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02 October 2017

Cruising In The Bahamas | 2017 Season Recap Pt 1 (Route & Anchorages)

Some of the great things we saw and experienced in the Bahamas.

It's been a little over two months since we came back to the States after cruising in the Bahamas this season on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat. Where does time go? It's hard to believe we've been back at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida for so long. It's also hard to believe that hurricane season will officially end in a couple of months. I think we'll all be glad to say good bye to this particular hurricane season. It's been just awful in its devastation and destruction.

Because our blog lags reality by many, many weeks, we just finished up posting about our Bahamian adventures which means it's now time for our season recap. (You can find links to all of our Bahamian posts here and there are also links to selected posts below in the recap.)

We'll share the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as fascinating tidbits - like how many ice cream sandwiches we ate, what TV shows we binge watched and how much beer costs in Hope Town. We'll also share some not-so-fascinating but vaguely interesting tidbits - like how many gallons of diesel we bought, how many nights we stayed at marinas vs. at anchor and the number of times we flushed the antifreeze.

So, sit back, relax and grab an icy-cold beverage (preferably a Kalik beer if you have one) and read all about our adventures cruising in Florida and the Bahamas this past season. Don't worry, we'll do the recap in a few parts. After all, we wouldn't want you to run out of beer before you reached the end of this particular post.

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Cruising Route & Anchorages


All in all, we put 1,735 nautical miles underneath Tickety Boo's keel this season in southern Florida and the Bahamas. That brings me up to around 4,000 total nautical miles sailed and Scott up to around 13,000 total nautical miles sailed.

Our season was 141 days long - 43 of which were spent in Florida and 98 spent in the Bahamas. We spent far more time in Florida then we would have liked due to boat issues and weather.

While we prefer to anchor when we're out cruising (it's usually free), we did end up having to go back to Indiantown Marina twice for repairs, which meant marina fees. We would have loved to report an average of zero dollars per night, but we ended up spending an average of $3.86 per night due to 14 days at the marina. {Boo hiss.}
 
We started off the season on March 9th, leaving Indiantown Marina and heading eastwards along the Okeechobee Waterway and then south on the ICW (intracoastal waterway) to Lake Worth. It was kind of a late start compared to other cruisers, but in some ways it worked out better as we avoided a lot of the nasty weather early on in the season that everyone complained about. We got back to Indiantown Marina on July 28th before the height of hurricane season was upon us.


Leg #1 - The South Florida U-Turn (March 9th - March 27th)

Coconut Grove anchorage in West Palm Beach, Florida

We set off intending to stage ourselves in Lake Worth, wait for a weather window and cross the Gulf Stream over to the Abacos. That didn't happen. While we were anchored at Coconut Grove in West Palm Beach, we decided that we should head back to Indiantown Marina to check on our bottom (we were concerned about our bottom paint), pick up our camping stove since our propane stove decided to stop cooperating with us, and get a new controller for our solar panel.

Fortunately, that turned out to be a relatively quick trip. We hauled out the boat and decided the bottom paint would make it through the season. We quickly took care of our other bits and bobs and only had to spend two nights at the marina. Boom. We were back in business.




Leg #2 - The Abacos (March 28th - May 1st)

Brush fires at Smokey the Bear's Lair anchorage at Great Abaco Island

We finally made it across the Gulf Stream on March 28th with some really yummy cookies. Cookies are important if you're going to sail in the dark. Just saying. Not that I should have to say it. Everyone should already know that cookies make everything better.

Since we had already spent time cruising in the Abacos when we first bought our boat, our plan was cruise through the area kind of quickly, head to the southern Abacos, wait for a weather window and then cross over to Eleuthera.

You'd think by now, we'd know better than to count on a weather window. They never happen when you want them to.

By the way, don't you just love the names of the some of the anchorages in the Bahamas - like Cave Cay, Crab Cay and Smokey the Bear's Lair. Okay, we might have named that last anchorage ourselves due to the brush fires in the area. The anchorage wasn't on the chart so having naming rights seemed like fair game.

While we were waiting for a weather window and hanging out at Matt Lowe's Cay, a ferry sped through our anchorage at an insanely high speed, leaving a huge wake in its path and causing one of our dinghy davits to break. You can read about the whole sad saga here, but the upshot was that we ended up having to head back to Florida to pick up a new dinghy davit.




Leg #3 - Back To Florida (May 2nd - May 21st)

Indiantown Marina with extremely low water levels.

We really hoped that our second return to Indiantown Marina would be a short one. When we got there our new dinghy davit arrived promptly and we installed it without too much fuss. It was all looking good. We were feeling optimistic about things.

Silly us. It was too good to be true. While we were at the marina, we found out that the fresh water pump on our diesel engine was leaking. Yet another thing that needed replacing. And like most things boat-repair related, it wasn't easy. {Sigh} We ended up having to source a spare part through a tractor supply place. Finally, after 12 days at the marina, two Little Ceasar's pizzas and one Taco Tuesday, we managed to escape Indiantown.



Leg #4 - Back To The Bahamas (May 22nd - May 29th)

Anchored in the canals of Ginn sur Mer, an abandoned housing development on Grand Bahama Island.

This time, we decided to head to the Exuma Islands. Everyone raves about the Exumas, so they were definitely on our list of places to get to during the season. Our friends on S/V Wind Spirit were also planning on heading to the Bahamas, so we picked them up in Stuart and we all headed down to Lake Worth to stage for the crossing. It was a short-lived buddy boating experience. They ended up having engine issues and decided not to make the crossing with us. At least they said it was engine issues, maybe it was us. {Spoiler alert - we did end up hooking up with them later in the season.}

Our plan was to cross over to Ginn sur Mer, an abandoned housing development near the West End, anchor in the canals and wait for a weather window to head south to the Berry Islands. Unfortunately, we weren't going to make it to the entrance to Ginn sur Mer before dark and decided not to risk going through an unfamiliar channel into an unknown anchorage. Better safe than sorry.

After anchoring on the Little Bahama Bank for the night, we made it to Ginn sur Mer (which is a little spooky at night), waited out some weather and then did a night passage to the Berry Islands, anchoring at Goat Cay for a night.

We didn't spend much time exploring the Berry Islands, but we did spent a few days anchored at White Cay and had fun exploring the area, especially swimming in the Blue Hole on Hoffman Cay. Then it was off to the Exumas with a stop at the worst overnight anchorage I think we've ever experienced - Rose Island near Nassau. It was like sleeping inside of a tumbler dryer. Fun.



Leg #5 - The Exumas (May 30th - June 25th)

Going for a hike on Stocking Island.

We finally made it to the Exumas and discovered we're not posh people. Well, okay, I think we already knew that we aren't posh, but seeing all the mega-yachts anchored at Highbourne Cay really confirmed it.

Next stop was the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park, a 22-mile stretch of the Exuma Islands where the marine environment, fauna, flora and history are protected. We anchored at many of the well-known anchorages in the park including Shroud Cay (definitely take your dinghy up the creek and go exploring), Warderick Wells (home of the famous Boo Boo Hill where cruisers leave signs with their boat names) and Cambridge Cay (good snorkeling and a close call with a sea plane).

The Exumas are also famous for their swimming pigs. Who are we to pass up a touristy must-do? We spent some time at Big Major's Spot, feeding the pigs, snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto of James Bond fame (a little disappointing) and exploring Staniel Cay.

By this time, we were starting to run out of clean clothes. Fortunately, we found the best laundromat ever at Black Point. They even serve snacks and cold sodas while you're waiting for the wash cycle to finish. My kind of laundromat.

Armed with clean clothes and jerry cans full of fresh water (it was a bit of a saga getting water), we headed south to George Town, the cruisers mecca. I don't know if it was the fact that we were there during the off-season, but our reaction was kind of "Meh, is this it?" However, it was a good stop for re-provisioning and getting diesel, gas and water. We did a bit of socializing and had a nice walk on Stocking Island, and managed to extend our visa while we were there. Then we waited for a weather window to make our way south to Long Island. We waited some more and some more and some more. Then we gave up.



Leg #6 - Cat Island & Eleuthera (June 26th - July 7th)

Anchored at Half Moon Cay (aka Little San Salvador Island), where the cruise ships drop off the punters for the day.

Instead of going south to Long Island, we headed east to Cat Island. Sadly, I didn't see any cats while we were there, but we did see possibly the most amazing thing in the Bahamas - the Hermitage. It might possibly be my favorite place in the Bahamas.

People say that living and cruising on a sailboat involved being in a state of constant fear. You're always afraid something bad might happen to you or your boat (after all you are subject of Mother Nature's whims), but it's a matter of degree of how much fear you feel each day. I don't know if that's true or not, but what I do know is that I was afraid we might lose our sailboat on a lee shore when a storm cell moved in on us in the wee hours one morning at Fernandez Bay on Cat Island. {Yikes.}

The good news is that Tickety Boo is fine and still floating. We got the heck out of dodge and headed for the night to Little San Salvador Island, aka Half Moon Cay. It's one of those islands where cruise ships drop off the punters for the day. Sure, it's a little cheesy, but we had fun exploring it after the cruise ship left the anchorage that evening.

Then it was time to keep heading north to Eleuthera. We ended up spending several days in Rock Sound (a great all-around protected anchorage) while Scott recuperated from a back injury. If you have to be stuck in an anchorage for a while, I can highly recommend Rock Sound.

Next up was a night in Hatchet Bay and then off to Royal Island near Spanish Wells. By this time, we had run out of clean clothes again and went into Spanish Wells in search of a laundromat and other supplies. We weren't able to wash our clothes, but we did have an interesting walk around town and a delicious cheeseburger at Buddha's. Seriously, the place is called Buddha's and there's even a large, glittery gold Buddha head on the bar just in case you forgot the name of the joint. 



Leg #7 - Heading Back (July 8th - July 28th)

Dinghy dock at the Hope Town sailing club.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. The height of hurricane season was coming and we wanted to be tucked back up in Indiantown (a hurricane hole in southern Florida between Stuart and Okeechobee) by the end of July/early August. We debated which way to go back to the States - via Bimini and Ft Lauderdale / Miami or back up through the Abacos and over to Lake Worth. After much discussion, we flipped a coin and headed to the Abacos.

While we were in the Abacos, we tracked down our friends on S/V Wind Spirit, did some buddy boating and experienced some of the best snorkeling in the Bahamas we've had at Sandy Cay. We returned to some of our old haunts, like Hope Town and Marsh Harbour, and headed through the Whale Cay Cut and made our way back.

We had thought about taking our time cruising in Florida before going back to Indiantown, but it was just too darn hot. Seriously hot. So hot that all we could think about during the day and dream about at night was our portable A/C window unit waiting for us back in Indiantown. We got back there on July 28th, tied up in our slip, plugged Tickety Boo into shore power and fired up the A/C. Ahhh...bliss and the end of the season.


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Here's a fun map of all the places we anchored at during the season. If you click here, it will take you to an interactive map where you can zoom in and see everything in more detail. You can also see where we anchored during our 2015 Bahamas season and I'm also starting to add in all the places we anchored at when we lived and cruised in New Zealand.


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I'll leave you with some more fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits before I go. Next up in our season recap series is cooking and provisioning. You'll want to tune in then, if for no other reason than to find out how many ice cream sandwiches we ate.


If you want to know more about our time cruising in the Bahamas, you can find links to all of our blog posts here.

For those of you who have visited the Bahamas, what did you enjoy the most? For those of you who cruise, do you prefer marinas or anchoring? If you could name an anchorage or an island, what would you name it?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi! 

22 comments:

  1. You stopped in a lot of places.
    Less than four bucks a night is a bargain. Think how much it would be if your were traveling by car across America.

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    1. It would be so much more expensive to travel by car in the States, that's for sure.

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  2. An eventful season! So glad you managed to avoid the worst of the hurricanes. I agree, those are cheap overnight rates. It definitely sounds like a life full of adventure.

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    1. We were very fortunate to have survived unscathed from hurricanes this season. Although, there are a couple of more months to go until the season is over - knock/tap on wood our good fortune continues.

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  3. We have a power boat so we don't know much about sailing. It's a whole different animal as you well know. We prefer marinas. Places where there is a bar and you don't have to cook either.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. It sure is nice not to have to cook. Staying at marinas can be very nice that way :-)

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  4. I'm not sure what I would name an island given the chance; it would depend on where it was, I think. But we did name an anchorage in New Zealand. During Christmas breaks, we spent a lot of time in Te Puna Inlet (Bay of Islands) in order to get away from the crowds. The anchorage wasn't named on the chart, so we started calling it "Honeyfield Bay" after the people who owned the house on the hill. I think it works! :-)

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    1. That's a great name! I'm sure they'll be printing it on the charts in no time :-)

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  5. Ah, those blue skies! Great pictures.

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    1. The blue colors of the Bahamas are amazing.

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  6. It seems like a lot of traveling when you list all the anchorages. I'm exhausted reading about it!

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    1. You guys must feel the same way when you count up all the places you've anchored at. :-)

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  7. It's amazing how inexpensive your per diem costs were for such a fabulous adventure. I've enjoyed your accounts and logs very much. Almost like being there... but without any seasickness or bug bites.

    There was another log I followed with great interest when a bunch of WWII vets brought LST325 across the Atlantic to the U.S. in the early 2000s. They also had an amateur radio station onboard, and it was my privilege to speak to them several times, so the whole thing felt very personal, if you know what I mean. If you're interested in taking a peek at what these tough ol' guys went through, I'm pretty sure most of their original log is still available at:

    http://www.palosverdes.com/lst887/lst325.html

    One of the funniest entries from their log that's stuck in my mind was about the food. A former Navy cook prepared a big pot of oatmeal for the crew, and the seas got so rough, the whole pot was knocked to the deck upside-down. That stuff was so thick, none of it even came out of the pot! (I guess that's what they mean by "stick to your ribs" kinda food. :)

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    1. Oatmeal - what a great dish to make. Good for your health and doesn't spill out of the pot :-) I'll check out the blog you've mentioned. Sounds very interesting.

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  8. Beautiful pictures! It sounds like you have a lot of fun sailing around!

    Thanks for visiting my blog during Nick's book tour!

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    1. Thanks for popping by as well Sherry. Nick did a great blog tour. Was nice to discover some new blogs, like yours, through it.

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  9. Anchoring definitely, however, I am not the one who does the putting out, or lifting up of said anchor. We do have a terrific windlass, but it does require some effort. On the other hand, I AM the one who rigs for dock tie-ups, and sometimes that doesn't go as well as planned.

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    1. Lots of mishaps can happen with docking. We don't do it very often, so I always get a little nervous when we do.

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  10. You explored the Bahamas in a way I can only dream of exploring it. I'm sorry you spent more time in FLorida than you would have liked, but maybe all of the extra time you spent working on the boat will allow for extra time traveling next year? I love your interactive map. It's one thing to hear the names of the places, but it's another to see them on a map.

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    1. If only it worked out that more time spent on boat projects meant more time traveling. Seems like there are always new boat projects cropping up that need to be done. :-)

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  11. If I could name an island I'd name it - mine! Heh... Very interesting life you lead. Thank you for sharing!

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