Log of the Rantum Scoot
Wednesday, January 1st, 2003 Alicetown, Bimini Bahamas
We had heard of Junkanoo from some of the Biminites but there was never any consensus regarding when it was. Turns out in Bimini they do it on New Years day. There was a nice parade in the morning and then another very lively parade at night. The night parade was really interesting we should have taken video as it was hard to capture on still camera. Junkanoo is a celebration of Bahamian culture stretching back to the slave era. We're told that the slaves were given the entire 24 hour period after Christmas off and since there were otherwise no days off they didn't waste a minute of the 24 hours. The modern Junkanoo celebrations last all night as well. In Nassau, the biggest of the Junkanoo parades, starts at 0100 AM! It's a huge parade and very competitive with regards to floats, costumes and music.
More about Junkanoo
Thursday, January 2nd, 2003 Alicetown, Bimini Bahamas
Margaret and Ken head back to Georgia
Friday, January 3rd, 2003 Alicetown, Bimini Bahamas
Scott heads back to work.
Saturday, January 18th, 2003 Alicetown, Bimini Bahamas
Scott returns, plans are made to depart on the next weather window.
Monday, January 20th, 2003 Alicetown, Bimini Bahamas
Monday shapes up as the first day weather would permit a trip across the Bahama banks comfortably. We weren't ready and decided we'd take enough time to get everything stowed and packed. We were pretty well unpacked after 7 weeks in Bimini. We never have any luck stowing things while under way. We say our good byes to our new friends from Bimini Especially Michael and Pat at Seacrest Marina and Katherine at the Bahama arts and craft store.
Tuesday, January 21st, 2003 depart Alicetown, Bimini Bahamas
Up at 0700 we finish off stowing the last minute things and move over to the fuel dock by 0800. We top off and hope to go to the bank to get some cash, as credit cards are not universal in the Bahamas. But it's Tuesday Mon and the bank is closed!
We decide to run down the street and get some milk and eggs as we'll be in remote places for a few days. We're trying to time our departure for close to 0900-1000 so that we catch nearly high tide.
Finally we cast off and start out of Bimini harbor, we pass through the tough part of the channel and bid farewell to our adopted Bahamian home. We decided that the weather is fair enough to start across the banks and anchor out there somewhere at dark.
It was going nicely until we realized the auto pilot was not working right. Investigation revealed that the auto pilot heading was not changing despite the boats heading changing. So it was impossible for the auto pilot to hold any heading at all. We looked it over and couldn't figure it out. Broke out the fabulous (NOT) documentation for the pilot and still couldn't fix it. Next came the satellite phone call to Raymarine maker of the auto pilot. As luck would have it I got the not so helpful tech support guy who after a couple of minutes on the phone decided he wasn't interested and told me to have it serviced when we got back to the states. About that time the phone cut out and we were disconnected. Just as well he wasn't going to help. Raymarine is a tough outfit sometimes I get awesome help from really knowledgeable reps and then other times they give you the impression they just don't care that you have thousands of dollars worth of their equipment and you need help troubleshooting out in tim-buk-too. The good news is there's a guy there that worked at the same place I did a few years back and I called him. More on this in a little bit when we get to Nassau.
The route took us down to the south and we turned east just north of Gun Cay at Triangle rocks. This led us on to the Great Bahama Banks which are a huge expanse of shallow water anywhere from dry at low tide in places, to more commonly 4 or 5 meters deep. It's cool to sail along seeing starfish on the bottom. The banks are like a giant sandbar thousands of square miles in area.
We anchored about 20 miles from Northwest Channel light which is where we would exit this part of the banks. It exits into the "Tongue of the Ocean" which by contrast is as much as 7500 feet deep. It was cool to anchor more than 25 miles from any point of land. It was flat like a lake and the stars were spectacular.
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003 Great Bahamas Bank to Chub Cay
In the morning we got rolling first thing, but not before Melissa got some pictures of the Rantum Scoot anchored in the middle of no where. We cleared into the tongue of the ocean, around Chub Cay and into Frazer's Hog Cay around 1345.
We set the anchor in a nice long sandy strip in the middle of a lot of turtle grass. We decided to use the Fortress anchor as we hadn't really given a good try. It set quickly and solidly. We got out the snorkeling gear and set out to hunt some dinner. The snorkeling was very good and there were a lot of big fish in shallow areas. We managed to spear 2 nice groupers that made a nice dinner!
The next few days were windy 20-30 knots, 3 days in a row! We hunkered down playing games, watching movies, doing schoolwork and reading. By Saturday Herb (the weather guy on HF 12359) was predicting a short weather window for Sunday.
Sunday, January 26th, 2003 Nassau, New Providence
We decide to take the opportunity to move on as the crew felt there wouldn't be enough to keep them busy for 3 weeks while Dad was at work. That coupled with the dodgy commute from Chub cay sealed it. We weighed anchor around 0800 in about 18-20 kts of wind. We were expecting winds to diminish as the morning wore on. Our expectations were not met however as the winds steadily increased as we got into the deep water. NE winds 25-30 knots pushed us along briskly at 7.5-8kts. under heavily reefed main and genoa on a reach. The waves and swell built steadily as well reaching 6-8ft with an occasional 10 footer just to liven things up! All in all not a bad sail and not terribly uncomfortable. We went that way for about 2 1/2 hours and then ended up having to penetrate a small squall. As we approached the squall the winds clocked SE and diminished to about 10-15 kts. That was it for the sailing as our heading was about 110 -120 degrees. We motored along in sloppy seas for the next 2 hours on into Nassau Harbor. The islands major landmark is of course the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island visible a long way off.
We had made reservations with Marlin Marine in Nassau at the recommendation of Alfred the owner of Seacrest Marina in Bimini. Melissa arranged for a monthly rate that was quite favorable. We called Harbor control about 2 miles out. All harbor traffic is required to get permission prior to entering or exiting the harbor.
As we approached the area we thought our marina to be in we started calling out to guys on the docks inquiring to Marlin's location. A guy told us where we could dock and then we hear "Hey, Rantum Scoot, Rantum Scoot!" It was our friends Bob and Hazel Lortie from Business Express days. We hadn't actually seen them since Annapolis at the boat show. We tried to hook up with them in S.C. and F.l. without luck. Here we just happened to be at the same place and same time. After getting the boat secure we walked over to chat. They were here meeting relatives but were heading out the next day. Will and Scott ended up hanging out with them later at the Poop Deck bar watching a little of the not so Super Bowl.
Monday, January 27th, 2003 Nassau, New Providence
Back to the auto pilot saga: I called the guy I know, he was great, got me hooked up with an all-around tech support guru that gave me a test to do on the flux gate (heading sensor/electronic compass) it passed the test so they said send in the course computer. There was no alternative but to send the course computer to them for repairs now. But at least we were pretty sure what the problem was.
So it was off to the DHL office which is just 2 blocks from our marina. I wanted to see if we got an employee shipping rate down here (yeah I'm a cheap pilot!). Because of the way DHL is put together each country has it's own policies towards that kind of thing. I met some really nice folks in the Nassau DHL office and when I returned with the part to ship they gave Emily and I a nice tour of the facility. Of course my shipment made it there the next morning and as of this writing I'm not sure if it is fixed or declared DOA.
Thursday, January 30th, 2003 Nassau, New Providence
Well it's back to work for Scott! A good bit of this update was written at 35,000 feet enroute to Cincinnati on Delta.
We also met up with the trawler Mrs. G. and the sailboat Zakema here. We had met them in Bimini. Mrs. G. is a retired couple from NY and Zakema a young couple with 2 kids from Montreal. The kids had never really gotten acquainted (just kind of stared at each other) until last night and the 2 boats departed today. We'll see them again though.
I'm not sure when the next update to the log will be made. When I return we will be cruising for a couple of months as I have taken all of my vacation at once and bid schedules that buttress my vacation with 2 weeks off each. I may try a satellite phone update but they'll be no pictures due to the slow speed of the data uplink.
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