With th the weather looking calm for a few days, we escaped from Marsh Harbour and sailed across to the nearest of the Outer Islands, Man-o-War. Although Marsh Harbour could hardly be described as a metropolis, landing in Man-o-War is like stepping back in time. Having made sure the anchor had set firmly, we lowered IKITUTU and made our way through some pretty shallow water to check out the settlement.

Man o War lagoon by dinghy.

Man o War lagoon by dinghy.

The inner ‘lagoon’ is divided in two by the inlet from the sea, allowing for deeper draft vessels to enter the west mooring field…..sadly not deep enough for us!

'Owls Nest' at the end of the MoW lagoon. My dream house!

‘Owls Nest’ at the far west end of the MoW lagoon. My dream house!

We tied up to a dock that looked free, having missed the signs on the two public docks, and strolled through the deserted streets. The roads are just wide enough for two golf carts to pass each other…..there are no cars allowed on the island…….  and the speed limit is 10mph. One bit of British legacy is that they drive on the left, but all the carts are left hand drive!!

The corner of Lovers Lane MoW.

The corner of Lovers Lane MoW.

The Bank and car park.

The Bank and car park.

We took a path that led up between the houses and only then realised just how narrow the island was as we came out onto a beach. As you can see the weather was changing!

View to the left.........

View to the left………

.......view to the right!

…….view to the right!

We managed to get back to the boat before getting the tail end of this down pour.

Back on the boat, our minds turned to the next knotty problem that IK has thrown our way. Whilst having the boards down over our bed to look at the throttle cable, we noticed that the steering cable was fraying where the water had caused some rusting. MoW is a working island and although it clearly caters for tourists, it also boasts three or four working boat yards. We decided to call in at one the following morning and see if there was a chance of replacing the cable, incase it decides to break as we approach the dreaded Jacksonville Main Street bridge!!!

We stopped by a boat that was moored at the end of Edwins Boatyard dock,to ask for advice on who to speak to. We not only got the name of the most experienced boatbuilder, but also the promise of some Mahi Mahi that the guy we asked wanted to clear from his cool box!! A fantastic result!

After our day trip round the island, (which I will get to later!), Keith, the boatbuilder offered to come out to the boat and take a look at the steering cable. Having given it a good inspection, he declared it fit enough to do the 300 miles to St Augustine, but said it did need replacing sooner rather than later!

The fraying on the steering cable. Let's hope the diagnosis is sound!!

The fraying on the steering cable. Let’s hope the diagnosis is sound!!

As I said, we decided to do a tour of the island and hired a golf cart for the day.

Our wheels for the day to explore the whole island.

Our wheels for the day to explore the whole island.

We didn’t encounter too much other traffic and as there was only one main road with side roads at right angles in the settlement, we felt sure we wouldn’t get lost. They gave us a map for the settlement, that is only about three quarters of a mile square, and then we were on our own and off piste!

Relics of the island's past.

Relics of the island’s past.

Joining the settlement end of the island and the posh second home end is a causeway that must get totally covered during storms and ultra high tides. There is a distinct  difference between the people’s buildings of the settlement and the mega rich soulless buildings at the posh end of the island.

The Low Place.......that really is its name!

The Low Place…….that really is its name!

As we took a side road off the main track, we came to the island’s new cemetery. The old one, that housed the original families that settled the island, was washed away in a hurricane and a memorial, with the names of the lost graves, has been erected. It makes interesting reading as there are only three or four surnames, but there are no two Christian names that are the same!

The new cemetery that replaced the original that was washed away in a hurricane..

The new cemetery that replaced the original that was washed away in a hurricane.

The names of the people who inhabited the original graveyard, before the hurricane.

The names of the people who inhabited the original graveyard, before the hurricane.

Continuing our tour to the posh end of the island, it was time to cool off and give the driver a rest!!

Up the posh end of the island at Manderlay.

Up the posh end of the island at Manderlay.

Island Kea at anchor.

From the private dock we found we could see Island Kea at anchor.

The golf cart in off road mode!

The golf cart in off road mode!

The following morning we returned the golf cart and decided to stay the night, before heading for the shelter of Marsh Harbour again, as strong winds and thunderstorms were forecast!

The signposting is DIY, but works just fine!

The signposting is DIY, but works just fine!

The winds arrived in Marsh Harbour and left again. We were snugly tucked up in almost the same spot we had left three days before!

Monday, being my birthday, we decided to treat ourselves to a ferry ride over to Hope Town on Elbow Cay. It was a beautiful, calm sunny day and I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I spent my 65th birthday.

The ferry dropped us on the lighthouse side of the harbour and we were soon making our way up to the top. It is the only remaining kerosene lamp, with a counterweight mechanism to turn the light, left  in the world! ( I don’t know if that is a bit like the ‘World’ series in baseball, that only has American teams!?) Anyway, there are two lighthouse keepers who have to crank the mechanism every two hours and pump the pressure chambers throughout the night!! ….worse than being on watch!

Elbow Reef lighthouse.

Elbow Reef lighthouse.

A wannabe lighthouse keeper!

A wannabe lighthouse keeper with the kerosene pressure pump.

The counterweight mechanism was built in Birmingham!

The counterweight mechanism was built in Birmingham!

Once at the top, there was a small door leading on to the balcony. A bit of a squeeze for some!

Ornate? Or a warning to hold on tight?

The door handle. Ornate? Or a warning to hold on tight?

I didn't realise I was wearing lighthouse camouflage!!

I didn’t realise I was wearing lighthouse camouflage!!

Recovering from the climb!

Recovering from the climb!

Lighthouse completed we headed off for a look a t Hope Town……..

Birthday girl appearing again!

Birthday girl appearing again!

The Main Street called The Queen's Highway!

The Main Street called The Queen’s Highway!

It's a bit like Cornwall, but no granite, only wood.

It’s a bit like Cornwall, but no granite, only wood.

Hope Town is so small you can get a glimpse of the lighthouse from most corners.

Hope Town is so small you can get a glimpse of the lighthouse from most corners.

Having walked the entire town, we returned to the harbour an Cap’n Jack’s for a birthday lunch, overlooking the water.

Lunch at Cap'n Jack's.......and yes! That is the lighthouse behind us!

Lunch at Cap’n Jack’s…….and yes! That is the lighthouse behind us!

A perfect end to a perfect birthday!

A perfect end to a perfect birthday!

Joining in with the sunset chorus of conch blowers.

Joining in with the sunset chorus of conch blowers.

We are now on our way to the US and hope to arrive in St Augustine on Thursday morning!

Having made our way to Cape Canaveral we moored up against a concrete dock for two nights, until a sheriff in a launch asked us to move. Apparently the marina had complained about us being there. Probably annoyed that a boat our size wasn’t paying into their coffers!

Looking at the weather radar we saw there was a big storm heading towards Cape Canaveral and didn’t fancy taking the brunt of it, so we decided to leave and head out to sea and south to avoid it. Once on our way we heard that the bridge to the canal in Cape Canaveral was shut until the evening because of the threat of lightening. The radar showed lighter weather to the south and we could see the main cells trooping up the coast. Unfortunately we failed to outrun the whole storm and were caught in strong winds, driving rain, lightening and hail! It was bad enough for us to donn our lifejackets and reduce sail to a minimum. After two hours huddled together in the cockpit,weathering the storm, we sailed out of the last of it and headed for West Palm Beach and the peace and quiet of Lake Worth.

Whilst there we called our Island Bum friends, Nic and Tyler and they came out to us in their friends’ boat and brought their ‘Nic’ friends who were visiting with them.

Nic, Nikki and Nick with Tyler, Marcus and me!

Nic, Nikki and Nick with Tyler, Marcus and me!

We went with them in the evening to visit Mindy and Andrew who have a fantastic house on the water. By the time we left, there was a definite chill in the air…..

On our way back home.

Huddled together under cover on our way back home.

Our stay in Lake Worth was short, as we had to take the only likely weather window within view to cross to the Bahamas. The Gulf Stream is the governing factor. It flows northwards at around 4-5knots. If there is any ‘north’ in the wind, then there is a wind over tide effect that can make for an uncomfortable and even dangerous crossing!

Needless to say, leaving didn’t go quite to plan! First we tried to mend the staysail furler that has unaccountably decided to jam. With no luck on that front we trussed the sail up, just incase it changed its mind, and will just have to manage with only the Genoa until we can consult a rigger!

While we were busy with the staysail we heard on the ‘bridge traffic’ radio that Beyzano, with our Trinnie friends, Rob and Rhian aboard, was making her way up the ICW to Lake Worth. We hadn’t seen them for two and a half years, so we delayed our trip across to the fuel dock until they arrived.
We had no sooner pulled up our anchor and said our farewells when the engine spluttered, coughed and stopped…..a quick redeployment of the anchor may have puzzled Rob and Rhian, but they were too polite to question it! We knew that we had run the starboard tank nearly dry, but didn’t realise it was down to fumes only! A quick ‘up floorboards’ to get to the fuel taps and we soon had the full port tank feeding the starving engine.

At the fuel dock it took us an hour to fill the empty starboard tank…….not due to quantity, but due to their modern ‘high speed’ pump causing air locks and back wash if we tipped more than a tea cup’s worth at a time down the old girl’s throat.
Duly filled we were off…….well almost……we decided to make a pass by Beyzona, but approaching from a different angle we somehow managed a brief, but effective grounding! They say mishaps come in threes, so we were feeling confident as we set off to cross the Gulf Stream that we had had our quota.

We arrived in Bahamian waters with no more events and spent a restful night at anchor, sheltered from strong overnight winds by an uninhabited island. We got up early to move 5 miles south to check in at Green Turtle Cay. The holding here was in patchy weed and it took us five attempts to set the anchor!

During the course of the third anchor lift, the throttle cable broke, so once again a quick redeployment of the anchor to slow down our drift and another ‘up floor boards’ so that we could assess the problem. It seems that the cable that comes down from the cockpit and turns at a right angle above our bed on its way to the engine has rusted through, so within an hour and in the best Heath Robinson tradition, we jury rigged a line that attaches to the throttle on the engine, runs to a block under the board below the companionway steps, comes up through a purpose drilled holed in said board, up to a block on the coach roof, across to a block attached to the bimini upright and then over to a jamming cleat at the helm!!

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

……..It actually works better than the cable, so we don’t have to panic and get spares sent out here…….a very costly proposition! We’re hoping it will do the job until we’re back in the US…….fingers crossed!!

Having completed our running repairs and satisfied ourselves that the anchor was well dug in, Marcus went ashore to check into the Bahamas in the customs office, which appeared to be an extension of the public toilets! We got some local advice about going out through the cut at Whale Cay passage and headed for Marsh Harbour to meet up with Mel and James on Blew Beyond and to transfer all their provisions weighing down our forepeak.

We dropped our anchor near BB and, after a couple of groundings, found a deep enough hole to suit our draft!

View of the dinghy dock from our anchorage.

View of the dinghy dock from our anchorage.

It was great to see Mel and James again. They left us in January and have been down to Cuba and back up through The Exumas and Eluthera……..places we will hopefully visit on our way south at the end of the hurricane season in November/December this year…………..we’ve been intending to get down to Cuba for the last two seasons, but things never seem to go to plan!!

The only negative experience we had in Marsh Harbour was having both our bike sadles and both front wheels stolen from our bikes! At first we thought they had stolen both ours and Mel and James’ bikes, but I suddenly spotted them lying on the ground over the wall we had been sitting on for the past half hour! They were still padlocked together, but the wire fence had been cut. The three lads caught on video must have had a real struggle lifting them over the wall!! We reported the theft to the police, but the wheels and seats have clearly gone into hiding!

We had a very sociable time in Marsh Harbour. Mel and James’ friends, Susan and Robin, arrived the same time as us and were staying in a villa right on the water a twenty minute walk from the dinghy dock. We ate together with them and their three girls most evenings……at restaurants, on BB, at the villa and on IK. During the days we did our own thing……for us it was shopping, boat maintenance and a bit of sightseeing by dinghy and socialising with other boats at anchor!

We met up with old friends; Wolfgang and Birta on TANAMERA and David and Suzanne on SUZIE TOO. Wolfgang  was a great help putting heads together with Marcus over our jammed furler. David and Suzanne came aboard for a quick visit and reawakened our interest in joining their OCC rally from Curaçao to Belize in 2018.

We made new friends with John and Georgina on SHAMAL. It turns out that they too knew SUZIE TOO and had taken part in the last Belize rally. We joined them on a wet and windy afternoon for Mexican Train dominos and they kindly gave us cruising guides for Colombia and Belize.

On the maintenance front, we wrestled the staysail off in light winds and Marcus managed to wiggle the foil up high enough to free the jammed mechanism……..it seems a screw that holds it up had come loose!

One of the dinghy docks.

One of the dinghy docks.

Worth the walk!

Worth the walk!

It would have been great to have had the bikes:(

Every other morning Mel, James and I went for a 30min run along the waterfront. We left together and came back together, but my little legs couldn’t keep up with their pace in the middle!! It was great to have that extra incentive to get out there and do it!

Last week saw the arrival of Hywell, Julian and Ken; friends of Mel and James who are crew for the Bermuda leg of their homeward journey. It was a quick turn around for them, but we managed a trip around to Mermaid Reef with them for some snorkelling.

A shoal of fish swam past me and one actually nibbled my calf!

A shoal of fish swam past me and one actually nibbled my calf!

There were some big ones!

There were some big ones!

Someone had to stand guard with the dinghies!!

Someone had to stand guard with the dinghies!!

We all went to Colors for a last supper and waved them off on Saturday morning.

Our last supper together.

Our last supper together.

The night before we left Marsh Harbour, we were awoken at 3 a.m. by the sound of fog horns. At first I thought it was part of my dream of a liner leaving dock to the merry blasts from a small boat flotilla. When Marcus leapt out of bed I recognised it for what it really was………in the strong winds a 60foot catamaran, JADE,was dragging through the anchorage and boaters were sounding a warning and trying to waken the crew. We quickly leapt into the dinghy and ‘Haywards’ International Rescue’ was once again in action! By the time we got to the Cat, it became clear that there was no one onboard and there were three other dinghies nudging it away from boats in its path. A young couple in a small dinghy arrived back with the spare anchor off their 26′ sailboat, TURTLE. No one thought it could possibly hold a boat nearly three times their size……but it did!!

Once tethered the rescuers could work on breaking the lock on the anchor locker and getting her own anchor deployed. Once happy that she wasn’t going to drift any further, we shadowed the little dinghy back safely to TURTLE. On our way back to IK we called by to see Paul on BELLA LUNA, another of the early rescuers, who had actually climbed aboard and attempted to steer JADE between the unsuspecting anchorage.

Another job well done! ……….If we were Sea Tow we would be claiming a six figure salvage fee!!