Luperon, Dominican republic to Puerto Rico June 2014

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Since leaving the Bahamas we have been traveling the Thorny Path eastward. Going eastward means into tradewinds and currents so we have been moving slowly but that has also given us the time and opportunity to get to know places we found. Such was the case with Luperon. We stayed waiting for good weather which meant light winds and not much northerly swell. Here are some random pictures of the area of Luperon.

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The bay for Luperon is a secure hurricane hole and is surrounded by hills and mountains. We could expect the quick hard rain and then bright sunshine again.

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Nothing is more Dominican than dogs, baseball and sugar cane.  Except maybe Rum! We did tour the Brugal Factory in Puerto Plata.

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Everything grows here including cattle. Here we are shopping for delicious drinkable yogurt and cheese straight from the farmers.

The people of luperon and in fact all over DR were so friendly, wanting to help and make us feel welcomed.  We visited Puerto Plata and Santiago on day trips. Busy cities hustling and bustling but so interesting.  Toured the Amber Museum in PP too.

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Here are the daily sights of Luperon Harbor.  A lucky rainbow over our friends boat named Krow, and this bow-heavy motor boat steaming in to the government dock. The fishing fleet is mostly home built boat actively fishing daily.

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We got our weather wind and motorsailed our way to the Bay of Samana in about 24 hours. We had heard a lot of horror stories about Samana (the town) regarding theft especially of  outboards. So we locked the motor to the boat and used our dinghy as a rowboat and had no problems. The town was full of activities and since the cruise ships were finished for the season we were the target of lots of attention from hustlers. They would do anything , take us anywhere, sell us anything. But they also understood NO when accompanied with a smile. So we got along well with the locals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASamana is a very colorful place, motor scooters with 3 or 4 people on them buzz everywhere. School kids in uniform choose either morning, mid day or night school. Fruits, vegetables,shoes anything you want can be bought on the street.  Locals play dominoes under the shade trees midday.

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Los Haitses National Park is located across the Bay of Samana about 10 miles to the SW from Samana. We sailed over to enjoy a peaceful anchorage and found no one there except for the park ranger. The boat was anchored in 10 feet near to caves, mangrove river and high almost impenetrable cliff sides. Lots of birds nest here in the trees including frigates, pelicans and some unknown to us bird.

 

 

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Can anyone tell us the bird that makes these nest? the opening is on the bottom and the bird is bright yellow with a bit of black, size similar to robin.??

 

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We did see pictographs in the cave as well as carvings from Pre Columbian era.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe mangroves here grew to huge trees like 75 feet tall. the water was over 6 feet deep and wound its way back into an area with the caves.  Very beautiful back there.

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Time seems to move quicker than we do so we departed Samana for points east. We did pull into Punta Cana for fuel and one night in a marina. Then off for an overnight sail across the Mona Passage to Boqueron Puerto Rico.  We are excited to be back  in the USA again after a good mild crossing. We will be exploring Puerto Rico as we meander along the south coast on our way to Virgin Islands. We have made great friends and continue to enjoy our travels/meanderings.

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Rum Cay Bahamas to Luperon Dominician Republic-May 2014

Leaving George Town right after the Regatta finished, we headed for Long Island but looking at the weather upcoming decided for us to continue on to Rum Cay. We had heard a lot about Rum and wanted to be able to spend a few days there before heading for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Dominician Republic (DR).

Rum Cay is only 9 miles by 5 miles and has only about 70 people living on it. It has a marina that is not operational at this time- some kind of legal hassles but boats go in and tie up to the docks without having to pay. It has a very tricky entrance , shallow, narrow and with coral heads alongside so we elected to stay outside and dinghy in.

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Art made by the owner was scattered around the marina grounds.

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The mailboat has not come for more than one week so the shelves were mostly empty.However we stopped at the Last Chance grocery they were open! We did buy a loaf of coconut bread made on the island that was delicious.

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Outside was the largest milkweed plant and pod we have ever seen.

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Also saw this brain coral on the shore with these striations we had not seen before.

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Saw sea cotton on the walks.

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A highlight of the stay was going into the marina after the fishing boat had been out fishing. They returned with 6 large mahi mahi and a barracuda

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The shark knew what was to happen next and gathered under the cleaning station. Soon we had 2 lemon shark, a few bull shark and maybe a dozen nurse shark ready to be fed.

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When asked if we wanted any fish, my hand went up and we shared a pan of steaks with a German catamarran named Sud Oest with Chrisian, Angelika and 2 teenagers on board. We had not caught our own Mahi so we were very happy and put several steaks in the freezer for later.

It is a beautiful island with fringing reefs where John shot a large grouper that ran away with his spear. He hunted and hunted for the fish who pulled deep into the coral but never found it. We are sad to lose it but we are moving on to waters that allow our spear gun to be used.

When the weather indicated a lessening in the SE trades, we pulled anchor and started for the Turks and Caicos Islands. We were able to sail eastward the first day but then we lost the wind entirely so motored for 24 hours. It was a trip of 350 miles in the SE direction so we continued to motor/sail to Grand Turk. However just off of Grand Turk our wind came up out of the west!!! So we kept on as we now could sail directly for the DR at 6 knots with wind on the beam. Delightful! By nightfall we were about 35 miles from Luperon and the wind slowly died away to nothing again. We finished up with a 5 hour quiet motor to be able to enter the harbor at 0700 in daylight.

We did have success with fishing – we shared a blackfin tuna with a shark. 1/2 the fish gave us several meals worth and was easier to haul on deck.

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Luperon harbor is a large enclosed bay on the north coast of DR not too far from the Haiti border. It is a small village with a few ex-pats living there. Many sailed in and moved ashore (built on Gringo Hill) and are very happy there. We took a mooring for $3/day and Papo the local entrepreneur helped us with the officials. He speaks decent English and is very willing to sell you any service for a very good price. He also seems to be related to everyone in town.

Checking in to the DR involved seeing no less than 7 different officials but only 3 had to come onboard. All were very pleasant although spoke no English. We are a little rusty at this as well. Each needed a bit of money and dollars were just as good as pesos.

Mosquitos and No-see-ums were reported to be bad when the wind dies so we started out with getting our old screens out and repaired them. We went to a tailor/sewing store to buy a bit of sunbrella for the repairs and ended up buying new foam for our mattresses. Our foam was over 23 years old so it was needed and at about 1/10th the price of foam in the USA.

We try to go for walks in different directions most days and have explored the countryside.
We took a car with another boat to Puerto Plata for the day. Here we visited the Amber Museum, government square and a large grocery store. On the way home we stopped at the local farmer who makes wonderful yogurt which we bought a a gallon of. Also had cheese like gouda,even wrapped in a red wax paper.

A highlight was an excursion we took with 3 other boats to an area about 45 minutes towards Santiago in the mountains that boasted 27 waterfalls to slide, jump or walk through. It was great fun! We had to rent a helmet, lifejacket and 2 guides and then afterwards we had a buffet lunch at the waterfall entrance. The total cost for the 6 hour trip was about $40 US including the transport there and back.

Now we are waiting for the next weather window to move along the north coast of DR through the Mona Passage and on to Puerto Rico. Again it is straight into the tradewinds so we wait for a weather patttern that includes diminished easterlies. Maybe this weekend!

Our new friend in this harbor is a boat called Krow(turned around spells work) newly retired couple from Cairns Australia. Roweena is a neonatal RN with lots of certifications for flight nursing, midwifery and neoICU work. Niels is a pilot whose career was flying for private corporations in mostly the Orient. Fun and interesting people to travel with. They are also heading eastward at least for now. Eventually they will sail back to Australia.

Who knows where Maraki will go next?

George Town, Exuma Bahamas for 61st National Family Island Regatta

George Town is on Great Exuma Island about 150 miles southeast of Nassau and 300 miles from Miami (as the crow flies not as Maraki sails). The harbor (called Elizabeth Harbor on charts) for George Town is defined by Stocking island to the east, Great Exuma to the west and reef with small cays to north and south making for an area of 6 miles N to S and 1.5 miles E to W. It is in this area that the racing was held. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA George Town is a center for winter yacht gatherings for southern Bahamas and we estimate that easily 150 yachts of all sizes and nationalities were at anchor in this harbor during the time we were there. We hear that at peak season which is Jan-Feb the number swells to double that. There are a few marinas in the harbor also but most of the boats are anchored. Most services can be found here including repairs, shopping for basics food stuff, restaurants, bars and services like laundry. We timed our arrival to be there for the Family Island Regatta which we last attended in 1983. My sister Cook and her husband Geoff joined us then and Cook sent me photos of what the area was like back then. The only noticeable difference is the number of cruising boats in the harbor. The history of the regatta dates back to March 1954 while the Bahamas was under the British flag. The purpose as state  d in the original memorandum was “to give a sailing regatta to encourage the building and maintainence of the sailing fleet. The races are exclusively for working boats of the Bahamas island and the timing was scheduled to not interfere with the fishing season on which the livelihood of the fisherman depends”. Today the fisherman get paid to bring their boats here and the winner gets prize money. Most of the boats from farther islands were brought as deck cargo on 3 local freighters. Quite a sight seeing these boats arrive. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA All boats must be made of wood in the traditional manner. All sails are made entirely of cotton. The boats are placed into 5 different classes based on a few measurements. They are not one design. Today the boats do not have to be actively used in the fishing industry. Class A for example are sloops about 28 feet long and have up to 60 foot mast and 32 foot boom carrying a large main. They sail with 12-15 crew members and they can have up to 4 non Bahamian crew members. IMGA0893  IMGA0872  IMGA0881  IMGA0867 Class B sloops are 21 ft on deck, Class C,D and E are cat rigged and of smaller lengths (17 ft and less). IMGA0811  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA All the boats are brightly painted and proudly display the island of which they are from-Acklins, Long, Abacos, Staniel Blackpoint, Nassau, e          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Boats use a pry board( or up to 3 boards for class A) for hiking the boats. The board is slid from side to side when tacking and however many crew are needed to balance the boats are on the board. If the boat tips over, as happened in one race after a collision at a buoy rounding, it will sink quite quickly. However the bay is never more than 15 or so feet and the water is crystal clear so recovery was just a matter of time and effort. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  IMGA0833  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For the sailors reading this we wanted to give you an idea of the type of boats and Rules/Regs of the regatta. A quote from the original NOR “We believe the good sport of sailing should be fun and the complicated racing rules used in Yacht racing are more conducive of acrimonious argument than they are of fun.” Maybe something to learned from here???? Therefore the basic rules of racing are the same (like port/starboard rules) with changes like a downwind boat must pass 3 boat lengths to windward of opponent and the leeward boat is not allowed to luff up another off the course. The race committee could be heard enforcing these rules during the races much like on the water judges would be during stateside racing. Each class sailed one race each day for 3 days and the course was generally a triangle with 2 or 3 laps. A major difference is all starts were from anchor with sails down along a defined line. The starting sequence was a one minute gun for warning and then a gun to go. At that time the anchor(4 pronged grappling hooks) was hauled up as quickly as possible and the sails hoisted. No winches on these boats, used only manpower. IMGA0840  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Many Bahamians enjoy watching the races from shore and are very animated including betting on who wins. They are happy to share what they think about who is best, who is winning and show fierce pride in their favorite. The noise of the crowd gets loud and spirited at key moments like the starts and finishes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Onshore a regatta village was constructed and featured continuous loud music from speakers from late morning till dawn but we were anchored far enough away to only be aware of it, not annoyed by it. The village featured food and drink by locals and was well attended by local and tourists. Conch salad, fish, chicken and pork were sold and was delicious. We met a well known BOC raceboat designer named Roger Martin here and shared stories over local Bush Crack beer. He sailed to the Bahamas on a lightweight shallow draft (about 18 inches with boards and rudder up) cat ketch that he trailers to Miami from Rhode Island. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the final day we attended the parade which was the local all age school band complete with majorette and a team of dancing girls.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     Following that were the Bahamas Police Band from Nassau that the Bahamians referred to as world famous! They are on the $1 bill too. They were a great performance to watch and hear. Those are leopard skins worn over the shoulders. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Trophy presentation at night turned into many political speeches by the various party members and then a brief awarding of the winner trophies by class. John stayed through all the presentation while I returned to a friends boat for cocktails and dinner. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We also spent a bit of time each day exploring the islands around the harbor. Good hikes up to Momument and over to the ocean beaches were part of our daily exercise plan. We attended a very good talk by a local Bahamian on the history of the Exumas and the Bahamas. He also talked about local herbs and their usage for medicine to heal stomach aches, head aches, and any other ailment. At the Chat and Chill we played checkers outdoors and bocce balls. A permanent volleyball net was available and had regulars who played on that beach. The signpost already had an entry for Muskegon Mi on there and stated that it was 1,485 miles away. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many cocktail hours and dinners were spent with friends. Gary and Kathe on Tribasa Cross.

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LaVonne and Donald on Cats Meow, a unique 76 foot catamaran from Virginia. This boat was bought in Miami at auction after it was seized for drugs. The then owner had run marihuana and hash oil from Jamaica to Georgia for about 20 years before getting caught.

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We enjoyed hearing their stories and making new friends. LaVonne is a collector of “unique” art she finds on her beach walks. I learned a new way of looking at collectibles from her.

Carina Rose with Wil and Loes(she is named Louise but called Loes just like me!) from Curacao. They will be traveling back to Curacao after a cruise up to Maine and the east coast so we hope to see them again.

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So this is what cruising is all about and we have enjoyed our time in the Bahamas very much. We have made the 350ish miles in a south east direction to Luperon, Dominican Republic. This looks and feels like a whole new world from the Bahamas. We are excited to be exploring here and will spend a week or so here. Next onward along the north coast of DR to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. That will be for the next post. Hope all is well with our family and friends and we miss you. However spring time has come we hear to the USA after a long tough winter so time for all you sailors to get your boats out and go racing and sailing again. Fair Winds to you!

Exuma chain of the Bahamas March-April 2014

The Exuma chain is oriented mostly north -south from Nassau and consists of 365 cays(islands) over 90 miles. None are tall, all are quite dry and have lots of beautiful white sand beaches. All have crystal clear water and relatively shallow. Not a lot of towns but there are some settlements which appears to be small villages.

We entered the Exuma chain at Highbourne Cay from southern Eleuthera and had a wonderful sail across under our asymetrical spinnaker.

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Many of these islands are private islands and appear to be for the very wealthy. However we are able to anchor off them and on many we can land a dinghy for limited access. Lots of huge mega yachts abound as well.

Just north of Highbourne is Leaf Cay and Allan’s Cay which together form a pretty secure anchorage for a few boats. Their claim to fame is a species of iguana that is not found anywhere else in the world. They are used to people feeding them so they approach anyone coming on to the beach.

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We did sit out some weather fronts here. Beautiful sunsets and weather pictures of course to set the scene.

One night was quite ugly and a large yacht named Salesmanship ended up on the rocks just in front of us. All turned out ok for them but they needed to be salvaged off and towed back to Florida. The guests and crew were ferried to shore in the early morning and flown back home only one day into their vacation
A vivid reminder of what can happen.

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We travelled south on the banks side in shallow water for many miles until we reached The Exuma Land and Sea Park. Snorkeling throughout the park was spectacular as the sea life is protected. We saw lobsters as big as a small child as well as groupers and lots of fish. Normally these are wary of people and you need to peer under rocks and ledges to see them but here they are wandering in the open and unafraid of people. underwater pictures are challenging unless you have great equipment but we have included what we were able to capture.

Warderick Wells, park headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park (ELASP) does not allow anchoring so we took a mooring. It has fast currents and limited space so mooring is best anyway. There is a narrow strip of water deep enough for us and the colors of the water are so vivid. Notice the dark strip behind John and that is the part that is deeper.

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ELASP is 22 miles long and 8 miles wide. It encompasses many cays. There is no fishing, spearing or taking of any thing from the park area.

We did do several hikes on the island including to Boo Boo Hill where people bring “Art” -their boat name written on natural canvas like drift wood etc.

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We met new cruising buddies here and have enjoyed their company as well as many stories and drinks/meals. The name is Tribasa Cross with Gary and Kathe board. Finally we have a buddy boat that draws more than Maraki! T.C. hails from New Mexico and has plenty of their own stories to add.

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Continuing south in the Land and Sea Park we anchor in Cambridge Cay. Another very protected anchorage and find our buddies from the Erie Canal again on a boat named Saltine with Donna and Scott from Minnesota on board. When the canal was shut down they trucked their boat to Georgia and we have not seen them till here. Here we are diving with them and Scott wanted his picture taken!

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We hiked/scrambled up on Bell Rock which juts up out of the deep water on the Atlantic side giving a great view from the top. We have heard that one of these islands is owned by Johnny Depp and another by Aga Khan so it is high priced real estate.

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Lots of great snorkeling and hiking with new friends and boats to meet. Happy hour on a sand bar attracted 50 plus people including a lady I meet whose grand kids went to Charlie’s school in Norfolk and she knew Charlie! Small world.

Next stop was Big Majors off of Staniel Cay and the famous swimming pigs.
These pigs (i counted 4 adults and 16 piglets) live on the island and are so well feed by visiting boats and the locals as well. They must have great pig roasts here. I am told the pigs love beer but at $42 /case we did not share with them.

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James Bond’s movie from the 70′s named Thunderball was filmed here and we dove the cave at low tide. John got some beautiful Queen Angelfish pictures.  Most times I get cold before John so I warm up on the dinghy tubes.

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Every sail we fished and hoped for dinner but we did not do very well in the fish catching department here. All meat and foodstuff is very expensive in the the Bahamas so we always try to supplement our supply from the sea. lobster season also ended April 1st so that hunt is over for now.

 

Next island stop was Blackpoint Settlement on Great Guana Cay. it is known to be one of the friendliest places for cruising boats in the Exumas. The anchorage is large, crystal clear and deep enough. the laundry is raved about by cruiser because it is modern, clean, very scenic and has free wifi. What more could we ask for?? We went to the local school fundraiser which was a chicken, pork or hamburger dinner on Saturday afternoon. The school has about 40 kids for pre-k through 12 th grade. The settlement is only about 300 people. We would have stayed longer but the weather forecast was for westerlies coming in and that is the direction that is not protected.

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So onward towards Georgetown where we will hold up waiting for the Family Island Regatta April 22through 26. This regatta will get a separate blog post with many pictures and explanations for the sailors in this group. Hopefully while we still have some internet access. That is all for now.

Surfing March 2014

The day finally arrived when our son Jim was due to come for a 2 week visit from Puerto Rico. We arranged to meet him at the Green Parrot in downtown Nassau at 7PM. We had a Kalik beer and conch fritters waiting when he arrived sporting his surfboard and one small backpack. Looking very tired but tanned, blond and happy. 20140415-190440.jpg Jim has probably never spent this long with just his parents and no siblings. So this time was going to be spent doing what Jim most wanted to do. Snorkel, surf and relax!

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Next morning we were off (after picking up a new dive mask and fins) to Rose Island only a short distance from Nassau. It did not take long and those two (John and Jim) intrepid hunters found a spiny lobster for the dinner pot. A few hours later they found a slipper lobster too. So we had a delicious dinner and taste tested the two kinds of lobsters. Slipper was slightly sweeter but both great tasting! 20140415-191046.jpg 20140415-191115.jpg 20140415-191421.jpg He tried to get in and surf off of Sandy Cay next door to Rose but decided it was not too good. Our goal was to get to Hatchet Bay Eleuthera and show Jim the place we had been a week earlier for surfing. The trip across the bank to Eleuthera turned into a motorsail but gave us opportunity to get some good Maraki pictures.

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We were also hoping to meet up with Meridian(Chad and Drew) and Orial C (Glen and Deb) from our long trip out the Erie Canal and ICW trek.                                                 
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Glen and Deb on Orial C

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The surfing hotspot was a 3 or so mile hike from the harbor which turned into a hitchhike for them. John and I biked down most days. Hitching is a very normal and acceptable way for folks to get around the island. Only on the weekends did it prove to be slow and not so successful.   Several days in a row the boys spent the bulk of the day at the shore surfing.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  This is the Surfer Shack where Jim found great local buddies who warmly welcomed visitors to their spot.

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View from above to watch the surf in the shade.
The 3 amigos heading for home after a long good day!

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Local surfer restaurant sporting awesome knick-knacks.   A cold one on the way home for all!

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We did go to Hatchet Caves and snorkel in the salt pond as well. The pond was actually quite large and had lots of small seahorses along the mangroves. The caves went in for maybe half mile made of limestone. We made it a one way trip and came out a rope ladder into a field at the other end.

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Jim tried fishing and almost gave up thinking there were no fish to be had. But these pictures showed his success.

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We had crab claws for dinner one night (bought from a local fisherman).

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John got a spider crab which provided a wonderful dinner. Finally John was able to get a grouper and another lionfish too on his hawaiian sling. We ate very well off the sea ! There was good snorkeling just outside of the harbor and we took some underwater pictures.

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Jim was returning to Nassau by Southern Air from Governors Harbor Eleuthera so we rented a car for the day before. That is a story in itself but we did get a Dodge Caravan with 200,000 plus miles on it to sight see the island. We wanted to show Jim the Glass Window which we had seen years before on our return trip to USA in 1998. Jim did not remember it until we got there and then he had some memory of it. It was a great day to be there as the north swell and east wind were up. The glass window is a road over the narrow part of the island with Atlantic on one side and Eleuthera Banks on the other.       IMG_0423                        IMG_0435

This is the Atlantic side crashing onto shore.

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The bridge crosses north to south and Jim is standing overlooking the banks side where it is calm and serene.  The water rushes under the road and at times of high wind and swell the road may have to be closed.

All too soon is was  time to send Jim back to Puerto Rico. So this post ends with a few family pictures of John, Jim and Lucy.

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Next up is the Exumas in the Bahamas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bahamas Part 2

So I start off Part 2 still in New Providence but now we have moved to Nassau. I never thought we would go to Nassau but we have lots of time and know we can anchor there in the heart of the city (about 200,00 people. ) The anchorage we chose is next door to the cruise ship dock and daily 3-5 ships land at our doorstep. It is entertaining to have some of the largest cruise ships in the world so near by.
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We are also at the entrance to Atlantis, a huge family entertainment and gaming resort with marina and hotels themed on the Lost Continent of Atlantis. This is actually located on Paradise Island across from Nassau. We managed to wander around much of the resort including a aquarium with shark, reef, all sorts of fish swimming with plate glass windows the size of huge rooms.
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John also found his next boaT!
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We did do some of the tourist things like walking up the Queens Staircase- 54 hand carved steps
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and wandering Fort Charlotte overlooking the harbor from the 1700′s.
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After being in the city for a few days, we longed for the pristine waters and beaches. Luckily Nassau has several small islands not far away, Rose Island is only about 7 miles east and out we headed for snorkeling, beach combing and peace. Did i mention the currents running through Nassau harbor? Wind against current has become my least favorite combination and Nassau had it coming on.
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Northward we sailed toward Northern Eleuthera and Royal Island. Royal Island today has only a few ruins from the 11970 era and one new exclusive small resort that runs about $15,000/night for 4 guests. Obviously for the rich and famous not us! We were told we were allowed on the island but only east of the dock. We did enjoy our peaceful walks amongst ruins.
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We also killed our first lionfish here and found it to be delicious white, mild meat.20140415-172910.jpg  These fish are an invasive species and should be killed. They are venomous as well so care is needed to cut off 18 spines without getting stung. The remaining meat is excellent.

 

The island of Eleuthera is 90 miles long and only 2-3 miles in most places. It is a more pastoral place seeming to have more water than many other island groups. In the past century, the island grew lots of vegetables and fruits primarily pineapples. it also had dairy and beef cattle as well as chickens. We are not sure what happened to this industry. Now they are trying to bring back this farming and advertise it as “organic”. We appreciated this effort as we needed the produce. More on Eleuthera to come as we return here with our son Jim so he could surf. It is also known for its surf areas.

We were able to dinghy the 4 miles from Royal to the town of Spanish Wells which is a neat and orderly little fishing and mariners community of white Bahamians. Here you could buy most everything we needed in a small area. The area is shallow and beautiful and we picked up a mooring because there is no swinging room for anchoring. We rode our bikes all around the island enjoying their color schemes on the houses and colorful flower gardens.
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Next we sailed through Current Cut and into Eleuthera Bight. We wanted to check out some spots we thought Jim would like to visit when he arrived.We had heard that Hatchet Bay was a good place to surf so we headed there. Hatchet Bay was a salt pond until the limestone cliffs were cut back in 1940s.
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The cut is said to be 90 feet wide(looks more like 60) and offers all around protection from any weather. It is deep enough for lots of boats and has moorings put there by the government. The little town of Alice Town with maybe 200 people was very friendly and welcoming. So we stayed just long enough to know that we needed to return with Jim and headed back to Nassau to pick him up.

We leave off again with just a few fishing pictures which substantiates our fish stories.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is a barracuda that we did not eat because of concerns regarding ciguetera. Just needed to get him off our hook.

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John had to fight for this Jack that almost got eaten by another fish, likely a shark. What a fisherman!!!!

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Oh how we love the Bahamas Feb-March 2014

Here I sit in Blackpoint laundry using their washing machines and free WIFI. I need to go back 2 months and update all the fun and adventures we have had. The internet service has been at times non-existent but we were having too much fun anyway to try to search it out.
Backtrack to early February and we quickly get ready to leave Key West to cross over to Bimini Bahamas in the next 24 hours because a change in the weather is forecasted. so we fill the water tanks, fuel tanks and reprovision as much food and drink as we can reasonably hold and set off in a very calm sea.

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The crossing of the Gulf Stream from Key West to Bimini is about 120 miles NE and we hope to utilize the 2-3 knots of current in the Gulf Stream to arrive in Bimini in daylight the next day. We motored and motored sailed and arrived as planned. Lots of ship traffic were encountered as we crossed tracks with ships heading into and out of Miami’s busy port. By morning we are off of Bimini and entered and clear Customs easily. It was so beautiful there and the wind we had anticipated was coming so we pulled into Browns Marina and stayed for the night. Cocktails and potluck dinner was enjoyed. The next morning we had dramatic waves and seas to watch from the safety of the marina.
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After a few days of Bimini we headed to Gun Cay to snorkel and explore before heading across the Bahamas Banks.
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This is miles and miles of sand with 10-15 feet of crystal clear water covering it. Again a light wind motor sailing crossing where we caught some mackerel and kept hoping for more. But there is not a lot of fish to be caught here. by night fall we were off of Chub Cay in the Berry Island group. We did a landing after dark which we always try to avoid but sometimes can’t be helped. We had thought to anchor just off the banks at dusk but found large discrepancy between our charts and our depth sounding so we opted to not risk it.
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West Bay on New Providence was our next port of call.We were looking for a place to land near the airport for picking up our son Jim in a few weeks. We biked around the south and west side of New Providence which is much less inhabited and seems to cater to the rich and famous. The Lyford Cay peninsula had this almost Disneyesque looking resort? private home on the point.
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On the SW side of New Providence was a terminal port for oil delivery but historically it was used in the slave trade. here you see a cut into rocks staircase that was used to bring slaves ashore.
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Also located in West Bay was the Clifton Heritage Park which had a great spot for viewing birds.
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This is a sculpture made from casaurina wood called the Sacred Ladies.
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Very cool sculpture!!
But that is enough blogging for now. I will leave you with this full moon thought and a promise to continue this tomorrow.
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Fort Myers Beach and the Knape Family–2 Posts in one day!!

So when we heard that John’s parents Herb and Glenna(now 90 and 91) we coming to Florida for a week we knew we wanted to sail up there to Fort Myers Beach and see them. We motored/sailed the 120 miles northward overnight and it took about 24 hours. This is the sunrise over the coastline of Naples/FMB.
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We arrived the same day they did. Here they are on the pontoon boat that sister MaryLou and Bruce rented.
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They had no trouble getting on and off the boat from the dock. They are amazing! Don’t they look great and happy! especially to be in warm weather and not bundled up. We spent everyday enjoying being with them.
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We got Mom in the pool and Dad did a swim at their hotel many mornings to “get some exercise. My sister in law(and good friend) Cindy and I played our version of pool pickle ball for our exercise!
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Fort Myers Beach has a large mooring field in a well protected spot on the IntraCoastal Waterway just inside of Estkero Island. We don’t usually go to mooring balls preferring to anchor on our own anchor. However we knew we would be spending lots of time away from the boat so we did this for security.
This picture was taken at 8AM one morning from the mooring area as what John calls a “roll cloud” sped over us. I was expecting strong winds and a storm but that did not happen. Just a rainy and cooler day. Made an interesting picture though.
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Another shot of a pontoon ride down to see Maraki at her mooring spot.
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The week sped by and soon it was time for Mom and Dad to go to Tampa for a cruise to Central America. So we prepared to head back to Key West and onwards. However when we anchored just outside the big bridge into FMB we discovered Bird Island. The remaining pictures were taken there in the hour before dusk.
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What awesome faces these pelicans have!
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These are called Roseate Spoonbill and there were 2 of them, one pink the other red. Loved stalking them.
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White pelicans seen here -they stayed separate from the other kinds of pelicans. They are not in the same family as the other pelicans. We have seen these birds up in Michigan as they migrate from there. They are larger and look slightly different.
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But that is enough bird pictures for now. I like to end with another sunset picture over FMB.
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We will soon be leaving Key West and Florida and sailing on to the Bahamas. We hope all is well with everyone and that this brutal, wintery weather will soon come to an end. Spring will come!

Still in Florida and it is February 8th 2014

We are back in Key West where we have already hung out for a month. We have managed to sail out to Boca Grande(15 miles away) and up to Fort Myers Beach. We spent time with John’s brother Jim and Eva who sail their 31 foot Corsair each winter around the Florida waters. They sail much faster than we do.
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We found a good anchorage spot west of Mallory Square(for those of you who have visited here). We have observed many gorgeous sunsets from there and off of our boats The sunset cruise boats seem to be making a good living off the tourists anyway.
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We have had lots of fun with our Michigan buddies (Steve and Sarah T) from many years ago. They had been very hospitable to us and have allowed us to share their beautiful old home as well as park our trusty bikes there instead of taking them back to the boat everyday.
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Imagine us slow sailor going 30 mph over skinny water(anything less than 7 feet is skinny to us) and the thrill of it all. We went with Steve and Sarah for a daytrip on their “panga” fishing boat. We went to a deserted cay north and west of Key West some 15 miles or so. It was beautiful and fun.
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Did I say relaxing too??
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We saw manatee as well.
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It has not been all play as boat repairs and maintainence had to be done. Laundry, groceries and books that needed reading. Anyone feeling sorry for us? No it has been a good and relaxing stop.
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Key West Race Week was the third week of January so we were able to watch several days of racing just south of the island. We did see many Michigan sailors participating including DeVos’s.
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We made lots of friends of island residents too. Here are some of the more photogenic ones.
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We made new people friends too but we forget to photograph them.
So I will now publish this and attempt to do another post for the Fort Myers Week with Johns family.

2014 Arrives with Maraki in Key West

So it has been a long time since last we made a blog post. We are now set up with our ipad and can put up posts from the boat. I will start with the final state of the ICW- Florida. The ICW continued to be full of challenges including lots of opening bridges, shallows and moving shoals, canal like areas as well as beautiful natural rivers and swamps. the sunrises and sunsets continue to amaze us with their beauty.

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We have found new friends that call Maraki their home as well. (although we did eventually have to kick this one out as it “fowled” the dinghy.

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We were able to find suitable anchorages along the way including the big cities of Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. There have been numerous times when we have found the bottom but none of these groundings have been hard on us or the boat. It just is a shallow area.

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Our short-term goal since leaving Michigan had been to make it to Miami so that the boys would have a place to spend Christmas vacation with us on Maraki. So we continued to push southward and arrived in Miami with a week to spare. That meant we had time to clear bunks of our extra stuff so that they would have a place to sleep.

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This is Charlie’s bunk that was full of extra sails.

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This is where Chris and Mike slept when they lived onboard as kids. The bunks seem much smaller for them now but everyone managed just fine.
Jim was not able to join us for Christmas as he is working at a resort in Puerto Rico and can not take any time off. We missed him a lot but his bunk was not cleared of the extra belongings we still carry. We will be ready for Jim when he can join us-this spring we hope.

We picked the boys up in Miami Beach-South Beach and spent a day or so there getting prepared for Christmas. Then headed to No Name Harbor which is in Bill Boggs State Park on Key Biscayne. Here we had a potluck dinner with other yachties we had been sailing with. It was a perfect way to spend the day. We were alongside a dock in the harbor so we could come and go. windsurfing, bike riding and rollerblading as well as game playing and looking at our new gifts.

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Windsurfing, swimming and relaxing with plenty of books reads and games played were the mainstays onboard
Maraki.

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We sailed down the Hawk Channel with a pleasant breeze from the north to east making it for good sailing. We did not have great anchorages because of Maraki’s depth and lack of good places to hide from the wind. However we lost little sleep and continued on for our goal of arriving in Key West in time to celebrate our oldest son Chris’s 28th birthday. We were also hoping to spend New Years Eve wandering Old Town Key West. Here you have the choice of watching a wench drop from the top of a tall ships mast, a conch shell drop from a post or a drag queen descend. CNN was there to document “Sushi”‘s descent. Just like the ball in Time Square. We elected to see the wench and the boys went to the drag queen. Sorry but i have no pictures of any of these!

Soon it was time for the boys to return to their homes and back to work. they are not quite over the fact that we have retired but they must work!
The day they left the weather turned giving us a strong north gale. Here is the front as it approaches.

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Our anchorage off of Key West was secure with 2 anchors out. It blew 30-40 knots for a day and now we are still waiting for the winds to die down so we can go ashore. But all is well here on the Maraki.
Our plan is to try to sail to the Dry Tortugas in the next settled period. Then we plan to sail up to Fort Myers Beach and spend some time with John’s parents and family who will be visiting there. The Bahamas should follow that.
We think of all our family and friends who are in the cold north and hoping that they are warm, healthy and happy. We wish you all a wonderful 2014 and maybe we will even see some of you in the coming year. Cheers to all. John and Lucy

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