The George Town Shuffle

Red Shanks, Rolle Cay, the Litter Box & off Crab Cay are some of our more protected hideouts.

Still hangin’ out in George Town, doin’ the George Town Shuffle, as it’s called.  Elizabeth Harbour is huge – about 1 mile wide by over 5 miles long.  Who the heck decided that this was the ideal spot for hundreds of boats at anchor out in for weeks, with cold fronts, squalls & generally breezy weather? As the wind builds and/or clocks around, many boats shuffle about the harbour looking for protection, while some don’t want to give up “their spot” so they just stay & take it.  Of course, high winds or squalls cause boats to drag anchor, which only adds to the fun.

For a few mild days we had a great spot up very close to Monument Beach in shallow water, no one in front of us, with the 40 or so other boats well-spaced on each side & behind us.  Another boat even stopped over in their dinghy & joked that we were the envy of the anchorage with such a great spot.  That soon changed!  This 50′ sailing cat anchored very close to the beach, off our forward bow – not great, but clear of us.  20 minutes later they suddenly began dragging about 75′ to alongside of us.  We yelled over “You’re dragging!”  The captain stuck his head up & said “Don’t worry – I didn’t set my anchor – it will set itself”.  WONDERFUL!  While his anchor did seem to have now caught, we’re both swinging at different intervals & sometimes only 15′ apart.  Twice I told him (no need to yell anymore) “I don’t think this is going to work”.  Finally after a few close swings he agreed & retrieved his anchor – Yeah!!  Wait … what … now he’s re-anchoring about 75′ directly in front of us!  Oh yeah, the guy who thinks it’s fine to let his anchor “set itself”!  With the wind remaining in the same direction & increasing during the night, we gave up & just moved.

Our next anchorage: That little speck in the middle is us.  In a harbour of 300+ boats, we found a spot with no other boats for 1/2 mile – probably because this entire side of Crab Cay is very shallow.  We draw 34″ & our rudder was brushing & smoothing off the nice, sandy bottom at low tide.

In between shuffling around the harbour, we’ve been enjoying friends, happy hours, lunches, dinners, paddleboarding, kayaking & some of the annual Cruising Regatta activities.  This year, we joined our friends Chris & Erin on the Poker Run.  Poker Runs are often high-speed boats racing around to collect cards at different stops.  As Erin pointed out, this is more of a pub crawl – we just dinghy slowly around the harbour stopping off at different restaurants & beach bars, picking up a card at each venue.  The winning poker hand wins a bottle of rum.  We didn’t win, but had a great time!

Our time here is coming to an end.  We’ll be soon looking for a weather window to slowly begin our trek north once again.

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Around (George) Town

After our rushed trip from Florida to the Exumas, it’s nice to be doing, well … not so much.

 

This is something people think we do all of the time, but sitting around a beach bar is actually a rare treat.  This one is new – the Peace & Plenty Beach Club in Elizabeth Harbour.

Lori, Cort & Max

 

This is the entrance to Lake Victoria in George Town where the dinghy dock for town is located.  Calm this day, but wind & strong tidal current can result in 1’+ standing waves.  A further challenge is that while incoming boats technically have the right-of-way, some don’t look or don’t care, leading to the dangerous game of chicken.

 

Always some interesting boats found about the harbor …

And creatures!

These lumps are frogs resting on a window sill!

 

The weather has been warm & beautiful, but some windy days have us “hiding” in one of our protected hidey-holes.  This has given me time to work on a new tab for this website “Our PDQ Enhancements”.  Probably only interesting to other PDQ 34 powercat owners, but if interested, click on the tab on top or click here: Our PDQ Enhancements tab

Our PDQ 34 Enhancements

Fortunately this picture was from over a year ago… Hopefully our projects will continue to get smaller & smaller!

 

I have tried to make my Lobsta Crawl slideshow from my last post appear properly, but without success.  So I’ll try one last time.  Just a 10 minute slide show with highlights of last summer’s cruise to Maine.

Click link to take a look:  Lobsta Crawl slide show

 

Florida to the Exumas – Just like that!

Weather windows crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas can get very dicey mid-January into March, as the cold fronts cascade across the country.  After a great visit with Benj, we were scheduled to leave the Fort Pierce City Marina (well, kicked out as our 2 months was up) on January 9th, giving us 1 1/2 days with a rental car to finish up preparations.  We would then head south on the ICW to West Palm to await (hopefully) only a week or so for a good window to cross to the Bahamas.

Early AM in Fort Pierce – After all, this is the “Sunrise City”

However, a great weather window was opening up on January 8th, which meant only 1/2 day of final prep & leaving from Fort Pierce, much further north & a poor angle to cross the Gulf Stream.  But … when the weather looks good in January, you go!

Sunset on the Bahamas Banks

As common this time of the year, our great weather window was short, but “Windy” & our other weather apps showed this calm area moving south towards the Exumas.  So if we didn’t stop at Bimini, but just keep going, we’d be enveloped in calm winds the entire way!  While not crazy about doing a 240 mile overnight, we were in Palm Cay Marina, New Providence (near Nassau) 27 hours later clearing Customs.  We were set to rest up & wait for another window, but our great luck continued!  The next AM the weather was calmer than the forecast so we got underway once again & headed to Staniel Cay, Exumas.  After a quick grocery store trip, we headed to nearby Black Point for lunch at Lorraine’s, do our laundry & most importantly pickup some of Lorraine’s Mom’s coconut bread – the best ever!  Then another move to Little Bay & then Big Farmers for beach combing.  And then a perfect window to continue on to George Town, but wait … there is more!

SO calm! Just past these little cays is the Atlantic Ocean!

The weather was so calm that we rafted up with our friends on Adventure for a great fish feast.  Oh, ya – the fish – we caught 4!  One barracuda we threw back & one mahi got away, but that left two beautiful & tasty 3′ mahi!

Sorry, hiding under the dinghy won’t work!

Lots of mahi fillets for our feast, giving some away & topping off our freezer.

Then the next day, onward to George Town for several calm days anchored at Monument Beach to see our friend Cort & start paddle boarding in the beautiful, blue water!  This was all in 10 glorious days!!  We know it won’t last, but absolutely enjoyed every minute!

Lori enjoying the sunset off George Town.  What?  Live on land someday??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connecticut to Florida

Our annual 1,400 nautical mile trip from Deep River, CT to Fort Pierce, FL went fairly smoothly.  One minor, but annoying issue can be, well … other boaters.  Some years we’ve unfortunately been caught in heavy packs of boats (especially at opening bridges with our prior sailing catamaran).  Tempers flare, people are rude on the VHF radio, boats yell at other boats who “cut in line”, give lectures on “proper seamanship”, sailboats yell at powerboats who (in their mind) didn’t give them a “slow pass” & then the Coast Guard yells to those boats that “Channel 16 is the calling & International Distress Frequency – move your idle & passing traffic to another channel as channel 16 is blah, blah, blah”.  Not very relaxing…

This year started with a “oh, here we go again” moment between 2 trawlers while we were anchored at Atlantic Highland, NJ awaiting a window to head offshore down the NJ coast.  While resting up we heard repeated, loud 5 short air horn blasts – the danger signal when collision is imminent or there is a serious concern for another boats intentions.  Needless to say, we bolted up to see what maritime disaster was about to unfold.  Oh, just one of the two trawlers traveling thru the anchorage at idle speed apparently didn’t like that the other was heading towards “his” spot to anchor!

 

Fortunately, this did not foretell our trip.  In fact, it was the easiest & most peaceful trip south yet!!  Due to us being a little early, we got ahead of the crowds, while bad weather behind us delayed others.  There were many days of only a few passings making a much, much more enjoyable & stress free trip.  Lots of time to enjoy the scenery! 

But you can never relax too much – though I suppose the machine guns on the escort boats would have gotten our attention.  Yes, we were that close as we realized a minute later when the sub’s monster wake reached us & a few things crashed about our cabin.  I considered yelling at them on the VHF radio, as some sailboats do, for not giving us a “slow pass”, but I thought better of it…

 

 

 

 

 

To keep life interesting, every year there is a hurricane or tropical storm close enough to get our attention.  This year it was Hurricane Michael passing inshore of our Moorehead City, NC location, so no serious concerns for us, but we did head to a very secure marina, Moorehead City Yacht Basin.  At first I was a little perturbed that the dockmaster put us in an odd, far-in slip against the bulkhead.  In the end, we were thankful, tucked in nice & comfy with the wind right off the bulkhead behind us.  You can’t tell from the photo, but the wind further out in the marina was gusting up to 52 knots with occasional sheets of water flying across.  Just to be on the safe side, we took all normal precautions, doubling up lines, taking down our canvas top, etc.  which ended up being unnecessary, but we didn’t mind!

 

We arrived at the Fort Pierce City Marina a day early for our 2 month reservation.  Originally we were planning on having new cushions & a full canvas enclosure made for our flybridge.  We “chickened out” on the enclosure, but went ahead with the new cushions which are a huge improvement over our 12-year old original ones.

Hey! Who stuck in this donut picture!

It was great that Benj could fly down for a few days!

It was bad that the Fort Pierce City Marina was performing major dredging during our time there – I’m not sure my hearing will ever be the same (the dredge spent days right next to us).  Not very restful either – the dredging took a break for the holidays, but the construction equipment on the nearby spoil islands worked (& beeped) 7-days-a-week, including Christmas Day!

Lots of various maintenance projects & lots of stocking up for the Bahamas in January!  Can’t wait to get the hell out of there!

Lobsta Crawl to Maine

How we spent our summer vacation

For 6 weeks, we joined 12 other PDQ catamarans on a flotilla to Maine called the Lobsta Crawl.

Dick, Carol & Beth of Rhumbline Yacht Sales (the original factory dealers & now the used broker for PDQ’s) annually plan & lead a flotilla of PDQ catamarans to a variety of exciting places which have included the Exumas, Georgian Bay in Canada, even to the Baltic (yes, Finland to Sweden – although the PDQ’s were transported across the Atlantic by ship).  This year: The coast of Maine, on the hunt for lobster.

We had already planned to be in Connecticut so we were fairly close, but many of the PDQ’s came north from Florida just to participate.  Most of us were in 34′ PDQ powercats, but also one 41′ PDQ powercat & one 44′ PDQ sailing cat.

 

The kick-off at Block Island

Not being big follow-the-leader travelers or buddy-boaters, we weren’t sure what to expect, but they were a great bunch of people & we had a fantastic time!  The schedule was loose with only 8 or so organized/scheduled stops/group dinners, leaving lots of days to explore an area longer, go off on our own or to add our own stops.

We even made the local paper in Newburyport, MA

The flotilla gathered at Block Island for the big kickoff, then headed north making about a dozen stops thru Massachusetts, New Hampshire & onward to Maine.  Our original northernmost stop was to be Northeast Harbor, but fellow PDQ owners invited us further north to their private John White Island.  Although only a few of us made the further excursion (the foggiest of the entire trip), we were rewarded by a fantastic time with Jack and Diane, our hosts & builders of this amazing rustic island house mostly built themselves including bringing the building materials in by boat.

Maine is a magical cruising ground with its breathtaking scenery & endless harbors, each with an unique draw.  Nevertheless it can be challenging with fog, up to 10′ tides & several million lobster pots.  In some areas they are so thick you can’t imagine fitting thru, especially when they completely fill up a channel.  To top it off, when in an area of strong current, they get pulled mostly & sometimes completely underwater!

One of our unplanned stops ended up being our favorite.  Benj & Lily decided to visit for a weekend.  Even though Vermont seems like it should be a short drive, it’s not, so we searched Google Maps versus our charts to find them the shortest drive near the area of Maine we would be in.  We checked out a place called Belfast – a nice little town with a town dock…  Not only did they have room for us, they were holding a large Celtic Festival right on the waterfront with a large fireworks display 200 yards off the docks.  In addition to the festival,  they hold the largest indoor farmers market with a enormous variety which impressed even our Vermonters.  Uptown we found the best French bakery ever!

Did we enjoy any lobsters?  You  bet!  Over 14 different ways.  Even found donuts!  For a little slideshow of our trip, click here:  Lobsta Crawl video

Once time to head back south, we all split up, having different plans & destinations.  Ours was back to Deep River, CT for boat work, birthday celebrations & resting up before we head further south of the winter.

Catching Up from last Spring

We left you hangin’ since last spring as we were leaving the Exumas & beginning our trek back north.  On our way from the Bahamas to Florida, we traveled thru the Berry Islands via an unusual, shallow route.  This banks route is a bit of a shortcut which takes you about 20 miles from Bonds Cay to Great Harbour Cay.

Without a chart plotter you’d have no idea where to go, as the bottom everywhere looks just like this.  However most of the banks are only 1′ – 3′ deep!  On our chartplotter, Explorer Charts shows a little dotted line to safely  bring you thru a narrow path of slightly deeper water.  This was our second trip via this route, but we decided to kick things up a notch & anchor overnight right in the midst of it all.

Time for a sunset paddle- hope to return before dark

Of course, I had to paddleboard into the sunset.  Lori was probably doing some planning . . .

I did make it back & then we did make it the approximately 1,200 miles back to New England for the summer without any real issues or problems.

Russ

Lori has something better to do . . .

Lori working away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 8 industrious years of keeping up this blog, Lori is reluctantly being torn away by her blossoming jewelry & beading creations.  That, along with cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, boat chores, keeping the boat log, navigating, trip planning & all doesn’t leave her with too much spare time!  So Lori has “suggested” that I take over, particularly since I was the one who started this blog back in 2010 & well, pretty much started the whole crazy idea of cruising full-time on a boat.

I’m warning y’all I won’t be able to do as good of a job as Lori, but since I don’t want to take over the cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry …. It looks like you’re stuck with me for a while …

Russ