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The Voyage of Spectacle Rum

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Rum’ Category

Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco, Bahamas

Posted by: andy

I’m sitting, with girly rum drink in hand (yes, it has an umbrella), at the highly recommended Curly Tails restaurant and bar here at the Conch Inn Marina, which will be Spectacle’s home until we leave on the great adventure on (or about) December 12.  First stop … St. Thomas.

Carey Meredith (from my mother’s clinic) joined Tom and me for the trip over here from Ft. Lauderdale (remember, Melissa is at Bikram yoga teacher training back in L.A.).  We had only the loosest of schedules, intending ultimately to end up in Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama.  As you might surmise, we ended up elsewhere.

Because of the long-held superstition that a voyage begun on a Friday is sure to be an unfortunate one, we planned for a 12:01 a.m. Saturday departure from Ft. Lauderdale.  Indeed, we moved the boat down the New River from our dock just before dark and parked at the Lauderdale Marina fuel dock around 7:00 p.m. before having an extended dinner at the decidedly so-so 15th Street Fisheries restaurant as we awaited the stroke of midnight.

Felicitously, our friend John Lewis Borovicka III (father of my close friend JLB IV) happened to be arriving in South Florida that evening for a business conference.  Of course, his flight was delayed, but John’s a trooper, and at 12:20 a.m. he arrived at Lauderdale Marina.

After a somewhat speedy tour of the boat, it was time to re-christen Spectacle.  Earlier in the week, the new vinyl names were put on the boat (out with Declaire, in with Spectacle), and it seemed totally inappropriate to merely sail off without some sort of ceremony.

Declaire’s fine service to the Gibsons was duly acknowledged.  There were plenty of alcoholic offerings to Neptune, the breaking of a Champagne bottle over the bow and toasts aplenty.  Even Sherman the Merman got involved.

To be honest, we thought that John’s late arrival might keep us from making a daylight arrival at Port Lucaya, so we were a little bit antsy to get off the dock.  We ended up hurriedly departing at 12:56 a.m. so we could make the 1:00 opening of the 17th St. Causeway bridge.  Spectacle was leaving the United States for … well, quite some time.  It was sort of emotional.

The allegedly ferocious Gulf Stream was a kitten.  The swell never got above 2 feet.  Turns out that we should have stayed and chatted longer with John — we ended up arriving at the channel entrance in Port Lucaya at 2:10 p.m. Saturday – precisely low tide.  The controlling depth (i.e. low tide depth) for the channel is 6 feet.  Our boat draws exactly 6 feet (or maybe 6-1 or 6-2, depending how full it is).  Needless to say, this is way too close to call, so we had to wait for the tide to start coming up.  We puttered around in circles and, at about 3:50 EDT, we started down the channel (at a very cautious 1.5 knots), expecting it to be 7-8 feet.  It was more like 10-11.  Apparently, we could have come in earlier and watched the UCLA / Notre Dame game, or at least the second half.  Long story short, I ended up just seeing enough to be tantalized and, then, ultimately disappointed.  Have I mentioned that if Notre Dame were playing al Qaeda, I might actually be “with the terrorists?”   When was the last time I was actually disappointed in a Bruins loss?

To say that Bahamian customs practices are a joke is almost an understatement.  We came down the channel — called the marina, called customs, docked the boat.  I spent 30 minutes trying to find the marina office (which includes the customs office) and is nowhere near where we docked the boat.  Eventually I found it, but next door to the marina office was the sports bar.  I ducked my head in — 14-13 UCLA with 9 minutes left.  I’m thrilled.

I made my first stop at immigration/customs.  It’s clear I needed to walk back to the boat to get some things (boat papers, home addresses from crew).  Yadda, yadda, yadda, I ended up walking into the aforementioned sports bar (with my papers) just as Jeff Smzqvcxrtmwdzija is celebrating in the end zone.  To be honest, I was crushed.  I have never before rooted for UCLA with all my heart and soul.

Oh, yeah, I stopped for a shower and change of clothes (in between visits to customs) along the way.  I also could have offloaded 1/2 ton of coke if that’s what I had been carrying.  Tom and Carey’s passports made it to the Customs office, but Tom and Carey never did.  Did customs ever come down to visit the boat?  Of course not.  It’s definitely not the US/Mexico border.

We set out from Port Lucaya at around 12:00 noon on Sunday, thinking we’d be going to “visit” Great Abaco, motoring once again into a direct headwind (the prevailing easterlies that Ted, Tom and me should have had when we sailed down to Key West).  We turned the corner at the southern tip of Great Abaco around 6:00 a.m.  I expected to be able to finally put the sails up (after nearly 36 hours underway since Lauderdale) as we worked our way northward up the east coast of the island.  Nope.  As if on cue, the wind backed around to — you guessed it — the north.  The sails did not go up at all.

After once again being forced to kill a little time waiting for the tides, we made it into Marsh Harbour around 4:00 p.m.  The channel here is about 5 feet deep at low tide and 9 feet at high tide.  To remind you, the boat draws 6 feet, so this is, er, “less than ideal.”  Indeed, we had a very low speed (1 mph) and soft grounding on the way in.  Apparently, this channel is as advertised.  This was far less dramatic than it sounds and lasted all of 20 seconds.  But, technically, we went aground.

Later that afternoon, we got word that a cold front was moving in from the north.  As a practical matter, this meant very high winds (around 30 knots) out of the north.  We woke up Tuesday morning intending to sail, but there is absolutely no way we could go out in those conditions.  I have no problem sailing this boat in 12 foot waves (which is what they were) and 30 knots of wind out in the open ocean.  What I have a problem with is doing that in 7 feet of water with obstacles everywhere.  Something tells me the troughs of those waves are a lot less than 9 feet off the bottom, even at high tide.  Best not to find out.  And, oh yeah, we don’t have an autopilot right now. It’s just not working at all.  Fortunately, the engine (which had been giving us trouble) seems to be 100% ok for now.

So, rather than sail around Abaco and back to Port Lucaya, we’ve decided to park Spectacle here until we leave.  We’ve had to rearrange some flights, pay some money, etc., but there really was no good reason to head back there.  Marsh Harbour is actually on the way to St. Thomas (Melissa’s and my first destination).  And double-handing the boat the wrong direction overnight in nasty conditions doesn’t sound like much of a party, especially without an autopilot.  The only downside is that Marsh Harbour doesn’t quite have the hurricane protection that Lucaya does.  I guess we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed that this already light hurricane season has begun to calm down for good.

Great Guana Cay

Posted by: andy

On Sunday, December 17, the three of us ventured out to Great Guana Cay for a visit to the infamous Nippers and its weekly Sunday pig roast. 

The Rainbow Bulldozer Marks the Path to NippersAs beach bars go, it’s pretty tough to top Nippers, and getting there is half the fun.  After the ferry (about 30 minutes), one follows the signs on a Candyland-like adventure — turn left at the fence, right at the graveyard (complete with picture of the grim reaper on the gate), left at the rainbow-colored bulldozer, steer clear of the poisonwood tree, up and over the hill and you are there (we managed to avoid Molasses Swamp).Nippers Beach Bar at Great Guana 

Nippers itself is a multicolored, multi-tiered, cacophony of wood planking and American tourist jackassery.  It appeared to be South Carolina day at Nippers, as evidenced by the number of sun-burned necks protruding from Clemson and University of South Carolina tanktops. 

The pig roast was pretty good (alas, the pork was already carved and in trays, so there were no porcine rotisserie displays), the “Nipper” (a frozen rum punch concoction) proved excellent, the weather was perfect, and a good time was had by all.  We took a long walk along the beautiful beach, returned for a final round, and got ready to head home.

Just as we were closing out, Erik attracted … well, let’s just call it what was … a gay stalker.  This guy tried everything – herd separation tactics, inviting the three of us to dinner, etc.  He even invited us to stay at his apartment.  This dude was PERSISTENT.  He was accompanied by one of his co-workers (reasonably intoxicated, not particularly annoying) and a fall-down, Stacey Toran-drunk Australian (there’s always at least one wherever you go) who was some sort of boat captain/crewman.

The six of us sauntered back to the ferry dock (past the graveyard, the rainbow bulldozer…) to await the last ferry of the day.  Shortly thereafter, a very distraught woman holding a very small plastic bag arrived at the dock.  As we came to learn, she was holding her friend’s fingers.  We were told that the friend was building her own house on Great Guana and was the victim of a table-saw accident. Apparently, the owner of the fingers had already been transported to Marsh Harbour, en route to Nassau, inexplicably sans digits. 

Fall-down drunk Australian sprang into action.  Apparently, he’d come over to Great Guana in some sort of small powerboat that was affiliated with the bigger boat of which he was captain/crewman.  He dashed (ok, staggered) off to retrieve his powerboat so that the fingers could be sped to Marsh Harbour. Gay Stalker, apparently in a hurry to get home, suggested that we all hop on the boat.  Needless to say, we declined – we’re not getting on a speedboat, at night, in a very tricky harbor, with a fall-down drunk Aussie driver and the gay stalker co-pilot.  Equally needless to say, the gay stalker then changed his mind and decided to wait with us, and off roared the speedboat at triple the recommended speed. Yikes.  All I could think is that it takes a true friend to hop on drunken Aussie’s speedboat to make a nighttime delivery of your severed fingers.  More Pictures 

Thoughts on Tortola

Posted by: andy

To be honest, Tortola has been a somewhat weird stop for us.  I think that yesterday I figured out why this is.

It’s hard to think of a place where sailing is more of an “end” than it is here.  Scads of people fly in here, charter a sailboat, go sailing around the Virgin Islands, return the boat and fly The View at Nanny Cay Marina home.  The trip is about the sailing — and the sailing IS indeed great.  Throw in a few rum punches at Foxy’s and Soggy Dollar Bar, and that makes for a pretty nice getaway — I get it.

But, for us, our trip isn’t about the sailing – and it isn’t for a week or two.  Sailing is, for us, a “means” to see the world.  This is a trip around the world that happens to be on a sailboat.

And, speaking of sailing, not much of that is happening for us right now.  You may recall that our original plan was to sail the boat from the Bahamas straight to the Virgin Islands to have some repairs done.  After the Twin Fiascoes and the trip to Puerto Plata, we have even more repairs to add to the list.  Here’s a PARTIAL list:

  • Replace entire battery bank (5 new Lifeline 8D AGM batteries).  Four of the 5 current batteries areNot Only Are the Batteries $675 Each, They Are Also 180 Pounds Each!  Here's Part of the Team Using the Mainsail Halyard to Hoist One Battery onto the Boat!  It Was Quite an Operation! shot.  No sense in replacing   just four.  Good news … they’re only $675 each (not counting labor).  Ouch!
  • A new forward hatch, replacing the old hatch which (inexplicably) had a little solar fan on it, which  ensured that the whole forward cabin would be under 4-5 inches of water if you were sailing upwind.  This is a straight-up design defect – you aren’t doing much upwind sailing with that thing on there.
  • A new companionway slide (which I accidentally broke on the way to the D.R.).
  • Repairs to the companionway screen (another “oops” moment).
  • Reattachment of the autopilot rudder return indicator mount, which spontaneously disintegrated just as we were landing the boat here in Tortola.
  • Repairs and steel reinforcement of both salon tables (these were ridiculously flimsy and had obviously been broken multiple times before).
  • Freezer repair (this has never really worked very well).
  • Fridge repair (ditto).
  • Fix both air conditioners (the forward one needed a new pump, the aft one only minor repairs).
  • A comprehensive rust removal/polishing of all the stainless steel on the boat.
  • Sanding and oiling of the toe-rail (we’re removing the varnish and returning the teak to a natural finish)Quantum Sail Loft Taking Away the Mainsail for Repair -- Unbelievable That the Sail from a 64-Foot Mast Folds Up That Small!.
  • Yet another diagnosis/repair of the generator (we  have some sort of oil pressure problem).
  • Repairs and batten replacement on the mainsail  (thanks to my stupid Christmas Day furling maneuver).
  • About a dozen more “do it yourself” jobs, including sourcing and installing a new, proper-sized fuel-filter head to swap for our emergency, over-sized replacement from the D.R.

Obviously, this is going to be shockingly expensive (probably five figures).  But almost all of it simply HAS to be done.

Given the extent of the repairs, we have workmen coming to and from the boat basically every day.  This means that, by and large, we are stranded in the marina.  Even today (Sunday), we have a guy here working on the boat.  Aside from boat repairs, there are basically two things to do here: sail and drink.  We can’t really sail.  Fortunately, we’ve made some good friends here.  More on that in the next post.

Introduction to the Spectacle Guide to Dining Around the World

Posted by: andy

I’ve had at least 10 people ask me if I plan on reviewing restaurants during our trip. 

Of course I am. 

You will notice a new link under “Basics” called “The Spectacle Guide to Dining Around the World” which will contain our continually updated restaurant ratings as well as detailed rating criteria. 


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