June 23, 2012
These are the 50 or so sea biscuits and three of the small conch shells that we picked up on the Crab Cay beach. I kept a dozen of the sea biscuits. The rest I left.
While anchored in Mile Hammock Bay in the Camp Lejeune Marine base, we watched Osprey aircraft takeoff and land; again and again and again and again. They did make a racket, but they stopped before bedtime.
This tug and barge passed us at Carolina Beach. We overtook them near Sneads Ferry where they had stopped by leaning against a bridge while they waited for the tide to rise. Finally, they passed us again while we were anchored in Mile Hammock Bay. We never saw them again.
Looking back through this blog, I see that I have not had any pictures of the interior of the boat. I thought I would add some now starting off with this picture from the boat’s brochure. We have a vee berth in the bow, a head compartment, port and starboard settees with a table between, a galley, and a navigation desk. The quarterberth behind the nav desk is used for storage.
The vee berth is as wide as a queen size bed at the head, but not so much at the foot. Shelves along the sides are a handy place to put things. The two louvered doors at the foot open into the locker that holds the anchor chains and ropes.
The head compartment has a sink and a toilet that you have to pump out to flush. The whole thing becomes a shower, but it is inconvenient to use because everything gets wet.
The port and starboard settees look almost alike. This is the port one. We usually keep the table leaf raised on this side. It is where we normally eat. It can be made into a double bunk.
Like the port settee, the starboard settee has a bookshelf behind it. We keep a CD player there. Our TV/DVD player can be hung on the bar in front of the shelf. This settee becomes a single bunk with a lee cloth. It is where we each sleep when we sail at night.
This is my galley. From this kitchen come all my wonderful meals. There is a two burner propane stove with a Barbie-sized oven, a top opening fridge and freezer to the left, and double sinks for Bill to wash the dishes. One chopping board can serve as a cover for one of the sinks. Another chopping board is over the trash can.
The navigator’s desk has our radios, radar display, the chartplotter, an instrument display, and a tide clock. Along the side is the electrical panel. It is not the Starship Enterprise, but it’s close.
Greetings, not from the boat this time, but from Kingsport, Tennessee. Bill and I are back in our land home. It is quite a change from our water home. Running water… flush toilets… long showers… air conditioning… a four burner stove…
Back on Sunday June 3, we left Marsh Harbour headed north. The weather forecast was not good for sailing, but we were tired of city life. (Marsh Harbour had the only stoplight we saw in the Bahamas.) The wind was light, so we motorsailed around the ocean side of Whale Cay. At times this can be a rough trip out into the Atlantic for a couple of miles and then back into the Sea of Abaco. This time it wasn’t rough at all; a nice little trip. We anchored off the uninhabited Crab Cay. The night was peaceful with lots of bird noises and no human noises.
The next morning a dinghy trip to the island’s white sand beach was in order. This beach was a little different from ones we had explored recently. Turtle grass was growing under the water almost up to the water’s edge. As soon as the dinghy touched shore, I found a sea biscuit. It didn’t take long to discover that sea biscuits and conchs were plentiful on this beach and even more plentiful in the nearby turtle grass. Bill and I collected 50 sea biscuits all bleached out and several live ones too. I kept twelve which seemed like a nice round number and left the others behind. We walked the length of the beach then took the dinghy around to the Atlantic side of the island before deciding it was time to return to Irish Eyes and get out of the sun.
In the afternoon the wind changed direction and picked up speed making our previously peaceful anchorage rather rocky. The wind was blowing across the Sea of Abaco and putting the rocky coast of Crab Cay just off our stern. We sailed a few miles northwest and anchored off the settlement of Coopers Town on the mainland of Great Abaco Island. It was much calmer there. Dan and Carol on Lucky Stars, who we met in Rock Sound, came and anchored beside us. Later, they came over in their dinghy to chat. It was good to see them again.
The weather forecast was not good. Too much was happening. Two cold fronts were coming off the US east coast. Warm moist air was flowing up from eastern Cuba. Tropical storm Beryl was in north Florida. All the activity gave us rain, thunderstorms, and winds that changed direction from day to day. The Sea of Abaco was only a two miles wide between Coopers Town and Powell Cay. We spent the next four days going back and forth between Coopers Town and Powell Cay. When the wind was from the south or west, we anchored in the calm water off Coopers Town. When the wind was from the north or east, Powell Cay was the place to be. We spent time watching movies, reading, knitting, and doing boat chores.
Finally, on Saturday June 9 we had a good weather forecast. The wind was to be about 15 knots from the southwest; perfect for sailing back to North Carolina. Early on Saturday morning we picked up the dinghy, deflated it, and stowed in on the deck. Our initial plan was to stop at Great Sail Cay for the night and then continue on. But, in the evening the wind was right and we were comfortable, so we kept on going. Beaufort, NC, 500 miles to the north, was getting closer by the hour.
The forecasted good weather did not hold. It changed. Still another front was coming off the Carolina coast. It would bring thunderstorms and switch the wind to northeast. Of course we wanted to go northeast; not good. The captain and crew agreed we should cut the trip short and head for Charleston, SC instead. We reached the Charleston entrance jetties at 6am on Tuesday June 12. That was a record for us, a total of 70 hours from Powell Cay. (Last year it took us 100 hours.) We sailed some and motored some. We saw a few ships, some of which we could not identify. Their red and green navigation lights were hard to find among dozens of white deck lights. Fortunately, we were able to avoid all of them. (Thank you radar.) We saw thunderstorms in the distance, but didn’t have any disturb our progress.
It took about two hours to get across Charleston Harbor to the Charleston City Marina and put the boat in a slip. We called Customs and Immigration, and two officers were on board within an hour to admit us back in to the US. The interview was painless, and by 10:00 we were both fast asleep.
Our friends Louis and Cathy Boyd live in Charleston. Bill and I went to high school with Louis, and have known Cathy since we were in college. They came out to Irish Eyes for a SD G&T and then we all went out for a nice dinner. It was a fun evening.
Bill and I spent the next day walking around Charleston, buying a few things at the hardware and grocery stores. We left early on Thursday morning. Because the wind was coming out of the northeast we chose to motor north in the ICW rather than bash our way northeast off shore.
We spent two nights in Little River, SC catching up with my sister Elaine, brother-in-law Jean Pierre, and niece Catherine. The weather was cool and clear, but the wind was still out of the northeast. We left Little River on Sunday June 19, once again choosing to motor north on the ICW rather than sail outside. While it took twice as long to make the trip in the ICW, we anchored at night and getting 8+ hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. It beats three hour shifts.
After three and a half days of motoring, we arrived in New Bern, NC on Wednesday, June 20 around noon. It was good to be back in our slip. At 151 days and 2245 miles, this was the longest of our five Bahamas cruises. We spent Wednesday and Thursday cleaning up the boat and packing our stuff. We left New Bern Friday, June 22 and arrived in Kingsport in time for bed.
It was a great trip, although we had more windy days and more rain than previous years.
Now I get some well deserved land time.
We need to start planning for the next adventure.