Coming Home

The Sun was shining, the waves were one to two but the large swells caused us to remain seated on the flybridge. The Inclinometer vacillated between 10 to 30 degrees. Plentiful sea traffic, cruise ships, sailboats and other pleasure craft were also taking advantage of the lull in the weather.

The many cruise ships we encountered were moving very slowly and seemingly without passengers. Why are they there? Do you suppose it costs less to keep these ships moving or at least anchored rather than docked. 

Hey Grandma! Is that Florida? Clare woke me up from my nap. Surprisingly, thirty miles from the Florida coast and we could see Miami’s tall buildings. Just a few hours from home! 

Clare is leaving us in Fort Lauderdale, flying home to Connecticut and then back to school.  We will miss her. Dream Seeker will take the safe and scenic route home for the next three days, the intracoastal past the magnificent mansions and multiple mega yachts and back to Nettles island our second home.

As usual, I am unhappy to see these awesome trips end but the need to check in at home is overwhelming. 

Bimini to Ft Lauderdale

Three days in Bimini and we can greet all the natives by their first names. Our golf cart has seen every nook and cranny of this sunny and beautiful island but outside the stone reefs the wind is howling and the ocean is boiling.  

Denny has been commiserating with his weather wizards again. He is consulting the online weather sites, the locals and probably a few astrologists. It looks like Thursday will be the mildest ocean crossing available. According to one local he doesn’t read any forecasts he just watches the  palm trees.  When their fronds are flying he goes back to sleep.

We are going for it. An eight hour journey over the teeming ocean with the aid of the jet stream.

angel fish at the dock
anchored
New Years Eve Fireworks
dockside aquarium

Bimini

The Bahamas are full of contradictions. North Bimini is no exception.

Alice Town, at one end of this seven mile long island is where the government, the small businesses and the people reside, a hodgepodge of  churches, grocery stores, liquor stores and conch shacks. The roads are bumpy and the streets teaming with people, old trucks and golf carts.

The north end of the island harbors a new Hilton with a sparkling casino, surrounded by a private island of newly built homes.  Paradise beach is on the west and marinas on the east,

All very quiet and almost empty. The casino is closed. Hundreds of golf carts are sitting in lots waited for drivers.  

Ansel Saunders, a native historian and artist, guided us through a sturdily built, cleverly designed monument,  made of limestone, concrete, sea glass, old beer bottles and trash from the city dump, that he named, The Dolphin House.

The view from the top floor of this work in progress which incorporates a ten foot tall, well built lighthouse is 360 degrees of Atlantic ocean.

Two worlds on one small island.

Conch Salad Bimini Style

Chub Cay to Bimini

All the weather pundits gave the green light: tomorrow is the best weather day this week to make a safe journey. We are off! 

Through the tongue of the ocean and onto the Bahama Banks, an eleven hour journey. 

Remember, this is an eight knot boat!  If we start out at dawn, depending on the sea and the wind we might get to Bimini before dark.  Denny wants to be able to see the coral heads and the water depths. The lighter the color of the water the shallower the water.  

The sun was shining, the waves were high, the boat was rolling, the inclinometer noted fluctuations up to 40 degrees. We are all on the fly bridge hanging on and so far we were all still smiling. Moving about in these conditions is very difficult.

Salon furniture slid noisily about the salon, the chairs fell over and the table did its usual 180.

The liquor cabinet and galley had been well secured as was the pilot house and the cabin heads.  

Calling on the radio for accommodations, we are closed, we are closed,  North Bimini is a ghost town.  Followed another trawler into Bimini’s safe harbor. And were welcomed into Bimini Bay Marina, a new marina with floating docks, new electric pedestals and lovely lighting.  We were the only two boats in this 150 slip brand new marina for our entire stay.

quite lonely
empty Marina
Dream Seeker and Sweet Life

Chub Cay

Dream Seeker slithered carefully out of our dockage over the shallows and into the Tongue of the Ocean once more.  Denny has been consulting his charts, reading multiple weather forecasts and his favorite weather forecaster, to stay with fair winds and following seas. 

Slowly, step by step from Cay to Cay! We make our way home.

Take one step and wait. Wait three more days and perhaps the wind and the seas will allow us to continue  on our journey.  The first step, Chub  Cay, full of huge, shiny and sleek sport fishing boats, with their multiple rods and reels the size of a basketball and their captains and crews.

Chub Cay has come a destination in its own right for cruising yachts or anglers whose goal  it is to land a trophy billfish. A pleasantly thriving part of the Bahamas.

Listen!  Children are screaming! Screams of joy and wonder. Let’s check it out Clare.

Children and adults speaking multiple languages, jumping for joy, are pointing and taking pictures.  Some are throwing shrimp, some chicken cutlets, others ribbons.

One enterprising young man was slapping his flip flop on to the water. He was the most successful in attracting these enormous Bull Sharks with their entourage of symbiotic fish swimming along side and feeding off the shark.  One and then another, yes, four seven feet long and at least two feet wide aggressive hungry bull sharks enjoying the fruits of the Sports Fishermen’s catch. 

I am so Lucky! God is Good!

Clare and I at the beach Bar
Clare in Charge
Bull Sharks
More Bull Sharks
Guess what?
Social Distancing

I hope you can see the videos.

Fishing for Bonefish

Fact: Bonefish and I have something in common, we both like calm seas.

Greg, our fishing guide , said we will never catch bone fish today the sea is too rough. We are not particular, Clare and I will be happy to catch anything. Our guide now had a mission.  

A  90 hp, sixteen foot flat boat spirited us wildly across the Tongue of the Ocean to vast areas of mangroves at the edge of a blue hole.

A fifty pound casting net was thrown effortlessly and expertly over the sea and came back with at least 75 small lively silvery bait fish and put into a hold.  Greg added large steel hooks and jumping slippery bait to each of our lines and said here cast it.

 OK, now cast it again, right into that patch of darkness. Get the slack out of your line and keep the pole down.  You have to leave the line in the water or you won’t catch any fish. We must be fast learners or we just had a superb guide, because within ten minutes we both caught our first three pound mutton snapper. 

Whoops!   What is that? Clare is struggling to hang on to her bending rod. Yikes! A three foot long and narrow fish is flying across the boat.  Clare has fallen onto the deck but still holding on to the line. Greg grabs for the pole just as the barracuda bites off the line and disappears into the deep. Even the guide was having a good time. A never to be forgotten experience.

We went on to catch at least fifteen more snapper and one little gluttonous grouper who had a crab in its mouth while trying to eat our live bait.  He was the only one we had to throw back, too small.

We are officially spoiled, this is the way to fish!

Word Press has completely change their program and their tech support, The Happiness engineer is not making me very happy right now. I cannot caption these photos. So. They are mostly of Clare, me and our guide and of course just some of the fish we caught.

Paradise Lost

Dream Seeker must sail from this quiet shallow port on high tide! This morning it is 10 AM and we must go. Denny is in his element.

Fresh water is difficult to come by on these islands and Kamalame cay is no exception. It provided fresh water in small doses.  West End has reverse osmosis plants so water was plentiful there. 

The family is going their separate ways. Two on the  the seaplane, some on the the ferry to the airport, three of us on Dream Seeker, Clare, one of my six beautiful granddaughter’s is sharing our journey home. Although exhausted from ten days of revelry I am delighted to have her on board.

The celebration is over but will never be forgotten! The resort was amazing and the people so very happy to have us. Walking, running, bicycles and golf carts were the major forms  transportation on this three mile long island. But I still drank too much and didn’t get enough exercise. 

Ah, the good life!

A Glorious Day

Not Balmy, actually, quite cold but sunny and beautiful. Whitecaps on the ocean even within the reef.

Jumped in the golf cart to get lunch and await the families arrival and there they were: Hi Grandma! Hi Mom! Hugs and kisses all around in this age of COVID. The tiki Bar was crowded with my family drinking Pina Coladas, et al.  Immense pleasure sprinkled with sorrow: The UK Wagners were missing but not forgotten.

The bed in the master suite where the shortest family member is staying, namely me, is about four feet off the floor.  Denny offered to lift me onto the bed but how would I get out. I could take a running leap but I might miss.

Guest services were already on the premises because I had twice prematurely locked myself out of the safe; so I asked them to solve my predicament.  Two stools were brought in from the wrap around porch and created a lovely ladder onto the bed.   Wishing me a good night they drove into the darkness.

Ahhh! Both the huge green frog and I jumped five feet in the air!!

I almost made it onto the bed without the ladder. Should I call guest services back again?

Denny removed the errant frog and deposited him among the greenery. Disaster averted once again.

Kamalame Cay

Palm trees sway, the ocean sparkles and faces are smiling:  Welcome to Kamalame Cay.

The guide book says that  Kamalame, was named after the native tree that is found in abundance across the island, the Kamalame tree, but I believe it is a Gumbo Limbo.   The tree is also referred to as a tourist tree because the bark is red and peeling, like a tourist.

The resort is lovely but the marina is unaccustomed to large boats and their individual needs like water.  The island is approachable at high tide only and the marina has no potable water. Joey, the dock master, a master diver and instructor tells us all this and more will be available next year.  But for the present he is filling our two, two-hundred gallon water tanks with 5 gallon jugs. They have been working since noon and it is now cocktail time.

Hourly reports from my children state they have all passed their COVID tests, have their Bahamian health visas in hand and are hoping to pass the one remaining obstacle, The winter storms due to hit the northeast tomorrow, travel day.

Merry Christmas! 

Pictures: the Ferry, one of our rented houses and us enjoying the ambiance!

The Tongue of the Ocean

Three small black dolphin, so different from the bottle nosed dolphin we see in the Indian River Lagoon, circled our boat looking for bow waves. We were looking for a safe anchorage and were as disappointed as the dolphin because we found ourselves currently aground. 

Denny there is more protection closer to shore, go further, go further, oops not that far. Dream Seeker suddenly stopped. I am afraid I may have been the cause of our escalating situation. The waters of the Bahamas are deceptively shallow. 

One hour later, with much churning up of the bottom, some rocking back and forth, a few prayers and we were afloat again just to return to the original choppy anchorage.

Leaving the dubious anchorage in the morning we set our course directly SSW. The weather reports are showing high winds and rough seas for the next few days.  Another front is upon us. No leisurely island sailing, we need to sail for a safe harborage and hunker down for three days.

Cruising directly through “The Tongue of the Ocean” depth over 10,000 feet, waves one to three, no white caps yet, we head straight south southeast for Kamalame Cay. So far the sun is shining but the sky is ominous.

I am resending the pictures from the last post because they were very askew when downloaded.