BV14: 3 Kinds of Wind – Sailing, Kiting & Silking – at Treasure Cay

What’s that old saying?  There are only three types of wind: too much, too little, or in the wrong direction.  While that is fairly true, thankfully, for us, no matter what speed or direction, we can usually retust out one of our many “wind toys” and do something with it, either go sailing, kiting, or silking! We had wind for all three during our stay at Treasure Cay, a beautiful resort-type island in the Abacos with our favorite stretch (three miles!) of stunning white beach on the north shore. Fun video, story, and photos for you all below from our colorful stay at Treasure Cay!

It really is a treasure!  Treasure Cay was one of our favorite stops in the Bahamas.  It had a very secure, protected marina (they pull a chain across the entrance and lock the harbor at night to make it extra safe) and the staff at the marina were all very attentive and helpful.  Plus, that beach on the north shore is just jaw-dropping.  We saw many locals who walk it every day, one end to the other, which would be six miles total, and which also comprised their complete workout for the day.  Can you imaging your daily exercise routine being so relaxing and beautiful?  Life on the islands is really a breath of fresh air compared to life here in the states.

We also had a fantastic time kiting on the north shore.  Because it curves around on either side, it offered us kiteable (that’s a word in Annie Land) wind from so many directions.  Anything from the north, east, or south was do-able there, which is why we got so much kiting time in.  I literally thought I was too exhausted to give it another go by day three.  I was suffering from “T-rex” syndrome, where your forearms are so tired from steering the kite that you they’re practically useless … much like that of a T-Rex.  And, memes like these always bring me a big T-rex smile.  : )

   

And my personal favorite.  This one always makes me feel better!  You’re welcome!

But, aside from the magnificently-exhausting kiting we did at Treasure Cay, we also had one common theme that seemed to run through every memory.  It’s this little pint-sized ball of cruising energy who originally inspired Phillip and I to travel to the Bahamas in the first place when we heard her talk about her beloved Abacos at the Miami Boat Show as far back as 2015.  Do you know who I’m talking about?

That’s right.  This wonderfully-inspiring woman: Pam Wall.  She had a huge impact on us from the start because I could literally see and hear her passion for cruising each time she spoke about places she has been and her gallant boat, Kandarik.  It amazed me when I learned Pam’s full story some of the horrendous heartbreaking things she has had to endure yet, despite it, she still brings others joy and inspiration and shares her passion for cruising.  And, apparently, I’m not the only who feels this way because we met, independently, three separate cruisers at Treasure Cay who had a connection with, and fond memory of, Pam Wall.  Turns out, she, is the real treasure.

Meet John and Gayle!

This trashy couple.  Ha!  This was a fun moment where we all shared a laugh at what “dirtbags” cruisers are.  The minute we dock at a new place, the first thing we bring with us off the boat is our trash.  We’re real stand-up folks like that.  The minute I sprang on John and Gayle, I caught them in this treacherous act and decided to help!  So, how did we meet John and Gayle and make the Pam Wall connection?  Ironically, not in the way Pam Wall thought we would.  Both while Phillip and I were in the Bahamas-planning stages and when we were actually out cruising in the Bahamas, Pam and I exchanged many emails where we would share with her how much we were enjoying her “Beloved Bahamas!” just as she said we would and she would always, always (if any of you know Pam, you will agree with this) share her many connections and tips on places to go, things to do, good stuff to eat, and people to hug for her.  When I told her we were thinking about going to Man-o-War cay, this was the short list of suggestions she sent me:

I know.  A lot of people to find and hug, right?  That Pammy.  She is so cute.  The funny thing was, we did not end up stopping at Man-o-War Cay but as we were walking the docks (who doesn’t love to do that?) in Treasure Cay, Phillip actually spotted, on his own, a beautiful boat he wanted to point out to me.

“Man, look at that Hinckley!” he said and pointed.  I turned my attention to where he was pointing and it was, sure enough, a magnificent, beautiful boat, but something else stuck out for me.  The name, Ciro.  That’s a pretty unique boat name and I felt like I had heard it before.  My mind started rattling and I thought maybe it had been one Pam mentioned in one of her many Bahamas emails.  I searched around in my Gmail and, sure enough, found that one.  Notice her mention of a Hinckley named Ciro and a lovely couple on it named John and Gayle.  While she had recommended I do that “Gee it’s great to see you again” bit to a different couple, I decided to do it to John.  Phillip and I meandered around and waited for them to step off the boat (carrying their trash of course, cruisers after my own heart!) and I walked up to John, whom I’ve never met before, and said “Hey John!  It’s so good to see you again!  We had such a great time the last time we were together.”  Both John and Gayle gave me a priceless stumped look, and Gayle actually started to give John an even funkier look, and that’s when I cracked and told them my good friend Pam Wall told me to hunt them out and do that.

We instantly connected.  They are lifelong sailors, part-time live-aboards, and John has extensive knowledge in Hinckley boat building and repair.  They were delivering this particularly Hinckley, Ciro, to the Bahamas for the owner and had actually stayed at Pam’s dock in Ft. Lauderdale before making the jump to the Bahamas.  We all had so many wonderful Pam stories to share.  And, we ended up doing “pizza night” with John and Gayle at the Treasure Cay Marina the following night (absolutely delicious) and had them and another fellow cruiser over the next night for happy hour goodies.

Tim is single-handing the Bahamas on his Endeavor.  He had actually saw Phillip and I as we were walking toward Ciro and shouted out: “Hey, I know you guys from YouTube!”  Ha!  Small world.  He’s been a long-time HaveWind follower, so it was fun for him to get to meet us and join the party.  It’s always a party on Plaintiff’s Rest!

So, is this where the Pam Wall connections end?  Heck no!  Meet Steve and Anike!

They had just walked up the beach while we were kiting (it often draws a few curious folks) to ask us about our kite gear and how it all worked and this, of course, lead to a conversation about “What brings you to the Bahamas?”  We found Steve and Anike were actually long-time cruisers.  They used to cruise with their children aboard in the Caribbean on a Tayana 37 and are now on a beautiful Shannon.  When they asked us the same question, “What brings you to the Bahamas?” my answer often starts with Pam Wall, because she is the person who first lit our fire about cruising to the Bahamas and Steve immediately said, “Oh, Pam, isn’t she great?  She helped us get our Tayana ready for the Caribbean.  She may not remember us.  It was back when she was working at West Marine, but please tell her how helpful she was.”

Won’t remember you … Pam doesn’t forget a thing.  Seriously, I can’t remember half the places we’ve been and I’ve only been cruising part-time for five years.  Pam can still tell you every single stop she and Andy made on their many Atlantic circles back in the 80s-90s.  And, she remembered Steve and Anike.  It was starting to get comical sending her texts from Treasure Cay saying “Found another cruising couple who knows you!” But it did not stop there.  The last one was really a surprise.

I was in the shower room at the marina getting spruced up for a hot date on the town with my Phillip (we ate at the Treasure Sands Club that night …. just fabulous, I gained five treasure pounds that night alone that I am still proud of! ; ).  As I was wrapping up in the restroom, Anike came in.  We started chatting again about her past travels and other women who have cruised too.  And I was telling her a little bit more of Pam’s story when another woman came around the corner to wash her hands and asked: “Are you talking about Pam Wall?”

“Yes!” I squeaked, surprised she knew who I was talking about with such little information, and the woman responded: “Oh yeah, we heard about her through the SailLoot podcast.” (Little shout-out to my buddy, TeddyJ, at SailLoot!)  “And I heard your interview on SailLoot, too!”

Turns out it was Kristen from Life in the Key of Sea, another cruising couple I had been following on Facebook for some time.  Mutual followers I guess you could call us.  I did not know it was Kristen at the time because it was a very brief pass-by in the bathroom and we did not bump into one another again in Treasure Cay, but we did in Eleuthera!  And, we got to spend a day dining and hiking with her and Brett.  We then found out Brett was one of the sailors who helped TeddyJ deliver his boat (which was Windtraveler’s previous boat, s/v Asante), from St. Thomas to Florida this past summer.  Fun podcast Teddy put together talking about that passage here.  It is such a small cruising world out there I swear!  Here are some fun photos of Kristen and Brett on s/v Life in the Key of Sea!

I actually took this one of the two of them when we were hiking at Harbour Island:

And Kristen took this one of me and Phillip:

I forgot to get a group shot (we were having too much fun) but this is Phillip, Kristen and Brett looking out at our anchorage where they had dropped the hook right next to us at Harbour Island!

So, you ready to go cruising yet?  Want to meet all kinds of new friends, old friends, re-found friends in all sorts of beautiful little islands scattered out in the sea?  If you’re struggling with how to start, Pam Wall Cruising Consultant, might be a good one!  Love you Pammy!  You’ve influenced and inspired so many!

Some very fun photos for you all from our beautiful stay at Treasure Cay.  Hope you all have been enjoying our Bahamas posts!  Do you feel like you’re there with us?  We do!

        

Posted in Aerial Silks, Bahamas Bound, Kite-Surfing, Landlubber Outings, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10,000 Bluewater Miles

Ten.  Thousand.  I almost can’t believe it myself, but that’s my number.  10,025 to be exact.  I’ve been keeping track and when Phillip and I sailed our gallant Niagara 35 back into the Pensacola Pass on our recent return from the Bahamas, it was not only a fantastic feat successfully completing another offshore voyage, it was also a pretty cool milestone for this little sailor, who began sailing only five short years ago.  

Headed off on my very first offshore voyage: April, 2013

Captain Annie at the helm, returning from the Bahamas: April, 2018

Ten thousand … This calls for a ditty, no?

Five years, 5oo HaveWind posts, and one captain’s license later, and I dare say I just might call this little gal a bluewater sailor.

When Phillip first planted the seed, “I’m going to buy a boat and cruise around the world,” I immediately, without hesitation, heartily agreed!  “Not without me!” was my creed.

Our very first photo at the cockpit together during our first voyage.

So, we started boat-shopping and, little did I know, the many, many new, exotic places I would go!  In the bilge, in the fridge, “Get down in the engine room,” he said.

     

So down I went, bumping my knees, my knuckles, my head.  On that boat, I’ve cursed, and sweated, and bled.  There are so many, many things, you see, that have to be fixed, cleaned, fixed again, and re-bed.

 

But the good news is, as long as her hull, keel, and rigging are sound, you can work on her while you sail her anywhere, as long as you don’t run aground!  Because the worst, absolute worst, thing you can do to a boat, is to leave her sitting stagnant, unkept and going nowhere, just sitting afloat.

Not our boat, oh no!  Our beautiful Niagara, with her magnificent thirty-five feet.  She’s often cast-off, sailing away, on a gentleman’s (or perhaps not-so-gentle) beat.

That wise, seasoned boat has taught Phillip and I so much about both her and the sea.  Because out there, and you may not believe me, but she feels really rather small to me.  The time that she grows, seems unwieldy and impossible to stop, is only when we are approaching a treacherous dock.

But out there, in bluewater, while romping and running, she seems so agile and nimble.  Like a horse at the derby, impossibly stunning.

That’s where she and her crew love most to be — moving, gliding, slipping under sunsets at sea.

 

My heart and courage exposed, this amazing man and boat have challenged me, to push myself, try harder, learn more, travel further, set myself free!

So I did.  I changed my career, my address, my focus, all so I could head out to sea.  And the rewards have been limitless: Cuba, the Bahamas, Mexico, France, the Florida Keys!

 

All connected by big, brimming, bodies of blue, just waiting to challenge and test you, too.  Each passage, each mile, will teach you something new.

Forty-six hundred of them took Phillip and I all the way across the Atlantic, with a hearty, hilarious French Captain named Yannick.

But the Gulf of Mexico, never to be out-done, over and above the Atlantic, has, thus far, won.  The Gulf has handed us our most trying times, tossing and bashing us to windward, threatening to snap lines.

Thankfully the storms and rough seas generally do not last.  You just have to ride it out, get the boat comfortable, and usually in twenty-four hours or less, it will pass.

And soon you’ll find yourself motoring without a lick of wind, albeit across the most beautiful glass you’ve ever seen.

And you’ll make the mistake of asking Mother Nature to blow.  Just a little.  Like ten to fifteen.

Or seven and a quarter, perhaps, just enough so we can be #spinning!

While a perfect passage (in our world, a nice downwind run), from shore to shore is admittedly rare, the toying, tempting promise of it is what makes us accept the dare.

Because when you get there, no matter how near or far your “dream there” might be, it’s an incredibly cool feeling to have the honor to say: “We sailed here, you see.”

And for Phillip and I, I believe one of our most memorable offshore voyages will forever be: Cuba.  Because it was a trying, eye-opening, exceedingly-thrilling passage where we bypassed the Keys.  And Phillip and I both felt great pride in telling people: “We sailed six hundred nautical miles, here to be.”

Hope you all have enjoyed this little sailor’s first 10,000 nautical miles here at HaveWind.  Here’s to the next ten!  Cheers!

Posted in Atlantic Crossing, Bahamas Bound, Cruise to the Keys 2014, Sail Skills, Voyage to Cuba | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

BV13: Great Kiting at Great Guana Cay

Winds of 25 plus!  Crazy moments with party-people all 25 and under!  Eddie the nipping Nippers cat.  Bucketlusters, kite-surfers, Vladimir Platypus (my winter, wet-suit alter-kite ego) and “Bahamas Boys” looking for some cheebah?  Or bitcoin crypto … I believe they’re the same.  If anyone knows what those are, feel free to chime in below.  We’ve got it all for you guys in this very fun video from the stunning island of Great Guana Cay, along with my favorite photos below.  It was so hard to choose any, though, they were all so beautiful. Guana Cay offered us great kiting on the Atlantic shore, never-ending entertainment at Nippers, a chance to star-gaze at the many stars who allegedly own houses on Baker’s Bay (think Cher, Beyonce, Sting, etc.), a beautiful sunset anchorage, and fantastic fine-dining dinners at Sunsetters at Orchid Bay Marina.  We loved it!  Hope you all enjoy the video!

Photos from our sail through Whale Cay passage.  It was, according to one of the fellow captains we talked to who did it that day as well, “not peachy, but passable.”  It was a bit lumpy out there (4-6 rollers) but with winds of only 10-12 out of the NW.  Doable, not daunting, and, to be honest, a very fun day sailing on the Atlantic!  That is the furthest east Plaintiff’s Rest has ever been!  It was a big day for her, and she nailed it!

Making our way toward the cut.  We followed very strictly along the lat-and-lon points in the Explorer Charts.  Boy, are those things life-savers.

Ironically, the cRaZy Bucketlusters who bombarded us at Green Turtle Cay decided to make the Whale Cay passage that day as well (after they terrorized the piggies at No Name Cay, that is).  We could see all of the catamarans anchored at No Name at the same time and I can only imagine what the Bucketlusters were doing to those pigs … riding them, spanking them, trying to kiss them.  Who knows.  Poor pigs!  But it was awesome for us to be able to make the passage surrounded by thirty catamarans.  It’s like we had our own rather-large tenders out carrying us through.  I just stayed in the middle of them, on course, hoping if anyone hit the reefs, it would be the party-people on the outside – ha!  And boy did they party through the entire passage.  Up on the decks dancing, singing, drinking.  Those guys are non-stop.

I was really excited about Guana Cay.  Clearly …

I will say, whoever does the marketing for Nippers is genius.  There was a sign about every five feet telling you how to get to Nippers, guys running around in golf carts all over the island willing to take you, at any time, to Nippers, and most of the people that live and work on the island are wearing shirts just about every day that say … Nippers.  And boy was it a fun beach bar place.  Great food.  Fantastic setting overlooking the Atlantic with a staircase straight down to the beach and great goombay smashes.  Yes, please!

 

The view from our cockpit.  It was a beautiful anchorage.

This was wild.  So, Phillip and I were getting into the dinghy with all of our kite gear about to head to shore to make the trek over to kite behind Nippers on morning, and Phillip saw something just randomly floating by in the water.  He cocked his head to the side and eyed it suspiciously, then found out it was the black “anchor gate” that goes on our Mantus.  (Mantus came out with this supplemental gate that snaps over the chain to make sure, even with Mantus’ pretty savvy chain-lock system, the chain does not come out of the hook.)  And here ours was, just floating by in the water at the VERY time we were getting into the dinghy.  Phillip went down to check the Mantus and found, sure enough, it had somehow wiggled and vibrated enough (it was very windy those days we spent at Guana Cay) to loosen the pin in the shackle that holds the Mantus hook onto the snubber.  Thankfully the water was so clear, Phillip could literally see from the top our Mantus hook sitting on the bottom.  And, when he dove down he was also able to find our pin and shackle.  Whew!  And, all because of timing when the gate was floating by.  Our boat always tries her best to let us know something is wrong at the exact right time where we can fix it.  Way to go boat.  A note to fellow Mantus-users, we decided to throw a zip-tie (seizing wire would also work) in the shackle pin to prevent this from happening again.  All lessons are free today!

Anchor fixed.  Disaster averted.  Time to get back on the kiting!

That Eddie.  The “wild” cat that lives at Nippers.  Careful not to pet or pick him up.  He’ll nip ya!

ROWR!

This is the view at Sunsetters on the other side at Orchid Bay Marina.  Just stunning!

Kite hair!  Don’t care!

Bombarded again by the Bucketlusters!

   

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Boat Projects, Kite-Surfing, Landlubber Outings, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BV12: Green Turtle Cay: Handstands, Hogs & One Helluva Party

Green Turtle Cay was a quaint, picturesque resort … until 34 boats came to the marina, bringing 340 party people.  We were bombarded by Bucketlust, and no amount of foul weather would stop their non-stop party.  These people were WiLd, sporting different-themed costumes each day (think WWF Spandex, Unicorn tights, fuzzy vests, fanny packs, you name it) while drinking, dancing, and drinking some more from sun up until … well, sun up again during a wicked 3-day northern front.  Bucketlust is a private boat charter/group vacation (primarily for the young wealthilites who have a smooth 10k to blow on a vacay), and boy were they entertaining.  Tiring, filthy, and loud at times, but still entertaining.  We also had a fantastic time feeding (and dodging) the rather aggressive Abacos swimming pigs at No Name Cay, celebrating Junkanoo with the locals at New Plymouth for New Years, even getting in on a little hand-stand throw-down at the Tipsy Turtle.  Fun video for you all here, with photos below, from our colorful stay at Green Turtle Cay.  Enjoy!

The entrance into White Sound at Green Turtle Cay was one of our most shallow, boasting a tide as low as 6 feet at low tide.  For this reason, we weighed anchor before dawn at Manjack Cay to take advantage of the high tide when coming into the White Sound entrance around 8:00 a.m.  And, thankfully, our planning and worrying paid off when we found we had a smooth 10 feet under our hull all the way through the channel.

A nice walk or jog fresh off the boat is one of our favorite ways to explore a new island.

Dinghying over to No Name Cay to check out the swimming piggies!

We got a real kick out of these guys.  While they definitely weren’t the cuddly, fuzzy, friendly pigs I had imagined (most were caked in dirt with matted eyes, with patches of lost fur), but they were sweet and hungry!  They hated selfies with Annie, though.  It got to be comical, every time I pulled my camera up in selfie mode, they literally would snort, groan, and turn away.  Every time.  No pig selfies for Annie.  : (

You’ll see in the video how these porkies nipped and clawed at us.  You really had to be careful when feeding them.  I started throwing huge chunks of bread at them to make them go away while Phillip got trampled near the dinghy!

Finally started cracking those coconuts we got from Manjack Cay!  I busted out our “fancy tools” for the job.

Happy 2018!!  We spent New Years Eve dining at the Green Turtle Club restaurant there near the marina.  It was fabulous!  And a very fun, intimate venue for the celebration!

Check out the moon!

Welcome to the Tipsy Turtle Bar!  We got a little tipsy in there on several occasions.  You gotta love a bar where the only “decor” is sailing pennants and dollar bills.

Getting Eddie the Rock’s fresh conch salad over in New Plymouth.  I was fascinated by this long-time conch harvester who could shell each conch in less than 10 seconds.  The first time I tried it (although I’m much better after our stay in the Berries), it took me five minutes.  But, I did get that little squirmy alien out without macerating the shell, which I’ve heard is better than some.  Can’t wait to share my first conch shelling with you guys.  Coming soon!

The Junkanoo menu at The Wrecking Tree.  Just our speed.

Pineapples is a tucked-away, quirky little bar that our buddy, Don, who lives on the huge m/v Status Quo on Spanish Cay told us about.  Honestly, it reminded us exactly of Paradise Inn out on Pensacola Beach back home.

These two are ready for a Junkanoo parade!  Junkanoo is an annual celebration in the Bahamas commemorating the three days the slaves used to be given off each year and they would sing and dance in colorful outfits and host an annual parade.  It was so cool to be there (inadvertently) at the same time they were all celebrating such a unique, local holiday.

The Bahamas in a blow.  Still beautiful.

Time to tuck in for some dinner at the best restaurant in all the Bahamas: s/v Plaintiff’s Rest!  I seriously am so lucky to live and travel with such an excellent chef.  Phillip rocks the galley.

Beautiful little beach on the north shore.

It was a drizzly, wet, windy couple of days at Green Turtle Cay, but we had been watching that front building and coming for about a week and were more than happy to be tucked in safe in White Sound for protection … and entertainment.  Green Turtle Cay Marina, as well as the restaurant there and the wonderful staff, did not disappoint.  GTC is a great place to spend a week in the Bahamas.

But, just remember, while we’re dressed like this … the Bucklust yAhOoS are dressed like this:

   

God love ‘em …  We hope you enjoyed our stay at GTC.  Next time we’ll take you out into the Atlantic through the notorious Whale Cay Passage over to Great Guana Cay for some wicked kitesurfing behind Nippers on the north shore and great food and walking trails on Guana Cay.  Stay tuned!

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Good Grub, Landlubber Outings, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

BV11: Fly Like an Eagle at Manjack Cay

Like wet silk perhaps?  Or running your fingers along the top of a pan of jello?  No, it’s softer than that.  I’m trying to think of how to describe it.  The silky smooth belly of a stingray.  While I’m not sure any words can quite capture it, I’m proud that I can say, now, I have experienced it.  And, it was all because of the “Stingray Whisperer.”  Ahoy followers!  We’re back on Bahamas blog time, having just wrapped our “magic moments” at stunning Powell Cay in the Abacos and weighed anchor headed for Manjack (pronounced Nunjack) Cay where we kitesurfed, chased turtles and stingrays, and cracked our first coconut (and I honestly can’t tell you which was more fun).  Fantastic video and photos for you below.  Enjoy!

Ahhh … sailing!  Boy, were we thrilled that day to be sailing again.

 

Honestly, in the Abacos, each of the islands are so close (2-3 hours, usually, at most), and there often wasn’t enough wind or too much wind to comfortably sail, so we would just motor from one to the next for the first 5-6 cays we visited.  While this was great for kite-surfing and glassy snorkeling once we got to each island, Phillip and I LOVE to sail.  So, when our plans to weigh anchor mid-morning and head from Powell Cay over to Manjack Cay also afforded us perfect winds of 12-14 kts over the starboard stern to spend the day sailing there, we were thrilled!  We took the long way and spent the day happily jibing our way slowly to Manjack Cay.

Jackets?  In the Bahamas?!  We’ve had folks ask us often what the weather and temps were like in the Bahamas in December and January.  Honestly, a little chilly.  When we first got into the Little Bahamas Bank and the Sea of Abaco, the sunny days allowed us to snorkel and dip in the water without our wet suits, but if we were going to be underwater for any period of time (snorkeling or diving) you would definitely start to go numb if you didn’t wear a wetsuit.  Then, as the fronts started to come in and the days were often cloud-covered and windy, the water got way too chilly without our full wetsuits.  That also meant jackets and layers when we were sailing in the chilly wind.  Once ashore and protected on the leeward side, bikinis and board shorts were fine.  But most of our time in December and January was spent in a hodgepodge of layers ranging from full wetsuits and booties to string bikinis.

Here’s Manjack (not sure why, but it’s pronounced “Nunjack”) Cay.  Just east of Powell Cay and a very short hop from Green Turtle Cay.  We were definitely watching the weather very closely when we were in the Abacos as the northern fronts build quickly and can sit on you for days, with bitter winds of 25-35 kts.  They also clock around so you have to make sure you are protected from winds coming at you from different directions.  All of that wind is great for kite-surfing, which was awesome for us, but we always wanted to make sure we found good protection from the wind directions we were expecting.  We spent a beautiful two blue-sky, sunny days at Manjack, with the plan to scoot over to Green Turtle Cay (playing the tide because the inlet reportedly got down to 6 feet at low tide, thanks for the intel www.ExplorerCharts.org) to hunker down for a nasty storm that was coming.  We decided to stay at the marina in White Sound because it was so well protected and it would allow us to tie up secure, top off the water and give the boat a thorough wash-down.  Wait till you see that footage.  We got 36 kts of wind on the boat, even tucked there in the sound.  It.  Was.  Windy.

And, what do we like to do when it blows?

Get our kite on baby!  But, as I mentioned, the water was chilly (probably around 68-70 degrees) and with cloud cover, you definitely wanted your wetsuit.  We dawned our shorties that day and my winter alter ego, Vladimir Platypus, makes a cameo in the video.  Enjoy!

It was a full day of surfing which left us happily exhausted and hungry.  You know you’re living the good life when you watch (from the cockpit of your boat) the sun not only set …

But also rise!

Day Two!  Time to go exploring!

The island at Manjack Cay is really stunning, with lots of little trails and walkways.  You could easily spend the day walking the island and lounging on the stunning shores.  Pack a picnic and a book and you’ll spend the day in heaven!

The north shore on the Atlantic side (and this was true for most of the islands in the Abacos) was the most breathtaking, with a half-mile stretch of Bahamas brown beaches, butting up to jewel-toned green waters that roll and lap the shore.  The sound of the water churning is therapeutic.

This little log, poised perfectly before the rolling ocean, provided the perfect backdrop.  Phillip called it immediately: “PHOTO OP!” he said, as I squealed and shed my cover-up for an impromptu photo shoot!

Man … island life is rough.

During our walk back to the dinghy, we found this post with a log-splitter-type blade sticking out of it and a hammer where it appeared locals (or perhaps vagabonds like us) cracked many of the coconuts that were lying around.  It was the first time I had ever cracked a coconut and saw the husky, stringy interior.  Man, are those husks hard!  I didn’t know the actual coconuts were little hard balls in the center.  Boy, are they pretty too.  A glossy jet black exterior, with white as snow coconut meat inside.  We also got to drink the coconut milk (still warm from the sun) right as we cracked them.  Even that small experience, brought immense pleasure and was definitely a highlight for us.  Not to mention the amazing toasted coconut oatmeal I made for us the next day.  YUM.  Life sure is tasty.

Nice coconuts!

So, the stingrays.  How did we just happen upon a pod of five pretty-domesticated stingrays that will swim right up to you and let you pet them?  Because we’re the most interesting people in the world and we travel with a miniature giraffe!  We don’t always pet stingrays, but when we do we do it with a GoPro in hand.  Ha!  I’m kiiiidddiinngg.  This actually worked out as many very cool things that we are lucky enough to experience and do: because Phillip was following his Paddington the Bear hyper-active sixth “travel sense.”  I’m telling you that man just starts wandering, looking at maps, talking to locals and literally following his nose at times to truly immerse us in an environment that’s new to us and it often takes us to places where the locals hang out, ends up bringing us into the fold of some very knowledgeable locals who take us under their wing and show us around. All I can say is he’s just the absolute best person to travel with.  Most days I have no idea what my day is going to look like, where we’re going to go, what we’re going to eat or do or see and I LOVE IT.  I absolutely love it.

This day we were initially dinghying around to a specific lat and lon spot a fellow cruiser (who had done the Bahamas the previous season) told us about where he had seen a ton of sea turtles and had swam with them.  While we didn’t find any turtles there, during our rather long dinghy ride home, Phillip saw in one of the coves this center console power boat up on the shore near a dock with several people standing in the water.  It piqued his curiosity, and he threw the tiller over and steered us in that direction.  As we got closer, you could tell the people were all looking at something down in the water and I immediately got excited.  “Turtles!” I shouted, just because that’s what we’d been on the hunt for all day and I had turtles on the brain.  But I was thrilled to find when we got there, that they were stingrays.  Five of them!  And they were all swimming around this man on his knees in the center.  He was like the Stingray Whisperer.  I eased up to the group and he was nice enough to let me in on the action and kneel down near him so the stingrays would swim up to me too and let me feel the underside of their bellies.

It was like a soft satin blanket, fresh out of the dryer, only wet.  It’s very hard to explain, but I think it just might be the softest thing I have ever felt.  And ever will.  And, where the folks on the boat had paid (probably a pretty penny) to be taken out here to this spot where this captain knew how to conjure the stingrays, here Phillip and I were, cruising bums, getting the same mesmerizing experience for free.  I had no clue when I woke that morning that I would be petting stingrays that afternoon, but that’s the absolute beauty of cruising and a life of travel.  I find it immensely exhilarating not knowing where my day will lead.

But, I know who I will be following!  Love you babe!

 

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Kite-Surfing, Landlubber Outings, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Third Place in the Boating Writers International Writing Contest!

Errngh, errngh!  We interrupt your regularly-scheduled Bahamian program for this important announcement.  Peter Nielsen with SAIL Magazine submitted an article of mine to the 2017 Boating Writers International Writing Contest and I won third place in the “Boating Adventures” category.  Thank you Peter!  Sitting in the cockpit one morning on Plaintiff’s Rest in Marsh Harbour, harvesting a sliver of wifi, and I never dreamed the email I would find in my box.  Peter Neilsen saying: “You won!”  Won what?  I thought.  Unbeknownst to me, Peter had submitted one of my articles from 2017 in for the contest and I took third place!  I’ll take third place any day!  I’ll take any place any day!  I didn’t even know anything about BWI or the contest but I was so excited, when I Googled it, to see two of my favorite sailing/world-traveling idols grace the cover of the webpage.  Little ole’ Annie Dike up there with the likes of people I have looked up to since I started sailing and writing: Tasha Hacker and John Kretschmer.  WHOA.  More info about the contest and my prize-winning article below!!  Thank you, Peter Nielsen, for believing and betting on me.  I couldn’t be more humbled and proud!!

http://www.bwi.org/contest/

Want to know which article of mine placed?  Feel free to take a blind guess in a comment now and see if you get it!  One hint … it had a bit of a racy title.  Those are always attention-grabbing and, apparently now, contest-winning!

Announcement of my contest placement in the “Boating Adventures” category: http://www.bwi.org/best-boating-journalism-recognized-for-25th-year/

Link to view my article on the BWI website: http://www.bwi.org/bwicontest/files/3005-firsttime2.pdf

I remember when that article first came out in stores!  I was so excited!

Want to be the judge?  Feel free to read my article and let me know your opinion of how my story performed according to these BWI criteria:

  • How complex is the story? Does the author use solid knowledge of the subject or information from multiple sources to craft a balanced and informative piece?
  • Is the lead effective? Does the introduction draw the reader into the story?
  • Does the story flow well? Good transitions?  Good structure?
  • Is it well researched? Accurate (or has the writer relied on press releases)?
  • Is there a distinctive personality? Or voice?
  • Effective use of language, metaphor, imagery, sentence structure?
  • Beyond the basics of reporting the story, is there originality? A fresh approach?
  • Is the story fair?
  • How well does the story accomplish its intended mission? Does it entertain? Educate? Inspire?
  • Finally, how well did the judge like it personally?

Seeing this article again, and the photos included in the layout brought back about a thousand memories.  Crossing the Atlantic on a 46-foot catamaran … what an adventure.  And timely to reflect on that just as Phillip and I recently made our way back across a portion of the Atlantic, crossing the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas back to Florida.  We were just texting Captain Yannick via the Delorme while we were out there, telling him it reminded us of the many, many memories we made with him aboard his boat, Andanza, the first time we traveled in those blue waters.  Below are all of the photos I submitted to Peter Neilsen for the article.  What an incredibly challenging, rewarding, and unforgettable adventure!  And now, a monument in the BWI archives!  Go little French Story go!

         

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BV10: Magic Moments at Powell Cay

It’s the little things.  That’s what makes this cruising life so magic.  Sure, we’ve sailed in big seas, when our boat is pitching and yawing but holding her own impressively, and that’s a heart-pounding, exciting moment.  And, yes, we’ve found ourselves struggling mightily to undertake a rather difficult but critical repair while underway.  And, that, too is a stressful, nerve-wracking moment.  Navigating vicious reefs while coming into a new harbor is what we call a “pucker” moment.  Many elements of life aboard while traveling to new places can raise your blood pressure and test your mental acuity and reaction-time, but not all of them.  Some days may feel like one big headache when you’re hot, tired, and sweaty, walking miles around a dusty, little town and can’t seem to find the right part you need to make a repair, or the beat-up washer at the laundry facility went kaput right after your clothes got wet and soapy, or the fridge goes out again, or the bilge needs cleaning again, or whatever.  There are plenty of those frustrating, infuriating moments too.

But, my favorite—because there are hundreds of them—are all of the little magic moments.  When you’re sitting in the cockpit alone, reading, and a turtle pops his head up and looks at you.  “Turtle!  Turtle!  A turtle!” you hear your own voice cry, giddy as a five-year old.  But he ducks back down just as fast and your partner doesn’t see him, which is almost better because that turtle moment was meant just for you.  I saw a turtle!  And another, when you’re diving down again and again, scrubbing the hull of your boat and a fish shimmies up to you, stops as if he’s tilting his head and asking a question (probably “Why are you wiping all of that yummy food off instead of eating it?”) and—absent an answer—he shimmies away and you have the distinct feeling you just had a conversation with someone with gills.  Did I just talk to a fish?  Or how about when you’re holding the helm alone at sunset and you swear (on your life!) you saw a green flash glint over a wave on the horizon just as the sun went down.  No one was there to witness it but you, so no one can say it didn’t happen.  I saw the green flash!  Moment like these steal your breath for just a second, and when you let it back out again, in a content huff, you realize you are in the exact place that you want to be, doing the exact thing you want to be doing—headaches, heart-pounds, contented huffs and all.

Powell Cay was one of those moments.  In fact, each island in the Abacos was one of those moments.  One of the very cool things about the Abacos is not only that each island is just a short 1-2 hour hop from the other, but each island also has something unique to offer.  Phillip and I had to start calling them by their “magic moments” so we could remember them.  Pensacola Cay became the “Signing Tree Cay.”  Manjack Cay became the “Stingray Cay.”  And, ironically, Hog Cay became “Snorkel Cay,” while No Name Cay became Hog Cay, or “Piggy Cay” to be exact, as that’s where the swimming pigs in the Abacos live.  Yep.  Stingrays and swimming pigs are coming your way.  As well as each of our little magic moments in the Abacos.  Today, we want to share with you Powell Cay, a.k.a. “Starfish Key,” where we found the biggest starfish we have seen in all of the Abacos.  What was intended to be a simple ride to shore to explore around the island turned into something magic and memorable, as did everything it seemed in the Abacos.  The smallest moments and simplest adventures brought us unforgettable pleasure.  Want a little taste?  Join us!  At Powell Cay, for a magic dinghy ride!  Where a trivial jaunt to shore brought us sightings of a sea turtle, a nurse shark (which GoPro was able to get a glimpse of underwater), a massive, mesmerizing starfish (which Video Annie thought might be an alien that would suck her face off), and another stunning Atlantic shore.  I’ll bet you find yourself singing along by the end: “This magic moment … ”

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Landlubber Outings, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments