1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: July 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dolphins Dancing in the Bow Wave...

Every ocean sailor remembers the first time a pod of dolphins joined his or her boat and frolicked around it, dashing in and out of the bow wave and, sometimes, leaping entirely out of the water. It's one of sailing's magical moments and, on my recent crossing of the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas, we were treated to nearly an hour of dolphins playing in the bow wave, diving under the boat, racing off and then, racing back to do it all over again.
Here's 90 seconds of the magic....enjoy, as I did. 

And - some exciting news for those planning on cruising the ICW on their way south. SAIL Magazine is hosting a special day long ICW seminar during the Annapolis Boat Show. This seminar will give you all the tips, tricks and techniques you need to safely, comfortably and enjoyably do the ICW segment of your trip south to Paradise.
Leading off the stellar cast of speakers is SAIL Magazine Contributing Editor yours truly... you'll also hear from Bruce Schwab on electrical tech issues for your boat, Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine on cruising for couples (invaluable advice here!), Mark and Diana Doyle on anchorages and dockage (another great couple with good information you need). All of this will be followed by a one hour Question and Answer session where you can pose your own questions to the speakers, who will be joined by experts from Waterway Guides, Seven Seas Cruising Association and BoatUS. All of this is followed by a cocktail hour where you can buttonhole your favourite speaker with still MORE questions.
Trust me on this - if after this seminar you can't comfortably handle the ICW - you need to buy an RV instead!
For more information, including how to register for this event (seats ARE limited), go to SAIL ICW Seminar.
Look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rockin’ the Gulf Stream - at 13 knots!

The video is of some cute fishies that we saw at Sampson Cay.....
This post is dedicated to my good friend Wendy McGregor, who is now, along with her hubby Mike, off sailing to paradise - that is, if they ever get out of Lake Ontario where they appear to be on an extended round of dockside farewell parties...
Wendy, as those who read her blog Wind in My Dreams will know, recently did a delivery out of the Bahamas to the US. Their captain chose to cross the Gulf Stream in conditions that caused me, when I saw the post, to be concerned...to make it brief, they got their butts handed to them in a nasty, cold, windy and VERY bumpy crossing.
So - Wendy - here we are on my delivery, four hours out of Bimini...temps are in the mid 80s...winds are 10 - 15 S, boat speed is 9.5 - 10.5 knots and we expect to make St. Augustine FL in about 23 hours. 
Although I take a huge chance of jinxing this passage by doing this, I can only say to you: NYAHHHH NYAAAHHH, NYAAAHHHH, NYAAAHHH! (Update - we scored a surf at 13 knots just a bit later after I wrote this.)

Our time in Bimini was interesting. I’m used to Bimini being full of sailors, and lots of boats anchored out. This weekend, there were perhaps two other sailboats - and dozens of fishing boats, sport fishers, and a few big cruising boats. All of them were over from Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
So? What’s the difference? Aren't we all boaters? Well - for starters, power boaters in a group are far less friendly then sailors. I went for a swim in the pool and was looked at like I was unwelcome by about half of them, and ignored by the other half (maybe I should have showered, you think?). Only one person was courteous enough to say hi - and he was wearing a Tilley hat. I wondered if he’d once been a sailor. In any event, we all know that’s not how sailors behave.
Then - all of the men but the courteous guy and one other had rolls of fat over their bathing suits and looked distinctly out of shape. I’m not skinny, but I’ve got no rolls and I’m fit, as are most sailors.
The women? Cellulite was in evidence, can I say that? Again, intriguingly enough, the courteous guy’s wife was trim and attractive. Put the pair of them on a sailboat and they’d fit right in.
And bling? Oh yeah....all the display you would expect. I go sailing to get away from all of that crap.

I’ve never seen police boats in Bimini, but there were two, plus a Bahamian Defense boat, on the water this day. Turns out the new casino was opening and the Prime Minister and most of the Cabinet was on the island. Lots of people in suits (105° heat index, are they nuts?), cars and traffic jams everywhere (some cars clearly shipped to the island for the day), lots of confusion...
We had rented a golf cart from Captain Pat to explore, and when we returned, we remarked on the whole thing. Pat, whose attitude I suspect reflects that of a lot of old time islanders), was dismissive of the whole thing. He wasn’t impressed at all, and wished it all gone.
I’m with Pat on that. There is a huge tourist housing development and new marina at the end of the island. Picture any housing development, anywhere, you care to, colour it in tropical shades of pink, mauve, yellow and green. Now, ship in sand (to an island made of coral sand), import palm trees (to an island where they grow naturally), add in huge crates of shell, used to make walkways (on an island where conch shells are found everywhere). Sing softly to yourself the old Joni Mitchell song ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot...’ Now you get the picture?
And I can prove that this is not Paradise - if it really were Paradise, there would not be any speed bumps, but in the development, there is a speed bump every 50 yards or so.
When you go into the old town, where the locals live, sure, it isn’t as pristine, but damn it, it’s a LOT more interesting.
In any event, it looks like ‘civilization’ has come to Bimini. A shame, it was once a really nice island.
My only consolation here is that the most perfect view, the nicest piece of land on the entire island, with a view of both the harbour and the Atlantic, has a graveyard on it. I take great pleasure in imagining how that must frustrate the developers who I’m certain would love to build on it.
And, if I’m any judge, the quiet laughter that I hear late at night (which many think is simply waves washing onto the beach) is the sound of those souls laughing at what they’ve done, and how they’ve preserved their beautiful view for the world, rather than the privileged and wealthy few.
Cue to Joni Mitchell....

(stay tuned!!! - my next post features some amazing video of a group of a dozen dolphins that joined us while sailing along the coast yesterday - they played in the bow wave and around the boat for nearly an hour.....never had that happen before!)

p.s. - my NYAHH NYAHHs at Wendy did have an effect - we had a NASTY thunderstorm a few hours after I wrote that.....but still, the sailing was great, if now a close reach...that’ll teach me! Wendy, STOP laughing...