Athenea has returned home

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Departing Charleston for Chesapeake

We hope to arrive June 11 or 12 at Maryland Yacht Cub.  Charleston blog to follow.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HUBBY!

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Passage West End, Bahamas to Charleston, SC USA

May 29 – 31

 

We hung around the dock in West End waiting for the fishing boats to sort themselves out so Frank could maneuver us out of our narrow stop, which he elegantly did.  The seas were glass at first. Then there were the usual inaccurate weather forecasts, wind & waves on the nose and beam, sail up (all three at one point) and sails down, and (dead) flying fish scattered on the deck.

bahamas to charleston flying fish

Bonnie had come and gone, and we managed to catch the currents from the Gulf Stream reaching 13 knots; we made great time and arrived a day earlier than we thought, which was actually on the original schedule before the weather delay.

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There were three dolphin sightings (right side).

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Otherwise…

 

BACK IN THE USA!!!

Charleston approach.

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West End, Bahamas

May 22 – 29

Our overnight passage from Chub Cay was rough for about a third of the time as we were into the waves with slop.  Jack and Maddy kept separate overnight watches – congrats!  We had the sails up briefly and, oh yeah, raised just before my night watch – again.  Thunderstorms with considerable lightning strikes resulted in our maneuvering to avoid, and more bumps in the night.

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bahamas west end jack on deck

The West End on Grand Bahamas is the closest point to the USA, about 55 miles, thus a first stopover for many boaters and a week-end excursion for Florida boaters.  And our last stop outside the US on this two year spree.

The grounds and facilities at Old Bahama Bay are pristine.  The sand flies or no-see-ums are not.

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We saw manatees swimming in the marina waters several times, one drinking out of a water hose like it was nursing.

bahamas west end manatee

bahamas west end manatee hose

Apparently fresh water is like candy to them.  A couple of nights the neighboring boat stirred up some entertainment by chumming the waters for sharks in the marina between the dock and the stern of their boat. Two then three very large reef and lemon sharks (does this constitute a shiver?) obliged, and repeated circled for a chomp of the bait.

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bahamas west end shark

Jack jumped into the action playing out the tantalizing grouper carcass.  Maybe we will chum for the manatees, not near the sharks of course.

bahamas west end jack shiver

There’s not much here on the West End.  Biking and the pool was about it.  We considered renting a car for the tour around the island but never got around to it.

bahamas west end pool

A weather buffer is factored into our passages for good reason. The potential tropical storm threatened to form between here and the US for several days, kicking up heavy seas and undesirable wind/wave direction.  The incoming boats are reporting heavy seas.  I think they finally assigned a name to it – Bonnie.  Thus we were stuck in West End another few days – oh shucky darn.

The holiday cruising boats started appearing on Friday, causing us to have to relocate within the marina.  Good news – sand fleas not in the new dock area; bad news – redocking and lots more boat/foot traffic.  Saturday morning the marina was hopping with mostly smaller fishing boats that made the passage from Florida – it’s really time to go.  The forecast is looking good for Sunday.  We could have started out on Saturday afternoon behind the weather, but the seas, wind and Gulf Stream were all different directions i.e., slop, and the winds were still 30+ knots in front of us.  So we decided be prudent and wait another day.

Unless something changes in the next hour or so, we are off to Charleston.

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Chub Cay, Bahamas

May 21 – 22

It was a short hop from Nassau to Mama Rock Island in Chub Cay.  We snorkeled upon arrival, and were rewarded with a great view of a gigantic green moray eel.

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This may be our last night on anchor, so we slounged around on the bow on the boat for the evening, watching the rainbow, sunset, moon rise and the not so distant lightning packed clouds.

bahamas chub sunset

 

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The next morning we took the dinghy out for a snorkel and reckoned the conditions were not desirable, so we just swam/snorkeled around the sheltered waters at the boat.

bahamas chub frank athenea

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Nassau, Bahamas

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May 16 – 21

On the overnight passage from Half Moon Cay to Nassau, the wind, and thus all three sails, were up!

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A ship was headed directly toward us during my night shift OTW to Nassau.  I hailed them on the radio twice with no response, so I added on the third call that we were ‘under sail’.  M/Y Helios finally responded by merely saying ‘I see you’, and after my acknowledgement added that his vessel was towing – all totally inappropriate protocol; and irrelevant, as sailing vessels have right of way over tow, plus we had positional right of way.  After waking Frank for an assist, he came to an accord with the misbehaving captain.  When we passed Helios – his ‘tow’ turned out to be his center console dinghy.  Later, in Nassau, the marina staff confirmed the Helios crew exhibited unbecoming behavior in the marina as well.

Frank adeptly wiggled Athenea into our tight dock space in the Atlantis Marina.  Jack told us he overheard some guys on a nearby boat commenting that they couldn’t have docked that!

bahamas nassau slip

This spotted eagle ray was just off the dock.

bahamas nassau eagle ray off dock

Paradise Island is quite a change from the quiet islands we have visited in the last week.  Atlantis should be called Fantasy Island.  Frank and I enjoyed a visit to Atlantis a few years ago when he won a trip at a conference.

bahamas nassau atlantis panaramic

For the next three days, we played in the Current, a mile long tubing river with rapids, waves, tunnels, and other ‘exciting’ features.  Plus two tall structures with 9 separate ‘slides’.

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I managed two of the slides, one leaving a 5 inch bruise across my behind, the other much more enjoyable.  Jack and Maddy did all of the slides, several times.

Maddy is in the foreground with the tube and Jack shooting out of the slide.

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I crashed and burned the last day, catapulted out of my tube at the beginning of the rapids, thus dragging along for 50-ish feet or so, half underwater.  Since I couldn’t get myself back in the tube, I had to go to the next entry with stairs to plop back into the tube, and off again.  Frank and I also enjoyed the Lazy River, which would have been more fun without a tube but the lifeguard wouldn’t allow this departure from acceptable procedures.

Views from the Lazy River…

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In addition to the Lazy and Fast Rivers, there are numerous aquariums, open water lagoon habitats, pools, fountains, beaches, etc. I won’t try to list or take pics as I wouldn’t do it justice.

This seahorse is great…

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and Frank with eels as usual…

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The casino was ok but the table minimums were higher so our play money didn’t last as long.

The best restaurant we found was the Chinese one in Atlantis, the Peking duck was fairly good.  Otherwise, Atlantis’ food was expensive and so so.

The final of the billiard competition pitted Maddy and Frank (who was only allowed to shoot left handed) against Jack and me, and yes, we were victorious.

bahamas nassau billiards

Overall, a nice change of pace and good marina. And, in and amongst all that, Frank got the dinghy fixed- yeah!

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Half Moon Cay, not Hawk’s Nest, Bahamas

May 15 – 16

We struck out early for our day hop to Hawk’s Nest on Cat Island.  I think the wind is less than 0 mph.  We had the current and waves aft, so we were making 7-8 knots on one engine at low RPM.  Our route was designed for day hops through this area, on sail, at 5 knots.  Hawk’s Nest did not offer anything distinctive, and we could make the next destination – Half Moon Cay on Little San Salvador before dark, so we sallied forth.  Jack and Frank spotted dolphins but, alas, they did not come to the bow to play.

Half Moon Cay was purchased by a cruise line, which was in port when we arrived, and surprisingly, did not get underway while we were maneuvering.  Other than snorkel the anchor, we stayed the night and departed the next morning for the overnight passage to Nassau, where Frank had booked a dock in the famous Atlantis Marina – time for a bit of excitement of the non-shark variety.

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Conception Island, Bahamas

May 13 – 15

The passage to Conception Island was an overnight, which gave Jack and Maddy a chance to get their bearings during an overnight passage.

bahamas conception frank on deck

With no wind, no waves, and no traffic, it was a relaxed introduction.  They undertook many lessons from Frank from ship’s operations to man overboard procedures to ropes.

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bahamas conception ropes

Unexpectedly, there were several boats at our anchorage upon arrival, given Conception Island is uninhabited national park both on land and in the water, and reportedly not often visited.  We took up the only mooring ball but later decided to move closer to shore, I refer you back to the misbehaving dinghy.

We snorkeled the nearby reef, enjoyed a rum tasting and relaxed on the bow of the boat.

bahamas conception sunset panaramic

The shoreline is one of the prettiest I’ve seen, rum notwithstanding.

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We traversed the northern end on the island after swimming to shore. Sounds impressive, however, it was about hundred feet across.

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We wandered down the beach making tracks in the virgin sand (until the next high tide), and then snorkeled the coral back to the boat.

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With Frank in the lead,

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we later snorkeled to a small beach, crossed over to the Atlantic side, which took about a minute, more snorkeling.

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We were rewarded with first a sand tiger shark, then a large black tip shark, who seemed a bit too interested in us, so I made my way back to the leeward side of Frank,

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and finally a large eagle ray.

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Not too shabby.  Definitely no internet service here.

 

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Mayaguana, Bahamas

May 11 to 12

As the passage to Mayaguana was expected to be about 15 hours, we docked overnight on the fuel dock and were up at the crack of dawn to navigate our way out of the narrow passage at Turtle Cove Marina in Turks & Caicos, using the cookie crumbs from our arrival.  We motorsailed most of the way so as not to arrive in Mayaguana at dark, where we once again had to wind our way into a shallow and coral scattered Abaham Bay.  Me thinks this will be SOP in the shallow Bahamian waters. The passage to Mayaguana gave Jack and Maddy a chance to get their feet wet before an overnight passage.

bahamas mayaguana helm

We arrived in time for immigration but alas, the dinghy motor misbehaved so Frank didn’t go until the next morning.  We cooled off with stingrays, barracuda, sand dollars, etc.  We found an anchor extending to within two feet of the surface creating a hazard to navigation, which Jack later tagged with water bottle and Frank informed the locals.

I dared to think, but not speak, we have had no breakage the boat in a while, knocked on wood, etc., but it was bound to happen eventually.  Even though we had pushed to arrive on time, the dinghy outboard chose this time to not work.  Scully, who was recommended to us by the couple we met in T & C and a cruising guide, fetched Frank and towed the dinghy to shore.  No joy on the dinghy repair.  And customs insisted Frank redo all of the paperwork on site, without so much as a glance at his pre-prepared ones.

Maddy struck the quarantine flag and we were free to move about the island, only we had no dinghy to do so.  So we split for our next stop post haste, dodging coral heads and following our cookie crumbs out.

 

 

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Providenciales,Turks & Caicos

April 29 – May 11

 

The islands are beautiful. Though quite expensive, even compared to the other Caribbean islands.  I am reminded we haven’t hit the Bahamas yet.

View from the back of the boat.

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We had two changes of the guard.  Addison departed after traveling from St John through the Spanish Virgin Islands and across to T & C.  Connie and Keith, my sister and brother-in-law, arrived on the plane Addison flew back on and spent the week in T & C with us.  Jack and Maddy, our nephew and niece, joined us the last couple of days, and will stay on for the passage through the Bahamas and on to Charleston. Jack and Maddy were briefly detained and questioned by immigration since they were transferring to a boat instead of having ongoing transportation (return or advancing airline ticket), even though Frank had provided the proper documents.

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The highlights of this segment were:

 

-visiting with family

-diving and snorkeling

-casinos

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Additionally, Addison tried out kite boarding since we arrived a few days ahead of target. Connie and Keith relaxed on the beach, no surprise as they spend a lot of time on the Carolina coast.  With only one full day in T & C, Jack and Maddy walked from the opposite end of Grace Bay back to the marina, about 6 miles – youth!

The snorkeling at both Smith Reef and The Bight near Coral Gardens were good.  Smith Reef was good but had either a long swim from the easy beach entries or a rocky shore entry.

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The Bight was one of the easiest snorkels I’ve ever experienced from the beach, with good entry and lots of critters, including turtles, eagle rays, lobster, stingrays.  One turtle had a remora attached.

 

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Frank with a turtle (middle of right edge)…

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Keith underneath…

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Connie tried the full face snorkel mask and gave it thumbs up.

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Addison, Frank and I tried a sunset snorkel.

A little fish that attached itself to me for about 1000 foot swim, staying mostly in my mask – can you spot it in the picture.  The GoPro in action.

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Keith, Frank and I went scuba diving a couple of days, once at West Caicos and once Grace Bay.  We were treated to sharks, eels and lionfish in addition to the other creatures seen during the snorkels. I hit my 500th dive!

 

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We toured around the island a bit, checked out other marina, saw a water spout.  The island is, like most, focused on water activities.

Casino nights were interesting.  Win some, lose some.  One night was particularly interesting, as a ‘guy’ at the craps table continually taunted me about playing on the dark side.  Fortunately, Frank was nearby at the blackjack table – close enough for me to call him but not close enough to get prematurely and overly enthusiastically involved.  This guy kept calling me the ‘dark lady’, ‘I’m going to make you lose’, etc.  As I took a sip of my Marker’s Mark neat, turned to him and ask, ”And what makes you think I’m a lady?”   The guy next to me and his girlfriend tried to get me to weigh in on a personal issue they were having.  Then there was a questionable call at the table with players fussing at the casino workers, calling for a review of the video tapes.  I cashed out. BTW, the taunting guy didn’t last very long on the table, while I continued to take my winnings from the house.   And I remember why I don’t play black jack – I lose too quickly.  But in this instance the dealer hit at least 6 blackjacks in one shoe – Momma Mia!

Connie survived and thrived on her first marine camping trip (or any camping trip for that matter), even in the luggage department.  Keith will be rejoining us for the East Coast trip in June – yeah!

We meet an interesting couple, Polly and Byron, who live on T&C, and recently purchased and moved on a catamaran.  They write a very interesting blog called 2Gringos.  

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