Wednesday, June 17, 2009

06-17-09 Crossing the Atlantic (Abacos to North Carolina)

Time to leave the Bahamas! Very Sad! But, what a beautiful departure. As we motored out of the Abacos from Spanish Cay, the ocean looked as if it were made from glass. The sun was setting over our buddy boat and good friends on "Aly Cat". Dolphins played along our bow as if to say "so long" and we caught our last fish, a King Mackeral, just as we left the cut. I find it interesting that we caught our first fish just as we entered the Bahamas six months ago. Now, just as we leave, we get a parting fish.

We had great weather but little wind. Once in the Gulf Stream, we really got cruising. It is great to see 9's and 10's on the GPS. Eighty miles off Cape Canaveral, we were reminded what we had been missing for the past 6 months.

First, we started hearing "Radio Check" for about 1,000 times on channel 16. The funny thing is that we only heard the responses from Sea Tow or Tow Boat US. They must use the Coast Guard's buoys for transmitting 60 plus miles off-shore. It might not have been so bad, but we seemed to be getting the responses from the entire East Coast of Florida. Between "Aly Cat" and "Miakoda", we took turns listening to channel 16.

Good thing we were listening, because the next call we heard was the Navy announcing their coordinates and that they were preparing to engage in a live fire exercise. Quickly trying to calculate how far they were away, we realized that it was too close for comfort. We raised the warship on the radio to make sure they had us on their radar. No bullets, missiles or bombs landed in our vicinity.

Next, we start hearing warnings about the 80 mile downrange danger zone for the space shuttle launch. I guess that after it takes off, they drop the solid rocket boosters into the water for recovery. We were right on the border of the danger zone and hoped to have a front row seat for the launch. Too bad it was scrubbed for the night.

The launch was scrubbed because of thunderstorms. It seems like they all congregated on top of "Aly Cat" and "Miakoda". The lightening strikes were so intense that we disconnected everything electric except for the very basic instruments. "Aly Cat" was only a 1/4 mile behind us, but we could not see them on radar or visual. The storm lasted about 30 minutes and then moved off.

There is something nerve racking about having a 64 foot aluminum lightening rod on your boat in 5,000 of water 100 miles from shore. But the gods were kind to us and let us continue on our way.

Finally, 'land ho!' We arrive at the Cape Fear river and head up to Carolina Beach where "Aly Cat" has been kind enough to arrange for a slip. It is 10 o'clock at night and most of the restaurants have stopped serving food, so our first meal in the USA is ------- McDonald's. Boy did that Big Mac taste good. It has been a long time since we had fast food.

Our friends on "Aly Cat" invited us to stay in a real bed and take a real shower at their beach house. Wow! A shower never felt sooo good. After several fun days in Carolina Beach, it is time to say goodbye. We are leaving today for Moorehead City.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

06-15-09 Back to the Abacos (re-uniting with Cruising Friends)

Finally underway again after getting our engine repaired in Nassau. With our new piston and connecting rod in place, Miakoda takes to the Atlantic to cross to the Abacos. We are rushing to meet many of our cruising friends in Green Turtle.

The passage took about 10 hours and we arrived in Little Harbor just after sunset. Grabbed a mooring for the night and left bright and early the next day. Little Harbor has changed quite a bit since our previous visit in 2006. It seems to have grown up and has lost some of its charm. Maybe we are not giving it a fair shake as we never explored on shore, but the atmosphere that existed before seemed to be missing. No bother, we have to move to catch our friends on "Aly Cat" and "Tuau".

Since the weather is nice and the seas calm, we take the outside route from Little Harbor to Elbow Cay. This island is were Hope Town is located. We anchor off of Tahiti Beach. Jennie and the girls really want to visit the beach off of The Abaco Inn to find sea glass. This was a major producer on our last visit.

Next day, it is off to Green Turtle to see our friends we left in Eleuthera.

As if we had never missed a beat, friends re-unite and fun ensues. Here are pictures of the ladies looking all cute (Monika - Taua, Ali - Aly Cat, and Jennie - Miakoda) and the young ladies (Emma - Miakoda, Claudia - Taua, Alliana - Miakoda and Caroline - Aly Cat).

Of course, a trip to Green Turtle Cay would not be complete with out a visit to our favorite watering hole "Pineapples". The kids cool off in the pool with Peter (Taua).

Before we leave Green Turtle Cay, we have one other place to visit - The Green Turtle Club. On our visit in 2006, the crew from "Miakoda" signed a dollar bill and added it to the wall inside the lounge. We had to see if it was still there. Sure enough, right where we mounted it, our little piece of history.

Here are the young ladies walking the streets in town. The majority of traffic in town is golf carts, so the town is perfect for walking around and exploring.

I don't know how he manages to do it, but Peter, from "Taua", works into his schedule a day to help Brian completely disassemble "Miakoda's" watermaker. It is frustrating to find that we cannot repair it. Peter makes it look simple to tear this monster apart and put it back together without any left-over parts. Thanks Peter.

We knew the day would finally come where "Taua" would be put on the hard and Peter, Monika and Claudia with wing away back to Europe. We hope to cross paths with them next year when they return. Or maybe, we will get the chance to visit them in France (fingers crossed).

"Aly Cat" is our buddy boat for crossing from the Abacos to North Carolina. Shortly after "Taua's" crew takes off on the ferry, "Aly Cat" and "Miakoda" take off for our staging point on Spanish Cay.

Until next time . . .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009