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Published: November 23rd 2009
Gavin is here
Ella with her new brother Gavin born September 24th.
Spending 6 winter months down south on the boat, and 6 summer months at home in Guelph seems to be working well, and so here we are looking forward to our 3rd winter of retirement on the boat.
This summer our family grew again, with our second grandchild, Gavin Jeffrey Nicholson being born September 24th. As all of you know that have experienced being grandparents, another grandchild is an incredible experience, and so much joy to look forward to.
This year I left earlier than Sharon for the boat, leaving October 13th, visiting our friends Ron and Jenny Huibers in Chalotte NC, and arriving at the boat October 14th. Sharon flew down a week later, giving her another week to help Dawn with Ella, and Gavin.
We kept the boat again this summer in St.Marys Georgia. When I arrived everything looked great, and considering how hot it is there in the summer, it looked fine. We worry about the heat and hurricanes, down south, as well as the constant exposure to salt water. It is harder on all boats, compared to the easy life boats have in Canada, with the fresh water of the great lakes.
An unexpected problem discovered on Doug's return in the fall.
Sharon it was hard to do anything inside the boat, as I didn’t know where she packed things away. I checked into an inexpensive motel that the boat yard has a special arrangement with. That made it much easier, and allowed me to concentrate on the outside work. Our plan this year was to get the boat in the water quick, sail over to Port Lucaya Bahamas where we arranged an inexpensive dock for 2 months. The plan was to do all the cleaning, repairs, and other maintenance at the dock, as opposed to doing the work in St.Marys. We thought that would be way more comfortable. Well……
The first day in St.Marys I found out that a new depth sounder and speed log that were supposed to be replaced during the summer had not been installed, and also I discovered a concerning crack on our rudder. I ended up putting the new depth sounder and speed log in, and had Mabel, the St.Marys boat yard Fiberglass expert look at the rudder. To make a long story short, the rudder had some very serious problems, and we ended up taking the rudder off the boat and virtually rebuilding the
Mable from the boatyard doing the rudder repair.
rudder. That proved to be a pretty big job, but one that was necessary. The good news is that we discovered it when we did, and that it didn’t fail during a critical sailing situation. A caution to other boaters, is to check your rudder, as we are told that it is not uncommon to have rudder problems. One very experienced sailer told me that the 2 things on a sailboat that you never want to have problems with are the rudder, or the rigging. I suppose next year we should take a very close look at our rigging.
So, with Sharon arriving, organizing me and the boat, plus new instruments, new anti fouling on the bottom, and an almost new rudder, we left the boat yard October 28th.. We spent some time out at Cumberland Island relaxing and checking all the systems on the boat. We then moved to a Fernadino Beach, where we met up with some other cruisers we knew from other years, waiting for weather to go offshore down the coast of Florida. After celebrating Halloween in Fernadino Beach we left the next morning, going down the inter coastal waterway to Jacksonville, and then went
outside doing an over nighter to Port Canaveral and then onto Vero Beach.
Vero Beach is one of the best places for cruisers in Florida. They have a great facility, services, and easy access to stores for provisioning, It’s another place to meet up with other cruisers, and prepare to leave across the Gulf Stream for points south. We arrived in Vero Beach Nov 2 hoping to leave for the Bahamas “in a few days” Well… we spent 2 weeks in Vero waiting for the right weather, and wind direction. The only wind direction that is not good to cross the Gulf Stream is north wind, and it blew north for over 2 weeks straight! The good news of that was we had time to rent a car for a day and visit my sister Lynne in Cape Coral.
Finally on Monday, Nov 16th, it looked like there was a short opportunity to cross to the Bahamas, so we left Vero Beach went out in the ocean at Fort Pierce and sailed down to West Palm Beach. We anchored in West Palm for the night, and left the next morning and arriving in West End, Grand Bahamas about
St Mary's takes Halloween very seriously and the town is full of scarecrows.
5:00pm that evening. This was our 9th crossing of the Gulf Stream, and each time, we are still a bit nervous, as it can be a rough ride. Fortunately again this year we had a very nice, easy crossing.
After clearing Customs at West End, we sailed (not motored) the next day to Port Lucaya Grand Bahamas. It was perfect weather for a fantastic sail. When we arrived at the entrance to the harbour, we called the Ocean Reef , where our dock was arranged, and were told we had to wait for high tide to come in! So we dropped the anchor and waited. Finally another boater came out and helped us navigate our way in!
So here we are at the Ocean Reef, until mid January. This is really different that what we are used to. It is a very nice place, with 2 swimming pools, a hot tub, showers right in front of our dock, great internet and lots more. This should be a real treat. On December 14th, we fly home for 2 weeks. When we come back, Dawn, Paul, Ella and Gavin will join us for a holiday, before we start heading further
Our plan this winter, is to leave here in mid January, sail south to the Exumas, then on to Cuba. We hope to do some land travel in Cuba, then head back to Georgetown for the regattas there. So far we have not decided where we will leave the boat next summer. We may leave the boat in the Bahamas for the summer, or take it back to Georgia. We aren’t sure yet.
In advance we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and look forward to seeing many friends when we are back in Guelph in December.
Sharon and Doug
Aboard SV About Time at Ocean Reef Resort, Port Lucaya Grand Bahamas Island
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