Thursday, April 30, 2009


The yacht "TREEHOUSE" and its great crew of Glenn and Spencer Miller(father & Son) has left to sail north to New York. A long way to go, but they will be back to see more islands........... That's for sure.. We very much enjoyed their company and their helpfulness at every turn. Speaking of "Trees"............... Take this one for example................. real food for thought..... I mean philosophical thought.......

" YES........ I CAN"

O.K. That's enough...... Not far away was an even more exotic tree. A Frangipani (Plumeria) in which an airplane had accidently landed. BAHAMASAIR........ the plane looked quite old,......... it might be as old as 1941, who knows.

Check out the engines....... Rolls Royce turbo props I think...........
Check out that nice red snapper too.............. The docks in the background were taken out by the last hurricane. Only the posts are left standing.....

Everytime we go ashore we are surrounded by the floral paradise. Colorful bouganvillea everywhere. Even the crotons, those dark red plants flower here and despite the lack of soil, there is no holding back on flowers.

I had my first beer in years, and needless to say the "Queen" needed the photographs as evidence for any subsequent side-effects. I could well come out suddenly with "barracuda" tendencies. "No worries......... Mate.............."

For those that love sailing there is always the opportunity to rent a fully equiped cruiser. A sloop like those in the photo or a much broader catamaran. A bunch of them here ready to go..... The benefits are enormous in that you have a great hotel room that moves, you get to go to whatever anchorage you choose, and you get to play "Captain" for a bit. It certainly is not that much more expensive than local accommodation for the same period. The down-side is that if it blows or rains, or a strong front comes through during the week...... well...... your call. In this last week we saw a bunch of charter people sailing when none of us boat owners would have gone out. One of the catamarans came back with a shredded genoa (foresail). Bits and pieces the size of spagetti................ hanging off the forestay... a real mess.

I cannot remember if these two young Bahamian ladies were the owners of the marina or if they were on some school project to study marine biology.........or maybe it was a 'Rake & Scrape' project........... That single beer is definitely different from the one back in 2001.

Oh...YES..... before I forget. This is my very handsome grandson "ZAC". He has that definite swash-buckling glint in his eye, and when he gets a little taller he'll make a fine Pirate. (even though pirates haven't exactly endeared themselves lately) By the time he gets really big he will be just a "Gentleman Pirate", like Errol Flynn and Captain Jack Sparrow....... Aargh.... matey.......
And if we cross paths with the "BLACK PEARL" we will just have to capture it for him.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Now "CABIN FEVER" is a very serious dilemna, generally resulting from such things as "Having your dinghy stolen during the night", or " not seeing the sun for a month in -52 degrees", " Boat buried in the mangroves during a hurricane". Then again this also qualifies, sort of...... " Three or four days of strong winds". Yesterday gave us no choice, we needed to get somewhere NICE. On the chart shown below is a little sandy beach known as "TAHITI BEACH", at the lower end of ELBOW CAY, a perfect getaway. Two dinghies were loaded and we took off on a journey of discovery.

Of course there are other ways to get out of the cabin. This bunch of happy cruisers is celebrating "SVEA"s big sail in 20 knots, by downing a shot of nitroglycerine bottled as "FIRE-IN-THE-HOLE". Our motto, at least this far, has been " IN SEARCH OF PALMS", thus the excursion to TAHITI BEACH is morally correct.

It was a very wet ride, in very strong winds, but the sight of blue water and white sand was Paradise. Barely had we touched land, planted the flag, claimed it as our own, placed our soaking shirts on the bushes to dry, before young Glenn Miller is up a coconut tree to bring down the fruits of Heaven and the cool nectar of the Gods.

Four monster NUTS fall to the ground with that dull thud that only coconuts make. (remember Castaway). The dinghy anchor is improvised to husk them in quick order and one of the three "eyes" in each nut is opened with a knife, to release a syrup way better than anything imagineable. These are BIG GREEN NUTS, not dried-out shrivelled little excuses. These are so healthy and precious, that even the Queen, in a moment of serious meditation,(or whatever she was doing) does not let go of her stolen fruit. (Double-click on the photo and you will see she is serious about this stuff).

The "TREE-CLIMBER" from "TREEHOUSE" (and it is all beginning to make sense now) wants to come down, but the others are yelling "Look at the camera, don't look at the tree" Yeah....... right............ After the husking and the drinking there is still the job of opening the nut to get at the meat. Ever try to break a hard round ball with a round piece of lumber....... No better way to break 'Cabin Fever' than that. We are laughing at our own antics. No home-runners amongst our lot.

The chart on the right shows the depth in METRES, not to be confused with feet. The yachts have all been anchored now for four days to the South of that itzzy spit of land pointing to the west marked" TAVERN CAY".(right where the anchor is shown if you double-click). The wind has been barreling in from the east. Everywhere there are shallow places but easily distinguisable by the color of the water. During the night.... well.... different story. On the VHF radio you hear comments all the time like " Are you aground yet". " I think so, the scenery is not changing...."

We discover, as we step beyond the beach a beautful grove of palms. For the moment the search is over. Our quest has been fulfilled. Further on we are amazed to see plant life clinging to wave-washed bare rocks. "Clinging" is an understatement. "Embedded " would be more appropriate, yet they survive and proudly flash green foliage.....nothing short of amazing....................

And if you still think that we were kidding about how sharp the rocks are that line the ocean edges,..........Then just imagine drifting ashore and climbing over this little rock ledge in the photo to the left (double-click)......... You'll do more than shave your legs, ............................. and the stuff is hard too. Harder than chinese algebra.......................

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Walked across the island this morning to see the "OCEANSIDE". ... WOW.... powerful waves, big enough to make you want to give up sailing and while 20 knots plus is easily doable, after three days of it, those waves looked mighty menacing. Our planned trip to NASSAU would have been in this weather. Smart call not to go. Double-click on the photo if you don't believe me. Double-click anyway. Staying in the lee (the sheltered side) of the island has been excellent. It allowed us to do an extensive dinghy ride to the very end of the island. There were times when the breaking waves were higher than the island and we heard the roar.

This week on the local radio 'cruisers net', there was a call for everyone to get busy on the weekend and do your part for the "KEEP ABACO BEAUTIFUL" cleanup campaign. While on the windward side of TILLOO CAY, we noticed there was a little unwanted trash on the beach. The Queen and I looked at each other with the notion of "Where do we begin?" and the answer was "Let's go back to the other side..." More than 99 percent of the trash is plastic. Everything from flip-flops, to water-bottles, oil containers, milk crates, buckets, drums, plastic chairs, plastic safety helmets, even a Toyota fender, in pretty good shape, too. There were some timber posts, but it is hard to realise how plastic fencing could end up on the beach, until I remembered Tom Hanks in "CASTAWAY" finding that portable toilet that would have made even "KENNY" proud. Do a double-click and get an eye-full. It was the same in both directions.... real depressing.......

Back on the other side, the dinghy ride was much nicer. Blue water and bits of reef everywhere. Starfishes were out in full. I picked this one up for only a few seconds, and when I put it back under water I got the distinct impression he actually stuck one finger up at me.

Went to sit-in on a sea-snail Conference. Didn't learn a lot. "Slugged" through it, excused ourselved and quietly left. They didn't even notice our departure. This variety is called "NERITE" and clearly this meeting was a gathering of the "Bleeding Tooth" group. Other groups of "NERITES" are "Olives" and a good group to attend are the ones called "Virgins". Notice there's a "Chiton" half-way up the wall trying to eavesdrop.

Spent some time with this lonely sea worm. All jelly and attached to the sea bottom at one end. The rest of his body gets a hammering in the shallows. This one also took no notice of us. Then on the beach and in the shallows we found this monstrous deadly snake. Amazing that it can live in and out of water. Never did find its head or its tail, though we trailed it ashore for quite some distance. It is obviously in hibernation. Amazingly, we found one end of it going into a very large electrical transformer box while the other end simply went out to sea. Very evenly sized too. It would appear to have a three-core insulated intestine that goes for miles. We wondered what it eats?

The wave action seriously undercuts the uplifted seabed that forms the island. The calciferous rock is as sharp as a razor and almost impossible to walk on even with sandals on.

Ever so slowly I crawled out from under the overhanging lip. The sand on the other hand is as soft as butter. This front-opening barge, the MV "TILLOO" is also anchored in the lee of the island, just like us. You can see where his lines are attached ashore. He really didn't need to do that. He is anchored pretty good.

There were lots of conch in the shallows and all very much alive and feeding. The moment you pick them up the foot shoots back inside and after a little while one or both eyes come out to stare you down. It worked. We put them all back in...... right side down...............................


The Royal Corgi, a trusted and highly devoted member of the HOPE family, has passed on. Duchess Dana (Laurie's sister) and her husband Count Chris are very saddened. The death came suddenly and was due to an auto-immune condition. She has gone everywhere with them over the last nine years. Her name is and will always be "ABACO", so named, because the Abaco Islands are one their most favourite destinations. "ABACO" is now in heaven where she has free reign to chase every Harley-Davison motorbike she can get hold of. No more front fences to hold her back.

On the right is Chris, Corina, Dana, Joel and Her Highness "ABACO", the royal Corgi, only a few weeks ago, during happier times, while sailing down the Florida Coast at Micco, just before "Velcro" Beach Marina.

We share your pain and grieve with you for your loss. Pets soon become much more than pets................and their loss is as great as losing someone close.

Friday, April 24, 2009


IT IS 3 AM on Saturday morning, the boat is rolling and jerking, the wind is howling despite the fact that we are anchored in a protected bay behind TILLOO CAY. We are "locked up in Paradise". The weather forecast for the next two days remains the same. 20 to 25 knots from the East.......... and everyman and his dog is thinking..... so,............I'll take it anytime........ the color of that water is making me green with envy..... The plan has been to sail to Antigua by June (and I mean this year), then during the Hurricane season which runs from June to November, keep both ARITA and SVEA in a very protected anchorage in the mangroves. SVEA's crew would fly back to Australia, while the Queen and I would stay there to keep our eye on things. That was the plan. That's not the plan anymore. The UNSEASONAL WEATHER, the continuing cold fronts and Corina's advancing pregnancy have now caused us to re-evaluate. We will stay in the Bahamas until they fly out in June.
Yesterday marked a significant highlight. Despite the 20 knots of wind, the TREEHOUSE crew joined SVEA's crew and sailed SVEA with full main and genoa (that's the front triangular sail) doing a good seven and a half knots. A thrilling ride. They sailed back and forth in the Sea of ABACO, the first time that they have actually sailed SVEA. They were too far gone for us to take photos. Corina now has a good handle on "NAVIGATION". The photo to the right is the bowsprit of ARITA. THe anchor chain is held up by a "SNUBBER". The ropeline absorbs the shock-loading when the wind drives the yacht back and eliminates the noise of the anchor chain over the bow roller. Makes for peaceful sleeping in the front cabin. That round 'thingimebob' is the self-furling genoa drum. It has a line which when pulled causes the genoa sail to roll itself up on the forestay....... Very clever and ingenious...... and reliable.

Well....... We sit and wait.............. By Monday it should start to moderate....
(Someone's a poet .........and didn't know it)

THIS is TILLOO CAY, or at least one section to the left of us. The residences are scattered here and there and belong mostly to people living in the US. These are holiday and retirement homes, small but quaint, and built to hurricane standards. The ones that aren't are usually found afterwards on the beach in the next island in very small pieces. It is low tide and the base at water level is very hard calciferous rock and not to be messed with. If you double click on the photo you'll see a line hanging between two poles. That "clothes-line" is used to attach the speedboat so that when you pull the line you can " park" the boat in the middle between the poles. With winds out of the east, our side of the island is relatively calm, but over the little hill are some awesome waves, and the rocks in the breakwater, in the photo, attest to the fact that some protection is necessary for their docks when the wind is out of the west. There is a 3 ft. tide drop and the photo shows us at low tide. In sailing in waters mostly 9 ft deep you need to take note of that when you draw 6ft or more.

Spencer Miller, of the father & son team of "TREEHOUSE" fame, has fallen in love with fishing. He still has a girlfriend back in NY state, but fishing is just awesome. The rig is simple. A 130 lb breaking strain line with a swivel, a 1m stainless steel trace wire with a fancy pink skirt (seen better skirts on the QUEEN) and a lead weight followed by a vicious hook. Take a look at Spencer's smile, while holding his Port and Starboard fishing gear. He said it was the best present.... ever. We (that's a royal "we") feel sure that, that will change when he sees his girlfriend again.

The yacht "TREEHOUSE" is our next door neighbour. The crew is out sailing on SVEA. Last Monday the OBAMA team lifted some of its US embargos on CUBA and it is now possible to sail to CUBA. Perhaps our delay can now be turned into our good fortune because Cuba, its islands and its people, are most definitely worth visiting....

TREEHOUSE heads back for New York early next week and most assuredly all of us will miss them a great deal. They are two outstanding and honorable men, and it is "WE" who have had the best present of all.......

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


That "cold front" was a bit of a disgrace in the end. It blew, then died, then blew again all day from the North and gave us a chance to leave Marsh Harbour. "Columbus" and his three ship convoy were on the way again. Before we could leave however, there was a matter of retrieving SVEA's "Lost Anchor". This beautiful 45lb (22Kg) stainless steel CQR anchor had come adrift from the chain during anchoring and hid itself in the muddy bottom. Two days of fruitless searching now required bigger guns. Going up to the local dive shop didn't exactly cut it......The conversation would probably go like this.... "O.K. $100.00 and we will look for it......... Sorry we can't find it..... Thanks for telling us where to look for it...... and when did you say you were leaving?....... So out came ARITA's new dive gear as in the dinghy photo. Compressor, two hoses, mouthpiece regulators, weightbelts, the works and find it we did. Joel was thrilled to be able to spot it and so were the rest of the crew. It would take near to a $1000.00 to replace it, so we certainly were not going to leave without it. It is now securely secured to the anchor chain.

Barely had we left when this huge tanker ship came barrelling by, doing at least 12 knots in only 9 ft of water depth. That's a little over two and a half meters deep. We ended up trying to see if he made a furrow in the sandy bottom but he must have been a little higher. "TROPIC something or other" loaded with diesel and gasoline and a couple of white tanks of LP gas on top of the deck, for good measure. Better than TNT. Registered in Belize City is all I remember, because the back of the ship was so good to look at.....We sat on the tail of SVEA, too, for a while. She looked good heading out in a following sea and soon had her genoa up as well. There hasn't been much chance for sailing. It's been blowing a storm and generally on the nose. Today was an exception with only 20 knots from behind and the sun that came out in full...time to get some sun.

YES, SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST. The sun out in full meant the Queen getting a sun-tan out on the "back porch". The last decent thing I've had on the back porch was that 8lb red snapper and he "got eaten". There may be further photos of a tanning Queen later, but this will do for now...............
Beneath the back porch are the gasoline (petrol) tanks used in filling up the outboard motor, the Honda generator and the dive compressor. They've been painted dark brown to prevent them being stolen. The nice red ones you normaly see, full of gas (petrol) are so attractive in the Islands when they sit on your aft deck........ right there for the taking....... WAIT A MINUTE.....Maybe that's why the tanker was doing twelve knots. Afraid we might have been "Somali type pirates" after his gas and diesel........ that explains it all.......

Monday, April 20, 2009


Yes...... We had to go back to Marsh Harbor to sit out another "cold Front" as it worked its way through the islands. This is a cold air mass that pushes a warm air mass out of the way with some strong rotating winds at the interface. Yesterday the highest was 38 knots with lots of squally rain. Today looks very much better.
What looks even better is this "Hog Snapper fish, head and all, with spices, tomato, onions, capsicams and a little NZ butter, out of a tin". Just wrap the foil and onto the BBQ griller with it.

As soon as the front passes, we will be on our way to 'LITTLE HARBOR' to the bat cave and the bronze foundry and then an overnight sail to NASSAU, the Capital of the Bahamas.
Strong NE winds are expected but we urgently need to keep moving........ The season is creeping up on us....

Now as to the other photo,......... well, that's a "Rastafrarian" dinghy. Some people go to great lengths not to have their dinghy stolen. We use a stainless steel chain and padlock, very conventional, I know... ........
The 'hair net' is made of bits of fishing net interwoven with odd bits of washed-up rope found at the high-water mark on the beaches. This being 'Earth week', it is a good reminder of our trashy ways. Someone even flew a huge 'Blue Planet' flag till the wind got too strong......May have torn the Planet to pieces.. Great to see the awareness. Most yachties are enviromentally-conscious even if they " pea in the soup".

While in Marsh Harbor, we went to visit the school for "Special Needs" children. Laurie introduced herself and was gone for the next couple of hours "on tour". Talk about a magnet and a steel ball..... What else was to expected after you have been doing that job for thirty years. The school operates out of donated buildings and has 94 students, all in uniforms and range from severely palsyed children in wheelchairs all the way through to mildly mentally challenged, including deaf and hard of hearing. The whole school, with all of its infrastructure and materials, operates on " DONATIONS". Yes, just donations. No government funding, no goverment support. This is teaching from the heart and not the wallet. Just runs on people willing to support and raise funds for it. A remarkble insight into the better side of human nature. Marsh Harbor, and the Bahamas, for that matter are not exactly rolling in wealth. The kids, who ages range from about 6 to 21 are trying amongst many things, to grow vegetables, in a little garden and you don't have to be "blind Freddy" to see that there is more rock and rubble than soil. I will let you guess which of the pictures was taken by one of my junior assistants. I had to fight to get the camera back. Double click on the photo above and see one of the kids seriuosly watering the rocks. They asked Her Highness, a very humbled Queen, to come back, so that the students could read to her and show off their reading skills. This sort of stuff is very emotional and hard to take when you see their eagerness and enthusiasm........... Now there, I have just smudged the page.......

On the somewhat brighter side, are the buildings for the "Every Child Counts Learning Centre", which were donated by a former Catholic Nunnery... (Don't know if they went out of business or moved on..) At one of the yachting events last year there was fund-raising to paint the buildings. Well... they look great, all lilac and mauve, and very clean too. Their web-site is
Who knows what you can do........everylittlethinghelps....

The Queen is now talking of trying to set up some assistance through her network of associates for raising materials and funding to help. We already have enough difficulty getting online as it is....... this is not due to the quality of the signal but due to the only signal being shared by way too many internet users. This brings our share of the bandwidth to about half an Mbps during the day. That's a new screen page every hour or so... Yes, you guessed it........... it is 4.00am or the photos won't load. Goodnight or morning....whatever.................................