Nellie's Cruising Log

See where Nellie is right now.


21 May - Day 79. It's amazing how the little things in life can bring a lot of happiness. For 2 1/2 months we've been retrieving the anchor almost daily. It's not a hard job. The windlass does the heavy lifting while the saltwater wash-down makes sure the chain is clean. The head of the anchor (where the chain attaches to the shank) usually slips easily into the hause-pipe. Invariably though the flukes need to be manhandled, with a boat hook, so they'll lie flush against the hull. A little fanagaling is usually all it takes. This morning however, it was a perfect lift—all chain aboard, head in the hause and the flukes flush. All three judges awarded 10.0's and the crowd went crazy. See, little things, they can make you happy. Today we covered some of the broadest bodies of water on the trip: Neuse River; Alligator River; Pamlico Sound; and, Albermarle Sound. In adverse winds each of these can be miserable places to be. Fortunately, today it was perfect. 111nm today: 2,556nm total. DBH

20 May - Day 78. With "Follow the yellow brick Road! Follow the Yellow brick road!" repeating endlessly in my head we push off at 0600 hours and head up the Cape Fear River. It's much better than yesterday as the winds are down to 15kts and river relatively flat. Unlike Dorothy's road ours is pink. No kidding, the official NOAA charts actual identify the ICW with a pretty pink line. Not sure if this is a subtle commentary on sailors that use this route--but there you go. An event of almost biblical proportions occurred today. In fact, Nellie's crew is still in stunned disbelief. The Surf City bridge tender kept the bridge open 10 minutes so Nellie could make it thorough. "So what?", I hear you saying. So what! As a group tenders don't suffer pleasure boaters easily. Hell, most of the time they don't answer the VHF radio and only half the time open on schedule (yes, I jest, but not much… ). Most believe that tenders live for the opportunity to slam the door shut on a hapless cruiser. This may be true. We've heard their maniacal laughter. Anyway here we are, despite heroic efforts to arrive on time, still 10 minutes away when the bridge opens. Miss this opening and we get to cool our heels for a hour. The tender hails us. We expect to hear laughter. Instead he says, "Keep her com'in Nellie D.". Soon after we heard angels singing, and Bicki could walk on water. South of Jacksonville, NC, the ICW crosses through 10 miles of Camp LeJeune's training areas. Today we got to watch the Marine Expeditionary Forces with big helicopters, fast RIBs, etc. doing their thing. It was a little ironic though seeing several pleasure boats, in what's advertised as an idylic anchorage, completely surrounded by both surface and airborne military hardware. We run until 2300 and thus get in some more night navigation practice. At anchor in Cedar Creek, NC. 105nm today: 2445nm total.

19 May - Day 77. It's cold at first light, 51F! Just miss the North Carolina record low for this date, 50F, set in 1955. Passing through Myrtle Beach on the ICW is always entertaining. Lots of new, big houses line the waterway. Golf courses too. In North Myrtle Beach is a treacherous section of the ICW called the rock pile. It's narrow and there are rock protrusions well into the waterway. Knowing this no one wants to yield the center so it's a giant game of chicken with each on coming boat. The wind is blowing in the mid 20's as we pass through Southport, NC. This marks the end of our very protected passage and we enter the larger waters of the Cape Fear River. We're welcomed with 4' waves and whitecaps. A quick 180 and we're back into Southport's harbor in no time. A big sail boat fills the anchorage while two rafted sail boats fill the free dock. A quick call to the Provision Company, a local restaurant, and we have a slip for the night. Upon arrival we're told the terms of the mooring: no water; no electricity; no fee. After a quick crew conference we acquiesce to the ardent terms. At the Provision Company Dock in downtown Southport, NC. 68nm today: 2340nm total.

18 May - Day 76. Off before sunrise yet again. We've decided the only way Nellie's crew will sleep in late is by going to bed earlier ;-) Gales are predicted today and we see almost 30kts in Charleston Harbor. Once across there's nothing but very protected waters for the next several hundred miles. Gone is summer as we're all wearing long pants and socks now thanks to the 50 degree weather. It sprinkles off-and-on but gone are the thunderstorms of yesterday. There are 100 hours on the engine since last refueling so we use CruisersNet.Net to check for the best prices. Wacca Wache Marina just south of Myrtle Beach is the winner at $2.09/gallon. We take on 166 gallons which means Nellie burns about 1.6 gph. At the dock in Wacca Wache, SC. 78nm today: 2272nm total.

17 May - Day 75. We leave Savannah's Thunderbolt Marina at 0800 having eaten our (free) donuts and read our (free) Sunday paper. Luxuries we mariners are not used to. Naturally it's dead low tide and Fields Cut, one of the most silted-in sections of the ICW, lies a few miles ahead. On the ICW a 'slow pass' is not another term for the advances of as unambitious Romeo but rather a choreographed dance between two boats about to pass. The ICW is narrow and big fast boats put out huge wakes, so for civility's sake, and to keep VHF 16 with a PG-13 rating, it's common practice for the overtaking boat to come off plane before passing and for the slower boat to go to idle speed while being passed. While slow passes are common practice they're not mandatory. So when a 45' Clorox bottle passed within 20' and going like a bat out of hell, Nellie rolled a might. We kept our thoughts to ourselves but certainly weren't unhappy to see him go hard aground a few minutes later--schedenfreud the Germans call it (taking joy in the misery of others). We pass through Field's Cut with inches to spare. Two 50'+ boats following us didn't fare so well as both went aground and were last seen churning the waters trying to get off. Just south of Beaufort, SC a squall hits with driving rain and 46kt winds. Visibility drops to near zero. The predicted cold front which motivated us to leave the Bahamas now has us in it's grips. The weather forecasters are almost giddy with all the dire news they have to share: gales; microbursts; severe thunderstorms; tornados; and, best of all, maybe even a forming tropical depression in the southern Bahamas. For us it's constant winds, intermittent rain, and dropping temperatures (80F to 50F). We beat into most of the weather and Nellie has a smooth ride so we continue plodding along. At anchor in the very windy Wappoo Creek, SC (2 miles south of Charleston). 95nm today: 2194nm total.

16 May - Day 74. Up before dawn the no-see-ums swam as we raise the anchor. Horse flies must not believe in the dictum 'the early bird gets the worm' as they don't swarm us until 0610 hours. Immediately we add four more kills to the score card. The weather thus far has really cooperated with flat seas and calm winds. I've learned to take places with scary names seriously--Ford's Terror in Alaska had us dodging icebergs and whales while being pushed by a 6kt current into the face of a 1000' fjord. Hell's Gate, just south of Savannah, might not have whales, icebergs, or fjords but is a challenge at the best of times. We approach to see a dredge and its equipment spanning the north end. Another thing I've learned is to always call dredges in the ICW. By not doing so last time I put Nellie on a sand bar, for which I got to buy John dinner, and in one fell swoop bruised both my ego and my wallet. Despite the scary name and the dredge we made it through without incident. The last time Nellie stayed on a dock was 5 April in West End, Grand Bahama Island. It was without guilt than that we pulled into Thunderbolt Marine (besides, included with the slip fee is the morning paper and six Crispy Cream donuts!). Dad and Claire join us for a drink aboard before we go for a Mexican dinner. A quick reprovision run to WalMart caps off the evening. 64nm today: 2099nm total.

15 May - Day 73. We're underway before dawn with the spotlight scanning the waters before us. Off to the northeast the St. Augustine lighthouse glows. Being constantly underway means finding your diversions wherever and in whatever possible. Our latest entertainment comes in the form of green-headed flies. Apparently the flies like the miles and miles of low grass lands around us because there are plenty around. With the pilothouse windows open, and they need to be open as the temperature is in the 80s, we find ourselves swatting at them maniacally. Since any game is more fun when you keep score, we did--61 confirmed kills in 4 hours. Quickly Vicki realizes that while we're winning all the battles, we're losing the war. Specifically, carpal tunnel will set in before the last fly does. Her new strategy is to make screens for the pilothouse windows. Not as much fun maybe, but definitely more effective. Today's cruise takes us well into the evening as we drop the hook at 2241 hours. On 125' of chain in 15' of water (yup, we'll sleep well tonight) off the west side of Little Simon Island, GA. 107nm today: 2035nm total.

14 May - Day 72. We're amazingly rested for having run almost straight for the last 48 hours. At 1530 hours we shutdown the engine, in Daytona Beach, to check the oil level. Since there's a West Marine nearby we dropped the dink and got some new flares (I promised the Coastie who 'visited' us two nights ago that we'd replace our expired ones as soon as possible). Night navigation is more difficult in the dark, narrow and less well marked waters south of St. Augustine and so at 2235 hours we drop the hook. 136nm today: 1928nm total.

13 May - Day 71. Once we cleared the Lake Worth breakwater at 0400 this morning we hoisted the quarantine flag and then cell phoned U.S. Customs and Immigration. After a few routine questions they gave us a mile long confirmation number and told us to report to one of their offices within 24 hours. Now, after having visited them, I'm happy to report that Nellie's crew successfully dodged yet another bureaucratic 'reef and shoal' by checking-in without incident. To celebrate we had lunch ashore and bought 2 gallons of milk for $3/gal. Yahoo! The dichotomy between the east and west side of palm beach couldn't be more stark. Beautiful, immaculately landscaped homes and 100' yachts on one side of the ICW and a ramshackle, hand-to-mouth existence on the other. By 1330 hours we're back aboard and heading north. The weather is perfect. About 40nm to the north we pass a slow moving tug, the Katherine, with a load of dredging equipment. At the helm is John Mackie (owner of the LNVT John William, hull #68). After some pleasantries we tell him that he's motivated us to try a night passage on the ICW. From then until dawn the next morning our watch schedule is two-hours-on and two-hours-off. The spotlight on Nellie's pilothouse roof is invaluable as it can light up a channel marker 1/2nm away. A tremendous attribute when much of our navigation is marker to marker. Complement the spotlight with a radar and a chartplotter and night navigation is very doable by one person alone. Underway near Coco Beach, Florida. 68nm today: 1792nm total.

12 May - Day 70. It was a long night in Allans-Pensacola Cay. The winds built, and we knew our anchor had a marginal set, so we did an all-night, tag-team watch to make sure Nellie stayed put. She did. At breakfast we discuss the day's cruising itinerary and listen to the weather broadcast. After several weeks of absolutely perfect weather there's now a ridge moving up from the south. It's supposed to get here in 24 hours and then remain about a week. Rather than get holed-up again (last month we spent 4 days pinned down in West End, Grand Bahama Island) we elect to make a dash for the States. Except for a squall which descends upon us while exiting the Little Bahama Bank, the 70nm crossing goes fine. At sundown we're back in the Atlantic--where the games begin. The radar shows a target ahead of us and moving our way. We see no lights. The target gets closer. We still see no lights. When the target is abeam, and about 200 yards off, their navigation lights come on and the boat starts a slow turn into our wake. We're not 5nm off Grand Bahama and the U.S. Coast Guard has come a call'n. Sure beats pirates! After some questions about last port of call, number and citizenship of people aboard, etc., they wish us a pleasant evening and are off. Two hours later (at 2330 hours) the same thing happens again. Same stealth approach, same questions, same answers but it's a different Coast Guard ship and this time they intend to board. The good news in all this is that seas are incredibly flat. We maintain our course but drop speed to 5 knots and then turn on every light aboard. Never having had all the lights on at once, I can imagine the DC panel melting down. Hmm, how would the well armed ship behind us interpret that event… Shortly a big RIB with 5 young men aboard comes careening into our starboard side. They look stern; we try to look harmless. Two of the RIB's crew hop aboard and then the RIB falls back, its spotlight letting us know nothing will go unseen. The two young Coasties are professional, efficient and friendly. Their ship is out of Fort Pierce, FL and this, they now know, is just another routine boarding, I mean safety inspection--as there are no bad guys aboard Nellie. Forty-five minutes later the stalking RIB kisses our port side and then we're alone again. The rest of the Gulf Stream crossing goes amazingly well. The wind and seas combine to give us a gentle push towards Palm Beach. At 0400 we pass through the Lake Worth inlet and are back in the land of cheap milk and free water. On a very well set hook in Palm Beach, Florida. 137nm today: 1724nm total.

11 May - Day 69. Our first challenge of the day is to transit the shallow passage known as 'Don't Rock'. As mentioned in an earlier log entry, this route not only saves about an hour but also means we avoid the 'Whale' passage altogether. Since it's strictly a high tide affair we have a few hours to kill here in Treasure Cay. Florence, the local bakery owner, makes a mean cinnamon bun. We know it's the best in town because that's where all the old men congregate. We learn from one of the guys that there is no property tax in the Bahamas but there is a 10% transfer fee at the time of purchase. The real killer he said was the 45% import duty. His new GE washer and dryer, available Stateside for $1000, cost him $1850 here. After a beach tour and grocery run (milk was $8.00/gal and we're glad to have it) we weigh anchor and head to the fuel dock. Diesel is $3.08/gallon, probably a buck more than Stateside, but with a several hundred mile, potentially rough passage upcoming, full tanks are cheap insurance. We leave Treasure Cay harbor in very settled conditions. At 'Don't Rock' we make a left and feel our way through. It's somewhat anticlimactic after all the thin water we've been doing lately. But it's another successful test of our water reading abilities (i.e. telling depths by water color alone). New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, lies directly ahead. Yes it's pretty, the houses colorful, the water lovely shades of blue, the people friendly, blah, blah, blah. More importantly, the New Plymouth Liquor Store makes the best double bacon cheese burger in the Islands. It took several of them, french fries, and an order of conch, but we were eventually satiated. Bellies full we weighed anchor and headed for the bight on Allans-Pensacola Cay. The Cays are becoming more desolate and offer fewer anchoring options as we continue north. It's obvious that the well traveled cruising grounds are now behind us. The winds pipe-up at sundown and so we take turns during the night doing anchor watch. On a not-so-well-set-hook in Allans-Pensacola Cay, Abacos. 35nm today: 1587nm total.

10 May - Day 68. If this is the Abaconian summer pattern I like it: winds are 10kts from the SE; air temps hover in the 80s; and, the sea temp is now 79 (a long cry from the 36F water we had in the Chesapeake on 4 March ;-). With the marine park at Sandy Cay only an hours' cruise south we cast off our Hope Town mooring and get underway. The huge ocean swell which kept us clear of the dive site last week is down to 3'--better but still uncomfortable. We drop the hook in the very rolly day anchorage and dink 1/4 mile to the dive site. This reef is much bigger and the water deeper than at Fowl Cay. The stag horn coral is magnificent and the largest we've seen. Timing is everything. As we're getting back into the dink a large tour boat arrives with more people aboard than we'd seen in one place since our arrival in the Bahamas. About 5nm to the west is our next stop, Snake Cay. We anchor behind a small bight of land which is just barely being held in place by a decaying seawall. The land is littered with old train cars, rusted fuel tanks, and collapsed buildings--a lot of capital gone to seed. Behind the spit is a narrow entrance to a vast labyrinth of shallow waterways. The rough seas instantly calm once we're inside. If the ocean has a nursery this is it. We see baby corals, fish, stingrays, and ferns. We penetrate in about a mile and then drift back to the entrance with the rapidly ebbing tide. The peace and quiet and all the new life around us makes it a magical place. We weigh anchor knowing that we've crossed a milestone. While there's a lot of cruising and exploring to go, Nellie's nose is now pointed generally north. On the hook in Treasure Cay, Great Abaco Island. 44nm today: 1552nm total.

9 May - Day 67. Today started with some small maintenance projects--new fuel filters for the Racors and Cummins. Bleeding the lines between the last Racor and the engine is a pain. Apparently we didn't do it well enough either as the engine started but then quit seconds later. Bleeding the high pressure lines on the fuel injector got it running again. With the chores complete, we weighed anchor and headed to Matt Lowe's Cay. This private island, along with the small rock outcroppings called the Sugar Loaves, provides a wonderful and protected anchorage. It is just East of Marsh Harbour. The Sugar Loaves surprised us with a small reef which was perfect for snorkeling. After lunch we motored to the quaint community of Hope Town, on Elbow Cay, where we picked up a mooring ball. The moorings are placed by local entrepeneurs and the fees collected as soon as the mooring is picked-up. Nellie's front row seat cost $20. The town was founded in 1785 by Loyalists and boasts an exceptional harbor which is protected by an off shore reef. It's hallmark is the red and white, candy striped lighthouse that has been in service since 1863 and whose beam can be seen for 20 miles. An evening tour up the winding stairs did not disappoint and provided amazing views of the Sea of Abaco. It was interesting to see the keeper light the kerosene-fueled mantle and wind the mechanism which turns the huge prism . The light puts out 325,000 candle power and yet only burns 2.5 gallons of kerosene per night. At the base of the lighthouse there are homes for both light keepers and their families. The two keepers work alternating nights. At a mooring in Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abacos. 7nm today: 1508nm total.

8 May - Day 66. In preparation for the upcoming, long, return trip north the engine's preventative maintenance jobs have begun. The oil and filter were changed yesterday. The raw water impeller will be replaced today and the fuel filters tomorrow. The jobs are done before we start the day's cruising because it's more comfortable and easier to work in a cool engine room. Impeller replacement is straight forward and takes about 15 minutes. Unless, of course, one of the bolts shears off! So here's the picture, we're placidly laying at anchor, in the middle of nowhere, and have just incapacitated the engine's cooling system (unnecessarily I may add as the impeller was in perfect shape). Oh well, better here and now than while underway in a big sea. As luck would have it Nellie has a spare raw water pump onboard and we scavenged it for the needed parts. With the engine running well we head south. What a glorious day. The winds are calm. The water is smooth and crystal clear. Big rays and fish are seen crisscrossing our bow. The bottom is littered with big red star fish. The Bahamas have designated some of their most beautiful reefs as preserves. One of them, Fowl Cay lies just ahead. We anchor Nellie in the Cay's lee and dink out into an incredibly calm Atlantic ocean. Interspersed over the white sand bottom are huge ominous mounds of black. It isn't until we're overboard that all the colors and abundant life becomes apparent. In 20' of water this ball shaped reef island is about 100' in diameter and rises all the way to the surface. Getting up close and personal isn't a problem. The big fish, like parrots and barracuda hang out down low while the little fish dart around us near the surface. Colorful hard and soft corals abound as do sea fans. We visit several dive sites and are surprised by how different they are. Continuing south on Nellie we again put into Man-O-War Cay. Many of the Cay's inhabitants can trace their roots back to the English loyalists who first came here 1778. At anchor off of Man-O-War Cay, Abacos. 9nm today: 1501nm total.

7 May - Day 65. Reefs and shoals, the prudent skipper stays clear of them. In Navy parlance however 'reefs and shoals' also refers to the hazards of bureaucracy. We do our best to stay in deep water but sometimes there's no choice. That's how we found ourselves in Marsh Harbour's Immigration Office this morning. Nellie can stay here a year with no questions asked while her crew is given a maximum of 90 days. Upon entry at West End, Grand Bahama Island, our mistake was only asking for 40 days. Now with 10 days still left on our visas we're facing a bureaucrat begging for more. Gone are the welcoming smiles and "How do you do?". Clearly we're asking for a lot as stern faces, consultation with higher-ups and much more paperwork are required. In fact, it felt more like a petition for parole than a visa extension. We got another 40 days and were happy to leave the reefs and shoals of the Immigration Office. After re-provisioning, getting some spares, and picking-up John, we head north at full speed to Spoil Bank Cay (just south of Whale Cay and west of the north end of Great Guana Cay). A few years ago a 30' deep channel was dredged in this area with the hope that cruise lines would come to the Sea of Abaco. Unfortunately the seas at "The Whale" were unpassable so often that the cruise lines abandoned their plans and now reportedly take their passengers to Nassau. The spoils from the dredging operation left behind a new island: Spoil Bank Cay. We can testify that it is great for shelling and very pretty. At anchor in Fischer's Bay, Great Guana Cay, Abacos. 21nm today: 1492nm total.

6 May - Day 64. The long awaited May weather has finally arrived. Think sunny skies, warm air, cooling southeast winds, and very clear water. We celebrate by kayaking to Tahiti Beach (clearly named for its many palm trees and beautiful white sands) and then taking a walk. Once back to Nellie I jump overboard for a swim. We're anchored in about 8' of water over a sand and grass bottom. Conchs, sea urchins and sand dollars litter the bottom. Two silver fish with yellow tails keep me company and eagerly grab the morsels I scrub from the hull. Cruising is definitely a state of mind that has little to do with physical age. Dave and Beverly Feiges of M/V Cloverleaf, stop by and introduce themselves. They're full time live-aboards who just returned after five years cruising in the Med. They're both almost 80 years old. John is flying into Marsh Harbour tomorrow morning so after a nice day on the hook we too head to Marsh Harbour. At anchor in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island, Abacos. 24nm today: 1471nm total.

5 May - Day 63. We weigh anchor and go a few miles south to Fisher's Bay on Great Guana Cay. Another pretty spot with good protection from easterlies. We drop the dink, explore the bay and then motor southward into Settlement Harbour and the Cay's largest community. Large is a relative term as there are fewer than 100 homes. Several restaurants in the Abacos have developed an interesting model: the usual table with a great view but also a pool, a beach, and internet access. Go to lunch and take your towel and PC. It's like a mini-vacation. After our exploration we weigh anchor again and continue heading south. Our destination, Tahiti Beach. With a name like that who could pass it up? At anchor off Tahiti Beach, Elbow Cay, Abacos. 14nm today: 1447nm total.

4 May - Day 62. It's a day for small luxuries and house keeping. We breakfasted in a little bakery after dropping our wash off at the laundry. Here on Great Abaco Island well water is readily available and this manifests itself in lower costs for many things. For example, today's laundry bill will be $4/load for drop-off service. But on Green Turtle Cay we paid $4.25/load and did the work ourselves. This is the place to take on water as it is $7 for all you want. It was decadent, we washed Nellie, her bilges, the dink, ourselves and then, finally filled the water tanks. A little damp, but much cleaner, we cast off the dock lines and headed NW. Don't Rock is an alternative to the infamous Whale Passage. It's shallow, narrow, and unmarked. That this passage is even considered an alternative is an indicator of just how bad the 'Whale' can be. The anchorage in Baker's Bay on the north end of Great Guana Cay is huge. The closest boat to us is 1/4 mile away. Needless to say swinging room is not a problem and we put out lots of scope. This area has been the source of much local contention as a development, including marina, Fazio designed golf course, and lots of home and condo sites has broken ground. The homes will start at $2M. We dingy through the new channels they've cut for the marina and home front slips. It's all very impressive. At Anchor in the Baker's Bay, Great Guana Cay, Abacos. 10nm today: 1433nm total.

3 May - Day 61. We go ashore on Man-O-War Cay for a morning walk. All is quiet and we see almost every street. This is where the Albury's have been building boats for generations. Originally known for their high quality Abaco dingy's (a small, scullable, four person, gaff rigged sailboat) they now make the very popular Albury runabout. The boats are made in the middle of town in several open buildings. It's strange to see tools and materials just laying around without concern for theft; a definite advantage to small island life. Underway again we turn north along the western side of Man-O-War. The SSE winds are blowing 15 to 20 kts but Nellie's ride is smooth and dry as we head northwest to Treasure Cay. During this leg of our ill fated 1992 cruise we never made it to Treasure Cay. It's a long story but basically we broke the boom off the mast during an accidental jibe and had to divert to the repair shop in Marsh Harbour. Today's safe arrival in Treasure Cay was a small vindication of our current yachting skills. The resort here is a good deal for cruisers. For $10/day we have access to all their facilities: pool; beach club; showers; and two restaurants. The beach here is said to be one of the nicest in the Bahamas and it is beautiful. Our several mile walk almost killed us though as or feet would sink in several inches with each step—and it was uphill both ways ;-) Treasure Cay is the land of expats with nice waterfront condos and houses adorning the extensive, manmade waterways. At Anchor in the safe and snug harbour of Treasure Cay, Abacos. 20nm today: 1423nm total.

2 May - Day 60. It's a lazy morning as we have to wait on high tide to clear the Little Harbour entrance bar. Our tide tables for Marsh Harbour, about 20 miles away, say high tide is at 1530 but at 1330 Vicki notices the tide starting to ebb. Unlike yesterday the seas are much calmer today. We decide to do some coastal exploration along the Sea of Abaco's southwest side. This area is completely different than the high-rent-district along the barrier islands. It's mostly uninhabited, very shallow and mangrove strewn. There's evidence of past enterprises that the sea and wind haven't totally obliterated, yet. Companies which try to make a living off the land don't exist here for long. A tree harvesting business lasted only until the trees were gone. The soil is so poor that nothing grows quickly. If the vagaries of the market don't do the business in, a hurricane surely can. We saw several industrial buildings whose roofs were peeled back as though by a giant can opener. We slowly work our way to Man-O-War Cay and pickup a mooring in the harbor. Man-O-War has to be one of the most delightful islands here and reminds me of a quaint English village. The golf cart paths are all concrete and the yards well tended. It's a devout population as no alcohol is sold on the island and only churches are open on Sunday. On a mooring in Man-O-War Cay, Abacos. 23nm today: 1403nm total.

1 May - Day 59. After a quick morning walk through Elbow Cay's Hope Town, we weigh anchor for points south. A Moorings catamaran shadows us out. Last night we saw this same cat aground in the Hope Town entrance. As we head south the cat closes in on our starboard quarter. Suddenly two guys, out on the cat's bow, wave and yell to get our attention. Fearing there's something wrong with Nellie we do a quick once over but find nothing. By this time the cat's abeam. In italianized english we hear "luva yu bot. Whata ish e?". With heart rates returning to normal we recite the LNVT monologue. With the Italians continuing south we turn to the west and cross the Sea of Abaco towards Sanke Cay. An unappealing name but supposedly an interesting place to visit. We arrive to find the winds blowing hard and the anchorage unprotected. Plan B is to head towards the southern terminus of the Sea of Abaco. The southern cays get very low and narrow and the Atlantic waves penetrate through in many places. The strong east winds have made big waves. Our curise is like being in an elevator that can't make up its mind. The approach to Little Harbor is hair raising. While Nellie pitches and rolls we are funneled into a narrow entrance over a shallow bar. About 100 yards to leeward the big seas crash on sharp limestone cliff walls. Once inside Little Harbour all is calm and quiet. I fear Nellie's crew won't be able to resist the siren call of Pete's Pub which lays dead ahead. On a mooring in Little Harbour, Abacos. 19nm today: 1380nm.

30 April - Day 58. We jack hammer the anchor out of its concrete set and head towards the 'Whale'. Winds are 15-20kts from the ESE. Approaching the 'Whale' the seas build. Nothing outrageous but enough to keep the windshield wipers in continuous operation. We beat into 3-4' seas as we watch breakers pound the shoreline. It's a quick rounding and relief comes when we enter the lee of Great Guana Cay. A little over 20nm away is our first stop of the day Marsh Harbour. After almost two months underway it's time to reprovision. Two hours later we weigh anchor and wander SE towards Elbow Cay. On the way we come across our 1992 'crash site'. In November of 1992 we rented a bareboat from Sunsail and spent a week gunkholing here in the Sea of Abaco. Late in the afternoon on Friday, 20 November, we anchored on the SW side of Sugar Loaf Cay. There was a gale blowing from the ENE. During the night the anchor drug and we drifted, peacefully over 1nm to leeward. Then the keel went aground on sand and startled the crew awake. Our stern was 10' from the stone breakwater at Albury's Ferry dock on Great Abaco. The wind and each wave pushed us closer to the rocks while the starboard rail went deeper under water. We couldn't power off and the same light Danforth that we'd just drug across the bay wasn't up to kedging us off. Our call for help was answered by Will, an old sea-salt and tough as nails Brit. Now imagine this, in the midst of a gale, on a boat listing badly, and with rocks ready to chew-up her stern, Will jumps to the mainsail halyard and rapidly raises the main (in normal conditions it took two of us and winch to do this). Our 45 degree list quickly turns into 70 degrees as all aboard try to keep from falling overboard. Like a race horse at the gate our sloop flies off the bar and into deeper water. Now our only problem is that we're at sea, in a gale, at night. But that's another story. On a well-set anchor in Elbow Cay, just north of Hope Town, Babahams. 32nm today: 1361nm.

29 April - Day 57. After a week of 20+ kt winds you begin to wonder if it'll ever stop blowing. Today, thankfully, they've at least started to weaken and the forecast looks good for tomorrow. So, today we're tying up loose ends because tomorrow Nellie heads south around the 'Whale'. Still in White Sound's very windy anchorage, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. 0nm today: 1329nm total.

28 April - Day 56. With the strong south-easterlies continuing to blow we decided to do something healthy and walk into New Plymouth. It's obvious that we've been here too long as we know the names of many of the people we see along the way. Our reward for the long walk in and back, as though good health isn't reward enough, was to be a hamburger and fries at Dave's. We arrived, salivating, only to find he was closed. Just up from Dave's is a hardware store. It's a small, family run affair but is very well stocked. While they didn't have the 5/8 hose for our genset they did have lamp oil and at 2/3 the Marsh Harbour price. Apparently, the locals forgo lamp oil altogether in favor of odorless mineral spirits ($12/gallon vs. $24/gallon). While dingying back to Nellie we stop by Harbour Reach, a Pacific Trawler 37, to say hello. Bill and Mary Russell are 9 years into the Great Loop. Instead of going south on the Mississippi, like everyone else, they went 1700 miles north. He's a mechanical engineer while she's a computer type. They started building their house in the '70s and have yet to finish it. Bicki and I felt like were were looking in a mirror. The view is not bad… Still in White Sound's very windy anchorage, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. 0nm today: 1329nm total.

27 April - Day 55. After breakfast at the Green Turtle Club, John, Susan, and Carol (Susan's sister) depart for Florida. For us it's time to catch up on some long ignored chores aboard Nellie. The head is one system that we pay absolutely no attention to until it needs it. Bicki's field-level maintenance takes care problems 99% of the time. But, with the dreaded "It still isn't flushing." ringing in my ears, I give the throne the same threatening look a parent gives a misbehaving child. It's now depot-level maintenance time so out come the tools. Suffice it to say that much effluent splattering and French words followed. A fresh water head is supposed to reduce urine induced arterial blockage. 'Reduce' is clearly the operative word as there was plenty of crystallized plaque constricting the flow. Next on the repair list was the genset. It runs fine as long as the raw water flow alarm is disabled. Today I wanted to determine if it was a sensor problem or a partial blockage in the raw water cooling line. After much effort it's still TBD. While getting gas for the dink I asked a local about the strong winds we've been having. He assures me that they're unusual for this time of year and should abate by tomorrow or the next day at the latest… In the very windy anchorage in White Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. 0nm today: 1329nm total.

26 April - Day 54. Our long stay in Green Turtle Cay has been mostly weather related. While there's currently high pressure over the Bahamas, a steep pressure gradient has kept the winds at 20+ kts, from the ESE, for the last week. Cruising north in the Sea of Abaco is a little bumpy but doable. South, for us, is not an option because of the Whale Cay rounding and the very big seas there. Having already explored Manjack Cay we went farther north today and explored Powell Cay. It's uninhabited with beautiful, white sand beaches on its east and west sides. Attention must be paid to navigation as shoals abound. Entering a big bay on the NW side we find four other cruisers at anchor. We dingy ashore and walk across the island as we've heard the snorkeling is great on the east side's reefs. After walking only a few hundred yards we discover a huge, reef fringed, shallow bay. Because of the high winds we skip swimming and go shelling instead. There are lots of sand dollars and conch. Later, while buzzing around in the dingy, we see a 6' nurse shark and many large, black sting rays. This area is known for its bone fishing. They are everywhere. At anchor in Powell Cay, Bahamas. 27nm today: 1329nm total.

25 April - Day 52. It's amazing what washes up on the beaches here. Floats of all sizes predominate but there's lots of other interesting stuff too. At most beaches you'll find a tree, decorated Christmas style, with some of the more colorful bits which beach comers have found. Folks decorate their houses and yards with the stuff too. I was a bit surprise however, when walking through New Plymouth yesterday, we saw a Williams Research jet engine adorning a flower bed. These little puppies are expensive, to say the least, and normally propel military UAVs. It was simply laying there like any other piece of detritus. I was told that the engine had been inside a U.S. Navy target drone that had washed ashore. We found the drone's fuselage adorning the Sundowner Bar in New Plymouth. At anchor in White Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. 0nm today: 1302nm total.

24 April - Day 51. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. It's time for us to take on water as the starboard tank is empty and the port only 1/4 full. Fresh water wouldn't normally be worth mentioning, but this is the Bahamas. The islands on the east side of Great Abaco have no fresh water wells. So, houses are built with cisterns, in lieu of basements or crawl spaces, and gutter fed downspouts direct water into them. By balancing rainfall and usage the average homeowner makes out fine. Marinas and other commercial users however must convert saltwater into freshwater by reverse osmosis (RO); an enery extensive and expensive process. Marinas here charge anywhere from $.20 to $.50 per gallon. It cost $18.80 to fill Nellie's tanks today. This will last us over two weeks and thus averages out to around $1/day (not a significant sum in the grand scheme of things ;-) At anchor in White Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. 1nm today: 1302nm total.

23 April - Day 50. Enough days in port already. It's time to go cruising. And so we head out of White Sound, Green Turtle Cay with a destination of Great Guana Cay, some 16 miles to the south. The Sea of Abaco becomes very shallow in this region and the only way to go south is by leaving protected waters and rounding the 'Whale'. The patch around Whale Cay is notoriously rough. Our approach was greeted with increasing swells and 20kt head winds. Rather than ruin a nice day's outing we merely reversed course and headed to the north end of Manjack Cay; only about 8 nm away. We drop the hook in 6' of crystal clear water over a sand and grass bottom. While walking the beach a 40" black ray, which looks just like a B-2 bomber, starts buzzing our feet. He's so close that his wings slap our shins. Back on Nellie I go over with a scouring pad to clean the bottom. There's some grass lodged in the genset's thruhull. Could the solution to the raw water flow problem be that easy? There are sand dollars, conch, and clams all over the bottom. The water temp is 75F, a little warmer than the 35F we left in the Chesapeake 50 days ago. 20nm today: 1301nm total.

22 April - Day 49. One of the worst sounds aboard has to be that of a diesel engine shutting down unexpectedly. THis is something our genset did several times today. The Onan's built-in diagnostic system indicated that lack of raw water flow caused the automatic shut down. A check of the strainer and impeller removed them from the suspect list. The Onan would restart fine and run for a handful of minutes before shutting down again. Additionally, the raw water flow appeared normal while the Onan was running. Perhaps the problem lay in the raw-water-flow pressure switch. An Ohm meter revealed that the normally closed switch opened when raw water flowed. For whatever reason the switch wasn't opening. This was confirmed when the two wires to the switch were removed, making it appear to the Onan that raw water was flowing, and the genset continued to run. Tomorrow I'll pull the pressure switch and dig deeper. 0nm today: 1281nm total.

21 April - Day 48. The big winds predicted for last night never got much over 25kts. This morning the winds are clocking and driving a fairly constant rain into us. It's amazing how much the holding can change within a small anchorage. We slid all over the place just north of our current spot. While here we're solid as a rock. Thanks to the unsettled weather, everyone in White Sound was staying pretty close to their boats this morning. After the weather cleared Dan and Myra, S/V Kairos, stopped by to say hello. They live in Colorado, where Myra is a middle school principal. Dan grew up in Preston, MD which is about 30 miles north of our home in Church Creek. His family, like mine, started farming in American Corner, MD (which consists of three houses and a stop sign) in the 1700's. While we're strangers, I doubt our great great grandparents were. I imagine a landlubber tends to think of cruising in terms of a solitary sailor on a lonely ocean. For us, nothing could be farther from the truth. Cruising is akin to a giant social scene where the price of admission is a boat. Today's party at the Green Turtle Club Marina started at 2 pm and Nellie D.'s crew wasn't home until after 10 pm. 0nm today: 1281nm total.

20 April - Day 47. We have the Bluff Harbour anchorage on the NW side of Green Turtle Cay all to ourselves. It's a beautiful, small, shallow bay that offers protection from all but north winds. A sand bar guards the entrance and helps keep (most ;-) of us riffraff out. We had a very nice breakfast with Elizabeth and Larry Allen who own a home on the most NE point of the bay. We met Larry last night when he stopped by in his runabout. Cocktails and a tour of Nellie quickly followed. He kindly reciprocated by inviting us in this morning. Rhode Islanders, they've been coming here for many years and finally bought in 2005. The island lifestyle appears to be Robinson Caruso, i.e. a tight, friendly community that delights in their natural surroundings and where, by necessity, ingenuity abounds. By 1230 we were weighing anchor and destined for the ferry dock at Great Abaco. John and Susan were flying in and we hoped to save them from the commercial ferry ride. Halfway there it was apparent that the 20kt south easterlies weren't going to cooperate as the passenger transfer point was completely exposed. With a 'good try' under our belts we diverted to White Sound, Green Turtle Cay. We arrived to a beehive of activity; lots of coming and going. Seems 40kt winds have been forecast for this evening. Boats anchored 'outside' were coming into the safety of the Sound. While boats anchored 'inside' were departing for the added safety of a dock in Black Sound, about 1.5nm away to the south. A quick discussion with a 'grey beard' told us where the good holding was. In 8' of water we put out 80' of chain. Dinner aboard with John and Susan. We batten down and wait for the winds. 5nm today: 1281nm total.

19 April - Day 46. We wake early to the sounds of Mimosa's anchor being retrieved. Being purists they sail off the mooring and will tack, upwind, the 8 nm to Green Turtle's Black Sound. Like so many others we've met, they're leaving for the summer. From very reliable sources we'd learned that spring and early summer are the best cruising times here. So it was a little alarming, to say the least, to see all the cruisers leaving now. It finally dawned on me that this a migratory pattern, i.e. south in the winter and north in summer, not a declaration of the best cruising time. It helps, too, to understand that cruisers are a thrifty lot and that slips that go for $0.65/ft in the winter are $2.40/ft in the summer. It's now 'high season' here because many Floridians come to escape the heat and go big game fishing. Lighter winds also makes the Gulf Stream crossing easier. For us it means empty anchorages and a lot fewer nights in a marina. 8nm today: 1276nm total.

18 April - Day 45. It's funny as we sit at anchor off the very tropical Manjack Key I'd be thinking about how well an LNVT works as an icebreaker. That is, to meet interesting people. While checking out the three anchorages on Manjack Cay yesterday we selected the middle one, Coconut Tree Beach. Mimosa, a 31' C&C sloop, had the place to themselves. We dropped the hook, staying well clear, but knew we were intruding. With the dink down, and intent on exploring Manjack, we first paid a pro forma courtesy call on our new neighbors. Andre and Bridget, of Nova Scotia, are self proclaimed recluses, who made it clear their friendliness was spurred, in part, by their interest in Nellie D. That's fair, because our initial interest in them was the local knowledge they've gained in 30 years cruising here. One thing led to another and before any of us realized it it was 10 pm. During which they'd gotten a tour of Nellie and we'd been briefed on all the 'good' spots. More important though was the connection made with interesting people. I can't help but laugh at all the unintended consequences in this story, the least of which is our 'icebreaker'. 8nm today: 1268nm total.

17 April - Day 44. Shallow anchor sets combined with strong winds make for light sleeping. But setting the GPS and depth alarms before going to bed does help. I hate using the amps but being awakened by the keel bumping off the bottom is worse. On average, and when not underway, we run the genset two hours each day and get about 90 Ah back into the batteries. We decided to walk into the 'big city', New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, population 400, today. It's about 3 miles each way. The dense, mostly low foliage is only broken up occasionally by houses. The terrain is surprisingly hilly. The road initially goes east across the Cay which gave us a good look at the reef strewn littoral. Several times we saw pretty water font clearings with picnic tables centered in them. Congestion picked up, i.e. we saw 3 or 4 golf carts, as we neared town. There's a steep hill leading down to New Plymouth, at the bottom of which is the Wrecking Tree. Many of the islanders used to make their living by salvaging the mostly English and American Schooners that went up on the local reefs. The Wrecking Tree is where, by law, the salvaged goods were brought. Under the Tree it was inventoried and then transshipped to Nassau for sale. The salvager got about 50% of the proceeds while the tax man got 10%. The advent of modern navigation electronics freed the Tree for new ventures. The latest of which is a locals restaurant. We can vouch for their great conch, grouper and cold beer. 0nm today: 1260nm total.

16 April - Day 43. Anchor watch began at 0315 when a thunderstorm passed through. Once again, however, at daybreak there was nothing but blue sky. After several boats left we decided to give ourselves more swinging room and re-anchored. What should have taken 10 minutes turned into an hour long ordeal. The hook would initially set but wouldn't hold when backing down at greater than 1000 rpm. Each time the anchor was found to be fouled with sand and grass. We heard these conditions are not unusual in the Bahamas and that a Delta (or other non-articulated sharp plow) was the anchor of choice here. We sleep a lot better when the hook holds 1500 rpm but since 1000 rpm held in today's 18kt winds … Green Turtle's White Sound has two resorts: The Green Turtle Club and Bluff House. Both are cruiser friendly, which means we're welcome to tie our dinks to their docks, eat at their restaurants, etc. The island is surprisingly hilly. Rather than being simply a coral atoll, there's a lot of lava rock. The vegetation is dense and myriad: mangroves; pines; the occasional palm; and, many deciduous trees. The houses seem to be taller than most of the trees. Perhaps hurricanes are more effective at trimming them than the stoutly built houses. The very narrow roads are mostly sand and natural stone affairs. Jacked-up golf carts are the vehicle of choice although we saw several cars too. Walking is very pleasant and you're rewarded by one pretty view after another. 0nm today: 1260nm total.

15 April - Day #42. This morning it's clear, sunny and 81F. The Bahamas and Camelot have something in common, it only rains at night. The 5-day weather forecast is for strong north easterlies and 'rage' conditions at Whale Cay Pass. So what's a 'rage'? It's an aptly descriptive Bahamian term for the huge sea conditions found at ocean passes when large, wind driven swells, transition from deep to shallow water. For the mariner, a rage is a bar crossing with breaking seas. Not wishing to test our mettle, or sanity, we slip the mooring in Hope Town, Elbow Cay and head north. After some 20nm we enter the pass and find large swells but nothing breaking. We transit a tight, but well marked, little channel into Green Turtle Cay's White Sound. Once inside we find lots of boats on their 'hooks'. The bottom is only 6' away but feels much closer because of the clear water. The bottom is grass and sand over a hard pack. Perfect holding ground; until the winds pipe up. While out exploring in the dink, I offer a tow to a fellow cruiser who is rowing out to his sailboat. Turns out that he's a former crewmate of Bill Lowell's (37' LNVT, Gray Ghost #56). Jim and Jenny Allan, Rebel Star, join us for dinner and are thoroughly delightful with their myriad cruising stories. At 4/16/2009 3:46 PM (utc) Nellie D's position was 26°46.79'N 077°20.29'W 27nm today: 1260nm total.

14 April - Day #41. Nellie's short a crew member as John flew back to Florida this morning. Not for long though as he, with Susan this time, will be back aboard Saturday. It's easy to dream about the idyllic island life. I can see myself living here in a brightly colored pastel house shaded by palm trees and overlooking the ocean. And, of course, there's always a cooling breeze rippling the tranquil seas. Unfortunately there's a reef in this fantasy, and mine came in the guise of a hardware store. Our visit to a very nice one this morning quickly turned into an episode of "Holy Cow, can you believe the Price?". It seemed everything cost at least three times as much as stateside. The $19 vacuum we have aboard was $84 while a gallon of lamp oil was $33. Back on Nellie by 1000 we weigh anchor with a destination of Hope Town on Elbow Key. We leave Marsh Harbour in formation with a Moorings (bareboat charter) sailboat. The young captain's tentative boat handling is perhaps an indication that he's nearer the beginning of his vacation than the end. I think back some 17 years when we first chartered here; all the adventures. I catch the eye of the young captain, smile and wave. He promptly goes aground. Yup, it's exactly like when we were first here. The 20 knot winds have the Sea of Abaco up a bit but it's only an 8nm trip. Hope Town is an old English settlement. It's lighthouse was built in the 1860's and is still warning mariners of the treacherous reefs today. The little harbor offers 360 degree protection. There's no room to anchor but moorings are only $15/night. The cute and colorful little houses come right down to the water. There aren't roads but rather concrete paths wide enough for golf carts, which the Cay has in abundance. It's a short and pretty walk from bay to ocean. A little way south we come across a restaurant with a gorgeous water view. I recommend their mahi mahi sandwich with a Stong Back Stout. Back aboard Nellie and napping we're awakened by someone hailing us. It's Dave and Nancy off Pour Vous with a cocktail invitation. An unusual lightening storm with lots of cloud-to-cloud activity lights up the night. At 4/15/2009 12:55 PM (utc) Nellie D's position was 26°34.45'N 077°00.73'W 8nm today: 1233 total.

13 April - Day #39. Still at anchor in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island. The quest begins to find Nellie a permanent home here in the Islands. A several mile walk from Marsh Harbour gets us across the peninsula to the local haulout yard. Lots of boats on the hard but the area appears to be very industrial and wide open to easterly winds. During the day's grocery run we found that a gallon of skim milk sells for $7.24. The good news is that peanut M&Ms are only $1/bag. Winds have been up as we're seeing 20kts almost everyday. The afternoon is spent R&Ring aboard. 0nm today: 1225 total.

12 April - Day #40. On the 40th day they rested! Nellie's crew was content to sleep in, lounge and basically do nothing all day long. A cold front moved through this morning. The winds clocked from south, through west, then north, and finally settled on east and rose to 20kts. It's good to have an 80 lb anchor and lots of chain. The Abacos Cruiser's net is held at 0815 daily on VHF 68. New arrivals are given the opportunity to announce themselves. Nellie decided to go stealth. After all, nobody will notice a green tug in a sea of sailboats ;-) At 4/12/2009 1:12 PM (utc) Nellie D's position was 26°39.51'N 077°08.74'W 0nm today: 1225nm total.

11 April - Day #38. The day dawns bright on Green Turtle Cay. The winds have finally laid down. After paying a courtesy call on our boat neighbors, who'd kindly directed us to a mooring the day before, we headed out of Black Sound. Ahead lay the challenges of 'The Whale'. The protected waters of the Sea of Abaco shoal just south of Green Turtle Cay. To continue south one must go outside and round Whale Cay; an open ocean passage surrounded by rocks. This notorious bit of water dismasted a sailboat just last week. 'Never on a north wind' is the local advice and there's even a special "Whale Report" given on the VHF radio each morning. Today's weather was perfect and we saw many boats going through. Once back inside, and over a sandy bottom, it's a straight shot to Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island. Marsh Harbour is the third largest town in the Bahamas, population 5000. About 50 boats are anchored here and there's still room for a lot more. With the hook down at 1230 we head ashore to check out the local culture and find a place for lunch. 23nm today: 1225nm total.

10 April - Day #38. The anchorage in Great Sale Cay is open to the south. As luck would have it, last night's winds blew a nice steady 15kts; from the south. We set the GPS' anchor alarm for 100' and went to bed knowing that while the evening may be a bumpy one, at least we'd wake up in the same place. The winds built today eventually leveling at 20kts from the SSW. Other than being passed by a Benetau 42, under sail, while tacking no less, Nellie was happy as a clam and gave us a comfortable ride. It felt like we'd finally 'arrived' in the cruising grounds when we started paralleling the shores of Little Abaco Island. Here the Abacos begin a turn to the south and myriad out islands break the Atlantic swell. It's a 60nm run from Great Sale to Green Turtle. The route between the two is something like a highway for cruisers heading to/from the US. However, we only saw a dozen boats in our 10 hour transit so it's not exactly crowded. We entered Green Turtle's Black Sound at low low tide. Not to worry there was plenty of water. If you call 4.6', over coral, in the middle of the channel, plenty of water ;-O Once inside the bottom drops, becomes sandy, and is grass filled. 'Pickup a mooring' is the guide books advice. With none available we drop the hook and proceed to back-down for half a mile while the anchor, and its 50' of chain rode, merrily follows along. While retrieving the ground tackle some locals take pity on us and point out a private mooring which can be rented. It's Good Friday and just about everything is closed in New Plymouth. Very pretty place. White picket fences surround the small, tightly packed, brightly colored houses. Dinner is on Dave as he managed to find a sand bar during the earlier anchoring exercise. 62nm today: 1202 total.

9 April - Day #37. A gilded cage, no matter how nice, is still irksome. So Nellie's crew had no problem leaving the Old Bahama Bay resort at West End (and it's pool, beautiful beach, fast wifi, great food, infinite hot showers and attentive staff) behind. Hmm, we may be rethinking this choice. Anyway, after 35 days getting to the Bahamas this was our first day of actual reef navigation. Only 1nm NW of West End, Grand Bahama Island is Indian Cay Channel, a narrow, unmarked, 3nm cut through thin water and rocks. The first lesson here in the 'Islands' is that navigation is strictly by GPS waypoints. The Little Bahama Bank is huge, encompassing some 13,400 square miles. Deep water is defined as 13' and uncharted shoals and rock piles litter the whole area. The low lying cays don't help with navigation either. Thus it was, just passed Indian Cay we left the safety of deep water and went right when the GPS said so. There used to be a channel marker but everyone's gotten so comfortable with GPS' that there's no urgency to replace it. We timed our passage for 0730, the tail end of the rising tide. The crew's job is to watch for breaking water and rocks; the goal, of course, being to avoid them. For ICW cruisers the clarity of this water is alarming. The bottom appears to be so close that surely a grounding is only seconds away. It takes a while, but the head eventually wins out over the stomach. After surviving Indian Cay Channel it's a slight right and then straight to the Mangrove Cay waypoint, some 21nm distant. I need to digress for a moment to explain the pronunciation of cay—it's key, like the Florida Keys. The word 'cay' originates from the spanish word 'cayo' (little island). This confirms my suspicion that to speak spanish one only need add an 'o' to the end of each word. Another slight right at Mangrove Cay and 20nm miles later the hook is down in the the SW bight of Great Sale Cay. We're halfway across the Little Bahama Bank. 48nm today: 1140nm total.

8 April - Day #36. Finally the winds die down. It's cool out (mid 60s) which is great for getting some boat projects done: cetol touch up; bilge cleaning; water tank cleaning; and thoroughly check engine. The raw water line between the strainer and impeller pump was being chafed by the starboard, forward engine mount. Repositioning the line and adding some chafe gear took care of the problem. The weather must be better as several boats arrived in West End today. Looks like there will be two sailboats flying formation with us tomorrow as we cross the Little Bahama Bank to Sale Cay. Took advantage of XM radio's $5/month special and now we're a-rock'n tug. Cocktails with Pour Vous and Sea Island Girl. Early to bed because it's a 0700 departure tomorrow. 0nm today: 1092 total.

7 April - Day #34. Can you say windy? It was rock and roll all night. Several of our neighbors' boats suffered piling rash. Apparently big winds are not unusual here at West End, heard stories of folks getting stuck here for as many as 10 days. Thursday still looks like good although we may get lucky tomorrow. Did a little exploring today. Walked south for a few miles though a lot of scrub and the occasional palm. Conch shells, with the tell tale hole of the chefs knife in the crown, litter the littoral. They dive on the left here although the steering wheels are on the same side as in the US. The speed seems to be more a function of the road condition than any posted signs. Lots of folks waved. A resort bus stopped to offer a ride; but, since that would kind of defeat the purpose of 'going for a walk', we declined. We were rewarded on our trek south with the discovery of a pub. It was after 4pm so we partook. Kalick (pronounced 'click') is a local beer; they were out. The bar keep recommended Coors Light instead. After a Guinnes we made our way back to Nellie. Dinner with Por Vous and Sea Island Girl. Coffee on Nellie. 0nm today; 1092nm total.

6 April - Day #33. Some days it's good to be at a dock, because it's scary watching the breakers hit the reef. As predicted the winds have started to howl. Gail warnings abound. This wind is supposed to die down Wednesday. Got the SCS PTC-II modem wired to the HF radio today. Will test tomorrow but now we should be able to get emails via HF radio: This cruising life is tough: a nap, some reading, pool time, clean the boat, and a three hour social aboard Por Vous. 0nm today: 1092 total.

5 April - Day #32. Made it to West End, Grand Bahama Island today. Left Palm Beach at 0430 this am. Wx prediction was for a one day window before some really bad stuff moves in. Seas were 2 to 4' with 15kts on the beam. Not my favorite but tolerable. The Gulf Stream, which was supposed to be 7 miles out, hit us almost immediately: sea temp went from 70 to 75F; and our progress south slowed from 7.2kts to 4kts. At that point the strategy is to cross the stream as fast as possible, i.e. cross the flow at 90 degrees, knowing you'll be pushed north the whole time. The 49nm trip thus turned into 60nm as we had to beat south into West End. Surprise, surprise. The Old Bahama Bay Marina is part of a resort to which we have full privileges: pool; beach; restaurants; etc. Some of Nellie's crew took a shower and cleaned up before visiting the venues. I, however, made a beeline for the pool where I'm sure I left an oil slick. We'll hangout here until the pending cold front blows through then it's on to Sale Cay (located in the middle of the Little Bahama Bank). Cocktails aboard Nellie with the crew of Sea Island Girl. 60nm today: 1092 total.

4 April - Day #31. Last day to do errands before our crossing tomorrow. Make a West Marine run for a Bahamas courtesy flag. Then walk to a Radio Shack for a DIN connector. Love the dinks new fish finder. I mounted the transducer a little too low so at speed we get a rooster tail--just like a jet ski. At 1720 we move Nellie towards the south end of Peanut Island (Palm Beach, FL). There's nothing like Peanut Island on a sunny afternoon. Tents are set up on the beach. Boats are everywhere. Radios blaring. A cruise ship pulls away from the dock and into the middle of this mob scene. It all seems strangely ordered. I guess the only thing new to the scene is us. Everyone else knows the rules. After a quick foray into the Atlantic we drop the hook just south of the inlet. Early to bed. 8nm today: 1032 total.

3 April - Day #30. Windy, overcast and 75F. Up and off early. Winds 20kts+. Pull into Vero Beach Municipal Marina for fuel (61 gallons @ $2.09), water and a pump out. The winds are blowing us on the dock. We warp out without the sound of any breaking metal or fiberglass--quite a surprise given the conditions. Around noon we had sustained 30kt winds from the SW. Sure do like a pilot house! Into the north end of the bay in Lake Worth, FL. Hook down at 1930. 61nm today: 1024nm total.

2 April - Day #29. Sunny, 75F and clear. John takes the dink out to 'sound' the depths around us. For the first time in 29 days we head north. J. Edgar Moser #76 is about 2 miles from the anchorage and we decide to take Nellie, vs. the dink, as the winds are up. As we approach J. Edgar Moser's dock we deploy our dink, yes we're getting our money's worth from the dinks new depth sounder, to find us an anchorage off the ICW. We visit with Bill Sharpe aboard J. Edgar. Amazing how much Tommie Chen changed the Tug's finish in the two years between Nellie and J. Edgar. It's clear that J. Edgar is the first step in what will become the LNVT 41: antiskid vs. teak decks; stainless handrails vs. wood; and no wood eyebrow on the salon's exterior. We then take a walk on the beach and then have a thoroughly delightful dinner and evening with the Sharps. 2nm today: 963nm total.

1 April - Day #28. Broken overcast and 76F. Met with Rick Muething aboard Nellie this morning. He's a former cruiser that Garry and Carol Domnisse (Yellow Rose #47) met in Costa Rica. Rick is developing the WINMOR format which may soon replace Pactor (and the expensive modems it uses). After lunch, and putting Rick back ashore, we took off south. A developing thunderstorm consumed us. It wasn't for want of warning as the new 32 mile, Garmin radar, showed us the whole event live. Lots of lightning, thunder and rain. The winds pop up to 25kts too. The ICW starts getting a little narrower and prettier just north of Vero Beach. It's here that we see J. Edgar Moser #76, at dock. A few miles farther south we hook behind Hole in the Wall, Island, bounce off the bottom (I'm buying ;-) and drop the hook. Lots of little mangrove islands surround us. 29nm today: 961 total.

31 Mar - Day #27. Low overcast and mid 70's. We head south down the Banana River for about an hour and then anchor in front of Banana River Marine. This is where John William #68 is docked. We dingy in and John Mackie gives us a tour. Wow, has he done a lot of work. The hull and topsides have new paint. All the brightwork is redone. A new genset, AquaDrive and sound deadening insulation in the engine room, etc., etc. It's amazing what a difference the pilothouse eyebrow makes to an LNVT. John William's was temporarily removed to fix a leak and to ease painting. Our tugs are homely without the eyebrow. We then borrow John's car and head to Patrick AFB. A new military ID card for me and Groceries for Nellie. Back to the dink, say our good byes to John Mackie, and then get soaked on our way out to Nellie. The winds were 20+ kts. The Banana River is very thin but well marked. We cruise south to where it flows into the ICW (just above Melbourne, FL) and drop the hook. A lightning and thunderstorm with lots of rain moves in. 17nm today: 932nm total.

30 Mar - Day #26. Clear sky, 1032mb, 70s, winds 4kts N. Work on the poor man's Airsep: attached a 1/4" hose between the cup containing the Cummins' crankcase vent line and the turbo's air intake. It works as predicted, the engine room's oil smell is greatly reduced. As we enter the Mosquito River, NASA's space shuttle assembly building is clearly visible although it's many miles away. A little later the launch sites and their gantries are clearly visible. Our first Manatee was sited just off the bow. Then as we drop the hook Vicki sees a family of thee. They're close enough for her to count the hairs on their cute little noses. Late this afternoon we left the ICW on the Canaveral Barge Canal, and anchored just west of Cape Caneveral, FL. Tomorrow we'll continue south in the Banana River. 60nm today: 913nm total.

29 Mar - Day #25. High overcast, windy, 80s. Had a whopper of a lightening storm last night. If the crack of thunder didn't keep you awake the pounding rain did. After returning the rental car, breakfast at Theo's and three loads of wash we finally pushed away from the dock. Saw our first 70F water temps in the ICW today. Pulled off the ICW in Daytona Beach, FL, at 1900. 46nm today: 855nm total.

28 Mar - Day #24. Overcast, windy, mid 70s. Rent car. Dad debarks after lunch at OC's. Sold the old Furuno radar to the local used parts chandlery. Original cost in 2001 was $2000 and we got … $200. Reprovision and pick-up Bicki up at the Jacksonville Airport. 0nm today: 809nm total.

27 Mar - Day #23. High overcast, 70s, 20kts S. Tour St. Augustine. 0 nm today: 809nm total.

26 Mar - Day #22. High overcast, 70s, 15kt winds S. Dingy in for showers. Interestingly, the mooring agreement with Fernandina City required that we put no gray water down our drains--no washing hands, brushing teeth, or heaven forbid, cleaning a dish. This may be the wave of the future. THe Yahoo LNVT Forum has an Interesting discussion on engine room temperature. According to Cummins the temp should no more than ambient +10F. Nellie is +40F. I then ran the bilge blower for a few hours. The delta-T stayed the same. The amount of air required for a diesel = 1/2 * (rpm) * (engine's displacement). A Cummins 4BT displacement is .138 ft*3. So, at 1600 rpm cruise we need 110cfm just for the engine. The winds pipe up to 30kts as we approach St. Augustine. Into the town docks—$1.95/ft ouch. 54 today: 809nm total.

25 Mar - Day #21. High, light overcast, 70's and no wind. Weigh anchor at 0830 and head for the fuel dock. After 94 engine hours since Norfolk, VA we need 141 gallons (at $2.10/gallon). Mostly ran 1600 rpm and averaged 1.5 gph. Just north of King's Bay we found ourselves surround by thin water. Deployed the dink and sounded out an escape route. Picked up a mooring in Fernandina Beach (the $15 fee includes dingy dock and showers). Dinner ashore--rough life. 49nm today: 755nm total.

24 Mar - Day #20. Clear, sunny, 60's. Sure can get used to this weather. With Dad now aboard we cast off from the Savannah Yacht Club, Savannah, GA, and head south. Trying to make a habit of checking-in on the Waterway Net. Our radio reception of the hams in the Bahamas is getting better as we head south. Added two new toys to Nellie yesterday: USB GPS and a wireless router for the Verizon AirCard. The USB GPS is a backup to the built-in Garmin system. In the unlikely event that both of Nellie's 5212 chart plotters (and dual GPS') go down, Nobeltec, running on a laptop and getting it's NEMA 0183 data from the USB GPS, will take over. Not sure when the chart plotter became a no-go item for us but it has. The solution to internet connectivity while underway is the AirCard. Yup it's expensive, but here we are deep in the Georgia marshes and still connected. The AirCard plugs directly into the new wireless router and now all three PCs aboard can be surfing at the same time. At midday the position reporting system (APRS) still shows us off Paris Island, SC and yet we're a good 100 miles south of that. As we approach Brunswick, GA, the APRS traffic picks up and we get our first signal out in almost 60 hours. We anchor in the Frederica River just north of Bruswick, GA. It's a narrow river with vast expanses of marsh grass all around and the occasional hammock with its densly packed live oaks. 73nm today: 726nm total.

23 Mar - Day #19. Clear, sunny, 60's. Got our money's worth out of Hilton Head Island's Harbour Town Marina. Checkout is 1200. We clear the jetty at 1159 ;-) We cross the Savannah River and enter Georgia. It's strange going from 1' tides in the Chesapeake to 9' tides in Georgia. We 'attempt' the Elba Island cut, just after low-low tide. At one point, while in the middle of the channel, and being pushed by a 1kt current, we see very thin water--3.5'. We simply drift along knowing the bottom is soft and the tide is rising. Our automatic position reporting system still shows us off Paris Island, SC. We rely on the generosity of hams to relay our reports. Seems there aren't many hams in these marshy low lands. We're getting lazy. This is the second day in a row we spent the night tied to a dock. This time it's the Savannah Yacht Club, Savannah, GA. Yup, we're really roughing it. Dinner aboard with our host Andrew Ziegler, Dad and Claire. 20nm today: 653nm total.

22 Mar - Day #18. Clear, winds 15kts N, sunny and in the 50's. We run with the tide seeing as much as 8 kts. Pretty country side: flat, lots of grass land and marsh, deep water all the way to the banks. More pleasure boat traffic here. Decide to investigate Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island, SC. It's $2/ft and $10/night for electric; we go for it. First time Nellie's paid for a slip in 17 days. Dad and Claire come over and join us for the day. 24nm today: 633 total.

21 Mar - Day #17. The anchor weighing brought an unexpected surprise. Seems we hooked a chain, which was attached to a cinder-block and the whole mess was around our anchor. Had to deploy the dink and do some hand work to unravel it all. Some how working with a chain attached to a cinder-block all the while leaning over 18' deep water doesn't strike me as a 'safe' operation. Fortunately the gods were appeased when their 'gift' was returned and no additional sacrificed was required. Bahamas weather is available daily on the Waterway Net, 7.268 mHz at 1245 UTC. The Net also takes float plans for boats crossing the Gulf Stream. We checked-in to the net today. For the second time in the last few days we noticed that the depth log reads very shallow when a big boat passes us closely. It might be all the air bubbles in the water, or simply all the water movement. Perhaps when this condition occurs reducing the transducers power will help. To do email while at anchor over the ham radio we're going to establish a WinLink account and use the Airmail client. The SCS PTC-II is a great modem, but expensive. Perhaps we can use our existing hardware on Pactor I. Some say 'toe-mayto' and some say 'toe-maato' but how do you pronounce Beaufort? The answer, like many things, depends on where you are. Here in South Carolina it's pronounced 'bu-furt' which is not to be confused with Beaufort, North Carolina, which is pronounced 'Beau-fort'. We anchored just off Beaufort, SC in 24' of water. Dingy'd in, walked the town--very quaint, and had a great Bare Knuckle Stout at a water front pub. Happy hour price was $1.50. 56nm today: 609nm total.

20 Mar - Day #16. A well deserved day off. Rerouted and shortened wires in the console. Went to dinner with Dani (brother Christian's fiancée). 0nm today: 553nm total.

19 Mar - Day #15. A very muddy anchor comes aboard at 0705. Check-in with the Waterway Net for the first time. This is the net we'll be using in the Bahamas. When we left Church Creek, MD the water temp was 36. As we approach Charleston the water temp hits 60F. Drop the hook in Wappo Creek, just south of Charleston. For the first time in I can't remember how long we don't hit bottom--all day! 55nm today: 553nm total.

18 Mar - Day #14. Up and going early again. John bounces off the bottom while in the middle of the channel. It was warm enough to leave the pilot house's dutch doors open; first time on the trip. Shad gill nets make us dodge and weave. The nets are 200-300' wide with big orange floats marking the ends. The new navigation equipment was getting low voltage. This was corrected by tightening a loose nut on the DC panel's amp meter. Dropped the hook in downtown Gerogetown, SC. 60nm today: 498 total.

17 Mar - Day #13. We get underway at 0700, first light. The sun actually starts to peak out as we reach Carolina Beach. A USCG boat boards a Nord Haven just infront of us. Just north of the Shallotte Inlet there's a dredge blocking the waterway. A sign on the barge directs traffic to pass on the west side. I slow down and move out of the channel. BOOM--we hit a sand bank. After backing off we steer for the barge and pass close. Lesson learned--radio the barge for passing instructions. I'd given them to wide a berth and gone aground because of it. Looks like dinner is on me. Drop the hook in Little River with three other cruisers. Dingy into Calabash, NC for dinner. 68nm today: 438nm total.

16 Mar - Day #12. Low overcast and rain. Little wind. Run Nellie at 2000 RPM for 1/2 hour to make the Onslow bridge 1530 opening. A shrimper gets the Surf City bridge to open 1/2 hour ahead of schedule. We're there to scoot on through. We decide to anchor off the ICW near Top Sail Beach, NC. The chart and depth sounder show 8'. I drop the hook only to see it laying on the bottom about 2' down. Sand bar found--John at helm (he made a nice spagetti dinner). We back off and drop the hook just of the channel in 7'. Best day's run yet at 75nm: 370nm total.

15 Mar - Day #11. Rain and fog, about 100 yards visibility. Sound our way out of the anchorage. Using the the high def radar to keep us aiming straight down the Pungo Canal. At 1445, about 1 mile north of ICW sm160, Nellie veers right followed shortly by the 5.5' shallow water alarm. As we angle back to deeper water at reduced RPM, we bounce off the bottom--John was at the helm. We've initiated a new program: he who hits the bottom buys/makes dinner. While underway we get the ham high frequency (HF) radio installed. After some stateside contacts John gets 9A9A in Zagreb, Croatia. Guess everything is working ;-) Drop the hook just outside the harbor in Oriental, NC. John buys dinner. 66nm today: 295nm total.

14 Mar - Day #10. Woke early to finish up some navigation console wiring before getting underway. It's in the 40's with a low, solid overcast. The winds are down in the 10 to 15kt range from the NE. As we ready to depart at 1000 the winds pipe-up yet again. Alligator bridge is reporting 20+kts. We delay until noon. Off we go to lessening winds and seas. Bounce off the bottom about two miles north of Alligator River (John was at the helm). The good news is that the depth sounder worked great—it's alarm warning us of the thinning water. We anchor in the Alligator River at the mouth of the Pungo Canal. 38nm day; 229nm total.

13 Mar - Day #9. Early morning walk up town. A hard rain keeps us pinned down at McDonalds for several hours. We took full advantage of the free coffee refills. Stop in to see the Honda Cosmopolitan 49cc scooters. Thinking about putting a scooter on the 02 deck. Sure would make buzzing around towns easier. Question is can we get it off-and-on easily enough and protect it from the salt air? With all the new electronics working perfectly we rip out all the wiring to do a better install—it was a rats nest behind the console. 0nm day; 191nm total.

12 Mar - Day#8. Winds keep us at the dock in Elizabeth City. 0nm today; 191nm total.

11 Mar - Day #7. We make the 0830 lock at the south end of the Dismal Swamp. Only one other boat locks with us. See 30kts on the way into Elizabeth City, NC. Docking at the free town docks was made very 'interesting' by 20kt beam winds. The mayor, Steve Atkinson, personally welcomed us (we're the second cruiser to arrive this year) and gets a tour of Nellie. He's looking for a trawler. 25nm day; 191nm total.

10 Mar - Day #6. We spend the morning at anchor off Hospital Point finishing the final details on the Garmin HD Radar install. Our 75' of chain looks like a mud sausage coming up. We motor over to Tidewater marina and take on 140g. The cruising goes well until we reach the Gilmerton Bridge. The railroad bridge right next to it goes down as we approach. It stays down for 90 minutes. We just anchored and waited. The wait was only 45 minutes for the lock which marks the beginning of the Dismal Swamp. Made it to the S. Mills, NC warf just before dark. 32nm today; 164nm total.

9 Mar - Day #5. Still at Anchor off Hospital Point, we take advantage of the 70F weather to install the new Garmin HD radar and GPS. The wind is blowing like stink. Any part I lay on the deck seems to instantly take flight. Running the cables from the top of the pilot house down into the instrumnet console is painfully slow. We're rewarded for our patience as everything goes in well. In the afternoon we walk around Portsmouth and have lunch at the Navy's hospital. More installation work in the evening until we collapse of exhaustion. 0nm today; 134nm total.

8 Mar - Day #4. Last night's winds on Gwynn Island, VA were strong enough to actually ring Nellie's new bell. Our 75' of chain kept us secure however. Departing Gwynn we see an LNVT at the Marina just north of the draw bridge (maybe Oneida or Blue Jacket). Calm sailing south is a nice surprise after the morning's windy conditions. With Norfolk Harbor water temp at 41F it's not exactly warm, but that doesn't stop some young sail boaters from taking a dip. We drop the hook in Norfolk Harbor just off Hospital point. 49nm today; 134nm total.

7 Mar - Day #3. It's in the 50's as we get ready to go down the Honga River and across the Bay. All the drinking water is off at P.L. Jones' dock and Nellie's tanks are all but dry. A 200' hose from the pump house solves the problem. The Bay is flat and Nellie's new depth sounder is working great. We even know the water temp is a chilly 36F. We drop the anchor on the west side of Gwynn Island, VA—what a pretty place. 55nm today; 85nm total.

6 Mar - Day #2. The newly drilled rotor is installed and the prop shaft reconnected to the transmission. Nellie is splashed, leaks a lot until the rotor is properly adjusted and we move her to one of P.L. Jones' open slips. With the refrig on we can load the groceries and all the crews' stuff. The rest of the day is spent finishing the installation of the triducer cables.

5 Mar - Day #1. The Adventure begins--Bahamas here we come. But first a little detour. It's a beautiful 30nm down the Bay to P.L. Jones' Boat Yard on Hooper's Island. Nellie's hauled and then a new Dynaplate and triducer (depth, water temp, and water speed) are installed. The old Interphase probe transducer is removed. and the prop shaft is backed out so the PSS rotor can be removed. The rotor has to more set screws added; now there are 4 at 90 a degree spacing. This will keep equal pressure on the o-rings and keep water from leaking in—a good thing. Nellie spends the night in the Travelift's straps. 30nm today; 30nm total.


13 Dec to 4 Jan 09 - See a slideshow of Nellie D's, hull #63, Potomac Christmas cruise.

19 Jan - NYC "Fleet Review". Tour of Port Royal and Naples Bay. Eight aboard.

15 to 17 Jan - Cruise from Pelican Isle YC to Boca Grande Marina, Boca Grande with NYC. 4-6 ft. seas on return in the Gulf.


22 Dec - Arrive Pelican Isle Yacht Club, Naples, FL

15 Apr - Day 3 - Depart Cornet Bay and transit Deception Pass at slack. Very lumpy on the west side of the pass. Skirt the south side of Lopez Island and then head north with San Juan Island to starboard. Planning to check into Canada at Poet's Cove, Pender Island, we are surprised to find the customs dock closed. Two hours later we are officially welcomed to Canada at Van Isle Marina. We anchor out and use the kayaks for the first time. No problem getting them off and on. By lowering the dink and then placing the kayak between the dink and Nellie, it's easy to get into/out of the kayak. 44.7nm

14 Apr - Day 2 - Depart Everett in a gray overcast. Very calm. Make Cornet Bay, just on the east side of deception pass. Take a float. Dingy ashore and walk in the park. 34.7nm

13 Apr - Day 1 - After flying the Blue Peter yesterday we departed for Everett today. Gale warnings had us looking over our shoulders but nothing so strong overtook us. Take an inside dock space. 29nm.

3 Apr Tue - There's frost on the pumpkin this morning. Raise a very muddy 150' of chain. Left the genset on while doing this—theory is that higher voltage will be available to run windlass (or bow thruster). Picked up the Avon 3.10 RIB and the Yamaha at Mercer Marine. Go back through the lock (2 hour wait) and on to Poulsbo.

2 Apr Mon - Depart Langley. Low Scud layer with patches of blue. 30 something degrees. Run at 1800 rpm and getting 7.2kts. Did the lock up to Lake Union, which we circumnavigated. Then continued to Lake Washington where we rounded Mercer Island in a clockwise direction, finally dropping the hook in Andrews bay.

1 Apr Sun - Depart La Conner for Langley. Ran the rpms all the way to 2100. Nellie runs well. Take a tough-to-get-into slip without problem.

31 Mar Sat - Perform an "Emergency Move" from the outside to the inside of the south La Conner dock. A big tree, root ball and all, was bearing down on us after having raked all the boats in front of us.

30 Mar Fri - We're operating without a safety net—Van Isle is in the rear view mirror! It's now Glacier Bay or bust. Departed at 0930 and checked-in to the US at Roche Harbor (301420070330143828). The cruise to La Conner was without incident. The engine temp never went above 195F (running at 1600 rpm).

26 Jan Fri - Move Nellie back to her slip D-233 at Van Isle. Nice to emerge from the cave.

8 Jan Mon - Move Nellie into boat house A1 at Van Isle to begin davit project


Sept 26 Tue - Dave and Vicki go to Roche Harbor for USA check-in then back to Van Isle. On the return trip the engine's temperature goes above 200F. Reducing the RPM sends the temperature back to the nominal 195F. Rather than try to diagnose the problem underway we continue running at 1500 (vs 1600 rpm) back to the dock. An inspection of the strainer reveals lots of broad-leaf grasses. This was probably the problem.

Sept 23 Sun - From Cowichan we go north to Genoa Bay. Genoa deserves another trip. What a pretty place. Not much shore-wise but great anchoring and kayaking spot. Leave Genoa and return to Van Isle.

Sept 22 Sat - Cowichan Fisherman's wharf ($C42) makes for easy access to the town. The bakery is great! The maritime museum is free and very nice.

Sept 21 Fri - Otter Bay, on Pender Island ($C42), is undergoing a real estate boom. They're selling a 1/4 share of a waterfront cabin for $150K. Ferry wake makes its self known.

Sept 20 Thur - On this very windy day (up to 28kts) we went first to the park on Newcastle Island. Newcastle is just to the east of Nanaimo. The docks there are free if you just want to walk around. After our walk we took Nellie the 1/2 mile south to Protection Island. Besides being a goofy little suburb of Nanaimo they have a water front pub of some repute. The slip is free while dining. We then started heading south to Dodd Narrows. The channel leading to Dodd was full of waves and whitecaps. Following a raft of logs and two tugs we headed for Pirates Cove. The entrance is very tight. The cove is open to winds from the north so rather than spend the night we decided to head to Ladysmith. We arrived in Ladysmith at dusk. It was not at all apparent where we could tie-up. Vicki spotted the Ladysmith Maritime Society Docks ($42). There were no bathroom facilities and payment was made at a kiosk. The town has much to recommend it. Beware of the woman in the bakery—she bites.

Sept 19 Wed - Leaving Thetis at 0630 we arrived at Dodd narrows about 45 minutes before slack. The boats going with the tide have the right of way. The narrows aren't all that narrow, but we waited until the narrows were clear before heading north. We moored in Nanaimo, Downtown ($C42). The showers have no adjustable temperature controls and there's no hot water to shave with in the sinks. Picky, picky. Great town with nice walking areas along the water.

Sept 18 Tue - Thetis, Telegraph Harbor. Got a pie from the unattended store—excellent.

Sept 17 Mon - Went to Ganges, Municipal Dock ($C42). No electric and had to walk over to the harbor master's office for the heads. Beats the $C60+ from the other marina though.

Sept 11 Tue - Return to Van Isle.

Sept 10 Mon - Off to Ganges with Bill and Kathy Bezy.

August 21 Mon - Dad and John sail from Rosario Resort to La Conner, WA. Docked at the La Conner Marina (northernmost marina) along the inside of the guest jetty. Encountered fog bank crossing the Rosario Straight - no problems but radar range needs to be increased (see wish list).

August 20 Sun - Dad and John at Rosario Resort, Orcas Island. Toured Orcas with Chris and James. The Rosario Marina is definitely full service - boatside trash pickup, free water "please use our hose and fill your tanks", free showers, free shampoo even!

August 19 Sat - Dad & John leave Ganges, Salt spring Island, BC for Friday Harbor, WA. Checked in to US customs, applied for mandatory 2006 decal $25. Left Friday Harbor to Orcas Island. Checked into Rosario Resort Marina. Very narrow entrance to marina, tightest docking spot yet - thank you bow thruster! Met Christian and his friend James for dinner.

August 18 Fri - Dad & John leave Sidney for Ganges, Salt spring Island, BC. Berthed at Ganges Marina as suggested by Bob Cadieux and others. Great little town. Thrifty foods, tons of restaurants, several bookstores, all within walking distance of the marina.

August 17 Thu - Dad & John day cruise to points north of Sidney. Docking practice.

August 16 Wed - Dad & John arrive Sidney via ferry from Vancouver (Swartz Bay) to Tsawwassen. Nellie in great shape.

July 9 - Vicki and Dave left the dock at 1100. Went along the West side of Coal Island up to Swartz Bay. Rounded the Saanich peninsula and headed south towards Butchart Gardens. Returning to Van Isle we kept Saanich to starboard and wormed our way through some narrow passages. Docking went very well.

July 8 - Vicki and Dave Left the dock at 0900—no broken fiberglass. Went to Sidney Spit where we saw depths of 2' (yikes--at least it was a sand bottom and low tide). Headed north and rounded Coal Island CCW. Saw Swartz Bay (where the Vancouver Ferry comes in) which is just a little north of Van Isle. Back at Van Isle it was time to dock …. Not much wind. Two attempts got the stern within reach of the slip. Several hands brought us in the rest of the way--no broken fiberglass. Hale Kai (Cal and Nancy our dock mates on the Nordhaven 40') were kind but inside had to be laughing their asses off. The other dock hands had all sorts of bad advice to give (just ignored them). In the after mission debrief, Cal said that more thrust, for shorter periods, would help orient the boat better. To prove his point he took Hale Kai out without bow thruster. Yup, it looked like the way to do it.

May 8 - John and Dave Depart for Seattle and home, leaving Nellie D at Van Isle.

May 4 - Enter Canada, Sidney BC & Van Isle Marina

May 3 - Friday Harbor.

May 2 - Visit La Conner a Quaint town w/nice restaurants. Anacortes.

April 30 - Langley, WA

April 28 - Gig Harbor, WA No space at public docks. Anchored out in the rain in the afternoon, then tied up for the night at a private clubs dock.

April 27 - Olympia, WA - Back in the Puget Sound!

April 25 - Long Beach, CA - Dudley trucking haul out.

April 13-24 - San Pedro, CA - Stayed close to the dock, learning how to handle her. Ralph Hampton answers lots of questions. Steve Riggins and his son Steve join us for an afternoon sail.

April 12 - John Arrives.

April 11 - Closing on Nellie D. Purchased from Ralph and Sue Hampton.

April 9 - Sea Trials inside the Los Angles Harbor breakwater

Ran up to a 2800 rpm
Eastward 5 minute reciprocal run: 2600 rpm, 8.5kt average, water temp 200F, oil pressure 50 psi
Eastward 5 minute reciprocal run: 2600 rpm, 8.6kt average, water temp 200F, oil pressure 50 psi
good idle is 700 to 800 rpm

April 7 - Dave arrives in San Pedro for inspections.

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