Captain's Log, Stardate:3/21/04
Hello to All:
After the Morgans left me in Georgetown, and with Mary still back home for Christmas (and taxes), the Scheubles came aboard for another early January cruise. Winds were pretty strong but we made it to Conception Island and the next day, San Salvador on the back of a cold front. By that I mean taking advantage of the normal clocking of the winds in advance of an approaching cold front. Hence, whereas the winds are normally easterly (in our face for those destinations), by timing our departure properly, we were able to leave while the winds were changing direction in a clockwise manner or "clocking" first to the S., then SW, W, and NW. Of course once we arrived, the passage of a front meant we would be blasted with high winds out of the NW-N-NE. Not many yachties go to San Salvador simply because it's so far to the E and because it has no really well protected harbors. That's the bad news. But the good is that spear fishing and lobstering are great there. We were able to get a very large lobster in just 8-10 feet of water and two even bigger in "deep water."
Some say Columbus made his first landfall in the New World in San Salvador and, if true, his next island would have been Rum Cay so, being students of history (and desirous of more good fishing), we headed to Rum. We didn't catch much on the way but after setting the first hook (the anchor), Todd did his best to set a second . . . and did so. By placing a chunk of the last fish we caught on a hook and rigging a "bobber" (with a plastic water bottle), then tossing it off the back of the boat 10 yds or so, Todd hoped to attract a shark. Sure enough, after sunset, the line went whizzing out but after a brief fight, it broke. An hour later, another big strike. We were all in bed at 11 p.m. when we woke to the whining of the line for a third time but still no shark. At 1:30 a.m., the fish made a final strike. This time, in our underwear, Todd fought to the boat and I gaffed a 50 LB 54" bull shark while Holly documented the event with photos. This fish got cleaned and what we didn't eat later that night, the Scheubles took home to MN. (It takes a big mess of crappies to amount to the same amount of meat as a 50 LB shark.)
As many of you know, I'm not into fishing that much so when we reached Black Cay in the Southern Exumas, I let Todd fix up another shark rig and then we all retired for the evening not sure whether or when the line might go screaming out again. But come morning, not one single nibble. Whewww. So Todd took Holly and 3.75 year-old Brooke to the beach and went diving for lobster himself. I saw nothing wrong with this plan. Coming out in the cockpit to check something, I saw a large shadow approach the boat. In the mere 8 feet of crystal clear Bahamian water, I could see the unmistakable silhouette of a large hammerhead shark! While I watched helplessly, he hit the bait that had been left out all night (the scent of which he probably followed in through the cut from the deep water) and this time the line shot out of the reel! Instinctively, I tried to set the hook having no idea what I would do with this monster if I ever got it up to the boat. I blew the emergency horn hoping Todd would hear it and return to the boat to have his way with this new quarry, but only Holly and Brooke heard it and didn't know what to do about it stranded, as they were, on a lovely beach just a quarter mile away. Luckily, the thing got off the line after cruising all over the bay, pretty much at will, for some 20 minutes but not before I shot it! Well, with an underwater camera that is.
After seeing the Scheubles off and collecting Mary in Georgetown, we waited for the Big Event! If you are into sailing/cruising/music, and there is an Eileen Quinn concert scheduled, you cannot go anywhere. So on Feb. 3, at "Volleyball Beach" across from Georgetown, we listened to herperform a lot of the tunes on her newest (of four) CD's many of which have become our favorites. Afterward, Mary and I had the honor of buying dinner and drinks for her and her husband Dave. Visit www.eileenquinn.com and maybe you can hear a sample of our favorite, "Friends," or some of her other outstanding ballads, blues, etc.
Alone now, Mary and I sailed through three-foot-deep Hog Cay Cut even though we draw four (by playing the tides) into the beautiful, albeit lonely, Jumentos island chain of the Bahamas. But another front was coming with its strong NE winds and, as a coincidence, we needed to sail NE to meet our next crew in Clarence Town, Long Island plus get Mary "to the church on time." So we caught the back of this cold front as well, to make the 65 NM needed to round the S tip of Long Island and work our way up to the thriving metropolis of Clarence Town where our next crew was due to arrive in a few days.
The day after arriving in Clarence Town, the two of us went ashore in search of a restaurant-prepared meal and, luckily, there were three restaurants in this "off the beaten path" town. Unfortunately, not a single one was open so it was back to the boat for more wiener-water soup. Seriously, we eat pretty well on the boat too.
Chuck and Mary after Mass at a very uniquely designed church in Clarencetown
Chuck, Mark, and Joel arrived in Clarence Town on February 14 via police escort. Actually, the police delivered them to the marina! I was shocked. NOW what kind of trouble were they in and, by association, us? It turned out the town is so small and the airport (known as "Deadman's Cay") so remote that there are typically no cabs! Nobody comes to Long Island, it seems, unless they already know someone there and then that person picks them up. Anyway, our Boys in Blue back home could take a lesson, right?
Mark, Joel, and Chuck under sail
Mark, Chuck, and Joel under spinnaker
At the end of the brisk sail from Clarence Town to Crooked Island, we pulled in a 30 LB barracuda.Then the wind moderated allowing us to anchor "on the outside" off Portland Harbor. From there we launched the Airline and had some spectacular diving. Joel and Mark at 50 feet using the Airline
We saw several large groupers and the largest nurse shark I've ever seen. (The "Airline" is a "hookah" device, essentially, a gasoline engine driven air compressor that floats behind you on an inner tube with 1-4 hoses dangling down.)
Trolling with a bottle of rum (for payment) off Samana Cay, we got hold of a huge lobster so had a great dinner that night. The "boys" also legitimately caught a large horse-eyed jack while at anchor not to mention a good sized bull shark!
Sadly, the time came to leave Samana Cay and head back to Crooked Island to meet an airplane. About half way across, we noticed a large north swell developing. That normally wouldn't pose a problem but we had to enter the cut at Majors Cays which is exposed to the north. All my complaints about Catana making the rudders too long--thereby effectively making the draft of the boat deeper than I would have liked--were quickly forgotten as we literally surfed through the cut! We needed all the control we could get just to maintain steerage. Nobody was looking at the knot log (speedometer) but I estimate we hit 15 kts at one point!
To the left is a rare photo of Chuck and Mark saluting an unusually shaped cumulonimbus cloud.
Of course there were a few parties aboard Escape Cay. Here are a few snapshots of those important events: Are YOU in one of these?
|Lindsey and Brett off R Triumph, a trimaran||Can you find the lobster?|
|Mark (with Heinekin), Chuck, Bruce and Kimberly from Nice N Easy, Lindsay and Brett from R-Triumph, Mary, and Joel enjoying a sundowner.||Mark, Lee, Bruce, Kimberly, Lindsay, Brett, Mary, and Joel enjoying Mahi dinner caught by Brett earlier that same day.|
|Mark accidentally hits himself||Bruce and Kimberly from Nice N Easy|
After dropping off Chuck, Mark, and Joel on the beach near "Colonel Hill," and helping them secure a taxi, I returned to the beach to find the dinghy drifting away from shore, something about an anchor not set up on the beach for such a short time. The taxi was held while all its passengers cheered me on as I swam after the windblown maverick. Sacrificing my well worn deck shoes, I successfully completed my aerobic exercise for the morning--i.e. no heart attack--and motored back to Mary and Escape Cay. This is the closest I'll ever come to knowing what it's like to be a sports star . . . and I didn't like it!
Two days later on February 22, the swells had calmed down enough for us to exit the bay bound for Mayaguana where Mary was due to catch her flight for Minneapolis on Feb. 25 (our daughter due to give birth to our first grandchild on March 1). We had a nice sail half way there to a couple of small uninhabited islands called the Plana Cays. While Mary made a nice dinner, I did email and received one from our son-in-law, Eric that struck terror in Mary's heart: "Tara has started having contractions and they are currently about 6-10 minutes apart." Mary was in tears. We finished dinner, hauled up the anchor, and left in the dark for Mayaguana. By midnight, we received word she had not delivered yet--important--and that there was a flight out of Mayaguana the next day, one of only 3 flights a week--very good news.
The ticket counter at Mayaguana "International" Airport. You could say it's not a "modern" air terminal but getting your luggage to the ticket counter is MUCH easier than back home!
We dropped anchor in Mayaguana, rushed ashore and called Tara in the maternity ward . . . 30 minutes after Sean Edward Neumann was born. Mary arrived home that evening and went straight to the hospital from the airport. Although it wasn't like being there for the actual birth, it was almost as good and in any event, eclipsed all bad news of the past 24 hours and maybe 20 years as well. We are both delighted to be first-time grandparents of a healthy baby boy.
Grandma Mary and Sean By the time Lee could get home, Sean had not grown noticeably.
After Mary left, I met some of the other boats in the anchorage. First I got invited to dinner on Windy (Randy Armstrong and Milli Thomas) which is basically a 28' runabout. Randy is escaping from being a bush pilot in Alaska. Then they and I were invited to dinner aboard Zendo a Canadian "one off" cat. Richard and Chantal were gracious hosts even going the extra mile to prepare a birthday cake for me to celebrate my 15th birthday. (I was born on February 29 but I won't say in which year.) Richard is escaping from flying for Air Canada.
Randy, Millie, Lee, and Richard aboard ZendoLee's 15th birthday cake.
After seven days of winds over 20 kts, I invited several of the boats in the anchorage over for sundowner.
All these people braved a 2' chop and 25 kt winds to attend a sundowner aboard Escape Cay in Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana: Chuck and Linda from Atalanta, Bill and Soon off Gaia, Bunkie? and Jeff from Everden or Eveden, Michele and his mate from ?, and Chantal and Richard off Zendo.
Brett Greene from the trimaran R-Triumph won the King of the Bay windsurfing contest in San Francisco last fall and was good enough to put on a private little show for all of us in Abraham's Bay.
Lindsay and Brett took me out diving off the reef in Abraham's Bay one day.
With the winds blowing for 7 straight days at 20-30 kts, no one could move. However, Escape Cay's two windgenerators made so much electricity I either had to shut them down . . . or put them to good use. So I made more fresh water from sea water than I could possibly use, being a male on a boat alone. I put out the word I had extra water and wound up giving away 64 gallons.
Chuck from "Atalanta" topping off bucket with fresh water.
Randy on "Windy" taking on water via garden hose
Hope all is well with you and your family.
Lee and Mary