Friday, March 11, 2011

Like Ice-water Poured Over Your Head......

From the tranquility of our anchorage on Mangrove Cay and the a beautiful final sail on the Little Bahama Bank ....


.... we were all in for a shock when we arrived in West Palm Beach Florida in the middle of the Memorial Day Weekend!!

Greeting us at the entrance channel was a steady parade of tour boats and pleasure craft heading in and out from the ocean. You would have thought that compared to the 5' beam-on seas we had just endured for 14 hours, the entrance channel would have offered some relief??




Nuh-uh, not a chance!!

Not only were there wakes coming from every direction, but it seemed like every idiot that owned a PWC was on the water that day. They seem to love all the confused wakes, especially when it means they can jump them just in front of you. And it's not as if we would be able to avoid hitting them if they fell in. Something that can do +50mph and takes all of 10 minutes to "master" is where the Marine Police and Coast Guard need to concentrate their efforts. Rant over, but jeez do I hate PWC's!!!

We had to wait until the next day to clear US Customs, so we grabbed a slip for the night, ordered a pizza and had a few cold Bud's with Gary and Ingrid from "Tamaki".

We cleared Customs the next day and quickly moved north to one of our favourite spots, the anchorage at Peck Lake.




We spent the day wandering on the beach noting all the sea turtle nests. We even got an excellent explanation of sea turtle breeding and nesting habits by 2 very friendly Park Rangers.


After leaving Peck Lake, we then spent the day moving inland via the Okeechobee Waterway to Indiantown, Florida.

Sadly, this day on the boat was to be our last trip ever on "Charlotte-Ann".

We had heard good things about Indiantown Marina (http://www.indiantownmarina.com/) when inquiring about somewhere to haul and store "Charlotte-Ann". Not only were we looking for a place to haul-out, we were also trying to figure out what our future boating plans were to be.

We arrived in Indiantown and made arrangements for the boat to be hauled the next day. Hot, muggy, sticky, humid= Indiantown. The kids did some exploring, noting some of the local wildlife, from the fuzzy backed turtles...


To the resident 8' gator patrolling just off the stern of "Charlotte-Ann"!

After more than 20 years of boat ownership we have never gotten comfortable with seeing our boats hanging on 2 nylon straps 5' above pavement!

We packed the boat up as best we could, as well as placing about 20 Roach Motels around the interior. I suppose if there is one good thing about living in Canada it's the fact we don't have to worry about cockroaches!!! We sealed the boat up, including closing the few seacocks on "Charlotte-Ann". The remaining thru-hulls were stuffed with duct tape to further prevent any unwanted visitors. With the help of one of the marina staff, Lisa went to Stuart to pick-up a rental car.

As far as the kids knew, our plan was to fly home from Orlando the following day. Once we were settled at home, Lisa and I would drive down and bring the rest of our "stuff" home. We hadn't decided yet if we would sell "Charlotte-Ann" or not, but regardless, we would need to give her a good cleaning when we returned.

If you have ever been to the Orlando Airport, or Orlando for that matter, you can't help but notice all the Disney Shuttle buses.

Well , so did our kids!

Although they did ask if "someday" we could go to Disney, they seemed satisfied with our answer that it was too much right now, but "someday" we would return. What they didn't know was 3 weeks earlier we had booked a 5-night stay!

After we returned the car, we were walking to what they thought was our flight home. We then stopped, I looked at Lisa and said, "What do you think if we just go to Disney instead of going home???" Neither kid really knew what to think, in fact their response was a little "too" subdued!!!

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So five days of Disney was ahead of us. We all had a great time, but unlike many families we met who had been there multiple times, I don't see us going back anytime soon, but who knows???






A month later, Lisa and I came back to Indiantown after deciding to sell "Charlotte-Ann". Initially trying to sell privately, we instead chose to sell through Advantage Yacht Sales, a brokerage that has the "advantage" of being at the Indiantown Marina. Here is the listing:


A bit of a bummer was the fact that all our kiteboarding kites got stolen. Really a shame, the owner of the marina was shocked (and gave us a great deal ), as was the local Sheriff.

On the bright side, insurance came through so we now have a full quiver of 2010 Naish Cults!!!!
Yee haaa!!!!


Mark.



Still playing catch-up on the entries.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Leaving the Bahamas (playing catch up with the posts)

"Today is very sunny. I'm sitting here doing school. My classroom looks like a boat, one reason why is because it is a boat! When I look outside my window I see two little houses, one yellow and one turquoise, a powerboat on a mooring ball and a sailboat called "Morning Glory" on a mooring ball. I live on a boat called "Charlotte-Ann". It is a 34' Gemini catamaran. I love life on a boat!!"


Delaney/March 2010
As much as we didn't want to leave, the time had come for us to make our way from the Bahamas and back to Florida. Hurricane season was fast approaching, and although many people remain cruising in the Abacos well into summer, the logistics for us just didn't make it possible.


There were plenty of sad good-byes in Hope Town. Our little community of Ex-pats (The Butlers, The Gormans and The Richens) all had plans to move on. Our new-found Bahamian friends (The Higgs, The Aberles) would always be here, just one more reason for us to return to the Abacos in the near future.


We made our way to Guana Cay to once again anchor off of Grabbers. The weather was great and we hung out by the pool with the crew from "Liquid Asset", enjoying the last of our days with Bill, Karen and Jack. Neil and Rachel stopped by and we got a guided tour of the Island with Neil.

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More swimming and hanging around at Scotland Cay, then it truly was time to head off.


As "Liquid Asset" and "Different Drummer" made their way back to Hope Town, we were pointed in the opposite direction, heading for Green Turtle Cay.

Originally planning to head through "Don't Rock Pass", a direct shallow water route to GTC, we decided as we approached the pass that we didn't feel comfortable with the swell that was running. We had been assured there was plenty of water for our Gemini, but it was nearing low tide and with a large swell running in I didn't want to risk any unintended "bumps" on the seabed. We diverted to Treasure Cay, and while Lisa relaxed back on the boat, the kids and I went ashore to take advantage of the pool.

The next day we were off early, getting to the pass about an hour before high tide. We went through without incident, never seeing less than 5' below our hulls even though the swell was still running pretty good.

After a few days in Green Turtle Cay we were off again, travelling a day to our staging spot for the crossing back to Florida. We met-up with another Canadian boat, Tamaki, a Catalina 36'. Since they were also heading back to West Palm Beach, we decided to buddy-boat. The trip to Mangrove Cay was really nice, blue skies, warm temps and just barely enough wind to sail. We even managed to get our spinnaker up for a few hours (it's a little small for our boat, but was free, thanks Jason!).

Later that afternoon, once our anchor was set, we were approached by 2 Bahamian conch fishermen in a small open powerboat. They asked if we could spare some gas, they were running low and were a good 15 miles from land. Sure, it could have been a scam, but for the small amount of gas we gave them it was worth the peace of mind knowing that we "may" have helped out some people in need. Regardless, they left us with 6 huge, cleaned conch in exchange for 4 gallons of gas. Seemed appropriate, conch salad as our final meal in the Bahamas.



We left Mangrove Cay just after midnight. It was bumpy and windy with ugly skies lit up by the occassional flash of lightning. Once again, not what was in the forecast!

We left the shallow waters of the Bahama Bank just before sunrise, and 10 hours later arrived in West Palm Beach.

Our "first" cruise to the Bahamas was officially over (well, the Bahamas part anyway). It was 11 months since we pulled away from the dock at Loyalist Cove in Bath, Ontario.

The kids have seen more in these 11 months than many kids will ever see (Erie Canal, Hudson River, NYC, the open Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, The Dismal Swamp, The Gulf Stream and the The Abacos).

Although not always on the move (but still on the boat), they also made new friends and enjoyed new experiences while tied-up in Virginia and Georgia, including side trips to Annapolis, Maryland and Washington, DC.

11 months of real-life experiences that could really only be wrapped-up with a visit to the one place where the "unplanned, unexpected and unpleasant" are strictly forbidden.

Yup, you guessed it, DISNEY!?!