First Post-Vaccinated Vacation to Bahamas on Tahina

Flying into BahamasAs mentioned in an earlier post, we sold Tahina to our friends last summer. They spent some time in the Bahamas this year. We offered to bring back the boat from the Bahamas if we could use the boat a bit. Yes, a real vacation for the first time since February 2020!

Karen and I flew in and got to spend a couple of days with Jason and Lara. We are thrilled they are the new owners. They did a great job, as usual, having the boat cleaned up top to bottom. And they made sure to show us some of their very nice updates to the boat, and where stuff had been moved around from what we were used to doing. It was great to be back on the boat in the beautiful Bahamas! 16 months of Coronavirus seclusion started melting away!

Honeymoon BeachTwo days, and Lara and Jason had to return home to tend to business back in the US. We reluctantly saw them off, but it felt somehow normal with the two of us back on the boat where we spent so many years living. The very nice spring weather in the Bahamas back on ocean waters and living outdoors again! The first time swimming in the ocean again was pure bliss. We headed to a secluded anchorage and visited a beautiful sandy beach.

Kids on Monument HillJust a few days later, we were especially glad that our two daughters, and their respective partners, were able to join us for part of our visit. And, we all had a great time! The kids were able to get a taste of Great Exuma flying in/out of George Town and spending a combined 8 days with us on Tahina. We moved the boat to several anchorages, went to beaches, beach bars, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, etc. Of course, some time was spent just lounging (and drinking) around Tahina’s decks as well. We also took the boat out to the deeper waters and did some sailing and fishing. It was wonderful to have family together in such an exotic place after months holed up in our houses avoiding other people. And they all said it was a great vacation after so long without a true break from the crazy 2020 times.

Bahamas BoaKaren and I spent a couple more days preparing to leave the Exumas for our next Bahamian destination. The morning before our departure, I went to check equipment on the port aft compartment (near the bow of the dinghy). As I was coming back up I noticed something on the deck under the bow of the stored dinghy. It was a snake about 3 feet away! Hello there. Turns out we found out later it was a somewhat rare Bahamas Boa. I tried to encourage it to move off the boat and go back to shore (using a kayak paddle). But, it just kept coming back, so I let it stay on the aft sugar scoop. Later we pulled up anchor to depart and drove Tahina close to shore, I tossed the snake gently behind the boat into the water, and we departed. He was swimming towards shore as we left.

I’ll end this post before describing our passage to the Abacos, our time there, and our trip to bring the boat to the US. Some tales for another day.

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Administrative Post – Changing to new feed for following this blog

Google is once again retiring another product. They bought one of the most popular blogging tools called Feedburner many years ago. They provided free hosting of feeds and even free e-mail notifications, statistics, and more to millions of blog readers around the world for over a decade. But, now they are discontinuing the service for E-mail subscribers.

Thankfully, there are many commercial providers of similar services. I’ve chosen to use one that offers a reliable free service called follow.it which suits the needs for this site. NOTE: you don’t have to change anything if you are one of the few dozen people who receive e-mail notifications of new blog posts. I migrated all activated subscribers. Although, if you do NOT receive an E-mail for this post and you were previously registered for e-mail notifications, I would appreciate you contacting me by leaving a comment here or sending me an E-mail (my e-mail is “frank”).

If you want to add yourself to e-mail notifications, you can just fill out the form in the sidebar. And, if you use RSS feeds to read our blog, you can use the new link: https://TahinaExpedition.com/feed (although the old feedburner one is supposed to continue to work, it is probably not going to be as accurate as the new link).

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Tahina’s Adventure Continues With Friends Now Holding the Helm

This is a post I’ve put off writing for months.

Tahina Under SailWe began our long-term relationship with our beautiful traveling home and sailing vessel Tahina more than 12 years ago. Tahina took us safely around the Earth (and then some), and we completed our main expedition. That expedition really began in November of 2009 when we departed North Carolina, and officially ended in June of 2015 when we ended up back in the US in the exact same slip of the same marina. But, our relationship was wider with the purchase more than a year before the expedition, and five years more after it ended.

After our big expedition was finished, we used Tahina less often than we expected. And, the burden of upkeep on a now mature and well-traveled vessel became increasingly difficult as we re-acquired our land legs, bought a house, and began reconnecting with friends and family we had left behind on our journey. We did one last major refit, including replacing the standing rigging and rewiring the mast and countless other things, in 2017. It was an expensive and very demanding haul-out that lasted more than 3 months.

Fortunately, we have great friends – Jason and Lara – who we first met when we recruited them as crew on Tahina in March 2010 when we began crossing the Pacific with our Panama Canal transit. They spent several months on board and learned as much about her as anyone other than ourselves. We had great times with them the whole journey. We have stayed in touch all these years, and a few years ago we made an arrangement where Jason and Lara helped care for Tahina in return for the ability to use Tahina along the east coast and in the Bahamas. They have shown mighty love and care for her, and have enjoyed their time on one of the finest sailing vessels on the water.

Well, late last summer, we finally made the ultimate arrangement. We agreed to turn over the keys to the helm of Tahina, and a bill of sale to Jason and Lara. It happened 12 years from when we got those same keys. They are the people we trust most to continue her care and we know they will have many wonderful adventures in the future. The best part for us, we have a somewhat similar arrangement to continue experiences on Tahina from time to time as we have shared with them. Here’s a picture of them a short while after we finished the sale:

Jason and Lara with new keys

You often hear the two best days of a boat owner are the day you buy it, and the day you sell. We love Tahina so much, we never expected to be happy to sell her. And, in some ways, it was hard to pass on her ownership. But, Jason and Lara are special people, and we know Tahina is getting the best care from people who we know love her as much as we do. We wish them many, many happy days on her in the future!

Speaking of which, if you’re a fan of Tahina and are interested in chartering her for the 2021/22 season, she will be available for booking through Jason and Lara at https://www.oceanadventurecat.com soon.

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Completed the main goal of repairing broken blog posts

I’ve finally completed all the blog posts on TahinaExpedition.com with broken photo albums (over 305 blog posts were effected on just that problem), plus the broken embedded 360 photos which used recently obsolete technology (at least 70 of those), dozens of broken embedded Google Maps for showing GPS tracks and locations we visited, and thousands of other link issues due to the obsolete non-encrypted URLs using “http” instead of “https”.

Some of you might not realize there were over 1000 blog posts covering our adventure to circumnavigate the Earth by sailboat on our nearly 8 years of effort covered by this blog, nearly 300 photo albums with 3000+ (just the best out of over 70,000) photos, many videos, and many maps using both Google Maps and Google Earth.

It’s all here, and working again, full details including trials, tribulations, love, agony, work, broken boat parts, scary moments, tours, death, lightning strike, food, people from around world, fish, whales, birds, snakes, spiders, dragons, and so much more. It was a labor of love to share our experiences, and took an enormous amount of time during our travels. I had no idea, that years later, I would have to spend weeks of effort to repair things to close to the original published content due to technological obsolescence. I’m afraid it will happen again in the future.

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Fixes to blog posts and a new 360 Panorama from the top of St Helena

Yes, it has been a long time. We know 2020 was a challenging year, especially with the coronavirus. One benefit of being forced to spend a lot of time in seclusion is I have had a chance to update the web site. Primarily to fix problems caused by time, where features of such as photo album display, and basics such as broken links, disappearing maps, 360 photo display tools, etc.

The good news is that I have recently addressed hundreds problems, especially during the period 2010 to 2011 during our Pacific crossing. So, blog posts from the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia are largely revamped. Thousands of changes were made and the result brings the posts closer to when they were originally published.

I also discovered some panoramas never published. The first 360 below is a shot during a guided tour on St. Helena on February 19, 2015. We were near a section of the island called Fairyland, and there is a popular overlook which gives an expansive view of the western island and views of the Atlantic sea on both the south and northwest sides of the island. You can read more about our sightseeing in St. Helena in this post.

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Photo albums are being fixed

This post is a maintenance post about the Tahina Expedition site, not about our travels.

Unfortunately, when Google “retired” their Picasa Web Album photo service a few years ago they did not provide a transition method for the millions of web sites that used their service to present slide shows. For a while, they kept photo albums working, but that too went away. They did host the photos (at no charge with some resolution limitations) on their new Google Photos service. But, shockingly, Google still has not provided a slideshow embed capability on Google Photos so you could easily translate your old blog posts to point to the photos. I thought surely by now they would have done this. This is important here because we devoted most of our technological activities during our trip to using Google’s products (since we had a partnership) and Picasa Web Albums was the most used technology on the site. There are over 300 photo albums to be found here.

So, the photo albums on Tahina Expedition have mostly remained broken for a while now as I waited hopefully for a fix. I did find a method here that lets you get a link to the Google-hosted photos and with a few clicks, and some cutting and pasting on your web site code, enable you to embed a slideshow. It’s a time consuming laborious process. And, the resulting slides do not show the photo titles, or links to the geo-referenced map locations I created for most of the photos on our blog. I’ve slowly been updating the many slideshows on the site to at least be functional as a slide show, and provide a link to the Google Photos hosted slideshows (which DO allow you to see the titles to the pictures I created, and shows the map locations for most of the photos). I’ve been working both from the first posts forward, and the last post backwards. There’s probably nearly 100 done now. I hope to complete the project in the coming weeks. Please feel free to point out in the comments if you like the photos, and if you have a request for a particular post whose slideshow you want to see, contact me or leave a comment on that post and I’ll prioritize it.

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Map Showing Route To Raggeds Last Week

Below is a map showing where we went last week down to the Ragged Isles for some sailing, snorkeling and fishing. Google’s maps show pretty nice views of the islands and waters along the route. You can see where we sailed offshore for several hours to do the fishing. If you zoom way in on the Blue Hole icon you can actually see the blue hole in the satellite imagery. This map only shows where Tahina went, not where we went snorkeling, with the dinghy, or hiking on shore. I added some icons to show the key places.

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Mid-winter Visit to Bahamas with Guests

As planned, we escaped some cold weather in Raleigh, and Karen and I flew down to Tahina early January. We had moved Tahina to the Bahamas for the winter back in November, with the intent to visit a few times if possible. My sister Teresa and her husband Norm live in Pennsylvania, and were even more anxious to escape to warmer climates, so they were joining us for over a week.

We arrived a couple of days early to clean up and do what I thought would be a minor repair on the dinghy motor. Turns out the problem was beyond just the impeller on the motor. Something was blocking water flow inside the engine. I ran wires from both ends, cleaned all the water cooling jets (no blockages found), and even shot air through the system with a scuba tank. All to no avail and many hours wasted. The last thing left is to remove the whole lower head – which involves a gasket for which I didn’t have a spare. So, we decided we would just have to do without the motor. We used the oars and paddled our way to shore when needed.

Meanwhile, Karen and I cleaned and tidied, and then while cleaning the guest toilet, the pump died. Fortunately, I had a spare, but I had a helluva time connecting one of the wires inside the bilge and a lot of cussing ensued before that was done. Also, the fridge didn’t wake up from being turned off while we were gone. Couldn’t get a repair guy out soon enough. So, we opted to use the big freezer as a fridge instead. That worked out fine. We made a run to the groceries and paid hand over fist for foods, but we got a good selection. We also got the linens washed at the local laundry.

Teresa and Norm arrived the next day and the taxi brought them to town and I got a water taxi to take us back to the boat with their luggage. They were thrilled to be in the beautiful sunny skies and 80 F temperature. Spent the rest of the day settling them in, and confirming Karen’s menu selection was happily accepted. We enjoyed relaxing on the boat and planning our travels to the Raggeds. I gave them the news that tides demanded an early departure the next day, and they were too excited to complain.

We left before dawn relying on our lights and radar to avoid the many other sailboats in the harbour. We even sailed for a bit while we headed out of George Town, but the wind angle forced us to motor the rest of the way to our first island. We continued through Hog Cay cut – the shallowest point – just past sunrise and high tide. By mid-morning we arrived to our first stop. The Blue Hole Karen and I had visited last year when we first came here. After anchoring close to the hole, Norm and Teresa got to try out their snorkel gear and were thrilled to see all the many fish and reefs around the hole. Underwater photos will come later.

Watching sunset

Watching sunset

We spent the next several days anchoring off several of the Ragged Isles. We even visited one new island, but it we found we liked Flamingo Cay the best. It has three nice beaches, good protection, and some nice snorkeling too. We also spent a day sailing off shore so we could troll for some game fish. Teresa caught a big barracuda on the way out, and later Norm caught a nice sized Mahi Mahi which we saved for dinner (two nights). We had some fun exploring a couple of islands on shore and Teresa and Norm liked our favorite beach as much as we did. We also had a great encounter with two dolphin who danced off our bows for 30+ minutes. I’ll have photos and a funny video from that experience later. We also saw some nice sunsets and sunrises and enjoyed some nice meals throughout the week. Picture to right of Norm, Teresa and Karen watching a sunset.

We had one windy/cloudy day with a couple of very light rain showers. But, otherwise our weather was remarkably nice. We had a breezy ride back up to George Town and sailed the whole way including through Hog Cay Cut. Sailing was great! We got back two days early so Teresa and Norm could arrange for a bone fishing guide. They invited me to go along and we spent a whole morning learning about bone fishing. We all hooked one – they are big fighters! But, Norm was the only one to bring one all the way in. Norm also got compliments from the guide on his fly-fishing. It was a great experience, and I will have to do that again sometime!

We also went for dinner at St. Francis resort one night and Norm and Teresa got to try some conch (they had already seen live conchs while snorkeling and the empty shells on the beaches). They really liked the conch.

Below is a collection of photos from the visit – mostly from my smartphone (Galaxy S6). It does not yet include photos from our guests’ cameras, and I need to process underwater photos and videos as well. I’ll probably do another post later and/or add to this slideshow.

View full-sized with descriptions

All too soon, Norm and Teresa had to depart. They were nice enough to totally clean up their room and the head before leaving. We organized both a water taxi (Elvis water taxi – yep, he must have retired to the Bahamas!), and a car taxi to the airport for them. Unfortunately, they were greeted with below zero temperatures when they got home. Brrrr!

We had two other pump problems while we were out with our side of the boat. I’ve fixed one already, and will fix the other one when I order a new one and bring it back next time. It was frustrating how many things went wrong this time, but since we haven’t been using the boat regularly things like this happen.

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Happy Holidays 2015

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to all our cruising/sailing friends all over the world! Although we aren’t on our boat this year (Tahina is currently waiting patiently for us in the warm waters of the Bahamas), we are thinking of all the many friends we made in our journey around the world. May you all be blessed with a wonderful holiday season, and have a prosperous and happy new year in 2016!

Karen and I are currently visiting with family in San Francisco, but will be returning to our current land-home in Raleigh, North Carolina before the New Year. We have been slowly adapting to living back on land, but plan to escape for a couple of weeks to Tahina in January. One of my sisters and her husband will be joining us there.

I had meant to post back in November that my nephew Jason and I moved Tahina to the Bahamas (after the end of hurricane season). We had such a delightful time in the Bahamas on our last leg of the trip, that we decided it would be a good place to keep the boat during the winter.

Hope everyone who is still following the blog are doing well and enjoying life!

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Tahina Getting Ready For Warm Winter

It’s been a while since the last update here on the blog. There really hasn’t been much to report on the sailing side since we haven’t been sailing. Our focus has been trying to settle into land-lubbing mode again. The good news is that we have both been eating healthier and have made progress on processing our stored goods we had left behind 6 years ago when we sold our house before the big trip. We still have a lot left, it’s going to take at least a couple more months to get through most of it. Our plans for what we are going to do next are still undecided, but we are making progress on that as well. Nothing to report yet though.

Meanwhile, as mentioned before, we plan to take Tahina to the Bahamas for the winter. That way we can escape to warmth when we get too cold, and get some cruising in! We have a mooring in the Bahamas we can use for less money than we are paying for a marina slip in NC. With the money we save we can buy a few plane tickets down there, so it actually won’t cost us much.

As is usually the case, we have a few maintenance projects before leaving. Yesterday, we fixed an important issue: our B&G 4G Radar is now working again! We lost the radar on the very last leg of our trip just 1 day from arriving to North Carolina. Over the summer, I sent the equipment back to B&G and they said the units were working fine. So, that meant the problem must be the radar cable itself. I got a new cable and yesterday we confirmed that was the problem when we connected it up there. So, we next had to cut off the end of the old cable and attach the new and old and pull them through the mast and the cable runs to the instrument station. When we pulled the old one out, we found a spot just six inches inside the bottom of the mast, where the cable went in, that was worn right through. We put a protective sleeve on the new cable, and added extra cable. We have no idea what could have worn it there. I may try borrowing an electrician inspection camera to look in there. It was a tough job, but we got it all done and the radar works!

Our other big job is to fix the hydraulic steering again. We had an expensive repair done in Martinique that was a complete waste of money. They guy replaced the bad cylinder with a new one, and then decided to inspect the old one as well (which had been working fine). The day we were going to complete the install (and we had scheduled to leave), he revealed the second cylinder was bad as well and gave me a “fully refurbished” used one as a replacement at “half-cost”. Guess what happened? Yep, the replacement leaks! So, we spent all the money and time and were right back where we started. So, I’ve ordered a new cylinder and will be installing that soon. The hardest part is putting the oil back in that drains out when you change out a cylinder. It takes three people and two or three hours of time. Boring, messy, and tedious. Yuck. By the way, I’m not happy at all with the outfit in Martinique called Caraibe Marine, the only Caribbean distributor for Lecomble & Schmitt hydraulics. Contact me to get details.

End of hurricane season is October 31, so we will move Tahina sometime after the 1st of November when the weather is right.

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