Wednesday, March 30, 2016


We successfully crossed the scary Gulf Stream and made it to Bimini!
It's a whole 50 miles from Miami... but a world apart!

Doesn't sound like that bid a deal when you say it like that but it's a big deal to sailors because it can go terribly wrong if the wind and waves don't cooperate.  In our case they did, for the most part.  We started out at 2am, to guarantee that we arrived in daylight.  Our first time to sail at night so that was new and terrifying, I mean exciting...

There were some rough portions but the winds moved from East to Southeast during the day and we were able to sail at least half the time and managed 7-8 knots for a couple of stretches both under sail and on the engine, with the help of the Gulf Stream's current.  We made it in a blistering 11 hours!  That would be hilarious to most power boaters but hey, we used less than 5 gallons of diesel!

We'd love to show you a bunch of photos of the sunrise under sail, the ships and freighters we passed, the incredible blue water because it's thousands of feet deep, etc... but the wifi at the marina sucks so that'll have to wait.
In the meantime please look at the Tumblr posts.

Heading to the Berry Islands next!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Pennekamp State Park

We've been hiding out at John Pennekamp State Park for about a week.
We heard about the place from another cruising couple (hey Paul and Nancy!) that waited for their Bahamas weather window here too.  We've never even technically met them!  A friend of a friend (hey Nancy W.!) told them about us and they reached out to us via email.  We were hoping to catch up to them but they've been in the Bahamas for almost a month now.  Who knows we might pass them on their way back.

Anyway, Pennekamp is a fantastic park.  There's several beaches, a small marina, dive shop, camping facilities, mooring balls, etc.  Mooring balls are similar to anchoring but more reliable in adverse conditions and they're much cheaper than a marina slip.

Here're some photos of our time here.

There were some grey days and we rode out a thunderstorm but this was usually our view from WIngs.

There were always a few other boats in the mooring field but it was never full.

One of several nice beaches and good snorkeling.

The little marina is mostly for the park's boats and for use of the boat ramp but there's also 3 slips you can rent.  Our boat is a little too wide and you have to back in anyway.  We don't do backwards so well.  That's "Outta the Loop" (hey Paul and Jackie!) in the back.  We've crossed paths 3 times now!  They spoiled us to a fantastic steak dinner aboard their beautiful boat, what a treat!

The park runs snorkel and dive trips out to the many nearby reefs.

Kayaks and paddle boards for rent.

The visitor's center has a bunch of aquariums with coral and sea life.  Note the Caribbean lobster, hopefully we'll be eating some of these very soon...

This huge aquarium is in the center of the visitor's center.

Kipper got plenty of land time.

We've been wearing out the new (to us) dinghy.  Little guy requires a few pumps of air daily but is much roomier than the old one.

It'll be getting even more use in the Bahamas...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bahia Honda State Park

After a great trip to the Tortugas we headed back towards Key West.  As has been our luck the weather began to deteriorate as we headed back.  No storms just gusty winds and uncomfortable waves.  Even though Wings is pretty stable she rocks just as much as anything else if the waves are from the wrong direction.  We made it back to Key West and dropped anchor for the night near Stock Island.  The anchorage was fine until the next morning when the wind changed direction and the waves built.  Studying the various weather forecasts we came to the conclusion that we'd be stuck on the boat for nearly a week!  So we called good 'ol Stock Island Marina Village and begged for a slip...

Thankfully, they took pity and let us come back.  We never planned to spend so much time in marinas but sometimes there's no choice if you want to maintain your sanity.  Another week slipped away but it was time well spent.  We got to see some family, gather more Bahamas documents, more prep, and talk to a lot of other cruisers.  We've met some great people that have been incredibly helpful.  We also scored a deal on a new (to us) dinghy right in the marina!  We're still using the same engine but it works much better on the new hard bottom dinghy compared to the soft roll-up we were using.

While at the marina we had a nice motor yacht beside us that had these blue lights, under the swim step, illuminating the water.  The bright cluster on the left, in the distance, is the fleet of shrimp boats.  Even they weren't going out.

Finally the day came and we were free again!
Except for all the crab pots.  Zoom in, you'll see them.

Crab pot watch...

We anchored at Bahia Honda State Park for two nights.  It's a great spot.  We even found a grassy patch for Kipper which is a big deal these days.

Met some of the locals...

We also met another cruising couple on "Outta the Loop", the boat anchored in front of Wings.  We had anchored near them at the Dry Tortugas but never had an opportunity to meet them.  Great people and we just ran into them again at Pennekamp!

In addition to the great beaches and snorkeling Bahia Honda is also known for this section of the old Flagler railroad bridge that dates back to the early 1900's.  Most of the railway was destroyed in the 1935 hurricane.  This section was reused for car traffic by adding a concrete deck on the top of the trestle until the "new" road was built, on the right.  It's scary looking to say the least.  One small section, to the left of the removed section (for sailboats...), has been restored for pedestrians to take in the view.  The anchorage is between the two bridges.

It's a beautiful spot, go there!

On to Pennekamp State Park...