The best way to share the peace and beauty of Hope Town is with this photo essay. Radeen and I along with many others, really love Hope Town on Elbow Cay in Abaco, Bahamas. Settled by Loyalists after the Revolution, it has retained a unique character and charm. For example, the Elbow Cay Lighthouse is still lit by hand each night using a kerosene lamp and the rotating mechanism is still wound every two hours throughout the night, as it has been since 1864.
During the week, we really enjoyed spending time with Island Packet Owners IP440 VIVO, IP38 Thursday’s Child (formerly Purpose from Rock Hall), IP38 Cat Tails, IP445 No Walhalla, , IP485 Sanctuary, IP35 Serenade (formerly Fiesta from Santa Fe), IP380 Cool Change and former owners of IP380 Packer Inn. No photos to prove it, but we also enjoyed seeing dear friends Ed and Sue of Angel Louise, with their fellow trans-Atlantic passagemaking guests, Dick and Moira. Lunch at Cracker P’s was so much fun.
We had not intended to stay here an entire week, but two strong cold fronts gave us the excuse to do just that. Please enjoy our photos.
We hope you see the beauty and the fun of spending a week in Hope Town with boating buddies while living on our boat on a mooring ball in the harbor. This cruising life is a dream, and we appreciate it more and more every day. Thank you for sailing along.
What a sail it has been! After leaving Lake Worth Inlet, FL, at 0700, we anchored off Great Sale Cay at 2330 and the next day we were underway by 0700. The forecasted approaching front was right on schedule and we could see it as we motored north to round the island. The front looked a lot worse than it really was. It was forecasted to be only 10-15 knots from the NW, so a nice easy front. Well, it was PERFECT as our course was East and, with the NW wind, we rolled out the sails. Check out these great sailing photos of the front. WARNING: This blog post has some really cool sailing photos. I hope you all enjoy these.
The Wind died out, the front has passed
You have to LOVE springtime sailing when the cold fronts are not as strong and the NW winds are not 25-30 knots. Then, when the front passes, the air behind the front is cool and the sea is calm. Look at the Abacos as we powered around Crab Cay to Green Turtle Cay where we needed to check into the country.
Customs and Immigrations, welcome to the Bahamas
We docked at Leeward Yacht Club at 5 p.m. We cleaned off the salt and spent the night. We did not go anywhere as we could not check in until the AM. So we relaxed and had a Mahi Mahi fish dinner onboard, of course, some wine and called it a night. This was one of our best runs to the Bahamas. Sadly, we are missing our buddy boat 380 SHAWNEE. After weeks of preparation, Drew and Deb had a fuel problem and then a broken motor mount. Darn, we were so looking forward to sharing this run together 🙁
The next day, we checked into the country with Customs and Immigrations. We arrived at the office at 1100 hours and they had a sign on the door that they would return at 1235. No problem, MON, we will come back, it is Island Time. At 1400 hours, the customs officer finally arrived and we were able to process our paperwork and pay our $300 for a cruising permit. The fee is based on boat length. As it states on the government website, the fee is $150 for 35-feet and under boats and it is $300 for a 35-feet and over boats. We are a 35 foot boat. Do you see a problem here? Well, we have learned that it is at the sole discretion of the office to choose a price for 35 footers! Five times we have paid $150, this time and one other time, we paid $300. Welcome to Da Bahamas, Mon.
Let’s Go Thru the WHALE
When heading south from Green Turtle Cay you have to go out over a reef to sea, run in front of Whale Cay, then cut back into the Sea of Abaco over another reef. This “Whale Cay Passage” can be very serious. It can also hold you up on either side of the passage for weeks if the swell is breaking over these two cuts. This day, the winds were SW 15-18 and that makes for a dream run as you can sail out to sea. beam reaching, and then close reach back into the Sea of Abaco. Perfection! This day will go down as one of the best sailing days in many, many years. We had about an hour of engine time, to leave the harbor, set sails and then to motor into the next harbor, drop sails and anchor. The water color changed several times on this leg. First, there is the Bahamas Banks at Green Turtle, then the indigo blue of the deep ocean outside Whale Cay and finally the Teal Blue Green of the Sea of Abaco. Navigating around here is easy, the waters are protected and we simply love sailing in the Bahamas. I hope you enjoy these photos. Some of the best.
Arriving at MARSH HARBOR for the JIB ROOM
It is Saturday night and, if you are in the Abacos, then you know it is STEAK NIGHT at the Jib Room / Marsh Harbor Marina. We LOVE to treat ourselves to this great meal, wonderful bar, fun limbo show and, best of all, fun with sailing buddies. Our boat buddies on IP 485 SANCTUARY, Sheryl, Michael, and Andrew arrived from Naples FL via Key West to here. We also connected with Caliber 40 HIGH ZZZs, Sheppard and Deb. We bumped into IP 445 GRATITUDE, Mike and Lizzie, new owners out of Rock Hall, MD who joined us as well. Our World Sailing, Ocean Crossing Buddies on Catalac Catamaran 44 ANGEL LOUISE, Ed and Sue, came over from Hope Town. We all had a great time gathering at the happy hour, drinking BILGE BURNERS and enjoying a wonderful steak dinner at THE JIB. This is like coming home for us. We count this as one of our “happy places.” We do miss the previous owners, Tom and Linda!
WE ARE HERE and We are Happy….
We are so happy to be out cruising again with our boat repaired. Now we can keep going and set sail for the Exumas and the Berrys. First, a full review tour of the Abacos.
Wednesday, we departed Lake Worth Inlet at 0700, en route to Memory Rock (50nm) where we would enter the Little Bahamas Bank and turn east for Great Sale Cay (45nm). Arriving at midnight, we dropped anchor and slept. Next day, onward to Green Turtle. We had the “Mother of all WX Windows” as perfectly predicted for a week by www.PredictWind.com. This service is so exact that it has become our primary service, in addition to Chris Parker. Last year, when we ran the Thorny Path, (Bahamas to US Virgin Islands) it was dead on for many passages. (Thank you, Don Roy of buddy boat FEZYWIG, who turned us onto Predict Wind while in the Turks.) This time, Predict Wind had a great WX window identified for a week in advance so we targeted Wednesday am to take the calm south winds across the Gulf Stream. Here is a picture of the entire route we ran.
Mahi Mahi FISH ON
This was our 12th Gulf Stream crossing and many times we have trailed fishing lines behind the boat times. We have never caught a fish. Everyone jokes that Island Spirit can’t catch fish. Well, to change that, last year, I started using my old cedar plugs and we started catching fish. Last year, we caught two nice sized tunas and this year, 2-3 hours out of Lake Worth inlet, we landed a 40″ Mahi Mahi. THE SPELL IS BROKEN! Team Island Spirit CAN catch FISH! DONE. It was so exciting and also very exhausting as I fought the fish to the boat. In fact, it was a full hour Chinese Fire Drill. The fish ran out a bit of our 60 lb line until I could increase the drag to stop it. Radeen, at the helm, slowed the boat down. Then the fish pulled a smart move and dove under the stern and wrapped the line around the dinghy davits. I was on port with the fish now off to my starboard stern. Now, it was getting serious. “RADEEN, turn the boat to port, circle left!” “WAIT, the MAINSAIL is still up!” “So what? There is only 5-10 knots of wind.” I fought the fish with the rod aft and over the davits and managed to get the line free. Now the fish took a run to our starboard side and went for full air, leaping totally out of the water trying to shake this single hook. I kept full tension on the line and brought the fish to the side of the boat. WOW, what a beauty!
Rookie mistake not having gloves on, I barehanded the 60 lb test line and secured the fish to the side of the hull next to the cockpit. With the gaff in my left hand and the line in my right, I missed try #1. OH BOY, the fish went nuts and the line around my hand started to dig into my fingers. Try #2 I gaffed the back 1/3 of the fish, right where I wanted to, and pulled him up tail first. Now with the fish on the gaff, I could lasso the tail with a preset line. NOW I GOT HIM. I could hold the fish with the rope AND the gaff and cut the gills over the side. This allows the blood to drip into the water and NOT all over the boat. After 4 cuts with the filet knife and one whack to the head with a winch handle, I had the fish killed. We now tied the fish to the top lifeline and hung it there to bleed out. OH MY GOSH! That was CRAZY. We snapped some great photos and then proceeded to filet the fish and bag the meat for the frig. That night on the Bahama Banks, we had Mahi Mahi fish tacos, yum yum. Here are the best photos. ENJOY….
ONE HAPPY FISHERMAN, Hayden
Here is my favorite photo. Radeen did a great job getting the photos. WOW, that was a big fish to land on a sailboat. My comment is…. imagine landing this fish in your living room, then sitting on the sofa and cutting filets off on your living room floor. YUP….fishing on a cruising sailboat. Imagine the clean up!
Motor Sailing the Stream up onto the Bahama Banks
With this “mother of all weather windows,” we continued to motor sail toward Memory Rock, but we discovered that if we headed more northerly to the next waypoint, Little Bahama Bank, we would pick up 1 knot of speed. So we kept going northeast with the boat pointed on about 110-120 degrees but making 70-80 degrees over the bottom, doing 7.2 knots. We liked it and it put us onto the banks by 1600. One of the beautiful situations of this leg is that the Gulf Stream is so blue, dark indigo blue. Then, going from 2000 foot deep water up and over the shelf onto the Bahama Banks, the water colors change to a spectacular teal blue (Kathy Heck, IP380 Tianui) and all the shades in between. This color change happens during about a half of a mile and it is breathtaking. We tried to photograph the various colors and here are a few water color photos…..
FOOD: How do you eat while underway
Radeen is a great cook onboard and at home. She plans and makes wonderful meals at sea and when we are on anchor. For example, here was our dinner created at 1830 while underway on the Little Bahama Banks:
Traveling at NIGHT! How do you see?
One of the hard parts about making long boating trips is that you have to travel in the dark. We have learned to use radar as our number one tool. It is the only thing that will tell you that there is nothing solid in front of you. Remember, we do not slow down, we are on passage and we want to get there, so it is full steam ahead in the black of night. Radar is #1. As the sun goes down, we prepare the boat and ourselves for nighttime. Red LED lights, red LED headlights, instruments set to nighttime mode, the enclosure down because it will be cold, and then we keep simply going. I am really proud of Radeen because how she knows how to run all our gear and the boat. She is not afraid to stand watch at night offshore.
Finally, we reach Great Sale Cay, 2330 hours
Here is the review, the map, of our route. We have made this eastward Bahama runs seven times now, and we really enjoy the trip, especially when you can wait for the best weather window and go with a south wind. Thank you all for sailing along with us, it is great to share the adventures….
Stuart Florida, Sunset Bay and Marina, is rated by many boaters are one of the greatest marinas on the USA East Coast, and we must agree. We have spent exactly two months here, working with Mack Sails and repairing our boat after Hurricane Marina damages in Puerto Rico. Now, with one last beautiful sunset and several gatherings with great friends, we actually departed. Hard to do, but we did it. Take a look at our final sunset….
Friends Friends Friends
Did I say, friends? Yes, we really enjoyed our many friends and shared meals together! Every night at sunset people gather on the porch or around the firepit and share a snack or a bottle of wine and visit. It really is an amazing place to live on a boat. Many people simply make this their winter destination, then in the spring they all depart and head north. Some live here full time, and we can see why. This is THE BEST place to live on a boat, hands down. We could easily live here if we were not cruising. Check out these great friends we shared our time with….
Fun Fun Fun times with so many buddies gathering in Stuart and passing thru. One more reason this is a hard place to sail out of, but we did, once all our work was finished.
NEW PLACE TO DISCOVER
With the winds EAST and the Bahamas due EAST, we have had to wait for a south wind or a cold front to head out. Well, with EAST winds, we can sail SOUTH so that is what we did. We powered out thru the St. Lucie Inlet to sea under full sails and turned south. But with only 6 to 8 knots and a 2-3 foot quartering sea, we added the motor to push through the chop. Still, we were in the Atlantic and heading to a new destination. That was West Palm Beach, FL. We have passed this 6+ times and never stopped. Others have told us how great it is. So, we headed to drop anchor off the town of the rich and famous. West Palm Beach was created and built by Henry Flagler to be a winter resort for the wealthy who would ride his train south and stay in his luxury hotels. They found it to be a perfect place to winter over. His idea, started when he was 65, worked and now, the town is better than ever and people still love it here. Mr. Trump has his Mar a Lago resort just down the waterway south of here. Lucky for the waterway at West Palm, when he is in town, it does not affect this area. Here we are, anchored off West Palm Beach….
We Found a DIVER
For two weeks, we tried to get a diver at Stuart, but it just never worked out. They are so busy and we were out in the mooring field, so we left with a dirty bottom and dirty prop. This slows down the boat, so we really wanted a diver to clean the bottom. A phone call to BoatUS and they referred me to SCUBA SCRUBBERS. We intended to leave a message, but theowner answered the phone on Easter! She said she would call me Monday to see if she could schedule a diver. She did, and by 12:30, she had a diver at our boat. WOW WOW WOW, now that is GREAT SERVICE. One hour of work and the boat bottom was cleaned of all barnacles and the prop was spotless, too. Each thru hull was cleaned and now we are ready to go. Outstanding company and outstanding service. I am really impressed with how they helped us out. http://ScubaScrubbers.com
Did I say we hoisted full sails on our way to WPB?
Passing MEGA YACHTS in West Palm
Yes, the 1% people of the world use the Lake Worth Inlet and the West Palm Beach area to have their yachts serviced. Here is motor vessel AQUARIUS; she is 301 feet long, 5 stories tall, she takes 16 guests in 8 staterooms and she carries 31 crew members to cater to the guests and to manage the yacht. It is PRIVATE. Can you say KA-CHING$$$$? Imagine paying 31 people’s salaries just to manage your private yacht! I guess the owner is not a public school teacher 🙂
HAPPY to be on Island Spirit
We are content and happy to be on Island Spirit and to be cruising to wherever we want to go! This little boat will take us anywhere. Lucky us! We are thankful and we appreciate this every day.
CALM South WInd = Easy Gulf Stream Crossing
We waited out the East winds, now a mild front is coming which will pull the Tradewinds south and that is when we go, Wednesday at daybreak. Yes, we prefer to sail, but any time you can cross the Gulf Stream in a south calm wind, YOU CROSS. Otherwise, it is 4-6 foot seas and you take a beating for 8+ hours. We do not mind a motor run. We will skip West End because the front is slow moving, so we can run all night on the Banks. We will pull up to Great Sale Cay around midnight, drop an anchor and sleep. Wed night into Thur, it will be NW and N winds but only 10-15 knots. So this will be a nice sail as we push on to Green Turtle Cay. See you Thursday!
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Thank you for sailing along! We enjoy the Bahamas and the cruising life and we love sharing it all with you. Please leave us a comment; we receive them in our email.