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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Anchoring Adventures on the "Izzy R"

Hi all...Ben here
You might notice I've gotten a haircut.  Luckily this picture doesn't show the four inch square patch on my back that Izzy shaved right down to my bare pink skin when she went wild with the clippers.  I'm just lucky she wasn't clipping around my...ahem..."under belly" -  if you know what I mean.  Dog grooming is just not her calling.  I'm surprised Jeff lets her near him with those clippers.  Guess he hasn't had a reverse Mohawk like I got yet.   The stuff I put up with to travel with these two!
Leaving Georgetown,  we felt pretty adventurous.  Most cruisers get to Georgetown and then stop, turn around and head back to the USA, not daring to go further south. That's why Georgetown is often referred to as "Chicken Harbor".    The continuing voyage has been dubbed "The Thorny Passage South" because of it's open seas, stronger winds and  and longer passages between islands.  Some of the George Town  cruisers had planned a sailboat race and a few days of fun in the neighboring Long Island Cay.  With weather predictions of some strong winds and high seas on our planned route to Rum Cay, we decided instead to join them for a few days and travel in the lee of Long Island waiting for better conditions.  We pulled in to Calabash Bay at dusk and anchored the first night in a picturesque bay with a gentle sea roll to lull us to sleep.
The next day we continued to Thompson Bay where we met up with the George Town cruisers.  They had activities planned, so we joined them for an island bus tour.  Well... I didn't, because they have some crazy rule about dogs on the bus.  So this is my best interpretation of the pictures that Izzy has in her camera. 
One of the places they went was a pretty church in Clarencetown with neat spires to climb,

Looks like it was tricky to climb up there requiring some specialized gymnastics...
and this is the view of the harbor from the top.
The inside is simple and peaceful
This is the bus...had to be back by 2 o'clock so the driver could pick up the kids from school. 
And that's Jeff , Mo and Pollie talking with one of the organizers, Karen. 
It looks like Jeff must be negotiating for a better seat. 

Another stop was Dean's Blue Hole where the international free diving championships are held each year.  It's the deepest Blue Hole in the world - 663 feet.

I recognize this place from the picture, because I was there last year and took a swim with Jeff during the diving championships.  Here we were last year. See all the flags from
around the world hanging over the hole?

By the time Izzy and Jeff got back from the bus tour, all the dinghies were  high and dry with the low tide. 

I think Izzy took this picture because Jeff actually made dinner one night.  Izzy called it "Shrimp Kiss-Up Pasta."  
 I'm not sure what's gotten into him...I think he's working up to suggesting he take a motorcycle ride with Jim sometime soon. I even got broasted chicken that night in with my Purina. I vote to let him go as long as he keeps bringing home the broasted chicken.
 On the other hand, maybe he was just inspired by the great food they had at Chez Pierre on Long Island Cay that week.   Pierre drove over to Thompson Bay and picked up Jeff and Izzy, along with Pollie and Mo and another cruising couple in his single seater van to take them to lunch at his restaurant.  Well, there was a spare tire and a small cooler to sit on in the back for the lucky ones. 

Fortunately it wasn't too far and road wasn't too bumpy. I guess everyone squeezed in and fought over the cooler seat, then settled in and bounced their way up the road to his restaurant.

 As it turned out, Pierre was a one-man show.  He was the chauffeur, maitre'd, waiter and busboy as well as the chief cook and bottle washer.  Whew!  I'm tired just thinking about it!
Here are Pollie and Mo with Jeff after they made themselves a drink at the bar. 
Pierre was busy in the kitchen whippin' up yummy French delicacies for everyone, so they had free reign over the booze.      
Pierre must not know how much Jeff likes rum drinks.
Near our anchored boat there was a restaurant called the Long Island Breeze, with a nice pool that I got to sit by one afternoon while Jeff and Izzy had lunch and got on the Internet.  Lots of people stopped and talked to me while I waited for them to finish.  I even got a few fries from one guy!
The next night there was a big party there that Jeff and Izzy attended.  I could hear the music from the boat...oldies, of course, with this crowd.    I kept waiting for them to play "Who Let the Dogs Out".  They came home late and happy and smelling like barbecue.  There must have been rum drinks there, too. 
As we traveled further south over the next couple of days we were often in shallow water and had to plan our travel time so that we would be at the shallowest spots at the highest tides.   Sometimes I got to ride on the lower deck, since it wasn't too rough, and it was cooler for my fuzzy body.  The view was great, and I had more room to wander around.

We had a few storms roll through on the first day and  the sky got blacker than I’ve ever seen it!

But then after the rain stopped, lucky Pollie and Mo got a pot of gold.
If I had a pot of gold I’d get one of those chicken broasters and a personal groomer that wouldn’t give me a reverse Mohawk haircut like Izzy did last time. Not sure if those are on Pollie and Mo’s list, but I'll give them the suggestions.

 That afternoon we stopped further south on Long Island Cay at Dollar Harbor - a beautiful isolated anchorage with clear water and sparkling white sand beaches that got bigger and bigger as the tide went out. There were three sailboats sharing this beautiful space with us for the night.

Jeff didn't put the dinghy down for most of those stops, since we arrived late, and were leaving early in the morning.  Sometimes they'd take a swim off the back of the boat, but I didn't get to the shore to see if any other dogs had been there.

Here's a picture that Pollie on "Motivator"  took of Jeff standing on the "Izzy R" at anchor in Dollar Harbor.  I think I was in the galley fixing snacks.

One afternoon we dropped the anchor for the night at Ford's Landing, expecting another picture perfect paradise.. The wind was blowing from one direction but the sea had a little swell from a different direction, which made the boat rock side to side a bit, but it looked OK for a while.  

Within a couple of hours, after Jeff and Izzy went for a swim around the boat, the wind had picked up and the swells had increased, and we were bobbing around out there like a cork in the washing machine.  "Paradise" was quickly becoming "the anchorage from Hell."
Jeff had some cocka-mamie idea about putting out a second "surge anchor" that he'd read about in Chapman's Book of Piloting.  So for the next hour or so he and Izzy tried every combination of lines and angles that are possible to try to duplicate the picture in the book.   It didn't get the boat to sit any better because the wind kept changing, but it kept them entertained for a while so I didn't have to. 

Meanwhile inside the boat, dishes and wine bottles rattled, the salon table traveled back and forth across the room hovering over my bed,  and any doors that weren't latched came open to expose or spill their contents on the floor.  Fortunately my Purina and treats are on the bottom cabinet and were safe! 

We couldn't walk around in the boat without being tossed around like rag dogs.  The fruit had jumped out of its bowl on the counter, and was racing back and forth across the galley floor, with the oranges in the lead and the bananas bringing up the rear.  I was entertained by the mango, which reminded me of a flat tire that Izzy once had in her car. 
There'd be no cooking chicken for me tonight! Dry Purina only... 

Getting out to my deck to take care of business was tricky, and Izzy insisted that I wear that geeky life vest.  They played Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would accompany me.  Jeff came with me, but I don't know if that meant he won, or lost.  Sleeping  that night was a difficult.  Actually, just trying to stay in bed was the real challenge.  Needless to say we left the next morning at first light.

A couple of days later Mo started some serious fishing from the back of his boat on our way to Mayaguana.  He almost got this fish into the net, but he wriggled enough that he got away at the last second.  No fish tonight!  
So when we arrived at Abraham's Bay in Mayaguana, Jeff put the dinghy down and they all went to shore to "Reggies" for dinner.  Jeff had read about it in the guide book.

Now,  I was back on the boat, so I can't be blamed for this...it looks as if  Jeff is having trouble finding enough water to get the dinghy to shore.  The technique is similar to a gondola operator, poling his way to the closest land. 

From the stories I heard, the landing wasn't that pretty either.  No dock to tie up to, and what looked like a nice sand landing area turned out to be deep muck that swallowed Izzy's leg half way up to her knee, requiring her to dig out her flip flop when she stepped out of the boat.  Everyone had to struggle to get the dinghy onto land and tied up.
 "Reggie's" was one of a hand full of houses on the single road of the tiny town, and Reggie and his daughter and her two cute little kids all lived there, and the restaurant was their dining room.  Menu was limited..."chicken is out of season", but they whipped up some chicken wings and a salad for each of them anyway.  I guess only the legs and breasts are "out of season". 

Next stop - Turks and Caicos.  We'll be up early in the morning to make our way to Providenciales, Caicos.   ("Provo" to us seasoned cruising dogs.)  I have my alarm set for 5:30 AM so I can have a leisurely breakfast with Izzy.
Guess I'd better get to bed if I can make it down those stairs. It's not so easy at 15, but Jeff and Izzy give me a hand.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Adult Day Camp - aka the George Town Cruisers' Regatta

Hi All...Ben here, in George Town, Exuma, Bahamas
 home of the largest Adult Day Camp ever at the annual Cruisers' Regatta.  I'm ready for the parade of boats that kicks off the week of fun and games, but Izzy made me wear this geeky life jacket again.  At least I loosened the collar a little so it looks more casual. 

There are almost 300 boats in the harbor this week, and it's safe to bet that most are familiar with this event and are here because they are ready to have some fun! 

The theme this year is "Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits," so you can guess what the attire might be! 
Some people decorated their dinghy,

and some decorated their big boat.

Some just wore hats

while others wore...well, other things - like this guy.  He was a little more elaborate. No tellin' what all is decorated here...maybe even his dinghy.  I hope someone keeps an eye on him.

This boat is full of "cowboys" and a horse made out of a cardboard box with a palm frond for a tail,

and I guess this is the judges boat. Lots of flags.

And some, like Jeff and Randy - just like to watch.

Looks like there are some Pirates among the crowd. There might be some trouble this week. They must have taken that poor little dog hostage and made him wear that Hawaiian shirt.

Our friends Barb, Randy and Debbie are at Volleyball Beach waiting for the next game.

Some signs of a commotion here...

Those Pirates must have struck again and pillaged the Chat 'N Chill, drinking all the Kalik and  leaving this cow trapped in the barbeque.

There are directions to many places, but everyone wants to stay right here for the party.

The boats look peaceful tied up here waiting for their owners to come back and drag them back into the water.
Most of them are here at Chat 'N Chill having a beer, playing volleyball,

playing Bocci Ball
or trying the Conch Salad.

It's made as you wait -  from the freshest conch. The live conch that will be used for today's salad are sitting happily in the warm ocean water, unaware of their destiny.
And these are the empty shells at the end of the week! 

The wind picked up during the week while our boat was in a slip at the marina getting fuel and water, so when we wanted to leave the marina we needed a little help to keep our bow from being pushed by the wind and waves into the pilings as we exited the slip.
Dockmaster extrordinaire, Clevon, was helping with the plan and the lines to get us safely out of the marina.

Our friends Sherman and Bob, in Sherman's dinghy, came to our aid, and became our personal tug boat, pushing against the side of our bow with the nice soft rubbery dinghy nose, while Clevon and Randy pulled on ropes,  Jeff maneuvered the throttles and Izzy moved fenders and retrieved lines!  This was one of those times when I made myself scarce so I couldn't be blamed for any of Jeff's miscalculations. 

Izzy didn't get pictures of that crazy maneuver, but as you can see from the expressions in this picture, it worked like a charm.  Thanks, Bob and Sherman! 

Randy and Jeff are celebrating the success with ...a beer, of course!  Whaaaat....?  it's after 9 AM.

Across the bay on Stocking Island, the fun and games of the Regatta continue with a beach golf tournament.  Jeff and Randy had entered this, so Izzy and Nancy went along to document the event and socialize. 
There are more and more beached dinghys as their owners are merrily knocking golf balls around on the beach, oblivious to the outgoing  tide. Hmm.... I hope they don't want me to help drag them back into the water.  Nancy has been keeping an eye on hers...there she goes to move it further out into the deeper water. 

This is the golf "course" Grounds Keeper and traffic cop.

The all important choosing of "the" club....

This is the fearsome foursome golf team that Randy and Jeff were on.  Looking pretty cocky at the start!
Jeff shows his form to the crowd.
 The "hole" isn't hard to find on this course...you just have to get the ball within the fifteen foot diameter circle around the flag.  Heck, I think even I could do THAT!  And I don't even have thumbs. 
Maybe the breakfast beer handicap they had  makes the difference. Jeff says that helps his game. 

At the final hole, I think they had to throw the ball into the bucket.  At least that's what I saw!
Randy and Nancy in their big comfy dinghy (saved by Nancy) headed back to Prime Time V. 

The final scores were added up later in the day, and Jeff got a tie for second place.   He got a bottle of wine and a flag.   
He and Randy were on the volleyball team that tied for first place, so he now has two flags to crow about!  He wore those flags around the boat for three days before Izzy made him hang them up. 
 I'm sure that Izzy and Nancy polished off the wine.
However, Jeff and his team didn't fare so well on the "Coconut Challange".  This game has grown complex over the years, and now has several parts to make it more challanging.  Separates the dogs from the cats I guess, and as it happened,  these guys were apparently cats because "Team-D-Lime-in-D-Coconut" members, Randy, Bob, Sherman, and Jeff splashed their way to a pathetic 20th place out of 27 entries - not very impressive.  Here's how it all happened:
First they paddled a motorless dingy around the bay using only fins, collecting floating coconuts. (that right there must have been quite a sight - four grown men in a dinghy frantically paddleing with finns to collect coconuts.)  Next they were supposed to play "Catch the Coconut" within their team, but they were DSQ'd (coconut talk for "disqualified") in that event due to a "foot foul".  (Not sure what they stepped in...) Then they tossed the coconuts across the volleyball net to a bullseye, and had some trouble with that one, too.  ( beer kicking in? - just wondering...)  I  heard they got a DFL for the entire Coconut Challange..  (DFL...What could that mean?)  But they seemed to have a good time anyway.  Unfortunately, no pictures of that one.  It was probably pretty funny. I was boat sitting, and Izzy was back in Cali visiting Sandy and Wendy. 

Randy and Nancy joined us for dinner and drinks at Peace and Plenty one night after Izzy got back to the boat. 
They started out with a rum punch or two made by the Dr. of Libation at the patio bar, and then were ready for the tasty buffet overlooking the bay!
After dinner, the guys went back to the boats but Nancy and Izzy wanted to go to the local festival of Gospal music across the street.   They stayed for several hours and took pictures of the local talent and came home singing.

There's always someone among the cruisers who knows the good spots for a picnic lunch or a good hike.  Word spreads like wildfire when a plan gets put together, and the result is always a great time with fun folks.  This was the case on the day Jeff and Izzy went to Flip Flop Beach for a hike and a picnic.
There is a thatched  palapa with some picnic tables and benches under it, and a place where a fire could be built.  Just behind it is a trail head leading to the beach on the opposite side of the island where the waves from the Atlantic Ocean are bigger.

Here are our dinghies at rest on this beautiful stretch of deserted beach.

Before long, Paul and Carol joined us.

Looks like this poor fellow got into some shallow water.  I guess that's why Jeff and Izzy left me behind this time.  Of course I do have the responsibility of the safe keeping of the "Izzy R", and I take that seriously. 

Carol and Paul and Jeff are ready for the hike.  I guess Izzy was taking the picture.

A nice trail through the island and sure enough, there was the Atlantic.

This is one of those perfect photo ops where the water just gushes over the rocks perfectly, but unpredictably. Almost caught it with Paul and Carol.

During these pictures, Jeff always says "stomachs in" to the guys, and "shoulders back" to the girls.

More hiking up the side of the hill to back to the other side.  Now I'm glad that I didn't go on that trail...my old hips just aren't ready for that stress any more. 

At the end of the trail they were back on the bay side of the island again right at Hamburger Beach.  I recognize that place from last year.  I don't remember the fridge right in the middle of the beach, though.  I'll bet Bob and Jeff are checking it for a few cold ones.

Another day someone organized a dinghy ride to a beautiful beach south of GeorgeTown.  Here are some of the nine boats gathering for the ride.
Other dogs got to go on that ride, but I stayed home in the air conditioned boat and kept it safe.  I think I got chicken that night instead of just Purina.    
  Off they go!

They drove for what seemed like a long way in that little dinghy, but the views were spectacular and worth the bouncing around on the inflatible sides.   

They finally came to a calm turquoise lagoon with a beautiful white sand beach at the end.  All the dinghys pulled up on the sand and put their anchors out. 
They grabbed their lunches and towels and headed across the sandy beach to the Atlantic Ocean side.  Jeff was in charge of the cooler. 
They found some shade and spread out the food and cold beer. 
There are those lucky dogs that got to go along.  Izzy said that they are "Whippersnappers" and that's why they got to go.  I'm not familiar with that breed.  She said I'm  part Airedale and part California Fence Jumper.  I guess my breed can't go to that beach. 

Just as well, because I don't like the waves...and I did get to stay in the cool boat, and I got chicken for dinner for being a good watch dog!

There are Pollie and Mo in "Little Toot" coming back from the picnic. 

That rainbow in the sky was because  it was raining back at the "Izzy R".  I couldn't close the windows, but it made it nice and cool inside the boat.   

Izzy and Jeff didn't seem to mind a little water inside. They usually try to keep the water on the outside, though. Jeff said that is rule number two.  

I think the boating rules go something like this:
1. Keep the boat in the water.
2. Keep the water out of the boat.
3. Keep the people in the boat.
4. Keep the water out of the people.
5. Keep the people out of the water.
6. Keep the boat off the people.
7.  Keep the cats off the boat.
8. Give the dog lots of treats.
(I might have made up a couple of those.)

The winds calmed down and we left George Town early one morning to head further south so we can get to Grenada by June.  That's when the hurricanes season starts, and Jeff especially wants to follow the first two boat rules during that time. 
We saw another rainbow in the cloud as we left the harbor.  Izzy said it means good luck.  I guess she closed the windows... 
I'll fill you in on more of our travels south soon.