1.27.2010

No Tow Boat US When U Find You Find Yourself Sideways In The Bahamas!

1/25/2010
To say that the past 24 hours has been attention-grabbing and challenging would definitely be an understatement! The voyage began early in the morning on the 25th from Great Harbor @ Stirrup Cay. It had been a bumpy anchorage with little protection from the winds and waves. So we made the assessment to pull anchor and start our journey south to Little Harbor in the Berry Islands. Our thought process was that Little Harbor had better protection from the elements and it may be a little warmer. Not sure how well thought out that decision became about an hour into this adventure. Of course the winds were not behaving as forecast, the winds were rocketing @ 25-30 knots off the nose!! Which means we were taking a beating! We tried changing tacks but no matter what we tried it was taking us too close to land or to far out in the Atlantic. We had wave rollers 6-7 feet coming over the sides of Mary Rose which made it look like the dams had broken! We found ourselves soaking wet and exhausted. What should have been a 4 hour passage turned into a 6 hour passage. The final 5 (felt like 20) nautical miles we started tacking back and forth to obtain a better angle to the humongous waves. When we finally saw the opening to Little Harbor it was like a lost puppy finally finding it’s way home, we were excited that rest was just around the corner! We found ourselves relieved and ready for a quiet moment and some warm soup. I took my place on the bow keeping a look out for coral heads and low water. My competent Master of a Captain at the helm guiding us through the crystal blue waters. All of a sudden Mary unexpectly put her brakes on and I hear the Captain spit out some incomprehensible words that I’m sure do not need to be repeated. “We are stuck on a sandbar” he yells. The winds coming from behind us at 20-25 pushing us farther up into the forbidder zone. So there we were… cold, tired, exhausted and grounded… and not slightly grounded we are talking full blown, keel to the center of the earth grounded!! The strange thing is I have been studying how to read the colors of water to guesstimate depth and the color would have indicated 7-9 feet. The Captain with eyes tightly glued to the map on the Garmin saw we should be 5.9 range. What the…..??!! Not that any of that made any difference at this point. We were stuck, rocking ridges to port and starboard. Captain jumps into his take charge mode…blurting out directions as he is wrestling with the dinghy trying to get it untied and thrown over board. As the Admiral calls out on the VHF radio for any assistance to only find Bahamian silence. No Tow Boat US in the Bahamas we can vouch to that! We desperately tried to free the hold on Mary to no avail. Bill and Barbara who were a Cat anchored up the canal a little way heard our cry for help and came to lend a helping hand. For hours we fought the current and winds. Capt Don and Bill running to and fro in the dinghy. Both of them evaluating the state of affairs. We tried to kedge our Mary out to the sinking sand. Roughly 9pm we decided to call it a night and wait patiently until high tide which was noted to came back in at approximately 0400. As we retired into the cabin, cold and fatigued we could feel Mary continue to lean to the starboard side. We had anchors out to keep her from declining to the port side since that was the direction the wind and tide would be coming from. By midnight Mary was completely lying on her starboard side and we sleeping, well should I say trying to rest, in a more or less vertical position! It was similar to being in one of those Funhouses that I would visit as a kid at the carnival. We could hear things sliding in the cabinets, shoes descending across the hull..it was incredible! Capt Don and I found ourselves laughing.. what else could we do!? We had no control over the situation and came to the conclusion that there had to be a rational for finding ourselves in such a predicament! So after we concluded our laugh we adjourned to the cabintop where we sat on the side to watch the massive orange moon melt into the horizon. There we began to look within ourselves to find the message hidden in this adventure. By 330am we had kedged Mary back into the deep water. Mary Rose began to dance in the water as we began dancing around our once again erect cabintop! We must divulge that there were no pictures taken, mainly because we did not want a memory of how Mary looked lying on the sand bar like a beached whale. The pictures posted were taken after she was back in the deep water to give everyone a view of the area of this adventure. All is well and we both learned a few things about each other as well as about ourselves!

St Petersburg to Freeport, a Crew’s Perspective by Mike DeGeorge




Thanks to our dear friend Mike DeGeorge for his wondeful insight and guest blog.
Captain Don

25JAN2010 St Petersburg to Freeport, a Crew’s Perspective by Mike DeGeorge

I returned home on Saturday, Jan 23rd, after 8 days aboard Mary Rose V. I want to thank Don and Lana for allowing me to join them on their inaugural voyage from St. Petersburg, Florida to Freeport, Bahamas. As I write this, Mary Rose is some where amongst the islands headed toward Nassau in 15-25 Kt winds and 3-8 Ft seas. Don and Lana have done a great job blogging each step of the journey. So, I am thinking to myself, “What more could I possibly add?” This writing may wander from one thought to the next and for sure will not be poetic….for the record, I am not apologizing for that.

Why would anyone want to…..
... sail hundreds of miles in the sun, rain, wind, swells, darkness
… search for shelter and anchor from the elements
… tire from hours of keeping watch, sailing/sleeping
… get sea sick from greasy fries and sailing into the swells in the darkness
… wish for a hot shower and clean clothes after two days without

It is hard to understand if you focus only on what may appear to be the “inconveniences”.

I wanted to go on this initial leg of Don and Lana’s journey for many reasons…
… spend time with great friends
… experience the unexpected and magical moments
… wanting to learn more about myself and what I am capable of
… motivated to stretch myself beyond my comfort level and grow

It is easy to understand when you awaken in the middle of the night to take your turn at the helm. Ascending from the belly of the boat, the water is like glass, 2000+ feet deep, in all directions and reflecting the stars or the steaming light (I can’t tell which). No boats, no land. Looking out a little further in all directions, it looks like fog, but it is really just darkness. We are heading into the abyss. If it was not for the sound of the boat gliding through the water and the changing picture on the GPS, you would not be sure you were actually making progress toward your destination. Looking up past the apparent fog on the horizon, there are billions of stars in all directions. Your own personal planetarium….only it’s real (I think)! Oh yeah, did I mention the illuminated plankton glowing and dancing in the water moving past the boat and in the quiet wake of the hull. I have never seen anything like it. Just one of many first time experiences that seem like a dream.

It is about relying on your own capabilities, preparing for what might happen (let me tell you, Don and Lana ARE prepared), and then relying on your skills and faith to get you through nature’s challenges. As we were crossing the gulf stream from Key Largo to Freeport in the middle of the night, there were times when you thought you were the only boat on the water until you looked at the radar screen. At times, it looked like a ware movie (or video game) with incoming bogies waiting to be shot down. I lost count of the blips on the screen. We knew we would be crossing shipping lanes, but what were all of these reflections on the radar screen? Ghosts, ships, or ghost ships? Were they real? Yep, they were real. We could see ship lights 3-6 miles out with good visibility, but not sure what kind. Then we realized they were giant oil tankers in every direction. Trying to figure out if they were coming toward us or going to miss us….we were highly motivated not to get in their path (and stay on course for our destination). I am pretty sure the tanker crew would not even know if we happened to become a hood ornament on the hull or a speed bump in the water. No need for a night time stimulant when you are trying to avoid meeting Davy Jones before sunrise. Then it was my time to sleep while Captain Don took the Helm. I was tired but could not sleep thinking about the radar screen and the ships lurking in the darkness. Then, when I finally did go to sleep, I was wakened by a surge in the sound of the engine only later to learn that we were being chased in circles trying to avoid a shrimp boat. It was a time for having faith in your captain, admiral, and a sound boat. Then, I relaxed and fell asleep.

It is about connecting with nature and other cultures. It is about helping people along the way. The people on Grand Bahama Island are incredibly friendly. They rarely walk past you without saying hi or good morning. Our waitress sang us a song at breakfast. We wanted to meet more of the local people and see how they live, so we walked down the street (away from the tourist area) to catch the bus. After a friendly barter, the public city bus (van) driver (Rudolf, 59 years old, never married, 11 kids, 10 grand kids) agreed to give us a personal tour of the island. He took us down town which highlighted the courthouse, jail, auto parts store, grocery store and others. The driver said high to someone at every corner. We moved on down Queens Highway between the ship yards and the oil storage field. We eventually made it back to the coast and down a road where many local Bahamians live. Houses were made of cinder blocks. Segments of land along the road were owned by different “families” indicated by the names on the signs (i.e., Mack). If you were a blood relative in the family you could build on the land. Driving down the road, some of the houses were convenience stores, bars, and a bakery (see Lana’s previous blog post). We got to see how most of the local people live and even meet a few along the way. Oh, did I forget to say we stopped and tasted the local rum? Next time you see Admiral Lana, ask her about “Fire In The Hole”…..enough said.

It is about enjoying good friends. My last night on Mary Rose V….We are all a little tired….Lana having swam with the Dolphins just a few hours earlier….Enjoying an island beverage. And then….Captain Don started calling and pranking our relatives telling them he was a Constable with the Commonwealth of the Grand Bahamian Police and they needed to come to the Bahamas to bail us out of jail for swimming naked on the beach. We laughed so hard, I was crying. Thanks to those who we took advantage of and for being good sports.

Was it a vacation, adventure, unique experience, magical, peaceful, uncertain, challenging, fun, tiring, amazing, a great time with great people? Yes…..AND MORE!!!

A Well Deserved Day Of Fun

1/22/10

We started our day today by sleeping in. After a nice lazy morning we took the water taxi to town. While there we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast @ Zorba’s. The employees were welcoming, they were exceedingly focused on customer service and the food was superior as well as served in hefty quantities. Bit of advice if you find yourself in Freeport Grand Bahamas and are looking for a great place to eat we highly recommend Zorba’s. Words of advice… eat breakfast and/or a late lunch since prices for dinner almost doubles after 4pm.





We meet a few new friends along the way…






















Then Don and Mike proceeded to catch the city bus so they could go shopping for a few items. Engine oil was on the list (cost $30/gallon, lesson learned: make sure you consider the amount of oil required for oil changes while provisioning) & steel fishing leaders since something kept biting our 30 pound leader off and taking our bait.

While the guys went to town I went on my dolphin adventure. The dolphins were beautiful and just what I had imagined. The water was very cold even with scuba skins on but there was nothing that could have kept me out of that lagoon. I was going to finally have my dolphin encounter no matter the circumstances… even cold water!

Later that evening we all met back at the marina and played Dominos. May I say that Mike spanked the “Master” Captain…. final score Mike 252, Master 517!

Stellar day!!