If time is money and you have more time, Do you need more money?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Quest for Morgan's Cave 3-22

I decided to make today the adventure to Morgan's Cave.  Captain Morgan (No Boo I don't mean Genna Davis) utilized this cave to store his bounty.  The Spiced Rum Company sponsoring a search and salvage expedition last year found one of  Captain Morgan"s Ships.   

Video when we have a good connection.

"Immortalized by Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, produced today in Puerto Rico, Henry Morgan was no ordinary pirate. In his heyday he was a privateer empowered by the British government to fight against Spain, and most accounts describe him as a politician. Most notably, King Charles II made him a Knight of the Realm in 1673 and Lt. Governor of Jamaica.

Born Henry Morgan in 1835 to a well-connected and prosperous old farming family in Wales, like most pirates his early life is little known and how he reached Jamaica is disputed. In one version Morgan was kidnapped and worked as an indentured servant until joining Cromwell's forces. In the other, Morgan joined Cromwell upon the British arrival in Jamaica after the island was won from Spain.

As a privateer, Morgan battled through jungles and in major sea battles for the spoils of war. By 1663 he was captain of a privateer ship. In 1666 Morgan became Admiral by the popular acclaim of buccaneers and the weight of the Crown. Later he had charge of fifteen ships and by 1670, he held thirty six ships and eighteen hundred men.

Henry Morgan was a man's man - a warrior, a sailor, and a politician. Noted for his charisma, he was also ruthless. When the buccaneers took Panama's Puerto Bello under his command, Jesuit priests and nuns were used as human shields.

Morgan was already wealthy when he wed his cousin, Mary Elizabeth Morgan, by 1665 but had no children. He could have settled for life as a prosperous planter on his estate in Jamaica, but he preferred the glory and gold of battle.

In 1670 Morgan's forces attacked Panama unaware that a treaty had been signed between Spain and England. For the attack, Morgan was imprisoned in England and charged as a pirate. He never served time in prison, instead his family connections combined with the interest of King Charles II saved Morgan before trial. Charles sought his advice about the Jamaica colony and knighted Morgan in 1673 or 1674. He then appointed Morgan Lt. Governor of the colony.

Morgan spent the remainder of his life in the harbor city of Port Royal, a city infamous as the capital of piracy, where he divided his time between his official duties and drinking rum with his old companions.

Henry Morgan died August 25, 1688 at the age of 53, and was buried at Port Royal. His death has been attributed to tuberculosis, to acute alcoholism, and to unknown causes. At the time of his death his sugar plantations were large and he owned 109 black slaves. The massive earthquake that destroyed Port Royal in 1696 also destroyed Morgan's grave forever.

His fame lives on in legend and in more than a few songs that celebrate his exploits. Henry Morgan is lesser known than other infamous pirates but among those who salute the Jolly Roger, he ranks tall over other buccaneers and played an important role in Jamaican history."  -ageofpirates

I am missing my Canon DSLR camera! The i-phone just doesn't cut it especially in low light of the cave.


The Dinner Party 3-21

Richard and Penny on board the catamaran Penelope invited us over to spaghetti and salad. When we asked what we could bring they were all about, “nothing we've got it”. But we couldn't help to bring something as Richard stated he was making fresh bread we brought along some herbs and olive oil. Dinner was great as was the conversation. I really loved the fact the complimented Ayrton on his manners and communication skills. Woo Hoo!  Thanks for a great evening, fair winds.


Morgan's Bluff, Second rate paradise 3-20 part two

Well we have still be having fun here in our paradise. The internet was down the day we arranged to communicate with home. There was a power interruption for repairs. We have also finally met Lee the “Harbor Master” and as with everyone else he quickly showed me his name in the Cruising Guide.

Snorkeling keeps producing dinner

Grilled Lobster

 Cajun Lobster Scampi and Grouper Alfredo

A snapper we gave to s/v Penelope as our cooler was stocked

Our second day here we made an attempt to find Morgan's Cave. Our trip took us out to the point and across the jagged rock formations that would have ripped any ship stranded by a storm in moments. A grounding here isn't like being beaten slowly by the washing of the waves on a sandy shore. To be washed ashore here is like running your boat through a wood chipper. The seas have kept us from trying the “cliff jumping” that others have been able to do here. Even a slip on the bluff would rip massive amounts of flesh on your way down and if you are lucky enough to land in the sea you may survive.

As we headed south along the road there was a sign. We paused and looked to our left and saw an entrance to a small cave. We didn't have a flash light with us so we made a plan to return in a day or two.

The waves have been wrapping around the break water and into the end of the harbor. This and the lack of an overpowered dinghy has been keeping us off some of the better lobster and grouper grounds. I need to break out the sail kit and actually use it to get us to some far away spots. But we have still be “scoring” dinner without traveling outside the comfort zone. The Fisher King has managed to spear a couple of Lion Fish at around 12-15 feet deep. I am debating on taking the Hawaiian sling next time to get the snapper we keep seeing but I do not want to loose the shaft on the first shot. I may keep it for later around the coral heads.

Another adventure I was contemplating was going to Uncle Henry's Blue Hole. As it turns out it is a hefty hike down the road and we are not going to rent a car for this so the Blue Hole is a bust.

We plan on being here a few more days waiting for a calming of The Tongue of the Ocean. The forecast calls for 4 days of lighter winds running the compass starting early Saturday. Our current plan is to make it to the West Bay and then on to Allen's Cay for the iguannas. From there it will be small daily sails south along the Exuma chain.

Here are some statistics that may be important to some:

Morgan's Bluff Bimini Blue Water Resort Boot Key Harbor
Gas $6.15 $6.20 $4.45
Water $0.00 $0.60 $0.05
Ice $6.00 $3.00 $1.75
Internet $0.00* $10.00* per stay $0.00
Canned Soda $1.00 $1.50 $0.75
Marina/dinghy dock NA $30.00/night** $22.00/night**
* Option of free internet at the Straw Market in Bimini, Free internet at the Bar in Morgan's Bluff current password is “freemonth” without the quotes.
** Monthly and/or Weekly discount

Also for reference we spent $62.00 (10 gal) in fuel to get from Bimini Blue Water Resort to Mackie Shoal against the current and wind! Bringing our grand total to 25 gallons so far from Marathon, FL.

Water cost/use so far: $1.80 and 20 gallons

The justification or lack of for an on board refrigerator: Total ice usage so far as of today from last dinghy ride at Marathon, FL = 14 bags / around $40.00. This included an interruption in Nixon Harbor putting us without ice for days and loosing about $60.00 in food. Total so far in loss and cost $100.

We will try our best to keep this updated every two to four weeks. I have created a page to track this here.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Morgan's Bluff, Second rate paradise 3-18-2012 part one

Lions, Lobsters and Grouper Oh My! It is time for a holiday.

Everyone seems to rate Morgan's Bluff as a second rate Bahamas Anchorage. What we found is on the surface it is run down, and ill kept. To us it became a paradise. Lion fish, Lobster, Grouper every day, or at least some mix of the aforementioned. There are 3 sunken boats at the water dock covered in lion fish near the bottom. If we only had some cream cheese the Fisher King would want Lion Fish Sushi. The second floor Yoga that Wee Happy found last year is desolate. There are only two other boats now as the Island Packets and the Morris have left. It is a quite anchorage and peaceful.

Here we have had Conch Salad (why is it conch salad if shrimp is cevichi?). Conch Fritters, Grouper grilled and blackened, and that wonderful lobster. If there was only a grocery nearby. We don't need the much just some fresh veggies and cream cheese for sushi. The Fisher King loves his cream cheese sushi.

Have you ever noticed that even on a small boat you often loose the items you need at the moment? It can be compared to not finding an item in the closet the first two times you look. An example would be our tenderizing mallet. Found the next day just where the Fisher King was looking when we needed it. Just for reference a hole saw and a flat hammer or substitute will work on the conch. Also today I wanted the LA hot sauce for the cevichi, I mean conch salad, but it is missing too. We will find it tomorrow or the next day. Also one other item is a large dry bag stuffed with Gulp fishing lure. I checked the lazerettes three times and sent the King to the V-birth twice. Sitting here today eating the conch salad I looked at the Fisher King and asked “What is that?” as I pointed to the end of the dry bag hanging out of the V-birth. So goes life.  Good new is the mallet has returned also.  I wonder if we have gremlins tying to play jokes on us.

First Lobster!

One lion fish down 825,384,017 to go!

We chose to stay for a few days after seeing the lobsters. We were at a cross roads so to speak. Fourteen days left in lobster season. We could spend 2-3 days going to the Exumas and not find any there once we arrived, or we could stay here and test our ability to retrieve them from the bottom of the ocean. We chose to stay and enjoy the lobster season or at least what is left of if.  This is the first time I had serious dinghy envy. If we had a motor we could have went far out to the islands of Morgan's and looked for more lobster. But at a cost of a second motor, registration and gas use.

Dinner anyone?
Grouper Oh My!

We need a new spot as the one we are using has surrendered 5 lobster in the last 3 days and a few lion fish. If I could only get that large Mangrove Snapper that is looming in the distance. He keeps just outside the range of a pole spear. We actually tried fishing for him but without live shrimp or at least frozen, he doesn't care what we toss out. We have found no conch here but we will get plenty in the Exumas as season doesn't run out like for lobster. (Notice: do not forget your gloves, lobsters are called spiny for a reason. Also as the Fisher King says “The spiny urchins have spikes the size of chop sticks)

One day she will stop eloping, hopefully it is this time!

We have been missing home a little lately. It has been over two months since we left “home”. My best friends go married this week on a road trip to NY. My daughter placed second in regional softball. We are definitely living in our own little world and missing our family. Love you and miss you Boo!

I will try to post a date in the heading also as we have found it much easier to write the blog ahead of the internet connections and just cut and past it to make things quicker. After all why sit in a marina typing a tale when you could be doing maintenance, fishing or snorkeling. Trying to upload photos in Bimini was a flash back into AOL history and here is not much better if any.

We continue to learn more about the GoPro, like charging the backpack battery is not happening with the main camera port. We have to plug in the back pack separately to get it to charge.


Crossing the Bahama Banks 3-17, 3-18-2012

Damn we missed St Patrick’s day and all the green beer we don't drink. lol

We had to motor sail all the way to Mackie Shoal. It was into the wind and against the current we were making a solid 3 knts at full throttle. Once we cleared Mackie and having fed Mercury WAY TOO MUCH fuel. We were able to finally sail. It was close hauled and not on the little red line but we were sailing and making headway. During the long leg of the first tack I could actually evaluate the auto pilot...

It is 100 times better than no autopilot and 100 times worse than steering yourself.

Depending on the size of the waves, the angle of attack, and the angle of the wind it can be a savior or an aggravation. On a reach like crossing the Gulf Stream the little “s” deviations are all acceptable as the wind keeps the sails full and life is good. But when close hauled in 3+ footers the little “s” deviation becomes a big “S” deviation. I watched as the autopilot struggled to keep us pointed where I wanted to go. It would wonder up to 30 degrees! Also using the self tack mode across the bank it was having issues. First it would over tack then compensate by over adjusting and back filling the head sail. But it is better than no autopilot. I just have to work around it's short comings. Think Wind Vane!

The North West Chanel and getting from the Bahama Bank to the Tongue of the Ocean was not very eventful even with the outgoing tide. Just keep in mind the real chop is not until after the way point in deeper water. The plan was to take the best sailing option at this point.

Chub Cay
Morgan's Bluff

It was Morgan's Bluff on a close reach. The sail was good until a black cloud formed and the seas hit 6-7 feet about 5 miles before the Morgan way point. As the cloud passed the waves dropped in size and the white caps got fewer. Then with a mile or so to go it was building again. So what to do? Stay out and wait for the lesser winds and waves or ride it in. This question ran through my mind a thousand times before I finally made the decision to enter the channel. The trip in was much easier than I had expected. The channel had less than ½ of the charted markers but enough to know where things were. We were able to enter the channel and make it all the way to the anchorage under SAIL. This was a triumphant moment of achievement for our crew.


Bahama Star and making Decisions

Beautiful Starfish

Decisions Decisions 3-14

The morning to cross the banks came and from my bunk I heard outside, “have a good trip!” The captain of boat beside me was wishing Marianne and Matt a good trip. As they and Max on his catamaran headed off in the dark to leave Bimini Bay. I was too late to wish them off they were already in the channel. At this moment it was decision time...

Was I going to head out also as planned the previous day or was I going to wait as the window was borderline for me? Feeling the stiff breeze in my face I returned down below to continue sleeping.

The next weather window was in three days. The wind was 4-5 kts lower and looked better for me. While verifying the weather at the Straw Market I got an email from Espin on s/v Mini Pearl seconding the decision not to go. He suggested up and over the North Islands. A route of small island hopping but a longer distance. In review of the new forecast I chose to wait it out back in Nixon Harbor for a few days saving $90 in dock fees.

Then on the 3rd day we headed out to North Rock and onto the banks. As we rounded the rock and headed East we were into the wind. I went to furl the head sail and it would not roll. The halyard was wrapped which was abnormal. So I loosened the furling line and played with the halyard trying to get the sail to roll. Decision Time! The wind was too stiff to deal with it on the banks, so we returned our course and tucked in the leeward side of North Bimini. We dropped the hook off shore just far enough to stay out of the rolling waves.

Down comes the sail. When I get to the head the top swivel was missing all its ball bearings. When we rebuilt the lower part of the furling way back in Panama City it was way too windy to pull the sail down and change the top. Bad Decision. Now we were doing it in Paradise. So there I was unbolting all that was replaced and doing it again. Missing our first day of the window.

So what do you do when you blow the first real chance to cross and continue on the the Exumas? You Decide to let your crew go snorkeling and find some conch. The Fisher King has done so well with his patience. He really needed some time in the water. This turned a bad day into a good afternoon! Good decision.

The Fisher King collecting Conch

He managed to get two conchs and lost the location of another one he found while putting the first one on the boat.

Later we moved south and anchored off shore just off CJ's. A good decision. You can get really close here but too close and you are in the swells. You also have quick access to the internet just a couple blocks south at the Straw Market. Good ice, hard frozen, is available a couple blocks north at Bimini Blue Water. You could also check in from this location and save the fight of the current in the bay or the marina fees.

The review of the weather showed the best window in the last 3 weeks or longer but still not perfect. Tomorrow we head out again.


Monday, March 12, 2012

On the move

We head out across the Bahama Banks Tomorrow.

We will check in at the next chance.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hanging out at the dock

What is swimming under Bimini Blue Water Marina Dock.  All the photos are from our GoPro with BlurFix,  no filter, natural light and not photoshopped.  That is information for those looking to buy a GoPro.

Nurse Shark

Dreaded Lion Fish

 Spotted Eagle Ray  We have seen several of these jumping in the harbor

The below image has been color corrected similar to the URPro shallow underwater lens that costs $100

It takes a couple minutes a photo to correct them but we may do that for future entries 

Sunrise Sunday 3/11  why not I was up

We hope to cross the bank in a couple days

Checking In at Bimini

Checking in with Customs, immigration, contacting home and meeting new people..

Bimini Blue Water Marina (BBWM) 

Bimini Blue Water Marina is reminiscent of the '50s and '60s motels found all over Florida beaches waiting for the condo to tear them down. Flat one story sun bleached buildings in perpetual need of repair. This is where we met JR. He is the deck hand all around guy. Awesome attitude and always busy. Problem is that there is only one of him and you may be on the wait for his attention. But great attention when you get it. He pulled us around to a different slip, gave us the paperwork for check in, was there for any information and on and on.

Bimini Blue Water Marina: $30 a night for showers, restrooms, pool well worth it.

The other cruisers quickly pointed us to FREE internet at the craft market. Their review of BBWM internet was unfavorable and at $10 bucks not a great deal. That is a $10 one time access fee covering your whole stay. I do not know if it would still work on your return trip. Also the signal is weak compared to the neighboring two marinas. We also found out that while we were trapped in Nixon Bay for the week other cruisers were trapped at the marinas for the same time. Their misery wasn't as bad but not as cheap either. Marianne and Matt on the Catalina (above pic) arrived a several hours before us as they left Rodriguez Key shortly after midnight. They have been here for a week and looks like about 3 more days left for them. A huge catamaran finally got out while we were in customs.

Main Street Bimin,i Allen Town

Customs and Immigration are only a couple of buildings down and a short walk.  They were polite and after giving up the $150 cruising fee we got 100 days on our check in from immigration and 5 months from customs. This is awesome as there is so much buzz on the net about people only getting 30 days and having to revisit another office during their cruise or maybe several more.  Now to manage the boat stores till June!

 Out with the BRAND NEW tattered and torn "Q" flag from Misery Bay

It is official we are no longer Quarantined!

When you are here for your one day check in or so get lunch on the top of the hill at CJ's Cracked Conch and Conch Fritters but beware my Diet Coke was dated 2011. I was wondering where things that didn't sell at Go-Grocery went. As stated above free internet at the craft market near the Customs office. Veggies come on Thursdays down at the corner. A $0.89 can from Winn-Dixie was repriced to $3.29 at another shop Bread is $4 a loaf at the bakery.

Conch Fritters, Cracked Conch and Ch(f)ries, yes I know that was just stupid.

We are now stuck here as we can not get to the next destination before more 30 knot winds come through. Hopefully in two days we can move on. We are no longer stir crazy but are chipping away at the cruising kitty.
 He just has to pick up EVERYTHING!

Bimini Beach facing the USA

South West corner of N Bimini just go to the beach from CJ's and turn left

Very relaxing   I wished the iphone did it justice