Hot Buttered Rum and Dragging Anchors

by sarah hair Email

I started off the morning with my eyes swollen shut, my tonsils the size of tennis balls, my neck, face, arms, and shoulders covered in welts, and my nose completely stuffed up. My allergies had arrived, yet again, ringing in the beginning of a new cold front! At this rate, we barely need weather reports or a barometer!

Later in the day I added an intense headache and a fever and chills, just to make sure I collected the whole set.

The upcoming cold front was predicted to bring gusts at around 40-50 knots, which would be pretty stressful, and added to the extreme current in this anchorage and the close quarters we were sharing with many other boats, it promised to be downright miserable.

I managed to get a nap in during the middle of the day, which may be the only thing that saved me. It was not a great nap, and was mostly drug-induced by the sudafed I took, but it would be the only sleep I got in those 20 or so hours.

The winds kicked in later than predicted, giving us time to get some dinner down before the excitement. After dinner, there was a failed attempt at hot buttered rum, which usually helps my sore throat, but tonight went unfinished in the mug while I sat on deck and watched the boats near me swinging dreadfully close. John held our one and only almost-working boat hook, our primary having snapped in half a few days ago while holding off our dinghy.

A gigantic ketch dragged frightfully close to us, then swung out to the boat next to us. We all radioed back and forth, making sure someone was at the ready on each boat for some contact sports. It looked like bumper boats would be the game for the night.

We were the only boat without a launch ready to go if anyone needed help. Our dinghy is a really labor-intensive project to launch and with the sailing kit unfinished, it has a gigantic hole in the hull which takes on water in a geyser that shoots up a couple feet. It is not exactly something one would want to use in an emergency situation, besides that our engine is a 2 horse power tiny little thing that swamps in the lightest chop. All-in-all I was grateful for all of this, because if we had a launch ready to go John would not be completely stuck defending MY boat and would probably have gone off for heroics leaving me alone with the mostly-working boat hook and promise of impending bumper boats.

The dragging ship was able to hold station for several hours, occasionally swinging into first our path, then the path of the next boat over. The winds were strong enough to keep our boat heeled over and essentially sailing in the current all night.

Around 4:00 am the dragging ship managed to get his anchor up and motor back to the head of the line some several hundred feet away. THis task we watched from the generally pleasant safety of our cockpit while the unfortunate man on this other boat weighed anchor on his own, hand over hand, without a windlass in the rain and extreme wind.

We stayed awake, checking on deck every few minutes at every tiny sound or jolt. The ship which had dragged dangerously close to us just hours ago was indeed coming closer every few minutes again. The holding is poor, the wind ridiculous, and the darkness intense, especially since so few boats here use an anchor light. Having ourselves anchored in the dark the previous night without the wind and current handicap, we could really empathize. It took us 8 tries before setting her properly, and though John had to grind up the chain each failed attempt with a windlass, this fellow did not have even this luxury.

By morning light, the ship had dragged again to within a couple hundred feet of us again.

Tonight, in an effort to get some sleep, we moved back over to the yoga retreat. Safely anchored about 120 feet from the yoga dock, at the head of the line, and with relative safety in all directions, We are trying again for that hot buttered rum.

New Jewelry from Chub Cay, Bahamas

by sarah hair Email

After our trip to the yoga retreat, I was so inspired and feeling so creative that I dug out some of the beach combings we found along the shore in Chub Cay and went to work!

The main thing we found along Chub Cay was coral. There were a great variety of corals, but I organized them out and found these amazing branches which were so fun to work with and made the most interesting necklaces. The corals were mostly ready to go, but needed cleaning and bleaching. They did not have to be scrubbed as much as the flowery pieces do, but they were pretty stinky before a good bleaching and polishing!

The first one I did was this simple necklace. It just has the branch of coral and a silver chain. It has the cutest little tip end, which curls out, and makes me think a bird might come and sit on it. I made the chain pretty long s it hangs down like a swing.

The next one was a very tubular coral, probably a different variety. It was hollow inside, but had ends that looked like it was solid, kind of like a bamboo shoot would have where some parts are solid and the rest is hollow. I thought this one needed some bling, so I added a pearl, Swarovski crystal, and amazonite bead. It is also a swing style necklace, but this one is very long.

coral necklace

I made one more coral necklace, but it was with a different kind of coral. Now this coral is the kind that after bleaching and scrubbing, requires several hours of tweezer time to get the tiny bits out of the little spots. This was the most amazing little coral piece, which looked like a tiny dancer's tutu as she spun around in the sky! We thought it was like a fairy, and I added some pearl dangles to the bottom of the coral to look like little feet, though it needed three instead of two! lol!

The necklace is also really long, so maybe I am going through some kind of phase for long necklaces suddenly. I usually wear really short necklaces, since my life is 'sporty' even if I am not, and I try to avoid jewelry which will get in the way.

coral fairy dancer necklace

I also made a ring with a clear bit of sea glass we found from Bimini. I am going to do a bunch more rings when I get the glass bits sorted. We found several really good pieces for rings when we were at the yoga retreat, and I am itching to make them up.

I am trying to post these on Etsy, but our internet connection is pretty s l o w and it may take me a few days. When they are posted, they will be here on sailingjewelry.com

Yoga retreat

by sarah hair Email

Well, it was quite the day.

We came for the first time across the channel over to Paradise Island, whose main attraction is a gigantic pink monstrosity called "Atlantis" and features captive dolphins among other atrocities. Luckily, next door to the concrete resort, there is a very modest yoga retreat, where we came ashore and spent the day.

We joined in a morning yoga class on an outdoor platform overlooking the channel where the boats cross. It was the first structured yoga we had done in a while, and it was just amazing to be in such a serene setting for the class. This picture is one of the other yoga platforms where John and I did our own private yoga between classes, but it is my favorite of them all.

After class we joined the yoga retreat for a vegetarian buffet lunch, which was the best food we have had in Bahamas. It was seriously amazing, with about a dozen different foods prepared, including freshly baked rolls, fresh salad (hard to come by) and several Indian dishes. They also had oatmeal, freshly made granola, and fresh fruits. I wish I had taken pictures, but I was hungry and just went for it.

There is one of the best Bahamian beaches we have found right here at the yoga retreat. The waves were kicking this day from the storm that had just passed, but the color was amazing as well as the feel, and we walked for a long time searching for gems to make into jewelry and playing in the surf.

Eventually, we walked so far that we ended up at the Atlantis hotel resort. We thought originally that it would be worth checking out, and heard they offer 'day passes' to tourists so we could go in their pool etc. if it seemed nice.

The hotel itself seemed to have one theme. Concrete.

The original designers must have seen the beaches, trees, and jungle and decided that the only thing missing was the concrete. Bahamas must have more concrete, they must have said in meetings and on slogans. I was surprised that this was not embroidered on all the beach towels.

Throngs of tourists with their hairy, fat, red bellies up in the sun, laid safely half a mile from any grain of sand or blade of grass while on giant slabs of concrete surrounded by concrete pools, concrete rocks, concrete speakers, and concrete staircases. This concrete staircase leads to a concrete water slide. Yes, the water slide is concrete.

Well, it was warm, so after finding these cute lost children, we inquired about the day passes in case the girls wanted to go on a concrete water slide into a concrete pool surrounded by concrete before we headed back into nature.

We talked with a nice lady in a concrete hut about the day passes and she said it would be $110.00, which I thought at the time was outrageous, until she said, "each" at which point I began laughing hysterically and we had to leave before it got any uglier. $400.00 to swim in their concrete pool was just ridiculous. The whole thing was not just an affront to nature, but to my senses in every way. It stunk of hot dogs, had loud music blaring from every concrete speaker placed about every 60 feet, and was ugly as sin.

There was this very interesting swimming pool, but it was playing very loud Enya meets Peter Gabriel music, which was so offensive that after shooting the pictures, I had to run out of there. Have not these people ever heard of an ipod? Seriously, who wants to listen to the resort choose the music? And does it have to be so loud? It is not a pub, people.

We abandoned the $400.00 spectacle and headed back to the beach for more fun. There were castles to build, beaches to comb, sea glass to find, waves to jump, and the yoga retreat in the distance calling our names.

We met several very nice and friendly people at the yoga retreat, including a nice woman who offered to paint the girls up and gave Madison a fish and Malia a dragon. They looked magnificent!

Back at the retreat, we were able to find a few hours more of serenity before heading to the boat. It was amazing what a couple hours of yoga and exploring will do to the body. We all fell asleep before 8:00 pm, but it felt great! On to today, we got up early and came back to the yoga retreat for lunch. We are here enjoying the peace and tranquility and will stay for a class that begins in about an hour. Depending on how tired we are, we may stay for dinner, but it looks more like we might just collapse in a heap after another full day.

spent the day at the dock

by sarah hair Email

We took a dock at Nassau Yacht Haven. Our spot was the one closest the derelict banks of submerged yet inhabited vessels. This was the vessel closest us, about 50 feet from our beam. And, yes, people did appear to live there.

and spent yesterday there doing laundry, cleaning the boat, and riding out the strong winds of the pending cold front. The laundry room was a hoot, with a lot of cruisers and other sailors hanging around and we met a bunch of nice people as well as chatted with others we had previously met.

The driers are technically "driers" as in the clothes are "drier" than when we put them into the machine, but not much more to say than that. We had to hang just about everything on the boat to avoid mold growing on the freshly cleaned clothes.

We spent a fun evening on the boat of some friends we made here in Nassau and did some drinking and eating well into the night as we chatted it up in the cockpit of their Hunter. All in all, a good time was had by all.

Unfortunately, the front we were waiting out on the dock slowed down just enough to land on us right when our term was up, and we had to vacate the dock in 30 knot gusts pushing us into the dock broadside. It was a real feat to get off the dock without smashing directly back into it, but with a little planning and three dock-side assistants, we managed.

We made it back out to the anchorage and found a cozy spot a little nearer the channel than we had hoped but safely away from any any other boats.

The cold front brought some clouds which made for a beautiful sunrise, but the winds have picked up something fierce and we opted to cancel our trip to the yoga retreat today rather than row across the channel in these gusts and arrive soaked. We will try again tomorrow.

Morning sunrise in Nassau Harbour

by sarah hair Email

First off, I love it how my spell check goes all psycho when I put the U in Harbour. There it is again, all red squiggles under my harbour.

So, this is the morning imagery we get here, not the most magnificent, I know, but still pretty cool.

These were taken from the first place we anchored here, the first morning after we arrived.

Spent the day in Nassau

by sarah hair Email

We spent the day around Nassau yesterday, but were careful not to roam. We did not want to fall into the fateful trap of the Beach Boys aboard the Sloop John B. Other things we did not do were: drinkin' all night, got into a fight.

We did stop in the Green Parrot to get a beer for John and drinks for me and the girls. More on that later though.

We saw a lot of fun things around town, including this invisible building.

It all makes sense when you see their government building, here.

After we checked out the touristy area with a million and one jewelry stores and restaurants featuring only conch in every imaginable form, we headed toward the more 'rustic' area, which was nearer the boat anchorage. It has a grocery store and a dairy queen as well as subway restaurant where they automatically give you the one variety of some kind of white cheese unless you stop them. Their chipotle sauce is really sweet too, but it was still mostly like eating in the States, which is an improvement over the various dishes of giant sea snail mentioned above.

The walk across town featured about a mile of this beach, which houses countless Bahamians on the sunken and sinking boats. It looks tragic up close, yet is really beautiful with all the colors and textures. I could not get enough of it and took several pictures with the jam cam I carried in my pocket. The background shows the super-wealthy-mega-hotel resort in pink, then there is the giant bridge to Paradise Island, the rows of brightly painted, though chipping and peeling, shacks of the open market. CLoser in are the marinas with the mega-yachts and close to shore the derelict and sinking boats housing families who lay aground at low tide.

Nassau Town not roaming

Probably my favorite thing of all, however, was the pharmacy. Bahamas, it turns out, has civilized medicine. One can walk into a pharmacy and request the medicines needed and with the help of the pharmacist, assess the needs of the problem and purchase the drugs for a REASONABLE price. I got my steroids for $15.00 and did not even have to go to an extortionist doctor to beg for the privilege of buying the same exact medications I have needed my whole life. Simply remarkable, and civilized. I believe Bahamians get this for free, by the way, and this method of allowing pharmacies to sell medications for problems without seeing a doctor is why it is effective and inexpensive.

I am happy to report, that within an hour of receiving my medications, my welts had gone down to just a rash, and I was able to see again without the stinging in my eyes! Yay! By today, the swelling is almost gone, and the rashes are barely visible. Like a new woman, I feel.

So, back to the Green Parrot at the end of our long day walking and not roaming through Nassau Town, once done with our drinks, we were informed by another cruiser who we had met the day before that upon our leaving our boat had dragged out into the channel! We got into our rowing dinghy, and the fellow gave us a tow to the boat immediately so we could assess the damage as the sun was going down.

After interviewing several of our neighbors and finding out how the stories matched the actual physical evidence, the report is as follows:

The anchor was set, well. The snubber (rope that holds the anchor chain to the boat) came uncleated, inexplicably, without any damage, and paid out a lot of chain making the boat blow out into the channel, the direction of the wind, since the current was slack.

One neighbor boarded our boat when we neared his, but instead of rafting us to him and stopping any further damage to his boat or ours, he threw down our fenders and tied them to our bow, then waited for our boat to float into the channel.

Another neighbor saw the boat floating into the channel and got in his dinghy, motored out to her, and kedged out our secondary anchor to stop any further motion into the channel. THis is what saved her, as she would have paid out enough chain to land on the other side of the channel and run aground with the chain just dumping freely overboard.

When we arrived, we raised both anchors, both of which were firmly planted. The boat was really in no further danger when we arrived, but we needed both to figure out what went wrong and we wanted to get to a safer area since we were now dangerously far into the deep channel where the ships coming through could easily hit us.

We spent a couple hours setting the anchor in several different spots in the dark before we finally felt safe and were able to calm down and go to sleep.

There was a magnificent lightning storm while all of this was happening, and I managed to get a few shots of the action.

lightning storm over Bahamas hotel

going on facebook message boycott

by sarah hair Email

So, I am willing to "do" facebook and all, so I am trying to be "with it" but seriously, folks, no more facebook messages.

I am not just trying to be all hard-to-get or trying to be all holier-than-thou, but I really, honestly, can not use facebook messages. We are on a sailboat, which means that we do not have internet access until we get near a shore and find an open wi-fi connection. Sometimes these are really short-lived, like as we motor past a hotel or marina for maybe five minutes or even forty seconds.

What I can not do is :

go to facebook and wait for the page to load
log in to my facebook account and wait for the page to load
click the link to go to messages and wait for the page to load
click on your message and wait for the page to load
click to reply and wait for the page to load
type a message
submit the message and wait for the page to load

My internet connection will likely have dropped me before the login page has loaded, at step 1.

What I CAN do:
download mail
write you a message offline
put it in my outbox where it sends the next time we hit an open connection

Facebook and especially its messaging system is designed to serve web pages with advertisements, which is exactly what I can not do while we are using transient wifi connections.

Add my email address to your address book and just send me email.

In Nassau, Bahamas

by sarah hair Email

We were in Chub Cay for a few nights, but I was not able to get internet after my last post. This is just a reality of cruising, that you get what you pay for.

We left Chub Cay (actually, Frasier's Hog Cay anchorage) yesterday just before dawn and made it to Nassau right before sunset. A splendidly timed trip, complete with several hours of becalmed sunbathing on deck.

We are anchored between Nassau and Paradise Island in the Nassau port channel, with a bunch of other sailboats. We were able to pick up an internet connection from one of these pay-per-day places. Like I said, you get what you pay for. I can update now, and finally download the new orders.

Tomorrow we are taking a dock and sending out orders, since they have a post office here. Chub Cay, as it turned out, did not have a post office or a mail drop, which was why we opted to stop here in Nassau, even though we had originally wanted to skip it.

I took a couple pictures this morning of the harbor, but it is not terribly attractive, so I may get around to editing and posting them later if we have enough electricity.

In Chub Cay, Bahamas

by sarah hair Email

We woke before dawn hoping to get moving and make Berry Islands before dark. After raising our sails, John decided to jump in for a swim and check the propeller, since we were moving very sluggishly since late last night in the current. He swam around for a few minutes expecting to find a grouping of tangled crab traps or something anchored to our rudder or propeller shaft, but found nothing. We decided it may have been the giant squid that follows us perpetually and attaches to odd parts of the hull when we least expect it. THis squid, whom we have affectionately named 'Skanky' accounts for just about all of our sailing misfortune.

We made Chub Cay around 4:00 pm and everyone went for a quick dip. So far the bottom is crystal clear and full of conch, starfish, and other critters.

We have internet access, though very spotty and slow, s I will be able to make updates tonight.

Over Grand Banks, Bahamas

by sarah hair Email

We weighed anchor around 10:00 am and headed across the Great Banks. The Banks are about 70 miles across, white sand, in about 8-12 feet of sea. It looks bright turquoise and one can see the bottom in all directions as far as the eye can see. No land in sight, but 8 feet from land all the time. Totally amazing!

The shadow of the boat is sailing over the sand just below the shallow water. It is a rather spooky effect, so I took a few pictures.

We have been visited by dolphins twice over the banks, and I do think it is a little odd that they would hang out here. Aside from a handful of jellyfish, we have seen no other life over this shallow passage. The dolphins jumped in our wake for a couple minutes, then swam off when I reached for the camera.

We anchored in the banks, still some forty miles from the nearest island. It was very strange to toss down an anchor without first finding land. The seas were rather calm though, and aside from the current pushing is beam-on into the swell, it was comfortable enough. We got to sleep around 10:00 pm, so it has been a full day.

sailing over the banks, our shadow on the sand

sailing over the great bahamas banks

John removing the reef

sailing from the bow

billows of sails

Made Gun Cay, Bahamas

by sarah hair Email

We made Gun Cay just after midnight. Madison and I navigated the island while John took down the sails. We anchored on the South East side off the light house. We all shared a 1:00am round of lasagna then hit the bunks. The anchorage was rough and John swore he would move us first thing in the morning.

We ended up moving three times today,though I barely noticed. First thing this morning, I felt my steroids wear off and my body swelled into a bright red oozie mush-welt of fire. I have had this same ridiculous allergy for as long as I can remember, but now as an adult I go into full-on crazy mode and swell up like a balloon. Luckily, it only happens a couple times a year most years, but with this crazy weather sending pollen and pollution down from the North, I have had this reaction for about three months solid.

I took some Benadryl and went to sleep.

On our way to Bahamas

by sarah hair Email

We are sailing. Malia is draped over my lap and Madison is laying on my feet. The sun is just considering going down, and it makes the sails glow that bright golden yellow. John is at the helm, though the self-steering gear has been the acting captain for the past eight hours.

As much as I hate this part, I really love it, I suppose. We all get so quiet and can barely do anything other than focus on sitting or even just laying here. We don't even speak to one another and every once in a while one of us gets very ambitious and musters the strength to pull out an ipod.

We left this morning around 10:00 am from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and are currently headed toward Gun Cay, Bahamas in the Bimini Isles after three failed attempts in as many weeks. The weather has been awful, with temperatures in the 40 -50 degree range and strong north winds stopping us from being able to go anywhere. Like I mentioned, we tried to sneak across the Gulf Stream three times, but returned defeated each time. THis time we are going to make it across, since we are already half-way there and it would be worse to head back at this point. All in all, a fair sail.

I cooked for ten hours yesterday in preparation for this trip. We are not certain about our destination and may end up sailing through to Berry Islands if the wind conditions continue as forecast. Cooking is nearly impossible underway in the Gulf Stream, and so far everyone is grateful for lasagna made last night.

winter weather woes

by sarah hair Email

1-17-10
Today seems to be the day.

We are staging for a trip to Gun Cay, Bahamas but intend to keep going on toward the Berry Islands across the banks if the wind is on our side. WIth some luck, it should take a couple days before we get to the Berry chain.

It gets pretty old waking up early in the morning and stowing the boat for passage only to get out in the water and find that the weather reports are indeed incorrect and I have to return to shore and wait for the next window.

The weather this past several months has been abysmal here for planning and sailing trips. I think the weather reports are just as stumped as I am with the bizarre weather. We have iguanas falling dead out of trees from this incredible cold, and these cold snaps began so early on with not a break once over the past two months.

With any luck, today we will go out and actually make the crossing, unlike all the recent posts I have made where I intend to do the crossing, but we return unsuccessful to wait for the next window of opportunity.

OK, well checking the weather forecast, it looks like it might be tomorrow after all. The story of my winter.

---
1-21-10

We returned back to Fort Lauderdale, after several hours fighting the Gulf Stream, and are trying again tonight, hoping for the same passage I mentioned above.

The next few hours will be full of stowing and cooking. I am making lasagna, bread, potato salad, black beans, fried veggies, salsa, and enough burrito fixings for three days. Should the weather cooperate, we will be sailing tonight making our way to Bahamas, again.

madison wearing the new necklace

Here is a picture of a necklace I have been working on this week. I just got it listed on Etsy and put away so I can complete the food project. I love it!

lasagna swirls

by sarah hair Email

So, this is how it turned out. I made one batch of these lasagna swirls, and one batch of regular flat lasagna. We all agreed that we liked the swirls better, though no one knows why, other than it looks cool.

It took about 4 hours to make, and all of it was done by hand. We made the pasta by hand and everything. This is a spinach, mushroom, and zucchini lasagne, vegan of course. I put both the tofu-ricotta and the mozzarella style sauce in the lasagna. The taste was great, and we were starving by the time we ate, since it took so long.

Pretty though, no?

Quinoa with squash, tomatoes, pine nuts, and arugula

by sarah hair Email

This was my first time making quinoa myself. I have had it a lot of times, but never made it myself for some reason, even though I always loved it. I think I had to wait until I saw some quinoa for sale in the costco before I realized it must be so easy that even a monkey could make it.

I was not entirely incorrect, as it is unbelievable how simple it was to make, but I did have to go online and read about it to find out some little tips, such as making sure to soak and rinse it before cooking to get out the bitter taste. Yay internet!

No recipe for this one, since it is exactly what it looks like. I sauteed the veggies and put them over the quinoa, The cantaloupe was the added surpriase, since it really brought out the savory flavor of the arugula, pine nuts, and garlic.

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