April 2006

April 13 - May 3

After being in White Sound for a week, we were anxious to see some new sights. We decided to head back north to visit some of the cays we missed on our initial passage through the area.  On Good Friday morning, we exited White Sound before 8:00 and motor sailed to Allans-Pensacola.  There was a squadron of boats traveling north that day since many were preparing for a Gulf Stream crossing and their journey back north for the season. 

Signing Tree in Bahamas



We anchored at Allans-Pensacola and were delighted that we were one of only six boats in the anchorage.  We had a brief stop at Allans-Pensacola on our trip to Green Turtle and enjoyed the signing tree.  We later found a buoy washed up on shore at Manjack Cay and prepared that buoy with our boat name, our names and the date to hang on the signing tree.  On our return trip, John attached our buoy to the tree.




Livin the Dream documents its arrival at Allans- Pensacola

At Allans-Pensacola we met Kim and Smoky Bayless from San Diego chartering a boat for the week.  They had been enjoying the water, snorkeling and fishing during their visit. Smoky was gracious enough to share some fishing lures and a beautiful snapper fillet from the fish he had caught. John is using Smoky’s lures and advice to try to catch a fish. We hope to keep Kim and Smoky up to date on our fishing success and our adventures via the web site.

We headed over to Moraine Cay on Saturday to enjoy snorkeling and hoping to catch a fish on our short trip over. We anchored in a deserted anchorage and snorkeled around the reef. We saw barracuda, very large parrot fish and trigger fish, and large lobster.  We saw local fishermen spearing fish and were able to purchase a small red snapper and three conchs in exchange for three beers.

Our friends Chinook Wind and Serenity surprised us at Moraine in the afternoon.  We also met Robin and Nancy from Rockin Robin at the beach on Moraine.  Thanks to fishing success of Chinook Wind and Serenity, we combined our snapper with their Spanish mackerel and all four boats in the anchorage had dinner on Chinook Wind.   It was a fun time with great food.

Rockin Robin invited everyone to their boat for Easter sunrise service.  We had wonderful coffee, and nice reading of the Easter story and warm muffins while enjoying the sunrise.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate Easter and appreciate the beautiful world we have been given to enjoy.

As we continued south, we enjoyed a beautiful deserted beach on Powell Cay before we traveled through Whale Cay passage to reach the central Abacos.  We anchored off Treasure Cay harbor for two nights and once again saw our friends from Serenity and Chinook Wind.  We were all waiting for better weather to leave and enjoyed a marathon game (over six hours) of Mexican Train dominoes on the beach at Treasure Cay one day.

Baker’s Bay on Great Guana Cay is undergoing development, but the beach and bay are still beautiful.  We snorkeled, enjoyed a long walk on the beach and marveled at the large starfish all around our boat at anchor that evening.  We were lucky to visit Nipper’s famous Sunday pig roast on April 23.  The food was great, the weather was beautiful, and there was lots of fun for everyone.

Bobby & Betty at Baker's Bay


Ann’s parents Bobby and Betty arrived for a visit on Wednesday, April 26. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t provide the greatest conditions for their visit. We had one full day of rain at Marsh Harbour and 20+ knot winds for several days. There were a couple of noisy nights (due to wind) when there wasn’t much sleep, and a couple of our short passages were rough.  They were great sports about the high wind and cool weather.  We had an opportunity to visit Baker’s Bay, Treasure Cay, and Nippers while they were here.  We also took the ferry to Hopetown and visited the lighthouse and enjoyed the quaint island for a few hours.  We enjoyed their visit and hope to have more visitors.

Bobby & Betty at Baker's Bay

April 1 - 12

We were excited about the start of our “real cruising”.  So far all we had done was travel from Savannah to Palm Beach, FL.  But now we were ready for the real thing.  We listened to the weather every day.  The winds weren’t right and the seas were too high.  It sounded like the weather would be good on April 1.  We kept listening and it sounded like the weather would be even better on April 2.  Crossing the Gulf Stream was a big milestone for us.  We had made passages as long as the 55 miles we expected to travel, but the Gulf Stream has a reputation that demands respect, and this time we were in our own boat.

To prepare for the crossing, we developed an offshore passage checklist of all the tasks we needed to do to be ready for the offshore seas.

We had time for a brief “practice sail” in the week before we left.  We completed our checklist and made a half-day sail off the coast.  We had about 10 – 15 knots of wind so we had a chance to put up all three of the big floppy white things we had not been able to use much on the trip down the intracoastal.  This also provided us an opportunity to get familiar with the Lake Worth inlet, since we would be passing through the inlet in the dark.  Our passage storage plans worked well and we believed that our preparations were good for our planned crossing over the week-end.

The forecast for Sunday was for east southeast winds 5 – 10 knots with seas 2 feet or less.  We met several other cruisers also planning to cross on Sunday, April 2 and after hearing about their previous experiences, we decided to leave before dawn.  Our alarm rang at 3:00 am and we exited the Lake Worth inlet at 3:40 am.

Sunrise over the GulfstreamWind and seas were calm.  There was a new moon, but the stars were beautiful in a clear night.  As we approached sunrise, the seas were smooth and silky.  It was difficult to believe we were in the middle of the Gulf Stream, since the water was smooth enough for water skiing.  So after all of our worry and preparation for a rough crossing, we ended up with mill pond conditions.  Much better to be over prepared than the other way around though.

Throughout the trip we kept in contact via VHF with our new trawler friends, Mike and Karen on Chinook Wind, Tom and Marsha on Serenity, and Bob and Emily on Tugaloo.   We all arrived at West End, Grand Bahama around 1:00pm on Sunday, April 2.   We had decided to stay at the Old Bahama Bay Marina for the night, but the calm conditions would have easily allowed us to anchor unprotected on the Little Bahama Bank for the night.  Since we were paying the big marina bucks we enjoyed the beach, pool, kayaks, and bath house and topped up the water tanks before starting our Little Bahama Bank crossing early on Monday morning.

Sunrise over the Gulf Stream

For the next several days, we enjoyed some of the remote islands and small settlements north of Abaco Island: Great Sale Cay, Fox Town, Allans-Pensacola Cay, and Manjack Cay.  We walked along deserted beaches, and saw giant star fish in the shallows.  We also quickly learned that a good weather forecast with accurate wind direction would make our nights more comfortable at anchor.  Based on weather forecasts, we needed an anchorage with good all-around protection.

On Thursday afternoon, we headed into Green Turtle Cay’s White Sound, near high tide and anchored just off Bluff House Marina.  The weather and the possibility of dragging anchors were the topics of conversation among all the cruisers.  A cold front from the US was expected to bring squalls and winds predicted to reach 25 knots or more.  Several boats originally anchored opted to move to a marina, but this decision may have been based on a special deal that all food and drink purchases at the marina would be deducted from the docking fee.

Starfish in Bahamas


Since the anchorage was very crowded, every newly arriving boat was carefully watched by all the captains to see if the boat would try to anchor close to their vessel.  When it was apparent that the boat was anchoring near your boat, each captain would stand on deck and watch the anchoring maneuvers.  Each surrounding captain hoped that their presence on deck would intimidate the anchoring captain into moving further from his boat.  If all the other surrounding boat captains went on deck and you failed to stand watch over the newly arriving boat anchoring, the newly arriving boat was guaranteed to anchor closer to you than to all the other boats.


Starfish at Manjack Cay

The cold front brought rain to paradise for a couple of days.  We used the time in White Sound to complete several of the projects we didn’t complete before we left the dock in Savannah.  Green Turtle Cay’s New Plymouth settlement had good hardware stores that provided John with the supplies always needed during a project.  John was able to finish installing the new companionway hatch slides, a new sheet stopper for the mainsail furler and finish installing the carpet below as well as a few maintenance items like fuel filter changes and topping off the coolant.

We have great internet access at this anchorage and access to a Laundromat which is nice since the washer on the boat decided to quit working. The front stalled over the Bahamas and we did indeed get the predicted high winds (thirty knots at the worst point) and had lots of excitement with boats dragging anchor in the middle of the night, (fortunately not ours).  We have now been at Green Turtle for a week and are ready to move on as soon as the weather cooperates.