Saturday, May 4, 2013

Long Time Coming!!!!

I know it has been a LOOOOOOOONG time since our last update. From December 29th until April 7th, we enjoyed the company of so many wonderful friends and family on board. We choose not to publish the stories of their vacations and hence our blog silence.

Today Ambition is well on her way back to Lake Champlain. We left Marsh Harbour Abaco Bahamas on April 24th after waiting many days for a good weather window to get to Beaufort NC. Well the weather window we needed didn't arrive and so we opted to at least get across the Gulf Stream and headed for Fort Pierce Florida, a 200 mile 2 day and one night sail.
The next day was done in the Intra-coastal Waterway to just south of Port Canaveral. From here we had a good wind to sail and so jumped back into the ocean and sailed the 330 miles (3 days and 2 overnights) to Charleston SC before the next wave of snotty weather arrived. Since Charleston we have been unable to get back into the ocean and so have plodded along in the ICW. Yesterday May 3rd we arrived in Oriental NC where we got stuck yesterday due to very heavy northeast winds - northeast being the exact compass direction we need to get through the Neuse River. Yesterday we just crossed the river, a short 3 miles in a steady 25 knot wind with gusts to 40 knots and waves to 5 or 6 feet. The Neuse is a shallow bit of water and therefore the waves are very close together and very steep. It will be better by Sunday when we will continue to motor along.
Norfolk VA is our next opportunity to get back in the ocean and our plans are to sail nonstop from Norfolk to NYC a run of about 300 miles.
After NYC it will be back up the Hudson River to Catskills NY where we will remove the mast and into the Lake Champlain Canal - 2 days will put us back in the lake and a day to get to Treadwell.
Maryse and I are so looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Second Run through the Northern Exumas

We recently finished our second run through the Northern Exumas. This time family joined us - Steve, Mireille and my grandson Cedrick - at 6 months he has secured the position of our youngest sailor on board. The weather was spectacular and the company fantastic. We started with a bumpy ride of 42 miles from Nassau to Normans Cay. Steve was anxious to get the "fishin' stick" out so we dropped a hook in the water and we didn't have to wait long - Steve reeled in a Jack and after checking our reference book, he was only a "two hook" on the scale of one rusty hook to 5 silver hooks. Our Jack was sent back to the turquoise water with nothing more than a pierced lower lip. An hour later the hook was taken and the line flew off the reel. Everyone jumped into action again and Steve reeled in a beautiful Mahi Mahi. What makes it really strange is that we were on the Exumas Banks at the time and normally these fish like deep water. So my take is that we caught either a lost one or a stupid one .... either way it was very good eating!
We visited Shroud Cay and skiffed through the mangroves to the beach on the ocean side - amazing - we had all the sand and views to ourselves and Cedrick enjoyed his first skinny dip in salt water!
Warderick Wells was the next port of call and Steve did a great job of getting Ambition up to the mooring ball for Maryse to grab even though the current was running quickly. We dropped off out piece of driftwood with the boat name on it up on Boo Boo Hill. As the tide dropped, Steve was able to  attach Rusty to the end of his painter and step off on the almost dry sandbanks - incredible that Ambition is in 12 feet of water and within 10 feet the sand is almost dry!
On Wednesday morning we left Warderick Wells very early and made the 25 mile run to Staniel Cay - no action on the "fishin' stick" once we got outside the Exumas Park. Maryse enjoyed her first lunch of deep fried conch (even though she had ordered chicken - too funny!) At Thunderball grotto, Mireille fed the fish and they just swarmed by the hundreds around her. We decided to move Ambition to Big Majors for the night so we could catch the piggies early and also make an easier ride Thursday.
As mentioned in our last blog entry, Maryse offered carrots to the piggies without much excitement on their part. This time she tried a different strategy - peanut butter sandwiches. As we approached the beach, there were already 5 folks on the beach feeding the piggies. I think that piggies smell well because one of them headed off the beach and swam out to the dinghy - followed quickly by the other 3 pigs. Let me tell you.....there is a HUGE difference to the pigs between carrots and peanut butter of them actually got two front hooves up on Rusty! Steve pushed him back off - excitement or maybe panic swept through the crew of Ambition! Amazing how they devoured the sandwiches. Once all gone, se started to head back to Ambition only the piggies swam along behind following us! I had to "herd" them back to the beach otherwise I think they would have followed all the way to Ambition!
We motor sailed back to Shroud Cay for the night - Mireille and Steve tried their fly rod and fishin' stick just outside the park but other than a few nibbles, nothing was landed.
On Friday morning we went in search of BIG FISH. Headed out through Wax Cay Cut into deep water. Big wind and waves forced us to tack back and forth as we made our way north. Mireille landed a big barracuda that I thought was a wahoo - Steve cleaned it and everything but we ended throwing it overboard due to toxins in the species. Steve landed a smaller barracuda and we released him to grow a little more. No Mahi Mahi so we made our back into shallow waters through Highborne Cut and on toe Allens Cay.
Saturday morning we visited the iguanas but most were still asleep and only 10 or 12 ventured out to get fed. Marsye had prepared a winning combination of cabbage and rice cakes - by the expressions on their faces, they seemed less enthused!
Unfortunately this weeks vacation is quickly coming to a close and we sailed to Nassau as the kids needed to catch a flight home this evening - a great week with Cedrick, Mireille and Steve - sad to see them leave.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our first visit through the northern Exumas

We anchored in Norman's Cay for the night of the December 30th along with at least 4 other boats all from Montreal. Just like Lake Champlain, our anchor was barely on the bottom when I was called on the VHF that I was too close to someone. By the time the anchor settled in and the boat stabilized in the wind we were 300 feet from the complaining boat - didn't hear from him again!

For New Years eve we motored around to the bay in front of the now abandoned Normans Beach Club  and McDuff's - so very sad to see what was such a vibrant and entertaining spot now sit quiet. Damage from the last hurricanes is very evident. We were however very surprised at the amount of planes that were arriving and taking off from the airstrip - clearly there remains life on the cay for the few homeowners. I am sure that they miss Rox's meals at McDuff's!

Our next tour spot was Shroud Cay where we anchored on the north west side of the cay - all alone except for one other power boat. We were just a short skiff ride away from the creek that crosses the mangroves to the ocean side of the cay. This has o be one of the most outstanding beaches and views in the Bahamas.

Next stop was to the Exumas Park at Warderick Wells where we climbed Boo Boo Hill ... not exactly a mountain hike but it is for the Bahamas .... probably a good 75 or 100 feet high! This is where everyone leaves a piece of driftwood with their boat name on it. I looked for both L'Attitude's and Ambition's from 2009 but nothing found. I suspect that they make a bonfire every year to clear out the wood.

A trip to the Bahamas would not be complete without a  visit to Staniel Cay to snorkel into Thunderball grotto, made famous by the James Bond film by the same name and also the movie Splash. The fish surround you by the thousands and the water is lit by the openings in the top of the grotto - spectacular.
Big Majors is right next door and we got to see the swimming pigs in action - these are no little piglets that swim ... these are full sized family packs of ham with a side order of bacon kind of pigs!!! Maryse brought along some little carrots to feed them.... for some reason they were more interested in the leg of lamb that someone left on the beach and the handfuls of lettuce and leftover meats that the dinghy next to us offered up. Anyway I was kind of happy not to have these huge pigs nuzzling up to Rusty!

On our way back to Nassau we spent an evening at Allen's Cay to see the iguanas - the only place in the world where this species of iguana exists. There were hundreds to meet us on the beach - despite warnings to not feed them, they really enjoyed the lettuce that Maryse offered up this time.

January 7th we headed back to Nassau Harbour Club Marina so that our guests could catch their flight home on the morning of the 8th. Life is good in the Bahamas.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Christmas in Montreal and our escape back south!

We flew home for Xmas and along with a great time spent with family and friends we were able to enjoy with everyone, the record breaking 45cm snowfall on Dec 27th. I can't think of a better way to prepare for our return to Ambition in Nassau!

We arrived back on board Ambition on December 29th to glorious sunshine and 80F temperatures. Friends from Treadwell Bay joined us for 11 days so we knocked off the provisioning quickly and we left Nassau for Norman's Cay on the 30th. A great downwind sail in 15 to 20 knots of north wind - perfect!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chub Cay - Nassau - Chub Cay et Nassau

We had a fantastic sail from Chub Cay to Rose Island near Nassau. A 20 knot north wind in 5 foot seas....Ambition was very very happy. There is a narrow break between two reefs to gain access to the south side of Rose Island ... WOW. The water depth went from 1500 feet deep to 20 feet deep within a couple hundred yards. needless to say the waves also jumped in height in the shallows. Although the break in the reefs are 200 yards wide, they sure look more like 50 feet wide when you are surfing 20,000 lbs of sailboat down the wave at the "little gap in the rocks". The water calmed right down just as soon as we made our way through and along the south side of Rose Island. We anchored in a beautiful bay, enjoyed the swimming and the beautiful sunsets.
As the wind turned to the south, we moved and anchored on the north side of the island and then celebrated another fantastic day in paradise by having an "apero picnic" on the beach with Michel and Line - Life in the Bahamas is good.

Wednesday Dec 19th - We arrived in Nassau yesterday and took a slip at Nassau Harbour Marina - for Roxanne - your favourite friend is still here and since slips are hard to find, I made no mention of our prior encounter with your friend! We were delighted to run into Sweet Chariot Too - Graeme and Laura - friends from Ambition's first trip to the Bahamas. Dinner out at the Poop Deck for Stone Crab Claws and Lobster tails ... mmmmmm.

Although we are looking forward to sharing Christmas with everyone we are not quite so enthusiastic about leaving our weather behind for Montreal weather ..... oh well!!

Vendredi 14 décembre
Une belle navigation entre Chub Cay et Rose Island. Un vent de 20 noeuds nord et des vagues variant autour de 5 pieds. Ambition était magnifique.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bimini - Berry Islands - Bimini et Berry Islands

Monday Dec 10 - Today was a rest day from our overnight crossing so what better way to spend a restful day in the Bahamas than to start the hunt for the source of the water leaks....again! After careful inspection, I found that one of the stantions - the posts that hold the lifelines was very wet. So that must be it. undo the bolt on the inside and pull the stantion away from the deck to discover that it was definitely not leaking from the deck. Now I have the is stantion to re-caulk down *&^$(. Next I found that the plate at the bow of the boat was poorly caulked so this must be letting water in under the teak toe rail and then running down the deck until it finds a way in. I spend the rest of the afternoon digging out the old caulking and then putting in new, happy in the thought that I have now solved the problem! The next bumpy day will be the proof!
We walked to the Bahamas Tel company to buy a sim card and minutes for the phone so that we are back in touch with the world when needed.

Tuesday Dec 11 -  We left Sea Crest Marina this morning and started our first of two days to cross the Great Bahamas Bank. The inlet was very very rolly to get out into deep water but as soon as we were out, we unfurled the genoa and actually turned OFF the motor and actually SAILED .... what a great concept! So nice to be doing 5 to 6 knots with only the noise of the water! We headed north to North Rock (N25.48.45 W079.15.75) and then turned from the ocean onto the banks. The water colour changed from a indigo blue to turquoise clear. The Banks are about 8 to 20 feet deep and 50 miles wide by 180 miles north / south. Sailed all day except for the last 2 miles so we could make some hot water. We dropped the anchor on Machie Shoal a sand bar that is 8 feet deep. (N25.38.83 W078.42.62) It is such a weird feeling to be anchored and not see any land for the full 360 degrees. As we anchored we were visited by a huge turtle  - about 2 feet across. it stayed and entertained us for at least 20 minutes before heading off.

Machie Shoal Turtle

Wednesday Dec 12 - We awoke to a completely pink sky and turquoise water with nothing around us except for Sagwa - which is good that we didn't loose them overnight! Our track today has us going to NW Shoal, NW Channel then off the Bank and back into 1500 foot deep water to finish up at Chub Cay in southern Berry Islands. The wind direction forced us to motor sail yet again to keep up our speed and power to push through the 3 to 4 foot waves. We got the fishin stick out this morning and within an hour it did its job again - the reel just sang as something pulled on it hard. The song however didn't last too long as whatever bit on the hook was able to get off. We learned a good lesson today too as we reeled the line in to check if the lure was still there we got it close enough to confirm the lure was on so let the line out again. 1 or 2 hours later we figured that since the lure was not producing any results, we would change it. When the got it back on board, the lure was still there but the hook was long gone! Next time check for hooks if you want to catch fish! Back in the deep water we expected to catch something and soon enough we were rewarded. The problem was that we we could only barely turn the handle on the reel. It seemed like a dead weight on the line, no tugging or pulling. I was committed to not loose the lure so we hand pulled the line in. For 15 or 20 minutes we pulled and cranked and as it got close, we did have a fish on the hook. Up close to the boat we were able to see that it was a Wahoo - about 2 to 3 feet long - but that was all we saw as it shook the hook out 2 feet away from the boat. All that work for but a glance! I still do not understand why is didn't fight or tug at all until the last minute and why it was so hard to pull in?????? Not a fishin pro yet!
Dropped the hook in the anchorage at Chub Cay (N25.24.56 W077.54.58) after a 58 mile day .... glass of wine and beautiful sunset finished off the day.
Chub Cay
Chub Cay
78 Degree water .... perfect!!!

Lundi 10 décembre
Ce lundi a été une journée de repos, nous en avons profité pour tenter de trouver les autres origine d'entrée d'eau dans le bateau, c'est pas évident. Merrill a analysé la situation et fait les réparations nécessaires. La prochaine navigation nous indiquera si tout est ok.
Nous avons pris une marche en compagnie de Line et Michel, Merrill désirait s'assurer qu'il aurait accès à son cellulaire.

Mardi 11 décembre
Nous avons quitté la Marina Sea Crest des Biminis et nous avons comencé notre traversée de deux jours au travers des Great Bahamas. Le paysage est fabuleux, la couleur de l'eau est à faire rêver.
Il y avait un bon vent, nous avons pu ouvrir le genois, du 5 à 6 noeuds avec le bruit de l'eau et du vent.
Nous nous sommes dirigé vers  North Rock (N25.48.45 W079.15.75) et ensuite tourné vers les Bahamas Banks. L'eau est passé du bleu indigo au turquoise clear. La profondeur varie de 8 à 20 pieds sur une superficie de 50 à 180 miles du nord au sud.
Dans les banks nous avons navigué la majeure partie du temps à l'exception des 2 derniers miles où nous étions à moteur pour avoir de l'eau chaude.

Nous avons ancré à Machie Shoal, une bande de sable avec une profondeur d'eau de 8 pieds
(N25.38.83 W078.42.62). C'était très étrange, rien autour, un 360 degrés avec seulement Ambition et Sagwa.

Après avoir ancré, j'ai fait remarqué à Merrill qu'il y avait une grosse roche près du bateau, il a bien ri puisqu'en fait il s'agissait d'une énorme tortue. Cette tortue s'est amusée pendant au moins 20 minutes à se promener sous le bateau passant d'un côté à l'autre.

Mercredi 12 décembre
Le ciel de ce matin était fabuleux, dans les tons de roses et la mer d'un turquoise à couper le soufle.
C'est à faire rêver.

Notre trajet était NW Shoal en direction de Chub Cay au sud de Berry Islands. Le vent n'était pas avec nous, nous avons du utilisé le moteur afin de garder une vitesse résonnable au travers des vagues de 3 à 4 pieds.

Nous avons sorti la canne à pêche aujourd'hui, un poisson à mordu notre appât et il est parti avec l'hameçon. Il faut bien prendre le temps de tout vérifer avec de remettre la ligne à l'eau.

Au bout d'un certain temps, nous n'étions pas certains d'avoir un poisson, cependant nous avons décidé de ramener la ligne, il y avait  quelque chose au bout de la ligne mais quoi???
15 à 20 minutes et voilà qu'on aperçoit un poisson, une fois près du bateau, on constate qu' il s'agit d'un Wahoo.  Il s'est échappé avant que l'on puisse l'amener à bird, je n'étais pas déçue, il avait de grosses dents ce poisson!

Nous avons ancré à Chub Cay (N25.24.56 W077.54.58) après 58 milles... un verre de vin bien mérité accompagné d'un magnifique couché de soleil

Jeudi 13 décembre
Une jour née relaxe à Chub Cay, un peu de snorkeling. Michel nous informe que nous n'avons plus de zinc après l'hélice, il nous fallait la remplacer rapidement.
En après midi, une promenade avec Rusty, nous sommes allés sur une petite plage pour ramasser des coquillages, je trouve toujours agréable de ramasser des coquillages.
Demain nous partirons en direction de Nassau pour aller ancrer à Rose Island.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finally we are on our way to the Bahamas..YYEESSS - Bahamas nous voilà!!

Sunday December 9th - We are up at 12:30 AM and leave Los Olas mooring at 1AM making the 1:30 AM opening of the 17th Street bridge. The mega yachts on this 2 mile stretch of water are absolutely incredible - even in the dark!
YEEESSS we are finally in the Bahamas!!! We had a great ride over - no surprises and our navagation calculations were just right - after all, we are in the Bahamas and not Portugal! We cleared the Port Everglades inlet and headed 160 degrees and held that course until the center of the Gulf Stream about 18 miles in to the trip. After that we held a course of about 150 degrees the entire way across the 66 mile trip, all except for the last 2 miles when I let the new GPS do it's job. Overnight we were passed by a few cruise ships and a few freighters but that was all. I really appreciate having the AIS system that identifies all commercial ships along with the information about their course, bearing, speed and stuff. The lights on those monsters can be very confusing at 3AM and when they are moving at 20 knots they catch up on you very quickly.
At about 10:30 this morning I rigged up the "fishin' stick" and within 30 minutes the reel started to "sing" - Maryse pulled in her very first Mahi Mahi - not a big one (thank goodness) as we are still very much working out the kinks of our fishing style! She got the fish close enough for me to initiate my new gaff and up on the swim platform it came! WOW!!  I had prepared a spray bottle with some cheap rum, which when sprayed in the gills is supposed to kill the fish immediately - well I didn't put enough rum in the bottle so the fish just got shooters - before you know it he was off the gaff and back in the water. Luckily I had been too chicken to remove the hook so Maryse just had to reel it in one more time so that I could gaff him again. Poor fish is looking like swiss chess! OK, so now the fish is in the bucket and he is more than "rumed". Here is the picture, I am in my lifejacket and harness, tethered to the boat, on my knees on the swim platform - fish in front and knife in hand and the boat is rolling in 3 to 5 foot waves. Now came the time for me to put into practice what I had learned in my extensive filet training sessions - I had watched 3 YouTube videos three weeks ago! The good thing is that I didn't cut any fingers off - bad thing is that I think I left a lot of flesh on the carcass. I am not quite ready for Sushi Chef Prime Time!
Maryse's first Mahi Mahi... WOW

We pulled into Alice Town, North Bimini, Bahamas at 1:30 this afternoon having motored the entire way as expected as the wind was on our nose the whole trip. The waves were up to 5 feet and more than a few of them rolled down the decks - damn .. the leaks are still there on the port side.
We are tied up to Sea Crest Marina and Resort - I think they should spell resort without the capital R!
We clear through Customs at one end of town and Customs at the other end of town - go figure!
Bimini waters .... incredible!!!

Now I have to do something with it....!!!
Dimanche 9 décembre
C'est fou comme le temps passe vite.
Tel que prévu nous avons quitté à une heure du matin. Un seul pont a passer, le responsable ne dort pas, nous avons que quelques minutes à attendre pour l'ouverture de celui-ci et peu après ce sera la mer et les Bahamas sous peu.
La mer était un peu plus houleuse que je ne l'aurais cru, mais tout se passe bien, pas de mal de mer, Yeh!! nous sommes tout les deux éveillés les deux premières heures puis Merrill me demande d'essayer de dormir, ça dort pas, je ne suis installée dans le cockpit voulant rester près de Merrill. Pas possible de dormir, mon sommeil est comme entre deux et à quelques reprises j'ai failli tomber en bas du band, je dormirai demain.

Pendant mon quart, j'ai croisé un bateau croisière, ne voulant pas faire d'erreur, j'ai demandé à Merrill si j'étais correct, il s'est alors levé et a vérifié si tout était ok, tout était sous contrôle, super!!

Dans la matinée Merrill décide d'installer la ligne à pêche, étant donné qu'il est à la barre, c'est moi qui surveille la ligne. J'aimerais tellement poigné un poisson...!!
Au bout d'un petit moment, on entend  un bruit provenant de la ligne, tout excitée j'ai dit à Merrill, il y a un poisson au bout, j'en ai un!!! YAHOOO!!!
Je ramenais la ligne, le poisson se rapprochait, Merrill a pris le baton à crochet et à deux reprises à tenter de ramener le poisson à bord, Dieu merci c'était un petit mahi mahi, il semblerait qu'ils peuvent être énormes, on aurait fait quoi avec un gros poisson, hum.! on aurait fait dur, n'étant pas préparé à cela.
Une chaudière, un couteau, vas-y Merrill t'es capable...... Il vaporise du rhum dans les nageoires, y paraît que ça le fera mourrir sans douleur???? y bouge encore. Je prends la bouteille et en vaporise un peu plus, le poisson continu de bouger, il peut blesser Merrill, ohlallallala!!!!
En tout cas le poisson est sûrement mort ivre avec tout le rhum qu'on lui a vaporisé.
Il y a quelque temps Merrill à vu sur YouTube des videos expliquant comment faire des filets, en vrai sur la jupe du bateau avec des vagues, c'est une autre histoire, disont que les filets étaient petits en comparaison du poisson mais Merrill a travaillé très fort, je suis témoin, ses enfants seraient fiers de lui.
La prochaine fois, nous serons mieux organisé c'est certain.

Nous arrivons sous peu à Bimini, l'eau est incroyable, je capote, c'est tellement beau!
On arrive à Alice town à 13h30, tout est calme, un homme vient nous aider à attacher les cordages aux pilliers, tout se passe bien. Sagwa sont nos voisins, nous sommes tous fatigués mais tellement heureux.

C'est réel, l'eau est de cette couleur

De retour des douanes, nous sommes ok!
N'est-il pas beau mon capitaine, tout heureux de retour des douanes, nous sommes conformes aux exigeances des douanes des Bahamas.

Pour le reste de l'après-midi, j'ai dormi, j'avais atteint mon max, il me fallait dormir.
Vers l'heure du souper Merrill m'a réveillée, heureusement simon j'aurais dormi jusqu'au lendemain.