Friday, July 31, 2015

Odd Shots

Pictures from The Exumas

From one of the many private islands we've been fortunate enough to visit.  
We always find odd things on these little Cays and this one proved to be quite interesting.

Such as:

A Hedgehog! Have you ever met a Hedgehog? Kinda like a Porcupine without the attitude.

They're nocturnal creatures and this one was shy, didn't roll out to be sociable.

This was a quite a day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

This Is Cool

1000 Rockers in Italy doing Foo Fighters "Learn to Fly"


Every Picture >

> tells a story, don't it.    ("Every Picture Tells a Story" (Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood)

Orange Cat aka Compass Kitty
A feral-ish cat that somehow survives on Compass Cay; he sometimes shows up around the marina looking for a meal. The boat ladies at Compass try to take care of him, but he's an independent cat and he'll usually take the food then disappear.
The first time Radar met Orange Cat was a big dust up. Radar lost that bout and walked with a limp for a few days. I think my boy hurt himself by running backwards too fast. Compass can be a mean little kitty.

Over Yonder Cay

As you leave Compass, heading south down Pipe Creek, you'll see the Wind Generators first. 
The owner of this island is serious about making this an eco-friendly, self sustaining paradise. The field of solar panels (hidden away) and the wind generators provide enough power to run the island.
Yes, you can rent this island, (no, we can't), many celebrities do.
The sailboat in the foreground is part of the package... of course.

We're back in Jupiter now, doing a few boat projects and house chores. Going through the hundreds of photos taken means new ones will be discovered so more will be posted.

There are some beautiful shots and some wonderful memories to share.



Monday, July 27, 2015

Coming Home's Not easy

Oh I know I've come home for a reason
But that reason escapes me now

The lines, from an old Sting tune, bounced around in the space between my ears as we pounded our way through the last 20 miles of this day's 130 mile run.
6 to 8 to 10' snarling, slamming seas. Headwinds winds that were constantly 40+ mph with gusts to 55; truly the worst continuous seas Crew Istaboa has dealt in our 15 years and 30,000+ miles of offshore cruising. (Yes, we're proud pleasure boaters)
I kinda remember something I read a long time ago... 'When you go to sea in small boats, never fret over finding heavy weather; eventually, it will find you.'

It did, but this is not the story of a harrowing escape from a deadly storm, it's about perceived danger, the anticipation of a worsening situation , and, simply put, me thinking too damn much.
Fortunately, Istaboa carried us through this rough stretch with steady grace. She's a damn fine boat and she proved herself yet again.

Thinkin' too much?:

I had started worrying about the late afternoon thunderstorms a few days before leaving Great Harbour. In the back of my mind were thoughts of hitting the cut that leads into Palm Beach with a big blow and lots of lightning at sunset; this situation would force us to plow through a storm or wait and enter in darkness. (Yes, my worries were well-founded) Both of those options weren't good. My optimistic side calculated 50/50 odds of that happening so I decided to be positive and put it all out of mind... sort of.

Of course, when the time came, we landed on the wrong side of that 50/50 chance. Should've gone with 'glass half empty' because what I had worried about happened exactly as feared.
If you look at our track you'll see where the storm first hit. Our Spot Satellite Transponder couldn't see through the storm and could no longer track as we closed in on Palm Beach.

But, at this point Mel and I were quite comfortable in the pilot house taking it all in as if sitting in a theater watching an action movie.
Big water washing up and over the Portuguese Bridge and sometimes smashing face first into the pilothouse windows. We can now accurately describe green water.
The boys weren't happy, but we were fine. All systems were working as they should; We both commented on how well Istaboa was handling this weather.

Then I start thinking too much again...

Looking out the pilothouse seeing the storm's black skies, streaked with lightning, positioned just to the south of our destination —the loud rumble of thunder— I was staring at the intense cell on the radar display and realizing the squall was moving north. Calculating our speed and the storm's movement, it became evident we'd collide at the precise moment we'd be entering the inlet.
A voice in my head was saying, "If you're struck by lightning, you'll be dead in the water.",  and a visual was rolling before my mind's eye of us helplessly washing up on the rip-rap of Lake Worth Inlet.

For the first time that day, I pulled the throttle back and slowed down.

Internally, my mind was racing and jumping to many conflicting conclusions. (one of which was, 'don't get excited.')

Then Mel suggested hailing TowBoatUS on the radio to ask about weather at the inlet. When I did, the friendly voice of a TowBoatUS Captain immediately answered and with calm demeanor told us something like, "Yeah, Wow, I bet you're in the rough stuff, it's been blowing hard. If you're okay, just keep on coming. It's all better in the inlet. Settles right down; the storm is moving north"

"Oh!   Really?   Thanks... — Istaboa back to 16".

There was momentary silence in the pilothouse.

My anxiety ended as quickly as it began and the anticipation fueled stress eased like the winds and seas at Lake Worth Inlet...  and all was right with the world.

Calm, once we eased through the inlet and rounded Peanut Island. Rain, washed the salty sea from our decks. Ease, as we motored into Old Port Cove Marina and tied up at the fuel dock with just a moment of twilight left.

Success = Relax

In hindsight, it was a great day to do this long run. If we were waiting for a better day, we'd still be at Great Harbour. (which would've been okay with us) 90% of our weather was damn near perfect.

And, the good that came from all this? We're now confident our stabilizers and autopilot will perform well in really harsh conditions. We'd had issues with both systems in the Chesapeake and repaired them, but never had the opportunity or the inclination to sea trial in such seas.

Istaboa was steady as a rock.

And, as written at the beginning of this post, Sometimes coming home's not easy, but we're home.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Our Last Day In The Bahamas, Ends At Carriearl

On this morning, Mel had set her sights on going to Carriearl Restaurant for lunch.

So, guess what? We went to Carriearl for lunch.

We'd never been and had planned on doing brunch there Sunday, but circumstances have a tendency to change and they did. So... lunch instead.
Marty, one of the proprietors, drove to the marina and, as he put it in his British way, collected us. A nice fellow; he and his wife Angie are the owner/operators of Carriearl.
While cruising around the Bahamas we'd heard good things about this little boutique hotel/restaurant at Great Harbour and the reports rang true. Lunch was excellent. Not the Bahamian fare we've come to expect, I had Welsh Rarebit with crispy prosciutto over toasted fresh baked bread. Mel enjoyed a Caesar Salad dotted with very small Crab Cakes. All was prepared nicely and served to us in this very interesting sun room. (Enlarge the photo)
Yet another nice surprise we've discovered and enjoyed while at Great Harbour Cay.

Marty and Angie have decorated the place as a well traveled couple would. The walls have many interesting little oddities, memorabilia, and art pieces that have been tastefully placed and hung nicely.

The blue tiled pool with a contrasting white mosaic Rooster at the bottom overlooks the beach and ocean. All in all, it's an eclectic/bohemian little island hideaway kinda place that's a must visit often for us when we return.
Marty and Angie are also a very pleasant couple; we enjoyed spending time with them.

Yeah, yeah...    Mel was right, again.

But —

It appears our sensible side, oddly enough, has beat out our whimsical nature.
Our new plan is to do a 130 mile run back to Lake Worth Inlet and home. 13 hours unless the Gulf Stream gives us a lift and we make up some speed. Dark to almost dark. The weather's predicted to be nice. We'll see.

We've enjoyed Great Harbour Cay again, it's now on our list of places that we will return to every time we're in the Bahamas. Hopefully a longer stay next time.

So that's it for this year's cruise through the Bahamas and so far, it's been a great trip.

Sad? No. — There's no place like home.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Easy Day Run

An early departure from Nassau on a beautiful morning. The seas were a bit bumpy but on our tail which just helped push us north; no spray over the bow at all.
The newly installed autopilot was working well and held course nicely.
Everything good.

Nothing remarkable happened till we approached the southern point of The Berry islands.

That's when off to port something appeared that looked like an attack force of vessels heading our way. They passed quickly, about a mile or so ahead, so we couldn't see exactly what they were, but the flotilla looked to be all the same model boat so we assume it was a large boat club or rendezvous that was heading to Eleuthera. Probably had just left Chub Cay.
Must have been 30 of them.

So that was it... an uneventful run from Nassau to Great Harbour.

We passed by the little island that the cruise ships use to entertain their passengers, there were two gigantic ships at anchor, Enchantment and Norwegian Sky,  then made the bend and the approach to Great Harbour Cay.

Easy day run.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Nassau Layover

•Back to the city• 

And, I can't say that's at all bad; we most always enjoy our time in Nassau.

After our run up from The Exumas and arrival at Bay Street Marina, we looked up and spotted 'Beacon Won' on her way in; old buddies, Bruce and Sheila
Some of you may remember from our blog, Captain/Mate, aboard the charter boat, "Bahama Star" are now sailing 'Beacon Won'. Their charters were doubling head count so an increase in the size of their vessel was in order to keep up with demand.

For years we've bumped into these two in The Exumas and Nassau. Bruce always the, happy pirate , invites us over for Fried Turkey; he and Sheila always lay out a great spread.

This was the end of the cruise for this charter, so one last photo op of the whole crew was composed.
About 3 hours later the next charter showed up. And, they were all from Memphis. We had actually met several of the young folks a few years ago at Compass Cay. Bruce gets a lot of repeat business.
He and Sheila are busy folks. Week long charters, one after the other, with just a couple of hours in between.

During our brief stay at Bay Street, we ran into several folks we haven't seen for a while. Captain/Crews like it here. 3 bar/restaurants at the top of the hill? What's not to like?

Also, walking back from lunch at Mckenzie's and shopping at the Funky-but-Fabulous Potter's Cay we heard someone yelling, "Bob Taylor, Bob Taylor!", it was Jamal, Tucker's son and the manager of Compass. We spoke briefly, but traffic wouldn't allow us much time. Potter's is always busy; it's a local favorite.
Mel and I were glad we saw Jamal, he was off the island when we left. So a proper farewell was made.

Potters Cay with Atlantis in the background for contrast.

So today, Crew Istaboa will make way for The Berry Islands and head back to Great Harbour Cay.

The seas are predicted to be relatively smooth and we're happy to be visiting our new friends at Great Harbour.

This cruise is winding down. It's been a great one so far.

More to come.



Friday, July 17, 2015

With Heavy Hearts

Pulling away from Compass Cay was a bit doleful. It was a beautiful morning, but the during the process of untethering Istaboa, all involved were quiet and somber. As we motored away, I glanced back to see Loan and Preston still standing on the dock we had just left, still watching, I think they were almost as sad as we were. Or, they wanted to be sure we were gone. (We prefer to think the former.)

This long stay went by way too fast, as they seem to do these days. They just don't make months like they used to. In the blink of an eye a whole month will just disappear as if compressed into a .zip file of memories and stored away.

Ahh... the Sharks... they're Nurse Sharks; oddly docile and quite friendly.
Really; after all these years and hours and hours of watching them. I think they truly enjoy the interaction. Of course, a lot of the attraction for them is food, (not us thankfully), but they do seem to enjoy laying about the fish cleaning dock, having their backs scratched.
Many times I've been snorkeling the reef just under the docks and had them swim very close, brush up against me, and follow me around. At first, I must admit it was a bit unnerving, but soon it became apparent, they mean no harm. They're simply coexisting as they do with the many other fish at this fish friendly, sanctuary like, marina.

At Compass Cay there's no fishing of any kind and no harassing the Sharks. If a predator swims in; a Lemon Shark, Black Tip, or Barracuda, it will be prodded and forced to leave... or speared and taken out to the sea if it doesn't.

And there's the famous pigs of Big Majors Spot. Yes, they are internationally renowned. Google, 'Exumas Pigs'.
You'll see them enjoying the attention and handouts of good grub from movie stars, sports stars, super models, and us normal folks too. This trip, there was a film crew at Big Majors shooting a commercial using the pigs roaming around the beach in the background — for Angry Birds? Not sure what that's all about. We're told there's going to be a movie.

Anna Mae at anchor - Big Majors Spot

So, maybe now you can understand why Crew Istaboa treasures this tiny dot on the map.
This place really is magical. Swim with friendly sharks, movie star pigs? Where else in the world can you find things like this?
Mel and I never tire of Compass Cay and Pipe Creek. We always arrive excited and we always depart remorseful; planning our return.

We don't think it's for everyone. I've been asked many times, "How can you stay as long as you do and not get bored? No restaurants, no bars, no island bands, how do you do it?".
Our answer: It's easy if you have the time. Just sit under the shaded overhang next to the office where the breeze is priceless; be still, be quiet, be aware of your surrounding, and soon, you too will learn to BE at Compass Cay... it doesn't take long and it may forever alter your perspective on many things.  When you tire of that or the bugs come out, walk back to your boat, read a book or take a nap or both; go snorkeling with the fish in a marina that's better than any aquarium, chit chat with interesting folks from all over the world, hike around the island — then saunter back to the overhang and get back to the business of BEing. > Repeat.

More entertainment arrives with the tourists from Georgetown. Their look of amazement is priceless. They feed and swim with the sharks as Tucker and the boys grill them the best burger they've ever had, all the while slamming as many Kaliks as possible before jumping on the fast boat and heading back to Georgetown.

I've got tons and tons of memories and photos to share before I .zip them up.

So, like always, with remorse and heavy hearts we left the Exumas and crossed the bank back to Nassau.

With Nassau comes free high-speed internet, so I'll post more soon. And, Tucker has been here for the last few days so we hope to catch up with him before we head out for... ???



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Beach Boyz

Sad — it's time to move on. The weather's nice, the seas are flat, and we've been here for a month. Compass Cay and Pipe Creek are magical places — but like a flipped switch or a button pushed, we both know, at the same time, it's time to start preparing to leave.

But, before taking off, with all this flat water and calm winds, we're going to make the most of the next couple of days.

Today, we loaded up the dink and took the boys across Joe Cay Cut to let them play in the warm shallow waters and the beach. We all had a lot of fun. Mel and I love to watch them play and they had a blast.

I think Muddy's found his beach groove. The boy's gonna be alright.

Radar calmly stands by as Little Mud has his moment.

  Great beach

Radar, looking back laughing. I know he's saying, "Thanks Man, I love this stuff!".

And off they go...

Yes, we think Muddy's finally joined the club.  He's definitely getting his beach on.

I know, I know... We're more foolish about our dogs than most folks are about their kids. Sorry.

So now it's time to start the process of figuring out what to do next. More island life or head back to the USA and check on reality? Both, I guess.
This has been a great month at Compass and we hate to end it, but it's all good.
Even the ride home will be a continuation of what we enjoy most — and the end result will be Jupiter — so there will no be complaining.

We'll see.

These days and their memories are like little gems that we treasure. This crew loves Compass Cay so much, it truly feels like home. The big yachts that have taken the place of the smaller boats like Istaboa have made a change, but it's not a bad change, just different. The cast of characters that create the ongoing performance that's Pipe Creek are still the same, they joke with us, tell us stories, bring us fish, even loan us their boats when it's too rough to go out in our dingy, but we know, as it's been said many times — Time changes everything.

Maybe better?

We'll just enjoy it, as it is, while we can...



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Bird's Eye View: Exumas

Our hood from above. Beautiful from every angle — more BLUE!

Great drone video of Compass Cay, Shroud Cay, Big Majors Spot, and several other points of interest around the Exumas and Pipe Creek area.

Thanks to Michael Leonard/Bahamas Charters for the video.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Smoke Has Cleared

A big fireworks display ended the 4th of July celebration at Compass; one of the large yachts put on quite a show last night.
On the beach less than a 100 yards away, for more than 30 minutes, we got the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air.

A great show with paradise in the background.

Transition time for us staying on the island. All our friends from Jupiter are leaving and heading back to The Bluffs. Flowergirl and Dusty Seas will be making way towards points north tomorrow.
It was fun sharing time and Compass Cay with them all.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Radar's Day At The Beach

Radar loves the beach and always has. Muddy, not so much, never did. (though he's acquiring a taste for salt water)

So with nothing else on my busy schedule, I grab Radar and a camera; we're off for a walk across the island to the ocean side...  leaving little Mud on board to enjoy Mel's company and Istaboa's A/C.

On this afternoon, it's just two old boys out to enjoy a walkabout Crescent Beach.

Since a pup, Radar's been coming to Compass Cay and he knows exactly which path will eventually lead to the beach. With a spring in his trot he leads the way and only stops to look back and tell me to hurry up.

He always enjoys our time alone, as we once were.

I've said this several times, Crescent Beach at Compass is one hell of a beach; while walking the water's edge you'll most times be completely alone.

But just look at it.

The Planetarium
A fellow named Dave, on a boat named Livin' Large, is quite an artist. Dave built this mobile that we all call the Planetarium. He also constructed Hester's Livin' Large Gym that I put up in the last post. 
I've never met Dave, I don't think, but he's obviously a talented/creative dude with a lot of time and energy. All on the island appreciate his work.


This day is a hot day and it's a long walk, but Radar is clearly up for it. He may be getting a little older, but a walk to the beach? He's always ready.

You can see the happiness in those eyes... the boy truly loves this stuff. 

Radar, once again, is telling me to hurry up.  My boy's still lookin' good, isn't he?

Below are a few photos from one of Radar's first trips to the islands.

That same, hurry up!, look.

Elbow Cay 2007's Cruise

So it's established, Radar is absolutely nutty about the beach.

He's calmed down a bit since those days back in '07, (we all have except for poor Muddy), but he can still bust a move when he wants. These days, Radar likes to go in about chest high to cool off and search for things that crawl. He doesn't bother them, just watches.

And check out that swagger, he's on his beach and he knows it.

Beach Dog

This, my friends, was a nice day. Just an old boy and his dog.

We sat under the Tiki Hut for a while enjoying the view, the shade, the breeze; hell, just the pure unpolluted sound of the surf was amazing enough...  then we hiked back to the boat to wash off the sand and salt. We didn't see another being until we got back to the marina.
Solitude if you want it.

 Radar, cooling his heels before heading back to the boat.

One last shot: Where it all started.

Sadie and Radar

An early morning on the Tennessee River. This was Radar's first boat trip. Little did he know what was in store for him. Such a cute little guy and what a beautiful girl Sadie was. Sweet, sweet Sadie
Here's a link to another good day on the beach... Tahiti Beach

This shot warms our hearts and puts a lump in my throat...