July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

Dont Worry, Be Happy
By Kismet, Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lisa and I fall asleep and awake each day to the gentle crashing of the ocean waves, just over the sandy bluff from our slip in Sea Spray Marina on Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands. As I awoke to this soothing sound just before sunrise the second morning after our arrival, I gently slipped out of bed and quietly exited the boat, so Lisa could sleep in. (I know, what a guy.) I walked the 200 feet up to the top of the sandy hill that separates our boat from the ocean. It’s 6:30 in the morning as I watched the start of the sunrise and witnessed the power of Mother Nature bringing one cresting wave after another against the shore of our home for a month in this Abaco Island paradise. With all there is to worry about in the world I feel very fortunate to be in this remote corner of the Bahamas.

Sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean as we’re heading out of the Port Everglades Inlet.

As a reference point the Abaco Islands are the northernmost islands of the Bahamas, located about 120 miles east of Palm Beach Florida in the Sea of Abaco. The most popular route, the one we took to reach the Bahamas, was traveling with the Gulf Stream from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the West End of Grand Bahama Island, an 80-nautical-mile trip.

It’s always nice to relax our tried bones in a nice pool after a long travel day, this one’s at Old Bahama Bay Resort.

Our journey to reach the Abaco Islands started when we left Key West on February 2nd. Traveling our usual eight knots, and with reasonable weather, we should’ve been able to reach our destination by February 8. However, we didn’t arrive until February 14. High winds kept us in port for eight extra days along the way. We made good use of the down time when we spent six extra days at Sombrero Dockside Marina in Marathon visiting friends we’d first met at our homeport of Charlevoix last summer, just before we departed on our Loop.

 

 

New neighbors docking next to us at Old Bahama Bay Resort. The Little Bahama Bank is visible out in the distance. It’s always nice to relax our tried bones in a nice pool after a long travel day, this one’s at Old Bahama Bay Resort

Each day I’d awake and listen to NOAA for the Florida Bay weather report, looking for a good weather window so we could move up the Florida Keys, past Miami and into Fort Lauderdale, a three-day trip. At the same time I’d check our onboard XM Satellite Weather to check the Atlantic Ocean Gulf Stream conditions. I’d check for wind speed and direction mostly as these are the two main ingredients that can cause a crossing to be like a Dr. Jekyll or a Mr. Hyde.

Our boating friends Charlie and Linda relaxing on the deck of Freedom’s Turn preparing for an Atlantic Ocean sunset.

Ideally you don’t want to have wind out of any northern quadrant and preferably none for a least the prior 24 hours. The reason is simple. The Gulf Stream moves from south to north at a couple of knots and when combined with northerly winds, conditions can get pretty ugly. Pretty ugly means larger waves then any boater ever wants to negotiate. Conversely, if you have mild five-knot winds from the south it helps to lay the ocean waters down, making for a comfortable ride. Waiting for these conditions to present themselves in the winter months can try ones patience. From the time we left Key West our eventual window didn’t open up for 12 days.




The view from our back deck as we watch the sunset at Great Sale Cay, Bahamas.

After cancelling our Plan A day, which just happened to be Friday the 13th, due to a shift in the winds, we decided on Plan B, which was Saturday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day. We woke in the cover of darkness at 5:15 a.m., cast off by 6:00 a.m. and worked our way out of the New River in relative darkness. The New River is fairly narrow, with many boats docked along each side, there are several bridges to pass under, and the river meanders about two miles back to the ICW. We had very little light as we made our way, and everything was going fine until we came to the last 90-degree bend in the river. When all of a sudden Lisa states very firmly, “THERE’S A GREEN MARKER ON OUR PORT SIDE!” Thanks to her sharp co-piloting she saved our butt. I slipped the transmission lever into neutral and then hard into reverse just in time to narrowly escape disaster.  After our near mishap I repositioned the boat and left the green marker unscathed to starboard as we continued out into the ICW, the Port Everglade Channel, and finally into the ocean.

Happy hour at Pineapples Bar on the island of Green Turtle. We have arrived! They really mean it; they treat you like family in the Abacos.

I remember as a child the excitement and anticipation I felt on Christmas morning before opening up gifts, hoping I’d receive that one special gift I’d wanted. That’s how we felt as we were leaving the protected inland waters for the wide-open Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Stream crossing to the West End in the Bahamas. Would the winds still be calm, out of the south, waves two feet or less as predicted? These questions borne of anxiety were soon put to rest as we inched our way northeast out into the ocean. Mother Nature was kind to us and the weather was as predicted with gentle two-foot rollers and a slight breeze out of the south. Our patience while waiting for proper weather conditions paid off with a good crossing. We were rewarded with a comfortable eight-and-a-half hour, 80-mile run instead of a jaw grinding, gut wrenching, and mind-numbing experience.

Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar has been in business for over 40 years serving a sought after Goombay Smash rum drink, a favorite stop for locals as well cruisers. Lisa with her Goombay Smash. She tired to find out what the secret formula was, without success.

The Old Bahama Bay Marina & Resort was a welcome sight after being without the sight of land for better part of six hours. Lisa really likes this place, so we decided to spend two nights here, celebrate Valentines Day, swim in the pool, and just enjoy the beauty this first-class marina has to offer. As we were enjoying the amenities, we watched, read, and listened to the weather several times a day to determine when we could safely leave to continue our trek through the Abacos. As it turned out, due to extremely high winds, Lisa got to enjoy one extra day at Old Bahama Bay before we could depart and head east over the Little Bahama Bank.

When leaving the well-protected harbor of Old Bahama Bay Marina, we headed back out into the shallows of the ocean, headed north for only a mile before we threaded our way between the exposed rocks of Indian Rock and Wood Cay and onto the Banks. The entrance is narrow, not marked and six-feet deep at low tide, so our anxiety was high. Safely onto the Bank we headed west 45 miles to the uninhabited island called Great Sale Cay. The water was crystal clear, six to 14-feet deep, with a white sandy bottom most of the way. We arrived at Great Sale Cay with plenty of daylight left to help us get situated into our well-protected anchorage. The water is so clear there we could follow our chain rode all the way out to our set anchor, 80-feet in front of our bow.

They came by dinghy, boat and electric cart to help raise money for the New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, fire department.

One of the highlights of being anchored next to a secluded island in the middle of the Little Bahama Bank is the sunset displayed on an endless horizon. Another treat presents itself long after dusk, with no artificial lighting, and with a clear dark sky the stars seem to be at your fingertips. We were not disappointed, as the constellations were as bright and recognizable as at any time we’d ever witnessed them before. The handle of the Big Dipper appeared to be balancing itself on the shore of the island as if Mother Nature made it into an art sculpture. Lisa and I had dinner on the back deck as we took everything in, what a great way to spend a peaceful night.

When we left the West End we knew we only had a two- or three-day window to get tucked safely into port before gale-force winds would again make their appearance. Lisa and I on Kismet, and Charlie and Linda on Freedom’s Turn, got up early and departed for a 69-mile run into the Sea of Abaco and Green Turtle Cay. We decided to take a mooring ball in Black Sound for the night and visit Pineapples Bar to celebrate our arrival into yet another island in the Abacos. Two rum drinks here and its goodnight for me. Because we did not have access to any weather reports while here we decided to unhitch our line from the mooring ball early the next morning and motor the short distance over to White Sound and secure ourselves at the Green Turtle Club Marina before the winds kicked up. We were happy to be tied up at dock when the winds picked up strength an hour later and seemed to never let up for two straight days.

Bodie is the man to see when you want to pick up some local catch. We bought lobster during this visit.

Green Turtle Club Marina was our home for three days as we waited for the wind to die down. February is considered the off-season in the Bahamas therefore some marinas have specials on dockage. Green Turtle had the most unique offer in that we got to eat in their restaurant for free up to the amount we paid for dock space per day. So besides being securely tied up during the blow, our tummies were full and our galley was clean. Now that’s what I call a good deal.

The walls and ceiling of the Green Turtle’s Yacht Club Pub are lined with burgees and autographed dollar bills from all over the world, we added a dollar bill emblazoned with Kismet.

We occupied our time here with a few walking and dinghy trips into the little town of New Plymouth. A quant little town, New Plymouth is over 200 years old it was first settled by American colonists who were loyal to the British cause at the outbreak of the American Revolution. They came for safety and to escape the patriot cause. While in New Plymouth we went to the Stranded Naked cookout and fundraiser for the local fire department, a good way to immerse ourselves into the local culture. We had to also visit Bodie at the local seafood store, to buy lobster and of course we had to stop by Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar to sample the Goombay Smash, a rum concoction that can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.

This was a new boat at some point in time!

From a cruisers perspective the 25 miles from Green Turtle Cay south are considered the heart of the Abaco Islands. With no cell service, limited internet and only 25 miles to explore we shouldn’t have many worries and hopefully only happiness. Lisa and I are both fortunate and thrilled to be here for the next six weeks and hope you’ll check back to read about where and what we’ve experienced in the coming weeks.

That’s me walking the Atlantic Beach on Green Turtle Cay. Note the large breaking waves, one of reasons we had to stay at Green Turtle a little longer than planned.