Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Fritter Feast

We're renting a mooring from Donnie's Boat Rentals. This makes Donnie our land lord. (Water lord?). Every now and then, when the spirit moves him, he'll cook up something yummy and hand it out to whomever happens to be on the dock. We were visiting "Ripple", a Wharram catamaran, when Donnie came along with a plate full of lobster bits and fried onions. They were so delicious that when, a couple of days later, he invited all his "borders" to enjoy Conch Fritters at the "boatyard/workshop" Lew accepted readily.
That morning, Kathy (from "Puff") and I had dinghied up the sound to Abaco Boatyard to do our laundry. We had no idea that there was a "plan" in the works. By the time we got back to Harmony it was 2:30 and Lew was afraid we would be late for Donnie's party. However, we were on "island time" and there was no problem. Nevertheless, there was no way we could have anticipated the events of the next 3 hours or so.
Dave and Kathy followed Lew and I to the dock and walked back into the boatyard. Now the term "boat yard" isn't quite what one might imagine. The small, locally owned business, hidden from the water on a dirt road, through tall sea grapes and mangroves, is an open air workshop. Boating machinery and miscellaneous, mysterious items crowd any horizontal surface. For the afternoon, a small work bench held a buzz saw and close at hand, a 4'x8' sheet of raw plywood was set on saw horses. A hand drill was holding down the cord to the deep fat fryer sitting on one end. (That kept the magnetic plug in place we were told.) At the other end of the large plywood, Matt - Donnie's helper in everything it seems - was grinding ingredients for the Conch Fritters. Clearly we were not late for anything. With a meat grinder like my grandmother's, Matt had created piles of conch, celery and onion and was preparing a green pepper. Within reach was a 14 oz can of tomato sauce, salt and pepper, hot sauce and some garlic salt.

As I went over to see how these fritters are made, Donnie put us all to work! He seemed to have jobs for everyone. Every few minutes Donnie would announce "It's not workin!" then proceed to delegate some unfinished task.

Lew was directed to "Pappa Earl" to help build the supports for a fish cleaning table for the dock. Simultaneously Donnie asked Dave and Kathy to go with him to cut fire wood for the grill. (We were also having grilled Wahooh soaked in soy sauce and garlic.) So the carpenter went off in the truck while the shrink built a table.

The chickens and rooster wandered around by the office/shed. Donnie's dog slept on the front seat of the golf cart. As soon as Donnie was gone, Matt got upset. Donnie had forgotten to get flour for the fritters! This was a calamity. Well, on Harmony, I had a 2 lb. bag of flour. Lew and I hopped in our dinghy to fetch it. I also got the camera because this was turning into an afternoon not to be forgotten. When we returned the food production gathered speed again. However, in the middle of the preparations, Matt was requested by another boater for assistance… so the "chef" disappeared for awhile.

Donnie and "crew" returned with firewood ("It's Workin!") and a hilarious tale of his brother's pig. As other boaters were beginning to arrive we heard about how one night this huge animal smelled the left-overs from a rib roast and broke into the local bar/restaurant. Trying to eat all it could, it knocked over some bottles of rum and proceeded to enjoy them too, breaking booze bottles all over the floor and slurping the puddles. By the time anyone found him, the pig was totally drunk and refused to go home. With Donnie 's brother pulling on a long lead and his wife pushing it up the road with the golf cart, the critter eventually returned to its pen.
Of course this led to yet another excursion in which Kathy took my camera to get pictures of this infamous beast. Couples from "Red Head" and "Drama Queen" had joined us. Sure enough, Ted and Diane went into town in and among the provisions they were after, brought back mixers for the party. Michael was later sent up the hill to deliver fritters.. Dave and Kathy, on yet another unexpected trip, helped Donnie gather more button wood. Donnie calls everyone "Pappa" or "Mamma". I suppose that makes names easier to remember.

At about 4:30 the light, crunchy fritters, fried onions and grilled fish were finally ready for consumption. Over the afternoon, we had managed to get tortilla chips from "Puff" and oreos from "Harmony". It had become the least planned pot luck ever. There were paper towels for "plates" and no utensils. But most of us said the Fritters were the best we've ever tasted. And the Wahooh was incredibly delicious, too.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I have been meaning to add more pictures so here is another of Puff on the banks.

You get to see some unusual boats:

When you are tho only catamaran travelling with monohulls, you become "THE PARTY BOAT"

Sometimes the internet connection is very poor and I get somewhat frustrated.

So here we are.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bahama banks

Having left Lake Worth , Florida at 5 AM, we were ready to call it an early day. We had made it across the Gulf Stream and past Memory Rock but not as far as Great Sale Cay. The evening and night promised to be calm so Harmony and Puff dropped anchor in about 15’ of water, about 15 miles away from West End. The boats rocked gently on satin water as the sunset was an enveloping world of soft pinks and turquoise. But it was the night that held the magic.

Imagine that it is late in a clear, dark night. You are on deck, enjoying the quiet and solitude in the center of a vast inverted velvet bowl. The moon is a tiny crescent. Thousands of stars sparkle above and around you. Some are very bright and it feels like you could touch them. The horizon is a dark gray pastel blur punctuated by an elongated soft glow to the south. That is the inhabited western end of Grand Bahama Island. Closer to the boat, dancing lights point across the water toward you. They are the reflections of the stars.

This is why we endured the long trip south and two weeks of bitter cold in Florida. When it is beautiful in the Bahamas, it is spectacular. We were careful to cross the Gulf Stream under good conditions but rarely is it so perfect on the Banks. Now we are happily on a mooring in Black Sound in Green Turtle Cay. We will probably stay here for a few weeks before we go farther south in the Abacos to visit friends in Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour and to simply enjoy the coves and fun of this snowbirds lifestyle.

Monday, January 25, 2010

View Larger MapIt has been awhile.  We left Vero about 6:30 AM and motored down to Fort Pierce where we went out into the Atlantic to sail down to Lake Worth (Palm Beach).  It was a beautiful day with good winds and speeds up to 9 for us.  Got into Lake Worth about 5:30 PM with Puff and hit the hay.  5 AM and we are on our way again with Winsome, Puff and Sandra Lee.  Puff had to replace an impeller in the middle of the Gulf Stream so we stayed with her to make sure she was OK.  On to the Bahamas and we (us and Puff) anchored out on the Banks.  An idealic night with no wind at all and no clouds.  The stars reflected off the water to completely surround us.  The next day we were off to Great Sale...there about noon and Winsome was there and we all had coctails on her that night.  The next day we was a nice sail to Allens-Pensacola, like great sale, an uninhabited island, and walked over to the ocean side.  Up again early to sail to Green Turtle Cay, getting there about 11:30.  We were supposed to anchor out to go to customs but we pulled into Black Sound.  Puff followed us while Winsome anchored out.  We got the last two moorings at Donnies.  He helped us moor and drove us in a golf cart to customs and immigration.  Very easy entrance into the country, paid our $300 for a cruising permit (180 days) and fishing license.  We are liking it so much that we are thinking about spending the next 2, 3, or 4 weeks here.
Lots of pictures but they will have to wait until better internet.
S/V Harmony

Monday, January 18, 2010

View Larger MapScroll up to see our present position, the green arrow. Not sure why the map came out this way.
We left Vero about 6:30 this morning. Motored down to Ft. Pierce and out to the ocean. Wind was with us 10 to 15 and sometimes to 20. A great sail (sometimes motor sail) getting us in to Palm Beach (Lake Worth) before 5PM...A distance of about 55 nautical miles +/-. Looks like tomorrow will be a good day to go across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. We will leave about 5 AM and motor all day if the weather report is right. Today was a lot more than predicted. We shall see.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Weather Permitting

Hello all,
The sun has come out for two days in a row.  It is up to 60 degrees already and it isn't even 10 AM.  This has been an awful two week stretch of horrible weather.  It has gotten down to 38 degrees at least twice - inside Harmony.  But everyone in the country seems to have had a rough time with the freezing weather.  I hope we all have survived.
When the weather is nice, Vero Beach and its City Marina are absolutely lovely.  Yesterday my friend Kathy, on "Puff", identified why it is so inviting here.  Of all the marinas we've been to over the years, this is the most relaxing.  We are situated within a residential community, not out in the williwacks where there is nothing but the marina, or in some overly stimulating place like Atlantic City.  It is an easy mile-walk to the Atlantic Ocean, along streets  lined with 200 year old live oaks and enormous palms.  The free bus takes us anywhere we might need to go: shopping, movies, West Marine and much, much more.  The moorings are strong and the marina is well protected.  The birds are wonderful to see: egrets, great blue herons, little blue herons, lots of pelicans, terns and even an owl in the very early morning.  The social life is as abundant as you might want.  And we're are only about 1/2 mile from one of the best little Museums I've seen.  No wonder it is called "Velcro Beach" by many boaters.
Unfortunately the weather has been so cold that there has been a fish kill.  Hundreds of fish have gone belly up and now line the shore at low tide.  Some are being havested by local boaters for crab bait.  Even the lizards have been falling out of the trees, frozen stiff.  That is sad to see (for those of us that like the little creatures).

Lew & I are hoping to get off this mooring on Monday morning and travel with "Puff" down to Lake Worth.  On Tuesday, very early, we hope to cross the Gulf Stream (FINALLY!) to get to West End on Grand Bahama Island.  So,after Monday night, we will be out of any kind of regular contact for awhile.  We have been happily spoiled by the accessible email and easy cell phone service here.  No more cell phones in the Bahamas though we will try to call via Baltelco once we are in Treasure Cay.
We listen to Chris Parker every morning to find out about safe travel and then we check in with the Cruiseheimer's Net on the USB (SSB) to let them know where we are.  We expect to meander among the smaller islands of the North Bahamas for a few days before getting to Green Turtle and then to Treasure Cay.  Later we'll go to Marsh Harbour and some of our other favorite places.  We might even get to Eleuthera this winter, weather permitting.
Stay warm y'all.  We'll see you againn the spring.
S/V Harmony

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

That's our friend Eric from C://(ESC) up his mast at Vero Beach. Unfortunately, the anchor light he was about to install ripped out of the bag and ended up on the deck in many pieces. Harmony is the right hand catamaran rafted up with Zing.
We almost left yesterday for the Bahamas but it looked like a choice of sitting here for 5 days more or crossing and sitting in West End, Bahamas for 5 days. Also looks like a good window next week. Cross your fingers.

Monday, January 4, 2010

NOAA WEATHER: for Vero Beach, FL

Today: Sunny, with a high near 57. Wind chill values as low as 33 early. Northwest wind between 10 and 15 mph.
Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 34. Northwest wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 56. Wind chill values as low as 25 early. Windy, with a northwest wind between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 29. West northwest wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 58. Northwest wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Wednesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 30. West northwest wind around 5 mph.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 65. West northwest wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Thursday Night: A 20 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. West southwest wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Friday: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 62. Northwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. Northwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 58. West northwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 34. Northwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Thur night is the only "window" as the winds do not come from the North quadrant.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Brrr in Florida

OK - so you guys have snow... I understand. BUT it is 48 degrees IN THE BOAT this morning and we don't have the kind of heat you take for ganted. This is supposed to be like this for another 4 days and nights at least. When we run the generator we can plug in the electric heater and wait. We close off everything but the salon & galley and maybe get this place up to 60. This is as close to the plight of homeless people living on the streets as I ever want to get! You can stay indoors and crank up the heat any time you want. If the heat goes out you can call the Gas company and they will come fix it, eventually. We just have to cope with this until Mother Nature decides to sweep away this horrible front that we're stuck in.

It got up to 50 in Maimi yesterday. That is farther south and should be warmer. Hah!

At least we brought arctic sleeping bags so we are reasonably warm at night. But mornings are brutal until about 9 or 10 AM when the sun has warmed up the cockpit. Our cockpit is enclosed so it heats up before the rest of the boat. Hopefully the sun will come out soon. Sometimes we sit out there in the sun and warm our bones awhile.

So much for the daily "report". Friends from NJ are returning to their boats this afternoon and we will have a dinner party for 7 or 9 people aboard. The body warmth will be nice.

We hear that Florida warms up in Mid-January, then we'll have the kind of weather you northerners seem to think we're having now. BRRRRR until then!? Christmas Day was nice. So was New Year's Day come to think of it. We take advantage of any sunny day and get the laundy done or go somewhere.