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Month: February 2014

Good Fishing and Pretty Beaches at North Rock, Bimini

Friday 2.7.14 Peter wanted to jet up to North Rock to anchor and do a little diving. It was recommended to us to go there, but it wasn’t a real protected anchorage either. The best part of the whole trip up there was hooking two big snapper!!



Josh reeled in the first one and they let me bring in the second one :) My arms are still like jelly!! It was hysterical for me to be standing on the back of a moving boat trying to fight a fish.



We also hooked a barracuda, but cut those sharp teeth loose right away.


Leah brought in the next one but it was another barracuda.


New fashion statement? :)


We took a quick trip to beach to let the dogs go potty on land and made it back to the boat as it was getting dark.

Josh and Leah made dinner and it was my turn to shower off. I asked Peter if there was enough water left so he opened up the floor board to check the level on the aft water tank. OH CRAP! The bladder bag was more than half way empty and there was a bunch of water outside the bag but inside the aluminum box that the bladder sits in. At some point the original aluminum/fiberglass tank was cut open and replaced with a bladder. We emptied the bladder to save what was left of the fresh water and transferred it into our 5 gallon jerry jugs. We poured those back into the forward water tank. This is getting added to the list of things to do when we get back to the marina.

We slept good knowing the anchor was holding well. The next thing we know it starts raining. Peter and I jump out of bed and race to close all the port lights, hatches and isinglass up top. It dumped for about 10-15 minutes and then stopped. A few hours later in the middle of the night we repeated the process. During the second scramble Peter noticed the dinghy had come untied!!! OH CRAP again! Luckily he had tied a second line on as a safety line. It was much smaller but held it enough to keep it from floating out to sea.

The next day, Saturday 2.8.14, Peter, Leah and I took the dogs over to the beach to swim and look for shells. The color of the water was amazing!!!





Betsy was SOO happy to run free on the beach!


Gunner had to stay on a leash. I tried to let him free but he just wanted to go sniff around in the brush up above the beach. He’s always looking for trouble.




Gunner sure was a happy boy though. He had so much fun.




Betsy and Gunner got to swim for a while with their daddy. Betsy decided she was done swimming and started to climb up on top of Gunner! He is like a small horse, but I’m sure he wasn’t too happy to swim with a little monkey on his back ;)














When we got back to the boat, the guys got our Air Line hookah dive system and put it in the dinghy to head over next to North Rock to check out the sea life. I stayed with the boat and the dogs while Leah went with the guys on picture duty. They ended up having engine trouble with the outboard again and learned a very important lesson: Always bring the ditch bag!! We put a lot of effort into making a complete ditch bag with all the first aid and survival gear we would need in the event of an emergency away from the boat. I’ll be doing a future post on all the items we have in there soon. We put it all in a dry bag and have it sitting in the cockpit, but for some reason, they just didn’t bring it with them this time. We won’t make that mistake again!

Betsy and I looked over at them with the binoculars and noticed they were floating much farther away than I thought they would have gone. (Picture is courtesy of Leah from another day but this is exactly what we were doing this time too). It was a bit too far to tell if they intended to be that far or not. A few minutes later it appeared they were okay.


Luckily they got the outboard working well enough to get back safely, but they gave up on diving this day. To top it all off, they lost one of our blue floating “Dog Leashes for Beaches” from our sponsor, SoftLines (blog post coming soon). I guess it drifted away and with the engine trouble they didn’t want to go chase after it. At least we got to play with them both atleast one time. They also lost the anchor for the dinghy out there. Time for a lesson on knot tying??? I think so!!!

Stay tuned for the next adventure, or should I say… big problem… on the way back from North Rock :(

A few pics from our stay at Browns Marina

When we arrived at Brown’s Marina in Bimini Thursday 2.6.14 at dusk, we hooked up to shore power after Bob and Ellen so kindly let us borrow their 50 amp connector. Our power hookup at our slip wasn’t working so we had to wait until the next morning to let the marina know we needed to use power from another slip. No biggie. We didn’t bother filling up water or fuel here but we charged up our batteries and laptops and phones. We had nice hot showers on shore and found a few cockroaches in the bathrooms behind the door. We made sure none caught a ride back to the boat in our shower bags.

The guy in the slip next to us had underwater lights and he would turn them on at night. It was crazy to see how many huge fish were underneath the boat all the time. We saw monster tarpon, tiger sharks, nurse sharks, starfish, needle fish, manta rays, eagle rays… a ton of sea creatures!!


The next day (Friday 2.7.14) we finally got to see how beautiful it was here in Bimini.





There was a nice sandy manmade beach area next to the docks.


The dockmasters told us about the 8′ bull sharks that come feed when the fishermen clean their fish twice a day. Scary! Peter managed to snag a photo. It doesn’t look like it here but it was huge!




I got to meet LeeAnn Toth (another fellow WWS member)! She was just a few slips down at Brown’s. Erica & Jordan from the blog, Seadoodle, were just one dock over at Weech’s. Erica is also a member of WWS. How cool is that?? Four of us (including Ellen and myself) all in one tiny place! And from what I hear, there were several other waves of fellow WWSers that came through just before us.





Conch is all over the place here. The shells litter the whole area. It’s hard to clean but actually tastes pretty good!






Customs was a breeze for Peter. He walked over to Customs and Immigration in the morning and paid our fees for the cruising permit. Since our boat is over 35′ the cost is $300. They did ask about the dogs and it was just as everyone told me it would be. All they wanted to see was the Bahamas Permit we had applied for before leaving Florida. They didn’t ask to see the International Heath Certificates at all. Good thing because we weren’t able to get one of the vaccines that they require. The vaccine for Coronavirus is just not available anymore in most places in the US although it’s a requirement for entry into the Bahamas. Our vet placed a big note on our documentation explaining this so it was even better that they didn’t care to see any other documents except for the ones they issued themselves. When Peter got back to the boat we took down the quarantine flag. We’re official now!!


Crossing the Gulf Stream


We made it to Marathon almost 26 hours after leaving Burnt Store Marina and arrived Monday 2.3.14. There were no mooring balls left so we anchored outside the channel at Boot Key Harbor. We finally decided to put his “potty training” on hold and took the dogs to shore since it had been 26 hours since Gunner peed last. We dropped the dinghy and Peter and I set off with the dogs. Gunner was super excited. Leah came with us while Josh stayed on the boat.


We found a dinghy dock behind Burdines Restaurant. We were hoping there were showers available there since I had read somewhere that they were decent there. Turns out they are for the resident liveaboards only and no one there had any other knowledge of showers near by. The dogs did their business and as we went to get them back on the dinghy, Betsy ended up going for a swim. There was floating grass that had collected around the dinghy dock and she must have thought it was grass on land :( Poor thing. We found a nearby hose and Leah cleaned her off while Peter and I got Gunner back in the dinghy.

We headed up to the city dock where we knew they had showers available. Just as we arrived they were closing so we didn’t have to pay that night for the bathroom key cards. They just said that if we were going to still be here by the next day, come back and pay then. The three of us showered and went back to the boat. Josh got to figure out how to use the solar shower on the deck of the boat.

The next day, Tuesday 2.4.14, Gunner still wouldn’t go pee on the boat. Peter and I took him to shore again and decided to scope out the West Marine to buy some fishing line and ask about our inverter that wasn’t working anymore.  Josh and Leah stayed on the boat. As we came through the channel, Gunner just couldn’t hold it anymore and started peeing in the dinghy. Oh well.

We found an area to tie up right next to West Marine, but we had to go in and talk to the local boatyard to make sure we could leave our dinghy there first. They were okay with it since we asked if they could help us with the inverter :) Inside West Marine, we got a phone call from Josh and Leah to tell us the anchor was dragging and the boat was almost crossing the channel!! Peter, Gunner and I rushed back out to the boat with the fishing line in hand. Priorities first you know! We pulled up the anchor and decided to go get fuel and top off our water tanks since we were already mobile.

Instead of anchoring again, Peter decided to charge it up to Rodriguez Key at 5pm (Tuesday 2.4.14) to be ready for the upcoming weather window to cross to Bimini in the Bahamas. The swell in the Atlantic is way different from the Gulf of Mexico! We were taking the waves hard and it was a rough ride up. Thank GOD for sea sickness medication! We all needed it. No one threw up though, not even the dogs.







We pulled into Rodriguez in the middle of the night (Wednesday 2.5.14 at 2am). Thanks to great instructions from Ellen and her husband Bob on SV Shibumi, we were able to dodge the boats that were already anchored, with and without anchor lights. I had connected with Ellen on the Women Who Sail Facebook group. What an amazing resource!

It was so nice to have a buddy boat to cross with. We all decided to leave Rodriguez Key Thursday morning at 2am(2.6.14) and set out for Bimini motorsailing part way and full sail only a little bit. It was a beautiful day. We made sure we were clear from all the cargo ships and kept charging along. We were exhausted but still spilling over with excitement just hours away from the Bahamas!


The voyage across the Gulf Stream was better than expected. Leah and I were able to catch a few rays under sail on deck.


The further we got into the Gulf Stream, the more blue the water began to turn. It was a shade of blue I’ve never seen before. We crossed depths of up to 9000 feet!!




Gunner finally went potty again on the boat. We knew he would, but he had to get to a point where he REALLY had to go! They wore their Outward Hound life jackets from Kyjen at all times during the crossing. It was just too much rolling around for them to not be wearing them. When we had the largest seas, the dogs were happy to stay put. They must not have been feeling well.


Fixing meals while underway on a large crossing is definitely a difficult task. Lunch and dinner consisted of lunch meat sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly. We had the kind of trip where it’s just easier to grab the ingredients from the galley and make it all up top in the cockpit.



We saw lots of man-o-wars floating by.






It really was a nice crossing. We must have picked the perfect time to go. The seas were relatively calm in some areas and rather uncomfortable in others. All in all, I’d say we lucked out. Some of our other blog friends just crossed to the Bahamas as well. Check out their experiences here:  Sailing Chance  / Sailing Journey / Summertime Rolls




As we neared the Bahamas (Thursday afternoon 2.6.14) the guys wanted to try anchoring just south of South Bimini at Turtle Rocks next to a wreck, Sapona. While Peter thought there would be enough shelter from the wreck, the current and waves still weren’t ideal. Peter and Josh dove the anchor only to find it was all hard bottom right there. We all went for a quick swim, strapped everything back down and made our way up to Brown’s Marina where Ellen and Bob had already arrived. Once we were within range, we hailed the marina on the VHF to let them know we were coming in. It was just minutes left before 5 and we were lucky to get them on the radio. There was ONE spot left! We had a mildly successful docking and didn’t hit anything even though we arrived at dusk.


We’re in the Bahamas!!!! Stay tuned for more posts on all the happenings since arriving in the Bahamas.

Burnt Store Marina to Marathon

Here are a couple photos from our first leg of the trip leaving Burnt Store Marina on the west coast of Florida as we headed down to Marathon…

We got up early the morning of February 2nd and left the dock. We had a great stay at Burnt Store, but we don’t plan on returning. We’re finally on our way to far off lands!!


It was real foggy when we left. Super glad we had the radar to see other boats out in Charlotte Harbor.




We cruised right toward a rainbow in the fog. It looked like we might find the end but of course we never did ;)


A few dolphins swam under our bow as we made our way out of Charlotte Harbor. Only a taste of what’ts to come!!





Instead of anchoring along the way, we kept on going all the way to Marathon for our first over-nighter. We took shifts and tried to sleep as much as we could but I think we were all too excited to get much rest. We had to dodge the crab pots as best we could but I’m sure we ran over a ton once it got dark. There was just no way around it.


It took a good 26 hours but we made it safe and sound!



New Electronics

Here are a few pics from our install of our Garmin HD Radar before we left the dock. It was a priority to add the radar and upgrade the chart plotter and VHF radio as we outfitted the boat for our adventures. There was a screaming deal around Black Friday for a combo radar dome and Garmin 740S chart plotter so we took the deal!








Boy are we glad we added this stuff!! We’ve sailed through the fog and overnight twice already and it sure is nice to be able to see other boats around us when visibility is poor.

We also opted for a new AIS capable VHF radio. Although we don’t transmit through the AIS, we can still see other vessels (especially large commercial ones) and get info about their speed and course.

The boat came with a Single Sideband radio (SSB), Pactor modem and automatic tuner. Its like a ham radio with limited email capability at sea :) We set up our ships station license and restricted radio operator license with the FCC. At the same time, they assigned us our MMSI number.

Although the cost adds up, it’s items like these that make us feel safe as we navigate into uncharted (for us) territories.

Here’s a little bit of the technical stuff we had to figure out along the way:


Who needs a ships station license?


You do not need a license to operate a marine VHF radio, radar, or EPIRBs aboard voluntary ships operating domestically. If you travel to a foreign port (e.g., Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands), a license is required. Additionally, if you travel to a foreign port, you are required to have an operator permit. (Everyone I’ve talked to says they have never been asked for their license info but we’d rather play it safe when it comes to this kind of stuff.)

Ships that use MF/HF single side-band radio, satellite communications, or
telegraphy must continue to be licensed by the FCC.

A Ship’s Station License is valid for a term of 10 years and costs $160. Here’s the breakdown:

Application Payment/Fee Type Code: PASM – $60.00 Fee

Regulatory Payment/Fee Type Code: PASR – $100.00

If you have a marine radio with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capability, you must obtain a nine-digit maritime mobile service identity (MMSI) number and have it programmed into the
unit before you transmit. This is really important if you want to be able to use the distress button in the event of an emergency. I’ve also heard that if you plan to go off shore, make sure you get your MMSI number from the FCC not from BoatUS.

A Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit does not require a test, is valid for your lifetime and costs $60.

** Here are the steps we took:

First you must register with the FCC by creating a FCC Registration Number (FRN). The FCC online system is called the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and can be found here: http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home

Click the first button to Register and follow the prompts.

After you have received your FRN, print the confirmation page or be sure to write down the FRN somewhere safe.

Return to the ULS home page http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home and click the second button to Log In.

Select the first link on the left sidebar to Apply for a New License.

Select SA or SB-Ship

When you are done, apply for another new license and select RR for Restricted Operator.

For further information regarding the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator permit, visit http://wireless.fcc.gov/commoperators/index.htm?job=rr

The Rules that govern the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permits can be found under 47 CFR – Part 13 and are accessible at the following website:http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/rules-regulations-title-47

If you have any further questions, or need additional information, submit a request through http://esupport.fcc.gov or call the
FCC Licensing Support Center at (877) 480-3201.