Pos:N28deg13.83min/W082deg45.11min. We've been very fortunate coming up the west coast of Florida. The weather (once again) has been unstable, a very common summer-time occurrence here in Florida. Many thunderstorms and lightning were seen in the distance, but none threatened us and we had an uneventful motorsail to Anclote Island (Tarpon Springs) on a beautiful, clear night, our last for this passage, in 5-8 knots of breeze and smooth water. We have to play the tides going into our channel where we live in Gulf Harbors (New Port Richey) as the water in the channel is just inches under our keel as we transit. At least that's the theory. It's easy to hit bottom around here, but this afternoon there was no drama, and we even had a friend come out in her runabout to accompany us in as a surprise. Thanks, Virginia! There were a group of folks waiting at our dock who graciously took our lines and help tie us up, and the party began.
Pos: N24deg41.19min / W081deg07.40min. Infini is back on US soil after a ten year hiatus! We're anchored in 10' sand at Boot Key (Marathon) after a benign crossing of the Gulf Stream. As we have so often found, the weather predictions and what we experience are two different things. From West End, Bahamas, the forecast was for E-ESE wind 10-15 knots. That didn't happen. We ended up motoring with about 5 knots of wind directly behind us - yuck. Furthermore, the extended forecast wasn't promising at all, which is why we departed when we did. To summarize, the Gulf Stream was relatively OK, but there were many squalls around. During much of this passage the wind forgot to show up and when it did, was about 10 knots from astern, not enough to get us where we wanted to go in any sort of a timely fashion. We did, however, set the pole across the Great Bahama Bank from the NW Channel Light (which, btw, is out) to South Riding Rock, and had a few hours (6) of very nice wing and wing sailing. Eventually, we did our trawler imitation and Mr. Perkins was called upon; we ended up motorsailing most of the way here. As I said, it was either that or wait for who knows how long to get favorable wind conditions. Some passages are like that. Predictions and reality: two different things, especially when it comes to the weather. Lest anyone think this is a weather rant, (OK, so I'm a bit tired...) in spite of all this, Team Infini is happy to be back!
Pos: N25deg01.5min / W077deg33.9min. Yesterday, we anchored at Norman's Cay in the cut. The current rips thru here so a good anchor set is mandatory. There was lots of construction going on at the entrance; we're not sure what's being planned. This afternoon we've anchored at West Bay towards the outside near Goulding Cay, staging for a midnight departure for the NW Channel Light. From there, our route is to South Riding Rock in the daylight, then across the Gulf Stream to Florida. Depending on the weather, we'll either enter Hawk Channel towards Alligator Reef or go straight to Moser Channel at Marathon. Stay tuned. We haven't gotten off the boat to go exploring for the next few days, so nothing more to report.
Pos: N24deg10.71min / W076deg26.73min. This morning was a very special one for us. In June 2000 we visited Staniel Cay aboard Infini and today we once again anchored east of Thunderball Grotto, effectively completing our circumnavigation. Whodathunk? It's been ten years and two months since we left Florida and started cruising and living aboard full time. We didn't set off with a circumnavigation as our goal. Rather, we took baby steps, stopping to enjoy the people we met and the places we visited along the way, and think that only two factors chased us around the world: visas and weather. Visas of the country we were in dictated our length of stay there, and the prevailing and predicted weather conditions dictated our destinations and anchorages. We feel really blessed to have been able to accomplish what we've done safely and in good health, and give thanks to God and our family and friends for the many privileges that have been bestowed upon us. Of course, having a solid working platform such as Infini, our Westsail 43, was a prerequisite for the type of passage making we've done. She's been more than capable and a steady hand throughout. For any prospective cruisers reading this, we hope our blog has been of benefit in its descriptions and information. It's been lots of fun to write as its evolved, and it's enriched our lives as well as we strive to impart information we feel will be of benefit to others, as well as providing a bit of entertainment. We've had a blast along the way and are glad many others have vicariously come along for the ride. Our thanks to all and we'll continue posting as we travel north to Florida, and will also update our picture albums when we get back. BTW, in case you're wondering, to celebrate we went to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and hoisted a few. We also enjoyed some conch fritters, fish tacos and a mahi sandwich. All good, and big smiles all around.
Pos: N24deg05.92min / W076deg24.20min. We departed at 0615 and motor-sailed the 50+ miles to Black Point, Great Guana Cay. It was either motor or stay in Georgetown another week, as a trough is hanging around for the next 5 days or so suppressing the wind. We were ready to go, so made the best of it and ignored the motor sound. Some days are like that. Tomorrow we'll find the laundromat, reputed to be one of the most reasonably priced ones in the Bahamas. After, we'll head the 8 miles to Staniel Cay to seek protection from the expected west winds coming in when that trough arrives, bringing rain and possibly thunderstorms (we hope not).
Well, the kids are gone. Before departure late this afternoon, Ty & Hanne had a chance to snorkel with "Nicki" again. Nicki was named by some cruiser for the nicks on her dorsal fin. She and her baby hung around Infini for a few hours, obviously looking for attention. In the spirit of visiting somewhere and only leaving our footprints, T, H and myself did a bit of a take-off on that theme and used small rocks to form our name as a momento, located below the Monument on Stocking Island. Cruisers have left their signatures this way for a long time. Just before sunset we stored the dinghy and prepared for departure. Georgetown has been a great stop, but it's time to get on up the road.
Ty & Hanne arrived yesterday and this morning were greeted by a playful dolphin which swam around the boat so they jumped in with snorkel gear and swam alongside him (her?). Of note, we were anchored in about 7' water in front of town. I called Jamie & Behan (sv Totem) who were anchored nearby to let them know about the dolphin, so their entire crew also donned snorkel gear and joined the dolphin fun. This went on for about 45 minutes and was a wonderful experience. Jon & Ashley's flight was delayed in Tampa, so they missed the connecting flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Georgetown and had to be rescheduled for the next day. They did, indeed, arrive, albeit a day late, and it was a wonderful mini-family reunion aboard. The next two days we had rented a 17' Boston Whaler from Minn Water Sports in town, as we figured 6 of us with all our snorkel gear, snacks, etc would have really been squeezed into our 10' dinghy. This proved to be a great decision, as we were able to go from one end of Elizabeth Harbour to another, stopping to explore, walk or snorkel the many spots available in style and comfort. We found a few decent snorkeling spots where the coral and fish life was plentiful, also spotting an eel and a nurse shark. The guys brought up a beautiful, mature conch, so he was a saver that we kept until we finally had room in the freezer to place him for 24 hours, at which time we defrosted him in salt water and easily removed the entire conch from its shell. We had an obligatory stop at the Chat n' Chill and enjoyed the conch salad, ribs and fish platters. T, H, J & A also hand-fed the stingrays, as the parts of the conch not used in the salad are set aside for anyone to feed the rays. They're quite used to the attention, coming right up to your legs looking for a handout. Their skin is soft and their barbs are intact; we haven't heard of anyone having any problems with them. J & A left after a few days for their resort up island, so we took the next day off to stay out of the sun and just hang out. The last few late afternoons have seen happy hours on the beach with a few of the remaining folks still around waiting to head off. We've enjoyed getting to know Jamie & Behan a bit more, and have met a few of the other "kid" boats anchored here at Monument Beach. Behan is one of the co-authors of "Voyaging with Kids," a beautifully written book (available from Amazon.com) about cruising with children. So, it's been lots of fun aboard Infini, and I should also mention the Mexican Train dominoes we've been playing, the great meals we've prepared and the beach walks and hikes we've enjoyed.
These last few weeks have found us anchoring in several spots between Georgetown and Stocking Island depending on the weather. What we did find was that irregardless of wind, unless you go thru the dinghy cut into Victoria Lake at slack water, entering and leaving the lake by dinghy is like getting tumbled around inside a washing machine. At times, we would have been best served by wearing our wet suits! On top of that, our Yamaha 15 HP outboard has been temperamental. I've taken apart, rebuilt and cleaned about everything I know of - twice - but at high load the motor stalls out. Hmmm. At any rate, for Mother's Day we went over to the Chat n' Chill for their Sunday pig roast and conch salad. It's a bit pricey, but a good place to meet other cruisers. During the week we've really been in laid-back mode. A bit of hiking and swimming...mostly just chilling, reading and eating. We've met Steve and Rhonda of sv Cloud 9 and have enjoyed getting together with them a few times. The other night we had a "pizza night" aboard with them and Jody and Dan of Champagne Moment. I made the dough, and everyone brought the toppings they wanted. After 5 pizzas, all of us were stuffed. Every Monday night, Eddies Restaurant has their Rake and Scrape. We hitched a ride with Steve and Rhonda into town from our anchorage at Monument Beach. There were 5 band members who did a really credible job and the dancing music was great. Lots of cruisers and locals, and another enjoyable evening. We got to bed after 10:30...late for us! Yesterday, we did a bit of provisioning as Ty and Hanne arrive tomorrow, and Jon and Ashley Saturday.