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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Getting Ready Part 8; Or how we survived Captain Ron and Homeland Security

Preamble or Ramble:

Another milestone reached this week on our path to the sea; well at least the path to retirement.  On Tuesday 16 April I turned in my retirement papers and had my “official” retirement counseling, and even though a significant chunk will go to my uncle in Washington we can make it work on what is left.  Part of “getting ready” on the personal front is to decide what to do with 35 years of work product.  For those out there who do not know me, my current (soon to be past) life involved designing scenery and lights for professional and educational theatre and an occasional television show or museum.  So for the past couple of weeks I have also been going through hundreds of plates of drafting, the oldest set being from 1977 (a plate is another word for sheet or page.)   In the process of going through my designs over the past year I have discovered drawings, sketches, notes, renderings, photos, slides; the list goes on.   I will donate most of it to my university who to the Admirals amazement and mine keeps such stuff.  Give some to my daughters and former students.  The rest, well I am envisioning a Viking funeral pyre in the swimming pool.   I’ll keep you posted on that one.

On the sailboat front, (this is a sailing blog) if you follow me on Facebook you might have seen pictures of out latest heartthrob and hopefully soon to be mistress, a Bahia 46. Although she represents a number of compromises, her positives far outweigh her negatives.  Of course nothing is bedded in fiberglass yet and another cat in a real short skirt might come sliding by and steal my heart.  Now the only thing missing from the plan is a SOLD sign out front on the house.  Come on St. Joseph daddy needs a new set of sails!

On to PART 8; or Captain Ron and my impending trip to GITMO!

In Part 7 I regaled you with the tales of Captain Ralph, Grumpy, and the ASA classes that worked to move to push us closer to our goal.  There was some pressure to pass the courses because later that month was our first Bareboat charter, a week on a Maine Cat (MC) 30 followed by a week on a MC 41, the same type of vessel I had been training on.   To explain, a bareboat charter is one in which you act as Captain and crew.  With our first charter in Florida there was Captain Stacey who was in charge and if anything went wrong it was her responsibility to deal with.  On a bareboat, I was the Captain, which meant I was responsible for everything!  With much anticipation we over packed and headed for the airport, Jo the girls and Captain Dad with his two passports.  Ok, as I may have mentioned in the last chapter and in my defense, the guy in Ft. Pierce did tell me to use the one I had presented him (the formerly lost one).  Well there was great debate between the Admiral (Jo) and Captain Dad as to which passport I should use so of course I used the lost one.  Just like the last time out of the country and into the Bahamas no problem so as they say in the Abacos “Every Thing Cool Mon.”   We had a couple days booked at a hotel before our charter began in Marsh Harbor so we grabbed a taxi and headed off.  Now taxis in most Caribbean countries aren’t like those in the USA.  There is no such thing as a meter and they charge by the person so we negotiated (i.e. they told me what it would cost) and off we went.  After we checked in and figured out the sleeping arrangements we headed off to Snappers for food and Kalik.  At this time our daughters were 17 and 15 and surprisingly enough the legal drinking age in the Bahamas was 15 & 17; or whatever you wanted it to be.

This presented us with a dilemma but we decided everything in moderation so we let the girls mostly split a drink or at the most have a beer the only rule was, if you got sick on the boat you cleaned up after yourself and you had to still perform your assigned duties.  That evening we headed to the liquor store and super market for provisions for the boat.  The room we were in had a fridge so we were able to put perishables in there for the night. 

After a run to the bakery in the morning we were ready to call a cab (via VFH radio) and head to the dock where we would catch a ferry that would take us to Hope Town, the s/v Hard Work, and Captain Ron.  Now Ralph and the others had warned me that Captain Ron was infamous for being a cantankerous, difficult, pain-in-the-ass, with no sense of humor; they undersold him.  I will say in all fairness he did know boats and cared for the charter boats under his charge as if they were his own.  He started off our relationship by letting me know that I had no business chartering the MC 41 the next week.  Whoopee, nothing like setting the Captain up for failure in the eyes of his young crew.  We made a quick run to shore for ice and bread at a bakery and market run by a local minister/baker then it was time for our checkout sail.  Now when a company is going to entrust a several hundred thousand dollar sailboat to you they want to make sure you aren’t going to destroy it and even though you are required to leave a deposit of at least the same amount as the deductible of the insurance policy if you sink the boat it impacts the companies income for the rest of the season.  We headed out and the rapid fire questions began and even though I had been warned that Captain Ron will try to trip me up on navigation I found myself totally flustered at first but remembered my training and nailed the questions by the end.   We spent the better part of the afternoon going through the boats systems, anchoring, raising and lowering the sails, checking us out on the engine system which was different then any other I had known, picking up a mooring, and going over the charts in the guide book.  We all felt confident in our abilities and looked forward to a week of fun, sun, and beach bars.   Finally we were back in the harbor in Hope Town, grabbed a mooring and got ready to spend the night there and head out in the morning.  Apparently I didn’t screw-up too bad since I was cleared to take the boat myself.   If I had not, then I would have to have been required to hire Captain Personality to sail us for the day and return to the hot, buggy, windless harbor that is Hope Town every night.   We made our first dinner aboard and the girls headed off to the port hull berths and Jo and I lay out under a blanket of stars with the music from shore wafting across the harbor.  It was at this point she made the declaration that we could do this; yes we could.   As the boat rocked us to sleep that night I felt in my element. 

The next morning we had to wait for Captain Ron to bring a BBQ grill for the stern pulpit and some more inspirational wisdom like, do not try to dock this boat you are restricted to anchoring or grabbing a mooring ball.  Now I had no experience docking but docking was the only way to replenish the very limited water tanks so we got creative.  We drank water from 1-gallon jugs we could pick up on dingy runs to town.  I should explain for you non-cruisers out there; your dingy is just like your family car, without it you are walking, well in this case swimming to the store, restaurant, bar, or anywhere on shore, except unlike when you family car doesn’t start with a dingy you either paddle or drift away.  Hard Work had a sun-shower on board so as the ice melted we filled the sun-shower with the water, put it out on the trampoline and by the evening we had enough water for a “quick” Navy shower.  For those out there unfamiliar with a Navy it goes like this: step one turn on water for long enough to get wet then turn off the water; step two, lather up; step three a quick rinse.  A good variation of the Navy shower in the Joy bath, named so because you use Joy dish soap since it lathers up in saltwater.  It works this way: step one jump in the ocean in whatever degree of undress you are comfortable; step two, hop out of the ocean and lather up with Joy; step three, jump back in the ocean and rinse off; step four: when finished rinsing off get out of the ocean and rinse off with the sun shower or the boats freshwater system.   This reality of limited H2o came as a shock to our youngest who wasn’t satisfied until she emptied 50 gallons of hot water in the shower every dayat home, but we did it.  We untied the mooring lines at 0930hrs and headed out into the Sea of Abaco.  Of course there was no breeze so down went the outboards and we motored 1.6 nautical miles on a heading of 202° magnetic for Tahiti Beach where we set the hook (anchor) headed to the beach for a swim then back to Hard Work for lunch; now that’s a way to spend a Sunday morning.  In the afternoon there was enough breeze to sail so we set a course of 292°m to Tilloo Cay and set the hook for the night.  Later that evening something must have been going on in Marsh Harbor because after the sun went down fireworks erupted in the Bahamian sky.  Here we were sitting on a sailboat, in the Bahamas, cold drink in hand with the night sky lit up with a combination of a million, no trillion stars and fireworks without another person within sight.  Yea we can do this!

The next morning we were planning on heading to Little Harbor to Pete’s Pub but shortly after we headed out daughter #1 noticed the braided sheath on the main halyard (rope or more correctly line) had separated and the core was exposed.  Damn, have to go back to Hope Town and Captain Ron.  I wanted to stay and help him change it out but he wanted us off the boat so into Hope Town we headed.  Although he claims it was something we did I don’t see how given where the separation happened but nonetheless we ended up paying for the new halyard.  Ok, “Every Thing Cool Mon” and we took off to explore Hope Town and make another run to the bakery and one of the ministers Key Lime Pies!  After the halyard was dealt with we headed back towards Tilloo Pond and another quiet secluded night on the hook. 

Tuesday morning after a light breakfast we decided it was time to head to Sandy Cay National waterpark for some snorkeling and then off to Little Harbor.  Sandy Cay greeted us with dolphins and hundreds of colorful fish and coral.   We even managed to climb back in the dingy after snorkeling (note to self, need a dingy boarding ladder.)  We were finally getting decent wind, 10-15knts with building squall lines.  This was the rainy season in Abaco and we were assured of rain most days.  On the up side, another shower option!  We set a course from Sandy Cay to Little Harbor and Pete’s Pub and made it in two tacks and sailed in to our One Particular Harbor.  The weather was unstable so we rigged the lighting protection and headed off to one of our favorite beach bars that happened to be next to the gallery and foundry of famed nautical artist Randolph Johnson, who after two failed attempts to sail his schooner and family from New England made it to Abaco.  This is truly one of the most unique places we have come across in our travels and a must stop if you are in the neighborhood.  To can read more and visit the pub (well at least virtually) at:  We spent the afternoon wandering Little Harbor, visiting with Pete’s son James and knocking back several cold ones.   Later that day we met a family from Ft. Lauderdale who were staying in a rental cottage in Little Harbor and as luck(?) would have it they had two teenage sons.  Needless to say copious flirting and stupid teenage antics abounded until the boys had too much Kalik to pose a real threat.  Somewhere in the course of the evening daughter #2 struck a deal with James Johnson to leave a show T-Shirt she was wearing in the rafters in exchange for one from the pub; dad remember “Every Thing Cool DAD.”   Now getting back to Hard Work was indeed, well, hard work.  First the tide was out so the dingy was several feet below the dock, second the clouds from the approaching storm obliterated any moonlight and of course we had no flashlight, and probably most importantly we couldn’t remember where we parked the boat and forgot to leave on any lights.  So our equally drunk new friends from Ft. Lauderdale shined their lights out into the harbor we slowly made our way back to Hard Work and a very still and buggy night.

A word about bugs.  In Part 6, I think it was, I described the mosquito killing fields of the cabin of our Florida charter. For the most part, in the tropics bugs (especially the biting kind) are relegated to the beach and in-country since the strong trade winds blow them off the anchored boats.  There are a couple exceptions.  One when you are docked it is usually in a harbor protected from the wind.   The other being when there is no wind and you are in a bay surrounded by land on all sides once you enter the bay.  Now such an anchorage is great in bad weather like a tropical storm but on windless nights it can be uncomfortable.   Now I didn’t think it was all that bad but at first light even though the sky was foreboding the Admiral and daughter #1 conspired to compelled the Captain to weigh anchor and sail out into what still gives me nightmares.   Now the Admiral thinks I should focus on the positive, on the positive side of the story I am about to tell we all lived and learned a lot and we had the skills to survive the situation; well I hope it was skill.  

As we headed out of Little Harbor there was a fresh breeze of around 16 knots so we set sail.  Off to the distance was a dark line in the sky.  Jo and daughter #1 were below working on breakfast port hull, when I mentioned if this weather hit we would be in trouble.  It was at that point I made a critical error in judgment.  There is a reality in sailing a large catamaran that by the time you think you should reduce or lower sails it is too late.  The squall hit like a freight train!  All of a sudden we were screaming towards the rocky shore and the windward hull was lifting out of the water, which on a beach cat is a gas but not on several tons of cat.  The MC 30 & 41 is what is called an open bridge deck.  Simply put all the windows can be rolled up allowing for the wind to flow through unabated.   This is not a problem at 16 knots but at 50 knots it will sweep everything on the bridge deck out the stern of the boat.  I called for all hands on deck and my training and experience kicked in and I pointed the boat into the wind and with sails and sheets (lines) violently flogging Jo and daughter #1  lowered the sails while I lowered the outboards and got them started in order to motor off the rapidly approaching shore.  Nightmare one; I don’t even want to think what I would have done if the engines had not started.   The second nightmare was as I looked back at the shore there was daughter #2 inches from the now violently pitching sea trying to retrieve the guide book and chart that was about to blow off as had so many other items.  No lifejacket, nothing connecting her to the boat.  I yelled at her to “get back we can get another chart book” but she was determined and got it and safely got back in the cabin.  IF she had fallen in, there would have been no way to retrieve her and don’t even want to think of the outcome.  After we all got our wits about us we motored around in circles, not wanting to try to anchor in the storm, waiting for the storm to pass.  As fast as it hit, it seemed it was over and we found a place to drop the hook and exhaled and had breakfast.  As the movie Captain Ron said:  “if its going to happen, its going to happen out there” no kidding!  The rest of the day was some of the best sailing we had had and plotted a course for Man of War Cay.   

Man of War Cay is a lovely island dominated by British loyalists who left America at the time of the Revolutionary War. I t is also the center of some of the most incredible boat builders and sail makers in the Bahamas and although they currently make powerboats (stinkpots) models of their sailing vessels abound.  You can also visit the old sail loft where they now make duffle bags and totes out of sail canvas.  The Bahamas, for being a tropical sailors and fisherman’s paradise is also deeply religious; no where is this more evident than Man of War Cay where not a drop of demon rum or anything containing alcohol can be found.   Now I don’t want to leave you with the idea that all cruising sailors do is drink, we do have other addictions and in the tropics the principle one being ice-cream; which we found on Man of War after a day of hiking around the town.   We didn’t have the correct charger for our iPod so the harbormaster let us charge it in his office while we wandered around town (what a cool place.)   Along with no alcohol there were also no cars; the main means of transportation being by foot or by golf cart.   Now you wouldn’t think something that carries guys wearing bad plaid (ok is there good plaid) around a golf course could be tricked-out but you would be wrong.  It seems where in the U.S.A. the vehicular status is displayed in the form of a hood ornament in Man of War it was in the size of the golf cart and accouterment.   That night we decided to grab a mooring ball in the harbor and fearing the bugs would return we put up the screen enclosure that was part of the boats design.  Now even though adult beverages were not available on shore we did make up a pitcher of a local favorite, the Goombay Smash.  Well apparently for the Admiral the term “smash” was descriptive and after a loud and spirited game of dominions which none of us really know how to play we turned in for the night.  After a morning run for ice and water in the dingy we made our way out of the mooring field, of course after wrapping the mooring line around the prop requiring the Captain to go for a swim to unwrap it “Every Thing Cool Mon”.)  We set out for another great day of sailing where everyone got a turn at the wheel.  With the destination of the main town of the Abacos, Marsh Harbor for the evening and a Junkanoo Festival in town later that night.   As we made our way in there was limited room to anchor and all the mooring balls were private so I found what appeared to be a good spot and set the hook, well I thought it was set.  The girls changed to their party clothes and we headed in the dingy looking for a dock in order to tie up for the evening.  After a little negotiation and some cash changing hands we found a spot and grabbed a cab for the designated Junkanoo site.  When Jo and I first visited Abaco in 2001 the Junkanoo was held down town  (well down the main street downtown indicates something else) but they had not only expanded the Junkanoo to a weekly event but also moved it to a designated spot, a sort of fair grounds.  It lacked some of the charm of the street festival but it was fun nonetheless and allowed my daughters to dance in such a way that I had not seen a woman dance since my days of working as a bouncer in strip clubs on Harry Hines Blvd. in Dallas; but right “Every Thing Cool DAD.”   During the Bacchanal, I mean Junkanoo, another squall line moved in sending everyone for cover as violent winds torrential winds and blinding lighting tried to put a damper on the evening.  After the front passed through I cut the evening short for fears of what might have happened to Hard Work and fear of what I might do to a couple young men if they continued to dance with my daughters.  We grabbed a cab with the soberest looking driver and made our way back to our dingy now partially filled with water and back to Hard Work.  No sooner then we were on board there was a knocking on the hull from a vessel that had grabbed the private mooring near where we had anchored.  It seems that our anchor had dragged during the storm and had fowled with their mooring line.  They had re-set our anchor and said we would work it all out in the morning.  I had no idea what that meant but we were due back in Hope Town by noon to check in Hark Work and pick up the MC 41 Varekai.  Concerned that we might swing into other boats on moorings I decided to set a stern (off the back) anchor from the dingy the way Captain Ralph had taught me and we established an anchor watch that turned into me pretty much trying to stay awake during the night.  The next morning feeling the pressure of needing to get to Hope Town I dove on the stern anchor to dislodge it from the sand and eventually got the attention of the vessel from the night before and I came up with a plan to untangle our anchors.  The plan went off perfectly and the other Captain complemented me on my seamanship and told his kids “see that’s how it’s done” needless to say I felt pretty good about the skills I have developed but I was on my way to check in with Captain Ron. 

We cleaned up the boat and packed up for the transfer to the MC 41.  It was now the Saturday before Fathers Day and as we entered the harbor in Hope Town the rain came down in buckets. We had most of our gear and clothes packed in waterproof duffels and lashed to the trampoline.  We radioed Captain Ron and were instructed to pick up the same mooring we had started at.  Ron met us and asked how our trip had been.  At that point Jo made a comment about the rain and how everything was wet to which Captain Ron replied something like “well little-lady it is a sailboat and things do get wet”; needless to say, and if you know Jo, you never give her the “little-lady” line but to her credit she just walked away.  He motored Hard Work up into up a waterway and docked her next to our next charter vessel, Varekai.   Now the difference between the MC 30 and 41 is vast. The 41 is a performance cruiser and the accommodations are more like a fine resort where the 31 is more like a tent.  Needless to say the crew was impressed and a little concerned as to the size of Varekai; was it too much boat to handle.   This was the reason I did my training on the MC 41 Kathleen D but all of that mattered little to Captain Ron who went out of his way to make sure everyone knew I was not qualified to captain this vessel.  My note in the log entry dated 16, June 2007 reads:

Ron really put doubt in captain and crews head about abilities to handle the MC41.  Puts the trip in danger-consider canceling and heading home. 

Once the rain ended Captain Ron motored Varekai out into the harbor and we practiced grabbing a mooring and finally settled in for the night.  As it was getting late we did not have time to get checked out on the special system to lower the dingy but he needed to mount the BBQ grill in the morning and we had no plans to go ashore and left it at that.

The next morning was Fathers Day and I awoke way too early to Jo telling me a serious recurring medical issue with our daughter #2 had reoccurred.  So here we are, although just a few hundred miles from the U.S. in a foreign country, not on the largest island but a relatively small one with only a clinic that was closed on Sunday in a country that no matter what Saturday night was comprised of, is at church on Sunday morning, and a dingy that we do not know how to get in the water; what to do.  One of the great things we have learned about the cruising community is the willingness to help each other.  In most popular areas there are cruisers information networks, Nets, on either the VFH or SSB radio at the same time each day.  These are usually hosted by a moderator either on land or on one of the long-term floating residents.   They are a way to dispense information about weather or activities on shore, a way to introduce yourself or say good by to the tribe, and a way to ask for help when needed.  Abaco has a wonderful Abaco Cruisers Net hosted most days by Patty who amazingly enough I later found out is from West Texas less than an hour from Lubbock where we live.   The Cruisers Net is on VFH Channel 68 @ 0815hrs each day and we listened to it religiously.   I knew that Patty would be able to help us find some medical help so around 0730 I hailed her on the VHF explained the situation and in no time she had arranged a Nurse Practitioner (NP) to meet us at the clinic in Hope Town before she went to church; great, but we had no way to get to shore so I contacted Captain Ron who did come right over and helped me get the dingy down and went over the system with me and off we went to experience Third World medicine.  Despite what you might fear there were no shrunken-heads or voodoo dolls just a simple well appointed clinic and the nicest NP we could ask for.  She ran several tests but did not have an x-ray.  Included were blood work and a pregnancy test.  ALL the tests came back negative and she was given Tylenol with codeine and told to rest and if daughter #2 was not feeling better to go to the hospital in Marsh Harbor the next day for further tests.  The NP apologized for having to charge us so much since we weren’t citizens.  I was ready for several hundred dollars so imagine my surprise when the bill was $20.  Jo and I started to consider canceling the rest of the trip and heading home.  The one thing we knew was we wanted to get the hell out of Hope Town so we cast off and set a course for the short sail to Man of War Cay instead of heading directly to Marsh Harbor.

The next morning daughter #1 and I were up with the sun and hailed Patty on the VHF to thank her for all her help and let her know that my daughter was feeling better.  Patty commented that it was a great Fathers Day then, and I agreed “especially when the pregnancy test came back negative.”  There was a slight pause and then Patty reminded me that this was an open airwave.  I told he that I knew and Patty replied that she (daughter #2) was going to kill me.  To which I agreed but it is a fathers duty to mortify and embarrass his children and it also served as a warning to daughter #1 standing right there.  Daughter #2 did feel better and we decided to continue the charter and to skip a trip to the hospital.   I knew she was feeling better since she took a non-Navy shower and drained half the week’s water!  The next morning we headed for Green Turtle Cay and after some trouble setting the hook we headed into shore for ice cream and rum that we were close to running out of.   The anchoring adventure in Green Turtle gave birth to the rating system the foredeck crew came up with giving a percentage of turtle grass to sand.  An anchor sets pretty well in sand but the more grass there is the harder it is to set the hook.  So from the foredeck came shouts of 20% 40% 60%, and so on.  Most cruisers do not have TV on board so watching other cruisers, especially charter boats, attempt to anchor is the entertainment and we were entertaining.  Finally set, I sent daughter #1 in snorkel gear to dive on the anchor and make sure it was set.  Confident we were set we headed off to New Plymouth town and met some live-aboard cruisers from Texas who had spent several years sailing and now were cruising in a trawler.   He had watched the anchor show and gave me some much appreciated tips, and also told us where to get the best ice cream and rum in New Plymouth.  It was a nice relaxed day with lunch ashore and some shopping an activity that pleased the daughters.  From there we went to the top of our allowed cruising range, Munjack Cay and after a stormy and buggy night headed to Treasure Cay where we had to thread in through a very tight channel and grabbed the last mooring ball for the day.   We headed ashore to what is one of the top 10 beaches in the world according to one of those magazines that rate such things (see more detail discussion of Treasure Cay in Part 6.)  The day was spent on sugar-white sand that felt like talcum powder beneath our feet.   The sugar-white sand of Treasure Cay extended far out into the Sea of Abaco and given its bright white character the reflections of the sky were so intense and gave us a blue not seen anywhere else in Abaco.   Not wanting to pay for our mooring for the night and really not wanting to be in an enclosed harbor we made a run to the north tip of Great Guana Cay and Bakers Bay.  At that time it was totally deserted except for construction on a proposed resort.  We had anchored there on the MC 31 the week before and took a shelling trip to a spoil island and once again we were the only yacht in the bay.

One thing we did miss due to not getting out of Man of War Cay with Varekai as quickly as we had hoped was a planned rendezvous with the boys from Pete’s Pub at Nippers on Great Guana Cay. Nippers is situated on the ocean side of Great Guana Cay with a spectacular beach and along the third longest barrier reef in the world. Famous for their Sunday pig-roast and signature drink, a rum infused punch called the Nipper, of course.   You can find out more about Nippers on line at: and although we missed the official rendezvous with the boys, they just happened to be there when we made the walk up the hill.  Now where are the girls cell phones?  We spent a wonderful day on the beach.  I got the 1 Cuban cigar a year I allow myself, and the girls got some beach time without mom & dad; especially without dad. 

The second week of our charter was coming to a close so after a day at Nippers we had to start packing and making the boat ready to turn over to Captain Ron the next day.  After a morning run down to Hope Town we called Ron on the VHF and he told us to wait outside the harbor entrance while he got another charter (the one on Hard Work) checked in.  It was blowing like stink that day and I used the two 30hp diesel engines to keep us off the shore(good practice for our upcoming life.)  Finally Captain Ron had us bring Varekai into the bay and we secured a mooring.  Ron took her over to the dock and we refueled her with diesel and water and we paid the bill.  He looked her over and actually I think he was pleased at her condition, a rare indication of approval; could it be?  We had several hours before the ferry, which we had arranged to pick us up by the lighthouse (one of the few kerosene lighthouses left in the world) across the harbor and can only be reached by boat on Hope Town.  The girls climbed to the top and since I had done that back in 2001 I took a pass.  The ferry came; we headed back to Hope Town and the same hotel we started out at for a last night in paradise.  We headed off to walk around town, a little shopping and ended up at Sapodillas for food and drink.  The girls had their last adult beverage, well at least that I knew about, and the next morning we arranged for a taxi and back to the airport for home.

We checked out of the country and paid the $20 each exit tax with no problem so we were ready for a long day of flights, connections, and airports.  Home free, except….

Remember I mentioned GITMO earlier, well it seems that was going to be my next destination.  We arrived in Miami and of course immigration was packed with people trying to get into the country but no problem, “Every Thing Cool Mon,” we had several hours until our flight to DFW and on to Lubbock.  Before you and your bags go through customs you go through a passport check.  Well both girls handed their passports to the nice young man with a gun.  Swipe, swipe, both through, same with Jo and that left me.  Swipe – pause – swipe – pause followed with a quick look in my direction then a hand gesture to another nice young man this time with a machine gun who escorted me, with family in tow, to a room full of people who were waiting to be deported or worse.  I was the only one who spoke English on the Group-W bench and told Jo and the girls to go on and catch the flight home so they could get our son from the caregiver we had hired to watch him.  That was a no-sale and there we all stood.  I was called up to the window to explain it all.  So I put on my most humble persona and began with the mix-up with the lost passport, the trip into Ft. Pierce (see part 7) and the person at immigration who told me to use the “lost” passport from now on, and was just about to go into another explanation about how I would never live this down if you sent me to GITMO when he grabbed my passport punched a series of holes in it and told me to go catch my plane and NOT to ever use this passport again.  Proper response: Yes Sir! He also informed me that travel for me will be extra-special because I am on a “special” list; I don’t think he meant it is a good way.  Well, not to belabor the story any more, we ran to make it through customs and caught our flight and made it home at the appointed hour.  It wasn’t until much later that I came to grasp all the events of the past 18 days spent in Marsh Harbor and as Captain, if just for a brief time, of the sailing vessels Hard Work and Varekai.  I couldn’t wait to get out there again, but would have to since I had to take a show to Angel Fire in two weeks, and then the academic year began and there was the matter of our depleted bank account. 

All in all it was a fantastic 18 days.  Sure we made mistakes but for the first time alone and in charge of two large yachts nothing we couldn’t or didn’t overcome.  Although the girls had gone sailing in Florida with us we always had Captain Stacey, now we had Captain Dad and they were the crew.  They got to see a place that is beyond special to Jo and me and a little opportunity to make adult decisions “Every Thing Cool Mon.”  For Jo and me we added to our sailing resume and gained more confidence.  Most importantly, we knew there was no turning back now!

Next time: more training in Florida, hair freezing to the hull, our first boat show, and our first trip to Tortola and the British Virgin Islands.

Pictures from our Sailing Adventure in the Abaco's

Lounging at motel in Marsh Harbor

The Admiral & Captain on the Ferry to Hope Town

Pete's Pub Little Harbor

Daughter #2's T-Shirt for ever in the rafters of a bar in the Bahamas


New T-Shirt!


New Friends at Pete's Pub

Another Picture Perfect Sunset

Daughter # 2 on the beach at Nippers

Daughter #1 on the Beach at Nippers (breath Dad breath!)

We were at Nippers!

Hope Town Harbor

On Watch?
Open Bridgedeck of the Maine Cat 30

Imagine our surprise when the rock swam away

The Family car

At the Helm of the Maine Car 41
The Admiral at the helm with
daughter #2 on watch

Now where's my next waypoint?



Lighthouse in Hope Town

Catching some rays

Our own version of Red Stripe!

Ah Kalik!

Another Sunset in Paradise


  1. Now that's an adventure! Thanks for sharing, My Friend!

  2. Thanks Le! It has been a "learning curve" and I hope most lessons need to only be taught once.