Saturday, December 24, 2005

Manjack Cay at Christmas

Yesterday, 12/23/05, we cleared customs at Spanish Cay and we are now LEGAL. We've anchored at Manjack Cay in a lovely bay. There are 4 other sail boats here and the owners of a home on the island, Bill and Leslie, have invited us all for Christmas Eve dinner pot-luck at their home. The sign just off the dock says, "Yes Tresspassers". We will celebrate tonight and be moving the boat tomorrow in preparation of the winds predicted for Christmas Day.

Double Breasted Cay

After a long day sail down Florida's coast, miserable gulf stream night crossing, and another all day crossing Bahamian waters, we were extremely grateful to have a calm, beautiful anchorage. Our thankfulness was further enhanced after we ran hard aground in the shallow channel at sunset and had poor preformance by the transmission while anchoring. It was time to rest and relax, and so we did.

The water was the crystal aqua green seen at only the better hotel swimming pools. Although noted as a major thourough fare on the shark highway, we missed seeing any, although another sailor did catch a lemon shark there towards the end of our stay.

The weather was "unsettled" and so we cleaned out the boat, did some laundry, walked on small islands, and puttered about in the dingy. After almost a week of this leisure it was time to hit the road and find customs.

The Crossing

Well, another learning experience. The winds did not follow predictions and we spent about 12 hours crashing into waves and wind before reaching the banks in the early morning. It was unpleasant but not dangerous. Perhaps the low point came when we found that water was leaking in from the anchor locker, flooding our beds, filling the bilges, and generally making a mess of everything.

Preparations for the crossing

We traveled south to Manatee Pocket to finish up provisioning and to see friends Pat and Mike and their kitties on "Twice in a Blue Moon". Ginger and Oliver are an inspirational example of cat adventurers and we hope Ramone and Ubu are paying attention. In less than a day we were down to Lake Worth and then late in the afternoon we were heading for the gulf stream.

Back in the boatyard

By early November, we were back to Riverside Marina, where Amante first found us, to do more boat work. Every morning and evening, an army of turkey buzzards soared over the marina. We wondered nervously why we were so popular but enjoyed seeing the huge birds dance in waves above us.

Not being slaves to labor, we took off for 8 days to surprise the family at Thanksgiving. Nicholas managed the secret keeping and logistics beautifully. IT WAS A WONDERFUL TIME. Unfortunately we left our pictures there.

Back in the yard we were able to work long days on the boat, catching sunrises and sunsets in the puddles and masts. We had a small community of other land bound sailors for kvetching, celebrations, and assistance. Thanks to Goat and Tia for kindness, dinners, and the wisdom of the boat yard.

We scheduled the boat launch for a day with gale force winds and generally miserable condtions, but were not deterred. It was more exciting than desired, but successful.

Traveling back to Florida

After weeks of slogging down the "ditch" in cold weather, we made the trip from North Carolina to Fort Pierce in less than a week of off shore jumps. Each time we sailed for several days and a night or two, then would rest for a day before heading off shore again.

We came into Fernandina Beach in a sleepy daze to wonder what that sail boat is doing on land. Not a happy moment for someone, but magical to see a boat serene in a meadow.

Most of the time ocean sailing was very peaceful, and we had only dolphins, stars, and the moon for company. Around the large harbors, however, the shipping lanes provided encounters with enormous boats moving on their ominous missions. We stayed out of their way.