters II was in the Big Pond and the skipper set a heading of 79* magnetic on the autopilot.  At 0702, the crew witnessed a blazing sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

1 Sunrise

The further the crew travelled the smoother the ride became.  The swells decreased down under two feet for most of the day.

2 All Day View

At 1217 the crew spotted the water tower at the West End.  They were about 11.7 miles offshore when the skipper yelled: “Land Ho!”

5 Land Ho

At 1333, Still Waters II entered the basin leading into the Marina at the West End.  By 1341, the crew had landed at slip C-16 and was greeted by a nice young man who handed over a packet of papers, requested the crew to fill them out, and pointed the way to the Customs House.

8 Customs Office

The Check-in process went smoothly, and the crew is off to explore their new surroundings.

As the crew was getting settled, they noticed parachutes falling from the sky.  There were about a dozen people who had jumped out of a perfectly good airplane to test to see if their parachute would open.

11 Skydiver

If the parachute does not open, you can count on gravity.  It is the only thing known to work 100% of the time.

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Friday-Saturday

The crew has gone beach coming twice.  The first time they found several nice conch shells.

conch

Then the neighbor in the slip next door told the crew about a beach down by the airport runway that has a long stretch of ‘sea glass.’  The crew headed that way and found a wide range of ‘treasures’ washed up on the beach.

13 Beachcomer

A days spoils after a few hours on the beach.

treasure

On Saturday afternoon, a couple of folks went out in their dinghies to try their hand at spear fishing.  When they returned, they had harvested seven lobsters and one conch.  The crew went over to watch them field dress the conch.

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Once they had the conch out of the shell, they ‘skinned’ the muscle so that only white flesh was exposed.  Then they beat it with a tenderizer mallet and put lemon juice on it to help soften it up some more.  That seems to be much effort for less than a handful of meat.

Our crew prefers to lay out by the pool and enjoy the view.

pool

Next Week –

At this point the goal is to head towards Green Turtle Cay.  The crew will Island hop, stop, and anchor a few nights on the way to the Cay.  Also, the Admiral has her heart set on seeing some swimming pigs, so the skipper will be searching for a few talented pigs.  Rumor has it that some pigs can be found at No Name Cay.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

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