Monday, June 27, 2016

Dinner Key, Miami - Home Again!

The adventure is not yet over!  We left our anchorage in Santa Barbara Lake at about 9:30 on Sunday morning, June 26, bound for our home port at Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove.  Along the way we planned to stop at Hollywood City Marina for fuel.

We hadn't gone very far down the ICW when we felt a sluggishness with the boat.  We both thought that something might have gotten caught in the propeller so we tied up at at a dock at one of the beautiful homes under construction along the ICW in Fort Lauderdale.  Jonny dove down on the prop and discovered the world's largest palm frond tightly wrapped around the prop like a very thick piece of rope!  After about half a dozen dives, he was able to release it.  Before we took off, one of the crazy boaters in this part of the world came barreling down the ICW at full speed.  The wake from the boat reverberated back and forth across the width of the ICW causing us to bang hard against the dock repeatedly.  We had placed several fenders out but the repeated knocking caused one of the fenders to slide.  At the time, we were annoyed but once the water calmed down we proceeded on our way.

A short time later we arrived at the Hollywood Beach Marina and after several attempts to dock against a very strong current we finally tied up and took on fuel.  It was then that Jonny noticed that our rub rail had been damaged and knocked off its groove which had obviously occurred when that boat waked us.  We were very annoyed because it is not an insignificant job to get it fixed.

Traveling on the ICW on a weekend in South Florida is not a lot of fun. There is so much boat traffic and so many inconsiderate boaters that one must be constantly wary.

And of course, there are several bridges that only open on schedule so it's frequently "hurry up and wait."  We contemplated traveling on the ocean side instead of the ICW but our fuel needs prevented us from doing so.

We passed through Haulover Cut where there are literally hundreds of boaters anchored in the shallow waters of the ICW relaxing and enjoying the day.

Buzzing amidst everyone, including those of us underway, were scores of jet skis who take great joy in jumping the wakes of the fast moving boats.  One has to be hyper-vigilant to deal with the inconsiderate wakers and the mosquito-like jet skis zipping back and forth.

We were doing a pretty good job of it when all of a sudden a jet ski headed in our direction and we heard a giant boom!  At the time we were hovering and waiting for a bridge opening.  Lynn rushed below and saw that the rider had fallen off of his jet ski and was in the water. The jet ski was floating upside down and other jet skiers were rushing up to help.  For a moment we thought he might have hit our boat, but fortunately he was unharmed.  The boom was caused by his flipping after jumping a wake. After Lynn was sure he was OK, she admonished him to be more careful and his friends helped him on his way.  Oh, for the tranquility of Bahamian waters!

We made it the rest of the way to our marina without incident passing the City of Miami with the Freedom Tower, American Airlines Marina and many high rises dominating the skyline.

We finally reached  Dinner Key in Coconut Grove where Zendo is docked.  We were greeted at the dock by our dock neighbors and Zendo's former owners, Ken and Fred.  Fred used his new toy, a drone - to film Lynn docking which fortunately went very smoothly especially since she was unknowingly being caught on film!

Ken helped us to tie up and the sharing of cruising tales began!  What a wonderful month of relaxation, adventure and friendship!  Can't wait until the next journey!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Santa Barbara Lake, Pompano Beach

Saturday, June 25 was to be our big crossing from West End to Pompano Beach.  But at midnight (after going to bed at 9 pm earlier in the evening)  we were awakened by a phone call from Micah who was calling to say that he, Daniel and Daniel’s sister Caitlin were in West End and their dinghy had washed away.  Ironically, we had seen their dinghy on the beach when we walked back to Zendo from the restaurant.  They asked if we could help them get it the next day but we told them we were leaving by 5 a.m. so they said they would find another way.

Well, we both had trouble getting back to sleep at that point because we were so worried about them.  Lynn tried to text Micah to discuss another alternative but got no response. After a couple of fitful hours of sleep, she finally called again and got Micah.  They were sleeping on the beach after trying unsuccessfully to find the dinghy.  We talked them into coming onboard Zendo for a short rest and we would give them a ride to Scout on our way out of the marina at 0 dark thirty.  They arrived in 5 minutes, wet, tired and embarrassed.  The guys slept on the fly bridge and Caitlin in the salon for a couple of hours.

By  4:30 a.m. we headed out in pitch dark bound for Scout.  As we approached Scout, we saw several other sailboats also anchored. Jonny almost crossed one of the anchor lines, which were stretched out in the fast current and had to quickly kick into reverse to avoid getting tangled up in it.  Miraculously, we saw Scout’s dinghy tied up to one of the sailboats nearby.  And even more surprisingly, the owner of that sailboat was awake and on deck.  Fortunately, Daniel and Micah are so friendly that they had met this sailor and he recognized Scout’s dinghy as it was floating away in the current.  It actually got tangled up in his anchor line.  The guys were beside themselves with gratitude.  Jonny moved  Zendo as close to the sailboat as was safe so that Micah could jump in and with the fierce current swim like crazy to the dinghy.  He started it right up, motored back to us, picked up Daniel and Caitlin and off they went back to Scout.  They were so lucky to have recovered that dinghy!!  We’re sure they were absolutely exhausted the next day from stress and lack of sleep. 

We then proceeded to head west on our journey across the Atlantic back to the states.  It was still dark and we had two foot waves which wouldn’t have been too bad except that the intervals were short and the wave action was on our beam which made it very rolly.  We each  did two hour shifts at the helm while the other person napped (we didn’t get as much sleep the night before as we had planned).  We also forgot to prepare sandwiches for the trip in advance.  It was very unpleasant trying to go below due to the rolling motion and so we contented ourselves with eating granola bars and drinking water for the entire day.

We knew that we would be slowed down by the gulf stream current which runs north and we were heading south east.  But we didn’t anticipate that the gulf stream would be as wide as it was.  Instead of our usual cruising speed of 7 knots, we slowed down to 3-4b knots for many, many hours.  We hit a few rain squalls that required us to lower the curtains a couple of times.  It was a long slog but the wave action diminished some and we finally came into the Hillsborough Inlet and cruised down the intracoastal until we reached our anchorage in Santa Barbara Lake in Pompano just north of Fort Lauderdale.

After arriving, we celebrated our safe arrival with a couple of beers and lobster salad appetizers sitting on the foredeck to catch the evening breezes.  We called our family to let them know that we had arrived safe and sound and then fell fast asleep by 9 p.m. We were exhausted but happy!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

West End, Abacos

We encountered all kinds of weather in the four hour cruise from our Mangrove Cay anchorage to West End on Friday, June 24.  This would be our final destination in our Bahamian adventure.  From West End, we planned to cross over to Fort Lauderdale the next day.  We left Mangrove Cay at 8:15 and arrived at Old Bahama Bay Marina four hours later.

We had arranged to meet one of Lynn’s old friends (going back to junior high), Billy and his wife Lisa who were having a working vacation in Lucaya.

During the cruise we passed our friends on Scout who were headed in a similar direction but moving much more slowly on their sailboat.  

We arrived at Old Bahama Bay Marina and cajoled them into finding a slip for us (they are a very busy marina).  We topped off our fuel (at prices much better than our last fuel stop) and Jonny washed down the boat and folded up the dinghy for the passage.

We bought 6 beautiful lobster tails from a guy on the dock for $30 and Lynn proceeded to make a very delicious sautéed lobster with leftover pasta with pesto for lunch.  We do manage to eat well on our journeys!

After awhile Billy and Lisa came over and we sat onboard in the AC and caught up on each other’s lives.    The last time we saw Billy was on our Down East return trip when we stopped in Fairfield, CT.  We  briefly discussed  going snorkeling but the time flew by and instead, we went out for dinner at the marina restaurant and sat outside on their veranda.  This turned out to be the best food we had eaten at any Bahamian restaurant.  We all had one form or another of fresh fish and thoroughly enjoyed the food and each other’s company. 

On our way back to the boat we strolled along the beach and saw Scout anchored out among some other sailboats.  But we headed back to Zendo and went to bed early at 9:00 because we had to get up at 4 a.m. to leave for our 12 hour crossing the next day.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mangrove Cay Return Trip

We decided to do a longer cruise on Thursday June 23 and instead of going to Great Sail Cay as originally planned, we would go back to Mangrove Cay, an uninhabited cay that has is a popular anchorage.    We would have a longer day but be able to have a shorter day on Friday in preparation for a very long journey on Saturday when we would cross the Gulf Stream to Florida.

We encountered every type of weather during this cruise -  sun, clouds, wind, rain, no wind, etc.   We must have raised and lowered the curtains at least three times throughout the day but we made it to Mangrove Cay safe and sound.

When we arrived, we took the dinghy to search for the widely reported blue holes that are very deep passages ideal for snorkeling.  We rode up and down the shoreline as did another couple of guys on a dinghy but none of us found the blue holes.  So we moved Zendo to the other side of the island which was a somewhat preferred anchorage near a few other boats.

The sailing vessel, Scout, with Danial, Micah and Caitlin on board was about two hours behind us and they soon showed up  and also anchored nearby.

Jonny and I were swimming in the warm clear water to cool off from the hot sun.  The current was so strong that we tied a line to the boat to hold onto so we wouldn't drift away.

To reciprocate for their kindness the night before, we invited Scout's crew to dinner onboard Zendo.  Lynn made pasta with pesto, the eggplant parmigiana she had made at home for the journey, a great new meatloaf recipe, marinated roasted vegetables (from Costco) and we had a wonderful feast.

Later on we all lay on the foredeck and gazed at the millions of stars.  Because there is no ambient light in the area, we were able to see so much more than we are used to.  We used the SkyView app which is a very cool phone app. When you point it at the night sky it illuminates all the planets and constellations accompanied by a compellingly moody soundtrack.  We spent lots of time star-gazing both with and without the app.

They left at about 11 and we went to bed. But Jonny was afraid that our anchor was dragging even though he dove on it earlier and it was deeply embedded in sand.  The wind and current were going in opposite directions and with the tide, the boat swung so much (we had left a lot of anchor line out) that he was worried.  But we were just fine!

(Sorry for the lack of photos on this post -  Lynn got negligent with picture-taking)!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Allens-Pensacola Cay, Abacos

The weather finally calmed down enough for us to leave our anchorage in Baker's Bay to cross Whale Cut.  Our plan for Wednesday, June 22 was to go through the cut and anchor next to Allens-Pensacola Cay.  This single cay used to be two separate cays but after a hurricane it became one, hence the double-barrel name. The weather was very nice, sunny and warm with just a little bit of rain - not unusual during this month of June.

Once we came through the cut we found a good anchorage with decent holding in sand and grass among four other trawlers and a very large ship.  Later, a couple of sailboats came in as well.

When we first arrived, it started to rain so we closed all our strataglass.

After awhile we had a surprise visit from Daniel, our friend from the sailing vessel, Scout.  He and Micah had just anchored and saw our boat. We hadn't seen them since we left Hope Town and now instead of Daniel's girlfriend, his sister Caitlin was visiting for a few days.  They are much braver (or more foolhardy than us) and had gone through Whale Cut the day before when we thought it would be too rough with 4-5 foot waves.  It was a pretty difficult crossing for them and a tough introduction to the world of cruising for Caitlin!

Jonny and I went snorkeling on a very shallow reef and saw lots of sea urchins and what appeared to be coral "saplings."  It was almost like snorkeling over a desert landscape.  Some of the taller corals reached almost to the top of the water. It was so shallow that you had to avoid standing so as not to crush the sea life.

Our buddies came out to snorkel as we were heading back to Zendo.  They suggested having dinner together and offered to bring it over to Zendo to share with us.  Micah, who is a vegetarian, did all the cooking and prepared a delicious (and huge) taco salad that we all enjoyed (along with copious amounts of beer and rum).

We had a lot of fun with them eating, drinking, telling stories, etc.  They are very nice guys and Caitlin was a sweetie.  We were glad to have another night to spend with them.


They are definitely traveling on a shoestring and didn't have a light for their dinghy so we gave them one of what Lynn calls our fairy lights.  These are small solar lights that you inflate to a cylinder which we found in one of the many camping supply stores in Burlington VT.

All in all we had a very fun day as we worked our way back to Florida!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Baker's Bay, Abacos

We left Treasure Cay on Tuesday, June 21 after waiting for some rain storms to pass.  It was a little tricky getting off of the dock so Buff and Jim were there to help us.  As soon as we left the dock, Buff radioed us to tell us that our dinghy had flipped!  We had forgotten to transfer it to a single line after backing out of the dock! Jonny was quite embarrassed at such an ignominious exit!

Jonny immediately righted the dinghy.  It had some minor damage and we lost one of our life jackets (which we didn't realize until later).  We needed to get diesel but the fuel dock was located in a very narrow channel and other boats prevented us from being able to dock.  So we had to leave the harbor and come back into a mooring field where Jonny bailed out the dinghy which of course had taken on water. Finally, we were able to get to the fuel dock which was supposed to have the lowest price in the area. Wrong!  The price had been hiked the day before so that too was disappointing.

We finally proceeded in clear but windy weather for an easy passage to Baker's Bay.  We arrived at about 2 pm and spent the afternoon relaxing.

The last time were were here was with our family and the Brackens about 15 years ago.  We had chartered a catamaran with them and had a fabulous time. When we got to Baker's Bay back then, we thought we had discovered paradise. There was a beautiful and empty beach and we appeared to be the first people to step foot on it.  It was a memorable day for all of us.  What we discovered this time, was a cay that had huge homes built close together lining its shores.

An upscale marina and development has grown up there in the years since we had visited.  The marina is private and is geared toward very large yachts.  But we found a good anchorage in a very comfortable spot and spent the afternoon reading, cooking and practicing on the piano. Lynn made chicken cacciatore in the crock pot and we had a lovely evening eating on the aft deck watching another gorgeous sunset.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Treasure Cay, Abacos

After several lovely days in Hope Town, we left for Treasure Cay on Saturday, June 18, where we would be meeting up with MTOA (Marine Trawlers Owners Association) cruisers from Florida’s Treasure Coast Chapter.  During the morning engine check routine, Jonny discovered that our engine room looked like it had been sprayed with salt water.  His diagnosis was a broken hose.  However since we were in the Abacos, the only place where we stood a chance of finding a replacement hose was Marsh Harbour.  Fortunately it was on our way to Treasure Cay.   So we left at 9:30 on a clear but windy day bound for Marsh Harbour and then on to Treasure Cay.

We pulled up to Mangoes Marina where we had stayed previously and hiked to the local auto parts store for the closest thing we could find to a salt water intake hose.  The marine store was closed and the auto parts store was the only place that had anything resembling what we needed.  We bought the necessary parts and proceeded on our way to Treasure Cay.

We arrived there at about 3:45.  At first we were a little disappointed in the Treasure Cay Marina.  It had presented itself as a beautiful resort which differed with our image of one as it was surrounded by mostly closed up condo units and three warehouse looking strips of shops behind the condos.  However, over the next few days, we came to appreciate some of what it had to offer. 

The best part of our stay there was enjoying the company of fellow MTOA members, some of whom we knew and others who were new to us.  About six couples made it for the weekend and we made the most of our time together starting with a docktail party (on the dock) that evening. 

The next day, as Jonny discovered that replacing the errant hose did not solve the problem, he consulted with the other captains who were very helpful in giving him ideas and resources to ultimately fix it.   It turned out that a nylon nut on the wet exhaust elbow was cracked.

On Sunday which was Father’s Day, we joined Buff and Deanna from Trawler Buff for the Father’s Day brunch at the marina’s restaurant.  Deanna is the head of the Treasure Coast MTOA and she had done a lot of work to organize this trip to Treasure Cay.

That night, the restaurant sponsored free drinks and appetizers for those of us who were there from MTOA.  Deanna and Lynn had signed up the head of the marina (who also happened to be affiliated with  the marina “association” in the Abacos) to be an MTOA member. He saw it as a way to market his marina to MTOA members and he started with us by providing discounts on dockage and this free evening of appetizers and drinks.

Many thanks to Jill and Rudy for providing some of these photos!

Later on Deanna and Buff invited everyone to sample their favorite rum on their very comfortable and party-friendly vessel.


Our original plan had us leaving on Monday but the weather was iffy and we would have to cross Whale Cut which could be very rough in poor weather so we decided to postpone our departure for a day.   And besides, we hadn’t had an opportunity to visit the best part of Treasure Cay which was its long and beautiful crescent beach. 

So we spent part of the day relaxing on the beach under one of their grass huts watching as the clouds and wind kicked up discouraging us from going into the surf. However, the pool turned out to be very pleasant so we spent time cooling off there.

That evening our friends, Jim and Carol on Samba, invited all us us to a pot luck on their beautiful trawler.  Eating on their fly bridge while watching the sunset was a treat.