Thursday, April 03, 2008

Farewell Abaco!

Our original plan had been to get back to Florida by the end of May so that Judy could babysit grandson Mikey and his father while Lyz was in Fort Lauderdale for a week taking classes. So we decided to get north of The Whale and wait for a minimum of a three-day window to get across. (Two days to West End and the next to Palm Beach.) We went through Dont Rock Passage toward Manjack on a very quiet day.
We only stayed at the relatively open harbor at Manjack for one night because of the forecast. We headed south a bit and anchored in well-protected White Sound at Green Turtle and then moved to a mooring when the breeze piped up. We had first met "Joken. . . Eh?" on the ICW four years ago and renewed acquaintances over a couple of pops with mutual friends we had met along the way.
When the weather refused to quiet down, we decided to move into a slip at Green Turtle Club for three nights. Nice showers and laundry as well as an "eat your slip fee" program in which you subtract your restaurant and booze bill from your dockage. A North Cove Yacht Club member with ties to Green Turtle left a burgee on the wall at the Club previously and we added our $1 to the thousands which paper the walls in the bar.
In three days we had: one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner. Although we certainly didn't come close to breaking even, it gave us another excuse to live large for a while.
We probably should have gone out and caught our own like these folks did, but we never really tried. (NEXT time?)
We had thought about renting a golf cart for the last couple of months and, since the weather didn't want us to go anywhere yet, we toured the cay on one and used it to stock up on groceries at Sid's Groceries in New Plymouth for the last time. [NOTE: For those who don't know, simple golf carts have neither springs or shock absorbers. Many roads in Green Turtle are not paved.]
This is a view of Abaco Sound from Bluff House, across the harbor from Green Turtle Club.
This is the ocean beach. Note the string of breakers marking the reef.No, he's not one of the famous wild horses of Abaco. He was just hanging around on the side of the road.
We stopped for a last frozen drink at Pineapples on Black Sound -- where we had our first drinks ashore in Abaco almost three months before.The Green Turtle ferries, all of which are named Bolo, will do pickups and deliveries at any of the marinas, private docks (water depths permitting), and moored or anchored boats. They land at Treasure Cay on the "Mainland" (Great Abaco) on the north side of The Whale in all kinds of weather. To get to the rest of the Abacos from there, you take a taxi to Marsh Harbor. Various ferries run from Marsh Harbour to the cays south of The Whale.
The Green Turtle Club has some gorgeous flowering plants.
Finally, it looked as if a weather window was imminent, so we took the short trip to Manjack, expecting to be there for a few days. We met up with brother Jock aboard "Home at Last" for the last time in Abaco and also had Randy and Liz ("Helen Bell") aboard for a gam.
We saw a novel way to "walk the dogs" at sea. The little guy on the bow watches out for sharks while the one in the PFD exercises to its heart's content. (We never saw them change places, so maybe the guy on the bow knows something the other one doesn't.)
Bill and Leslie built a house on Manjack sixteen years ago and are extremely self-sufficient. They are also very friendly to boaters and go out of their way to welcome them and to help them out. They will often have bonfires on their beach and invite all the boaters in the harbor to join in. (They claim that there are as many as 50 boats in the anchorage during the summer when the Floridians go to Abaco to cool off.) They supply free WiFi to the entire anchorage which is stronger and faster than the very iffy and expensive commercial WiFi in the rest of Abaco. The only thing they ask in return is that you respect their environment, pick up any jetsam you may find on the beach and either take it with you or leave it in piles above the high water line, and leave the flora and fauna alone (both in and out of the water). Both their house and boat are called "Sea Story". (With marginal or no telephone connections, the Abaconians rely a lot on their VHF radios for communication, both on the water and land. Thus, the names for the houses and cottages which are used as "call signs" on the radio.)
We had hoped to spend more time in Manjack as well as exploring a couple of cays to the north which we had missed, but the weather window was closing and shortening rather quickly, so we decided we had to leave or wait at least another week.
On the way out of Manjack, we caught up with "Wilde Mathilde" who, we were told, is a sister-ship of the steel-hulled "Joshua" owned by the late single-hander and writer Bernard Montessier.
We spent the first night at Great Sale Cay, an uninhabited cay halfway between Manjack and West End. There were at least 30 boats there waiting to go west or north.
Some would leave directly from Great Sale and do an overnight trip across the Bahama Banks and then across the Gulf Stream. Others would stop at West End on the way.
Since The Admiral wanted to get across the Stream as quickly as possible and since we never want to be accused of "roughing it", we planned to stop at West End to refuel, have our last fresh conchburgers and frozen rum things and get a good night's sleep.
The forecasts had predicted 2-4 foot seas almost dead astern. (With more wind and northerlies predicted for the next few days. So it looked as if the choice was leaving in less than ideal conditions or spending the rest of the cruising budget staying at West End for another week.) Once we got out there we discovered an added attraction of the occasional 5-foot breaker at a 45-degree angle to the rest. But the Skipper kept one hand on the wheel, another on the trim tab controls, and a third on the throttle and was able to keep the boat averaging around 12 knots most of the way. The result was a somewhat invigorating 5-hour trip from West End to the Lake Worth Inlet. The Skipper gave the passage a score of "3" on a scale of 5. (It was a little rough around the edges.) The Admiral gave it a score of, "I'm never going to do that passage again!" [NOTE: We may have to look into an airplane -- or a broom -- for the next passage for one of the crew!]
We started the new year in the Bahamas and got back to the US just before April Fools' Day. (We'll let our readers make up their own punch line for that one!)
Judy is now in Kissimmee, babysitting "the boys". (We were only a couple of days later than originally planned.) Lyz is in the Bahia Mar Hotel taking a class for a week. Allen is aboard the boat at Los Olas Marina (about half a mile from Bahia Mar) in air-conditioned comfort relaxing, doing boat chores, and trying to shake a bad case of bronchitis. Lyz walked over to have a gourmet pork chop dinner aboard one night and we took a short harbor tour to show her the total decadence of the Fort Lauderdale waterfront with its mansions and super-yachts.
And, no, I'm not going to spoil this last post about the sublime Bahamas with a picture of ridiculous Fort Lauderdale! You'll have to wait for the next episode.

1 comment:

Michelle Lambton said...

What went wrong with your gulf stream passage? Too rough? Jim burst out laughing when he heard the "broom" comment! Ours was as we thought it would be! A bit too rolly for the mast to keep from flopping the air out of the main sail. We ended up motoring a bit of the way. See my blog for the rest of the details.
It was nice to have met you! Perhaps we'll see you agian some time
Jim & Michelle Lambton.