Silver Maple Blog

The Voyage Continues!


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Hanging out in Hopetown

Sunday, March 23 to Sunday, March 30 2014

Well, our plans to move to Marsh Harbour last week had to be adjusted. The weather has been unsettled for days, so we have been forced to stay here in Hopetown — not really a hardship since it’s a gorgeous place with a lovely beach and some nice restaurants. And, we’ve been meeting lots of other great cruisers who are also staying put and waiting for good weather. The northern migration has definitely started. Being forced to hole up this week, we have had time to work on  preparing the boat to put into storage for the season — in addition to having fun with our new friends.

Randy keeping busy doing chores and polishing the metal on the boat while we wait for the weather to settle

Randy keeping busy doing chores and polishing the metal on the boat while we wait for the weather to settle

Snorkeling from the beach

Snorkeling from the beach

The great people on Mandalay (Debra and John from Annapolis, MD) and Miss Ellie (Louise and Guy formerly from Sarnia, ON and now from Vancouver, BC) have been lots of fun. The guys have also been pitching in to help Randy with some of the sanding and varnishing on our boat. Julie and Dawson on Jazzebelle (from Sudbury, ON) who we met in Cape Eleuthera arrived a few days after we got here. Great to see them again! We’ve been hanging out with them too.

View of the sunset at the Firefly Restaurant just outside of Hopetown

View of the sunset at the Firefly Restaurant just outside of Hopetown

Dinner with Debra and John (Mandalay) and Louise and Guy (Miss Ellie) at Firefly

Dinner with Debra and John (Mandalay) and Louise and Guy (Miss Ellie) at Firefly Restaurant

Happy hour at one of our favourite places in town, Sip Sip (which means 'gossip' in Bahamian) with the group including Julie and Dawson (Jazzebelle)

Happy hour at one of our favourite places in town, Sip Sip (which means ‘gossip’ in Bahamian) with the group including Julie and Dawson (Jazzebelle)

 

Curly tail lizard in Hopetown who seems to want to get into my grocery bag

Curly tail lizard in Hopetown who seems to want to get into my grocery bag

Happy Hour by the pool at the Hopetown Marina

Happy hour and pot luck appetizers by the pool at the Hopetown Marina

Today it is 80F and sunny, but thunderstorms are rolling through occasionally. Looks like the weather, wind and waves are going to improve tomorrow (Monday), so we will finally be able to move on. New plan is to go to Fishers Bay at Great Guana Cay on Monday and then do the Whale Cay ocean passage the next day. That will put us in Green Turtle Cay sometime Tuesday. Silver Maple is being pulled out of the water early next week at Abaco Yacht Services on Green Turtle Cay. The few days we will have when we get there this week will give us time to get things ready.

The trip is wrapping up for this year. Wow, hard to believe.


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Back to the Abaco Islands

Thursday, March 13 to Saturday, March 22, 2014

We have a great crossing back to Cape Eleuthera from Hawksbill Cay in the Exumas and are able to sail pretty much the whole way.  Once again, bad weather is moving in so we are looking to get settled in the Cape Eleuthera Marina for a few days. We meet some great people at the marina in Cape Eleuthera when we arrive — Dawson and Julie on Jazzebelle (from Sudbury, ON) and Rick and Eva on Calypso (from Annapolis, MD). All of us are waiting out the weather for four nights, so we meet for happy hour and pot-luck appetizers in the evenings. We even pull out the fold-up bicycles from storage one day and ride to a nearby marine research center, called the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) for a tour. They are doing some really interesting studies of sharks and the invasive Lion Fish species. The facility tries to be green and has a small farm on the property to grow some of their own food. As part of the center there is a school where high school students from the US and Canada come and spend a semester studying the Bahamas and the local marine life. Seems like a great program.

Silver Maple docked between Jazzebelle (Sudbury) and Calypso (Annapolis) at Cape Eleuthera

Silver Maple docked between Jazzebelle (Sudbury) and Calypso (Annapolis) at Cape Eleuthera

We get the fold up bicycles out (first time this year) and explore Cape Eleuthera

We get the fold-up bicycles out (first time this year) and explore Cape Eleuthera

Finally, the weather improves and all three boats, Silver Maple, Calypso and Jazzebelle head out on Saturday. Each have different destinations, but hopefully we will run into them again. Silver Maple’s trip is a short one to Hatchet Bay. And its another great day for sailing. We arrive early at the anchorage, so we take the dingy into town and have a walk-about. It’s a lovely evening and the town is having a festival in the park with live music. We have dinner at a great little place called Twin Brothers.

Narrow entrance to Hatchet Bay

Narrow entrance to Hatchet Bay

At dinner in Hatchet Bay at the Twin Brothers restaurant

At dinner in Hatchet Bay at the Twin Brothers restaurant

Twin Brothers is a very cute place with good food

Twin Brothers is a very cute place with good food

Heading back to the dock where the dingy is tied up. Silver Maple anchored in the distance.

Heading back to the dock where the dingy is tied up. Silver Maple anchored in the distance.

Early the next morning, we leave for Spanish Wells which is the next stop as we head back north retracing our trip when we came down. Back at the Yacht Haven (bit of a misnomer) in Spanish Wells we are once again waiting out bad weather. Finally, things clear enough on Tuesday afternoon to make the short trip to Royal Island Harbour. From there we will set out on our last ocean passage as we head back north to put the boat into storage.

Silver Maple back at Spanish Wells

Silver Maple back at Spanish Wells

Captain waiting out bad weather coming through

Captain waiting out bad weather

We rent a golf cart to get around town and do some errands

We rent a golf cart to get around town and do some errands

Sunset at Royal Island Harbour

Sunset at Royal Island Harbour

The passage from Royal Island Harbour to the Abacos is a long one of about 9 hours, so we are up early and on the water before sunrise. The boat, Uncle B (California), who was on the dock with us in Spanish Wells follows us. It seems to be their first trip to the Abacos. The wind is on our nose the whole way so no sailing, and the waves are higher than forecast too. It is fairly rough at times, but no problem for Silver Maple. The crew survives pretty well also. Entering the cut into the Abaco Islands at South Barr is tricky, but Randy handles the waves coming in, no problem.

Captain looking pretty awake considering the early morning start

Captain looking pretty awake considering the early morning start

Sunrise with Uncle B following us for the crossing

Sunrise with Uncle B following us for the crossing

Resting after arrival at Lynyard Cay

Resting after arrival at Lynyard Cay

Sunset at Lynyard

Sunset at Lynyard

We settle into the anchorage at Lynyard Cay and relax. It’s very good to be back in the Abacos. The next morning, we travel to our old stomping ground at Hopetown Inn and Marina. So good to be back to civilization and some of the creature comforts we’ve been without while down south — groceries, water, internet, cell coverage, restaurants. Hopetown is the busiest we’ve ever seen it. We think it may be beause its March Break or something. Thankfully we get the last available slip in the marina.

Cell coverage is back!

Cell coverage is back!

Entering the Hopetown harbour. Yeah!

Entering the Hopetown harbour. Yeah!

Silver Maple docked in Hopetown (in the middle)

Silver Maple docked in Hopetown (in the middle)

Hopetown is the busiest we have ever seen it

Hopetown is the busiest we have ever seen it

Dinner at Firefly, one of our favourite restaurants

Dinner at Firefly, one of our favourite restaurants

Beautiful Hopetown harbour

Beautiful Hopetown harbour

We’ve been hanging out and relaxing since we got here and have already have met some great people here at the marina. In a few days we will head to the Jib Room at Marsh Harbour, and then on to Green Turtle to put the boat away.


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Exploring the Islands

Monday, February 24th to Wednesday, March 12, 2014

After days without internet connectivity we are finally back online today! The islands, the scenery, the water, the fish and the people of the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas are all fantastic, but services are scarce — and where they are available they tend to be very expensive. Regardless, we are having a wonderful time and enjoying the sailing life.

After Little Farmers Cay, we make the ocean passage to Georgetown. The weather is good and that puts us there a few days before our friend Fritz arrives from Switzerland for his visit. Georgetown is sailing central down here. We have never seen so many boats in one place. It’s a bit crazy-busy, so as soon as Fritz is onboard we head out.

Randy at the bar at Farmers Cay with owner Roosevelt

Randy at the bar at Farmers Cay with the owner Roosevelt

So many boats in Georgetown!

So many boats in Georgetown!

Dingy dock mayhem in Georgetown as all the people on sailboats come into town

Dingy dock mayhem in Georgetown as all the people on sailboats come into town

Randy entering the Georgetown sailors' watering hole

Randy entering the Georgetown sailors’ watering hole

We run into Kathy and Jules from Haidi Girl who we met back in Spanish Wells

We run into Kathy and Jules from Haidi Girl (who we met back in Spanish Wells) at the Chat n Chill

Fritz arrives from Switzerland! Randy picks him up in Georgetown and brings him by dingy to where we are anchored.

Fritz arrives from Switzerland! Randy picks him up in Georgetown and brings him by dingy to where we are anchored.

Leaving Georgetown requires an ocean passage. Unfortunately, it’s a very rough day so we give up after a few hours of pounding and pull behind Lee Stocking Island and into an anchorage there to wait out the weather. We are holed up for two nights. Once the weather settles down we head back out. It’s a much better day and we have a good trip to Black Point, where we run into our friends Jodi and Dauphin (on Monarch).

Fritz settles in to the sailing life

Fritz settles in to the sailing life

Sunrise at Black Point with Jodi and Dauphin's boat 'Monarch.'

Sunrise at Black Point with Jodi and Dauphin’s boat ‘Monarch.’

During our week visit with Fritz, we travel to Staniel Cay and swim the Thunderball Grotto to see the amazing number of fish there. We also visit Bitter Guana and find the Iguanas. Later, we head to Compass Cay, where they have sharks in the harbour that you can pat. At Big Major, we see the pigs that swim out to your boat to get a carrot. Very cute!

Endangered Exuma Iguana on Bitter Guana Cay

Endangered Exuma Iguana on Bitter Guana Cay

Fritz and Randy with their new buddies

Fritz and Randy with their new iguana buddies

Fritz, Randy and Lee on Bitter Guana Cay

Fritz, Randy and Lee on Bitter Guana Cay

Randy and Lee with Silver Maple in the background

Randy and Lee with Silver Maple in the background

Silver Maple in the crystal clear waters of the Exumas

Silver Maple in the crystal clear waters of the Exumas

Lee and Fritz enjoying the ride

Lee and Fritz enjoying the ride

Pigs swim out to greet you to get a carrot on Big Major

Pigs swim out to greet you to get a carrot on Big Major

Randy patting the sharks at Compass Cay

Randy patting the sharks at Compass Cay

Lee at the beach on Compass Cay

Lee at the beach on Compass Cay

It’s a very fun week and we really enjoy having Fritz aboard. On Saturday, March 8th we head back to Staniel Cay so Fritz can catch his flight back. Silver Maple is again a two person crew, and we head to Cambridge Cay. At Cambridge Cay, which is back in the Exuma National Land and Sea Park, there is a snorkeling spot called the Sea-quarium. Incredible number of fish there by a small island with a small reef. We spend the afternoon there enjoying all the underwater wildlife. Cambridge Cay is a beautiful spot — one of our favourites in the Bahamas. After a lovely night at Cambridge, we sail to Hawksbill Cay. Hawksbill is also gorgeous. It has some of the most beautiful water we’ve seen yet. Lovely.

Fish at sea-quarium by Cambridge Cay

Fish at sea-quarium by Cambridge Cay

Dinner onboard at Cambridge Cay

Dinner onboard at Cambridge Cay

Silver Maple anchored at Hawkbill Cay

Silver Maple anchored at Hawksbill Cay

View of Hawksbill Cay from the top of the hill on the island

View of Hawksbill Cay from the top of the hill on the island

Sunset at Hawksbill Cay

Sunset at Hawksbill Cay

Leaving Hawksbill at sunrise and heading out for ocean crossing to Eleuthera

Leaving Hawksbill at sunrise and heading out for the ocean crossing to Eleuthera

Captain having his afternoon nap during ocean crossing from Exumas back to Eleuthera

Captain having his afternoon nap during ocean crossing from Exumas back to Eleuthera

In the morning, we make the ocean crossing back to Eleuthera leaving the Exumas and heading back north towards the Abacos. We have a flight booked for mid-April to head back to Canada. Hopefully, spring will have arrived there by then. Fingers crossed!