Things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Jul 21st 2015

We entered Port Everglades early morning 15th July to catch the lifting bridge at SE 17th Street at 9am. From there to our old haunt on the moorings at Las Olas. Of course, last time we were here, we were struck by lightning! Fingers crossed. Had to take a trip by car down to Customs and Immigration at the main port to present documents and clear in to the US. 

Five nights on the moorings while we prepared Dreaming On for her new fuel tanks and bought many of the bits we will need.

Moved into Harbor Towne Marina in the Dania Cut off Canal on 20th. A 7 mile trip south again, back under the SE17th Street bridge, through the main port and then into a mangrove lined canal for a while. Harbor Towne Marina is a busy little place. A tight small entry canal with expensive boats each side giving very little room for maneuver. But we are here, secure and the fuel tanks have arrived. So, it’s all go for the next 10 days.

 

 

 

Across the Banks and Florida Straits to Ft Lauderdale

Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Jul 21st 2015

The vacation is almost over. Time to head to Florida and get some work done. Many items to do, but the main one is to install new fuel tanks. Ours’ are working just fine…so far. But they are aluminium and we know they have a shelf life. So while in Ft. Lauderdale, we are installing well tried custom made plastic tanks. Not looking forward to that job in Florida in July.

Headed across the banks on 13 July. 49nm from our wonderful final anchorage in the Berry Islands and we are only half way. Saw a LARGE shark on the banks today, plus a couple of good sized turtles. Rarely is it deeper than 20’ in clear, clear water. No wind today so the water is absolutely flat. HOT! Motored all day. Unheard of!

The colours of the Bahamas
The colours of the Bahamas

Anchored overnight in 20’ of blue water over white sand, no land in sight. And we are only half way across the Banks. Never ceases to amaze us how many thousands of square miles of shallow banks surround the Bahamas.

The Great Bahama Banks to Cat Cay. 14 July. The day started badly. Our nice calm anchorage became a little wild at 5am as a very large thunderstorm passed by. We decided we were bouncing around so much, that we might as well leave and use some of the wind generated to get us to the end of The Banks.

Arrived at Cat Cay. A private islands, run as a club. If you can be accepted as a member, you may be able to build or buy an exclusive property. Lots available for development are limited and when they are all assigned, that’s it. There’s a golf course, a superb marina, a very well managed little airport, Customs and Immigration services and some great restaurants. It’s a lifestyle. The whole island has been planted with palm trees and landscaped. Very tastefully done. Visitors…..unwelcome!

Anyway, it was a good calm afternoon anchorage to give us some rest before heading to across to Florida.

Cat Cay to Ft. Lauderdale. 14 Jul 15  Left at 7pm through Gun Cay Cut, into the North Atlantic, (Florida Straits) and our old friend the Gulfstream for an overnight run to Ft. Lauderdale.

The Gulfstream runs north at between 1.5 knots to 2.5 knots. Doesn’t sound much, but when you are moving north at 2 knots, sideways for 10 hours, it makes a difference. So the boat’s autopilot was set at 255⁰, to obtain a heading of 274⁰, but our actual course over ground was around 310⁰.

Many cargo ships and tankers early in the night transiting north and south east of US waters. Once again, thanks to AIS we were able to work out positions and courses. Once we were in US waters, it was very quiet.

As we came closer to the Florida coast at night, we were looking straight at Miami, with the lights of Ft. Lauderdale way to the north, but our achieved course over ground took us right there. Interesting feeling.

Anchored overnight off Ft. Lauderdale beach at 4am on 15 July, having navigated our way in by radar between anchored cargo ships.

Exploring the Berry Islands

Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Jul 21st 2015

As we had time in hand, we decided to visit the Berry Islands. These islands are off the normal tourist route and we have never had time to go there before. Left Athol Island early for a 48 mile slow downwind sail to Soldier Cay. Very nice beach, but 4 other boats! This is a stopping point for boats heading back to the US north of Florida, and we guess that the other boats here are doing that. Soldier Cay is as far north as we will go, so will now plan to work our way south again, down the Berry Islands this week.

Jumping into the Blue Hole
Jumping into the Blue Hole

Soldier Cay to Devils’ Cay – 8 Jul 15  We thought the banks on the west side of The Exumas was shallow. The Berry Islands are way shallower and you really have to wait for the tides. Our depth sounder is configured to show the depth under the keel. We have regularly seen 0.2’!! Only saw 0.0’ once! So, Soldier Cay to Devil’s Cay we picked our way slowly down the chain finding the channels of “deep” water. At times this took us precariously close to an island and rocks and at other times way out onto the banks.

We’ve done a lot of kayaking and dinghy exploration here. We usually head off with the kayaks and/or paddleboards towed behind the dinghy as even the dinghy cannot get to many of the islands out on the banks. Kayaked to the south side of Devil’s Cay and walked most of the way along the beaches on the east side, with big Atlantic rollers.

The Blue Hole
The Blue Hole

Just north of Devil’s Cay is Hoffman’s Cay which we came past when heading to Devil’s but no good anchorage. We had heard of a blue hole just inland, so thought we may as well take a look. What a surprise! Beautiful spot. Completely circular, surrounded by limestone cliffs and clear, clear deep blue water. Geoff made the jump!

Then on in the dinghy to White Cay, beautiful white sand on the west side and wild Atlantic rollers on the east.

We also carry a handheld depth sounder with us so we can check when the dinghy is going to run out of water and check out tracks for Dreaming On. On this occasion we could not take Dreaming On any further south past Devil’s Cay on the banks, so had to go through a narrow, shallow channel back into open sea. Measured it with the dinghy, and just okay to do at close to high tide.

A conch mountain
A conch mountain

Devils Cay to Guano Cay – Little Harbour – 9 Jul 15  The Little Harbour Cay area looks amazing. Little Harbour Cay on the Atlantic side and a number of smaller islands on the banks side. In between a very shallow lagoon with every colour blue and green under the sun. Low tide reveals pure white sand bars. Inside the lagoon, nurse sharks, turtles and sting rays abound. Little Harbour’s main claim to fame is Flo’s restaurant. We enjoyed a great conch salad.

Guano Cay to Bond’s Cay – 10 Jul 15  Bonds Cay. Now owned by pop star Shakira and a few pop friends. A very long island, just being developed. Not much in the way of good anchorages, but a good base to head off by dinghy/kayak/paddleboard to find ways to get to those unreachable little islands on the banks. Most, we discovered have breeding colonies of gulls. Nasty birds. They really did not enjoy our company. But found some great little beaches.

Fish Cays
Fish Cays

Bond’s Cay to Cockroach Island – 11/12 Jul 15  There is an anchorage way out on the banks, about a mile from Cockroach Island, (wonderful name!) just north of Chub Cay and west of Little Whale Cay. We loved it. Cockroach Cay is uninhabited, we anchored in a relatively “deep” cul-de-sac, so no through traffic in incredible calm, turquoise water over white sand. Stayed there 2 nights, but would have been happy to stay longer. It was as if we were anchored in a swimming pool.

Explored Cockroach Cay by kayak, then over to the three Fish Cays by dinghy, towing kayaks. Many stingrays, quite a few nurse sharks and one shark that may not have been a nurse shark!

We found this wonderful natural swimming pool inside a hook shaped sand spit. More like a hot tub, except for the attendant shark and sting rays!

Arriving in Nassau

Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Jul 21st 2015

Atlantis on Paradise Island
Atlantis on Paradise Island

A 40 mile passage across the Bahama Banks to Rose Island just outside Nassau Harbor. Depths usually around 25’ with occasional coral heads. The eastern approach to New Providence, the island on which Nassau is situated has many rocky areas and small exposed rocks and islands, plus shallow areas, so great care is required in many places. We worked our way around to the beach on the northwest side of Rose Island and it was Sunday afternoon playtime! Party boats galore. Music, jet-skis, tubing.

Nassau – 6 Jul 15  Worked our way through the various rocky hazards into busy, busy Nassau Harbour. New Providence is flat like the rest of the Bahamas. Lying along the north side of New Providence and creating Nassau’s huge natural harbour is Paradise Island on which Atlantis is situated. Atlantis is the major landmark and can be seen from miles away. We anchored at the south eastern end of the harbour and spent some time ashore. Also found out by email that our new fuel tanks are behind schedule, so no rush to get to Ft. Lauderdale.

Athol Island – 6 Jul 15  Nassau Harbour very rough, tidal and busy so headed out to Athol Island for an overnight stop.

Staniel Cay and the Northern Exumas

Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Jul 21st 2015

Staniel Cay
Staniel Cay

We stayed around Staniel Cay area for three nights in different anchorages while we had an internet connection so we could catch up with email, blog etc. Thunderball Cave where the James Bond movie was filmed.

Pipe Creek - 1 July 15  We were really keen to re-visit Pipe Creek, another of our favourite places. Been there twice before in calm weather and had a wonderful time kayaking around the abundance of rocks, islands, pure white beaches and best of all, Joe Cay, a fabulous little island with a large salina inside. Shock….Horror…! We navigated into the narrow tidal channel we had used before to anchor right outside the entrance to Joe Cay’s salina. It’s now yet another private island! The salina has been cleaned of all mangrove and there’s a private marina in there. Now of all the many islands that have been purchased and developed since we were last in this area, this was one of the nicest developments. Very well done and very low key. But The Bahamas are selling off their family jewels. When will it stop.

Hawksbill Cay
Hawksbill Cay

Hawksbill Cay – 2 July 15  So, we didn’t stay very long in Pipe Creek. Headed off the following morning to Hawksbill Cay, an island in the Bahamas Land and Sea Park that we haven’t visited before. On the way we stopped at Bell Island, (yet another island developed into a private resort now) then the park headquarters at Warderick Wells.

Unfortunately the swell that’s been following us tossed us around again all night, but we did find a fabulous salina on the island, which partly made up for missing out on Joe Cay.

Exploring the mangroves
Exploring the mangroves

Shroud Cay – 3 Jul 15  Shroud Cay is amazing. Wonderful beaches all around. Dazzling water and white sand and a series of kayakable Salinas that wind their way through the island from the shallow western banks side to the beaches on the eastern Atlantic side. We have been here 3 times before and always loved it. Worked our way through the shallows to a great CALM anchorage. No swell!!!  Put our Phantom drone to work here to capture some of the colours.

Having spent the last five years in relatively deep water around volcanic islands, it takes a while to get used to sailing around in skinny water again and creeping through very shallow passages. Here we are often with full sails, at 8 knots, with only a few feet under the keel, but mostly white sand and clear water.

One thing we have noticed. When we were here in 2005 and 2006, there were many sailing boats around, but nowhere near the numbers in the BVI. Most of the sailors in The Bahamas were cruisers. We saw very few large motor yachts then. But now, ever since the recession sparked off a large motor yacht and mega yacht buying spree and charter market, the Exumas, from Staniel Cay northwards, has a large number of (probably charter) large motor yachts at every island. Worst of all, they all have a fleet of jet-skis. Private jet-skis are banned in the BVI, so we’ve seen very few around over the last 5 years. But here, they are buzzing around every anchorage like a swarm of wasps!

Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Jul 21st 2015

We stayed around Staniel Cay area for three nights in different anchorages while we had an internet connection so we could catch up with email, blog etc.

Pipe Creek - 1 July 15

We were really keen to re-visit Pipe Creek, another of our favourite places. Been there twice before in calm weather and had a wonderful time kayaking around the abundance of rocks, islands, pure white beaches and best of all, Joe Cay, a fabulous little island with a large salina inside. Shock….Horror…! We navigated into the narrow tidal channel we had used before to anchor right outside the entrance to Joe Cay’s salina. It’s now yet another private island! The salina has been cleaned of all mangrove and there’s a private marina in there. Now of all the many islands that have been purchased and developed since we were last in this area, this was one of the nicest developments. Very well done and very low key. But The Bahamas are selling off their family jewels. When will it stop.

Hawksbill Cay – 2 July 15

So, we didn’t stay very long in Pipe Creek. Headed off the following morning to Hawksbill Cay, an island in the Bahamas Land and Sea Park that we haven’t visited before. On the way we stopped at Bell Island, (yet another island developed into a private resort now) then the park headquarters at Warderick Wells.

Unfortunately the swell that’s been following us tossed us around again all night, but we did find a fabulous salina on the island, which partly made up for missing out on Joe Cay.

Shroud Cay – 3 Jul 15

Shroud Cay is amazing. Wonderful beaches all around. Dazzling water and white sand and a series of kayakable Salinas that wind their way through the island from the shallow western banks side to the beaches on the eastern Atlantic side. We have been here 3 times before and always loved it. Worked our way through the shallows to a great CALM anchorage. No swell!!!

Put our Phantom drone to work here to capture some of the colours.

Having spent the last five years in relatively deep water around volcanic islands, it takes a while to get used to sailing around in skinny water again and creeping through very shallow passages. Here we are often with full sails, at 8 knots, with only a few feet under the keel, but mostly white sand and clear water.

One thing we have noticed. When we were here in 2005 and 2006, there were many sailing boats around, but nowhere near the numbers in the BVI. Most of the sailors in The Bahamas were cruisers. We saw very few large motor yachts then. But now, ever since the recession sparked off a large motor yacht and mega yacht buying spree and charter market, the Exumas, from Staniel Cay northwards, has a large number of (probably charter) large motor yachts at every island. Worst of all, they all have a fleet of jet-skis. Private jet-skis are banned in the BVI, so we’ve seen very few around over the last 5 years. But here, they are buzzing around every anchorage like a swarm of wasps!