Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Blog Season 4. 2015 – Our new year plan is return with mates to the Bahamas and beyond.

Why do Aussie tennis players get to play & live in the Bahamas (besides no income tax)? 

We know the drawcard- 100's of magic sandy cays stretch from just off the coast of Florida all the way sth to Cuba. Our plan is to tag team with our friends on Tactical Directions (TD) Tony & Michelle- go island hopping.     Once the boat jobs are done!

In winter at St Augustine, Florida’s Spanish town, Bruce did the hard yakka cleaning black mold in & outside, hauling out Wyuna to berth at the marina. A favorite place under the Bridge of Lyons. Great views of a Spanish galleon & stunning xmas lights. 

Glad to meet TD, and Phil & Trish berthed close by we shared in fun xmas festivities;Kris kringle, traditional Colombian lunch out and a cosy NYE on board.

Keen to getaway – with a forecast of low winds & swell,on 5 Jan.TD and Wyuna sailed sth at 7+ knts overnight past NASA Cape Canaveral but missed seeing a spaceship Blast off. Then on to West Palm Beach a golf mecca.  Hungry, we 4 dinghied ashore to the yacht club for a Mahi Mahi grill & a stroll of historic grand mansions. 

Ahoy Gina winched the main sail up at 4.30pm for our next overnight sail,of 3 hr shifts on watch, across the Gulf Stream to Great Harbor Island. 
Bruce caught his first fish- a Cero Mackerel & said “look up we’ve a torn headsail”. 

Imagine how Exhilarating it is arriving, after 5 weeks of boat jobs & supermarket expeditions (no matter how tired we felt)….. Sailors heaven is on anchor seeing miles of beach and a clear water bottom! Knowing we can rest at our 1st destiny!

Bahamian people are warm, friendly close-knit and like a chat. The customs officers gave us a 6mths visa to stay for $300 us and told us “don’t eat Barracuda, beware of low tides, and try the Beach Café for lunch”. It felt SO good to walk on land after being cabin bound and eat a burger after vegemite on rice crackers for 24hrs.

Life happens here from chatting- like a guy in the Telco office telling us “go to the Blue Hole on Hoffman Island, no signs, go ashore follow a track til you see the opening past an old ruin”. So we did & snorkeled the rocky edge.  Boys grow up here learning freediving for crawfish to 100ft- descending with only flippers & snorkel- it’s very dangerous even if you train to breathe deeply, to not look up & concentrate intensely to ascend safely in the dark - to the surface.  Especially in 600ft deep blue holes.

Still seeking island remoteness, sunset vistas, soft sands and turquoise sparkling water- we chose Bond Cay (Shakira’s island) for our next stop & landed in shallow water of 3ft. on sand banks away from boats & people. 

Until next day, Roy a local visited us by jet-ski to invite us for drinks. We soaked up sun, swam, saw baby crawfish,kayaked then took the dinghy to be met by 3 barking pot cakes (dogs).  
Steve the caretaker and Roy warmly welcomed us with a Kalik beer and said “plenty steaks on the grill, stay eat with us”. Cheers.  Laughing all night we swapped stories like best bush foods- here it’s YES ; love vine, sore back, five fingers, stiff cock, are the names of plants to make tea from- for real.

Next 7 of us snorkeled,3 with spears. Roy patrolled for sharks on his jet ski, Tony did see the pet Lemon shark circle him underwater but No crawfish were caught for the grill.

After a windy night, a dragging anchor, we got up early - under sunny skies & good breezes we headed Sth West for sail and electrical repairs (port battery wasn't charging) to Nassau, capital of the Bahamas.
Never a dull sail? 
Not long under passage TD’s spinnaker tore into shreds in seconds, instantly they ran to fore-deck, kept sailing, pulling the huge sail into a sock. Sh*t happens even in lighter winds of 17kts. Tony radioed to say (#$$%”!!) & all else was ok to keep sailing.

Our return to Nassau Harbor was glorious.  Good friends of Tony’s live here on the harbor and kindly let them moor outside their house. We happily tagged along for happy hour on their balcony with other friends, hearing of local life, tips for repairs and Michelle & Gina joined them at Boot camp.

While we waited days for repairs TD motored to Green Cay where reefs, turtle and fish are colourful. Leslie and Terry on Orient Moon, we met last year, waved us ashore for her birthday drinks. 

Our early morning vhf radio call from TD was miserable- “we‘ve hit a reef, badly damaged the propeller and shaft and most likely will have to return to ST Augustine- end of our season!

They grimly motored back to moor next to us and after discussions Tony reassessed the damage, by diving. Clever Dave (friend from Nassau) arranged for same day repairs at his business and they needed to get the rudder off to fix.  Meanwhile we waited days for a new alternator to be fitted and head sail repairs by the sailmakers.

The winds are up this week in Nassau Harbor, to 20+knts, we've watched boats dragging anchors closeby til Bruce decided at 5pm Australia Day we needed to re-anchor too. Thankfully Tony & Michelle were on board. Anchor up, Bruce tried to steer forward seeing engine smoke and no movement.  Tony picked it! A rope from a mooring bouy wrapped around the propeller. Anchor Down! Quickly Michelle jumps in their dinghy towing ours to avoid more tangles.

Tony dives in with a knife til he ran out of breath, then Bruce. Oh no Gina yells “we’re 6ft from a yacht, with a man in the water to warn them. Fenders Out! Anchor up again! til the rope is cut and the buoy floats free.  Finally we re-anchor away from others.
ALL 6 boats crews closeby anxiously watched our team in action- Brilliantly getting out of trouble.

What a way to celebrate Australia Day, at 6pm our guests arrived for a BBQ and beers and helpers too who watched the turmoil of “Sh*t that happens: even on anchor”.  

A stiff drink calmed our nerves, and fuelled a night of stories and laughs amongst us- knowing we were well dug in with of 150ft chain out. To our mates-we raised our cans to celebrate great team rescue efforts!

Good news next morning our engine is charging. Tony and Michelle are trying to get the rudder off with some difficulty and the wind is still blowing. Thank goodness for good mates who help out when the going gets tough – and stay around for the next episode!!!

Tonight at happy hour while we are recounting our mishap with the mooring ball- a 40ft yacht motors past 10ft away, turns inshore and Bang their 6ft keel hits the sand bank at low tide- Sh*t- just like Captain Ron’s movie. Bruce & Tony jump in the dinghy to help,but they're stuck til midnight til high tide comes.

AS we say Go with the winds, drift with the tides–just watch out for ?

We do recommend Captain Ron film for a laugh.

Which famous Tennis star is playing without a big toe? a Nassau rumor.

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