Cruising on Last Dance


This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.



Friday, August 31, 2012

Loop Completion - Part 3 - Return to St. Augustine



500 Days
8000 miles
Countless Memories


The third completion point of the Great Loop was reached on July 6, 2012, at the point the continuous journey began on March 1, 2011.  The adventure, circumnavigating eastern North America via waterways, took the Last Dance crew to many interesting places in the United States, Canada, and the Bahamas.  From some of the largest cities to uninhabited islands, interesting and beautiful vistas were experienced.  More importantly, many new friends were made in many different places.  Thanks to all our old friends who followed us along this journey and to the many new friends developed along the way.







The Gold ALGCA burgee, signifying the completion of the Great Loop was taken to one of the most famous of St. Augustine landmarks, the Bridge of Lions, posed by the northern lion.





At the time of this posting, Last Dance is undergoing major maintenance in preparation for her next adventure, of which there are multiple options.  One, is to sell the boat and move onto the next dreamboat - larger of course.  The second is to continue cruising on Last Dance, albeit at a slower pace.  How can you travel at a slower pace than 7 mph?  By traveling shorter days and staying longer at each location visited.  The fall will find her traveling north until the cold weather dictates a turn to the south or someone decides to make Last Dance their cruising platform.


St. Augustine Bay



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bahama Islands - Miscellaneous Ramblings

Towing


Pearl, a13' Bostton Whaler, trails Last Dance on her short painter (a line attached to a bow of a boat for towing or making fast).  The deck of Last Dance is not large enough, nor is the lifting system stout enough, to carry a sizable dinghy aboard.  In the Bahamas, a large dinghy makes a great diving platform and adequate fishing boat.  So, towing a dinghy provides a great boating resource, though it adds complications and safety issues.  Here, heading home to St. Augustine, leaving an anchorage in Ft. Pierce, FL.




Even large boats find needs for support boats too big to load aboard.  Here, a sizable motor yacht tows a 21 foot center console fishing boat in the Exumas.






And some wish to have a tender that is even too large to tow.  The 36' quadruple-engined RIB (rigid inflatable boat) accompanied a 100+ foot yacht. Here, it is backing to a 47' Nordhavn to pick up someone for a gathering on the mothership.






If you have numerous interests on the water, you can tow multiple boats.  Here, off Elbow Cay in the Abacos, a cruiser tows an Abaco racing dinghy (the famous Abaco Rage), an off-shore fishing boat, and a flats boat.





There are no towing services, such as BoatUS or SeaTow, in the Bahamas.  If you experience difficulties, you are on your own.  Here, a 36' Krogen Manatee, which had a transmission fail, is towed by a generous guy, who was single-handing a 34' Marine Trader.  It took 2 days to tow the boat to the nearest mechanic.


Inflatables

Boats with inflatable pontoons are the most popular type of dinghy accompanying cruisers in the Bahamas.  The inflatable at right demonstrates why the crew of Last Dance tends to describe this type of boat as a "deflatable," although never in earshot of Rubber Ducky, which sits on the aft deck of Last Dance.





Big Boats


Mega yachts travel in the Bahamas, particularly in the Exuma Islands.  The large number of them testifies to the fact that the one percenters are doing well.  Above, at Manjack Cay,  two mega yachts are rafted side to side, with a string of water toys (other boats) on a line behind the boats.

Pay Up


The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a 176 square mile park that is a no take zone, creating waters filled with sealife for exploration.  The park has very secure moorings in protected harbors, for which there is a daily charge.  At the Cambridge Island moorings, cruisers are expected to place their payment in a box on a small island.  The park rangers come to check on payments, and will make personal visits to boats who's crew have not made the trip to the small island.  A member of the Royal Bahamian Defense Force, carrying an AK47, accompanies the ranger.  The Last Dance crew always made the long trip to the box on the island.





Laid-Back, Easy-Going Pace

The only bank on Green Turtle Cay, in downtown New Plymouth, has hours that brings new meaning to the term "Bankers' Hours."  The staff arrives on the morning ferry with a satchel of money and a guard, then returns to the mainland (as Big Abaco Island is called) on the early afternoon ferry - twice a week.













The library is open Monday through Friday, from 2:00 - 5:00 pm.  The sign on the door denotes different days, but to be accurate, it would require making a new sign - not consistent with laidbackness.









Critters

One of the interesting aspects of cruising remote areas is the wildlife encountered.  This Land Crab, ready to protect his turf, was in the woods on a very skinny peninsula at Powell Cay.







Only a few feet away, on the beach, this Ghost Crab stands still, believing he cannot be seen if he doesn't move.  Although these two species of crabs share a small piece of the island, they would never interact as they inhabit different terrain.








A favorite in the underwater world is the Trigger Fish.  When Jill talks to them, they will come close.  This Trigger, just off the beach on Powell, came within one foot.  They have not learned to enjoy being petted, but give Jill a little time.






Reading List


Wind from the Carolinas is historical fiction, written much in the style of James A. Michener, describing the lives of the people who fled the United States after the Revolutionary War.  It is centered in the Exumas, following a family from the Carolinas who settle on Grand Exuma, attempting to recreate their plantation life.  This book is an interesting-to-read account of the Loyalists and British adventurers who colonized the Bahama Islands.













Out-Island Doctor is an autobiography of an Indiana high school science teacher who retires and moves to the Bahamas.  Through self study and a short internship, he is licensed as a physician to serve the small islands.  An Abaco boat builder constructed a ketch for him, which he used to travel the islands serving as the only doctor for many out islands.  This book provides a glimpse of life in the Bahama Islands during the late 1940's and 1950's and the adventures of a Midwesterner adjusting to a very different life.










Set in the Caribbean, not the Bahamas, Don't Stop the Carnival describes how the laid-back life style of the islands challenges an American who buys and operates a hotel/resort in the islands.  This book is a favorite of Jimmy Buffett, who purchased and operated a hotel in the Caribbean.  Buffett collaborated with Herman Wouk to write a musical based on the book.  It is a fun, fictional account of life in "paradise."




Northern Bahamas - Abaco Islands

Leaving Spanish Wells, crossing the 15,000 foot deep Northeast Passage, brought Last Dance to the first stop in the Abacos, Little Harbor.  The only time that sunlight was experienced was at sunset, thus the sunset photo of the harbor beginning the post.  The famous Pete's Pub can be seen in the previous post.  It is a great, laid back pub with delicious food.  The tuna served at dinner was caught earlier that day.  Protected harbor, good food and drink makes windy weather appear much more pleasing.





Hope Town, on Elbow Cay, is home to the famous, red-striped lighthouse.  Rather than repeat that old landmark, a newly renovated Hope Town Marina is pictured at right.  The open-air bar with in-pool serving station is a grand place to spend some time with friends.  It is quite a step up from the previous marina.





The woodwork and craftsmanship is alone worth a visit.  An amazing hammered copper art mobile hangs in the tower portion of the building.













While on a mooring at Hope Town Marina, a large water spout ran along the edge of Elbow Cay.  Some aspects of bad weather can be entertaining, as long as they stay at a distance.








Architecture is one of the interesting aspects of strolls through Hope Town. It remains one of the more appealing of the inhabited islands.













Man-O-War Cay is known for boat building.  The Albury Brothers skiffs are favorites of those fishing Bahamian waters.  The graceful, wooden Abaco sailing skiffs are still being built on Man-O-War.



Another of the famous Man-O-War residents is baker Lola.  She is often along the harbor in her golf cart selling her baked goods, particularly her wonderful coconut bread.  She was not  on the wharf, so the crew found her home, which doubles as her bakery.


An added bonus of finding Lola's home was meeting her husband who makes conch fritter dough for sale.  Many a meal was enhanced aboard Last Dance with fresh conch fritters.  French toast made with Lola's coconut bread is amazingly delicious.







Great Guana Cay is famous for the bar/restaurant Nippers, and infamous for the upscale Baker's Bay resort and golf course being built on the west end of the island - one example of the old charm of the Abacos being rapidly changed by big money.  Good anchorages and natural beauty remain as a sunset from the anchorage in Fisher's Bay attests.







New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay has a sculpture garden memorializing the Loyalist who fled the new United States after the Revolution.  Being loyal to England and King George, they settled in the British colony of the Bahamas, among the Abaco Islands.















New Plymouth and Key West are sister cities and their sculpture gardens are related through the artist creating the sculptures.  The Loyalist garden is laid out on a large Union Jack of the British flag.











The names of those honored are familiar since the current residents are all related to the few Loyalists who established their new home in the Bahama Islands.














The populated islands have a government dock where shallow-draft freight ships dock to unload cargo.  Everything on the island arrives on the freighter, from food to golf carts.  On a day when the freighter was not at the dock, Last Dance anchored in the bay.








The main government revenue in the Bahamas is an import tax.  So, the taxman sets up his office at the dock when the freighter lands, keeping track of all items coming off the boat and being loaded.  The Bahamians mostly attend college in the United States, so sports allegiances are familiar.  Our taxman is a Gamecock fan.












The Green Turtle Library, which is a great resource for cruisers, is located in an old house.  The original kitchen has been kept intact, giving a view of life and architecture in the Bahamas.





The Bahamas are colorful.  All of the Government buildings in New Plymouth are painted pink, even the old jail.











Color also abound in the tropical flowers growing throughout the islands.


























Manjack Cay is the next major island to the west.  There are only three houses on the island and the largest landowner is most cruiser friendly.  The beach next to his house is open to all to use, along with an assortment of water toys and an in-water tiki hut.







One of the water toys is a gaff-rigged Abaco sailing dinghy.  It provided great fun sailing though the harbor.  Once, boats of this size were used to travel through the island chain.  This red-sailed boat is similar to one described in the historical fiction Wind from the Carolinas, describing the Bahamas at the time of the Loyalist arrival.

Sunset at Manjack