March 15 2020

'The Neuse Juice'

Volumn 47 Number 3

Coming Events 

2019 Photo contest voting- Now

Shrimperoo-March 28th

Volunteer Meeting for Dinghy Poker Run- April 4th

Commodore's Log

Jeff Keynon, Commodore

S/V Calitri


March is here – time to get ready for “NSA Time”!

The winter in Eastern North Carolina continues to be warm and wonderful. The Seminar Series has been well attended, with one more planned this month about Onboard First Aid on March 14. As always at 9:30 at the Oriental Town Hall.

February was a busy month for NSA. It started with a large group going to Ocracoke via ferry to bring relief supplies, spend some money and have a lot of fun. The relief mission was very pleased with the much-needed supplies, and the merchants and restaurants were very appreciative of everyone and anyone visiting during the off season. The island is making steady progress, but many places still have a long way to go as you might expect. They are all working hard to be ready for the season, which is very important for their continued recovery. The Anchorage Marina is looking good and plans to open April 1. If you have a free weekend, consider a short getaway – you will be happy you did.

Later in February was the Oyster Roast, which was a huge success. Thanks to Kevin and Mary (they might be edging towards permanent commodores of special events status)! More about the oyster roast from them below. On the Ocracoke Relief side, the 50/50 was also a success, raising over $400 for this important cause.

Which brings us to March, where I am sure you are, like I am, getting our boats ready for some trips! The first trip is in mid-April for the Easter cruise to Beaufort. Over 20 boats are signed up already, so be sure to do so if you haven’t yet. Before the Easter cruise we’ll enjoy one more land-based party with the Shrimparoo on March 29. I look forward to seeing everyone there – it is sure to be a lot of fun as always. We will also have one more 50/50 opportunity for Ocracoke relief.

Until then – be safe and have fun. NSA Time 2020 is here!



 


Cruising Outlook

Carl Crothers, VC Cruising

S/V Sanctuary


Cruising Report for March NJ

We have strong interest in our first cruise of the season with 23 boats registered so far for Easter Weekend in Beaufort, April 10-12. If the weather holds, it should be a warm and pleasant weekend. Cruise Captains Wade Ellison and Amy Clifton are working on some fun activities for our stay. See their article elsewhere in today’s newsletter.

 If you have registered and requested a slip in the Beaufort Docks marina, you do not need to call the marina. I have been in touch with the dockmaster and will provide him our boat list with updates as the date nears. Let me know if you have changed boats and not updated your profile on our website. The dockmaster decides where to dock our boats based on the size and power needs you recorded in your profile.

If you’ve registered for a slip, all you have to do is hail “Beaufort Docks” on VHF 16 when you are within 15 minutes or so of the marina and let them know you’re with the NSA. They will talk you into your slip. If you want to see a diagram of the marina, refer to Capt. John Rahm’s Captain’s Blog on cruising to Beaufort onTowndock.net. It’s also very informative for those who may not have made the run to Beaufort down Adams Creek.

Registration for the Week-long Cruise to Albemarle Plantation Marina, June 13-21, is now technically open, though the first reminder won’t go out for another week or so. We’re opening up registration early because the plan is complex – two routes – and we want to get good boat counts early for the marinas we’ll be visiting. When you register for the Week-long, make sure you complete the applicable questions at the bottom of the registration form.

I didn’t mean to gloss over the Memorial Day Weekend Cruise to Cape Lookout, May 23-25. Registration for Cape Lookout will open in April, so don’t forget to check back and register. We’ll discuss Cape Lookout more later.

There are many other great cruises scheduled this year. The full schedule is now in the Events List on the website. And we still need cruise captains for many trips. Please review the list and volunteer. You won’t regret it.

We’re looking forward to seeing you on the water!


All Hands on Deck for Spring Cruise!

Attention all NSA cruisers. I'm sure that you are all as ready for another great season as Amy and I are. Even though the winter was generally mild, spring just cannot arrive too soon. Our first big “get together” in February was a fantastic start to the 2020 season and the Shrimperoo will be here in a flash. With that, we want to remind everyone that our “shakedown” cruise will return us to a club favorite, Beaufort Docks.

On Friday, April 10, we depart our home ports heading toward Adams Creek for the NSA Easter Cruise. We are happy to be Co-Captains for the first trip this year and have some fun things planned as we knock the dust and cobwebs off our boats. If you haven't registered you can do so here and let us know if you want a slip for one or two nights or if you plan to anchor out (no need to contact Beaufort Docks, we will provide them a list).

Amy has an interesting game planned for Saturday that can be done on your own as you visit the many wonderful shops and eateries along the waterfront and downtown area. She will also organize a group dinner for Friday night for all interested parties. The restaurant has yet to be decided, but you know Amy, it will be carefully picked and planned. We will get that information out several days before the cruise to get a good count of attendees so the reservation can be made.

Our social will be Saturday afternoon at 4:00 on the docks with beer and wine already waiting. Please bring a dish, appetizer or dessert to share along with any winter “war stories” you'd like to share. The game (can't reveal it until Friday) will be scored at the social and most likely a couple of prizes awarded. Saturday dinner is your choice. Easter morning services are available and we will provide more information at the social.

Amy and I are really looking forward to sharing a great time with everyone and hope to see you there!

Amy Clifton

Wade Ellison

s/v Anticipation Too


2020 Cruising Schedule:

Easter (Spring) Cruise – April 10-12, Beaufort Docks

Memorial Day Cruise – May 23-25, Cape Lookout Anchorage

Week-long Cruise – June 13-21, Albemarle Plantation Marina

Dog Days Cruise – July 10-12, River Forest Marina, Belhaven

Lazy Days Cruise – Aug. 1-2, River Dunes Marina

Labor Day Cruise – Sept. 4-7, Ocracoke Island

Fall Cruise – Oct. 10-11, West Bay Anchorage

Halloween Cruise – Oct. 31-Nov. 1, New Bern Grand Marina


We have cruise captains so far for the Lazy Days and Labor Day cruises. Please contact me at carlcrothers52@gmail.com if you’d like to be a cruise captain.



Membership

Donna Crothers, VC Membership

S/V Sanctuary


Welcome New Members!

The Oyster Roast was a great start to NSA’s 2020 and brought us quite a few new members. It was a fun event with good food and camaraderie! Of course, the Shrimperoo on March 28 is our big membership event. We will have a full contingent of NSA folks in the membership center, so if you are able to help out at a computer for 45 minutes during the event, please call or text me at 336 403 6534 or email me at vcmembership@neusesailingassociation.org.

The following folks joined the NSA during February, so please be sure to greet them and introduce yourself at the Shrimperoo and other upcoming events. And new members, don’t forget our upcoming New Members’ Social on Saturday, April 25 – more information on that in the April Neuse Juice.

Daniel Bossut of Chapel Hill, with S/V Wildfire at South Creek Marina

April Bradley and John Buhrmann of Durham, with S/V Daily Alice at Wayfarer’s Cove Marina

Chris and Christine Hobson of Oriental, with S/V Chandos at Pecan Grove Marina

David and Christa Kreutz of Oriental, with S/V Katrina at a private dock

Peggy MacDonald of Oriental, no boat currently  

Juliann Tenney and Chris Straughan of Chapel Hill, no boat currently

Gregory Sudkamp of Blounts Creek, with S/V Lucky Linda Lee at Northwest Creek Marina

Ben Williams and Deb Aronson of Merritt, with S/V Wild Rumpus at their home dock

By the way, it is time for returning members to renew! Please be sure to renew before April 1 to ensure that you continue to receive the Neuse Juice and other communications, and can take part in our upcoming cruises.

Looking forward to a great 2020!



Special Events

Kevin and Mary Guilfoyle, VC  Special Events

M/V Delphina


2020 Oyster Roast


This years Oyster Roast was another amazing success ! NSA members know how to have a good time.  Dave from M&M’s provided us with some delicious oysters and the members side dishes and desserts were the best yet! Thanks to all the members who helped set up and clean up and those great Oyster roasters Buster, Tom and Kevin! This year the 50/50 raffle raised over $400.00 for Ocracoke hurricane recovery

This years Oyster Roast was another amazing success ! NSA members know how to have a good time.  Dave from M&M’s provided us with some delicious oysters and the members side dishes and desserts were the best yet! Thanks to all the members who helped set up and clean up and those great Oyster roasters Buster, Tom and Kevin! This year the 50/50 raffle raised over $400.00 for Ocracoke hurricane recovery .


Bring your new member guests to the Shrimperoo!

The annual Neuse Sailing Association’s Shrimperoo will take place on Saturday, March 28th at the Oriental Marina and Inn. This annual event is a time for the people of Oriental and NSA members to share good food, good music and lots of fun!  This year the music will be provided by our  local favorite  Ken Belangia.  There is no registration for this event and it is open to the public. Non-members will be charged a fee of $10, which can be applied toward your NSA membership.  We'll also have a Member Center set up to assist members in renewing their membership and for any guests wishing to join. We ask all members to bring a side dish or dessert to the event.



 


Photo Contest

Lynn Scott

S/V Earendil


Vote for your favorites now!

Voting will remain open until Thurs., March 12 so you only have a couple of days left to choose!  Winners will be announced at the Shrimperoo on March 28th.

The categories are:

  • Sailing Action - please name the sailing vessel/s in the photo/s
  • Selfies - we want to see your smiling faces 
  • Lifestyles - this is a good opportunity to show why NSA is so great
  • Scenic - judging by what I've seen shared, you all have one to submit
  • Fun/Wacky/Silly - always a favorite


Nautical Co-op News

Chuck Gordon, NSA Director, NCO Rep

S/V Pelican


2020 WINTER SEMINAR SERIES

2020 WINTER SEMINAR SERIES

January 11th thru March 14th (Saturdays, 9:30AM, Oriental Town Hall)

Sponsored by SCOO, ODC, NSA


Only one more left!  You won't want to miss this one!

March 14th – First Aid Onboard – Erik Kindle




Dinghy Poker Run

Sharon Stephenson

S/V Pelikan

srstephenson1420@gmail.com

919-414-7719



2020 Dinghy Poker Run Planning Meeting

It’s time to start planning for this year’s Dinghy Poker Run, scheduled for Saturday July 25 at the Oriental Marina & Inn/Tiki Bar deck. Once again, the Dinghy Poker Run will be sponsored by the Nautical Co-Op (NCO), the collaboration of all 3 sailing clubs in Oriental (NSA, SCOO – Sailing Club of Oriental & ODC – Oriental Dinghy Club). Proceeds from the event will go to the Pamlico Coastal Activities Council, to be earmarked for children’s sailing school scholarships. Last year’s event was a huge success with the help of many volunteers from all 3 clubs.

I am having a planning meeting for those interested in volunteering to help organize the event. I need folks to help with advertisement, solicitation of goods for prizes & auction items, food planning, poker run course planning & volunteer organization. (I will be sending out requests for specific volunteers for the day of the event later.)

The meeting will be Saturday April 4 at 0900 at my house – 1420 Seafarer Dr, Oriental. I am enticing you to participate with coffee & light refreshments! If you would like to volunteer, but cannot attend the meeting, just let me know. Members of NSA, SCOO & ODC are all invited to help with the Dinghy Poker Run.

Hope you can participate in these efforts. As a minimum mark your calendars for July 25 & plan to be there.

Volunteers Needed for Boat Show!

The Oriental Boat Show on April 17-19 is always a fun event and is also a good way to let attendees know about the NSA! This year, the NSA will partner with ODC and SCOO for a booth promoting all three clubs and the Nautical Co-op of Oriental. Each club will have information to offer attendees.

We need NSA volunteers to man the NCO booth and tell people about our club and possibly sign up new members. The boat show hours are from Noon until 6 p.m. on Friday, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday. If you can help with a two-hour shift, please email me at vcmembership@neusesailingassociation.org and let me know your preferred time and day. You will be admitted free to the show for your shift at the NCO booth.

Thanks in advance!

Donna Crothers

Vice Commodore Membership

S/V Sanctuary


NSA Wear

Kathy Kenny, VC Social Media, NSA Wear Coord.

S/V Cool Change


For anyone who hasn’t been able to buy your t-shirt, cap, visor or koozie, text me at 615-828-8621 and I will make it happen. Otherwise, I will continue to post on Facebook and the Neuse Juice when the “mobile store” will be in Oriental. I wish for everyone to have a safe, healthy and happy New Year! 

Be sure to join our Facebook Page!  It's a closed page with access to members only and there are lots of fun pictures and stories shared!


Communications

Robert Pugh and Tracy Vail, VC Communications

S/V Solveig


As many of you know, NSA has adopted Ocracoke for our fundraising campaigns this year.  When asked what they needed most, they said it was for people to come and spend money to make up for the lost business after the storm.  Many of the local business were staying open during the winter in attempts to recoup some of their losses.  So, 26 NSA members decided to spend Valentine's Day giving love to the island.  We got rooms at the Anchorage Inn, ate and drank at local bars/restaurants and attended a play called Love Letters with donations to support families in need.  We also brought requested donations of supplies for the food pantry and Jeff presented them with a check to cover additional needs.  A special shout out goes to Bill at the Piggly Wiggly who donated $250.00 worth of requested supplies!  

We had so much fun there was talk about making it an annual event!  Many thanks to our members for their generosity!




Stay Connected!  NSA has lots of ways to communicate.  New members are encouraged to create a profile on our website and established members are encouraged to make sure all your information is updated.  Cruise captains need to have updated boat and contact information when making marina reservations for the cruises and cruise captains often communicate on the website forum.  You can also stay connected by downloading the Wild Apricot App and putting in your NSA information. This gives you an easy way to register for events, see the calendar and connect with other members on your phone!  Finally, join our Facebook Page where people share information, tell stories and share pictures.  If you need help with connecting in any way, contact Tracy or Robert.

 


Sailing Adventures

Guest articles by traveling NSA Members


Ahoy from SV Tao from the Berry Islands

Tracy Vail asked Buck and I for an update on our trip to the Bahamas for the newsletter. In preparing for the article and outlining my notes, I decided a type of Q&A format might be fun in sharing our perspectives. We have several NSA members who have cruised the Bahamas ( and the world for that matter) so our thoughts are unique only to our limited experience- and we are still basically newbies.

We left Oriental towards the end of November and are currently at Grand Harbor Cay, Berry Islands (3/7/2020).

We plan to move towards Eleuthera this week and to the Land and Sea Park in the Exumas before heading home mid April.

Apparently this has been an "off year" per other cruisers as far as the weather. There have been multiple gales and very few opportunities for movement within the islands due to the limited weather windows. Lots of hunkering down. But that is okay-we will be thrilled next year if it is a better weather year.

Do you think activities as being NSA members impacted your journey south to the Bahamas?

Absolutely! The weeklong trips especially exposed us to boat preparation, planning, provisioning and just being on the boat for longer periods other than day sailing.

What have been the lessons learned so far?

Probably the biggest lesson so far per Buck is the acute realization that "plans" are just a draft. In fact, as much as we would like to think we are in charge, the weather takes precedent over all plans. In addition, boat snafus can stop you in your tracks. For instance, our jib furler failed as the bearings seized and try as we might, we could not make a repair happen sooner than 5 1/2 weeks. We had to sit and wait in the West Palm Beach/Lake Worth area at anchor until parts came and riggers could get the work done. We watched Gulf-stream weather windows come and go. Finally, once the repair was complete, we still had to wait for northerlies to blow through until finally we had an opportunity to make a crossing to West End on Grand Bahama Island. Our original plan had been to cross from Miami but the weather factored in to the decision to make our run from Lake Worth. We had several boat snafus but we worked through them all and just had to take a deep breath.

Buck says he has learned to be more flexible as a result of this trip. Your plan is simply "penciled in". You cannot be too attached to your planned itinerary . Your float plan is in a constant state of flux.

My personal lesson has to be all about patience. Sitting at anchor for almost 6 weeks watching other cruisers come and go was challenging. An unexpected gift as part of the waiting were many an evening enjoying the company of fellow NSA'ers Chip and Honey, or Scott and Sandy ( back in Daytona waiting for bad weather to pass), and other cruisers we met while walking Shiloh.

We both have also learned quite a bit more about communication during anchoring and docking. These are skills you just have to gain actual experience through repetition to see what works for you as a couple.

Above all, we have learned to just enjoy being where we are at any given time.

What have been the most enjoyable aspects of the trip so far?

We both agreed the people along the way as much as the beauty of nature. It is cliche' but the sunrises, sunsets, dolphins, manatee, aquamarine water, exploring....the list goes on. Pictures do not do justice. One has to experience these sights, hear the sounds, smell the smells and feel the rhythms. And, let's not forget the fresh conch salad with a perfect Dark N Stormy.

We knew we would be awed by nature but my gosh...the people! The Bahamians in the Berry's make us smile in so many ways. The cruisers we meet via potlucks, beach walks , and dock walking is an experience in itself. I can't tell you how much more I appreciate people as a result of the characters we have met along the way. Overall, we have not really had negative people experiences other than a few power boaters blowing us out of the water in south Florida. People cruising help each other out.

What are some of the least enjoyable aspects of the trip?

Probably the fact that we have not been able to move from island to island like we want because of the weather- but then that results in learning how to go slow and enjoy what is around us. We have made some new friends as a result of being stuck somewhere. The stories and the laughs are priceless. We have explored nooks and crannies in the Berry's for instance which we would not have done if we were fast tracking to the Exumas. What seems to be least enjoyable ends up being a gift . It is ironic.

Not being able to sail versus motor sail to destinations has been a little frustrating . Some of the hops in the Bahamas required us to motor sail to be able to get there in daylight. Visual piloting rules in the Bahamas is for real when you are a newbie.

Buck said dealing with the constant unknown since this was our first trip to the Bahamas was sometimes stressful. But, being able to meet a challenge head on successfully ended up being extremely rewarding and actually a positive for him. He has developed more "fix it" skills than he thought he ever could.

Adapting to discomfort has been a challenge for me. I did not like being cold on the way down. I do not like big seas. The days with constant noise from the big blows were exhausting. But, without the discomfort I am not sure the joy would be as exquisite. The satisfaction of working for this experience is somehow more meaningful. The reward is a true gift.

Do you have any other comments?

The useful resources we utilized on our trip included the Explorer Chartbooks for the different regions of the Bahamas. These charts are chock full of useful information. We used these daily. Some people we talked to loved Navionics or AquaMaps but universally the Explorer charts were held in high esteem. Social media groups on Facebook such as Bahamas cruising and sailing is helpful to ask questions. You will typically get responses and a broad spectrum of opinions.

We used multiple weather forecasting models including Chris Parker, Predict Wind, NWS, and NOAA.

You know it might be fun to have a NSA event or educational gathering for the purpose of sharing with each other our learned experiences with other NSA folks who might be interested in traveling south . I know we have folks from SoundWave, LauraBelle, Jennabird, Aphrodisiac, Borealis, Delphinias, and others who have significant knowledge from their experiences. It is just a thought and it might be fun.

We look forward to coming back to Oriental and sailing with our NSA friends. Also, we are already planning our return trip next year to the Bahamas!

Warmest regards to you all!

Deb O'Neil



 



From the Neuse to the Bahamas

By Patrick McWherter

I left New Bern North Carolina on the 21st of October last year (2019). Winter was coming, and I had been preparing Orion for the sail south for months. New bottom paint, hardtop bimini, 640 Watts of solar panels, AIS, Sirius Satellite radio and all the recommended maintenance for the engine, the generator, the dingy and the outboard. With a couple of sea trials and proper provisioning, I was ready to go. Correction: I had been ready to go. Now s/v Orion was ready to go.

When my buddy Mark and I took off down the Neuse River, it was cold and cloudy. Being a southern California boy, I don’t care for cold and cloudy. But I knew there were white sand beaches, and warm clear waters ahead.  Our plan was to sail to Beaufort NC, and wait for a weather window before hopping offshore. After two days wait, we sailed out of Beaufort Inlet for open ocean. Forty eight hours later, we pulled into the Savanah River, for a short layover at the Isle of Hope.

When heading south, the general rule of thumb (at least for me), is head offshore when the weather is good, and stay within the ICW when it’s not, or more importantly, when it’s predicted to be bad. Weather forecasts have come a long way over the years. Forecasts for the next 3-5 days are generally pretty accurate. Chris Parkers Marine forecasts are mandatory for me. It's a paid monthly subscription, but well worth the costs (about $33 a month). I have become a weather watcher. Chris Parkers forecast, the local news stations (over the Air TV, Roku online), and apps such as Windy, Windfinder, Predict Wind, Etc… I use all these resources, but Chris Parkers Marine forecasts are the most comprehensive.

These last 5 months, I have rotated crew aboard Orion including friends, former co-workers, the ex, people I’ve met through online resources such as findacrew.net and Sailboat Hitchhikers Facebook page. I have had a couple from Canada, a man from Brazil,a lady from Belgium, and a financial planner from Connecticut. My current “crew” is a young man from Austria. Orion is a Hunter 45CC. I can (and have) single handed her on many occasions, but when the wind and the seas come up, an extra set of hands helping with the mainsail and with the lines during docking, is good to have!

I continued on south to Florida, and down to Miami, and then Key West (twice). In mid January, I found myself in Key Biscayne, just outside of No Name Harbor, waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream to Bimini. The gulf stream is a huge volume of warm, clear water moving north between Florida and the Bahamas at about 2-3 knots. You can’t get to the Bahamas from the US, without crossing it. When the cold wind comes from the north, which is a common occurrence with cold fronts in the winter, it opposes that huge volume of warm water moving up from the south and pushes the seas up like herds of elephants marching northward. This is not a good time to cross the Gulfstream. By the way, the same concept applies to inlets, when incoming (or outgoing) tides, oppose any significant wind. If sailing in a washing machine is your thing, that’s great. But it’s not for me. Chris Parker is my friend, when trying to pick a weather window for crossing the Gulfstream. Pay close attention to the tide tables and the wind directions when entering or exiting inlets.

The sail to Bimini was a bit salty, with 10-15 knot winds from the south east and our heading to the east. We maintained a close reach for about 7 hours and arrived in South Bimini, at the Bimini Sands Marina by mid-afternoon. A big difference between sailing in the US and sailing in the Bahamas is the location of the channel markers. In the US, it is expected, and usually the case, that the channel markers are located where the charts say they’re located. Not necessarily so in the Bahamas. There are missing markers and markers out of place. The first red marker coming into Bimini Harbor was moved by a storm to the middle of a sand bar. If you use that marker, you’re likely to run aground. Soft white sand, but aground none the less. We have also found both red and green markers washed up on the beach. Obviously not missing, but certainly out of place. The good news is, that the water is clear and coral heads are easy to spot, with proper lighting. Plan entrances and exits when the sun is high in the sky, and post a watch on the bow when coming into shallower waters.

Spent a week at the Bimini Sands Marina, because they had a special weekly rate of $150. The catch is, you have to stay a week to get that rate. But with another cold front coming through, and 3-4 days of high winds predicted, a week in a well protected marina was not a bad plan. Bimini is fun, for a few days. A nice intro to Bahamas life. The people are friendly, The water is amazing and there’s sharks! Who doesn’t love sharks? North Bimini has Bull Sharks in the marinas, and South Bimini has Great Hammer Head sharks, just about a mile offshore. If you’re a diver and you like sharks,  I would highly recommend the Bimini Big Game Club Great Hammer Head Dive. 

 

After a week in Bimini, it was time to head East across the Great Bahama Bank, and the North East Providence Channel, but only after a snorkel stop on the Sapona. The Sapona is a concrete cargo ship, that ran aground near Bimini during a hurricane in 1926. It sits in about 15 feet of water, and is teaming with life. All sorts of fish, turtles, stingrays, and even a couple of small sharks live on this wreck. If you like snorkeling, it doesn’t get much better than this.

After our snorkel stop, we headed off across the Great Bahama Bank. We motor-sailed for 60 miles in about 15-20 feet of water. We had picked a good weather day (and night), and anchored out, in the middle of nowhere. No city lights, no land in sight, just a couple other anchor lights, off in the distance. The next morning we pulled up anchor and set sail across the NorthEast Providence Channel for New Providence Island, where we anchored over night on the West End. West Bay is relatively protected, but not from the West and North West. Which leads me to my next topic, seeking protection. The cold fronts in the winter sweep through the Bahamas on a fairly regular basis. The only differences between them are; 1) Their intensity and/or duration, and 2) How far South they go, before they fizzle out. The prevailing winds in the area are from the South East to South. A cold front coming through will shift the winds to the West, North West, then North East. This year I’ve seen a number of very strong fronts (20-30 knots), that last for up to 3-4 days. Finding protection from all directions is important, as the wind shifts. Finding a place where you can hang out for 3-4 days, is just as critical.

After Nassau, we set sail for the Exumas. You can hang out in the Exumas for weeks… or months, and not run out of things to do or see. The water is amazing, the islands are amazing and the beaches are amazing. Highbourne Cay or Normans Cay are usually the first stops from cruisers coming from Nassau. Normans is famous for being the former home of a Colombian Drug King pin. Contrary to rumors, it wasn’t “El Chapo”. There is however, a beautiful DC-3 wreck in the channel, that was used for drug smuggling during the 1980’s. This is another very popular snorkeling spot.

South from there is the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This is a protected area extending from Shroud Cay south to Bell Cay. We stopped at the Warderick Wells Cay, which is the home of the Parks Head Quarters. I highly recommend making a stop here. Services are limited, but you can get a Cell Phone signal from the top of Boo-Boo Hill and/or from the South East corner of the Park Headquarters building, if you stand on one leg, and hold your right arm up in the air. But that’s it. Now’s a good time to mention cellphone and/or Wifi Service. I have T-Mobile, with an international plan, which gives me very limited data outside the US. You can also bring a secondary phone, and purchase a Sim Card for the Bahamas. I’m told that “Mr. Sim card.com" is a good option for getting international Sim Cards. My preference is “My Island WiFi”. For $75 per month, they provide a WiFi router that supplies unlimited high speed data, available anywhere in the Bahamas, within reach of a Cellphone Tower. Most of the Islands have BTC Cellphone towers, and they are shown on the Explorer Charts as well. I usually have coverage, at most anchorages or Marinas. Although I have been known to run the WiFi unit up the mast on a spare halyard to increase my range. If you go with My Island WiFi. Order a couple of months early. They have limited quantity but can ship from Miami, if necessary.


No trip to the Exumas is complete with out a stop at Staniel Cay, home to the famous swimming pigs and the underwater cave “The Grotto”, this was used as a backdrop in the 1961 James Bond Movie “Thunderball”.


As I write this article, I’m currently sitting in the Marina at Emerald Bay, near Georgetown on Great Exuma Island, waiting for one of those stronger, longer duration cold fronts to work it’s way through. I’m not done with this cruise. Not even sure if I’m halfway through. My current plans have me continuing south to Long Island, the Acklins, Mayaguana, and ultimately arriving in Turks and Caicos. From there, who knows? I will most likely turn my way back North towards the Carolinas, with another swing through the Bahamas. Maybe Eleuthera and the Abacos this time? We’ll see. Only time will tell…

Patrick McWherter

Phone: (805) 509-6305

E-Mail: patrick@cosmicsailinginc.com

Or you can find me on: Facebook at Cosmic Sailing Inc, or on Instagram at Cosmic Sailing.


After our snorkel stop, we headed off across the Great Bahama Bank. We motor-sailed for 60 miles in about 15-20 feet of water. We had picked a good weather day (and night), and anchored out, in the middle of nowhere. No city lights, no land in sight, just a couple other anchor lights, off in the distance. The next morning we pulled up anchor and set sail across the NorthEast Providence Channel for New Providence Island, where we anchored over night on the West End. West Bay is relatively protected, but not from the West and North West. Which leads me to my next topic, seeking protection. The cold fronts in the winter sweep through the Bahamas on a fairly regular basis. The only differences between them are; 1) Their intensity and/or duration, and 2) How far South they go, before they fizzle out. The prevailing winds in the area are from the South East to South. A cold front coming through will shift the winds to the West, North West, then North East. This year I’ve seen a number of very strong fronts (20-30 knots), that last for up to 3-4 days. Finding protection from all directions is important, as the wind shifts. Finding a place where you can hang out for 3-4 days, is just as critical.

After Nassau, we set sail for the Exumas. You can hang out in the Exumas for weeks… or months, and not run out of things to do or see. The water is amazing, the islands are amazing and the beaches are amazing. Highbourne Cay or Normans Cay are usually the first stops from cruisers coming from Nassau. Normans is famous for being the former home of a Colombian Drug King pin. Contrary to rumors, it wasn’t “El Chapo”. There is however, a beautiful DC-3 wreck in the channel, that was used for drug smuggling during the 1980’s. This is another very popular snorkeling spot.

South from there is the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This is a protected area extending from Shroud Cay south to Bell Cay. We stopped at the Warderick Wells Cay, which is the home of the Parks Head Quarters. I highly recommend making a stop here. Services are limited, but you can get a Cell Phone signal from the top of Boo-Boo Hill and/or from the South East corner of the Park Headquarters building, if you stand on one leg, and hold your right arm up in the air. But that’s it. Now’s a good time to mention cellphone and/or Wifi Service. I have T-Mobile, with an international plan, which gives me very limited data outside the US. You can also bring a secondary phone, and purchase a Sim Card for the Bahamas. I’m told that “Mr. Sim card.com" is a good option for getting international Sim Cards. My preference is “My Island WiFi”. For $75 per month, they provide a WiFi router that supplies unlimited high speed data, available anywhere in the Bahamas, within reach of a Cellphone Tower. Most of the Islands have BTC Cellphone towers, and they are shown on the Explorer Charts as well. I usually have coverage, at most anchorages or Marinas. Although I have been known to run the WiFi unit up the mast on a spare halyard to increase my range. If you go with My Island WiFi. Order a couple of months early. They have limited quantity but can ship from Miami, if necessary.

After our snorkel stop, we headed off across the Great Bahama Bank. We motor-sailed for 60 miles in about 15-20 feet of water. We had picked a good weather day (and night), and anchored out, in the middle of nowhere. No city lights, no land in sight, just a couple other anchor lights, off in the distance. The next morning we pulled up anchor and set sail across the NorthEast Providence Channel for New Providence Island, where we anchored over night on the West End. West Bay is relatively protected, but not from the West and North West. Which leads me to my next topic, seeking protection. The cold fronts in the winter sweep through the Bahamas on a fairly regular basis. The only differences between them are; 1) Their intensity and/or duration, and 2) How far South they go, before they fizzle out. The prevailing winds in the area are from the South East to South. A cold front coming through will shift the winds to the West, North West, then North East. This year I’ve seen a number of very strong fronts (20-30 knots), that last for up to 3-4 days. Finding protection from all directions is important, as the wind shifts. Finding a place where you can hang out for 3-4 days, is just as critical.

After Nassau, we set sail for the Exumas. You can hang out in the Exumas for weeks… or months, and not run out of things to do or see. The water is amazing, the islands are amazing and the beaches are amazing. Highbourne Cay or Normans Cay are usually the first stops from cruisers coming from Nassau. Normans is famous for being the former home of a Colombian Drug King pin. Contrary to rumors, it wasn’t “El Chapo”. There is however, a beautiful DC-3 wreck in the channel, that was used for drug smuggling during the 1980’s. This is another very popular snorkeling spot.

South from there is the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This is a protected area extending from Shroud Cay south to Bell Cay. We stopped at the Warderick Wells Cay, which is the home of the Parks Head Quarters. I highly recommend making a stop here. Services are limited, but you can get a Cell Phone signal from the top of Boo-Boo Hill and/or from the South East corner of the Park Headquarters building, if you stand on one leg, and hold your right arm up in the air. But that’s it. Now’s a good time to mention cellphone and/or Wifi Service. I have T-Mobile, with an international plan, which gives me very limited data outside the US. You can also bring a secondary phone, and purchase a Sim Card for the Bahamas. I’m told that “Mr. Sim card.com" is a good option for getting international Sim Cards. My preference is “My Island WiFi”. For $75 per month, they provide a WiFi router that supplies unlimited high speed data, available anywhere in the Bahamas, within reach of a Cellphone Tower. Most of the Islands have BTC Cellphone towers, and they are shown on the Explorer Charts as well. I usually have coverage, at most anchorages or Marinas. Although I have been known to run the WiFi unit up the mast on a spare halyard to increase my range. If you go with My Island WiFi. Order a couple of months early. They have limited quantity but can ship from Miami, if necessary.






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