On Tuesday May, 29th Moonstruck pulled out of Fort Pierce, FL headed south/southeast to cross the Gulf Stream to White Sand Ridge to enter the Little Bahama Bank.We left the Ft. Pierce Inlet sea buoy at 8:00 am. We were quartering into seas from the Southeast and making 22.5 knots. Upon reaching the Bank, we found about a 2′ steep chop, but held our speed. We arrived at the Green Turtle Club at 3:15 pm. That covered 165 NM at an average of about 22.5 knots. Moonstruck has every hold and locker stuffed with supplies for a month cruise. Norm and Kathy from VA Beach are starting out with us on the crossing and flying home from Marsh Harbour June 4. They are great boaters, and cruise their own 37′ Duffy in the Chesapeake Bay area. So, if Lou can stand me for the duration of the cruise, we will be here for a few weeks. We are now in Marsh Harbour waiting for an electronics guy to see why we lost our depth readings. Then we plan to get back out to the remote Cays for anchoring, snorkeling, beaching, and relaxing. The waters are awesome. We did a direct run from Fort Pierce to Green Turtle Cay. We rented a golf cart. I went down to New Plymouth to clear customs for us and Troy. Wednesday night the Gully Roosters played at the Green Turtle Club. During the day we toured the Cay and New Plymouth. We stopped at the Lizard Bar for some cool drinks. The food at the GTC is excellent. We then went down to Bakers Bay and anchored at the north end of Great Guana Cay. We took the dinghy around to a beautiful beach. When the wind picked up we went into Guana Harbour and stayed on one of Dive Guanas mooring balls. The pizza and wraps at Grabbers were the best. Guana is a great little village with good beaches and reefs. Then it was on to Hope Town for one of Vernon’s key lime pies. Dinner at Harbors Edge, and touring the village. The harbor at Hope Town is the best in the islands. We only stayed one night for Norm and Kathy, but will return for 2 or 3 more nights. When the wind is from the right direction, we want to go down to Pelican and Lynard Cays for a few nights at anchoring in this remote area. We just want everyone to know that Don and Lou are at your service taking care of business down in the out islands of the Bahamas. No thanks necessary. We do it as a public service. Seriously, we are thankful every day that we can do this. The water color on entering the Bank is some of the prettiest I have seen. Here are a couple of pictures of some of it.nl Note: You can click on the pictures for enlargement. Click again for full size. Back button will return to blog. We have been “stuck” in Marsh Harbour for a few days. It seems the battery charger has packed up on Moonstruck. All is not lost as it is still a great place to be. I have ordered a new and larger charger to be shipped via FEDEX by the first part of next week. In the mean time we have been enjoying the hospitality offered by the Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room Restaurant. Their Saturday night steak special and Wednesday night rib special are wonderful. Tom and Linda along with Stephen, Jason, Marvin, and Desmond are most accommodating. Marvin is a great chef. He works his magic for lunches as well as the special nights. I won’t say who ate them, but here is a clue. We thought that we would take a run in the dinghy across the harbor to the Union Jack Dock to pick up some groceries in town. It has been raining, so we thought we would try it between showers. At the dinghy dock Ashton helped us tie up. Here is a picture of Lou with Ashton. We didn’t quite make it between showers as it was raining when we came out of Maxwell’s Grocery Store. With about 3 blocks to walk on the narrow roadway, we were loaded down like pack mules. On getting to a main intersection, we took shelter under the covered walk of a small strip center. A nice young couple was taking shelter also. We struck up a conversation, and found them to be delightful people. Here is Lou with Tony and Ashley. Just hanging out in Abaco with a few friends. Click on the link, turn up the sound, and put it up full screen. Somebody has to do this job, http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/ministry_of_tourism_updates/VIDEO_-_Miss_Universe_visits_Abaco_in_The_Bahamas7327.shtml “Then I visited Abaco, and there I got stuck”, Stone McKewan With the new battery charger arrived and installed, we left Marsh Harbour Marina on Thursday, June 14 at 3pm. We anchored behind a spit of land between Matt Lowes Cay and Point Set Rock. 12′ of clear water with the wind from the NW the breeze was delightful. Later the wind shifted 180 degrees leaving us with no protection of the lee shore. We pulled up anchor, and headed for a mooring ball in Hope Town Harbor. The wind got very still, and the boat got stuffy. We fired up the generator for about 4 hours to charge the batteries and air condition the boat. We may be here a couple of days. As I write this, the breeze is picking up, and it is comfortable. Here are a few pictures around the harbor showing the cruising boats. Funny thing is that the large passagemaking type boats are tied to the marinas. Others are on the mooring balls . LIFE IN THE OUT ISLANDS In the out islands of the Bahamas there are no bridges and few air strips. All freight is brought in by boat. Usually a ship will come into Marsh Harbour to be broken into smaller shipments. In the Abacos you will see small freight boats that haul it all. They handle everything from medical supplies to bulk items such as lumber and cement. Palm trees and other plants can be in the mix. Here are a few pictures of one of the interisland freight boats at work. These guys are pros. They can tie up, hook the crane slings on the pallets, unload, and be gone in five minutes time. Just about everything the Bahamians can buy is imported. There is freight over, import duty, then another freight charge to get it to the island. Most things cost 133 to 200% of US prices. The exception is those products from other British Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand butter and lamb. Then of course rum is fairly inexpensive. Groceries are very expensive, but the local bread is reasonable at $3 to 4 per loaf. The Bahamian coconut bread is delicious. We will have some toasted for breakfast this morning. Diesel fuel here in Hope Town today is $6.13/ US gallon. You guessed it. Same process to get it here. The Bahama Banks (we are not talking financial institutions here) are so shallow that deep draft vessels can only get to a few islands.
No income tax, no sales tax, only an import duty. It makes things simple as what you see marked is what you actually pay. While everyone pays their fair share, the burden is especially heavy on the lower income people. They pay at the same rate as everyone else. Thus, a higher proportion of their income goes to taxes. As the saying goes, “paradise ain’t cheap”. You would really need a good income to live a good lifestyle here. However, by living off what the sea provides, no air conditioning, and raising a few vegetables one could live fairly cheaply.
Electricity is extremely expensive here. In the out islands it is not so reliable. Low voltage and even power outages are considered “normal”. Our marina bill and electric bill are usually about the same. Is it paradise? for some yes others no. Watch your restaurant tickets. Sometimes gratuity is included, but it is listed as “tax” on your ticket. That is because of the registers mostly being made for US use. Food is mostly good. Surprisingly, the beef is excellent Argentinian meat. The baby back ribs I’ve had are a good as anywhere.
Fresh water is another expensive item. All the fresh water in the islands is caught from rain and stored in cisterns or produced from the sea by reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis plants are run by oil., That makes it expensive. It can cost $40-60 to fill Moonstruck’s water tanks. Water is not wasted here.
The sea, the beautiful waters, the delightful people and glorious reefs are what make the Bahamas special. They make it worth the bother to get over here, and the expense of staying., By the way, when the wind dropped with rain showers, it was time to drop the mooring ball and head over to a marina. We found a pretty good deal at Light House Marina at the harbor entrance. We will be here a couple of nights. Air conditioning is good.
Much of the labor in the Abacos is done by Haitian immigrants that live near Marsh Harbor in very (by our standards) impoverished conditions. One of their communities is out near the airport and is called The Muds. They are ferried to the outer cays each day and back at night. Even at their low standard of living, it is easy to see why they would risk their lives for the opportunity to be here or the US There is little or no hope in Haiti. Here is a picture made this morning of one of Albury’s ferries dropping three people off at our dock. Not much to do here. The ferry pilot swings the stern around, backs up to the dock, the people jump off the stern, and off he goes to the next stop. The reverse in the evenings. No tying up. That is just a waste of time and energy Things here are done differently than in the states. The Haitians provide a much needed cheap labor force, and they are living better than in Haiti. Sorry about the poor quality of the picture, but it was barely daylight and shot from inside Moonstruck. I think you can still see the load of workers to be dropped off at different places. A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE I’m talking living and view here. On our third visit to Hope Town, we decided it was time to climb to the top of the light house. Boy, does the world look different from there. However, it is easy to see the attraction of the Bahamas. Here are several pictures made from this different perspective. Some times life decisions are tough. We are sitting in Hope Town waiting for the winds to die down for our trip home. Such is life in the out islands. Our big decision was do we move up to Man-O-War Cay for some of Lola’s cinnamon rolls and coconut bread, or do we stay in the delightful village of Hope Town. Tough choice indeed. We elected to stay in Hope Town. We watched a DVD last night, and Lou has downloaded a new book onto her Kindle. We had TV at Marsh Harbor, but the signal is blocked by a hill here. Troy seems contented with our decision as he has already selected his favorite “spots” on shore (if you know what I mean). So, we will just enjoy where we are and take care of a few chores. HANGING AROUND HOPE TOWN Since it could take a few days for the wind and seas to die down, we are here at Hope Town. We took the dinghy across the harbor to the village for lunch and a little fill in grocery shopping. We at lunch at the Sugar Shack. Not much was expected because it looked more like an ice cream place. The deli sandwiches were delicious and for here a good value. We would do it again. Here is Lou at the Sugar Shack, and a shot of the harbor from their deck.
JUST SOME SCENES SHOT AROUND MAN-O-WAR
Lou has a friend from Georgia that married, and has moved to live permanently on Man-O-War. She has lived here for the past 22 years. Lou also taught her daughter in first grade. Her friend Charlotte and her husband Rawlin are great people. Rawlin is a member of the Albury family of boat building fame. Retired now, he and his brother restore some of the boats that they built in earlier times. He and Charlotte have also built an absolutely beautiful home right on the harbor on a very private piece of land. They have a dock and railway for hauling boats up to the shop for restoration. Following are pictures of them, their home, and their boats. We wish to thank them for the hospitality shown us.
We started our trip home this morning. We left Man-O-War and ran past Great Guana. We had a good ride around the infamous Whale Cay Passage. What a difference a couple of days and a wind shift can make. We have pulled in at the Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle Cay. We replenished the 328 gal. of diesel that we consumed. Now, Moonstruck is ready for tomorrow morning’s departure for the 165 NM mile run back to Florida. Seas are predicted to be 3-4′ with occasional 5′. No terrible, but a little more that we wanted. However, the weather looks much worse for several days after that. We are feeling the need to get home, so we will take this.
Inspite of some problems with the battery charger and inverter it has been a good trip. We will jot down some final thoughts later. For now here are some pictures around Bluff House
It seems all good things have to come to an end. The weather report seemed to be holding, so at 8:00 am we left Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle for the long run back to Florida. The Sea of Abaco had about a 1′ following sea which made a nice ride. When we Crossed the Little Bahama Bank there was a 2-3′ sea on our port quarter. Crossing the Gulf Stream that were 3-4′ quartering seas with an occasional 5′ one. Moonstruck loves to run in almost any sea from the rear. We held a 25 knot cruise speed for the whole way. We did the 165 NM in 6 hrs and 20 minutes. I call that an express run. Lou thought it was a good ride, and that is important.
When entering the Ft. Pierce Inlet, that seas were from the Southeast. They were breaking on the sand bar on the south side of the inlet. That put breaking waves diagonally across the entrance channel. There was a ripping ebbing tidal current coming out the inlet. The whole thing was like being in a washing machine. Not dangerous, but no way to run straight in. Just let one of them pass under, skew us around, then straighten up and do another. It was Lou’s first experience running a boiling inlet. Now she knows what one is.
Farmers Market in the morning. Then straightening the boat up to leave Sunday morning. All in all a really good trip.
Scenes from the Ft. Pierce Farmers Market in the park next to the Marina.
Geez Don, at that speed don’t get a speeding ticket! But if you do, I know a good lawyer (albeit retired) who would be happy to have you fly him down to defend you. Of course since he’s a real estate lawyer, chances are you’d end up in jail for awhile. But, he’d be happy to care for your boat for the interim.
Have a great time!
Don, have a wonderful trip. Your pictures are inspiring. Simply lovely.
Wow!! That’s great speed, Don!! And beautiful pics. I’ll be reading your blog with great interest!
Don that looks SOOOO nice. It looks like Lou is doing well, I hope her shoulder isn’t giving her any problems.
Hi Jennifer, Lou said to tell you that the shoulder is doing the best since the surgery. Range is coming back, and the muscles are starting to loosen up.
It is cloudy and rainy here today, but any day here is good.
Don, the above folks have been commissioned officially by the Trawler Forum folks to get your ass back over there to the forum smartly…please…it’s just that folks are missin’ yuh, and it feels like the family dog died….
So being the cheeky bugger I am, I’m just makin’ sure the message gets across…
Peter B (The quack on Lotus)
Yes, Dr. Bradley. I have taken your prescription. Will I feel better in the morning?
We will fly into Abaco June 23rd and cross back over about the 3rd of July. Our 36′ Gulfstar, Morgan, is currently at Hope Town Hideaways waiting for us. Perhaps we might run into you. Have fun.
Hi Doug, we will be starting backi about the time you arrive. Looks like we will miss you. Hope to see you over here next time.
Don wow what incredible pictures. I think I did not get a notice the blog was updated because you added on to an existing post (maybe?) but anyway I am so glad you mentioned there were updates. Seems delightful though i now know it was not quite as planned. Glad to hear Lou’s shoulder is better. Were those conch fritters in that photo from the Jib Room?
Hi Jennifer, glad you found it. The conch fritters were at Snappas Chill and Grill. Thinking that we have become conch fritter experts, we rate the Green Turtle Club and Snappas in a tie for #1. We had them for lunch today here at the Dock and Dine Grill at the marina. Good, but not the very best.
David Dalton that was mentioned in the blog is a good friend that is particularly partial to conch fritters. Just had to jab him a little.
Love seeing all the beautiful pictures and enjoying your adventure. We know you are enjoying the great food and of course, palm trees, beautiful beaches and turquoise waters. What’s not to like! That Troy Boy sems to fit right in with the Bahama fun. We had a blast with you guys in Ft. Pierce and Fort Lauderdale. Look forward to seeing you soon.
Ronnie & Linda
Don, thanks for this blog. I enjoyed reading everything especially since we had just been there. It sounds like the weather was a bit of an issue for you too.
We’re sorry we missed you. I would have really enjoyed meeting you and Lou. Perhaps next time.
Thanks Tim. We are looking forward to seeing a report on your trip.
What a great trip. Loved the pictures.