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And so it begins …

Journey notes.

On March 1, 2018 the M/V Exhale, a comfy North Pacific trawler, departs Fort Myers, Florida, commencing on a 6,000 mile journey on the America’s Great Loop.  On board are two “almost retired” baby boomers, Rick & Mary, and one faithful boat dog, Maddie Sue.  This blog will share random bits and pieces of our journey along the way.

Watch Dog
A dog’s life.

ex·hale

eksˈhāl,ˈeksˌhāl/
verb
  • breathe out in a deliberate manner.
    “she sat back and exhaled deeply”

    The trawler:  North Pacific is based in Surrey, British Columbia, CANADA.

 

 

Bahama Journey Completed!

Little Shark Anchorage

We anchored out one last time. Little Shark Anchorage in the Everglades National Park.

Swim Noodle silencer in progress.

A spectacular sunset, a fitting tribute on Laura Jo’s birthday.

Out of cell phone range. Surrounded by peace and quiet. We finished the final episode of Longmire. Thanks Ray and Caryl for sharing.

And I finished another book, the captivating tale of a young woman’s fight for survival in a remote village in south central Alaska. An exciting page-turner, the author successfully depicts the enchanting rugged existence in my beloved home state. Thanks Celeste!

Naples Bay Resort

Thanks to Ron and Jan Austin who stayed in close contact during our journey. Thanks for inviting us to join the southwest yacht club cruise in Naples, where we connected with:

 

Ron and Jan Austin

 

Bob Koop and Kathy Hamlin

 

Rebecca and Jim Boo Boo Hill

Jerry and Sandy Houlder

Back To Chicago

Thanks Ron and Bob for securing front row seats at this intimate concert. We enjoyed the exceptional 8-member tribute band, Back To Chicago; best of all, the Trumpet and Trombone players are local band teachers! What a fabulous final stop on our journey.

Captain’s Log

May 20 thru July 15, 2019. Nautical Miles = 1,136, Engine / Running Hours = 164, Fuel consumption = 681 gallons diesel, Generator (running at anchor) consumed 120 gallons of fuel over 240 hours = AC for Maddie.

Number of stops = 35, Days on the Hook 22 (39%) / Marinas 34 (61%)

Guests on Board: Dale Morgan and Ann Hughes

More cool air, please.

Thanks for another great adventure!

Next Up: Tween Waters with Houlegan Again. Guests arriving: Jamie, David, Tyler, Danielle, Sandra, Abby and Leo. 💕

Key Largo, Florida

Back in the US, our first stop was the Pilot House Marina. Thanks for the recommendation Tom and Faye!

This party shack marks the channel entrance, locally known as Crash Corner. The developer was brilliant at maximizing the water view and use of outdoor space.

Hello Key Largo

The peaceful canal, with an eclectic mix of homes, reminded us of St James, Tiki hut for Ray.

We had an Amazing meal at the pilot house marina, complete with live music.

Talented Local musicians with exceptional harmony. Their song list ranged from the Beatles to Indigo Girls. The ukulele reminded us of Piper Jackson.

Evacuation Route. By Appointment Only. Priceless.

Happy birthday Laura Jo. 7/13.

Next stop: TBD. Headed west, and then North. maybe Cape Shore anchorage.

Chubb Cay and Alice Town

Luxury is … floating docks!

The Berries – Chubb Cay

Chubb Cay was more than elegant. Seemed like a great place for a destination wedding, with a cute little chapel and lots of private villas.

Spectacular service and delicious food.

The view from the infinity pool was breath taking You might like this pool, Eric.

Bimini – Alice Town

Departure at first light with Tonto’s Reward, we headed to the Biminis.

Our last stop in the Bahamas. Another perfect water day.

The infamous Radio Beach, proclaimed the most popular in Bimini. With a year round population of 300, not sure how many folks were surveyed.

Not a good day for this boat.

Hello to my little sister, Alice!

We decided the contest was for a Hemingway look a like. This Capt is Definitely a contender.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Another early departure with Tonto’s Reward, our last morning on the water as boat buddies. Thanks Bernstein’s for an amazing Bahama adventure. See you in Fort Myers. Hope your journey to Stuart is enjoyable.

The water crossing the Gulf Stream was not smooth. Heavily tossed in the Straits Of Florida, Sadly, there was a tragic loss – Rick’s electric toothbrush fell in the head. Super Yuck.

Anniversaries: Miss you Mom and Dad. You would have loved the Bahamas.

Next up – Key Largo, Florida

Nassau and Atlantis

After enjoying the gentle pace of the provincial lifestyle in the islands, the manic activity in Nassau Harbor was an adjustment.

Here’s a little data. In 2019, the Bahamas has an estimated population of 389,000. By comparison, Wyoming, the least populated US state, is about 580,000. Currently about 266,000 live in Nassau. I’ll save you the math – that’s 68% of the country’s population in one small city.

We walked with the Bernstein’s from the Nassau Haven Marina to historic downtown. Along the way we found colorful murals.

For Mike Gillespie. Save water. Drink rum

To Sir, with love

It was exciting to discover the bridge to Paradise Island was officially named after the globally renowned Bahamian, beloved Oscar-winning actor Sir Sydney Poitier. My favorite of his movies are Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, and, To Sir, With Love. Born in 1927, yes, he’s still alive. 💕

Nassau Parliament Square

Officially draped for Independence Day. Forward together, upward, onward. One people united in love and service.

The flamingo-pink buildings in Parliament Square were constructed in 1815 by the Loyalists.

This fish tank is for Tyler. And Eric. Sushi time!

Atlantis – Paradise Island

Background of Atlantis. The property was originally part of the Paradise Island Hotel and Casino, which opened in 1968. It was owned by Resorts International, a Merv Griffin company. In 1994, Merv sold to Sol Kerzner. Kerzner created Atlantis on the site over the course of the next four years, spending over $800 million to build the massive resort. The resort was expanded in 2007.

Atlantis Courtyard

Unique watercraft

This craft looks like it belongs in either a Bond film or a sci-fi movie. I imagined it could rise into the air, at warp speed. To my friends with security clearances, can you shed some light?

Zoom in. Look closely at the stern of this craft. Is that a Machine gun or dinghy lift? You decide.

Hog Island

Fun factoid – Paradise Island was formally known as Hog Island, until savvy developer, Huntington Hartford renamed it in 1962. He successfully convinced parliament wealthy tourists would prefer to spend money in paradise, rather than on an island for swine.

The historic lighthouse retained its original name, the Hog Island Lighthouse.

Built in 1817, this is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the West Indies. It is located at the western tip of Paradise Island, marking the northwest entrance to New Providence and the Port of Nassau.

Happy birthday Anders (7/9) and Jamie (7/10)

Next up: Chubb Cay

Allen Cay Iguanas, Highborne Cay and New Providence Island

Allen’s Cay is one of the few places where you can still find these fearsome looking creatures, which are protected by law.  Accustomed to visitors, rather than hiding, the iguanas appear at the sound of human footsteps.

I think the critters might have been disappointed that we only brought cameras.

Highborne Cay Anchorage

Acquired in Canada (we miss you Craig and Mo) this violet is celebrating a full year on Exhale.

Thanks for joining us on our anniversary, Gail and David. And thanks for the crew hats, Bert and EJ. Sorry you missed out on the champagne. To celebrate, Rick grilled filets, with blue cheese crumbles, local veggies, and baked potatoes; paired with an exquisite Zin from the Bernstein’s wine cellar. The perfect meal with wonderful friends. Happy Anniversary my love.

New Providence, Palm Cay Marina

After nine nights in a row on the hook, when we arrived in New Providence we tied up to a slip in Palm Cay, and basked in the luxury of AC. Such a marvelous invention.

The Marina is situated on the south eastern part of New Providence, away from the hustle and bustle of Nassau. The expanding community is still under construction, but seems to have lots of potential.

Open for only one month, the staff at the Palm Cay Restaurant were great. Given a little time, we are confident they will work out the few kinks in the kitchen.

Fort Charlotte

We make a practice of asking the marina staff for suggestions of places to explore. Miss Abby told us of a local treasure, not heavily frequented by the overwhelming cruise ship traffic. An important detail there were 4 massive ships docked in Nassau.

Lovers Tree, at the edge of Fort Charlotte. A sweet local tradition.

One of the best forts we have ever experienced, the limestone fort was constructed in the late 18th century by British colonial governor Lord Dunmore after the end of the American Revolutionary war. The fort has never been used in battle. How convenient that both the Queen and Dunmore’s wife were named Charlotte.

Cricket Club Restaurant and Pub

Best of all we got a recommendation for lunch – oh my!

Serving British and Bahamian specials, it was the best local cuisine we have experienced in the Bahamas.

Food photo for Sarah O. Clockwise from top left: Sheppard’s pie, Bahamian shrimp, curried chicken, and minced lobster.

An experience worth repeating. By the way, we were the ONLY folks, in the pub, that were not locals. Delicious. Here’s their website: https://bahamascricket.com/

It’s a must stop for sure. Special note for Ray, the draft Cricket Ale was Sideways worthy.

Don’t be fooled by the open tables, they were full before we left!

Thanks Abby for the courtesy car!

Hey D Floyd (aka #8), to date we have been on the hook a total of 20 nights in The Bahamas 😊

Happy Birthday Rodger. July 7.

Next stop: Nassau

Exuma Sea Park and Norman’s Cay

The pilgrimage to Boo Boo Hill is an adventure best timed at low tide, since the trail is completely washed out at high tide.

Tourists from around the world leave carved driftwood at the top of the hill, in memory of the souls lost at sea, or, to commemorate their visit.

Rick said the pile would make a heck of a signal fire for the lonely park staff stuck on the remote island.

The view was spectacular

Limestone cliffs above boo boo beach.

Thanks, Gail and David, for taking us snorkeling, several times, around Warderick Wells Cay, we even saw a hog fish Tom and Faye!

Sperm Whale

Tragically, this 52 foot Sperm Whale was found dead on the beach, with plastic in its lungs.

What a magical day! Climbing, and snorkeling, followed by a flash rain storm – also known as a fresh water bath for the boat. Gail suggested we have rum cocktails on the beach – with submerged beach chairs and umbrellas in the water. Best of all, Gail made her Malaysian style seafood fried rice for dinner. Special dessert was Chocolate covered pretzels. Wow! Wow! Wow! Life is good.

Norman Cay

We anchored out at Norman Cay with Tonto’s Reward, the most notorious island in the Bahamas.

A member of the infamous Medellin Cartel, Carlos Lehder began taking a shine to Norman’s Cay in 1978. Remote enough to remain relatively inconspicuous, while also still within close proximity of the U.S.Within short order, he purchased large portions of the small island, drove off the local population, and effectively took over.

In the late 1970’s, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar erected a fortress in Norman Cay, protected by armed guards and surrounded by attack dogs, most notably constructing a 1000m-long runway, at a strategic point for drug runners to rest and refuel on their way to the United States from Colombia.

Today the anchorage at Norman’s Cay is best known for the Curtiss C-46 Commando that landed well short of the runway in 1980. Now a popular snorkeling site, the sunken WWII-era military transport plane was used to fuel Escobar’s expanding cocaine trade to the USA.

Yet another magical day

Welcome to the world Tate Merritt Michelson.

Happy Birthday Leo. Can’t believe you are 10!!

Next stop: Highborne Cay, maybe. Subject to Change, for sure.

Black Point Settlement and the infamous Pig Beach

Who needs sunscreen when you have awesome looking UV rated clothes? Always looking great, Ann.

Black Point Settlement, population 414, is the home of Club Scorpio, serving the best rum drinks on the island.

Celebrating Pride Week, thanks Michael Gillespie for the rainbow umbrella. It provides good shade on the back porch.

Sunset special.

Another serene evening, Anchoring with Tonto’s Reward is so peaceful. Life is good!

Wild pigs – Big Major Cay

The feral pigs are said to have been dropped off on Big Major Cay by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them, but never returned. Another legend has it that the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore. Others suggest that the pigs were part of a business scheme to attract tourists to the Bahamas. Given the number of shore excursions to the beach everyday, it appears to be a highly profitable venture for tour operators.

Swimming with the Piggies

Rick and Dale took Maddie on a dinghy ride to see the Pigs. Poor Little Maddie was completely terrified by the pigs, who aggressively tried to climb onto the boat. The plan to swim with the piggies was abruptly abandoned.

Don’t be fooled. These are not domestic pets. On the beach you will find more than 40 pigs, of all shapes and sizes. The pigs eat, swim, produce tootsie rolls, scrounge for more food, swim again, sleep, repeat.

Swim at your own risk. We stayed inside the boat.

Fowl Cay

We enjoyed a very Special dinner with Tonto’s Reward at the stunning Fowl Cay resort.

Rick, Mary, Gail, David, Ann and Dale.

Stunning view from Fowl Cay.

Thunderball Grotto – Staniel Cay

If you are an old school James Bond fan, you might recall the magnificent underwater caves. More amazing than we could have ever imagined, we snorkeled into the spectacular caves at low tide 🐟. Sorry we don’t have any pictures from inside. You have to experience this natural wonder!!

Surrounded by calm waters it was Paddle board time.

Thanks Steve Hunt.

Good night Piggies.

Happy birthday Joe Occhino. June 26

Happy anniversary Jamie and David. June 27

Today we are super sad to say goodbye to Ann and Dale. The concert was much too short.

Next stop: somewhere between here and there. Anchoring out in the Bahamas. Everything is good.