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The Bahamas

Abaco Islands 2007

Orange Cay (2003)   Freeport, Grand Bahama Island (2005)    

June - August 2007

Abaco: Outlying Islands of the Abaco Islands, Bahamas

A Six-Week Honeymoon to Celebrate our 35th Wedding Anniversary

But first we have to get there!!  A SNAG!!


Click on the thumbnail above to left to see in detail what landed in our prop as we motored just off John Pennekamp State Park.  We were on our way to West Palm Beach, which would be our port of departure for the Abacos.  Bill had to dive on it and clear it.  We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw this clump of mess... I mean this thing has to have been floating around cut and thrown back in for someone else (LIKE US) to snag... time and time again.  We took responsibility for it and disposed of it properly... AWAY from the sea! 

Above: Prop cleared: September Sea hits 9.1 knots surfing down a wave.  WOOOO HOOOO!

We're in the Abacos!!


September Sea flies the

Bahamian Courtesy Flag.


Click on thumbnail photos (below) for enlarged versions...  worth it to see the beauty of these remote out islands. 


  Miss Sun Poisoning Herself.  Hat, gloves, shirt... Ouch!  Had it baaaad.

Yes, sun poisoning.  I've been allergic to the sun since childhood.  Even SPF 80 didn't help me this time.  Had a prickly, burning rash from the waist up (well, thank goodness for that!).  And you thought only Michael Jackson wore gloves in the daytime.  LOL  At least I had two gloves on... and both were black!  All in all, worth it worth it worth it!  It went away after being completely out of the sun for a week.  I swam at dusk and when one side of the boat had shade.  I'm so glad I had Lidocaine Aloe Vera Gel on board.  Worth its weight in... well... lobsters! 

Powell Cay

& the Shrine of Cathy Swedenborg

We took our dinghy into Powell Cay.  We had heard it has a trail that takes you atop a bluff and you can overlook the beautiful waters here.  We noticed a cave and went into the Austrian Pines to take a closer look.  I'm so glad we did.  It was as if something was calling us inside.  We usually would not have gone into the interior of the island as that's where the mosquitoes hide in the shade of the trees... and await to swarm in attack.

We saw what appeared to only be a doll sitting on a ledge in the cave.  I noticed there was something above the doll.  It took only two steps before my hand went out and stopped Bill from walking any further.  There was an arc of Conch shells blocking our path.  That's when I realized this was a Shrine to someone very much loved.

The bronze Memorial Plaque reads:



April 30, 1956

August 10, 1979"

To whomever put this plaque here, we thank you.  It was most appropriate for us to be there as we had already decided to cast the last of our son's ashes in a grotto we found on Manjack Cay.  Seeing this tribute to Cathy, a 23-year old young woman taken prematurely by death (our daughter Breighan is also 23 years of age), brought tears to our eyes and warmth to our hearts.  Finding Cathy's Shrine made everything for us so much more meaningful.

Others over the years have placed a conk shell along the arc as their way of paying tribute.  There are many, many conk shells there and it is so beautiful to see.  We added another one.

THANK YOU for loving your Cathy.  Now we love your Cathy too.


Epilogue: Cathy

Cathy Swedenborg with boyfriend and hero Don Brooks, 1979.

[Photos courtesy of Gary Swedenborg.]


[From Cathy's brother, Gary Swedenborg]:

May 12, 2009

WOW!! It was nice to see Cathy's Memorial (Powell Cay). My Dad placed that there 30 years ago. She died on the sailboat, s/v Penduck, that was just off shore. Her boyfriend, Don Brooks, died later that day in Miami's Burn Unit (Jackson Memorial) after trying to save her. They had a propane explosion.  I was there in 1999. It was really pretty around the memorial with purple flower blooming everywhere. Conch shells everywhere.
Did you see the sunken sailboat? Hurricane Floyd came through right after my visit.

Thanks so much,
Gary Swedenborg


Cathy and Don's sailing vessel Pen Duck in 1979.

From: Gary Swedenborg
Date: 5/30/2009 9:44:13 AM
To: Charmaine
Subject: Hi
Hi Charmaine,
On this special day of reflection, I hope your happy memories out-weigh the sad ones.
Your Friend,

Bless you, sweet Gary.  Such incredible thoughtfulness. 

It is truly nothing short of a miracle the way our lives have crossed paths.  To be blessed to get to know your sister Cathy, and her beloved Don, thirty years after their most untimely departure from this earth is an astounding honor for us all.  Thank you, darling Gary for this most precious gift.

A huge thank you as well to the entire Swedenborg and Brooks families for sharing your loved ones with us all.  We will forever hold your beloved Cathy and Don near and dear to our hearts.

We can learn so much from the lives of others.

Cathy and Don sail on.

From the bottom of my heart,


(Click on thumbnail to enlarge photo of lovely Powell Cay).

The author kicks back and takes it easy!

Bill and our Walker Bay RIB tender (dinghy) Sea Biscuit.  We love our Walker Bay.  It's sturdy, stable with the inflatable tubes, and is so very easy to hoist on deck for ocean passages.  That's Nicky Nissan, our 6-hp outboard  on the stern.  The September Sea bag you see Bill holding was a gift from our sweet Melissa, the mother of our grandson Will.  The bag is made from recycled sails.  A perfect gift and we use it constantly.  It serves as our shower bag after we play tennis.  We love it Melissa, and we love you!

Manjack Cay

(aka Nunjack or Munjack Cay)

(click thumbnail above for larger version)

Above: September Sea at Munjack Cay.

September Sea all decked out (outfitted) for the Bahamas: Solar panels (330 watts); K.I.S.S. wind generator; Full Cockpit Enclosure (including Isinglass and screens); 2000 watt generator; dinghy and outboard are transported on deck for crossings; and complete deck sun shades (a must in the Caribbean).  We outfitted everything ourselves.  The only way to do it, as when something breaks down... YOU know how to fix it!  One good thing about the Bahamas as well: you still have Tow Boat U.S.  What a way to live!

Crystal clear waters of the Abacos Islands.  This starfish is in nearly 4 feet of water.  The waters are so unbelievably beautiful.  You pinch yourself each day.

Our tender (dinghy) "Sea Biscuit."  Nicky Nissan hasn't been put on her yet.

Stingrays, Manta Rays, and sharks were seen often.  The sharks were small (4 ft.) and non-threatening.  Remember, I'm the one who watches JAWS on the big screen before snorkeling.  That way, everything looks SMALL.  LOL

Munjack Cay Sunset.  I love this photo.  Couldn't believe it when I saw it... can hardly believe it now.  Reminds me of Nature's Chinese Lantern.  We love this remote island very, very much.

Don't ask.  Not sure what happened here... was trying to get another sunset and was messing about with settings on the camera.  Then when I downloaded the pictures I got a surprise!  When I saw it I thought it looked like "Madam"... remember the female puppet with the bad attitude (was it Wayland & Madam)?  I can see her big nose and long chin, and the shape of her face.  So I call this one "Madam at Night."

Great Sale Cay

Waterspout at Great Sale Cay.

Green Turtle Cay

Bill rowing... of all our redundant systems... no spare spark plug for Nicky Nissan. 

Had to wait to get some from Marsh Harbour.  We never made it to Marsh Harbour... but our spark plugs did!


Regatta time and America's 4th of July... Lots of boats and folks!  Met Tom and Barb Schafer of s/v Marigot.  We got on very well and had a blast all evening.  Tom and Barb took us to Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar.  What a treat!!  Barb and Tom... we look forward to see you in the Abacos again and soon!

Click on thumbnails above... the one to the far right is the impromptu 4th of July parade of golf carts.

Abaconian Sunset.  (Click on pic to enlarge.)


Cooperstown on the Sea of Abaco.

The Cooperstown Municipal Dock.  Such friendly and wonderful people there.

These Cooperstown kids are excellent divers.  Bill and I sat and watched them do back flips and beautiful swan dives from the Municipal piers.  Those pilings are very high up.  Hey Olympic team... somebody needs to snatch these kids up because they are fantastic... and to be so very young.  Though perhaps not... they're extremely content where they are.

They all dive then climb back up to do it again.

Hangin' out at the Cooperstown Public Dock.

Boats & Folks

Boats at anchor from West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, and in the Abaco Islands.

Maine Cat s/v Tranquility at Manjack Cay

As they were leaving the northern Manjack anchorage they stopped by our boat to tell us there was some weather coming.  A very nice gesture.  We have a satellite phone and can keep up with weather -- I wish I had thought about what he said because he had interpreted the weather wrong.  Hope they weren't too disappointed when they arrived at their next destination and realized it was not necessary to have departed Manjack Cay.

Sailboat anchored in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth.


West Palm Beach, Lake Worth marker.

Go outside (west side of) this marker if you have any draft at all.  Very shallow!

In cell phone range via Batelco at Green Turtle Cay aboard s/v Attitude Adjustment.

Sailboat in full gear leaving Crab Cay.  We saw her and Captain again at Green Turtle Cay.

Where do you anchor?

Some folks don't know how to anchor without being on top of you.  (Note: The boat to the right had anchored first.)  There were many who got a radio call from me.  Makes no sense to anchor so close when there's so much room.  It's almost like people think "There's the anchorage!" and make a bee-line to the first anchored boat they see.  An anchorage is anywhere you anchor... it's not like looking for the PARK HERE sign at the Holiday Inn.  As I like to say to those who come too close: "We're shooting a porn movie here.  If you don't want to be in it, you might want to move your boat farther away."  They'll always ask "How far?"  Love it!  It works every single time!

One guy wasn't very happy when I told him he was much too close to us (he was so close he could easily see there was no porn movie being shot... LOL).  He balked.  "You'll just have to live with it," he said.  I replied, "Now that's not very kind or considerate.  What I need is more privacy."  Well, that seemed to let him off the hook... "Oh, now we're getting down to it.  Privacy."  I'm sure at that point he was getting dirty looks from his wife who had probably told him before he dropped two anchors he was too close to us.  The thing is that some boaters like the social circle of being close with other boats and boaters.  Others go to places like the Abacos which have anchorages that are five miles long on varying Cays... when you have all that space I don't want anyone within an eighth of a mile!  In the above case with the gruffy stubborn "I-couldn't-have-made-a-mistake" guy... there were only three boats in a five mile anchorage area.  After his wife's dirty look he says, "Well, just to show you I'm not a complete A-hole... I'll move.  But it's under protest."

PROTEST.  LMAO.  I thanked him.  But I still believe he just didn't "get it."  He's thinking I'm underestimating his anchoring abilities.  It's not that I'm worried his anchor would drag or that he would hit us.  It's the fact that he's THERE... and so DAYAM CLOSE!

The bottom line here is just because he and his wife are no longer running around naked and skinny-dipping... and you know what happens after that... it doesn't mean that others aren't doing it!  So back off me.  Give me room to play! 

A good rule of thumb is to keep at least the same distance away from boats as what's already  established in an anchorage when you arrive.  Let's say you come closer to shore to anchor and there are two boats.  If they are 500 ft. apart and there's room to do so... then you anchor at least 500 ft. away from either boat.  In the Keys it's much like the Bahamas in that anchorages are simply where you anchor... lots of room to anchor near Keys (Cays).  A mast light is not the same as a hotel "VACANCY" sign.  Remember what happened to Marion Crane?

If you're too close to someone else's HOME PLATE... You're OUT!

We live on a mooring and they are 75 ft. apart.  Not a lot of privacy if you don't take steps to obtain it.  Our cockpit is enclosed and I'm one for shades (just like drapes in your landlubber house).  I'm a very social person but I don't like being on display 24/7.  Fine if others don't mind it, but I do!  So when we leave the mooring fields we go out to find a nice quiet and private anchorage.  And I always find it!  But every now and again some dolt will take my anchor light to be THE place to anchor.  Right on top of me!  So I excuse myself from my dinner and get on the radio to let Sir Dolt he's anchoring too close and it's not necessary to do so.  It's like the chip commercial: "Get your own bag!"  Find your own spot.  If I want to do the Wild-Thang topsides in the middle of the night... I don't want Gladys Travis calling the Coasties to report "lewd and lascivious activities."  How rude...  Mr. and Mrs. Gladys anchored on top of me! I'd rather be lewd than rude any day.

If it's not absolutely necessary to anchor in close proximity to another boat... then don't. 

More boats...

This must be the sportiest looking trawler I've ever seen.

It was about 50 ft. long.  Didn't get the name or make but saw her at Manjack Cay.

Settlement Harbor in New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay

Impatient Winds at Green Turtle Cay anchorage.

      What about Laundry??

Laundry Day.  Above (click for detail): I can wash a week's worth of clothes and bedding too... all in our cockpit.  I hang everything inside the cockpit except for the King Size sheets which I drape over the shade on the boom.  No one is the wiser!

Can't wait to go back!  Abacos, we'll be back there and soon!

More to come on the Abacos and narratives of our many adventures there. 

Stay tuned!

Read about our experiences (often hilariously ridiculous) with hurricanes during the record-setting 2004 & 2005 seasons.  Surviving either at our home port in the Keys or in our hurricane sanctuary The Everglades.  It's the only place on earth where alligators and crocodiles cohabitate. 

Someone once asked: "What's the difference between an alligator 'n a crocodile?"

My answer was quite sarcastic but accurate: "Like I'm ever gonna get that close."

You will learn such differences, if you don't already know them... I also promise  you'll not only learn something while perusing this most read section of our website... you'll no doubt enjoy a laugh or two as well.  Enjoy!

The Hurricane Chronicles