May 2012 -Bahamas to Florida

1 May 2012   Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas 
It was blue skies when we woke up.  It’s still a bit windy, but it’s nice to have the warm sunshine again.  The weather forecast looks good for the next week, so we’re going to start moving again – April has now disappeared and we need to get moving.

I spent some time wiring up a new power circuit for the computer that will tidy up the chart table and allow me to switch off the various power supplies with a single switch.  After that, we went into Georgetown, did the laundry, had lunch and went to the supermarket to do a final fresh food shop.

In the afternoon, Glenys dragged me out to go walking on Stocking Island which was rather nice.  Cruisers have cut out a network of paths through the bushes, which led us across several white sand beaches and up to a monument on a small hill.  When we arrived back at the dinghy, we went for a snorkel in an underwater cave in one of the lagoons.  There were lots of fish in the cave including large Dog Snappers and Atlantic Spadefish – I which that I’d had my camera with me.

We stopped off at “Passage Maker” for a quick chat with Jim and Patricia – they forced us to have a cold beer and the day degenerated from there.

2 May 2012   Georgetown to Black Cay, Bahamas 
We tidied up, upped anchor at half past nine and motored out of Georgetown – we were pleased to be on the move again.  The route out of Conch Cay Cut involved negotiating various shallows and reefs, but it wasn’t too bad.  Once out of the cut, the seas were very steep and we had to bash our way to windward before the depth increased and we were able to turn north west and ease the sheets.

It was a pleasant broad reach along the outside of the reef.  I put out two fishing lines, but no luck today.  We arrived at Glass Cay Cut after a couple of hours and went through without any problems, but we still find it nerve wracking to go through the small passages between reefs in the big waves.

We anchored off Black Cay in 2.5 metres of water.  It was reasonably calm at first, but as the tide started to rise, a swell hooked around the corner and we started to roll. By sunset, we were rolling unpleasantly.  Will we ever be able to find a nice, settled anchorage in the Bahamas? 

Alba in Emerald Bay Marina, Bahamas

We attempted to go snorkelling, but the waves were crashing at either side of the island, so we gave up, went to the small beach and back to the boat.  I’m really starting to wonder what everyone loves about the Exumas.  The sea is pretty with lovely colours and there’s white sand beaches, but there’s got to be more to life than that – isn't there?

To cheer me up, Glenys made Portuguese Frango for dinner, which we had with a nice bottle of red wine.

3 May 2012   Black Cay to Emerald Bay Marina, Bahamas 
We had sad news this morning.  Glenys received a text from her brother Gareth saying that her mother, Ceris passed away overnight.  Glenys rang Gareth, who told her that Ceris died peacefully in her sleep.  We decided that we should fly home to the UK as soon as possible so that Glenys can help Gareth with the funeral arrangements.

We motored six miles to Emerald Bay Marina, which has a very scary entrance, but appears to be a very secure marina.  There are only a few boats in here, which is surprising because it only costs $1US per foot for a berth. 

We booked airline tickets and car hire to fly back to the UK tomorrow, then spent the rest of the day packing and doing a few jobs to prepare the boat to be locked up for a couple of weeks.  I “pickled” the watermaker membranes with a biocide which prevents bacteria growing when it isn’t being used, flushed the toilets thoroughly and closed the sea cocks.

We had a quiet, reflective meal in the evening.

4 – 20 May 2012 Bahamas to UK to Bahamas
The flight back to the UK was relatively painless.  The flight from Georgetown to Miami was the most spectacular view that I've ever had from an aircraft.  The shallow, light blue waters of the Bahaman Banks are stunning - dotted with islands and coral reefs.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me.  

Sorting through storage boxes

We arrived back in the UK in the early morning and were greeted by a cold, overcast day forcing me to quickly don my woolly hat and gloves.  After picking up a hire car, we drove to our son Brett’s house where our other son Craig and his girlfriend Kristen soon joined us.  It was great to see them again.  Glenys and I insisted that we have an Indian curry (which is difficult to find in the Caribbean) and we sat up drinking red wine and chatting until two in the morning.

The next day, we pulled down our storage boxes from Brett’s loft and rummaged through them, picking out my suit and some smart clothes that Glenys had stored away for weddings and funerals.  We spent the rest of the day with Brett and Craig, going to the cinema and chatting.

We dropped Craig off in Reading and continued onto Gareth’s house in Lymington, where we stayed for a few days.  Glenys ran around with Gareth sorting out arrangements for their mother Ceris’s funeral - visiting the funeral director, church, organising flowers, catering, etc.  She also started the sad process of sorting through her mother’s possessions.

I kept out of the way and upgraded my website.  It didn’t go smoothly and, while sorting it out, I noticed that there were a lot of strange webpages hidden on my website server, which redirected to pornography sites.  Further investigation revealed that my website has been hacked into in March.  It was a pretty benign attack and I think that the purpose was to trick search engines into increasing the ratings for various pornography web sites.  However, it took me a couple of days to investigate and then clean up my web server – very irritating.

One of the things that worried me about the hacking of my web site was that they had somehow obtained my administrator user name and password.  I think that this was by using a security flaw in Joomla, which I’ve now fixed, but it got me thinking about the strength of my passwords.  I tend to use a set of usernames and passwords that I can easily remember which are based on a combination of nouns and numbers. These are used on all my internet accounts including banks, pensions, investments, etc – this is not good.  I investigated how to make it all more secure and I’m now using a Password Manager that creates very strong random passwords for each of my Internet accounts.  The password manager is encrypted and I’ve also encrypted all of the personal data that I hold on my laptop.   Hopefully this will stop anyone getting access to my accounts - I’ll sleep better now. 

Glenys in the Garden of Remembrance

At the end of the first week, we went up to Accrington to visit my mother and brothers.  We had a great time catching up on the past year. I insisted on having “steak pudding, chips and peas with gravy” from the local chippy – not very healthy but very, very tasty and impossible to get anywhere other than the North West of England.

On the way back down to Lymington, we stopped off at Bebbington in the Wirral where Glenys spent her childhood. We visited the cemetery and the Garden of Remembrance where Glenys’s father’s ashes were scattered.  Frank died twenty five years ago and Ceris’s ashes will be scattered in the same place.

Ceris's funeral was on Thursday 17 May at a charming 11th Century church in the village of Pilley.  It was a lovely, if sad service attended by all of Glenys’s eight cousins and her four aunts and uncles.  We had a reception back at Gareth’s house with over forty people attending – it was very nice to catch up with Glenys’s relatives, many of whom we hadn’t seen for a number of years.

We stayed at Brett’s house for a couple of days, packed our funeral/wedding clothes back into our storage boxes and got ready to go back to the Bahamas.