Is Spam in the Bahamas really $9.00? Find out in the November issue of SAIL Magazine, featuring an article by Yours Truly! Peter Nielsen over at SAIL asked me a while back for a piece with tips on preparing for a trip to the Bahamas. So, Phillip and I put our heads together and came up with a few key factors to consider when prepping for the Bahamas and what provisions and supplies we would recommend stocking the boat with. For us, it all started with the Explorer charts. Those are a must! I hope you all grab a copy of the November issue soon and let me know what you think of the article. Many thanks to the hard-working crew over at SAIL Magazine for putting this one together. We love it!
And, stay tuned next time as we will be announcing our cruising plans this winter in a fun new video next week. You’ll never guess where we’re going!! : D
Enough with this maintenance in Marsh Harbour! It’s time to get sailing and set our hopes on Hopetown. This was one of our favorite stops in the Abacos. Many cruisers live here full-time on a ball in the harbor which gives the place a very welcoming, community feel. There are lots of quirky little shops, beautiful flower-lined roads and bike paths, great restaurants and the stunning Hopetown Lighthouse, one of the oldest manual Kerosene-lit lighthouses in the world. Phillip and I were incredibly fortunate to score a ball in the harbor our VERY FIRST night there (some people have waited years for one) and enjoyed a stunning three-day stay at Hopetown. Enjoy the snorkeling in Marsh Harbour, our sporty sail over to Hopetown, and a bike tour around picturesque Hopetown in the video and photos below. Stay tuned next time for a trip to Little Harbor, a little-known hurricane hole at the south end of the Abacos where we were welcomed by friends who had just built an amazing little bungalow there. Plenty more to come!
On our way back to Marsh Harbour. We were thrilled to find that a Delta flight opened up recently from Atlantic directly to Marsh Harbour, so that makes leaving the boat in the Bahamas while we fly back and forth to handle issues at home much easier!
I love the view from a plane window. So much to see!
While we were thrilled to return, after leaving out boat in Marsh Harbour for six weeks while we flew back to Pensacola to handle some work things (and another huge thanks (and yet she still deserves dozens more!) to fellow Marsh Harbour live-aboard, Diane, who sent us amazing photos of our boat every couple of days while we were gone), we had plenty of work to do to open up and clean the boat and re-provision and prepare her for another two months of cruising in the Bahamas. We spent the first day cleaning her, filling the batteries and propane, grocery shopping, turning the engine over, etc. And, we were pleased to find our baby was just as excited as we were to have us back and she was full of juice and cranked right up on the first try! Way to go Plaintiff’s Rest!
We were pleased to find, having left our Kanberra gel bins full while we were gone, that the boat smelled super fresh when we opened her up for the first time in six weeks and there was hardly any mold on the ceiling. (In Pensacola, pre-Kanberra, we used to have tons of mold that we had to constantly wipe away with Clorox wipes during the summer). This Kanberra stuff is the real deal people!
Filling the batteries. Ours are Trojan wet cells that we have to fill with distilled water about every 30 days – 6 weeks. I always laugh because Phillip looks like a coal miner when he does it!
We were thrilled the find our fancy wine bags were still in tact!
It had rained a good bit in Marsh Harbor while we were gone, which was actually a good thing because it kept the bilge flushed out and fresh. We emptied her one time down to bone-dry to watch anew for any possible new leaks.
Then after all that work, it was time to go snorkeling in Marsh Harbour! I got some great footage of the fishies and plant life in the video. Hope you all enjoyed it!
Post-snorkel meal at the Jib Sheet. Oh yeeaaaahhhh!
We packed away our Bahamas courtesy flag while we were gone. She was only a little tattered from her first six weeks in the Abacos!
Back to our happy place! Sundowners and read-time in the cockpit of Plaintiff’s Rest!
I made a new friend at the marina, too. This amazing Labradoodle was so cute. She would sit in this chair, looking very much like a human being, and watch as people walked by. She was darling!
Sunrise over Harbourview Marina!
Time to de-dock (that’s a word in Annie land) and get this boat moving over to Hopetown!
It was a great day sailing, with winds of 18-20 kts. On the nose, but we’ve got much better at reefing down our offshore 90% working jib (“Wendy”) so now anything up to 20 kts is still comfortable for us on the boat. That did not used to be the case with our 135 genoa!
Following our waypoints on the Explorer charts to a “T.” I love those charts! They make cruising the Bahamas, even with a six-foot draft effortless. Just follow their lat and lons and play the tides and you are golden!
We couldn’t reach anyone via the radio to see if there was an open ball in the Harbor at Hopetown (we were pretty sure they’re wouldn’t be as folks had told us cruisers covet those balls and hold them often for years), so we dropped the hook on the outside and dinghied into the Harbor to get a lay of the land. It was kind of nice, too, to traverse that narrow inlet for the first time in our tiny little rubber boat, not the big beauty!
And, we totally scored!! After talking to a few boats, asking around about a potential open ball (and having a few of them lightheartedly chuckle at us), we were finally sent to a guy named Dave on a catamaran who unofficially monitors the balls, and he got us in touch with this amazing guy, Truman, who runs the balls at the Harbor, and as luck would have it a couple was leaving that afternoon, so we were going to spend our evening ON THE BALL! Phillip and I knew exactly how lucky we were and we were super excited! But, the ball would not open up for a another few hours, so we headed to shore to grab a bite and explore!
And Hopetown, of course, did not disappoint. Stunning Atlantic shores, crystal blue waters, stretches of white stunning beach. It was everything we hoped it would be (no pun intended … okay maybe just a little one ; ).
We ate here at Brandon’s Bar on the beach, an awesome little salty lunch spot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean!
These pictures don’t really do it justice. But the sunsets and sunrises in the Harbor at Hopetown were breathtaking. It was all you could do to just sit and watch and look around. Something about all the boats floating around you and the colors on the water were just mesmerizing.
Time to go see what this lighthouse is all about!
Beautiful little flower-lined streets guided us along the way. One of my favorite things about the Abacos are all the rich, luscious colors that greet you just walking the streets. All of the pathways and roads are also very narrow, which means no freaking stink-pot, tank-sized SUVs. Thank goodness! Just little golf carts and foot traffic. I have to say there is no part of me that misses the consumerism and traffic of the states. None.
You cannot NOT go to the Bahamas and NOT get conch fritters (three times at least to compare at different places! ; )
There’s the lighthouse! One of the last remaining manual, kerosene-lit lighthouses in the world. This beauty was completed in 1864 and used to guide ships around the treacherous Elbow Reef.
We signed the book! S/v Plaintiff’s Rest was here! 101 lighthouse steps we never fear!
Isn’t the view from the top amazing? The striking colors of the water is always what catches my eyes and breath when we view the Bahamas from up high.
Got myself a little Hopetown Lighthouse trinket (and proceeds for buying this beauty go toward lighthouse preservation and restoration). Cute huh?
Then it was time to explore more of that awesome little island. We rented bikes (24 hours for $24, very reasonable) and spent the next day and a half biking around Hopetown.
It was even cooler to see the lighthouse from our ball in the Harbor after we had walked all the way to the top and saw the view from up there.
We left this little thank-you note and our “ball fees” ($20/night) on Dave’s catamaran, along with a bottle of white and one of my books as big thanks for his help in enabling us to score a ball our very first time there. We certainly enjoyed our time and can easily say Hopetown is one of our favorite stops in the Abacos. But, gees, it’s hard to even pick favorites. There are so many. Hope you all enjoyed the video and photos. Next time, we will take you to Little Harbour at the south end of the Abacos and Pete’s Pub! Stay tuned!
On the first day of packing, my Captain gave to me (must be sung in true partridge manner): “A spare bilge pump for the aft cubb-beeey!” Okay, so the packing took WAY more than twelve days, but we’ll get back to that bilge pump just you wait. ; )
Ahoy HaveWind followers! I’m so excited to start sharing tales from our Bahamas Voyage with you. When Phillip and I make plans and start setting our sights on foreign shores, it always ignites in us a flame of excitement that burns all while we’re doing the 1,243 chores that have to be done to fully prepare the boat, ourselves, our co-workers, family and friends, our budget, and, more importantly, the boat (even more!) for the trip. At first it’s just a flicker, that gets brighter and hotter as we near our departure date, but I can always feel it, roaring like a furnace when we’re finally out there—off on our voyage, underway, and I can take a thousand pictures but it will never do it justice. “It’s all right here,” Phillip and I say, as we tap on our temples. But, for you all, it’s all right here, on the HaveWind blog as I share with you our voyage, our adventures, our worries and concerns and lessons learned as we sail to the Bahamas. First up? Bahamas Voyage One (“BV1”): Packing, planning and weather routing (as this all plays such a huge role in when we leave and how prepared we are when we do) and our first day on passage.
As you know, our planning for this voyage began early this summer when Phillip and I made an extensive list of all the boat chores we needed to accomplish before we would feel our boat was as ready as possible to spend a winter island hopping. Fun recap of our summer chores for you here. Once the chores were done, the next step was packing and provisioning the boat. That means stocking the boat with the necessary supplies, tools, fluids, spares, etc. to efficiently repair, troubleshoot and maintain her both while we were underway if necessary and then more extensively as we stop from port to port. Boat projects never stop. Even when you’re cruising. Or, more accurately put, especially when you’re cruising because if you’re actually using the boat day to day, you’re likely spotting more issues ahead of time and you’re more inclined to jump on repairs, leaks, squeaks, etc. to keep your boat and, more importantly, your cruise going! I’ve put together an extensive list of our boat supplies inventories if you find it helpful here.
While we have certain cubbies we often use for boat fluids (i.e., the propane locker in the cockpit and a locker under the aft berth because they are fully-sealed and will not allow toxic fluids, if spilled, to leak to the bilge), one very big difference we made in our stowage plans this year has already proven super helpful, and I will give the credit to our hearty French Captain from our Atlantic-crossing in 2016: Yannick!
Yeah … that guy. He’s funny. Like a clown. And he likes Joe Pesci.
On Yannick’s 46’ Soubise Freydis, in his “captain’s berth” (the starboard gunnel), he had an entire shelf system as well as a deep compartment under his vberth where Yannick had filled Tupperware after Tupperware bin with every kind of boat supply imaginable: tapes, glues, Loctite, sewing kits, electrical repair kits, heat shrink, odds and end hoses, epoxy kits, varnish and sandpaper kits, etc. I could go on. But, each bin was filled with certain types of materials and labeled accordingly: “Tapes & Adhesives,” “Electrical,” etc. And it turned out to be a super-efficient way to pull the necessary tools and supplies for a particular job. So, upon examining our boat this year to find better ways to stow and stash supplies such as this, Phillip found ourselves eyeing a very convenient locker under our own vberth that I believed could serve a very similar Yannick-inspired purpose. It is this locker here:
It is the access to our macerator thru-hull and our previous owner had built a very sturdy shelf in the locker to stow gallon water jugs on. While we had followed suit for years and stowed water there as well, we found they sloshed around and sometimes punctured and they also took on the slight smell of macerator hose. Not my favorite flavor of water : (. But now we had an entire empty section for what I was now going to call our “Supplies Cubby.” We measured and were able to easily fit four rather large Tupperwares in this section labeled: 1) Tapes & Adhesives, 2) Epoxy, 3) Electrical, and 4) Engine Spares.
This has already proven to be a very accessible, very organized compartment to store the many, many boat supplies we access often while cruising. So, thank you Yannick!
Another revelation while we were packing this year: The locker in our aft berth that is fully-sealed can fit not only the spare two gallons of diesel oil (in addition to the one in our propane locker and in our oil-change kit in the hanging locker), as well as spare transmission fluid, outboard oil and Sea Foam but also (and I kid you not), six additional bags of wine. Six. Wow. That’s what? 24 bottles of wine! Two cases?! I love bagged wine. Have I mentioned that? With the first six stowed, the other six were easy. Ha!
They also fit nicely around the aft locker compartment just forward of that one which houses our starting battery and MPPT controllers for our solar panels. That was a lot of heavy, spillable weight stowed aft and low and, for the most part, in lockers that would contain the spill if any. Although we desperately hoped for no wine spillage on the trip. (Okay, or oil spillage … I guess that stuff’s important too ; ).
One of our goals in packing and provisioning the boat this time was to find new, previously-unused cubbies and compartments of the boat that were being under-utilized. In addition to the new “supplies cubby” under the vberth, we also decided this time to stow as many soft, light goods as we could under the very large compartments under the vberth. Trust me, I can fit completely inside the larger bin. See?
I spent a lot of time personally in these when we were in the shipyard both painting every square inch of the bilge (which I can still report is a clean, sanitary Bilge-Kote grey in virtually every locker I look … sniff … ahhh) and in glassing in the anchor chain locker to run the anchor runoff water rather than anonymously to the bilge to mingle and mask other potential leaks but, rather, to our new sump box.
Any of you who have seen our shipyard videos know what a monster chore the sump box was. Not the most difficult project of the re-fit, mind you, but still a very extensive project to capture and route water from five different sources and channel it to the sump box, then plumb the sump box to pump overboard via the head sink. But, one of the absolute benefits of doing this, particularly with regard to the anchor chain runoff was that funneling the anchor water through a hose to the sump box would make each of the three very large, very useful compartments under the vberth now dry storage areas as opposed to wet. Thank you Sump Box!
For this reason, and to continue our efforts to move weight aft and low on the boat, Phillip and I decided to use the two rather sizeable cubbies under the vberth mattress directly aft of the anchor chain locker for stowing spare halyards and lines, spare sails (our storm sail, namely) and canvas, as well as spare domestic soft goods (e.g., quilts, blankets, long johns and foulies that would be needed for the cold voyage across the Gulf, but not after we reached the Bahamas). Then it’s strictly bikini time, baby! We also fit many additional work sheets and work towels in there, a spare set of sheets for the vberth, as well as two kites, two wetsuits and my aerial silks. I told you it was a big compartment. We decided to use vacuum bags for stowing these items both to shrink them to reduce space and to protect them as well in case there was an unexpected leak in these compartments. I put a post up on Facebook about these bags and most seemed to love them; however, several followers said their seals often failed or they were somehow compromised and they “puffed back up again.” Phillip and I will let you know after the season if we experience this as well. So far, we are super pleased with the ease of use and utility of the vacuum bags.
Other areas we found we were able to use for food and supplies storage were three cubbies under the central floorboard in the saloon.
We also noticed two forward cubbies that we eventually plan to add a few L-brackets and a fiddle of wood (to prevent items in the bin from slipping down into the bilge) which will convert those to storage cubbies as well. All in due time. Phillip also had the very good idea to buy a box of the super industrial strength black contractor dumpster bags and we wrapped many food items with the potential to spill (or explode) in these in hopes of containing spills in case any cans, bottles, bags, etc. became punctured and started to leak. This proved an exceptional idea as we contained several spills we found after crossing the Gulf, one of which was four exploding beer cans in a contractor bag in the port lazarette that contained every drop of that stinky beer. Thank you Hefty Bags!
What’s next? I know, I know. The packing and provisioning can get a little tedious. And, Phillip and I truly did spend the better part of the month before departure double-checking lists of necessary fluids, spares, supplies, food, drinks, etc. to make sure we had in fact packed everything we needed and wanted for the trip and it’s a darn good thing we did because—as it always tends to happen—as you get into the handful of days or weeks before your trip, emergency-type errands come up, or friends and family you haven’t seen in a while confess they simply can’t let you go without a goodbye dinner, or whatever other agenda item you can imagine that will occupy your time crops up and, if you’re not already packed and ready, you can suddenly feel overwhelmed. Phillip and I actually had some very consuming, stressful work things we had to handle in the weeks before we left and had we not spent months preparing for our departure before-hand, I would have pulled a couple clumps of hair out I’m sure. Luckily for Phillip, he has no hair.
The last items on the list were, of course, food, food and more food.
While Phillip and I had created and maintained a very tedious digital inventory of food for our Cuba passage (completely cubby-located and word-searchable), to be honest, we found trying to keep up with this (by pulling out the computer and crossing off every single can, packet or pouch used as it was used) proved far too tedious. We decided this time rather than choose what you would like to eat before-hand, instead we’re going to play the “food lottery.” Now, we simply choose the locker we’re going to eat out of, and it’s like a smattering of random Christmas groceries that you now have to get creative with and make a nice meal out of. It’s really rather fun, and we’ve been excited each time we open a new locker (or look behind a new box or bag) and find something we bought and packed long ago that we’d been excited to eat for months. “Ooh, the laughing cow cheese! Hell yeah!” Annie squealed often. That and Sriracha peas were always a squeal-worthy find in my book. As a hint, however, we have since had another cruising friend tell us they used taped notes in the interior door or lid of each locker with each food item listed and they scratched it off on the pad as they remove an item. I can see this working far better, although some lids are harder to lift and write on than others and some of our compartments would have a list 182 items long.
I’m not kidding.
Speaking of (and last mention of packing, I promise, although it is quite important!) where did 75% of ALL of our non-perishable food items go?? This was a new place for us to discover and utilize and I was shocked (stunned actually) at the sheer quantity of food this one compartment swallowed whole with a mere shrug. Pssshhh … that’s all you got? Where is this magic black hole food cubby on Plaintiff’s Rest? Under our port settee. This is an area we have never used before and we would have never thought to have used it had we not replaced our starboard water tank this past summer.
Having done so and (as many of you know) having spent weeks wrestling, cursing, kicking and squeezing our new water tank back in place next to our diesel tank under the starboard settee, we became very familiar with the space and size of the cubbies located under each of our saloon settees. Once we saw we could fit many long spare hoses and pieces of wood and starboard (“construction materials” we call these) by the starboard water tank, I started to wonder what else we could fit all around the portside water tank. 75% of our food, that’s what. I’m serious. We packed the shit out of this compartment. It’ll be Food Christmas in there till 2019. Now, we did Ziploc EVERYthing.
Even anything already bagged or even double-bagged. We omitted as much cardboard and packaging as we could (keeping the identifying information and cooking instructions) and, by doing this, the compartment under our portside settee now houses the majority of our food stores for the entire winter. We darn sure aren’t going to starve (or want for Spam!) in the Bahamas! We also weren’t going to run out of Irish Spring or Arm & Hammer toothpaste (Annie’s favorite) either. We packed probably four months’ worth of toiletries (including paper towels and toilet paper, mostly in the hanging locker) aboard, as well as a huge bag of travel-size toiletries as goodie giveaways for the locals (in exchange for fresh-caught fish, we were told : ).
Alright, so with the non-perishable packing complete, the last stop was one to the farmer’s market (Bailey’s in Pensacola is phenomenal) for a bunch of the heartiest produce we could find (beets, carrots, cabbage, spaghetti squash, onions, apples, potatoes, etc.) which we wrapped and labeled in brown paper bags and stuffed along the shelves of our aft berth, our produce hammock and the bookshelves in the saloon, being careful to stow onions and bananas far away from the other produce so as not to speed their ripening). We intended to get non-refrigerated eggs, which we like to have aboard (just remember to rotate them upside down once a week), but apparently the chickens we usually get them from didn’t have a productive winter. But c’est la vie. With the non-perishables, the rest of the wine and mixers and the alcohol finally aboard (8 handles of various rums, vodka, gin, and Kahlua, primarily in the port lazarette in a contractor’s Hefty bag), we simply had to cram three weeks’ worth of clothes on the boat and go.
So, once the boat is ready to go, what’s next? Do you just go? Whatever day you want to? Tell all your family and friends and have them all planning to come to the dock for a big send-off? Unfortunately (and I’ll admit Pam Wall was the first to tell us this), this usually never works out well and can often put you in a very tight pinch trying to pick a departure date in advance and stick to it. Pam always advised us not to tell friends and family specifically when you expect to leave or arrive as it will inadvertently create a schedule that will stress everyone if it is not met. Once you’re ready to go, you then have to look for (AND WAIT FOR) the right weather window.
Most cruisers understand this and won’t expect you to state before-hand what date specifically you are planning to leave or when you’re planning to arrive in port. Family, friends and co-workers, however, who worry about you taking to the high seas, often struggle with a flexible plan, but trying to alter your schedule or commit to a window that’s not as favorable to perhaps ease their fears or fulfill promises perhaps in hindsight you feel you shouldn’t have made, may force you to leave on a day that is not the best for your voyage plans. I know I’ve preached this before, but I do so because Phillip and I made this very mistake on our first offshore voyage and it cost us considerably, so it is worth repeating. If you’ve read Salt of a Sailor, you’ll know what I’m talking about: A SCHEDULE IS THE MOST DANGEROUS THING YOU CAN HAVE ON A SAILBOAT. Friends, family and co-workers simply have to learn that departure and arrival dates must remain flexible and weather-dependent. Keep training them, and you’ll have better cruising days ahead, I promise. Never try to sail according to a schedule.
So, Phillip and I had planned (weather permitting!) to leave on Saturday Dec. 9th. It was ironically going to be a very fortuitous date to leave as the big “work thing” I mentioned that we had to take care of took place on Dec. 7th (so getting that behind us was a big “Whew!”) and then our buddy Brandon with www.PerdidoSailor.com was having his big annual Christmas party on Friday, Dec. 8th. Can you say Happy Holiday Sendoff for Plaintiff’s Rest?! Hell yeah! And with a tacky Christmas Sweater Contest and an often rowdy and risqué Dirty Santa exchange to boot? We were stoked. What a way to go! Roll that delightfully-tacky footage!
Seriously, I found a sweater with a unicorn vomiting sprinkles. Can you GET any tackier (or awesome)?? The answer is no.
Good times, right? Our joke that night, when everyone and their dog asked when we were planning to leave, was “As soon as we sober up from this party!” Ha! (You see? Keep it vague. Then there’s no commitments.) Although I will note our buddy Kevin, a fabulous Pensacola broker who helped us find our beloved Niagara, said, in response to that and in all earnest: “Oh, that’ll be Sunday then.” Turns out he was right. But, not because of our hangovers. (Pssshhh … I never get hangovers. What are those?!). It’s because the weather window wasn’t right. But, a word on weather predictions.
They are just that. Predictions. Often close, often off, and just as reliable as you would surmise any “prediction” to be. Now, while they do get more reliable the closer you get to your ETD, they still are not fool-proof and we have often found their predicted strength of the wind is often 5 kts less than it should be in the Gulf and often 20-30 degrees off on the direction. That is almost to a “T” what we experienced this time. So, feel free to weather route along with us. This is the window we were looking at if we left on Saturday Dec. 9th. There was a front that was passing through and we were hoping to catch a nice few days of north wind on the back side to ride across the Gulf.
Looks a little gnarly huh? That’s what we thought. Jumping out in 20-25 knots of “stuff” didn’t sound like the best way to make the passage. But, we did debate leaving Saturday afternoon (from our dock that wouldn’t put us out in the Gulf, actually experiencing offshore conditions for another 6-7 hours), so around 10:00 p.m. The forecast then seemed to show a bit of heavy winds (20-25) decreasing to 18-23 after midnight then to 15-20 over the course of Sunday morning and even lighter Sunday afternoon. That sounded like a pretty good window to ride the last of the front. We were expecting some light winds the first few days and a potential front that would pass over us about mid-way across the Gulf but it looked like 15-20 kt winds, all on the stern with following seas, so that seemed doable. From my experience, at least, if you’re planning to cross the Gulf in one passage, which is a great experience, it’s likely, if you’re going to get any “good wind” at all, you’re probably also going to run into some “stuff” (and by that I mean 15-25 kt winds potentially) either at the beginning, somewhere in the middle, or at the end. Otherwise, you might be looking at three days of glass, which is beautiful, but as sailors, we’re not too keen on three days of motoring. It’s just rare to see five straight days of steady winds, holding speed and direction. While we never intentionally choose to sail in dangerous weather, a predicted 15-25 (which could be less or more) on the stern with following seas is a circumstance we were willing to accept for an expected fun, sporty sail across the Gulf.
With our window chosen, we spent one last lavish evening at the condo with Chef Phillippe whipping us up an exquisite bacon-indulgent cassoulet. YUM.
We then woke bright and early Sunday morning carrying our last packs to the boat. Bahamas-bound Annie was actually excited to be donning her fashionable offshore bib. Who doesn’t love overalls?
One sure-fire sign it was high time to leave Pensacola and sail south? There was ice on the boat. A light frost had fallen on Pensacola that evening and we had to crack everything on the deck apart to get the boat going.
Phillip tossing our last line!
We had kept a heat light on in the engine room to keep Westie warm and he purred right up. Annie de-docked like a champ and soon we were on our way. Our boat fully packed, our lists crossed off and nothing but big blue water ahead. That is one of my favorite feelings. The stress of preparing for the voyage seems to melt off and pull back toward shore, like fingers once gripped, now leaving your shoulders. Ahhh …
And, remember those 18-23 kts of wind, predicted to lay down on Sunday afternoon? Well, it seemed they decided to take a nap early, because by the time we got out in the Gulf—around noon on Sunday—we were motoring along in 6-8 kts of breeze. You see? The weather. Just a prediction. But, it was a nice window of opportunity to throw up one of our favorite sails. Our spinnaker, better known as “Spinny!” This is our first year to fly the spinnaker (I know, bad sailors!) and we have really loved hoisting her up and watching her beautiful, blue, white and red belly billow and fill. She really is a gorgeous sail and it’s a lot of fun to see, and feel, the boat flying under spinnaker alone. Even in two layers of long johns, our foulies and three hats (yes, three!), we were thrilled to be out there on the water, sailing our magnificent little boat. It was a fantastic kickoff for the passage.
As Phillip and I eased into our offshore routine and doled out night shift assignments, we knew the days ahead would include some very tiring moments, likely some equipment failure or other boat issues, for sure, many wet, uncomfortable hours, but they would also include the sound of nothing but water lapping the hull, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets and moments that can never be re-created ashore. And, we can’t wait to share them all with you.
Follow along as we are mesmerized by a jumping pod of dolphins at the bow, monitor the power situation (and show you our cool below-decks inverter), and make our one BIG tack of the trip. We had some great wind that allowed us to hold a pretty steady rhumb line all the way to Cuba. Hope you guys are enjoying the vicarious Cuba voyage. Enjoy!
And they’re off! Plaintiff’s Rest is finally headed south for Cuba. Follow along as we cast-off the lines (finally!), make good way our first night under sail, get used to the new hydraulic auto-pilot, hand-steer just for fun (that wouldn’t last) and pass our first ship in the channel using the new AIS. Any questions about the new systems (Navionics, the auto-pilot and/or AIS), feel free to leave them in a comment and we will respond as soon as we get back ashore. The winds will find us next time on this voyage, but our first leg of the trip was a nice downwind run. Stay tuned for a wild, windy romp part two of our Cuba Voyage at www.HaveWindWillTravel.com and follow on HaveWind’s Facebook page for Delorme posts while we are underway. We shove off from the Keys for Pensacola this afternoon!
Provisioning for passage. Stowing goods on the boat (according to weight). Power conservation while underway. Watch schedules. Sleep arrangements. You name it. A ton of good, hopefully helpful info for you all while we are preparing our boat to shove off for Cuba in just SEVEN days. Feel free to add any of your own offshore preparation tips in a comment below and follow us along on our voyage on our HaveWind Facebook Page where we will post MapShare updates and our GPS location via the Delorme. Become a Patron for personal messaging capabilities so you can talk with us during the voyage, get up to date photos and video posts as soon as we get wifi and join us in Key West for a Patron Party when we get back from Cuba. Oh the stories we will tell!
Now that we had all of the NON-perishables packed on the boat, it was time to make the last final run to Publix for the perishables.
And, I say “final” because we took quite a beating at Publix in the week before our trip. We had made about three trips already for non-perishables and our freezer food, but this last one was a mighty trip. I thought we might perish! The receipt was almost as long as my legs.
Yes, legs. Plural. One stacked on top of the other.
Ouch! We need to buy stock in Publix. But, we got all of those goodies packed on the boat, so our boat was finally provisioned. We had even stocked up on our ‘specialty’ items. I say that because while we knew we would be stopping often during the trip to re-stock and re-provision, there are some things that you can’t find just anywhere. Take that Publix! We had a few of these, mostly special spices, sauces, novel ingredients and, of course, certain types of liquor and wine. So those we had to plan to pack enough for a month. And, as much as we try to avoid glass on the boat, unfortunately, most of these items are glass because, well, they’re not really sailboat items – hence the term, “specialty.” Which means they get special treatment. Every glass item on the ole’ Rest was lovingly wrapped in bubble wrap for stowage:
A particularly supple specialty item on our list was, of course, none other than WINE. I can tell you many a-cabinet and cubby on the Plaintiff’s Rest are chalk full of wine. Our bottles had over-flowed the liquor cabinet and spilled into the cubbies in the table. We had also sampled many boxed wines to try and find a good one that we liked for cruising, but I’ll tell you – we struggled. I don’t really think we’re wine snobs in any sense of the term, we love a good $8.99 value wine just as much as the next bloke, but it just seemed the particular $8.99’s we liked came in glass bottles. Until … we tried this boxed granache – Vina Borgia from the Aragon Wine Market. It’s a great table red that pairs well with food but is easy for sipping on its own. Just a versatile, filling wine that has worked really well for us. So, three it was, and we shoved them under the sink.
If any of you all have come across a great boxed wine, please, by all means, let us hear about it!
So, the ever-dreaded perishables trip to Publix was done. That was the last item on the list. We were on the eve of the trip. Now it was just watching the weather and making sure tomorrow, Thursday, was still a good day to jump out into the Gulf. We saw a storm brewing in Arkansas that we had been keeping an eye on. It was heading east and set to hit Pensacola on Saturday. We knew if we were going to head out tomorrow, we had to make way east fast. The easter the faster the better! Every time Phillip checked the weather, I would squinch my eyes tight in my best ‘make a wish’ face and hope he wouldn’t say we were going to have to push the trip back a week. I knew it was a stupid wish. We wanted to be careful. We wanted to leave when it was safe. But, we also wanted to GO! I opened one eye just a crack as he checked it one last time before we went to bed that night and hoped for the best.
The day finally came. May 23rd, and we were headed back to Apalachicola to finally bring our boat home. We hitched a ride again with our sail groupies – you remember these guys – Phillip’s fabulous folks:
We loaded up the truck again with all the tools, supplies and food (aka, the “provisions”) we would need to make another passage.
I also had the pleasure of opening a few little gifts on the drive over as it seemed yours truly had a big “day” coming up.
That’s right, I saw fit to grace this world with my presence during the early morning hours of May 28, 1982.
“Delivers only the best … ” You’re damn right they do!
The gifts were great. I certainly do enjoy birthdays. I couldn’t help but notice, though, they were all different versions of soaps, scrubbers and other self-cleaning products. Perhaps Mary was trying to tell me something?? She’ll be glad to know I put them to good use on that trip. For five minutes after each of the 1.5 showers I took during that 5-day passage, I was fresh as a daisy!
We stopped back in Apalachicola before making our way over to Carrabelle to check on the boat and spent a delightful afternoon walking around downtown, poking our heads in quaint little shops and, basically, just smelling the roses.
We came across some neat old relics:
Some creative artwork:
And some fitting words of wisdom:
That Ben Franklin sure was a smart guy. Alcohol always makes me happy!
But, we had a lot to do to get the boat ready for the last leg of The Crossing, so it was off to Carrabelle to check on her and get her all packed up.
How’s that cockpit looking Mary? “It’s ready to go!”
How about the crew Paul? “I don’t want this one to go!”
As I look back through these photos, it seems Phillip did most of the “checking” while me and the groupies just engaged in a fun photo op. Sorry Phillip!
Yeah, that’s me, doing wildly inappropriate things behind Phillip. Very mature …
We did meet with Mechan-Eric to take a look at the transmission he had put in and saddle up, of course. Funny thing how they want to get paid after doing work. I mean … Eric was great, though. He had done a good job for us and had finished up the job just in time for us to sail her home. He walked us through what all he had done and cranked the engine. It was the first time we had heard her turn over in a month. She grumbled and sputtered and started purring! I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more glorious sound. She was running! Eric showed us the transmission, which he had painted a bright, cherry red to match the signature color of the engine, and shifted her through the gears (drive, neutral and reverse) so we could see the transmission at work. Everything looked great. We gave it the old Roger Ebert and we were ready to go!
We decided to celebrate and polish the evening off with some oysters and beer (is there any better way?) at Eric’s family’s salty sea bar across the river – Fathoms. And, I tell you, I’m not really an oyster fan. I mean, they look like snot rockets in a shell, but I have to say, these were the best darn oysters I’ve ever slurped down.
Not snotty at all!
The oysters, that is. These two here are pretty snotty!
We ate our fill and admired our boat across the river.
Yep – that’s her!
I swear I could see her little stern wagging. Like a sad-eyed puppy at the pound that had finally been picked! We were going to scoop her up and take her home with us! First thing in the morning, too. And, I do mean first thing. Phillip and I were planning to get up and going before sunrise, so we needed some rest. We bid our sail groupies adieu, enjoyed one last Carrabelle sunset in the cockpit and shut her down for the night.
So, the last leg of The Crossing. The final push. The last mile. The home stretch. This was it. After a month sitting stagnant in the lonely waters of the Carrabelle River, we finally got word our boat was ready to come home. Mechan-Eric called on Monday to let us know he was expecting the transmission on Tuesday and would be installing it on Wednesday. “That’s great,” we said. “We’re coming Thursday.” And so the feverish planning began. Phillip and I had talked to some friends about helping us make the last leg of the passage back, but it seemed no one could get away for another 5-6 day trip … Except ME!!! I felt like Gladys at the Senior Citizen’s Dance – just dying for Phillip to Pick me! Pick me!
I’d learned a lot on The Crossing and felt like I had really earned my stripes. I was ready. Put me in coach! As true as that may have been, I had certainly proven myself sea-worthy on the first leg of The Crossing (or so Phillip told me while he gave me an “atta girl” pat on the head), the sad truth was I was the only one available. I was his only hope, so I got the position by default:
Fine by me. That meant I was going!
So we started planning. We decided to leave on a Thursday (May 23rd), via a ride from our ever-faithful sail groupies (aka Phillip’s folks), enjoy a final leisurely stroll with them through downtown Apalachicola on Thursday afternoon, crash on the boat that night and get up Friday morning to make the first passage to Panama City, about a 24-hour run. We were going to decide then whether we wanted to stop in PC for the night or just keep trucking across the Gulf to Pensacola.
We started making another provisions list (you remember the beast of a list we put together for the initial Crossing: http://havewindwilltravel.com/2013/05/19/april-12-2013-purchase-and-pork-planning-and-provisions/), planning out our meals, checking our inventory of equipment. Making lists and checking them twice, basically. Since we were a little more comfortable with the boat (and figured with just the two of us, minus one mouthy second mate, it would be a bit quieter this time), we planned to bring a few more leisure items this time – books, the Kindle, the ukes, etc.
Wait. Record scratch. Errrhhht. The whats?!?! You heard me. The ukes. Ukeleles.
Little four-stringed guitar wannabe instruments that are great for the beach or the boat or just about anywhere your little uke-ing heart desires to play them. You’ve heard them, I’m sure, in many Jack Johnson numbers, but I think Eddie Vedder really gave them that rock star sizzle.
Oh, and there was also that Hawaiian guy with the rainbow song:
Whatever Iz name is. Ha ha. I kill myself some times.
My blog, my cheesy jokes. I get to laugh if I want to.
Phillip actually got a uke first after several of his friends started bringing them to the beach to pick around on while waiting for the wind to blow. Turns out, picking on a uke is much better than picking gnats and flies off each other while you’re sitting around waiting for the wind to blow. Once he got one, I was destined. We started out with some Mraz:
Ahh … the things I post on the internet for your sheer entertainment. You can thank me later – or better yet, thank Lucy. She rocked that number!
So, with the ukes and our musical ambitions on board, we set our sights on Apalachicola and getting our boat home. Finally. The big trip was just two days away and we were beyond excited! I mean, could life get any better??