Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Exhumas

We landed in Bimini and got our paper work from customs.The dock we stayed at was a home to 5 foot Tarpon and 8 foot Barracuda.From there we left to the Berries and stayed at the east side of Chub Key Island.We went ashore to see a wrecked house and took a short walk and until we reached the jungle. As for the locals we only met one friendly Bahamian who directed us to a great coral reef and valuable information on how to catch Lobsters.

We then crossed to Nassau and though we didn’t get out of the boat as we were just transiting through, we were able to see Paradise Hotel.Then we went to the the Exuma Islands  where we met the docile Allan Cay Iguanas who will run up to you seeing if you will feed them.

We went spearfishing but there are thousands of beginners who are better at it then so I scared more fish then actually hit them. But Dad is a lot better at it then me and he nearly had a huge fish but it dove under the reef and we couldn’t reach it.

After that we went to Normans Cay and saw a huge sunken plane, it is said that at one point this Cay was overrun by drug lords and this plane was used to transport drugs around the island before it met its demise in this piece of paradise...Then we went to the beach and walked along the beach and climbed up the rocks and the saw the jurassic park like forest below. 

Later we took it easy and watched a movie. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bimini, Bahamas

We crossed the Gulf Stream!
Actually it was quite uneventful as the wind completely died out and the stream was almost completely flat.
Phyllis, in anticipation of a rough passage drugged herself and slept throughout most of the voyage which was too bad as this was the one time that offshore sailing (motoring) was very calm.
We have cleared the Bahamian customs with no issues and got our BTC mobile SIM card so that we can have more internet options.
We topped off with fuel and moved to the north east shore of Bimini island where the kids and I spend a couple of hours in the water collecting conch and learning how to spearfish. The winds are going to be still light out of the north tomorrow so we will make a run for the Berry islands (about 80 miles). We will be leaving around midnight so that we can arrive during a daylight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Miami Beach living

We have been a bit quiet the last few days. It has not been because we don't have what to report, we just have been so busy with boat projects, school work, ordering last minute parts and provisioning, that the boat has not moved the last 4 days. One of the major projects that we accomplished was purchasing and adding more solar panels to our array. After a few days out cruising, it became apparent that we have battery charging issue and are simply not replenishing the used up amps back to the battery. We kept taking steps of minimizing usage, we stopped using the Engels portable freezer, and watched battery usage, but that was not enough. I have discovered that only one of my two alternators was working, so I replaced the alternators on the engine, but they charge only when we run the engines which we don't want to do unless we are actually going somewhere. Second discovery was that my battery charger only charges at 10 amps and it was taking just too long time to try and charge the batteries by running the generator and charging at 10 Ah. So I purchased additional 40Ah battery charger so now we can charge the batteries at 50Ah which is much faster. Here in Miami is a company "Sun Electrics" which probably sells the cheapest solar panels in the USA, so for two days I kept measuring and remeasuring my bimini area and finally bought two more large panels. We spent last two days drilling and cutting and wiring everything together. Well it looks like Friday is looking promising for crossing to the Bahamas. Keep your finger crossed and hopefully the next post will be from outside of USA!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Boca Chita Key

Boca Chita Key

We were at Boca Chita until Wednesday morning, our plan on Wednesday was to go explore the other islands in the Biscayne Bay. We had set our eyes on Elliot’s key a couple of miles away. So on Tuesday morning we took off, it was such  a pleasant morning. It was sad to leave Boca Chita because it was so convenient for us to be able to just jump out of the boat on to dry land and have the kids run around. So we untied the lines and  started our sail to Elliot’s key. 

The sailing was going fine the water looked very pretty, green…you could see the bottom…suddenly, Anthony said he thought we hit something…his dad said he didn’t think so but on further inspection we found  we had ran aground; oh boy! This was no good, well, we thought of different ways we could get ourselves out but to our dismay the tide was going out so fast and the water level was lowering too fast for us to be able to get ourselves out. We tried to pull the boat with the dingy, no couldn’t do, we tried moving our small anchor to deeper water and tried to provide stability that way, nothing! didn’t work. We tried everything imaginable nothing worked. 

While we were trying everything to get our boat out, our buddy boat Lady J spotted us and immediately realized that we had ran aground. They beckoned us on the radio asking if we needed help…They were gracious and turned around to help us so they returned to Boca Chita and tied up to the boat ramp and John the  boat captain came to our aid. Mirek and John tried to push our boat with the dingies but that didn’t work. So it was decided that we off load the diesel and the water and any other heavy stuff we had on board that was weighing down the boat so that it could become buoyant again once the tide came up. So we loaded some things on John’s dingy and our dingy and took them back to Boca Chita. In the meantime, we decided that the 100 gallons of water were weighing the boat down so we decided to lighten the boat by using some of the water to clean the boat(the irony of it LOL water is very precious on a boat) We decided that if we were going to wait for the tide to rise we were going to clean the boat. Salt water makes the boat sticky and it is not good for the long term condition of the boat. 

So we washed the boat, cleaned it till it sparkled; Did I mention that we were grounded for a loooong time? At about 3PM however,the tide started to come  and water level started to rise…We could feel the boat starting to rise and it was bouncing more and more and we knew it was only a matter of time before we would be loose. So at about 5PM we safely made our way back to the Boca Chita dock, happy that we had not made any holes on the boat and that all crew was  accounted for. We spent a lovely evening at Boca Chita even though everyone wished we could have been able to make it to Elliot’s key. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bienvenido a Miami

We did it. The winds were 20 - 25 knots and clocking and for the next week it was supposed to be blowing from the east developing 8 ft waves with interval of 5 seconds apart. That is not comfortable sailing. Every morning the weather would calm down a little bit so we devised a series of plans. We got up before 5am and motored the rest of the way (about 26 miles) to Ft. Lauderdale. It's interesting to see the luxury yachts that people have docket in front of their even more expensive homes there. By 11am we reached the Ft. Lauderdale channel and decided to go for it. It was either a 3 hours of bad seas or a week spent in Ft. Lauderdale on anchor. I would have to rent a car and drive to Miami to pick up spare parts that were already waiting for me there. We decided just to go outside. Well, it was rough! We put 2 reefs into our main and just kept looking how much longer we have to go before we get to Miami. Finally we reached the Miami Governor's cut (the main channel) and we tucked ourselves into the Biscane bay. So here we are - in Miami. The first leg of our trip is complete. Now we will have to wait - perhaps more than a week - for the weather to cooperate and calm down so that we can make the crossing to the Bahamas. As I type this we are tied to a free dock in Boca Chita Key (a little island south of Miami) and everyone is having great time. It's time to get more boat projects done!