Saturday, May 28, 2011



IMG_2996In US waters we have seen dolphins almost everyday.  In the Bahamas we only saw a dolphin once, for a brief moment.  But on our trip back when we were almost to land, 7 dolphins came to play with our boat.  I was taking a nap as we had driven all night and I was still catching up on sleep I had missed while I drove the boat late the night before.  The kids had a great time taking pictures from the bow of the boat as IMG_3010the dolphins swam and played in our boats wake.  It is amazing how clear the water is.  This is about 50 miles off the Georgia coastline.  Once you reach the shoreline, the water is murky.  But out in the ocean it is amazingly blue and clear.  It was incredibly calm that morning that we could see jelly fish floating in the waters.

Even as we travelled on the murky inter coastal waters we saw dolphin at least once a day.  The kids get excited every time and were sad when the dolphins wouldn’t come to play.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Church in Savannah, GA



It was 5.5 miles to church, do we decided we’d pull the bikes off the boat, hook up the trailers and get to church.  In Florida we bought electric assisted bikes.  They help you pedal, or give you a speed boost.  We thought with the trailers loaded with kids that would be nice over regular bikes. So now we had a chance to put them to good use.  We had used them previously a little here and there.  We got the kids dIMG_3089ressed and loaded, which took us a little longer than we had planned.  But off to church we went.  We arrive a little late, but we made it, and since it was Sunday morning, traffic was not much and the heat was not bad.  I am sure we will be doing this again.  It was fun, and we could get to church.





As we were walking in the chapel to take a seat, I heard a thump and a terrible scream.  I looked to see Benjamin sprawled on the floor screaming in the middle of sacrament meeting.  I had the baby but tried to pick him up too to see what was the matter.  David quickly came and carried Benjamin out, as he leaned on to his dad, I saw what had happened.  He had a gash in his eyebrow.  He must have been running to keep up and didn’t look where he was going and ran into a bench.  He split his eyebrow open; it was bleeding all over and quickly swelling.  We rinsed off the gash and grabbed some ice to stop the swelling.  It was fairly deep and needed something if not stitches.  The boat is not far, but we are on bikes.  We walked out to the foyer where IMG_3108I asked an older gentleman if he knew where a first aid kit might be.  He saw Benjamin’s gash and said he’d be back.  He grabbed a sister off the back bench who came out to look at Benjamin.  She is a Dr.  and said she’d run home to grab some supplies to help.  It’s is comforting to know there are good, helpful people in this world.  They could have just grabbed a first aid kit or said, he should go to the ER for stitches.  But this good sister went home for some supplies, and then the store b/c she did not have any steri strips in her supplies to close the wound.  She came back as Sunday School was starting, she even brought a lollipop for each of the kids.  The others were in Primary, but Benjamin loved his lollipop and it sure made cleaning his cut and bandaging it easier.  It was so swollen, he had a huge lump over his eye.  She even gave me the rest of the steri strips she had bought.  Which with Benjamin, I may need them again.  Just a few days before he had hit is forehead on his dresser and made a small cut on his forehead.  He seems to be our most accident prone child, luckily the gash on Sunday has been the worst so far.   I took the above picture 2 days after his accident.  His whole eye turned purple and blue.  It looked like a good shiner.  We feel very blessed to have been at this ward on Sunday.  We are very grateful for this kind sister that helped us.  All of the members we met in the ward were very nice.  We enjoyed attending church there.  After a few weeks of not being able to attend due to travel in remote areas, it was so uplifting to be among these angels and worship with them.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The journey home

And a journey it will be.  After spending so much time in Florida we only ended up spending 9 days in the Bahamas.  Shorter than our last trip there.  I had hoped to spend another 4 or 5 day there after Rob flew home, but David had 2 concerns, one was weather.  If bad weather rolled in and stayed a few days that would delay our journey home and we might not make it to our final destination on time.  His second concern is, the boat still needs more work done on it, and he did not want to start any repair projects while in the Bahamas where parts are scarce and expensive should he need to find parts.  Both reasons are understandable, but I was still disappointed to leave so soon. 

If you read my previous post, you know we left Marsh Harbor in the morning and made a stop in the afternoon at Moraine Cay to snorkel.  We pulled up our anchor at Moraine and headed back to the ocean side to continue heading north west to the top of the Abacos. It was after 10 pm and dark by the time we arrived near Walkers Cay.  There are 2 routes in thru the channel, one more narrow and surround by coral heads on the sides.  We didn’t pick that route.  We took the other one that was a little wider and we prayed that the GPS and nav charts would do it’s job. We set our course and hoped the autopilot would work fine, sometimes it acts up and we were hoping this wouldn’t be one of those times as it was very dark outside.  The moon was just rising and it was an eerie orange; low to the sky it wasn’t providing us with much light to see by.  Into the sea we made it!  the Garmin didn’t let us down.  David wanted to anchor not to far in, so we dropped our anchor, set it, turned off the engines and off to bed we went.  The wind had picked up while we were dropping our anchor and being close to the ocean made it quite rolly.  I was not happy about having to sleep in such a rolly boat.  After about 20 mins of my complaining, david got up, turned on the engines, pulled the anchor in and drove us 2 miles closer to Grand Cay where we would be more protected from wind and waves.  We dropped the anchor again, set it, turned off the engines, and again off to bed and this time to sleep without any bouncing around.  We were in a much better spot for the night.

5:30am and it is time to get up and get started for the next 2 days to reach land.  We decided to head north and take advantage of our time in the gulf stream and spend 2 days straight traveling.  I am not very excited about this plan.  It involves someone being awake all night to watch for other boats and that our boat is running correctly.  After less than 6 hours of sleep, I am already tired, and not interested in even less sleep for the next 36 hours.  The hope is to make it to Georgia by tomorrow afternoon.  We’ll see.  Hopefully all goes well.  The ditch bag is ready if not.

We still will have many days of travel.  The final destination for this trip is my hometown area of Maryland.  We hope to leave the boat there while we head home for a couple of months.  In June the cousins visit, and we can’t miss out on that.  We will see a lot of the south east coast along the way.  Hopefully David will agree to a few stops.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moraine Cay, 2nd time around

Well after uncle Rob took a taxi to the airport, we also left Marsh Harbor.  As we passed bakers bay, we had to head out into the ocean to cut around Whale Cay.  We decided it was pleasant enough in the ocean to run as far north in the Abacos as we could on the ocean side rather than head back into the Sea of Abaco where we would have to make our way around shallow areas.  This gave us an extra hour of time to stop at Moraine Cay and snorkel again.  There were no storm clouds rolling in this time, but it was low tide when we arrived which made snorkeling over the coral a little more difficult.  I couldn’t find the same spot as before with all the vibrant purple sea fans, but it was still a pretty reef area with lots of fish.
When we first dinghy’d over to the reef susie spotted a couple of fins sticking up out of the water.  We tried to get closer to see, but it was very shallow and rocky, and then the fins disappeared.  There were 2 fins and it looked like a shark to me.  Needless to say no one was in a hurry to jump out of the dinghy at that moment.  So we slowly moved around in the dinghy looking for a good spot to snorkel.  We decided on a spot and into the water I went.  Followed by Calvin, Savannah, Susie, and Benjamin on a floaty raft.  We swam over the reef area for a few minutes when I looked up and around and about 100 feet away I saw the fins again.  I called for david to come towards us as I had too many kids, including the snorkel raft with benjamin to pull around to have to worry about sharks too.  We loaded the kids back in the dinghy and spent a few minutes watching the shark fins swim further away from us. The kids would point and shout “there they are”  in random places.  I didn’t see them again.   Susie and I stayed in the water to snorkel a little more and david took the dinghy out towards where we had last seen the fins.  He came back a few minutes later and decided what we were seeing was shallow reef poking up out of the water and not shark fins.  From his reconnaisance trip he had found a nice reefy area and led us and the dinghy over to it.  The kids braved the water again, well Isabel and Savannah did.  David also jumped in after we found a sandy area to anchor the Dinghy.  Susie stayed in the Dinghy with Benjamin and Calvin for a bit and then she and David traded spots so she could check out the area too.  I kept checking all the cracks and crevices in the reef looking for a looming shark, but I saw none.
Today as we travelled I had some time to pull out our shark book and take a look, and while David is probably correct that what the kids kept pointing out was most likely parts of coral or sea fans poking out at low tide.  But I have no doubt that what we saw when we approached the area and the 100 ft away after we first got in were in deed shark fins.  I only saw one set of fins.  It’s dorsal fin being distinct.  So I am sure there was at least one shark swimming among us.  I would like to see one when I am snorkeling, just so I can get the fear of it over with and have a good experience near one.  99.9 percent of the time sharks are harmless, we should not be so afraid of them.  I am just not sure I want to have that experience with all my kids in the water too.  Just in case.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fowl Cay Reef Park

Calm weather has come and we were able to head to Fowl Cay reef park to snorkel in the afternoon.  David and I had dinghied into Hope Town to drop off Rob so he could go diving in the reef park.  Since we would move the boat to be anchored outside Fowl Cay, the dive boat would just drop him at our boat on their way back to Hope Town. 

We set our anchor at Fowl Cay and got the kids ready to head over to the reef to snorkel just as Rob arrived back from diving.  He told us it was great.  The park is a large area with lots of different spots to dive or snorkel.  He told us he saw 3 sharks while diving in 2 different spots.  All 3 were larger than him and didn’t seem to care that there were divers around observing them.  Good to know.  He stayed on the boat while Matthew took his nap and the rest of us were off to snorkel.  There were lots of other snorkelers at different spots through out the area.  We stopped at 2 different spots.  They were both fairly similar in underwater scenery.  We were there at low tide, so it impossible to snorkel over the reef and coral heads so we had to circle around the outside watching the fish and coral.  Calvin, Isabel and Benjamin were done after the first stop, but I still wanted to check out another area of the park just for a little variety.  So we dingh’d over to the south end to pick up another mooring ball.  David stayed in the dinghy with the kids while Savannah, Susie, and I explored the area.  We saw lots of large fish in the 2 foot range and I saw one swimming on the bottom, blending in to the sand that was about 4 feet long. I wish our underwater camera hadn’t broken. 

Talking with rob later, the 2nd spot we went was near one of the spots he went diving.  We stayed on the west side of the reef and he dove on the east side, in that area is where they saw 2 sharks.  We didn’t see any on our side.  I had thought about swimming around the outer east side, but it was more exposed to the ocean waves and the current was running a little strong that day so we had opted to stay on the west side of the reef.  No sharks for us. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hope Town


IMG_2866Near Tahiti Beach is the little town of Hope Town.  It is a lovely town, with pastel colored homes along its shore.  We spent a morning there.  They kids were excited to buy Bahamian stamps to mail postcards to friends and family.  We even bought a homemade Key Lime Pie to have for dessert after dinner. (it was delicious!)  We had a nice time walking around the small town, waving at the kids in school, and seeing the ocean side of the island.  We even found a play park where the kids had a great time playing on the slides and climbing the trees.  We noticed though how hot it was on land.  Out on the boat there are almost always constant breezes that keeps it cool until about dinner time, but on land, it was so hot.

Before we headed back to the boat we crossed Hope TIMG_2877owns Harbor to the light house where we climbed the steps to the top, luckily its not too tall.  It is still a working light house with an oil lit lantern.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

bakers beach


We headed to the beach before lunch at low tide.  The beach was big and the sand was soft.  We had a great time looking for sand dollars and found several. Benjamin searched the beach and shallow waters with me searching for sand dollars.  He searched and searched and finally found one under the sand.  He was so excited, he ran back to show Dad. The kids and uncle Rob found more than 15 starfish; each about 12 inches in diameter.  The kids collected them to look at them all. They would put them on top of the boogie board to transport them to the collection area.  It was neat to check back after a while and see how the starfish were crawling away from the collected area.  It is neat to see the different color and pattern variations in them.   Susie found a beautiful crab in the water.  It had pretty blue coloring.  It was missing one of its claws.  It was so scared of us and would back away from us with it’s one claw raised at us snapping.  

Spoil Bank Cay aka Shell Island


IMG_2753This was one of our favorite spots when we were last in the Abacos.  Shells wash ashore here and they are everywhere. 








The kids had a great time .


Matthew loves the sand.  It is soft for crawling in, and he thinks it tastes great too.


IMG_2778This is after we told him no more sand, rocks, shells in his mouth!  He was so mad!  Silly boy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Allens Pensacola Cay

IMG_2824After the storm had passed we needed to find a better place to anchor for the night, where we would be protected from the ocean waves.  We motored a little ways down to Allens Pensacola Cay.  In the morning we dinghy’d over to the isthmus in search of the abandoned US missile tracking station that was once there.  It was interesting to see how this Cay is growing.  Rob found the foundation of the station, but the rest of us had fun playing on the isthmus, as the guide book describes it.  Allen and Pensacola were once two separate Cay’s, but have grown together.  You can see the kids running thru the area that is filling in with sand and forming new land.  Further in Mangrove roots are springing up all over and will soon cover the new land with mangrove trees.   R Cabin is the furthest on the left in the picture.

Driving the Dinghy



The kids each had a turn learning to drive the dinghy.  This was fun for them.  They each did really well, except for Benjamin and Matthew.  They’re a little small to see and drive.  We all fit well in the dinghy, although it is quite full with all of us AND all our beach stuff.

Moraine Cay

In the morning we headed for Moraine Cay, not to far away.  We arrived around lunch time and had lunch on the boat.  Then we headed to the beach.  Moraine Cay is small and privately owned with a house and 2 little beach cottages.  The guidebook said that the reef just off Moraine Cay was pristine and 100_0331 - Copybeautiful for snorkeling—the reason I picked to go there.  We all went to the beach—even though it is a privately owned Cay, all beaches in the Bahamas are public.  You have to stay on the beach and can not wander past.  We walked up and down the beach and then headed back to the dinghy to discuss who would go snorkeling first.  Calvin, Isabel, Rob and I headed out in the Dinghy to the reef, not far from the beach.  David drove us and was going to wait in the Dinghy while we snorkeled.  It took us a few minutes to find the coral heads then rob hopped in.  I got Calvin and Isabel ready and then we hopped in.  Isabel swam over to Rob and Calvin and I swam off checking out this beautiful reef.  It was so bright and colo100_0337rful.  The sea fans were a deep purple and the coral was beautiful.  But there weren’t many fish and I wondered where they all were.  There were a few large ones swimming around, but not many as there should be.  I heard David call my name so I poked my head up and David yelled time to go.  I thought, but I just got in.  He 100_0342 - Copyagain said in a calm and serious voice, let’s go.  So Calvin and I quickly swam back to the boat.  I saw that Isabel was already in the boat and I wondered if Rob saw a shark.  I told myself to stay calm and get back to the boat. As we approached David said, storm.  I looked up and, Wow, the clouds were quickly rolling in, dark and ominous.  It was coming fast.  David pulled the rest of us up and we were off.  We needed to get someone back on the boat in case our anchor didn’t hold and because we had left Matthew sleeping on the boat while we went to play.  I told David instead of heading to the beach to pick up Susie, Savannah and Benjamin, to take me back to the boat first.  The waves had picked up and were really rolling and the storm was coming fast.  As we reached the boat it was really rocking, we had anchored near the Cay, which unfortunately left us open to the ocean inlet and we were getting hit with the storm waves.  It was a little difficult to grab the ladder to climb up the boat, but I made it.  David was ready to head off to the beach, but I said leave Isabel and Calvin, so the Dingy would be lighter, but by the time We got them on the boat the storm was overhead and the waves were worse.  Rob and David climbed aboard and hauled up the dinghy.  I watched the beach and saw them watching us, but by the time we got the dinghy put a way, it took all 3 of us to keep the motor from swinging too much and hitting the boat, Susie and the kids had left the beach and headed up to the porch of the beach cabana to wait out the storm.  We had left them the hand held radio and tried to reach them on that but I didn’t know if they knew they had it in the beach bag or if they would turn it on.

Just after we had put the dinghy up I noticed that the boat did not seem to be swaying as much as before, it seemed like the storm was lighter, although looking around that was not how the sky or waves looked.  As I walked back inside the boat I found Isabel and Calvin huddled together in the pilot house under a towel trying to dry off and warm up.  They told me that everything was going to be okay, because they had said a prayer to ask for Heavenly Father's help.  They asked him to keep the kids and Susie safe on the beach and for the storm to pass quickly.  I told them Heavenly Father had heard their prayer because the storm already didn't feel as bad as it did before their prayer.  I was happy to hear that in times of need, my children remembered to ask the Lord for help, and then believed with great faith that he would help us.  And He did.

We turned on the radar and watched the storm pass.  About 40 mins later it seemed the worst had passed and we put the dinghy back in the water and david rode off to the beach to retrieve the rest of our group.  They had been safe on the cabana porch but were happy to be back with us.  We got them on board and waited out the rest of the rain and storm together.  Once it had cleared we needed to move the boat and find a more protected anchorage for the night.  I was sad to leave Moraine Cay and the beautiful reef that I did not get to explore.  I hope we can go back.  We were very grateful that we were all kept safe during the storm and that the anchor held the boat safely was the winds and waves blew around us. 

  Susie captured the storm pictures from the beach.  They look amazing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Great Sale Cay

Our first stop in the Abacos after leaving West End.  Great Sale is an uninhabited Cay but a popular anchorage for boats headed in and out of the Abacos.  Once we Anchored I got dinner started and while it cooked we headed out to explore by dinghy.  One area we checked out was a blue hole off the south end of the Cay.  We didn’t bring any snorkel gear with us so we couldn’t get it to see, we used a clear bucket to look thru, but the sun was headed down so it was hard to see.  There was another boat anchored near the blue hole, they had been in to check it out and said it was small but it just kept going as far as they could swim down in it.  They said there were lots of large fish too.  Had it not been dinner time I would have wanted to head back to see.  A blue hole is a tunnel from a shallow sea out to the deep ocean somewhere.  It tunnels hundreds of feet down and over to the ocean, while the sea around it is much shallower, maybe 15 feet deep.  We also checked out the beach on Great Sale, it was a little rocky so we headed back to R Cabin for dinner.  In the morning, off to Moraine Cay.

Little Bahama Bank

IMG_2720We left West End around 9am.  We were a little worried about pulling out of the dock we were at and hoped a few of the boats at the docks behind us would leave so we’d have a little more room.  One of the boats did go, but it may not have been necessary.  David did a great job, we rub a piling, but I was able to get a fender in to keep the boat off the fender.  David took it slow and was able to spin the boat to get us turned the right way and not hit any boats.  The wind was light which helped.  And then we were on our way.


As we left West End we had to enter the channel on to the Little Bahama Bank.  It was shallow, with white sand, and turquoise waters all around.  The kids had fun looking out up front for starfish on our path.  We saw several as we passed by.


Crossing to the Bahamas

After checking weather Sunday, we decided we could head out Monday morning to cross to the Bahamas.  We decided to give all the kids some Dramamine just in case, and if it was too rolly we would come back in and wait another day or 2. 

It was a beautiful day.  It was what we hoped it would be.  No one was sick, the seas were perfect for crossing.  Off we went.  We left Florida at 7am and arrived in West End, Grand Bahama Island, before 3pm.  Several other boats made the crossing as well.  It was nice to know we weren't alone out there.  It was nice to make the crossing in little leaps instead of a large bound.  We could have made a longer 12 hour cross all the way to the north end of the Abacos, but since this was the first time crossing, and on this boat, we wanted to play it safe with a shorter crossing.

We all had to stay on the boat, while Captain David cleared us in at the Customs office.  When you enter another country you have to raise a yellow Quarantine flag on the boat until you are cleared.  It didn't take long, less than an hour till all the paperwork was filled out and returned to the customs office, and the passports were stamped. 

We spent the rest of the day on the beach and snorkeling.  The biggest disappointment was our camera.  We had bought an underwater camera before we left Idaho, and I took it in the water to snorkel, and it wouldn't work.  Later we found water had leaked into the camera housing.  Back to Costco it will go when we return.  So no good underwater photos from us!  At least we still have our old camera to use for land photos!

We spent the night at the Marina, filled up our water tank, and in the morning we were off to Great Sale Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lake Worth and Peanut Island

We had a great weekend waiting for calm weather.  We were waiting for the ocean sea waves to drop to 2-3 feet, and calmer winds.  Over the weekend we anchored at Lake Worth, just south of Peanut Island.  Aside from local boat traffic, it was a nice anchorage.  The kids had a lot of fun at the popular Peanut Island.  During the day it was filled with small boats and tons of people.  The Carribbean water floods in on rising tides and the water is clear and turquoise blue.  The kids spent Sat. afternoon playing on the beach and snorkeling.  It was quite crowded and alot of fun. 

Sunday we had to solve a problem with one of the bathrooms, it was a good repair job.  David was proud he could fix it!  Unfortunately, we were anchored far from any church building, so we weren't able to attend church.  We had a primary lesson on board and went for a evening walk around Peanut Island. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Turning around

We headed out into the big blue... and the kids got sick.  It was windy, and waves were choppy.  David thought we'd head down the coast line to Palm Beach and if we did it in the ocean instead of inner coastal, than we could set the auto pilot and not have to "drive" the boat.  Well, it was not fun.  After 20 mins, the kids were all sick and getting sicker.  David had left me up top to drive with the kids, while he checked on some of the repairs.  The boat was set to auto pilot but the kids were not.  Calvin threw up, then Benjamin.  Finally David came back up and said the repairs on the rudder shaft were not working right.  I didn't care too much about that as I was keeping watch in the rolling water and dealing with sick kids.  Rob got sick.  Finally David said I think we should turn around!  Yea!  We turned and headed back in, but it was at least 30 minutes in the rolling waves to get back to the inlet.  I brought Benjamin and Isabel inside and laid them on the couch--lucking they both went to sleep. But then Matthew threw up all over me.  I was starting to feel sick when david came through to check the rudder shaft again and said, 10 minutes to the inlet.  So i held it together, knowing calm waters were ahead. 

When we got back to the inlet, we called the boat yard again, david had called them earlier, and they met us with a mechanic to come aboard to look at the rudder shaft.  They decided it needed a little more work so back into the boat yard we went for one more night. 

In the morning we headed out again, this time with 3 mechanics on board to fix the rudder shaft and test.  After an hour they had everything good to go, so we dropped them off and continued on our way--this time we stayed on the inner coastal waterway, with calm seas.  No one was sick!  The kids had a great time watching 3 dolphins swim and play along side our boat.  They also had fun watching drawbridges open for us to slip under and waving at boats passing by.   It was a pleasant day.  We anchored at Lake Worth, just outside of Palm Beach.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Heading out on the Water

We flew, kids and all, to Florida on Tues. the 26th.  I couldn’t believe how much stuff we still needed to do before we could leave.  The boat repairs were still being finished up and something new would come up almost every day.  Finally after several days, we thought we could be ready to go, but the weather wasn’t as nice as we wanted, so we decided to wait a few days till the waters were a little calmer.  Then Jenn got sick, so we waited that out a couple days too.  We brought David’s sister Susie with us, and she has been a huge help.  So much to unpack and buy and put away, plus teach and entertain the kids all day—especially since we are in a working boat yard and not a marina.  Susie has been great.  she takes the kids for several walks a day, luckily the boat yard is in a neighborhood of homes and once we leave the property it is a nice area for walks.  Then there is school work, cleaning up the boat, and the mess we make each day, and finding places for everything to go.  We are glad to have her help.  My brother Rob flew in almost a week after we arrived to head out to the Bahamas with us for a couple weeks.  He waited till after most of the work was done before arriving.  However with me getting sick, he still got to spend a few days with us in the Boat yard.  Well departure day is coming…  We are planning to leave in the morning at high tide after 10am.  We haven’t decided on an exact destination yet, but had better decide tonight!