Silver Maple Blog

The Voyage Continues!


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Happy in Hope Town

Tuesday, February 10 to Saturday, February 21, 2015

On February 10th, after one night at the Abaco Beach Resort in Boat Harbour, we head over to Hope Town, one of our favourite places in the Bahamas. It’s another cool and windy day, but we are getting used to that now. Compared to being out on unprotected ocean crossings, the windy weather here on the Sea of Abaco between the islands seems like a piece of cake.

The lovely Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour

The lovely Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour

The Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club has cocktail hour each night in the tent

The Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club has cocktail hour each night in the tent at the Abaco Beach Resort

This large boat is docked at Boat Harbour while they film the show 'Below Deck', a reality series about crew on a large yacht

This large boat is docked at Boat Harbour while they film the show ‘Below Deck’, a reality series about crew on a large yacht

When we arrive in the Hope Town harbour and pull into the Hope Town Inn and Marina, it feels like coming home since we spent so much time here last year. And, they put us in the slip right next to our friends, Louise and Guy on Miss Ellie, from Vancouver who we spent lots of time with last year. It’s so great to see them again!  Unfortunately, the other couple who was with us here last year also, Debra and John (Mandalay) have been stuck in Florida waiting for good weather to make the Gulf Stream crossing. With all this wind and bad weather, they haven’t been able to make it across for weeks.

Relaxing at the Hope Town Inn and Marina on one of the few days warm enough to sit in the sun

Relaxing at the Hope Town Inn and Marina on one of the few days its been warm enough to sit in the sun

Silver Maple docked next to Miss Ellie

Silver Maple docked next to Miss Ellie

Sunset in Hope Town on Valentines Day

Sunset in Hope Town on Valentines Day

Michael, captains the shuttle that takes us to town from the marina

Michael captains the shuttle that takes us to town from the marina

Valentines Day dinner at the Abaco Inn

Great Valentines Day dinner by the fireplace at the Abaco Inn

We’ve now been in Hope Town for over a week. Besides the windy weather which has made getting around challenging, we like it here in Hope Town so have been enjoying the downtime. This week has been the Hope Town Song Writers Festival with a number of shows taking place around the Elbow Cay island, so we are enjoying some entertainment and lots of time with friends.

Sunday we have pot luck happy hour by the pool and some of the guys, including Guy (Miss Ellie) play guitar to entertain the group

Sunday we have pot luck happy hour by the pool and some of the guys, including Guy (Miss Ellie) play guitar to entertain the group

Pot luck at Happy Hour

Pot luck at Happy Hour

Randy and Louise (Miss Ellie) enjoying the music at happy hour

Randy and Louise (Miss Ellie) enjoying the music at happy hour

Hope Town Song Writers Festival at the Hope Town Inn and Marina

Hope Town Song Writers Festival at the Hope Town Inn and Marina

Dinner with Louise and Guy (Miss Ellie) at the Song Writers Festival

Dinner with Louise and Guy (Miss Ellie) at the Song Writers Festival

Bonfire helps to keep everyone warm at the festival

Bonfire helps to keep everyone warm at the festival

Friday night at Sip Sip in Hope Town with Louise and Guy (Miss Ellie), missing Debra and John (Mandalay) who are still stuck in Florida

Friday night at Sip Sip in Hope Town with Louise and Guy (Miss Ellie), missing Debra and John (Mandalay) who are still stuck in Florida

Looks like we will be leaving Hope Town on Monday and heading down to Sea Spray. We haven’t been there since our first trip to the Abacos. From there, we plan to spend a couple of days in Marsh Harbour, then head up north so we are ready to do the Whale Cay crossing later in the week. Trip is starting to come to an end for another year. Time flies!


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Heading back north to the Abaco Islands

Sunday, February 1, 2015 to Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The weather this year continues to be unsettled. Very blustery and much cooler than usual. ‘Weather permitting’ is our new favourite phrase. We are having to manage wind and bad weather much more than years past, but regardless we are getting around and having a great time. Beats the snow!

After leaving Compass Cay, we head down to Big Majors Spot near Staniel Cay. Last year when we were here we really enjoyed it and this year is not different. Silver Maple is anchored just off the beach so we can watch the pigs that live there. Sharon and Pete on Emerald Lady arrive shortly after we are anchored. The pigs here swim out to greet you to get treats when you go ashore. Very funny. They are huge! We find out that someone has taught them to ‘sit’ like a dog for treats since they do it right away when we say it. Cute!  After feeding the pigs we go into town at Staniel Cay to have lunch and get groceries.

Silver Maple in blue waters anchored at Big Majors Spot

Silver Maple in blue waters anchored at Big Majors Spot

Pigs swimming to greet us and get fed at Big Majors Spot

Pigs swimming to greet us and get fed at Big Majors Spot

Feeding pigs from our dingy (taken by Emerald Lady)

Feeding pigs from our dingy (taken by Emerald Lady)

He knows how to sit! Too funny!

She knows how to sit! Too funny!

The next morning we head out, leaving Sharon and Pete (Emerald Lady) behind as we head back north. They are carrying on south toward Georgetown. We move Silver Maple back up to Wardrick Wells in the Exuma Land and Sea Park and moor in the beautiful anchorage there.

Sharon and Pete wave goodbye from Emerald Lady

Sharon and Pete wave goodbye from Emerald Lady

Lee and Randy on Silver Maple

Lee and Randy on Silver Maple

Securing the anchor at Wardrick Wells in the Exuma Land and Sea Park

Securing the anchor at Wardrick Wells in the Exuma Land and Sea Park

At the beach at Wardrick Wells with Silver Maple moored in the distance

At the beach at Wardrick Wells with Silver Maple moored in the distance

There are lots of huge yachts around this week and we hear lots of traffic on the radio and hub-bub around Johnny Depp’s island that he owns down here. Some large boats are even anchored near the Land and Sea park. Turns out Johnny Depp is getting married on the weekend. That explains it! Funny we didn’t get an invitation…

After a rocky and windy night moored in the park, we head up to Highbourne Cay. We haven’t been to this island before and it is lovely. They squeeze us into a pretty tight spot on the dock at the marina, but captain Randy lands it perfectly. Afterwards, Lee walks to the beach and Randy relaxes in a chair overlooking the ocean.

Captain checking out the entrance to the marina at Highbourne Cay

Captain checking out the entrance to the marina at Highbourne Cay

Randy's new pet on the dock at Highbourne Cay Marina

Randy’s new pet on the dock at Highbourne Cay Marina

Tight spot in Highbourne Cay Marina

Tight spot in Highbourne Cay Marina

Lovely marina at Highbourne Cay with a great restaurant

Lovely marina at Highbourne Cay with a great restaurant

Beach at Highbourne Cay

Beach at Highbourne Cay

The next morning, we are off again. This time its the ocean crossing from the Exumas back to Cape Eleuthra. As we are leaving through the cut, we hear there is a small craft warning. What?!  The weather websites failed to mention that. Out on the ocean, its windy but the waves aren’t too bad so we continue on. Once we arrive and are docked at the marina in Cape Eleuthra four hours later, a big storm hits. Thank goodness we weren’t caught out in it!

Blustery day at Cape Eleuthra Marina

Blustery day at Cape Eleuthra Marina when we arrive

Local fisherman cleaning fish at Cape Eleuthra Marina

Local fisherman cleaning his day’s catch at Cape Eleuthra Marina

Sharks gather in front of where he is cleaning fish to catch what he throws in. These are bull sharks and not the 'friendly' sharks we've seen at other places

Sharks gather in front of where he is cleaning fish to catch what he throws in. These are bull sharks and not the ‘friendly’ sharks we’ve seen at other places

The next day the weather isn’t much better, so we do chores and clean up the boat. Since the weather is supposed to continue to be bad, Randy arranges to rent a car for the next day to tour the island and see Rock Sound and Governors Harbour, which we have missed the three other times we have been on Eleuthra. When we get up in the morning, winds are down slightly though, so we cancel the car and plan to move the short distance to Rock Sound with Silver Maple. We also see a good weather day to cross back to the Abacos, so we need to move north to be ready to set out in two days. Once on the water its a pretty good day, so we decide carry on past Rock Sound and go back to our regular spot in Hatchet Bay. We miss Rock Sound again! And, our short hour and a half trip turned into six hours. It’s all good though since we are much further ahead for tomorrow.

Still blustery as we leave Cape Eleuthra

Still blustery as we leave Cape Eleuthra

Francis (who we met last time at Hatchet Bay) with his friend, come out to greet us and collect the mooring fee

Francis (who we met last time at Hatchet Bay) with his friend, come out to greet us and collect the mooring fee

Sunset in Hatchet Bay over Silver Maple's flag

Sunset in Hatchet Bay over Silver Maple’s flag

We have an easy sail the next day from Hatchet Bay to Royal Island, where we will start our crossing. By 1 pm we are anchored and able to relax. The next morning we are up at 5 am to begin our big crossing. It’s an eight-hour crossing, plus two more hours to the marina at Boat Harbour. We decide to head there because more bad weather is moving in when we arrive, so we want to be tied to a dock. A very long and exhausting day.

On the way to Royal Island

Captain on the way to Royal Island after navigating Current Cut

Heading to Royal Island after passing through Current Cut

Early morning crossing to the Abacos

There's a line up of boats entering the cut at South Bar to the Abacos

There’s a line up of boats entering the cut at South Bar to the Abacos

We made it!

We made it!

Silver Maple on the dock at Boat Harbour Marina in Marsh Harbout

Silver Maple on the dock at Boat Harbour Marina in Marsh Harbour

We are on Dock 4 -- the fun dock!

We are on Dock 4 — the fun dock!

Now at the Boat Harbour Marina, we are waiting for the winds to die down a bit and then we will move to Hopetown. We had a nice day today in the town of Marsh Harbour doing some shopping. Looking forward to seeing all our friends in Hopetown tomorrow — weather permitting!


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Who has seen the wind? We have!!!

Saturday, January 24 to Sunday, February 1, 2015

The weather has been a bit crazy here. Very blustery. Very windy. As a result we haven’t been moving along as far or as quickly as we would like, being forced to wait for things to settle down on the water. Regardless, the trip is going great. Being forced to stop and relax while you wait for better weather isn’t such a bad thing. Temperatures have been a bit cooler than usual also — 70s rather 80s, but we are doing our best to stay warm. Ha! Ha!

After waiting out weather in Spanish Wells for a couple of days, we move to Hatchet Bay (on Eleuthra) on January 25th and then get stuck there also for a few days waiting out more blustery weather. We make the most of it by catching up on boat-chores, going into town for a walk, movie time on Emerald Lady, and dinner at the local restaurant, The Front Porch.

Quiet day sailing from Spanish Wells to Hatchet Bay

Quiet day sailing from Spanish Wells to Hatchet Bay

Entering the narrow cut into Hatchet Bay

Entering the narrow cut into Hatchet Bay

Sunset in Hatchet Bay

Sunset in Hatchet Bay

Randy holding on to the dingy dock at Hatchet Bay on a blustery day with Silver Maple in the distance

Randy holding on to the dingy dock at Hatchet Bay on a blustery day with Silver Maple in the distance

Dinner at the Front Porch restaurant in Hatchet Bay

Dinner at the Front Porch restaurant in Hatchet Bay

When the winds settle down, we move on to Cape Eleuthra Marina, where we will start our next ocean crossing to the Bahamian Exuma Islands. Thankfully, the next day we have a pretty good day to get across so we head out. Its wavy and windy, but still a nice sail. Upon arrival, we settle into the anchorage at Norman’s Cay with our friends, Sharon and Pete (Emerald Lady). We made it!

Windy day sailing from Hatchet Bay to Cape Eleuthra Marina

Windy day sailing from Hatchet Bay to Cape Eleuthra Marina

Dinner at Pascal's restaurant near the Cape Eleuthra Marina

Dinner at Pascal’s restaurant near the Cape Eleuthra Marina

Big waves and wind making the ocean crossing to the Exumas makes the captain feel a bit under the weather

Big waves and wind while making the ocean crossing to the Exumas makes the captain feel a bit under the weather

Arriving to calm waters in the Exumas

Arriving to calm waters in the Exumas

Relaxing at Norman's Cay

Relaxing at Norman’s Cay

Norman’s Cay was a former drug running center in the 1970s, but now is a quiet island with a restaurant and beach.  Unfortunately, we are anchored in an area with a pretty strong tidal flow, so the boat gets spun around by the tide and the wind. After hearing a loud bang as we finish dinner, we realize we have a problem. The anchor chain has wrapped itself around the keel while the boat was spinning. We are now sideways to the current and by midnight the anchor is dragging and we are dangerously close to other boats and the sand bar. Out in the dark, we move the boat and put out a second anchor. This takes pressure off the wrapped chain and it drops off the keel. Whew! Its a long night with not much sleep. Needless to say, first thing the next day we are up and out of there heading to the Exuma Land and Sea Park.

Captain pondering our anchor nightmare from the night before

Captain pondering our anchor nightmare from the night before

Sharon and Pete (Emerald Lady) come over for a visit before we head out

Sharon and Pete (Emerald Lady) come over for a visit before we head out

In the Park, we take a mooring ball in the Emerald Rock area. Gorgeous! The water is so clear and clean. We jump in for a swim before dinner. The next morning we move to Compass Cay in anticipation of more windy, blustery weather moving in. And it does. Its windy, but we are well protected at the marina. We get out on a hike around the island and take in the views from the cliffs.

Emerald Lady at sunset in the Exuma Land and Sea Park, Emerald Rock mooring field

Emerald Lady at sunset in the Exuma Land and Sea Park, Emerald Rock mooring field

Beautiful morning near Emerald Rock

Beautiful morning near Emerald Rock

Heading to Compass Cay

Heading to Compass Cay

Silver Maple on the dock at Compass Cay

Silver Maple on the dock at Compass Cay

The 'pet' sharks at the Compass Cay Marina

The ‘pet’ sharks at the Compass Cay Marina

Compass Cay Marina

Compass Cay Marina

Randy at the beach on Compass Cay

Randy at the beach on Compass Cay

Hiking the Compass Cay cliffs

Hiking the Compass Cay cliffs

Sounds like tomorrow the weather is calmer, so we plan to move to Big Major Spot near Staniel Cay. After that, we will probably start heading back north.