Friday, 21 February 2014

The best laid plans of mice and men....and, uh, sailors....

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore" -Vincent van Gogh

....and, it would seem, the same can certainly be said of sailors!  When last I posted here, we were all set for our first overnight adventure and, at this writing, we are waiting on weather, not so far out from our George Town, Exumas departure.  

We departed George Town at around 7:00 am, February 16th with a plan to have our buddy boat catch up as they had a few things to take care of and given they are a bit bigger, and therefore a bit faster, it seemed like a good idea.  They ended up departing an hour and a half later and we never did reconnect other than a very brief radio call that had them continuing on as originally planned.  As we rounded Long Island, we realized the wind would not be in our favour and opted to head for Rum Cay.  We arrived Rum Cay at dusk and anchored for the night.  Next day we realized that the weather would not be in our favour for a number of days but we would make the crossing back over to Long Island and anchor in Clarence Town.  It was quite a crossing with wave heights up to 8 feet and winds gusting to 25 knots.  To describe the conditions as unfavourable does not truly express the efforts required to achieve safe passage and I know that the Captain had a good upper body workout along the way.  I spent my time holding down the fort and finding that although I believed all potential projectiles were well stowed, this was not the case. Gratefully, there were no injuries!  More lessons learned.  Or are these gentle reminders?  Hmmmmm......

So, the best laid plans come to mind once again.  Today is February 21st and we remain on the dock in a small marina at Clarence Town, Long Island, awaiting a weather window that will see us continue our passage south and are reminded that the seas and the weather will dictate the length of any leg of a journey for the cruiser...that safety and patience, as always, are the orders of the day.  We have done considerably more research as we await our opportunity and realise that there are three very different routes to our intended destination and it will be the weather and the seas which will determine which route we choose and how long it will take.  Nature is not beholden to the whims of the sailor and it is during these times that we are reminded of all of the amazing days we have had both at anchor and at sea and we are truly blessed to be a part of this sea going cruiser community.  I'll keep you posted....

Until next time....

Love and hugs,
Shelley and Gregg

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Here we go with another first!

So we have been here in George Town for five days and are heading out in the morning on our first overnight passage!  We are on our way to Mayaguana and the weather forecast is looking good.  I will be honest in telling you, dear reader, that I have not been keen for this day though I knew it would come.  I mean really, sailing?  At night?  Staying up for hours on end and, I might add, staying awake, sitting at the helm, when what you really, really want to do is climb into your cozy berth and sleep the night away?  Well, the Captain tells me you are not an official sailor until you have done at least one overnight, so here we go!  The good news is that we have found ourselves a buddy boat.  A delightful young family who we will sail with and this gives me great confidence!  Not confidence that the event will be without it's moments, but at least we won't be out here on this big blue marble all on our own! 
On another note, Gregg joined the other 200 or so cruisers on the beach and played a few games of volleyball!  What a trooper!  All good fun and it looks like there is quite the community here with folks from hither and yon, just passing the winter with other sailors. 
Please accept my apologies for no pictures this go around but it seems I can't get them to upload.  :o(  Stay tuned, hopefully my next effort will be successful!

Until next time.....

Love and hugs,
Shelley and Gregg

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Another day in paradise and we're doing what???????????????

Yup, you guessed it, folks!  Chores, chores and more chores!  We had a wonderful day yesterday exploring the beaches, flora and fauna of Allens Cays!  The scenery is simply breathtaking and the iguana are real characters!  When you land your dinghy, they all race out to see who the "new folks' are and then sit back to watch with those big blinking eyes, as though we might provide them with some form of entertainment!  One of the bigger ones kept following me around and was actually making me a little nervous so I spent a lot of my time in the water (which they don't seem to care for) rather than on the beach.  Eventually, I came to realized that the little lizard was just curious and actually moved away when I went near.  Whew!!!  The water is as clear as can be and the swimming is amazing!  The island is quite thick with palm trees and some kind of fruit bearing trees and we even found some pear cactus!  We will certainly miss this little anchorage despite the fact that it is VERY popular with other cruisers and can become a bit crowded.

So, today is chores day and poor Gregg is down in the salon with the water maker completely taken small feat by the way as he is having to change out all of the o rings in hope that this is the reason Wally (the watermaker) is refusing to send us clear, clean refreshing water but rather is telling us the salinity levels are too high and everything he makes is going overboard.  I doubt that the fish appreciate us taking out all the goodies in their habitat and throwing back straight salt water! Personally,  I think he is trying to put off his second foray into the world of our marine heads (also known as the john, the toilet or the shi**er) .  Unfortunately, the forward head has been a bit of a challenge lately so poor buddy has decided the only answer left is to take the whole thing apart and see what's going on.  I think he may choose using the aft head for a bit while he works up his nerve to don the hazmat suit and go in again. Ahhh, the joys of marine plumbing!  My chore for the day was a little bit more fun.  I cleaned our girls hull which at least allowed me to hang off the dinghy, dangling my feet in the water and enjoying the sunshine and the breeze.  :o)   A big thank you goes out to Bill and Eileen who shared their secret for cleaning the hull!  You guys rock!  I'm happy to say that at least we don't look like sailor trash any longer as the rusty brown of the ICW is now long gone and we are back to showing a beautiful, sparkling white hull!

One more thing.....hugs and prayers to you big bro, your earth angels have your back!

Missing our families and especially those big beautiful smiles!!!!

Until next time.....

Love and hugs,
Shelley and Gregg

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Back to the Exumas....yipeeeeeee!!!!!!!

And we couldn't be happier!  I fear Nassau is not our favourite spot and Paradise Island was experienced in rather poor weather, soooo, provisioned and maintained, we are off again!

I realize it has been a very long time since I have posted here and all I can say it that we have been very busy!  Having daughter Cait and her little buddy Mr Man on board has been such a delight!  From Old Bahamas Bay Resort in West End, Grand Bahama Island, we were off to Mangrove Cay and then Great Sale Cay then over to Foxtown.

As we were preparing to leave Great Sale Cay, we found all of our electronics were out!  WHAT!!!!  No depth sounder!!!  Eeeek!!!!  Fortunately, shortly into our transit we connected with another sailor who was happy to have us follow him through to Foxtown where we hope we would be able to figure out what the heck had gone wrong. such luck so we "hitch hiked" with another yachtie and off we went to the next anchorage.  Whew, so far so good!  Feeling fairly confident, we headed out to Marsh Harbour and found a sailor who agreed to let us follow them in.  Talk about blessed!!!!  Three hops and three generous cruisers just happy to help a fellow cruiser out.  

Once in Marsh Harbour we had a number of issues to sort out and I will leave the details of these events to the Captain to share and exaggerate at will.  Suffice to say, poor Cait and I had to spend many hours at The Jib Room doing, uhhhh, laundry, ya that's it, and drinking Kalik Light, with lime by the pool or sitting at the bar, chatting with the locals and other cruisers.  Sooo much fun!!!!  And The Jib Room is a must stop for any of you cruisers out there.  Parties and dancing, pool, laundry, showers and the best bartenders (I mean you, Stephen and Jason) anyone could ever ask for.  In addition, we met so many wonderful people, out on the water, like we are, just having a grand time and slowing down the clock.  We spent much time with Billy and Eileen on a run to Guana Cay as their delightful son Erick was visiting.  Just to say what a great guy young Erick is, he even climbed a coconut tree so we could all have fresh coconut and try "putting da lime in da coconut" which was one of the many songs we were singing the night before on board Circe 2!

We have crossed from the Abacos to Eleuthra to the Exumas and finally to Nassau where we very tearfully put our Cait and her little "Mista Mon" on board a WestJet flight to Vancouver.  She and her little sidekick have brought us so much joy during our travels and we will miss them both very much although she has suggested she may come by while we are in the BVI's for a little visit.  I sure hope so as besides being one of the most cheerful people you could have aboard, she is extremely willing crew and and amazing galley cook!  Love and hugs to you, Miss Cait!

So, here we are in Nassau, excited to be moving to the Exumas in the morning and feeling very, very blessed to have this wonderful opportunity and to live the life we live.  I won't pretend it isn't without it's "broken parts and broken systems" but we have been truly privileged to peek into the lives of another culture and come away knowing how fortunate we are to have lived the lives we've lived and to grasp this adventure into our hearts and into our souls.  We have been blessed with good health and a little MacGuyver instinct (absolutely necessary if you are sailing)!

If ever I have felt the need to be thankful, it is surely now.  Love, hugs and prayers to my brother Gord, we're all pulling for you!!!  And love, hugs and prayers to all my babies, family and peeps!!!  We miss you!!!  Come and visit us any time, just tell the driver you will need to take a couple of turns and three boats to that little, secluded anchorage with the beautiful sunsets, pristine beaches and world class snorkelling....that is where you will find us, at least for now.

Love and hugs all around,
Shelley and Gregg

Monday, 16 December 2013

So how does it really feel when you lose your electronics in 8' of water??????

Seasons Greetings everyone and I must say, our adventure continues to provide us with much....ohhhhh, what's the word.....hmmmmmm, well anyway, probably shouldn't be using that kind of language in public. ;o)  We can now attest to the fact that losing your electronics, depth sounder, GPS, wind speed/direction is quite survivable (is this a word?) even when you carry a draft of 6' as long as you are of stout mind (or drinking stout) and body!  We can't quite believe our great good fortune at having the opportunity to basically repair or replace damn (it's true, I've been saying damn quite a bit lately) near every system on this floating bit of paradise....seriously though, things have been getting sooo crazy that I thought I would bring aboard a little travelling know, a sort of talisman to remind us to stay calm, appreciate this amazing life we are living (no seriously, amazing, amazing, amazing....some people say ohhhmmm, I think it has a lot to do with perspective) and remain grateful and humbled by the many blessings we have been granted along the way.  So we find our little travelling (he wears a knapsack and everything!) Buddha buddy here 

and there around the boat and we appreciate that he is taking care of things as best he can for a little guy so you can imagine how saddened I was one day to find him standing in the corner with his back turned!  I mean really, if that doesn't tell you things have become a bit too much I truly don't know what would.  I mean, I admit it's a heck of a lot to ask of such a little guy even if he is still smiling!  The good news is, Mr. C Moose continues to drink and party like there's no

tomorrow...perhaps he also believes this is too much to be true?  Perhaps he is behaving like a true sailor and has decided this show will go on and intends to make the most of it!  I know one thing is for sure, you can sail in the Bahamas without electronics (and, as it turns out, a number of other systems) provided you have charts and a willing bow ornament with all seeing eyes, (on this occasion, it was the Admiral) watching the sea for anything that might cause damage to the hull and while it is rather a tricky and unnerving prospect, the Captain and crew of Simplicity II have survived the experience and fully intend to embellish our tale to greater and greater effect each time it is told.....stay tuned!

In other news, we are finding the idea of Christmas in the sunshine with coconut palm trees and beaches a bit out of sync and may start avoiding the businesses who insist on playing Christmas it denial but Christmas means making snow angels and cold weather and a sweet smelling tree decorated with memories of years gone by and big turkey dinners with all the trimmings.....yup, pretty sure it's denial.

Still....Happy Holidays to all with special hugs and kisses to our family and friends wherever they are.

Love and hugs all around,
Shelley and Gregg
Cait and Mr Man
Travelling Buddha and Mr C Moose

Monday, 25 November 2013

Whoo hooooooo! We're Back in the Bahamas!!!!!

Our newest permanent crew!

Well, dear reader, I am back on Simplicity II after 2 months in Victoria, BC, the details of which I shan't bore you with.  Suffice to say, all is well and I couldn't be happier to be back in the Bahamas enjoying our life afloat!  Daughter Caitlin and her little dog Mr Man have joined us for the next while and we couldn't be happier to have them aboard.  :o)

The Market at Port Lucaya

We flew into Freeport where Gregg met up with us after dropping our dear friend, Tom Cook,(who had joined him in Wrightsville Beach, NC,) and headed to Port Lucaya as our girl was docked in front of the marketplace.  As we were the second slip in from the market, we enjoyed music from dawn till the wee hours of the morning and lots of shopping for everyone!  Next day, we met a delightful couple of sailors from North Carolina (Cassie and Chris) who were docked next to us and even enjoyed an impromptu "unplugged" concert courtesy of Chris! Such a fun pair and both nurses!  With a little luck, we hope to meet up with these two in January in the Exumas....yup, life is good!  A day at the beach for some snorkeling and a "fish fry" night filled with dancing and much laughter (maybe a little rum on the side) and we were on our way to the West End and Old Bahamas Bay Resort.  We had a small weather window so with an average of 6 - 7 knots we made great time and even got out the snorkel gear on arrival!  We are currently one of three transient vessels here in the resort so we have all of the on-site amenities to ourselves, makes it kind of hard to come up with any excuses for not using the work-out facilities!

Cait and Mr Man underway  :o)

Last night found us in gale force 8 winds with the highest speed measured from the top of our mast being 41+ knots!  We were ever so grateful to be well tethered in on the dock as the whistling and howling suggested great strength in those winds.  We will be here for the next few days until the storm blows over and it looks like a couple of days worth of weather window to get us to Grand Cay, Walker Cay and Double Breasted Cay.  Hopefully, I will be able to keep you all posted, but this remains to be seen!  We'll have to wait and see where I am able to find cell coverage and internet, ha!

Cait and Gregg after snorkelling
Well, I'm off for a little stroll...hopefully the wind won't pick me up and take me away!

Until next time.....

Love and hugs,
Shelley and Gregg

PS...Just want to say thanks again, Tom, for joining Gregg while I was away.  Hope you enjoyed the adventure and we hope to see you and your lovely wife Lydia in the spring! xoxo

Friday, 1 November 2013

It's Been Awhile....

Yes, it's been awhile since I have posted on this site and I hope you will all forgive me!  I had to make a trip back home to Victoria and now that I am booked with a return flight, daughter Caitlin and grandpuppy Mr. Man in tow, I feel I am ready to think about our journey once again.

In the meantime, Gregg has been taking care of "our girl".  The generator is now fixed and the head's have been maintained and she is working her way back down the east coast of the USA to the point where launch will be made back across the Gulf Stream and into the Bahamas.

When thinking about the idea of me coming home on my own and Gregg staying with the boat it seemed like "no big deal" as Gregg was becoming quite competent in terms of single handing anyway and who knew how much longer it would be before our Gennie was completely repaired?  It may be just a couple of weeks hanging "on the hook" in Wrightsville Beach so no worries, mon!

Of course, as situations develop, days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months and life aboard can become pretty lonesome when you're all alone.  The good news, though, is that our friend, Tom Cook, who many of you  know, kindly offered to join the Captain and has been crewing alongside Gregg for a while now!

Thanks so much, Tom, I'm looking forward to seeing you guys in Freeport in a couple of weeks!

Until next time...

Love and hugs,