Annapolis or Bust!

I know, trying to meet a schedule can get you in trouble. But we really wanted to make progress south from Newport. And we were committed to the Bay Bridge Trawlerfest in support of Kadey Krogen Yachts. Meanwhile, the weather sucked. We could leave just after the closing of the Newport boat show and drive through the remnants of Jose, still a hurricane, or wait a week and sail into the approaching face of Maria, still a hurricane. Two choices, wait two weeks for both Jose and Maria to pass, hoping nothing was behind them, or find a window between the two storms. And I wasn’t really seeing one.

For their part, the Kadey Krogen folks were putting no pressure on us at all. They are all boaters and appreciated the weather pattern. “If you don’t like the weather, don’t go. We will deal with it” was the response from KKY when we suggested we might not make it to T’fest. But we have made the trip from New England to the Chesapeake many times in the fall, and decent windows are hard to find. And the later in the season, the harder it gets to find decent weather.  So if there was a window, I wanted to go.

On 19 Sep I lloked at the forecast and the sea states from Jose overlapped Maria. And current buoy reports from half way between Block Island and Cape May had waves to 12 feet and steepness values of “very steep”. No window there.

This went on for the next four days. Meanwhile, Jose was slapping us around in our slip with gusts in the low Then the glimmer of hope. By Sunday, Jose would be sufficiently east and Maria sufficiently south to suggest a window. What made the window tenable was the wind forecast of <10 knots for the entire trip. Leaving Sunday we would make the turn at Cape May on Monday evening and the forecast was for 8-10′ swells from the SE at 12-15 seconds. And for once, most of the models were in close agreement. Winds were still out of the North, but at less than 10 knots, unable to generate a wind driven wave to oppose the swell. The biggest weather risk to the trip was that the winds would pick up sooner than expected. That would make the ride uncomfortable, but not impossible.

Two other Krogens were also considering going, Volunteer and Graditude, and we all agreed the door was open. When Chris Parker chimed in with a “go” we had some confirmation from a usually conservative forecaster.

We all left Sunday morning, facing calm winds and clear skies. After 3 days of Jose, this was quite welcome.. Our plan was to go non-stop, 7 knots and 48 hours. Any faster would get us there before daylight. The other two boats were hoping to stop at Schaefers in the canal so they moved out a little faster than we did.

As it turned out, conditions were even better than forecast. Some rollers, but so mild it mostly felt like we were in the marina. No wind, mostly great visibilty, albeit a little light fog now and then. The Jersey coast just doent get much better. And Delaware bay was a pussy cat. Yay!

I admit, I dont like running at night in congested areas. Offshore, no problem, but Delaware bay, the canal and the upper Chesapeake are a challenge for me at night. Lots of buoys, boats, and, of course, the ever present crab pots. But I really wanted to get where I was going before Maria changed her mind and headed up the peninsula. With a little assist by Brian, my very experienced crew, I got better at overlaying the radar and aligning the returns to line up with the buoys. Add a little MARPA acquisitions and I got pretty good at filling in the blanks. In the Delaware bay we ran just outside the channel, but in the Chesapeake we moved inside the channel because of all the crab pots in that area. That meant dealing with all the tug and barge traffic, and there was plenty of it.

So now we are at Bay Bridge Marina, the Jeresy coast is behind us, and we are looking at enjoying the Chesapeake in the fall.

 

From sail to power

Selling Chasseur, our Little Harbor 54, was bitter sweet. She was a beautiful boat, sailed well, and had thousands of hours of my labor invested. Lets not even talk about the money.

Chasseur

We bought her about ten years ago on the rebound from five years cruising with a J-44. The J was fun to sail, not so good a live aboard. Just too much comfort sacrificed for speed. On our trip to the Caribbean on the J we had our first 200 mile day. Winds 40 knots from behind us, seas 18-20 feet, speeds in the teens surfing on the backs of the waves. Just the jib. Exhilarating at the helm, a washing machine below deck. Even in these conditions she would steer easily one-handed. You just had to remember to duck every seven seconds or so when the next wave of green water cleared the dodger. Lisa said, “..get a heavier boat”. So we went from 22,000 lbs to 75, 000 lbs.

We went from being tossed by the seas to parting the seas. In conditions that would beat us to death in the J, the Little Harbor was in her element. Give me 30 knots on the beam in 15 foot rollers any time.

But as time passed, a few changes to our lives drove some desired changes to our ride. First, our two sons left for college. No more rail meat to run up the mast to catch a lost halyard. And who was going to refasten the anchor to the roller with the bow buried in blue water? Not me. And surely not Lisa. And when I used to be able to haul the sails on deck and rig her myself, somehow the sails got a lot heavier as I aged. And as much as I loved the bright work, another two weeks on my hands and knees varnishing the toe rail was just more than I could take.

So what were we to do? An interim stop at a catamaran? Lots of friends our age doing just that. Or a motor sailor? The best or worst of both worlds? We decided to not go half way. A sunset looks as good from the back of a trawler as it does from a Little Harbor, and it is the life style we care about, not the conveyance, right?

Lets skip the four years it took to almost but not quite be able to sell the sail boat. Repeat  “almost but not quite”a half dozen times. The plan was to sell the boat and use the proceeds to buy a used trawler of similar value. A cash wash. After four years of failure, Plan B, suggested by our ever patient trawler salesman to be, became Plan A. Trade the sail boat in on a new build Kadey Krogen.

Yes, I have left out some detail. You might ask how we got from a LH54 to a Kadey Krogen. Short answer; first decision, from sail to power, then power to trawler, then trawler to full displacement ocean capable trawler, then minimum water and air draft, then good looking. Answer, Kadey Krogen. I would also insist, well built and from a company with impeccable credentials for honest dealings and excellent after sale support. Nothing against Nordhaven, a quality boat, but just not me.

So after nearly a year with Privateer, our K52, and a few tousand miles between Newport and Miami and the Bahamas, what do we have to say? First, about the boat purchase decision. Best decision we ever made. A great boat from a great company. A few things we might change, now that we know more, but nothing significant. Some day I will publish my “Design and Build Specs and Goals” for you readers to quibble over. But for now, just some initial impressions of what it is like to make the transition from sail to power. And I will summarize by saying it is a bigger transition than I had expected.

For a boat that is about the same length, and about the same displacement, Privateer is huge compared to Chasseur. Especially when docking. To begin with, Privateer has every maneuvering toy imaginable. Twin engines, bow and stern thrusters, port and starboard wing stations. So you might say, what could possibly be challenging about this? Two things. First is, from any single steering position, you can see about half your environment. The rest of the view to the dock or the Picnic boat in the slip next to you, is blocked by a really big boat. Yours. Next, this boat is affected by wind and current differently than the sail boat.  A stiff wind blows the stern out, not the bow. And current moves the boat around by some mysterious calculus that I have yet to comprehend. After a year or so, I am now getting pretty comfortable with all this. But it did take longer than expected. Good news is, Lisa is quite adept and also willing, to park the boat. She would ever park Chasseur. Quite a change.

We were at Atlantic Yacht Basin refueling before parking for the night. One long face dock. Minimal current. The dockmaster says he only has one space available and it is barely 60 feet long. We are 57 feet LOA. My response, before I even thought it through,  was, “no problem!”

Privateer parks like a Tetrus game. Slide up, come to a stop, slide sideways with both thrusters, tie up. Go a head and add some current and I will add a little throttle. No problem. Easy to say, and slowly getting easier to actually do. Moving down a narrow fairway, pivoting and backing into a narrow slip still brings on challenges, but I am getting better.

The other major difference between sail and power is a little harder to explain. I used to do a lot of offshore sailing. Ten days to here or there or wherever. The usual challenges of leaving a crowded harbor, etc. But once off soundings, with the engine off and the sails full, I could completely relax. I knew that very little could happen that would keep me from reaching my intended landfall. Norfolk to the USVI for example. I dont really need the engine. And I dont even really need the genset. Take away all my electricity, all my nav toys. Not that big a deal. I can still make landfall somewhere in the caribbean. At that point I wouldnt be all that fussy which island.

The point is, once sailing, there isnt all that much I need from the machinery or the technology to keep me basically safe and moving in the general direction of my objective. But a power boat is another matter altogether. At the vary minimum, I need at least one of the engines to keep running. And at least one probably will. I hope. Better add those stabilizers, with their attendant pumps, hoses, valves and things that blink in multiple colors, I know not why. Don’t let any oil seep out of the hydraulic steering while you are at it. Summed up, if you are a worry wort, there is plenty to worry about while running a power boat.

Power boat drivers I know seem to take a rather nonchalant approach to all this. many of them are not especially mechanically inclined, most even less so than my sailing brethren, yet do not seem to think much about what happens when something important breaks. And if you are on the ICW, no big deal. Call Tow Boat US.  But if you are offshore, maybe a bigger deal. Maybe thats why sail boats go off shore and power boats, by and large, do not.

The transition from sail to power is an evolving experience for me. I am enjoying it while still not yet being completely comfortable with it. More to follow…

 

 

 

Things that go bump in the night

I tend to relax just a bit once attached to a high quality mooring ball in a protected anchorage. Warderick Wells, in this case. During the day, boats coming and going from their moorings often pass quite close since the channel is so narrow. But once evening arrives, things settle down. We go to bed when the sun goes down, so were fast asleep at midnight when I heard the rumble of a diesel engine. This made no sense to me as it was pitch black outside and there was no way a boat could navigate the narrow channel at night. At least no way it could be done successfully.

I sat up in my bunk to look out the open port light and saw a wall of steel passing by a few inches from my face. Then came the collision and I was knocked back onto the bunk, waking up Lisa.

This is the boat that ran into us. Bahamian Defense Force
This is the damage to the skin under the rail

Once i shook the cobwebs out of my head and realized what happened I went up on deck to look around. The Royal Bahamian Defense Force boat that hit us was by then tied up to the dock at park HQ. I hopped in the dinghy and met up with the captain. The questionable maneuvering that caused the accident aside, from here on out the folks involved were great. No question of fault, no question that they were good for the repairs.

As the insurance issues played out, I first contacted our carrier, Falvey, and they took charge of everything. A few months later we stopped in Nassau and the RBDF sent out someone to evaluate the damage and prepare an estimate. At this point we knew that the apparent damage was not that serious, but the experts were concerned that there might be hidden damage to the hull itself. That turned out not to be the case.

The RBDF folks wanted me to get the work done in the Bahamas. Although I have seen some exceptional glass work done in the Bahamas I wanted to take the boat home to get the work done and everyone involved agreed.

When we got back to Stuart, FL, our insurance agent asked where we would like to get the work done. The assigned surveyor suggested Hinkley in Stuart. If I were paying the bill I would maybe have suggested a yard I considered less expensive, but I wasn’t paying this one so agreed to Hinkley.

So here is my plug for Hinkley in Stuart. They did a beautiful job on the repair. They met their schedule. And they came in on cost below the estimate we had received from the yard selected by the RBDF in Nassau.

Since we were living aboard at the time, I kept an eye on when the workers were actually on our boat. Knowing their hourly rates, they never charged a minute of time they were not actually on the boat. No admin time, no time for getting and putting away tools, etc. And they new that this was an insurance job. So if you find yourself in central Florida and need work done, I can whole heartedly recommend Hinkley.

And a note about Falvey Insurance. Excellent service. Instead of leaving this for us to deal with the RBDF on our own, they stepped in between us and took over. Falvey said they would cover the repairs and then deal with the RBDF for recovery. This made everything quite simple for us. I have no idea how Falvey made out recovering the costs from the RBDF. I hope they got every penny, thank you.

Meanwhile, while at anchor now, every engine noise at night means a boat about to run us down. PTSD of sorts.

Exuma Land and Sea Park – Boo boo hill

There is a tradition with cruisers to leave a name plate on Boo Boo hill, the highest point on Warderick Wells. We looked for our Chasseur plate from 2011 but didnt find it in the rubble.

Lisa mounts our name plate. I doubt it survived the cold front that blasted through a few days later

The park is a great place to relax and enjoy the islands in as natural a state as possible these days. If you come, note there is no fresh water, no trash disposal, no store etc. But there is weak wifi! A bit expensive but if you gotta have it, you can get it. We have an Iridium Go and mail service through Ocens. For a quick email update, the sat phone approach is cheaper than buying wifi time. But for an hour on Facebook, get the wifi for the day.

The heart of the park is the horse shoe shaped mooring field at Warderick Wells. 16 or so balls arrayed in a narrow channel with swift current. You must call ahead to reserve/take one of these. See there web site to get the full story, maps, instructions, etc.

Best to arrive at slack unless you are pretty good at close quarters maneuvering in current. Well maintained gear. I dove on mine. 1″ rode to 1″ SS chain to large ring buried in the coral. I have never heard of one failing that was in good condition to begin with. But given the current, I have watched some boats run over the floats so I bet some get chewed up regularly.

The channel is deep, but narrow. Each of the balls is rated for a certain length boat. As you swing with the current your stern will pass over the shoals. Just step off the swim platform to 3 feet of water. Meanwhile your rudder will be in 10 feet. Disconcerting until you realize that the park folks have been doing this for a long time. Dont fib about your LOA.

On our ball at the park

photos from our stay in Tonga

Some Tongan friends getting ready for a Sunday outing

We spent about three months on Tonga last year while waiting for privateer to be built doing a house sit for the owners who returned for a stateside vacation. See my earlier post on the Tonga house sit. These are some photos from the trip that I am finally getting around to posting.
The resort is called Treasure Island Tonga, and is a popular place for swimming with the whales in season. This was the off season. No whales, and no tourists. Just the two of us on the island. Quite an experience

and our personal sunset

Our main job was to be sure the resort was ready for a cyclone. Here the workers are covering the dock with netting. They tied down all the structures and then we took them back to their home island to weather the storm. It turned out to be just a glancing blow to our island so we were lucky. With no services, there were none to loose! Plenty of water and our little Honda generator filled in for the drained batteries once the solar quit.

I photographed this fish every day for three months. Got only a few in focus

 

 

This was our “car” for three months. About 10 miles by boat to the nearest island with any services
we needed to get the boat off the beech at night. Cyclone season. This block and tackle worked, but it took more than Lisa and I could provide for muscle power
one day we hiked the back side of the island
the views from the windward side were impressive
the view from our falla, a thatched roof sleeping hut
Lisa doing pots and pans duty
Laundry day. The “hat” was for protection from the falling cocoanuts
a trip around the Vavaau on a go cart of sorts
Lisa chatting with a local legend

usually plenty of goods at the store, as long as you only need flour and sugar
our local work team takes time off for a traditional slow cooked lunch. They fed us well
Our work team came out to the island a few days a week to maintain the huts. palm fronds needed to be replaced every few years and it was tough work
these guys were pretty good sailors. But they thought nothing of putting 10-12 guys on a boat this size. They would stay out for 2-3 days fishing then come to our island to sleep for a day or two. We got fresh fish in return.
we usually came into Vavau once a week or so for provisions.We shopped for us and to feed the work crews that were with us mid week
one day we ran low on Heineken. A major crime. I hired a local charter skipper to bring emergency supplies in time for happy hour.
We beach the boat with the help of our trusty island dog.
It was the off season so the market was not as full as usual but we were able to stock up regularly with at least something fresh. Fresh tuna from the fishermen was $1.50 per pound.
I stayed pretty busy keeping the place running. Solar panels, batteries, generators, water catchment and the like
these guys are pretty good boat handlers. But they dont mind putting 10 big guys on a boat designed for four.

Cold fronts, and our approach.

This was our second cruise through the Bahamas so we had a good idea of what to expect from the weather. For those of you who are not all that familiar with Bahamian weather patterns, here is a short primer, focusing on the Exumas.

In the winter months, the Bahamas are mostly blanketed by the easterly trade winds. Expect 15-20 knots from the NE through the SE. When the winds pick up, then 20-30 from the same direction. Sometimes for days at a time. If you are in the Exumas and on the banks, then you are anchoring in the lee of the islands, protected from the surf and swells out in Exuma sound. But not protected from the wind. Few of the islands have enough elevation to significantly reduce wind speeds. As the winds pick up, the area of protection in the lee of the islands grows  bit, and if you can get in close enough to land you might get some protection from wind and chop, but for the most part, if the prevailing winds are 25-30 kts out in the sound, they will be nearly that strong in the anchorages so plan on it.

And then there are the cold fronts. They roll in from the US mainland every 5-10 days from Dec through February, with fewer and weaker ones as the season turns from winter to spring. As the fronts move SE through the chain, they weaken and stall. So usually they are strongest in the beginning of winter, say December and January, and stronger in the Abocos than in the Exumas. Much rarer in the T’s and C’s.

A strong front will cause the winds to first veer S to SW, then W to NW as the front passes, then return to NE trades when it is over. Figure 24-36 hrs. Assume the major shifts will occur at night. A weak cold front will bring the winds S at 25-30, then stall and back. A strong cold front will clock 360, with winds first in 30’s, gusting 40 from the S, then go nearly calm as the front comes overhead, then build to 40G45 from the west.

If you spend an entire winter season in the Exumas, figure on 8-10 fronts during that period. Most will stall out over you. A few will pass south and clock 360, and maybe one will be strong enough to bring on those gusts to 45 from the S and then W. So what do we do about all this commotion? If you take a cursory look at the Exumas chain, one thing is obvious. Plenty of places to hide in the lee of the islands when the trades are blowing. Few places to hide in the lee of anything when the winds are out of the S, or worse yet, the W. There are a few options, and my approach has been evolving.

On our first cruise we were on a heavy sailboat with good ground tackle. We rode out the weak fronts in place. We would swing to face south, deal with the fetch and wind, then swing back the next day. A little bouncy, no dinghy trips, but no big deal. We also ducked into a marina or two. This works well, but is expensive because you need to get there well in advance of the crowd, so will likely be tied up in your slip two days before the front arrives, then two days for the front to pass. So figure four days in a marina if you take that option.

Lastly, you can anchor in one of the few spots that provides protection from the west. This is one of the reasons Georgetown is such a popular place. They call it the G’town shuffle as 200 boats move from one side of the bay to the other with frontal passage. There are also a number of west facing coves and channels scattered throughout the chain. They are all well known, all obvious, and all very crowded during cold fronts. Personally, I would never go into one of these spots. Time for an aside (rant) here…

The Bahamas provide a wonderful cruising opportunity to to many sailors who do not have to deal with a significant offshore voyage such as a trip to the Caribbean requires. This can be good or bad. Other than the bare boaters in the Caribbean, everyone else has made a significant voyage to get there. Most likely they know how to sail, and anchor. Not so for the Bahamas. Motor down the ICW, day hop across the stream at Miami and you are here. Anyone can do it. And among those that make this trip are at least a few who shouldn’t. Either because their boat and gear are not up to the task or they aren’t. And some of them will anchor next to you. On a trade winds day, no problem. But in a tight anchorage filled with boats trying to ride out a 360 degree wind shift, big problem.

So here is my advice. If you are looking to hide from a strong cold front, do not go to a popular hidey hole anchorage. If Active Captain gives it a 4 or 5 star rating for cold front protection, say Bell Island for example, don’t go there. It will be too crowded and someone will most surely drag during the night. Better, take a look at the charts and find a spot that provides just some moderate protection from the fetch over the banks from a west wind. There will likely be no AC or anchor symbol there. There will also be no other boats there. Put out all the chain you want. maybe bounce a little in the chop. But relax.

Besides the anchoring and the marina option, there are also the park moorings. They are built to withstand most anything, to include hurricanes. We weathered a strong cold front on a Warderick Wells mooring this season. 40 knots from the south, then 45 from the west. The mooring field was full and all the boats survived just fine. But I am not sure my nerves could take that again. During the night of the 45 knots from the west our stern was no more than 100 feet from the rocks and I swear I could have stepped off the swim platform to the sand behind us. With just a half mile fetch across the horse shoe harbor the chop was two feet high. And our 600 lb dinghy, which i stupidly left tied out back, was going crazy.

Best bet for next time. The Hog Cay mooring field on the south end of Warderick Wells. Totally protected. Too small for any fetch. Or Cambridge Cay. Not protected from a west wind, but the shoals would cut the fetch.  Or anchored out alone by myself. If you want to have a park mooring as an option on your list, then become a park supporter for 100$ a year. It gets you a 24 hr jump on moorings.

I remember listening to the radio while prepping for the front due later that day at Warderick Wells. A boat was calling for a possible mooring, only to be told that the field was full. It had been for two days. On hearing that the field was full, the “captain” came back with, “… but where should we go?”  They likely went to Bell Island. 

 

Warderick Wells

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

A beautiful place. Well protected from development and fishing by the park laws and boundaries. And great for cruising in a natural environment. Plenty of places to anchor and excellent moorings. We were here a few years back while cruising on Chasseur and looked forward to our return on Privateer. Coming up from the south, our first stop was the Cambridge Cay mooring field. The entrance from the south is a bit skinny, the charts showing some 5′ spots, and we draw almost 5. There are enough Active Captain descriptions that attest to at least 5′ at low, assuming you stay in the so-called channel.

For those of you hesitant to lock on to the “magenta line” while in the ICW, this is different. The Explorer Chart route needs to be followed exactly. Especially if you draw 5′ and are coming in at low tide. Unlike the ICW, you can see the bottom clearly. Way too clearly. And even if you are very experienced at reading depth in the Bahamas, I defy you to differentiate between 5′ (enough) and 4.5′ (not enough). All I can do to add to the knowledge base, is that if you follow the Explorer route you will have at least 5′ at low. But not much more. And the channel gets down to about 30′ wide at one point. But by the time you get this far, the channel is easy to read.

Once in, the area is mostly covered with mooring balls, but room to anchor if you choose. We took a ball. A quick note on the balls in the park. Very well maintained, very strong (more on that later). Most rated for 60′, some for 100′. That said, some get chewed up by the props of the incompetents, so we always dive on them.

Cambridge Cay anchorage is a spectacularly beautiful spot. Looking north or south you can see up and down the island chain. Looking east, over a large coral shoal, is the bank forever. for one of our three days here we were the only boat in the anchorage. If you are looking for quiet, this is the place to go. And not too far north is the snorkeling spot called the sea aquarium. Dinghy moorings and lots of fish. Not to be missed.

Bahamas, how we got there Posted Late

Monument Beach

Plenty of room at the Monument Beach anchorage in Georgetown. Before Christmas, that is.

Mart and Sue from Alizan, another Krogen, stop by

There are as many routes to the Bahamas as there are blogs about them. Some better than others. Here is ours.
Our general starting point was Ft Lauderdale, post boat show, and our general initial destination was Georgetown in the Exumas. We chose to take the ICW down to Miami, stage out of the Venetian Causeway/islands area, and exit Government cut for Bimini as a day hop. We left at first light and dropped anchor that afternoon off the new resort on the NW coast of Bimini. Easy trip, decent anchorage in moderate prevailing easterlies. Next day we left at first light again and crossed the banks to anchor at Bird island. Night three we passed New Providence island to port, entered the banks just north of the reef and cut over to Shroud for the night. Weather was great, seas were flat and we never saw less than 10 feet depth. From there it was a night at Staniel, a night at Great Guana, a hop outside at Galliot and back in at Stocking and we were there. We cleared customs in Georgetown. (shhh!)
To be completely legal we should have cleared in at Bimini. but that would have entailed waiting till the next day and either staying over another day in Bimini, or getting to Bird isl. or some place nearby, after dark. This was our first time to Bimini and after a stop in Bimini on our return i can now add a few notes. First, I would not want to take the big boat into Alice Town unless it was slack tide. The current flies through there. That said, there are a few face docks at some of the marinas and the docks at the Bimini Big Game Club are new. And you can clear in there. I would anchor out and come in by dinghy. Stick around at the bar for shark feeding frenzy in the evening.
The other alternative is to take a slip at Bimini Sands on South Bimini. Stay a day or two. Nice pool. Totally protected although it can get a bit surgey at times. Short walk and short ferry ride to Alice Town to check in.
Or you can just wait to clear in when you get to Georgetown. I cant come up with any interpretation of Bahama entry instructions that would make that legal, but that said, the instructions are a bit vague, “…at the closest customs facility…” and “within 24 hours” shows up, along with, “upon entering Bahamian waters”. Probably within the law to sail directly to Georgetown as long as you dont anchor like we did. We did fly the Q flag and my response if boarded would have been that this was our landfall from the crossing. Again, I am not recommending any of this.
Alternatively, on a previous visit to the Bahamas we made landfall at Mayaguana, coming up from T & C, but anchored a long distance from the town. I called the customs agent in Mayaguana and asked if it would be OK to wait till we got to Georgetown to check in and she said, “No problem, mon” But I doubt she was speaking officially.
Anyway, we got here just fine.
Before Christmas, the Georgetown anchorages are pretty open. We like Monument and Honeymoon Beach anchorages. Excellent holding throughout. But they get pretty crowded as the season progresses. Later in the season we end up in Sand Dollar, although holding is variable here. There are some pretty weedy areas and some areas with a thin layer of sand over coral crust, as well as some long dead coral atols that can wrap an anchor chain. Since we were in and out of the Georgetown area this season, we tried them all.
The harbor has a good mix of transient cruisers and live aboards. Boats that either stop for a few days headed south, come here and stay all season, or stay all year and just get moved out from the hurricane hole storage and back every season. The greenery from their hulls is beginning to attach to the sea bed.

Privateer in the Bahamas – Late posting

Sorry for the lack of updates (written Jan 2017)
Feels like mission accomplished. More than six months ago, long before the boat was even completed, we planned a family reunion in the Bahamas for Christmas. And we are here. Evan from Georgia, Grayson from Tallahassee, and their girl friends. It has been a whirlwind six months. Some time soon i will go back and expand on some of all this, but for now, and overview of how we got from here to there.
Commissioning in Stuart with KKY went well, but it is an intense period, with lots of decisions to be made on the fly. With our plan to go straight from the commissioning to the Ft lauderdale boat show and then to the Bahamas, we not only had to learn the boat, but we had to prepare it for living aboard full time and for moving it to a somewhat remote part of the world.(just try and get a part delivered to the bahamas and you will see what i mean)
Lets start with handling a trawler of this size. Should be easy, what with twin engines and bow and stern thrusters. And I guess it is. But still a significant learning curve as I move from a 54ft sailboat. The big issue is visibility. From the center cockpit of the sailboat I had 360 degree visibility. From any steering station on Privateer, and there are 4, i have maybe 120 degrees field of view and am blind in the other quadrants. Yes, there is 360 from the fly bridge, but the edges of the boat are not visible. backing this thing into a slip requires a different perspective that I have not yet mastered. It isnt the boat, as I couldnt imagine any trawler of this size better configured or equipped for close quarters maneuvering, but it is still a steep learning curve. Now that we are moving from anchorage to anchorage, life is much easier. Back to our chronology.
From Stuart to Ft Lauderdale there must be about 30 bridges that we need opened.That is a learning opportunity all its own. I am pretty good at calculating time and distance to arrive at the next bridge just before a scheduled opening, and many of the bridge openings are sequenced for 7 knots or so. But just as I think I had a plan, we would run into an “idle speed only” or “no wake zone” that forced us back to 5 knots or so. After a couple of miles at 5 knots, it would require 10 knots to get back on plan. And we cant do 10 knots. As it turned out, we were often able to catch up with “the fleet” and ride the tail of the convoy through the bridge. But we did miss a few.
Boat shows can be fun, but getting the boat into the show is not for the faint of heart. Think of a tight anchorage with 50 boats in it. Then take the anchors away. Have them all moving in random directions to maintain steerage. Add 3 knots of current and 25 knots of wind. That pretty much describes the marshaling area just outside the show marina. We had our broker on board. A life saver.
No trip to Ft Lauderdale is complete without a trip up and down the New River. Never again. Take those same 50 boats, string them out bow to stern, add a narrow winding river, seven bridges in half as many miles, throw in some current just to make it interesting, and then stop for twenty minutes to let a train go by.
Miami was OK. We anchored east of the Venetian causeway among the man made islands. An excellent place to sit and wait for weather for the crossing over to, in our case, Bimini. Easy exit w no bridges to deal with.
I will pick up next with the stream crossing (benign) and our short passage to George Town. (also mostly benign)