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These are the voyages of the sailing vessel Pétillant. Her original eight-month mission: to sail from Baltimore to France via Florida and the Bahamas, to successfully navigate the shoals of the French douane, to boldly go where few Maine Coon cats have gone before was completed in 2008. Now she is berthed in Port Medoc and sails costal Spain, France, and the UK during the summer months.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chub Cay

We are in Chub Cay today, at the semi-luxurious Chub Cay Marina, a brand-new development here. We are starting to discover a trend in marina development. They build a gorgeous new marina somewhere, accompanied by luxury condos/villas, without having any real buyers for the slips or the condos. They get all of the landscaping and stuff like the restaurant done, so that the place really looks nice, but they wait till they have some customers actually using the facility to finish stuff like the showers and laundry. The priority of what gets done is interesting – eye-candy first, and functionality after the paying customers start to pay. Oh, and they charge very high rates from the beginning for the eye-candy, even though the functionality is not yet complete. I guess it makes sense from the marketing point of view, but we think they would get more boats into these marinas if they lowered the rates at first and established functionality, so that more people could see that these are places to want to go into, instead of being empty with only a few trophy boats.

We spent 4 days in Bimini, having a good time seeing the island, and doing a LOT of paperwork/internet connections. Because of the WiFi access, we were able to research everything on-line, and then make phone calls over the internet to redeem frequent flyer miles, and purchase tickets for the trip to France. We decided to sail the boat to France, leaving sometime between May 7th and May 14th (latest advice from our hired Captain – he doesn’t want to compete for space in Bermuda with the ARC – this makes some sense). We will be moving cats to France on April 17th, by Air France, from Miami->Paris->Bordeaux. We have Karen, Pat, and her husband Jim coming along to give us one person+ per cat. We have figured out a way to convince AF that Dante and Calypso are less than 4kg, so that they can come into the cabin with us. This will be revealed after the trip, if it is successful.

Ralph and Karen will come back to Stuart on April 29th, and Ralph will have at least a week to get the boat ready for the crossing, which is good timing. The boat should then get to France in about 6-8 weeks, in late June.

We left Bimini yesterday AM at 6:30, on a rising tide. We headed south, and cut thru the pass at Turtle rocks, down behind Cat Cay, and then east across the Great Bahamas Bank. The wind was marvelous, and we could have sailed the whole way on a beam reach, but the wind dropped considerably about 2:00 PM, and we didn’t want to come into Chub Cay in the dark, so we did some motor-sailing and got in here about 6:15, at dusk, at low tide. We tried to fish, but did not catch anything that we could see. One leader rig was clipped off, like someone used a tin-snips on it, which tells me that something BIG took a taste. Unfortunately, we did not see it happen.
The trip across the banks was about 85 miles, most of the way in water never deeper than about 15 feet. We saw two other boat heading in the opposite direction, and we sailed away from another one that was headed our way – they didn’t seem to be sailing too well, which was surprising. One boat was Canadian, and we were surprised that did not seem to have the normal complement of cruiser equipment hanging around, like solar panels, windmill, or diesel jerry jugs. It looked just like a Chesapeake Bay cruiser out for a weekend sail. This in the middle of nowhere, with no land at all in sight. Normally, the Canadians who make it this far have ALL of the stuff that we think is necessary to cruise here. It was a long day, and we slept quite well last nite. The luxury marina here has WiFi, which is how we are updating the blog, and simultaneously listening to WAMU in Washington. It is amazing how many WiFi hotspots there are, in out-of-the-way places like this.

We have uploaded a bunch of additional photos to Flickr, but they are not organized, and only a few have captions, because I can’t get the Flickr Organizr to load properly. It seems to be a bit buggy, but considering the cost, it is to be expected. Maybe I will try it again later this AM.
After I dive on the boat here in the marina, and check out the bottom, we will leave for Whale Cay, to the east a short distance. We plan to get to Eluthera some time on Monday or Tuesday, to see Bill and Dot, who are supposed to have arrived yesterday. We have their Bahamas number, and since we now have a Bahamas number, as well, it should be a local call. It was very nice to see that the Blackberry will actually work as we planned. When we get back to the US, I just have to change out the SIM chip and we will have the WV number back. When we get to France, I will buy a SIM chip there, to have a cell phone in France.

I have sent out the telephone number by email, but if someone has not received it, send me an email and I will send it to you. I don’t want to post those numbers on a public site, but will provide them to family and friends.

Kitties are doing well, except for Calypso, who has a seasickness that does not respond to drugs, and which also seems to be psychosomatic(sp?). There was a Beneteau 321 next to us when we work up this morning, and we let the cats up on deck. The owner left early (7:30) to get to Nassau today, and when he started the engine on HIS boat, Calypso started to drool on OUR boat. We think maybe the buzzer on the engine set he off, or maybe the buzzer and engine noise. She calmed down after about 3 minutes, when she realized that we were not moving, but left a drool deposit on deck.

Well, off to dive down and check out the boat bottom – we hit something in 2500 ft of water that caused the prop to vibrate a bit, and we want to clear it off, if possible before we go any further. Then off to Whale Cay.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Our big Maine Coon, Baxter, is horribly afraid of vacuum cleaners. When he sees ours coming out or being run, he frantically tries to find a place to hide. One day I noticed that he was racing around our town house clearly in a state of high anxiety for no explicable reason. It turns out the folks next door were vacuuming and he could hear it clearly while I could not. The sound was next door and no immediate threat to him, but try telling him that.