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FW Mike Stone in the Bahamas

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  • steve linane
    I suggested to Mike that he send his account of his adventures to the group he wrote back and said (Feel free to forward it to anyone. I took myself off that
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 2013
      I suggested to Mike that he send his account of his adventures to the group he wrote back and said
      (Feel free to forward it to anyone.  I took myself off that list, and getting back on now is more than I will undertake.)
      I find this a lot of fun to read so I figured you would also .
      Vol 1:

      Six knots per hour is not fast, that is unless you’re on a sailboat.  Ahoy mates.  I am composing pieces of this note while on night watch aboard the sailing vessel Prudence.  Our current location is sixty miles north of Marsh Harbor Abaco (N 27.38.747 W 77.02.80), and that second number, our position of latitude, is dropping fast.  6.2 miles per hour to be precise.  At this rate of speed, I should be able to send off this email from Marsh Harbor in about thirteen hours.  That will be the first order of business, after clearing customs, taking a shower, and perhaps a nap.

      While this adventure has roots from many years ago when I dreamed of buying a sailboat and crossing oceans, this latest chapter began last Tuesday when my friend Doug and I arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. We spent the day doing boat chores and stocking up on supplies.  My friends Simon and Pat (experts in all things nautical and naughty, respectively) had been doing some homework on my behalf and called to tell me that the best route based on analysis of the weather and currents will be to sail south of Charleston just until the wind clocks around and hits Prudence on the nose, at that point turn left and stay east until we have crossed the greatest river in the world, the Gulf Stream. Oh, and by the way, they said, ‘leave now.’

      Prudence and I really enjoyed crossing the Gulf Stream. Doug, uh not so much. It was easy to tell when we hit that river of warmer water, because soon after entering the boat started pitching in the growing waves, as did the contents of Doug’s stomach.  The eastern edge of the stream arrived, Doug started feeling better, and Prudence points her nose south.  Bahamas here we come!  

      On the way south, just as Pat predicted, we entered into an area of high pressure and less wind.  The relatively slick water was just beautiful.  It gave us an opportunity to reel in lunch, a taco fish, or that is what he would become.  At night, well below the gazillion stars, the wake from Pru and visiting dolphins would stir up the bioluminescent plankton leaving neon blue-green tracer rounds. I will never tire of that sight.  I became concerned the prop shaft might be over heating, so we shut down the engine to inspect. When we went to restart the old girl, guess what?  Silence.  Well, all quiet except for my exclamation of “Oh #%#@.”  Our speed average was saved soon after this stretch by picking up a speedy south bound current, all aboard. 

      We arrived in Marsh Harbor in one piece.  I joked to Doug that he can now remove his life jacket because if you fall overboard in the Bahamas, just stand up.  Indeed the gin clear water in these parts run thin.  After asking how deep is my boat’s draft, the guy at the marina instructed me to pull into slip 14.  While being a newbie at boat handling, I am always nervous approaching a dock.  Just as I get Pru lined up for a perfect approach, she scores a touch down and comes to a complete stop.  The tide is on its way out so it is only going to get worse. I radio the marina to request, “Something a little deeper, please.” 

      Current stats:  Miles traveled 491. Moving average 5 kts. Moving time 98.5 hours. Max speed 8 kts.  Celeb sitings one (Michael Phelps walked by today as I was hosing off Pru)

      From Marsh Harbor we plan to continue south on our way to meet Janine and others on Andros Island. My internet service will be limited, but I intend to write up highlight letters like this as we go.  Janine is monitoring this account stateside and we would love to hear back from you.  Who knows, a reply from a dear friend may just be the difference between a lovely cruise or me going all Lord of the Flies.  Of course if you wish not to be on this e-newsletter list, just email: ‘I opt out you lucky bastard.’ 

      Conchy Joe (Bahamian name given to guys like me) signing out.

      From: steve linane <itile@...>
      To: mikeandneener@...
      Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 11:29 AM
      Subject: RE: Pru News Vol II

      Sounds like you and Poseidon are tight  . Wish i could of been there kiting , did you get some waves on the SUP  ?
       You should send this to snowkite everyone would love to here what you are doing .
      I dont think I got Vol 1
      Attitude is everything Steve

      Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2013 07:29:30 -0800
      From: mikeandneener@...
      Subject: Pru News Vol II
      To: mikeandneener@...

      Marsh Harbor was good to us. A chance to kite surf, snorkel, stand up paddle, stock up on supplies, and see the sights. Our fellow cruisers were friendly and freely offered tips on the best place for groceries, where to find the Jamaican meat pie lady, and where we would find the cheapest rum.  The Bahamas were ‘discovered’ by Columbus in 1492, making land that year on San Salvador.  They became British crown colony in 1717 and that is a good tip to remember when crossing the street (look RIGHT).  They gained independence in 1973, but still look RIGHT.  You might call the Abacos the Texas of the Bahamas. One local told me that even though the Queen denied their appeal to do so, the Abacos could secede at any time. With good reason, both cruisers and local must be very fond of the Abacos, because every time I mentioned our plan to head south to Andros, the largest island in the archipelago, it was met with, “Why do you want to go there?”

      The weather rules me and my boat, so if I am to meet up with my bride and other friends on Andros, I had to unleash those tethers and set sail south.  As many of you know all too well, there is an unusual dip in the jet stream bringing record breaking cold air way south in North America.  Even though I write this note while wearing flip flops and shorts (sorry), the same environment you are enduring has effect over here. A cold front brings strong winds and many anchorages are not well protected from north winds. A big one is coming and it is time to get further south and fast.

      The weekend gave us a weather window that allowed us to sail south and into the night.   The plan was altered a few hours into the sail when I decided to change direction and not bet on getting a safe anchorage on North Andros at Morgans Bluff and instead made for the capital city Nassau on New Providence.  The shorter distance to Nassau meant we needed to slow way down to arrive at the harbor in daylight and favorable tide.  At three in the morning I dropped the sails 20 nautical miles from goal.  It was most amazing to watch the GPS as it indicated we were in a current taking us right to Nassau at .8 kts.  Day light arrived and Prudence along with a half dozen cruise ships and tankers fired up the engines and queued up for Nasty-awe. OK, Nasty-awe might be a little harsh. People either love it or hate it.  The cruise ships, the casinos, the Starbucks...wait they have Starbucks?

      The next morning called for departing Nassau at first light, I hail Harbor Control on the radio and request permission to exit the harbor.  Denied.  There are three cruise ships on their way in and we must wait, and wait.  Meanwhile the clock is ticking on daylight and the distance gap from that windy cold front is closing quickly.  It is a dang good thing I included Tums on my manifest.  Once out of the harbor we set sail for Fresh Creek on Andros Island.  Crossing the great tongue of the ocean begged us to wet a lure, but I knew that playing a big fish could delay us by an hour or so and our margin of making the cut through the reef in good sunlight and a favorable current was going to be close.  

      The tidal current at Fresh Creek can run 6kts.  Twice big and powerful mail boats have found themselves in trouble here pinned against the dock and sweeping a few other boats with them in the process.  Pru with her max engine speed of six knots has no business trying to maneuver in any current like that.  As estimated the current and the sunlight begin to wane just as we pull into the harbor.  We get four hours of peace once the boat is secured to the dock, and then that old north wind begins to blow, and blow. 

      My return to Andros confirms self-fulfilling prophecy.  Many years ago Janine and I flew in here for a bone fishing trip with good friends Sam and Kirk.  While here, I noticed a very small sailboat anchored a few hundred feet off shore from our lodging.  I watched as a man, wearing only a pair of shorts, step up on the rail of that boat and put the twisted ends of a garbage bag between his teeth and then dive in.  He swam ashore, removed a wrinkled shirt from the bag, and invited himself to dinner.  I had myself a role model.

      The kiteboarding has been surreal. If he who has the most fun kiting is the winner, then um, I win.  It has to be the best way to explore these shallow waters.  I reached up the coastline for miles.  Sometimes I’m over twenty feet and other times there are just inches of water between the reef and the fins on my board.  Yesterday, a spotted eagle ray matched my speed and my moves turn for turn, then he was declared the expert when I literally ran into a wave instead of turning on its face, the water is just that clear.  Kind of like walking into a really clean patio door, except I am telling you about it.  I am getting better at reading the water depths by their color.  However, having a five foot draft boat, I must get better at guessing between six feet and four.

      Lion fish are an invasive species here and in many southern waters.  People are encouraged to kill any and all they encounter. The lion fish are slow moving and have venomous spines.  While I was kiting, Doug snorkeled in pursuit a section of reef just off the beach.  Later in the afternoon I joined him and we both struck out and the Hawaiian Sling spear stayed sheathed.  That was until we got back to the boat and jumped in the water.  We found several of those lion fish bobbing near the bottom just a few yards from the boat.  We each landed a shot and managed to fillet them without retribution.

      Weather continues to dictate our progress.  We still need to travel south another 25 miles to the inlet south of Big Wood Cay (pronounced key) and north of Middle Bight.  Referencing the charts, it appears we must anchor in an exposed area and only as close as two miles from land.  We will have to run the dingy the rest of the way to shore and then hike a fair bit to the air field where Doug will fly out and Kirk, Scott, and YES, NEENER will fly in. (all Caps for Enthusiasm, but I love you too Kirk). I will stay in touch and you please stay warm.


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