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Bahamas Cruise – 2008 May 16, 2008

Posted by Kim in Bahamas, Cruising, Fishing, My Trip Logs, Travel.
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We are currently sitting at the Nassau Harbor Club Marina awaiting the sun to get high enough for us to visually navigate the shallow waters between here and the Exumas. If all goes well, we will spend tonight at Highborne Cay. Today is the first time since leaving Tampa that I have had access to the internet so I will upload some of the log information I have recorded so far. It is current to only a few days ago but I will be adding more plus some photos the next time I get online.

Bahamas – 2008 Log

05/07/08 – Leave Tampa

We finally leave on this year’s adventure and proceed to navigate our way out of Tampa Bay under near ideal weather conditions. Its 8:30am when we leave the dock and after a sea test of a reconditioned auto pilot unit, we conclude something is still wrong as it’s not working as it should. As we continue the trip down the Bay, Tommy makes a call to Ray Marine for further instructions. Following a brief troubleshooting session, it is concluded that we have a defective Rudder Reference Transducer and one is placed on order for overnight delivery to Plantation Marina near Islamorada in the Keys. If all goes well we should arrive there tomorrow evening. Our destination tonight is Pelican Bay just inside Boca Grande Pass north of Fort Myers. As we proceed south along the west coast of Florida, Ralph is driving when he notices that the oil pressure gage for the port engine is showing a significantly lower value than does the starboard engine. Tommy decides to stop and check out the oil levels and finds that the port engine is down a couple of quarts… unexpected as Duke, the boats mechanic, had just serviced and checked out the engines a few days earlier in preparation for this trip. A cursory inspection showed no real evidence of a leak and since the pressure returned to normal after adding the oil, we continued our trip keeping a close watch on the oil pressure gages. We arrive in Pelican Bay around 1800 hrs to join a fleet of several other boats, mostly sailboats, already at anchor. Bahama Mamas are congered up while I fix boiled franks, sauerkraut and (I know) coleslaw for supper. The winds are near calm and we have a nice evening enjoying the sunset before retiring for the evening.

5/8/08 – Pelican Bay & Gasparilla Marina to Naples

We arise with the sun… everyone is psyched for the trip. During the regular morning routine of servicing the engines, Tommy finds that the port engine is once again low on oil… three quarts this time. Seems we may really have a problem. While the engines are cool, Tommy crawls behind the port side and finds a high pressure oil line that is leaking. Not a catastrophic break but a leak none the less… big enough to cause 3 quarts to dump into the bilge in about 3 hours running time. We have a problem… something that will need immediate attention. Following several telephone calls to local marinas and the engine manufacturer, we proceed to motor on one engine into Gasparilla Marina about ten miles north of us at Placida. There we find a mechanic that is able to get a replacement hose built for us in Puntagorda and mount it. He also has two spare hoses built as back-ups. After repairs and refueling, we leave the marina around 1440 and cruise south and arrive at Naples just at dusk where we find a cozy little cove and gunk out for the night. We had hoped to be in the Keys tonight but this will have to do. This is turning into a little more of a “shake-down” cruise than we had hoped for…

5/9/08 – Naples to Plantation Key

Another early rising… This morning, everything goes as planned and we are under way by 0630. This mornings engine inspection shows all oil levels normal and we leave for a long run to the middle Keys in an attempt to regain some of our schedule. The trip is uneventful and we arrive at Plantation Marina around 1500 in plenty of time to pick up the part we had delivered to their office before they closed for the evening. After a leisurely dinner at a nearby pub, we return to the boat where Tommy and Bill spend several hours installing the rudder position transducer only to discover that it probably wasn’t the cause of our auto pilot problem in the first place. Oh well… looks as though we will be manually steering the boat this trip. Tomorrow, weather permitting; we will be crossing from Plantation Key directly to Bimini.

5/10/08 – Plantation Key to Bimini

By 0730 the crew is up and we get under way. The morning weather is calm and we need only fuel the boat before starting across the Gulf Stream to Bimini. Fuel will be a problem this trip. Each trip to the fuel pumps relives us of at least $1,000 in cash. Plantation Marina is undergoing major upgrades and currently do not have a fuel dock so we motor to Smugglers Marina to fuel and load up on ice. We enter the Atlantic around 0930 and away we go. The seas are like a mill pond… not a ripple. If it holds, this will be the calmest Gulf Stream crossing I have ever been party to. Many times when we cross the Stream, we hook into one or more good fish. Not this time though. With seas still calm enough for a canoe, we enter Bimini harbor and tie up at Bimini Bluewater Marina about 1600 hours. Ralph works his wonder once again and Bahama Mamas are enjoyed by all before a great dinner at the Bimini Big Game Club restaurant. The conch fritters and conch chowder were particularly good. Everyone crashed when we returned to the boat.

5/11/08 – Fishing off Bimini

You will note that the title of this entry is “Fishing”… not “Catching”. Today was definitely a “Fishing” day. Like good fishermen, we depart the marina early and proceed north deciding to troll out to Isaac Rock Lighthouse. The wind is light when we leave port but will gradually increases becoming quite stiff by the time we return to port around 1500. 1 Blue Runner, 5 small barracuda and 5 disappointed fishermen… That just about sums it up. We have dinner at the Anchorage Restaurant on a hill overlooking the Gulf Stream. The food is good with Cracked Conch being my choice. It was a large portion which I had trouble finishing. We return to the boat and a couple of us take advantage of the marina’s swimming pool to cool off before retiring for the night.

5/12/08 – Bimini

We awake to a brisk wind coming from the south west. Flags are standing straight and shaking their masts. To the east are seen flashes of lightning. Not a good sign for our planned trip south to Chub Cay in the Berry Islands. The captain decides that this will be a “stay-in-port” day. A disappointment to the frustrated fishermen, one and all, but probably the best decision none the less. We have been traveling for several days now and it really is time to do some laundry. As the day progresses, this decision to remain in port is reinforced when boat after boat come to dock with harrowing stories of the treacherous seas outside the harbor. We also use the opportunity to do some housekeeping and one final attempt to get the auto pilot working. A call to Ray Marine using a local wi-fi connection and Skype determines without doubt that the head unit that Tommy sent them for repair before out cruise still has a problem… something that will require its being returned to their factory for further repair.

5/13/08 – Bimini to Chub Cay

Over night the winds have abated… A light breeze from the north greets us as we arise shortly after dawn. Since we had refueled following our fishing day off Bimini, and since ww had settled our dock bill yesterday evening, we motor out the harbor a little before 0700 and head south to the Gun/Cat Cay pass in route to Chub Cay. Though we troll we have no strikes until we are well east of the pass in the middle of the Grand Bahama Banks where we hook and release a decent sized barracuda. Seems that’s all we can catch this trip. Around 1300 we exit the Banks and enter the deeper waters of the “Pocket” west of, but near Chub Cay where recent reports indicate good catches of Dolphin Fish (Mahi-Mahi). There are several other boats fishing the area, but by 1630 we have yet to get a strike so we decide to call it quits and head to fine safe anchorage for the evening somewhere near Chub Cay Club. We do not plan on staying in the club’s marina this year as we have heard that following a major overhaul last year, their dockage rates are now sky high.

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