We left on the 250 mile sail to Bimini from Cuba. Took 40 hours with no issues, except dodging about 30 container ships
We arrived in Bimini early in the morning. Headed into the north island and stayed for 2 nights. Shopped, ate ate big Joe’s, bought the famous coconut bread, walked the beaches, and found tons of sea glass.
Left Bimini heading for Nassau, we needed a new low pressure pump for our water desalinator. Stopped in the middle of the Bahama bank at the McKay Shoal for a night, then onto Chub Cay.
We passed up on Chub and went to Bird Cay. Went to shore there and the next island Whale Cay. Whale had an old light house. Very nice setting.
Next morning up anchor for the 40 mile run to Nassau. Arrived under sail and notified the harbor master of our intentions. Dodged the cruise ships and anchored in front of Atlantis the resort on Nassau. Stayed there for 2 nights after sightseeing the island. Left for Highborne Cay.
High winds and wrong wind direction. The 6 hour trip took 9 hours. Spent the night and left the next morning for Fowl Cay. Great day sail.
Fowl Cay is just above Big Major where the pigs live. You can go ashore and adore your piglets. Feed, swim with them, and just watch the other yachty’s play with the pigs.
We stayed 2 nights and were able to take Bizy B over to Staniel Cay. Took in the sights and snorkeled the “Grotto”. It is a cave that you can dive into, swim under the rocks into and enjoy the surroundings in a cave.
While there we met the Distant Shores crew, a couple we have followed and gave us the inspiration to tackle this adventure we are on.
As usual a storm kicked up. Winds blew, waves grew. Our little Anchorage spot got precarious and all left but us and the 115 foot mega yacht Five Waves. Well Five Ways dragged anchor heading for the rovks, we honked our air horn and hailed them on the vhf radio. Finally the crew came out and just in time before hitting the rocks. They did run up on sand but with the high horse power and bow thrusters they unstuck themselves.
Well after the calamity of Five Waves we decided to move over to the next bay. HA, right. We pulled up anchor and motored right onto a sand bar. Thank you falling tide.
We were stuck for 2 hours with us trying to sail off by heeling over and off, motoring off, and just waiting for the tide to change. Well the wind and current kept pushing into shallower water. The couple from Bear came by and offered help. But the final trick was to drop Bizy B in the water, attach a tow line to Belle’s bow and spin Belle 180 degrees. This pointed us towards the deeper water.
Once pointed in the right direction, we dropped the anchor into Bizzy B along with 100 feet of chain. I motored Bizy out in front of Belle the 100 feet and dropped our Mantus anchor. With the anchor set we used the electric windlass to pull Belle off the sand bar.
Yahoo, free at last. We stayed another night in front of the pigs at Big Major Cay. Saw the pigs, swam the Grotto again. Lots of fun. Visited with new friends.
Left Big Major for Black Point on Great Guyana Cay. Walked the northern part of the island. Saw the Castle house, blow holes, and rock farm. Really good food and celebrated my birthday at Lorraines. Lorraine made me a cake.
We left Great Guyana heading for Rudder Cay. This is David Copperfields private residence area. Absolutely beautiful. Copperfield actually had a piano and mermaid sunk for our snorkeling amusement. Also, there is a cave you can go into for great photo opportunities.
We left Rudder Cay for Georgetown. We needed some boat parts as usual and resupply the perishable food items. Re fueled the mother ship, met some friends. Stopped off at the beach for a chat n chill with sundowners. We stayed a couple nights, fixed the head sail and other items then left for Conception Island.
Day sailed to Conception. Stayed a day and was able to take Bizy B up the river and ashore. Lots of life on and around the island.
Left Conception and headed to Clarencetown. South end of Long Island. Neat town known for a couple churches. Walked and saw the sights. We left there for West Palma Cay.
As usual I like to swim when we anchor. Look at Belle under water and see what’s on the bottom. The water here is “Gin ” clear. Well while I was swimming a local shark made a visit. Oh boy scared the crap out of me.
We we survived the shark encounter and left the next day for Abraham’s Bay in Mayaguana. This is the last island in the Bahamas. We checked out and left for the Turks n Caicos.
We made our first stop leaving the USA a non common destination. We wanted the feel of a different country and differing government.
Well it did not disappoint. The people are fantastic. They have the demeanor of no worries but always open to getting something.
They have a no hurry demeanor, cause it doesn’t matter but want to be part of what is going on. A social group order that makes gathering a sense of meaning.
We arrived in Marina Hemingway after a 17 hour trip from Key West. Early morning arrival to the Cuban landscape just east of Havana with the sun rising over our left shoulder seemed magical.
The skyline was visible for 3 hours before sun up. Once you can see the outline of the city of Havana the smells erupt as a sensory overload.
Dirt, grass, flowers, yet with the overwhelming odor of pollution mixed in. You see the low levels of smoke from burning fires and power plants.
Navigating to the marina was straight forward. Having modern electronic navigation was like you had already been there. We traversed the sea marker as instructed and hailed the marina officials. Entering a 50 foot wide channel made by detonating dynamite thru coral reefs over 75 years ago.
They responded in comprehensible English to get us in and on the government docks for immigration. Once we checked in and had all inspections completed we where directed to or slip.
The slip was just in front of Addison Chan on Three Penny Opera. Their vessel is the same make and model as ours, so we looked like 2 peas in a pod bow to stern. Catalina 42 mkii.
Addison has written for magazines and made an app for Cuba called Cuba Land and Sea. Also a page on facebook. He has been visiting Cuba for the last 8 years and was a great wealth of knowledge for the ins and outs of our travels in Cuba.
We rested for a day and began our site seeing. That ranged from the Havana night life, Fusta Tile covered neighborhood, and the mountains of Viñelas!
All good times making friends and memories to relive. We where toured around in mid 50’s American cars, serenaded in cas de particulars, picked rolled and smoked cigars, treated to local guava rum, coffees, and honey.
As you can imagine the time flew by. It was time to move on. We will return and see the southern side next year.
Thank you Cuba.
Wow those 8 weeks flew by!.
We left Islamorada for a 6 hour sail to Marathon. With our experience into the cotton key basin bumping along the bottom we were slightly anxious and apprehensive leaving Islamorada.
We had No issues, very thankful. Smoothly left Anchorage and crossed out under the number 5 channel bridge back out into the Atlantic, dodging the crab pot buoys along the way.
We anchored outside of Boot Harbor in Marathon as we planned on only 2 days there. Visited with a few friends, Addison Chan and Danny Villagoz. Very neat organized harbor. Lots of boats.
We left on our trip to the keys. Left early and made it about 10 miles with the looks of a great sail south. But, a boat we were following called out a Mayday!
One of the crew was doing an engine check and got there hair caught in the drive shaft. It totally scalped the women’s head. We stayed close until the coast guard arrived. She is recovering but wow what an accident.
We came into Key West thru the cruise ship docks, by Mallory Square and Sunset Pier. Lots of boats and crazy Anchorage. We traversed around into Garrison Bight mooring field . Grabbed a mooring ball with the help of our friends Janice and Dave Roehr on Obsesseion.
Only issue on the trip was the sea grass. It wrapped up around the prop shaft, we had to stop forward motion just as we were entering the bight, put the gear selector in reverse to disengage the grass. The motor started vibrating is how we noticed. Must have picked up the grass while sailing. Guess we need to spend another 5k on a folding prop, lol.
Now it has been 7 weeks here. You have to be careful traveling with no set schedule. Each stop has it’s own velcro. Meaning it’s easier to stay and get stuck or just like the place not wanting to leave.
We had an issue though. When we bought our Bizzy B the dinghy and we never got the title from the dealer. Well we had to threaten with attorney, social media blasting and finally Bizzy is legal and we have final proof of ownership.
In key west we have visited all you can see if not once but twice. Many sunrises and sunsets. Butterfly gardens. Lighthouse’s, snorkeling, people watching. Eating the best food and had a couple drinks.
We are planning on leaving in a couple days. Going to the Marquese Key one night, then to Dry Tortugas, and over to Cuba. Yeah Cuba. It’s just 90 miles away and will take 14 to 18 hours to get there.
So stay tuned for that trips stories.
It’s been a busy year!
We are still in Islamorada, Fl. It is true velcro sets in and it’s hard to move. You can get stuck in a place because of:
Waiting for parts
Good dingy dock
West Marine .25 away or 3 light poles
Good cell service
Protected Anchorage (most of the time)
Clear water you can see the bottom
Food provisioning close
Dive shop close
Live music every night
Projects that just linger
Family is one reason we stayed here. Michelle’s family from McCall and Boise, Idaho made plans to vacation here. It worked right into our travel plans heading south so we visited with them. Danny, Kenny, Destin, Shawn, Alexis, Lexi, Justin, and Lody all flew out for 2 weeks.
We were able to fish, snorkel, swim, hang out, paddle board, kayake, sight see, and just be family. Way too much food, some drink, and a lot of warm sun. They left -2°F so the warm southern air was fantastic for them. We even had a heated pool, live salt water pond that had fish and lobster.
Before they got here we were able to get our warranty replacement solar controller mailed here. Installed that and now have full usage of our 1400 watts of solar. Now on our 5th week of no auxiliary power needed.
Also, recieved the replacement water maker parts that were destroyed in shipping to Savannah, GA. Thanks to West Marine, we were able to plan that out, pick up necessary parts and pieces for the install. Took us a few days to complete with great results of more water than expected. We will run this every 4th day to fill 1 tank at a time, we have 3 total, 115 gallons.
Now we still need to complete 1 project spray foam frig and freezer. Get an in water survey for the insurance company (extended cruising coverage). Update our paperwork to Cuba for the current dates. Wait for a good weather window.
Enjoy the pics!
We made the trip from St. Mary’s in just under 5 hours to St Simons. No issues.
We took Belle up to take advantage of good docks, good technical service, and good food. Dunbar Yachts was great help.
We needed to fix a few things and repair more. The head sail first, completed by the amazing admiral of the ship. Then rewired electricals for use of the inverter, fix our running, and mount our life raft to the cabin top.
Of course we had to eat at the Coastal Kitchen. Great food and a great view of our yacht out their window.
We finished the work we had planned and headed south again. Destination Daytona Beach. We had a wedding to get to in Orlando, Fl. This was the closest we could get via the boat.
The trip had its exciting moments. The sea state was out of control so we took the inside route called the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s like a freeway for boats.
The ICW traverses the east coast from Boston, Massachusettes to Brownsville, Texas. Really challenging, boring and exciting. First, the infamous to boaters Jekyll Creek going beside Jekyll Island. I did say creek, not river. As our Belle needs 5 feet of depth to make passage.
Well, we did not have that much just exiting the creek, so, we were literally stuck in the mud for 15 minutes. Luckily, we were coming off low tide and the water raised a couple inches and we were off.
Our cruise into Kings Bay , Ga was a wild one. We ran into bad storms with the unlucky chance of a tornado ripping right over us. The National Weather Service upgraded the tornado to an EF-3, 900 yards wide, measuring winds 125-144 knots. It knocked us down pushed us 50 yards off course. Luckily no damage to us, but 5 people were hurt at the docks and a lot of structures destroyed.
We stopped about 3 miles away at Cumberland Island, Ga. Dropped anchor and spent 2 days exploring the island. Cumberland has deer, raccoons, horses, armadillos and more. We saw all the above creatures but the horses, just evidence of them everywhere (poop and imprints of hooves) but no live horses. Walked the Dungeness ruins, the beach, the tree’d hammock up to the dunes, and over the dunes.
Left there on a cold brisk morning with a 9 hour trip planned. Planned to stop just south of Jacksonville, Fl. We made it, but in Belle usual excitement.
Just north of Jacksonville the river was getting shallow. Our depth gauge showing 5 to 7 feet below us. Not enough, hence traveling at 6 mph we came to a complete stop. Wow it was a ship rocking event. Luckily we must have made our own channel as we were able to power through it. Then just crossing the Saint John’s river we touched down again. We had to back up and out of the river, go back to the Saint John’s, drop anchor, make lunch and wait for the rising tides.
We made it to our anchor spot, sorta like a rest area with no facilities. But, there were already 5 boats anchored in a 4 boat spot. We were able to squeeze in between 2 boats for a nice over night sleep over.
Next morning, we leave and head down past St. Augustine to Marineland Marina, a 5 hour trip. Nice stay, walked the beach and rested.
Following morning, we planned another 4 hour trip to Daytona Beach, Florida. Halifax Harbour Marina and the city have a special place in our hearts. This is the place we’re we chartered or first sailboat.
For my birthday, Michelle arranged the charter. The yacht was a 36 foot Pearson. The day was cloudy with prediction of rain and wind.
We took her out into the atlantic and had wind, waves and water everywhere. It was a ride. But, we loved it. Made us chase the dream we are in now.
That was 5 years ago. Time has flown by. The decisions to get where we are now were unconventional to most. Moving, buying a boat, selling our house, selling our cars, moving aboard, and chasing our dreams.
We have started our travels with short term plans going to Ft.. Lauderdale (there’s another history point in our life) then Key West and onward.
I hope you follow along, because as crazy as its started it can only get better.
After 2 1/2 years we left the dock.
Isle of Hope Ga was agreat piece of heaven. We will miss her.
Left at 3 pm for an outside sail down to St. Mary’s Ga. For the annual Thanks Giving cruise in at the Riverview Hotel.
Took 14 hours, no wind. Had to motor the whole way. Seas built all night, to 5 to 6 feet and rough ride.
Issues on the trip:
*Front running lights did not work. Had to use a battery backup.
*Went to anchor and the chain came off the roller and wrapped around the bow sprit. Then trying to leave we snagged a rope, lost a boat hook pulling the rope of in the water. Had to do aman over board drill to retrieve. Lol
*Generator shut off for high exhaust heat. Ended up being the water pump drive belt stripped.
*Charge controller failed. So we couldn’t recharge batteries, but there e is no sun.
Well we have a slip reserved in St Simons Ga to fix and upgrade these issues.
Have bell in the boat yard for some maintenance and upgrades. Repaint the bottom, replace the boot and pin striping, replace the macerators,replace the wind vane, install a camera on the top of the mast, buff and compound the gel coat, paint the prop with prop speed, and add 3D sonar transducers.
That should be enough, hoping to get it done in 8 days. We are on day four and will be painting the hull. 2 coats should take half the day.
We have both quit work, and now finishing the updates to our Belle. This week we are getting the hull painted.
Taking care of a few other items as well. Replacing the wind vane, adding sonar, replacing holding tank hoses, replacing macerator, and adding a camera.
Our next project on the boat is adding solar.
This will entail mounting, wiring, new batteries, and replacing the charger with an inverter/charger.
The panels we went with are made by Solaria. They are the PowerXT 350 high power all black mono 60 cell units. We are putting 4 of these on the boat. Two over the bimini and 2 over the dinghy davits.
From the panels we will have a breaker to control when we want sun power and to also be able to work down line without being shocked. To control the sun power we are using 2 MPPT Victron 100/50 controllers that are blue tooth capable.
We added the Victron BMV 712 battery monitor to be able to manage the power. Soon we will add the Color Monitor GX to be able to fully customize the system and be able to review remotely.
The battery plan will be 5 Lithium 12 volt 200 amp hour units. These are the prismatic style that come in 2 cell 3.2 volt and will be matched as 4 to make a 12 volt battery. Three of these 12 volt batteries will go on the port side under our garage storage area. Replacing our 2 AGM house batterys that were 200 amp hour a piece. The other 2 will be placed on the starboard side next to our black water holding tank.
Stay tuned for the Belle power manegement install.