Silver Maple Blog

The Voyage Continues!

Crossing the Gulf Stream again, and again…

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Thursday, November 5th to Sunday, November 15th, 2015

We wrap up all of the repairs and maintenance we’ve been doing on Silver Maple in Florida by the end of the week, and wake up on Saturday, November 7th at 4 AM, ready to head towards the Bahamas. Unfortunately, it is raining. Not a good sign, but thankfully it stops and the skies clear up quickly. As we are leaving the slip, Lee is on the dock untying the lines, when the wind catches the boat and it swings away from the dock and leaves without her. Ahh!  Randy is able to swing the bow back so she can jump on. Not a good start to the day.

Silver Maple at the dock at Old Port Cove Marina. All set and ready to do the Gulf Stream crossing.

Silver Maple at the dock at Old Port Cove Marina in Palm Beach, Florida. All set and ready to do the Gulf Stream crossing.

Dinner at Sandpiper's Cove the night before departure.

Dinner at Sandpiper’s Cove the night before departure.

Out on the water, it is a dark and windy morning. We have about an hour trip down the Inter-coastal Waterway (ICW) to get from the Old Port Cove Marina where we are staying to the inlet for the ocean. We navigate the channel in the dark without incident. Lee is up on the bow with the flashlight locating the channel markers for the captain. When we hit the ocean, it is bumpy. The waves are more like 4 to 6 ft than the 2 to 4 ft that were forecast. We solder on. About 3 hours into the trip, the toilet (called ‘the head’ on a boat) stops working. Ugh! Getting parts and assistance, if required, would be very difficult in the Bahamas, so we make the decision to head back. After 6 hours of travel, we are back on the dock at the Old Port Cove Marina in Palm Beach, Florida, where we started baking in the 90 degree F heat again. Not a good day.

Captain navigating the heavy seas and darkness.

Captain navigating in the darkness.

Heading for the Gulf Stream.

Heading for the Gulf Stream.

Back on the dock at Old Port Cove Marina in Palm Beach after aborted crossing attempt.

Back on the dock at Old Port Cove Marina in Palm Beach after the aborted crossing attempt.

The next day, it is crazy hot and humid again. Record breaking. Randy tears the toilet apart to find the problem and thankfully is able to fix it himself. No need to order and wait for parts. It takes him 8 hours to fix the mess and it is well over 90 degrees F. Unfortunately, the shower stops working also while he is working on the toilet. Yeah!  A new job for tomorrow! (please read with the appropriate level of sarcasm).

In the evening, we have dinner with Debra and John (Mandalay). We met them in Hopetown, Bahamas a couple of years ago. They are in Ft. Pearce getting work done on their new boat, so we meet half way in Stewart, Florida for a great dinner at The Gafford. Back at the boat, (did I mention it doesn’t have air conditioning?) it’s too hot to sleep, so another restless night.

Dinner with Debra and John (Mandalay) in Stewart, Florida.

Dinner with Debra and John (Mandalay) in Stewart, Florida.

The weather forecast is starting to look sketchy. Tropical Storm Kate is heading towards the Bahamas, so our new planned departure day, Tuesday, is looking questionable. Unless the forecast changes, sailing towards the storm even though the crossing weather looks good seems like a bad idea. So, we keep an eye on things. Thankfully, the storm warnings are all cancelled later on Monday evening, so we are a go for Tuesday, November 10th. Woohoo!

We get up in the morning on Tuesday and the weather is much more settled. Everything on the boat seems to be working. When we hit the ocean, it is surprisingly calm. The waves are small and the ocean swells are fine. There are 3 other boats leaving the inlet with us to make the crossing. When we arrive at West End, in the Bahamas 10 hours later, it is still hot. After customs, we take a slip at the Old Bahama Bay Resort next to Greta and Jay on a boat called ‘Rag Top.’ They did the crossing with us and are from Toronto too. Very nice people. And since it is still very hot, we join them on their air-conditioned boat for cocktails before dinner.

Calmer weather for second attempt.

Calmer weather for second attempt at the Gulf Stream.

Traffic on route.

Traffic en route.

Lovely day!

Lovely day!

Its hot! Captain cools off with a shower on the back on the boat.

It is hot! Captain cools off with a shower on the back on the boat.

First view of the Bahamas.

First view of the Bahamas.

Old Bahama Bay Resort at West End, Bahamas.

Old Bahama Bay Resort at West End, Bahamas.

Bahamian courtesy flag and our quarantine flag that we keep up until we clear customs.

Bahamian courtesy flag and our yellow quarantine flag that we keep up until we clear customs.

The next morning, we head for Great Sale Cay. Greta and Jay help us cast off. They are heading south towards Freeport and Nassau. It’s another hot day, but not as bad as it has been. We pick up a bird hitch-hiker who rides with us for a while. After 9 hours, we settle in and anchor at Great Sale Cay for the night.

Birdie hitch-hiker.

Birdie hitch-hiker stays with us for quite a while and even flies into the cabin to check it out.

Incredibly calm.

Incredibly calm on the way to Great Sale Cay.

Captain filling out his Captain's Log.

Captain filling out his Captain’s Log.

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

Sunset at Great Sale Cay behind Silver Maples new dingy.

Sunset at Great Sale Cay behind Silver Maples new dingy.

Captain having a much deserved rest with his book.

Captain having a much deserved rest with his book.

Our plan was to go from Great Sale Cay to Allans Pensacola, a nice short 4 hour day. But, the weather forecast is showing heavy winds and bad weather coming in on Saturday. We realize that means we need to do the next ocean crossing on Friday, so we can be settled in on Saturday somewhere. We make for Manjack Cay just north of Green Turtle Cay so we are set to do the Whale Cay crossing on Friday morning. It’s a gorgeous calm day. We see dolphins. This year we have seen more dolphins in the Bahamas than ever before. Very nice.

Another calm day.

Another calm day.

Like glass!

Like glass!

Dolphins come to check us out.

Dolphins come to check us out.

Some wind so we can finally sail!

Some wind so we can finally sail!

Happy Captain!

Happy Captain!

Happy First Mate!

Happy First Mate!

Sunset in Manjack Cay with the other boats anchored there.

Sunset in Manjack Cay with the other boats anchored there.

Friday we do the short trip from Manjack Cay through the Whale Cay passage to Fishers Bay on Great Guana Cay. It is one of the calmest Whale Cay crossings we have ever had. By 11 AM we are settled in the anchorage. We take the new dingy into town to walk the beach and have drinks and dinner at Grabbers.

Heading to the Whale Cay passage.

Heading to the Whale Cay passage.

Randy trying the new dingy we bought in Florida.

Randy trying the new dingy we bought in Florida. Love it!

Walking through town on Great Guana Cay.

Walking through town on Great Guana Cay.

Lee's favourite beach in the Abaco Islands.

Lee’s favourite beach in the Abaco Islands on Great Guana Cay, in front of Nippers.

Drinks and dinner at Grabbers on Great Guana Cay.

Drinks and dinner at Grabbers on Great Guana Cay.

Randy takes advantage of the pool at Grabbers.

Randy taking advantage of the pool at Grabbers.

Dingy back to Silver Maple.

Dingy back to Silver Maple.

At anchor in Fisher Bay, Great Guana Cay.

At anchor in Fisher Bay, Great Guana Cay.

Approaching Hopetown's harbour.

Approaching Hope Town’s harbour.

The Hopetown lighthouse is a sure sign you have arrived.

The Hope Town lighthouse is a sure sign we have arrived.

Entering the lovely harbour at Hopetown.

Entering the lovely harbour at Hope Town.

Silver Maple docked at the beautiful Hopetown Inn and Marina.

Silver Maple docked at the beautiful Hope Town Inn and Marina.

Saturday morning we are off to Hopetown to make the harbour entrance at high tide. The channel is shallow, so you need to hit it at the right time. By the time the weather hits on Saturday afternoon, we are tied up to the dock in Hope Town, one of our most favourite places in the Bahamas. And, it’s a good thing we like it here. The bad weather is forecast for the next 4 to 5 days, so we will be here for a while!

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