Leaving Georgetown we headed East following a book by Bruce Van Sant, Passages South – The Thornless Path to Windward.  Traversing East through the islands is difficult since most of the

Looking for coral heads on the way in

wind comes out of the east.  He has a series of rules to follow creating windows of opportunity to make the passage.  We now simply say things like “Bruce says” and it is so.  We had originally planned on sailing for four days and missing this difficult Thorny Path.  We had difficulty finding crew who could join us for the journey and for our first long passage we really wanted the help.  We take turns at the helm; plotting positions, adjusting sails and looking for other boats occupy our time.  Following a schedule of two hours on and two off makes for a difficult night of sleep.  So we follow Bruce’s Rules and make short hops down the Thornless Path.  The progress is certainly slow.

From Georgetown we sailed to Conception Island, which has some of the finest diving and

Our other World

snorkeling around.  Ella and I saw a Spotted Eagle ray four-feet below us that’s body was longer than her and the tail was twice as long.  Hundreds of fish swirl around keeping us company.  Lindsey saw a Grouper that easily weighed a hundred pounds.  Chase likes to swim only in the light water (shallow).  He knows that in the dark water (deep), sharks lurk looking for a tasty little guy to eat.

Ella diving off Rivers2Seas

Sailing on to Rum Cay we had a quick stopover.  Taking the dinghy over to the island for dinner, we found out that reservations were needed several hours in advance.  The reservations are needed so they can catch dinner.  The bar/restaurant seemed nice with its sand floor and pool table in the middle.  The cigarette smoke kept the mosquitoes at bay, but Ella refuses to breath if someone is smoking.  We left for home.  Sadly the lock holding us to the dock jammed and couldn’t be opened.  A friendly man, Marco, took us all back to Rivers2Seas and then returned me with a pair of our bolt cutters.  The boat was free instantly.  Realized that we needed a better lock certainly, but a better cable as well.  Marco was one of 50 single men on the island; they also have 15 married couples and four single ladies.  Rough odds for the men!

Our first night sail brought us to Mayaguana.  Twenty-four hours of motorsailing took us 140

Morning Glassy Calm

nautical miles to our last Bahamian island.  Lindsey and the kids had never sailed at night, which is a wholly different experience.  Waves come and rock the boat that can’t be seen, winds change direction, noises are accentuated and the mind worries.  The plus side is that the stars can be spectacular.  When the bioluminescence swarms the boat if feels as though we are floating through space.

The kids starlights

The kids were jealous of our stars outside and made a couple starry light shows in the salon where they were sleeping.  The waves were chaotic and bounced each of them every few seconds into the air.  Surprisingly, each slept wonderfully.  Lindsey and I each had about an hour and a half of sleep during the crossing.

Abraham’s Bay in Mayaguana is a huge bay that had eight boats in it; all at least a half mile from

Mayaguana home - note the extension cord

each other.  We took a family snorkel to a little reef, but jellyfish drove us back.  New Years Eve was spent marveling at the vastness of the Milky Way.  The next day we wandered into town to find some lunch.  Everything was closed so we played at the town park.  A man, Fernando, was talking to us and then ran off to get the bar owner to open.  We had a couple of Kalik beers while watching the Miami Dolphins play the NY Jets in a New Year’s Day football game.  Having not watched TV in over two months, the whole experience was surreal.  Chase and Ella played dominoes while we chatted with locals and watched football.  When the owner had some food delivered we asked where he got the takeout.  Keep in mind this is a town of 200 people.  It was from his sister across the street.  Knowing food was not going to be an option we paid our bill and headed down the street.  One of the bar patrons stopped on his bicycle to say we left too early, “his momma was making us food.”  Immediately, we headed back to the bar.  Four heaping plates of fresh turkey topped with cranberry sauce, potato salad, real macaroni and cheese and corn filled out bellies.  All payment was refused.

Earil Cartwright

The next day Chase and I went on a search for wild paddles as Lindsey taught Ella her schooling.  After a few miles walking and several inquiries, we were led to Earil Cartwright whose advanced age didn’t prevent him from furiously trying to dislodge a blade from his rusted out lawnmower.  We chatted about Mayaguana, bone fishing and other white folks he had met.  He brought out a 12-foot pink bladed oar he made 20 years ago from hand tools.   We walked back with the oar over my shoulder.

Taking a sail following the islands lee shore we staged at Southeast Point for the run to the Turks and Caicos.  At 1am, we up anchored and motored over a glassy sea to arrive 45nm later at 9am.  The electric windlass broke necessitating the anchor and chain to be set by hand.  The anchor weighs 45lbs and the chain a whole lot more.  Until we can get the motor rewound in the Dominican Republic I will be the windless.

A boat with all its many systems is prone to breakage in this harsh salty environment.  I used to

Worthwhile moments

think I was adept at fixing most anything.  That was before I became a sailor.  As chief maintenance man of the transportation department, sanitation department, electrical company, water company, gas company, and communications department, I feel as though I should have sent Christmas cards to all these folks back home who did jobs bringing us these things so effortlessly.  In the last week I have had to rewire the propane solenoid, fix a cooling leak in the diesel engine, manufacture a part for the dinghy outboard transmission and take apart the anchor windlass.  It seems unending.  I am reminded of years ago as Kent and I “canoed” across Nebraska.  We pulled that red canoe 600 miles down the Platte across sand; we didn’t canoe much.  Those were difficult times and the frustration was immense.  I feel that frustration now and hope that it gets better.  The sailing when we do goes great, but the fixing of everything does not.

Good days!

For now we have been given clearance to be in the Turks and Caicos (or as Chase calls this country, Turkeys and Naicos) for seven days.  The winds look favorable so we should be in the Dominican Republic soon.