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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Journal - 02/27/11 - Abaco to New Providence

Here's another long overdue trip update going all the way back to before New Year's. December 15th-Feb15th.

After holing up at Man O' War cay for about ten days, I met up with Yosef in Marsh Harbour just before Christmas time. We met some good people in Abaco and ended up befriending a family from Calgary which we saw again in Nassau. Calgary is in Alberta if that helps you at all.

After weathering a gale at Guana Cay, Yos and I sailed down to Nassau for New Year's. Fortunately we missed the golf cart parade on Guana Cay, but who knows.

The plan was to sail to Northern Exuma, anchor the night at Spanish Wells, and continue onward to New Providence. Turns out the GPS was wrong and the passage to the harbor at Spanish Wells did not exist. Two trips turned into one 22hr 100mile+ over night sail. Auto pilot made the trip easy, I half slept all the way. You could see Nassau on the night horizon by the city lights which also made navigation easy.

For New Year's, Yosef and I gambled at Atlantis until meeting the Canadians to go celebrate Junkanoo which started at 3am. Junkanoo was great--an elaborate Bahamian street parade with decorated floats, choreographed dancers, and well rehearsed brass bands. Around 5 to 6am everyone could barely keep their eyes open and we all called it a night. I was hearing tuba and trumpet for the next two days. Maybe that was the hangover.

(Also, felt like a degenerate sitting at a blackjack table as the ball dropped, but a good night nonetheless)

Yosef left a grizzled sailor and over the next month more friends came to visit. Between Mason, Chris, Joe, Erica, Kristi and Sven, we drank well, gambled a healthy amount, and had a pretty good time. Whether it was playing volleyball on the beach, sailing over to rose island, or sneaking into the lazy river at the Atlantis water park, I'd say it was a Winter month well spent.

Thanks to everyone that made the trip. It made my experience better and I know I'm looking forward to adventures in the future. Erica I sold your I-pod to buy Kristi a straw bag, sorry.

Now the question is, do I go back to New York, or do I go farther?

Ian Graham

February 28, 2011

P.S. The next boat over is called the 'Irish Hooker.' A real classy section of the marina for sure.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Journal - 12/14/10 - Epic Sail

So I've decided to resurrect the travel/gambling blog. Much has happened since my last entry, most notably a trip to Australia, and some long poker hours in NYC, but here's a quick play by play of the last Month.

I didn't touch land from Indian Harbour Beach to Spanish Cay, minus a 15 minute refuel in Palm Springs (two weeks and over 200 miles). I took the Northern route over Grand Bahama to get to the Abacoes. Electricity and bathroom fully functional… So much easier with a little bit of experience from last trip.

No weather reports for a week once I got to the Bahamas. Did a decent job reading the clouds and predicting the wind direction to shift clockwise with a faster transition from S to NW.

Tried to sail into a 25mph head wind from Mango Cay to Grand Sail Cay and had to turn around. Made the distance hallway in eight hours and made the return trip in two hours just before sunset. My bow'lin knot came undone on the jib and I had to control the wildly flapping sail in 4-6 ft waves open water and quickly retie the knot without falling overboard. A bit scary but nothing serious.

Was anchoring just outside of Fox Town when the water went from calm to 4-6 ft in a half hour as a strong NW front rolled in (30mph range). My anchorage had no protection from the NW so I trusted my depth sounder and almost beached myself intentionally behind some small rocks, the Parrot Cays I think. The plan was to let the Anchor line out if the tide went in or it got to shallow as the wind would push me into deeper water. I dropped both anchors and survived the night relatively comfortably, low tide with less than a foot under the keel (depth sounder read 0.0). Never touched bottom though.

Finally found land at Spanish Cay. Had a warm shower, Kalik beer at the Bar, and a good meal with some good people. Met the crew of the Innovation from Alabama. Serious vertigo in the shower after being on the water for so long.

Went through 'the Whale' in order to get to Guana Cay to meet Cat and Liz. If I waited the passage was only getting worse for the entire next week. It looked a bit hazardous but I was going to give the passage a try knowing I could always turn around. Put that 6 feet of keel to work. The passage had some 'rage' as the locals call it… 6-8 ft rollers with occasional 10ft-ers… 4-6ft swell… big breakers but only close to shore which I avoided.

This leg got somewhat worrisome, but turned out to be ok. The waves were bigger than anything I had been in before, including the swell, but the sail itself actually became enjoyable after I realized the boat was ok.

A fully geared crew on a Catamaran caught up with me towards the end of the passage. I thought it'd be funny if I took out a book and pretended to be reading as they passed me--considering the conditions were really rough. As they passed I looked up from my book trying to act somewhat surprised. "Hey!" with a friendly wave. Just leisurely enjoying my book and going for a pleasure daysail.

Made it to Guana Cay, met up with Cat and Liz, and was sipping Goombay Smash and other frozen rum drinks before sunset… after the roughest sailing I'd ever been in… crazy day.

The visit was great. Cat, Liz and I found some amazing beaches on Guana Cay. Played in a Bacci ball tournament with a crew of retirees--there was a friendly amount of trash talk. Went for a great daysail around the sea of Abaco. Failed at fishing. Got a tour of Guana Cay from the golf cart of essentially the Mayor of Guana Cay. I got the pleasure of swimming with a four foot Barracuda, which supposedly are OK to swim with as long as you don't wear anything shiny. I did have a shiny spear, but it was a spear, so up the ante a bit. Drank a lot of rum drinks, ate lots of grouper, dolphin (fish), conch, lobster and fresh produce which we found around the Cays (coconuts and the best limes I've ever had).

Unfortunately, I left my camera battery charger at home and Liz fell into the marina with her camera (but her arm isn't broken!)… so no pictures which is too bad. Oh, well.

And now I'm holed up at Man O' War Cay. Nice protected anchorage, internet, showers and cheap mooring. I've been playing poker for a couple days getting ready for the PCA at Atlantis in early January. Doing well so far.

For entertainment I downloaded and starting playing the new World of Warcraft, Cataclysm from the boat. The first few levels are all Ocean themed and I was playing during a Gale (30-40mph winds) in a rocking sailboat.

So much fun on a boat,

Capt. Redbeard

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Journal - 4/02/09

Grinding it out...

Cat Cay has blocked facebook on their wireless network. So, no facebook e-mail for the week. Sorry for not responding to those people who wanted life-watch updates... not the best type of e-mail to leave unanswered... April fools?

I'm docked at Cat Cay (Bimini) waiting on calm seas for another Gulf Stream crossing--this Sat night into Sunday looks flat. For the last couple weeks I've been marathon sailing and then playing poker for a couple days at the marinas... grinding out the miles and the tables.

The sail from Chub Cay to Cat Cay (Bimini), was both beautiful and tiresome... open water only 20ft deep, aqua green, and clear. I putted along at about 5mph for most of the 80 mile sail. Which gave me more than enough time to take in the view.

Slow on flat water still feels more comfortable than going faster in rough seas. The sail from Nassau to Chub in 5-8ft seas was not as fun as I had anticipated. I remember leaving Nassau Harbor and seeing these giant breakers in the distance that were splashing well above the palm trees... "Those can't be waves... Oh shit." Turns out they were waves. New 'speed' record for the trip though: 13.4mph!

Thus, I wait here in Cat for the projected calm seas of this weekend... Solo sailing is an experience--that's all I have to say about that.

Ian Graham, April 2, 2009

Note to self: do not leave auto pilot at home for next sailing trip.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Journal - 3/26/09

Thank you to everyone that came down to visit. And thank you to the crew. This trip has been a great success so far and I already have ideas for future sailing adventures. For all friends that missed this trip, I hope you will be there for the next one.

The trip blog deteriorated into a montage of pictures... no apologies.

The time has come to return to Florida continuing onward to New York. I leave tomorrow morning for Chub Cay--the first leg of my 1000+ mile solo sail. If anyone is interested in sailing up parts of the east coast over the next month, let me know. New York people, I will see you in May.

Ian Graham, March 26, 2009