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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.

29 11.86N 81 00.24W

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May 29, 2012
Position: 29 11.86N 81 00.24W South of the Daytona Beach, Florida bridges.

Hey mon, mis amigos, Egret is at sea once again but let’s wrap up the last bit before moving on. As you know we returned to Ft Lauderdale after the Bahamas visit. We had a technical problem at the end of the last VofE showing a picture of the Brave Boys swimming with the sharks at egretCompass Cay, Exumas. So we’ll give it another go. The first photo shows the BB’s being cool being around the sharks while sucking on mind altering liquids, most likely one source of their bravery. In the second photo, white visor boy split when the local school girls started feeding the sharks MEAT, probably chunks of conch. So now beer boy is streaking and freaking trying to get on the dock. Notice how he had the presence to save egrethis beer first before climbing out. This is one cool dude.

Soon after returning to FLL we left to pick up the bubba truck and drop it at Mary’s brothers. Then we returned and got Egret ready for the summer cruise north, provisioned and I went back to work for a few days helping a friend. Then we got The Call.

My buddy with N46-82 was in the Bahamas at the same time as Egret but was farther north in the Abacos. The boat was filled with visiting family* but got stuck by weather in West End, Grand Bahama Island. So they left Anita Cay at the pirate’s den, Old Bahama Bay.

*One memorable occasion came when Mrs 46-82’s brother came to them in a tizzy and said he needed a dink, a beach and a sunset. So he and his sweetie left in the dink and returned engaged. Is that cool or what?

If you have followed VofE for a while you know that when Egret was in Papette, Tahiti we picked up my nephew and our buddy’s son, Eric and dropped them 5 weeks later in American Samoa. Well that was a few years ago and now Eric is a junior at Cornell but still the fishing fool he ever was. So Eric and I flew over to pick up A/C. Of course we were hungry when we arrived and hit the pool bar for cracked conch, conch fritters and a couple Kaliks.

So we paid the pirates their bag of gold ($735 for 4 days) for a wee 46’ boat. Captain Eric and I (I was a deckie for the trip) left at daybreak for Ft Lauderdale. Of course we had to put out a couple worms to see what snapped. It didn’t take long before Eric had a nice bull dolphin in the cockpit. We didn’t know where the fishing support gear was so Eric used a flip flop for a gimbal belt jamming the rod butt against the flip flop. It wasn’t a large fish so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Of course we couldn’t find a filet knife so Eric used a kitchen knife to do the filet and release deal.

However, the next fish Was a Big Deal. An hour and a half later the right long bait was inhaled by a sea monster and the reel was shrieking and Eric wuz freekin. He had hooked a giantus blue marlin and the blue was headed somewhere else. Fish have personalities like people. Some follow their feet and others have minds of their own. This bad boy was having nothing to do with being brought lips first to the boat. It is a long story (1 ½ hours at least) but after a range of emotions from long suffering Eric the marlin was at the transom. Mr Blue Boy was dead tired so we lip gaffed it to try to remove the hook and let it go. In the end I didn’t have the nerve to try and remove the hook. It was a dual hook rig and the first hook was set deep into the marlin’s jaw and the second hook was loose. I don’t have to tell you what would happen if the marlin shook its head and the second hook sunk into my hand. Bad deal to say the least. So we cut the leader near the hook and let it go. Eric did a great job on the rod and of course it was my job to talk trash while he sweated. I only wish Eric’s dad was there to see him catch his first marlin and first really big fish. (Best guess estimate was 225lbs on the conservative side)

Nearing Ft Lauderdale the rod went off again (we didn’t fish for hours while Eric regained some strength) and we hooked a sailfish. Fortunately it came off near the boat so we didn’t have to go thru that again.

It was a great day to be at sea. It was much like today with less than a meter of swell and little wind to speak of. A/C made it back to her dock with a half hour of tide depth to make it up the canal. So life was good.

egretOK, back to Egret. Egret left this morning at first light. You can see how rough it was after clearing Ft Lauderdale inlet running north offshore. The ship in the photo is on anchor outside the inlet. Tonight’s plans are to anchor inside Ft Pierce inlet (an 85nm run from FLL) and see what the weather brings in the morning. There is some nasty weather between mid Florida and Beaufort, North Carolina where we hoped to make landfall. Actually we were prepared to run directly to Newport if weather allowed getting north sooner than later. If I had to guess now, Egret will be an Intracoastal weenie for a bit until she can head offshore. Besides, being an Intracoastal weenie isn’t all bad. Cruising this part of Florida is all new to us and new is good.

So let’s talk about why new is good. New is challenging. Exciting. We’ll never forget our first trip to the Exumas (Bahamas). We were in Proud Mary, our little 32’ Grand Banks. The autopilot was junko and had a mind of its own, like if it decided to work or not. We had our first storm on the Bahamas Bank and learned semi displacement square transoms and a small rudder weren’t ideal. We had to hand steer while the waves passed under the stern then turn where we wanted to go after the wave passed. We did that a jillion thousand times before we quit and anchored for the night. It was exhilarating as well as tiring. And we were learning.

Proud Mary had primitive (pre fire stick) cave man C Map charting that was vague but by using radar, electronic charts and cruising guides we made it. It was exciting and yes, we were a bit nervous when what we were looking for didn’t appear as soon as we wished. Every day was an adventure. Those happy 30 days in the Bahamas set things in motion and the rest is history. Egret’s recent return to the Exumas was fun as always but it wasn’t the same. We skipped things that were so exciting before simply because it wasn’t new, not because it wasn’t good.

So let’s look at the Big Picture. It is a big world. There is so much to see and do that new will never become obsolete. Every day can be exciting and a bit of a challenge. Now that Is exciting. So what’s new for you?

Later. The tide swung and Egret is down to 5.2 knots and her average speed for the trip has dropped to 6.3 knots. The Gulfstream is farther offshore and if we were in the stream like Egret was heading for somewhere north she would be rocketing in the stream with no tidal influence. However, the Gulfstream is well offshore of Ft Pierce so we’ll do the sluggo deal and putter up the coast and not have a long run in.

egretLater. Because of her slow speed we were not going to make Ft Pierce before dark so we dove for St Lucie Inlet (Stuart). Another reason for doing the dive for the inlet early was the weather to the north. Check out this waterspout forming. In the end it did not touch down. I have fished there before in a shallow draft flats boat but it was different being in a deep draft boat. The inlet is like a mountain road with switchbacks except it is flat. Only by watching other boats could we make any sense of the markers. The inlet changes so often Egret’s commercial C Map charting was a fairy tale. However we did the deal and didn’t even get stuck in the sand.

So Egret chugged up the ‘ditch’ (Intracoastal Waterway) to a few miles south of Ft Pierce inlet and anchored for the night.

egretThe next morning Egret was under way at first light and she chugged past the small towns along the way. In typical ditch fashion it was a give and take with the tide heading for or away from the different inlets. So far Egret has averaged 6.2 knots including waiting for bridges. Tropical storm Beryl was offshore and one forecast on the WX channel said Daytona Beach, 70nm north was supposed to get up to 60 knots. At a little after 1400 we tried to anchor but the mud was so soft it was like anchoring in feathers. A few miles up the way the chart said the bottom was msh (mud and shell) so we dropped Exactly where it was printed on the chart and TK did the deal. After anchoring this double rainbow appeared to the south before another rain band swept thru.

egretOne thing that was nice to see was the birdlife along the waterway. There were several types of herons, egrets, cormorants, ospreys and about a jillion pelicans. The waterway is full of mullet, a baitfish, and the pelicans and ospreys were having a great time. This photo of an osprey having brunch is a bit different. In the background you can see the launch tower of Kennedy Space Center. Today we saw a big flock of roseate spoonbills wading on a small island. Other small mangrove islands were packed with all of the above except osprey’s.

egretSpeaking of small islands, the Intracoastal in many places is dredged thru shallow water estuaries. There are miles of small spoil islands dotted along the way. The islands are typically white sand with trees and scrub growth on top. A number of islands have their own sandbars. The sandbars attract locals and being Memorial Day weekend quite a number were full of egretfamilies, some had even pitched tents. We spotted this small canoe stern trawler near another island anchored among a number of other boats. Just guessing it appears to be a Willard 30 but I don’t know for sure.

To digress a bit, there is an infamous sandbar in Islamorada, Florida Keys. On summer weekends there is little room to pull another boat up to the long bar it gets so packed. Of course the sweet young things have trouble keeping the top half of their bikinis in place. And of course our youngest son (early teens at the time) cruised by the sandbar with his buddies in Thanks Dad, his small outboard. We gave him a two simple rules on the weekends. (We had a weekend home in Islamorada) Tell us if he is going to the ocean side or bay side (Florida Bay) so we had a starting place to look if he didn’t make it back. The other was he got 1 tank of gas for the weekend. If he went water skiing the gas didn’t last beyond Saturday. If he went fast, it didn’t last. He figured it out quickly. No problem and there were no problems.

Tonight Egret anchored just south of the Daytona Beach bridges. The holding isn’t great but there is nothing to hit if we do drag a bit. North of Daytona it is shallow on either side of the ditch for miles, so again we had to stop at 1800 instead of running to near dark. It doesn’t really matter. We don’t have a schedule and when the offshore weather clears we’ll most likely pop outside and shoot north.

egretSo it has been an interesting couple of days. Being a holiday weekend there are tons of boats on the water enjoying themselves as well.

The last photograph is the most important. Memorial Day weekend is a three day holiday for most Americans. Let’s take a minute to reflect on what Memorial Day means and remember those who gave and are giving. If it weren’t for these men and women, all of our lives would be very different.

Ciao.

 

May 15, 2012
Position: Somewhere in Ft Lauderdale...but not for long.

egretHey mon - mis amigos, the N gathering last night at Pirate Beach (Big Major's Spot) was fun as potlucks always are. The owners have a wide range of experience and all have their own dreams. This small group was as diverse as a group could be but they are all having fun and of course that is the bottom line. The cruisers in the photo from L to R are: Douglas from N55 Aires II, egretBarbara and Greg from N47 Meander, Nigel from N63 Silver Spray, MS, George from N68-16*, Jim - guest of Silver Spray, Linda from N55 Aires II, YT. Unfortunately George's wife Marci had flown back to the U.S. and was not with the group. This photograph shows N68-16, Aires II and Silver Spray on anchor. Silver Spray is dwarfed by the mega in the background.

*We were asked not to name the boat.

Last year George and Marci circumnavigated Newfoundland on their N68. If you don't know, this is a super intrepid voyage in weather, fog, not so good charting and so on. It was quite an adventure. George was mentioning about how nice the local folks were which is so typical with off the beaten path cruising. One local said when they were leaving for the weekend; "if you need a car the keys are on top of the front left tire". That kind of nice. 2012 is their year to wrap up the wrap up then they be gone. For you intrepid folks, N68-16 is a boat to watch. We all learn from each other, we all help each other and this cumulative knowledge makes voyaging easier and safer for us all. Hopefully George and Marci will start a blog when they take off for good and pass along what they learn.

This morning we went by the boats to say our goodbyes. We gave a bottle of the equivalent of Yamaha's Ring Free to Meander to help their ailing Honda outboard. This is a must have for dinghy spares. Ring Free goes a long way to cleaning up gum in carburetors from mainly sitting. However on 4 strokes like a Honda, after running the tank of fuel with Ring Free added you must change the oil and filter.

egretGeorge invited us aboard once again and we took a couple snaps of N68-16's beautifully installed sea chest. You can see the clear lexan top, various valves on the outboard side, the secondary filter and the stainless vent in the photo. For larger boats a sea chest makes perfect sense eliminating a number of thru hulls, valves and hosing coming into the boat. Think of a sea chest as a day tank for sea water. All sea water needs come thru this single point.Protruding from the sea chest (inside the engine room) are valves and hoses that distribute sea water for whatever needs like generator/wing intakes, air egretconditioning, and engine cooling if not dry stacked and so on. This isolates the remote chance of a hose failure, the thru hulls being plugged by growth and ofcourse the drag of the additional scoop strainers below the waterline. In addition to the sea chest, 68-16 has a conventional seacox and strainers tee'd into the sea chestplumbing in case there is a problem within the chest itself. N68-16 runs with this valve closed. Having both available is another belts and suspenders redundancy. This photo shows George holding a spare sea chest strainer basket showing the huge surface area of the strainer within the sea chest. Pretty cool, eh?

We would love to have a sea chest for Egret but she doesn't have the room. So she has the usual multiple holes thru the bottom, valves and hoses.

After leaving N68-16 we went by N63 Silver Spray for a tour. Nigel had a N47 before, was going to buy a N62 but it wouldn't fit into his local marina. It is a long story but N63 #1 is the result. All N's are a family of boats from the smallest to the largest. Silver Spray was no different. Nigel had a lot of input into her specs and it shows in the details. What impressed me the most was her stability ratings. Nigel had her CE certified and according to the certifier, Silver Spray has self righting capability. He said during one of the sea trials the certifier, the Trac stabilizer techs and electronics techs were aboard. There were about 4' seas off Stuart (Fla) where they were doing the testing. Nigel was surprised how stable Silver Spray was and commented to the Trac tech. The tech said they hadn't turned on the stabilizers yet. Pretty cool.

Understand this is not an ad for PAE, or for different models or anything. I spent my working life in the boat business and still can't get enough. If I don't like something I may say something but never with any specifics to manufacturer because it is just my opinion. If I do like something I may say something like about Egret's latest dinghy, engine and dinghy anchor posted in the last VofE. Of course we have zero commercial ties to anyone or anything. In PAE's case, they have never given us anything. However, what PAE has done for everyone reading these words is host VofE. VofE benefits anyone who may be interested in changing their lives from the boring usual to something with a bit of adventure and freedom using cruising as the venue. Of course boring usual is just my opinion. Or to be more specific; the ever tightening, choking tedium of mediocrity. Right Patti R?

So hopefully we haven't wrecked anyone's self esteem and we'll move on. While touring Silver Spray with Nigel we talked about a number of things. You know how we boys are, we like to whine. So I was simply stating (whining) how before Egret leaves next year for where ever we are going, we need to replace the AGM batteries because Egret's are sulphated and I went thru the entire scenario with him. (I wrote about this in much detail in Sept, 09 if I had to guess but it is close) Wellll, Nigel is an electrical engineer, and remember how I said how we all help each other? We usually do the helping because we don't need much help ourselves, however electricity is my weak spot. Electrical challenged comes to mind. So Nigel and his guest Jim came over and went to work.

Normally when I want to rip up the beds to get to the batteries, you know who grills me in the third degree if it is something I really need to do. But when someone else needs to see the batteries, no problem. You know how that goes. So anyway we ripped up the master berth and guest berth, off with the battery box lids and Nigel's Fluke multimeter came out. We used the microwave to load the batteries. That was MS's job. In a nutshell, the batteries and battery connections were exactly even with one another even though the guest berth batteries was a longer cable run than the master. However, we were losing voltage between the batteries and the buss bar.

Breakfast is nearly ready so let's get to the bottom line. The positive battery cable's first connection (before the buss bar where amperage is distributed) is an on/off battery switch isolating the master battery bank from the guest bank. (There are 2 8D AGM batteries in each bank.) These are simple switches from Blue Sea, a quality manufacturer. However, the only time I turn the switches off is when we are changing batteries and that isn't often. Nigel measured the voltage drop across the first switch and it was considerable. He cycled it off and on about 20 times and guess what? Yup, the voltage drop went away. The problem was corrosion on the switch contact points causing resistance (heat) and lack of amperage flow. Blue Sea switches have self cleaning contacts IF you cycle them off and on. (Get THE HINT fellow boaters?) The second switch wasn't that bad but he did the same cycling to make sure. So that was the first gain. It may not sound like much but tenth's of an amp multiplied times 24 hours is one thing but it works both ways in discharging as well as charging. So this means one battery bank wasn't doing its full job.

The next thing Nigel did was Properly program the Xantrax inverter charger as well as change the settings on the Victron 100 amp 50/60 cycle charger. Now, by running both chargers together they get along better than before and one doesn't become so dominate. Also the new set up will allow me to equalize the batteries with a simple menu change (15.5 volts for 8 hours is what Lifeline recommends) and he is sure we will regain a ton of usable amps as well as faster battery charging because the charge voltage doesn't have to filter thru sulphation. So this is a good thing. Particularly if next year I believe we can get 3 more years or so from this set of AGM's.

If you haven't glazed over yet, let me throw in one more item. Nigel set the Xantrax to turn off the inverter if the AC current draw is less than 60 watts. It checks for draw every 10 seconds. The reason is, just sitting idle with no draw the inverter uses 3 amps an hour. It doesn't sound like much but during 24 hours that is 72 amps. It takes a while to replace 72 amps with the generator. But then again, this won't affect most power boats because they have 115V refrigeration. Egret shed her 115V refrigeration for DC (Iso Therm) a few years back so this is a big gain.

When I help someone it is no big deal to me. Glad to help. When we get help we don't feel the same way. We are thrilled beyond thrilled and very grateful. So to Nigel it was no big deal. That's how it goes.

Later, Mary did her bit by cooking a giant leg of lamb with gravy, her special rice and string squash for the workers. The boys did their bit by rehydrating. It was a good evening.

This is what cruising is all about. It is the people that make it what it is. Pretty good, eh?

OK, so we didn't leave yesterday when we said we were because of Nigel helping. So this morning we pulled TK, made the rounds in Egret saying goodbye once again and off she went. Her course was across the bank to the west then turned NW for the Tongue of the Ocean (The T of the O is super deep water between the Exuma Bank and Andros Island) Since leaving the bank and entering the Tongue of the Ocean we have been pulling baits. No fish. Yet. Currently Egret is making her way to tonight's anchorage on the bank itself. In an hour we will turn into the bank and drop in 25' or so. There is little wind and it is calm. We will leave tomorrow at daybreak, pass west of Nassau, cross the Northwest Providence Channel to NW Channel light and will be back on the banks once again. I imagine we will anchor somewhere on the banks again then chug into Ft Lauderdale on Sunday. This time the Gulfstream crossing to Florida will be with the Stream. More to follow.

OK, so Egret anchored on the bank in 29' and fired out 150' of chain. The chart said it was a grass bottom so we gave ourselves enough time to anchor a second time farther up on the bank in case TK didn't set. TK did the deal. It was fairly choppy in the tide and Egret was pitching more than we like. In the early morning the pitching turned into a roll so we got under way at daylight and by 0630 Egret had cleared the bank and was back in deep water. In another 16nm Egret will be back on the Great Bahamas Bank by Northwest Channel Light heading WNW and will cross the GBB toward the Atlantic tonight. How late we decide to run we don't know. No fish yet except we had a couple bumps from a billfish. Fortunately it had a scare and didn't get hooked*. Bottom line: no fish. More to follow.

*Billfish feed by stunning the bait with a whack from the bill. On a trolled bait they come up behind the bait and beat it half to death with their bill. Of course a plastic bait could care less so eventually out of frustration the billfish comes up from behind and chows big time on the bait. If you are lucky the fish doesn't get hooked. In a 180 from years past we are not sport fishing but fishing for the freezer. We release all billfish we bring to the transom except I have to admit I killed my first blue marlin and first sailfish. I still regret both. Well, sorta regret both. The marlin won a fishing tournament and $2500 so that sucker had to die. It did. The marlin got mounted and the sailfish got smoked. So neither died for a picture*.

*Every winter in the Florida Keys, amberjack span on top of two sea mounts about 11nm offshore. There are thousands of AJ's. So this brings predator fish like an occasional Great White Shark. So some ^%#@& guy catches a white shark from a charter boat and they tow it to a marina. Of course that killed it. They used a tow truck to hoist it up for photo's, cut out the jaws, dropped it back overboard and towed it out to sea to drift away. A beautiful 1000lb creature died for a photo. Sad. I hope he leveraged himself buying property 4 years ago so these days he is living under cardboard and can't afford to charter another boat to kill for a photo. %%##^&@ Maybe another rummy will cut out His jaws for the fillings. Now that would be cool.

egretegretIt was so calm all day and into the evening we decided to run all night for a morning arrival in Ft Lauderdale. Sunset on the Bank. So we did. We were on the super moon that was indeed super. All night we could see the bottom clearly in the shallow water crossing the bank. It chopped up just a bit leaving the bank and again around 6nm off Ft Lauderdale. Mary snapped this photo of the super moon on her watch as we neared FLL. The moon in this photo is exactly as the same as it came out of the camera.

OK, so we called Homeland Security after docking. We were given 24 hours to show up at the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) office. We did the next day and got stamped back in. No problem.

Soon after arrival we left for N. Florida to visit Scott Jr and family. Our last visit the LPP - Little Pumpkin Picker - was just taking his first steps. Well now he has two speeds; stop and wide open. Anyhow we had a great time visiting. Mary and I are very fortunate. We have two sons, each has super wives and each has a boy. Both families are happy and doing well. I don't think it can get any better. Of course this lets us play.

In the meantime I did some serious web searching for a new direction in Egret's life. This is not a replacement for, just an addition too. Mary says it best. We have spoiled ourselves. We want more and want it faster.

So here's the deal. The recent 3 month visit to New Zealand was a test to see if we could be away from Egret for that length of time. Let me explain. Our life is So Good it is difficult to believe we can make it better. However, starting in 2013, Egret will be back in cold country during the winter somewhere. It is Mary's call and I won't speculate here but Egret will be wintering in a cool place. Three months away was to long. Two months or a bit less would have been a bit better. However the 2 months we spent in Dick's campervan were pretty special. From our experience living in the back of a van during a 2+ month tour of Australia and 2 months in a larger campervan in New Zealand we formed an opinion what would be the best for us. We decided to break up our wintering in cool places with something different.

Let's get to the bottom line. We have visions with a different twist on camping. In NZ we freedom camped, meaning we just pulled over in an unobtrusive spot for the evening and with one exception it wasn't a problem. That exception meant we had to move a few k's up the road. No biggie. I believe we can do that in the U.S. and elsewhere if we have 4WD and can get out of sight when we feel like and hit a campground when we don't. It is a long story but this is what we decided on. Yesterday we did the deal on a 2006 Dodge 4WD, 4 door, long bed, diesel truck with a 6 speed standard transmission. More than one dealer said in my searching this is the holy grail of Dodge trucks. 2004 - 2006 are the last non emission diesel trucks from Dodge. This will allow us to ship the truck anywhere we wish in a container and not have to worry about high sulphur diesel. Namibia and Argentina come to mind.

This is a copy of an e-mail we sent friends aboard Tothill, a stabilized GB 46 who spent years between Venezuela, Columbia and Panama. In two locations they had a 4WD truck. (Yup, the glitter coat folks) This tells the story about the buy and who we bought it from:

Wayall, youse kin kall me bubba and my woman ma. We jus bout a pickim up that es bout half de size o Egret. Yup, dissel, 6 speed stick, 4WD, 4 doough bad ass machen. One fella call it de holy grael o pickimup. It be white. Bout 20-21mpg cuz it be diesel n stick.

Did we hit the jackpot or what? I was internet surfing, hit Trucktrader.com and came across Gibson truck sales in Sanford. They had 3 long bed 2005-6* pickups on the website plus older ones. I called and went by there today. Gibson's is unbelievable. They are ranked 18th out of over 37,000 used car dealers in the U.S. It is too much details for an e-mail but in a nutshell they only take in basically perfect trucks, make them really perfect, add their margin and the price is the price. Ours looks, smells and drives like new. It has a new clutch, front rotors & pads, rear rotors turned, 4 different seals changed and a suspension link of some kind. All lubes, filters, etc. New tires too. You get all these repairs on your sheet and can see it on the internet when you look at the different trucks. It is amazing what they do and they have 55gal tubs of all the discarded parts in the shop for folks to see. They give a U.S. wide 1 year guarantee and a 15 day return if you don't like it.

*pre emissions. Later years won't run on high sulphur diesel for long. This isn't a problem in the U.S. or Canada but if we ship it Out somewhere it Will be a problem.

We met the owner, Mikie, a naturalized Greek from Crete so we hit it off when we told him we spent a couple weeks anchored in eastern Crete. Mikie sweeps the floor, works in the shop, test drives EVERY truck coming in then writes what he finds on the glass, THEN the service manager takes it for a ride and adds anything the boss missed. After 2 weeks in the shop getting whatever, BOTH, in reverse order take the truck out for one last run to make sure there is nothing else. Even the seats are pulled. Amazing beyond amazing. I couldn't give them a deposit fast enough. Over half the employes have been there 10 or more years and he has only been open 18. That says a lot. They average 200 trucks a month and only sell trucks.

We'll order the camper in a week or so for Sept 1st delivery even though I told them we wouldn't be there until at least Nov 1. They said they would store it for free. fourwheelcampers.com We are getting the Keystone model fairy loaded. Well, Real loaded. Cool stuff.

Can you imagine this rocket in Argentina/Chile or Namibia? How cool would that be?

So we be bad. So you need one too so you be bad. S.

* * * * *

Of course today has been a flurry of e-mails from Tothill trying to figure out how you can squeeze 4 people into a 2 person box. You can't. So they have to get one themselves. You never know what peer pressure will do. Both want to return to Argentina in their own camper (they were fly in's but nevertheless they loved it).

So that's the deal. The wire should clear Tuesday and when we get a chance we'll pick it up. Mary's brother lives nearby and we will leave the truck with him until November or so then will drive it to California for the camper box.

Today was a serious work day. First we installed 3 way cool deck faucets to replace the crumbling originals. We will describe this in detail for anyone who has an older boat with the same issues. All the parts came from lewismarine.com and we will use their numbers. Lewis Marine discounts to everyone, not at boatyard prices but quite a bit better than the norm. They ship worldwide daily.

Egret has Whale type fittings. Whale is the generic name for snap in fittings and hard plastic tubing. Sea Tek is the actual manufacturer for the fittings Egret uses.

Because Egret's foredeck is so thick* (2"), PAE uses a long fitting to couple the Sea Tek fittings to the faucet. Here are the steps. No, don't even think of a 'shortcut'. This works perfect and I can assure you it wasn't this easy on the first one I did.

*If you have a girl boat the deck will be thinner and you can use different fittings but the basics stay the same.

1. Snap the blue tubing out of the 90 degree elbow.
2. With a pair of channel lock pliers, unscrew the fitting connected to the faucet.
3. Use a ½" drive, 1" socket to remove the locknut below the fitting.
4. Using channel lock pliers, twist the faucet out of the fitting below deck.
5. Take a sturdy screwdriver and tap it under the faucet mounting flange on deck. Remove the flange and clean up the silicone sealant. Use acetone to clean up the last.
6. Punch thru the remaining piece.
7. There is a fitting you can clean up and reuse. This is the fitting that screws into the dropper (spacer) piece below the faucet that the 90 degree fitting slides up on to. This is a brass fitting. Clean up any sealant from the threads and clean the nipple with a scotch brite pad and soapy water.
8. THE NEXT THREE NUMBERS ARE IMPORTANT ASSUMING YOU HAVE A SALTWATER AND A FRESH WATER FAUCET ON THE FOREDECK.
9. The saltwater brass nipple the Sea Tek 90 degree elbow slides on to is full flow, there is no obstruction inside.
10. The fresh water brass fitting has a rubber check valve inside the fitting. DO NOT MIX THE TWO EVEN THOUGH FROM THE OUTSIDE THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE.
11. The check valve is to keep contaminated fresh water sitting in the fresh water hose from siphoning back into the water tank. IF YOU DON'T USE A FITTING WITH A CHECK VALVE, the water in the garden hose will fester in the sun, slimy disgusting critters will grow and make their way to your fresh water tank and fester even more giving you and the admiral and of course your guests the grizzlies and you won't be able to figure it out and think your precious is a BAD DEAL when actually you caused it yourself by not putting the right fitting in the right place so you loose big time and we can't help you so you will eventually put your precious up for sale hoping it won't be found in survey but it will and you will have to donate the boat in the end because the admiral gave you an expensive choice and of course you will get killed on the back end when it was all your fault for mixing the two fittings plus you will have to listen to I told you so's for the rest of your miserable dirt dwelling days. So just don't mix the two fittings and the admiral will be happy and you will be happy and life will be good. You get the picture.
12. OK, so now everything is clean, you know the difference in the two fittings and we are ready to proceed.
13. Center the new faucet over the existing hole and mark the 3 screw holes with a magic marker. DO NOT TRY TO DRILL THE SCREW HOLES BY HOLDING THE FAUCET IN PLACE WITH YOUR SILLY HAND BECAUSE YOU WILL BE DRILLING ON AN ANGLE AND THE INSTALLATION WILL BE A TOTAL MOUSE JOB.
14. OK, drill for the three screws. I used 5/8" x 8 Flat Head stainless tapping screws. Match the drill bit to the screw.
15. Put pipe sealant on the ½" (IPS) x 2" nipple and thread it in TIGHT.
16. Put a heavy bead of white silicone around the base of the 2" nipple and dot the screw holes with a glob of silicone as well.
17. Screw down the faucet and clean up the excess silicone.
18. Below deck, thread the ½" coupling and Sea Tek nipple into place.
19. Connect a NEW 90 degree Sea Tek elbow to the blue tubing, slide it up on the nipple. Don't get cheapo and reuse an OLD fitting.
20. Sea Tek fittings set twice. Push the fitting onto the tubing and it pops into place, however, keep pushing hard and it will seat deeper.
21. Repeat on the other faucet as well as the cockpit faucet then turn the water pump back on and check for leaks. Don't just do a quickie check but wait at least 2 minutes and check it again with the pump providing the pressure to double make sure there is no drip.

egretThis photo is a shot of the installation tools as well as a finger tight assembly of the fittings. Here is a list of parts for the installation as well as numbers for spare fittings if you have Whale/Sea Tek fittings. These numbers are for 15mm tubing. (Tubing is measured by outside diameter - hose is measured by inside diameter) INSERT PHOTO 6477 HERE.

(Again, these are lewismarine.com figure numbers and part numbers.)

Figure 3902 number 4301 faucet. This is a first class solid piece made from 316 stainless. The handle is a ¼ turn to open.
Figure 3609 ½" x 2 bronze pipe nipple
Figure 3601 ½" bronze pipe coupling
(Reuse your existing Whale/Sea Tek fitting or if it is a new installation use a:
Figure 6013 number 50133 for full flow - NOT for a fresh water hose.
Figure 6013 number 50160 with a check valve - FOR a fresh water hose.

You will also need pipe sealant. The sealant I use comes from Permatex. The number is:
Figure 6078 number 56521. This is the larger of two sizes. The smaller is a girl boat size and I didn't list it. Permatex sealant lasts forever and you will need it for as long as you have the boat. Egret's Permatex pipe sealant is nearly 10 years old and I used it today.

egretThis photo shows the underneath of the foredeck.
The next photo is the foredeck faucets and the forward one has its handle turned on. egret (We turn the saltwater washdown on and off with the breaker. The faucet is always open. Mary puts the hose over the side and I turn on the saltwater pump then she washes the anchor chain. The reason is, the saltwater washdown pump is in the engine room across from the inverter and buss bar. We don't keep it under pressure in case a fitting or hose lets go and sprays the electrical with seawater.)

This photo is of tools for this particular job. The only unidentifiable tool is second from the left. This is a tubing cutter. YOU NEED THIS. The tubing cutter cuts the tubing square every time and leaves no rough edges. You Can Not do this with a knife. We started with a PVC pipe cutter and fought that for a while then switched to this cutter. The cutter number is: Figure number 6013 number 50001.

I know, the Admiral's are on the ropes by now but there is more. In the tools photo there is a short piece of blue polybraid hose. In Egret's case, under the master is the water heater and lotsa plumbing. Whale/Sea Tek fittings are great but NOT when the hoses are bent or near heat. We have two hoses that vibrate under harmonics that have split a number of times. When the fittings get side loaded they give up as well. We buy fittings 6 of a function at a time. We'll list them below. However, when it gets really bad with repetitive failures we can go back to basics. Sea Tek makes a fitting that snaps onto the tubing that has a ½" hose barb on the other end, so for those areas you can go back to hose. We have two hoses coupling Sea Tec fittings under the master berth that no longer give us any trouble. Except in that single area under the master berth Egret has had zero Sea Tek failures/leaks elsewhere. If the runs are straight without excessive heat, the tubing is properly clamped tight to the run surface and there is no side loading on the fittings it will last forever. If you go the hose route be sure and use the good blue (Canadian) polybraid pictured in the photo and not the el junko red tracer polybraid. The el junko red kinks, collapses and does all sorts of evil things. Don't even think about using red tracer for suction. Also, use Boatlife silicone, not some box store special cheapo junko. Boatlife, got it?

Figure number 6013, number 50059 Union (coupling)
50074 90 degree elbow
50095 Tee
50184 End Stop (for an emergency........cut the hose and
cap it.
50051 Tube to ½" hose barb (to use with hose - you need 2, 1 for either end of the hose.
50001 tubing cutter
50133 Nipple with no check valve
50160 Nipple with check valve for fresh water hose faucet

The good polybraid hose is Figure 9112, and in this case it is ½". (We keep 15' of ½" and ¾" in stock for whatever. We also keep a 10' box of blue Sea Tek tubing in stock as well.)

After the faucet changes we changed the main transmission oil. This is a straight forward deal if you have a killer oil change pump (We put a small hose down the fill to the bottom of the gear and pump it into a 1 gallon jug.) We use a Figure number 6805 number UP3/OIL rotary gear pump and the hoses from a Jabsco figure 3126 number 34060-0010. We started with a hand pump (Jabsco, but soon gave it up for the gear pump. We also use the gear pump to change the oil in the wing. This time I got smart. After pumping out the old oil I used MS's mirror to locate the bolt that unlocks the gear filter screen and magnet. Of course the screen and magnet was perfect.

So that's about it. We'll keep the techno at bay for a while unless we don't. This week is a work week of sorts helping friends in business. Actually it is not work because I'm not getting paid and it will be fun. Mary has her list as well. As soon as possible, Egret will be under way again. This trip Egret will head offshore if weather allows and get north asap. If weather cooperates we'll run as far north as Beaufort, N.C. If it is still good a day out of Beaufort we may run farther north. Anyone who has made this trip knows that by riding the Gulfstream you can fly. Major weather for this trip comes from the west so we'll keep an eye peeled.

In any case, when we know, you'll know. Ciao.

PS. We mentioned swimming with the sharks at Compass Key in the Bahamas in the last VofE. Well, check this out. You can see beer boy getting ready to get out of the water in the top of the photo. The local school girls were feeding the sharks so it was a god time to get out of the water. Cool, eh?

 

 

May 2, 2012

24 10.97N 16 27.73W

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Position: 24 10.97N 16 27.73W Big Major's Spot, Exuma chain, Bahamas Islands.
(Check this out on google earth. It is beautiful.)

Hey mon mis amigos, day after day we went low tide egretexploring in Norman's Cay. In the second photo you can see the boats on anchor in the distance. You just can't imagine how pretty this is. The west coast of Norman's has a typical white sand beach. Yea it is pretty but the inland lagoon is where the real beauty is. egretThe inland shoresare ironshore, eroded coral that is the most fearsome shallow water coast you can imagine. egretBoat eaters it is. Steel, aluminum, fiberglass or wood, it doesn't matter. It's all yummy to ironshore and why we carry on about anchors. Here is a photo of the iron shore with a pile of cleaned conch ontop.

However, iron shore has its own beauty but the real beauty is the pure white sand and crystal clear water. Mary could wade for hours in the water just looking and there is nothing much to see but pure white sand and white water. Of course she has to take a break from time to time after the hard work. However, every now and again she finds egreta little treasure like a egretconch, snail or a sea fan washed ashore from a storm. Have you ever looked thru a sea fan that has been dipped in water then held to the sun? The sea fan becomes a kaleidoscope of patterns and color. We really hope to find internet along the way we can share this and other sights with you.

Allow me to get up on The Box for a moment. After reading the first two paragraphs do you wonder how a silly snail and sea fan can be so interesting? How exciting could that be? No one is dying, getting blown up, telling whatever fairy tale this week to get elected, watching mind numbing sitcoms, solving problems at work, etc., just simple nature with no distractions. It is like being a child once again. Can you imagine?

We were anchored near a largish aluminum ketch from Michigan so we went over and invited them to Egret for a sunset celebration. So the Tiger Sea crew came over. Mom, dad, daughter and her boyfriend. They are on a cruise when they can, and work when they have to plan. Typically they get to enjoy 3-5 months in the Bahamas each year. They are hoping to sell their rental properties so the 3-5 month time frame reverses itself. Mom fixed a huge bowl of popcorn and MS put out snacks. So we had a great evening listening to their stories and hearing their tales about the Bahamas.

egretNorman's Cay has a sorted history. In the late 70's and early 80's, Norman's was a base for a cocaine smuggling operation headed by the infamous Carlos Leder. DEA finally send Charlie L to the Big House but his star shone for a while and the pesos were rolling in. There is nothing left of the operation but a submerged drug plane that crashed in shallow water in the Norman bight. One interesting fact is the plane was not carrying drugs but dirt. Yup, Charlie L was going to grow weed and needed the dirt.

Egret moved to the next interesting island south yesterday, a total run of about 8nm but only about 3nm as the crow flies. We ran on the banks side; the other side of the north/south Exuma island chain is the Exuma Sound (or simply Sound side). The banks side is shallow and the course is a zig zag deal around sand banks. Egret ran at 1100 rpm with the dinghy on her hip (out of the water) in super calm seas. So we putzed sitting in the flybridge, had more coffee and charged the batteries.

egretNavigation in the Bahamas is so simple if you have Explorer Chart Booklets - www.explorercharts.com - all you need is a gps and an autopilot. There are three Explorer Chartbook regions: Near Bahamas that includes the Abacos and Grand Bahama, Exumas that include the Ragged Islands, and Far Bahamas that include the outer islands. The Explorer Charts may be the most accurate charts of anywhere, a 25+ year passion of a single couple, Monty and Sara Lewis. I took a picture of a portion of the Shroud Cay chart page to give you an idea of what we are talking about. If you have interest in 'someday' buy a copy of either the Near Bahamas or Exumas guide and you will see exactly what we are talking about. It is $60 well worth spending. Egret's came from Bluewater Books and Charts in Ft Lauderdale - 800 942-2583. Explorer Charts are available elsewhere as well. By the way, nearly all navigation software today uses Explorer Charts for the Bahamas. Even if you have this electronic cartography the booklets are a must have. You'll see why.

The Lewis's have given thousands of boaters the opportunity to cruise the Bahamas safely over the years. OK, after that well deserved commercial we'll move on.

Later. Let's add a second well deserved commercial. Navigation and general knowledge is what Explorer Charts are all about. However, they are not a cruising guide per se. In our opinion, the best cruising guides to the Bahamas are written by Stephen F. Pavlidis. He has accurate charts as well but the history, lore, flora, fauna, dive sites and what to see are thorough and well done. We have both his Exuma Guide and On and Off the Beaten Path guide. Pavlidis also has an Abacos (Bahamas) guide as well.

Today, Egret is anchored off Shroud Cay, part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The Park has moorings good to 65' or you may anchor outside the mooring field as Egret. Egret dropped in 12.5' and has 100' of chain out. The bottom is pure white sand. This is one area in the Exumas where the rbg's - really big guys - have the water to get in and anchor relatively close. Off to starboard is Blind Date, a largish - 125' guess - charter motoryacht. Their guests spend most of the day on jet skis. We have not seen them explore Shroud Cay's inland mangrove creeks yet. Imagine that? I suppose if jet skis is what they want to, well so what? It's ok. Indirectly, RBG's is what allowed MS and I to be here so we wish them well.

egretOne nice treat was tropic birds flying overhead. Tropic birds nearly disappeared from the Bahamas but are slowly coming back. We remember seeing a few before but not numbers like this. They are unique with their long tails. In this photo you see they have green breasts. Tropic birds have white breasts. The green is the reflection from the water. We actually caught two tropic birds in the South Pacific while trolling baits. One drowned and we were able to release one. I will say pretty doesn't mean gentle. Until we threw a wet towel over the head of the tropic bird we released it was biting everything in sight. The other thing that impressed us was in the air, tropic birds look small like a tern. Their wingspan is over a meter (3').

As we mentioned, Shroud Key's attraction is the 3 major inland mangrove creeks that wind their way thru the mangroves. Two creeks reach the other side (windward side) of the island. These creeks are a high incoming tide deal and not to be done on a falling tide, particularly the bottom half OR you may sit for a while. Mary and I explored what we could yesterday on the bottom half of the tide but smartly turned around when we were within a couple hundred yards of where we wanted to go on that particular creek. We take great pains not to disturb the bottom with prop wash so getting out was very carefully reading the bottom to find the deepest water, tilting the outboard and moving the weight forward so the dinghy disturbed nothing. In the end we did good and left the bottom exactly as we found it.

Now I must put in a word for Egret's new 10.5' AB Inflatable - bought at the Ft Lauderdale Boat show last October - and 15hp Yamadog 2 stroke outboard. What a quality package!! First of all, it is a rocketship. It goes much faster than we want to go. It gets on a plane in a nanosecond with the Dolfin (plastic wing mounted on the cavitation plate) giving a big hand. And it is not too heavy. It is a perfect Bahamas dinghy for long distance exploring or shallow water work like yesterday. The water is so clean, when going ashore we set a stern anchor, wade the last bit, and tie the bow line off to something ashore. (If it is really choppy we set the anchor off the bow line and wade in from the stern) And do yourself a favor. ALWAYS lift the engine or you may return and find the lower unit buried in the sand grinding away after the tide fell. If at a dinghy dock, NEVER lift the engine as a matter of courtesy. The 10.5' dinghy is too heavy for Mary and I to drag up the beach comfortably like the smaller dink. However, once we leave the Bahamas I imagine we will use the 9' dinghy and 3hp for the balance of the summer. This year's summer cruising will not have much, if any, long range dinghy exploring so the smaller dink is lighter and easier to use. Of course if we have guests we'll use the larger dinghy.

egretThis photo shows a Bahamian seagull perched on the dink. Notice the outboard motor tiller extension and the black netting on the bow. The tiller handle extension we bought in the Canary Islands but we saw a similar one on display in a Defender Marine booth in Newport. A tiller extension allows the operator to stand holding onto the bow line (WITH THE SAFETY ELECTRICAL CUT OUT ATTACHED TO THE TILLER HAND). I will have to say we used a pvc pipe cut and hose clamped to the tiller handle for years on smaller outboards. However, with more horsepower I think it is wise to have a purpose built extension. With an extension is a lot dryer in a chop running standing up (no wet butt) and you can see the bottom better as well. The net is for abrasion resistance. We first saw this on tenders to the Antarctic adventure charter sailboats to keep the hyplon tube material away from the ice when landing guests ashore. In our case we use it to ram a dock (leaving the engine in gear to hold the dinghy in place) when it is windy to allow Mary to get out and take the line then hold the dink tight to the dock so I can get out. It also works well ramming higher rocks or banks to offload and even Egret's swim platform if the current is so swift like places in the Bahamas. Like today for example. The dinghy is more stable in gear with the power on. Of course when she steps off you have to time chopping the throttle so the dink doesn't try to climb the dock or rock. In practice it is no big deal.

Pictured is the world's best dinghy anchor; a 5lb Manson Supreme. We have it rigged with a sliding long D shackle coupled to 3' of 3/8" chain. (1m x 11mm). The anchor and chain rest by themselves in the small bow locker. We tie a bowline to either the stern line* or bow line depending on how we position the dink when going ashore. There is also several other pieces of line in the bow locker, the longest about 75' - 23.4m. This is in case the engine stops so we can anchor in up to reasonably deep water until we get the engine running again. With the bow line, stern line, 75' line and two other shorter lines coupled together we have a total of about 175' - 55m of line. This is a BIG safety measure.

*All Egret's dinghys forever have an 8" cleat mounted on the inside of the transom (port side) near the top for a stern line. The stern line is permanently attached with a bowline to the stern cleat and coiled for quick use.

egretegretToday was exploring the remaining mangrove creek in Shroud Cay, a walk to the top of a hill - lookout deal and back to Egret. We arrived at the same time as this young French family. Can you imagine how much fun these kids, big and little are having? Leaving, we explored another creek on the way out. You never know what you are going to see exploring a mangrove creek. This little sea turtle put on a show then split when MS's shadow passed over it.

Returning to Egret, we put the dink on the hip, tied it extra secure and left for the Exuma Park Headquarters in Warderick Wells. The run was about 10-12nm. The park has a much photographed mooring field inside a winding channel and now has additional moorings on the lee (west) side of the island. Egret dropped outside the mooring field in pure white sand in 7.5' at low tide and has 90' of chain out. It was choppy on the way so we ran slow charging the batteries and keeping spray to a minimum. We are making so much extra water battery charging we even washed the boat in RO water after arriving. RO water cuts salt so much faster than city water you can't believe it. Also, there is no need to wipe down. RO leaves no water marks.

Tomorrow we will go up to Boo Boo Hill, the highest point on the island near park headquarters and see if there are any items left by boats we know. It is tradition to leave something with your boat name and year on the Hill. Egret's last item was a driftwood board with the Egret logo and name, a sand dollar siliconed below and the years 99, 01, 02, 03, 04 written on the board. I'm sure by now hurricanes have taken it all away but there is a fresh supply every cruising season.

There is a group of 3 Defever trawlers on moorings in front of Egret that are probably traveling together. Defevers are popular coastal cruisers built in numbers in the 70's and 80's. Their popularity came from being a price point boat with traditional shippy lines. It is fun to be around folks with a like brand boat, either power or sail. You have a common interest to meet and it goes from there. We do the same with N folks and go over and introduce ourselves.

This leads us to another point. If you are coastal cruising there are more like kinds or like function boats to fraternize with but if you are Out, chances are the only neighbors will be sailors. It is extremely rare for a sailor to come to Egret (first) and invite MS and I over to their boat. We always have to instigate it. So we do. We pick an interesting boat of whatever nationality and dinghy over and invite them to Egret. They almost always come by, if nothing else but curiosity, then they find out you are just plain folks and the social whirl is underway once again. This gets thru the anchorage quickly and now you are 'in'. The reason is, most long distance sailors are just that......sailors and don't have any idea of the capabilities of ocean capable powerboats. This is slowly changing but for the most part, sailors just don't know. If they had any idea how easy and more comfortable it is than sail I believe they would embrace power if they could. Of course I'm prejudiced.

Today we dinghy'd in and landed on the beach near Exuma Park Headquarters. There was a trail leading up to Boo Boo Hill so off we went. Trails throughout the park were made by volunteer cruisers over the years. There are many more trails than when Egret was here last. Boo Boo Hill was as expected with none of the older memorabilia in place. The winds sent them elsewhere. So then it was back to park headquarters and I went inside while MS checked out the sperm whale skeleton on display back on the beach. The lady at the desk was involved in idle chatter with some guy and didn't bother looking up for 10 minutes or so. So I left. After lunch I returned to pay for wifi to send pictures for this VofE. She was smug and said wifi is for mooring customers (of course Egret was anchored). Then she answered a VHF call from someone trying to find their way around the back (bank side). She rattled off instructions in a tone that was demeaning. None of her words were incorrect. It was just the self important, gate guardish way she said them. Exuma Park and Warderick Wells are a very special place in the world. Cruisers coming here and particularly the first timers are bursting with enthusiasm. They deserve better than this wench. &%^$#@&

After that deal I spotted a N40 in the mooring field and went over to introduce myself (Mary was back aboard). Sandpiper II was flagged in Germany and had 4 German gents aboard. They keep the boat in Florida and cruise the Bahamas during the winter. We chatted a bit and it turns out they know of N40 Uno Mas who was the only N40 on the NAR, and knew Uno Mas went as far as Turkey. I told them Uno Mas is in Marsh Harbour (Abaco, Bahamas) right now. They were thrilled because later on they plan to head to Marsh Harbour. John and Sue (Uno Mas) are their heroes.

So we'll leave the anchorage in the morning (Sat) and keep heading south. Where will Egret stop next? Where ever MS wants. It is all good.

Next morning. We checked weather last night and have a 20 knot southerly coming later today. Most Exuma anchorages are exposed to some degree to a southerly and particularly a southwesterly. So we looked at the Explorer Charts and saw that less than 10nm away we can tuck into the Pipe Creek area. We have been there before and there is lotsa dinghy exploring in protected water. So just now Egret is under way and will arrive in about 2.6nm. More to follow.

OK, so Egret anchored inside Pipe Creek, dropped in a 22' channel at high tide and fired out 125' of chain. At the north end of the Pipe Creek area is Compass Cay. Compass Cay has a marina that shouldn't be. However, thru hard work, lotsa markers and super nice folks they stay pretty full. The reason it shouldn't be is because of the water depth for the 1.5nm channel in. This is a high rising tide deal only for the deeper draft boats. Yet inside there are boats to 100'. Years ago, friends aboard N57 Long Ranger inched their way in lead by a pilot boat from the marina. The attraction of Compass Cay is the camaraderie of the marina, swimming with the sharks, trails all over the island including a walk on the high ironshore cliffs on the windward side. At the very north is the Bubble Bath. The Bubble Bath is a pretty cool deal. On the windward side (east side) near the tip of the island there is a V in the ironshore leading to a series of steps then a drop into a pool. The waves get compressed, tumbled and super aerated then drop into the pool in millions of tiny bubbles. Swimming in the Bubble Bath is pretty special. The description in a cruising guide is not Boat Kid rated so I will let it go but you get the picture.

One other item that is unique to Compass Cay is a low tide airport. Yup, when the tide falls, small planes can land yachtie guests or for the few rental cabins near the marina. After we arrived the weather turned nasty, blowing like crazy with intermittent rain. So we snapped a couple photos of some local kids feeding the sharks then left. There was one yachtie swimming with the sharks with his hat and sunglasses on and drinking a beer. That was cool. The sharks are nurse sharks and completely non aggressive. Still, it doesn't pay to swim with the sharks near dark.

We pulled the anchor this morning (Sun) and headed for Big Major's Spot. It was gusting to 25 and occasional heavy rain. We left on a mid falling tide and in a couple places only had a foot or so under the keel. There is gusty weather forecast from the east until at least Tuesday. Big Major's is a popular anchorage and will have a number of boats so at least we can be social until the weather settles. A 15 minute dinghy run away is Staniel Cay with a small Bahamian settlement.

Today (Sun) can be described in a couple words, gusty rain comes to mind. The Big Major anchorage if full of boats and in a different twist the boats are mainly power boats. Surprise, surprise there are 1 N76 anchored, 1 N68, one N63, an N55 and wee little Egret.. There are also a couple custom steel passagemaker types and 3 larger serious coastal cruisers. There is one small Grand Banks and Egret's neighbor next door is a 37' Nelson Victory Tug with great lines. The mega's are stacked in as well waiting out the weather. No one is moving.

In a rare lull in the rain MS and I ran across to the Lord Nelson and introduced ourselves, were invited aboard and had a nice chat. Two brothers and wives are partners in the boat. They bought it in the Pacific North West, cruised two years there then shipped it to the east coast. This is their first trip to the Bahamas and are a bit disappointed in the weather. We can't blame them but it is all part of the deal. Their future plans may include a Great Circle Loop tour and even talked about shipping to the Med. Of course we climbed on that and told them they really need to do it. It was a nice visit and of course we got drowned coming back. It was worth it. We were starved for social. Hopefully tomorrow we can dinghy over to some of the N's and see what is whipping.

OK, we need to fire this VofE into space. George on N68 Migration was kind enough to let us use his Bahamas phone line with internet access to fire off today's photographs. Migration is so beautiful and well thought out you can't believe it. But that's another story. Tonight is a pot luck dinner on the beach for the N crowd. More on that to follow.

Egret will leave in the morning heading back. Heading back early was Not our intention. However, with obligations back in Fla we need to head back fairly quickly because we are running out of time to spend south. At least we got a peek at a small part of these really great cruising grounds once again. The wind and rain we experienced nearly the entire time are unusual for this time of year but it is what it is.

More Bahamas experiences will be coming up. Ciao.


Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.

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