Winter 2010 - 2011

Published: April 6th 2011
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Water Slides at AtlantisWater Slides at AtlantisWater Slides at Atlantis

Something we wouldn't of tried if we were not with Audrey and Steve.
We find it hard to believe that the last entry to our Blog was December 2010 in Port Lucaya. So much has happened since then. The two big events were, I had a small stroke (totally recovered), and spent some time back in Canada, and the other event was we bought a houseboat in George Town Bahamas. Here’s a summary of our winter.

We left Port Lucaya on December 15th, about 11:00am and sailed directly to Nassau. Our route took us from Lucaya to Great Stirrup Cay (Cruise Ship Island) down the Berry chain of Islands, then across to Nassau, arriving at daybreak the next morning. In Nassau we stayed at Harbor Central Marina until December 23rd, when our son Steven and his fiancée Audrey arrived. We moved over to Atlantis Marina ,and treated them to a fantastic visit at the Atlantis resort. Atlantis has an incredible aquarium, water sport park, casino and hotel complex. The marina hosts lots of mega yachts, and our boat About Time looked pretty small , in relation to all these huge yachts!. The visit to Atlantis with Steven and Audrey was lots of fun, and they even talked us into going on some pretty scary water slides, and a trip down “the Lazy River”. We would recommend a visit to Atlantis to anyone visiting Nassau. Not only is Atlantis first class, they treated us very well considering we were such a small boat for them.

After a fun day at the Atlantis water sport park, we left Nassau on December 24th for the Exumas. Our first day we had favorable wind, and for Audrey, a good initiation to sailing in the Bahamas. For Christmas Eve we chose to anchor at Hawksbill, one of the first anchorages that shows the beautiful white sand beaches, and crystal clear aqua blue waters this area is famous for. Unfortunately we ran aground entering the anchorage on an extremely low tide. We had to wait for the tide to rise and then we anchored down for Christmas Eve. Our head (toilet) also chose Christmas Eve to act up. This was quite an introduction to cruising for Audrey, but she handled it great. We woke up Christmas morning to the beautiful anchorage, and Sharon cooked us Eggs Benedict while we opened our modest Christmas presents. It’s hard to get better than this!

With an unfavorable weather forecast we
Nassau Cruise ShipsNassau Cruise ShipsNassau Cruise Ships

Note the very large cruise ship that dwarfs the others. They had to dredge the channel to get her in.
sailed off Christmas morning for the Exuma Land and Sea Park, Wardwick Wells. We arrived in the afternoon, and picked up a mooring ball at Emerald Rock as all the best protected mooring balls were already taken. For the next 2 days we sat out a very windy , stormy west wind until the wind became more favorable to head south. From Wardwick Wells, we sailed to Black Point, and spent a day exploring the beaches and quaint community of Black Point.

The following morning the weather was good to leave the protected water of the banks , and head out into Exuma Sound and onto George Town. We arrived in George Town on the afternoon of December 29th. Arriving in George Town is like coming home for us now. On the sail from Black Point to George Town we caught a Mahi,and our first night in George Town we got together with our friends Cameron and Nancy on Double Wide, and Gary and Ingrid on Stargazer, and feasted on the fresh fish! The perfect first day in paradise!

Steven and Audrey fit right into life in George Town, exploring Stocking Island, playing Volleyball, , and enjoying the
Sailing to the ExumasSailing to the ExumasSailing to the Exumas

Steve's picture of Audrey and us sailing from Nassau to Hawksbill Cay Exumas.
warm weather. It’s pretty hard not to have fun in George Town. There is so much going on there. All season we had been having trouble starting the engine of the boat, so now that we were in George Town, I started trying to figure out what the engine problem was. We decided not to anchor but took a mooring ball while we figured the problem. As is common among cruisers, we got lots of advice from others, on what the problem might be and tried lots of things including replacing the starter motor.

BUYING THE HOUSEBOAT One of the cruisers that was really helpful told us one day about a Houseboat that was for sale and was a really good deal. I was more focused on getting the sailboat engine working so I didn’t really think much about the Houseboat but Sharon started thinking of all the possibilities of buying the houseboat as a way to spend winters in George Town, in the future, once we take About Time back to Canada. That day we solved the engine problem, and we decided to go and look at the Houseboat. It was definitely a fixer-upper, but the price was right and it had lots of possibilities. It had lots of room to live comfortably, and after looking at some of the other houseboats in George Town and how nice the people live in them we started thinking about making an offer. The houseboat included , a dinghy with a motor, a generator, many solar panels, and enough spare parts to build another boat! It also included a registered mooring that could be transferred to us. The best solution for us was a partnership, and Sharon’s brother Brian, was also interested in finding a inexpensive way to spend time in George Town. So…. Together with Brian and Karen, we bought the Houseboat “Joybells”. We started planning the renovations, so Brian and Karen could spend part of the winter, on “Joybells . The guy we bought it from needed a few weeks to move off the boat so Brian arranged to fly down in early February. By mid January Joybells was ours!

THE STROKE While this was all going on Sharon and I were taking a course in George Town called “Total Immersion Swimming”. The basis of this technique of swimming is to swim more efficiently, longer distances and get great exercise. On the final day while trying to figure out the breathing , I had trouble breathing and lost my balance. I ended up on the beach where I apparently had a stroke, called a TIA stroke. I lost all my feeling in my left hand, and the right side of my face started to droop. They took me to the clinic in George Town, then a private flight to Dr’s Hospital in Nassau. After about 7 hours I got the feeling back and could move my left hand again. I felt pretty well back to normal, but they wanted to keep me in the Hospital, to make sure I didn’t have another one, and do some tests. We flew back to Toronto, where I spent 3 weeks and had more tests, before convincing everyone that I was fine to go back to the Bahamas. It seems I have been very lucky, and I have no lasting damage from the stroke. They call it a warning stroke, and I am determined to change some things so that it doesn’t happen again. Also they now have me on some drugs to help.

Sharon and I had planned to fly
Christmas DayChristmas DayChristmas Day

Eggs Benedict for breakfast today.
home in January to help our Daughter Dawn and her family pack up their house for their two year job transfer to Malaysia and to get one last visit with our Grandchildren before they left. We had this trip planned for a week after my stroke, and were still able to get that visit in and help somewhat with the packing. Sharon went back to the boat a week before I returned. For both of us it was a weird experience having her at the boat and me back in Canada. As it happened Dawn, Paul Ella and Gavin left for Malaysia the day after I flew back to Bahamas.

When I returned to George Town I had to take it a little easy at first, but Sharon and I started cleaning up the houseboat until Brian arrived. When Brian arrived, we put a new floor in the houseboat , and lots of other things to get it livable. Karen arrived a few weeks later and Brian and Karen lived on the houseboat for the next month while continuing to work on it. Karen and Brian closed the houseboat up for the season and returned to Kitchener on March
Warwick Wells Land and Sea ParkWarwick Wells Land and Sea ParkWarwick Wells Land and Sea Park

View from the Ranger Station.

This winter we had two other sets of guests on the boat. Steven's fiancée’s parents Ken and Carole Denholm visited after they attended a conference at Atlantis in Nassau. While our boat was not as luxurious, we hope the beauty of the Exumas, made up for the accommodations. After that our friends Fred and Lucy May visited during the George Town cruising regatta. They got to see how busy it can be during the regatta.

With the Regatta over, and our company gone, Sharon and I were getting ready to start heading north. As we often do, we decided to change our plans, and visit Dawn and her family in Malaysia, for the month of April, before we get our house back in May. That meant a speedy departure from George Town leaving March 15th with a quick trip up the Exumas with our friends Ingrid and Gary on Stargazer. After a night just south of Blackpoint and a night at Shroud Cay, we did a direct sail (28 hours from Shroud Cay, through Nassau and overnight to Port Lucaya Grand Bahamas. We spent a few days waiting for ideal weather, and crossed back to Fort Pierce Florida on March 22nd, arriving the next day.

We have chosen to leave the boat in Fort Pierce this year. It was not our first choice but we have friends that have stored at Fort Pierce and are satisfied so we’ll give it a try. We really liked where we left the boat last year in Port Canaveral , however they are doing some major work on the lock at Port Canaveral this year, and the marina is having trouble with water depth. We didn’t want to go all the way to Canaveral to find out we couldn’t get in so we decided to leave the boat in Fort Pierce.

So in one week, we put the boat to bed in Fort Pierce, returned to Canada, and flew to Ipoh Malaysia where we are currently visiting our daughter, son in law and grandkids. I must say it was quite a busy week! We are over here for a month, including a 12 day trip to Bali with Dawn and the kids. We will be back in Guelph for the May 2nd election.

We still don’t have a firm plan for next winter, but right now plan to head back to the Bahamas. We are thinking right now that we will bring our sailboat back to Canada after next year. That will be 5 years down south. Now that we have the houseboat in the Bahamas, maybe it is time to take About Time back up north. We’ll see!!!

Have a great summer

Sharon and Doug
SV About Time

Additional photos below
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The beach at Stocking Island is a good reason to return every year. Photo by Steve.
Bahamian RacesBahamian Races
Bahamian Races

New Year's Day races in Elizabeth Harbour.
Audrey was a real trooperAudrey was a real trooper
Audrey was a real trooper

Audrey coped very well with some breakdowns early on her vacation on About Time.
Ella and Papa skating in GuelphElla and Papa skating in Guelph
Ella and Papa skating in Guelph

Short experiences in the cold are OK.
Dinghy TourDinghy Tour
Dinghy Tour

Group of cruisers on tour to Tropic of Cancer beach. This is the bridge to Crab Cay. The development there was never completed.
Parked DinghysParked Dinghys
Parked Dinghys

The tour arrived at the destination.

This is the houseboat we bought with Sharon's brother Brian and his wife Karen.

7th April 2011

Great to hear about your adventures
I was in Nassau in December too. Just a 5 day cruise before Christmas. I am still in Florida, returning May 18th. You must never get bored as you are always taking on a new adventure. Take care of yourselves and say "hi" to your kids for me.

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