May 22 to June 3, 2009

May 22-27 We were home in Palmetto, FL while the boat was in the shop being repaired at Snead Island Boat Works. You will find the log for those days in the week listed as May 15-21.

May 28, 2009 Palmetto, FL to Englewood anchorage

Well, we’ll try this one more time. Bob began work on reinstalling the water tank and inverter at 6 AM this morning to beat the heat. It rained hard in the wee hours of the morning with thunder and lightning. Even Murphy, as hard of hearing as he is, could feel the rumble and eventually crawled into bed with us. I got up around 7:00 and prepared the house for our departure. Once Bob was done reinstalling everything, including the 4 large inverter batteries, I could finish loading the boat with the few remaining items we had. Mobile Dockside Fuel arrived at 9:00 to top off the tanks with diesel fuel and then we finished up by placing the dinghy on the lift behind the boat. We had some lunch, rechecked the radar for any possible storms in the area, and pulled away from the dock at 12:15. Everything was good to go! We did notice a line of storms moving in, but they were traveling NE offshore along the coast. As we left Terra Ceia Bay and entered the ICW, we could see the dark clouds to the west. The further south we went, the more the skies cleared and we were able to leave the rain behind. We were thankful that it was a little overcast for most of the way because it was VERY humid and uncomfortable without a breeze from the movement of the boat. If the sun would have been out, it would have been SWELTERING! Traffic on the ICW was light and we made the 58 mile run to Englewood anchorage in less than the usual 4 hours. Here we would spend the night. Everything ran well without a problem…so far. The sun came out for a little while around 5:00 and we just relaxed after a deep sigh that everything went well. Dinner tonight would be burgers on the grill and an early night for both of us. We can sleep in tomorrow because we have a short run of 75 miles to the Franklin Lock at the start of the Okeechobee Waterway. Our friends, Bernie and Barb, left Lake Worth and made the crossing over to the Bahamas today. We will try and meet up with them once we get over to the Bahamas ourselves. 

 May 29, 2009 – Englewood anchorage to LaBelle, FL

It was a hot, muggy start to the day, but at least there was a cool breeze blowing through the hatch as we woke up. We had a leisurely breakfast and hauled anchor at 9:00. It was overcast with a chance of rain predicted. We arrived at the Boca Grande bridge a little early for the 10:00 opening, so we hung out and waited. There was a lot of activity on the ICW today, probably because it’s Friday. As we traveled south past Captiva and Sanibel Islands, we got out from under the clouds and the sun shone brightly. It was a little breezy with winds out of the west 10-15 mph. It only affected our ride when we passed an opening onto the Gulf of Mexico. Otherwise, it was a calm ride down the ICW and we were again thankful for the breeze. After passing Cape Coral, we entered the Caloosahatchee River toward Ft. Myers and the Edison Memorial Bridge—a new high rise built in 2002.

We passed Legacy Marina, where our friends, Bernie and Barb, used to keep their boat

and the Ft. Myers Yacht Basin, where our friends, Pam and Don, currently keep their boat during the summer.

Traveling up the OWW (Okeechobee Waterway) was very interesting and brought back memories of traveling down the Tenn-Tom last fall. There were many beautiful homes on large tracts of land,

cattle grazing in the fields, and agricultural sections of orchards and vegetable plots. In sections of the river, there was nothing but wilderness. We made good time and reached the Franklin Lock in time for the 1:00 opening. We were the last boat to enter the basin and be locked through with 7 other boats.

It took about 5 minutes to rise 1 foot and then we were on our way again. Remembering how to lock through came easily and the lockmaster was friendly and helpful. We had to go through 2 swing bridges and one RR bridge that seemed too narrow to pass through, but we did.

Our plan was to travel 18 more miles to a place called LaBelle and stay on the 150’ dock at the River Edge Motel and Marina. When we arrived, the dock was full with a large paddlewheel boat and 2 others, so we moved on to Plan B. We dropped anchor on the other side of the bridge nearby, in the slow-no-wake zone. There was another boat anchored near the bridge, but we couldn’t get our anchor to grab. Next we moved on to Plan C. We motored back through the bridge to the park and boat launch, dropped anchor, and it seemed to grab. Bob took Murphy to shore and returned to the boat to relax. As he was setting the anchor alarm, I noticed the boat was loose and drifting, so he ran to start the engines and I pulled in the anchor. Now on to Plan D. We decided to go up the river a little further and see if we could find a better spot. We wanted to be more out of the wind and have a spot where we could take Murphy to shore. We dropped anchor in the river about 9 miles from the Ortona Lock. (The locks at each west end of the OWW open on a 7AM, 1PM, 7PM schedule. The 3 locks in the middle open on demand, so timing is not an issue.) After a few hours, we were confident that our anchor finally took hold and settled in for the night. We had concluded our 86 mile run today at 3:00.

Boats continued to move up and down the river. Bob did some scouting in the dinghy in both directions, while I cleaned the diesel soot off of the transom. The day finally started to cool off, as some clouds moved in to block the sun and we enjoyed cocktails in the cockpit. Murphy enjoyed being outside with us and it was peaceful in the river, except for the constant buzz of cicadas. Bob remarked at how nice it was to be back in fresh water again. We watched a beautiful sunset before having dinner.

We had tilapia for dinner and after a cold shower we were ready to watch a little TV and call it a night. An easy day’s run ended stressfully with anchoring issues, but everything turned out well in the end.

May 30, 2009- LaBelle, FL (Caloosahatchee River) to Roland Martin’s Marina at Clewiston, FL

What a peaceful night! We woke to the sound of a cardinal in a nearby tree and glassy-calm waters.

 We had breakfast, checked the Internet, and pulled anchor at 8:00. Today’s forecast is for 90 degree temperatures and very humid. We wanted to get an early start and beat the heat. There is also a slight chance of rain later today. It took us about 30 minutes to get to our first lock of the day—Ortona Lock.

We have become real experts at this locking business. We were the only boat locking through this morning and the lock opened on demand. Once we got all tied up, the lock doors closed behind us and the water began to pour in from the gates ahead of us. We would rise 5+ feet in this lock. Upon leaving the lock we continued on the OWW. This part of the OWW is very agricultural with sugar cane growing in the fields and livestock grazing along the river.

We continued along the Caloosahatchee Canal through Lake Hicpochee to the town of Moore Haven. We arrived in Moore Haven at 9:20 and were able to pass right on through the lock without locking.

After clearing the lock, we entered into the main body of Lake Okeechobee.

We would follow the southern shoreline, or Rim Route, to Clewiston. Bob was the first to spot an alligator –although it was dead lying on the bank. Along the north side of the manmade waterway, there was mainly swampland that was once flooded.

 Here we saw live alligators and flocks of ibis, herons, and white egrets. A large flock of wood storks had gathered in a shallow pond off the canal.

On the south side, there was a paved bike trail that ran on top of the levee. Two kids on a 4 wheeler tried to race us along the trail.

There were quite a few bikers enjoying the trail on this nice sunny day. We passed a few people fishing in the canal with long cane poles and some parks and launch ramps along the way.

We passed no other boats moving in either direction. When our boat wake hit the reeds along the shore, tons of fish leapt into the air. It was quite funny to watch.

The lock leading to Clewiston was left open, so we passed right on through to get to the marina.

(This lock has a hurricane gate. When Charlie came through in 2004, many boats took refuge here at this marina during the hurricane and the gate was closed for protection. ) We are staying at Roland Martin’s Marina.

This marina became well known because of the famous fisherman by that name who owns it. The marina is also known as the bass fishing capital of Lake Okeechobee. After the anchoring fiasco we had yesterday, it feels good to be here tied to a dock. We were tied up and enjoying the AC by 10:30, after a short 37 mile run today. We walked up to the marina office to check in and shop at the ship’s store. We decided to stop at the Tiki Hut to enjoy a bloody Mary and some nachos for lunch.

While we sat at the Tiki Hut, we noticed a HUGE iguana sunning itself on the bank across from the bar. There were a few other iguanas wandering around in the grass.

After lunch, Bob and I decided to give Justavacation a bath to rid her of the saltwater. While we worked, dark clouds started to form to the west and drops of rain began to fall just as we finished. We got inside as the storms overtook us and we settled in for an afternoon of thunderstorms. Boats came in quickly to get out of the rain. We had lightning, thunder, and strong winds. It was comforting to be tied to the dock. I did a little wash and worked on the Internet while Bob took a nap. Later that afternoon, we had a severe thunderstorm warning in the area which was producing penny size hail, strong winds in excess of 50 mph, and dangerous lightning. We waited to see what would develop in the coming hours. The severe storms passed to the south of us, but we continued to have rain most of the afternoon. Lake O should continue to fill up with this kind of rain. More boats came in to stay at the marina for the night. One boat had come from Venice today and are also heading across Lake O to Stuart like us. The sun finally came out before dinner and Bob, Murphy, and I took a walk up to the main street and back. There was a wedding up at the Tiki Hut tonight and when we returned, the bride and groom were having their pictures taken on the bow of a fishing boat.

We had a later dinner and enjoyed a quiet, restful evening with a little TV. Bob spotted an alligator swimming behind the boat as the sun was going down. He was quite large!

We will be leaving early tomorrow morning with the help of Tow Boat US, who will guide us across the shallow areas of Lake O near Clewiston. We will make our way across the lake and the St. Lucie Canal to Stuart, FL. We still have the Port Mayaca Lock and the St. Lucie Lock to pass through at the eastern end of the OWW. We are getting excited about crossing over to the Bahamas next week when the weather looks good. Our friends are already there and moving south along the Abaco chain. We hope to meet up with them soon.

May 31, 2009 – Clewiston to Stuart, FL

We had a great night’s sleep and woke up well-rested. Bob saw another alligator (or the same one) swimming past our boat this morning and caught a picture of it.

So far we’ve seen gators 3 or 4 times in this basin. I guess we don’t want to let Murphy (or ourselves) fall in. Last night after dark, we saw 6 airboats come in and later we heard them leave around midnight. They were quite loud. After breakfast, we made preparations to cross Lake O with a guide. The guide from Tow Boat US (our insurance carrier) would lead us through the shallow 10 miles of the Approach Channel to the main body of water that is deeper. At 8:20 we untied our lines and Ricky, our guide, led the way with Justavacation following close behind.

He would sound the depth of the water ahead of us and talk us through. Behind us was another boat, a 38’ Tiara Open, owned by Bob and Crystal Morris, who were also heading to Stuart today.

They will leave their boat in Stuart for repairs, (I guess we’re not the only ones with boat issues), and return to take their boat to the Bahamas later in June. The day started out sunny and still. There was not a ripple on the water. Bob was in deep concentration as we gingerly made out way across the shallow areas of Lake O. The clouds increased and there was a slight breeze to improve the conditions. Things were tense for awhile as we approached the dangerous shallowest areas, with a rocky shell bottom. It took us an hour to go those shallow 10 miles. It seemed to take forever at idle speed, but we made it through without a problem. Ricky’s help gave us the peace of mind we needed. We will be taking Route 1 across the southern tip of Lake O, coming out at Port Mayaca. There is a Route 2 that continues along the southern rim of the lake and is said to be very scenic, but also too shallow. Ricky left us and we were on our own once we hit deeper water. We got up to cruising speed in a depth of 8-9’ of water. It takes awhile to get used to these shallower depths. We arrived at Port Mayaca Lock at 10:30 and motored right on through.

We passed one boat crossing the lake and one wreck of a partially submerged in the water. The sky cleared and the sun came out. The humidity was way down- a welcome relief. We entered into the St. Lucie Canal on our way to Stuart, FL. We were on the lookout for gators, but only saw one sunning himself on the bank. The canal has sandy banks on both sides with trees, bushes, and reeds along the water line, but not much else.

The water was a murky, chocolate brown color. We passed another boat which had left the marina an hour and a half ahead of us, but we eventually caught up to them. We needed to reach the St. Lucie Lock for their scheduled 1:00 opening and we were making good time. The smell of oranges wafted through the air as we caught sight of some orange groves along the shore. As we neared Indiantown, we came upon an abandoned wreck of a sailboat, probably compliments of some hurricane and houses began to appear along the banks.

We noticed some cows standing in the water along the shore. As we went by, the boat wake scared them back onto the bank.

Bob said that was the first time he ever “waked” a cow. The houses got bigger as we got nearer to the lock. We arrived at the St. Lucie Lock with an hour to spare, so I made us some lunch to enjoy on the bridge while we waited. There were 7 other boats waiting to lock through with us.

The lockmaster would lock through the boats on the east side first, so we will anchor just outside the lock until they do the west side at about 1:30. We had about an hour to kill, so Bob put the dinghy down and took Murphy to shore for a potty break.

At 1:30, the lock opened and released the first load of boats. Then it was our turn. The lockmaster loaded all but one boat, closed the doors, and we were ready to begin our drop of 11’.

It took about 30 minutes to lock through and we were on our way again. It was sunny, hot, and humid by now, so it was good to be moving again.

We would now be entering the South Fork of the St. Lucie River. After waiting for a bridge opening, we continued on into the main section of the river to Harborage Marina for fuel, pumpout, and dockage. The river was busy with lots of boats moving around on a Sunday afternoon in Stuart. After getting fueled and pumped out, we took a slip nearby for the night. It took us quite awhile to get settled in and then we needed to cool off and get a cold drink. We checked in at the office and then took Murphy for a long awaited walk to shore. We made the necessary preparations for our trip over to the Bahamas tomorrow morning and then relaxed after a long day. We would call it an early night so that we could get an early start in the morning. I made a few phone calls home since this would be my last chance for cell phone coverage for awhile, and then we cooked dinner. We were both ready for some R and R in the Bahamas. We hope to meet up with our friends on Tuesday.

June 1, 2009 – Stuart, FL to Great Sale Cay, Bahamas

We got up with an alarm at 6:00, had breakfast, walked Murphy, and pulled away from the dock at 7:00.

It was overcast, but warm and humid. We followed a 48’ Ocean Sportfish, just like us, down the river and out the St. Lucie inlet. The St. Lucie inlet water was all churned up as the Atlantic waters and tide were trying to come in and the river current was trying to get out. Once we got past the opening, the water calmed off and we had 1-2’ rollers and no wind waves at all. We were able to go at a full cruise speed of 23 knots. The water color was a deep, dark blue and the chart was registering 2000’ deep. Yes, I said 2000 feet!

We encountered the Gulf Stream about 15 miles out and the boat swung off to the north. Bob set the auto pilot and turned the boat south and we were back on course again. We passed the time doing crossword puzzles together and actually saw 2 other boats heading off to West End on Grand Bahama Island. Our destination was due east to White Sand Ridge (our first waypoint on the Bahama Bank) and then on to Great Sale Cay. The water color changed dramatically to a teal blue once we reached the Bahama Bank and the depth of the water depth decreased to 30’.

On the Bahama Bank, the water calmed off even more and we had glassy ripples over the surface of the water.

Looking into the water, it was so crystal clear that you could see the bottom. Amazing! By now the sky had cleared and we had sunny blue skies for the rest of the ride.

Today is officially the first day of Hurricane Season 2009, but historically June has not had many hurricanes. Let’s hope history remains true to itself. June is also the wettest month in the Abacos, with thunderstorms that occur in the afternoon, dropping refreshing rain for a few minutes and then they are gone. Our plan is to start at the northern end of the Abacos and work our way down the chain of islands. We have to check in and do Customs as soon as possible and there is an office on Spanish Cay that we will stop at on Wednesday or Thursday to pay our $300 Customs and Immigration fee to visit the country. It is good for 6 months in case we want to come back again. Included in that price is a fishing license which we hope to make use of while we are here. Wouldn’t fresh fish taste great for dinner? Our friends have been to Grand Cay to the north, but are moving south with the hopes of rendezvousing with us at Allans-Pensacola Cay in a day or two. I had been a little nervous when we started out to cross the ocean today, but in no time my fears were calmed and it was just like crossing Lake Michigan on a calm day—only more salty and more beautiful. We will have to learn how to read the water color while we are here, so that we don’t run aground. (Dark blue = deep ocean water; Medium blue, teal, and green = 10-20’; Pale blue and green = 4-10’; White=1-3’; Brown=coral heads…Ouch!) The clarity of the water makes you think it’s a lot shallower than it is because you can see the bottom so clearly. Bob spotted a sea turtle up ahead of the boat, but he quickly ducked under the water as we approached. We saw a few more boats as we got nearer to the islands and the wind picked up a little. It wasn’t as hot as yesterday, but the breeze was still refreshing. White, billowy clouds started to form on the horizon.

After about 4 hours, Bob spotted Great Sale Cay in the distance. Our GPS confirmed it and told us that we would be there in about 30 minutes. Some clouds near land started to darken and we thought it might rain on us, but it didn’t.

We arrived at Great Sale Cay at 12:00. It took 2 ½ hours to get to the Bahama Bank and another 2 ½ hours to get to our first anchorage at Great Sale Cay in the Abaco chain of the Bahamas. Our total trip today was 128.7 miles. We finally made it!!!! We anchored in 8 feet of water in the western bay of Great Sale Cay.

We were the only boat there… for awhile. There is absolutely nothing here on the island, so we have TOTAL privacy. The shore line is coral rock and sand. The island is covered by mangroves and scrub brush, but the water is the most beautiful saphire blue you’ve ever seen. We took Murphy to shore and all returned to the boat to take a nap and just soak in the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.

We tried to reach Bernie and Barb by boat radio, but were unsuccessful. Another boat did radio back that they had seen the “Sitting Duck” yesterday and knew that they were moving south looking for us. Our prearranged plan was to radio them tonight at 7:00 and again tomorrow at 10 AM to try and reach them. If not, we would stick with our rendezvous place of Allans-Pensacola Cay on Tuesday. We sat on the bridge of the boat for a better view of the island and to enjoy the breeze while celebrating our arrival with margaritas.

Life is good! We sat on the bridge most of the afternoon to watch the boats arrive in the anchorage for the night. By 6:00, 7 boats had arrived and were settling in. We took Murphy to shore again and began preparing dinner as the sun went down. The wind started to come around and once the heat of the sun was gone, it cooled off nicely. As was prearranged, we tried calling Bernie on the boat radio at 7:00. Surprisingly, he answered, but it was difficult to hear him clearly. We did make out that he was at Allans-Pensacola Cay, so we told him to wait there for us and we would meet him there tomorrow. Wow! It’s unbelievable that we were able to connect so soon and so easily. We had dinner and watched a DVD. It was a warm night, but there was a nice breeze, so we left the back door open with the screen attached. We were both tired from a long day and would sleep well tonight….or so we thought!

June 2, 2009 – Great Sale Cay to Allans-Pensacola Cay

Happy 58th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Well, we’ll finally hook up with our friends today- only 2 weeks later than planned, but better late than never. We had quite an interesting night last night. We decided to take Murphy to shore a little earlier than his 9:00 trip because the wind had picked up, the clouds moved in, and we didn’t know if it would be raining soon. The moon was covered over by clouds as we hopped into the dinghy and headed off toward the shore with a flashlight and the dog. The trouble was, we couldn’t find our nice landing site because the tide had come up so much. We searched and searched with the flashlight, but we couldn’t find a place that wasn’t coral rock infested. We didn’t want to take a chance on puncturing the dinghy, so we went back to the boat, after getting attacked by hoards of mosquitoes. We tried to get Murphy to do his “job” on the indoor/outdoor carpet that we had brought along. We even gave it a spray of “Potty Training Aid” that we had brought along to help him think that he should do his “job” on the carpet, but that didn’t seem to help and after 10 minutes of coaxing, we gave up. We would have to take our chances that he wouldn’t go anywhere else on the boat. Bob decided to sleep in the salon because of the wappa-wappa sound on the hull in our stateroom. I, on the other hand, was tired enough to sleep anywhere, so I slept in our stateroom in the bow because there was a nice breeze blowing through the hatch. I got Bob set up for sleeping on the sofa and we went to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke up to see a light on and Bob killing mosquitoes with a flyswatter. Apparently, they were getting in through our screen over the back door and hungrily attacking him. There seems to be an inland lake nearby according to the charts. That must be the breeding ground for those voracious little buggers. He also had to turn on the fan to get some airflow because now he had to close the door. By then, the wind and waves had calmed down a bit and we both went back to sleep. We woke up around 6:00 to take Murphy to shore. We half expected him to have an “accident” in the boat overnight, but he didn’t. He’s SUCH a good boy! Back at the boat, we had breakfast and killed the leftover mosquitoes. With a little bit of Velcro, we can fix our mosquito problem with the screen door for tonight. Three of the boats in the anchorage left very early this morning. The rest of us just hung out for awhile. It started to rain a little, but the microburst didn’t last long. The dark cloud left after about 15 minutes, but did give the boat a good rinse in the meantime. It will be partly cloudy to start the day with a nice breeze. Bob went up to the bridge to listen to the Cruiser’s Net, a local radio broadcast, for boaters and others in the area. It features an excellent weather report and forecast at 8:15 every morning. They also provide a wide variety of information, services, and announcements to cruisers. Cruisers regularly share their information and knowledge regarding the weather and can send announcements to each other via the Cruiser’s Net. It’s quite a handy little network. Bob came down after about 15 minutes, to say that we couldn’t pick up the broadcast because we are too far away. The broadcast originates from Marsh Harbor, about 50 miles away. So we got cleaned up and ready to leave to meet our friends who await us at Allans-Pensacola Cay, about 35 miles from here. It will take us a couple of hours to go that short distance because we have to go way around the western tip of the island to avoid the shoal. We took Murphy to shore one last time before pulling up anchor. By the time we left at 9:15, there was only one sailboat left in the anchorage. We traveled across the Little Bahama Bank, past a few of the islands to the Sea of Abaco and Allans-Pensacola Cay. We had radioed ahead to Bernie and Barb and found out they were anchored in the protected cove on the south side of the island. It would be a good anchorage for the winds tonight. A 55’ Viking overtook us going at top speed. He had a very smooth ride, even though ours was a little bumpy.

We had 2’ waves on the bow with white caps on the surface. After 2 hours, we were pulling into the anchorage and chose a spot right next to Sitting Duck. 

Our trip today took us 38.8 miles, arriving at 11:20. We set the anchor and settled in. Then we took a dinghy ride over to the Sitting Duck to catch up on lost time and talk about our adventures up to this point. We were curious about what they had experienced so far and so were they.

Bob, Murphy, and I were so very happy to be here….finally!

Dark storm clouds to the east were moving in dropping some rain, so we decided to go back to our boat, have some lunch, and wait for the rain to pass.

It began to rain shortly after we got back. After awhile, the wind began to blow, white caps appeared in the bay, and our boat began to drift. Anchor drill #2. Bob ran to the bridge and started the motors, while I ran up to the bow to pull up the anchor in the wind and pouring rain. Bob said now I wouldn’t have to take a shower. Ha!

We tried twice to get the anchor to hook up without any luck, but the third time seemed to work. We would keep a constant eye on the shore to make sure we weren’t drifting again. Finally, the storm passed and the rain subsided. I came into the boat to dry off as I was wet through to my underwear. Bob went to reset the anchor alarm to our current position. Now all we would have to do is wait. We dinghied over to Bernie’s boat to borrow his “look and see” pail. It is a plastic pail that has the bottom cut off and a clear plexiglass bottom put on. With it, you can look into the water without getting wet. We wanted to use it to see how the anchor was laying on the bottom. In looking through the pail, we saw that it was lying on top of the grass in the wrong direction, so we would have to set it again. This time we would make sure to drop it in a clear, sandy spot. We tried again and it landed cockeyed on one prong. Bob went to get Bernie so he could help. 

By this time, I was getting pretty tired of dunking the anchor into the water to get off what debris it had on it. I had already dunked the anchor and chain (weighing 50 pounds) at least 5 times and it was really taking a toll on my arms. On Bernie’s suggestion, we decided to try another area. He didn’t think that there was enough sand to hold the anchor where we had been trying to drop it. We moved up ahead of Sitting Duck and tried there. We wanted this to be the last time, so we tried to get everything right…anchor facing the right direction in a clear, sandy area, dug into the sand. We picked out a spot and dropped it….keeping our fingers crossed. Bernie and Bob hopped into the dinghy to go look at the anchor with the viewing bucket. It was totally buried in the sand. Success! I guess the 6th time is a charm. J We had wanted to take a walk on the island to check it out, but all these anchoring attempts really took a lot out of our day, so we just decided to get together and have cocktails. We went over to Sitting Duck to relax and discuss our plans for the next couple of days. Bernie had invited the couple from Lucky Stars in our anchorage to also come and join us.

They were Carol and Dan Rohr from Palm Coast, FL who have been on their boat since February. We visited until about 7:00, sharing stories about our boating adventures. They had some really harrowing and interesting stories to tell. We left the Sitting Duck and went back to our individual boats to have dinner while watching a beautiful sunset. By the time we finished dinner, it was late, so we took Murphy to shore for the last time. We were instantly attacked by mosquitoes and had to vacate the island quickly. Back at the boat we watched a DVD and then went to bed. All my energy was expended and we were both tired after an “exciting” day.

June 3, 2009 – Allans-Pensacola Cay

We woke to sunny, blue skies and a nice cool breeze blowing through the boat. Bob took Murphy to shore and returned to have breakfast. We hope to take a walk on the island today and explore some of the sights that are mentioned in our Abacos guide. Bob worked on cleaning the windows on the bridge until 9:30, and then the 4 of us took our dinghies to shore to find the path that would take us to the ocean side of the island and the “Signing Tree”. We docked our dinghies near a campsite used by some local fishermen.

On shore, we found lots of debris, probably from previous hurricanes, lying on the beach. We found a collection of conch shells and selected a couple to take back to the boat with us. The path to the ocean side of the island was well-marked by conch shells and a piece of Styrofoam hanging in the tree.

Barb was smart to wear pants for the hike as the path was lined with sea grapes and poison wood, a bush or tree that is more intense than poison ivy. Since I am very susceptible to a poison ivy rash, I was very concerned. We walked carefully on the path to the ocean so as not to rub against any bushes or plants. Once we got to the ocean side, we came upon the “signing tree” at the end of the path.

The “Signing Tree” is a place where cruisers have left signed momentos of their visit here.

We added our piece to the tree.

We spent some time at the tree, looking at all the momentos people had left. Many were very creative and it was fun to read the signs that people had left.

The beach had beautiful white sand against the beautiful aquamarine water.

We walked along the shore to the point where the two islands were joined together. Within the past few decades Allans Cay and Pensacola Cay were two separate cays. They were joined as the result of a hurricane and now seem to be permanently a single cay. The ruins of a US missile tracking station can be seen on the isthmus at the head of the harbor. Bernie went to check it out, but there wasn’t much left there to be seen. Bob spotted a nest of eggs from one of the shore birds. We were alerted that there was a nest nearby, when the adult birds acted like they were injured to lure us away from the nest. It was so well camouflaged in the coral rocks, that it was hard to spot, but Bob was able to find it. Can you?

Bob caught a picture of it and we hurriedly move on, so that the adults could tend to their nest without any more interruptions. We ran into some other boaters who were out for a morning walk as well and chatted with them for awhile before moving on. There were many trees all along the beach littered with momentos from people. We found that someone had made a cool swing out of a piece of driftwood and some line. Bob and I decided to try it out.

I found myself a beautiful conch shell and a purple sea fan. I will add this to my collection. I also gathered a few items that I could use to make a piece of “sea art” as a remembrance from our trip to the Bahamas. On the way back, Bernie spotted a curly tail lizard. We just had to get a picture of it, even though he tried really hard not to be seen.

We enjoyed our walk this morning, but got back to find the dinghy high and dry on the shore. The tide had gone out and we needed some help to get the dinghy back into the water. Once we were floating again, we went to get Murphy to take him for his second shore visit. After he was done, I asked Bob to take us for a short ride to cool off after our hike. It felt good to feel the cool breeze after the steaminess we felt from the walk on the beach. Back at the boat, we sat on the bridge in the cool breeze, while we awaited Bernie and Barb’s visit for cocktails and conversation. They arrived and we discussed our plans for the next couple of days. After awhile the dark clouds formed and we watched a rainstorm move across the water from Great Abaco Island. The wind picked up and we prepared our boats for a thunderstorm as the dark clouds moved over us, but it only sprinkled a little. We are getting used to these thunderstorms which form every afternoon with great regularity. Around 3:00, they went back to their boat to relax a little before dinner and we spent some quiet time by ourselves. Bob took a nap while I did some reading. We grilled an early dinner and just relaxed as the sun set. It was beautiful!

There have been 7 boats anchored here with us for the last 2 nights. A couple of boats left today and two more arrived. One boat that was here yesterday was from Manitowoc, WI and the other the boaters we met yesterday were going back to Crandon,WI later this summer for a vacation. What a small world it is! Our plan is to move on tomorrow to Spanish Cay and do our Customs check-in. Spanish Cay is a port of entry and has a full service marina with a well-stocked store. We will pick up a few items at the marina store (some Bahamian bread and Kalik beer) while we are there and get rid of our garbage. Sitting Duck will go ahead to Manjack Cay and meet us at the anchorage.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To find the continuation of our blog, please look under the heading Travelogue 2 in the menu on the left.

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