Feb 28, 2019
Vero Beach, aka Velcro Beach, lived up to its reputation again. Our original plan was to be there for four days, which morphed into a week when we heard high winds were coming in. So we had seven days to visit with friends and finish our provisioning. As it turned out we were there for 17 days.
The first few days were busy with barbeques, provisioning, and finishing the little chores that need doing before crossing to the Bahamas. Not only did the weather turn cold and windy over the weekend, it rained. And rained. And rained. It rained almost every day for a week and a half. We were starting to get moldy, and I’m not talking about the boat! I was very glad to be on a mooring ball, safe in the gusty winds.
We were antsy to get moving and the Abacos were calling our name, but then we heard from Rick, the fellow who had gone on ahead of us and he advised it was lousy weather in the Bahamas and he wanted to come back to the States. So we hunkered down and got out our board games….board games for the bored!
The extended stay allowed for us to relax and spend more time with the crews from Escapade, Resolve and Last Mango, our companion boats from last winter. We did daytime bus excursions, potluck dinners, went on shopping trips and we helped each other with projects. One project saw Pat at the top of Escapade’s mast, changing out the VHF antenna. It’s a 65’ mast, but electric winches were a real help getting him to the top. I did get a picture of Pat way up there, but he just looks like a smudge in a picture of the sky. The new antenna worked great and Jon was again a happy camper, or should I say boater.
Eventually a three-day weather window was forecasted and on February 1st about 25 boats left Vero Beach and headed south to Lake Worth where we stage to cross the Gulf Stream. It is a two-day trip down to Lake Worth from Vero Beach and it rained both days. The halyards and sheet lines that run across the coach roof into the cockpit were green with mold. It took some scrubbing to get them and the coach roof clean again. At 2 am on Sunday morning, as we looked across the anchorage, we could see steaming lights and running lights pop on. The sailors were ready to go…..the powerboaters had another 3 hours sleep ahead of them!
Our flotilla was about 15 boats, and we had newbies on Wind Swept IV close on our stern. This was our ninth crossing of the Gulf Stream and it was another good one. We motor-sailed until we reached the banks at 11:30 am and by then the wind had died completely. We dropped anchor in the dark at 7 pm on the western side of Great Sale Cay, happy to turn off the engine. The next morning at 6:30 we gathered the three boats in our flotilla that were willing to get underway that early and set sail for Green Turtle Cay where we could check in with Customs. By three in the afternoon, we raised the Bahamian flag and a glass of scotch to toast another winter in the Bahamas. At noon the next day we picked up our reserved mooring ball in Man-O-War and declared ourselves “home” for the next three months.
It didn’t take us long to drop the dinghy into the water and take a ride into the settlement. We wandered around, meeting and greeting people we had met last year. Our friend David, the owner of the schooner William H. Albury that Pat worked on last year, met up with us and took us over to where they were working on the masts for the boat. David had some fellows from the Toronto Brigantine Inc. and they were doing a great job getting the masts ready to step. They are young men and are learning the rapidly fading art of restoring an old wooden boat. As of this writing, only one of the lads is still here and he is quite happy working with the chisels, glue and wood.
The museum/coffee shop is open again this winter and most mornings we take the dinghy down to the end of our anchorage, pull it up on the beach and walk the mile or so into the settlement. We visit with other boaters and the locals, anyone who will stop and chat for a while. As we walk around the area, we are a familiar sight to the residents who stop to welcome us back to their island paradise. Normally we would leave our mooring and head out to Marsh Harbour to shop or get our phone topped up. This year we have stayed on the island, shopped at their local grocery store and I can top up my phone online.
We did however meet up with six other boats that we know to attend the Song Writers In Paradise concert. Every year in mid-February, about 20 songwriters gather on Elbow Cay for a week and in the evenings they visit the various resorts on the island and do a jam session. These writers are big names in the country music scene though some of them, like Mark Bryan from Hootie and the Blowfish, have written music for Jimmy Buffett, Jewel and Lady Antebellum. We went ashore to the FireFly resort and found some lawn chairs and spent a couple hours listening to them play. It is quite an evening as this is not something that usually happens here. Once back at the boat, we realized we could hear them just as well from there!
We have been working steadily, doing chores that should have been done long ago. The bowsprit repair is now completed, the louvers on the front cabin door are fixed, the non-skid on the decks has been repainted and various other small items are done. Our only problem is that the impeller in our dinghy engine is toast and there are no spares in the Abacos. I ordered a couple of kits in Fort Pierce and since we have company from home arriving tomorrow from there, they are bringing the kits with them. We have been rowing around a lot and our neighbor here is lending us his dinghy to take with us when we go into Marsh Harbour in the morning. All this means we will be on the move for the next ten days, showing them around our winter home. Should be a great week, there is a lot to see.
Until next time…………….
– Longtime CY staffer Lynn Lortie and her husband Pat left Midland the summer of 2016 to make their way into the Great Loop and head out on a three year sailing odyssey. Follow their progress right here in CYOB.