Living on SV Island Time

Adventures of Life on a Boat

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Sailing to the Bahamas

In late March, Scott and I sailed Island Time from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) to the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. We were there nearly two months, through April and most of May.

My favorite parts? Here’s the top 5.

1. Good Friends. Four catamarans and one powerboat from Apalache Bay Yacht Club were in the Abacos this spring, including Frank and Pat Hankins aboard Zephyros, Steve and Mary Van Sciver aboard Soliton, Ivor and Lynn Groves aboard Gratitude, Scott and I aboard Island Time and Don Beekler and Beth Novinger aboard their powerboat. This is impressive since ABYC is a small club. Friends and family also came to visit, including John and Beth Hamilton, Mike and Angel Ganey, Jackie Werndli and Jon Robinson and Melinda Delpech. We had a great time seeing the sights, exploring the islands, sailing and meeting cruisers from various other places. Boaters share camraderie and a sense of adventure.

Scott and I with Frank and Pat Hankins after a hike on Munjack Cay.

Scott and I with Frank and Pat Hankins after a hike on Munjack Cay.

Mike and Angel Ganey climbing the rocks along the coast at Little Harbor.

Mike and Angel Ganey climbing the rocks along the coast at Little Harbor.

Scott and I with Steve and Mary Van Sciver and Frank and Pat Hankins at Nippers Bar and Grill on Great Guana Cay.

Scott and I with Steve and Mary Van Sciver and Frank and Pat Hankins at Nippers Bar and Grill on Great Guana Cay.

Scott and I with Jackie Werndli at Man O War Cay.Scott and I with Jackie Werndli at Man O War Cay.

Scott and I with Jackie Werndli at Man O War Cay.

The four of us on the bow celebrating the crossing back to Florida.

Scott and I with Jon Robinson and Melinda Delpech after the overnight trip back to Florida across the Gulf Stream.

2. Great scenery. The Abacos are beautiful. Here’s a sample of photos.

Scott holds up one of three 28-inch mutton snappers caught on the trip.

Scott holds up one of three 28-inch mutton snappers caught on the trip.

Green sea turtle at rest

Scott points at a green sea turtle at rest under a branch near Little Harbor.

Scott snorkeling to find a queen conch.

Scott finds a queen conch near Little Harbor.

Coral reef at Fowl Cay Preserve.

The coral reef at Fowl Cay Preserve. Fish were plentiful with barracuda, angel fish, tangs and a variety of other fish.

Lighthouse at Hope Town

The Hope Town lighthouse claims to be the last manned kerosene burning lamp in the world.

View from the lighthouse

View of the harbor and Atlantic Ocean from the top of the Hope Town Lighthouse

3. Good wind. Most days were sunny with temperatures in the 80s and wind between 10 and 20 knots. That’s perfect sailing weather. Most night temperatures fell in the low 70s with light wind, making it comfortable to sleep without air conditioning since we were at anchor or on a mooring ball for most nights.

Island Time under sail on turquoise waters.

Island Time under sail on turquoise waters.

4. Tradition. It’s a tradition among boaters to blow a conch horn at sunset. An enterprising young Bahamian man sold us a conch horn for $5 in West End. I never got the hang of it despite Scott’s efforts to teach me. I will keep practicing. Angel Ganey played the trombone in high school and she’s a pro at blowing the conch horn. See the video.

5. My favorite. Scott can no longer say he has never been to the Bahamas.

Scott and I at Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay.

Scott and I at Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay.

Taking a Sailing Vacation before Our Cruise Begins

At the end of October, Scott and I took a vacation to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands for the 30th Anniversary Pro Am Regatta.

Scott and Martha with a view of North Sound.

Scott and I with a view of North Sound behind us.

It was an amazing trip with  beautiful scenery, terrific sailing and plentiful outdoor activities. We were joined by friends Michael and Angel Ganey and Jimmy and Sondra Lee. We met new friends along the way. We found lots of motivation for sailing our boat all the way to the BVIs.
We flew into St. Thomas, took a ferry to Tortola and spent the night at Nanny Cay. The roosters crowing at 4 a.m. were a novel change from the standard alarm clock (not!). We then took another ferry to Virgin Gorda, where we spent seven nights at the Bitter End Yacht Club.
map-of-north-soundThe Pro Am Regatta featured top notch pros and some devoted racing amateurs. Scott and I raced a Hobie Wave (lots of fun!) and participated in the racing of IC 24s with a variety of pro skippers.
Sailing a Hobie Wave.

Sailing a Hobie Wave around North Sound.

Many participants “raced” Leopards to the Baths in the Mount Gay Defiance Day Race. Our skipper was Steve Benjamin (Benj), 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.
For fun, we went snorkeling and took a day to visit Foxy’s and the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. We also sailed a Hobie Getaway around Necker Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson) and Prickly Pear National Park on Virgin Gorda.
Scott and Martha sitting in beach chairs at Jost Van Dyke

Toes in the Sand

On the way home, Angel found us a three bedroom, three bathroom suite at the Marriott on St. Thomas. The accommodations were sweet and the view was even better. (Thanks, Angel!)
Next post: a recap of the first month living aboard Island Time.
More photos:
Finding a conch while snorkeling

Scott finds a conch while snorkeling.

Sunset

Sunset in St. Thomas, USVI

Starting Our Journey – Crossing the Gulf of Mexico

We have arrived safely in Dunedin and are docked at Marker 1 Marina off the Dunedin Causeway. Whew!

“Attitude makes the difference between an ordeal and an adventure,” says Bob Bitchin, publisher of Cruising Outpost Magazine. We have just experienced an adventure and we’re happy (and relieved) to be tied to the dock. Our attitudes are good, despite a challenging trip.
Scott and I along with Michael and Angel Ganey departed Shell Point at 9 a.m.. yesterday following a terrific send off from our friends on shore. David and Pam Bullard escorted us out of Shell Point with their power boat. We raised the mainsail and unfurled the headsail and were making good time. Within an hour, we had reduced both sails because of wind and sea state (too much of each).
The forecast called for 15-20 knots of wind out of the with 2-4 foot seas. During the day, winds were 15-25 and seas were 4-6. Winds were mostly from the east.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset at sea.
sunset-on-crossing
After dark, we got 25-28 knots of wind with 6-8 foot seas. Each couple took four hour watches with the men at the helm, starting at 8 p.m. The other couple grabbed a little sleep when possible.
By 10 a.m. today, the forecast was more accurate with sloppy seas and 15 knots of wind. By 11 a.m., it was beautiful.
Island Time performed well. Crew is happy to be tied to the dock. We were not able to get photos but at times we were escorted by dolphin, sea gulls and monarch butterflies.
As we came through the Dunedin Causeway draw bridge, we noticed a kayak to the east, where we were headed. They waved a champagne bottle at us. We were surprised and thrilled to learn that Scott’s brother, Jon, and our sister-in-law, Melinda, had made the trip from Sarasota to escort us into harbor. (Awww!)
Two people in a tandem kayak.

What We Learned on the Shake Down Cruise

Last May, we took a shake down cruise for 10 days. See the previous post for the itinerary. The goals were to play, identify what worked and what needed more attention. Here are five things we learned/verified:

1) Be careful who you invite.

Four people on the bow.

Phil and Jackie with us on the bow at Dog Island. Photo by Phil Werndli.

Phil and Jackie were perfect companions for 10 days. We’ve traveled with them for long trips before so we knew we’d get along great. Jackie and I alternated meal preparation so we were not in the galley together. Phil and Scott worked together on anchoring, engine issues and trouble shooting other systems. We ate, drank cocktails, played dominoes and window shopped in two towns. Both were able to assist and offer valuable suggestions. It was great and we appreciate their company, their expertise and their friendship.

2) Our solar panels kept us off the grid — mostly.

Two solar panels.

Two solar panels on the radar arch of Island Time.

In recent months, Scott installed two 150-watt solar panels on the boat. He also replaced the refrigerator/freezer combo on the boat. The test? Would the solar panels keep up with all the demands of four people and two dogs? It performed well, despite some cloudy days. Between running the diesel engines and the solar panels, our batteries stayed charged and covered all the electrical needs, including powering the refrigerator. The 12-cubic-foot space was filled to the brim when the journey began. As each meal was prepared, the contents slowly diminished. On the days when we knew we would be motoring, we let the crock pot do all the work — pork roast and pot roast. That’s good eating on a boat.

3) Four people need a lot of mixers for 10 days on a boat. Boat drinks are important. Soda Stream to the rescue. We kept cold water in the refrigerator, added the appropriate flavoring and whirled up tonic, lemon/lime and ginger ale on demand. No hauling cans and bottles to the boat and no hauling away the garbage. It worked great and kept us singing along with Jimmy Buffett the whole trip.

4) Ground tackle matters. On the first night, we anchored in Tyson’s Cove at Dog Island. We know from experience that the bottom there is sandy and that most anchors simply don’t hold without the weight of chain to hold it in place. Our new Mantus anchor with all chain rode did a fabulous job. The anchor held great and we all got a good night’s sleep. Of course, Scott was still up every couple of hours checking on the position of the boat.

Because of the sandy/silty/muddy bottom, Phil had the job of rinsing the chain as Scott used the windlass to lift the anchor. Phil had a cloth bucket on a rope that he lowered to the water, filled and lifted to pour over the chain to remove the black mess. Phil filled, lifted, and rinsed while Scott raised the anchor. This was hard work for Phil for more than 30 minutes. Lesson learned: install a fresh/salt water pump on the bow. Scott’s still working on that one.

5) You never know who’ll you’ll meet or meet again. After we docked at the marina in Port St. Joe, another boat came in a little bit later. We assisted with tying their lines. The woman on board and I started chatting and both kept saying, “We know each other. How?” After we chatted for a few minutes, we figured it out. We had met at the St. Petersburg GAM reception for the Seven Seas Cruising Association the previous November. Gary and Shirley are now full time cruisers and we are excited to join them on the water.

Bonus lesson: Keep both engines running. Motoring into the wind with one engine means little progress. Early in the trip, we noticed that the starboard engine was spitting black gunk. Scott turned it off and we decided to proceed with one engine. On the way to Apalachicola, we were going about one knot into the wind. Unacceptable. We started the engine and motored along, taking it easy for the rest of the trip. When we got back to home port, Scott replaced both exhaust elbows (one for each engine). As it turns out, this is a routine maintenance item and it was due.

Scott and I are working to move from the house to the boat so we can begin our adventure on the water. Next post: transitioning from house to boat. What to keep? What to donate? What to store?

Where We Went on the Shake Down Cruise

In May 2016, Scott and I took the boat for 10 days on a shake down cruise to learn more about the boat and some of newly installed equipment. We invited our good friends, Phil and Jackie, to join us on the trip.

We motorsailed west from Shell Point to Dog Island, where we spent the first night. On the second day, we motorsailed to Apalachicola. We anchored in the river one night and tied up to the city wharf the second night. We spent the day sight seeing, shopping and enjoying the town. At cocktail time, we headed over to the Gibson Inn. None of us had ever been there before so it was treat. The historic inn has been wonderfully restored and Phil (a retired historic preservationist) told us all about it. We had dinner at a local restaurant.

Boat at anchor

SV Island Time at anchor on the Apalachicola River.

Appoaching the bridge to St. George Island

Approaching the bridge to St. George Island.

Sunset over the Apalachicola River.

Sunset over the Apalachicola River.

The next day, we traveled up the Apalachicola River to Lake Wimico on the Intracoastal Waterway on our way to Port St. Joe. Our original plan was to anchor for the night, but the winds made it choppy so we headed for the marina, where we spent two nights. We re-provisioned at the Piggly Wiggly, shopped at the adorable stores just one block north of US 98 and enjoyed pizza for dinner at Joe Mama’s Wood Fired Pizza (there are two, the other one is in Tallahassee).

When we left the marina, we sailed around St. Joe Bay, went for a swim and anchored by the lighthouse for the night.

Lighthouse and museum

Lighthouse at the town of Port St. Joe.

The next day, we reversed course and headed through the lake, back to Apalachicola where we anchored for the night before heading to Dog Island to meet the cruising fleet for Memorial Day weekend at Dog Island. There were at least 12 boats there from the Apalache Bay Yacht Club. Scott caught a Spanish mackerel on the way and we were happy to grill it and offer as a appetizer to share with our friends joining us there.

Next: What worked? What needed more attention?

boats at anchor

Several boats from Apalache Bay Yacht Club at anchor at Dog Island.

 

 

 

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