Barb and I, on the good ship PTOLEMY, departed Fort Lauderdale in the early morning, January 31st, heading for the Bahamas 55 nautical mile west across the often ‘challenging’ Gulf Stream. This should have been a gentle calm crossing according to our weather guru Chris Parker. Sadly, it wasn’t and he later apologized, first time he got it THAT wrong in the ten years that we have been using him.
Never mind that, we clear in formalities completed in North Bimini, then another 110nm run to the Berry Islands and to anchor off in Little Whale Cay. It was a long day, but we easily recovered, thanks to our lovely friends Peter and Erica on their beautiful island, Whale Cay. On day two Peter and Erica gave us an excellent tour of the Cay, then joined us on board Ptolemy for dinner whilst at anchor in the cut between Whale and Little Whale Cays.
First light, next morning and we were off again, another 110 nms south to Great Farmers Cay in the Exuma Islands, just in time for the Farmers Cay Sailing Regatta; sail boats racing each other and the resemblance with UK’s posh Cowes Week Regatta probably ends as seen from these images. It was great entertainment and excellent fun with the local crews all out to win, often with the pride of their particular island at stake. Usual ‘bun fight’ in the beach bar too.
Went out for a little fishing trip into the depths of Exuma sound with friends on Ptolemy. Smoke began belching out of the Stbd engine room which gave a clue that we might have an issue! The starter motor solenoid was the source of the smoke. We stopped the engine and it abated. Seems that the solenoid had not disengaged the starter after start up. We then limped back to Staniel Cay and the excellent people at Cummins Fort Lauderdale, plus The Horizon Power Catamaran Company had a replacement shipped via Watermakers Air in a few days, bless them!
The cruising fraternity is littered with wonderful people with different skills who are all willing to help a cruiser ‘in need.’ Need brain surgery? Get on the VHF and there will be somebody on the aft deck of your boat drilling a hole in your head in short order. Didn’t need a brain surgeon but I am most grateful to Bruce, a highly skilled engineer from MV ‘Fast Betty’ who had the old unit off and the replacement fitted in no time. Thank you Bruce!
Now back on two engines and time for a run to George Town some 60 miles south. An after dark arrival into Elizabeth Harbour made for an interesting end to the trip. We were spotted and ended up ashore with wonderful friends for dinner at their lovely house, ‘Top of The World’ on Elizabeth Island.
Paul and Melanie have an excellent day trip fun.. could be an alternative to the Ptolemy tender!
Well known ‘watering hole’ on Stocking Islands, George Town, ‘Chat and Chill’, no better way to ‘refresh’ and get on the out side of a portion of their excellent Ribs.
Last Sunday in the company of Libby and Frank, on their Horizon Powercat ‘Jabulani’, we headed off across ‘the deeps’ around 50nms to The Bight at Cat Island for a couple days of fishing Cat Islands famous spots, Tartar Bank, an atoll reaching up to 12ft of the surface from 2,000ft deep, the plan is to circle round keeping to the ‘drop off’ depths where the big fish lurk. Well, they weren’t lurking for us, several circles round and nothing. Well almost nothing, this excellent Mahi Mahi was added to the dinner menu.
Next day we tried Columbus Point, where shallows stretch out into the ocean and where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea and again, generally excellent fishing. We did not do that well there either, but did have plenty of excitement. I hooked what was probably a Tuna and was reeling it in when the water went crazy, a large shark was busy stealing my catch! Line goes slack, end of story I thought, but suddenly it is really heavy again and almost impossible to reel in. A combination of backing the boat up and taking slack and we were able to get a massive Atlantic White Tip Shark to the back of the boat. In his excitement to grab my Tuna, he had entangled in my line. So now we have him at the swim platform of the boat and ever the optimist Frank Simon is attempting to grab him with the gaff. Fortunately the line untangled and the shark was off, depriving us of the vision of Frank hooked onto him with the gaff and disappearing over the horizon! The Atlantic White Tip is apparently more aggressive than the Great White.
Since those wonderful high sea adventures, we have had lovely guests on board. It has been a tradition that guests make an entry into the ship’s guest book at the end of their time on board. Bored with the usual comments, First Mate and I now encourage guests to comment with a limerick which has caused much amusement, an example from the last four:
There was a nice Skipper on Ptolemy,
Who liked to fish right out to sea,
He caught not a Spratt,
And felt a right Pratt,
But that’s how it goes you see!!
Not entirely true of course… Barbara landed a nice one and there is always Lobster…
First Mate’s response was:
We had four lovely guests,
Who came aboard for a rest,
But try as they might – and they put up a fight,
They had to “muck out” with the best.
Well OK., they can improve!
Those lovely guests left for the night flight back to the UK after a great cruise ending at Palm Cay Marina, New Providence Island. Four days intensive restocking liquid refreshment, re-fueling, provisioning and getting the Skipper’s wonky knee XRay’ed and in no time four more guests have arrived…… see next edition of the ‘Ptolemy Times.’
Alec and Barbara
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