Monday, 12 February 2018

Wind, Rain and Sunshine - Bahamas

We never left the boat for 2 days while the wind blew up to 40 knots, the rain came down so fast that it filled up an empty bucket in a few hours but we did not let it dampen our spirits. I was reading a book about the youngest girl to sail around the world. Kim and Sienna did lots of school work and Kim also did a few blogs and vlogs on her channel. If you would like to read their blog then click here Sailing Britican
Simon was reading the forecast and looking for the next island to go too. He was also looking for a break in the weather as we had not registered in the Bahamas and needed to do so. Yes, its not our fault the weather was so bad that we could not get ashore but we did need to let them know we are here so we could pay our dues.

The second the weather cleared we headed ashore to get some bread, milk and also to register the boat at the customs. We met a couple who were moored next to us and they offered to take their boat to shore instead of ours as they could get closer. We would go in the dingy but we were about 5 miles away from customs and a big boat was better. We did take our dingy for the last little bit which was handy as the couple were going to do their own thing. Once we had paid our dues we were entitled to stay in the Bahamas for 6 months which was great and it cost £200 to be in their waters. Its funny as it would not cost a thing at home or in Europe but I suppose its a way of making money for them,

We were moored in a little place called Royal Island Bay and it was the perfect place to be during the bad weather as it was totally sheltered to all the elements. Well so off.
I went for a wander one day around the island and it was really nice to get away on my own. This does not mean I was not getting on with the gang because I was but, I just wanted to explore and after being stuck on the boat for 2 days during the storm it was the perfect way to do it.
The island was not big and did not take to long to go around it but I was really nice and I also saw a few birds that I have never seen before either. There was also a ruin of an old house which I later heard was a rich man's who had gone bankrupt and left it to fall down.

After a few days at Royal Island Bay we left and headed towards Governors Harbour which was just a days sail away.

   Thank you once again for reading our blog until next time......


Friday, 2 February 2018

Sailing to Bahamas

As dark approached all we could see were the lights of Miami as we headed out to sea. We were going to be at sea for two days so we were hoping the weather was going to behave itself and we would get there in good time with no hick ups at all.

The lights in Miami were getting smaller as we sailed into the distance but then all of a sudden it was the New Year and all the fireworks light up the sky above the city. I have never been at sea on New Years before but this was something special. All the colours of the rainbow shot up into the sky along the coastline and it looked like lots of different areas had their own display but because we were so far away from land we got to see them all together which was extra special.

After the fireworks finished I went to bed for a few hours as Simon was going to do the 1st shift and then it was my turn in about 4 hours time. After Simon went to bed I was in command and it was a beautiful night. Clear skies and stars everywhere which was amazing. I know I come from an area which is light pollution free and I tend to take the stars for granted but being out here with the waves splashing against the side the boat and nothing but the stars to look at was unreal. This is when you can let your imagine run wild and when the sunrise came up it was the icing on the cake.

Day 1 was described by Simon as Champaign Sailing, as it was flat calm, sunny and perfect winds which made us do an average of 7 knots all day.
After lunch I listened to some music, laid back in the sunshine and once again let my mind run wild with a small grin on my face. As I was enjoying the vibes I heard the clicker go on the fishing line. With no time to waste I started to reel it in and when I got it on board I realised I had just caught my first Tuna. Boy was I happy and everyone was looking forward to eating tuna for our dinner tonight. Kim got me a knife and when I started to fillet it I noticed was it was full of some sort of parasite. Little tiny white things were inside of its skin so instead of taking any chances I threw it back in. What a pity and I was really looking forward to providing the family with some fresh tuna for dinner.

I think today was the best day so far and I was really looking forward to getting to the Bahamas and just exploring the different islands.

Day 2 was a little overcast but nothing to complain about and the sailing was good to. We only had a few hours to go until we arrived at our 1st destination but we had to keep an eye out when we got closer as some parts were really shallow and did not want anymore of that, thank you.

A few hours later we spotted land and it was a really fantastic feeling knowing that in a few hours we had sailed from one country to another and we would be swimming in beautiful clear waters. I was getting very excided now and as we approached our final destination I could not wait to get anchored and get out and explore.

We were anchored in a tiny sheltered bay with 5 other yachts and it was perfect. I offered to cook breakfast for everyone to celebrate and while I was in the middle of doing it I heard Kim scream "Andrew come quickly, its a shark" The second I got onto deck I saw Simon jump into the water and swim towards it. It was massive and when Simon realised how big it was he quickly got out of the water. He shouted across to the boat that it was a Hammer Head and was about 18ft long. No wonder he got out so quickly as I think I would have done the same myself, but then I was thinking he was a a lucky git to see it so close. Oh well you can't win them all.

After breakfast Simon and I went for a snorkel while Kim home schooled Sienna for a few hours. It was clear and we spotted a lobster which we had to get but we did not have the spear gun to catch it so we headed back to the boat to find it.  When we got back to the place were we had seen it, it had gone. There goes another free meal.

By the time we got back to the boat it was about 4pm and it was time to think about dinner and a good nights sleep but that all changed in 15 minutes as the rain started and then the winds came. We had gusts of 40 knots with driving rain on top of that which was not pleasant at all.

It rained and blew a gale all night long and when we woke up the next day it was still the same. Will we ever get of this boat, who knows but you will have to wait for the next blog.

Once again thank you for reading our blog and if you would like to watch some of our videos too the click on this link for our YouTube channel


Monday, 22 January 2018

Fort Lauderdale - Florida

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 11am and the weather was much better than it was further north, but I suppose we were in the sunshine state of Florida. When we were got close, two lads were waiting to catch our ropes and once we were moored, we went over to help Michael moor up too. Once all the boats were secured we went to the office to sign in and pay for our mooring dues, find out where the showers, washers and dryers were and sort out electric. After everything was paid for, Michael showed us where to go to get some shopping and where the washing machine is and of course a little tour around the area. Michael had been here a good few times before and knew all the best places to eat, drink and told us which areas to stay away from too. There was a lot of tramps around and they had a bad name for themselves, but I later found out that this is not always true.  

After our guided tour had finished we went back to the boats to wash them down, fill up with fresh drinking water and connect them to the main power supply. After all the jobs were done we went out for a well-earned drink in what would become our local bar. My brother and his family were on holiday on America and they drove about 3 hours to meet me. It was nice to see him and his family but made me a little homesick for my family. At least I could call and text them but its never the same. It was also a bit weird being here for Christmas and not seeing my kids open their presants on Christmas Day but I suppose I knew that before I left and they wanted me to come on this trip which is really nice of them too.  At least I got to see Simon's and Kim's daughter Sienna opening her presants and then I was sent a little video of them opening theirs which made me feel a bit better.
The Browns were starting to become my 2nd family now, and that made me feel more relaxed and the boat was becoming my 2nd home too and if I look a bit down, then I just said to myself that I was very lucky and not very many people get a chance to do this so in other words give I gave myself a shake.
We were moored in downtown Fort Lauderdale and it was such a lovely area with the shops, bars and restaurants only a stones throw away. The people were very friendly and there was a real buzz about the area. There was lots of dog walkers, joggers, wildlife and lots of tourists going past the boat all day long so we were never bored. We also had loads of jobs to do so we were never going to get bored anyway and that was one of the main reasons we were here. There was an old man who used to turn up everyday and feed a homeless cat, grey squirrels and birds. It was cool for me as it was easy to get a picture and some close up videos as well. 
We were only going to be here for a week but in the end, it was longer than we wanted.

We did lots of jobs during the day and in the evening, we either went out for a walk or had something to eat but most of the time we ended up in a bar for a few night caps.

We had new batteries installed as the others had given up and we also have a new water maker installed. If you don’t know what a water maker is, then it draws sea water into the boat and filters it through its system and coverts it into drinking water. It’s a god saver when you are in the middle of nowhere and it saves you from spending money on drinking water too.

As we picked through the jobs list, we forgot to do was put new marks on the chain for different lengths or depths for when we going to anchor. We got all the chain out onto the pier and then the worst thing happened, then windlass broke and it was getting close to new year. We took it all apart in the hope that it could be fixed but we were told by a specialist that it was dead. So, after 2 days getting it out and looking to fix it we only had 3 days to get a new one and get it fitted.

In the UK we would source the item we wanted and get it posted out. We can pay extra for next day delivery or wait for 2 days but in America things don’t seen to happen like that and with new year on its way we thought it was going to be another good few days here. Luckily for us we meet a kind man called Vern who let us use his account to get the windlass cheaper and the express delivery man turned up on time which was a bonus. Now all we had to do was to fix the new one in and wire it all up and then Bob’s your uncle and Fanny’s your aunt.   Everything was good to go but there was no power at all, but Vern turned up to see if we were ok and found out that the breaker was broken. Its was getting late so he said he would come on New Year Eve to finish it off.

Vern held up to his promise and turned up to finish of the job on new years eve which was really kind of him and it was a big relief to us all. We slowly connected the chain through the windlass and started to get it back onboard.  With everything working perfectly and the boat all tidy, we let the ropes go and said goodbye to Michael as he would not be joining us on our next leg. It was a total pleasure to meet him and after our final goodbyes we were off.

Once out of the river we went to get some fuel and then out into the Atlantic to sail towards the Bahamas. We first steamed south towards Miami which was about 50 miles away and then we turned out to the Bahamas were the tide and wind would take us to the perfect place to anchor. It was the first time in my life that I have spent New Years Eve on a boat and to be honest it was lush. Seeing all the fireworks going off over Miami was amazing and to know that in 2 days’ time we would be swimming with fish in crystal clear waters….

NEXT TIME……. Sailing to the Bahamas 



Monday, 15 January 2018

ICW - Intracoastal Waterway

One of the main reasons Simon and Kim wanted to go down the ICW and we started at Palm Beach was that their boat draws to much water to go down it any quicker. This was supposed to be the deepest part of the waterway but we later found out that this is not the case. 
The ICW was a really chilled motor until we wanted to moor at the Two George’s restaurant for something to eat. We had spoke to them and they said we could moor there over night as long, as we eat their restaurant, but when we arrived there was no space at the dock. This was not a problem as we would just eat on board the boat and keep motoring down through the ICW until we find an area where we could anchor for the night.

It was such a beautiful part of the world and looking at all the homes as we passed by was an eye opener. Some of these homes were just amazing and the money they must have cost was silly, but if these people want to spend their money this way then what’s it got to do with me. Some of the homes had little putting greens on their front lawn, others had false rocks that looked like a water fall but they were a slid that went into their swimming pools. Now that would be cool even if the novelty wore off. Some looked like they were built for a film set and other just had no taste what’s so ever. Every house we saw was different and they were the topic of conversation all the way to Fort Lauderdale.

While steaming down the ICW its supposed to be a “NO WAKE ZONE”, which means no waves, but this was ignored by 80 percent of the boats which was really annoying as they had no consideration for any other vessels on the ICW and if your music was not blasting out the worst music in the world then you were not cool enough to be in a boat…… I must be getting old……

While we were motoring down (slowly) we came to a crossroads where another river meets ours and the tide was ripping through. Michael was ahead of us and he was keeping an eye on the depth as we draw a lot more water than he did, when suddenly, we hit the bottom. It was not a hard hit but more a soft one which means it was just mud and nothing hard like rocks. A man from the ICW came along side the boat and told us we would have the wait a few minutes as it was spot on low water and told us there was a bank of mud in this area due to the tides. Sure, enough we were off in a few minutes and we headed further south again.

We looked at the charts and we found what looked like an area that was deep enough to anchor for the night but how wrong we were. We were not even in the area when we hit the bottom again. This time it was a bit harder and we were stuck. Simon raised the sail to get a bit of weight on one side of the boat while he came astern and it worked a trick too. We were off and again we headed south looking for somewhere to anchor. We eventually found a place to anchor and after we were all secure for the night we grabbed something to eat, then hit the hay.

What an eventful day we had and tomorrow we would be in Fort Lauderdale.

We all woke up fresh and ready to go and the houses just seemed to get bigger and better the closer to got to downtown Fort Lauderdale. After a few hours we had arrived and moored up into this beautiful area.

Next Time in Fort Lauderdale, our stay had some major ups and downs. Watch this space.



Friday, 5 January 2018

Palm Beach

After a great time in Cape Canaveral we left and headed south toward Palm Beach. The sun was out, the sea was calm and it was much better weather than we have had on previous sails. We even put the main sail up but that was a mistake as the wind just dropped so much we were only doing 2 knots with the wind on our bow, which is a really bad thing.
Never mind we dropped the sails and started the engine and we were back up to 6 knots which was much better. As we motored south the sunset was outstanding and it was a total pleasure to be out on the water even though we weren't sailing.

After a great nights sailing we arrived in Palm Beach and I was gob smacked by all the very expensive yachts around. These boats are something out of a movie and must cost millions. I think most of them are a status symbol for most people and hardly get used at all.

After mooring up we washed the boat down and went for a little look around. Sienna, who is Simon and Kim's daughter was invited to a photo shoot at a BBQ later that day. They were doing a broucher and she was perfect for it, and they even offered us some burgers as payment. We gratefully excepted the offer for some free food and it was really good to. They even gave a voucher for $25 each to spend in the shop as another thank you. This was starting to become a brilliant stop and the mooring was not cheap, but at this rate it was nearly going to be free. In the end it only cost $25 for the mooring for the night. Now that's a bargain for Palm Beach I can tell you.

After our BBQ we set off into town to see all the Christmas lights and we were not disappointed at all as it was lovely. After a night on the tiles we went back to the yachts for a good nights rest. The next day we were leaving at 11am and one of the main seasons we were at Palm Beach was that Simon wanted to go down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is 3000 mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico running from Boston to Massachusetts. The reason we did not go down this way to start with is that the yacht draws to much water and we would have never got very far but at this end we were ok.

After spending our $25 each we headed off down the ICW.

Next stop Fort Lauderdale.....