Jekyll Island, Georgia

April 12, 2011

Storms rolled through Fernandina Beach early this morning. We waited out the storms and the low tide in the marina and pulled out at around 12:45pm. The Inner Coastal Waterway was the way to take today with the possibility of uuture storms rolling in. The motor was a relaxing one. Cumberland Island panned out to our starboard side for much of the trip. Spinny and I kept the binoculars close in order to spy for the wild horses on the shore.

Look out into the marsh on Jekyll.

We pulled into the waters alongside Jekyll Island, GA around 5 o’clock. Kris and I explored a little of the island. Everything is very spread out, with a couple of homes, a restraint or two, and a gas station and Dairy Queen. The rest of the island is all lush green trees, including Georgia pines, spanish moss, and marsh. A bike trail stretched across most of the island. It was a peaceful and beautiful walk.

Later we took Spin to shore for a good game of fetch the boomerang. She was bouncing all over the dock with excitement and couldn’t wait to begin! She had a great time and got some good exercise.

Tomorrow we are heading further up north to St. Catherine’s Island, GA. From there we will head up to Edisto Island, SC. At least, that’s the plan for now!

Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida

April 8 – 11, 2011

On the 8th we crossed from Cape Canaveral to Fernandina Beach, FL on Amelia Island. Once again Kris and I were on night shift and Gary and Carol took the day shifts. In the night Kris and I heard a distant slap over the water. Maybe it was the waves n the side of the boat? Then we heard it a second time, louder, and echoing off the sides of the boat. Suddenly all of the radio broadcasts about right whales being in the area ran through my brain. Oh please, don’t let us run into a whale in the night! Kris and I looked out into the dark. Then, another slap and a surprised shout from Kris. Something had leapt from the water and splashed doing with a loud slap. Kris thought it looked to be a ray or a large fish, but not a whale tail or fin. Thank goodness! I’d love to see whales…but when I can actually see them and not hit them in the dark.

Valerie and Lauren. Sisterly love!

As we pulled into the Fernandina Marina on the 9th, we were greeted by our friends Linda, Lauren, Valerie, and Garren Erlenbusch. They had driven up from Cape Canaveral just a day behind us. Spinny was bursting with joy to see our guests. She leapt off of the boat as soon as she could to say hello and receive hello pats and rubs back.

We spent three days in Fernandina, two with the Erlenbusches. We packed in a variety of different activities. We sunbathed, shell searched, flew the power kite, and spotted jelly fish and power paragliders on the beach. We thought about swimming, but didn’t stay in for long. It’s amazing how much cooler the ocean is further north by a few hundred miles. We drove through the local national park, past RV campers and the Fernandina Fort.

Garren poses with \”squishy\”.

The Cumberland island wild horses!

We took the dingy out to St. Mary’s, GA and Cumberland Island, GA. On Cumberland Island we saw remains of the old Carnegie summer mansion, wild horses, armadillos, and wild turkeys. On their trip over, Carol, Kris, and Linda glimpsed a manta ray in the water. Out on the water we also spotted dolphins, white pelicans, other sea birds, and a few manatee noses. In the marina a manatee and a sea otter came visiting. The girls found time to go shopping downtown and we all enjoyed Italian woodfired oven pizza from Arte’s Pizza. What a busy past few days!

Back in the States! Cape Canaveral, Florida

April 7, 2011

We sailed all night from Great Sale Cay in the Bahamas to Cape Canaveral, FL. Kris and I took the night shift from 8-5 and Gary and Carol took over in the morning.

Our last Bahamian sunset.

By morning we had made it into the Gulf Stream. At the heart of the Stream the current pushed us up to 5kts. Gary said that the boat went up to 11kts earlier in the morning. We were zooming!
The Gulf Stream was teeming with wildlife as well. Gary hooked another mahi mahi, but the fish sadly got away. We spotted a few dolphins, turtles, and a couple of Portuguese Man-O-Wars, the huge jellyfish. The sail membrane on their head sticks out of the water and looks almost like a plastic bottle floating on the surface.

So many pelicans!

When we pulled into Cape Canaveral we were greeted by the pelicans, dolphins, and a NASA launch pads. It’s too bad we will not be here when the space shuttle launches! After sailing for nearly 30 hours, our tired eyes were overwhelmed with activity. Boats, from small dinghies to large cruise ships, everywhere! Crowds of people and large buildings up and down the channel. We weren’t in the Bahamas anymore!
In the evening we went out to dinner and relaxed after the long crossing. Everyone was in bed early tonight!

Hope Town, Abacos, Bahamas

I’m blogging again as I did last time I was quite a few days behind, with the most recent adventures first, and the rest will follow.

April 1-2, 2011

On the morning of the 1st, we headed out for Hope Town. We waited out a rain storm in Little Harbor, and not seeing anything substantial coming our way on the radar, decided to set our while we had the tide with us. We arrived outside of Hope Town around noon, but the tide was falling and the water too low for us to successfully make it into the harbor. We waited for the tide to rise on the lee side of Matt Lowes Cay. Here we had a protected anchorage from the westward winds, not only wait for the tide, but to hold though the rain storms rolling through the area.

We made it into Hope Town around 4:00pm. Calling the Hope Town Marina on channel 16 ahead of time, we were able to get a mooring ball in the harbor. There are so many boats here! This is like the George Town of the north for cruisers. There’s even a cruisers net on channel 68 in the mornings, announcing events, weather, etc. We found a power-cat here named Horizons (our polar opposite), and a couple from Medina, OH aboard an island packet.

The light house.

Hope town in a cute little town, filled with colorful rental beach cottages, two grocery stores, a handful of restaurants and bars, gift shops, a playground, a beautiful beach, fishing and sailing charters, and (my personal favorite) a fully functioning, old fashioned gas lit light house. Guests are welcome to tour the light house on their own weekdays between 9am-5pm. We also hear tell that the light house master will let you light the lantern if you bring him a beer, but we have not found him in order to test this. Much of Hope Town is navigated by smaller roads, open for foot and bike traffic only. I like the slower, more relaxed, but still neat, tidy, and colorful feel of the town. If you want to vacation in the Bahamas, this is the place to be. Either here, or back in Spanish Wells.

While here, we took Spin on a nice long walk. She seemed to really enjoy herself and slept well the night after. She is looking better everyday. Hopefully we hear nothing but good things after her vet visit in Marsh Harbor on Monday.

Feel free to browse the photos for a glimpse into Hope Town. There are many, because there is a multitude of views, nooks, and crannies in town that catch your eye.

Spanish Wells, Bahamas

March 27, 2011

We moved from Nassau on Saturday to Royal Island. It felt amazing to get back out on the water. I’ll blog about the past week further after updating you with our latest adventures.

Spinny is doing much better. She’s smiling and wagging her tail and eating her food. She wants to play stick, but we want her to relax more and sadly have to turn her away…for now. It is wonderful to see her to bright eyed and bushy tailed once again!

This morning began early. Not because we wanted to leave early, not because we wanted an early start to explore the island further, but because the keel bouncing on the sea floor woke us. In the middle of the nigh the wind had picked up and t the anchor had come loose and the boat had drifted back to the edge of the cove. Somehow we had missed two boats along the way. Thankful that there had not been a collision, we sprang into action, Kris pushing the boat with the dingy, Gary going full speed ahead at the helm. Finally, we pulled off the bottom and headed back toward are spot at the front of the bay.

Here comes the sun.

We tried to anchor again, but the anchor began to drag. Because it was already six in the morning by this time, we decided to head over to Spanish Wells and arrive there just after sunrise. Besides, after that heart racing event, none of us felt like we could fall back to sleep just yet.

Kris and Gary have already been here in Spanish Wells, having come before picking Carol and I up in Nassau back in February. It is a very clean cut, colorful, and quiet fishing town.

One of the northern beaches at Spanish Wells.

The beaches around the island are breathtaking. These are the beaches that people think of when they picture the Bahamas.

Kris and I rode the bikes around the island for a tour of the town while Gary and Carol went out for a dingy ride. Spinny came with us in the Spinny cart. The town was extra quiet as it was Sunday and everyone was closed and relaxing. It was a sunny day, though quite hot, and a good day for a bike ride.

March 28, 2011

Today was just as got, if not hotter, than yesterday. Though I just wanted a cool drink, shade, and a breeze, I know that all of you back home in Ohio are craving the heat that beat down upon us, so I wish it your way.

Fishing boat pulls in.

Today we played bumper boats on the dock! The wind caught an incoming catamaran off guard as it was pulling in next to us. It was an honest mistake, and the only found damages on both parts were a few scuffs and a busted bumper board. The sound of the board snapping in half sure sent our hearts racing though!

The rest of the day was spent riding bikes and the dinghy, much like yesterday. In the evening we all pulled together to scrub and rinse off the decks and the back of the boat. Boat bath time! Horizons feels nice and squeaky clean after her shower this evening. She’s looking good for our trip up to the Abicos tomorrow.

The Hermitage on Cat Island, Bahamas

The Hermitage in New Bight is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. Built in the 1930s by Fr. Jerome, a Catholic priest and architect, at age 62, the Hermitage is located on the highest point in the Bahamas at 206 ft above sea level. His creation is a scaled down model of a European monastery, reminiscent of the Greek style. From afar, the smaller scale of the building creates the illusion that it is a massive cathedral atop a towering hill. This is not so, and when you reach the top faster than you thought and see that the doorway is only about 5ft tall, you are astounded! It is a very neat little architectural trick.

On your way up the hill to the Hermitage itself, you pass the 14 Stations of the Cross, carved on stone tablets and woven into the winding rocky path.

The Hermitage is equipped with a total of 4 enclosed rooms – chapel, kitchen area, living area, and bedroom – and 1 open air bathroom, and a bell tower. There is a well and root cellar near by, as well as another small, 1 roomed building and a lonely cave.

Feel free to browse the photos. It was a truly beautiful place to visit.

From Conception Island to Cat Island, Bahamas


We woke up early this morning to explore the mangroves. We saw mangroves (of course), sea turtles, conch, egrets, and what we thought might have been a bonefish. It was beautiful. However, the real surprise was waiting for us by the entrance. Two bottlenosed dolphins. They swam over to our dingy, curious and distracted from their fishing venture. They turned sideways a few times, looking up at us. Spinny was enraptured by them, but the encounter was not to last. The dolphins turned back to the reef to continue finding breakfast.

Gary is very proud of his catch.

The rest of the day was spent sailing over to Cat Island. The rollers were high and the ride was, again, rocky. I started to feel a little sea sick myself. Carol had taken a Dramamine in preparation for the trip.
Gary was eager to get over to a large underwater bank over to the west of Cat Island. He’d heard there was prime fishing out that way.
As it turns out, there is. Gary hooked two 6ft long fish of some kind, but they got away before we could get a good look at them. Gary thought they might be sharks or Oahu. A half an hour later, Gary caught a dolphin, or a mahi mahi. It was quite the struggle. Kris couldn’t get a good angle with the net at first, but Gary and he got the fish in. The mahi mahi was bright and colorful in the water – blue, green, and bright yellow. However, after being out of the water for a while, he began to loose his color, as if he got his strength and energy from the sea which had been denied him.

But the excitement wasn’t over yet. Someone else caught word, or sent, of the fact that Gary had caught a fish. Dolphins, but the mammalian kind. A whole pod of them, swimming in our wake, eating the scraps of the fish as Gary cleaned it, playing happily in the water as it rushed around our boat. These dolphins were Atlantic spotted dolphins, smaller than their bottlenose brothers from this morning. Kris and I shot from video footage as well as photos of them from the bow sprit. Kris’ video is posted on youtube, and in the previous post on the blog. The dolphins stayed for a good 10 or 15 minutes, crossing over each other, turning sideways to get a good look at us. When they finally left, they is so with gusto, giving us one good look before speeding off, one by one, shooting and leaping through the water like live torpedoes. It was an amazing moment to witness.

Dolphins in the wake.

We came into harbor at New Bight, Cat Island after dark. Anchoring was easy enough and then we could turn our energy to making a delicious fish dinner. Mahi mahi has a light flavor that is reminiscent of chicken. Thank you Gary for the wonderful meal!

Conception Island, Bahamas


Today we sailed over to Conception Island. The sail was a nice one, but a bit rolly. On the way over Gary spotted an ice rainbow in the sky.

Conception island is beautiful. It’s surrounded by numerous reefs, both in deep and shallow water. As we came in, we spotted a couple of dolphins off the starboard bow, fishing by some of the deeper reefs.

We paired off and took dingy rides around the island. Gary and Carol went off first with Spinny, so Kris and I stayed with the boat. We donned our bathing suits and jumped in the ocean for a bit of a swim.
When they got back, Gary and Carol told us they’d gone over to a few rocks nearby that were covered in crabs. They also reported that the reefs around it housed many colorful fish. Kris and I explored the crab rock, then sped around to the southern part of the island where we saw an osprey high upon a clifftop nest. We also found the entrance to the mangrove outlines shores of the inner island waterways. The tide was too low, however, to venture in. We will have to go another day.

The crystal clear water.


We waited to explore the inner island until around noon, only to discover that we’d gotten the tides mixed up somehow. Again, it was too low to venture in, and wouldn’t be high enough to enter until too close to sundown for our comfort. Kris and Gary worked on scrubbing down the bottom of the boat. Carol and I cleaned and straightened up in the cabin. Later, Kris, Carol, and I explored crab rock and the reefs around it further. I saw a squid hanging around one of the coral heads, and an eels poking it’s head out of another. A rainbow appeared on the horizon, created by a distant rain cloud.

The rainbow.

Spinny went with Kris and I later to explore the shoreline and to play a game of fetch the coconut. Spinny is quite coo-coo for coconuts!

We will try exploring the mangrove center of the island early tomorrow morning before we head out for Cat Island.

Long Island, Bahamas


We are staying in our anchorage here outside of Salt Pond, Long Island until the heavy winds driving out of the NE have settled down. Because we were definitely not leaving today, and probably not even tomorrow, we decided to rent a car from Fox Auto for 24 hours. And so, we went touring around Long Island.

First stop: Stella Maris. The main attraction? A blue hole that looked to be right in town, according to the charts. However, when we began driving down the roads that would lead us to the blue hole, we found them to be overgrown with weeds and bushes. We walked the rest of the way to the blue hole, which actually turned out to be more of a brown hole, or an exceptionally deep pond complete with ducks. Ah well, at least we found it!

The rest of Stella Maris is a bit sparse. The Stella Maris Marina sits on the eastern shore of the island. The channel leading into the marina waters is a bit shallow, more practical for a boat with a 5ft or less draft than ours with 6ft. The marina was small but pleasant. However, there isn’t too much near by at all, a just a bar and a small store. On the western shore of Stella Maris was a little beach home neighborhood. It was very pleasant and well kept, with a couple stores, a restaurant and bar, and easy beach access to a sea that we found tossing and turning, turbulent waves crashing on shore, driven by the high winds rolling in.

Next Stop: Deans Blue Hole. This is the deepest blue hole in the world at over 600ft. The hole is located on the western shore of the island, just south of Hamilton and north of Clarence Town. There are signs directing you to the hole from the Queens Highway. Be careful when you drive down the bumpy roads. You will abruptly come upon the beach after a turn at the end of the road. The blue hole is just around the corner, surrounded on one side by a circle of cliffs. A rope ladder on the far end seems to indicate that some people like to jump into the hole from the cliffside and then climb back up to do it again. A diving platform sits in the middle.

I walked to the edge of the blue hole, just the chilly winds and occasional cool rain didn’t have me in the mood for a swim. Gary hopped on in for a snorkel. However, with the winds churning the waters on the western shore, you could not even see the steep sides of the hole, and so it just looked like a deep sand pit.
Still, the blue hole was breathtaking. A deep dark hole in the water, a tunnel to caves connecting other deep holes across the island. A gateway to a network of of tunnels carved in the crust of the Earth by thousands of years of erosion, tunnels that shroud themselves and their mysteries in inky blackness. And I stood at the mouth of it.

Third Stop: Clarence Town. The town sits on the west shore of the island. Two Turtles Marina is located near the center of town and looked to be a very nice place to tie up at $1.40 a foot, free showers, and coin laundry. There are a few restaurants in town, a multitude of churches, a post office, police station, and a few different stores. A nice place to stay, and the largest town on Long Island.
Just south of town, we found a series of roads that seem to be set up to support a housing development of some kind. Perhaps the project is still underway, or possibly abandoned. Projects in the Bahamas seem to come and go, and aren’t necessarily always finished. Whether the project is still underway or not, the views from the hill were absolutely spectacular! You could see the ocean, a natural series of inlets, and another blue hole off to the left. It was simply gorgeous.

We headed back to the boat as it was getting dark. The crossing was just miserable as the winds and the waves began to increase. I cannot even imagine what it would be like on the other side of the island. I’m glad we’re on the leeward side!

Last Day at Stocking Island; Exumas, Bahamas


The first day of March and the last day at Stocking Island before we head further south. The day started out with the pre-regatta dingy parade! We were not in the dingy parade, but it looked like a lot of fun, dressing up your dingy and motoring around the boats.

While Kris helped Shane with the last of his math homework, Gary, Spinny and I headed over to the island for a bit of exploration. We climbed to the top of the hill with with stone monument. On the way up, Spin got spooked by a little lizard. Silly Spin dog! Way to guard your people from the evil lizard!
The view from the top was spectacular! The water was beautiful shades of blue, green, black, and red. All of the boats here for the regatta tomorrow stretched out off the southern shore, a seemingly never ending line of masts standing proud and tall all along the shore.

Later Kris and I headed out for a bit of last minute supplies before we left George Town. The rest of the evening was spent over on Moonshine for some farewell drinks, nachos, coffee and dessert. Thank you Moonshine for a wonderful evening! Hopefully we will all meet up again when we come back into George Town later this month.