Silver Maple Blog

Retirement adventures Canadian style


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Holed up in Hope Town

Monday, November 16th to Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

Well, the weather man has been correct in his prediction of high winds and rain for over a week. Occasionally, the sun peeks out for a little while and we do our best to take advantage of it with pool, beach and outdoor time — but the wind and rain soon return. Regardless, no complaints here! There are much worse places to be holed up, and you don’t have to shovel it!

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A manatee in Hope Town is cleaning the bottom of Silver Maple. It has blue paint on it from rubbing along the bottom of the boats in the harbour.

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Coming up for air! Very cute!

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It is big, but very gentle and slow. They are referred to as sea cows. Apparently it is pretty rare to see them in the Bahamas.

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Hope Town Inn and Marina is building new cabins. Should be finished by the new year.

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At Firefly, our favourite restaurant in Hope Town.

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Randy playing Bocce Ball with Vince (Fortnight) during a break in the wind and rain.

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My new favourite thing on the boat is this button. The pump for the drain in the shower and the sink in the bathroom is supposed to turn on and off automatically, but has always given us problems and likes to run continually. So, for a few years we have been connecting and disconnecting the wires under the sink every time we use the drains in the bathroom. Randy has added this nice little button now and it is fantastic! Just pull it to make the drain pump come on. The captain is a genius!

 

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The view of the Hope Town beach during Lee’s beach walk. Windy and wavy.

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The Hope Town Inn and Marina Shuttle driven by Robert the Dock Master comes to pick us up in town and take us back to the marina across the harbour.

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The best boat name I’ve seen recently! For people who were Godzilla fans back in the 70s.

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Sunrise over the Hope Town Marina.

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Catching some pool time while the sun is out (briefly).

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View of the Hope Town Harbour from the deck of the Hope Town Inn and Marina.

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Silver Maple docked at the Hope Town Inn and Marina.

The weather forecast today (Sunday) says this should be the last rainy day for a while. Next week will have high winds and in the 70s F. Not horrible, but not conducive for moving really either. Hopefully, the following week we can get out and about. Cheers, everyone!


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Crossing the Gulf Stream again, and again…

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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Safe and sound in Florida

Thursday, October 29th to Wednesday, November 4th — Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas to Palm Beach, FL

We take our last couple of days to wrap things up in New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas in preparation for Friday’s early departure. We do some final errands. Unfortunately, when we get up in the morning on Friday it is thunder storming and raining, so our 7AM departure moves to 11AM. We don’t get as far towards West End, our launching point for the Gulf Stream crossing, but we do end up in a beautiful anchorage at Allans Pensacola Cay the first night. Silver Maple is the only boat there and it is a calm and lovely stay.

In New Plymouth doing our last errands before we leave tomorrow.

In New Plymouth doing our last errands before we leave tomorrow.

Success!! Randy leaving the BTC office where he manages to add more data to his Bahamian cell phone.

Success!! Randy leaving the BTC office where he manages to add more data to his Bahamian cell phone.

Late start leaving Green Turtle. Thunderstorms are past but its still raining.

Late start leaving Green Turtle. Thunderstorms are past but it’s still raining.

Nicer day as the afternoon goes on. Hmm...no one seems to be driving...

Nicer day as the afternoon goes on. Hmm…no one seems to be driving…

Nice to be sailing.

Nice to be sailing.

Captain on the deck.

Captain on the deck.

We bought cake while we were in town yesterday. Yum!

We bought cake while we were in town yesterday. Yum!

Anchored in beautiful Allens Pennsicola

Anchored in beautiful Allans Pensacola

The next morning, we are off to Great Sale Cay. It’s a shorter trip so we have some relax time in the morning. When we arrive at Great Sale Cay there are two other boats and a third arrives after us. Everyone else stopping at this anchorage is going the other way, of course, towards the Bahamas rather than towards Florida. On the way from Great Sale Cay to West End, we pass two sailboats heading towards the Bahamian Abaco Islands. One of them, ‘Miss Informed’ we met last year in Marsh Harbour. They radio us on the way by to say hello and ask why we are going the wrong way.

Sunrise over Allens Pennsicola.

Sunrise over Allans Pensacola.

Lady of leisure watching the sunrise.

Lady of leisure watching the sunrise.

Back on the water on the way to Great Sale Cay. Gorgeous day!

Back on the water on the way to Great Sale Cay. Gorgeous day!

Captain checking out the neighbours at Allens Pennsicola.

Captain checking out the neighbours at Great Sale Cay

We arrive mid afternoon at West End and the Old Bahama Bay Resort. Its hot. Over 90 degrees F and very humid so we take a trip to the pool and relax. The weather report for the next day (Monday) is still looking good for doing the Gulf Stream crossing to Florida. Although the resort is lovely, we decide to go while the going is good.

Early morning start as we head to West End.

Early morning start as we head to West End from Great Sale Cay.

Moon over Silver Maple as we head out.

Moon over Silver Maple as we head out.

Another gorgeous Bahamian sunrise.

Another gorgeous Bahamian sunrise.

Silver Maple at Sunrise.

Silver Maple at Sunrise.

Very calm day from Great Sale Cay to West End. No sailing today!

Very calm day from Great Sale Cay to West End. No sailing today!

Water so clear you can see the bottom at 15ft.

Water so clear you can see the bottom at 15 ft.

Captain enjoying the view from the deck.

Captain enjoying the view from the deck.

Silver Maple docked at West End, Bahamas.

Silver Maple docked at West End, Bahamas.

The beautiful Old Bahama Bay Resort at West End.

The beautiful Old Bahama Bay Resort at West End.

On Monday morning we are up at 4AM and on the water while it is still dark. The waves always feel worse when you can’t see them in the dark, but as the sun comes up the trip is much more pleasant. Just before we reach half way, we see a large boat on the horizon. It looks official and is approaching quickly. Yep, US Coast Guard!  They pull in behind us and radio us with a few questions on our nationality, destination, registration, yada, yada. They then ask us to hold on the radio as they confirm the information. We wait and wait. Finally they come back and tell us they are having some communication problems, so we should maintain our course and they will get back to us as soon as they can. So, Randy responds with “So you mean we will have an escort?” The Coast Guard ship replies with “Yes, Sir. This will be your safest passage ever.” Too funny. They follow us for about an hour or so. Eventually, they wish us a good trip and pull away.

Early morning start as we make the crossing from Florida to the Bahamas.

Early morning start as we make the crossing from Florida to the Bahamas.

Perfect crossing weather!

Perfect crossing weather!

Captain is happy!

Captain is happy!

Sea sickness medicine makes you want to nap.

Sea sickness medicine makes you want to nap.

US Coast Guard pays us a visit.

US Coast Guard pays us a visit.

We have an escort!

We have an escort!

Still following us.

Still following us.

We are half way! Woohoo!

We are half way! Woohoo!

The Coast Guard pulls away and wishes us well.

The Coast Guard pulls away and wishes us well.

About 15 minutes later, we get a call on the radio from Will and Muffin on Antares. We have seen them every year in Hope Town while we’ve been in the Bahamas. They were listening to our Coast Guard encounter. They are crossing from Florida to the Bahamas. The first thing they say is “Hey, you’re going the wrong way!”

The crossing is good.  It’s a great day. Seas are relatively light and there is enough wind to put a sail up. When we arrive in Florida we are exhausted. It’s hot! We have a quick dinner at the Old Port Cove Marina where we are staying in Palm Beach and hit the sack before 8PM.

Lee on the deck enjoying the ride.

Lee on the deck enjoying the ride.

First glimpse of Florida.

First glimpse of Florida.

Captain is pleased to be back on the InterCoastal Waterway (ICW).

Captain is pleased to be back on the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW).

Now we are in Florida, it is good to be back on the mainland. Brutally hot and humid, but it’s still good. Randy is getting some maintenance and repairs done on Silver Maple while Lee shops for provisions in preparation for the trip back to the Bahamas. Looks like tomorrow we will hit the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show which is on here, and then wrap up preparations by Friday for a crossing sometime this weekend…weather permitting of course. Stay warm, everyone!